The Improv Is No Joke Podcast

Welcome to the Improv Is No Joke podcast hosted by Peter Margaritis, AKA The Accidental Accountant and author of the book 'Improve Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. This podcast series is also available on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher.

Ep. 72 – Bill Sheridan | Human Work in the Age of Machines: How to be a Future-Ready CPA

Only 8 percent of CPAs believe that the profession is future ready, according to CPA.com’s study Welcome to the Fast Future. This is a rather concerning statistic because the future is coming, and it might be closer than you think.

 

Bill Sheridan, Chief Communication Officer at the MACPA, is on the front lines trying to prepare CPAs for the future, and he recently published a new white paper that every CPA should read: Human Work in the Ages of Machines: Five Steps for Building a Future-Ready Finance Team.

 

Basically, the paper asks what happens when more and more of the things that accounting and finance professionals are trained to do are being done by machines, and what does that mean for our profession?

 

Because these technological changes are going to happen whether we like it or not, there’s nothing we can do except learn how to do the things that machines can’t do and work with them (or go out of business).

 

We have to go beyond being just number crunchers and become number interpreters; we have to be able to understand what we’re viewing and become better communicators.

 

The futurist Peter Sheehan puts this another way: we’ve entered an age when humans should only do work that only humans can do, and everything else is going to be automated.

 

This means that CPAs will need a new set of eight core skills, if they want to remain relevant going forward:

  1. Communication
  2. Leadership
  3. Critical thinking and problem solving
  4. Anticipating and serving evolving needs
  5. Synthesizing intelligence to insight, or providing the insight to the numbers
  6. Integration and collaboration
  7. Tech savvy and the ability to analyze data
  8. Functional and domain expertise.

 

6/8 of these skills were also identified in the Horizons 2025 project. We tend to ignore stuff like that until it’s almost too late – until the stuff that is on the horizon suddenly gets closer and is threatening to steamroll us.

 

We waited, and now it’s crunch time.

 

Bill doesn’t believe that the problem with CPAs is that we’re too introverted to learn these soft skills. Bill believes the big problem holding us back is that accounting is a rear-facing profession. We’ve been trained to look in the rearview mirror, and so that’s what we’ve done for decades and decades.

 

Now we’re at a point where we have to start looking through the windshield a little bit more and learn how to become a more forward-facing profession, which means figuring out what we need to do to stay relevant tomorrow rather than just accounting for what happened yesterday.

 

Bill developed the Five C’s for staying relevant through the change:

  1. Context – What are the big changes going on around us? There’s three hard trends converging: technological advances, changing demographics, and new legislation.
  2. Certainty – What can we be certain will happen? The futurist Daniel Burrus says your odds of succeeding go up and the risk of failing goes down, when you start basing your strategy around things that you know are going to happen.
  3. Capacity – It’s going to take time for us to learn how to become future ready, and we’re all busier than ever before. But we make time for the things that are important to us.
  4. Competencies – As discussed previously, we’re going to have to learn an entirely new set of skills. Key among them is anticipation: learning how to spot future trends before they happen and position our organizations to take advantage of them, before the competition, is actually a skill that you can learn.
  5. Core Values – In a world where everything seems to be changing around us, it’s really kind of comforting to know that there are some things that should never change: our core values. The core purpose of this profession, as established by Vision Project, is to make sense of a changing and complex world.

 

How to Take Your First Steps Towards the Future

 

Trying to become future ready all at once is overwhelming, and more or less impossible. However, now is a great time to start building future-ready habits.

 

Bill suggests you start with a simple exercise: schedule one hour a week for yourself, and actually put it in your calendar. During that hour, do something like read a book that will help you prepare for the future, or ask your team what productivity apps they like and start implementing them.

 

In the resources below, you will find a number of valuable books and resources to learn from during your weekly time block, including Human Work in the Ages of Machines.

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Improv is no Joke – Episode 72 – Bill Sheridan

Bill: [00:00:00] You know what happens when more and more of the stuff the accounting and finance professionals have been trained to do and have been doing for years are now being done by machines? What does that mean for our profession?

[music]

Peter: [00:00:23] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:55] Hey welcome to episode 72 of improv is no joke podcast today my guest is Bill Sheridan. He’s a chief communications officer at the Maryland Association of CPAs, and he is now a repeat offender on this podcast. Bill welcome to the podcast.

Bill: [00:01:13] Thank you Peter. Good to be back.

Peter: [00:01:15] It’s nice having you back. And this is actually this conversation is going to tail from episode 67 that I did with Tom Hood the CEO of the Maryland association. In that episode, he mentioned something about a white paper that was being published by the MACPA. And I got my hands on it and it’s titled Human Work in the Ages of Machines: Five Steps for Building a Future-Ready Finance Team by Bill Sheridan. That’s going to be our conversation today. I want to know more about. I read it. I loved it. It makes sense it’s powerful. It should be read by every CPA in our community and that’s in the speaking global community about how technology is impacting us. So let’s have this conversation about what this White Paper. What spurred you to put this together? Because I know we’ve talked about it in the past. This topic and Tom’s talked about but now that you have it on paper.

Bill: [00:02:13] Well first of all thank you for reading. We think the stuff in it is really really important. What spurred it. Well a couple of things. The first is just you know the trends that we were we’re seeing not only in this profession but in the workforce in general. Speaking specifically about technology trends in technology that we’re seeing. Things like artificial intelligence, robots, machine learning… all of these technologies are kind of ganging up on us at once and you know we’ve had our eyes on it for the last few years but it just seems lately that there’s been a lot of buzz about these things and we’re starting to see things like AI and machine learning actually being implemented around the fringes of the profession. So this stuff isn’t science fiction anymore. It’s not. It’s it’s happening. You know you see things like like IBM Watson being put into into play by folks like H&R Block, for instance, and some others they’re using it for in the audit profession as well so. So these things are here. They’re they’re having a real impact on the profession and they’re doing a lot of the stuff that CPAs have quite frankly been trained to do and have been doing for years and years and years. So you know what happens when more and more of this stuff the accounting and finance professionals have been trained to do and have been doing for years are now being done by machines? What does that mean for for our profession? So that was one that was one thing that we have been watching and I’ve been a little bit concerned about. So the other thing that got us concerned was a report that came out a couple of years ago from CPA.com called Welcome to the fast future. And that report tried to gauge how feature ready this profession was, and what they found was it’s not future ready at all. I mean only 8 percent of the CPAs and accounting and finance pros who are surveyed for that report. Only 8 percent said that they felt the profession was ready and that that really gets us worried. So when you’ve got when you’ve got a kind of that convergence: mass change mass transformation hitting our profession in big ways right now, and the profession itself saying we’re just not ready for it. That said to us we’ve got to do something to help accounting and finance pros get a little become a little bit more future ready. So. So that’s that’s kind of what spurred this on. And our hope is that people will read this and come away with at least the beginnings of a blueprint for how they can start making some changes and become a little bit more future ready.

Peter: [00:04:59] Yeah. When KPMG signed the agreement last March I believe it was with IBM the CEO said something along these lines. Cognitive computing is here in the audit team practice and we’ll be able to analyze many more transactions than we’ve ever been able to do in the past. And that statement alone told me that the auditing function is greatly going to change and if I don’t get this team going out to the sampling process digging through invoices… and also that same thought was for bringing it to a current event with Wells Fargo. AI and Watson was reviewing the transactions in Wells Fargo at the rate that they could, would they have discovered this consumer lending fraud action in a much more rapid way how it ultimately happened? So I I mean there’s a lot of unanswered questions out there but I also hear CPAs basically say the P in CPA stands for procrastination.

Bill: [00:06:07] Hahaha.

Peter: [00:06:07] And I’m not not going to do anything… I take this back to member IFRS?

Bill: [00:06:13] Yes.

Peter: [00:06:14] Incentive for retirement soon as the baby boomers would say. Until something happened they weren’t paying attention to it. And then IFRS went away but we still went ahead with the revenue recognition a new standard. And I’ve still run into people today that still don’t believe it’s real and it’s actually happening.

Bill: [00:06:35] Right. Right.

Peter: [00:06:36] So this is a challenge.

Bill: [00:06:38] It’s a it is a challenge. Tom Hood My boss at the MACPA and and business learning institute. He and I have been out speaking to the accounting and finance pros around the country for a lot of the last year about this topic and generally I get two reactions. One is generally from the from the older folks in the profession who they don’t deny that it’s happening but they don’t think their plan is to ignore it long enough to retire so that they don’t have to worry about it. You know the other reaction that we get is is it quite frankly sheer terror almost. Like they hear about these trends and they’re not prepared for them and they don’t really know what to do next. And our you know our goal is to scare them a little bit but we don’t want him to be terrified about the stuff. You know I mean it’s going to happen whether we like it or, these technological changes. There’s really nothing we can do about it except learn how to do the things that machines can’t do and work with them, and not against them because like I said there’s there’s they’re coming and there’s really nothing that we can do about it except prepare ourselves and learn how to reinvent ourselves a little bit – to go beyond being just number crunchers right and be or like number interpreters; Telling the story behind the numbers doing the things that the machines can’t do.

Peter: [00:08:18] And to your point about telling the story behind the numbers that’s going to be that’s going to be hard but I think they even step beyond that is telling that story… because you allude to it in the white paper about translator, becoming a translator. When I ask CPA if they speak a foreign language and I don’t get a lot of hands up and then I ask them if they speak the foreign language of business called accounting. All these hands go up. It’s a foreign language and we have to learn how to translate that foreign language into plain English. So that’s another challenge on top of that.

Bill: [00:08:54] Yeah absolutely. I mean you know and we know the machines are great. There’s a lot that they can do that we can’t. They can do this stuff. You know this kind of transactional core transactional functions that we’ve been doing for years. They can do it faster, more accurately than we can ever hope to. But they can’t do everything. I mean humans have a decided advantage over the machines in lot of ways. You know the and it comes from just being human. Able to tell those stories right behind the numbers helping our clients and customers become a little bit more future ready as well, which is something that we can do that the machines can’t quite frankly. I think it was there’s a futurist out there by the name of Peter Sheehan – the deep thinker about this stuff – and he says you know we’ve entered an age when we’re humans should only do work that only humans can do.

Peter: [00:09:49] Right.

Bill: [00:09:49] And everything else is going to be automated. And I think that’s that’s really true. So you know that that’s going to require us to kind of rethink how we how we– rethink what we know about learning and about the skills that we possess. I think we’re going to we’re going to have to kind of learn an entirely new set of skills in order to remain relevant going forward. And it’s not the it’s not the technical skills that have gotten us here. I mean you know like I said once that stuff not going to go away overnight, and those technical skills are still make make up of the foundation the core of this profession. They’re still terribly terribly important. But in order to remain relevant going forward, we’re going to have to tack on an entirely new skill set on top of that that’s that’s going to focus more on the human side of business I think.

Peter: [00:10:44] You know we have to have the technical knowledge that that will not go away. And we may not have to crunch the numbers but we have to be able to understand what we’re viewing and become better communicators. The human factor. The empathy aspect of the body language and understanding and making that connection and translating, and you know we tend to call it soft skills and you know people just… But I found the way I got people’s attention about this. Said we may call them soft skills but you know what they’re pretty hard to master.

Bill: [00:11:20] Yeah. Yeah. And Tom is… He’s fond of calling them hard skills. Soft implies that they’re easy. Right. And there’s nothing about this about these things.

Peter: [00:11:37] Yeah.

Bill: [00:11:37] They’re difficult to learn. Let’s define what we’re talking about here. So Tom Tom did some research of his own recently. He took all of the research that we know is out there about what accounting and finance skills we are going to need in order to remain relevant going forward. And there’s a ton of research out there so this came from the AICPA Horizons 2025 project. He looked at a number of books on the on the topic. One is called The Second Machine Age, which laid out exactly what skills we’re going to need in the age of you know machines and machine learning. Humans are Underrated by Geoff Colvin was another book. Only Humans Need Apply by Thomas Davenport and Julia Kirby. And then there were some other ones. The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab from the World Economic Forum that that laid out future skills. And then there were a couple reports from the Institute of the future by Marina Garbuz, and finally The 2020 Workplace. So Tom took a look at all of this research that’s been done just recently over the last couple of years and kind of put all of the skills of these different pieces of research focused in on into a matrix to kind of come up with the core eight skills that CPAs are going to need to remain relevant going forward, and what he found was the ones mentioned most frequently by all these different researchers were communications, leadership, Number three was critical thinking and problem solving. The fourth was anticipating and serving evolving needs. Fifth one was synthesizing intelligence to insight; providing the insight to the numbers. What are the numbers telling us? The sixth was integration and collaboration. Seventh was being tech savvy. And he kind of combined data analytics into that one as well. And finally functional and domain expertise. So again those are some of those technical skills that were that we were talking about. But that’s that’s you know seven of those eight skills are are are things that you know you’re your stereotypical accounting and finance pro may not have mastered up to this point. So. So those are the types of things that all of the research that we’re seeing are is telling us are going to be critically important going forward.

Peter: [00:14:14] And the first in the first six that you read were the exact same that came out of the Horizon’s 2025 project that was published 2010 2011, if my memory serves me correctly because I was on council at the time. So Tom created this matrix and was looking… so that the research that was done… so it was published in 2000 10 that research was done 7 8 9 10 more… and we’re in 17. It’s still relevant. The research that was done.

Bill: [00:14:42] Unbelievably relevant I mean it’s that that was the really cool thing about the Horizon’s project. I don’t think most people in the profession grasped at the time: they were trying to make this profession future ready six seven years ago. Right. I mean they they understood what was coming and laid out what exactly we need to do about it. And I think what happens typically is we’re all so busy. The business of just getting through the day stuff that something along that line comes along and we think that that’s kind of interesting or you know interesting stuff coming out of the horizons project but then we get sucked right back into the busy work and just trying to churn through all the stuff on our desk on a day to day basis. We tend to ignore stuff like that until it’s almost too late – until the stuff that is kind of interesting on the horizon suddenly gets closer and closer and is threatening to steamroll us. So now it’s getting to be crunch time and people are saying OK what do I actually need to do about this stuff. So yeah I think that’s where we are today.

Peter: [00:15:55] I’m going to give the profession a shout out here because even before the 2025 project we had the vision project. That was what was the first year going to look like by the year 2011. And that’s once we got closer to 2011 that’s when the horizon project came out. So we’ve been we’ve been trying to be future ready since the early to mid to late 90s.

Bill: [00:16:15] Well here’s here’s something inside of that vision project by the way. That’s where they came up with the the core purpose of the profession. And I tell CBAs what their core purposes every time I’m out talking to them, and very few people have ever heard of this. But in the vision project the core purpose that they designed or developed and this was done at a grassroots level with CPAs throughout the country. The core purpose of the profession is CPAs making sense of a changing and complex world. Now think about that. that are changing in and complex plural that in and this was this was what 99 2000 that vision project came all right.

Peter: [00:16:56] Right.

Bill: [00:16:56] They were thinking about this stuff almost two decades ago. And setting this profession up to succeed as the world transforms into our very eyes. So I think that that is very cool that they were thinking that thinking about this stuff for two decades, and yet here we are. And very few of them have actually done anything about it. So. So that’s that’s the next step. Now we we’ve known for a while what’s coming. In the last couple of years especially we’ve seen it accelerate. Now we got to this is where the rubber meets the road. We actually have to make ourselves a little bit more future ready.

Peter: [00:17:37] I’m in the middle of just in the middle of the book, Steve Jobs’ autobiography. And it’s interesting that when he talks about the early years of developing the process, of developing the computer, and I was thinking about that as I was reading it last night coming coming back from North Carolina and I was like… it wasn’t that long ago. That was what mid mid to late 70s. And we’re 2017 and I get to that exponential doubling approach – it’s blown up since then. But the question I hear is the computer was supposed to make our lives easier but I’m working harder and harder and harder. So what’s going to happen now if we’re having more machines do the work – will I be working even harder?

Bill: [00:18:32] I think in the short term probably the answer will be yes. As you sit down and ramp up your skills that you’re going to need going forward. But ultimately what that’s going to do is help you remain relevant to your clients and customers in ways that the machines never will. Right. So yeah there’s going to be some work that we’re all going to have to do in order to learn these new skills.

Peter: [00:19:06] Mhm.

Bill: [00:19:06] Once we do we’re just going to be that much more well-prepared to do the work that machines can’t do. It’s Yeah I don’t I don’t see us getting less busy, in the short term, and maybe not even in the long term, but I think the work that is going to keep us busy is going to change significantly.

Peter: [00:19:29] So my question to you is how do you take an introverted profession, and I’m using this as a broad brush, and teach them extroverted skills?

Bill: [00:19:47] Yes. Well that’s that’s that’s a good question. I don’t know that they’re you know… in a way I think that that that stereotype the introverted CPA is a bit overblown. I don’t think they’re any more introverted than anybody else. I think they’re a little… like what I think is the big problem is that it’s it’s a it’s a rear facing profession. Right. It’s it’s a it’s a profession that is built on accounting for things that have already happened. Right. We’ve been trained to look in the rearview mirror. And that’s that’s what we’ve done for decades and decades. And now we’re at a point where we have to start looking through the windshield a little bit more and learn how to become more of a forward-facing profession, and figuring out what we need to do to stay relevant tomorrow rather than just accounting for what happened yesterday. Well it’s laid out in the white paper. Basically, I think this there’s there’s five key steps to doing that. Number one is to understand the context of what’s happening. What are the big changes going on around us? And again we’re talking about… There’s really a convergence of what we like to call hard trends things that we know are going to happen. Technological advances is one. Demographics is another. The changing face of the workforce right. Baby Boomers are on their way out. And now you’ve got a brand new generation get ready to enter the workforce with Generation Z. So the workforce itself is shifting, and legislation. Those those those three things – demographics, regulation and technology – are really… They’re kind of converging at a weird time and kind of forming this this almost perfect storm. Right. So understanding what’s going on with those trends is is is the first step. The second one is what we call certainty. Right. What can we be certain about? What are the things that are happening that we know are going to happen? Because what happens is when you start basing your strategy around things that you know are going to happen, as the futurist Dan Burrus would say, you know your odds of succeeding go up and the risk of failing go down. Right. When you start basing your strategy around things that you know are going to happen. As a quick example, we know that the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 10 or X have just been released. We probably We know that there’s probably going to be another one next year that’s going to be even more powerful than the ones this year. So how can we how can we take advantage of that? Right. And this is just a real simple example but there are things going around going on around us every day that we know are going to happen. We know with absolute certainty that technology is going to continue to advance. We know that regulation and legislation is going to continue to come at us faster and in more groundbreaking ways than ever before. We know these trends around demographics are happening. So how can we learn to base our strategies and what we do as organizations around some of those hard trends that we know are going to happen anyway? Right. So so certainly that’s the second key step. Number three is capacity. It’s it’s going to take time for us to learn how to become future ready. And we’re all busier than ever before. We don’t have time. But I’m I’m a big believer in the idea that we make time for the things that are important to us. Right. If watching three hours of TV every night is important you, you’re going to find time to do that. If getting to the gym every day is important to you, you’ll you’ll make time in your schedule, and this stuff… to be future ready, it’s as important as anything you’re going to be able to do. So how do you create some of that time? And then there’s there’s a million. I mean we could spend all day talking about examples like. And again this is a real simple example but we all use Microsoft Word. Right.

Peter: [00:23:57] Yeah.

Bill: [00:23:57] There’s What about 4000 features and functions in word right now? How many of those do you use?

Peter: [00:24:04] Maybe five.

Bill: [00:24:07] And how many did you pay for? You paid for all of them.

Peter: [00:24:10] Right.

Bill: [00:24:11] So I’m again real simple example but I’m guessing that there are some features and functions in there that if you learn how to do it well, would save you some time down the road. And that’s true with every piece of technology that we own. And so you just kind of looking at our processes and understanding how we can build in a little bit of extra time just by doing them in a slightly different way, becoming more efficient and effective, and learning how to build in some spare capacity in our already packed work days is going to be hugely important from the standpoint of becoming future ready. Four is the competencies. We already talked about that. We’re going to have to learn an entirely new set of skills in order to do this stuff. Key among them is anticipation, I think. Again, Dan Burrus talks about this over and over again. The idea that the idea of learning how to spot future trends before they happen and position our organizations to take advantage of them before the competition does. And it’s actually a skill that you can learn. That’s going to be a key competency going forward. And the fifth step is– this is the one that I love. It’s our core purpose, our core values. Right the thing… in a world where everything seems to be changing around us, it’s really kind of comforting to know that there are some things that should never change. And those are our core values… and you know I mentioned the core purpose of this profession before: making sense of a changing and complex world. That should be our goal in everything that we do. Making sense of it for ourselves and then making sense of it for our clients and customers too. And in order to help our clients and customers make sense of the stuff, we’ve got to make sense of that ourselves first right. So so those kind of five steps: context, certainty, capacity, competencies, core values – we call them the five C’s. Those are really what we believe are going to be the keys to to kind of wrapping around our arms around all this change of complexity that we’re dealing with.

Peter: [00:26:13] And I agree with all of that. I’ll just take a step back for a second and ask you about the introverted / extroverted question. An attendee asked me that point, how do you teach an introverted person extroverted skills? I said honestly were not trying to make you extroverted. We’re just trying to hone your communication. You’re communicating with me now. You have your own style of communication. We’re just trying to hone that and make it much more efficient much more pointed, and also have the ability to connect with another person and increase that level of trust and create that level of respect and and then things get done. But also with that social filter, which I think I eased this person’s mind a bit about doing that. But I see that in order for us to do this… and I believe you wrapped up the paper around this is we have to do a little bit every single day.

Bill: [00:27:11] Mm. Yeah.

Peter: [00:27:12] And that took me when I read that piece that took me to that too. Simon Sinek, when he talks about leadership. So you can go take a leadership seminar. That doesn’t make you a leader. You can take what you’ve learned, but you have to apply it every single day to become a leader.

Bill: [00:27:31] Yup.

Peter: [00:27:31] And that’s long along the lines with this. We can’t procrastinate. We are historians.

Bill: [00:27:38] Yeah.

Peter: [00:27:38] We are historians and we need to move away from the history and help create the future, or be that trusted business advisor that we’ve been talking about for years with our clients, customers, external and internal.

Bill: [00:27:58] Now that’s a very good point and a point that Dan Burrus makes consistently is this idea of actually doing some future-focused work on a regular basis to kind of train ourselves to be doing it right. He is. He’s a big fan of saying that the most important app on his phone is his calendar, because if it doesn’t get on the calendar it’s not getting done. So one of his his ideas — and I love this one I’ve actually done it myself. I tell anyone I speak to to do it. Schedule an hour with yourself every week, an appointment with you once a week, where you do nothing but think about the future, In some way shape or form. Read one of the books in your research papers that we’ve been talking about and get informed about what’s going on in the world around us. Learn how to use a new productivity app. Right. I mean talk to talk to your team and ask them what what’s your favorite productivity app. Have them show it to you and show you how to use it. That’s going to help you save some time down the road. That capacity question that we talked about. Think about what’s happening around us and how it’s going to impact the profession, because disruption is most likely going to come from outside of our profession. Right. We’re we’re not going to disrupt ourselves. Most likely it’s probably somebody out there who’s doing something right now that’s going to completely turn our world around. Right. So what might that look like is when it gets here? So you know just just an hour a week to start thinking about these big questions. How am I going to start changing myself and my organization to to take advantage of the changes that we’re seeing? Too often I think you look at this stuff as a problem to be dealt with – something to be scared of. You know new stuff. That’s that’s that’s frightening frightening stuff and change is scary. But you know if we can kind of turn that mindset around and start looking at this stuff as an opportunity, then a whole new world kind of opens up to us. So you know learning to spend a little bit of time on a regular basis thinking about this stuff I think is a great first step to actually doing something about it.

Peter: [00:30:15] Two points there. I love that once a week schedule. Think about it. You reference some of the research and you’ve got all your references in the paper, but I will say that I’ve read The Second Machine Age, I’ve read Humans are Underrated, and I’ve read The Future of the Professions. If I could make a recommendation to the audience, The Second Machine Age… it’s a little tougher because it’s written by two Ph.D. MIT computer scientists and that tends to kind of go… it went over over my head. I even went on a ladder and it still went over my head to read the book. But humans are under-rated and future professions was an easy read. It was pointed. Easier. Easier to consume. Going back to bursts and scheduling things. Bill when we first met I would have ever told you that I would consider myself a writer. I’m not a trained writer. I didn’t I didn’t even like to write you know Christmas cards.

Bill: [00:31:14] Hahah.

Peter: [00:31:14] But I I’ve I’ve published a book and what someone told me a while back was if you want to do something you have to schedule that time, put it on your calendar, and do it. I have on my calendar every morning at 8:00 AM for an hour. Write. I’m in the process of writing my next book about financial storytelling. And I consider myself now much more so than ever before a writer. But it took creating that habit and I’ll be honest with you it hurt at first. It really hurt at first trying to become a writer looking at that– but let’s bring in automation. Dragon dictation. Speech recognition software that you can put on your computer. I use that a lot. Put my head set on and I just talk, and the ability for it to recognize after training that my voice went from maybe three four years ago to about 90 percent. Now it’s about 98 percent. So now I’ve saved myself time by getting it out on the screen by talking through it. Now I go through the excruciating part of editing it, but it’s saving me time. The technology piece.

Bill: [00:32:31] Yeah yeah yeah. I mean that’s the great thing about technology today is that it learns as it goes along. You know and it just makes us that much more efficient. And I think that’s a great example. You talk about how how to build some capacity in there, but you’re dead on with writing. I mean I’ve spent my life as a writer. I was a journalist back in the day before I went to work with the MACPA and it’s never gotten any easier. It’s it’s it’s a it’s a hard hard thing to do. And a little intimidating to look at a blank screen and try to fill it up with words is difficult. But but doing it… The key to doing it is to do it. right? Seth Godin. And this applies beyond just writing, but Seth Godin was talking about blogging. He said if you’re good at it, some people are going to read it. If you’re not good at it and you keep doing it, you get good at it. Right. So that that’s all goes back to practice makes perfect right. And that applies to anything. It applies to becoming future ready, a concept as nebulous as that. Just just getting yourself in the habit of doing something every day or every week it’s going to help you prepare a little bit more for what’s coming in. And by extension help your clients and customers prepare for what’s coming. Just doing it makes you better at it.

Peter: [00:33:59] And I know the MACPA has this anticipatory organization, anticipatory CPA program that’s used because I when I was on vacation in Florida, a gentleman who’s a managing partner of a large regional firm based out of Youngstown, but in Sarasota he and I had breakfast one morning while I was on vacation since I was nearby. And we were talking about the profession, we’re talking about differences are going on. And he said yeah this whole anticipatory organizational — woah woah. Say that again for me. And I went do you Tom Hood? He goes yeah I know that’s who they came up and did the… our managing partner has been on this anticipatory thing for years and you guys came up and he said he absolutely loved the program. It got him thinking completely different. And it was so fresh and so new that everybody was just excited about it and have just taken that ball and run with it.

Bill: [00:35:05] We’ve gotten a lot of people who expressed interest in finding out more about it – how can I become more anticipatory? How can I learn to spot future trends early and take advantage of them? Because they’re starting to understand. That’s really one of the keys to becoming future ready. So it’s it’s just I think it’s a case of the right idea coming along at the right time. Our hope is that more and more folks will will take a look at it because we think it’s a really powerful tool for helping you and others become a little bit more future ready.

Peter: [00:35:40] Yeah. I thoroughly agree and I I hope that my audiences listening to this will pass this episode on to colleagues in the profession. Have them listen to it as well. We will have the white paper in the show notes and on my web site that they can download and grab, and take it – read it, and spend some time thinking about it on how you can start today in the fall of 2017. And what can we do a little bit every single day to become more future ready? And this is a great blueprint to get people to think.

Bill: [00:36:22] Thank you for that. We think it’s important. And our goal is to make the rest of the profession think that it’s important as well because you know in a lot of ways, the future of the profession kind of depends on it.

Peter: [00:36:41] Let me take you down this path because I think one of our challenges as a profession is to be future ready, we need to change the accounting curriculum at universities.

Bill: [00:36:55] We could we could spend like three or four hours talking about education and what needs to be done there… talk about a profession that that isn’t future ready. I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Not just in accounting education, but just in education in general because, in a lot of ways, we’re we’re we’re as you know we’re trying to educate people to become future leaders with tactics that are centuries old. Right. So so yeah I think you’re absolutely right. We do need to take a look at what we’re teaching kids not just and, not just the university but but in high school and even earlier. What things are they really going to need? Seth Godin. Another one. I I keep going back to Seth because he’s just brilliant I believe. But he wrote a book one time. He’s written a number of books that this book was called Indispensable, I believe that might not be the name but I’ll go look that up. But in it, he put he put forth his his idea of what the future of education should look like, and it’s a little radical. He says the only thing that we should be teaching our kids is leadership skills and problems solving, how to solve really hard problems. Everything else they can find online. Right now I think there’s a… I think that’s going a little further out than even I’m prepared do. But the point is yeah I think we need to take a good hard look at how we’re educating folks to become ready for tomorrow because, in a lot of ways, education is still stuck in yesterday.

Peter: [00:38:36] Well, if you think about it, the way the current system is set up when they come out, the responsibility now is to teach them today versus what was taught is now on the employer. The employers will have to invest much more… a lot more money into their employees to get them future ready no matter what profession they go into.

Bill: [00:39:00] Yeah I agree. I think there is that the employers do share a good chunk of responsibility for making sure their teams have the skills that they’re going to need. I think there’s a lot of personal responsibility as well. Myself, as as an employee. This is my career we’re talking about right. My future. So if I’m not getting the skills from my employer, where am I going to get them? And take it upon yourself to get out there and ensure that you know that you’re you’re going to remain relevant going forward as well. So I think responsibility for doing the stuff… I think it lies with everybody quite frankly.

Peter: [00:39:40] And even those who are going to be retiring out of the profession – leave better than when you got it. And don’t turn a blind eye. Invest in the people, give them the skills that they need so they can be successful, and your organization can continue to grow.

Bill: [00:39:59] Yeah believe it or not I’m just now reading Good to Great by Jim Collins. That’s one book that has just escaped me. But he makes a point you know to the leaders of great companies spend more time on the people side of the equation and preparing to turn their organizations over to really talented folks when they lead. Right. It’s all about succession and surrounding yourself with the best people possible. And a lot of that is making sure that they have the skills to continue to grow going forward.

Peter: [00:40:30] I’ve heard that you want to be that you want to be the weakest link amongst your five closest confidants.

Bill: [00:40:40] Yeah. That’s that’s a that’s a great that’s a great analogy.

Peter: [00:40:44] And I’m really good at being the weakest link amongst my 5.

Bill: [00:40:48] I’m brilliant at it. What’s that old saying that you know if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. You want to surround yourself with people who are way smarter than you. And because that’s you know that’s how things get done.

Peter: [00:41:05] Well I was going to close then of you by asking you because I’m always fascinated, What are you reading these days, But you are you alluded to Good to Great, and I still haven’t picked that book up but that’s that should be something I should read. What have you read lately?

Bill: [00:41:22] Well let’s see. I had actually been doing a lot of reading from a series of books from an organization called EOS, which stands for the entrepreneurial operating system, but they’ve got a series of books about you know how you can get more out of your business. And some great tools for how to do that, and so I’ve been reading… one of them is called Traction, which is just a great kind of business book that lays out this system for for getting more out of your business from start to finish. So that was really good. The other one that was almost life changing in a way it was just such a fantastic new book is called Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman, who is he’s also a Pulitzer prize winning columnist for The New York Times, and he spent a lot of time talking about the change and transformation that we’re seeing in the world today not just from things like Moore’s Law which you alluded to earlier. That’s the idea that computing power doubles every every two years or so and that’s what’s what’s leading to all of this transformational change. But he’s also talking about societal changes as well, with things like climate change and how all of these things are kind of dovetailing to make our world really really complex so thank you for being late was was just an eye opening book for me. I highly recommend that.

Peter: [00:42:42] Freidman He was he wrote… was he the one who wrote The World is Flat?

Bill: [00:42:46] Yes.

Peter: [00:42:46] OK. OK. OK. Have you read the book by John Medina called Brain Rules?

Bill: [00:42:53] No no no.

Peter: [00:42:54] You should pick that up and read it. It’s He’s he’s a neuroscientist that actually wrote about the brain book, but put it in a language that we all can understand. And this was introduced to me through a professor of psychiatry at Michigan State University, who was the past president of the National Speakers Association. He came to talk to our chapter and it talks a lot about how… he put in the context of presentations. PowerPoint were more visionary and just gave me some really interesting ideas and thoughts. And I I read that book I was as fast as I’d become fascinated by how the brain works and how the more or less how the audience brain reacts to things that we do, in order to make it easier for them. And then the one that I’m reading now I finally picked up and started reading Steve Jobs autobiography and I’m kind of taking the Steve Jobs approach today. I’m barefoot at work and I haven’t showered today, but that was fascinated me about him. I didn’t realize. I mean he wouldn’t bathe for a week or so.

Bill: [00:43:59] It’s that that kind of mad genius thing going on is. Who was it Einstein who had like seven copies of the same suit. So he wouldn’t have to think about what he was going to wear or something like that. I forget if it was Einstein or somebody else. But yeah you know that’s… I think there’s something to that, that people who change the world don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about fashion you know.

Peter: [00:44:24] Right. Well cool. Well Bill thanks very much for spending time I know that you’re very busy because I heard your slack noise go off in the back.

Bill: [00:44:33] I apologize for that. I had to shut it down.

Peter: [00:44:35] No worries. I’ve been I’ve been introduced to slack from my producer. He likes to communicate with his clients that way. So when I heard that noise. Oh. And you get a lot more slack correspondence I know than I do.

Bill: [00:44:48] And it sometimes can be a little overwhelming and I just every now and then I got to shut it off so I can get some actual work done. But yeah it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. It’s always good to talk to you.

Peter: [00:45:01] Any time. And and I will make this plug. I don’t know the date yet and maybe Bill can share that. But the MACPA is coming out with our own podcast here in the very near future.

Bill: [00:45:14] Yes yes. We are still in the very early stages of planning it. But again it’s going to be kind of focused in on this notion of being… how to become future ready right. And we talked to so many people and heard so many leaders kind of expound on this subject that we thought it would be fun to have conversations with them and share some their ideas for how this profession can kind of move down that road. So look for that hopefully at some point this fall or winter. We will start rolling out.

[music]

Peter: [00:45:50] In episode 73, my guest is Dr. Alan Patterson, who’s the author of the book Leader Evolution: From Technical Expertise to Strategic Leadership, and is one of the business learning institute’s thought leaders.

 

Resources:

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 71 – The Accidental Tour Guide: Peter’s Favorite Places to Eat in the U.S.

We’re doing something a little different today: Peter shares his favorite places to eat all over the country. He was inspired by former guest Clarke Price, who keeps a record of every restaurant he visits and often suggests new places for Peter to try.

 

New Orleans:

 

The Greater Baltimore Area:

 

Bloomington, Minnesota:

 

Seattle, Washington:

 

Bellevue, Washington:

 

Atlanta, Georgia:

 

Charleston, South Carolina:

 

Nashville, Tennessee:

 

The Greater New York City Area:

 

Lincoln, Nebraska:

 

Download this Episode MP3.

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Improv is no Joke – Episode 71 – Solo

Peter: [00:00:00] The triple delight which is a soy-wrapped salmon avocado roll topped with diced yellowtail. Norwegian salmon. Tuna with ponzu. Siracha. Spicy mayo garnish with avocado. Oh my goodness. This was sushi heaven.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:26] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:57] Welcome to episode 71. And today I wanted to do something just a little bit different. And I got this idea years ago from Clarke price. If you remember, Clarke Price is the retired CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. And when I would be visiting a city for the first time, I would email Clark and ask him for his restaurant recommendations. Now Clark traveled the United States extensively and he’s eaten at a variety of restaurants, and he has kept records on these restaurants and what he had for dinner. Suggestions have always been spot on. And in a future episode I would like to interview Clarke on his vast list of restaurants. But today I want to share with you some of my favorite restaurants. The first stop is New Orleans Louisiana. One of my top five cities to visit in the United States. To be honest I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there since I was a sophomore at the University of Kentucky when my buddy Brad Montgomery and I jumped in the car one day and drove to New Orleans to watch Kentucky play Tulane University. I have been back at least 10 if not 20 times in my lifetime. And like I said is one of my favorite cities for the music for the atmosphere but especially for the food. Every time I visit my first stop is to the Gumbo Shop at 6:30 St Peter’s Street, and I order the same thing every time. I order a cup with the seafood okra gumbo, which consists of okra onions bell peppers celery and a tiny bit of tomato sauteed and blended with shrimp and crabs and a thick brown creole soup served over rice. I follow that with the creole combination platter which is a large platter of shrimp creole, jambalaya and red beans and rice. And I wash it down with a nice ice cold Dixie beer or an abita beer. Oh man I can I can taste it right now. If you want to visit the gumbo shop, You can look at their website at www.GumboShop.com. They also have a retail outlet and I have bought their cookbook and it’s one of my top 5 cookbooks that I go to, especially especially when I want to cook some seafood. After the Gumbo Shop my next favorite restaurant is Mr. B’s Bistro, located at 201 Royale street. Every time I go once again I get the same thing. I get a seafood gumbo which as they describe it on the menu a classic New Orleans gumbo with Gulf shrimp crab meat oysters and okra. But the main entree there is Mr. B. Barbecued shrimp. This is Mr. B signature dish called shrimp barbecue New Orleans style served in the shells with a peppery butter sauce and French bread for dipping. Let me kind of describe a peppery buttery sauce. Think about a stick of butter that’s been melted that contains pepper, worcestershire sauce and some other flavors that the shrimp are just swimming in. And it’s a peel and eat, and when you’re done you just dip that French bread in that butter sauce and it’s just so wonderful and the whole time you can hear your arteries. You can find them at www.MrBsBistro.com. The next restaurant I went to in New Orleans is called the Pelican Club and they’re located at 312 exchange place. Last time I went I got to Louisiana Cioppino, which in its own pot filled with gulf fish shrimp scallops mussels and little neck clams with the side of linguini and a tomato basil sauce. Oh my God this stuff was so fabulous. And you can find them at www.PelicanClub.com. This next restaurant I’ll be honest I hadn’t been there in years but I can still taste the food today and it’s k-paul’s Louisiana Kitchen at 416 Charter Street and what I remember about this restaurant was that my wife and I had to stand in line and it was a long wait wait a while, but when we got there I do remember ordering a Cajun martini which had a nice little kick to it. But what I remember most of all was that plate of classic crawfish etoufee… Oh man. It is crawfish smothered in brown gravy made in a rich seafood stock. Brown flour onions bell pepper celery garlic seasonings and served with rice veggies. I can still tell every time I have crawfish at any other restaurant. My mind immediately goes back to K. Paul’s, and you can find them at KPauls.com. Now this last restaurant in New Orleans was just introduced to me by my good friend Mike Sciortino. Mike came down and took me to Drago’s seafood which is located at 2 Pointers Street inside the Hilton Riverside Hotel. See I was actually delivering a conference I was speaking at a conference and Mike came down and asked me this question. Do you like oysters? I said oh my god I love oysters. Have you ever tried grilled oysters? Never even heard of them. And he had this look of amazement on his face because he knew how much I’ve been informed he knew. He knows how much I enjoy their food. And he said Well luckily that this restaurant is actually in the hotel that you’re staying in. So we went down and ordered a… I ordered a dozen of these original charbroiled oysters and it’s been known as a single best bite of food in New Orleans and I can tell you what. That’s absolutely correct. I’m craving them and it’s been maybe five or six months since I’ve been there. And now that it’s September, it’s a month with an R, I’m looking to find oysters here in Columbus Ohio and actually try to make this recipe because it’s along the same lines that Mr. b.s Bistro. What gives its deliciousness is butter. Theye are charbroiled in the shell and there’s a special buttery mix that they have on top of it. Look on the website or look on line and see if I can find the recipe. But I tell you what. It’s well worth the price of admission. So next time you are in New Orleans and you love oysters you’ve got to go to Drago’s seafood and order the original char broiled oysters and you can find them at dragosrestaurant.com. Now the next city or the next area of the country will go to the Baltimore Maryland area. Now I’ve been in and out of Maryland and the Baltimore area a number of times over the last seven eight years because of my relationship with the Maryland association and the business learning institute, and I will be transparent here. Normally when I travel on business and I’ve got a speaking engagement I rarely go out to eat and I usually order food in. But this is one of the times that I have ventured out or been taken out by some of the team at the Maryland Association of CPAs. And the first place I want to mention… it was new introduced to me just this year called Cunninghams. It’s at 1 Olympic place in Towson and this is a restaurant of farm to table. And one of the appetizers we had that night was pork belly and shrimp dumplings. You know what pork belly is? It’s bacon. Pork belly and shrimp dumplings with citrus soy dip in sauce and sprouts. Oh my god. My mouth is water and uncontrollably it was so so good. And then I ordered that evening… I love ahi tuna and I love it as lightly seared as possible almost almost shishimi style. There’s seared ahi tuna was prepared with a jerk rub which cantaloupe and corn salsa. It was out of this world and the Web site is CunninghamsTownson.com. The next restaurant is called Micheal’s and said to one 2119 York Road in Timonium, Maryland, just just outside of Baltimore. Now what I would say is that they have probably the best if not second best crab cake I have ever eaten. And this is in line with a place that I went to many many years ago. My wife and I were visiting St. Petersburg. I went to this restaurant called Fetishes. It’s a restaurant with the name Fetishes. Small place in St. Petersburg only beer and wine. But their crab cakes were to die for. Just like Michael’s. I mean buttery and they were they were broiled and I think we actually had some fried ones too and I could have just ate them all night long. Topped off with some Maryland crab soup. Because when you go to Maryland you’ve got to have the crab. Now this last restaurant I’m going to mention… you might think it’s a little strange because it’s a Gachu house of sushi located at the BWI Airport. That’s right it’s it’s Airport sushi. But please don’t don’t. I’ve tried airport sushi all around the country. I’ve got one I’m going to share here in Atlanta. I even tried airport sushi in Philadelphia. And People don’t think I’m a risk taker? Wow. That was taking a risk. But this place it’s it’s in concourse A of the BWI Airport. And the last time I was there I had the triple delite which is a soy wrapped salmon avocado roll topped with diced yellowtail Norwegian salmon to know what ponzu. Siracha. Spicy mayo garnish with avocado. Oh my goodness. This was sushi heaven. So if you’re ever in the BWI Airport and you love sushi and I’ve eaten there a number of times over the years and the quality of the food just keep stepping up higher and higher and higher and higher. Now one of my goals over the next year or two in the Baltimore area is to visit more restaurants because I’m a fan of the Food Network and diners drive ins and dives. And when you’ve got a special a one hour special just on Baltimore you know there’s a lot of wonderful restaurants that I have yet to visit and that will be on my bucket list over the next two years. Next city I want to stop in to is Bloomington, Minnesota, which is just north of Minneapolis. And this restaurant that I frequent every time I go there it’s called Ciao Bella and it’s located 3501 Minnesota drive. Now I’m Greek. I grew up in restaurants. I’m probably very critical as it relates to customer service. I have written two blog postings about this restaurant because they take customer service to the nth degree to a level that only very very few restaurants I’ve ever seen. And the back story of this is as I walked into the restaurant around five o’clock and the place was packed, and since I usually sit by myself I usually sit at the bar and bar area was packed except for this one seat right behind the bar taps. So immediately I knew I was going to be invisible. Within a matter of moments somebody came up took my drink order, and then soon thereafter gave me a menu and it was almost like I wasn’t invisible – The bar taps were invisible. And when it came time to cash out, I noticed that they didn’t charge me for one of my cocktails, which I made a comment to them and they said well you’re not from around these parts are you? I said no I’m visiting from Columbus, Ohio. Well we thought so, so the first round’s on us. We want to make you feel at home. Shut the front door – Are you kidding me? Who does that? So I came back the next night and once again packed. But this time I had to sit at the other end the bar behind the bar taps. And once again I wasn’t invisible but I sat next to this guy who said that he’s been coming there for a number of years and will not eat anywhere but there, and he went on to tell me that the turnover in this restaurant was almost minimal. He started the name of all the waiters and waitresses and the bar back and give me the background and children at first it kind of creeped me out but he said it’s like one big happy family here. And when the bartender walked by he looked at me and kind of shook his finger because he kind of recognized my face from the night before. You’re your maker’s mark on the rocks. So every time I go back and it’s been at least two times a year for the past three to four years. They remember me now and I share the story and like I said I’ve written a couple. They get it when it comes to customer service. And when I even mentioned when I’m in my classes if anybody has ever eaten at Ciao Bella, there’s nothing but wonderful things to say. And there’s always some great story in their comments back to me. So one of my favorite dishes there is… you might find this little surprising after the last thing I mentioned about sushi but it’s the ahi tuna burger, which is number one sushi grade avocado with Fresno chili Aoli. Or the tortillioni rosa Molinari, which is sausage sweet peppers roasted red peppers Romano cheese and a thick kind of tomato sauce. Now if you go in ask for the bar manager Susan or one of the bartenders Damien, and ask for some of the wait staff. One person taught me this. Tell them that Pete Margaritis said hello. They might remember me but they might not, but if you tell them that I’ve written a couple articles for them, I’m in there as much as possible. I actually love the place. They’ll remember me and you can find them. CiaoBellaMN.com. I love going to the west coast and one of my favorite cities is Seattle. I mean as you can tell I love my seafood. I love seafood in all way shape and form, and one time I was in Seattle and my brother worked as a vice president of visual merchandising for Express, and he happened to be in Seattle at the same time. So we met downtown at the restaurant called Purple cafe and wine bar, which is located on 1225 Fourth Avenue. It kind of really kind of an eclectic place you know big windows kind of dark and somewhat of a noise level. But I had the pan roasted Alaskan halibut. It was like butter. It just melted in my mouth. It had this cheery carrot puree and poached leeks and fava beans with a pea shoot salad. I’m starting to get a watery mouth as I’m speaking here but there’s another fun restaurant to go to and they’re looking at purplecafe.com. Now I love sushi and when I’m in Bellevue, Washington, which is where the Washington society of CPAs is located, I stop off at Seastar, which is located at the corner of 108th Avenue Northeast and 2nd Street. I mean they’ve got wonderful sushi and they’ve got a wonderful sushi and happy hour, and some of my favorite sushi there is a jalapeno salmon roll or you know traditional kind of spicy tuna roll or a the red salmon nigiri. I’ve had a variety of sushi there. I’ve had a variety of food. But those three stand out in my mind. And if you’re ever in Bellevue or you’re heading that way, look up Seastarrestaurant.com and check out the menu. Great place. As Clarke Price would say, they get great groceries there. The city of Atlanta, Georgia and I recently was taken to this restaurant called Canoe by the CEO of the Georgia society’s CPA, Boyd Search, and the COO, Greg Wilder, with two other members of the Georgia society of CPAs, Brandon Vernon and Leslie Bucy. This place is pretty cool. It’s you know tucked away overlooking I believe is the Caloosahatchee River. It’s located at 4199 Paces Ferry Road. And we had something really interesting that night we started off with as an appetizer we had peppercorn crusted kangaroo loin. That’s right. I said kangaroo loin. And this was just wonderful. It was all hoppy. Put a little spring back on our step. I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself, but it was really really good. It was extremely tender. That night I had Alaskan halibut with an east coast shellfish noodles pickle and coconut with lemon grass broth, and I can just say that it just kind of disappeared rather quickly because it was absolutely wonderful. And Boyd got this really interesting burger. It was called a duck and beef burger and it had a Sunnyside egg on it with wilted spinach pickled onion and truffle fries. The truffle fries were to die for. I couldn’t pry that duck burger away from him. But man it looked really really good. And you can find them at CanoeATL.com. Now my all time favorite airport sushi restaurant is called One Flew South and is located in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Concourse A. This place is packed all the time. And the reason why is because they have outstanding food. It’s a blend of it’s like a blend of sushi and a blend of Southern food. I haven’t had the Southern food because once I went and tasted the Kamakazi role it had me hooked for life, which in the Kamakazi really good tuna salmon hamachi spicy mayo white seaweed and eel sauce. And it’s just so fresh. The other one I like a lot is the salmon and avocado roll, which is a spicy salmon cracklin with a cucumber Greek yogurt sauce accompanied with it. It is fabulous and you can find them at oneflewsouthATL.com. This next city I’ve recently been introduced to about four years ago is Charleston, South Carolina, and that’s where my publisher is located, Advantage Media Group, and the restaurant that I absolutely love when I go to Charleston. The name of it’s called SNOB, and it stands for slightly north of broad. It’s located in 192 East Bay street. Now if my memory serves me correct I did ask Clarke for a recommendation for a restaurant to go and I think it was something along the lines of Cotton, but they were actually closed that evening for a private party and this was a sister restaurant across the street. And I sat at the bar and ordered the barbecued tuna which is topped with fried oysters green onions and a country ham butter along with a mustard barbecue sauce, a South Carolina barbecue sauce. It was absolutely fabulous. And my publisher actually published a cookbook for this restaurant that they sent me a copy of and that’s on my list of something to make is that barbecued tuna, and you can find them at snobcharleston.com. Now I love BBQ and one of my favorite barbecue towns is Nashville, Tennessee, and my favorite restaurant at Nashville, Tennessee is called Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant but I’m not. I think it originally was founded many many years you know it was a grocery and a restaurant. They kept it. But it’s actually just a wonderful restaurant. There’s multiple locations. But the one that I ate out was 500 Church Street downtown Nashville. So I had the Puckett’s barbecue and you get your choice of pulled pork chicken or brisket slow smoked over cherrywood and you top it was slaw to make it Memphis style. And I had this pulled pork sandwich topped with this slaw and fries with it. And it was it was really really wonderful. But the one thing as I’m sitting at the bar eating this I was watching the bartender and he was making this bloody Mary, and at a glance I thought he put in barbecue sauce into the bloody mary and actually he did. They make their bloody marys spicy barbecue sauce which really sends a bloody Mary to a whole other level. So if you ever in Nashville, Tennessee, I like Jack’s barbecue which is in downtown across from sort of cross from Bridgestone Arena… But by far this is my favorite barbecue place in Nashville and it’s Puckettsgro.com/Nashville. When I’m in New York there’s so much wonderful food everywhere. And I’ve been to New York City and a New York area a number of times, and I could do probably just a whole episode on New York City area restaurants. But there’s two that just really jump out at me. And one of them is Taverna Kyclades, which is located at 33-07 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, New York. Now this is a Greek restaurant and I don’t normally go out to Greek restaurants because my family does a wonderful job and I’m an extremely big critic when it comes to Greek food because I’ve had some of the best from my grandmother my mother my mother in law goes on and on and on and on. But this place stood out. And the thing that really made it stand out for me is I love I love calamari. I love squid. But I’m not much of a… I don’t really like it when it’s fried. There’s a few places I’ve had it fried but I prefer grilled, and they had on the special that night at this restaurant a stuffed squid that I wish I could remember what it was stuff with but all I just remember it was tender. It was wonderful. My niece lives there and when I do get a chance to visit with her I we go to this restaurant or try something new. But of all the ones that I’ve tried in the Astoria area, which is basically little Greek Town, this restaurant by far head and shoulders wins every time especially with a stuffed squid as an entree. The next restaurant in New York City area is Estiatorio Milos, which is located on one 125th West 55th Street in New York. And this is another Greek restaurant. And what makes this restaurant so unique is they fly their seafood in every single day from the Mediterranean. That’s right. Fresh fish fresh seafood that’s flown in every day from the Mediterranean. And yes it is expensive. But let me tell you it’s worth it because if you get the fish of the day or something along those lines you get up from your table and you pick the fish that you want to have prepared for you from the ice display near where the kitchen is located. And it is the freshest by far best fish that I’ve ever eaten. It’s right up there. I mean it’s… those restaurants that I’ve said in this podcast have fresh fish whatever. They all do. But this… must be because it’s from the Mediterranean. It just takes it to a whole new level. And they’ve got a wonderful variety of food. They’ve got a lot of obviously Greek food on the menu. And there used to be on the menu. I’m actually looking at it now. They used to have a soup for two. I believe they’ve probably taken it off because of the amount of heart attacks people would have because the soup was priced at about $130 for a bowl of two. And then all this fresh seafood in that soup. So if in the Greater New York City area those are my two favorite restaurants, and they happen to be two Greek restaurants. And finally the newest addition. I just recently came back from two days in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I was introduced to this restaurant called The Dish Restaurant which is located at 1100 O street in Lincoln Nebraska. I was introduced to this restaurant by Ryan Parker, who’s the CEO of Endicott clay products and is the current incoming chair at the Nebraska Society of CPAs. This restaurant was located near my hotel that I was staying. And as I as I’ve been reading this most of most of what I’ve had to eat is seafood related and once again it was I had coriander dusted scallops, which had summer succotash tomato coolly chive oil cilantro watercress lime confit and carrot salsa. It was wonderful. I mean it just disappeared. But the one thing I would say about this restaurant if you go to the dish restaurant just know that they have mushroom scallops on the menu, but they’re not scallops. they’re mushrooms that look like scallops. And the waiter shared a story that he had somebody say these are the worst tasting scallops ever. And he said sir they’re really not scallops. These are mushrooms that look like scallops. And I said well still. Worst-tasting scallops I’ve ever had. We all got a big laugh at that. But the seafood was wonderful. It’s a quaint little place in downtown Lincoln Nebraska and well well worth a visit. And thank you Ryan for introducing me to this restaurant because hopefully when I’m back in the Lincoln Nebraska area I’ll go back there again and sample more. Oh and the other thing I just thought about – another reason I liked this restaurant is… you know people ask ask me what do you think the world’s worst invention is. And I find that very easy. I think it’s the alcohol pour regulator. You know the thing that pours that collects an ounce and then lets it loose? This place pours free handed. All these restaurants I go to, I prefer a free handed port just like most people would prefer a free handed pour versus the alcohol regulator poor. So that was another thing that just impressed me. I just thought about this since it’s so fresh in my mind. Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip down restaurant lane through a variety of cities in the U.S. I think it’s fun. I do have the opportunity to visit a lot of different restaurants in my travels and I’m going to do a better job of eating out more and maybe doing more of these because I really love. I love restaurants and I will say all these restaurants I’ve mentioned the one theme outside of just outstanding food the one theme that they all have is great customer service because I’ve always said you can have… You can have the best food and the worst service and most people won’t come back again. But all these places had wonderful service with Ciao Bella being a step above all of them. But I had great service great food great conversation. The places weren’t overly loud. And it was a lot of fun so I hope you enjoy this episode on restaurants. Thank you.

[music]

Peter: [00:29:50] Now before I close this episode I would like to take a moment to talk about the first five episodes of this podcast are now qualified for CPE self-study credit in the NASBA category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clarke Price, former CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. Mike Sciortino, author of Gratitude Marketing. Tom Hood… Well you’ve been introduced to him and you will be introduced to him again. Ed Mendlowitz, who’s a partner at Withum, Smith, and Brown. And Karl Ahlrichs, who’s H.R. professional at Gregory and Appel. These episodes are located on the MACPA-BLI self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create an account and purchase an episode. You can listen to them on your daily commute or while working out, or even at your desk! When you’re finished, take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my web site, only those purchased to the MACPA-BLI self-study Website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. This is not nano-learning – this is self-study learning. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic: Listen, Learn, and Earn improvs is no joke podcasts on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. Remember, you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. In episode 72, I interviewed Bill Sheridan, who’s the chief communications officer at the Maryland Association of CPAs and author of the white paper, Human Work in the Age of Machines: Five Steps for Building a Future Ready Finance Team. Thank you again for listening and I greatly appreciate it if you’d leave a review on iTunes. It helps to show with greater visibility. And always remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization.

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 70 – Annie Conderacci: Facilitating Growth & Positive Change with Improv

 

Annie Conderacci is a change management consultant and a passionate student of improv. She studied and performed improv at The Second City, Annoyance Theater, and IO Chicago, and she performs improv and sketch all around the city.

As a change and management consultant, Annie frequently uses her improv skills to facilitate growth and positive change in organizations. Throughout the interview, she does an outstanding job of describing how improv can be applied to business, and discusses how you can use improv to defuse difficult situations.

Annie fell in love with Improv the first time she saw Second City – she went to business school in Chicago so that she could also take classes.

She was first drawn to the culture of imperfection. When she saw that you can make mistakes sometimes, and you don’t have to be perfect or even scripted, something clicked.

As she moved up through the levels at Second City, it got more challenging… but it never stopped being fun or supportive. One of the most important lessons that she learned, and that she still applies in the workplace, is that you can challenge people in a way that makes them feel supported and taken care of, and that allows them to take bigger risks than they might in a safe environment.

The freedom to fail is important, and that can mean something as simple as framing failure as a learning opportunity. Improvisers will have so many bad shows – way more bad than good – but it’s the bad shows that they really learn the most from.

And it’s important to note that, even if you are in the worst culture in the world, you can still do something within your own space, and you can make the conscious decision to not perpetuate a culture that is counterproductive. If you’re fun to work with, people are going to want to work with you, especially if your methods create results.

Improv also teaches us greater empathy, and it teaches us to acknowledge the way other people feel. Always saying Yes, And forces you to consider the other person’s point of view and add to it, as opposed to dismissing it; Yes, And helps you unlearn unproductive behavior. This is a powerful life tool that helps on stage, at work, and at home.

Can you imagine how powerful it would be if people learned these skills as kids?

If we started with kids, and kids could start acknowledging these behaviors early, building good teams, developing leadership skills, thinking quickly on your feet, and supporting each other… that may actually make a great difference in the world.

Annie works with an incredible non profit called Room2Improv that works with children in Chicago. “By teaching them how to explore, embrace and adopt the techniques of improvisation into everyday living, we motivate individuals to care about themselves and others, make healthy choices and effective decisions and use their confidence to overcome their fears.”

Download this Episode MP3.

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Improv Is No Joke – Episode 70 – Annie Conderacci

Annie: [00:00:00] So that moment that you know even when things aren’t perfect that you can still enjoy it and that you can watch these actors enjoy themselves messing up and relishing in the mistakes. You know the happy accidents they make. I just really wanted to be a part of that.

Peter: [00:00:27] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.

Peter: [00:00:58] Welcome to episode 70 and today my guest is Annie Conderacci, who’s a change management consultant and has studied and performed improv at The Second City, Annoyance Theater, and IO Chicago. She performs improv and sketch comedy all around the city of Chicago. She’s a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a graduate of Rice University. As a change and management consultant, she frequently uses her improv skills to facilitate growth and positive change in organizations. Annie does an outstanding job of describing how improv does apply in business and discusses how you can use improv to defuse difficult situations. My advice to my audience is that if anything that Annie talks about resonates with you, go back and listen to the episode again and then go to her podcast episode on my website and download the transcript. This is great stuff. Before you get to that interview, I would like to talk about the first five episodes of this podcast are now qualified for CPE self-study credit in the NASBA category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clarke Price, former CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. Mike Sciortino, author of Gratitude Marketing. Tom Hood… Well you’ve been introduced to him and you will be introduced to him again. Ed Mendlowitz, who’s a partner at Withum, Smith, and Brown. And Karl Ahlrichs, who’s H.R. professional at Gregory and Appel. These episodes are located on the MACPA-BLI self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create an account and purchase an episode. You can listen to them on your daily commute or while working out, or even at your desk! When you’re finished, take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my web site, only those purchased to the MACPA-BLI self-study Website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic: Listen, Learn, and Earn improvs is no joke podcasts on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. OK now let’s get to the interview with Annie Conderacci.

Peter: [00:03:38] Annie, welcome to improvs is no joke. Thank you so very much for taking time out of your busy day to have a conversation with me about really the power of improvisation.

Annie: [00:03:52] Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to chat about it.

Peter: [00:03:56] And I can already tell just within a few moments this episode is going to be ten times better than the one I’ve done with your dad.

Annie: [00:04:02] I’m sure it is.

Peter: [00:04:04] Hahaha. And I’m hoping. I hope he’s laughing right now.

Annie: [00:04:09] Well you know he wasn’t trained the way I was trained so you know he’s self-taught.

Peter: [00:04:13] Hahaha. Exactly. So I’m curious to start out if you could give the audience the backstory on how you found yourself attracted, enamored by improv, and how you took that and created something really cool for yourself.

Annie: [00:04:35] Sure sure. So I guess my whole life I been a fan of comedy Saturday Night Live but I never really thought it was something that you could pursue professionally or in your free time. It was not something… especially I grew up in Baltimore. There weren’t a lot of improv theatres or teams. You can do and kind of in college as a hobby but that seemed too terrifying to me. So really it was after my first promotion and as a consultant that I was trying to think about now that I got this promotion What do I really want to do and how do I really add value? What are my skills? So I asked my teammates, I asked people I worked for where do I really differentiate myself, and what came back was really it’s how you kind can bring people together as a team. Your sense of humor really helps. You are kind of this beacon of you know fun in a kind of boring workplace or a stressful workplace, and just around that time a few of my colleagues and I went to Chicago, saw a show in Second City, and a light bulb went off and I said I have to do this. I don’t know what that means. But at second city they close every show with smart marketing saying if you want to do this and it looks like fun, come to the training center. And I was hooked so I knew I had to go there. So the way I plAnnied that out was that if I got into business school, work would transfer me up there and I could take classes at Second City, which was a very expensive and roundabout way of getting there but it didn’t seem to work out, which I’m very happy.

Peter: [00:06:24] So you were working by day and improvising at night.

Annie: [00:06:29] Yes. Improvising and going to business school at night.

Peter: [00:06:33] Oh oh oh wow both at night.

Annie: [00:06:35] Yes. So sometimes I was getting to work at 6:30 so I could make class by six and then make rehearsal by night. It was intense.

Peter: [00:06:45] So you never slept?

Annie: [00:06:47] No no no I did not sleep. But. I’m really grateful for that time it was… Talk about energy management. That was a time when I needed it.

Peter: [00:06:56] Oh yeah exactly. So what was it. What was the big aha moment that you had? Do you remember what it was in either watching the show or your first bet at the workshop that really grabbed you and said This is me? This. I get it.

Annie: [00:07:14] So there were a few. I think that first show part of it was realizing that you can have mistakes and everything is not perfect all the time and it’s not scripted, but that even watching the actors make mistakes and embrace those mistakes and have fun doing it… that fun was contagious. So there’s you know I kind of came into it with my hands or arms folded saying you know which make me laugh. Let’s see what you can do. And it wasn’t necessarily scripted content they weren’t workshopped and work work work that made me laugh the most. It was that that energy is contagious and that camaraderie was contagious and you all kind of felt like you’re in a living room at a party with your friends kind of just fooling around and playing games and making things up. It really is electric. So that moment that you know even when things aren’t perfect that you can still enjoy it and that you can watch these actors enjoy themselves messing up and relishing in the mistakes. You know the happy accidents they make. I just really wanted to be a part of that. And then my first class so I took my first class level A with Brian Posehn.

Peter: [00:08:28] Oh yes.

Annie: [00:08:28] Amazing.

Peter: [00:08:29] Amazing amazing.

Annie: [00:08:31] Absolutely amazing. And that first class was… I never felt so instantly part of an ensemble, part of the crew. And like whatever I did was right in that I couldn’t say anything wrong, that the group was there to support me, and that it just felt like you know the best play date you had as a kid.

Peter: [00:09:00] Hahaha.

Annie: [00:09:00] You know your parents set you up on these blind dates. But kids don’t think it’s awkward. Right. They they click you know and they just they are the best improvisers right because they just make stuff up and have a ball. And it was just unlearning a lot of these behaviors we have that oh that’s awkward or oh I shouldn’t say that – it was just so such a blast. And I got the bug I mean from that first class I just had to keep doing it.

Peter: [00:09:29] I just… I had Brian as– I was up for a three day intensive and Brian Posehn was my very first instructor. And you’re right. I mean it was it was such a potpourri of people that were in this group. There was actually like an ER doctor, a heart surgeon. I was I was the token accountant.

Annie: [00:09:49] Haha. It sounds like a bar joke.

Peter: [00:09:52] Yeah it does! But almost immediately the group kind of came together and he had a great way of having his you know his mAnnierisms and the way he did. But it was way that just brought everybody together. And I would walk back to my hotel taking notes in my notepad and just fill this thing up. And that was the best three days and I came back from that and I could not stop talking. It’s like you got me — I’m talking about it again!

Annie: [00:10:21] Yeah yeah yeah. His energy is contagious. I mean he’s just an incredible teacher. And I had Jay Suko a couple terms later and he was the same similar experience of just feeling like that level was more challenging. So I felt more challenge but at the same time so supported, which I think that was one of the lessons I learned that I really ended up taking back to work quite a bit is that you can still challenge people in a way that makes them feel supported and taken care of, and you can take bigger risks if you feel like you’re in a safe environment.

Peter: [00:11:01] Exactly. And I think that’s a big challenge in corporate America is one the ability to take risks because those who I’ve talked to the mantra that I hear is the C-suite wants us to you know think outside the box. But if we don’t have the right– if we think outside of the box and it fails we will lose our job.

Annie: [00:11:21] Mhm.

Peter: [00:11:21] So there is not there’s not that level of support there. You know it’s is the fear factor versus the environment that you know as I say bad ideas are just bridges to good ideas.

Annie: [00:11:32] For sure for sure. And you know it’s it’s that’s what I loved about… You know creating an ensemble where you trust each other. Right. Is that I’m going to say whatever I have at the top of my brain. I may judge it. But I have a group of people who won’t, who’ll say yeah that’s ridiculous. Let’s go with that and let’s see what we can build together. You know so that’s why you have a hot dog stand on Mars.

Peter: [00:12:02] Hahaha.

Annie: [00:12:02] Because why not. And I think in in business you know. Right. I think drawing that bridge between you know you’re not building a hot dog stand on Mars in business, unless you’re maybe Elon Musk. But you know this idea that if I’m soliciting ideas, there are no bad ones it’s just… if we can’t do that, let’s go with what’s pragmatic. What can we do that’s close to that? Right so you want hot to stand in you know the conference room. Probably not. But what is it about a stand that you want? And by saying yeah OK how could we make that work or what else is like that that we can do, it frees people up to you know take risks and you get better work. People aren’t really motivated by fear, and you’ll get kind of safe decisions and safe work out of them, if they were motivated by fear.

Peter: [00:13:02] Right. And in order to come up with these ideas you have to have a culture that supports– you have to have a culture that supports failure.

Annie: [00:13:10] Yes. Yes, and that freedom to fail is so important. I think even just framing failure as learning opportunities. Right. Is that you know I think one of the great things about being an improviser is you will have so many bad shows – way more bad than good. But I think the culture is such that improvisors go see other improvisors perform all the time and at the end of the show someone will say you guys sucked. When are you playing again? It’s the joy of the bad show because that’s one more bad show that’s under your belt for the good show. Right. And then you can celebrate the good show. But you you have a bad show and you’re it’s just great. You know you can say that was really bad. You know I can learn from it. And it’s the bad shows that you really learn the most from.

Peter: [00:14:06] Exactly. I got to share a story with you. I was doing a workshop a creativity workshop for a company in the Baltimore area, and they had brought their emerging leaders in from the U.S. and Latin America, and I set the culture to say you know that bad ideas are just bridges to good ideas. Don’t don’t don’t censor yourself. Whatever said stays in this room. There’s no senior management here. Nobody’s going to– you know. And one of the areas that they wanted us to tackle was come up with some ideas on how to increase profitability. So I threw that out there, throw in ideas, you know raise revenues cut costs. OK OK we got that. Dig deeper. Let’s figure this out. And this one gentleman from Latin America says I’ll tell you what we’re go to do my friends. This is how we’re going to increase profitability in our company. We are going to kill all of our competition salespeople.

Annie: [00:14:58] Hahahaha. All right. That’s an approach.

Peter: [00:15:01] And everybody just broke out in laughter, and for a moment there I panicked and I went in my head like what the hell am I supposed to do with this? Then I went wait a minute! If you believe this…. Think about it for just a brief second. I looked at the group and said I’ll tell you what. Let’s play this idea but we’re going to take murder off the table because I don’t look good in orange or Orange Is The New Black.

Annie: [00:15:25] Haha. Right. Right.

Peter: [00:15:26] But instead of killing them, what if we identify our competition’s top sales people and, instead of killing them, let’s poach them. I said I still don’t know if we would have got to that in that session with out that one gentleman giving us a horrible bad idea.

Annie: [00:15:45] Right.

Peter: [00:15:45] But felt confident that the culture was going to support him. I don’t know if they implement it but just it led down this wonderful path.

Annie: [00:15:54] Yes yes completely and I think that culture… I know I heard it said many times right that culture comes from the top down. So when you’re not in the C-Suite what what is there to do? And I think we all own responsibility for continuing and perpetuating that culture. Right. So even if you know you are in you know the worst culture in the world, you can still do what you can within your own space, and you can make the conscious decision to not perpetuate a culture that is counterproductive. And really it’s… if you’re fun to work with, people are going to want to work with you, especially if your methods create some sort of results. Right. So nobody has to see the ugly process that you know the bad ideas that lead you to the good one. You know all your customers care about is the good one. Right. So it really is helpful to kind of get out the cobwebs and make people feel like I can learn, I can grow, and I’m with people that are going to support that process.

Peter: [00:17:01] I wholeheartedly agree. And you know I always think… is there two words that might be used in the workplace that might spur this kind of positive energy? I don’t know. I’m pondering. Do you happen to know a couple of them?

Annie: [00:17:16] I’d say Yes And! The cardinal rule. I’ve wanted to get a tattoo that says yes and forever, but you know after many conversations with my dad… He’s like you know you could just get a T-shirt. But you know I believe so wholehearted and that there is just such a mantra. Right. You know Jay Suko said that the yes is implied when you say and, which I like too – get it down to one word, but it really does… When you first start improvising, you are forced to say yes and, and you become so sensitive to how often you’re saying no. Or but or well…. You know it’s that No we are building this process together. See I just did it… it’s this instant agreement in that you feel like yes someone is on board, and we are now creating together. To the point that my dad has now trained himself to disagree with me using Yes And.

Peter: [00:18:30] Haha.

Annie: [00:18:30] So every time he disagrees with me it’s Yes, And… yeah my improvising guru friend, coach, mentor Jay Suko, who I will continue to sing his praises, his son and he were at the playground. A friend of mine told me the story secondhand. But his son who was three at the time was playing, and he asked him Jack do you want your sandwich now. And he said no. He says Jack what are we say in on our house? And Jack says yes, and later.

Peter: [00:19:07] Hahaha.

Annie: [00:19:08] But I think you know I laugh about it… But the idea if you think about how many times a toddler will hear the word no… having a dad who is you know the primary caretaker during the day who is pumping him full of yes and yes and yes and, you know you can see the kid is calm, he is happy, he is creative. So you know just seeing it in a family context is is really cool to watch.

Peter: [00:19:44] Well the next time you see Jay… how old is his son now?

Annie: [00:19:49] I think he’s about five.

Peter: [00:19:51] About five. So when he becomes a teenager, he’s really going to be challenged to maintain Yes And. And my son now is 17 but when he was 14 he came up to me one day and he says Daddy why are you yelling at me all the time? I am not yelling at you!

Annie: [00:20:13] Right right right.

Peter: [00:20:13] Then I start thinking about my conversations and I was going yes but no because….and my book had just come out and I went Oh my God I I didn’t see it. I was I was I was completely blind to it. So I consciously made an effort to not say no and but, and just Yes And and tell me why you think that. And three months later he came back to me he says Daddy you’re not yelling at me anymore.

Annie: [00:20:46] Yeah. Wow.

Peter: [00:20:47] Don’t you still love me?

Annie: [00:20:51] Hahahaha. Right.

Peter: [00:20:52] And we talked about it and we figured out it was the yes and. And you’re right. We’ve become a lot calmer with each other and have developed a really richer father son experience because you know… the one thing that I love about yes and is the empathy – you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and quite frankly I forgot what it was like to be a 14 year old boy.

Annie: [00:21:19] Right.

Peter: [00:21:20] Get out of middle school and to go to high school, got those hormones going.

Annie: [00:21:25] Yeah.

Peter: [00:21:26] And once I could relate with him, have empathy with him, discuss with him… the stress and the calmness come right down.

Annie: [00:21:36] For sure. One of my favorite improv exercises that I’ve done and it’s a little more of an advanced exercise… But you would go into a scene and your scene partner would say the worst thing that you could possibly imagine. Right so they say they start with conflict all these… They break every imrov rule. So they go to anger. They try to start fights. Sometimes they as a really mean question, and your whole job is to defuse that situation.

Peter: [00:22:05] Oooh.

Annie: [00:22:05] Because you’ll find — it’s a great exercise — and you’ll find as an improviser right, Especially with newer improvisers, A lot of times you want to go to conflict and anger because, when you are stressed, and not knowing what you’re going to say and having an audience especially is very stressful. So I’m going to default to anger and defensiveness because I don’t want to look dumb in front of an audience full of people. So a lot of times you’ll see these scenes just kind of devolve into… even if they start really happy and they’re remembering their yes and, they will ultimately devolve into these these fight. Because it’s I know this is what’s comfortable in a situation where I’m stressed out and high pressure. And you know at work you have high pressure stressful situations all the time. So one of the things that I love about exercise is how can you defuse when someone’s coming at you with you know why did you do this or why. You know what’s wrong with you. But you know where is this person coming from. Right? And how can I take care of my scene partner. What is it that they need or that their character needs that they’re not getting? And I think one of the greatest ways to initiate a scene is to make eye contact and smile.

Peter: [00:23:33] Right.

Annie: [00:23:34] You convey that I’m comfortable, I’ve got your back, you’ve got my back, and even in just a look you can do that. But I think it’s… It’s that at work right when you’re presented with a stressful situation, or you know someone’s yelling at you or mad at you, it usually comes from a place of stress. And sometimes it is culturally right. Stress rolls downhill. This is what I’ve learned that when I’m stressed I put stress on to whoever is below me.

Peter: [00:24:14] Right.

Annie: [00:24:15] So they can feel the pain that I feel. Whereas what I found to be more productive is hey I notice you’re stressed out. You know my superior. What can I do to diffuse that and What can I do to help that situation? How can I make you look good? Right and that’s an improv rule too. You want to make your scene partner look great. You want to make your team teammates feel like geniuses.

Peter: [00:24:40] Right.

Annie: [00:24:40] So I think this idea that you coming at me with anger or from stress…. That’s about You. It’s not about me. So how can we work together to kind of alleviate that stress?

Peter: [00:24:54] OK two questions here. What’s the name of the improv game that you just described?

Annie: [00:24:59] Oh man I don’t know the name of the game. I will have to look it up and I send it to you. But I mean it’s just to deflect and diffuse.

Peter: [00:25:12] And the second thing is so you know we can do that on an improv stage. We can do that in a workshop. But when somebody comes at you and they’re mad, I think you their body language is going to make you become defensive.

Annie: [00:25:26] Of course.

Peter: [00:25:27] And it takes a lot of energy to diffuse that to say what you know what seems to be the problem and how can I help us in this situation. But so if I’m the cause of his anger or her anger, how do you dig out of that?

Annie: [00:25:49] Yeah. And actually it brings to mind… I was interviewing a young woman for an analyst position out of college, and she was a soccer referee and she refereed 10 to 12 year old girls, and she would have parents you know.

Peter: [00:26:08] Ohhhh Yeah.

Annie: [00:26:09] And I asked her a similar question. Right. So how do you deal with that? And keep your cool during the games. And she said you know to me I think it’s actually really empowering. Right. I think it’s you know it’s just a game. It’s 10 to 12 year old girls playing soccer and I know that’s not about me. It’s kind of a compliment that I can make you that upset.

Peter: [00:26:33] Hahaha.

Annie: [00:26:33] You know I’m just a college student trying to ref the game doing my best the best I can. But you know it’s it’s… And she says I usually address them with calm. You know it’s calm and relaxed, and that defuses it because the thing is, what happens when you come back with that anger and defensiveness it just escalates. So. So it’s very hard to continue to fight when it’s a losing battle. Right. You’re you’re not…. You want to fight with me? I mean one of the best tips that I got from Jay was if someone’s trying to start an argument with you in a scene, you can say I’m not trying to fight with you. Character to character, improvisor to improvisor, employee to supervisor – I’m not trying to fight with you. I’m just come from a place of honesty, and I think that’s that’s the improvisor way too. If you don’t know what to say, start from truth. Right. So a lot of times… I mean I’ve been in plenty of situations where things have gotten heated. Right. But I think it’s knowing that your body physically will get defensive. That body language. Acknowledging that this is something that my body is reacting to, but you know cognitively I know that this is only going to escalate if I continue with it. Right. So sometimes it’s OK let them get out whatever they have to get out, and then where can we where can we get that common ground right. And acknowledging how they feel, that I understand your stress, I understand that you know I don’t know the report was late. Help me understand where we can… We can do better in the future. Right.

Peter: [00:28:26] And that takes me to a Harvard Business Review article that came out a few years ago that basically said, if you can take emotion out of a discussion of an argument, you’ll get to a solution faster. And one of the suggestions was is let them get the emotion out.

Annie: [00:28:43] Right.

Peter: [00:28:43] Let them get that anger out let them get the sadness out – let them get out of the system and then become a little more rational and you’ll stick to the facts. And then how can I help you or does this help me get better. And it turns into a much more productive… and it is to a degree what you are saying, defuse.

Annie: [00:29:01] Yes and I think as an improviser one of the things I’ve learned is acknowledge the way somebody feels. You’d be surprised how powerful that is. To say I understand you maybe stress or I get that you’re stressed out, because that is… even just having someone acknowledge that can be a huge relief. Right. So and seeing the words right as opposed to you know from my body language you can tell that message is received, you’re stressed out, you’re angry. It’s so much more productive. Right. I think at the end of the day it’s not… Yes I am kind of touchy feely and I think that everybody’s feelings matter, but and really at the end of the day you get to that productivity work quickly when you can acknowledge and say it’s… address the emotion I would say, even instead of get past it. Right. It’s that it’s that this is a valid thing. It’s valid that you’re stressed. It is valid that you’re angry. Now let’s unpack that.

Peter: [00:30:06] Yeah exactly. And how can I– how can we figure out figure it out and just make it better. And just so it doesn’t happen again. You know I had a boss once and I had a huge screw up and I was expecting to get chewed up and I went into her office and and told her the mistake. And she did not flinch. She looked as calm cool and collected. And then she asked me what my solution was, which I had none because I panicked and I went in there. She then she you know jumped me. Then she really chewed me upside down the other side. But these words I have never forgotten. She says Pete. I expect that you will make mistakes because you’re human. I go Holy cow. Nobody’s ever told me that before. But she says but I also expect you come into my office with a solution. I don’t care for it’s right or wrong – it’s going to start the conversation.

Annie: [00:31:05] Exactly.

Peter: [00:31:06] And I mean… although she did know at the time, she was improvising.

Annie: [00:31:11] Of course great boss. And I think the context is important. Right. And I took this with me as with my employees. Is that even if they’ve screwed up the biggest thing that you know they could have possibly screwed up right, in the grand scheme of things it’s like you know the company stock isn’t going to crash because this thing is late. Right. You know it’s it’s like let’s put this in context. It’s important. And I think saying you know yes even if it makes your boss look bad. Right. I think for me the worst is when I feel like I messed up and made my boss look bad. It’s part of their role to make sure that you know you learn from it right and how can how can I learn better from it. And then if I am managing people how do I serve as that shield? How do I put that into perspective for my own employees? Right. How do I provide that environment? You know like your boss right. To say that you have that freedom to fail and mess up because I want you to be able to work, and you’re going to learn from making mistakes. You’re not going to learn and retain and grow by doing the same thing over and over again. You know in that 70 percent 80 percent good. Right. You know I want to stress you and challenge you and make you better.

Peter: [00:32:35] I have not for all the bosses I’ve had in my life… Nobody has ever addressed it like she did.

Annie: [00:32:43] Yeah.

Peter: [00:32:44] And some won’t even address the issue. Some would just you know ignore it and maybe will go away or maybe he’ll just go away. But I mean her name is RoxAnnie. I give her.. those words will stay with me forever and I tell all she was the best leader, one of the best leaders, one of the best bosses I’ve ever had in my life because nobody said I expect that you will make mistakes, which really scared me.

Annie: [00:33:15] Hahahahaha. Well, right, you’re like all the time?

Peter: [00:33:18] Yeah. Oh really I love my job now. I can relax and be myself.

Annie: [00:33:23] Right. Right. And I think you touched on… I think there’s a difference between a manager and a leader. You know so. So your manager. Right. I think of a manager as almost micromanaging right. They manage tasks right. It’s very internally focused and internal to the organization right. And that’s a certain set of skills. Right. And I’m not knocking those skills. I paid a lot of money to get those. But I think there is something about leadership in that you know a leader is someone that inspires and motivates. Right. And I think you can have organizations where you have managers, really great managers, in leadership positions who don’t know that piece or aren’t skilled at that piece. We see that in corporate America a lot. You go up the chain in management and you get to a leadership position where you don’t know how to inspire and motivate because that’s what you’re good at. That’s not when you’ve been practicing for the last you know umpteen years. So it’s it’s that… How do we teach leadership? Right because that’s something that isn’t really part of your KPIs, whether or not you’re doing a job you know how are you motivating your team? How are you really inspiring people to do that work? Do people trust you? Those are much harder to measure and much harder to get to and say… this is kind of that X factor. Right. We call it executive presence or something like that.

Peter: [00:35:01] It’s it’s funny that you go down this path because you know corporate America… they spend a lot of money to bring people come in teach them leadership and they think well I’ve had an eight hour. I’ve had a conference course on leadership. I can be a leader, but… I think maybe I saw this on a Simon Sinek video interview but he said you know leadership is something that you have to practice every single day. A seminar doesn’t make you a leader. Reading books on Lincoln doesn’t make you instantly a leader. You have to take a someone named Phil Kim did a TED talk. You know you have to have these little have these little wins in order to win to win the battle. And I think you know you know this has always been one of my frustrations as somebody who who teaches leadership– is the ability to follow up and make sure that they’re keeping– but you know I that’s not my responsibility. It’s to inspire them to continually to try to do this because you know they get back you get back to work you get right back into that rut.

Annie: [00:36:08] Of course.

Peter: [00:36:09] And if you forget and it’s like OK… did we all just waste our time and money for… to check a box?

Annie: [00:36:18] Yeah. And you have things you have behaviors, a series of behaviors, that have made you successful thus far. Right. So it’s very hard to unlearn those things. And that’s one of the things you know I’m bringing it back to Improv that I was learning. I have these behaviors. And for me one of the behaviors I wanted to unlearn was I used to go to a joke right away when I was stressed or there was tension. Right. It was tell a joke and diffuse the situation that way. And you know that’s not great either. You can make a lot of people very mad when you do that.

Peter: [00:36:52] Uhhh Yes you can. Voice of experience.

Annie: [00:36:56] Exactly. So I think that was part of the reason I wanted to train. I want some control of when I use it when I don’t. And I think that that was the behavior that I had learned to work you know on the playground, and had worked you know in middle school and high school and college… that it didn’t work so well you know at work. And you know you have to unlearn those behaviors. And I think one of the things that being a little bit type A, as I would say a control enthusiast.

Peter: [00:37:31] Hahahaha.

Annie: [00:37:35] You know there are certain behaviors that you have right that you know that you built up that made you to a certain point of success. So there is absolutely a fear in unraveling those. Because it’s worked so far. And I think in organizations right to culture change right… Well this is the way we operated for 50 years. And it’s especially if you’re profitable right… if it ain’t broke. You know and I think that’s one of the great things about Glassdoor is doing right is that Glassdoor is giving that power to employees to say you know all the stuff that used to just kind of go away… with you know once I leave the company it doesn’t matter… that things like that are really starting to matter. That culture leadership really you know now you can start to measure it because people are filling out there satisfaction surveys and they’re and they’re putting it online for everybody to read. I think it’s quite a good thing but I think organizations are really having to adjust because people are demanding it.

Peter: [00:38:48] Exactly. I’m going to turn this just a little bit a different direction. It’s tied into there. So to learn, to do… What’s your thought on having a course as part of the curriculum within middle school, in high school, in college, as it relates to improv.

Annie: [00:39:08] Oh I mean I think it’s fantastic. I I volunteer with an organization that actually does that. It’s called Room to Improv. It’s run by a fabulous woman who went through A3 at second city and also took courses from Jay Suko. And it’s precisely that. She used to work at schools, was a retired schoolteacher. And within a couple classes she realized this belongs in a classroom because she was in her 50s when she was taking the class and she’s realizing you know all these behaviors that she built up. And she’s saying wow you know if we started with kids right, and kids could start acknowledging these behaviors early, building good teams, teamwork, leadership skills, thinking quickly on your feet, supporting each other… that it can actually make a great difference. Not just personally for them, but also you know for the school. So she’s in quite a few schools. She’s in charter schools right now. But you know the students notice the difference of course. I think the teachers, too, do notice a difference in behavior. And now we’re working… I’m working with her on actually type metrics that. So attendance. Does that change? Nobody wants to miss improv day…. because it’s a lot of fun.

Peter: [00:40:48] Haha. Yeah.

Annie: [00:40:49] So I think there’s a way to actually start measuring it, because that’s the thing that I have struggled with in business is I can preach about how great it is all day but I think they want to say OK give me the metrics. Show me where the value is. Because a lot of people think it’s just you know cracking jokes all day… and so showing that value. And I think the great thing about schools is that you can you can look at attendance, you can look at grade point average, you get a disciplinary record. And I think it absolutely makes a difference because I just believe it and I know it and I’ve seen it myself, anecdotally, but I’ve also seen it in these students.

Peter: [00:41:29] I’ve thought about it… if I was in town more often than not I thought about something, maybe taking it to my son’s high school, and just start something like that. Just because I truly believe… and we’ve had this conversation via e-mail about I’d love my son to spend a year studying second city, studying improv in Chicago, because I think overall it would have such a big benefit to him when he was into college, when he would get into the workforce, and it would be the big differentiator between him and another candidate. I don’t know.. do you know Alison Estep?

Annie: [00:42:06] I don’t think so.

Peter: [00:42:07] She studied at second city and she was a graduate from the conservatory and I interviewed her not too long ago. I met her… She was at the time working at the Indiana society of CPAs as a marketing person and she whole heartedly– same thing. We need to get this in the schools is be great for kids. It really is life changing, and that’s what I love about it because you know when I when I discovered this I was doing standup and there’s no support there.

Annie: [00:42:38] No no no.

Peter: [00:42:40] It’s it’s very… can be kind of a kind of cutthroat. But when I was introduced to improv all this is this is when I made that realization that aha moment. It’s much more than just being funny. It can be a way of life.

Annie: [00:42:54] Of course. As an evangelist I wholeheartedly agree.

Peter: [00:43:00] Well I’m carrying… I’m behind you with your robe holding your robe and carrying your cane and tooting the horn for you.

Annie: [00:43:08] Thank you.

Peter: [00:43:09] Because think about my audience, which primarily when I speak to these groups of CPAs, and to say that they might be skeptical could be an understatement.

Annie: [00:43:24] For sure.

Peter: [00:43:25] And you know I could see that they’re going it’s all about comedy. Who’s that Drew Carey dude. It’s just about silliness. But once I was able to get them in room, once I was able to within the first five to 10 minutes show them that it was much more than comedy… I could see their aha moment.

Annie: [00:43:48] For sure.

Peter: [00:43:49] And then they began to understand, and that was a big challenge when I wrote the book because I knew that was a hurdle I’ve been trying to scale for years, and it was at some point in time I finally had that aha moment on how to get past that. Knowing that they think it’s silly and being able to convince them that it’s really wonderful leadership / life tool.

Annie: [00:44:16] Right. And really the comedy is it is just kind of a happy output. Right. I think most of improv is not funny. Or it’s funny because you’re watching people… you know you’re watching your teammates struggle and enjoy themselves. Right. But but I think we almost do ourselves a disservice for saying that it’s about the funny because it’s it’s really about truth and honesty. Right. And I think most of the laughs you get in improv are when you speak to that truth and specificity. I’m seeing someone… specificity just such a gift. As a performer right. It’s that I use I say I’m making Boboli pizza instead of just pizza, and people laugh. Right. And you Boboli itself isn’t funny. Right. But it’s that you are doing something that I can identify with. And now we immediately have made this connection. Right. And so it’s not it’s it’s that truth in comedy. Right that I laugh because I recognize and I laugh because I can relate, and I think some of the funniest improvisers are not “funny people.” Right. I think you mentioned you took your first workshop with you know a bunch of professionals.

Peter: [00:45:38] Yeah.

Annie: [00:45:39] And I had the same experiences. Most people taking the class are not there to be on Saturday Night Live. They’re there are to gain confidence in public speaking, they’re there to do something different, meet new people. A lot of them have other reasons for being there. And luckily in Chicago people know what it is and they see the value in it. But still you find some of the funniest improv is from people who aren’t being funny at all… they’re just being honest, and it’s just such a relief.

Peter: [00:46:18] Well yeah. I’m thinking Truth and comedy… wait a minute that’s an improv book.

Annie: [00:46:24] It is.

Peter: [00:46:24] I’ve read that I’ve got that somewhere in my bookshelf. And I think that was the first improv book that I read and then I turned into a student of it. But you’re right. Boboli is kind of a funny word…. But you put it in context that everybody can get.

Annie: [00:46:43] Yes.

Peter: [00:46:44] And I think that’s something… as you said, I went son of a gun I think you’ve just helped me here because you know I mean I started a new book called Financial Storytelling.

Annie: [00:46:55] Can’t wait to read that.

Peter: [00:46:57] Yeah. Because think about you know when you have the CFO or whatever and they’re delivering data, delivering numbers, it’s boring. I’d rather watch grass grow.

Annie: [00:47:11] Haha.

Peter: [00:47:11] But there’s importance of these numbers so it’s getting behind and understanding and finding out what that story is. What I put as part of financial storytelling is taking complex stuff and putting it in a context that everybody can understand. And when you said Boboli pizza, and that would connect with everybody in the room, my light went off and I went that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. I just didn’t put it in that same context.

Annie: [00:47:40] Great. Right. And I think when you’re speaking, when you’re doing public speaking or on stage or anything, there’s that barrier between you and the audience right. And anything you can do to break that down and make that relatable, especially if you can get a laugh right because a laugh… you know it kind of lets information sneak in the back door. It releases this executive function…. that you are now willing to listen a little bit more and retain a little bit more because you know, chemically, your brain saying this is something you want to pay attention to. Obviously, brain chemistry and all that is not my forte, but it’s true.

Peter: [00:48:22] It is. And brain chemistry is not my forte either. However I have been immersing myself, as it relates to these emotionally charged events such as laughter, and in a book I’ve read by John Medina called Brain Rules states you know when we laugh like that, it’s just like your brain is emotionally charged event. It’s like taking a posting and slapping it on your brain. Remember this. Remember this. And those are emotionally-charged events laughter sadness shock whatever. Stick with us versus boring data, which is mind numbing, but we tend to do that. And I did… a very complex piece. The night before I’m sitting there going I’m gonna put them to sleep on this consolidation of a VIE or whatever, and I’m like I had my slides, I had my words, and somebody asked me what did you do? I said I try and break it down to the lowest common denominator. They’re trying to move something from here to here. They’re trying to put something someplace that doesn’t want to be. And that’s when I got the idea to use mother in laws as part of my presentation on this topic because I knew I had 200 CPAs in the room and I know a bunch of them had to be married, and a bunch of a bunch of them got mother in laws. And then I went from the body language of when I put this initial slide up of body language grab my phone to when I hit the punchline on the mother in law, then it went to instant laughter and everybody leaned forward and they were engaged. Putting things in context that other people could understand. Improv taught me that – you helped me realize that.

Annie: [00:50:09] Oh well, thanks! Hehe.

Peter: [00:50:11] Wow. Because I mean you know I’ve had so many people ask me when I when I do that, how do you do that? And you just put it into context – I’m improvising. I’m throwing stuff out. I’m asking those questions. I’m trying to find that lowest common denominator; put things in context that everybody can can do, and we all can do it. It just takes time and practice.

Annie: [00:50:35] For sure. Yeah. And you know Boboli means something different than dominoes right.

Peter: [00:50:41] Right.

Annie: [00:50:41] You took the time to make Boboli… But I didn’t have enough time to make it from scratch.

Peter: [00:50:47] Haha. Exactly. And before Domino’s changed that within the last couple of years, Domino’s did not have a really positive… as really as it relates to pizza.

Annie: [00:51:00] Yeah.

Peter: [00:51:01] Exactly. Oh my gosh we could talk for hours.

Annie: [00:51:04] For sure.

Peter: [00:51:05] And we will. But I want to have respect for your time and and I just want to say I enjoyed this conversation. And we will have another conversation again and go in different directions. The name of the not for profit again was?

Annie: [00:51:23] Room 2 Improv.

Peter: [00:51:27] OK I’ll make sure that I put that in and the show notes, if anyone wants to visit or understand, Or better yet provide resources and send money to the nonprofit.

Annie: [00:51:39] That’d be wonderful.

Peter: [00:51:39] More than happy to do that. I hope some day here in the near future get to Chicago, get a chance to meet with you, and just pick your brain even more because I’ve learned a ton. You’ve brought a different perspective than I thought this was going to go. And you did great job related back to really work and how to manage, how to lead, how to diffuse, and how to provide such a wonderful culture to an organization, and your employer… you know let your employer listen to this, especially this part. She deserves a raise and a promotion.

Annie: [00:52:15] Oh, thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that and this was so much fun. I look forward to talking again, and when you’re in town I’ll take you out Lou Malnati’s.

Peter: [00:52:24] And that is?

Annie: [00:52:25] The best pizza in Chicago.

Peter: [00:52:27] Oh. OK. You had me at the best pizza.

Annie: [00:52:32] Exactly. I had to be specific. Some people are Giordano’s fans, but my money’s that Lou Malnati’s is where it’s at.

Peter: [00:52:39] Outstanding. Well I look forward to having the pizza. Thank you very much. And we’ll talk soon.

Annie: [00:52:45] All right. Great talking to you, Peter.

Peter: [00:52:50] I would like to thank Annie for giving her time to discuss how improv applies to today’s business. As I’ve been saying for a long time, Improv is powerful stuff. I would like to talk about the first five episodes of this podcast are now qualified for CPE self-study credit in the NASBA category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clarke Price, former CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. Mike Sciortino, author of Gratitude Marketing. Tom Hood… Well you’ve been introduced to him and you will be introduced to him again. Ed Mendlowitz, who’s a partner at Withum, Smith, and Brown. And Karl Ahlrichs, who’s H.R. professional at Gregory and Appel. These episodes are located on the MACPA-BLI self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create an account and purchase an episode. You can listen to them on your daily commute or while working out, or even at your desk! When you’re finished, take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my web site, only those purchased to the MACPA-BLI self-study Website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. This is not nano-learning – this is self-study learning. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic: Listen, Learn, and Earn improvs is no joke podcasts on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. Remember, you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. Remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization.

 

Resources:

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 69 – Byron Patrick: Be Selfish & Get Involved With Your Local Association

 

Byron Patrick, Managing Director of CPA practice at Network Alliance, is a nationally-known industry thought leader and a multi-recipient of the CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 Under 40 award.

Byron has been an active member of the Maryland Association of CPAs since the beginning of his career, and he credits much of his professional success to the support and membership of the MACPA.

Personally, I know I wouldn’t be where where I am today without my local association, and I wholeheartedly agree with Byron – The benefits from volunteering at your state CPA Association (or any professional association) are endless, and the financial and personal investment you make will pay for itself many times over.

Too often, CPAs don’t want to participate with their association because they look at membership as a cost, when really it’s an investment in your network and career.

When Byron was chair of the MACPA’s young professional network, his message was to be selfish – get involved with the association. These relationships and these opportunities will absolutely have a positive impact on your career trajectory… if you are willing to make the investment, meet people, and take advantage of those opportunities.

“As much as I do to give to the industry and association, and everything else, my take away is a thousand fold. And it’s okay – I am perfectly fine with you getting involved if it’s to be selfish, because once you show up you’re not going to leave.”

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Improv Is No Joke – Episode 69 – Byron Patrick

Byron: [00:00:00] I actually got a tattoo on my right forearm in the shape of a Superman diamond with the backdrop of the Maryland flag and the prestigious CPA letters running across the diamond.

Peter: [00:00:25] Welcome to improv is no joke podcast it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margarita’s the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business. The accidental account. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients customers colleagues and even your family. So let’s start to show.

Peter: [00:00:57] Welcome to episode 69 and today my guest is Byron Patrick, who’s the managing director of CPA practice at Network Alliance. Byron is known nationally as an industry thought leader and a multi-recipient of the CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 under 40 award. Byron has been an active member of the Maryland Association CPAs since the beginning of his career. He is one of the founding members and past chair of the MACPA’s new young professionals network. Byron is a past chairman of the board of directors MACPA. In addition Byrons a member of the technology committee and has participated in a number of task force and initiatives over the years. Byron credits much of his professional success to the support and membership of the MACPA, and this is the crux of our conversation. The benefits from volunteering at your state CPA Association is endless. The financial and personal investment Byron has made to the CPA has paid for itself many times over by the people he has come in contact with over the years. I enjoy all of my conversations with my guests and I really enjoy this conversation with Byron because I share the exact same belief as Byron. And our paths are similar in many ways. Well before we get to the interview, I’d like to talk a little bit more about the first 5 episodes of this podcast which are qualified for C-p self-study credit and the Nash but category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clark price the retired CEO the Ohio society CPA Mike scorned Keno author of gratitude marketing Tom Hood who was the current CEO of the Maryland Association of CPA is Edmon Lowitz who is a partner with the firm of Smith and brown and Carl all Rex has an H.R. professional. Gregory in Apel insurance these episodes are located on the MSCP may be ally self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create account and purchase an episode. Then you can listen to them on your daily commute or while you’re working out or even at your desk when you are finished. Take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While oscillated improvs is no joke. Podcasts are available on my web site. Only those purchased to the CPA Bill ISO study website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. You can get the detailed instructions by visiting my website at. Peter Margarita’s dot com. And clicking on the graphic. Listen Learn and Earn improvs no podcast on the home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving C-p credit. OK now let’s get to leave you with Byron Patrick.

Peter: [00:03:51] Byron welcome to my podcast. I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule to have a conversation with me today.

Byron: [00:04:01] Yeah thanks for having me Peter. I’m looking forward to hanging out and just having a good time.

Peter: [00:04:09] Byron and I we both spoke at the Southeast accounting show in Atlanta a little over a week ago and after our sessions we were listening in a restaurant maybe in a bar and we were just having a couple of drinks when we got in we got to this really cool conversation. But I asked him if he’d be on the podcast kind of share that with us. And obviously he agreed to it. But you know just so everybody has a little bit of idea of who you are. Can you give us a little bit about your background Byron?

Byron: [00:04:40] Yeah absolutely. I’m a CPA by trade. I started my career with a small CPA firm in Annapolis, Maryland, and when I was there I was kind of the young guy in the office and therefore the only one who knew how to right click.

Peter: [00:04:59] Hahahaha.

Byron: [00:05:00] Once that was discovered, my trajectory in the accounting industry changed dynamically. I realized that the taxes were not my love and despite loving audit work I somehow just kept getting sucked into this I-T world. So you know after a few changes in 2003 I actually became the detractor of a rather large CPA firm in the Baltimore area, and subsequently in 2008 I started my own company supporting CPA firms as they transition into the quote unquote cloud. You know hung out there for a number of years and sold that, moved onto network alliance where now I can really blend kind of all my loves of the accounting industry, doing the same type of support for CPA firms, but really embracing my involvement in the industry. I was chairman of the board for the Maryland association of CPAs in 2013. Heavily involved with with the Maryland Association, the American Institute of CPAs, or as we refer to it now,The Association pf International CPAs… to be official. And you know so now I’m I’m kind of riding the circuit seeking to CPAs all around the country just meeting them and talking about IT security, IT updates. Basically everything and anything that is as nerdy as it can get falls under my perview.

Peter: [00:06:52] I’m still trying to get past You’re the only one who could right click.

Byron: [00:06:57] Hahaha. It was in 1999 and 2000 you know the fact that you had two buttons on a mouse was was pretty far out.

Peter: [00:07:07] Haha. So before we get into a conversation you know because we’re going to really become such a voluntourism and the benefits of it. Tell me more about what your firm does with other CPA firms. I mean when you provide IT solutions and security, that to me that’s a very broad brush there. Can you give me some examples of what you what you do?

Byron: [00:07:32] Absolutely. It is a broad brush because you know we really we’re almost like an outsourced I.T. department for your firm. So we have firms that we support everywhere from you know Maryland, Delaware, all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska. And instead of those firms having their traditional you know network, owning servers, and managing updates and you know having the Byrons in the office walk around installing QuickBooks to their computers. We basically relocate that stuff to a tier 4 data center. We have engineers and support team members that that handle everything you would expect of an I.T. department. And you know kind of package that in a monthly fee. So we rebel on the whole hourly billing that typical I.T. consultants give. And you know provide really high level support that, to be honest, most firms under a hundred people that say they can’t even afford this level of support that we provide to do in-house so we kind of create that economies of scales and give them you know the same tools that the big guys are using, and a level playing field.

Peter: [00:08:52] Your business must be exploding then.

Byron: [00:08:55] It’s going well. It’s very– I mean that’s when I started my business doing in 2008 and that grew really well, and then Network Alliance just has a much larger team than I had built. So having a full team behind it where we’re selling the heck out of it really helps a lot. You know given circumstances like what’s going on in Houston used and here in a few days Miami Florida you know solutions like ours can give businesses the peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about that aspect and can just focus on the family. And you know know that everything else is going to be ready for them to help their clients and whatnot. You know when the time comes out concerns terms of where their data is and if they can use it.

Peter: [00:09:43] Yeah I mean any time we think about a disaster you want to protect your people, your data, and then your assets, and having the deed is already taken care of… Nowhere near, has to be a big piece of mind. For a lot of your clients like you said for the people in Houston and the people in Florida upcoming, I think you know I think a lot of that but sometimes we don’t think about it until it’s too late. Or after the fact just like oh man I’ve been in a do this I’ve I mean… oh crap. I should’ve done that and yeah. I’ve always said the P in CPA stands for procrastination.

Byron: [00:10:26] Ha ha ha ha. I think that is a very good answer. I’ve been fighting for years to figure out how to overcome complacency and procrastination in this industry. And man that thing is embedded.

Peter: [00:10:43] Yeah I think it’s once you pass the exam and you get the injection of… they follow it up with the intention of procrastination and complacency, but you know… it’s just that complacency just you know a normal human factor at some point in time. But I mean in today’s world with the amount of change that’s going on we don’t have time to be complacent.

Byron: [00:11:08] No. It moves too quick. By the time you’re complacent, you’re a dinosaur.

Peter: [00:11:13] Oh by the way do you have a BlackBerry I could see?

Byron: [00:11:18] Hahahaha. Man, don’t you miss BlackBerry. It was a symbol of.

Peter: [00:11:23] The old crack berry. Thanks for clarifying that. What your business does, and it sounds like you provide an outstanding service. I forgot to mention when we started this you told them that you’ve been heavily involved with Maryland Society of CPAs, and you are a CPA, but you’ve got this unique aspect of how proud you are of being a CPA and and a Maryland CPA. Would you like to share that with my audience?

Byron: [00:11:57] Sure absolutely. I never knew how much attention it would actually get. In 2013 as I mentioned I was chairman of the board of Maryland association and you know for anybody who knows Marylanders we have we have great pride in our flag. So you know to kind of commemorate my experience and really attribute my loyalty to the industry and the state I actually got a tattoo on my and my right forearm in the shape of a Superman diamond with the backdrop of the Maryland flag and the prestigious CPA letters running across the diamond.

Peter: [00:12:44] We’re going to put on I’m put in the show notes. You’ll take a picture of it I’ll put it on the Web site so people when they listen they can see this tattoo.

Byron: [00:12:55] You got it.

Peter: [00:12:55] And I’m glad, when I was chair of the Ohio society, that I hadn’t met you yet. I’m I’m I’m not sure where I would put the tattoo…

Byron: [00:13:16] Hahaha. I have yet to see another state chair step up to the plate. I’m determined to get Tom Hood to get one. I want to start like a hash tag that you know create some sort of campaign.

Peter: [00:13:32] Hash tag Tom Hood CPA tattoo trending on Twitter.

Byron: [00:13:38] If we can get that trending. That would be outstanding.

Peter: [00:13:42] Well as I told you this episode is airing two weeks after Tom’s episode and I’ll make sure to send Tom a note to listen especially to the first 10 15 minutes of the podcast.

Byron: [00:13:57] Awesome.

Peter: [00:13:57] So you became a CPA… and when did you get involved with the Maryland Association?

Byron: [00:14:05] So I you know I was really fortunate. The firm that I started out working for at the time the chairman of the MACPA was the owner of the firm. You know from day one. He basically sucked me into getting involved with with the Maryland Association and they hadn’t been able to get rid of me since. I just kind of become a rat. You know every once in a while they put out traps that I just eat cheese and keep going. It’s you know but it’s man I’m grateful for all of my experience… the relationships and people that you know I’ve connected with I mean they you of course add to the list. It’s it’s awesome. It’s I I was very fortunate to have that. I don’t know if you would call it guidance or forced involvement in the early days but you know it’s a definitely laid me out for for a successful future.

Peter: [00:15:09] Yeah I think we did a little bit more voluntold instead of volunteering.

Byron: [00:15:13] Well said.

Peter: [00:15:17] Well do you remember what one of the first things you did as a volunteer for the Maryland Association?

Byron: [00:15:22] Yeah I do actually. So this was pretty cool. The association at the time again this was 2000 I believe was realizing hey you know we can no longer be just the old boys club. We really need to kind of dynamically change ourselves. So they created this strategic governance task force where they they actually split two groups. It was an under 35 group and an over 35 group, and they said redesign the ideal member association. You know no rules no nothing go off in the corner and do it. So you know I’m put in the room with you know all these young mostly CPAs and we designed just this kick ass solution and it was hilarious because you know eventually we got to present it to the board of directors and you go in the room and well the over 35s… I think they were using the overhead projector transparencies and that you know we’re rocking out this awesome PowerPoint presentation, and the board of directors basically combined the great elements of both groups. And at that point I mean if you or even trackback kind of Tom Hood’s trajectory when you know Marylander really hit the map… I bet you would track back to that time frame. And so it was I mean I couldn’t have timed it better.

Peter: [00:17:05] Wow. What a cool way to start off your relationship with the Maryland association because I got involved with the Ohio society at the same time in 2000. That’s when I went into academia and I felt that getting to know the Ohio side of my professional association would be a great way to network as well as get exposure for my students as well as keep up with what’s going on in the profession, and I think one of the first things I did is I volunteered to be a chair or volunteered and so I was made a chair of a committee. We were still be doing the recognition of the new CPAs. And we had this luncheon and I was in charge of that luncheon and getting a speaker… We were able to get some the chair at the time of the AICPA whose name is escaping me right now… Yeah that just opened up, one, Like you said the people that you meet and, two, it just opened up a tremendous amount of opportunities at that time.

Byron: [00:18:18] Yup. And what people don’t realize to your point is when you show up as a volunteer, there’s no shortage of opportunities. It’s the fresh blood and all of a sudden you know you’re an important body in the room.

Peter: [00:18:34] So you were chair 2013. I was 2000. I remember somebody asked me what keeps me up at night being chair. And my immediate response was this bucket that had a huge hole in the bottom of it and that was the baby boomers that were leaving and going retiring. But we weren’t replenishing that membership because of the younger generation… There was no being voluntold or maybe being shown or told or explain the benefits of joining the professional association, and all of a sudden now membership is beginning to shrink. And in your mind how do you engage, Get excited, This actually I’ll say under 30s who are who are CPAs… so they’re not staff but they might be in the senior or the manager level, to get involved. As well as I still believe that you got to go into the classroom you got to inspire the students and join in. And we do by giving them a free membership but there’s there’s got to be other hook there.

Byron: [00:19:55] Yeah and I mean to me the hook is is getting involved. You know it’s I think that the student involvement is the gateway. You know I think Ohio does a similar thing with CPA day, at the state house every year to meet with our politicians and it’s been growing every year. The number of students who show up and it’s such an awesome opportunity to see what being part of this industry and what being part of the association is about, and getting access to things that are beyond their wildest dreams they never realized they would have access to. So you know I seen those future CPAs getting involved and staying involved longer. And you know the people who are in it all we pay our dues without question. It’s the people who kind of sit back and don’t get involved where it becomes a struggle to sustain the value. So you have to get involved and you’ve got to create opportunities in all different ways to do it.

Peter: [00:21:12] And I think part of the struggle is those who are who are out of school, whether it’s in public, whether it’s an industry, those first few years you’re overwhelmed, and to carve out time to you know do something after hours… I kind of get that. But at some point you know we get to the point that we got to quit looking. You know will my employer pay my dues? No. OK. I’m not going to join. Wait a minute. We’ve got this problem because you’re looking at it as a cost, when really it’s an investment in your career.

Byron: [00:21:50] Oh yeah.

Peter: [00:21:51] And I think that’s part of the challenge is showing the value of that investment and your dues into your career and how you grow your career. And I think maybe that’s where we’re missing the boat.

Byron: [00:22:06] Oh I agree. And you know if you can do it early I think you know then it becomes a given. I know for a fact you know when I was changing jobs and doing interviews I walked in every interview and I said you will be paying my dues and you will be supporting my time out of office being involved with the association. And if they didn’t support it well I knew right away the culture of the firm wasn’t for me. And then seeing that that was so important for me changed the conversation. So if we can show that value early on, then it becomes a given. And it’s just part of the package.

Peter: [00:22:52] Showing that value. So everything of value is built on trust. That’s from David Horsager, who wrote The Trust Edge, and he also stated that the lack of trust is the biggest expense organizations incur. So in taking David’s words applying it here. The membership lost trust in their association because they’re not seeing the value.

Byron: [00:23:16] I think that is a safe assumption. I you know. Yeah that’s a really interesting perspective and I can’t argue with that.

Peter: [00:23:26] As I sit there and think of it that value that we’re trying to show that value lost that trust… have they lost trust because going back to your earlier point that we become complacent? I’m fortunate to be able to travel the country in a lot of state associations, CPA societies… Creating change within an organization… Most organizations is difficult, and to have that type of change… we might want to do it. And when it comes time there’s that fear that we’ll maybe screw up so we don’t do it. So we we looked the same way as we do as we did back in 1990.

Byron: [00:24:12] Yeah.

Peter: [00:24:12] I take Maryland out of that equation to some degree because obviously Tom is an innovator, and he’s restructured, changed, and moved Maryland to the head of the class. A lot of these other states, in talking with them, it’s just that well this is the way we’ve always done it. It’s like you know we’re focusing on a product but rather we need to be focusing on the client, the customer, the member.

Byron: [00:24:39] Yeah. Absolutely and you know I get that there is a struggle in the sense that a lot of these state societies have really been based on just providing CPE, and that you know now we’re in a world of of free CPE ad nauseum. But you know but I think to your point you know with Maryland is you know Tom and the entire Maryland team have embraced like… CPA that… sure we have the technical stuff, but then we have the stuff that you do right? I mean there’s the things that develop us as team members, as individuals. For me when I’m looking at CPE… I don’t just want it for for the office. Like I want the self development where I go home and maybe apply something I learned in my personal life, and stepping it up… we’ve got to step up the game and get people to understand that you know some free webinars from a vendor that barely qualifies for CPE. Sure that checks a box on your license every every renewal period. But you know that’s really not helping you in any way.

Peter: [00:26:04] Yeah. When I look at I think about NASBA.. even though a lot of angst with them, but the one thing they did too I thought was right is that they allow personal development courses to qualify for CPE.

Byron: [00:26:20] Yup.

Peter: [00:26:21] Now it’s up to the state to decide what they want to do, and I’m not going in the state but there’s a state out there that when I was looking through their CPE requirements what it takes. Personal development did not qualify.

Byron: [00:26:36] Such a shame.

Peter: [00:26:38] But it goes back to what you just said. So you get in at that personal development that helps you in your business as well as in in life. Yeah I think you know that goes back to… we haven’t changed. But I do see work work with BLI and the clients that they put me in front of, and the privilege of doing that. The attitude about soft skills… I tell you they may be soft but they’re pretty hard to master.

Byron: [00:27:15] Well said.

Peter: [00:27:16] I see more and more firms more and more companies doing more of that these days to augment the technical side, where during the recession you soft skills? Pfft. Yeah I’m sorry. We’re not we’re not paying for that as an investment. It’s called an investment. And now it seems…. Well I’ll just say this. At one point in time, 90 percent of my business was technical, 10 percent on the soft skills of personal development.

Byron: [00:27:45] Oh wow.

Peter: [00:27:45] Today my business is ninety nine point nine percent personal involvement. Point 1 percent technical.

Byron: [00:27:53] It’s awesome. It’s awesome. And I can tell you I mean from your session down in Atlanta I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought up to people now that silent and listen have the same letter. I mean that alone was worth the price of admission.

Peter: [00:28:11] Thank you very much. I got a little nervous there for a moment.

Byron: [00:28:16] It could have gone down so many roads.

Peter: [00:28:22] So your your involvement with the Maryland association. I mean you’ve been… you’ve met a ton of people.

Byron: [00:28:31] Oh yeah.

Peter: [00:28:31] And you’ve met the movers and shakers in the CPA world in Maryland, as well as nationally.

Byron: [00:28:38] And even international.

Peter: [00:28:40] Oh yeah.

Byron: [00:28:41] Yeah. And and and then I mean you know obviously it’s it’s a community of you know… the paparazzi isn’t following any of us, but you know I can say you know I personally know so many people who are the rock stars of the accounting industry globally. I mean you know that is pretty powerful to be able to have you know personal conversation with you know folks who are experienced and have more connections. I mean that doesn’t happen without the involvement.

Peter: [00:29:18] Right. And having that involvement, having the commitment, and gaining trust within your network, as well as within the management the Maryland association, because they didn’t one day just pull your name out of the hat of all the members went oh it’s Byron’s time to be president.

Byron: [00:29:40] Hahaha. I drew the short straw that year.

Peter: [00:29:45] Haha. You know it’s an investment of time that really has a huge return on investment. It’s just hard to calculate sometimes.

Byron: [00:29:54] Yeah yeah. There’s no tangible calculation, you can’t quantify it. And if you’re expecting quantifiable ROI on your involvement, you know you may be barking up the wrong tree.

Peter: [00:30:11] Yeah. But you know when you when you say that you’ve met some of the rock stars in the accounting profession. Name drop for me if you would just.

Byron: [00:30:20] Oh well I mean for one right now the queen of the industry, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor I mean… So she’ll tell you like her and my friendship dates back to you know 2000. We both got involved about the same time. So I mean you know clearly a personal friend. Let’s let’s go to the next incoming chair of the AICPA, Bill Reed. Just great guy that You know I have been connected with for a number of years. I mean obviously we’ve already said Tom Hood ad nauseum. You know I mean there’s few people who get above that. How about Jim and Gary Boomer? These guys have been influentially involved in the Association for years and I consider them you know… and not just colleagues in a sense but personal friends. So it’s a you know there’s there’s a lot of people out there who I really do that are to be friends that, without this involvement, they’d just be names that I’d read about.

Peter: [00:31:41] Yeah. And when you said Kimberly I get goosebumps. And I met Kimberly some years ago worked with Bill… I was in Las Vegas because the National Association of Black accountants and she went to dinner with Tom Hood, myself, and Karl Ahlrichs, and I fell in love.

Byron: [00:32:06] Hahaha.

Peter: [00:32:07] She had she had me at hello. One, the woman is the energizer bunny.

Byron: [00:32:13] Yes.

Peter: [00:32:13] I don’t know how she keeps up that pace, but just her story of growing up in inner city of Baltimore and where she is today and all that she does. And you know I really wanted to be there when when… the year that started at that breakfast. Unfortunately I had a speaking engagement. But I have run into Kimberly a number of times over the past year. And you know Kimberly if you are listening I hope I can call your friend because I told you just call me anytime. I’ll be happy to do anything… I’ve had some Interesting conversations with her. I think the ones that you know getting to know Barry Melancon on the AICPA that’s… he’s got an interesting story as well.

Byron: [00:32:58] Oh yeah.

Peter: [00:32:59] I mean the guy smarter than… But I mean the exposure even in my own state the people that I’ve met… that I still keep in contact with. And you know being on different committees you know sharing different things being part of it and getting to know that network. It’s been priceless.

Byron: [00:33:28] Oh yeah absolutely. I mean I look at again my friendship with Mark Koziel at the AICPA, and I mean man like despite the fact that I I at a moment’s notice will go and hang out and just grab drinks with a guy… to have you know a friendship with somebody, a relationship with somebody, you know in his position at the AICPA is just… you know it definitely has it’s opportunities.

Peter: [00:34:02] Yeah it really does. And so let’s steer this in just a little bit of a different direction, but circle back to your business. With all the contacts that you have made through your volunteership in Maryland, I have to believe that that has turned into referrals, that has turned into revenue, that’s turned into profits.

Byron: [00:34:26] 100 percent. There’s… not that I couldn’t have done it without it. But the path sure as heck would have been a lot different. And a I mean you know just as of last night I got a Facebook message from our mutual friend Jennifer Elder, with a referral.

Peter: [00:34:48] Oh!

Byron: [00:34:48] I mean you know… Jennifer’s another one that I never would known her outside of my involvement. She’s she’s an awesome rock star to you know have in the list of friends.

Peter: [00:35:01] I don’t know if you know this but Jennifer is my office wife.

Byron: [00:35:06] I didn’t know that.

Peter: [00:35:08] I’m the office husband. She and I… she and I met five years ago at a BLI thought leader conference and about a year later she had this wonderful idea of developing a course called the eight hour MBA, and I helped her with the content of that and I mean for a while we were like talking all the time and like OK this is the office husband and wife, and you’re right it’s another rock star. I pulled up your LinkedIn page and you know a friend I haven’t seen him in years, who I went to graduate school with at Case Western.

Byron: [00:35:48] Really?

Peter: [00:35:49] You know Dave Sharkey?

Byron: [00:35:51] Oh yeah absolutely. I mean we… I know Dave basically through a potential customer opportunity here. So that’s how I met Dave.

Peter: [00:36:06] Dave is a great guy and when we talk about the people that we know you’re one of the few that I’m hooked up with in LinkedIn that we have 74 mutual connections.

Byron: [00:36:18] Hahaha. That’s awesome.

Peter: [00:36:19] I’ve heard six degrees from Kevin Bacon but we’re 74 degrees from something.

Byron: [00:36:26] There’s no doubt in some way shape or form. I think we may be connected to everyone.

Peter: [00:36:32] I think so. And I think I told you this, in all transparency, when you were in my session in Atlanta, you were kind of towards the front which I thought was really you know most CPAs are stuck in the back. But but I looked I didn’t recognize you at first. I went where do I know this guy? It’s been a few years and all I had to do was look down at your forearm.

Byron: [00:36:57] Hahaha.

Peter: [00:36:57] And I think I said you are you lost? You’re in Georgia when you’re supposed to be in Maryland.

Byron: [00:37:06] Hahaha.

Peter: [00:37:06] I think I think the biggest I think that the biggest benefit of being a member of an association is this piece of it is the worst kept secret… or maybe… I don’t know. But when I talk to other CPAs like ourselves and talk about the network that we have been able to grow, how my business wouldn’t have started if I hadn’t had my involvement at the Ohio society and the CPE director at the time kind of gave me my start, and she was there to help me and then I just kept meeting more people and more people. I always wondered if I hadn’t gotten involved… It takes that road and and lengthens it. Well would I have gotten here? Yeah. But it would have taken a lot more blood sweat and tears when you know… as long as you’re doing a great job and you’re trustworthy and you’re reliable and you’re not a pain in the behind, people will talk good about you.

Byron: [00:38:14] That’s right. Absolutely. And you know so you’re talking about you talked about the things that kept you up at night when you were chair. And for me it was all of our members who were missing out on these opportunities. And my big message during my chair year was be selfish and get involved because you know as much as I do to give to the industry and association, and everything else, my take away is a thousand fold. And it’s it’s ok. I am perfectly fine with you getting involved if it’s to be selfish, because once you show up you’re not going to leave.

Peter: [00:39:04] Right. But I think sometimes there comes a time that you’ve gone through just about everything that you can… like the pinnacle is being chair of the association’s executive board. Then it kind I don’t know about you but I missed that responsibility. I missed that interaction. It was like a drug.

Byron: [00:39:26] Yeah.

Peter: [00:39:26] I mean here you were on the pulse and then all of a sudden… I’m like Clark’s not texting me anymore. I’m… getting e-mails. And I I went a few years without getting really involved in anything and then I started getting involved with the National Speakers Association, the Ohio chapter, and a couple of years ago and they put me on the board and be careful what you wish for because I’m now president elect.

Byron: [00:39:59] Hahaha. Rinse and repeat.

Peter: [00:40:04] Exactly. My wife just shakes her head and I went Yeah I know. It just eats time, but it doesn’t really eat time. It’s just people who… who I have access to.

Byron: [00:40:15] Yeah.

Peter: [00:40:16] And if you want to be the best, you want to surround yourself, you want access to the best, and the best is the network that you can build. You don’t want to be one of the top five people in your network. You want to be the weakest link.

Byron: [00:40:30] Oh yeah.

Peter: [00:40:31] And I think that I have built and continue to build a network where I want to be the weakest link and I want to be surrounded with some of the best and the brightest. That’s access.

Byron: [00:40:43] Oh. 100 percent. And to your point… I mean in fact I don’t know why we didn’t meet each other at that thought leaders dinner. I’m fairly certain I’ve been there but you know I’m, like you, have been fortunate being invited into you know a variety of these like thought leader meetings dinners whatever you want. And yeah I walk in the room and I go like what the hell am I doing here? Like you know like these are like superstars and I’m just kind of like get to witness it. I am totally with you. It’s having people around me who are smarter stronger faster. You know that just keeps the fire burning.

Peter: [00:41:32] Yeah it does. As you were describing that, it took me back to my first time walking in at AICPA Council as a council member. And I’m sitting there going…. What man did what do they know? I better be quiet and not say anything. I mean I was… starstruck is probably not the right word, but I was to some degree intimidated because I start realizing these are all heavy hitters in industry. Yeah. It was just like… ok.

Byron: [00:42:10] Somebody made a mistake and I ended up here.

Peter: [00:42:14] They need to go back and count the ballots.

Byron: [00:42:16] Haha right.

Peter: [00:42:16] But it was also so cool because I think the one speaker that was there that I’ll always remember was Sal Khan.

Byron: [00:42:28] Yeah. Oh that was my favorite one ever.

Peter: [00:42:30] Yeah. That was that was really cool. And then they’ve had futurists on, and there’s been some interesting speakers, but just getting to meet other individuals from different states… and I still keep in contact with a few of these guys over the past… oh it’s been almost seven eight nine years something like that.

Byron: [00:42:51] Yeah.

Peter: [00:42:53] I mean the reason why I wanted to have you on on the podcast is because we had this conversation and you know they have it recorded and to be able to use it in order to help those who are hesitant or those who don’t see the value in joining your state CPA Association… hopefully the conversation that we’ve had will inspire some to step in, Lean In, take a risk, take a chance.

Byron: [00:43:28] I hope so.

Peter: [00:43:29] I would assume to call anybody to man an association that’s on staff, in Ohio calling me on the Ohio society staff, or anywhere in the country, called a state association, tell them who you are and you want to volunteer to do something. Be careful you might be chair of the board later.

Byron: [00:43:46] That’s right.

Peter: [00:43:46] But what a great outcome that is though.

Byron: [00:43:50] Oh man Absolutely. Absolutely. If a few people just get that inspired, that would be just phenomenal.

Peter: [00:44:00] Well I agree and Byron I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule. I had a blast in Atlanta, but you don’t live in Maryland anymore? You’re on the Virginia side now right?

Byron: [00:44:16] So I work on the Virginia side but I’m still in Maryland.

Peter: [00:44:21] Well I will be back up in Maryland soon and we’ll definitely get together for dinner and catch up, but I appreciate it. I love the conversation we had in Atlanta I love this conversation. And I think just the passion in both of our voices may inspire, whether it’s students, young CPA, or somebody who has some seasoning to them, to get involved and it’s all just it’s all just a good thing.

Byron: [00:44:50] Oh yeah yeah. Absolutely and when you’re in the town… I want to get good feedback from a Kentucky whiskey tongue on the Sagamore whiskey. I can envision a drink or two that may include that.

Peter: [00:45:14] Hahaha. For those who aren’t in Maryland, you have to before you wrap this up you explain Sagamore.

Byron: [00:45:24] Well so. So for those of you, Kevin Plank, the owner of Under Armor, has a large horse farm in Maryland called Sagamore farms that has a very unique feature of freshwater that runs across limestone, which is ideal for rye whiskeys. So he has created Sagamore whiskey out of Baltimore with a whole lot of Maryland tradition. And it’s it is definitely one of my favorite whiskeys.

Peter: [00:46:02] I told you I’m born and raised in Kentucky and I’m a Kentucky bourbon snob. I know that. I admit that, but if anybody offers me free whiskey I’ll try.

Byron: [00:46:13] Hahaha. Done.

Peter: [00:46:18] We’ll get that on the calendar. I appreciate Byron again thank you very much. Can’t wait to be sipping some whiskey with you.

Byron: [00:46:26] Can’t wait, brother.

Peter: [00:46:30] I would like to think Byron for giving his time to discuss the benefits of volunteering at a state CPA society. For those in my audience, it’s now up to you to pick up the phone, call your state society, and volunteer. I’d like to talk a little bit more about the first five episodes of this podcast which are qualified for CPE self-study credit under the nice but category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clark price retired CEO of the Ohio society of CPA Mike scorn. Teano author of gratitude marketing. Tom Hood who is the current CEO of the Maryland Association of CPA is Edmon low wit who is a partner with the firm of wasn’t Smith and brown and Carl all Rex who was an H.R. professional and Gregory and Apel insurance. These episodes are located on the MSCP belie self-study website and they are mobile friendly. Create account and purchase an episode. Then you can listen to them on your daily commute or while you’re working out or even at your desk when you are finished. Take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy while also like improvs is no joke. Podcasts are available on my web site. Only those purchased through the CPA Bill self-study Web site are eligible for CPE self-study credit. You can get the detailed instructions by visiting my website at Keiter Margarita’s dot com and clicking on the graphic. Listen Learn and Earn. Improv is no joke. Podcast on the home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. Remember you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes stitcher and Google Play if you like to purchase a personalized signed copy of my book. Improv is no joke. Use an improvisation to create positive results and leadership and a life for only fourteen ninety nine and the shipping is free. Please go to my Web site and you’ll see the available now icon on my home page. Just click and go to the shopping cart. In addition you can download improvs no joke audio book for forty ninety nine so you can listen on the go. You can follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook by searching the accidental account at my Twitter handle is at. Margarita’s and my Instagram name is Pete Margarita’s connect with me on Linked In my search for my entire night. In episode 70, I interview Anne Conderacci, who is a change management consultant and has studied and performed improv at the Second City, Annoyance Theater, and IO in Chicago. That is going to be a fun fun interview. Thank you again for listening and I greatly appreciate it if you’d leave a review on iTunes. It does help with the exposure of this podcast. Remember use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization and in your life.

Resources:

Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters

Ep. 68 – Greg Conderacci: Supercharge Your Spiritual Energy

 

We’re talking to returning guest Greg Conderacci, the energy management expert who wrote Getting Up!: Supercharging Your Energy and, at the age of 66, rode his bicycle across the United States in just 18 days.

In Getting Up!, Greg writes about the important difference between time management and energy management. Doing more, and living a happier life, isn’t about having more time – It’s all about having more energy. We don’t get any more time, but we can all get way

more energy.

Throughout this three-part series, Greg discussed four types of interrelated energy, which you can remember by thinking of P.I.E.S.

  • Physical energy is the ability to just get up and get going, and it’s the type of energy that a lot of people focus on… but it’s the least important of them all.
  • Intellectual energy is what people usually get paid for. Do you have the energy to solve puzzles, solve the problem, meet these needs, etc.
  • Emotional energy is the one that often causes the most problems. In episode 46, we discussed the “energy vampires” who drain your emotional energy, and how you can combat them.
  • Spiritual energy fuels passion, commitment, and endurance. Although for many it’s religious nature, it doesn’t have to be – spiritual energy is embedded in each person’s mission; his or her’s life purpose.

Spiritual energy is the most powerful source of energy, but often people don’t really understand it until they work their ways through the first three.

If you look at people who make a powerful impact in the world, they all do that on the basis of spiritual energy. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa: these people didn’t get elected to anything, they didn’t have armies, but the sheer power of who they were came through, drove their lives, and changed the world.

You can learn more about managing energy, reducing stress, and balancing your career in Getting Up!: Supercharging Your Energy.

Download this Episode MP3.

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Improv Is No Joke – Episode 68 – Greg Conderacci

Greg: [00:00:00] Identity first, then action, then your feelings in the context of your action.

Peter: [00:00:14] Welcome to Improv is no Joke podcast, where it’s all about becoming a more effective communicator by embracing the principles of improvisation. I’m your host Peter Margaritis, the self-proclaimed chief edutainment officer of my business, the Accidental Accountant. My goal is to provide you with thought provoking interviews with business leaders so you can become an effective improviser, which will lead to building stronger relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and even your family. So let’s start to show.

[music]

Peter: [00:00:46] Welcome to episode 68 and today my guest is Greg Conderacci, and this is the final installment in a three part series on energy management. Greg is the author of Getting Up! Supercharging Your Energy, and an energy management expert because of two main reasons. First, he’s an author on the subject and second in 2015 he rode his bicycle across the United States in only 18 days averaging 150 miles a day. He doesn’t walk his talk. He rides his talk. If you haven’t listened to our prior interviews it would be well worth it to download episode number 35 and episode number 46. As a quick recap, in Episode 35 Greg discusses that in the 21st century it’s less about the time management and more about energy management. Our discussion focused around one’s physical and intellectual energy. In episode 46. Greg discusses emotional energy and those emotional energy vampires. You know these people who suck all the positive energy out and inject their negative energy. Actually we are our own emotional energy vampires because we’re exposed to lots of negative energy which does begin to seep into our heads. Greg gives us some great tips on how to manage those vampires. Today we focus on spiritual energy, which is a mission driven because it’s all about your identity and values, as Greg writes in his book. He goes on to say “spiritual energy, an elusive reservoir of them all, spiritual energy fuels passion, commitment, and endurance. Although for many it’s religious nature, it doesn’t have to be – spiritual energy is embedded in each person’s mission; his or her’s life purpose.” I’m sure you will enjoy this episode because Greg has some great stories to tell and many of them have that ah ha moment to them. Before you get to that interview, I would like to talk about the first five episodes of this podcast are now qualified for CPE self-study credit in the NASBA category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clarke Price, former CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. Mike Sciortino, author of Gratitude Marketing. Tom Hood… Well you’ve been introduced to him and you will be introduced to him again. Ed Mendlowitz, who’s a partner at Withum, Smith, and Brown. And Karl Ahlrichs, who’s H.R. professional at Gregory and Appel. These episodes are located on the MACPA-BLI self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create an account and purchase an episode. You can listen to them on your daily commute or while working out, or even at your desk! When you’re finished, take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my web site, only those purchased to the MACPA-BLI self-study Website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic: Listen, Learn, and Earn improvs is no joke podcasts on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. OK now let’s get to the interview with Greg Conderacci.

[music]

Peter: [00:04:22] Welcome back to the show. I greatly appreciate you taking time. And you are my first three timer.

Greg: [00:04:31] OK.

Peter: [00:04:34] This is this is part three of our conversation because just as a recap when we were discussing your book Getting up supercharge your energy at the end of our our first call I went there’s so much more there, and you said you know we only touched on the tip of it I said would you do a three part series for me, and you immediately said yes. And we’ve talked about emotional, we’ve talked about intellectual energy, we’ve talked about physical. I’ve got those three correct right?

Greg: [00:05:06] Yup.

Peter: [00:05:06] And today we’ll move that conversation into spiritual and I think you’re really going to enjoy the conversation my audience because in his book, and he had told me about this prior, that this piece of the book was really kind of the meat of everything. And I have completed the book and I agree it is the meat of his book. He ties everything in so brilliantly that it all makes complete sense so I’m looking forward to where you’re going to take this today: on the cycling venture that we’re going to read this spiritual energy.

Greg: [00:05:40] OK. Well let’s well let’s let’s begin with… Just before we began we had a conversation about you getting into bicycling again. I’m really excited that youre doing that. So I’ll get you a spiritual tip that I don’t mention directly in the book but which I really like it underlines the principle of trying to talk about today. Eric Greitens, who is now I guess governor of Missouri I think, wrote a book called Resilience and he said you know the trouble with a lot of Americans is that we begin by thinking about how we feel, and then we take action based on our feelings. That’s how we create our identities. And he says well you know that’s backwards. And he said well you ought to just begin with your identity, which is really what I talk when I say spiritual energy I’m talking about who you are. What your purpose in life is. That’s what it’s really all about. Begin with your identity, then think about feelings. So let me give me a bicycle example. OK.

Peter: [00:06:50] So I’m out on a long ride. And and of course I feel tired. So if I begin with how I feel then the obvious action is I’m tired so I should stop. Ok.

Greg: [00:07:02] Then my identity after I do that is I’m a quitter. The other way around though is if you think well you know what I really am is I’m a long distance bicycle rider and that’s what I do. So you know 100 miles 200 miles. That’s who I am. Well then if I start feeling tired Well you know that’s no big deal because that’s part of the game. So the idea is identity first, then action, then your feelings in the context of your actions, and if you look at people who make a powerful impact in the world, they all do that on the basis of spiritual energy. Ghandi, King, Mother Theresea You know all these people didn’t get elected to anything. They didn’t have armies. But the sheer power of who they were came through, drove their lives, and changed the world. So that is spiritual genius the ultimate source of energy…

Peter: [00:08:09] OK so I’m going to bring what you just said into present. Like actually today. So I picked up my son from school and I told him I have this podcast interview with yourself and I said I’m tired. And he goes yeah Dad you travel. I was in Phoenix when I flew back to BWI I drove to Hershey P.A. all day and yada yada yada. I am tired. But as you are as you were discussing this I’m going. All right if I twist it into the identity. Well I’m an entrepreneur. I’m I’m on this teaching circuit the lecture circuit per se. This is what I do.

Greg: [00:08:52] Yes.

Peter: [00:08:52] I should feel tired.

Greg: [00:08:55] Yeah.

Peter: [00:08:55] It’s part of the game. And as you are talking And as we’re doing this I’ve got energy back and I actually told my son I said I want to do this interview with Greg because I know he will give me energy but I had no idea How you were going to do that. It’s brilliant. I mean I could just as you were describing this I could actually feel my mindset change and fall into that well it’s part of the game you are supposed to feel this way. And the other thing I heard is that you are an ultra distance rider.

Greg: [00:09:31] Mhm.

Peter: [00:09:32] The only thing ultra that I’ve ever done is beer. That’s about.

Greg: [00:09:40] Hahaha. Practice makes perfect.

Peter: [00:09:44] That’s true.

Greg: [00:09:45] Well you know I think you know part of me is it is a very real thing. What a lot of people miss though is it’s not just this purpose thing it’s not just personal – it’s corporate too. Organizations. I work with a lot of organizations such as working on their marketing. Who are you? And you know keep a good strong solid purpose for your organization. You’re going to attract the kind of people you’re looking to attract. You can attract clients you’re looking to attract. And if you don’t know who you are, or if the only purpose in your organization is to make money, people see through that right away. And the opposite is very powerful. When I teach my students… as you know I teach at Johns Hopkins high School. Well they all go through the process outlined in the book about who am I, sort of thinking about what their real purpose in life is, what their real identity is. And again as you know the book is kind of a quick and dirty process. It’s not one that takes forever. It’s not heavy theology or philosophy. It’s just trying to get in touch with who you really are. Because if you can communicate. People will trust you and you’ll be much more successful. You have a purpose. You know I teach this energy stuff all over the country. One of the saddest things is when people come up to me afterwards and say you know I don’t have any purpose in my life. It’s I’m just Putting one of the other working every day. Hoping for retirement. And like oh my god. That’s a that’s really sad.

Peter: [00:11:19] Yeah.

Greg: [00:11:19] Because they had much less energy and they live a much tougher life.

Peter: [00:11:27] Right.

Greg: [00:11:27] There’s an old saying ego. Tough choices, easy life. Easy choices, tough life. And that’s really what this is all about. Figuring out who you are getting in touch with that, behaving in line with. That’s where the real juice comes from.

Peter: [00:11:45] I’m thinking of Simon Sinek and it starts with why and people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it. Along those lines and I think about our identity and I want to bring you mentioned the gentleman that we both know. You know him a lot better than I do what Frank Ryan did… It’s been three years now?

Greg: [00:12:05] Yeah two or three years.

Peter: [00:12:07] Do you mind telling that story?

Greg: [00:12:09] Well I mean I tell that story all the time because Frank, in addition to being our mutual friends, which of course why is why he’s famous, of course, he’s also famous for walking across the country. And you know people look at me and say great way to go riding your bike across the country. That’s incredible. Yeah bit… Frank walked. It was a hundred and fifty plus days. And what people don’t understand and you and I do because you read his book and I know him well and so we had many conversations… he and I teach a course on energy and endurance based on his walk and my bike ride. But what’s critical. I mean people don’t realize he peeled the bottom off his feet. Imagine what that must have felt like. He had bone spurs. He limped for probably two thirds of that trip. He limped across the country. But The reason that he did it is because, A, he’s Frank. Marines don’t quit. Plus he’s absolutely dedicated to raising money for this nonprofit that he the chairman of the board of for years and years and years and people say well what gives you that get up to don’t go all the way across the country. It’s purpose. He had every step he took there was a reason behind it. Same thing when I was riding and trying to raise money for our daily bread, which is probably Maryland’s most famous soup kitchen. I helped start it 35 years. You know I knew as I was riding across the country that I was raising money based on the mileage. So I knew every mile was another or you know dollar nickel whatever for those guys. And it’s the type of thing where that gets you up in the morning it keeps you going. Even win heat, headwinds, rainstorms it’s like oh yeah it’s tough. But boy you know I get to go sleep in a hotel tonight after I ride and a lot of those guys don’t. So grateful thankful and you’re energized. It’s all about purpose.

Peter: [00:14:25] So going back to the person who said I’m just trying to make it through the day. I mean I do believe we all have a purpose. There’s some reason why we are here. We’re here to have some impact. And that can be a journey. How do you counsel people who say they don’t feel like they have a purpose? Do you begin to ask questions? Do you begin to ask them kind of explore where maybe that lack of energy is and trying to make suggestions? Well how does that work, or does it?

Greg: [00:14:58] It does work, and the example that I use is if you have a Labrador Retriever.

Peter: [00:15:04] I Have two.

Greg: [00:15:05] Yeah there you go. It’s one of the most popular dogs in America or you know. So it’s like. All right. The purpose of a lab is fetch. OK. And how long can you throw that ball or throw that stick before he’s tired of fetching it? The answer is NEVER. Until your arm falls. And because what’s going on here is that dog has a purpose that’s in its DNA. Just like your purpose and my purpose is in our DNA. Now we’re a much more complicated than dogs, but there’s stuff where if we’re doing what we should be doing, if we’re aligned with our purpose and know what it is, we live it every day, we get enormous amounts of juice. We can do that all day long. OK. Because, as I like to say, Mother Nature is not stupid. She gave us these talents for a reason and that reason is our purpose. And when we use our talents aligned with our purpose, we feel great!

Peter: [00:16:02] Yeah.

Greg: [00:16:04] And it’s universal! It’s it’s you, it’s me, it’s labs. I mean it’s you know it’s really pretty much universal. And that’s why, when you look at people who are happy in their jobs, and the answer is that the reason they are happy is not because they’re making a lot of money. That’s who they are. They’re doing what they should do. And that’s enormously powerful because… I mean part of it is is it your purpose isn’t necessarily a job. You can spread your purpose over a number of different jobs. I mean you’re a great example. I mean you’re a CPA. OK. You’re not doing cash returns. Hahaha.

Peter: [00:16:46] No. No.

Greg: [00:16:50] So you’re a CPA. That’s you know that’s those are the initials after your name; it is your credentials. A Powerful one. But you know your calling is way different than that, or includes that and many other things. And so you’re using your talents in a way that clearly aligns with who you are because that’s where you get the energy to do all this crazy stuff.

Peter: [00:17:15] Thank you very much. And I do agree. There is a quote that you have in your book. It’s Confucius. Choose the job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. When I went when I went full time with this job I tell people I have not worked a day in seven years. When I started in 2010. Ask my wife you get a completely different answer.

Greg: [00:17:38] Hahahaha.

Peter: [00:17:38] And she will also say I’ve never seen him happier.

Greg: [00:17:43] Yes. It really is. You know I mean and that happiness is what it is. That’s a big source of energy. You know I mean people do better and have more juice for what they’re happier doing. I mean the easiest translation for that is. OK. So it’s Friday afternoon and you’re exhausted right. I’m exhausted. Well here comes come’s happy hour.

Peter: [00:18:09] Hahahaha.

Greg: [00:18:09] Why. You know all those people who were drag themselves out of work at 4:30 5 o’clock on a Friday are totally different human beings at happy hour an hour later.

Peter: [00:18:20] Right.

Greg: [00:18:21] And you know obviously that’s a different kind of happy, but part of it is you notice if you doing something you enjoy. If you look at why people have after work softball and you talk to anybody who’s one of those and they’ll all say wow I want to go work this hard at work all day long. Well it’s because they’re doing something they love to do. And so figuring out you know in the book there is a process… it is not a complicated process figuring out who you are, what gives you juice, where your energy comes from. It’s really powerful. Often, it’s what people do for fun in. In the book is you know I did this process that were trying to articulate a personal mission. One guy came up to me and he said I’m a surfer. That’s what I do. I’m a surfer. And when he graduated from college you surf big waves all over the world. And he said you know I knew I had to do something that pays the bills here. And so we just like you know wow trading on Wall Street. And you know it’s just it’s just like surfing. You got to know which way to pick. You got to know which stock to pick. You got to know when you get on. You got to know when to get off. You can get hurt. And that’s part of the fun at the end of the day you got it. And he said what I do all day is I just surf. Of course it’s very profitable. He’s very successful. But part of that is the same adrenaline the same reflexes. The same sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, and being a great surfer makes him a great trader. Yeah. So he’s using that set of talents in a way that’s very profitable. He surfs.

Peter: [00:20:15] Well when you said he was a surfer then you went to Wall Street I couldn’t make the connection but now I have. So let me ask you this question. We see that there’s a lot of unhappy workers out there.

Greg: [00:20:27] You bet.

Peter: [00:20:28] Especially in corporate America, and really in the book… So they’re not aligned. The mission vision of the organization is not aligned to those who are employed, It sounds like to me. There’s a disconnect. And and in a lot of companies because well I’m seeing more of it in the older more established companies that have been around for a while. That have gotten so big. But then we’ve got some new large businesses that have formed over the past 10 15 years. And there seems to be more alignment with the organization itself, the culture, as well as transcending that into the people to keep them energized and happy and will walk through fire for the organization. So how does how does a company do that? How does how does somebody like GM change their culture to be more like quote unquote a Google completely different into this economy or even in some small essence to maintain that workforce? At least have a happy workforce.

Greg: [00:21:37] Well you know it’s interesting because I think the smart companies are doing a great job of unwinding their values and their purpose with the values and purpose of their employees. I’ll give you an immediate example. My kid just changed jobs from a old traditional company. I mean it was like 1956. It’s the type of thing your dad and my dad grew up. That’s how antiquated it was. And she just changed jobs to work for a bright young company, and I’m not talking about one run by Millennials. I’m talking about a company that’s been around for you know a couple of decades, but has that fresher view. And she she she called me up and she said Dad I just got out of orientation with the manager and I said well how dod it go and she said well he stood up and said… you know there was a small group of you know employees and he stood up and said You’re here because we love you and we want you to be happy.

Peter: [00:22:49] Wow.

Greg: [00:22:49] And of course you know if you if you put on your energy hat and you think about that, that wasn’t stupid. That was not touchy feely. We want to know what you want to do. And we have lots of work here and we’ll find the best fit for you. And you know I mean that’s that’s like right. I was like did you read the book? I mean obviously those principles are very very powerful in terms of I want these people energized. So you people are there to understand the purpose. They’re there to make sure their purpose aligns, which you talk about. My purpose as an individual aligns with my companies purpose. That’s when you get maximum performance. And that’s really what a leader does, as opposed to a managers. Managers solve problems and make sure trains run on time. LEaders, as you know, are all about a a vision, a mission, values, align people with those values. That’s where the real performance comes.

Peter: [00:23:57] Because early on in my podcast I interviewed, and I made this comment multiple times, One of my author friends. Her name is Karen Young. She wrote a book Drama Free H.R. quit knocking on my door, and during the interview she said that her her company the attrition rate was higher than she wanted it to be. And they sat back as a group and said well maybe we need to go and rework our Mission Vision core values. And they spent a considerable amount of time of getting those right. And then they said we’re going to change the hiring process. Instead of putting an ad up and giving somebody an application to have them fill it out, go through the interview process, hire them, give them the you know the onboarding stuff. They flipped it around. They would put an ad out for a job then the first thing that they had to do before they even got an application was to go to the Web site read the Mission, Vision, core values and then have a phone interview to articulate how they saw themselves fitting in to the core values, mission, vision of the organization. If the person could articulate that in a way then they would get the application, then they would go through the screening process, and by flipping the hiring practice their attrition rate almost disappeared.

Greg: [00:25:12] Yeah.

Peter: [00:25:13] And they had motivated… they had energized employees.

Greg: [00:25:17] Yeah yeah. I mean if you ask anybody in any company you know well what what’s the most important thing for the employees here. Because you to use your example you know there are a lot of CPAs. I could hire 50 CPA but I want to hire the one that fits my organization. Well the best way to do it is the way you just outlined because that says that the purpose of the person hiring and the purpose of the organization are aligned. It’s not rocket science. I mean part of this is what happens a lot of organizations, and a lot of people too, make the mistake of taking you know sort of the favorite values, as opposed to the values that really drives them. So for example you know I asked CPAs all the time what are your values. They say honest, integrity, hard work. And you know and recently somebody said punctuality.

Peter: [00:26:09] Hahaha.

Greg: [00:26:09] Always glad to hear it, but… but it’s like OK so what is it about integrity that gets you out of bed. And so you know from reading the book my values are s l e e p: sleep.

Peter: [00:26:24] Right.

Greg: [00:26:25] Because that’s something that I like but what gets me out of bed which is you know it’s easy to remember because it’s S for spirit. I like spirit. School Spirit. Holy Spirit. I like people with Spirit juice. You know L stands for light. I like to see the light bulb go on. That’s what gets me going. I know that’s what energizes you too. And then I couldn’t do what I do not like energy and endurance, so that takes care of those, and finally you know it’s all about productivity. What good is all of this energy not doing something productive? So you know so when I tell people my values are sleep, they’re like hey that’s different. Well yeah. Even if you look at Google’s value, if you look at like Zappos, you look at their values, and then you look at the companies and you say yeah. I see how those values apply to this stuff. Now do they live them 100 percent? Well nobody is 100 percent. you know if you really know what your values really are, then that’s very powerful.

Peter: [00:27:33] Well as you write in the book, you use an example of a company that no longer exists. A small company out of Houston called Enron.

Greg: [00:27:44] Right. Haha.

Peter: [00:27:45] And you do say that Enron had a mission vision core competencies. They had a code of conduct. But then you said… Do you remember the quote that Ken Lay said around that?

Greg: [00:27:58] Yes but you know rules and regulations are important but you know they shouldn’t take it too serious. I mean What happened in Enron is they lived their values. They really did. Except those weren’t the values they put on the wall. And so I think everybody lives his or her values, If by value you mean what’s important to you. In their case it’s important to make as much money as we can by hook or by crook. Yeah sure. They lived according to their values. But not what’s on the website. OK. But that’s the way they operate. And you know I think if you talk about recruiting and maintaining… a company that can truly articulate it’s real values, I mean the values so that when you show up there you see them either as a customer or as an employee and you see it every day. That’s power. And so many companies have these… really it’s a set of platitudes. What I always tell companies when I go in is I say okay you get all these values, but do you compensate people based on those values?

Peter: [00:29:07] Ohhhh.

Greg: [00:29:07] What do you mean? Show me the H.R. system that links to your values that compensates people who are behaving that way. Because right now you’re compensating people for behaving some way. WEll what is that way? And you know that usually gets a thoughtful look or two. It’s sometimes painful.

Peter: [00:29:32] Yeah I bet. Going down this path and you talk about Enron and basically there was a misalignment in there. But when you when you’re doing this, I think the biggest piece out there is the word trust. The people have to have trust in the senior management, in the C-suite, and the C-suite has to have trust in people. And I recently heard a guy by the name of David Horsager, who wrote the book the trust edge. He keynoted at the National Speaker’s Association. He states everything of value is built on trust, and the lack of trust is the biggest expense organizations incur.

Greg: [00:30:24] Absolutely.

Peter: [00:30:24] And I’ve I’ve used that phrase a number of times recently and I just watched the looks on everybody’s face in the audience, and it takes them a moment. And then you get that ah ha or oh crap look and going yeah that’s right. And how do we make that trust that that belief that spirituality, or however we want to phrase it, within organizations that people buy in. And it’s it’s it’s not easy.

Greg: [00:30:57] No I think you’re you’re absolutely right. What I always tell CEOs that I’m working with is really really their most important tital is chief reputation officer.

Peter: [00:31:09] Hm.

Greg: [00:31:09] I mean that’s that’s really what it’s all about because if you’ve got a bad reputation you got no business. You have Enron. Arthur Andersen is a great example. Lose trust. Lose business. That’s all it is. And employees and customers. All of that together. You know from the book that Trust is a function of credibility times intimacy divided by the perceived risk. So essentially.

Peter: [00:31:37] I’ve heard that before. Wait a minute. No no. It was Pam Devine.

Greg: [00:31:43] Hahaha.

Peter: [00:31:43] I remember when I was talking to her about trust she rattled that Off.

Greg: [00:31:49] You know she got that from.

Peter: [00:31:51] I think she said it was from you, but yes. Could you say it again?

Greg: [00:31:55] Yeah. Actually it’s from a company called Synectix which came up with this about 25 years. Still around, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and they said you know trust is a function of credibility, how believable you are, times your intimacy, how much you care, divided by my perception of the risk I’m taking in trusting. Obviously because there’s a multiplier in the numerator, if Either of those is zero. I mean you get no credibility or if you have no intimacy, by intimacy It’s really kind of relationship. Teddy Roosevelt said it best. I don’t care what you know until I know the care. And if you look at how people select professionals, whether they’re CPAs or physicians or whatever. It’s basically do I like them or not like.

Peter: [00:32:49] Right.

Greg: [00:32:49] And the biggest mistake that a professional can make, whether the person is a CPA or a physician or whatever, is to forget that care part. You know everybody focuses on the credential, the CPA the M.D. or law degree, and that’s fine. But there are a lot of people who have those. The person that I’m going to pick, and I have my choice. I pick the one I like. You know the example that I use for my students at Hopkins is look. How did you select your pediatricians for your kid? And invariably the answer is I selected my pediatrician based on a mother’s recommendation who’s already there. What did she say? She’s great with the kids. I really like him or really like her. And it’s like why? Because hey we don’t know anything about pediatrics. You know the person’s board certified, person has as a CPA. What more do I need to know? They know what they’re doing. OK. Now can I work with them and do I like them? And then that becomes the differentiator.

Peter: [00:33:59] I think you would agree with this and I don’t remember we’ve talked about this before, but when I when I speak to audiences a CPA I ask what business they’re in. And I get consulting I get all this other stuff and I go no. That’s a byproduct. And I get that Scooby Doo look from them. You’re in the people business first and foremost. Everything else is a byproduct because you have to have people that work with you. You have to have customers who are individuals. Who are human beings. And we have to have some type of connection to this point, and we only do business with people we trust, respect. When we get referrals or stuff. Like you said you could be a CPA but if you can’t communicate, if you can’t that connection with your client… And whether this is a client in a public forum or youre a CFO… it’s not going to work. So I think we’ve kind of outlined this I think in business today when we look at individuals and look at this process, we also need to remember we all are people and we all have needs and we all like to be cared for. We all have feelings and stuff and this is not the touchy feely part, but recognize that versus looking at somebody well as like just an asset on a balance sheet that has no tangibility.

Greg: [00:35:15] Absolutely. You know the story I like to tell is like I took a group of 250 CPAs in a big firm in Baltimore through the mission exercise. And when I got to the end I said OK would anyone like to share their mission. And a young woman raised her hand and she said I’m a jump partner.

Peter: [00:35:37] A What?

Greg: [00:35:37] What what do you mean? Well if you’ve never jumped out of an airplane, what they do is they lash you to somebody who has. That’s your jump partner. So you don’t have to worry when you jump out of the airplane. You’re going to be OK. That person will pull the chute. That person will guide you. I’m a jump partner. That’s who I am. And I thought there’s somebody who really understands what you just said. OK. Because who doesn’t want a CPA that’s a jump partner? That’s why I’m paying you. I’m not paying you to do taxes. I could do that on Turbo Tax. I’m paying you to stand by my side if the IRS knocks on my door. I’m here to make sure that I’m not missing something that I know that I didn’t know I didn’t know. So you know that’s the real power. So she articulated them just beautifully. I use her as an example al of the time of what you know a real mission sounds like. It has you know it has the content and it has emotional and spiritual power.

Peter: [00:36:45] So I love that because I when you said jump partner I had my mind was racing like 18 directions. But when you put it like that I and I will use that in future speaking engagements because I love the visual nature of that picture. And really also anybody who’s in the profession, whether you’re public, whether you’re in the industry, whether you’re in government, whether you’re teaching. We really all should be partners as it relates to the complexity of what we deal with.

Greg: [00:37:19] It’s a it’s a great image but I’ve had you know I’ve worked with you you know and I had thousands and thousands of CPAs. People said a whole bunch of just incredible things. You know I’ve had CPAs who said you know I’m a gardener. What do you mean? Well you know I like to work my garden of course but I’m interested in helping organizations grow. I’m about growth. OK fine. So you know I had one CPA who said I’m really a bartender. Not like I serve drinks but what I do is I listen and I make people feel good. That’s what I do that you know… so you get you get these kind of responses and it’s like Yeah. So what these people have done is they’ve taken their profession and they’ve aligned it with their mission and their values. And that’s where the energy comes. Those are the people who are most successful because they understand not only but everybody else understands, but you also have the experience and the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual horsepower. That’s what makes you a successful anything.

Peter: [00:38:39] Exactly. And when you say clients I know you’re talking about internal and external, and we’re talking about whether you’re a CFO, managing partner, staff accountant, or whatever. And along those lines is a recent quote I’ve heard from Simon Sinek about leadership which I believe ties into this because you know we think of leadership… There’s a difference authority and leadership.

Greg: [00:39:02] Correct.

Peter: [00:39:04] And the way he put it was Your title doesn’t matter, your level, on the way that we have a positive effect on another person. Period.

Greg: [00:39:17] Right.

Peter: [00:39:17] Which which ties into the whole spirituality as you’re outlining and being aligned with your organization stuff. And I love that quote because I don’t think I’ve really ever looked at leadership other than… Not so much for authority level but from a different perspective. That kind of helped align my thought process that you know if you want to empower and get a lot of energy in your work force… Herb Keller. Southwest Airlines. He was known as a Jack Daniels chugging, chain smoking kind of guy, but he would talk to the CFO the same way he would talk to a baggage handler or a pilot or somebody in the corporate office. He didn’t feel like he was above everybody because he was a founder. He was just like everybody else and treated everybody the same.

Greg: [00:40:16] Well you know that’s… And that’s really very very powerful because that is you know that it’s what a leader is really all about. That’s what the Sinek part about what your Why is… that’s where the trust comes from, that’s where the credibility comes from. That’s where real leadership comes from. People just want to follow people when they know who they are. And that’s why you know branding is so important these days. You know it’s why some of the best CPA firms have the strongest because you know people know what they’re getting. They know what to expect.

Peter: [00:41:00] I was actually thinking about how do we kind of wrap and tie everything together. And I think maybe the best way to do that is through touching on those four energy pieces kind of like in order, and just kind of recap. So everybody who has maybe listened to all three episodes can… I think it’ll be a nice way to kind of tie up this package and our conversation.

Greg: [00:41:29] Right. OK. Well as you remember from the beginning it’s all about PIES.

Peter: [00:41:34] Right.

Greg: [00:41:36] Physical energy, intellectual energy, emotional energy, and spiritual energy. As we said today, spiritual energy is the most powerful one. But often people don’t really understand it until they work their ways through the first three. Physical energy. You know just the ability to go a long way or you know run a long way or drive from Harrisburg and catch that flight and just getting up and getting up and going is one that a lot of people focus on and that is the least important of them all, but that’s the industry that five hour energy drink and Red Bull and Starbucks are really good at. Well there’s nothing wrong with a little caffeine. But for the longer more durable types of energy, the other three are much better. Intellectual energy is what people usually get paid for. Do you have the energy to solve puzzles, solve the problem, meet my needs. That type of thing. We learned about trust. I’ll trust you if I believe you can meet my needs, and so intellectual energies is frankly what we get paid to use, and there are many ways that we can improve that, and many ways we can lose it. Distraction or you know too much in front of the email. Now of course emotional energy is the one that often causes the most problems. People are always talking about well you know I have this energy vampire at work… So these oxygen bandits are often a problem, but emotional energy is a powerful thing and you can turn them around. We talked about ways to do it but my favorite way is to kill them with kindness. Usually what makes someone an energy vampire is some kind of fear. If you can remove that, then you’ve converted a vampire. And then finally of course is spiritual energy. We spent all day talking about it today. That relates to your purpose; who you really are. And if you’re living that life, if you’re doing that as much as you can, You’re going to be happier and you’re going to be more successful. So it’s all about more energy – not about more time. We don’t get any more time. 24 hours a day. But we can all get way more energy.

Peter: [00:43:59] I will say that through our conversations, and we will have many more, I have learned a lot and we started out with the physical energy and I found myself really trying to apply or manage that physical those ups and downs of those energy levels because I have started a new book and I am hell bent to have the least the manuscript done by my Christmas. So I’m trying to put out 22-2500 words a week to try to get around my 35000 that I found that I need, and my best energy is first thing in the morning.

Greg: [00:44:39] Yes.

Peter: [00:44:40] So the intellectual energy to deal with those distractions… I eliminate those distractions and I work. What I’ve also found is, since I spent a lot of time on an airplane, is if I can conserve energy at different points and use that energy while I’m on the plane, I can crank out a bunch of stuff. Even if it’s on a 15 minute flight to Baltimore or a four hour flight to Phoenix this week, I cranked out a lot of stuff.

Greg: [00:45:07] Yes.

Peter: [00:45:07] I’ve learned more about my energy, my physical, my intellectual, my emotional, and dealing with the vampires and the spiritual energy from your book, from these conversations, and I hope my audience is taken a lot. Because I thank you a lot my friend. I’ve known you for a while. I knew you were brilliant, but I didn’t know you were this great! It’s the best kept secret out there!

Greg: [00:45:34] Haha, oh! Too well kept a secret for this marketing guy.

Peter: [00:45:40] Yeah, You’re the marketing guy! I absolutely enjoyed our time. I’m looking forward to our conversations off line, crossing paths. Hopefully we’re speaking at some conference sooner or later, at the same time. I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I thank you for your friendship and your counsel and they say that you want to put five or six people around you that I’m the weakest link. Well you’re part of that of that five. And thank you so very much. And I look forward to sit down some day soon and just face to face without a computer between us and just catching up and then spending some time with these conversations. I really appreciate it. Thank you so very much.

Greg: [00:46:22] Thank you. It’s been a delight as it always is when working together. Good luck on that book! You can do it.

Peter: [00:46:29] I’ll get it done. And you’ve got a signed copy coming your way.

Greg: [00:46:33] Excellent.

Peter: [00:46:34] That’s guaranteed. Alright my friend. Thank you so very much.

Peter: [00:46:42] I would like to thank Greg for giving his time to record three outstanding episodes on how to supercharge your energy. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the conversations and they have had a tremendous impact on me personally. I would like to talk about the first five episodes of this podcast are now qualified for CPE self-study credit in the NASBA category of personal development. Those interviews are with Clarke Price, former CEO of the Ohio society of CPAs. Mike Sciortino, author of Gratitude Marketing. Tom Hood… Well you’ve been introduced to him and you will be introduced to him again. Ed Mendlowitz, who’s a partner at Withum, Smith, and Brown. And Karl Ahlrichs, who’s H.R. professional at Gregory and Appel. These episodes are located on the MACPA-BLI self-study Web site and they are mobile friendly. Create an account and purchase an episode. You can listen to them on your daily commute or while working out, or even at your desk! When you’re finished, take the review and final exam on your mobile device or your computer. It’s that easy. While all Improv is no Joke podcasts are available on my web site, only those purchased to the MACPA-BLI self-study Website are eligible for CPE self-study credit. This is not nano-learning – this is self-study learning. You can get detailed instructions by visiting my website at PeterMargaritis.com and clicking on the graphic: Listen, Learn, and Earn improvs is no joke podcasts on my home page. I hope you enjoy this exciting and flexible new way of receiving CPE credit. Remember, you can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book Improv is no Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, for $14.99 with free shipping, please go to my website, PeterMargaritis.com, and you’ll see the graphic on the homepage to purchase my book. Please allow 14 days for shipping. You can also follow me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. In episode 68, I interviewed Byron Patrick, who is the managing director of CPA practice at Network Alliance, and the past chair of the American Association of CPAs executive board. Our discussion centers around the benefits of volunteering at your state CPA association, or really at any association. So thank you again for listening and I greatly appreciate it if you take time to write a review on iTunes. Remember to use the principles of improvisation to help you better connect and communicate with those in your organization.

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