The Change Your Mindset Podcast

Welcome to the Change Your Mindset podcast, hosted by Peter Margaritis, CPA, AKA The Accidental Accountant. Peter is a speaker, expert in applied improvisation and author of the book 'Improv Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. Peter's new book, Taking the Numb Our of Numbers: Explaining & Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity will be published in June 2018.

S4E38. How Do You Eat an Elephant?

Has anyone ever asked you the question: “How do you eat an elephant?” This question – and its answer – provides a powerful metaphor for learning and development for all professionals. And that answer is: “One bite at a time.”  

If you tried to eat an entire elephant in one sitting, you’d get sick and give up. You’d never want to try eating an elephant again. If you take your time, however, you get to savor it at your own pace and you still manage to get the whole thing down.

If just the thought of eating an endangered species makes you nauseous, let’s look at another example from my personal life. I began experiencing back pain and wanted to strengthen my core by doing crunches. If I tried doing 1,000 crunches on the first day, my abs would likely give out, I’d be sore for weeks, and I’d probably give up altogether. But that’s not what I did. I started with just ten crunches and didn’t experience any muscle cramps. Slowly adding more as my strength increased, I was able to do 75 in a matter of months – but I still didn’t see the results, either in the mirror or in my back. Fast forward to nearly a year after I started, and I can successfully complete 1,000 crunches in less than 15 minutes – and my back is a lot stronger as a result.

When adopting the improviser’s mindset, acknowledge that it’s not going to happen overnight. You’re going to fall off the wagon. You’re going to go back to your old ways: not listening, making it all about you, and letting your ego get in the way. But if you take a “one bite at a time” approach, you can look for opportunities to apply that mindset everyday until it becomes a habit that’s so automatic, you don’t have to think about it twice – you just do it.

You’ve spent your education and early career developing your technical skills. That’s how you got to where you are today. But once those are sound, you need to shift to focusing on what I call “power skills”: communication, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, listening, adapting, strategic thinking, innovation, and more. When you sum all of these power skills into one, it becomes LEADERSHIP.

Now, take one bite at a time and start investing in your power skills so you can have a greater impact on the people you hire, on the people you lead, on your customers and clients, on the people that are your business partners, the people in your community, and the people of the world.

S4E37: The Shocking Secret Behind Business Potential with Michael Sherlock

Don’t be fooled by name, the hair color, or the crazy shoes – Michael Sherlock is serious about business. She’s dedicated to creating positive, productive, and profitable workplaces, and helping individuals and businesses unlock their ultimate potential.

Before launching her global training company, Shock Your Potential, Michael was Vice President of US Sales for two multinational medical device companies that were responsible for net revenue exceeding $75 million and as many as 500 employees at a time. In 2020, she released the Shock Your Potential app, an on-demand training tool for leadership and sales professionals, and was chosen as #12 of the Top Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2021 by

Michael is incredibly passionate about leadership. It prompted her first book, Tell Me More, all about how to ask questions to get the most out of your employees. Her own leadership journey had always been connected to sales – and leadership strategies are different in a sales environment. You can use the same concepts, but you have to apply them differently. You have to get people to stop seeing sales as something to be afraid of and instead see it as a relationship.

So many salespeople make assumptions about what their customers want – and it stops them from making the ask. As a salesperson, you don’t decide what’s expensive to a customer, what their tastes are, and how strong their pain point is. When you just take your emotions out of the equation and instead ask questions to understand them, you won’t be so fearful.

It’s time to SHOCK your potential, and:

  • Stand out
  • Hone your skills and hire your deficiencies
  • Operate as if you’re already there
  • Cultivate the people & opportunities to get you there
  • Know your value & your worth

Anyone can do this. Everyone has this potential inside of them, they just need to shock it out.

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S4E36. It’s All About the Attitude We Choose

It was bizarre not traveling most of 2020 due to the pandemic. Going from an average of 130 days over the past ten years to only traveling five in all of 2020 was a shock to the system. At first I didn’t miss it – the hustle and bustle, crowded airports and planes, and the TSA – but after reflecting on it, I have some travel memories that I’d like to share, along with the lessons I picked up from them.

On a flight from Columbus to Washington DC the plane was diverted due to strong winds. In Baltimore, I overheard many passengers losing their minds at the poor airport staff – as if they controlled the weather. That’s the wrong approach. Focus only on what you have control over: your attitude. Stop blaming, and start thinking about what to do next. For me, my destination was Washington DC, so I looked at my options for getting there, hopped on an Amtrak, and arrived at my hotel three hours late but no worse for the wear.

My number one mantra when I travel is “Yes, and…” The improviser’s mindset has kept my stress levels in check, has allowed me to make alternate plans, and has allowed me to not be one of those passengers who blames people who had no say in what happened. If you’re kind to people who are just trying to do their job, the universe may just reward you. It’s all about the attitude that you choose.

S4E35. Adopting the Velocity Mindset with Ron Karr

Ron Karr has worked with leaders on six continents to help them eliminate risk, gain buy-in, and achieve more with what he calls “the velocity mindset.” Over the past 30 years, Ron’s presentations and advisory services have generated over a billion dollars in incremental revenue for his clients. He’s the author of five books, including his latest, The Velocity Mindset, and the best-seller Lead, Sell, or Get Out of the Way

Recently, Ron had some serious back pain and had to get multiple surgeries. He had to deal with that immense pain and immobility for two years, which gave him plenty of time to think about all of the things he hadn’t yet been able to do. Ron realized that it wasn’t external factors that had been keeping him from doing those things – he’d just never taken action. He was 57 years old, so he knew that, if he wanted to achieve everything he strove for in life, he had to speed things up. That’s where the velocity mindset comes in.

Velocity is speed plus direction. For Ron, direction is defined by the outcome of where you want to go. Many CEOs are focused more on the daily tasks than the purpose of the business. But when you’re purpose-driven, you will identify the tasks you need to accomplish to get where you want to go.

The biggest things that hold us back are our fears. We constantly create stories out of the events in our lives, and try to give them meaning. If we know what those stories are and the current meaning isn’t serving us, then we have the power to change them.

In addition to taking purpose-driven action, leaders have to align others with that purpose. They can’t do everything themselves. If you want to influence others, you have to create a safe environment for talk and discussion. You have to engage with people and show interest. This generates oxytocin and builds trust.

Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. It all comes down to purpose. If you’re true to your mission while honoring and respecting the goals of those around you, you will go far.

Click to Download the Full Transcript PDF


S4E34. Six Key Skills Every Accountant Needs to Learn

On August 10th, I delivered the keynote address welcoming the Master of Science in Accounting students at Oklahoma State University to the Fall 2021 semester. The title of my keynote was “Improv Is No Joke.” Not something you would expect to be a keynote title to a group of accounting students.

Before my keynote began, there was a video message to the students from the dean of the Spears School of Business, Dr. Ken Eastman. In his welcome to the students, he referenced the Korn Ferry five skills that need to be developed right now: Agility, Creativity, The Service Mindset, Communication, and Leadership. In other words, the improviser’s mindset. 

Let’s dig deeper into the Korn Ferry blog post, ‘Five Skills That Need to be Developed Right Now’. Agility, Creativity, The Service Mindset, Communication, and Leadership.

Agility means “being able to adapt quickly to uncertainty and constant change.” That, in and of itself, is improvisation. The ability to adapt or be agile means focusing on the things that we have control over and letting go of things that we have no control over. This is accomplished through the philosophy of Yes! And. Accept the premise that is handed to you, and positively add to it. 

Creativity can be as simple as staying curious and not falling into the trap of “this is how it has always been done.” It also requires two separate and distinct types of thinking, divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of coming up with lots of ideas without censoring yourself or others, or saying the dreaded creativity killer, “we can’t do that.” In improv we say, you can’t create and criticize in the same space. Criticism is essential in creativity only after all of the ideas have been vetted. Convergent thinking is the process of analyzing those divergent ideas to determine which ideas can solve the problem at hand.

The Service Mindset is “having the awareness to adjust the goods and services we provide to customers, in the way they need them, when they need them – this is a critical skill for talent.” To do this effectively, you need to park your ego and listen to what the customer wants, not what you think the customer needs. In improv, it is all about the team, and the customer, and less about ourselves.

Communication is essential in both “written and verbal skills and presenting well in-person and on videoconference, [these] are growing in strategic importance.” The ability to articulate your thoughts and deliver that message in a way that your audience can understand has always been important, even more so when delivering it virtually. This communication also extends to your body language, both in-person and on Zoom and other virtual platforms. Always present positive body language when speaking or attending any meeting or presentation. This means no slouched posture, no using your smartphone, and always have your camera on when in a virtual environment, just to name a few. Leadership is developing “talent with the ability to reach out and take the initiative, build relationships across the organization, and foster trust and inclusion through behavior and actions – [these are skills] in demand at every level.”

Leadership is also about being vulnerable around your team and letting them know when you are wrong. In improv, it is all about the team and less about you. Our job is to make the individuals on our team look good, support them, and treat them with the highest respect. It is not our job to disrespect them or tear them down. That is just your ego getting in the way. Let your ego sit on the bench for a while and focus on what is best for the team.

The two-hour keynote on improv contained the essence of this Korn Ferry blog, along with helping these accounting students understand that they speak a foreign language called accounting. Those in the corporate world who are not well versed in the foreign language of accounting have no idea what you are saying. The sixth critical skill that every accountant, engineer, or financial person needs to develop is a translation of technical language into plain English. When you master all six of these skills, you have become a well-versed and highly impactful leader within your organization.