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.

S2E17 – Stephanie Feger | Color Today Pretty

Stephanie Feger is a passionate communicator who believes that a shift in perspective can help people live truly fulfilling lives.

 

After working in the public relations and marketing industry for over 15 years, she realized that happiness isn’t found in what society deems important and felt a calling to help others reach their fullest potential while embracing all that life has to offer. Now an author, professional speaker, motivational blogger, book publicist, and home decor business owner, Stephanie connects her passion for embracing creativity with her dedication to helping others live life in perspective.

 

In her recently published book, Color Today Pretty: An Inspirational Guide to Living a Life in Perspective, Stephanie invites others to change their lives by finding perspective from within.

 

She has a wonderful message to share with all of us as we begin to move into 2019, and for those in the accounting profession, as we move into that busy season (although I prefer to call it the opportunity season).

 

What Does it Mean to Color Today Pretty?

 

The idea of “Color Today Pretty” came to Stephanie in a dream, and it’s since become her life purpose and, really, a movement.

 

In the dream, Stephanie played the role of a female Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent – essentially, the person that stands between someone’s dreams and their reality.

 

A contestant walked up and started painting, and it was just awful. She told the young boy to give up and get a job, but he didn’t react by getting sad or angry like most people on the show. “Instead, he took his canvas, he brought it over to me, and he gifted me with a smile, and he said, ‘That’s okay. I just want you to go color something pretty today.’”

 

“I realized that he had a choice. You know, there’s a lot of ways to get from point A to point B in life. And I was sitting here thinking that I stood in between his ability to have this dream make it a reality, but this young kid taught me something different,” Stephanie says.

 

“What I realized at that moment is he couldn’t control my reaction. He couldn’t control if I was going to help him reach his dream, but he could control his reactions and his responses to what happened in life to him. He decided to color that day pretty, to take that moment and make it purposeful and meaningful. And he wasn’t going to let me stop him.”

 

From that moment, Stephanie shifted her lens on life and learned to find beauty in the mundane – and she believes that if you can embrace this mentality, too, you can do anything.

 

One of the things I enjoy about the book is that it’s not coming from the perspective of “You know, I’ve got life figured out and here’s how you do it.” Instead, it’s more of a journey through what Stephanie has experienced, showing how shifting her perspective has allowed her to take some of the most difficult moments in her life and use them to grow instead of hinder her growth.

 

“There is a way for people to focus on the things that matter. But, sometimes, we have to go through an acceptance process to get there, to be able to see through the right lens, to be able to focus our spectacles, per se, and really see that, at the end of the day, the only thing we can control in life is ourselves.”

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Stephanie Feger: [00:00:00] Being vulnerable and sharing elements of who you are in ways that other people are kind of scared to, it allows you to realize how interconnected we are and how important your mindset shift is to help you find fulfillment in life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:23] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:43] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant, and he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:11] Happy Holidays, and welcome to Episode 17. And my guest today is Stephanie Feger, who is a passionate communicator who believes that a shift in perspective can help people live truly fulfilling lives. After working in the public relations and marketing industry for over 15 years, she learned that happiness isn’t found on what society deems important and felt a calling to help others reach their fullest potential while embracing all that life has to offer.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:42] In her recently published book, Color Today Pretty: An Inspirational Guide to Living a Life in Perspective, Stephanie invites others to change their lives by using her guide to finding perspective from within. Now, an author, professional speaker, motivational blogger, book publicist, and home decor business owner, Stephanie connects her passion for embracing creativity with her dedication to helping others live life in perspective.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:14] She’s a Louisville native, and lives with her husband, Cory, and their three kids, Eli, Lyndi, and Luke. To learn more about Stephanie, go to www.ColorTodayPretty.com. She has a wonderful message to share with all of us as we begin to move into 2019, and for those in the accounting profession as we move into that busy time of year, a busy season. But I like to prefer to call it, you know, that opportunity season that awaits us.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:43] Before we get to the interview, I received an Amazon book review from Douglas Warren, who is the CEO of Warren Jackson CPAs in Sweetwater, Tennessee. He writes, “Peter does an outstanding job demonstrating how to present numbers to a non-number audience. It is useful information that can be used in any presentation. It can help make the presenter look like a rock star. I highly recommend this book for anyone who presents financial data and wants to make it interesting and relative to their audience, whomever they may be. I’ve already used many of the insights in his book.” Doug, thank you so very much for the book review, and I’m glad that you found some tips and techniques to make the numbers interesting; as well as your purchase of 10 additional copies for your team and for some of your clients. Thank you again, Doug.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:37] Taking the Numb Out of Numbers will transform your ability to communicate technical financial information in greater contexts through analogies, metaphors, and storytelling. Put another way, translate complex financial information into plain English, so your audience will gain a deeper understanding. The book is available on Amazon.com, in paperback, and in Kindle. So, stop what you’re doing, immediately stop right now, and go buy it today. If you’d like to purchase 10 or more copies, please contact me at Peter@PeterMargaritis.com for bulk discounts. So, without further ado, let’s get to the interview with Stephanie Feger.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:21] Everybody, I’m with Stephanie Feger, a fellow Kentuckian, better yet a fellow UK fan. So, we’ve spent, I don’t know, about 10 minutes even before we started the podcast talking about, “Oh, that was Duke game…” So, let’s just move forward past that.

Stephanie Feger: [00:04:41] Yeah, we ignore that one.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:42] Yeah, yeah. Let’s just kind of ignore it. So, that’s a learning curve. That’s a learning curve.

Stephanie Feger: [00:04:47] Totally.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:48] Stephanie, I thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be on my podcast. We’ve had a couple of health issues between the two of us, had to postpone this. But, finally, we’re together. Looking forward to our conversation. Welcome.

Stephanie Feger: [00:05:01] Thank you so much. And, hey, I’d love to be with another Kentuckian The problem is you don’t have the accent, and I’m stuck with it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:08] No, I have the accent, but since I’ve been in Ohio, it takes just a sip of bourbon. And I’ll tell you what, it’ll come right out.

Stephanie Feger: [00:05:16] Oh, I see.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:17] Yeah, I know I-

Stephanie Feger: [00:05:18] We should have this all prepped with some bourbon next time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:22] Next time. Next time, maybe so. But every now and then, it will slip out even without the enhancement of some bourbon. But I do know how to say the city that you live in, Louisville.

Stephanie Feger: [00:05:36] Good. Yes, I always say you got to a — I make a joke. I’m like, “We don’t have a lot of money here. We just slur words because every word costs more. So, we just, “Louisville,” just roll it together.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:46] Louisville. Somebody said, just throw a bunch of marbles in your mouth and say Louisville. That’s that.

Stephanie Feger: [00:05:50] That’s perfect.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:50] That’s perfect. Stephanie, give the audience a little bit of an idea of your background.

Stephanie Feger: [00:05:56] Sure, sure. So, I, actually, have about 15 plus years of experience in marketing and communications. And I’ve absolutely loved that profession; although, I was telling you a little bit earlier that my dream was always to go into theater. So, it’s been interesting because I feel like I have the opportunity to kind of merge that, and doing PR marketing has a little theatrical elements too, but I did that for about 15 years.

Stephanie Feger: [00:06:21] But something within me didn’t feel like settled. There was something more I was supposed to do. I think many of us go through that in our life where you think you’ve hit your — you know, where your success track is taking; and you feel all great; and you know if you keep going, you’re going to reach where you want to go. And I was there, but there was something within saying, “Stephanie, nope, you’re not doing what I need you to do. There’s more to do.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:06:45] And at that point, I started to really listen to where I needed to go, and I found myself shifting a bit. And I’ve started to realize that I needed to put my perspective lens on to see that. And it’s just interesting how that evolved because it turned into me actually writing a book, and it’s been published here in the past few months. And, now, I’m doing professional speaking and marketing communications consulting. And Peter, I would never have thought I’d be here. So, you call yourself The Accidental Accountant. I’m the Accidental Author. It’s been an amazing journey.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:19] Yeah. And the first time I met Stephanie, we had the same book coach. And her book was getting ready to come out, and she did this marketing presentation on a webcast that Cathy Fyock, our book coach, was having, and I’m going, “Oh my god.” And I screenshot a bunch of your slides.

Stephanie Feger: [00:07:38] I love your heart. I could have just emailed them to you, my friend.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:41] I know. I know, but, literally, I screenshot them because they were so good. And this is my second go round with the book. So, I knew some stuff, but some of the stuff that you’re bringing to the table, oh, this is really, really good. So, yeah, I would screenshot. I screenshot it and just use it.

Stephanie Feger: [00:07:59] Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:00] Yeah. I thought I’d say that. I just remembered that this morning. I said, “I think I should probably let you know that.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:08:04] That’s really awesome. That’s really awesome. It just goes to show that we never know the impact or what we can do to help other people. And so, you should always put yourself out there because you have the potential to continue to help other people in ways you would never have dreamed possible. So, that’s awesome.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:20] You’re welcome. And you just said something, put yourself out there. That’s not easy to do.

Stephanie Feger: [00:08:26] No. It’s actually very scary. Very scary. But here I was, you know, working in a corporate world, and doing everything you’re supposed to, but something within me felt like I needed to be putting myself out there and be vulnerable. And I found that in being vulnerable and sharing elements of who you are in ways that other people are kind of scared to, it allows you to realize how interconnected we are and how important your mindset shift is to help you find fulfillment in life. Not to talk too much in the clouds but you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:58] Yeah. It’s really scary for some. I think, it’s just the pure fear of failure that if I am vulnerable, they’ll see my weaknesses. But, you know, I was talking to a friend of mine, Merle Heckman, who I’ve interviewed before on this podcast, and he goes, “Pete, I love to listen to people when they tell me their faults, when they tell me they’re failures, when they tell me their losses because you learn so much more by learning that than ones who never share that information at all because they’re afraid to share that.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:09:37] You know, it’s funny you say that. I wrote a blog recently on how to manage panic, you know. What are things in life that you could do to kind of help you take a look at the scary things and manage it? And one of the things, and you just touched on it, that I use is kind of what I call my tried and true. Stephanie’s Tried and True Panic Tips.

Stephanie Feger: [00:09:57] One of them is actually totally against what most people who know me would think I would be. So, I’m a very positive person, very much an optimist, but one thing I do when I get in a panic situation, or I feel vulnerable, or I get nervous, or things are scary is I like to look at the worst-case scenario first. I actually believe that for me, and I’m thinking about this when you’re talking about it being terrifying to put yourself out there, I like to, when I come up to a situation that makes me extremely nervous or panicky, think what’s the worst thing that could happen.

Stephanie Feger: [00:10:28] So, what’s the worst thing about putting yourself out there? Okay, failing. Well, let’s be real. Many times, when we fail, we learn from that, and we actually grow and soar in ways we never could have if we hadn’t failed in the first place. Or, for me, you know, what’s the worst thing if you stand up for something you believe in, or if you say something to your boss, or, you know, you make a financial decision that is a big one, right? What are some of the worst things that could happen?

Stephanie Feger: [00:10:55] And I find, for me, that the things that I think are really, really bad, when I acknowledge and own them, they are really not so bad after all. And, actually, many times, I’m like, “Okay. Well, if that’s what happens, I can pick up and move on from it.” So, I believe in kind of accepting that worst-case scenario and running with it. And I feel that way in putting yourself out there. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone thinks you’re crazy, or someone thinks you’re different, or you fail in front of someone. And I really don’t think that’s all that bad a thing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:22] It’s not. It’s funny you should mention that blog because that was one of the questions that I had in my head that I was going to ask because I read it, and it just came out it. I’m like-

Stephanie Feger: [00:11:32] That’s awesome, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:32] I read it two days ago, and I love what you had to say, but I’m going to word this a little bit differently.

Stephanie Feger: [00:11:37] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:39] Because of your background in theater, and you said that you’ve done improv, this whole, you know, what’s the worst thing that could happen, it’s that leaning into the fear. It’s taking on that risk to know that everything is going to be okay when it comes, too, at the other end, and I will have learned a lot.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:57] I equate that to the things I’ve learned through improv because, yeah, you just lean into it. You go, and you go right through it. They also use that as a brainstorming tool. If you’re trying to figure out how do we grow sales, well, how could I kill sales? What’s the worst idea ever that I could use to kill my sales? And you’ll end up finding ways to grow sales quicker than-

Stephanie Feger: [00:12:24] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:25] Yeah, cool.

Stephanie Feger: [00:12:27] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:28] Let’s talk about this book.

Stephanie Feger: [00:12:31] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:31] Color Today Pretty. How did you come up with the title?

Stephanie Feger: [00:12:35] Oh my gosh. Well, that is a story that I must share because I believe that the best things for me, when I get like those brilliant moments in life, it happens in like one of three ways. I’m either in the shower, I’m driving down the road, or I’m sleeping. It’s the weirdest thing. Like no joke, when I have an idea about a blog, it comes I’m one of those ways.

Stephanie Feger: [00:12:55] Well, for this instance, it’s probably six years ago or so, I had a dream, and it was one that when I woke up in the morning, I couldn’t shake off. But in that dream, my husband and I must have been watching way too much America’s Got Talent because I was Simon Cowell in female form. I know, right? What an image.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:16] Yeah.

Stephanie Feger: [00:13:16] And if you know me, you know, and you and I have had many interactions, like his essence is not at my core. I am way too nice, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:25] Right.

Stephanie Feger: [00:13:25] I’ve got a different perspective than he does. But here I was, the person that stood between someone’s dreams and their reality. And it’s a lot easier to judge these people who come on America’s Got Talent when you’re watching them on TV, but I was a nervous wreck here having to make these decisions.

Stephanie Feger: [00:13:41] Well, this young boy walked in. I remember him like it was yesterday. This scrawny kid with blond hair, they walked in with a canvas and his creative utensils. And his talent was going to be some form of artistry. I can tell you, from the moment he started to paint or draw, it was horrific. I mean, I had to tell him, “Dude, you gotta get a job. This is not going to be, you know, your claim to fame.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:14:05] So, when I shared this news to him, I was expecting how most people react when you watch the show. They either are extremely sad and in tears, or they’re so mad that they use a lot of expletives. There’s usually not many in between. He didn’t do any of that. Instead, he took his canvas, he brought it over to me, and he gifted me with a smile, and he said, “That’s okay. I just want you to go color something pretty today.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:14:32] So, I woke up in this dream of this kid who told me to go color something pretty today. And I swear, my friends, and my family, and co-workers probably wanted to admit me into a mental institute because all day, I was analyzing this dream. It was crazy. I kept focusing on what was I trying to be the judge at in life. You know, why was I Simon Cowell? Why was I so miserable? Just a mean human being.

Stephanie Feger: [00:14:54] And about halfway through the day, I realized that that dream wasn’t about me, it was about this little boy, and how this little boy acted and interacted with me. You see, I realized that he had a choice. He didn’t — You know, there’s a lot of ways to get from point A to point B in life. And I was sitting here thinking that I stood in between his ability to have this dream make it a reality, but this young kid taught me something different. He was like, “Yeah, you think that’s a straight line from point A to point B, but there’s lots of ways, and you’re just one way.”.

Stephanie Feger: [00:15:24] So, he — What I realized at that moment is he couldn’t control my reaction. He couldn’t control if I was going to help him reach his dream, but he could control his reactions and his responses to what happened in life to him. He decided to color that day pretty, to take that moment and make it purposeful and meaningful. And he wasn’t going to let me stop him.

Stephanie Feger: [00:15:47] I felt like in that dream, it wasn’t so much, “Look at me as a young kid.” This young kid, “Look at me. I was able to do it,” but he charged me by gifting me with this painting and said pretty much, “”Hey, Stephanie, it’s your turn to go color something pretty today.” So, that began a new shift in my life to stop looking at life from a certain lens and shift my lens to see the beauty in the mundane.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:08] Like my jaw came unhinged. It’s like, “Wow.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:16:15] I know. Cool dream, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:17] Yeah. God, yeah. That was really. No, I get great ideas in the shower, never in a dream. Sometimes in a car, but not to that degree. So, I take the title came to you in a dream.

Stephanie Feger: [00:16:31] You got it. And, actually, a few years before that, I’d been feeling this need to write. So, I would get up in the middle of the night when I had insomnia, and I would just write about something that was heavy on my heart, or that I was trying to think about, and I needed to process it. And then, I got that that dream, and I remember waking up. And after I figured it out, I called my husband. I’m like, “Oh my gosh. My book is Color Today Pretty, and I know what I’m doing now.” And it became my life purpose. And it, actually, has now become a movement. I mean, I really believe in my heart that if you can embrace this mentality, you can do anything.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:07] So, I’m extremely jealous for a couple of reasons. One, you live in Louisville.

Stephanie Feger: [00:17:11] Well, yeah. I mean, Louisville.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:11] Two, that your title came to you in a dream, and you wrote it from that point versus I wrote my book, and ask Kathy, it was excruciating to try to come up with a title. I mean, failure, failure. It was just terrible. And then, I was at an NSA meeting and somebody said, “How’s your book coming?” I said, “I’m struggling with the title.” They said, “Give me the backdrop on it.” I did, and they were like, “Hey, how about Take the Numb Out of Numbers?” That quickly.

Stephanie Feger: [00:17:46] It’s brilliant. I love your title. It is brilliant.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:48] And Maureen Zappala, I give her all the credit for it, but it was just one of those things like, “Boom.” People have different superpowers, and that’s not one of mine. So, your book came to you in a dream, and I have looked through. Basically, you’re an open book.

Stephanie Feger: [00:18:11] It’s funny you say that. I usually tell people I’m an open book. And, now, there’s literally a book that you can open, and you get every single thing about me, the good, the bad, the ugly. And there’s nothing in it that is like, “You know, I’ve got life figured out, guys. Like, this is how I’m doing.” And instead, it’s more of a journey that I’ve experienced to help me look at some really tough things that have happened in life, and find the purpose, and help me to take that moment, and allow it to help me grow instead of hinder my growth. But it’s an open book, you’re right. I talk about some pretty heavy and some pretty light things.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:45] So, these are little vignettes. These chapters are little vignettes about stories of your life.

Stephanie Feger: [00:18:52] It is, it is.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:55] Wow.

Stephanie Feger: [00:18:55] And this is what’s also really beautiful is there were elements of my life that I’d never talked about. There’s actually an entire chapter that had been secret until my book came out. And there are things that I wasn’t sure of the right timing. And as I started to write, I started to realize that not only was I gifted with the title of my book in a dream, which is pretty cool, and I’m waiting for the next dream, so I’d get my next book out.

Stephanie Feger: [00:19:22] But I’ve realized as I took what I was writing that I had actually figured out a path on how to find perspective. And it breaks it into seven sections that was so organic, and it’s helped me realize that there is a way for people to focus on the things that matter. But, sometimes, we have to go through an acceptance process to get there, to be able to see through the right lens, to be able to focus, you know, our spectacles per se, and really see that at the end of the day, the only thing we can control in life is ourselves.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:56] Well, there’s a lot of synergy between this interview and the one that’s before you. I interviewed Carrie Sechel. She is a former partner in an accounting firm who left and started her own business. But the themes that you are talking about, in some ways, are pretty much the same themes that she was talking about. And you guys have never met, which, now, this is just us-

Stephanie Feger: [00:20:22] You need to introduce us.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:23] Yeah, I’m definitely going to do that. But it’s an interesting perspective because I’ve never — And I’m almost — What was the one chapter that you kept secret, or can you say it or keep it a secret?

Stephanie Feger: [00:20:38] No, I can tell. I can totally tell. So, when I was — It’s a little heavy, so bear with me. But when I was 16, I was sexually harassed by my driver’s ed instructor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:50] I get it, okay.

Stephanie Feger: [00:20:50] It was a situation that was pretty horrific, one that — You know, now, so, that was 20 years ago, give or take. And back in that day, it had no cell phones, and there was no way to document any of this. So, when we called the police after I’d been threatened that if I did, I would be found, and he would — you know, he would find me and my family, the police didn’t believe me. They believed him. And the police actually told me when I was 16 that if I ever spoke about that that I would go to jail for slander, not him for what he did.

Stephanie Feger: [00:21:23] So, for 20 years, I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t say anything. I went to an all-girls school. I so badly I just wanted to get up in front of my sisters and share these stories, not so much to defame somebody, but more to empower people to say, “Hey, this could happen, and here are some things that you need to be aware of and ways to put yourself in different situations.” And I was never able to do that.

Stephanie Feger: [00:21:44] And when I started to write this book, I knew that there was a chapter, I knew that I needed to acknowledge this. and it was a piece of who I was, a piece of my journey, and a piece of — a part of finding perspective was for me to own this situation, and figure out how I can take a piece of me that was very broken, and piece it back together, and realize that even though — Kind of like a hotplate or the stained glass, right, sometimes, you have to break things apart to put it back together to make you a little bit more beautiful. So, I used that as a way for me to realize.

Stephanie Feger: [00:22:17] And as I was writing it — See, a lot of my writings were my way of working through this. So, every chapter, it felt like I started to — Kind of like that dream, it’s not like I started the chapter knowing what the outcome would be, but I knew it was something I needed to work through. And when I finished the last word on that chapter, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I literally felt like with every word I wrote, I was like adding a feather to a set of wings that allowed me to feel free.

Stephanie Feger: [00:22:41] And here was this thing that had kept so silent for so long that, now, I’m free from. And I talk about it now very openly. I’ve not –You know, and it’s all good. Our culture is a much different culture now, but it is something that was so important to help me figure out perspective, because I could have looked at that and seen myself as a victim.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:59] Right.

Stephanie Feger: [00:22:59] But instead, I’m allowing it to help me be victorious and to move past it. It’s not about what happened, it’s about what I’ve done from it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:06] And it’s Chapter 15: Broke and Beautiful.

Stephanie Feger: [00:23:09] You got it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:09] As you were describing it, I was looking through the table of contents. I said, “I think it’s probably this one here.” Now, courage is not the right word to use. I don’t even know what the right word to use is. It’s to be able to sit down, and write that, and share it with the world. Courage is not strong enough. It’s not a strong enough word. I applaud you for doing that. And, you know, we all have stuff. I’m going to leave it at stuff.

Stephanie Feger: [00:23:38] We do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:40] We all have stuff. And a lot of times, we don’t own it. We bury it, we suppress it, but it never goes away. Do you confront it face-to-face?

Stephanie Feger: [00:23:52] I’d like to — And thank you for your really kind words. I don’t know if it’s courageous, or it was just time, or it was just I had to do it, but it was one of those things where it was totally worth it. But as I was writing it, I realized I kind of used an analogy of like my life and all of our lives as the growth of a tree. So, bear with me with that because I think you’ll understand it. But, you know, I feel like in life, we all, you know, are planted. We’re here as a seed, and we go through good and bad to grow. right. It takes the rain to help us grow, and it takes the sun as well.

Stephanie Feger: [00:24:23] And as we grow, we go through these experiences, and our root systems start to kind of break out. And sometimes, we have a wonderful root systems, great family, great experiences. And other parts of our root system, we would love to just chop off and throw away. The problem is if you chop off a part of the root system of a tree, when the tree finally makes it through the ground and gets a trunk, it’s not nearly as stable as if it had its entire root system. And I truly believe we’re all meant to kind of be like the essence of a tree and the fact that we pollinate others. You know, we go through this process of really creating beauty in the world.

Stephanie Feger: [00:24:55] I share that because I think that it would be really, really easy for me or others to deny situations in their life much like this one that I just shared, and I almost cut off that root system. In doing so, what it would have done, it would never have given me a strong enough trunk to withstand any other hurricanes or tornadic situations that came. I needed that experience to give me the strength to be able to manage what will happen next in my life.

Stephanie Feger: [00:25:24] And I think it’s in owning that and realizing that I can’t control this man, I can’t control what the police said, I can’t control how other people think about it. There’s nothing I can control, but I can control me, and how I’ve allowed that to impact my life, and to make me stronger for it because I’m here because I’ve got to do something to help make the world a better place and to help other people be able to see the beauty in everything. So, I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to let it propel me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:47] That’s awesome. I love that recognizing these things that are within my control, and there’s things outside of my control. And a lot of times, whether in life, or at work, or in corporate America, whatever, we tend to focus all of our energies on things that we have absolutely no control over, and it just spins us out of control versus focusing only on the other things that we have control of.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:15] I can’t fix congress. I don’t worry about that. What I can control is writing, voting, writing to them, voting, that’s about it, or getting more involved. But if I — I’ve got a lot of friends who are so fixated that it begins to take over their lives and takes over their personal and business life, it’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, focus on what you can control and work on that.” And yeah, that was well said by you.

Stephanie Feger: [00:26:47] Thank you. Well, I’ve really started to realize that, and I kind of did a introspective search in my life. And I’m like, “Okay, I’m 5 feet 2. I live in a family of 6-foot-plus people. I can’t control that, right. I can get high heels. I can try to be taller and shorter, right. I can’t control that, at the end of the day, I’m short. I can straighten my hair every day. I like straight hair. I have curly hair. My hair is naturally curly. I go outside, and it rains, it goes curly. So, I can’t even control that, right.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:27:12] So, all of these things in life we think we control, not only from us personally, but you think you can control that promotion in life. You think you can prep for the future, you know, financially. You think that you can raise your kids perfectly. There’s all these things you think you can control, but at the core of it, you cannot control any of it. You can influence that, and you can do beautiful things with it, and you could try. But the only thing you can control is your reactions and responses to life. You can shift, does life happen to you or for you? And I really believe that that’s important.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:46] Yeah, yeah, exactly. It really just comes down to, at the end of the day, your attitude towards everything.

Stephanie Feger: [00:27:54] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:55] And if you — Yeah, I see it so much in the world of corporate America. I see it a lot in the profession of accounting of trying to control. I’m trying to control the other person’s response, or this, or that one. We can’t control that. We have to listen to what’s happening and make assumptions, or conversations, or something based upon that, but I can’t control what they do and what they say, but we’re going to try to control because if you leave this office two minutes early, you will be fired.

Stephanie Feger: [00:28:31] Right, right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:33] I had to fire someone at a corporate job because the associate couldn’t get there on time. It was a culture thing. It wasn’t a personal thing, but it was within their culture, they were always late. And because they couldn’t adhere, or we couldn’t control them, I was told to let this person go.

Stephanie Feger: [00:28:52] Oh my goodness gracious.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:53] Yeah, yeah.

Stephanie Feger: [00:28:54] Those types of things because, at the end of the day, then we start to see that we’re letting our world, our culture, other people’s expectations of us dictate us, and we’re letting them control us. And at our core and our essence, if you really want to live a happy life, a fulfilled life, I really don’t believe that that’s the way to do it, you know. It’s not about, are you the person that shows up on time? I mean, I know you need to do that, and there are things in life that need to happen, but goodness gracious, there’s so much more depth to who we are and what we bring to the world, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:30] Right, exactly. Looking through the table contents, the one chapter I wanted to ask about was in the Live Life Childlike. You write about the present.

Stephanie Feger: [00:29:42] Yes. And isn’t that beautiful for this time of year?

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:47] That’s my question. Are we talking the present of a gift? Are we talking the present or being present?

Stephanie Feger: [00:29:55] Let me tell you a little bit about that. When I have taken a look at the trajectory of how to live in life in perspective, I realized one of the elements is taking a look at the people in our life that are the least calloused. And, to me, those are my kiddos. Those are the young ones. Those, you know, one, two, three-year-olds, and not when they’re throwing temper tantrums, but outside of that.

Stephanie Feger: [00:30:23] And I know some people who don’t have kids. I’m like, you can even see this in our animals, right. The essence of at our purest form, how are we supposed to be? We’re supposed to be humble, honest, quirky, you know, confident, risk-taker, we don’t stress about the what-ifs and the could-haves, right.

Stephanie Feger: [00:30:41] So, the Live Life Childlike section of the book is really focused on getting to the essence of what our children can teach us. So, the present is actually a chapter about my daughter. And so, I’ve got three kiddos, two boys and a girl. My daughter’s the middle one.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:59] Ages? Ages please?

Stephanie Feger: [00:31:02] So, my youngest — It’s three, four, and six right now. I know. And in December, the older to go up a year, but about two years apart. I’m crazy. Crazy. But my daughter is — They’re all special, but she’s really special in a sense that until she turned two, she didn’t speak. She was a very happy kid, and the muscles in her face, because she smiled so much, never were able to be formed to help make certain words. So, she never spoke.

Stephanie Feger: [00:31:32] And so, at about two, we started speech therapy, and we went through this whole journey. And so, that was about the time I was in the essence and the heart of writing this book. And I wrote. It was actually this time of the year, right before I put up the Christmas tree, and we started to get stuff in the mail, and her birthday is right around Christmas.

Stephanie Feger: [00:31:50] So, the whole chapter is about here we are, putting up this Christmas tree together, and we are living in the moment, and she is thanking me every second of the way, “Mama, thank you for this ornament. Mama, thank you for this beautiful tree. Mama, thank you for our time together.” And you have to know, and I do have a chapter on her with her speech delay, but you have to know her talking to me was a beautiful thing because for so long, I never thought that would happen.

Stephanie Feger: [00:32:17] But her heart, the purity of her heart in thanking me for the things that so many of us oversee and overlook proved to me just how beautiful the moments are that we have been given and the little things in our life, the beautiful and the mundane. So, the present is all about we not only should be living in the present, but we can be a present to another person. And if we live in the present, that actually might be the best present we could give somebody.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:44] Wow. As soon as you said that, my face is going, “Wow.” Yeah, I love that. Simon Sinek, he’s got a quote out there that is kind of along this line. It’s about leadership because leadership has nothing to lose your title. True leadership is the positive effect that you have on another individual. And as soon as you said the present, give a present to somebody, that quote jumped into my head, and it’s a positive effect we have on other people, period.

Stephanie Feger: [00:33:24] Period. If I were to question or to do a survey, “And so, what’s everybody’s purpose in life?” right. And then, we sift away the outliers, and we talk about, you know, really, at the core, our purpose is to make a difference and influence the life of another. I truly believe that. And I don’t think that that can be done if we’re always behind our phones, if we’re always on the computer, if we’re always looking for the next best thing, if during this season of giving we’re focused on giving tangible items, instead literally giving of ourselves and being present in the moment.

Stephanie Feger: [00:33:55] I think it’s a beautiful thing for anybody but, especially, for a leader to do within his group, especially for a supervisor to do it within their staff, especially for co-workers to do it amongst one another and family. You know, there’s so many. It’s so critical. And I truly believe that that is the best gift. Don’t worry about buying wine or, you know, a UK t-shirt. Just kidding.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:17] Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Slow down there. Slow down there. Don’t go off the rails on me now.

Stephanie Feger: [00:34:23] I’m not, I’m not. But at the core, those things go bad. You know, you’ll drink the wine. It will go away. Your shirt will disintegrate because you wear it at every game. I’m just kidding. But the gift of you, that’s something that will be forever cherished.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:36] Yes, it is. And that gift can be given in so many different ways. I share a story that after I heard that quote from Sinek, it really resonated with me. And I was flying through DC at Reagan, I don’t know, like a 10:00 flight. Go to the men’s room. It’s hustle and bustle. The bathroom attendant was there. And he looked like he had a hard day, hard week, hard month. And he’s just trying to keep up. That place is spotless, and nobody even paid attention to him.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:08] So, I kind of mentioned. I said, “Excuse me, sir. I was a thank you for the hard work that you’re doing here today. I mean, I can’t imagine how busy this place gets, but you’ve kept it absolutely spotless. I just wanna say thank you.” And that guy kind of raised up, straightened up, looked at me, he says, “Nobody ever talks to me. You’re the first person that want to talk to me. Two, the first person say thank you. My bosses didn’t say thank you.”.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:36] The look in that guy’s face, well, it was just — And I went, “Oh my god. Sinek’s right. That’s leadership right there, the positive effect.” Dear Washington DC, the positive effect that you have on other people, not the negative effect, the positive effect.

Stephanie Feger: [00:35:54] I have to say, I had a similar experience. It was just beautiful. I was actually traveling to a speakers’ conference, and I had taken a couple copies of my books because you never know when somebody needs that in their life. But on the way home, my luggage, it made my luggage too heavy. And I’m like, “I can’t, you know, spend an extra one hundred dollars to check my bag.” So, I took the fat books out, and I was carrying them around. I had like two or three hours before my flight. And I kept thinking, “What am I supposed to do?”

Stephanie Feger: [00:36:23] See, now, that I’ve found perspective, and I live this way, I find that everything in life is very purposeful. So, to me, I’m like, “Okay, I am carrying around five books for a reason.” So, I started to sit back and watch. And the people that looked underappreciated, I walked up to them. I did the same thing. I said, “I just want you to know, I don’t know why I’m supposed to do this for you, but I feel like I need to give you this book, and I need to thank you for what you’re doing.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:36:45] And I did it to my waiter who — I mean, it was amazing. He’s actually an author. There were two men that we were all waiting. Our flight got delayed. We were all miserable. And yet, through it all, they were so positive. And I gave all five copies of my book away. And it was, literally, one of the most magical days of my life because, exactly, what you said, here I was having the opportunity to thank people for something that is such so thankless and are overlooked in our lives.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:14] Exactly. I think — Was this conference, Influence?

Stephanie Feger: [00:37:17] Yes, it was.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:20] Because I remember, you did share that story with me because when you say that, I think I’ve heard this before. But yeah, that is so cool. And welcome to the world of being an author and a speaker because, now, you have to check more luggage. It weighs a lot more because you carry them.

Stephanie Feger: [00:37:35] That’s right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:35] But the flight back is usually lighter.

Stephanie Feger: [00:37:39] Right, right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:39] Usually.

Stephanie Feger: [00:37:39] It was purposeful. I know. So, I was very excited. I was not meant to come home with those books, and who knows how the power of perspective impacted their lives, and kind of did a pay-it-forward initiative. I believe in that, and I believe that your mindset has the power to change so much in your life. And I just want more people to be able to open their eyes to see the world. Lately, I’ve kind of felt like the essence of what I believe is if you can see the good, then you can be that good. And I truly, at my core, believe that and think we are all capable of being able to see the good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:16] Yes, we are. Sometimes, we just have to take the blinders off, or better yet, sometimes, just need to stop and just look around. But we get — I know this is the pot calling the kettle black here, but we get so wrapped up in our lives and our business that we forget. And transparency, I’ve been on the other side. And recently, I’ve said, “You know what, we’re missing too much stuff.” So, I’m, for the most part, stopping working on the weekends, and spending time with-

Stephanie Feger: [00:38:48] Good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:48] … with the family, and stuff, and doing stuff. So, yeah. And you do see a lot more. You do experience a lot more.

Stephanie Feger: [00:38:54] But, you know, that’s not easy. And I have to say, that’s why Color Today Pretty works for me because I am not like a good weight-watchers person. I cannot follow a diet. For the life of me, I try to exercise every year, and I fall off the rail. At the end of the day, if there’s something that I’m supposed to be doing, and I miss one day, I think, “Oh my gosh, I’m a failure.” And I just can’t get myself motivated.

Stephanie Feger: [00:39:16] Color Today Pretty isn’t about that. I actually believe it’s about life as a collection of moments, and you get to choose every moment. So, right this second, we get to decide if we want to have a good day, have a good moment. And in 10 minutes, when we get in the car, and someone cuts us off on the road, and we have road rage, and we’re like, “Oh my gosh, I just did not have a good moment. That’s okay. I can have a good moment now.”

Stephanie Feger: [00:39:36] It’s a mindset shift that doesn’t have to happen all the time because life is — I mean, life happens. It’s real. We make mistakes. We have challenges. We have struggles. We’ve got to own that stuff. We’re not perfect. There’s actually a whole section called Perfect Imperfection. And we’ve got to accept the fact that we will never be perfect. That’s okay, but it’s not like a diet. This is a lifestyle shift that can happen at any time of your life.

Stephanie Feger: [00:40:01] And because of that, it’s something that resonates with me and works for me, and it works with for so many other people because mistakes happen, things kind of push us off, right. We, sometimes, start working on the weekends. So, you can pick it up here any second and decide, “I want to make good in the world.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:17] Yeah. You don’t become a leader if you just attend a leadership seminar. It’s the everyday stuff that you do in real life that, “Okay, I may forget. I mean, I do something this one day, but the more I can do it, it creates that habit.” From Seinfeld, from when he started doing stand-up and writing, he would write something every single day. And people who know him that I know have said that he has maintained that. He has not broken that chain at all. And this is how many years later, but it’s just taking those little steps. And those little steps, how can people find you and find your book?

Stephanie Feger: [00:40:59] Easy. We’ve been talking about Color Today Pretty. Go to ColorTodayPretty.com. You can find me there and a link to my book. It’s also on Amazon if that’s easier for you to go look there. But if you go to ColorTodayPretty, I actually do a regular blog, and that gives you ongoing inspiration. The book gets you started. It gets your head in the right direction. If you just need that kind of fuel for the week, ColorTodayPretty.com, we’ll get it for you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:27] Great. I’ve enjoyed it. I’m serious, we could probably talk for about four hours.

Stephanie Feger: [00:41:33] Yeah, we could.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:35] Yeah. We will have to follow up again. But any last words for the audience?

Stephanie Feger: [00:41:41] I just really believe, at our core, we have the ability to make a difference, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of others. And I truly believe it all starts with stopping and realizing what we can’t control, and that’s you. So, I just hope every moment when you get the opportunity to make a choice on how you’re going to color that day that we all choose to color it pretty.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:01] Wow. I can’t thank you enough for taking time. It’s a pleasure. I look forward to our paths crossing again soon. Take care of those three little ones of yours because they’ll grow up. My son used to be that age. He’s now 18.

Stephanie Feger: [00:42:16] Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been so much fun. I always love talking to another UK fan.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:26] I’d like to thank Stephanie for, literally, being an open book and sharing her thoughts on how we can change our mindset to gain a better perspective. She has a wonderful message, and I love this book that she’s written. Since the interview, I have purchased it, and I have read it, and it is truly a book that’s worth everybody’s time to read. Thank you, Stephanie.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:52] In Episode 18 which airs on December 24th, I will take this time to reflect back on the Change Your Mindset Podcast interviews, and share with you bits and pieces from each episode that I want you, my audience, to remember and apply, so you can become more future-ready. So without further ado, I want to thank you all for listening. I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season. And remember, share this episode with a friend.

 

Resources:

S2E16 – Carrie Sechel | You Have the Power to Pivot & Permission to Love

Carrie Sechel is an entrepreneurial business consultant, speaker, and the bestselling author of BASE Jump: Finding Yourself in an Unfulfilling Professional World. Before creating her business, Carrie spent 18 years in public accounting, including seven years as a partner with Deloitte.

 

Carrie always knew she wanted to start a business at some point, but she struggled, and her fear of leaving Deloitte was so great that she nearly broke down before finally deciding to move on. It was hard work to break away from the vision of success that she had been raised to believe.

 

How did Carrie redefine success for herself, build a thriving entrepreneurial consulting business, and write a bestselling book within two years of leaving Deloitte? She connected her knowledge and experiences to her passion to create the life that she wanted to live and aligned her business vision with her life vision. Now, she is driven to help others to do the same.

 

From Corporate America to Entrepreneur

 

Carrie fell into public accounting because she liked working with a variety of clients, learning about many different business issues, understanding how tax impacted those businesses, coaching her clients, and coaching her people.

 

But after being in public accounting for 18 years, she needed to look at really where things were going. She asked herself, “What am I creating here at Deloitte? What does that look like? And is that what I’m here to create?” She came to the conclusion that she wasn’t going to find that thing in the various potential partner paths in public accounting.

 

“I knew that I wanted to create a business of my own.”

 

I know many of you have had that same thought, but a lot of people don’t really realize the barriers that one goes through when going from employee to entrepreneur.

 

“I had been modeling a version of success that I had seen throughout my life and I was living this version of success that I had been raised to believe,” Carrie says. “I needed to redefine what success meant to me and find success in a way that meant I would have to humble myself for a while. I would have to take a pay cut for a while. I would have to create something of my own that, at that point, I didn’t know what it was. And those were huge mental barriers to break through.”

 

“Your business is always a reflection of you. Your business is you and you’re selling you, and you’re defining what you’re creating yourself – and all those things are infinitely exciting, and infinitely terrifying, and humbling.”

 

As an entrepreneur, Carrie is able to guide people and help them make this transition a little more easily. There are still big barriers, but with a little help and a plan, they’re a little less daunting.

 

This takes the form of Power to Pivot, Carrie’s system to take people through those initial steps to go from this chaotic not knowing feeling to just knowing.

 

“I see so many people going out and buying a franchise, or buying a shop, or a business that already exists. And several years later, they’re just as miserable. And, actually, sometimes, more because they never honored what it is that they are truly meant to create. It’s finding that, creating that big vision, and then planning for it.

 

You can learn more about Carrie’s system in her free on-demand training session called Authentic Ambition: How to Create a Post-Corporate Life You Love Full of Abundance, Creativity, and Joy. She goes through the system in detail and offers some very specific items to think about, so you can start exploring your options right now.

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Carrie Sechel: [00:00:00] No matter how successful you are in the corporate world, going out and doing something on your own, that your business is always a reflection of you. Your business is you. And you’re selling you. And you’re defining what you’re creating yourself. And all those things are infinitely exciting and infinitely terrifying.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:38] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:59] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:26] Welcome to Episode 16. And my guest today is Carrie Sechel. And she is an entrepreneurial business consultant, speaker, and bestselling author of the book, BASE Jump: Finding Yourself in an Unfulfilling Professional World. Before creating her business, Carrie spent the first 18 years in public accounting. Now, during this time, she mentored and consulted with hundreds of professionals and businesses. And for the last seven of those 18, she was a partner with the accounting firm, Deloitte.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:58] Carrie always knew she wanted to start a business at some point, but she struggled, and her fear of leaving Deloitte was so great that she nearly broke down before finally deciding to move on. It was hard work to break away from the vision of success that she had been raised to believe.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:17] How did Carrie redefine success for herself, and built a thriving entrepreneurial consulting business, and write a bestselling book within two years of leaving Deloitte? She connected her knowledge and experiences to her passion to create the life that she wanted to live and aligned her business vision with her life vision. Now, she is driven to help others to do the same. Listen to her story and see if it resonates with you. I bet it will.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:46] In November, I spoke to the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals Association in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The topic of my presentation was my book Taking the Numb Out of Numbers. They loved it. And Lydia Frank sent me this testimonial, “Peter’s presentation was enjoyable and solicit good questions by the group. I mean, we all have to give presentations from time to time. Peter’s ability to make a dull subject interesting is his true gift. And I would recommend him highly to bring a different perspective to annual conventions, regional meetings, or executive retreats. I would also recommend his latest book, Taking the Numb out of Numbers, as a learning tool for financial management trainees.” Excellent. Thank you, Lydia, for that testimonial. Greatly appreciate it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:34] And Taking the Numb out of Numbers will transform your ability to communicate technical financial information in a greater context through analogies, metaphors, and storytelling. Put another way, translate complex financial information into plain English, so your audience will gain a deeper understanding. The book is available on Amazon, in paperback, and in Kindle. So, stop what you’re doing, and buy it today, and begin taking the numb out of numbers, or as Ryan Parker, CEO of Endicott Clay Products, said, “Taking the ick out of the brick.” So, without further ado, let’s get to the interview with Carrie.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:21] Welcome back, everybody. I have Carrie Sechel with me today. I’m really excited about this interview because I think you’re going to get blown away. I’m going to let Carrie tell you about her background. But, I think, her background, in essence, of being in the big four, and in what she’s doing now, and how she got there is really going to resonate with a lot of you out there in my audience. So, first and foremost, Carrie, thank you for taking time, as an entrepreneur, out of your very busy day to spend some time with me, and welcome to the podcast.

Carrie Sechel: [00:04:50] Thank you so much, Peter. It is awesome to be here.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:54] And just so everybody knows, we met, we go back maybe six months.

Carrie Sechel: [00:04:59] Yeah, about that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:00] It might have been about that. Carrie wandered her way into an NSA Ohio Chapter meeting. And I don’t think we were sitting next to each other, but somebody called me over. It was Jack Park who called over. He’s all excited, “Another CPA, another CPA.”.

Carrie Sechel: [00:05:11] We tend to congregate together, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:19] Yeah, exactly. And when we started talking, you’re telling me your story, I said, “Oh my god. This would make such a great podcast.” So, give everybody an essence of your background.

Carrie Sechel: [00:05:30] Sure. So, I always like to start this with a little funny tidbit. When I was 7 years old, my parents took me to the beautician, and the lady asked me, “Carrie, how do you want your haircut?” And I said, “Like Tom Brokaw.” And that’s really funny because I have really big curly hair now.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:51] Yes, you do.

Carrie Sechel: [00:05:52] So, thinking back to that, it was really funny. And then, I begged my parents to buy me this little suit dress because when I was seven, I had this picture in my mind of what it was that success was. And I was absolutely convinced I was going to do something amazing with my life. And I figured my hair, like the guy on TV that I saw every night talked about the news, and a suit dress, like the people I saw with briefcases going into buildings looking like they were doing important things, that was going to set me off on the right track.

Carrie Sechel: [00:06:25] So, I told people that for a couple of reasons. Number one, I always just had this thing inside of me that said, “I just want to live this life and do something really awesome.” And I, also, was looking around and looking for definitions of success that I could, in my life, use all models and model after to find this awesome thing that I just knew in my heart I had, and I didn’t know what that was.

Carrie Sechel: [00:07:05] And I went to school. School was hard for me in some ways when I was younger, but I looked around and found that working really hard and getting things done was a way that I was able to, no matter how hard things were, what challenges I had, I was always able to rise to the top and make things happen. And when I went to college, I wasn’t really sure, honestly, what I was going to do.

Carrie Sechel: [00:07:35] And there were — Back then, I was in college in the early ’90s, and there was no internet. It was the menu choice of 10 different things: doctor, lawyer, accountant, teacher, nurse, engineer. Those were the things that that were “successful careers.” And I chose accounting. I didn’t like auditing at all. I thought, “Gosh, this just doesn’t seem like me.” I want to be with people. I want to help people with their businesses.

Carrie Sechel: [00:08:15] And I decided to go to law school because I just really didn’t know how I could be happy in accounting. And in law school, I met this awesome, awesome friend. She’s an awesome attorney and loves being an attorney, but she was a CPA. And I was just telling her after about the first month of law school or first semester of law school, I didn’t want to be a “lawyer.” I didn’t like litigation and fighting. I just didn’t feel like me. I just said, I was like, “Nicole, what am I going to do? I don’t know what I’m going to do.” She said “Go to a tax class with me. Go to the tax class.”

Carrie Sechel: [00:08:57] And I was at the University of Akron School of Law. They had a Masters in Tax Joint Program. She said, “Go check that out. I think, you might actually like tax.” So, I went, and I took a few tax classes, and I had some really good professors that focused on planning, and the different things, mergers and acquisitions, and things you can do with clients to help their businesses. And I thought, “Wow. I could do this. I could really get excited about doing this.”

Carrie Sechel: [00:09:22] That was the answer. So, I said, “Okay. Well, I can go to one of those big accounting firms. I know I can get a job there because I understand the cultures. I know people there. I got this tax thing. I like it. I can feel passionate about it. So, I know my path. So, that was how it started. And when I was at the end of Law School, because I did finish Law School and my Master’s in Tax, I just interviewed with accounting firms, and I started my career with Arthur Andersen.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:56] Oh, there you go.

Carrie Sechel: [00:09:59] That was really an interesting character-building experience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:04] Yeah. I would say it’s probably a very well put, but you’re another one of those Andersen people that I have met that have — When we say Arthur Andersen, most people have this opinion, which is not the greatest. But that was just a few people within the firm. There are so many other people that are just awesome, like yourself, to be around, and to get to know, and stuff. So, please.

Carrie Sechel: [00:10:28] Yes. So, one of the things people ask me, “What was it like to go through?” Because I was there until the end. And I always tell people that all of my years of business, what I saw at the end of Arthur Andersen were some of the best reflections of people that I can remember in all the years I did business and public accounting in really large companies and consulting firms. When you go through something like that, you see people’s true colors come out. And I have to say that I saw really good colors.

Carrie Sechel: [00:11:02] And that’s something that so many of the people, the partners, the people who are employed there, just people looked at it like, “Oh, you’ve got to all be a bunch of crooks or something.” And we just saw people being really good to each other, and helping each other, and making decisions based on something other than power, money, making decisions based on what was right for their families, helping people make decisions that were right for them and not for anybody else. And that was really spectacular.

Carrie Sechel: [00:11:39] Like I said, it was a great character-building experience. I was early in my career. I didn’t have any capital payouts that I loaned that I needed to repay or anything. And I ended up, after that, going to Deloitte. And that was also a fantastic move for me. And I ended up, I was at Deloitte then for 14 years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:04] So, in total, how long were you in the accounting profession?

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:05] For 18 years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:07] Okay, for 18 years. And at Deloitte, you were a partner for how many years?

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:13] Seven years, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:14] Seven years.

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:14] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:14] And what office of Deloitte? Was it Cleveland? Was it Akron?

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:19] I was in the Cleveland office.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:20] Cleveland office.

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:21] Yeah, but I traveled. I was based in the Cleveland office. But I’d say, the last seven years, I was in different areas. I was in India for two years. I ran a practice that was based primarily out of Chicago for several years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:39] Okay. So, you were traveling a lot. You’re on a variety of different places. Yes.

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:44] Indeed, indeed.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:44] But then, something happened because you’re not there anymore. You’re out on your own. You’re a true entrepreneur.

Carrie Sechel: [00:12:54] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:55] What was this turning point that you decided, “I got to do something completely different”?

Carrie Sechel: [00:13:04] Yeah. So, I never loved doing tax returns. So, confession here.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:13] I’m laughing because I was in tax as well. And the story you said about doing the — They let me do one audit, and they never let me come back. I think I did it on purpose, so I wouldn’t have to go back to auditing, but I never really do like it. Yes. That’s why I’m laughing. I’m reflecting.

Carrie Sechel: [00:13:28] Yes. I never really loved tax returns. And what I did love in public accounting was working with lots of different clients, understanding lots of different business issues, understanding how tax impacted those, coaching my clients, coaching my people. I did some very different things in the firm. I was the chief of staff for the partner who was in charge of the real estate practice for the entire US firm for both tax audit, consulting, financial advisory services for the whole thing.

Carrie Sechel: [00:14:02] I got to go to India for two years. And when I was in India, I helped run the offshore practice for the US tax practice that was, at that point, very small when I went over there, and it grew tremendously during that time. And that was a fantastic experience. So, I got to do all these different things that weren’t really tax.

Carrie Sechel: [00:14:28] And there were a few points in there when the little seven-year-old girl came back and said, “Carrie, is this really that awesome thing because I’m not sure that it really is? There’s something else. You’re supposed to create something yourself.” And every time that came back, there was something huge that happened. And it was obvious that it wasn’t time yet. There were some other really impactful experiences I was meant to have in public accounting.

Carrie Sechel: [00:15:00] One was the chief of staff, while another was going to India. Each time that happened, I said, “No, this isn’t the time.” And then, the last time it happened, I had been a partner for six years, and I was leading a massive, massive outsourcing engagement. I was leading a practice that I helped build from nothing. People would look at it and say, “Wow.” Like, “She’s like she’s got this amazing amount of potential in the firm,” because of what the opportunity that I had there and what it could build into.

Carrie Sechel: [00:15:39] I was looking at it saying, “This is great.” And I’ve met so many amazing people. And I’ve coached and mentored so many awesome people who are doing just so well. I worked with so many businesses. And I need to look at really where this is going because as a partner, you go in various directions. What am I creating here at Deloitte? What does that look like? And is that what I’m here to create? And I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to find that thing in the various potential partner paths in public accounting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:21] So, as you’re coming to this conclusion, were you thinking about looking for another employer, or did you know that you want to go out on your own?

Carrie Sechel: [00:16:33] I knew that I wanted to create a business of my own.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:38] Okay. So, you’re going from a very stable cash flow, personal cash flow with benefits and the thing called health insurance, which is a great big barrier to entry into entrepreneurialism with risk but not the same amount of risk that you’re about to take on.

Carrie Sechel: [00:16:58] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:00] How many times did you go, “Well, maybe I should do the risk adverse thing,” or did you just know that, “I got to go. I got to go create this thing”?

Carrie Sechel: [00:17:16] It took me a while. And my husband is also self-employed. And at that point, I was really the sole breadwinner in the house. And it took a huge amount of turmoil for me to get to the point where I just realized I had to do this. I got near to a breakdown, frankly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:38] Wow.

Carrie Sechel: [00:17:39] The bigger challenge, and this is why I tell the story about the seven-year-old Carrie who wanted the haircut and the suit dress, because I had been modeling a version of success that I had seen throughout my life. And I was living this version of success that I had been raised to believe, and I needed to redefine what success meant to me and find success in a way that meant I would have to humble myself for a while. I would have to take a pay cut for a while. I would have to create something of my own that, at that point, I didn’t know what it was. And those were huge mental barriers to break through.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:39] I think a lot of people don’t really realize those barriers that one goes through from going from employee to entrepreneur.

Carrie Sechel: [00:18:46] Oh, yeah. Going from the corporate world, the employed world, to entrepreneurship is, no matter how successful you are in the corporate world, going out and doing something on your own that your business is always a reflection of you. Your business is you. And you’re selling you. And you’re defining what you’re creating yourself. And all those things are infinitely exciting, and infinitely terrifying, and humbling.

Carrie Sechel: [00:19:29] When I left Deloitte, I did not know what I was going to do. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to create. I had ideas. And in many ways, my business it, the seed was there, and it’s not very different than what I imagined, but it’s far better defined. And you go out. One day, you’ve got this business card on LinkedIn, you’re a Deloitte tax partner. And the next, you don’t really know. You had that dreadful title of “in transition” in which everybody thinks means you got fired.

Carrie Sechel: [00:20:04] So, it feels really, really naked, and raw, and vulnerable. And that was terrifying. But I got to the point where I’ll never forget this, I was out at a client of mine and a client that I loved, a client I served for many, many, many years. And in all the years I’ve served clients, I can tell you the spectrum of stories from the best companies to companies that really, really did not reflect the values that I have. And this company is just off-the-charts awesome. Executive team, great people, great values, everything.

Carrie Sechel: [00:20:48] And I was sitting there with my client for very many years. And I couldn’t get my head clear. And I’m thinking if I can’t feel good here with people that I really believe in, and a company that I’ve helped, and just feel so great about being part of their team, this just can’t go on. And I stopped the meeting, and I said, “I just don’t feel well.”.

Carrie Sechel: [00:21:16] And I packed my things up, and I drove home, and I walked in the house, and I told my husband, “I can’t do it anymore,” and I have to leave at the end of the fiscal year, which, at that point, was 10 months away. And I said, “I can make it that long, but I can’t do it anymore. I have to do this. I have to go and create this thing that I don’t know what it is.”.

Carrie Sechel: [00:21:40] And I’ll never forget my husband. I think a lot of overachievers imagine that part of the reason people love them and care for them is because of their achievement. And we tell ourselves these stories. My husband said, “Carrie, you’ve been so successful doing things that you don’t really love doing for so long. Imagine how successful you’re going to be when you’re doing what’s really in your heart, and you’re meant to do.” And that was like if words could be perfect in that moment, my husband really won the award that day.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:21] And still continues to win that award.

Carrie Sechel: [00:22:24] Yeah. Right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:26] Yeah, exactly. So, let’s let the cat out of the bag. What are you creating?

Carrie Sechel: [00:22:33] Yes. So, I work with people who are in the corporate world or employed world and have in their heart this deep desire and deep need to create a business of their own, and I help them successfully do that. And it is awesome.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:59] Okay. I can just push you to this person, and they’re not liking their job, they want to do something else, but they might be trapped in a way. I’m assuming you have a lot of folks who — And I use the word trapped, where you are making a salary that is substantial. That pay cut would be huge. The benefits aspect of it, may have children, may have a mortgage, all of that rolled up into one big ball of fear or one big ball and chain. And you’re able to get them-.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:31] Because when they come to you, their ultimate goal is to get to that point that, “Yes, I can go. I can create. I can do. You’re going to teach me how you did it, and I’m going to make it my own.” I mean, that’s got to be extremely terrifying for them, but then extremely exciting as well. And when you get them across that finish line — I mean, folks, you can’t see this, but as soon as I said, “once I came across the finish line,” Carrie just had this huge smile on her face and her eyes are sparkly. And I went, “That’s passion right there,” because she sees what she’s creating is actually working.

Carrie Sechel: [00:24:13] Yeah, it’s amazing. What I have in my heart is there are so many people in our world with an impact to make. So many people with a purpose that is being unanswered, and they feel it every single day. And it gnaws, and it gnaws, and it finds itself in lots of different places in not feeling great physically, in not sleeping, in relationships suffering, in mental turmoil constantly. And not only are they depriving themselves of this life that they can live but the world needs them. There is some impact that they are meant to make, and we need them.

Carrie Sechel: [00:25:06] And when I look at my background, what I’m passionate about, my knowledge, my skills, when I can combine that all to help a person bring that out and understand to not only bring it out and define what that is because many times — and I went through this myself — we don’t know. You feel it, it’s there and you’re thinking, “I don’t even know what this thing is.” It is maddening.

Carrie Sechel: [00:25:37] So, bringing that out, and defining it, and actually planning for it, knowing what you need to do, and when, and being able to block out the noise of all this other stuff out there because the entrepreneur world is huge right now. There is no shortage of people that are going to give a person who wants to create a business of their own advice and tell them what to do, and how to market, and all these different things. And many of those messages are totally appropriate at the right time.

Carrie Sechel: [00:26:14] But what I find is people who are starting businesses, they listen to those messages far too early and spend lots, and lots, and lots of time, and soemtimes financial resources, investing in programs, and this, and that, instead of investing in where they are right now, defining what they’re doing, and in taking the proper small steps to scale in a way that builds a sustainable, thriving, and scalable business. And to be able to work with people to create that, and to see the vision of where they can take their businesses and their impact in the short term, but also 5, 10, 15 years out, what they are going to create is amazing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:07] That is. I think a lot of those folks that you’re describing, “I’m tired of this job. Take this job. Put it someplace. I’m just going to go out and start a business tomorrow. I’ve saved up money. I’m going to go do this without, as you said, going through the process of understanding what it is I’m trying to do.” And I will also say, be careful what you wish for because it actually might come true.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:36] I still remember the day, I was teaching at Ohio Dominican, and I was talking to one of my professor buddies down. I said, “You know what, someday, I want to be on an airplane traveling the country, interacting with CPAs, and folks of like, and working with them to become better communicators, and not being, at the time, a babysitter.” And about a year later, that’s exactly what happened. So, I always say be careful what you wish for, or if that’s what you really want to wish for, wish for it and make sure somebody hears you because it will come true, but there’s a lot of-

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:11] And I think that’s why you’re as successful as you are because, one, you’ve worked with a lot of businesses. You have an accountant, lawyer type of thought process that walks people through those steps that they’re not thinking about at the time that you do inherently knew that you needed to do because even the seven-year-old inherently knew what probably she needed to do, but she learned over time what to do, and putting them down that right path. And I can’t find it in my notes right now. I’m actually looking for it. But you’ve created a system.

Carrie Sechel: [00:28:48] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:50] And remind me what the name is. Pivot, there’s a pivot word in it, correct?

Carrie Sechel: [00:28:53] Power to Pivot.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:55] Power to Pivot. I think I was partially right.

Carrie Sechel: [00:28:57] Yes, you got it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:57] Power to Pivot. What’s Power to Pivot?

Carrie Sechel: [00:29:02] Power to Pivot is my system to take people through those initial steps to go from this chaotic not knowing feeling but just knowing. They know they need to take action, they need to do something. But taking them through to create a vision, a concept, what they really are looking to do, something that truly honors what’s bubbling up inside of them.

Carrie Sechel: [00:29:29] I see so many people going out and buying a franchise, or buying a shop, or a business that already exists. And several years later, they’re just as miserable. And, actually, sometimes, more because they never honored what it is that they are truly meant to create. It’s finding that, creating that big vision, and then planning for it.

Carrie Sechel: [00:29:55] So, whittling it down to, “What are we going to do today? How do we take the right steps right now? How do you take those steps to get to that vision? How do you include your financials? We do financial assessments in here. What can you really do?” This isn’t about the Tarzan rope. This is about creating the plan for your life’s work, which means that, sometimes, I have a client that needed to do some work in this bridge period, but her corporate job would not. That wasn’t going to fit. And so, she’s doing some other freelance work while she builds her business. It’s about doing what makes sense to reach the goal instead of constantly sitting in life in the hamster wheel of feeling like you can’t get out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:53] So, as you’re describing this, I get like a business strategy approach. And what you just described is a system. It’s called backcasting. And what it is, is that vision. What is your vision? What is it? Identify that vision. What do you see? And back up to today. And go, “How do you define success today? What would make you successful? What do I need to do? And then, go, “What am I not doing?” And I think that’s what you described. What am I not doing? And being able to drill down and figure out, “If this is my vision, what am I doing today to help me get to it? What am I not doing? I need to add those pieces in, in order to get to that vision at some point in time.”

Carrie Sechel: [00:31:44] Exactly. And what is it that I’m constantly worrying about, and I’m allowing my mental energy to be focused on or thinking about that is not a problem of today. It’s not an issue for today. So, when I talk to entrepreneurs who have been in, I would say, struggling mode for a period of time, and there’s lots and lots people out there who took the leap and just can’t get their feet under them. I see a few different issues.

Carrie Sechel: [00:32:23] But a couple of the biggest issues are, number one, they really don’t have a vision, and they don’t feel personally connected to what it is they’re trying to build in that purpose piece, that mission that takes you out of yourself and makes you feel responsible and accountable to the people you’re serving, that fuels you even when it when things are tough, it’s not there.

Carrie Sechel: [00:32:51] Number two, the plan is totally out of sequence. They’re focused on really advanced marketing techniques that could be applicable in three or four years when they have an email list of 50,000 people. But right now, it doesn’t matter. It’s saying, “Okay, let’s be real realistic about where we are today.”

Carrie Sechel: [00:33:15] And I love what you just described here, Peter, of the backtracking because it’s like, “Okay, I want to be out here, but I’m not there, and I don’t have a jet pack on me.” So, I’m here. And that can be a really humbling pill to swallow. But you got to swallow it because you’re never going to get there on cue unless you just focus on right now. And as you grow and evolve that, your vision expands, and it becomes richer, and you’re capable of so much more.

Carrie Sechel: [00:33:48] But today, what do you need to do today that you aren’t doing? What do you not need to do today, you need to dump, and free yourself up to focus on what is really going to move you forward. This is all about taking action and making it happen.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:09] Would you agree with this statement, which most people think they can, but when they actually have to do it, they’re uncomfortable with selling themselves.

Carrie Sechel: [00:34:22] Oh, yes. Hugely vulnerable. And one of the things that we — Any kind of shift from the employee world to entrepreneurship, besides the blocking and tackling of the things that you need to do to make it happen, there’s a huge inner game that goes on of believing in yourself and getting over the fact that you are going to feel really vulnerable and naked at times. But how do you trick yourself into feeling like you have to clothes on, and really go out there, and make things happen?

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:06] Right. And I think a lot of people, we were just having this discussion yesterday at our NSA meeting with Eddie Turner. Somebody asked a question, “What’s the difference between confidence and cocky?” because that’s a very thin line. Those who can be loving themselves so much, and there are those who understand themselves, but they have that passion. It’s, really, they may be talking about themselves, but they’re really talking about how they can — I love the word — serve the person who are out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:38] And that’s a, I think, very fine line because self-promotion, and I’m doing this full-time now for eight years, going on nine, there’s times that you walk away, you go — Because I’ve never been one of those guys that’s, “Me, me, me.” I’m losing it. But we all have that a little bit, that “Me, me,” but not to tend to love myself overly too much. But when I start doing it, I felt like it’s not me. But to the passion point and understanding what I’m trying to do is, “Well, no. This is what I do. I’m really good at what I do, and I can help you.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:15] That’s a big switch. It took a while for me to really pick that switch. And, sometimes, it goes back up and come back down in order to maintain that ability to convince people that what I have will make a difference in their lives.

Carrie Sechel: [00:36:35] Well, Peter, let’s chew on that for a minute because a lot of times, it goes back to motivation. If a person is truly motivated out of love, and looking at another person’s situation, and saying, “I know I can fix that, and I am the best person to do that, and the reason I’m driven to do that isn’t just because it’s going to make me look good, or it’s going to fill my bank account, but it’s because I deeply care for that person, and it’s my responsibility to help them.” That’s a much different place than being motivated out of ego.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:20] And motivated by money.

Carrie Sechel: [00:37:22] And money and ego.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:25] Yeah.

Carrie Sechel: [00:37:25] And that’s where we all have to check ourselves. Why do each of us make decisions? And hey, we’ve all got egos. And making a great living is fabulous. I love money, but what is the deepest motivator? And if the motivator of love, and compassion, and empathy aren’t there, you have to really examine it.

Carrie Sechel: [00:37:52] And I use love a lot. And I think love in business is one of the biggest things people miss. and one of the most powerful, powerful business tools. I mean, it’s a tool, but I feel like it’s part of the business equation that we’re missing. And it’s hurting businesses because they’re missing that part or that piece that’s driven by something else.

Carrie Sechel: [00:38:25] And, particularly, for people who are creating a business of their own, having love to be part of that equation is one of those powerful, powerful tools that overcomes a vulnerability, that naked feeling, not feeling like you can’t sell yourself because when you’re doing it because love others, and you care so much about helping them solve their problem, it changes the game completely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:00] It really does. And as you say, this is funny because this exercise we were doing yesterday asked what do we want to get out of that session, and a lot of people, it was related to, “How can I monetize this? How do you monetize this?” And I wrote down, “I want to become a better facilitator, so I can help increase one’s retention.” There’s no money.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:30] And as we’re sitting there and talking, I realized, “I need to write the word ‘money’ down.” And so many yesterday had money. That was the top reason, which I’m probably reading way too much into that, but that, now, it is. It’s about love. Do you love what you do? Do you love the people you serve? And that’s the word. It’s we’re there to serve.

Carrie Sechel: [00:39:56] And, also, do you love yourself?

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:02] Yeah, yeah.

Carrie Sechel: [00:40:03] And that’s a biggie for any entrepreneur in being able to truly love yourself and believe that you’re worthy of being compensated for your services. I talk about love a lot with my clients because it’s something that’s so foreign in the corporate world, and it’s so important as an entrepreneur.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:31] Yes. You can’t be an entrepreneur. You can take all the great stuff that you’ve learned in the corporate world, but you got to have love. You’ve got to understand to feel. You really have to have a really strong emotional intelligence on yourself and on others to be successful.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:50] And so, a lot of that is missing. In a lot of corporate America, it’s driven by the bottom lines of my shareholders. It’s driven by the “Me, me” factor versus “How can we help someone?” And I think that’s why I gravitated so much towards NSA and from a chapter because it’s all about helping the other person. We may be in the same business, but I’ll give you all the tools and techniques I used to become successful, and I can help you become successful. It just keeps expounding from that from that aspect.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:23] And I share this with other organizations. I go, “Really? Aren’t you worried about competitions?” That never even comes into play. There’s a lot of room out there. This is great big world, but if we can help others seek their best, that is part of our mission.

Carrie Sechel: [00:41:40] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:42] So, you worked a lot of hours when you were at Deloitte.

Carrie Sechel: [00:41:48] Yes, I did.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:50] Are you working more hours now than you did at Deloitte

Carrie Sechel: [00:41:55] Oh, wow. Well, I am really good at working a lot of hours, which is something that’s a challenge for me. So, I have to, and I’m so thrilled with what I’m doing that I could fall into working constantly if I didn’t have other things in my life that are really important to me and so important to me that I make sure that they are equally honored. My family, my health, my spirituality, or experiences that I desire.

Carrie Sechel: [00:42:34] But I I’m sure that I work a little bit less, but I have flexibility. And many times, when I’m doing work, it doesn’t seem like work because it’s my life’s work. It’s everything. It all sort of mashes together, and it’s great.

Carrie Sechel: [00:42:59] For example, I have a client right now who has a very, very demanding position. And we do our calls on the weekends. Doing a weekend call before would have seemed — And I did lots and lots of weekend calls, and they were just not — I mean it’s horrible. Doing a call with an amazing person who is building a business and helping her move that forward, it’s like fine. I just coordinate it with all my other personal things, and we pick a time every weekend that works for both of us, and it’s great. It’s just it doesn’t seem like — It’s different. It’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:50] It is. It’s just funny because people ask me, I go, “When I went full-time, I have not worked a day since.”.

Carrie Sechel: [00:43:56] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:57] Ask my wife, I’m working 24/7.

Carrie Sechel: [00:44:01] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:02] But that’s also part of entrepreneurship that a lot of people don’t realize. There is a dark side to it. And being obsessed and caught up, what’s the worst, you can lose friends because you’re not so much in touch with them anymore. It can wear on your health. And there’s a lot of dark sides to entrepreneurialism. So, anybody who gets into it really need to understand those. I didn’t quite understand them initially. Then, I did. And I worked very hard to when I have to turn it off. Yeah, I could shut it down.

Carrie Sechel: [00:44:37] Learning to set your own boundaries. And people hear about the four-hour work week, and they see a lot of the messages you see on the internet of, “Oh, you’re going to be doing work from the beach, and never going to work another day, and money is just going to fall out of your computer,” or something.

Carrie Sechel: [00:44:57] I mean, you can find a story and an example for everything, but when you’re driven by something that’s greater than just the paycheck, it’s a life’s work. And you may do work from the beach, and maybe you can have flexibility, so you can be at the beach and doing work, but you’re still doing work. It just feels so much different. Just, it feels right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:35] I find it’s the hardest thing to describe, but it’s such the greatest feeling. It’s so hard to describe. It’s so hard. It’s like you’re looking at a picture going, “Oh, yeah.” But if you were to see this, it would look a lot bigger. It’s how I feel when I try to describe that that you can’t, but you know when you have it.

Carrie Sechel: [00:45:54] Right. It’s wonderful.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:56] And you know how it fuels you, and you just recognize it, bottle it, and keep moving forward with it. So, honestly, I think I should pay you for allowing me to interview you because I got a little therapy today. I greatly appreciate the therapy. I got to reflect back and go, “Hmm, maybe.” But, no, I love this conversation. Actually, I could probably talk to you for hours on it, but I don’t want to mess up your long enough work there as it is.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:24] Before we end, how can people, the people who may listen — By the way, if you’re listening to this, and you have that that feeling, pull over if you’re listening to this in your car. Pull up aside, stop the car, and then just step out, just scream it out loud and whatever. But how can folks find you?

Carrie Sechel: [00:46:43] Yeah, absolutely. So, there’s a few ways you can find me. One is I have a free on-demand training. You can do it any time that fits your schedule. It’s called Authentic Ambition: How to Create a Post-Corporate Life You Love Full of Abundance, Creativity, and Joy. And Peter is going to provide the link. You can go to that. It’s totally free. It’s on-demand whenever you want to take it. It’s 45 minutes. So, you can fit it into your day. That is a great first step. I go through my system in a bit more detail. And not only that, give you some very specific items to think about, so you can start exploring right now.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:32] I will have — I’m sorry, go ahead.

Carrie Sechel: [00:47:35] What’s that thing in you that is pushing you to pull over at the side of the road, like Peter said, get it out and say, “Okay, I’m remembering this moment because I’m being honest with myself right now. It’s time. It is time. And I can get over the fears. And they might be hard. And it might take some time, but I can do it because I know, I know I need to do this. It’s time to take action.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:08] And I will put that link in the show notes as well.

Carrie Sechel: [00:48:14] Yeah. And you can also get a hold of me. My email is super easy. It’s Carrie@CarrieSechel.com. So, you’re welcome to e-mail me. You can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also check out my website, which is CarrieSechel.com. And yeah, I’d love to hear from you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:37] And that’s Carrie with a C-A-R-R-I-E.

Carrie Sechel: [00:48:39] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:39] Yes. As you said though, I know a K-A-R-I. So, I want to make sure everybody gets it right, Carrie, the spelling there for you.

Carrie Sechel: [00:48:50] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:50] And if you’re so inclined, one, go to the show notes, grab that link, download it, watch it. Actually, I think I’m going to too, but I’m also going to take it a step further. I know about three or four people I’m going to send it to.

Carrie Sechel: [00:49:03] That’s great. Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:04] And do contact her. I’m sure she’d be willing to just have a brief conversation to find out what your goals are, what your ambitions are, and reach out to her. And Carrie, thank you again for taking time. Hopefully, our paths will cross here soon. You’ll come down to Columbus for maybe the November or January NSA meeting because I’d love to catch up some more. Contact me anytime if I can help you with anything. And it’s been a pleasure to get to know you. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you. And I wish you all the best. I don’t think I have to wish that. I just know that’s going to happen just based off of who you are. And congratulations on what you have built.

Carrie Sechel: [00:49:49] Thank you. You, as well, Peter, thank you. This has been awesome.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:54] Thanks a lot. I want to thank Carrie for sharing with us that people can create the business they feel bubbling inside of them. And remember to watch her free training link at bit.ly/authenticambition, all one word. That’s bit.ly/authenticambition.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:13] In Episode 17, my guest is Stephanie Feger, who’s the author of the recently published book Color Today Pretty. She has a wonderful message to share as we begin to move into 2019 and into busy season, or as I prefer to call it, opportunity season.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:34] Thank you for listening, and begin the process of changing your mindset, and getting out of your comfort zone, and developing new skills to become more future-ready. Your call to action, again, is to take one hour a week to think about what you need to do to become future-ready, what new skills do you need to begin to learn, so you can begin to transform your career and be future-ready.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:58] Remember being part of future-ready is being an improviser, and being an improviser is someone who’s willing to take risks in order to grow. Thank you very much for listening, and please share this episode with a friend.

 

Resources:

S2E15 – Sean Kenny | How PrepLink Plans to Transform Public Accounting

Sean Kenny is the Co-Founder of PrepLink, a platform that allows accounting firms to work with freelance CPAs remotely, flexibly, and on demand. He is on a mission to transform the landscape of public accounting, and as you’ll hear in this episode, he is extremely passionate about this mission (and, personally, I think PrepLink is going to evolve into something very special).

 

Before founding PrepLink, Sean worked as a CPA for several firms in their tax departments, and the idea was born out his frustration with the lifestyle of public accounting – a frustration many of us understand all too well.

 

Sean realized that by providing a tool that allows accountants the option of finding remote, flexible work, he could tap into the abundance of talented and experienced CPAs willing to take on freelance assignments and open that up to firms who can benefit from a large pool of reliable on-demand experts.

 

“I want to offer a small firm all the resources of a large national accounting firm.” So when a small firm needs help with a specific subject matter they don’t know much about or a big project that needs more hands, they know they can find someone perfect for the job and bring them on.

 

PrepLink isn’t just outsourcing, though. It’s a new network for public accounting, allowing firms and professionals to establish and build relationships within the CPA community.

 

Sean shares an example of how he plans to use PrepLink to help him navigate the complexities of Nexus for an online business operating in multiple states:

 

“Right now, I have a business. I have clients all over the country. I’m actually going to have to use PrepLink to bring on people to help me understand my requirements as an internet business with all these accounting firms that I’m dealing with across the country. I need help there.”

 

But it’s just not the accounting entrepreneurs like Sean who will benefit from this. It’s tax managers or auto managers have this nagging feeling that there’s to be a better way of doing things. “I’m screaming from the mountaintops,” Sean says, “if you offer flexibility, the amount of people willing to work with you will outstrip the amount of work that you have.”

 

Sean also stresses that you don’t have to use PrepLink. “You can do it yourself. I hope this message gets across. Just offer flexibility and offer optionality, and you’ll get people. You’ll get amazing people.”

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Sean Kenny: [00:00:00] It’s really important to be able to tell this vision, tell this story, so I can build up this army of people who want to make change. I’m telling them this vision. I’m giving them these tools. I’m like, “Come along.” Like, “Let’s go.” And these people are telling other partners.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:31] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:19] Welcome to Episode 14. And my guest today is Sean Kenny, who’s the Co-Founder of PrepLink, a platform that allows accounting firms to work with freelance CPAs remotely, flexible, and on demand. It’s the only platform of its kind designed exclusively for people in public accounting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:39] Before founding PrepLink, Sean worked as a CPA for several firms in their tax departments. The idea for PrepLink was born out his frustration with the lifestyle of public accounting. Sean discovered that by providing a tool that allows accountants the option of finding remote, flexible work, he could tap into the abundance of talented experienced CPAs willing to take on freelance assignments and firms who could benefit from the large pool of reliable on-demand experts. With PrepLink, firms can serve their clients better, retain their in-house staff, and become more profitable. He’s bringing this message and solution to public accounting to create a change for the better.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:25] Now, Sean lives in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife and co-founder, Emily, and their two children. Sean is also a member of the South Carolina Association of CPAs. And I would like to thank Chris Jenkins for putting me in touch with Sean. By the way, if you know someone who would make a great guest for this podcast, please email me at Peter@PeterMargaritis.com.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:49] Now, if you’ve been listening to my podcast, you know that I published my new book, Taking the Numb Out of Numbers: Explaining and Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity, on July 30, 2018. The feedback that I’ve received has exceeded my expectations. You can read the reviews on Amazon.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:08] But I would like to share with you an email that I received from Ryan Parker who is a CPA, who is also the CEO of Endicott Clay Products. Ryan said, “Peter, as I sit here on a flight to Lincoln, I just finished your new book. Congratulations. It was a great read and full of practical sound advice for presenting seemingly boring numbers in a way that engages an audience and challenges those of us that do present to elevate our game.” Actually, he liked it so much, he purchased 10 copies for his team, his sales team. He says his sales team presents to architects. And instead of taking the numb out of numbers, he wants them to take the ick out of the brick. God, I love that parody he used.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:57] If you like to order my book in bulk, that’s 10 or more, for your team or as a holiday gift for your clients or customers, please email me at Peter@PeterMargaritis.com. I will fulfill the order from my office, personally sign all copies, and provide you with a discount somewhere between 10% and 15%, depending upon the size of the order. The book is available on Amazon, in paperback, and on Kindle. So, stop what you’re doing, buy it today, and begin taking the numb out of numbers or the ick out of the brick. So, without further ado, let’s get to the interview with Sean Kenny.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:40] Everybody, welcome back. I’m talking to Sean Kenny today. And he is one of my all-time favorite cities. He’s in Charleston, South Carolina. And Sean, welcome to my podcast.

Sean Kenny: [00:04:54] Thanks, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:54] It’s great to meet you because this is the first time we’ve met. The South Carolina Association contacted me and said, “You got to interview this guy. He’s got something special.” So, Sean, before we get into what you’re providing the accounting community, give us a little bit of your background.

Sean Kenny: [00:05:14] Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ve been a CPA for five years. Well, I worked in the industry for five years, primarily in the tax department. I was looking to, one day, open up my own firm, serve my own clients because I really enjoyed the work. I really enjoyed helping people. And that is when I came up with my idea because I think a lot of people out there, we love the work but had a hard time swallowing the concept of the next 25 years of tax seasons. And then, also, I didn’t really have all the technical skills because I was only there for a few years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:10] So, you said you couldn’t envision or swallow the fact that you’d be in a cubicle doing tax work in busy seasons for 25 years. My background, I was at Pricewaterhouse. So, this is before the Cooper’s merger. And I had that same realization, but it took me three years to finally go, “Right. This isn’t going to work.” I love the work. I wasn’t really a technical person, but I love helping my clients, I love that interaction, and just the model didn’t fit me either. So, you didn’t go out and start your own firm, but what did you do? What is this thing that you’re creating?

Sean Kenny: [00:06:54] So, I created PrepLink. And what we are is we are a platform exclusively for accounting firms. And it’s where a firm can go out and look for a person to bring on that can help them when they need it. It’s on-demand. And it’s only for accounting firms and accountants. And this allows them to collaborate on projects. Projects being maybe they need extra hands on a tax fund, or maybe they just need help understanding a certain issue that’s outside of their expertise. And what I want this to be is I want to offer a small firm all the resources of a large national accounting firm that when they need help, they can go out and bring people on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:43] So, I think it’s a community that I’ve got maybe a state tax issue, I’m in Ohio, but I’ve got a client in the State of Washington or, probably, California would be a better example. I could go to this PrepLink, your resource here, and find that expertise to help me solve that problem.

Sean Kenny: [00:08:09] Exactly, exactly. What I’m promoting is not outsourcing. I want you to be able to develop relationships with people. So, when you have issues from California, you say, “You know what, I really liked working with Greg. I want to work with him again.” It is a community, a network, but it’s a network to establish relationships within the CPA community. So, when you have an issue, you know, “Oh, I can reach out to Jane,” or “I can reach out to Phil. He’s an expert on this.” And that’s exactly what happens at a large accounting firm because these partners, they deal with a wider range of issues. And when they hear an issue, they say, “You know, it’s that Jane from the Atlanta office. Ask her. She’s an expert on this.” Okay.

Sean Kenny: [00:09:00] So, I want to offer that to these small accounting firms because I hear, and I’ve heard this a number of times multiple ways of saying, “If I had an issue that’s over my head, I can’t walk down the hall and knock on a partner’s store. It’s just me. I have to spend all day researching it. And that’s just so I can get some level of comfort, but I would rather bring on a person who plays in the sandbox and just help me with this.” So, I want to offer them this resource of this network of experts. But then, also, it’s also a network of sometimes you just need a person to help you out with tax prep or bookkeeping, and I want to provide that to these accounting firms because so many of them out there are hurting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:54] So, Sean, tell me what — You’ve got these freelancers out there. Can you give me the demographics of them? Are they retired individuals who are looking for additional work? Are they people in firms? Who are these folks?

Sean Kenny: [00:10:11] Honestly, they’re all over the board. Initially, I thought it would be mostly millennials like me. And I was surprised that in the beginning, the largest were, surprisingly, baby boomers, people who have been in the industry for 20 plus years who I heard this over and over again are like, “Dude, I’m tired of going through these tax seasons. I would rather not.” And they’re looking for alternatives.

Sean Kenny: [00:10:48] And there’s also a big demographic of people who left the firm and looking to open up their own practice or have opened up their own practice that need that bridge, that extra income right now. And what I’m learning as I’m going along is that there are people who are very focused at what they do. They’re very specialized. And their clientele are actually other accounting firms, and they’re saying, “I only do not-for-profit. That’s just what I’m homed in on.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:34] Yeah.

Sean Kenny: [00:11:35] And they have a lot of clients who are not-for-profits, but they’ll also have a few accounting firms in their geographic area that they help, and they’re a resource. So, what I see is PrepLink really allowing people to get really honed in and specialized, and really having that deep knowledge about a specific area that a firm can turn to and say, “Hey, I need help.” Let’s just use not-for-profit. It’s like, “We’re having that issue right now,” where a firm is like, “You know what, I have this client, a not-for-profit, they have some issue that’s like registration. I need a person who deals with them all the time.” So, there are people out there who all they do is not-for-profit. And when I’m telling them what I’m doing, they’re like, “This is amazing. I get to market my skills to them, and they understand the value I have.”

Sean Kenny: [00:12:39] So, I want to bring that, not just for nonprofits but nexus. What happened this past year with Wayfair, there is going to be so many clients asking their accounting firms like, “What’s happening?” I’m telling you right now, most people, when it comes to the Nexus and multi-state, they shake in fear. This is like it’s so confusing. There’s so much out there that you really do need a specialist. And I want to offer these small firms because more and more people, as the e-commerce and internet is growing, more and more people are realizing that their business is not restricted to a geographic area. They’re actually now having internet.

Sean Kenny: [00:13:33] Right now, I have a business. I have clients all over the country that I’m actually going to have to use PrepLink to bring on people to help me understand my requirements as an internet business with all these accounting firms that I’m dealing with across the country. I need help there. And I can tell you right now, after working in all these accounting firms, when you have a client that has customers in a bunch of states, everyone is like, “Oh man. This is going to get really hard. This is going to be — Oh.” And there’s only a handful of people in the firm who actually have expertise. So, I want to be able to be this resource and offer people this access to this expertise, this knowledge.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:23] So, it’s almost like the gig economy has come to the accounting profession through you, in essence, into the internet. I need a person, I can come to you. I need some expertise, I can come to PrepLink. I can find that individual. I can hire them. They can do the job. And they might stay with me through the whole period of time. They might be my main go-to resource, but if I’ve got another issue that are maybe from a real estate perspective, I can come to PrepLink. I can find an individual to give me that and help me with that information. I think it’s really, really cool what you’re doing. The alternative to being in a firm, to be able to freelance work, and provide a service to accounting firms, especially those smaller accounting firms. How did you come up with this idea? I mean, you just-

Sean Kenny: [00:15:19] Because I wanted it. I wanted it. I’m not some software engineer. I’m a CPA. This is an idea that I had. I was like, “Dude, I want this. This is really cool.” A little over a year ago, I was in a cubicle. I was working in a firm. I had this idea, and I thought it was so — I was so very impressed. I was so moved by it, and the possibilities, and the future. Like what the possibilities, what it just could do that it sprung me into action.

Sean Kenny: [00:15:53] I was inviting partners, which I would never do, in the area and saying like, “This is the vision I have. Would you be interested?” And all of them were just like, “Yeah, obviously,” but it didn’t exist. And they’re looking at me like, “What are you, crazy?” It made me realize that like, “Yeah.” I’m convinced in time that, when this actually becomes a thing, I say that once I have, let’s say, this, it is socially justified where it becomes the norm. I think every accounting firm, every CPA firm is going to be on this thing because how could you not? The value prop, it makes too much sense right now.

Sean Kenny: [00:16:48] But I know most accounting firms right now would not because like, “Hey, I get it. It’s new. It’s this new concept.” So, I’m realizing right now that I have to find CPAs out there who are very entrepreneurial-minded, who want something different, who want something better than the status quo because most things that, right now, the accounting industry, working in public accounting is difficult. It’s really, really difficult. There is a lot of churn.

Sean Kenny: [00:17:27] A lot of the firms hire people entry level. There’s a high demand in entry level because we’re taught experience in public accounting is invaluable if you’re going to be an accountant. And it’s true because we see so much. There’s so many businesses you interact with. And the work is actually great. Every woman will tell you that the work is great. It’s rewarding. It’s the lifestyle. It’s the lifestyle of working in public accounting that they have an issue with, right. That it’s just like, “Man.” Small firms, I think, are getting hit harder because everyone wants to work for a prestigious accounting firm because like, hey, put that on a resume, and you have more options, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:23] Right.

Sean Kenny: [00:18:23] You go work like Henry & Company where no one really knows what Henry & Company is. They have a harder time. So, when they lose that manager, if you’re a partner, and you lose that that tax manager, the whole office feels it. It’s like a person took a leg from out of the table. It’s just like, “Whoa. This is serious.” Now, that partner or that sole proprietor now has to shoulder that work because there is expertise that you need that I want for that firm not to lose that tax manager.

Sean Kenny: [00:19:09] So, a lot of times, that tax manager, they’re mothers, they’re fathers, they have families, they want to get home. They’re missing what’s out there. And if you’re a recruiter, you’re tapping into that. So, you’re like, “Hey, I got this client, this industry. He’s going to pay you equal, maybe more. You don’t have to work weekends,” that’s really appealing to a lot of mothers and fathers. I know because I talk to them all the time. They love the work. There’s issues here that we just need to address.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:43] So, are you focused primarily on those in the tax world, or are you also on M&A world and the A&A world?

Sean Kenny: [00:19:52] That’s a great question. Yeah, right now, we’re pretty taxed-focused in accounting. In accounting right now. And that was me just saying that’s what I know. I know there’s an issue there. I know everyone needs on tax now. So, let’s offer that right now. That’s easy. I know it, and we have all the tools here.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:14] What I realized, actually, the first one of like us just being live, it’s like, “Oh no, dude. I got pack this up with all these subject matter experts. I got to put in people who can help on not-for-profit.” Not the tax stuff, but the admin stuff, which I have a hard time even explaining. And I worked on 990s before, and the questions they’re asking, which are just normal everyday questions a not-for-profit would have, I was like, “Yeah, you would need a person who was CFO at a national not-for-profit that you could just consult with, help with that client.” They say, “Okay. Yeah. What you need is you need to register in all key states.” And they have resources. They’re tapping into that knowledge.

Sean Kenny: [00:21:14] I’m using this as an example because this just happened yesterday where a person is like, “You should use this resource or this resource.” So, we’re just bringing knowledge. We’re unlocking these efficiencies in our model that could really change the course of public accounting. My goal here is not to be just like another app. My goal here is to change public accounting for the better. I want to unlock efficiencies.

Sean Kenny: [00:21:49] And I’m telling the firms about this vision. I’m telling the freelancers about this vision. I’m like, “Listen, don’t look at this thing like right now. We just went live. There’s only X amount of firms right now and X amount of freelancers right now.” It’s what it can do right now, absolutely, but it’s also like, “Dude, this is where it’s going.” This message is resonating with a lot of people. Not everyone, but a lot of people are like, “Whoa.” And I’ve had a number, a number of partners and freelancers saying like, “I’m rooting for you. Yeah, I do. I think this needs it. I want this.” I’m like, “Yeah. Come on board.”

Sean Kenny: [00:22:39] And I’m realizing that anything that’s significant that if you truly believe in something, which I do because I’m doing it, it’s really important to be able to tell this vision, tell this story, so I can build up this arm of people who want to make change. I’m telling them this vision. I’m giving them these tools. I’m like, “Come along.” Like, “Let’s go.” And these people are telling other partners. They’re telling other freelancers. I get an email, or LinkedIn, or just a person signs up like, “Hey, Jorge told me about this.” I’m like, “God, that’s great.” It’s beginning to spread.

Sean Kenny: [00:23:25] I wrote a tweet two weeks ago, and I’m not the guy who quotes himself. It was just like a thought. I had him like Tesla. It’s like we all know the company. They have a waiting list. It’s like a year, or 18 months, or something like that for a Model S. I don’t even know if that is what it’s called. They have never spent a dollar in marketing. They’ve never had a commercial.

Sean Kenny: [00:24:01] I just watched a Giants game. Definitely looked horrible, but every commercial break, there was a commercial about a truck or a car, and it’s just nonstop. Nonstop, right. But Tesla moves people because regardless of your belief in electric cars, just appreciate what they’re able to do with no marketing dollars. They had something that inspired people that it tapped into, “This is the future that you wanted.” And it’s an amazing looking car. Yeah, it’s electric, but the thing is badass. It is amazing. It is a car people want to drive. My Facebook feed are people at Tesla. They’re either taking pictures of them buying this really expensive car, and people congratulating them. It’s like inspired.

Sean Kenny: [00:25:10] And that’s what I’m realizing. I’m like, “Dude, I got to keep telling people it’s an app, but no, no, it’s change.” The reason I left my job, the reason that I lose sleep, and I’m still like so excited about it is because I believe in this. I believe in what I’m doing. And I’m telling people in earnest that I’m a CPA, and I want this. And I have to realize that I can’t soften my message to get these nonbelievers because it’s not for everyone. It’s for these people who want change.

Sean Kenny: [00:25:58] And it’s just not the entrepreneurs. It’s tax managers or auto managers who are just like, “There’s got to be a better way.” That they’re like, “It shouldn’t be this hard.” And it’s not. I’m screaming from the mountaintops. If you tap — I’m not going to use the word gig because that has too much baggage with it. I’m going to say if you offer flexibility, offer flexibility that the amount of people willing to work with you will outstrip the amount of work that you have. You buy by factor.

Sean Kenny: [00:26:44] Look at WeWork right now. WeWork’s valuation is $35 billion. That’s equal to Ford. WeWork is an office-sharing company. They offer flexible arrangements where they have offices. They’re actually the largest real estate owner in Manhattan. They surpassed the Catholic Church and NYU. All they offer is flexible arrangements for people, like freelancers or companies. They’re just offering office space. Like a model that’s been around for forever, but they’re offering flexibility. It’s like, “That’s what we want.” People love options and flexibility. And, now, what’s happening in the world, it’s changed. We have options, and we want flexibility.

Sean Kenny: [00:27:40] The CPA profession is behind because everyone says, “No, no, this is the model. This is the way we do it.” It’s like, “No, no, no. People can tap into this option and flexibility.” You don’t have to use PrepLink. You can do it yourself. I hope this message gets across, just offer flexibility and offer optionality, and you’ll get people. You’ll get amazing people.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:10] Flexibility, that’s an interesting concept. There’s a firm in Maryland. They’ve got three offices. I’ve interviewed the partners before for the podcast. And, actually, they help contribute to my book there. The firm’s name is DeLeon & Stang. January of this year, they rolled out a new mission statement, as well as some new benefits. And the mission statement, they used to be, “We serve our clients and our staff,” Well, they flipped it with “Staff in front of clients.” I love that. It’s like Richard Branson, “I don’t worry about my customers. I worry about people I hire because if I hire the right people, then they’ll take care of the customers.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:51] And then, they also rolled out that there are no mandatory Saturdays and Sundays during tax season. And then, they took it one step further. They changed their vacation policy to unlimited PTO. Flexibility to a degree, but still not that — And I I put it in this way. That firm is telling their people, “We trust you.” And they have very little turnover, and they’re growing. And the other cool thing about this firm is both of the partners didn’t start their career in public accounting. So, they weren’t pre-wired like most firms are.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:40] So, as I think about what you’re doing, and you’re thinking about the flexibility. So, I see two pieces out there for you. One, baby boomers are retiring. There’s a lot of folks who are still — CPAs don’t stop working, I’ve learned. They love to work. But they may not be in that structure. You have an avenue to tap those who have retired from firms who still want to work, still want to contribute, but maybe not on a full-time basis. I think you got a huge pool of those folks. And then, you’ve got the folks who are at a management level, and most accounting firms, I don’t like the millennial word, but I look at that younger generation that you could tap. I mean, you’ve got a lot of places that you’ll be able to draw those resources on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:34] But I want to talk about you said something about your story. And now, you’ve just jumped in my passion, my lane. And most CPAs, most people don’t really know how to tell their story and what is that story. They think the story is, “Well, we got 14 partners. We’ve got X, Y, and Z.” Those are stats. That’s not a story. And as you continue to grow your business, I think I can go out on a limb here, Sean, and say I think you’re just a little passionate about what you’re doing here.

Sean Kenny: [00:31:12] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:12] Yeah. Now, it’s harnessing that passion into that message that resonates. And I work with some CPAs here in Ohio along those same lines. How do you take that passion and that vision of what you’re doing, and how do you wrap that up into a tagline, into something concise?

Sean Kenny: [00:31:36] It’s so hard. It is so hard. I was asked a few months ago, “What was something that surprised you about this process?” And I was like, “It’s been a lot.” But for a guy who was a CPA, what surprised me was how difficult communications was because I had this idea. This is what I want to do. And it’s so difficult to express that, or how do you write that up? What do you put when you have something?

Sean Kenny: [00:32:21] And we still spend so much energy, mental energy, and the time rewording, coming out. I feel like even on this podcast, I was coming in. I’m constantly thinking about it, retooling it because what you have in your head about what you are and what you want to provide might be miles away from the perception a person has about what you are. And they already have not only a perception, but they also have their prejudices. Everything is baked into it.

Sean Kenny: [00:33:12] If you’re able to tell that story, so that there’s this clarity, and a lot of people, the art of storytelling, I didn’t really have context to it before I started this. So, if you love start telling, “Yeah, the ghost story.” No, storytelling with communication is how human beings understand anything. Okay.

Sean Kenny: [00:33:41] I’ll give you an example because I see it all the time with accounting. They’re telling their clients that they had Big Four experience. I don’t think your clients understand who Big Four is. They’re not accountants. Anyone who’s an accountant or touched the accounting industry knows exactly what Big Four is. I told my engineer, like, “Dude, this guy is Big Four.” He’s like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, “He worked for the Big Four.” And he’s like, “Big Four? What are you talking the Big Four?”

Sean Kenny: [00:34:15] And so many people, amazingly, talented people, accountants with 20 years Big Four experience, which you’re like, “Dude, I would work with him in a second. You know how much knowledge he probably have in this area?” But they tell them, “I’m Big Four,” and they did not convey their experience, their value to them, their expertise, and how they could help them because they told them a story that the other person just fully didn’t understand.

Sean Kenny: [00:34:45] Like, “Wait, Big Four, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” They didn’t tell them that, “Hey, I worked in the Big Four for 20 years on the energy sector about depletion, about oil and wind. They probably know more about their industry than fine. That’s an amazing environment, an amazing resource as a business model but you could express your issues, problem solve with. There’s such value there. But we, as CPAs, we don’t get that training. We don’t appreciate that. So, we’re not able to tell how we can help these clients.

Sean Kenny: [00:35:24] And I didn’t realize this until I was literally — I was an accountant, again, at a cubicle who struggled. Struggles nightly, nauseating where I couldn’t communicate what I was doing. I was terrible at the sales. Just terrible at the whole process. Now, I can appreciate it because I’m better than I was, but I still have to go a long way. So, now, I’m very passionate about how important I think it is for CPAs in public accounting because it’s different if you’re in an industry for public accountants to truly appreciate the skill of marketing and sales.

Sean Kenny: [00:36:24] But under that is the storytelling. My sister works for one of the most well-known technology companies. She’s a very senior sales account manager. They go through so much training for sales. Executives are constantly telling them, “Get your storytelling down.” But what is your story? How can you express what we can do for them where they could understand?

Sean Kenny: [00:36:57] That’s the one. Technology companies out there, and they’re are at the top of the game. So, the top people, the top technology company, the top industries in the world, and they’re talking about storytelling. Their heads are saying like, “Storytelling, storytelling.” And I heard it recently from heads of very influential people from like GE, they’re like, “Storytelling is everything. Otherwise, what are you giving?”

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:36] What you’re giving them is facts and figures. And facts and figures don’t drive decision making. Emotions drive decision making. And storytelling, that’s what would bring the emotion in. So, you’re talking there a moment. You said the Big Four, and you said all this stuff, and it made me think of something. And we’ve talked about this. So, I asked you the other day, “Do you speak a foreign language?” And you said “No.” And I said, “Well, let me rephrase that for you. Do you speak the foreign language of business and accounting?” And you said, “Of course, I do.” And it is a foreign language.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:11] And I will say, the foreign language of accounting, whether you’re in public accounting, or in industry, or in government, you’re in education, you’re still speaking that foreign language.

Sean Kenny: [00:38:22] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:22] And you are cursed, by the way. Sean, you are cursed. And most people in the accounting profession are cursed. They’re cursed with their knowledge. Here’s a book that you should really read that really pushed me down this path. It’s called Made to Stick by Chip Heath. Great book. And one of the first things he’s talking about is this curse of knowledge, you cannot unlearn what you’ve learned. Trust me. I can still recite some stuff. I haven’t done accounting in forever. I can still go back in my mind and pull this information out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:54] But when you’re talking to somebody who doesn’t have that language, you can’t speak accounting speak. You have put it in plain English. Even in the world of accounting, if I’m the partner in a firm, and you’re a senior or maybe even a manager, my knowledge level is still — my comprehension is still higher than yours. I have to be able to bring my knowledge. I’m not dumbing it down but to a point where we can connect. And we don’t do it. And that’s the other big challenge we have in that aspect of storytelling. You said it, the accounting is easy, the communication is hard.

Sean Kenny: [00:39:30] It’s so hard.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:31] Well, we tend to call it soft skills, but I say we may call it soft skills. I think you’d agree, they’re pretty hard to master.

Sean Kenny: [00:39:39] Yeah, absolutely. It’s not like — In accounting, it’s very rational for the most part. There are tax courts, for sure. And there are ways to go around it. It’s that old joke, what’s one plus one? And I come, and I say, “Where you wanted to be.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:04] Exactly.

Sean Kenny: [00:40:05] Great, but the knowledge is rationale-based where like soft skills, there is not that it’s harder on that feedback loop to know whether or not you’re doing well. And feedback is also big. It can be very painful and awkward where you’re like, “Man, sales call, I was so nervous. It was horrible. It was really awkward for both of us,” where if you look at it as a skill, you would you say, “Okay.” You would assess that conversation, “That didn’t go too well because of this reason, or I could guess.”

Sean Kenny: [00:40:51] If you look at it as a skill, you know you can get better at it. I think a lot of us have this belief that these sales skills or the communication, it’s enhanced, like, “I’m just not good. I’m an introvert.” But it’s not. It’s a skill that you got to keep working on, and you can get training and learning.

Sean Kenny: [00:41:13] Dude, I watch YouTube videos all the time on good people, like quality people, because I’m a millennial, and you watch YouTube to learn a few things. It’s been really helpful where I can approach a sales call where I used to get just so worked up and so nervous. Now, I have fun because I feel like I’m helping. And I think, we, as a profession, need to really respect the sales. I have heard this. And I’m now, as an entrepreneur, I believe sales is so necessary and so great.

Sean Kenny: [00:42:04] If you have the right skills or you have the right approach to it, it really is a noble profession because you are helping people. And a good sales experience, a client will walk away with the feeling of “I was just helped.” If it was a bad experience, and if that person had bad skills, it’s that creepy feeling. It’s just unpleasant. It’s just an unpleasant feeling. And like, dude, there’s just a lot of bad salesmen out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:39] Right.

Sean Kenny: [00:42:40] Great ones, you don’t feel like you were dealing with a salesman. In fact, I think a lot of companies are changing the names or going away with the needs of sales and using things like customer success or something like that. We’re late in it, but we should. As CPAs, we should be like, “Dude, sales. you know what, forget CPAs, forget others. You want to be an entrepreneur? You want to go out and tell people what you can do for them, you got to go on sales,” because it’s a skill, and there’s a way to approach a client. How do you know there are prospects? How do you know who’s the lead? These are skills. You got to learn them.

Sean Kenny: [00:43:29] Dude, I remember last year, I got a CRM. I didn’t even know really what I was using. And they said, when you have CRM, is this guy a lead? Is he a prospect? Where in the cycle? I was lost. I don’t know. What’s a lead? I don’t know what’s a lead. I don’t know. How else is it qualified? What’s a prospect? What do you do with a prospect?

Sean Kenny: [00:44:00] Now, I’m like, “Yeah, I know exactly where they are,” because like it’s like how do you approach the person? Where are they with a comfort level? Because I was just really educating people, and understanding their needs, and educate them in what you could do, and it’s about helping people. It’s about like, is what you’re looking for what I have? And that’s a generalization, but whatever.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:35] I got to wrap this up, but I do want to say before we go, I want to say a few things. One, you just summarized sales in a way that — and you’ve said it through this interview, you want to help people. You didn’t say, “I want to make a trillion dollars.” No. You said that you want to help people, and you want to see change. And you bring that passion, you bring that message, you’ve got a really cool product, really cool service that you are offering the profession.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:06] If I can look into my crystal ball, I would say if I came back in a year, let’s plan on that. If I still have the podcast a year from now, I’ll be going into my third or fourth year, let’s revisit, and let’s see where you are, and how you have grown this, and think back to this conversation. Then, a year from now, how big has this gotten? Where’s the new product lines? Where’s the service lines? How has all this reformulated or repositioned your view?

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:40] Because you get that entrepreneurialship. You get the need for communication. And you’re out there to serve your clients, to serve the profession. And just by having that mentality almost guarantees your success, almost guarantees that you’re continually hard working towards that goal and being able to adapt to a changing landscape.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:04] So, one, I thank the South Carolina Association, Chris Jenkins and his team, for putting us in contact with each other. We will stay in contact over this next year. I wish you the best. I think you have a great website. And we’ll put the link to the website in the show notes. I’ll mention it in the intro. It’s been a pleasure having this conversation. I’ll look to more future conversations with you.

Sean Kenny: [00:46:32] I really enjoyed this. This has been fun because you don’t always get to express what you’ve learned the past year with a person who appreciates how tough it is to communicate. So, yeah. It’s been blast.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:49] Cool. I appreciate it. Take care. And enjoy that good food down there in Charleston, South Carolina, my friend.

Sean Kenny: [00:47:00] Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:00] I want to thank Sean for taking his time to explain how he wants to transform the public accounting business and his platform for doing it. I will have to say one thing, he is very passionate about his mission. And I can’t wait to see it evolve into something very special.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:19] In Episodes 16, my guest is Carrie Sechel, who’s an entrepreneurial business consultant, speaker, and bestselling author who is a former partner with Deloitte. Becoming an entrepreneur is extremely challenging and Carrie can help you think through everything that you need to do, so you can start your own business and be a success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:41] Thank you for listening. And begin the process of changing your mindset, and getting out of your comfort zone, and develop new skills sets to become more future-ready. Your call to action is to take one hour a week to think about what you need to do to become future-ready. What skills do you need to begin to learn, so you can begin to transform your career and be ready for the future? Remember part of being future-ready is being an improviser, and being an improviser is someone who’s willing to take on risks in order to grow. So, thank you for listening, and please share this episode with a friend.

 

Resources:

S2E14 – David Krebs | Making Tax Law Fun

Have you ever laughed out loud at a tax seminar? Do you wish that you could understand complex tax law in simple terms? Would you like to make more money with great tax planning strategies?

 

You may not believe it’s possible – mostly the laughing part – but today’s guest, David Krebs, is here to prove you wrong.

 

David is an author, speaker, Thomson Reuters Gear Up Tax Class teacher, silver-certified bowling instructor, and Olympic Calculator Edition champion, and he is unique in the tax space for two reasons: One, his unparallelled passion for helping his clients save money and grow their businesses. Two, when he’s teaching or working with his clients, he makes taxes fun.

 

That’s right – taxes and fun, in the same sentence, on purpose!

 

David even says that his spiritual gift is making tax law fun. Because “if you have to sit through a seminar for eight hours on taxes, and you enjoy it, that is a gift!” And I really couldn’t agree more.

 

In this interview, you’ll hear the passion that Dave exudes, and it’s completely contagious. He got me so jazzed that I think I want to attend one of his tax seminars. And I’ve never – I mean never – willingly wanted to attend a tax seminar.

 

If you also find yourself wanting to attend one of David’s seminars, look at the full list of upcoming events at gearup.com and send David a message asking if he’ll be speaking at the sessions near you (dave [at] cpaagi.com).

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Transcript
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:00] Welcome to Episode 14. And my guest today is Dave Krebs. Dave is a CPA and owns his own tax practice right here in Westerville, Ohio. And during the months of October through January, he teaches for Thomson Reuters Gear Up Tax Classes throughout the entire United States of America.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:19] Now, what makes Dave so unique is two things. One, his passion for helping his clients save money and grow their businesses. The second one, when he’s teaching or working with his clients, he makes taxes fun. That’s right. Two words you thought you would never hear in the same sentence: taxes and fun.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:42] In this interview, you’ll hear the passion that Dave exudes, and it’s completely contagious. He had me so jazzed up that I said that I wanted to attend one of his tax seminars. And I’ve never, trust me, I’ve never willingly wanted to attend a tax seminar, but I would for Dave.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:02] Before we get to the interview, I want to share an article from February 2018, magazine Financial Management, and the article is titled How An Improv Class Can Help Develop Essential Business Skills: Improvisational theater is moving into business schools and boardrooms. Discover how it can help finance professionals develop soft skills and more.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:25] Now, according to this article, financial professionals are taking improv classes as part of their personal development plan to help develop their listening skills, increase their ability to read body language, and to think on their feet quicker. The article states, “When you have better soft skills, you can tell your story more effectively, and you’ll get more respect for your technical skills.” This is critical to financial professionals as our roles continue to evolve in an advisory role versus the number cruncher.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:00] The article lists six skills that improv will help improve. And those six are: listening, reading, body language, communicating insight effectively, yes and — my two favorite words — and team building.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:18] Now, two calls to action. One call to action is find and read this article. Second call to action, take an improv workshop sometime between tomorrow and the end of November. It is well worth your time and is a wonderful, wonderful investment in your career.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:38] One more thing, let me ask you a question. Are you tired of getting the deer in the headlights look when you’re trying to explain an accounting or tax-related issue? Then, read my book, Taking the Numb Out of Numbers: Explaining and Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity, and let it be the guide in your transformation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:58] Because when you take the numb out of numbers, it leaves you with ERS, E-R-S. ERS stands for effective relatable stories. And isn’t that the goal of every financial presentation? Because when we use story, people will remember and understand what you’re trying to convey. When you use data and numbers, your audience will not understand you. Recognize this, change your delivery. And by doing so, watch your revenue, productivity, and free time grow.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:34] The book is now available on Amazon, in paperback and on Kindle. So, stop what you’re doing right now. Go, and purchase this book, and begin your transformation in how you deliver financial information to your clients, to your boss, to your spouse.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:51] Now, I would introduce Dave the same way he is introduced before he begins his presentations. So, here we go. Have you ever laughed out loud at a tax seminar? Do you wish that you could understand complex tax law in simple terms? Would you like to make more money with great tax planning strategies? Our speaker today has written the book, Outrun the Pack in the Tax, and has presented to over 100,000 — That’s right — 100,000 accountants and small business owners across the United States for the last 25 years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:26] For well over 30 years, he’s been a Chief Visionary Officer of the CPA Advisory Group, a million dollar plus, 13-member tax accounting, consulting, and investment advisory firm, helping us love taxes from the land of poisoned nuts. Sorry about that. Every time I read it, I laugh. Helping us love taxes from the land of poisoned nuts, a buckeye from Columbus, Ohio. Please join me in welcoming the author, speaker, silver-certified bowling instructor, and Olympic Calculator Edition champion, please welcome Mr. Dave Krebs.

David Krebs: [00:05:07] Hey, welcome back, everybody.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:08] Man, we’re going to have fun today because my guest, my very special guest is Mr. David Krebs. And I’m going to let him tell you all about his background because he’s got a very unique background. And there’s something very special that, I think, everybody who facilitates, teaches, whatever should take from this conversation and employ.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:29] So, David, first and foremost, I know it’s somewhat tax season bearing, you know, the extension filing season. So, I know that you’re busy. I can see all the stuff on your desk and whatever, but thank you for taking time to be on my podcast today.

David Krebs: [00:05:43] Oh, absolutely. It’s great to be with you, Peter. I couldn’t think of doing anything else. And who would really want to a tax return when they can talk to you?

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:50] Well, exactly. So, now, if you’re starting to look in different directions, I know you’re multitasking getting the tax returns done. We go back, I don’t know, many years. I’m not going to name them because I remember when was the first time I’d heard about you, and I remember when the first time I saw you was at the Dayton Accounting Show. I don’t remember what year it was, but somebody said, “You got to go in. Just stick your head in there.” And I did because I think I was between sessions. And you had — You were teaching tax, and you had a parade going on with Ohio Society staff in your session. And I liked that. I’m not sure what I just saw, but that looks like a whole lot of fun. Do you remember back in those days? You’re probably still doing that stuff, right?

David Krebs: [00:06:39] Oh, you never know what I’ll do on a given day. But, yeah, I remember some sessions like that. But people ask me what my gift is. And I say my spiritual gift is I make tax law fun. They’re like, “That’s a gift?” And I’m like, “Well, if you have to sit through a seminar for eight hours on taxes, and you enjoy it, that is a gift.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:05] Yes.

David Krebs: [00:07:06] So, that’s kind of what I try to accomplish. And I think the incident you’re speaking of is I have the entire Ohio Society staff dancing to music before we even got started, mostly because they are much better dancers than I am and just created a lot of energy in the room before we even got started that particular day.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:29] Okay. I’m going to ask you a little bit about your background in a second but you said something. You said tax law, fun, and energy before the class starts. Those are all oxymorons to a degree when I think of a traditional. And I used to teach. I mean, I teach. Well, I did teach some tax, but I was also a tax accountant back in the day. And when I had to attend CPE, that was the last thing that I saw in the classroom, any of that.

David Krebs: [00:07:53] Sure, Well, you know, we call it a tax seminar. I really just always say, “Welcome to the show,” because if we’re not really putting on a show, people are going to start to lose interest pretty quickly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:08] Oh my god. I think — Have I heard you say that before because if I haven’t, then dagnabbit, because I thoroughly agree. It’s a performance. It is a show because the more that you can entertain them, the more they’ll retain.

David Krebs: [00:08:23] Right, exactly. And, you know, that’s why all the different ways that you can stimulate people, it’s just endless. But I find that, certainly, music, which you can start, you can do it in the middle, things, videos that you can do, stories that you can do, if you don’t intersperse that regularly, it is just so easy to lose an audience when you’re talking about code section. And how do you bring those to life? That’s really what it’s all about.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:54] All right. So, how did you — So, you’ve been in the profession for a few years.

David Krebs: [00:09:00] I don’t know. You can mumble that one. 32 years on my own firm.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:05] And you have your own firm, you have your own practice, and you’ve been on the CPE tax circuit for a number of years.

David Krebs: [00:09:14] Right. I’ve been with Thomson Reuters now. Gear Up Tax Seminars was the original name, and it still is, but Thomson Reuters bought it some years back. And this is now my 26th year with them. And I was just noticing, being the angel accountant that I am, I was able to add up each seminar I’ve done and within them, I’m at 990 today, which if you’re a tax guy, you go, “Oh, that’s a nonprofit tax form.” But my goal was always, “Gee, I can’t wait to get a thousand of these programs and shows.” And I don’t know, maybe I should just retire at a thousand. It seems like I’ve accomplished my goal. I don’t know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:55] So, if you’re 10 short, where will you be on that 1000? What city will you be in?

David Krebs: [00:10:02] Well, you know, funny you should ask that because I just got the schedule. And I guess I can do that. Oh my goodness. What better place? Cleveland, Ohio. It’s the only Ohio seminar I have this year. So, I’ll be close to home actually.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:17] Where will you be in Cleveland?

David Krebs: [00:10:20] I have no idea. I just get this little piece of paper, and I show up. So, that will be the only one I don’t have to fly to this year. So, that would be great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:30] So, everybody in Cleveland, if you’re listening to this, and you’re going to the Thomson Reuters Tax Gear Up in Cleveland, is that October or November?

David Krebs: [00:10:42] I think that one’s November 12-13, somewhere in there. So, it’s gonna be a party.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:46] It’s going to be a party. It his 1000th. And if he starts and doesn’t mention it, everybody who’s listening who’s in the audience, stand up and say, “Hey, Dave, happy 1000.”

David Krebs: [00:10:56] There you go. Oh no. I’ll let them know. We’re going to have a big party that day. Although, you know, don’t hold me to this. I can’t count very well. I just got the schedule really. It could be Boston the day before, but we’re right there, so.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:11] You’re very close. So, I have to ask. I’ve always said we do what we learned, and we do what we see. A lot of times, we see in the classroom the presentation that’s full of bullet point, just very technical. There’s no animation. There’s no engagement. And we learn from that. And when we get the opportunity to present, we mimic that. So, when you started off, did you do that, or you got it early on like, “If I’m going to get in front of people, I’m not an anesthesiologist. I want to keep them awake”?

David Krebs: [00:11:48] Well, you know, you have an advantage, Peter. You’re so much younger than I am. Back when I started, there was nothing called PowerPoint, all right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:57] Oh yeah.

David Krebs: [00:11:58] I, basically, had this giant pop drawer. And by the way, I just happened to be looking through it the other day because we’re going to be moving our offices. And so, I was going through all my toys. And in the old days, I had a rip-apart doll when I talk about the IRS, that we can rip it apart, and I could take the head off, and the arms off, the legs off. I mean, I had Ken and Barbie dolls that would talk to each other. An attorney who would yell, a shark hat for talking about attorneys. It was kind of my PowerPoint before I knew there was going to be such a wonderful thing.

David Krebs: [00:12:36] And once PowerPoint came along, I fell in love with it because I saw all the amazing things you could do with it. And I’ve seen while you’re talking about the ways you can help out, help people with PowerPoint too, which is taking the piece of paper they’re already looking at and copying it on a white sheet of paper on the screen, so they can look at it again.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:57] And you can read to them.

David Krebs: [00:12:57] Yeah. That’s not really a good way to use PowerPoint in any way, but I might freak you out, but when I go on the road this year, if I’m doing an all-day seminar, we’ll have over 800 PowerPoint slides.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:12] I think I’m getting airsick.

David Krebs: [00:13:14] Yeah, exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:15] 800. Okay. Describe these 800 slides to me. Are they formulated the same way? Are they developed the same, look the same in essence?

David Krebs: [00:13:24] There is a standard background for the most part, but each of the slides will have a picture, every one of them, 800. 800 of them with pictures. They will have, sometimes, music tying in to whatever we’re talking about. Sometimes, a video tying into what we’re talking about. So, each one is going to have a visual piece to what the PowerPoint is saying. So, there’s very few words on a lot of these, that’s why there’s 800 of them, but it allows me to drive home the visual point. You’re looking at a book. I think it’s this 561-page book in the 1040 course I do. I teach practice management, how to run your accounting and tax practice. That may be 300 pages. But they have that, so there’s no reason to just repeat it, but if we can visually stimulate their learning, wow. And so, that’s where that can be a very powerful tool.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:20] So, I’m just — Baffle is not the word. It’s almost like you got it from the get-go. I mean, you didn’t sit there and start presenting, even without a PowerPoint, with an overhead projector, and the grease pencil, and stuff.

David Krebs: [00:14:43] There you go.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:43] You had props and stuff. I mean, I would assume people thought you were, you know, kind of nuts, and it’s something completely different because the way you presented was very different from what they were even accustomed to.

David Krebs: [00:14:58] Well, I even got that, Pete. The ones who actually started Gear Up, a couple of them came to me said, “That’s not very professional to use props. Do you realize that we’re dealing with a professional crowd?” And once my numbers on the evaluations got to be better than theirs, they’re like, “Huh.” That opened their eyes a little bit because I just did more and then kept doing it.

David Krebs: [00:15:21] And, you know, having the actual PowerPoint was a great way to basically have props, but not have to take them all on the road with me because I needed an extra suitcase with all the junk I carried along.

David Krebs: [00:15:37] So, you know, a good example is I have a map of Ohio that I used to take on the road with me, and it was a pair of underwear. If you really study a pair of underwear, it very much looks like the State of Ohio, geographically speaking. So, I would take it, and tell about the state, and where I live, and where I went to school, and all these wonderful things. And now, I can just show a picture of my underwear or, I guess, I could take off the ones I’m wearing during the seminar, but probably would not go over there yet. So, I can just put that on a PowerPoint, and accomplish the same thing, and not have the extra luggage thing. So, your underwear, you can always use, can’t you? Always can use an extra pair, so-

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:16] Oh my God.

David Krebs: [00:16:17] I guess, I gave you an idea.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:18] I’m in pain. I’m trying to hold back this huge laugh as you’re describing the State of Ohio looking like a pair of underwear.

David Krebs: [00:16:27] Study your underwear, Peter. You’ll see what I mean. Really, it’s true.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:32] I’m going to do that when we’re done. Did your family — I mean, your background, did you even have any theatrical, or did you ever take acting classes, or you were just always this creative? Then, which leads me to the question, why did you become a tax accountant?

David Krebs: [00:16:49] Well, it was just I had a dream early on. I think most accountants do. I was in high school. And, you know, it just came to me, “This is where it’s at. This is where the fun is.” And doesn’t everybody have that dream? But it actually, for me, you know, I think, there was a genetic problem because my mom was a bookkeeper, my dad was a freight auditor. Both my older brother and sister were in accounting. So, there is some genetic fall there somewhere along the way.

David Krebs: [00:17:18] But, to me, it was exciting to save people money. That’s what really drew me to the tax side. I actually started out in the audit side, but it was that saving people money and helping them in that way was just exciting. But I think that’s something important. You’re not going to be a good speaker in what you do if you’re not passionate about what you do. And I have this whole button I wear all the time, it says, “I love taxes.” And it’s really fun to wear in airports, especially just to hear the comments that people will make. And, you know, from a distance, they think, it’s “I love Texas,” so they’re okay with it. If not, they’ll go, “Taxes? What’s wrong with you, man?”

David Krebs: [00:18:01] But, you know, whatever we do, whether you’re out there, and you do investments, or whether you do, you know, audit or tax, if you’re not passionate about it, don’t become a speaker because you got to love what you do. And, honestly, that’s why it’s great for me to come and service, I love saving people money on taxes. It’s just great to come up with ideas. And so, that’s what can be conveyed when you’re speaking in front of a group if you have that passion.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:28] It gives you a lot. And so have I. I’ve seen a lot of speakers who are technically sound. They know their stuff, but it’s not coming across with that passion. They’re coming across, “Bueller, Bueller.”

David Krebs: [00:18:42] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:42] It’s coming kind of monotone, “Anybody, anybody.” And that doesn’t keep an audience awake. I mean, you’ve got me so jazzed up right there. I might come to Cleveland. I may come to Cleveland, sit through your tax session.

David Krebs: [00:18:55] That’s called desperation. Maybe, at least, there’s a Cavs game that you can go to, and that can really work, but okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:01] But I mean — But you — The thing is you get it. You get that we got to do more in the classroom than just lecture. We got to do more in the classroom to engage. And the ability to take something as dry as taxes, and bring it to life, and, you know, using PowerPoint as the aid, not the crutch, and engaging your audience, whether it’s for an hour or for a whole-day seminar, yeah, it is a gift.

David Krebs: [00:19:30] Well, you know, you like to hope so. And it really is an opportunity for you to help people learn something and get to a new level. That’s what I like, especially practice management courses, to see people know their practice, and make twice as much money from some ideas, or really get a concept that they didn’t get before.

David Krebs: [00:19:54] And you can sit there and tell them all things, but they’re going to zone out before they really get to the part, “Oh, I get it.” And so, it’s trying things in different ways, so that you can bring it home. And that’s what’s exciting, I think, as a presenter when you see everybody really enjoying themselves, but also getting the message.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:15] Yeah. I’ve seen that look like, “Hmm.” I’m with you. Then, seeing their eyes kind of, “I get it now. I know exactly what you’re talking. I can do that.” And that has a big impact. It has a big impact on (1), your practice; and (2), the people that you interact with. You’re leaving a little bit of you every time you leave a place, and they’ve got that piece. And, you know, you may not see them for a year, but you just hope that they act on it because you know it has value, what you’re bringing to the stage, what you’re bringing to them.

David Krebs: [00:20:52] Well, that’s maybe the most frustrating part as a presenter is when they love the idea, they get it, and then they don’t do anything with it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:02] Right.

David Krebs: [00:21:02] And sometimes, that’s hard where I come back because it seems like, especially among accountants, you know, 80%, they’re going to hear something really important, but they’re not going to write it down. They’re going to just let it slide right through. And that’s why I always try to have them have action steps when they leave, that they’re going to go back and act on it right then because it’s so easy to lose that after a week or two.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:29] Right. That’s my challenge too because I don’t want to be considered an event. I want this to be a learning process, a learning system. But once they leave, the accountability goes back to them. Then, what can we do to help them stay accountable? What can we do to help them continue to see this thing through, and hopefully put those steps that are necessary that they actually evoke positive change.

David Krebs: [00:21:53] Well, that’s probably the hardest thing for us as speakers is we can do a great presentation, wow them, they love it, they learn it, and then, they don’t do anything with it. And that’s such a difficult thing, but that’s where, you know, trying to have follow-up types of programs. That’s why I do individual coaching, and webinars, and mastermind groups, and just anything where I can get them really working together to implement because it is so hard to kind of bring all those pieces together. So, sometimes just the speech alone won’t do it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:27] So, you have a a mastermind group. So, explain that one to the audience.

David Krebs: [00:22:36] So, we’ll get like five to eight like-minded folks together. And they can put in as many people as they want. Usually, they’ll bring two or three people. Sometimes, it may be a partner group or there’ll be a few other partners. And we’ll just get together every couple of weeks, and we’ll talk about the areas of successful business. I do this a lot for managing, and accounting, and tax practice.

David Krebs: [00:23:01] So, we’ll how one session is all about visioning the company, what you want to be when you grow up. Another might be the marketing strategies that will get you there, which for most accountants, marketing is a very difficult thing. Usually, they’re very good in operation, they’re very good in sales, and never between shall meet. Well, you know, we’ll look in that side of it. We’ll look at developing the team. We’ll look at getting the right clients as opposed to ones that just have a pulse. So, I know when I first started, that’s pretty much what I did. And if they didn’t have a pulse, I said, “Hey, we do estate work too.” So, okay. But we’re getting the right ones there. And then, getting the real accounting stuff like measuring things, looking at the technology, developing systems.

David Krebs: [00:23:45] But it’s really nice to have other folks go, “You know, I’m struggling with this too. What are you doing?” and hearing that feedback. And I learn something every time I do one of those because, yeah, I always like to see what’s working and what’s not working in different firms. And it’s different in different parts of the country and different size firms. So, it’s really interesting from that side too.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:05] That’s interesting because they’re sharing freely amongst each other, which they’re all competitors, in essence. But they’re sharing amongst, and doing the best practices, and stuff. And, hopefully, they are applying it, and they are seeing that type of change.

David Krebs: [00:24:25] Well, they’re not really competitors in our groups because like my last one, we got somebody from Alaska, somebody from Arizona, somebody from Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Florida. So, it’s not really like there is lot of competition going on in those locations. So, I think, everybody is a lot freer to share things when they know nobody is really — They’re not down the street.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:44] Right, yeah, yeah. Maybe not down the street, but with the way technology is. There’s a person I know. Her name is Jody Padar, she’s out of Chicago, and she put the boutique firm, and she doesn’t think she’s in Chicago. She thinks she can, you know, grasp this wider net because of technology, and upload it, and so on, and so forth. And, you know, there is some validity but, you know, so, but I think most most people, most businesses, their CPA is somewhat local within that range.

David Krebs: [00:25:21] Right. And that’s what I find most everyone in our groups are.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:24] Yeah. And how long have you been doing these masterminds?

David Krebs: [00:25:28] That just happened really in the last four or five years. We just really — I just listened to the feedback of everyone. Like, for a while, I was doing the practice management book, and somebody came up, and said, “Hey, how do I copy every item out of your book, and put it on a Word document or Excel document because this is some great stuff?” And I’m like, “Oh. I guess, I need to have a whole CD together or DVD together that they can, basically, put their logos on, and they’re off and running.” And something new came from that. So, we had a product that any accounting firm can just plug right in, and be able to get all that information, put the measurements on. And it cuts a lot of the time out of what it takes for them to be successful. So, that’s kind of a neat thing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:13] That’s cool. So, out of this speaking and tax practice, you developed these other products that are out there for the business to keep that learning process constantly moving forward versus, you know, I’m going to bet I’ll see you next year on November for your Gear Up session again.

David Krebs: [00:26:34] Right. And I’m open when after people take the course, and they have a question on something, they e-mail me, and I sort of help. And for me, it’s very satisfying to see somebody do well and know you have a small piece of that as they get going. That’s very satisfying.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:52] Yeah. And I like the way you put it, “I like to help people save money,” because it’s not about you. It’s about your audience. It’s about them. And that’s part of — A big part of your success is where your focus is. Your focus is not so much on you, and my firm, and all of this. That passion lies with helping people. And because of that, you know, your business just explodes.

David Krebs: [00:27:20] Well, you know, you think accountants just like to sit at a desk, and punch numbers in, and that is probably a piece of the learning process. But really, for me, it’s all about helping others. That’s the part that’s passionate. And clients, it’s about helping them save money and strategize for their futures, and their retirements, and their kids. For accountants, it’s great to see them make more money, balance their lives, and have the type of firm that they really want to have. So, when they can vision out what they want to be, and I can help them get there, that’s exciting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:51] And for those of you, you’re listening to this, but as Dave is explaining this and talking about this, I kid you not, he’s got the biggest smile on his face. I mean, it’s very genuine when he say that. And you can hear it in his voice, but his face gives it all away. I mean, he’s smiling, and he’s, you know, thinking about his clients, and his eyes are sparkling, which is really cool because he’s just not a tax accountant.

David Krebs: [00:28:16] Oh, I apologize there. Peter started looking at me. The rest of you are lucky, you don’t have to. So, congratulations.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:26] So, you like helping people. So, let’s go down that path. What else do you do to help people outside of your practice?

David Krebs: [00:28:33] Oh, wow. Okay. Well, I have a couple of other full-time jobs. One of them is I am a high school bowling coach, believe it or not. And now I understand, all you people from California and Florida, all right, it’s cold here in the winter, and there’s nothing do, all right. So, it’s been a popular thing. Every high school in Central Ohio has one.

David Krebs: [00:28:56] And so, for me, that was a great challenge when I found out the school my son went to, they won two matches in four years, and we kind of put some of these different things that I teach in practice, and visioned out going to the state finals. And believe it or not — Peter, this is amazing — in three years, we made it to the state finals in Ohio from a team that had won two matches over four years.

David Krebs: [00:29:19] It’s just the principles that we’re teaching to an accounting firm, to our small businesses, that type of stuff. Accountants and advisors have a great opportunity to use these principles in anything we do. So, it’s kind of similar to I’m the president this year of the Rotary Club in Westerville, Ohio here, which is a suburb of Columbus. And so, you know, my vision in that was to — Especially before that was to have the greatest 4th of July celebration in Central Ohio.

David Krebs: [00:29:51] So, we added different bands and music all day. We have a parade and a race that were already there, combining with fireworks. And so, it’s just an incredible day for the City of Westerville all because of visioning it out, where we want to be, what does this kind of look like. And so, we’re doing a lot of that even with just our regular meetings, and things, hearing what members want to do, and how to achieve that. So, it’s fun to use what we know as financial advisors in all kinds of areas, whether it’s Rotary, whether bowling, whether it’s doing tax return.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:25] Yeah. As you’re describing the bowling team, and I’m sort of thinking, you’ve turned it into a presentation or speech, haven’t you? And so, for transparency, Dave is a member of the National Speakers Association. So am I. And Dave has been a member for a while. And as you saying that, I’m thinking, “God, that will make a great speech.” As you were describing that because how we took — we won two games in, what, two or three years. And then, three years later, we won the state championship. I mean, there’s a lot of lessons there that you could share using that story that would capture audiences’ imaginations.

David Krebs: [00:31:04] Right. Well, you know, if you’re doing tax, then that will probably be a keynote for me, you know, rising to the top of the bowling empire, right. But the reality is, you know, anything in life, there’s a story. And I think the key, if you’re going to be a presenter, is to just look at life on a daily basis. And, for me, because, you know, I’m an old man now, I can’t remember anything, I have to write down things that happen on a daily basis or it’s gone. And those things can be so tied into a presentation, even in a tax talk. It can be done because you can talk about — Just that example there where you’re talking about the bowling team, and visioning out, and making it. It wasn’t that perfect story when you’re talking about visioning your company, or accounting firm, or for a small business. Those stories are what make the seminars interesting, and that’s what holds interest.

David Krebs: [00:32:04] And so, wherever I go, I’ve got my camera ready to take a picture of something stupid. I was just in New Zealand, and it had a crossing for the aged. So, I went out next to it, had my picture taken next to it, and kind of hanging on the side. When I’m talking about retirement, they’re going to see me hanging on the sign for the aged from New Zealand, right. But, you know, all those little things that happen day-to-day can be tied in.

David Krebs: [00:32:35] Now, I know a lot of people do tax seminars, and they’ll tell story after story, but it’s had nothing to do with the topic. I’m like, “I’m also here for tax seminar, guys. Don’t waste my time just telling stories. Let’s go out afterwards, and you tell me stories. I want to learn something here.” When you can tie your life and your stories into your seminar, now, you got something of value.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:00] Right. You’re able to take that story. And I find the more stories that we can tell that involve our daily life, and bring it into the business world, and have it attached to something that’s going on in business, it’s put in a context that everybody in that room can understand, and everybody gets it, And you could see through the body language that they’re nodding their head or whatever, but stories have emotion to it. There’s some type of emotion. And think about — You’re talking about the passion of what you do. There’s a lot of emotion in there, which keeps audiences engaged.

David Krebs: [00:33:35] Correct.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:35] Hold on, Cody. I got to — Cut this part out here a second.

David Krebs: [00:33:42] Okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:42] Jack Park was calling in. It just kind of threw me there for a second.

David Krebs: [00:33:45] Hi, Jack.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:47] He probably wants to talk football or something.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:49] So, you’ve accumulated all these stories. You weave it into every tax presentation you do. You keep them engaged. What’s left? What’s next? Well, I mean, let me rephrase that. What’s the new thing that you’re going to bring into the classroom? What’s that next new shiny object that you’re going to use to help engage that audience to keep their attention? That’s what the question was leading to.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:21] Here we go.

David Krebs: [00:34:24] So, I think that the idea of lifetime learning just comes to mind when you’re asking that. I’m not sure what the next unreal thing that I’m going to do during the session will be because I’m always watching. I’m always learning. I love to see how people tie in technologies. I love to learn what people are doing. I love to just listen to the attendees. Oftentimes, they have the best ideas and what do they need.

David Krebs: [00:34:52] And so, I don’t always know what it’s gonna be until somebody brings it up. But I do know that, you know, if there is a new technology, I am going to waste my money and get it just to see what it does, and can I use that on the sessions? You know, I’ll try just about anything. And some things work, and some things don’t, but it’s always good to push the edge on what people do. And it’s just kind of keeping the eyes and ears open to what’s going on out there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:23] Once again, he’s focused on the audience. That’s the theme I get, which is awesome because that’s what we should be doing, focus on that audience. They’re giving us information. We just have to be able to grab it, mold it, and deliver back to them to help with that engagement. And thinking about that, you said something about technology. So, I’ll go down this path just a tad bit with artificial intelligence, blockchain, all this technology that’s coming out. And we hear that it may have an impact on the profession itself. What do you envision? Where do you see this technology? How would it potentially impact with the enhancement, or will it impact in a negative way your tax practice?

David Krebs: [00:36:10] Well, I think artificial intelligence would have a lot of implications in just about anything. I can’t wait to send just a 3D picture of me to Cleveland instead of having to drive, I’ll tell you that. That would be a awesome.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:25] A hologram of you.

David Krebs: [00:36:27] Exactly. I’d be totally cool with that. But even in that profession, what I’m finding is, now, which never happened before, I’m doing a lot more webinars. So, I can sit at home in my bunny slippers. Are you wearing bunny slippers right now? I guess-

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:42] No. I’m wearing my dog slippers.

David Krebs: [00:36:45] Okay, that’s fine. I’m not prejudice against dog slippers, so.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:50] Okay.

David Krebs: [00:36:50] But, anyway, you know, that’s a thing that’s happening now. Webinars are becoming a lot more popular where the attendance at our live seminars goes down, but the webinars have exploded in the number of people. So, I can stay at home through some of the technology instead of going on the road, and fighting over travel and things like that, which I’m not sure my family will be happy or not about that, but I’m hoping they’ll be happy that I’ve got more time at home. So, that’s good.

David Krebs: [00:37:19] And then, you know, certainly, on the work side, and this is something I teach a lot of about the future of the accounting profession, there’s no question, bookkeepers and individuals like that are going to be hard pressed to have the amount of work they do in accounting firms moving ahead because a lot of that stuff can be done by taking a picture of it, the artificial intelligence will figure out when it was, file it in the right place, and it’s done. It doesn’t even have to reach the accounting firm anymore.

David Krebs: [00:37:50] So, now, we’ve got to be able to translate that information, and work at a higher level, and tell what information we need them to read it, and put it into that product that they’ll understand. So, it still comes back to helping a client understand what they have, but they’re going to have so many more resources with artificial intelligence than just the type of business changes.

David Krebs: [00:38:14] And a good example is the 1040 practice here right now. I mean, 1040s, because they double the standard deduction, well, there’s a lot of people who probably could do their own return who have very simple returns. Now, my practice think, “Well, we don’t do too many of that because we do fairly complicated returns.” And actually, we’re seeing a giant increase in business because we work with businesses, and rentals, and things where it’s actually more complicated under the new law than the old law. There are certainly winners and losers in there. And it’s who’s going to win that? Who’s going to say, “Okay, I see this one coming. I got to do something else.” Now, that something else could be retirement. You can do that. Not bad. That can be a bit, but we’ve got to kind of look ahead a little bit and go, “Where are these things headed?” and start to make those adjustments early on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:00] Yeah. You said an interesting word. You said translate. We need to translate this to the client. And when I think to translate that, I think we’re not speaking to them in tax law or accountingese. We’re speaking to them in the language of plain English and-

David Krebs: [00:39:19] I always call financial statements Greek. And I try to translate it from Greek. Luckily, my wife is a minister, and she had to study Greek and Hebrew last year at seminary. So, I can always go to her to maybe understand these, kind of, financial statements. But most people like them in simple English. How do you do that? That’s a great challenge.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:38] That is a great challenge. By the way, I’m Greek. So, if you need any help, I can send my wife down. She’s better at the Greek than I am-

David Krebs: [00:39:45] Perfect.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:45] … to help with the translation. But I ask accountants in my sessions, how many of you speak a foreign language? And a few hands would go up. I say, “Well, let me rephrase that. How many of you speak the foreign language of accounting or foreign language of tax?” And they raise their hand. They start laughing, but they go — When you talk your lingo to your client, to a customer, to somebody who doesn’t have that knowledge, it’s a foreign language to them. That’s why I keyed on that word. We need to become translators of Greek into plain English, so they can understand.

David Krebs: [00:40:19] Right, exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:21] So, you’re getting ready to hit the road I hear.

David Krebs: [00:40:26] Well, it’s coming up. I usually have this little season where, for two months, I’m all over the country. In fact, over the last 26 years I’ve been to, at least, every state twice.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:39] Wow.

David Krebs: [00:40:40] So, some many more times than that, but, at least, every state twice.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:45] So, this trip you’re going on because you were saying that you’ve pretty much gone for a couple months, month and a half, like that, almost constant travel, doing seminars.

David Krebs: [00:40:56] Well, I always get back to the weekends.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:58] Right.

David Krebs: [00:40:59] And I try to — You know how important bowling is. I try to, at least, be back one day during the week to make sure that my assistant … the Las Vegases, the Santa Barbaras, and the big sessions in Florida. I’ve gone to Disney and some different ones like that, which are kind of traditional. This year, we’re doing a little less than that. I think, I get my — My hottest one will probably be Phoenix, since we talked coolest spot.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:04] Yeah.

David Krebs: [00:42:05] So, that will be nice. But it’s really, you just think slow out the cut across the country, and I try to hit every place, at least, once every three or four years. And some of the places are like, “We need him back down,” and try to push to get me there sooner, but it is hard to hit everywhere. And after 26 years, you have a lot of friends all over.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:28] I bet.

David Krebs: [00:42:28] And you want to be everywhere, but there’s still only one of me. That’s where that 3D hologram would really be nice on that. I’m waiting for that technology.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:34] So, I don’t know if you were there, but in 2000, I think it was 14, at the National Speaker’s Annual Convention, Mike Rayburn had a hologram of himself standing next to him onstage while he was — And they were both performing. It was expensive but it was pretty cool.

David Krebs: [00:42:55] Yeah, I heard about that. Yeah, that’s outside of my budget.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:58] Yeah, way outside of my budget too, but yeah. So, that technology’s there. It’s coming.

David Krebs: [00:43:04] Remember, I used $3 props. You know, the hologram is a little beyond that, so.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:08] Yeah, there’s a lot more zeros behind that.

David Krebs: [00:43:12] Although I will tell you, I just produced a video that I’m going to release this year. So, my budget has increased. So, last year, I did my first one. This is my second. And one was on the phases of tax season. And this one is on — you’ll love this — the Olympic Calculator Edition Championships. It’s pretty incredible. So, we’ll be releasing that on the road this year.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:39] So, where can my audience fine either one of those?

David Krebs: [00:43:44] They can’t yet. It’s the anticipation. Once I get off the road, it will be on my website.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:52] Okay. So, we need to go look at your website while you’re off around Christmastime?

David Krebs: [00:43:57] Yeah. So, after that, we should be able to get that up and running there. Actually, the website is CPA — how original — AGI.com. So, CPA, Adjusted Gross Income, AGI. So, CPAAGI.com. For all you tax nerds, there you go.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:10] Well, cool. I’ll make sure that we put that in the show notes here and post it on the website, so people can find that. I’m looking forward to it. I have to ask just one last question because when we talk about technology and stuff, do you still have on your desk a 10-key?

David Krebs: [00:44:35] Of course. I actually have next to my desk one from probably 1940, one of the very first ones. That’s my museum portion. Yet, I still — I just feel comfortable. It’s kind of like sucking your thumb. I mean, you’ve got to have a calculator, if you’re an accountant, on your desk. I’m sorry if anybody doesn’t, but that should just be part of life, and you carry it with you at all times. But, you know, our phones now have calculators. So, that makes it easy, but there’s nothing like whipping out a quick tape of numbers, you know, occasionally just to stay sharp.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:13] You just answered my next question. So, do you have tape in your 10-key or adding machine?

David Krebs: [00:45:18] You know, I never use it. I have the same tape, the same paper tape that’s probably about six years old because as old as I am, I know the numbers are right. I don’t have to guess. And occasionally, it will happen, I’ll print something out for somebody to hand to them the tape with them. But the one here at home, it’s got that same tape on there. I can usually use one tape for the entire time I burn out the calculator over the four or five years. So, we are almost paperless even on our paper tape. So, there you go.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:49] Well, I think I’m going to start a support group for people that still have their 10-key on their desks as technology continues to evolve. That will be a very big support group because, eventually, if we don’t have to crunch the numbers anymore, it’s just going to be another museum piece, right?

David Krebs: [00:46:04] I’ll put flower on it if I need to, but I’m going to always have it on my desk. So, I should probably be a part of your support group, Pete. I mean, there’s no way I’m getting rid of that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:14] And most of the people in my audience, when I say that, they laugh, and they go, “What will we do without it?”

David Krebs: [00:46:20] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:20] Yeah, it’s-

David Krebs: [00:46:20] You know, there’s downsizing. And then, there’s just you couldn’t, but, you know, give me a way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:22] Oh man. So, like I say, I’m going to say in this intro that you’re going to have a lot of fun in this episode. It’ll make you laugh. It is so good to finally sit down and have this conversation. You rock it out. I love what you’re doing. Keep up the great work. Thank you so very much for taking time out to be on this podcast. And I know that the audience will take away a lot of value for what you’ve offered. And you’ve got the website, CPA AGI, Dave Krebs. Is there another way they can find you?

David Krebs: [00:47:03] Well, that’s actually a great way to start because they can always contact me right through the website, and that works out really well. So, best place to begin.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:13] Okay. So, that’s where you get a hold of Dave, talk to him, or is your calendar for your upcoming events on your website?

David Krebs: [00:47:21] Well, actually, I should mention, if you — Here’s the easy way to get there. If you go to something called GearUp.com, it will enter you into something called Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Learning, which is why you don’t want to enter all that. And then, that will give us all the live seminar schedules for the year. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily at every location. So, if you’re really interested to go to one where I’m at, then shoot me a note. I’m going to have to tell you where all of them are and let you choose from there. So, like, I just got done with my coaching all the way from Phoenix, and he said, “If you’re coming to Phoenix, let me know.” And so, I’m going to be shooting him a note because December 12 and 13, I’m going to enjoy that warm weather.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:01] Yeah. Yes, enjoy that warm weather. If you’re in any of these cities, go to Thomson Reuters, find out where he is, go attend his session, you won’t be disappointed. And once again, Dave, thank you so very much for taking time to spend with me this afternoon.

David Krebs: [00:48:19] Peter, thanks so much for having me. It’s been a lot of fun. Great seeing you as always.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:24] I want to thank Dave for taking time to make us all laugh and to realize that being an entertainer helps to keep your audience engaged and helps to increase their level of retention. And that’s part of the goal too, making it stick. Thanks again, Dave.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:44] In Episode 15, my guest is Sean Kinney, who’s a CPA. And he is the prep link guy. And he’s trying to change the public accounting model into one that drives more revenue and provides more free time for those in public accounting. What? You heard me right, to drive more revenue and provide more free time for those in public accounting. If you’re in public accounting, must listen to episode.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:12] So, thank you for listening. And begin the process of changing your mindset, and getting out of your comfort zone, and developing new skill sets to become more future-ready. For those of you who take me up on the first call to action about grabbing that article and reading it, I would greatly appreciate if you post any of your thoughts that you have on reading this article on my Facebook page, The Accidental Accountant, or on Twitter, and tag me @PMargaritis.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:37] Remember the part of being future-ready is being an improviser. Being an improviser is someone who is willing to take risks in order to grow. Thank you again for listening, and please share this episode with a friend.

 

Resources:

S2E13 – Kristen Rampe & Jason Lieu | Slide Deck Improv: Practice Presentations, Build Confidence, & Have Fun

I recently started facilitating an experimental new professional development program called Slide Deck Improv, and today I am excited to introduce you to two of partners in crime in this venture, Kristen Rampe and Jason Lieu.

 

Kristen is the creator of Slide Deck Improv, a 10-year veteran of public accounting, and the owner of Kristen Rampe Consulting. Jason actually worked for Kristen during his short tenure as an accountant, but he left the profession to pursue improv and acting. Now he’s back in the professional services field as a fellow facilitator for Slide Deck Improv.

 

So what is Slide Deck Improv?

 

It’s the most fun way to improve your presentation skills and gain confidence in your abilities, all while practicing the life skill that is improvisation.

 

Slide Deck Improv combines the basic concepts of business communication and improvisation with practical – and fun – hands-on exercises.

 

The groups take part in improv games, culminating in the titular event: people take turns coming onstage, the audience chooses a topic, and then the presenter has to prepare a presentation on that topic using a slide deck they’ve never seen before.

 

In the process, presenters get an opportunity to take a risk in a safe environment, while practicing new communication and storytelling skills.

 

“I think one of the beautiful things about improv is that it shows you what you actually do know and what you actually have internalized; to have a little bit more faith in your abilities and to not feel so insecure in a public realm,” Jason says. “I think a lot of us feel like we can’t do it, we don’t know how to do it, we don’t trust our instincts. [But Slide Deck Improv] opens up a whole new realm for people.”

 

I fell in love with this program the very first time I saw it, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of it. Because we’re not just teaching business communications skills, we’re teaching everyday life skills.

 

Improv is all about connecting with your audience, no matter who the audience is. It could be your customers, clients, a sales team, family, strangers, whatever – at the end of the day, it comes to people talking to people. And if you can connect with and engage people, you’re going to have this newfound confidence in your abilities.

 

If you want to see Slide Deck Improv firsthand, check out these videos of their past presentations on YouTube.

 

 

Download this Episode MP3.

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:45] Kristen, Jason, thank you for being on my podcast. Today, this interview, I’ve been looking forward to ever since we came up with the idea of doing this. I’m so excited about our conversation. One, thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedule. And Jason is out in California. So, he’s kind of up a little bit earlier than normal. So, I appreciate you getting up to be on this podcast. And both of you all, welcome.

Kristen Rampe: [00:01:13] Thank you. Good to be here, Peter.

Jason Lieu: [00:01:15] Thank you. Actually, I’m in Seattle, Washington.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:19] Oh nice. Actually, that’s the fourth reference to Seattle that I’ve had in three days. Interesting. Maybe I need to go out to Seattle really, really soon. So, let’s start with backgrounds and short bios, so the audience gets to know who you are just a little bit better, and we’ll start with Kristen.

Kristen Rampe: [00:01:39] All right. Well, thanks, Peter, for having me back. I don’t remember how long. I feel like we’ve done two of these before, but I’m excited to be here again, especially to talk about improv again today.

Kristen Rampe: [00:01:50] So, my background, I started my professional career in public accounting out in California. And I worked in that field for about 10 years, with a quick visit into industry. And then, seven years ago, I stopped working in public accounting and I started my own consulting practice where I bring leadership development workshops and consulting to professional services all across the country.

Kristen Rampe: [00:02:18] And more recently, I have sort of developed this really great program that I’m excited to be here with you guys on my team about today called Slide Deck Improv. So, we’re working together on presentation skills, communication skills in business with an improv angle, and it’s really fun.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:38] Yes. I remember when you sent me the email of what was something similar that you found. And I think I jumped straight out of my chair. I got so excited. I said, “This is really, really cool.” So, I can’t wait until the audience gets a great taste of this. But before we start down that path, Jason, out in Seattle.

Jason Lieu: [00:02:58] Yeah, I started my career at an accounting firm, actually working for Kristen in California about three years before I jumped ship. It didn’t take me long. Yeah, about two years into it, I asked my brothers to buy me an improv class for my birthday. And after they gave me a lot of good roasting, they did it. It was like an eight-week program, and I just fell in love with it. And I quit my job about two months after.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:34] That’s the epitome of improv. I took an improv class, and I came to my employer and said, “I’m out of here.” And, actually, he had to go tell Kristen that he was leaving the firm.

Kristen Rampe: [00:03:44] That’s true, although he didn’t mention improv as the reason why he was leaving. It’s good to hear that that’s what it was.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:51] Jason, so, what was it that you saw that made you interested in having your brothers buy this for you?

Jason Lieu: [00:04:00] I just needed a creative outlet, I think. I’m a deeply analytical person. I think, most professionals are. So, I spend a lot of time in my head. I just wanted something that was unpredictable and a little bit more in the moment.

Jason Lieu: [00:04:26] Yeah, when — In any given moment, I’m in my head trying to digest information. And I like to go back and analyze everything before I come up with an answer. Improv gave me this tool that allowed me to live in the moment, listen to people, and to actually engage in real time, and I just love the feeling and energy of it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:55] Yeah, it is a great feeling when we’re able to do that, and that you saw the light. And just so the audience knows, please correct me if I’m wrong, since that time, you have also done some acting as well.

Jason Lieu: [00:05:10] Yeah. Yeah, I did improv for a little bit. And then, when I quit my job, I took a part time job doing just accounting services while taking accounting classes at night. I mean, while taking acting classes at night. After about a year, I actually made the move to LA, and went to the big improv class at UCB. I went through their Foundational Improv Program as well.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:41] Oh, man. God. If I was your age again, I would do the exact same thing. I think, it’s a great skill set in life. And, actually, I’m trying to get my 18-year-old son to maybe take a gap year before going to college. I told him I’d pay for it. I’d send him to Second City in Chicago for a year and just let him study on my dime. But I’m dad, and I’m an idiot. So, what do I know? But it is a great skill set to have.

Jason Lieu: [00:06:07] Yes. He’ll have his quarter-life crisis. Don’t worry.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:16] Yeah. Don’t we all at some point in time? All right. So, my question is, and I’ll point it to you, Kristen, what is Slide Deck Improv, and where did you come up with this idea?

Kristen Rampe: [00:06:31] Yeah. So, I’m going to start with where the idea came from. I was talking with some people that I know locally where I live in Michigan. And one gal asked if I would be a part of this event they wanted to host where they were going to have people come onstage and present with a PowerPoint presentation that they’d never seen before. And I thought, “Wow, that sounds kind of different and interesting. And I’ve never heard of it,” but I didn’t really know the group, the networking group, that was hosting this. I didn’t know them that well, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it.

Kristen Rampe: [00:07:10] So, I told her, I was like, “Well, maybe but I don’t know.” And it kind of kicks the can. And then, she came back again and said, “You know, I really think it’d be great if you wanted to work with us on this because you have an improv background, and you, obviously, do a whole lot of speaking and presenting.”

Kristen Rampe: [00:07:23] And I was still humming a hum because it was an evening event. I’ve got a family. So, I’m pretty sensitive about when I give up my evenings. But, finally, I told her, I said, “Listen, I will facilitate it for you because I don’t know why your group wants to see me on stage for five minutes doing this.”

Kristen Rampe: [00:07:40] So, we agreed to that. And it worked out really well because I was able to bring some, you know, kind of wrap new event with, you know, not formality in a stiff way but kind of getting things in line, so it would be a good event for their audience. And we just, collectively, the whole team, that was ACG West Michigan group, we knocked it out of the park.

Kristen Rampe: [00:07:59] And so, the idea came from them. Someone on their board committee had suggested it. And then, I kind of looked it up and, again, put some structure around it, so there’d be a little bit of learning, a little bit of practice, and just a whole lot of fun.

Kristen Rampe: [00:08:12] So, what Slide Deck Improv is, is professional development or learning program. And it could come in the format of either a sort of an event with a speaker or, for a smaller group, it’s like the classroom learning program. And we talk about public speaking. We talk about business communication. We tap it into some improv concepts.

Kristen Rampe: [00:08:35] Most importantly, we play some improv games, which is really fun with a whole audience. And then, the real cornerstone of it is we do get people to come onstage. We choose a topic from the audience that nobody knows until we figure out what the topic is. We give them a slide deck with a handful of slides they’ve never seen before, and give them 45 minutes, and then let them go to town.

Kristen Rampe: [00:08:58] And it’s great fun to see professionals think on their feet where they ordinarily would not, you know, have the opportunity to do that. Sort of what Jason was saying that, you know, most professionals really spend their time in analytical places problem solving, working the details, working hard, and not a lot of opportunities for creative expression at work, but presenting is one of them that’s fun to give them a new way to do that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:24] It almost is like when we’re giving the professional group out there a little arch education in the sense of a problem solving on our feet, and actually taking our knowledge that we don’t know that we have what we have and apply it to the situation at hand in order to make some type of success.

Kristen Rampe: [00:09:45] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:46] And you had sent me a video that, I think, that you saw that when I saw it, oh my god, this looks like it’d be — It really looks like I have no net. And, for me, that was exciting. For many, it will be petrifying. But there’s so many benefits from doing this. And, Jason, would you mind sharing some of the benefits and takeaways that you’ve seen when you’ve facilitated with Kristen from the audience on their big aha moments?

Jason Lieu: [00:10:18] I think one of the beautiful things about improv is that it shows you what you actually do know and what you actually have internalized to have a little bit more faith in your abilities to not feel so insecure in a public realm. I think a lot of us feel like we can’t do it, we don’t know how to do it. We don’t trust our instincts. I think this opens up a whole new realm for people.

Jason Lieu: [00:10:52] I think a lot of people with the “yes and” to accept what people are giving you and to build on it is a great listening technique. People don’t get taught how to listen. I think thinking on your feet, as well showing that — Not an idea.

Kristen Rampe: [00:11:12] Like I did right now.

Jason Lieu: [00:11:24] What about you, Kristen?

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:24] It’s okay, man. All good.

Kristen Rampe: [00:11:24] Yeah. You know, I think those are great points. I saw in the last couple of times that I’ve done this recently, you know, that confidence piece come out in unexpected ways. And, also, the storytelling part of it, a lot of the technical work that people do, it just seems like it doesn’t lend itself to a story. You know, it lends itself to a spreadsheet or a bulleted list of information.

Kristen Rampe: [00:11:50] But when the participants step back and take a moment to think about, “Okay. Now, I have to tell a story about this.” And, you know, the classroom workshops where we have more time for people to get into a story that’s relevant to their work, they can find it. And we can find interesting pictures that can connect what’s important about their message or what they’re trying to persuade people to try, so that it works. It’s more effective for them in terms of their communication.

Kristen Rampe: [00:12:20] So, a lot of other cool benefits in the confidence area and the storytelling area. And, as Jason said, even just giving yourself a chance to think on your feet and be vulnerable.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:30] So, let’s talk about confidence. Most people are not very confident about standing in front of a room full of people and delivering anything. My question is the participants that have done this and, you know, follow that fear, and accept the “Yes and” in the moment, do you feel like their confidence level has quadrupled or doubled from like doing a normal type of presentation? Do you think they find more confidence in themselves by, “I just did something really hard. And it wasn’t — I did it well. I mean, I did it. It wasn’t perfect but that’s okay”?

Kristen Rampe: [00:13:08] Yeah. I would say that’s a definite boost people get as a result. In terms of the multiply, I’m not exactly sure. And I do think it gets stronger, in some ways, the further out they get from the moment of finishing because, as you said, it doesn’t — You know, most people don’t end it and say, “Oh, man. That was the best presentation I’ve ever given” because to them, the best presentations they’ve ever given is one that’s scripted, and prepared, and on point, and relates to their knowledge base. And this was totally not that.

Kristen Rampe: [00:13:40] But after they get off stage, and digest it, and talk with their peer groups a little, and we bring them back up and talk with them about what did you learn. And I just did this yesterday actually. And when the group came back up, and we talked with them about, you know, what was the hardest part, what were some of the things that you had as takeaways, and they all had some interesting things to report. And you could tell that, like you said, just having done it, and being able to say, “I got up there, and I stood in front of-”

Kristen Rampe: [00:14:11] Yesterday, it was a group of young professionals, and none of — not none of them, but each person probably only knew two or three other people in the room of 40 or 45. So, for the most part, it was strangers. So, I’ve got this one gal. She was in like the internal audit group. And she got up there, and presented to all these people she didn’t know, and did a great job talking through her slides. And you could just tell, that wasn’t something she had done before. So, that inherently boosted her confidence, you know, after she got to digest like, “I just did that.” It was great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:44] So, you guys deliver this, or, I guess, I could include myself in that aspect of it, to not just CPAs and financial professionals, but it also applies to other industries, other facets. And, to me, it sounds like that young professionals just eat this thing up.

Kristen Rampe: [00:15:04] Yeah, young professionals group, sales groups, you know, a lot of those people who fall into that sort of category of, “It’s not my job to be speaking all the time or is a big part of what I do, but I do have to do it sometimes.” Yesterday, I had some engineers come up to me afterwards and say, “How do I — I feel like I have all this technical information that I need to share. I have lots of data that needs to be shared. What can I do about that?” And we talked through how you can maybe change up what’s really needs to live on your slides and what doesn’t. So, it’s applicable to so many different groups of people.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:45] Jason?

Jason Lieu: [00:15:46] Yeah. I love improv because it’s such a general skill. It’s not just a business communications skill. It’s a life skill. You know, you can bring this into all your facets of everyday life. And it’s all about connecting with your audience no matter who the audience is. It could be your customers, clients, a sales team, internal, external, whatever. At the end of the day, it comes to people talking to people. And if you can connect and engage people, you’re going to have this newfound confidence in your work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:22] And it’s all about building relationships. And, okay, shameless plug. I published a book three years ago, Improv is No Joke: Use Improvisation, Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life, and we’re talking about the same things now. Another shameless plug, in my recent book, Taking the Numb Out of Numbers, same thing about storytelling. And as we’re sitting here talking, I’m going, “I wonder if we could get a chapter written on Slide Deck Improv and include it into the book because it does help with building confidence and making those connections.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:57] Also, I do talk about improv at the very beginning of the book by adding that additional piece of SDI there. And I think confidence is a big thing that people lack when they’re asked to present, and presenting to be presenting in a client meeting, presenting to be, you know, at a luncheon learner, or any time that-

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:17] Right now, well, the three of us have presented to an audience of three and however many the other two people that are listening to this podcast, the other thousands of folks who are listening at this time, but some folks just freeze up at that point. They don’t have that confidence. And SDI seems to help in building at a much rapid rate. Now, I know you guys did a big thing for the Iowa Society of CPAs about a month or so ago. Is that correct?

Kristen Rampe: [00:17:48] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:49] And could you tell the audience what you did for them, and the outcomes, and the takeaways that that group went away with?

Kristen Rampe: [00:17:56] Sure. So, we were out there as part of an emerging leaders conference. That dovetail with the young professionals group again. And with slide deck improv, we had a short segment that covered the improv concepts and some improv games. So, some of the takeaways everyone got to experience was some getting comfortable with the uncomfortable pieces, which I think really helps with that confidence part because, a lot of times, they feel unconfident because we’re going into a situation that’s uncomfortable. And then, when we give them fun, sort of safe places to fail, it helps with that.

Kristen Rampe: [00:18:39] We got a few people on stage and let them go through the Slide Deck Improv presentations where they had to speak on a topic that they didn’t know until they’ve gone up there with the slides that they had never seen it before. And, you know, the takeaways is sort of, “I can do it,” right. “I’ve got the confidence to get up here.”

Kristen Rampe: [00:18:59] And it’s interesting seeing different people’s approaches We have one guy who is really kind of cool, and just sort of talking to his points, and wanting to make a point of having people be kind to them because it was his birthday. I thought that was very cool. It was a birthday. And then, we had one gal who got up there, and she had to talk about printers and copiers. And she just rocked it with all the different images. So, it was a good event, and I think they all enjoyed being up there. Jason, anything from your perspective?

Jason Lieu: [00:19:29] I love that after we were done presenting, another person came up, and asked if they can do it, you know, without a crowd because he’s just really wanting to get into it. Just showed that it was connecting with people, and they really are having a lot of fun doing it.

Kristen Rampe: [00:19:47] Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because I think I was — I even told that story yesterday too. He was so — He wanted to do it so badly that he was willing to. I mean, it was a lunch break next. And we didn’t have time to add another presenter, so we did the lunch break. And he said, “Can I just do it right now?” So, I think, Jason, it was you, and me, and like one or two other people in the room, and this guy standing up doing his presentation. It was great. Good point.

Jason Lieu: [00:20:12] He rocked it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:12] But his fear was doing it in front of other people, it sounds like, or maybe did he wait and didn’t volunteer quickly enough?

Kristen Rampe: [00:20:23] No, we didn’t have time to add him in. He would have loved to have been on the stage.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:27] Okay.

Kristen Rampe: [00:20:28] But I think what stood out was his enthusiasm to do it. Like he wasn’t going to let the fact that there was no crowd stop him from doing that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:37] Actually, that’s cool. I mean, it is energizing in so many ways. And to have an audience member go, “I don’t care. I just want to try it. I just want to do it. I don’t care who’s around.” But that shows the power of this stuff.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:52] I did it. I was in South Carolina, at the South Carolina Association of CPAs. We were doing a two and a half day train the trainer. We train the discussion leader to be more engaging. And we had some time when we were finished, and I said, “Would you like to try this?” And they said, “Sure, Pete. You can try this.” I said, “Okay, I’ll start off. and I’ll do it.” And I had asked prior to that one of the staff members to come up with some slides that make two decks in case get somebody else up there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:21] And we started. I said, “Give me a topic.” And somebody said, “Styrofoam cup.” I go, “Okay, yes.” And I accept it, the gift that they gave me, and run with it. And once that first slide came up, my energy level went through the roof. I felt like I was jumping in a pool at a very hot day, and it was just so refreshing. And it was over like that. And I went, “Oh my god. That was so cool.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:48] And another guy says, “I’ve done improv way back. Can I do it next?” and got up. Basically, at the end of the day, everybody in that room went, “This is a great training tool.” And anything got to do with presentation skills because of that confidence, that fear, that trust. You know, it was really, really cool. So, you guys up for some improv?

Kristen Rampe: [00:22:17] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:19] Jason’s laughing. So, what we’re going to do, we’re going to try this. And I’ve created a four-slide PowerPoint presentation with just a picture on each slide. And they have not seen it. We have not talked about it beforehand. And I was going to ask them to give me a topic, but then I was watching this real cool video of Kristen as she was practicing. And I didn’t know there was a website that would just generate random words.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:50] So, I found a random more generator. I’m going to generate the word. And then, I’ll put up the slide deck. And then, I’ll share my screen with you. And then, Kristen, you start off when you see the slide. And when you’re done with that slide, I’ll click. I’ll change it. And then, Jason’s going to take the next slide, and kind of follow that thought process per se of Kristen’s and see if we can get through all four slides going back and forth.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:21] This is advanced level slide deck improv, which this — I’m excited. I wish I was on your side and you guys were interviewing me at this point. So, what we’re-

Jason Lieu: [00:23:30] If you want to trade places, I’m okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:34] I don’t think I’d get there quickly enough. So, we’re going to try this. And hold on a second. Let me do a couple of things.

Kristen Rampe: [00:23:43] Peter, let me ask you a quick question too. For the podcast piece of this, do you want us to describe the photo in brief because I assume-

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:52] Yes.

Kristen Rampe: [00:23:52] … your podcast people aren’t going to get with it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:54] Yes. If you can describe the image and then start. Then, Jason, if you describe the image real quickly, and then pick it up from there. Yes. And Cody, you can cut that piece out, Ben, whoever is doing the editing on this, that little instructional piece out. So, I think I have to share my screen first before I can — So, don’t look at this. Close your eyes, everybody.

Kristen Rampe: [00:24:20] All right. My eyes are closed.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:22] Okay. Can you guys see my screen?

Jason Lieu: [00:24:28] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:28] My messy desktop here. Okay. So, open your eyes. Oh, I can’t go back to the word generator. I forgot to get the topic. Don’t look at that. So, Cody, you can — Ben, you guys can do some editing during this piece. Let’s see. Random word generator comes up with friends.

Kristen Rampe: [00:24:58] Oh.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:59] The topic is friends. This will be interesting. All right. So, let’s go full screen. Kristen, are you ready?

Kristen Rampe: [00:25:11] I’m ready.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:13] Okay, one, two, three.

Kristen Rampe: [00:25:17] All right, everybody. I’m really excited to talk to you today about friends. And I want to describe to you the image that I have in front of me, so you know what I’m seeing. It’s basically a bank of power meters, like the old school kinds that have the kilowatt hours, and all the little dials on top, and the red thing that spins around. And when you get your air conditioning on, you go outside and look at it, it’s going really fast.

Kristen Rampe: [00:25:44] There’s a whole bunch of those, which is clearly closely related to friends because when I see this, I think, of the meter reader. And they just come by my house when we didn’t have one of those smart meters. And they come in your backyard, and you’d think. “Hey, wait. Who’s that? Are they my friends? Why are they in my backyard?”

Kristen Rampe: [00:26:03] And, ultimately, the meter reader is not necessarily the kind of person I would call a friend, but anybody else who’s in my backyard is definitely a friend. So, if you ever find yourself in my backyard, whether you’re looking at the meter reader — the meter itself, you’re probably a friend of mine, meter readers aside. So, that’s just the first thing that’s important to say as it relates to friend. And, now, I’m going to pass this on to my friend, Jason, who’s going to continue this concept.

Jason Lieu: [00:26:36] Thank you, Kristen. Here, you have an image of a kayaker kayaking into the horizon. Obviously, you could do all sorts of things with your friends. Kayaking is one of my favorite pastimes. Usually, you require two people. One person’s in front to steer. The other person in the back is for the power. It might be the other way around actually. But it’s important to have friends to have these activities because getting out and knowing that you’re not alone in the world is beneficial to your soul and to your well-being. Okay.

Kristen Rampe: [00:27:23] There is another picture you really wish you were seeing right now, which is a guy in free fall on a skydive. So, his parachute hasn’t opened yet. And he’s got a big smile on his face and a whole parachute getup. And he is the guy who’s parachuting down to land at the site at which he’s going to go kayaking later this afternoon. And if this guy were my friend, and he probably should be, I would totally be skydiving with him. I would be attached to the tandem dive master because I don’t really have any skydiving skills of my own, but I’m really good at being strapped into a harness.

Kristen Rampe: [00:28:02] And that too, let’s bring this back to power and friends. It’s really powerful to be falling through the sky at whatever meters per second things fall that I learned one time in physics class. And a great way to build a friendship is to do something really dangerous together or really scary. So, skydiving before or after the kayaking with your friend who’s cool to be in the backyard who’s not the meter reader, and that would be one way to do it.

Kristen Rampe: [00:28:30] And, you know, I mean, just even the view you get from here is that sort of awe inspiring that you and your friend, when you skydive together, can take with you for the rest of your life. Click.

Jason Lieu: [00:28:45] Here’s an image of that empty stage. It’s a beautiful image. It depicts how lonely it can be when you’re the only person in the spotlight. Friendship is about sharing. It’s sharing the spotlight with everyone. If you’re out there alone performing for a group of people, they’re just strangers. You really want to invite everyone on stage because everyone has an equal part in your life. And that’s what all friendships are about. Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:26] I’m trying to hold back the laughter. You guys are good. I mean — And so, I just grabbed some. And when it came up friends, I started thinking about the slides. I went, “Oh, I’m not sure how they’re going to do this,” but that is Slide Deck Improv without a true net with two people that I don’t think that’s ever been done before in the Slide Deck Improv era. But you guys just knocked it out of the park.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:55] I hope my audience can appreciate that this is — And you could tell. You could tell by the tone of the voice and what they were saying, they’ve never seen this stuff before, and they were drawing upon their knowledge accepting the picture, leaning forward, following that fear, and absolutely nailed it. Great job, guys. Wow.

Kristen Rampe: [00:30:16] Thank you. Thank you, Jason, for being a good partner in crime there. That was great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:22] That was. That was really, really. That was really great. And beforehand, we were talking about doing this because I didn’t want to just completely throw it at them and doing the tandem, and what did both of them do? “Let’s give it a shot. Never been done before, but let’s give it a shot.” And that’s all about improv.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:44] Guys, I can’t thank you enough for putting yourself out there and talking about this new venture that we are doing. Kristen, I am so glad that I met you. Somebody introduced us together because — I feel like the three of us are on the island of the accidental accountants. It’s kind of like the misfit world, but it is a little bit different. It’s probably the island of improv because it’s all accepting, and this is really an exciting teaching tool that applies to everybody.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:27] And if you want to have your career continue to grow, embrace improv, and better yet, embrace a session of Slide Deck Improv. And before I let you guys go, I know that — Kristen, if you could tell the website. I know that you’ve got some videos out there. I know that you’ve been posting a lot on social media to get people to follow. Give us all that great information, so people can find us.

Kristen Rampe: [00:31:54] Yeah. So, I’ll do the website piece, and I’ll let Jason do the rest. So, if you go to SlideDeckImprov.com, as simple as it sounds or search it on the web, you’ll find information on the programs. You’ll find bios on myself, and Peter, and Jason, and some of the other people that support us in this program. Also, some ways you can get in touch with us if you’re interested in maybe getting an outline about a program or seeing if we have availability to facilitate an event for you.

Kristen Rampe: [00:32:25] We’re also working on a DIY kit. So, if you have a particularly small budget, and want to try to do this yourself in-house, we’ll set you up with the materials you need to have a fun program at a good price. So, a couple of different options there. And then, Jason, you could tell them all the many, many places to find us on social media.

Jason Lieu: [00:32:45] Yeah. You can find us on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, @SlideDeckImprov. Just google it. Subscribe, like, follow. You can find — We post a lot of articles about communication, leadership skills, tips, loads of fun things. On YouTube, you can find some short clips about –You can find some short clips of our past presentations that you might find quite funny actually. So, find us and get in touch.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:21] Yeah. Speaking of short clips they might find funny, I love the one that you guys did, the video of the group, and the guy happened to be a CPA, and his topic was botany.

Kristen Rampe: [00:33:32] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:32] I watched it. Every time I watch it, even though I’ve seen it, he was really, really good, and made me laugh. But, man, that was really powerful stuff.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:42] So, guys, thank you so very much for taking time out. I look forward. Kristen, I’m going to see you in less than 10 days, I believe. I’m coming to Grand Rapids for the event that you have lined up. And I’m looking forward to doing that with you. Hopefully, Jason, our paths will cross. Apparently, I need to come out to Seattle. So, maybe I’ll just take a trip, and come out, and visit for a while, and then come back. But it’s been a pleasure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:08] Personally, I think the three of us could probably talk for hours on improv. And we have. But we’ll give the audience a little rest. But for those of you who are listening, just think about what we discussed. Come out and find us. Read this stuff and contact us. We’re here to help, and guide, and help you guys become better in the business world. So, thank you all very much, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

 

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