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.

S4E30. Making Accounting Education Accessible & Fun with Toby York

Do you think accounting can be fun? Is there a way to make it less boring and more engaging? Do you believe that learning accounting is easy and something everyone should do?

Toby York wants to see if he can change your mindset around those questions. He’s not your typical accounting instructor. He’s the founder of Accounting Cafe, a community for anybody who believes that accounting education can be an engaging and enjoyable experience for teachers and learners alike. He’s a senior lecturer at Middlesex University Business School, teaching Entrepreneurial Finance and Financial Accounting, and is an accredited Color Accounting trainer as well as an advisor to the Color Accounting Foundation.

We’ve been teaching accounting as a functional skill in the same way since the ‘70s. And people weren’t taught to understand why things were the way that they were – just to do them the way that way. Toby found this approach so frustrating while he was teaching accounting that he started looking for a new approach to teaching entry level accounting. 

When it comes to accounting, learning it well requires a certain level of enthusiasm – and that’s a problem, because so many people view accounting as something boring and tedious. We need to bring the spark back. It’s one of the most important social technologies we’ve ever developed and, even moreso, financial statements tell stories. If we can think of it in terms of storytelling, doesn’t that make the whole thing that much more exciting?

If you don’t really understand accounting and financial statements, you can’t ask the right questions. You won’t even know if you’re in good financial shape or bad financial shape. And you won’t know what to do to make it better.

An understanding of accounting is vital to so much of what we do in the modern world, and it’s really not that hard to grasp. We need to stop gatekeeping with obfuscating terminology and start making this profession and this information accessible to everyone. Part of that is making it fun, which is possible.

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S4E29. How White Castle Built an Iconic, Memorable Brand with Jamie Richardson & John Kelley

Guess who turned 100 years old in 2021? White Castle, the famous hamburger restaurant.

One thing is true: Those who love White Castle will always have a story to tell. Jamie Richardson, VP of Marketing and Public Relations, and John Kelley, Chief People Officer, are going to share some of those stories.

White Castle, America’s first fast-food hamburger chain, has been making hot and tasty sliders as a family-owned business for 100 years. Currently based in Columbus, Ohio, White Castle started serving the original slider in 1921. Today, White Castle owns and operates more than 360 restaurants dedicated to satisfying customer cravings morning, noon, and night. In 2021, Fast Company named White Castle as one of the ten most innovative dining companies.

Maintaining the culture of a family-owned business over that amount of time and that many restaurants is no small feat, but from the moment White Castle was founded, Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram wanted to build a different kind of company. It was their belief that happy team members led to happy customers, and that was the bedrock of the business. It’s an ideology that has been passed on through the family and through future executives. It has evolved over time, but treating everyone like family has always remained constant.

If you want one piece of evidence that White Castle means something special to people, just look at their grand opening events. When they opened a restaurant in Orlando, Florida people waited 4-5 hours in line to get some food. Of course, there’s the taste of their product, but White Castle means something to people beyond just the food. It’s a testament to their branding and culture that they’re still so well known and highly regarded after all this time.

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S4E28. Creating a Team of Psychological Safety with Steve Morris

What type of work culture have you created? Does it provide the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake?

Steve Morris started his career designing multi-million dollar racing yachts and building and coaching high-performing teams to help his clients win the most demanding races. He ran and grew a small business, then transitioned his career, becoming a certified project management professional in charge of million dollar budgets and even helping the US Navy launch ships. Six years ago, he started his own business, Catylator, with a mission and passion to help business owners build better lives through creating better businesses, getting unstuck, fueling growth, achieving higher profits, and having more fun with their crew. 

In his work with leadership teams, Steve became aware of the concept of psychological safety. In a Google study that aimed to determine what was different about their highest performing teams, they discovered that the one trait the best teams all had in common was psychological safety.

But what is psychological safety? It’s about creating an atmosphere or environment within a team where members feel safe and comfortable asking questions, taking risks, and giving feedback.

One of the techniques Steve uses to help teams facilitate psychological safety is something he picked up from the Lego Serious Play methodology. The first step is to level the playing field. No matter what your title is, everyone at the table is on equal footing. Then, people build models that represent their ideas and take turns explaining what their model means to them. The beauty of this is that nobody can say, “You’re wrong.” The meaning is personal. This creates an environment that allows people to feel safe sharing their stories.

When you’re able to create the right environment, teams can operate at their best. No idea gets shut down and people feel safe to think outside the box or bring their best ideas to the table. 

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S4E27. How to Utilize Virtual Assistants to Better Focus on Your Business with Rachel Luther

Attention, entrepreneurs: are you working in your business… or on your business? What could you outsource so you can focus just on growth? Do you think you’re the only one that can do your job?

Rachel Luther was a virtual assistant before people knew what that was. After growing her business from a one woman show to a team of talented professionals, she began to share her secrets to success – covering topics like work life balance, outsourcing strategies, remote work, and everything in between. If you want to make a more significant impact in your business while working fewer hours, find out how in her podcast, “Checking Off Your List with Rachel Luther.”

When Rachel was just nine years old, her father bought a coffee shop, and running it was a family affair. In high school, she began helping with payroll and reconciliation and saw, firsthand, the good, the bad, and the ugly. She saw her dad working extensive hours and, while she wanted to start her own business, she knew long hours weren’t part of the life she desired. But she also knew that she could do it better.

You are only at your best when doing a small number of things. If you’re being honest with yourself, you can find people who are better than you at 80% of the tasks you do. Once you realize that and manage to let go of the perfectionism that demands that you hold onto everything, you can increase your output and results, while clearing up time on your plate at the same time.

If your business is growing but you find yourself working too much to keep up with it, where do you begin the process of getting some virtual assistance? Start by evaluating your to-do list, write down everything you do day to day, week to week, and start highlighting the things that you are passionate about. Everything else on that list needs to go to someone else. It’s just a matter of outsourcing.

If you want to make a greater impact in your business and you want to do it in fewer hours, you need to start taking advantage of the opportunities that outsourcing provides.

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S4E26. Take Your Communication to the Next Level with John Sanchez

Have you ever challenged yourself to get out of your comfort zone and try something new – like working on your communication skills? If you could pick one thing to work on today, what would that be? Could you maintain the momentum to reach mastery?

John Sanchez, the son of a 30-year army veteran, moved a dozen times before graduating high school. Those moves were the beginning of John’s lessons in resilience. A “recovering accountant,” John’s communication skills were in dire need of improvement just a few years ago – and he didn’t even know it. Through self-development he has turned his weakness into a strength and now makes a living teaching others to do the same.

John was always raised under the idea that college was a given. His perception was that you go to college so that you can have a career with stability, longevity, good pay, and good benefits. Or, at least, that’s what worked for his parents’ generation. With his only goal being to get a degree tol make getting a good job easier, accounting seemed like a sensible choice.

It was a happy accident that he ended up getting paid to talk. He was invited to a conference via LinkedIn and, after that went well, realized he could actually pursue speaking jobs instead of just hoping for them to come to him. As he shifted gears, he was told pretty bluntly that his communication skills sucked. He did everything he could to improve and, as he continued speaking at conferences, he realized nobody else was talking about how to effectively communicate. 

The writing is on the wall: more and more of the accounting profession is being automated. And, routinely, one of the biggest complaints levied at accountants is their poor communication. The only way to combat automation is to learn to excel in the areas that computers can’t replicate. By learning to master communication, accountants can let automation do the number crunching and, instead, serve as a guide, translating those numbers into something useful for their clients.

It’s not the technical skills you need to learn; it’s the people skills. Find a way to expose yourself to problem solving and making yourself of service to others. It may be hard at first, but you’ll get better at it every day if you just keep trying, and it will pay off down the line.

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