The Improv Is No Joke Podcast

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

S2E46. Looking Ahead at Season 3

Happy New Year! 2019 was a very good year for this podcast.

The show was originally titled Improv is No Joke and on April 30, 2018, the name was changed to Change Your Mindset with Peter Margaritis, CPA. The overarching theme of this podcast is leadership, with a heavy emphasis on improv as a leadership enhancer. We are currently lining up guests for the upcoming season and need your help. What topics would you like to hear more about, and what guests would you like to see interviewed on the show? We would also love to share your good and bad leadership stories on the podcast.

If you have any suggestions, feedback, or stories to share, please reach out to Thank you, and see you for Season 3!



Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:10] 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: [00:00:57] Happy New Year. I hope everyone took time to spend with their family and friends during the holiday season. 2019 was a very good year for this podcast and for my business. First, I want to thank all of my guests in 2019 for taking time out of their busy day to have a conversation with me. And those guests are Allen Lloyd, Boyd Search, Chris Jenkins, Jennifer Briggs, Gary Zeune, Bill Sheridan, Jennifer Elder, Lucy Hayhurst, Cara North, Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, Samantha Bowling, Amy Franko, Phil Lovegrove, Robin Thieme, Brian Wagner, Gleb Tsipursky, Jay Sukow, Bill and Don Tomoff, Dave Caperton, Kevin McCarthy, Ralph Picano, Chrissie Powers, Eileen Kahana, Tara Clancy, Mihaela Jekic, Ken Wentworth, Darren LaCroix, Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott, and Cara Silleto. Thank you all very much.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:59] Over the last 30 days, I’ve been thinking a lot about this podcast. The podcast went live on June 22, 2016. And this is Episode 146. The podcast can be found on Apple podcast, C-Suite Radio, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play, Stitcher, and many other podcast platforms. There’ve been over 50,000 downloads and they’ve been downloaded in all 50 states and in 97 countries. That continually blows my mind because I never, in my wildest dreams ever, thought that this podcast would have its reach that it currently does.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:38] The podcast was originally titled Improv is No Joke and on April 30, 2018, the name was changed to Change Your Mindset with Peter Margaritis, CPA. The overarching theme of this podcast is leadership, with a heavy emphasis on improv as a leadership enhancer. I’m currently lining up guests for the upcoming season and I need your help. I need the help of my audience. I would like to know from you, what topics would you like me to explore, what guests would you like me to interview?

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:12] Also, I would love it if you would share your good and bad leadership stories with me to be read on the podcast. Please send me your topics, your guests, and your stories to tina, T-I-N-A, And my assistant will compile this information for me. Now, moving forward with Season 3, there will be a new look to the cover art and the social media graphics. In addition, I’ll be running short advertisements in the episodes to help offset some of the costs. If you’d like to advertise on my podcast, please contact and we’ll send you some information.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:50] Now, this year, I’ve actually been interviewed on three podcasts and I would like to thank Keep Leading with Eddie Turner, Lead.exe with Nick Lozano and Brian Comerford, Mr. Biz Radio with Ken, Mr. Biz, Wentworth. It was fun being on the other side of the microphone for a change. I would like to end this episode by sharing an article that was sent to me titled, Warren Buffett: This is your 1 greatest measure of success in life (and if you don’t have it, ‘your life is a disaster’). The article is written by Marcel Schwantes, I apologize for butchering the name, of CNBC and it was published on February 14, 2019.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:36] And here it is, Warren Buffett is no doubt one of the few business icons who can deliver the gift of wisdom and truth when we need it the most. And those truths, when you really stop and consider them, are always spot on. In her biography of Buffett, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, author Alice Schroeder writes about a time when Buffett gave a presentation at the University of Georgia. The students asked him about his definition of success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:08] “When you’re nearing your end of life, your only measure of success should be the number of people you want to have love you actually do love you”, he answered. “I know people who have a lot of money and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them, but the truth is that nobody in the world loves them”, said Buffett. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.” That’s right, a self-made billionaire says the amount you are loved, not your wealth or accomplishments, is the ultimate measure of success in life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:51] To give and receive, love is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can feel and yet, we still live in an individualistic society of keeping up with the Joneses: We forge ahead with our business ventures and strategically plan our career path in hopes of finding fame and fortune. We feel we finally arrived at the top when we’re able to vacation twice a year to exotic islands and drop a European luxury car or two in the garage. We dream about having all of these things, love be damned.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:23] “The problem with love is that it’s not for sale”, Buffet told the students. “The only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more love you give away, the more you get.” How can we follow Buffet’s principles of success where we truly leave behind a legacy? The path of putting love into motion is a daring and courageous one, but here are a few ways of doing it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:01] Number one, be selfless and don’t expect anything in return. The laws of love are reciprocal. When we choose to love someone unconditionally by encouraging them and believing in them, love comes back in full force through respect, admiration, trust, and loyalty. What’s more, when we receive those things, we become more self-compassionate. In 2011, a study conducted by the University of California found that self-compassion can increase motivation, willpower, and the ability to recover from failure. Another study published in 2007 in the Journal of Research and Personality concluded that people who have self-compassion are more likely to be happy, optimistic, and show personal initiative.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:48] Number two, be empathetic, empathy is one the most common traits of likable or as Buffett prefers to say, lovable. True empathy occurs when you’re able to step into someone else’s shoes and see their perspective. Empathy also plays a major role in a person’s potential to influence others. In a DDI study of more than 15,000 leaders across 20 industries, researchers found that the ability to listen and respond with empathy was the most critical driver of a team’s overall performance.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:25] Number three, make work enjoyable and fun. When you enjoy your work, you enjoy life. In Carol Loomis’s biography of Buffett, Tap Dancing To Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, she mentions a quote from Buffett, “I love every day. I mean, I tap dance in here and work with nothing but people I like. There’s no job in the world that is more fun than running Berkshire, and I count myself lucky to be where I am.” The evidence is clear, in positive and uplifting cultures where people share the same values and beliefs and norms, you’ll find high performing groups of people who attract folks of the same kind.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:08] Four, treat people the way they want to be treated. As children, we were taught the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated. But the platinum rule takes it to a whole new level, treat others the way they want to be treated. When we follow the platinum rule, we can be more certain that we’re respecting what they want instead of projecting our own values and preferences. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the golden rule altogether, but we should realize its limitations given that every person in every situation is so different.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:44] And number five, follow your passion. If you want to have your dream career, you must follow your passion. It’s simple. Many of us take our cushy paychecks and job security for granted, even though we might hate our jobs and would rather be doing something else, something we actually love. As humans, doing what we love is a major contributor to true happiness in life. So, if you don’t know what your passion is, it’s time to figure it out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:14] As I read this article, it struck me how closely it relates to the world of improvisation, empathy, respect, being selflessness, having fun, listening, treating people well, and following your passion are all components of the world of improvisational leadership. Now, in the spirit of changing your mindset, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my improv coach, Jay Sukow, “If everyone took just one improv class, the world would be a better place.” If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please share it with your friends and family. Subscribe to the podcast and I look forward to Season 3 with you, my audience.

Announcer: [00:11:07] Like what you just heard? Because it’s C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

Ep. 99 – A Very Special Announcement About the Next 100 Episodes

Today I’m celebrating my 100th episode (because I technically started this show with episode 0) – and I have a special announcement for all of you.


First, I’d like to thank all of the guests who have given their time and shared their knowledge with my audience – without you, we never would have reached this milestone. I’d also like to thank my audience, especially those of you who listen every week. I hope you’ve been able to gather some nuggets of wisdom and applied them in your everyday life!


Now for my special announcement: I’m re-branding the podcast and changing its name to “Change Your Mindset | with Peter Margaritis, CPA, CGMA, AKA The Accidental Accountant.” I will also be changing from a weekly schedule to a bi-weekly schedule for a period of time.


Note: If you are already subscribed to the podcast, you do not have to change anything. The title of the show will simply be updated in your podcast app of choice.


Why the change? I want to serve the accounting profession better than I have over the last 100 episodes.


I firmly believe that, in the next five to 10 years, the accounting profession will move from a compliance role to more of an advisory role – we have to quit thinking about the way it used to be and listen to the younger generation on where they feel it’s going to go.


The essential skills CPAs will need by the year 2025 are communication skills; leadership skills; critical thinking & problem solving skills; anticipating & serving evolving needs; and synthesizing intelligence through insight, integration, and collaboration: otherwise known as interpersonal skills, people skills, or soft skills.


Building strong communication skills does begin with embracing the principles of improvisation – or, more accurately: Building strong communication skills begins with embracing the APPLIED principles of improvisation.


And applied improvisation is not about making jokes, becoming a comedian, or just being silly, which is what a lot of people think when they hear the term improv. Instead, applied improvisation takes these techniques and applies them to business, relationships, and life.


The style, dialogue, and conversation about applied improvisation will not change – that is the essence of the message in Changing Your Mindset because applied improvisation builds relationships, develops people, strengthens corporate cultures, and increases an organization’s bottom line – but with an increased focus on why (and how) we need to change our mindsets, if we want our businesses to survive the next 10 years.


And while our conversations will focus on the accounting profession, what we will talk about applies to every profession and the challenges we all face on a daily basis.


So even if you are not a CPA, this may be the platform that will allow you to move away from group think by hearing the thoughts and ideas of people who are different form you, but striving for the same result: happiness and prosperity.




Ep. 98 – Scott Palmer | Improvisation in the Workplace: Disarming Angry Customers & Remembering How to Communicate

Scott Palmer is the Executive Director of Adult Education at Butler Technology and Career Development Schools, and he joins me to discuss how the principles of improvisation have helped him create a collaborative environment with his team, his students, and the institution.


Scott has been in adult education for more than two decades, and he loves this work because he is able to help others realize lifelong goals, whether that be pursuing a degree, completing a certificate, or getting a job.


Scott has always utilized improvisation, subconsciously, but over the last couple years, he’s been making a point of using the principles of improvisation to consciously improve his communication.


Improv & Angry Customers


Scott gets ample opportunity to practice because, like many of us, he deals with angry customers on a regular basis. The practice seems to be paying off, because he’s learned a lot!


When a customer comes in angry, they usually just want to be heard. However, a natural reaction to an angry person is getting defensive – but that’s the worst thing you can do with an angry customer.


Scott’s goal is to disarm the angry person, without them knowing they’re being disarmed. He does this by listening, expressing empathy, and asking questions that give the other person an opportunity to be part of a solution (e.g. What would you like to see happen?). This conversation is about them, not you.


“Being grateful, the simple act of saying thank you and saying please, and showing respect through communication goes a very long way, especially when working with students and customers.”


You don’t have to like them to effectively communicate or improvise with someone – but you do have to respect them.


“People have forgotten how to communicate. The technology has allowed us to become lazy and insincere in the ways that we communicate, and I would suggest that we, as people, are suffering as a result.”




  • Check out Butler Technology and Career Development Schools at

Improv Is No Joke is produced by Podcast Masters

Ep. 97 – Kay Frances | Lighten Up & Stress Less with America’s Funniest Stressbuster

Kay Frances is a motivational humorist who has shared her message to “lighten up, stress less and take care of ourselves” for over 30 years. Kay is “America’s Funniest Stressbuster” – and she even wrote the book on stress, The Funny Thing about Stress; A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life!


When it comes to humor, Kay is the real deal. She performed as a professional stand up comedian for many years and appeared on a number of national television and radio programs. Plus, as you’ll hear in this episode, I was laughing throughout the entire interview!


But Kay isn’t just funny; she uses humor to put her examples in a context that is relatable to everyone in the audience. However, when she is discussing ways to reduce stress, she is very serious and to the point – and this ability to make you laugh, while remaining serious about the message, is what elevates her to the level of a great humorist (and stressbuster).


For the accountants out there, this is an especially stressful time of year – but Kay has some advice:


  • Knowing how stressful this period of the year will be, it is even more important to let go of stress about things that don’t matter.
  • Self-care is more important than ever. We all know that we operate better on a good night’s sleep than three hours of sleep. Eating a bag of Cheetos may sound better than a salad, but you will feel and function better after the salad.
  • You have to make time for relaxing (without compromising your self-care). Even though it may not feel like you have time to wind down, making time for it will actually give you more energy throughout the rest of your day.
  • Learn to say NO. You’ll have more time in the other 8 months of the year, but you have to protect your time during the busy season; you have to make yourself a priority.
  • Be optimistic! The American Heart Association found that, all things being equal, people with an optimistic spirit have better heart health, a stronger immune system, and a decreased risk of stroke.




Ep. 96 – Bob Pacanovsky | Develop a Black Tie Mindset & Discover the Power of Hospitality

Bob Pacanovsky is what you might call a “Wow!” expert – with 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, primarily in the hospitality space, he has learned how create engagement, retention, and loyalty with customers, employees, and clients. Bob took that expertise and founded The Black Tie Experience, which helps companies and leaders create that Black Tie Experience for their customers and employees.

The black tie is much more than a uniform – it’s a mindset. You don’t actually have to have a black tie on to deliver a Black Tie Mindset, you just have to create an impression that LASTS:

  • Look
  • Act
  • Speak
  • Tact (or how you behave)
  • Serve

We tend to rush to the service part because we want to create an unbelieve customer or employee experience, but “we have to know how to look the part and act the part before we can actually serve the part.”

One of the most important things to keep in mind – and this can be difficult – when working with other people, whether they’re your customers or employees, is that it’s not about you as a host or leader, it’s about them.

“If you have a mindset of making people feel differently about your product, your service, and themselves than they ever have before, then you’re really living the Black Tie Mindset.”

The 4 Principles to Create a Black Tie Experience:

  1. A Culture of Welcome – Create a welcoming culture (not only for your employees, but also for your customers or guests). What is the culture, or the atmosphere, like in your company?
  2. The Way of Doings Things – What is your company’s way of doings things? Disney, Apple, and Starbucks all have their own unique way of doings things, and it affects how you experience their brands. However, most companies aren’t spending enough time training their employees to wow people.
  3. Impact Points – These are the subconscious impressions that people make about your business before, during, or after they purchase something. For example, what impression does your website make, or what does your restroom look like?
  4. Put Yourself in your Customer’s Shoes – What does your customer see, hear, touch, or smell when they come into your business, or interact with you online?

You’ve probably heard me say in the past that we’re all in the people business, even if we’re accountants – Bob takes it a step farther, arguing that we’re all in the hospitality business… and it makes a lot of sense!

The definition of hospitality is, “The art of making that personal connection with someone,” and based on that definition, aren’t we all in the hospitality business, first and foremost?

So yes, we are in the people business, and we do need to focus on customer and employee experiences and retention, but we can’t excel at those things if we forget about the power of hospitality.




Improv Is No Joke is produced by Podcast Masters