Founders & Friends with Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

Startup Podcast by Scott Orn

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Posted on: 01/27/2021

John Garrett of What's Your And?, a book and podcast about how sharing personal interests makes work and life better

Kruze Consulting's Founders and Friends Podcast · John Garrett of What's Your And? on how sharing personal interests makes work and life better

John Garrett

John Garrett

Author and Host - What's Your And?


John Garrett of What's Your And? - Podcast Summary

John Garrett, consultant, comedian and creator of What’s Your And?, a book and podcast, talks with us today about how sharing personal interests makes work and life better. Learn why organizations come to John to create a stronger culture based on their true differentiator–their people.

John Garrett of What's Your And? - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting and welcome to another episode of Founders and Friends and before we start the podcast, let’s give a quick shout out to Rippling. Rippling is the new cool payroll tool that we see a lot of startups using. Rippling is great for your traditional HR and payroll, they integrate very nicely but guess what? They did another thing, they integrate into your IT infrastructure. They make it really easy for when you hire someone, to spin up all the web services and their computer, which sounds like not a huge deal, but actually we did the study at Kruze, we spent $420, on average, just getting a new employee’s computer up and running and their web servers up and running. It’s actually a really big deal, it saves a lot of money, and the dogs are in the [inaudible 00:00:42]. We see a lot of startups coming in to Kruze now using Rippling. So, please check out Rippling, great service, we love it. I think we have a podcast with Parker Conrad, you can hear it from his own words, but we’re seeing them take market share, so shout out to Rippling. And now to another awesome podcast at Kruze Consulting’s Founders and Friends, thanks. Welcome to your Founder and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting and today my very special guest is John Garrett, author of What’s Your And? Welcome, John.
Singer: (singing). It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.
John: Hey, thanks so much for having me on, Scott. This is going to be super fun.
Scott: We’re laughing because that’s the third opening I recorded because I kept missing… What is it? The verb or? I don’t know.
John: It’s all good, it’s all good, it’s all good.
Scott: It’s all good. So, What’s Your And? Available on Amazon, highly recommend it. I’ve actually been a guest on John’s podcast and he’s really funny and I don’t know if you caught me on that, but I want to have John on my podcast, so that our audience can listen to it and get exposure to John. So, welcome.
John: Hey, thanks so much, Scott. Yeah, I’m genuinely excited to be here. So, I really appreciate it.
Scott: I’ll warn people. John’s a professional comedian, so he’s going to be 10 times funnier than me.
John: Well, stuff comes up.
Scott: [crosstalk 00:02:08], three times.
John: Stuff comes up but yeah, it’s not a problem. It’s also your show, so I need to-
Scott: Nah, do your thing.
John: You’re the alpha, you’re the alpha.
Scott: No, no, no. So, John, maybe just retrace your career a little bit and tell us how you got to the point where you’re publishing a big-time book on Amazon.
John: Hey, thanks. Yeah, wow. So, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame and then went to PricewaterhouseCoopers, so I was at PwC for about three and a half, almost four years and then left that to go to a pharma company where I did product contracts. So, it was legal analyst stuff, marketing, so it was really cool, I enjoyed it a lot, and then moved to Indianapolis, worked for a startup and then a hospital network and then left that in 2005 to do stand-up comedy full time. I have a comedy, I’m on Sirius XM Pandora, wrote two Emmy-nominated award shows, opened for Louie Anderson in Atlantic City in front of a 1000 people, opened for the band Train in front of more people than live in my hometown. Did some cool stuff and had some near misses? Was in New York city for almost 10 years and so then married those two pasts lives together, the comedian stage John with the corporate accounting John. So, now what I do is, I bring, through speaking and consulting, helping organizations build better cultures that are based on people having these outside of work hobbies and passions like I did. So, I guess, that’s the quickest way I could tell it. I wish it was just, “My dad was a CPA and I’m a CPA and here we are.” It’s not.
Scott: [crosstalk] my wife, Vanessa, who’s our founder has… When she wants to make fun of us or me or her CPA, she has this really nerdy high CPA voice she talks in, “[inaudible 00:04:14] Kruze, the CPAs are pretty cool, so…”
John: No, CPAs in general are cool, engineers, lawyers. I mean, it’s just all kinds. You don’t have to be one stereotypical thing to be successful, that’s what frustrates me, that’s what it’s all about.
Scott: In the And in your book, I really connected to it because we take our corporate culture very seriously and we do so many things where we talk about people’s… What they’re doing outside of work or fun little things. Like today, everyone’s Slack name is their favorite cat. Favorite kind of cat, whatever the cats name is.
John: Oh, that’s cool. There we go.
Scott: It’s really dorky and cheesy, but we do a lot of this stuff because it just keeps people connected.
John: Yeah, I think mine is Tom and Jerry, Tom-
Scott: Oh, that’s a good one.
John: I think it’s probably that or Sylvester… It’s going to be a cartoon cat [crosstalk]
Scott: I said cheetah and I thought I was being edgy because it was originally like… People were thinking of house cats and then I was like, “Oh,” but then Tom and Jerry is a great one, there’s a bunch of good ones [inaudible 00:05:14].
John: Cheetah, I mean, that’s Cheetos, now I’m hungry. That’s a great pick, that’s perfect.
Scott: One more digression on this. My daughter is very young, calls Cheetos tiger tails because the tiger on the Cheetos has a big tail and so… Man.
John: I can see that.
Scott: Amazing, amazing. Well, so, maybe talk about the philosophy behind What’s Your And?
John: So, I was speaking at a conference and it was an AICPA conference, it just happened to be, and about 900 people in the audience, I’m getting mic’d up, the event planner comes up and says, “Hey, do you know this guy named Mark, last name redacted.” And I was like, “No, I never heard that in my life.” And she goes, “Well, he knows you. He saw all the speakers and right away goes, ‘I know John Garrett, that’s the guy who did comedy at night.’” And I’m like, “Who the hell is this freaking rain man?” I’m like, “Do I owe him $20? Why does he remember me?” And so, I’m on stage, I’m speaking to this group, but there’s a B roll happening in my head of, “Where is he? And why do you remember me and all this?” So, then I got off stage and I realized he was at my first PwC office and it was 12 years before that. 12 years was when I had left, but he was in the tax department and I don’t know how taxes work, so I never went to his floor, I never worked with him, I’m 99.9% sure I never met him and yet 12 years later he remembers me. And so I thought, “Well, was I the only one who had a hobby?” Because it’s easy to remember one person and then, no, I started talking to people and they’re like, “Well, I like to…” And I’m like, “What? I had no idea.” And so, I started doing my own research. It’s like 92% of us have a hobby or a passion we do outside of work regularly and yet 100% of us are not talking about it and so I was like, “This is nuts. There’s like cool people all around us that are doing stuff and we don’t even know.” And also, too, it’s not just in the moment, but I think we all work really hard and are good at our jobs, so we deserve to be remembered 12 years later. And I think it’s interesting that Mark didn’t remember anything work-related that I did, I was one of the first promoted in my class, I was personally hand selected to be on the largest financial services client that PwC had, like I wasn’t sucking and he didn’t know any of that or remember it. And so, I think it’s something where it just provides some dimension to the people around us, it provides some color, bring some emotion into work and then when it hits the bottom line, it’s just attracting talent, it’s retaining talent, it’s the same with clients, it’s engagement’s higher. I mean, just… The day that the Slack names are cats, that’s interesting. All of a sudden, your brain’s tingling in a different way than it does on a regular day when it’s just Scott and everyone else’s names.
Scott: I totally agree, and you’re right, your point about 92% of us are doing something interesting and fun, but 100% of us are not talking about it. It’s totally right. I mean, I’ve had a lot of jobs… And I’ve been fortunate, I’ve worked in some really great places where we did talk about what drove us and one of my prior coworkers was super supportive of my nonprofit, Ben’s Friends, that I started a long time ago but I bet you… I need to share that with the Kruze team, because I bet you most people at Kruze don’t even know that that is and was a passion project of mine and that’s reflective of me not knowing a lot of passion projects of what our team is working on. So, it’s really great… I think it’s just great life advice, whether it’s at work or just in your friend… People you know or even people you interact with at Starbucks or the ice cream shop or that kind of stuff.
John: Yeah. I mean, people’s stories are really fascinating and it just gives you some dimension and color to people that it’s like, “Wow, I didn’t know or what’s important to them.” We’re all working so we can live. I mean, this whole concept of be happy you have a job and just work more… A lot of the people that I interviewed in researching for the book and on the podcast, people, they’re reluctant to call themselves a painter or a runner or a something and so the phrase is really, I enjoy. I enjoy running. Am I good at it? Who cares? Like, I didn’t ask you for permission. I don’t care. Are my paintings ugly? Probably. It’s a hobby, that’s why it’s an And, it’s not an or. You’re not a lawyer or a cyclist, you’re a lawyer and a cyclist and one pays the bills and the other one takes the money that you earned as a lawyer and buys expensive bikes. It doesn’t have to be something where you make a living out of it, it’s a dimension to who you are as a person.
Scott: I totally… I love it, I respect that. You ran into Mark 12 years later, how did you start… Was that what your topic was already about at the AICP talk or were you evolving? How did your presentations, your consulting work, your speaking opportunities evolve as you started thinking this way?
John: So, a lot of that was entertainment. It was a little bit of this concept, but it was as the seedling of what it is now because I was a comedian, I was a professional comedian for years, I mean, like 10 plus years. I did New York, I was all over… Like, did a lot of cool stuff and the weird thing is, is when you’re in that world, they don’t make you feel like you have a differentiator because the show’s going to happen either way, so is John Garrett going to do it or is Scott going to do it? And is one funnier than the other? They don’t care. We just need you to talk into a microphone and then there you go. Certainly, once you get to theaters and things like that, but at a comedy club, most of the time people go to a comedy club and they don’t even know who the comedian’s going to be, and even then, they know who the headliner is, but they don’t know who the opening acts are going to be. So, you’re just there to enjoy the show and so the club doesn’t care and so, coming out of that world, it was hard for me to have a sense of value or… Yeah, I guess that’s the easiest way to put it. So, I was teasing the idea of, “You need to stand out,” but it was more as an individual. And then, over the years, from interviewing so many people from speaking at so many conferences, so many executive retreats, all that stuff, that’s where all of that came together into the book of just, it’s so much bigger than that. I started out in the accounting lane because those were my people, but wow, it’s lawyers and bankers and insurance, it’s white collar nerds of all kinds like need this. Now that the book’s out, there’s people that are parents that have kids that just went away to college and they’re like, “This book touched me so much.” And I was just like, “I didn’t even think of that,” and then just how much it impacts culture and then retaining talent and then engagement. And then also, the scariest one was a group I was consulting with and one of the executives pulled me aside and they’re like, “I’m going to retire in three years and I don’t know what I’m going to go do.” And I was like, “What?” Like, you’re-
Scott: [inaudible] either, yeah-
John: Your early 60s-
Scott: And executives are going to retire… Yeah, especially a lot of the big company executives, they’ve been doing it for 35 years and don’t have a lot of… They may not have an and at that point.
John: Right? Because what happens is, you put it on the back burner and you’re like, “Oh, I’ll get around to it,” and then it goes dormant, but then it quickly goes extinct. I’ve had people come up to me after speaking at conferences who are like, “I used to be a runner and I can’t remember the last time I went on a run,” and it’s like, “Wow, all you got to do is put shoes on and go around the block, that counts.” , And it doesn’t have to be something you do every day or even every week, twice a year you set time aside to go run or something because that’s… I had somebody I interviewed, Mark Winberg, who’s a really amazing singer and he also does IT audits for a living. He’s such a great singer and so he referred to it as breathing and happy. Which is really powerful. I mean breathing… And then I was like, “Well, what about IT audits?” And he’s like, “Yeah, not so much, not as much.” I mean, he’s good at it and he enjoys it, it’s just, there’s other parts to who we are and it’s important.
Scott: Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze consulting and before we get back to the podcast, quick shout out to ChartHop. ChartHop is one of my favorite new SAS tools on the market and basically what ChartHop does, is it puts your org chart in the Cloud and I always like to say like, “It brings transparency to your organization.” And so, everyone in your organization can see who they report to, they can see the full org chart of the company and how their group relates to other groups. It also has a lot of information on the individuals in the company and so, you can click on the ChartHop profile and just get where people live, their experience, Slack handles, all this kind of stuff and it’s just a really great tool. The other thing is, ChartHop has started doing some cool stuff around compensation and budgeting planning and so you can actually start seeing what the cost structure of the company will look like during certain scenarios, so I’m loving ChartHop. Check it out, ChartHop.com, we use it at Kruze. We really like it and I can’t recommend it enough. All right, back to the podcast. So, to me it seems like a lot about just giving yourself permission to do that and it’s like you said, it’s easy just to say, “Go do it,” but is there a method? Or… This is something you cover in the book of like, how people can relax and just give themselves permission to do that thing they really enjoy.
John: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s because there’s a lot of guilt of, “I had free time and I didn’t use it to work.” The work’s always going to be there. If you worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there’s still more work to do, it doesn’t stop and what’s important is get your work done and be good at your job, I’m not saying that. I’m saying… I’m assuming that everyone’s good at their job because we are, we’re getting paid, we’re working there, you’re good at it. Are some people better? Yeah, but not that much of a difference. There’s the 0.1% savants that invented something or they’re over crazy good at it, but everybody else, I mean, let’s be honest with ourselves. Like, we’re all just good at our jobs and welcome to the table because so is everybody else and somebody for me… You go to Notre Dame, you bust your butt there for four years, then you get out, you got your job with big four and then you pass the CPA exam and you must be, “I’m on top of the world.” No, you’re at the table with everybody else. So, when it comes to staffing a project, are they going to pick me or are they going to pick anyone else who’s also a first year? It doesn’t matter, but it does because what I bring to the table is more… That expertise isn’t just my college degree and certifications. There’s more to who you are and you just have to set time aside and be intentional with it, you really do. And then you just have to get out of your own way and be like, “You know what? I’m doing this for me.” There was a study done at Duke that showed that people that have more dimensions to their life are less prone to anxiety and depression. And in Northwestern they did a study where people that blend their work life with their home life are less likely to make bad moral decisions because if you’re at work and you’re like, “Well, I made a shady decision, but it doesn’t make me a bad parent.” It’s like, “Well, yeah it does, weirdo,” but if you blend these lives, then you’re less prone to do something like that.
Scott: That’s interesting, I never thought about that. Having some loyal… Not even loyalty to the company, but maybe loyalty to the other folks that you work with. Those personal interactions and just valuing that, can help you be a bit better decision maker, I think that’s really interesting.
John: Yeah, and in the end, it makes you a better professional.
Scott: Yeah, is there any… Because you’ve traveled so much, you’ve done a lot of speaking, are there any just incredible stories where you’re like… Someone comes up to you and is like, “Hey, I heard you a couple of years ago and I actually implemented what you’re talking about,” and have a life-changing epiphany?
John: There have been, which is like really cool and that’s when it’s like, “Oh wow, I need to watch what I say,” because this is impacting people’s lives and their work and where they are. I’m trying to think of the best one or whatever, but it is cool. There’s a firm in Canada, an accounting consulting firm in Canada, who the executive partners saw me at a partner association partner conference thing and then went back and just shared the ideas with people. And then, they actually had on their front desk, because a part of it was talking about, be a green apple and a boring red apple world, because they’re all apples, but the green one stands out, but on their reception desk they actually put a bowl of fake apples with a green apple, so when you walk into their office [crosstalk]
Scott: I eat an apple, kind of thing.
John: Yeah, and so then people… It’s a conversation starter. People are like, “What’s with the apples?” And I’m like, “Well, let’s I’ll tell you the concept and here you go.” So, it’s just kind of… That’s when it’s like, “Wow, all right, that’s cool.” Or another place, they actually opened it up to ask their people what are some ideas to just create more engaging culture or whatever. One day a month, I guess, they have like bring your dog to work day, if your dog’s not a jerk and then… Which is kind of important caveat to that. But he’s like, “We never would’ve thought of that if you didn’t bring up that maybe there’s people there that are crazy about dogs, like why not? Or cats or whatever.” That’s the thing is, we think professionalism is this very tiny box and I prefer to define unprofessional and then everything else is fine.
Scott: Great way of saying that, I like that a lot.
John: Because yeah, it’s just changing.
Scott: You do a lot of consulting, so what’s a typical engagement for you like? A company wants to a, give back to their team, help them create that and, how do you work with someone who hires you to do a consulting project?
John: Yeah. So, it’s just helping them build that culture around people’s personalities and outside of work interests and shining a light on that. What are things that you’re going to actually do? Because I can come in with, “Well, here’s five things that worked at another company.” And they’re like, “Well, none of those work here.” When I worked corporate, that’s the thing that I think I can bring to a lot of this, is I was in the audience for these speakers. I was in the room when the consultant would come in and I’d be like, “This is Harvard case study bubble world. This isn’t real, that doesn’t apply here.” So, when I go in, typically it’s talking to the executive group to figure out, “Okay, what’s the sand box that we can play in?” “We’re never going to work remotely or we’re never going to have casual Fridays or we’re never going to…” “Okay, cool. I’m not going to argue any of this, I just need to know what’s off the table.” And then it’s dropping the philosophy on everybody, from the keynote kind of thing. And then it’s, “Okay, let’s workshop. What are two or three things you guys are going to do and implement in the next, let’s say, three months, four months?” So, then we make a list of a bunch and then, “What are two or three you’re going to really…” It’s like when people tell me that I should go to the gym and I’m like, “Okay, that’s simple, but not easy.” And I don’t go.
Scott: I love how you’re writing it down, having people commit to that so they can change their habits because I think before we turn the mics on and we were talking and like, “It’s easy to say that, do this, do that, but you got to kind of have…” People need a plan and I think that’s another… Not just you wrote just a great book and have all these great words of wisdom, but you actually have a plan for people to follow to get where you’re talking about.
John: Oh, well, thanks Scott, I appreciate that. Yeah, because I mean, I was them. How do we implement this? How do we make it part of a routine? How do we make it part of…? To where it becomes tradition? Somebody starts at a company and a year later and, “Well, this is what we do.” “Well, when did it start?” “I don’t know, it’s tradition. It’s awesome.” That’s when it’s cool, is you get people sharing, you get people more connected, you get people caring about each other, having a genuine interest in those around them and just good things happen.
Scott: Yeah, I love it. So, now, What’s Your And? Is like your core business, like who you are, what’s your and besides the “and” or this [crosstalk 00:22:47]. Basically, what’s the thing that you care about on the outside?
John: Yeah, well, college football has always been an and ice cream, I’m a bit of a… It’s amazing I still have teeth. I eat like way too much ice cream. I should have all the diabetes and none of the teeth, it’s amazing, [inaudible 00:23:10].
Scott: Well, that and as I’m interviewing John, I can see in his background, he’s got a big, huge, shiny Notre Dame polished up so it’s glowing, football [inaudible 00:23:21].
John: It just glow naturally, Scott. They’re just… It’s like they have batteries in them. They just… But college football, but especially Notre Dame, for sure.
Scott: That’s phenomenal. Well, John, I highly recommend the audience check out your book. Can you tell everyone where to find it, what to look for, how to read a review in the book or just a speaking engagement or anything that…
John: No, thanks man. I make it super easy. Just whatsyourand.com. W-H-A-T-S yourand.com. And everything’s there, the book, the podcast, it’s also in barnesandnoble.com bookshop, you can get the ebook version, Audible version will be out early part of 2021 and so, yeah, I just appreciate it, and it’s… From what I’ve heard from people, it’s an easy read, it’s very conversational, I wrote it that way on purpose because I don’t want to write a huge clunky book. You don’t want to read a huge clunky book, so you’re welcome, everybody. It just means a lot that people admit that they’re not a reader and they enjoyed getting through it and we’re locked in and the whole time, which is… It’s huge.
Scott: And I’m sure you’re getting a bunch of emails and thank yous and maybe tweets or whatever, just saying how it’s really helped people, but it’s really great, I really just connected with what you’re doing and we’re in the accounting industry, you started in the accounting industry, a lot of your public speaking is at accountant firms, so thank you so much for coming on and I know that the team that Kruze… I’ll spread the word on your book amongst ourselves internally and externally, obviously, via the podcast, but just thanks for what you’re doing and thanks for reminding us that it is really important to have that thing you’re living for.
John: No, you’re welcome, man. This has been awesome and so much fun to be on, so thanks, Scott.
Scott: Cool. Bye-bye, thank you. Appreciate it.
Singer: (singing). It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.

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