Episode 11 – Mike Kelley


Mike bunts his way to better coworker relationships (and a job)

 

Mike Kelley has always loved baseball. And it allowed him to have a special connection with his son, born four months early and now a thriving 15 year-old.

Mike is the Managing Partner at Wheeler Fairman & Kelley in Austin, TX — his name is on the door! — where he’s a tax accountant who also does litigation support and business valuations. He graduated from the University of Michigan and went to work at Deloitte & Touche for a few years before moving to Texas. Mike connected with me on LinkedIn after I presented at an AICPA conference last year so it’s great to catch up with him now.

After having their son, Mike’s wife Kelli created Hand to Hold, a charity to help other families going through similar experience as they did.

 

Other pictures of Mike

(click to enlarge)

Mike gets ready to field a ground ball.

Mike just before playing in Tempe Diablo Stadium, home of the Anaheim Angels Spring Training.

Mike at bat during a recent baseball tournament.

Mike’s son Jackson volunteers at a special baseball camp.

Mike’s son Jackson takes a swing.

Mike’s wife Kelli and their son Jackson at a Hand to Hold event.

Mike’s links

 

Transcript

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    John: Welcome to Episode 11 of the Green Apple Podcast. Wow! This episode is really powerful and full of some really good laughs. My guest is Mike Kelley and we talk candidly about how he’s guilty of not sharing enough sometimes, which I think is something that we can all relate to. Mike is the managing partner at Wheeler Fairman & Kelley in Austin, Texas where’s he’s a tax accountant and also does litigation support and business valuations. He graduated from the University of Michigan and went to work at Deloitte & Touche for a few years before moving to Texas. Mike connected with me on LinkedIn after I presented at an AICPA conference last year, so it’s great to catch up with him now. So maybe give a little bit of a back story on where you work now and what you’re involved with.

    Mike: Well, right now I’m a managing partner at a local firm here in Austin, Texas called Wheeler Fairman & Kelley and I do primarily tax work. In addition, I do business valuations and litigation support, which is why I was attending that conference.

    John: Right, yeah, so what do we got to do to get you to not be third on that sign?

    Mike: Just give it time.

    John: It’s just a matter of time. All right, I like the way you think, man. I like the way you think because I know a guy. I mean, I live in Brooklyn and —

    Mike: Well, that’s good.

    John: I’m just kidding.

    Mike: It’ll come around, I’m sure.

    John: Oh, I’m just kidding. That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. One question I love to ask everybody in accounting — because my story is crazy — is how did you get into accounting?

    Mike: Well, it’s a great question and one that I ask myself all the time. Basically, the short answer is I went to college and my school required two full-time internships, so I went to Deloitte & Touche and I just never left really. I went to Deloitte & Touche both times for my internships, two tax seasons, and then they hired me full-time. And then I went to Mexico in between graduating and starting full-time and met my now wife. I was living in Detroit at the time. I went to Cozumel and met my wife and ended up moving down to Austin, Texas and got a job here at a local firm. I was miserable. It was a really tough place to work. Then I ended up coming to work at my current firm and I’ve been here for 20 years.

    John: Wow! That’s great. You’ve obviously majored in accounting.

    Mike: I did.

    John: Was there something — growing up, have you always wanted to be an accountant?

    Mike: No, not at all, no. This was one of those things where I backed into it and it’s kind of like painting yourself into a corner. I went to school at Michigan and I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I said to my dad, “What should I do?” He says, “Well, be an engineer. They make the most money.” And so, I started doing some of the pre-engineering classes and was miserable, then I went back to my dad and I said, “Is there anything else where you can make some money?” He said, “Yeah, try business.” I said, “Okay.”

    And so I started in the business school, which is the pecking order, and he said, “Well, accounting is probably the most difficult and gives you the most opportunities. So from accounting, you could go into finance or marketing or whatever, but if you go into marketing, you really can’t climb back up into becoming a CPA.” So I said all right, I’ll pick the hardest road and I went with accounting. Once I got into that school, they said I had to do two internships. I didn’t know what tax was. I didn’t know what audit was. I didn’t know public versus industry. I knew nothing. I knew absolutely nothing, so I go on to these interviews pretty much cold. I sold this guy to hire me at Deloitte & Touche. Luckily for me, the guy that was doing the hiring was the HR manager and not another CPA.

    John: Oh, right.

    Mike: I was able to kind of convince him that I was good for the job based on the interview and not based on everything else. Some of these other accountants, they would just ask you, “What is your grade in Cost Accounting?” And I would say, “Well, it wasn’t all that great.”

    John: You’re like my ghost of Christmas future, man. This is exactly the same. Engineering, I got my butt handed to me and crawled over to business and was like, what’s the job I can get with the lowest GPA? Okay, accounting? Sweet!

    Mike: Then I get in at Deloitte & Touche and it was very difficult. I knew next to nothing going in the door and those first two weeks were some of the hardest workdays I’ve ever put in. I’m doing 11-hour days right out of the gate and I knew nothing, so I was trying to teach myself everything and not appear to be stupid. I made it through, fooled everyone, and I’ve really not changed anything. I guess inertia takes you where you are and here I am 20 some years later doing pretty much the same thing, just doing it for myself.

    John: Right, I was going to say as a partner, that’s exactly what you do. “I don’t know all the details, okay? Just sign here and we’ll get it taken care of.”

    Mike: Yeah. Well, I work for everybody now.

    John: I know, I know. You’re very good at it, too. I know that that takes up a lot of your time especially like October 15th — there’s a 15th every month, I think, that you guys are under the gun.

    Mike: Pretty much.

    John: Yeah. So when you’re not busy doing work, what hobby or passion takes up a lot of your time in the evenings and weekends?

    Mike: Well, I’ve been trying to play baseball. I grew up playing baseball as a kid and that was the sport that I loved playing. I would go outside and as soon as we got home from school, I’d have my homework already. I did it in class. I’d jump off the bus and I’d gather as many of my friends that would still play with me because I would make them play all hours until we’re getting hit in the face with the ball and I’d say now it’s time to go in.

    John: Because it’s too dark, right?

    Mike: That’s right. It’s absolutely too dark to play, so that’s when we would stop. I just played baseball all my life and was around the sport and played in high school. Actually, when I moved to Austin, I started playing again on and off and I was playing softball the night that my son was born. Actually, I was getting ready to play. I was sitting in my kitchen in my softball uniform and my wife came in and this is our first child. I looked at her and I knew immediately something was wrong. I said, “What is it?” and she said, “I don’t feel right.” And so, what do two college-educated professionals do when something goes wrong? They call their mothers.

    John: Right.

    Mike: So we called our moms and they told us to basically call 911, which we did, so at 6:00 she entered the kitchen and at 7:33, my son was born about four months premature.

    John: Oh my goodness! Wow!

    Mike: Yeah. He was about 12 inches long and weighed about a pound and a half and was in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU as they call it for more than a hundred days. So here I am in my softball uniform wanting to go play and he was born, so that put a damper on playing sports for a while. It wasn’t until just the last few years where I got back into it and started playing more competitive baseball myself, but in between then and now, I was coaching my son and having a good time.

    John: Oh, so cool, man! That’s so cool. So your son is doing well and how old is he now?

    Mike: Now he’s 15.

    John: Fifteen, oh man!

    Mike: That was in the year 2000, the summer of 2000, and that first night, I can remember it was pretty rough sitting there looking at him. He was very fragile. You could nearly see through his skin because he was so premature. Over the time, you’re sitting there for hours at a time staring at him and thinking, “Am I ever going to get to play baseball with him? Am I ever going to get to play catch? Is he ever going to live a so-called normal life?” He has struggled, but he has done phenomenally well. He did get to play baseball and we had played catch. I got to be the pitcher for his Little League team for coach pitch. One of the best memories I’ve ever had playing baseball was throwing to him and letting him get his first hit, which took almost a year to get. And then when he scored his first run, I was at home plate to greet him with tears in my eyes and it was awesome.

    John: Yeah. That is so awesome, man.

    Mike: So baseball has been interwoven through my whole life.

    John: Right, and it’s interesting because there was a time there where you and baseball weren’t really friends, but —

    Mike: No. I was working all the time.

    John: Right, and then it comes back. It’s kind of like the middle three innings of a game where everyone goes and gets a hotdog and whatever. Until there’s a homerun, no one’s really paying attention and then all of a sudden, they bring in the relief pitcher, “Oh, it’s almost over! Let’s focus!”

    Mike: That’s a good analogy.

    John: I know, but baseball is such the analogy for everything.

    Mike: Yeah, it can be. And for accountants, it’s a little bit of an analogy too because baseball is pretty boring on the whole until something exciting happens when on an audit.

    John: Yeah, and then you have people that are way into baseball and keeping all the stats and all the details and the scorecard and those are your tax guys. That’s you guys.

    Mike: Yeah, I think that’s right.

    John: We need those guys and girls. We need them.

    Mike: Statisticians.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. So the baseball that you’re playing now, what kind of a team is it? Is it an interoffice type of thing?

    Mike: No, it’s a men’s league. I just found out that Roger Clemens was pitching in the same men’s league in a different state and I’m thinking to myself there’s no way I’m going to go up against that guy, but we have some pretty good talent in that league from coast to coast. It’s a men’s senior baseball league and it’s pretty tough. Right now, I signed up really to play in the old guys’ league, the 40 and up. And in the fall ball, they take the age restrictions off and now I’m playing against 18 and 20-something-year-old kids and I’m thinking no way. They’re throwing too hard and they’re playing too hard. It’s just a different game. It’s been fun, but I’ve got to stick with guys my own age.

    John: Right. I’m getting there myself. Your brain is still in that high school, college mode.

    Mike: Well, that’s the problem because I’m out there playing like I’m 18 and I’m injuring myself because my body is not cooperating.

    John: Right, yeah, like I can go get this ground ball and then it’s like no, I’m not even close. I just pulled both of my hamstrings. How did that even happen?

    Mike: Yeah. Well, since I’ve been playing again, I’ve broken an arm. I’ve pulled both quads. I pulled a hamstring and I pulled a calf muscle.

    John: Oh my goodness!

    Mike: Oh, and I’ve also injured my rib cage.

    John: Right, and this is baseball. This is non-contact in theory. Wow man! We actually have some pictures that you sent to put on greenapplepodcast.com so people can check it out, you in action. Those are big stadiums. It’s legit.

    Mike: Well, those pictures were from a tournament that we did in Phoenix and that’s where a lot of these teams go once a year, twice a year. They do these big tournaments in Phoenix. It’s an amazing baseball town. There’s so much going on. It’s where a lot of the spring training camps are. We got to play in the El Diablo Stadium. That’s where the Angels play. We got to play on Kansas City Royals fields. It’s pretty neat, a lot of baseball guys down there. It was a really fun week.

    John: Yeah. I played baseball growing up, too, and then freshmen year — well, my dad was military, so we moved a lot. When I was in 6th and 7th Grade, we lived overseas and so there are not a lot of kids. I was in 6th Grade and so I went from coach pitch to playing with 9th Graders. So now all of a sudden, there’s a curveball and the ball is hissing as it comes in, but I played still. And then eventually in 9th Grade, I was like, you know what, I’m not good at hitting. I mean, I’m good at hitting. I’m just scared of the ball. It’s hissing at me and it hurts.

    Mike: Well, truth be told, I’m scared, too.

    John: See? I guess maybe we’re all scared. It’s just some of us are not wimps like me. No, I’m just kidding.

    Mike: You just got to overcome it every once in a while.

    John: Right, but I think it’s so great coming full circle. That story with your son, how you were able to do that and be the coach pitch for his first hit and when he scores his first run, that’s just so powerful.

    Mike: Yeah. That night that he was born in the hospital and I’m sitting there just looking pitiful, this nurse took mercy on me. She just saw how hard it was for me and she said, “Come with me,” and she toured me around the NICU and told me what to expect. “This is what you’re going to do for the first 30 days,” and so on. She gave me some hope and gave me a little bit of a roadmap for what we’re about to encounter for the next hundred days. The moment we started the tour, I got to think my wife is still unconscious in the hospital room and I’m thinking she’s going to do something with this. She’s going to do something to help people. When my son was born 15 years ago, he was on the cutting edge of technology being at 24 weeks. They almost didn’t revive him. He was so early.

    Once we got out of the hospital, there’s nothing there. It’s just a complete vacuum. There’s no services, there’s no help, there’s nothing, so my wife decided with a little encouragement from me to start our own organization and help families that have gone through this and families who have actually lost children as well. Her organization is called Hand to Hold and it’s been going for five plus years and she’s doing great work.

    John: That is so awesome. That is really cool and we’ll definitely throw a link on the website as well. So Hand to Hold, that helps families — I guess maybe a little more detail on that.

    Mike: Well, once you’re out of the hospital, you don’t know which doctors to use because there’s physical therapy — there are all sorts of therapies, physical, occupational, speech and so on. There are all sorts of medicines that you need to get. There are lots of tricks that we figured out the hard way as to what to get because these babies are very fragile. And a lot of the people — some people don’t speak English. Some people aren’t educated. Some people don’t know the system. Some of these kids don’t even have parents. The statistics of how many kids there are that go through this, it’s not getting better. It’s actually getting worse. The statistics used to be one in ten and now it’s more like one in eight are born premature.

    The March of Dimes is who we started with as the ambassador family. They’re more of a research organization. They’re not boots on the ground, but their research actually saved my son’s life, so we’re very grateful to March of Dimes. They do the research and they’re trying right now to figure out why so many babies are born prematurely.

    John: Right. That’s so perfect because you guys went through this, and so you’re just shortening the learning curve for everybody else. Here’s the path that we took. Yeah, that’s so difficult and that’s so great that you guys see that need and want to help everyone else. And nowadays, like you said, with it happening more frequently, there are more and more people that need that assistance.

    Mike: Yeah, it really is. The other thing that’s nice about it in this day and age is a lot of people are using the computer and the Hand to Hold website and the blog that they have attached to it is really, really good. There’s a lot of information there, so just that, having that access online for people that are anywhere in the world. They can access it. Hand to Hold has social workers that work in the hospitals with people that are in the hospitals still and help them also once they get out.

    John: Oh, that’s so excellent. This is really cool. I feel like I’ve been a huge slacker all my life. This is so impressive.

    Mike: You have to meet my wife. She’s the one. Her and her staff are really driving this and they’re doing a great job.

    John: That is awesome, really cool.

    Mike: Also, to tie it back in with the baseball, my son who stopped playing baseball, he just didn’t have the same love for it as I do, but he is now a buddy in the Miracle League here in Austin, which is baseball for kids that have disabilities, so he’s out there as a buddy. I think I sent you a picture of that, too, where he’s helping some kids play baseball that wouldn’t normally get to play on the fields that they played on, so these are especially modified fields for kids of all walks of life and it’s really neat.

    John: Yeah, that is so great. It’s so cool that he’s able to benefit and be able to help others that are in the shoes that he was in. Yeah, he might not share the same love of baseball, but there’s always tax, so we can hold out for that, right?

    Mike: Oh, I highly doubt it. No, he’s into some different things.

    John: I’m just teasing, but that’s such a great story, man. It’s really cool. I guess something that is interesting to me in trading some emails with you before is just how sharing baseball, sharing Hand to Hold, your story at work, how much were you open to that and that there’s a whole another side of Michael Kelley versus wanting to hold back and just be super accountant.

    Mike: Well, I think I’m a little guilty of trying to be super accountant and not talking enough about what I do and what makes me more human. We have a small office and I think everyone here at least knows that I play baseball. They think I’m crazy because I’m getting injured.

    John: Well, yeah, when they see you limping in —

    Mike: Yeah. They’re like, “Where’s Mike?” “Oh, he’s at physical therapy again,” so they know I’m still playing baseball, and then the Hand to Hold of course they know because of my wife, some of the events that she’s had. They know about it. I just don’t tend to talk a lot about it, but I do talk with my senior partner, Otto Wheeler, quite a bit about baseball because he loves baseball probably more than I do. It was one of the reasons I’m working here, is in my interview, which was an unconventional interview to begin with because he doesn’t care about all the political correctness of the interview process, he said, “All right, look, there are two men on, there’s one out. It’s a tie game. What do you do?” I said, “You bunt.” He goes, “You got the job.” So my knowledge of baseball helped me get my job.

    John: That’s so perfect. See, look at that. Look at that. Well, are you National League or American League? Because American league, you swing for the homerun. You hit homerun. What do you mean? Bunt is definitely the appropriate —

    Mike: I grew up in American League.

    John: Well, yeah, with the Tigers, I guess?

    Mike: Yeah, that’s right.

    John: I moved around quite a bit growing up. My dad was in the military, but it was always so fun to go to baseball games —

    Mike: Just tell me you’re not a Yankees fan.

    John: No, no, no, Cardinals actually.

    Mike: Oh, I like the Cardinals.

    John: Yeah, but that’s so funny how that was the question in the interview.

    Mike: Yeah. I’m glad it was and I’m glad I knew the answer.

    John: Right. That’s exactly it. Had he not known that that was a part of you —

    Mike: I don’t think he did.

    John: Oh, so it was really — you just got lucky! Wow!

    Mike: Yeah. He just tossed me that question. I guess he thought maybe I would know.

    John: Right. That’s so great. Well, the fact that you were —

    Mike: I think what he was after was am I a team player or not.

    John: Oh yeah, or the fact that you were wearing baseball spikes. Maybe that’s what —

    Mike: That could’ve been the tip.

    John: Right. So do you feel like those moments when you do share that you create a stronger relationship there whether it’s clients or co-workers?

    Mike: Baseball is loved by so many people that I can talk to clients about it. I’ve got pictures of the first pitch — well, the last pitch at Tiger Stadium and then the first pitch at the new Comerica Park. They’re hanging in my office. I’ve got a picture of Kirk Gibson who hit his second homerun against the Padres in the 1984 World Series and most people don’t remember Kirk Gibson for that. They remember him for when he was a Dodger and he came off the bench injured and hit the homerun —

    John: With the fist pump.

    Mike: That’s right because that was in Los Angeles, but before that, he was a hero in Detroit, and so I’ve got that picture in my office. I’ve got a picture of our Al Kaline autographed to me. I’ve got Alan Trammell’s autographed ball in my office. So I’ve got some stuff that people can look around and say, “Oh, you like baseball” or “Oh, you’re from Detroit,” so that helps. Of course, Michigan football is a big part of my college. I just really enjoy watching Michigan football and I know you’re a big Notre Dame fan.

    John: Right. Well, I’m sure you don’t have anything Michigan in your office now, but maybe — no, I’m just teasing.

    Mike: Actually, they’re doing okay.

    John: Yeah, they’re coming back a little bit here.

    Mike: One of the things after watching that, when Michigan’s [0:23:31] [Indiscernible] dropped that against the Michigan State and lost that game, I really wanted to go on to this podcast with Michigan on a winning record so that I didn’t get rassed too much from a Notre Dame —

    John: No, I’m not going to rass you too much. It’s sad enough. Why kick a dog when he’s down, right? Come on.

    Mike: That’s true. We’re down right now, but —

    John: No, I’m just teasing. That was a crazy play.

    Mike: We’re hoping to beat Ohio State.

    John: Oh man, you guys beat Ohio State and I’ll love you forever.

    Mike: That’ll help Notre Dame.

    John: Oh yeah, it’ll help everybody. Are there any baseball-type connections with clients that you have or is it mostly in the office type of thing?

    Mike: Well, a little bit. Most people know about baseball. We talk about it. I don’t have a whole lot of clientele that’s related to baseball, but having coached my son’s teams, I have picked up clients. So kids’ dads, when I’m out there, we get to talk and they’re like, “What do you do?” and I reluctantly tell them I’m a tax accountant, then all of a sudden I’ve got work to do, so it does help. It’s not a huge part of what I do. It’s just ancillary, but I think that mostly it’s just being able to have a conversation with my clients on different things such as sports, baseball, football, whatever.

    John: Right, and if you don’t put yourself out there then you’re never going to connect.

    Mike: That’s right.

    John: Okay. I think that’s great.

    What are some things that — because you’re an excellent example of this where a lot of times you’re on a super accountant path versus thinking of actively sharing type of thing, so what are some barriers that you feel of why it’s tough to want to open up?

    Mike: Well, I think that as a partner, it should not be part of my answer, but I think that that’s part of the problem I have is as a partner, I am trying to set an example, be productive, be efficient, be on time, work a lot of hours, trying to lead by example and not sit around and talking about sports all the time, but at the same time, all work and no play, that’s no good either. I do open up here and there and talk. It’s just one of those things where I’m — as you said, I’m the third guy on the door, right? And so, I’m caught in that area of being a young partner. And even when I made partner, I was very young and had a difficult time because some of the staff are older than me, and taking direction from this young kid, that’s not always easy. I don’t know. I think I’m a pretty serious person. I know my family would say that and some of my friends would say that. I don’t know. I think it’s just being slightly introverted and trying to get my job done so that I can play baseball and can spend time with my family and stuff like that because this job is hard and getting harder with the way things are going.

    John: Definitely and it’s almost a full circle from your internship where you start out and you just want to work so hard to be good.

    Mike: That’s right.

    John: So when you become partner, all of a sudden, your name is on the door like there’s a little bit more pressure here.

    Mike: There is, yeah. You’re signing stuff that matters and you want to make sure that it goes out the door the right way. I can remember that my first day, I spent 11 hours there and I got brand new shoes. I was bleeding through both shoes when I left because they were just rubbing my feet so bad, so that was a tough day.

    John: That’s funny. I guess one thing that I struggle with myself just thinking about internally — obviously I’m removed several years from the CPA world per se —

    Mike: Congratulations!

    John: Well, thank you, man. I got escape velocity. Now I’m in outer space and no one else is here with me.

    Mike: Live for the rest of us.

    John: Yeah. It’s crazy out here, trust me. I guess one thing that I think about is how much — a lot of people say, “Well, the organization doesn’t create an environment to share” versus a lot of it is on the individual to want to open up. Is there I guess — I don’t want to say a responsibility of, but where does it fall on the scale? Is it an individual thing or is it more on the organization to create this culture?

    Mike: I think in our organization, I think it’s a little bit of both. We’re small enough. There are six professionals and one to two other admin types, so there are ten or less of us here throughout the year. Otto Wheeler, who I mentioned before, is pretty good about keeping things light. He’s quick with the joke and he’s a storyteller and he breaks things up, which is nice, so I let him take the lead on that. I think it’s my responsibility also to lighten things up a little bit, talk about things that are personal and try to get other people to open up. But being a lean and mean shop that we are, we have a lot of work to do and we just get to it. And so, I would say a lot of our time is spent working and not sitting around talking too much, but at the same time, we’ll go out to lunch together. A lot of times, we’ll just eat right here at the office and get to know each other a lot better that way, so that’s good.

    John: Yeah. I guess it’s a different dynamic when it’s a team of ten or less type of thing. It’s almost impossible to not know about the other people in the office.

    Mike: Right, unless they just don’t like you. It’s like, “Why isn’t Chris eating with us again?” He really doesn’t like you.

    John: And in Texas, they just tell you, “It’s because I don’t like you.”

    Mike: That’s right. “I don’t like you. Leave.”

    John: All right, all right. I think that that’s an interesting thing and I think that it’s great that Otto does lead by example. Hey, you know what, we’ve got to get our work done, but let’s not drive ourselves insane while we do that because happier employees are more resilient and get better results.

    Mike: Absolutely and they’re better at networking with clients.

    John: Oh, huge! If you just go in and just start dropping straight into the text talk, that’s not going to work.

    Mike: I’ll tell you, one of my buddies who I know who’s a Cardinals fan and a big baseball fan, he got me in front of one of his clients, and this is early in my career. I got in there, door shut. I went straight to work. There was no small talk or anything. He looked at me like I was somebody that he didn’t even know.

    John: Right. Are you a robot?

    Mike: Yeah, and after the meeting, nobody said anything until much later and I said, “Did so and so ever want to follow up?” He said they went some other direction. And then later, he got up the nerve to say, “What was that? You were stiff in there. It’s not the Mike Kelley I know,” is what he said, “Not the guy that I tried to bring him in front of” because he and I, we’ll sit around and shoot the bull for hours. He’s one of my better friends here in Austin.

    The other thing is I noticed not here specifically, but some of these other firms are really pushing their staff to get out there and network, get out there and get some clients and a lot of them don’t want to do it. They’re introverted. That’s why they went into accounting. And so, I think that if they had something that they felt comfortable sharing that that would be an ice breaker way to open up and a way to get people to remember them. I think that they could just be themselves because in what we do, we’re not really selling our product. We’re selling someone who’s trustworthy and someone who’s going to get the job done and we’re selling ourselves. People can go and get their taxes done by a variety of different people.

    John: Sure, the Statue of Liberty at Liberty Tax.

    Mike: That’s right, and some days I would rather be out there holding the torch. I think that it’s kind of the opposite approach that I think will work better that if you just go out there and be somebody who’s relaxed and cordial and can hold on a conversation that just takes care of itself.

    John: Yeah. What’s the easiest thing to talk about? Yourself. That’s so much easier than anything else. That’s an excellent point that you’re not selling tax or audits or whatever because anybody can do that.

    Mike: Debits and credits are supposed to equal. As long as the debits equal the credits, then they’re going to pick the people who they want to be around with.

    John: Yeah. That’s an excellent point, so any words of encouragement maybe for people out there listening that maybe are scared to share or feel like they don’t have anything to share?

    Mike: I would say go for it. I think people especially listening to your podcast, which I have up until now, it’s a pretty common thread. Everybody has something that they’re interested in. Not everybody is interested in their jobs solely. So if you open up and you talk about what makes you human, what makes you different, what makes you stand out, then I think people are more apt to remember you, more apt to feel comfortable around you, and it’s just easier, I think. It has the opposite effect of what you think it will.

    John: Right. Cool, man! Well, you should do this podcast. I’m done! I’m out!

    Mike: No, I think you’re doing just fine. I got to get back to work now.

    John: Yeah. There’s no charge code for this. Otto is going to be calling me soon.

    Mike: Who am I going to bill for this?

    John: Right. I don’t know about that either. I’m sure there’s some admin code.

    Mike: There it is.

    John: I feel like we’ve all gotten to know you really well and I think that the Hand to Hold example, that’s just such a powerful story. That is really cool, man, genuinely cool. I hope that people go to the website. Go to greenapplepodcast.com and go to the link. It’s handtohold.com, right?

    Mike: Dot-org.

    John: I’m sorry, handtohold.org, so go to that and check it out so then people can see all that.

    As you know, based on listening, we don’t get to know you fully like maybe we should hang out or not hang out as a Michigan guy. It’s on the fence, but rapid fire questions on the hot seat.

    Mike: Certainly.

    John: It’s just 17 because it’s a nice round number, so here we go. Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Mike: Star Wars all day.

    John: Oh yeah. Sudoku or crossword puzzle?

    Mike: Sudoku.

    John: Your favorite band?

    Mike: Oh wow! Well, Ratt.

    John: Ratt, wow! Nice!

    Mike: Sunset Strip, Ratt, yeah.

    John: Wow! You would never get that out of a tax partner.

    Mike: Oh, I used to be a card carrying member of the Ratt pack and that was kind of an ice breaker for me at the bar.

    John: That is fantastic! That is so great, solid answer. Pens or pencils?

    Mike: Oh, pencil.

    John: Balance sheet or income statement?

    Mike: Got to be the balance sheet.

    John: Boxers or briefs?

    Mike: Boring briefs.

    John: Favorite number?

    Mike: Four.

    John: Oh! Is that your baseball number?

    Mike: Yes, many sports teams, four, yeah.

    John: Sure. Your favorite sports team?

    Mike: Michigan football.

    John: All right. Right click or left click? It makes no sense.

    Mike: How about right click?

    John: Oh, there we go! Look at you!

    Mike: Right click, you get a little — you’ll never know what you’re going to get.

    John: Yeah, you’ll never know what you’re going to get. I think you’ve got a little secret side to you, Michael. I like this. This is good. This is actually more of an intervention than a podcast, I feel like.

    Mike: Yeah, so I appreciate it.

    John: PC or Mac?

    Mike: Mac.

    John: Movie that makes you cry?

    Mike: Well, I hate to admit this, but it is The Notebook.

    John: The Notebook, wow! Man, you’re just blossoming here. Your favorite color?

    Mike: Blue.

    John: Your least favorite color?

    Mike: Brown.

    John: Favorite ice cream flavor?

    Mike: Strawberry.

    John: Nice. Favorite comedian?

    Mike: Well, besides John Garrett, of course —

    John: You don’t have to, of course.

    Mike: The two guys that speak to me the most right now will be Bill Burr and Louis CK.

    John: Oh yeah, both excellent, great comedians.

    Mike: As a middle aged White guy, those guys hit me.

    John: Yeah. They’re saying what’s inside your head that you’re not allowed to say.

    Mike: That’s exactly right.

    John: Jeans or khakis?

    Mike: Well, I know Mr. Hardball may be upset with this answer, but I’ll go with jeans.

    John: And the favorite thing you own?

    Mike: Well, this is one that I’ve heard you ask before and has stumped me for weeks. And so, I asked my daughter, “What’s the favorite thing I own?” and she says, “It’s your ice machine.” I like ice and I’m always upset that our refrigerator is always out of ice because we have a family of four, and so I went and bought a commercial grade ice maker that makes the good ice. The people that like ice would know what I’m talking about.

    John: The good ice.

    Mike: The good ice, yeah.

    John: That is awesome, man! Living in Austin, I guess it gets hot.

    Mike: That’s right, so I always have a cool drink.

    John: That’s so funny and luckily your daughter came through with knowing what daddy likes.

    Mike: When she said that, I was like, “Oh, you’re right! You’re absolutely right.” It also comes in handy with my many baseball injuries.

    John: Oh, that’s true, too. That’s so great. You’re using the good ice on your injury?

    Mike: Yeah.

    John: Well, you know what? You got to do what you got to do. It’s good to be the king.

    Mike: It’s my ice.

    John: Right, yeah. This is my machine. I do what I can. That’s so great, man. Well, thank you so much, Michael, for being on the Green Apple Podcast. I really appreciate it, man, and we’ll definitely get some traffic to handtohold.org.

    Mike: Very good!

    John: Well, I’ll let you get back to work before they take your name off the sign. Well, thank you so much, man.

    Mike: Thank you for having me.

    John: See? I told you this was a really great episode. You can see all the pictures and links to Mike at greenapplepodcast.com. There are links to iTunes and Stitcher there as well. And if you’re listening on one of those, please just take a quick minute to leave a review so people can hear about the message we’re trying to spread here, which is to go out and be a green apple.


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