Episode 194 – Justin McAuliffe

Justin is an accountant, vacuumer, and rideshare driver

McAuliffe CPA Enterprises. P.C. is a full-service accounting firm, specializing in Chart of Accounts organization and general ledger development and maintenance—with a focus on creating high-quality books and records to streamline the financial reporting and tax compliance processes. With nearly 15 years of diversified public accounting experience, Justin founded McAuliffe CPA Enterprises, P.C. in 2018 to work with small business owners to organize their books and records, assist with management of the general ledger, develop and/or retool the chart of accounts, and help develop or maintain an accounting infrastructure—serving as an outsourced controller and CFO and COO for key clients, when necessary.

Justin joins us on The Green Apple Podcast to talk about his passion for cleaning and how he finds it to be therapeutic as well as necessary! Justin also talks about being a rideshare driver as a way of getting out of the house and to improve his interpersonal skills!

Episode Highlights

• Why Justin enjoys cleaning as much as he does
• Skills acquired from cleaning that applies to his work
• Talking about it/Being noticed for his cleaning habits in the office
• Driving Uber & Lyft
• Developing interpersonal skills and ideas for personal brand marketing through rideshare driving
• Tech skills vs. Interpersonal skills
• How both the organization and the individual can play a part in shaping the culture of a workplace

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Justin’s Pictures

(click to enlarge)

Side hustle daddy – Logan at the dentist

Side hustle daddy – Lilah doing daddy


“I’m up to something!” pose, living my best life.

Driving ticket


Justin’s links


  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Hello, this is John Garrett. Welcome to Episode 194 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. And just by sharing that and talking about it and even doing it, it makes them stand out like a green apple in a kind of a boring red apple world. I’m always still fascinated at how we always try to stand out with our technical expertise and how much we know about the work. I’m here to shine a light each week on someone who understands that expertise isn’t always earned in degrees and certifications and CPE classes. Sometimes it’s experiences from your passions outside of work that will make you better at your job, but only if you share them.

    And really quickly I’m doing some research. It’s a super short one-minute anonymous survey about firm culture and corporate culture in general and how the Green Apple message might apply in your world. So if you got just 60 seconds, please head to greenapplepodcast.com. Click on the big green button there, answer a few quick questions. Again, it’s totally anonymous and I really appreciate the help for the book that I’m launching actually the end of September. So I’m super excited for that to come out.

    And thanks so much to everyone for subscribing to the show so you don’t miss any of the cool guests like this week’s Justin McAuliffe. He’s the founder and CEO of McAuliffe CPA Enterprises on Long Island.

    Justin, thanks so much for taking time to be with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Justin: Thank you, John, for having me. That was pretty awesome introduction. And it’s an honor to be here. I appreciate the opportunity.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. And I know you’re in the JX4 group with JJ the CPA who I had on a couple of weeks ago. So let’s one up to that, like you can redeem the group here.

    Justin: Well, I’ll do my best. He’s big shoes to fill. He is the CPA. So I bring a little bit of a different vibe. I don’t have a cigar today.

    John: It’ll be awesome. But as you know, we always start out, get to know Justin on another level here with the 17 rapid-fire questions. So I hope you have a seatbelt and you’re ready to roll here because I’m going to fire away. All right, so I’ll start you out with this pretty simple one. Do you have a favorite color?

    Justin: Purple.

    John: Purple. Interesting. Okay, how about a least favorite color?

    Justin: Yellow.

    John: All right, solid. Yeah. How about more cats or dogs?

    Justin: Dogs.

    John: All right. How about chocolate or vanilla?

    Justin: Chocolate.

    John: How about a favorite comedian?

    Justin: Dave Chappelle.

    John: Chappelle. Solid answer. Yeah. And a really good guy too.

    Justin: Eddie Murphy back in the day. Hilarious. Robin Williams — let’s say Robin Williams is good.

    John: Yeah, yeah, they’re all good, man. How about favorite band or musician?

    Justin: Korn, Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse.

    John: These are bands I know, so I know that they’ve been around for a while.

    Justin: K-O-R-N for any non-metal heads. I forget now and what kids do or not know, but yeah, Korn is probably my all-time favorite band.

    John: Nice. How about Sudoku or crossword puzzles?

    Justin: Neither.

    John: Neither. I don’t have time for that. All right. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Justin: Star Wars, 100%.

    John: Star Wars. Yeah, yeah. How about when it comes to computers, PC or a Mac?

    Justin: PC but it’s both because I have an Apple phone. I have an iWatch. I have a PC.

    John: Okay. A little bit of both.

    Justin: Yeah.

    John: All right. How about when it comes to ice cream, do you have a favorite flavor?

    Justin: Oh, boy. So when we go to Carvel, so we’ll do Carvel and my wife and I usually buy one, get one free sundaes. So I’ll go pistachio saucer with peanut butter and crunchies.

    John: Okay, that’s next level, man. How about balance sheet or income statement?

    Justin: Balance sheet. Come on.

    John: Do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Justin: Cold.

    John: Cold. Yeah. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?

    Justin: My backyard with no kids or wife around.

    John: Oh, my God. That’s the most honest answer I’ve ever heard in all of the podcasts I’ve ever done.

    Justin: John. That’s true.

    John: It’s New York City, man. The quiet and peace, man, that’s a premium right there. You would pay all the money that you would spend on a flight to go to an island.

    Justin: My full-time vacation though is my wife and I because there’s an honest. We’re both obviously well-known comedians. My favorite vacation, I went to Ireland with my wife. It was just the two of us right before we had our first child, Logan, our son. We went with a friend who grew up in Ireland. We stayed with his family. We had a whole week in like Roscommon County right in the middle of Ireland. We got real Irish heritage. That was probably the best — not probably, that was the best vacation and the best time I’ve ever had being away from the hustle and bustle, man.

    John: That sounds fantastic, man. Really fantastic. How about a favorite cereal?

    Justin: Cocoa Pebbles.

    John: Cocoa Pebbles. Nice. I love it. How about a favorite number?

    Justin: Nine.

    John: Nine. Is there a reason?

    Justin: I guess it’s the highest number without being zero, right? It’s the highest single-digit number. And my birthday is in September, but I don’t know. Anyone always asked me that question, nine was always the answer. And that reason because 10 is two digits, so it can’t be 10. So nine is the best number. That’s really the best number.

    John: 9.9 is my favorite.

    Justin: That’s the one digit. We’re in a character-driven world, right? That’s the most efficient number one character, and it’s the best number because —

    John: And it’s the best one.

    Justin: That’s it.

    John: Right, right. I don’t even know why I asked these questions anymore. Like all the answers are so obvious, like this next one, toilet paper roll, over or under?

    Justin: Yeah, over. That’s a big controversy.

    John: Right, right. But you’re right, it is over.

    Justin: I am not the type of person that will always change it sometimes, like there’s a little OCD in you. But honestly, I’ve reached the point in my life where I see it, I’m like, yeah, it’s just too much effort. I don’t even really work with that anymore.

    John: I’m just not sure we can be friends anymore.

    Justin: My kids can wipe their own butt, that’s more of the goal I’m looking for. Over is the right way.

    John: And the last one I’ll ask you, the last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?

    Justin: My business.

    John: Oh, good answer, man. Good answer. I saw your Instagram post to your GoPro 7. So I wasn’t sure if that would make the list.

    Justin: No, that’s my business because it’s me. It’s everything I am and everything I want to be and everything I’m trying to be and everything I don’t want to be and it’s me. So I’m monetizing me, and I’m building a technical brand around it and I’m a CPA, so yeah. I mean, my children, right, but no, this —

    John: Yeah, your wife and children and family. Yeah.

    Justin: All the things I’m most proud of, like all my tech gadgets and stuff and my GoPro, it’s all related to my business.

    John: That’s fantastic, man. That’s fantastic. Yeah. Everyone, check out his Instagram. It’s awesome. What’s the handle?

    Justin: Yes, please. Thank you for that plug. CPA JMAC, Instagram, JMAC CPA, you just type that in, and that’s pretty much all my social handles. But LinkedIn and Instagram is where it’s at.

    John: Yeah, it’s fantastic. Now, we’ll jump into a little bit of fun of the non-CPA JMAC, if you will, the at home, the outside of work when you’re able to turn it off a little bit, which is hard to do when you run your own business, I know for sure. But I’m always curious to find out something that you love to do that maybe not everybody knows about.

    Justin: Yeah, sure. And thank you for that. It’s actually one of the biggest attractions I had to coming on your show after you spoke yesterday because it’s an opportunity for me to exactly talk about something that people that watch me on the internet don’t know. Friends and family do and that being the fact that I’m super organized and anal and I like to be clean. That translation is very well into being an organized accountant. But I have a nice house in Long Island. I’ve lived here for 10 years. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done around here. We spent a ton of money. We have a lot of debt on the process as well, but it is Long Island. But we’ve made a really, really nice home. I like to take care of it and maintain it.

    I power wash for fun, in a way, like I wouldn’t say it’s fun, but it’s more therapeutic. It’s enjoyable for me to clean all the moss off my beautiful new white fence. There’s a sense of pride that comes with it that I might not live here forever and if I don’t and I sell this place, I want those that buy it and live here to know that I maintained it very well. I don’t know where it’s like in Colorado, but here in Long Island and I know you know the area a little bit, I mean you can drive around and see the not very well-maintained homes. You can see the moss and the green and the algae growing all over the place and on the siding. I was always like, how do you let that happen? I mean you put so much time and effort and money into it. Obviously, working from home, I have a lot more of those opportunities, but I still would do it because this is my house. This is where my children live. This is where all my friends come over. I spent a lot of money on this, and I want it to look good.

    And then, two, like I said, just from a business perspective, if I’m an investor, if I’m buying something, if I’m coming to buy a house and I see that the previous owner, it’s like toothbrush clean kind of grout kind of stuff and I’m like, all right, I’m going to have that confidence buying this place. This thing is scrubbed. The fence doesn’t have any — I mean, obviously, there’s going to be wear and tear. I will power wash, and there will be spots I can’t get off. I’m not going to sit there and scrub it until it’s gone. I’m going to move on. I mean, you can’t be 100% but you can get rid of the obvious dirt and stuff. I like doing that throughout my entire house and doing a little gardening, I’m trying to get into that.

    John: Nice.

    Justin: There’s such a weird kick I get and not really kick. It’s like, if I — I’m such a weirdo.

    John: Not at all, man. Not at all.

    Justin: I have a kick, like I will vacuum. I have a Dyson, and I have a Roomba. So I have both. And I vacuum. I mean, we have a cleaning person that comes every other week, and she’s incredible. She’s an amazing woman and, oh, my God. She’s amazing. She just cleans the house. My wife, she doesn’t really care all that much than I do. She does clean house when we have it. But me, there’s air and I’m scrubbing that until it’s gone. So I get a kick using my super awesome Dyson. I’ll get all this good stuff and I’m like, “Oh, man, look at all this dirt and dust. We were just living in this filth. Look at this.” Sure, that’s pretty gross, but you didn’t notice it before and then just to me, I noticed it. But it’s a catch-22 because when you clean it all up and you have it in the container, you know it’s gone but then you know it’s back.

    John: Right. Exactly. Their friends are back.

    Justin: But the kick I get is obviously that and it’s fun. It’s just something — I do it to get made fun of like my wife makes fun of me and I know it because — but it does. I get excited about it.

    John: So let me get this straight, you have a Dyson and a Roomba.

    Justin: There you go. So then the kick —

    John: Do you follow the Roomba around? Are you racing it? Are you challenging it?

    Justin: No.

    John: No, you’re a team.

    Justin: You’re on the right track, John. I challenge the Dyson to see how much extra the Roomba can pick up, and I get a little kick out of seeing the rumba have a container full of stuff after I already ran the Dyson.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Justin: But the point is that the rumba is so much more like centralized, and it just focuses on one spot. This is so weird saying this but whatever, I’ll run the Dyson and then I’ll run the Roomba as like one final sweep, and it gets hidden stuff.

    John: Yeah, you’re using AI right there. That’s what it is. You’re using the machines. That’s awesome, man. I love it. And then you take that bag from the Roomba and go show it to the Dyson and be like, “Look what you missed.”

    Justin: Yeah. Dyson. I’m bad. The Dyson is probably going to have to go through therapy because I shame it. Right, that Swedish guy is out there talking a real big game about how you’re the best sucker out there. And you want to know something? I got a robot over here that’s going to argue differently. I’m just trying to humble them. I mean, look, I hope my clients hold me accountable, and you should be held accountable. I used you, then I got a robot. He found stuff you missed. How do you explain that?

    John: That’s awesome. That’s so funny. And so is this something you grew up doing? Did you grow up cleaning and power washing and all these?

    Justin: Not really. My father would make me do that stuff, and I hated it. It just because it’s not mine. It’s amazing how much more passionate you become about something when it’s your own and you’re doing it for yourself, like your own house. I never liked doing that because it wasn’t mine. I didn’t give a crap. I like being clean. I do vacuum and keep a clean room and bed and dust. I still do that in the office.

    But on the topic of the podcast, that has allowed me to really parallel those skills into an accounting profession because I’m organized AF. I have folders and notes. It’s my own organization, but it’s organization to the point too where if the bus hits me, somebody can pick it up and go through it. And that organization is no better example than an organized chart of accounts in general ledger. That’s why I say balance sheet. That’s balance sheet all day. Who cares about the income statement? If the balance sheet doesn’t make sense, the income statement is completely useless.

    From an organization perspective though, I can tell how organized it is by looking at the income statement, just look at the chart of accounts. If I see within a couple of the same accounts and there’s drilldowns, that looks to be like a very potential unorganized P&L. If you don’t have organized financials, well, there’s no point having financials. That’s my thing. I’ve taken those skills and I guess applied it to my everyday life.

    John: And that’s interesting because at no point in your business education did any professor ever tell you to go vacuum like crazy and clean your house because it makes you a better accountant, but it clearly does. It clearly gives you a different perspective. It’s in your DNA, and it’s who you are. You’re honing that every week whenever you’re doing this. I think it’s great, man. I think it’s awesome. It’s an interesting perspective. Is this something that you haven’t really talked about before, so clients don’t really know or coworkers or whatever you worked in an office before you had your own firm?

    Justin: Probably not. I would say some of my staff, like my last bigger firm, I would say people that worked with me or for me or whatever probably knew. People would always come in and say, “Oh, my God, look how organized your desk is. Look how clean your desk is”. Just from an accounting perspective, you come to my office, you’re not going to see papers everywhere. You’re not going to see piles all over the place. You go into some people’s offices, managers, senior managers, there’s stuff everywhere. My hands are shaking just thinking about it. How can you live? No wonder why you don’t get back to your clients. How do you even control this disaster?

    I guess people that had worked with me in the office would certainly not be surprised. If they’re listening to this, and I’m sure they are, they’d go like, “Oh, yeah, makes sense.” They remember coming into my office about how neat it was and organized. If you come to my office now, I got toys and stuff hanging up all over the place. It’s clean and that’s my personality and it’s the same way it was when I was in industry. But my friends, I’m talking about this and like, yeah, no crap. But anyone following me on social media or any of my clients now, they wouldn’t know about me, which is nice though because you said, it’s in my DNA. Honestly, I got a little emotional thinking about it because it seems like I’ve found my calling. People are born with gifts. I could have been born with Michael Trout’s gifts or LeBron James’s gifts.

    John: But the thing that’s cool is who knows who’s listening to this? Maybe there’s a client that you have that is also a crazy neat freak about it, or maybe there’s someone out there that loves their Dyson as well and tells all their friends about it. Now, all of a sudden, you have a sticky relationship there that before you were just a CPA that did a good job, but now it’s like, holy crap, we can talk vacuums? This is great.

    Justin: Or a therapist who specifies in this. I’m coming to terms on John Garrett’s Green Apple Podcast that I was born and bred to be a vacuumer for my whole life.

    John: Right, right.

    Justin: So I got a lot of processing there.

    John: Right, right. So before we get too deep into that, I think it’s also cool that on occasion, since you work from home and have some time as well or just want to get out and socialize or whatever, that you also drive Uber and Lyft on occasion.

    Justin: Yeah.

    John: How did that start?

    Justin: It’s something I’d always thought about, a podcast like yours, other things when I first started my business looking into marketing and social media and stuff and trying to think a little bit differently. That’s kind of how it started. I was like, oh, I can do a podcast in the car while I’m driving Uber and Lyft. This past September, it was on my birthday actually, I decided to do my first ride. I’d signed up for it, thought about it, and really the reason why I did it specifically was to get out of the house. I work home and I was looking for things to do. Being an Uber and Lyft driver just sounded kind of cool. It sounded like something people would just make fun of me about and like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “What are you talking about? This is so sweet.” I have a cool sticker. People talk about it all the time, like you’re an Uber and Lyft driver? Like what a conversation starter. The amount of discussions I have with people and people ask me questions all the time about it too. That’s kind of part of the reason why I did it was not to just get out of the house but to maybe force myself in the car more to listen to audible books and podcasts more because when you do work at home, it’s very easy to get stuck here. If I get bored, I can just flip it on.

    One of the biggest reasons though, and I haven’t done this as much, but my reasoning behind it all from the strategic business mind in me was to capitalize on travel time as I was going to prospects and clients because what you can do with both platforms is you can set a destination. So I’m going to say Montauk to meet with the client, I can turn it on, set my destination, jump in the car, run a couple of errands and wait for a ping and grab it, and then bring them out there and make 45 bucks, have a companion in the car, talk about whatever. Maybe we’ll talk about sports or business. Maybe they need help with their accounting or their taxes.

    That kind of led into it because as I started doing it and that Montauk opportunity didn’t happen, but that’s kind of why I started it. It’s kind of a pain in the butt. Turning on the destination and grabbing it at the right time, like there’s a strategy behind it. Yes, Sudoku or crossword puzzles, I don’t do either of those and this is with all due respect to those that do because I know it’s a mind thing, that doesn’t stimulate me the same way because finishing a Sudoku puzzle or a crossword puzzle is unfulfilling to me because it’s just done. I don’t get anything. There’s another one tomorrow. It’s repetitious. This kind of stuff, like jumping in to become an Uber and Lyft driver, that’s a puzzle. It’s a game. It’s fun making money, and it’s so easy.

    John, I have two apps on my phone. I can do it whenever I want. I’ve only made like 300 bucks, but it wasn’t about the money. It’s about connecting with people too. That’s something that you have to do as a business owner and a CPA especially because you need to learn how to have bedside manner and talk to people, especially as a young business owner, if you’re uncomfortable talking to people, maybe an Uber or Lyft driver opportunity is good for you because you’re going to have to talk to your passengers at least a little bit. Hey, how are you today? You have to be somewhat nice. Everybody takes Uber and Lyft now, so you know what it’s like not getting a nice person. But it forces me to be humble. It forces me to be quiet. It forces me to listen. It gives people an opportunity to look at you from a different perspective because I can imagine that they are being picked up today by Lyft driver Justin and who’s a CPA, who’s an internet personality and has his own business and curses a lot. This guy is just sitting in front of me with his glasses on, not saying anything, and holy goodness, he’s a CPA.

    So from all of that, I’ve thought about different ways to market my own brand. I’m going to create a game in my backseat. I’m getting some —

    John: Like Cash Cab almost with Ben Bailey?

    Justin: Yeah, something, maybe like a little bit more than that, like a giveaway but more interactive like, “Hi, this is Justin. If you want to be on my Instagram channel, tell me and we can do something like, do you have any tax questions?” Like, “Hey, here’s my business card. Hey, I have a key chain.” These are these things I’m thinking about and during all this too, John, I set up a dash cam because when I did the Uber and Lyft, I wanted to do that podcast, like I was saying to, try and ask people some tax questions. I did some content on this. It’s on my Instagram page. If you scroll through it, you can see I have the dash cam.

    I remember when I signed up, it took me a while to get started because I was nervous. I was really nervous. The first time I turned that on, I was so freakin’ nervous. I messed it up. The first person I picked up was like this 18-year-old high school students. Obviously, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of a teenager, and I totally did. I didn’t accept the ride. So she gets into the car — this is so funny — she gets into the car and I say, “Hey, nice to meet you.” She buckle in. I’m like, “Okay, where are you going?” and I just start driving. You’re supposed to accept the ride. When I drove, the GPS stayed on and when I drove and made a couple, I was like, “Oh, how are you doing? Nice to meet you.” I wasn’t really paying attention because I imagined I had to get back onto the main road which is where I was focusing on going.

    I realized that not only did I not accept it, the GPS never picked up the location. So I just drove around in a big circle. I didn’t realize it right away. All of a sudden, I saw like, “Wait a second, that’s where I pick you up.” So three minutes to destination, I’m like, “Oh, crap.” I’m like, “I’m so sorry. I totally forgot to do this. Can we do this all over again?” I had to go back to the destination where she was because the technology, the app is in my hand so I have to go. This is my first day. I don’t know if there’s any tricks to it. Obviously, I’m freaking out now because now I’m screwing this up. I had to go all the way back to the destination and then accept the ride. And then we went on our very way.

    John: That’s hysterical. That’s so funny, man. That’s so funny. That’s really interesting that you brought up just a bit ago of just how, you know, it’s important to communicate with people and listen and have those interpersonal skills that you’re honing while you’re doing the driving. How much do you think it depends, your technical skills versus your interpersonal communication skills? Is it 50/50? Is it the technical skills are way more important or vice versa?

    Justin: Every accountant’s favorite answer is it depends. It’s hard for me to answer that directly only because of my experience. Now, my interpersonal skills have always been like this. My confidence hasn’t been and my insecurity has certainly, you know, it’s been stronger than it’s ever been. I’m still very insecure. Everyone has their own stuff. People find that hard to believe, but it’s true and the interpersonal skills help that. But my problem is that people just thought I was a smooth talker, and I had fast interpersonal skills, which then give me a bit of perception on technical.

    Now, I’m not the most technical guy out there, but you are not going to be able to find another accountant on the planet that can run through a GL and a balance sheet like I can from a chart of account bookkeeping perspective. You grow some consolidated corporate return. You want me to do some work on some complex audit structures like M&A work, I’m checking out, man. No, thank you.

    John: But vice versa. They can’t do what you do either. Everyone’s got their expertise. So there’s no way you could know everything.

    Justin: Of course not.

    John: That’s impossible. Plus, we have a phone with Google on it. I could google whatever they do and be 98% close.

    Justin: Right. I’ve always said that too, and I’ve written articles that said that exact point where we’re at a time right now where the generation, the leaders right now, they had to memorize all this stuff. They had to memorize this book because I’m sure you’ve seen this, John, like those big public libraries with all the legal code and tax code in these big bulk, it’s really overwhelming.

    John: They existed when I first started, absolutely.

    Justin: But like you just said, can you imagine having to drill in to find the answer for information? That must have taken a day and a half if its not why our industry is out where it’s at now, because we are now looking like Google guys. Just how do you amortize? You got to look it up. Hopefully, you’re smart enough not to look at the advertisements, and you drill in, you go to page two, and you do a little research, and you find your answer in minutes.

    John: Because that’s the thing, that’s what differentiates you from all the other CPAs because every CPA has the same degree, we pass the same exam, we go to the same CPE, so all the technical skills are uniform. So if anything that drives you to be a commodity, if anything, it’s the non-technical skills are what differentiates you and that’s what makes you different. Your personality and your love of vacuums clearly makes you totally different than 99% of the CPAs that are out there. But there are clients that love that too. So all of a sudden, you have a conversation starter, like you’re a real person now instead of a robot.

    Justin: It’s on my LinkedIn profile too, not the vacuuming stuff but the Uber/Lyft. Can I be a brand ambassador for Dyson and Roomba? I guess so.

    John: Yeah, I think so. I feel like they should sponsor this episode. I feel like we should all make a little bit of money on this because — I mean, yeah, two of them even and they’re competitors, but God bless you, man. You love them both.

    Justin: I get social media everywhere. I can do a whole competition. I can sit up like, I work from home. So if anyone’s seen Ant Man, Scott Lang, holed up at home and he created all that stuff, in a way, that’s kind of where I’m at. So now all of a sudden, you’re going to give me some money to be creative on a freakin’ robot vacuum contest? Oh, goodness. That’s going to be fun.

    John: I think it’s awesome, man. I think it’s awesome. So I’m just always curious, how much do you think it’s on an organization to create a culture, because I think we’ve both been in places where it’s super frowned upon to even have a personality at all, versus how much is it on the individual to just be like, you know what, I’m creating my little circle here, and we’re going to make some magic? Is it more on the organization top down, or is it more on the individual to jump in and be a part of it?

    Justin: Oh, boy.

    John: Besides it depends.

    Justin: I know. I didn’t want to give you that cop-out answer again. So let’s use me for a quick example. I don’t think —

    John: That’d be a good idea. That works.

    Justin: Nobody knew what to do with me. They didn’t know what to do with me. I was good at what I did. There was only so much I wanted to learn. I was a business developer too. I was making it rain. I was bringing in business. You’re asking me, what’s more important? I think instead of asking what’s more important, I think you first have to decide, well, what do you want to do? If you want to be a tax nerd, then, obviously, you don’t need interpersonal skills. And then I would say that it’s the responsibility of the organization to make sure that you adapt technically and you are advancing technically because right now the organizations are a wealth of technical knowledge. It’s all there. But to extract, it’s hard to be efficient with it, but it’s there. So if you have these technical skills and passion and no interpersonal skills, that’s an opportunity for you. If you want that sales process, then you need to work on that interpersonal skills. Whose responsibility is that? That’s got to be you. That’s got to be you, the individual, because nobody’s going to know you want that unless you speak up about it. So that means you got to get outside your comfort zone, go to networking events, do whatever it needs to do. Go on Instagram, LinkedIn. It’s hard. I’m sure you get nervous doing a podcast every time. You do a lot of keynotes. I’m sure you’ve got butterflies in your stomach. I certainly do. I think about doing bigger things down the road, and I’m sure I’m probably going to be nervous every time. But that’s still on you and the only way you’re going to enhance that is by practicing.

    But in the place, say you’re somebody like me and you’re kind of a mix between both and you have this leadership opportunity, you’re trying to change that culture, we have to google stuff, it’s on the organization all day, every day, 100 times out of 100, because the employees are already telling you, they’re already saying it all over every platform, both externally and internally in the organization. You can just go on fishbowl to find out. I don’t think fishbowl is anonymous anymore, but I know I was on that for a while and it’s no different. Big four accountants on Instagram. Anything I follow on social media, especially Instagram, it’s memes and jokes about how miserable we are as accountants.

    John: How much do you think it is that it’s because you’re not allowed to share personality and passions outside of work? If we were able to share those, you would light up.

    Justin: My advice and whose responsibility is, look, it’s their responsibility to do something about it, but it’s our responsibility to make it known. See something, say something. If you want, there’s organization, there’s committee, there are niche meetings and stuff. Look, if you want something and you’re afraid to say it in a niche meeting, well, that’s nobody’s problem. That’s your problem. The only way change is going to happen is if you open your mouth and raise your hand. Here’s the good stuff. Once you start doing that consistently, you will see an overwhelming amount of people support you, and then eventually you will force the hand of the organization to make something happen. Because if they do not, they are going to see the writing on the wall.

    John: It’s an excellent point that there’s talent there, that if you don’t embrace it and if you don’t harness it, then not only are they going to leave your organization but they might leave the profession altogether. That’s dangerous, and that’s scary. So do you have any words of encouragement to anybody listening to maybe give it their full go or sharing hobbies, passions, having a personality?

    Justin: Yeah. I mean, look, all right, I have a personality, sure, but not everyone does. At the end of the day, guys, it’s okay to try to be who you are. It’s so stupid. I don’t even like saying that stuff because it’s cliché. If you’re not happy, then just start looking about what you want to do. If you like business, you have to do accounting, okay? Don’t cheap out. Don’t get lazy. If I am you, I am looking for my niche. I like small business, small business consulting, small business tax, the accounting, that’s what I like. But if you are an income tax person, you will be like that stuff, okay. So just like you guys went through all this research with schools and colleges to go get your degree, to go get that job. Well, now you have the same opportunity, but you’re going to get paid for it instead of having to pay. So you’re going to get bullied, it’s going to be intimidating, you’re in a white collar world, but you need to experience it. If you saw me eight, nine, ten years ago, I’m not talking to John Garrett about this stuff. I’m petrified. I don’t want to get fired. I don’t want to say something stupid or get called into HR.

    John: Which is ridiculous because there’s no reason to be called into HR. It’s completely silly.

    Justin: Educate yourself. If you’re smart about it and yet you shouldn’t have to, but you know what, guys and girls, prepare yourselves for it. Do a little research. Look into your employee handbook in HR.

    John: And there’s a place for you. There’s a place for you because nowadays there’s so many different opportunities and so many niches and so many organizations that are out there that are doing things well.

    Well, that’s awesome, Justin. Thank you so much, man. This has been great. But before I bring it in for landing, I figured I’d offer to turn the tables. Do you have any questions for me that we could ask on the air and get people to know me a little bit better?

    Justin: Yeah, one in particular, I had another one but I forgot to write it down and I forgot it. I need to write one down and it’s, obviously, I want to keep it in context with the theme here. So you lived in New York, you were in Brooklyn for a bunch of years, and you’ve been in Denver now for two years, correct?

    John: Yeah.

    Justin: So tell me, as a fellow New Yorker, let’s pretend nobody’s listening, it’s just you and me. I live in New York. I don’t want to live here forever because it’s so damn expensive, and we talked about yesterday the hustle and bustle and stress. So tell me as looking to be transplanted, why Denver?

    John: Well, I had never lived west so I thought, let’s give that a go. And then my brother and his family have been here for about five years. So I’ve never actually, since graduating college, never lived around family because I went to high school in St. Louis and then my brother was West Coast after his college and stuff. So it’s kind of nice to just, you know. He’s got kids, and I’m crazy Uncle John, so it’s kind of fun to just be around that. Plus, it’s got a major airport with a lot of direct flights which is big for what I do. So it just kind of married up nicely with everything, and it’s quiet. Well, I think everywhere is quiet from New York, but it’s just quiet and peaceful and the sun is out almost every day. So yeah, it’s really a nice combination of everything is what it was. But New York is great, and it serves its purpose and there’s an energy there. But eventually, I reached an age where, yeah, I guess I’m old. The tide turned on that energy. It’s exhausting.

    Justin: It’s funny. If I were to go and you went to go be with family, I’m running away from. That’s what I’m doing.

    John: Well, that’s the New York theme, man. That’s a New York theme. Justin, this has been so much fun and thank you so much for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Justin: Thanks for having me, John. I really appreciate it.

    John: So if you’d like to see some pictures of Justin in action or on his Instagram page especially, definitely connect with him there, go to greenapplepodcast.com. All the links are there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about firm culture. And thanks again for subscribing to the show and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.


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