Episode 20 – Jim Fahey


Jim races his way to better coworker relationships

 

Jim Fahey has a lot of hobbies — competitive Scrabble, fly fishing, visiting Major League Baseball stadiums, driving remote control cars and autocross. He’d be enough to fill three episodes! So we mostly talked about cars because he’s got a great story about buying his Toyota MR2. And the next time I visit Ohio, I’m going to get a test ride in it.

Jim has been called “Captain Noncharge” because he isn’t a CPA but has been working with them for 26 years, doing all the non-billable tasks that make a firm run. In this episode, he talks about a really cool activity he’s doing every month with the staff at HBK to help reinforce the Green Apple message.

Jim Fahey is the Chief Learning Officer at HBK CPAs & Consultants. He has many years of CPA firm experience working in human resources, recruiting, training and development, technology and practice management — working for everything from a small local firm, then a regional firm and now a Top100 national firm.  This broad experience helps him understand the unique needs of the staff.

Jim obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Management, Human Resources from the University of Akron.

 

Other pictures of Jim

(click to enlarge)

Jim attends an Autocross event with his HBK co-worker Rob.

There are many things hanging in Jim’s office, including this Scrabble board.

Jim’s Toyota MR2.

Jim’s links

 

Transcript

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    John: Welcome to Episode 20 of the Green Apple Podcast. Thank you so much for listening and sharing this with your friends. And don’t forget, if you or another professional you know is known for a hobby or a passion, please let me know at greenapplepodcast.com because I’d love to have you on as a guest, like this week’s guest, Jim Fahey, who reached out after seeing me at the Boomer Consulting BTC Summit. He isn’t a CPA but this is his 26th tax season and you aren’t going to believe the nickname he got at his first accounting firm. But first, a quick introduction.

    Jim Fahey is the Chief Learning Officer at HBK CPAs & Consultants. He has many years of CPA firm experience working in human resources, recruiting, training and development, technology and practice management, working for everything from a small local firm, then a regional firm, and now a Top 100 national firm.

    So, Jim, one question I know everyone is wondering is how did you end up working with CPAs for so long?

    Jim: I went to college, I got a business degree, and I was looking for a new job. And this is pre-Internet days, before Al Gore invented the Internet, there was an actual job board. I went to this job board and there’s this posting for an office job at a CPA firm. I didn’t much think about what the heck is a CPA firm. I just want to work in an office. My dad said, “You got to quit flipping burgers. See what it’s like in the real world.”

    John: Yeah. Plus, you were like, “This got to be the coolest group of people I’ve ever been around.”

    Jim: Actually, I think there’s a rock band called The Accountants or something I think too so they got to be cool. I get this interview, this firm downtown, big tall building, kind of intimidating old bit. I get an interview, I get the job, and hey, this is great. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but it’s an office so I’ll get real world business experience that hopefully I’m going to do someday. So the job is really kind of boring. It’s updating the library. Again, this is pre-Internet/ All the stuff you do now and research you do online with Checkpoint, CCH research, but before it was all those big fancy books you’d see on the walls of law firms and accounting firms. Actually, some still use them today, just collecting dust. They still look impressive like, “Man, you know all that stuff in those books? Dang, we should be paying you lots of money.”

    They keep these books, so my job was to literally go in — I worked maybe 15, 20 hours a week, and there would be these reams of paper that would come in from these vendors. I’d come into my desk and there’d be just stacks of plastic wrap, reams of paper with filing instructions. And it would say, “Take up page 73,454 to 73,488 and replace them with these pages.” Truly monotonous. Hey, this is kind of the mailroom. You got to start somewhere.

    So literally, the first in a job, got my stack of paper, and the managing partner comes in, introduced himself to me, a moment that I’ll never forget. He begins to tell me, of course, welcoming me to the firm and hopefully a great new career starting off. He proceeds to tell me about the prior person that was in this position which was sounding ominous in and of itself. And he says, “Jim, the person that was here before, it’s very important that when you do this you do it properly and correctly and don’t mess anything up,” because the person before goofed up the pages and essentially there was some old information in there that should have been replaced with new. We did some research and that translates to research being incorrect which, of course, translates to bad information to the client which means ultimately had given this diatribe and it cost a client 15,000 bucks because the guy in the job before goofed up. That was more than my paycheck for several years.

    Of course, the fear of God is within me and I’m scared and I’m sitting there shaking, taking these pages and putting them in and out. But again, it just stuck with me and who knows how much truth there was in that but it really didn’t matter. He set me straight. I was the type of person that was conscientious anyway so that was the beginning of a career in a CPA firm, essentially kind of grew from there. My path was Human Resources, a different part of business, it wasn’t really accounting. It just kind of grew from there. I kind of grew up in that firm. It’s only a 25-person firm but I was essentially the first firm administrator, a term I’ve never heard before, but it’s not really glorified office manager but I was managing pieces of the business that previously different partners handled. Like this partner was the HR partner. They handled hiring, recruiting and all of that. This partner took care of the books and accounts payable and receivable. This partner took care of CPE and training and learning.

    Well, I saved them time and I took over those roles. Of course, being on the practice side, I gained a new moniker, a new nickname and that was Captain Noncharge because I did everything non-chargeable at the firm, so I rarely had chargeable time. So it’s kind of contrary to what they were doing, but of course that’s what their job is to be chargeable. By me being non-chargeable, it saved them from being non-chargeable.

    John: That’s really funny, Captain Noncharge. That’s great.

    Jim: And only people in CPA firms can really relate to something stupid like that so I can’t really share that nickname outside of work unfortunately.

    John: Yeah, that’s true. That’s too bad, I mean it is so ridiculous how your worth is based on your chargeability and it’s like “not really”. What you were doing was equally vital to the firm. I guess there’s worse nicknames you could have had.

    Jim: Oh, I’m sure there were and I’d probably — well, those maybe I have just kind of blocked those up or maybe I didn’t get any of those, but that’s one that’s probably stuck for a while.

    John: Yeah, that’s really funny, what an interesting career path. And so what are you doing now with HBK?

    Jim: Well right now my title is Chief Learning Officer and it kind of grew up from just a multitude of positions. I was at that first firm for 18 years and through merge and acquisition I went to a regional firm and now to HBK which is Top 100. And Top 100 doesn’t mean really anything if there’s only like 101 firms in the country but there’s almost like 30,000 or 40,000 CPA firms in the country —

    John: Yeah, there are a crazy number of CPA firms, yeah.

    Jim: And only a fraction of them have over I think ten people or so but fortunate to be in a very large firm that’s got office in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. So I handle training education and it’s really more than just CPE “I’ve got to get my 40 hours a year”, it’s really so much more than that. The background I’ve had to kind of build up to that was just different roles like I’ve been handling the technology at that firm I started off and I was kind of like the first guy to open a computer box so I became the computer guy.

    John: Because you just happened to be the one that opened the box.

    Jim: This was, again, back in pre-internet days and we had a little computer room and there’s like four computers. The firm had one email account, like the firm name @aol.com, that the people thought AOL was the whole internet. So I just kind of grew up in it so I kind of became a jack-of-all-trades and it seems like anything that was not accounting related that’s the kind of stuff I did to support the accountants. I loved recruiting, I loved going to recruiting events, because I hated to see when people were career fairs that the scenario was usually like this, John. A managing partner comes about 4:00 looking for people to go to a career fair that night, of course they’ve got plans already and they want to do some good, they should really say yes.

    And you go to these career fairs and there are people that are representing firms that frankly don’t just want to be there. And to me that’s like gosh, that’s the representation lens of your firm, it just made me passionate about recruiting, training education, all those different roles over the 25 years have led me to HBK and doing training education and I tell you what, I really do enjoy what I do.

    John: Yeah, that’s excellent. When I speak at firms and conferences and everything, like you said, people are like “Well, I just got to get my hours in.” It’s like no, it is really a lot more than that, there’s a lot of things happening subconsciously especially when you have several different offices, bringing everyone together, getting one common message across the board and showing them that they can work together — audit, tax, consulting — because the rest of the time you’re in the silos and whatever, it’s good to break down those barriers and show that we’re all on one page going forward.

    Jim: Right.

    John: So when you have some free time because I’m sure that being the computer guy and Captain Noncharge takes up a good amount of time, but when you have some free time what kind of hobbies or passion are you involved in?

    Jim: Well, I have quite a few. When you first asked about the one I didn’t mention was cars. I love cars, I’ve got quite the drive to work 45 minutes and as I mentioned I listen to podcasts a lot too when I drive but I just like to drive itself, too, so car fanatic. But there’s a few more that kind of consume my time, too.

    I like to fish, especially fly fishing. I like to play Scrabble too and that might seem like an odd one but I play competitive Scrabble. I like to play online. I actually got far with my older brother, always picking on me, but he always crushed me like a bug in Scrabble so I made it my personal mission to get better at it. And we play online now regularly because he lives in New Orleans so we can only play online but we’ve always got quite a few games going on the iPads back and forth. I have to say I think I’m probably 50% to 55% winning percentage with him. But it’s really fun to play and I enjoy it because it’s a mental exercise, it’s educational. I play some really crazy words that I frankly have no idea what they mean which is very funny too, because like I know last night I was playing my wife, we were sitting there on our iPads, getting ready for bed, just goofing off. She looked on my shoulder and she’s saying, “You could play this,” and I’m just thinking, “Yeah, I could but… I could play this one for a lot better.” But she’ll say and I know this what other people say too like when you say competitive Scrabble, most people that aren’t like that that do play you, when they’re playing words like “the” or “at” or “a” —

    John: Right, yeah, just add the extra letter on the side, or the letter S at the end of a word.

    Jim: Well, they don’t need S, that’s precious S, you can’t waste that. Or just a comment when you’re playing someone’s not really I guess a connoisseur of the game, they keep asking you “Well, that’s not a word” or “What does that mean?”, it’s like I have no idea but it score a lot of points and you’re losing.

    John: Right, only rookies worry about what it means. Like you worry about that, I’m over here winning.

    Jim: That’s probably one of the few things I’m really actually very competitive at. But again, it’s multifold benefits for me — it’s educational, I learn, I just have fun doing it. So yeah, it definitely adds to my lexicon, my dictionary in life, so it does have quite that. So that’s one thing I enjoy too.

    John: Nice. But I did see the pictures of your cars, so doing the autocross.

    Jim: Yeah. And it was actually autocross is new to me because again, a colleague of mine here at work, Rob, is the one that does it. And I know that’s one thing we want to talk about today is because I do like cars and the car I got… I had a fun car to the mix and probably is why I like because of two reasons — it’s stick shift, I like to drive stick shift, it’s fun. When I got married I had a stick shift truck which I loved but because I wanted to be practical and make sure that my wife could drive it too, I sold that truck and bought just an automatic truck. It’s nice to have a stick shift vehicle again, but the vehicle I bought is actually the vehicle that I wanted when I was in college but of course college budgets don’t always equate to what you really want. But the car I bought, I’ve been looking casually for quite a long time, I found one in Maryland. The car though, it’s a Toyota MR2, MR2 means mid-engine, run about two-seater. Fun little car, but they quit making them nowadays but hopefully someday Toyota will bring them back.

    But I remember driving one in college, just more for grins and giggles even if I couldn’t afford it. It’s a small car, it’s a two-seater, and I’m a big guy, I’m 6’4″. I remember test driving this car and it was great, it was summertime, the T-tops were out, fantastic. When we go to put the T-tops in, of course, my head had to then turn kind of on a 50° angle. So having a drive with your head tilted to the right or the left, to the high angle, wasn’t really conducive to a fun environment. So I kind of nixed that car even if it’s really a summer car but it’s a shame. But the later model a couple years later actually… I mean, it’s crazy, I look kind of like a clown in a circus getting to one of those little clown cars–

    John: It was a little MR2, absolutely.

    Jim: Actually, I’m one of the guys that have a shorter torso and longer legs, that’s probably more information than you wanted to know. But actually, I sit very comfortably in this car and it’s just great ergonomics and I really like it. So again, for the past several years, I’ve been casually looking and I finally found one talking to Rob, a friend of mine. We both have an It background, we were very close in the projects we worked on, we just kind of catch up a lot each day, there’s never really a dull moment in conversations with Rob and I because we have to travel out to different offices for stuff so you get to know each other well when you have to spend breakfast, lunch, and dinner with people when you’re traveling for work.

    And I kind of knew that Rob was into cars too, I was telling him “Hey, Rob, I found this car but the thing is it’s in Maryland and we’re in Ohio and I got to go get it.” I wasn’t really asking him, I was just trying to think how could I go and get this because you got to get a license plate for… trying to drive back, it’s easier to haul it back. He said, “Jim, I’ve got a trailer, a closed trailer, and I’ve got a truck to pull it with.” And I’m thinking, wow! He said, “Let’s take a road trip.” Wonderful. So loaded up stuff, we left work early on one Friday afternoon and I had this wad of cash in my pocket, I felt like a drug dealer or something because I’m going buy this car. I was nervous because of that, stopping at rest stops I got this wad of cash and I’m worried about what was going to happen. I was like “Nobody knows I got a big wad of cash in my pocket.”

    John: Right, except you were sweating profusely. That guy is on cocaine or he’s got a wad of cash, or both. I don’t know which one.

    Jim: Yeah. I’ve always just in the past bought cars like a dealership and I never really bought one this way before. But again, found this car online, I had been talking to Jonah who owned it and he seemed like a normal guy. Sometimes Craigslist deals can be some pretty scary people but fortunately found good quality online selling. So I got the trailer loaded up, head down to Maryland. It’s about a six-hour drive or so. Got to the guy’s house, met him and trying to act cool, like maybe I’ll buy this. It was probably about 15 minutes, you know, take my money, let’s load the car up. Nice Jonah, an older retired professor, quality guy that probably just drove the car on weekends, an example of a nice MR2 turbo fun car that just wanted. I like white cars. All my vehicles are white. I know I’ve got issues with that.

    John: Well, it stays clean.

    Jim: Very clean. So got the car back, started spending time with it, working on it, it’s already a nice car but just in the conversation with Rob it’s like “Jim, it would be a great autocross car.” So I’m kind of leery because a car like this, it’s 20 years old, it’s hard to find parts for if you do happen to damage it. So I’m kind of leery about that, the cautious nature just who I am.

    John: You’ve been around accountants too long, that’s your problem.

    Jim: I think that they truly wear off on me. So there are some attributes that sometimes they can be good but sometimes they can be detrimental.

    So Rob invited me to some autocross events. We took his car and I basically just watched and learned and I did some videos with him while he was driving. So I’m still to the point where I haven’t done it yet but just getting to know Rob and Rob knowing my passions and sharing with him. I’ve really learned a lot and there’s probably events that we will do in the very near future.

    John: That’s awesome, that’s so cool. Yeah, and just how your relationship with Rob is significantly stronger due to having this hobby that you both talked about and then it happens to be that they overlap so then all of a sudden, you’re doing a road trip together, you go pick up an MR2 in Maryland.

    Jim: Right. And I knew from the beginning because he’s got pictures of his car and racing on his wall. Of course, he got his wife and his kids too there but those are important too.

    John: But three pictures of the car, one of the family.

    Jim: And of course, if you walk in to my office people will see… I probably should have sent you pictures of that too but on my walls I’ve got fishing pictures, I’ve got these nice panoramic photos of baseball stadiums, I’ve actually got a picture of my father-in-law who play for the Detroit Tigers and if you look at the picture– I mean, people come and say “Is that like Mickey Mantle or something?” No, that’s my father-in-law. And I’ve actually got probably one of my best Christmas presents ever that I got from my sister-in-law, it’s a Scrabble board that she took, went real crafty on me, and got like a bunch of letters and probably words in it that are adjectives that describe me. And it was like wow, that was really nice, a nice cheap present that really is a cool idea.

    John: Yeah, that’s awesome.

    Jim: So people that know me at work when they walk in my office they know what Jim does after 5:00 at night. Again, it’s just fuel for conversation because we work too much not to get to know people better. When you’re in a career, I’m sure you know this too, John, so does your audience, but if people do not generate friendships at work that are beyond the walls of the office, then they will not stay. I really love that part of the job, my Human Resources background.

    One of my favorite classes in college outside of the HR side was a class titled something to the effect of it’s like Psychology Applied to Work or Industrial Organizational Psychology. It just amazes me, you work as one thing… Just read an article this morning online about how computers and robots are going to take over the majority of office work. I can’t go driving with computer and have fun with computer, in that regard. I mean you have to have those human relationships because the human element will never leave the workplace.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what I believe as well and kind of what the podcast and my book that I’m writing it about is that people aren’t engaged to the firm or the company, they’re engaged to the other people. If you change the people out from whatever the coolest company is, let’s say Google, then it’s no fun to work at Google anymore. But if you keep the same people but change the name from Google to something else well it’s still a cool place to work. It is those relationships with the people and especially in an accounting firm, with clients as well, that that is what keeps that around. So I’m glad that I’m not crazy, so thanks for also saying that.

    Jim: You might be crazy in some other areas but you’re not crazy in that.

    John: Right, exactly. Everywhere else, John, you’re off your rocker. That’s funny. That’s just so powerful just how that relationship with Rob as one example but just it’s so cool that having those things in your office, people know right away who you are and what you’re about.

    And so I guess is this something that you consciously did or you just accidentally started to put some things up that relate to you?

    Jim: Well, probably a combination of both. I got a nice office and just about a year and a half ago, HBK built a brand new office for four of our regional offices, they kind of combine into one, so we’ve got this nice new brand new building office space and frankly I need something to fill my walls up. I brought some of them from the old office but now I went out and got some new pieces because my office is a bit bigger than my old space, so I just want to personalize and make it nice.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. I think that that’s great because some people might be timid or scared to open up and share some of that stuff. And I guess something that I’ve pondered and I’m sure that you have an excellent answer that’s based on research, but I guess when it comes to sharing or opening up or whatever, do you find that it’s more on the organization to create that environment or more on the individual to just step up and share a little bit when it’s appropriate?

    Jim: I guess I feel strongly about that and I think that might have been one of the questions I think you might have asked in your survey. I use the example of engagement, I think engagement is the same thing is that who’s responsibility is it. And my answer is wholeheartedly it’s the individual’s responsibility for engagement. I don’t want to go down the path of generational differences and people feel entitled. I’ve literally seen people in recruiting that their parents want to come on their interviews with them, which you should use them in your comedy because it’s true.

    John: Wow. That’s more tragedy than comedy right there, oh my gosh.

    Jim: You’re right, that is tragic comedy.

    John: Oh, man, guess who’s not getting hired — you, or your parents. You’re out.

    Jim: Right. So that’s just one example why I’m so passionate about people that it’s your own responsibility to be engaged. So you can do as much as you can to help with that, the employer can try and help but it really is on the individual.

    But in my role, because I am so passionate about it, I do try and help and there’s a couple of ways we actually do that here in HBK. Again, as I mentioned earlier, the training it helps not just “I got my 40 hours of CPE, tax, and audit; I got my Ethics in there and I’m done”, we really do much more than that. And it’s really on the success skill side. People are trying to get away from soft skills, they don’t like it, I think; some people still I think they’re trying to rebrand it to success skills.

    But there’s a thing we’re doing and I’m sure you’ve heard of this too, you’ve heard of Toastmasters?

    John: Oh, yeah, absolutely!

    Jim: Well, we’re doing our own little miniature version of that internally with that video camera equipment. We’re doing our own version of that at lunch time. We bring in some food and we have maybe two or three speakers and they talk for about five or seven minutes each.

    John: Nice!

    Jim: Again, it’s just a way to help them build up and someday go out there not just sitting here plugging away numbers on computers but leaving the outside walls and going out and meeting, greeting, and bringing in new business to the firm.

    John: Right, and just variety of topics or about their hobbies and passions or just whatever they want to talk about?

    Jim: The latter, for many reasons and here’s why. They can sit there and talk about tax but they can do that any day of the week. The whole point of Toastmasters is to develop their speaking skills. And what I don’t want them to do is rely on like a PowerPoint for a crutch or anything like that, I don’t want people to be able to look at notes. What we want to do is we want to see them go in stand of a podium and talk to an audience about something that they know without having to look at notes and that of course is your hobby. If you can’t talk about your hobby for five minutes, something’s wrong with you or you’re not passionate about it.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Jim: So the whole point is to gauge them on their speaking, not on can they prepare and look at a PowerPoint and read text off of the PowerPoint slide deck. So that’s why we do it, this way where it’s just simply “Hey, now go up here and talk.” And then we’ll say “Hey, you said ‘Um’ 87,000 times in four minutes.” Again, twofold benefit, they can also of course find out from their peers what they’re involved in so they can hopefully maybe get connected more in a deeper level than just taxes and audits.

    John: Yeah, I think that is awesome. That is so perfect and something that everyone should do, that’s so great. And how often do you guys do that?

    Jim: We do that once a month and firm-wide I get close to 60 people that attend. Now however, when I get those people to attend, at the very end of the session I’ve got a strict agenda, I ask for volunteers and that’s when the crickets come out. I actually had to poke a few people but there’s a few people that really are very boisterous and want to present and attend, and I’m thinking I’m giving other people that are kind of starting to see that. I mean it’s relatively new, we’ve been doing it for less than a year, so people are basically starting to believe in and see it and I’m getting more volunteers. But there are some people they’re just coming to me offline and saying, “Jim, I want to do this but I’m scared,” I said, “well, that’s normal.”

    John: Yeah, we’re all scared, man.

    Jim: Right. People fear public speaking more than death, it’s like that Seinfeld episode–

    John: Yeah, that Seinfeld joke, yeah, where you’d rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.

    Jim: Right, you said it a few times, and it truly is true. But I want to help get over that hurdle because public speaking and I’m not talking about standing in front of 500 or more people, I’m talking about just talking even just two to three. But it’s such a great skill set that will take them leaps and bounds in their careers no matter what their career choice might be.

    John: Absolutely. Because I mean especially when it comes to accounting firms, I remember when you start out and you’re new you’re just a doer, you’re doing the grunt work and you’re doing all that and all of a sudden you reach a day where it’s like, “Oh, I got to start selling to clients? I have no idea how to do that.”

    Jim: Exactly.

    John: “I’m not a talker,” like “I don’t develop relationships, I just do the numbers.” And it’s like oh, boy, you’re completely missing this whole side of it, that more important I think than knowing debits go on the left. It’s relationships with coworkers, it’s relationships with clients, that will get you much further than knowing what the latest FASB is, that’s for sure, because there’s some dude in a binder that replaced the pages.

    I think that that is so awesome and something that congrats to you for thinking of that. And I have to imagine that that’s really helped develop relationships with people and kind of loosen things up.

    Jim: Yes, it’s really starting to work its way through. I’m just getting more people to be believers in it.

    John: Right, right. And so do you find that the people that do this or the people that have pictures in their cubicles and in their offices stand out more than others?

    Jim: Absolutely, very much so, because they’re willing to wear it on their sleeve and not just they need to fill the spaces on their empty walls. But they usually tend to be the more outgoing, talkative, boisterous people, that rare group of accountants. And there are really some that really do have that mentality that the dynamic people, the ones that are the rainmakers either now or will be the future rainmakers of the firm.

    John: Right, right. Yeah, so that’s just in their nature, yeah, absolutely. And so do you have any words of encouragement maybe for people that it’s not their go-to, they’re kind of on the fence, if you will?

    Jim: If it is just about like I could give you an example, wearing it on your sleeve, if you don’t have an office or just a cubicle, decorate your cubicle, bring your pictures in, whether it’s family, friends, or what you do; just express who you are personality-wise and let people know. But it really is kind of getting out there and just making yourself known.

    There’s a blog I get, her name’s Rita Keller, she writes the daily blog for CPA Practice Management. She just sent out I think it was yesterday about showing initiative, just very basic stuff that to most humans they should know this natively but we often need reminded of it. But it’s just about showing initiative, like if you’re new at the firm and like I said we’ve got almost 60 new interns, I take this blog post and I forward it via Outlook email groups and I forward it on to them because “Hey, I know you’re sitting there busy plugging in 1040s and 1099s and all that happy fun stuff. But take a minute, check your email, here is some insight, this is what the big picture is all about. The big picture is not you seating there doing your internship and “I did 17 1040s in a week,” and they would write him up this much. The big picture is hey, learn how to do this foundational stuff but be a human first and know really where this is going. Some day you’re going to actually talk to these people not just do their paperwork for them and they’re going to ask you, “How do I save money?” You’re going to need to be able to articulate that not just what the computer says. There’s so much more to it than just that. I just want to help shape them and know that there’s so much more, you’re just at the very beginning of what could be a very, very lucrative both personally and financially career.

    John: Yeah, that’s such an excellent point especially when you’re an intern and you’re pretty much faceless and nameless. And if you’re able to differentiate yourself from the rest of the group then you will stand out significantly, that’s for sure, and the easiest way to do that is just to be yourself. Quit trying to be super accountant like everybody else; be a good accountant but also be you.

    I did an event a couple of months ago for a really big office and they had their interns there. So one of them they were asked to pronounce the name of the managing partner and her name was crazy hard and of course he butchered it, in front of everybody, and so then it got awkward. And then she’s like “Well why don’t you just sit over by me for the rest of the day?” And so when I got up to speak I actually called back to this kid like ten times throughout my speech and my keynote and I kept promoting him every time I went back to him. So I was like “Oh, you’re now an associate, look at you, buddy,” and then the senior associate, and by the end, he was a partner at the firm.

    And after he actually came up and thanked me because he realized that by me calling him out ten times he has an identity now completely different than everybody else. He was completely nameless before and now everybody knows who he is and everyone’s butchered her name so it’s not a bad thing. It’s not like he cost a client $15,000 or something, but it’s something like that where you can just slightly differentiate yourself. And it’s not even hard and you don’t have to be the only one that does whatever it is that you do, I’m sure plenty of people play Scrabble or maybe not as competitively as you. But there’s plenty of people that like cars and your relationship with Rob, things like that that it’s a cool thing when you start to open up what can happen, it’s really kind of surprising.

    Jim: Yeah.

    John: Cool, man. I don’t know if there’s anything else that you might have wanted to share that I might have skipped over but this was excellent.

    Jim: It covers the hobbies and I think we kind of got what the whole point of it was and the whole mission of the message about just why those hobbies and why share with them and what they really led to is just furthering relationships to have some common bonds with coworkers.

    John: Right, right. Yeah, absolutely, perfect. Well, cool! Well, Jim, it feels like we’ve definitely gotten to know you but I always have 17 rapid fire questions as in like should we be able to hang out type of a thing. And maybe going forward these should be the interview questions for all the college kids and their parents, apparently. But here we go, 17 rapid fire.

    Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Jim: Oh, Star Wars, all the way. I’ll do my Yoda impersonation but I have to build myself up for it so I’ll save you for another day.

    John: All right. Favorite adult beverage?

    Jim: I don’t drink, so Arnold Palmer which is just lemonade and iced tea.

    John: Oh, yeah, those are great, man. Sudoku or crossword puzzle?

    Jim: It’s got to be crossword puzzle, just with my Scrabble examples.

    John: Yeah, that’s what I figured. Least favorite vegetable?

    Jim: Probably Brussels sprouts, they look good, they just got this unique odd flavor. Oh, it’s just weird.

    John: I’m with you on that one, man, I’m with you 100%. Balance sheet or income statement?

    Jim: Income statement.

    John: Pens or pencils?

    Jim: Pencils, fine point, like 0.7 millimeter Pentel. I hate regular pencils.

    John: Oh, wow, you really got it down to a science here.

    Jim: I’m looking at it right now, that’s why.

    John: Movie that makes you cry.

    Jim: Oh, boy, there’s quite a few movies that I watch over and over. Probably cry with laughter would be Office Space. But close to I’d say The Shawshank Redemption, greatest movie of all time.

    John: Yeah, excellent pick, excellent pick. Your favorite number?

    Jim: I only had one when I played softball for the softball team, I think it was 2.

    John: Okay, all right. Favorite band?

    Jim: I really don’t have one, I’m not really big into music. But there’s some Christian rock bands that I like like Casting Crowns or MercyMe.

    John: Sure, okay. PC or Mac?

    Jim: PC all the way. My email got an iPhone and an iPad. Mac is just a foreign language to me.

    John: I agree, I agree, man. I don’t know what’s going on there. Right click or left click?

    Jim: Left click.

    John: Favorite color.

    Jim: I know I mentioned all my vehicles are white but truly white is like the absence of color and black is the combination of all colors. So technically the answer is white but not technically.

    John: I got you. Least favorite color?

    Jim: Red’s kind of bold. Like teal or bluish green, I don’t really like that.

    John: All right. Jeans or khakis?

    Jim: Jeans all the way.

    John: Favorite comedian?

    Jim: There’s this guy named John Garrett I listen to–

    John: Never heard of him. You’re too kind, man, you’re already on the show, you don’t have to kiss up anymore. Favorite toppings on a pizza?

    Jim: Probably double pepperoni, sometimes hot peppers —

    John: Double pepperoni, wow, I like it.

    Jim: Sometimes hot peppers but none of those old fish. That’s just wrong.

    John: Oh, yeah, the anchovies, no way. And the last one favorite thing you own?

    Jim: It’s got to be the cars. I’m a gadget guy, I’ve got lots of cool stuff, but just the cars are probably where I get the most fun out of. And some tools. My garage, John, is actually nice than some rooms in my house. I’ve got the epoxy painted floor, I’ve got cabinets, I’ve got actually garage iPad hooked up with big monitors. I could live out there. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t kick me out there yet but I really probably could.

    John: But just in case, you’ve got it ready.

    Jim: Yeah. But in my garage though is a mini-me version of my cars. I like radio-controlled cars, I’ve got some cars that — these cars they’re like tenth scale but you go close to 80 miles an hour so they will maim small children so you got to be really careful.

    John: Wow, yeah, that is really fast.

    Jim: But they are really fun. And it’s kind of nice because I’ve got a four-wheel drive truck which I don’t really take off-roading but I get my off-road thrills by beating up these little cars in the backyard.

    John: Yeah well that is cool, man. Well thank you so much, Jim, for being on this show. I really appreciate it.

    Jim: Sure thing. I enjoyed the time and hopefully the stuff I shared really kind of inspires others to really do make some friendships and kind of expand those friendships at work.

    John: Wow, that is a lot in one episode. And like Jim said, no matter how much technology advances, the human element will never leave the workplace. That’s such a great quote.

    And be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com for some pictures of Jim’s MR2 and some other cool things that he’s got hanging on his office. And I don’t want to keep you any longer so you can go out and be a green apple.


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