Episode 201 – Aaron Jaqua

Aaron is an accountant and a runner

Aaron Jaqua is a CPA and Senior Tax Manager for Eide Bailly.

Aaron joins us as being the first guest of “What’s Your And..?” and talks about his passion for running and how it has given him the mental strength to power through some of the worse tax seasons! He also talks about how Eide Bailly regularly encourages its team to mentally get away from work for a bit and tells us a touching story of how the firm was accommodating when dealing with a personal family matter.

Episode Highlights

From hating to loving running
Running in the Oklahoma heat
How running has helped give him the mental strength to get through tax season
Connecting with other runners at work
Daily lunches at the firm
How Eide Bailly helped Aaron through a tough and personal matter
“Show up and go first”
John’s most surprising discovery through his research for “What’s Your And?”

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Aaron’s Pictures

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Each year Aaron auctions off his hair for his office’s United Way Campaign and the winner gets to pick the style

Aaron running with his son
 
     

 

Aaron’s links

Transcript

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    Welcome to Episode 201 or the first episode with a guest of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. It can be anything at all. It doesn’t have to be world class. So no pressure on everyone listening. Everyone’s got a hobby or a passion or an interest that lights them up outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their and, the things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you from everyone else in your office.

    But first, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you like the show and are listening on iTunes or your favorite Android app, don’t forget to hit Subscribe, so you don’t miss any future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Aaron Jaqua. He’s a Senior Tax Manager at the Norman, Oklahoma office of Eide Bailly. Now, he’s with me here today on What’s Your “And”?

    Aaron, I’m so excited to have you on the show.

    Aaron: Thanks, John. Super good to be here, man.

    John: Yeah, I’m excited and so happy to have you be a part of this. As you know, you’ve been listening and we start out with the rapid fire questions. So I hope you have a seatbelt ready.

    Aaron: Yep. Ready, man. Fire away.

    John: All right, easy one. Favorite color.

    Aaron: Easy. Green.

    John: Green. Okay. How about a least favorite color?

    Aaron: Brown.

    John: All right. Cats or dogs?

    Aaron: Dogs.

    John: Nice. All right. How about do you have a favorite Disney character?

    Aaron: All right, we’ll go with a throwback of Aladdin.

    John: Aladdin. Okay, all right.

    Aaron: Why? Just because we watched it a hundred times.

    John: Right, with the kids?

    Aaron: As a kid.

    John: As a kid. Oh, nice. Okay. When it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?

    Aaron: Neither.

    John: Neither. Preferred tax returns, that’s equally puzzling to me.

    Aaron: Agreed, just by the pool.

    John: Right. There you go. Favorite actor or actress?

    Aaron: We’ll go with Will Ferrell.

    John: Oh, yeah, solid answer. How about when you’re flying, window or aisle seat?

    Aaron: Aisle.

    John: You control everything. You determine whether or not people can get up?

    Aaron: That’s right. They’re locked in.

    John: Now that you have kids, that makes sense, actually.

    Aaron: Exactly. I am the gatekeeper.

    John: How about a favorite band or musician?

    Aaron: Ooh, yeah, I’d say it’s summertime right now, so I kind of throwback to Jack Johnson.

    John: Oh, there you go. Do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Aaron: I am more of a hot fan.

    John: And how about your computer, PC or a Mac?

    Aaron: Both. PC for work, Mac for home.

    John: Impressive. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?

    Aaron: Mint chocolate chip.

    John: Oh, there you go. Classic. How about when it comes to trilogies, Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Aaron: Lord of the Rings.

    John: Lord of the Rings. Okay. All right, mixing it up. Here we go, tax returns, a full 1040 or the EZ?

    Aaron: Oh, man, the full 1040. I don’t even know how to read an EZ.

    John: Oh, really? Those are the only ones I know how to fill out. How about a least favorite vegetable?

    Aaron: Dang! I would have said Brussels sprouts, although, recently, my wife started cooking them in a way that they are the bomb.

    John: And what is that way?

    Aaron: Baking them. You put a little bit of soy sauce and salt and pepper. There’s a little bit of other stuff. They’re like off the chain. But least favorite vegetable? This is a no-brainer. I don’t even know what I’m talking about. Cucumber. I can’t stand it.

    John: How about pickles? Are you one of those?

    Aaron: I love pickles because they have flavor. Cucumbers or the honeydew and the peanuts of the world. They’re the fillers. They throw them in on salads when they need to fill in a little space. It’s the last thing on the plate that’s eaten.

    John: The filler. There you go. Eat some radish, like, uh. How about a favorite number?

    Aaron: Seven.

    John: Okay. Do you have a reason?

    Aaron: No.

    John: No, all right. No, it’s a popular answer. That’s why I was just curious. We got two more. This is an important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?

    Aaron: Oh, man, this is a hot debate in the office. I go with whatever I put it on first.

    John: Okay, so whatever it is, it is.

    Aaron: No preference.

    John: Yeah. And if someone else changes it, whatever. It doesn’t matter. All right, last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?

    Aaron: I’m going to say a library card.

    John: Really? Okay.

    Aaron: It sounds super nerdy but all growing up in life, I never really went to the library. And then within the last several years, I had my own library card, and I started realizing like holy smokes, I can save so much money on books. I mean, you can get anything — fiction, nonfiction — doesn’t matter. So that’s been a game changer. Plus, you don’t feel all the guilt when you buy something, and then you feel like you got to read it. So if I don’t like it within the first 35, 40 pages, it’s toast.

    John: Yeah, and then it’s not stuck on your shelf. You put it back on theirs. That’s fantastic, man. That’s really fantastic. So I know in the intro, you mentioned running. Is this something that you’ve been doing all your life like Forrest Gump style, or did you get into it later on?

    Aaron: I actually hated it as a kid because it was always the punishment in every sport. So all the sports you played for fun, when you were messing up, then you had to go run. So when I heard about running, I thought, why would you do something that is only the worst thing? And so this was probably though 20 years ago, I just had this horrible day. I just thought, all right, I don’t know why, but I’m going to go run. And man, it was amazing. So it’s probably only for like 15 minutes or something, but I got done, my head was clear. Flash forward just a bit and my wife now, we were “just friends” at the time, so really, man, I was kind of hanging out, hoping that it would go to more. She was a runner, so we both started training for this half marathon together. We were leading this mission team, so we kind of called it training. That is what really got me hooked into it.

    John: Wow. I did a half marathon once, and I don’t think they should be called a half of anything. That’s ridiculous. That’s like eating half a cow, like that’s a lot.

    Aaron: Totally right.

    John: It’s like two hours of running.

    Aaron: It is.

    John: I usually do a joke, like I have found out, because at that race, by the time I finished, the winner was already back in Kenya. Good for you, man. That’s awesome that your now wife suckered you into it.

    Aaron: I know. It’s always those kind of things that you don’t really expect, and then they turn into something that becomes a total part of you which is pretty well.

    John: That’s impressive, man. So like the half marathon, is that your peak, or I’m sure you’ve done crazier things than that since then?

    Aaron: I remember training for that, and the first time I ran five miles, I thought, this is crazy. And then eight and then 10. And then we ran a half marathon, I thought, okay, I’ve already run this far. Why not try for a full? So I did the Chicago full which is a pretty flat race. They have tons of people, so it’s got a lot of hype and energy. So I did that, and then I just kept on going. I thought, well, maybe I should try an ultra which is anything over a full marathon. So I did a 50K which is literally just a few more miles than a marathon. So it’s not 30 something. So I did that and it’s like trail based. So that’s probably the longest I’ve run.

    John: It took you about two weeks or what?

    Aaron: No doubt. Here’s the trick. With ultramarathons on trails, there’s like this unspoken agreement. At some point, you just start walking the hills. So the vibe is way more laid back. And it’s something that as you get older, you actually get better at. There’s this 50-year-old dude out there that was just smoking us. It’s just kind of a different way of doing it, but I really enjoyed getting out on the trails and stuff too. That was probably the longest I’ve done. But, man, the one that was the most random was on my 30th birthday, I ran 30 miles. I kind of get weird about stuff like that, feeling like I have to do something — I don’t know if it was like a pre-midlife crisis or something.

    John: Just by yourself, or was it part of an organized thing?

    Aaron: By myself. Well, I had a good buddy of mine. He started me off the first seven miles, and then I would just do these loops. I had an ice chest on my front porch, and then I would come back and just pound food and drink Gatorade and water and stuff, and then I’d head out for another ten or twelve miles.

    John: They’re all sitting there eating cake, and you’re like —

    Aaron: Man, that’s exactly. It’s just hilarious. That’s kind of the vibe sometimes is you just start stuffing anything in and will do. But my birthday is in June, so I had to start at like 4:30 because it gets so smoking hot in Oklahoma. So by mile, like 25 or something. Man, I was dying. It was so hot. I had a buddy from work jump in with me, and so he was supposed to join me. He ended up waiting for a long time because I was very late in getting there to my original overachieving estimate. I think at one point, he literally was walking next to me while I was running and I said, “Dude, you at least got to pretend like you’re running.”

    John: A least slow jogging. Come on, man.

    Aaron: You kind of go across the crosswalk, and you kind of pretend to jog so that the cars think you’re not being a total bum.

    John: Right. Your upper body is running, but your lower body is clearly walking.

    Aaron: Yeah, exactly. You kind of get that little shuffle. That’s kind of what I was doing.

    John: That’s hilarious.

    Aaron: But finished it. So needless to say, that trend did not continue forever. We’ll see. When I hit 40, maybe that’s going to happen again.

    John: Yeah, or go backwards, just four miles.

    Aaron: That’s right. Yeah, Benjamin Button. I could just go back. That’s not a bad idea. I like that.

    John: You’re welcome. I just saved all of your friends as well. No, that’s cool, man. That’s really cool. This is certainly a passion and something that drives you. Is your wife still out there running with you, or did she create a monster?

    Aaron: I know, right? No, we both love to do that stuff. We like to do a lot of the same stuff together, running being one of them, ultimate frisbee, hiking, whatever. So we always wind up doing something like that. So yeah, she still runs. She did a half marathon last year. We switched the tables around. She was the one running, and I was the one taking all three humans around in the stroller trying to cheer mom on. She’s normally like the champion. So there’s the person who runs the marathon and you get kind of all the glory credit. But then there’s the person who navigates the streets of Chicago before the days of Uber and before the days of Google Maps. When you had MapQuest and you had to get in taxis and you show up at a certain —

    John: Right, who knows what?

    Aaron: Exactly. Yes. I remember at one point, I turned the corner and she just jumps out of the crowd, throws her coat off and runs with me the rest of the —

    John: Wow, that’s cool.

    Aaron: Yes. She’s kind of like a pro at the navigating the race.

    John: And also, to pick someone out from the crowd, everyone looks equally miserable. How do you find the one that’s yours?

    Aaron: Exactly. I’ve historically just been the curly-headed, miserable-looking guy.

    John: Okay, yeah, that’s cool, man. Do you feel like all this running gives you a skill set or anything that you’re able to bring to the office that makes you a little bit different than the other tax accountants there?

    Aaron: So whenever I’m out running, it’s always a place where it’s simple. So all you really technically need are shoes. So there’s just so much stuff. Then at work, there’s so much, whether its technology and just all the technical tax changes and everything you just can be so intense. So getting out running is just a place to clear the head, meditate, pray, and really even it’s a way for me to kind of discover a city. So whenever I’m on work travel and I get there right off the plane, first thing I do is, if schedule allows, is just go for a run. It’s kind of the perfect way to see a city, to experience that.

    But I’d say at work, yeah, I mean, there’s a classic mantra when you’re running is just one more step in front of the other and so if you can just keep doing that. So I would for sure say just that mental endurance. You’re in end of March tax season, the grind is upon you, everything is horrible, but you have to push through. There is no giving up. There’s no quitting. There’s no like, let’s just do it next year. No, this has to get done. So I would say that that’s personally helped me with probably the actual work load level.

    John: Yeah, I wouldn’t doubt that for a second because it’s something that you’ve been exercising this mental toughness in all of your running. So then, it’s just like training for a marathon. You can’t go from zero, like I can’t just go out and run a marathon right now unless we all want to laugh really hard at me in the emergency room. You have to train for it. You have to get up to speed. You with three kids, you can’t just drop in to three kids. It’s like, holy crap! You got to work your way up. The mental toughness that you’ve developed over time from all of these runs and even these ultramarathons is something that you don’t even have to turn on another gear. It’s already there. It’s just like, oh, boom! That’s impressive. That’s really cool because at no point in your business education, I’m sure, that they tell you to go run like a crazy man, and that’ll make you better at your job.

    Aaron: I know. It is interesting. I would say too, I just find an absolute joy and freedom while I’m doing it. I don’t know how to describe it. The science behind is the endorphins and you get that runner’s high and all those things, but I would say too, it just helps expand that mindset of life is more than just this office. It’s more than just the things we know each day, but by getting out, you can really help go up higher, get a bigger vision of what you’re really doing and why you’re really doing it. So that’s maybe getting a little bit too deep, but that’s where this thing ends up tracking too.

    John: That’s exactly what it is. It’s not too deep at all. You nailed it. We can get so consumed with our jobs because that’s where the charge codes are. That’s how people are supposedly rewarded. That’s how all these things. It slowly consumes us, and we don’t even know it. You have something that allows you to escape from that to get a different perspective which is really great. You’re still good at your job clearly. You’re a senior manager. You don’t do that on accident. It just gives you a different perspective that probably makes you better at what you’re doing because you’re able to be a little more refreshed and see it from a different angle. So that’s cool.

    Aaron: Yeah, man.

    John: Is this something you talk about at work? Do people know you’re this avid runner?

    Aaron: I would say so, especially right when I started my career here. That was probably around eight years ago. Our firm is always involved in a program called Corporate Challenge. It’s basically like a bunch of businesses get together and they all compete, and everyone kind of relives their glory days. It’s basically a bunch of grown men and women out there pulling hamstrings where you are literally running on a track and doing like a 40-yard dash. In your head, you’re so much faster than when you really are out there. Everyone in the stands are just so underwhelmed, but in your head, you’re like, I am feeling —

    John: Right.

    Aaron: But signed up for that, and I think that’s when it kind of became apparent to some because they have like a mile race and a 10K and different stuff like that. And then the day that I ran 30 miles, I had showed up at like 11:00 a.m. because it took forever. I think that kind of helped that.

    It’s interesting, I would say, probably people that have started here within the last like a year or so, they would probably know that I’m a runner or that I’m at least active because I started doing CrossFit as well. So I think it scaled back so much just from a time perspective with having three little kids. Now, it’s literally my running, a big piece of it is chasing them while they literally run around the office. So they come up here. We have a perfect square loop of hallways. In a kid’s mind, when they see stairs, they’re like, “I have to go up them.” It doesn’t matter where you go, how many. “I’m going up.” When they see a hallway, they’re like, “I have to run down that.” So when they connect, it’s like a hamster. It starts and then they don’t know really when to stop until someone offers like chocolate or snacks or something like that, and then they veer off into another round. So there are definitely Fridays during tax season where they’re up here in the afternoons running around being crazy, and it’s pretty fun.

    John: That’s really cool, man. That’s awesome. It’s one of these things. Obviously, life happens and family stuff and things like that, but you’re still able to tap into the running on occasion. What I found is that sometimes people let it just go dormant, and then they’re like, “I’ll pick it up,” and then it goes extinct. And then before you know it, 20 years from now, you’re like, “What did I used to love to do? I forget.” Like you said, running is so simple. All you need is shoes and go. So you’re still doing it on occasion or when you travel, getting to know a city, so that’s cool. It’s one of those things, you don’t have to do it every day twice a day to make it a passion. It’s still a thing that lights you up. So just do it on occasion, and that’s great. Do you ever sucker any coworkers or clients into running with you, or do you just bump into them out there on the race? I said, sucker jokingly because —

    Aaron: I did sucker my buddy that I worked with here into it for that 30 on my birthday. But there are several within our office that run full marathons. We’re always kind of hashing out different running plans and stuff that they’re doing. There’s also another handful that do CrossFit. So it’s kind of like anytime the open is coming around, or if there’s any other events going on, then we’re always talking shop about that too. So it’s been pretty fun to see where it blends over. You just get to see more of the human side of all of us which is really the piece that people are mainly interested in anyway.

    John: How does that come up in conversation? Because I know sometimes I talk to people and they’re like, “Well, I don’t know how to,” you know, is it a designated time or a thing that you do consciously or it just comes up accidentally?

    Aaron: So in our office, we lunch almost every day together.

    John: Ah, there you go.

    Aaron: It’ll kind of vary, but there’s a crew of people who do. And then during tax season, they’re bringing in food all the time where the whole office is eating. Everyone has to have a mental break. We can come in there and start talking about work again. Eventually, you kind of run out of pleasantries and you start finding out things about everyone. You just can’t do anymore. Honestly, I work with people who also just can’t handle that either, but I definitely can, like talk about weather only all the time. So it eventually hits that point where you’re like, okay, so you collect clue games or love outer space, or you mine Bitcoin and travel. You coach high school football. You body build. You CrossFit. So there’s a full gambit you kind of start to discover about people. So it’s pretty fun.

    John: Whether it’s out of the office or you’re away from the work area, that’s where connections can happen easier, for some reason. It can happen anywhere, but for whatever reason, people let their guard down a little more, or they’re a little more willing to open up. When I worked at PwC back in the day, I had a rule and even a rule, no matter where I worked really. We go to lunch. We’re going out of the office, number one. Number two, anyone who talks about work, I’m going to interrupt you within two seconds because we’re not talking about work. If you come to lunch with me, we’re talking about normal stuff. Don’t even get going because I got to do these eight plus hours a day, I’m not doing it an extra hour where I get to pick what we talk about. No, it’s not happening. So that’s cool that you guys do it kind of accidentally, but that’s such an easy thing for people to do if you’re sitting here listening now, like I don’t know how to start. It’s like, well, take a couple of people out to lunch.

    How much do you feel like it’s on a firm or an organization to create this culture, if you will, build the sandbox versus how much is it on some individuals like maybe what you guys did where it’s like, hey, we’re just going to lunch? How much do you think it’s on the individual versus the organization?

    Aaron: I think it’s both. That’s probably like a super safe accountant answer. So we’re all watching the partners, or I should just say, the people that are the next few levels up from you, and you’re watching their behavior. So how do they interact? How do they talk? How do they speak? What do they do? Do they go on vacation? Do they take time off? A lot of their actions and their words are going to end up driving the behavior that they want to see, if it’s language and mindset. So it’s like the way that they speak and the way they think will kind of trickle down. But then I think about for us individually, we’re not going to go to some training and listen to some deal and read a book and all of a sudden, it’s there. It eventually has to be Tuesday and what is it like. You just have to take that honest assessment of, if you want it, you have to go make it. I think it’s really hard to just expect a company to foster all that when really just all it is is just a bunch of humans in a room. That’s something that’s really hard to foster outside of people actually wanting to do it.

    John: Excellent observations. Even when I started, I was modeling behavior of people in front of me until at some point, I realized they’re modeling behavior of people in front of them. We go back like 120 years, and there’s some nerd that we’re all modeling behavior after. I’m like, is anyone being themselves? Does anyone believe all this crap, like all of it, all of it? At some point, do you just stop and be like, whoa, this is not me. Eighty percent of it is me, but I got to bring this other 20%, or I’m coming to work with one arm tied behind my back.

    Aaron: No, man, that’s exactly right. It’s funny because you go to these career fairs, and everyone comes around and asks all these questions. I always tell them, all right, hey, look, the thing you need to ask all these firms, why do you specifically like working there? And then give me a reason, like a story of what happened. Everyone is going to say the people. But then if you can just say, well, why? Why do you say that? Because, like for me, what’s interesting is it actually wasn’t some of the fun things that did it. It was like some of the hardest things I’ve gone through.

    So four years ago, my dad passed away from cancer. He had about an eight-month stretch where from diagnosis to passing away. So it was well known, and I kind of chose to just communicate it to everybody. Those are moments where people are feeling maybe like they don’t want to be vulnerable, but I knew that I needed support. So during tax season, when it’s insanely busy, I would take two hours every Wednesday and go have lunch with my dad. So it was just an expectation that I’m not going to hit the charge goals that everyone expected, and not only was it allowed but it was encouraged. I even got direct feedback which was, if we find out that you’re here working when you should be there, then we’re going to have problems. They flipped it on the head, right? So it wasn’t where are you? What are you doing? So boss’s wife is dropping food off at my parents’ house, and people are picking up work for me and taking over in that regard.

    So sometimes it’s actually the hard things that end up really bringing up people together, and you kind of start to experience some of that, like vulnerability and connection. So I still rather learn the lesson via a fun way. It was just an interesting moment to see, that’s when really the rubber meets the road of the people you’re with.

    John: Man, that’s huge and so powerful. Just the firm and the people taking a genuine interest in you and your family, it’s not just the tax side of Aaron, it’s the life side of Aaron, which is arguably so much bigger than the tax side of you percentage wise.

    Aaron: I know, it really is. It’s kind of wild, though, how you can let — what do they always say? The tiny rudder steers the ship. So sometimes you can let the tax work itself, drive your whole demeanor when really it’s kind of a blip on the radar as far as — because that’s an expectation. People expect you to be good at compliance work, but it’s really who you are is the piece that they’re trusting, not necessarily that you nailed that schedule in.

    John: Exactly. You can’t even say it with a straight face. You’re right, man. You’re right. When we get out of school, there are still people that are in the office now that believe this, that being perfect is the only way. It’s like, no, that’s the only way to set yourself up for failure because then if you do make a mistake, you’ve already presented yourself as perfection, and you’ll never admit to it, and then it becomes this giant problem that is a huge issue as opposed to just you know what, it’s also a tax return. We do an amendment. We’re all good. Cool. This isn’t life and death situation. You can do an amendment. Try the best you can, but every single one of us, every single one of us has made a mistake of some variety, and we’re still here. So it’s okay. It’s okay. Don’t make a habit out of it, but don’t kill yourself over it either. It’s so crazy.

    This has been awesome, like really awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe thinks that their hobby or passion has nothing to do with their profession, if you will?

    Aaron: I would say, show up and go first. So every day you come to work, we kind of have this option to just do the bare minimum, whether that’s work, but also even just bringing our whole self there, but showing up with our whole self and then not being afraid to go first. I would say, not to get too intense, but some of these stem back to with my dad. It’s helped me see how this whole thing ends. He never was talking about like — and you read this in books too, but he was never regretting like, “Oh, I wish I would have worked a few more hours,” or “I wish I would have done this or that.” The stuff he was talking about was real conversations he had with the people he worked with and the friends in his life and his family. So you never look back and be like, “Man, I really wish I wouldn’t have tried to have a real conversation with that person and found out more about their life. I wish I would have just kept it at how to retain earnings on that client.”

    John: It’s always the retained earnings, man, that gets you. You’re right. You’re right. There are people that I’ve worked with in my career that I don’t remember and it makes me sad because I know for damn straight they remember me. So they remember me for sure. No, no, I’m just kidding. I’m in their nightmares. I’m like Jason or Freddy Krueger or whatever. No, but that’s so right, man. And then I love that, show up and go first. Don’t be scared. We all have to jump off the high dive eventually, so just go.

    Yeah, that’s cool, man. So before I wrap this up, but it’s only fair that I turn the tables and allow you to rapid fire question me since I started out just drilling you. So if you have any, we’re ready to go.

    Aaron: We’ll start off an easy one. Well, I guess it may depend. Who would be your top choice of stand-up comedians to meet and hang with?

    John: Oh, top choice for stand-up comedians to meet and hang with. I’ve met and hung out with a lot of really cool ones. The ones that I have hung with, I would probably say Jay Leno. He’s really laid back and really cool and really down-to-earth, and he has amazing cars. He’s just a cool regular guy and most of them are, but he’s less neurotic than some of the other ones that I’ve hung out with, if you will. Yeah, so he’s just a cool regular dude. So Jay Leno.

    Aaron: That’s awesome. Man, you would kind of expect that from him. He seems like that kind of guy on and off.

    John: He’s got blue jeans and a denim shirt like. That’s what he wears.

    Aaron: You kind of always hope that they’re like that offstage.

    John: Totally.

    Aaron: All right, so what about most inspiring or most humiliating moment when you are doing?

    John: Oh, comedy? Wow, I guess this all happened. It happened all at the same night. The same guy. It was a guy, a heckler. It was like a smaller show. It was like a Wednesday night. So it’s like the first night of the week, and it was in Indianapolis. It was like a 6:30 show, so there were like 20 people there. So I got up and I was the first. I was hosting the show. So I got up first, and I welcomed everyone and all this. And then I just was like, oh, you know, and then I started with a pretty dry joke. This guy up front says, “Nice try.” I was like, “Oh, man, that’s brutal.” So I said to him, I go, “Oh, well, sir, it’s a Wednesday night. We’re out. Are you here celebrating anything?” He says, “I don’t celebrate anything because I have cancer.” I was like, “Oh, my God.” And then I said, “Well, it’s cancer what made you a jerk, or have you been a jerk all your life?”

    It was one of those words came out and I was like, “Oh, that was my voice, uh-oh.” But then he started laughing and after the show, he and his wife came out and they were like, “We have not laughed since he was diagnosed. You all had us laughing for the entire hour and a half. Thank you for that.”

    I’ve had stories of people that have come up after and like, “I haven’t laughed since x has happened in my life.” It’s like, wow, that’s why I do it. This is the escape. So all of that in one 60-second moment. Amazing when I came back at him and I was like, “Oh, my God! What is wrong with me?” But it was hilarious. So whatever.

    Aaron: All right, man, so last one, what’s a surprising takeaway or discovery you’ve had in doing your research on What’s your “And”?

    John: Oh, okay, that’s a really great question. Probably the most surprising discovery has been that we’re the normal ones. This is why it started because I was like, well, am I the only one that had a hobby or a passion that someone remembered 12 years later? Am I the oddball? Am I the unique one here? Come to find out we’re the norm, like 92% of people in my research have a hobby or a passion they regularly do. We’re the normal ones. We’re the stereotype. The stereotype that we’ve been believing and we’ve been fed by who knows who is all a complete lie.

    So that’s been the most surprising thing to me and freeing as well. It’s pretty liberating to know that, oh, I’m not the weird. The person that does work all the time, you’re the one with the problem. Quit making me feel like I’m weird. If that’s somebody’s thing, if accounting is your passion, then God bless you, but just know that you’re in the smallest of the small percent of people. There’s everybody else, and it’s totally okay both sides of this. It’s totally okay, but we need to make both sides feel okay, not just the side that’s like 3% of the population or eight, I guess, if you want to get technical with the math. That’s probably been the biggest surprise and the most rewarding.

    So on that note, Mr. Normal Aaron Jaqua, thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? I really appreciate you taking time to be with me on the podcast.

    That makes two of us. Everyone listening, I’m sure you had a blast as well. If you’d like to see some pictures of Aaron running or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click the big green button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.

    So thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends, so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that no matter our job and technical expertise, there’s a human side to all of us.

 

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