Episode 218 – Rebecca Berneck

Rebecca is an Accountant & Motorcycle Racer

Rebecca Bernek returns to the podcast to give us an update on what she’s been up to since her hiatus from motorcycle racing. She also discusses the changes in her work schedule, achieving a good work/life balance, and how it has benefited her personal and professional life!

Episode Highlights

Hiatus from motorcycle racing
• Why 2018 was a good year for her company, Officeheads
• Finding time for herself, her kids, and to finally watch tv!
• Talking to other business owners about work/life balance
• Her latest favorite tv show

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    Welcome to Episode 218 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday I’m following up with a guest who’s been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear maybe how this message has impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m also excited to let you know that my book is coming out very, very soon. It’ll be published on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details, or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. Please don’t forget to hit subscribe, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes every Wednesday and now Follow-Up Fridays because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week.

    This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Rebecca Berneck. She’s the Founder and “Big Head” at Officeheads in Evanston, just north of Chicago. And now she’s with me here today.

    Rebecca, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Rebecca: Hey, John, it’s great to be here.

    John: I’m so excited to have you back from Episode 29. Like, golly, you were such a trailblazer back in the beginning, so brave to come on with me. So thank you. I really appreciate that honestly.

    Rebecca: My pleasure. It was fun to do the first time. I’m just excited to talk with you again.

    John: Awesome. Yeah, well, we’ve mixed it up. So now, the rapid fire questions are up front now. So I hope you’re buckled in and ready because the first one here is going to be a slam dunk for you. But Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Rebecca: Game of Thrones.

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

    Rebecca: Cold.

    John: Okay, okay, like 65 cut it down the middle.

    Rebecca: Seventy-four and I suppose 74 is not hot. It’s perfect.

    John: There you go. Do you have a favorite Disney character?

    Rebecca: Ah, Simba?

    John: Okay, I’ll take it. That’s awesome. Very good answer. More cats or dogs?

    Rebecca: Cats.

    John: Okay, okay. Brownie or ice cream?

    Rebecca: Ice cream.

    John: Okay. Do you have a favorite sports team?

    Rebecca: I’m going to say the Vikings because I’m from Minnesota. I don’t watch sports now, but I just kind of have to hold on to them. That’s the Vikings right now.

    John: Right, and Chicago didn’t change you, so good for you, holding on there. And the last one, toilet paper, roll over or under?

    Rebecca: Over. Of course, over.

    John: Okay, okay. Well, I just had to check, had to check. So yes, when we last talked a couple years ago, it was motorcycle racings and land speed record and all kinds of crazy cool stuff. And then at the very end, you dropped the backup dancer and Prince’s Purple Rain music video and my head exploded. It was just awesome, awesome stuff. So anything new with the motorcycle racing, or where’s that at?

    Rebecca: You know, John, it was a wonderful and great experience. I made a lot of friends and great community and learned a lot that I can then apply into other areas of my life, but things got so busy between having a couple of teenagers and growing a business. I retired. Actually, I told my buddies that I was going to retire and they said, “No, no, no, you’re going on a hiatus.” So I went on hiatus on my racing just because I didn’t have enough time to be safe on the racetracks. I haven’t been on the track for a while.

    John: Yeah, well, which is, I guess, good for business. But do you feel like you’re different at all? Those experiences are still there, so I’m sure it still impacts you, but is there a part of you that you feel is a little bit different?

    Rebecca: Well, I miss my friends and I miss, definitely, the incredible energy you get from just being on the track. But I’ve had a couple of chapters in my life, and you kind of have to say goodbye to the old one and go on to the new one. I don’t have anything exactly that’s replacing motorcycle racing. It’s only a matter of time of, hey, what’s my next thing?

    John: Right. Yeah, absolutely. You were pretty passionate about the Game of Thrones answer. We had talked before, and it sounds like you’ve had a little bit of time for yourself, which is kind of nice.

    Rebecca: Well, 2018 was an amazing growth year for my company. It was hard to wrap my head around it, but as much as the company was growing, my time commitment was actually reducing. I was fortunate enough to be able to start taking Fridays off. I could take some time to myself. During those times, I was able to kind of think and be creative in my company. I was able to spend some time with my kids, although they were old enough to not want to spend time with me. I bought this big, huge TV, and then I binge watched Game of Thrones. I’m like, this is what normal people do. They watch TV, and they relax. So yes, I became very intimately acquainted with the folks on Game of Thrones.

    John: That’s so great. Whether it’s time for you motorcycle racing or it’s time for you relaxing and binge watching Game of Thrones, it’s still something that’s not work.

    Rebecca: I think about it, when you’re starting your business and you’re going work and work and working all the time, it took me a while to figure out how to relax. I didn’t know how to. I’d be walking around going, “What do I do? What do I do?” It’s great I didn’t have to go in the office. I would secretly maybe work. But there have been times when I actually didn’t open up my laptop. So it’s nice to actually slow down and not be go, go, go all the time. So if you say that have I changed? I have changed. I’ve slowed down. I think it’s a much more relaxed and healthy Rebecca.

    John: Okay, okay. Fair enough. So it’s addition by subtraction sort of.

    Rebecca: Yes.

    John: That’s really interesting, and also interesting of how to learn how to relax because I think everyone goes through that. When you graduate school or you’re starting your own business like you did or depending on where people are in their careers, you just hit the ground running as hard as you can because you’re out racing the ghosts, I guess. I don’t know. And then eventually you reach a point where you’re like, “Why are we running so hard? I don’t have to.”

    Rebecca: Yeah, exactly. I remember when I had — well, gosh, it was 20 years ago — when I first had kids and I thought to myself, “What did I do before kids? Did I just take naps on the sofa?” You’re constantly going with kids and then starting at the same time of — I was a single mom and so I got the kids, I got work, I got the kids, I got work. Oh, can I fit myself a little bit? Well, okay, I’ll go race on the weekends. But I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have anything to do on a given Saturday.

    John: And so did you consciously block that time off or just when it happened?

    Rebecca: I had to.

    John: Oh, you had to. Yeah.

    Rebecca: I’m a kind of task like kind of calendar person. So yeah, I took my calendar and blocked them off. It’s been a year. Oh, gosh, it’s been a year and a half. So now, it’s pretty easy. Things have ramped up again at work, and so my Fridays off are gone. Darn! I can just stay home.

    John: Who do I need to talk to to get that to happen? Oh, wait, you, never mind. So do you still have the motorcycles then since it’s just hiatus?

    Rebecca: I do. I can’t get rid of them, although not all of them are running, but I do have five in my garage right now.

    John: That’s great. You’ll be out there soon enough. And then you were saying that you were going through a race in Birmingham, was it?

    Rebecca: Birmingham, Alabama. One of my favorite race tracks is Barber Motorsports Park. And they really put on a beautiful vintage show every year. I’ve raced it many a times and now this time, I’m going just to relax. So I’m still pitching a tent on asphalt in the pits so I can wake up to two-stroke and hear motorcycles like brrrm in the morning when I wake up. But I just get to relax and walk around and make sure I remember to put on sunscreen.

    John: Right, because you’re not going to have all those sleeves of a jacket and everything. That’s fantastic. And so is the relaxing side of you, the binge watching Game of Thrones, is that something that you talk about at work or with clients?

    Rebecca: No. Well, you know what? I don’t talk about the binge watching and that kind of stuff, but taking time off, I talk to my fellow business owners. Whether you’re planning for it and have a plan or you’re just trying to get there, wherever there is, everybody’s waiting to be done or to sell or to slow down or to have it run like a well-oiled machine. The fact that I somehow found that sweet spot last year, I have talked to fellow business owners about it. I’m a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program, and so we get together as graduates. It’s like a mini MBA for small businesses. And being able to, a couple years after going through that, to tell people that, yeah, I work four days a week now and how did you do it and how does it feel? It’s kind of good to talk about that because it’s a good thing. It is a good thing.

    John: Is the Game of Thrones just something that never comes up, or is it just like that, whatever, it’s just dumb mindless TV watching?

    Rebecca: That’s deeper pleasure.

    John: Ah, just deeper pleasure. Now, everyone knows. Until somebody walks in and your desk chair has been replaced by the thrown with the spikes and the skulls and everything. It’s like, “I wonder if she’s been watching…” Nope, just got it in a flea market. That’s cool. No, I totally get it. I totally get it. That’s just like the guilty pleasure and just like a mindless thing to escape.

    Rebecca: And I’ve got a new show now, though.

    John: Oh, what’s the new one?

    Rebecca: Do you watch Succession on HBO?

    John: Oh, I haven’t seen that one. No.

    Rebecca: These people are the worst people. The characters are so horribly good. You just can’t imagine what more bad boys that they could treat each other. It’s kind of like an accident. You kind of go by, and you can’t help but look. It is on every Sunday now. Of course, I’ve got Hulu and everything. I can watch any kind of TV show I want to, but HBO doling them out one at a time, right? So I highly recommend. It’s a very good show.

    John: Okay. All right. I will definitely check it out. Once I started working four days a week, then it’s on.

    Rebecca: I’m so happy to have a lot of TV now because for about 20 years, I didn’t have time to watch TV.

    John: I hear you.

    Rebecca: I’m proud to be able to watch TV.

    John: That’s why most of the time, I don’t watch a ton. So most of the time when people bring up shows, I’m like, “Sure, why not? Oh, that’s even a network. I didn’t know that. Okay, Starz with a Z. Okay, got it.” It’s just funny, like I’ve been living in a cave or something. That’s great, though, that you’re able to just relax. It just takes your mind off of everything. You’re not sitting there with your laptop open. You’re actually engaged in the show which is really fantastic.

    Rebecca: Even though I’m not watching TV and I’m just maybe cleaning my house or listening to music, it just allows you to be more of yourself. I’m a better friend. I’m a better daughter. I’m a better mom. I’m a better business owner just to be able to take those breaks. I always thought efficiency, efficiency. I can do 14-hour days, seven days a week. I can get a lot done. Sometimes getting less done is better.

    John: Yeah, that’s so deep too. Just more of yourself because more work doesn’t equate to more of yourself.

    Rebecca: Sometimes you lose yourself in all that work.

    John: Right. Wow, that’s really profound and really cool that you experienced that and got there because a lot of people don’t. Good for you. So that’s fantastic. Really great. What a great way to end it. That was perfect, words of encouragement for people.

    So before I do wrap this up, though, it’s only fair that I let you rapid-fire question me and put me on the hot seat. So I am ready.

    Rebecca: Are you ready? I’m ready.

    John: I doubt I’m ready, but we’re going to go anyway.

    Rebecca: I know your history and stuff. So my first question is, who’s your favorite comedian?

    John: Favorite comedian? There are so many that I admire and appreciate, but usually my go-to for just a laugh is Brian Regan. He always makes me laugh. So yeah, for stand up, like pure stand up. But so many of the others are so great. Jerry Seinfeld and Bob Newhart is hilarious too and Chappelle is so funny. So it’s a gamut.

    Rebecca: Okay, next, because I know you go out and you perform and you speak, so so far, what is your favorite stage?

    John: Favorite stage? That’s a good one. From my comedy days, when I opened for the band Train, that was huge. The lights were so bright that I couldn’t see the edge of the stage. So you’re kind of in outer space. It felt like I was sort of floating, that was pretty surreal. It was a little bit uncomfortable, to be honest. You tell a joke and then people laugh, but by the time the last person in the last row laughs and then that laugh gets back to me, I’ve started telling the next joke. So you’re in this weird like bravado sort of, the echoing sort of a thing, where it’s just like, just keep going, just keep going and don’t go too far forward. So that was pretty cool. Yeah, I’m trying to think of — yeah, I guess I’ll go with that one.

    Rebecca: Okay. Do you have a pet?

    John: I don’t have a pet, but I love dogs. So I’m sure at some point, I travel so much though, so I don’t want to be putting the dog in kennels a lot, but at some point, I’m sure we’ll get a dog because my wife keeps talking about it. That’s pretty much why.

    Rebecca: So here’s your add-on last question. When you get a dog, what would you name it? Number one dog name.

    John: Number one dog name. Ah, man, so growing up, we had a Prince and Barney and Dandy was the third one. And Barney was always just, it was from a book that I had as a child. I think that’s a fun dog name. But I can be easily coerced to something else. I guess, I would have to see the dog to make sure it looks like a Barney.

    Rebecca: Exactly. You did good on your rapid-fire questions.

    John: Right, good. I wish I could think of a better stage, but it’s pretty weird. It’s a unique one. That’s for sure. So thanks so much, Rebecca, for taking time to be with me on the Follow-Up Friday on What’s Your “And”?

    Rebecca: It was great. Thanks, John.

    John: Yes, so much fun. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Rebecca probably lounging on the couch watching TV or connect with her on social media — I’m kidding, she’s got amazing pictures of the motorcycle racing as well — be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button, do the anonymous survey about corporate culture.

    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 who you are is so much more than what you do.


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