Jim is a CLO & Car Enthusiast
Jim Fahey, PAFM is the Chief Learning Officer at HBK CPAs & Consultants, a Top 100 CPA firm with offices in OH, PA, NJ and FL. He has more than 29 years CPA firm experience working in human resources, recruiting, training and development, technology and practice management.
Jim returns to the podcast from episode 20 to talk about his latest car purchase, enjoying his quality time fly fishing, and a cool reward system he implemented at HBK!
• His new car: Honda S2000
• Why he enjoys fly fishing
• Participating in Toastmaster’s International lunch
• Work/life integration vs. work/life balance
• HBK’s Intranet: L.O.F.T.
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Welcome to Episode 224 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book is being published in just a few months. It’ll be available 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 to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Jim Fahey. He’s the Chief Learning Officer at HBK. Now he’s with me here today.
Jim, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Jim: John, I’m glad to be here.
John: Yeah, I’m excited. I can’t believe it’s been like four years since you were on. It’s crazy. It doesn’t feel like it’s that long. But it was just so cool having you on, and I’m excited to do it again. But we mixed up the order. Now it’s rapid-fire questions out of the gate. Buckle up. Here we go. So the first one, I guess, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Jim: Actually, I haven’t really seen either. It is kind of funny. But I’m thinking Game of Thrones for sure probably.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah, there’s swords and dying and stuff. How about do you have a favorite sports team?
Jim: I am a long suffering Cleveland sports fan. It’s probably not a fair statement anymore since the Cavs won in 2016. But I’m definitely a Cleveland sports fan, probably Indians the most.
John: Nice. Okay. All right. How about you prefer more hot or cold?
Jim: I like it hot. Actually, I like cool air but like in the car, heated seats are the greatest invention.
John: Yes, heated seats in the car, which is perfect. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Jim: That would probably be just this past summer, Mackinac Island.
John: In Michigan. Which lake is that in?
Jim: I guess it’s just going to be Lake Michigan.
John: Oh, it is Lake Michigan. Okay, got it.
Jim: I should know this because you know the acronym HOMES for all the Great Lakes?
Jim: So it’s Michigan. It’s right in the tip there. And there’s a bridge there that crosses over between the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula. They call the people that are on the Lower Peninsula the Trolls because they live under the bridge.
John: Right, exactly. And then the Yoopers are the Upper Peninsula. Yeah, that’s way up there. How about brownie or ice cream?
Jim: Combo would be great.
John: You know, I’ll give you the combo. I’ll give you the combo. That’s a little bit of a trick question because combo is probably the best of that now that I think about it. How about when you fly, window seat or aisle seat?
Jim: I really do like the window seat because to me, where else do you get a view like that? But, of course, you got to get up and go. The aisle is great. Stretch out — I’m a six-four and I need to stretch that long legs, but I’ll suffer for the window seat.
John: Yeah, exit row window seat, how about that? We’ll give you that one.
Jim: Yes, definitely.
John: For sure. And the last one, toilet paper, roll over or under?
Jim: I am very passionate about this answer. It is going to sound really weird, but I’m definitely over. And it’s funny, I actually saw this funny meme where it had a little face on a toilet paper roll that had “No mullets, only beards only.”
John: Beards only. That’s so great. I can’t unsee that now. That’s so funny. Yeah, next time I see it under and against the wall, I’m going to be like, “What’s up with the mullets? Really?” That’s hilarious, and that is not a party in the back. That is not at all.
So the last time we talked, we were talking about cars and specifically you had that MR2 which was pretty sweet, the pictures on the website. Yeah, so do you still have that?
Jim: I actually sold that about over a year ago, and I found a different car.
Jim: It’s another little go-kart. I liked the little go-karts, like big guy in a little coat.
John: Right, right.
Jim: This is a Honda S2000.
John: Oh, nice.
Jim: A little two-seater. So it’s fun, convertible. Actually, it’s only like 55, 60 degrees today, but I’m going out to dinner tonight and I hope I can drive that thing with the top down because it’s nice and brisk.
John: Yeah, yeah. Well, heated seats, I assume?
Jim: Actually, no, but last time I drove it last week, it was probably 55. I had the heat on full blast with the top down. It was fantastic.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s the perfect combo right there. What is it about the smaller cars that you like?
Jim: Well, they’re both sports cars. It’s a fun car. It’s not something you drive every day. I’ve got the full realm of vehicles covered. I got an SUV, a pickup truck, a sedan and a small two-seater, so one of each category, I guess.
John: Oh, there you go. You’re like Hertz. It’s like, “Which one do you want?” That’s great, yeah, because then it’s whatever your needs are. I do like the smaller cars as well. It just feels like you’re more a part of it like a go-kart, like you said, from when we were younger days. That’s awesome.
And then I know fishing was a big thing that you did as well. So I assume that that’s still a big part of you as well.
Jim: It is. I just don’t get out as much as I’d like to. Actually, I just went last Friday and went about two hours away. It’s up in the mountains in Pennsylvania. I’m in the middle nowhere with a friend of mine. There’s no cell reception, going for brook trout with a fly rod. There’s just kind of few and far between. The fish are literally no bigger than your hand, but it’s all about the fun. I got my stepson the Fitbit, so the Fitbit was happy. And just enjoying the nature. It was beautiful outside.
John: And that’s got to be a big release as well from the day-to-day routine of work.
Jim: Yes, definitely. I sit at a desk a lot all day and do teaching, but just to me I like my alone time sometimes, just getting out in the woods and getting to be one with nature, not to get too philosophical here.
John: Yeah, absolutely.
Jim: It’s just a great release.
John: No, it definitely is. That’s for sure. That’s really cool because you’re also in it when you’re fly fishing. You’re in the river. You’re a part of it. You’re not just on a boat in the middle of a lake sort of a thing. I’ve never been fly fishing. I’ve just done the other fishing. I just get bored because I can’t see anything. I could be dropping this line where fish are or maybe not. Maybe I’m nowhere near them. I’m just sitting like some idiot. Maybe they’ll go, you know. But cool because then it’s more of a nature hike with some fishing happening.
But the one thing that I really liked when we had talked before and it meant so much of how you had seen me speak at a conference and had gone back to HBK and implemented kind of a Toastmasters lunch sort of a thing, which I thought was really cool. And basically, if you walk through it for everyone that maybe didn’t hear it the first time.
Jim: Sure. It’s actually we go through seasons, and that’s one thing that I know we did a couple years back and we’ll probably bring it back here soon. But for those that don’t know, Toastmasters International is an international organization, probably over a million members. The whole premise is you get together in these different clubs that meet regionally, a lot of times in cities. Sometimes there’s more than one club locally, but certainly there’s probably one close by any one of your listeners. You go to these meetings, you eat lunch, and then after lunch, someone goes up and presents and talks for about five to seven minutes. The subject really doesn’t matter. The whole premise is to go up there and to give a talk about something that you’re passionate about. So you probably really don’t need notes, but then it’s the job to give that individual feedback, constructive or critical, and just let them know how they did.
The neat things about it, there’s a person called an Um Counter in the back of the room, literally counting how many times that person uses those filler words. When we did it at HBK, we did essentially a smaller version of that. I think we set a world record for ums. One person said um I think 60 times in like four minutes.
John: That’s awesome.
Jim: It’s one of those things where until you hear yourself, you don’t really know until you get that feedback. I always encourage people to record themselves. No one’s got an excuse not to do it. You got a cell phone or an iPad with a camera on it. Go in a room, close the door and record yourself speaking. It’s the only way to really make yourself better. And that was what we want to do at HBK, and that’s what people did. It was something that a lot of people just didn’t want to do, but I think in the end, they really did appreciate it.
John: I think it’s great because when you did it, a lot of people, you were encouraging them talk about your hobby or your passion or your interest, because if you can’t talk about that for five minutes, then is it really a thing?
Jim: Right. That again, that’s the exact reason why I say, we don’t really care what you talk about because practice talking about something you care about because for the same reasons you just described. That way, you’re not focusing on notes, looking down, looking at a PowerPoint. Those are always crutches. If you can give a presentation without those things and be entertaining and engaging, that’s what the audience wants to hear and see.
John: I mean, that’s so right because so many times in the professional services world, we’re always so worried about the content and being right and being perfect and all of that. You know the stuff. You know it. You don’t have to read words from a slide to do that. Especially if you’re passionate about it or there’s some emotion there, then that’s what the people really gravitate towards in the audience. And by audience, it could be three people at a client meeting. It doesn’t have to be hundreds or thousands of people. That’s really awesome, man. I think that’s so cool, and it meant a lot for HBK to accidentally share what these hobbies and passions are that people have. I remember, all of a sudden, things start coming up that, oh, I didn’t know you like to do that, or I do that too. Let’s hang out on the weekend sometime. The ramifications there are really huge. Yeah, that was awesome.
So do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks, well, I really love cars too, but that has nothing to do with my job, or whatever their passion is, if you will?
Jim: It’s just about balance. Like I said, last week, I took a day to go fishing. I know I’ve got a few more days before tax season hits for the accounting firm to just kind of get out and do the things that I enjoy. And if we don’t take time to do that, we’re just really missing out. I know the term we hear nowadays is work-life balance. I think the new term I’ve heard in some of my reading I’ve done is that it’s work-life integration. They pretty much just overlap. We’ve always got our cell phones with us. It’s okay to check your email here and there because the impression is if I got my device with me, I’m expected to reply. Some of the rules have changed in business over the years. That’s why I think it’s more integration versus balance because the balance, one week it might be 50-50. One week it might be 90-10 in terms of work to pleasure. But that’s why integration makes it more you get your work done, and then you take time off, enjoy it and bring that word balance back into it.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And if you can get the work and the passions and the life closer together or almost merged, or smudged together, whether it’s talking about it or working with clients that do the thing that you love to do or whatever it is, that’s always a good thing.
John: That’s awesome. I remember too in talking to you offline that HBK does some cool stuff with your intranet.
Jim: Yeah, several years ago, we had a tool which we might have used back in the day, Lotus Notes.
John: Oh, yeah. I used to use Lotus Notes. Yeah, absolutely.
Jim: Glad to hear because a lot of people just — they had a connotation with Lotus Notes. We actually use it for email and whatnot. But, of course, Microsoft owns the world now, and we switched to Microsoft like pretty much everyone else. It just had its day. But Lotus Notes, we had a so-called intranet, but it really wasn’t built or designed for that. So about three years ago, we bought — it’s a third-party cloud-based tool. It’s a starting point. We launched on everyone’s computer and they first login. It logs them automatically. And it’s just a place to go to find out everything you need to know about the firm. There’s a couple thousand pages in it now. So if you’re looking for something or people or an event, you pretty much search for it like you search just on Google. So it saves a lot of our internal administration departments a lot of time from answering the same questions over and over. So we put the information out there and just encourage people to go out and find what you’re looking for.
John: Yeah, that’s great. And you call it L.O.F.T., right?
Jim: Yes. L.O.F.T. stands for Linking One Firm Together. It’s not the women’s clothing store. We actually had the name first. But we had a contest to kind of pick the name. And believe me, we had several creative names. Some I probably can’t mention really. They were really kind of convoluted. But we had a good time, and that’s part of the fun of it because a corporate intranet is to be social too, not just business stuff.
We recently did a thing called Lotus Rewards. The lotus, the lotus flower, is our company logo. The story behind a lotus flower is that it grows in places that are like swampy and like muddy, and all sudden you see this lotus flower that blooms up out of kind of really nasty conditions. I guess there’s correlation with, not that we came from all this ugly stuff, but there’s a nice correlation between that. So we essentially use that tool and say, hey, I’m going to give my peer a lotus flower. It’s a way to give recognition peer to peer. It’s a way to go on our intranet, on the L.O.F.T, and say, “Hey, Fred, you know, good job on the Jones account. I want to give you three lotus flowers.” They can earn flowers and then turn them into the company store for HBK apparel and wear logo stuff all around the office or at home or when they’re out at night.
John: The cool thing I like about that is that it’s a social, so everyone sees it. It’s not just when you’re out at a client, just one on one “Hey, I thought you did a good job. Here’s a lotus flower.” It’s something that everyone sees, “Oh, wow.” That’s a cool thing. And then the person that receives that, there’s some praise there from everyone as opposed to just a quiet thing that you just do in an office or whatever. So that’s great, really cool.
Jim: It’s been just over I think maybe 30, 40 days now it’s been out. I just actually checked the stats on it to report back to our owners and say, I think since inception again 30, 40 days ago, we’ve had 850 transactions, if you will, one person giving flowers to another person for a total of like 1,700 flowers given. The one thing I did too is everyone gets 10 flowers a month and if they don’t use them, they wilt.
John: Oh, there you go.
Jim: They digitally wilt. So again, they expire. So it’s just more incentive for people to actually use them and give a virtual pat on the back.
John: That’s really cool and something that a lot of people listening could easily implement in their own way at their companies. So that’s awesome, Jim. Thank you, man. That’s really great.
So before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me if you’d like, two or three questions, get to know John on another level, which is sometimes scary for all of us.
Jim: While you’re putting me on the spot, I’d say walk, jog or run?
John: Oh, sit on the couch was not an option, so I guess walk. Did you see me running? There’s some danger the other direction. It’s like, “Whoa, he’s running. That’s not good.”
Jim: Okay, how about riding lawn mower, push mower or tractor?
John: Oh, okay. I have a smaller yard, so I have the push mower. It’s actually battery powered, cordless electric. It’s awesome. It’s so great. I don’t have to worry about buying gas or if I’m out of gas or the oil or whatever. Yeah, it’s fantastic. It’s really great. But I also don’t have a gigantic yard. And also growing up, it was always push mower. I think I’m just going back to the roots, I guess.
Well, thanks so much, Jim. This was really great. Thanks for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Jim: Thank, John. Have a good day.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jim or his cars and maybe connect with them on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
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