Episode 228 – Ingrid Edstrom

Ingrid is the Priestess of Profits & Writer & Musician

The Priestess of Profits, Ingrid Edstrom, returns to the podcast from episode 54 to tell us about her recent professional achievements and her journey of shifting her business towards consulting.

Episode Highlights

• What sparked her business shift
• Top 40 under 40 in the accounting industry
• Writing a book
• Fighting the ‘Imposter Syndrome’
• Getting rid of the ‘Zero Sum Game’ mindset

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    Welcome to Episode 228 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 how this message has impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited let everyone know that my book is being published very soon. It will 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 so you don’t miss any of the future episodes of this podcast every Wednesday and now with Follow-Up Fridays. I love sharing such interesting stories each week. This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Ingrid Edstrom. She’s the Priestess of Profits at Polymath in Ashland, Oregon. I love the alliteration. That’s off the roof. Now she’s with me here today.

    Ingrid, thanks so much for taking time to be with me with What’s You’re “And”?

    Ingrid: Thanks so much for having me again, John. This is a lot of fun to be able to come and catch up with you.

    John: Oh, totally. I mean, so much fun. I remember hanging out at QuickBooks Connect several years ago, and then you’ve been on the show and then all that. So it’s just cool to catch up again from episode way back in the day when you were on Episode 54. That’s crazy, crazy.

    Ingrid: I didn’t know you were writing a book. That’s so exciting. I can’t wait to learn more about your book.

    John: Yes, it’s coming out very soon. Yeah, it’s basically this message just blown out in a book form. I think that’ll help spread as well. So people read it, and they’re like, “Hey, you got to read this” type of thing. So people that haven’t met me or see me speak, help spread the message above and beyond the podcast world.

    Ingrid: It’s such an important message. Thanks again for having me today.

    John: Oh, that means so much. Thanks, Ingrid. But yeah, we start out, before we get into the fun, it’s super fun with the rapid-fire questions right out of the gate. So here we go. Seven, I got seven for you. First one, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Ingrid: Oh, I think Harry Potter because I haven’t read the book series yet, but Game of Thrones, the last season, just didn’t — it didn’t end well for me. I was like, you know, they kind of dropped the ball there.

    John: Right, it ruined it all. What’s a typical breakfast?

    Ingrid: Protein shake or eggs.

    John: Protein shake. Okay. Okay. Do you have a favorite food, any food at all?

    Ingrid: Oh, man. Probably chocolate.

    John: Nice. That’s a good answer. That’s a good answer. That leads me right into the next one, brownie or ice cream?

    Ingrid: It depends on the day, but brownie with ice cream on it is like the best thing ever.

    John: That’s a completely fair answer. Do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Ingrid: Cold.

    John: Cold. Okay. Two more. You travel a fair amount. When you’re on an airplane, window seat or aisle seat?

    Ingrid: Window, always.

    John: Nice. Okay. And the last one, maybe the most important one, toilet paper, roll over or under?

    Ingrid: Over.

    John: Over. Okay.

    Ingrid: Yes. So the only people who aren’t crazy that do it underhanded like that are the ones who have cats that will unfurl the toilet paper roll. My cats don’t do that, so I don’t have to worry about it. But if you do it under, the pictures are facing the wrong way.

    John: Right, right. That’s awesome. Very cool. When you were on three years ago, we talked incredible, fire breathing, playing in an Irish band, and then, of course, Penny, the puppet, if you will, that you do a lot of shows with and webinar type things with online. So are those still pieces of your life and things you’re doing outside of work?

    Ingrid: Yes and no. I mean, there’s such a variety always, and there’s things that kind of go in and out of our lives like seasons. I’m not playing at the local pub anymore. My friends sold the bar.

    John: Oh, no!

    Ingrid: But I do still play at festivals occasionally. So I’ve got a gig coming up actually in a couple of weeks playing music at the medieval fair in Northern California. That’s a fun thing. I get to go dress up in costume and play Irish music with my husband and my friend Earl the Bard, who is our fantastic hurdy-gurdy player.

    John: Very cool.

    Ingrid: Oh, that’s the cool thing. Fire breathing I still do on occasion, playing with fire mostly just with friends at a festival, that sort of thing, but it’s a hobby that’s once in a while. If for no other reason, then it’s not very good for me. So it’s a lot of chemicals and things. Ask a Bookkeeper is still happening, and people can learn about that at askabookkeeper.com. That is our puppet show where we are working to create for small business something like what Bill Nye does for science, taking the big intimidating ideas that scare people away from following their dreams and making them more approachable, digestible and fun. It’s like Sesame Street for small business owners.

    Penny is now not alone. We have a new character which is Procrastinator Gator. Procrastinator Gator is like Super Grover in that he goes to this transition over the course of his story. He owns Gator’s Bayou tours, and he takes people out on his boat. He loves being out of the water with his customers, but he’s not so good at keeping up on the business stuff like emails and payroll. So over the course of his story, he learned that he doesn’t have to do all of those things himself, and he becomes the delegator and learns how to delegate the things that are not his forte, not his passion. It’s a really fun, cute story and a great way of helping our clients see that they don’t have to be the only person doing things in their businesses, that there’s other ways of going about that if they’ve got roadblocks there.

    John: I love that. That’s awesome. Very cool. And you do such a great job of, like you said, explaining it in simple terms for everyone to understand, not just coming in with all this corporate accounting speak jargon and acronyms and stuff that I don’t even think ever even accountants and bookkeepers totally know.

    Ingrid: Our clients need us to speak their language.

    John: I was going to ask, how important do you think it is to deliver it in client speak?

    Ingrid: I think it’s really, really important. If, for no other reason, we need to get back to the core why of what we’re doing. It’s not just about money and success and power. We do what we do because it makes a difference in the world. It makes a difference in people’s lives. And it’s all really about connection. It always amazes me when accounting professionals take on as many clients as they can, and they bill by the hour to just turn out tax returns or get the compliance accounting done. And they don’t end up really connecting with their clients and not really getting to see what it is they’re building and the impact that’s having on the world.

    I’ve made a lot of changes in my business, and I’m not doing it that way anymore. Now, it’s all about the connection for me and really focusing on that impact and making sure that my clients feel heard and that their questions are getting answered and that their business is going in the direction they want it to go. In order to do that, we need to have the right client relationships. We can’t just take all commerce. It’s got to be a fit.

    John: Yeah, I love that. And what sparked that change?

    Ingrid: I was hearing that we needed to specialize. Part of it is just the practicality of the accounting profession has become so complex and diverse at this point that we can’t be a specialist in everything. There are too many different software platforms and especially industry specific software that we can’t take all commerce anymore. There are so many industries that need specialists. So an example is here in Oregon, a handful of years ago, cannabis was legalized, and so now there’s a lot of accountants that are specializing in cannabusiness. The rules changed so quickly that if you’re going to even think about touching cannabusiness in your practice, you have to specialize in it. It’s the same if you work with attorneys, if you work with medical professionals. My specialty that I have become exclusive in at this point is working with tours and activities companies. I am the safari accountant.

    John: Nice. There you go. And that goes back to your days before that when — yeah, I remember you had some experience in working with animals and stuff like that as well, right?

    Ingrid: Yes. I’ve got a biology degree.

    John: Yeah, that’s right. Okay. I did remember. See, boom. Yes. Because I remembered us talking about that and seeing some pictures of you with big animals. That’s awesome. So that has to tap into a little bit of that as well.

    Ingrid: Yeah. Working with the people that I resonate with and specializing in their software, specializing in seasonal businesses that need to operate in multiple currencies, but there are so many ins and outs and ups and downs, and there’s been a lot of changes in my business since the last time you and I spoke, lots and lots of changes.

    John: But it sounds like it’s all in the way up. I mean, everything’s really, really good.

    Ingrid: It is and it’s not. That’s one of those things where success is messy, and I think that that’s an important thing to communicate here. So we can normalize some of these ideas and share with your fantastic listeners that whatever their experience, ups and downs, they’re not alone. They talk about how comparison is the thief of joy. Well, it’s also the thief of validation. And just recognizing our own experience as being valid and real and authentic, we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others and thinking, “Oh, I’m not successful, if I don’t have this, this, this and this,” and it’s not working.

    Over the last six months, I have completely turned a whole lot of things upside down because of some major disruptions in my business. Some of those things can be seen as good. Some of them could be seen as not so good. I’m going to do the latest thing, and then I’m going to go back to the beginning. So it’s a little bit ironic to me that just this week, I was recognized for the third or fourth time, something like that, by CPA Practice Advisor Magazine as one of the top 40 under 40 in the accounting profession. This is my last time getting that recognition because I am 39, so I won’t be under 40 anymore.

    John: Well, congratulations. That’s huge.

    Ingrid: Thank you. And the weird thing is that with that kind of recognition, and I’ve got some other recognitions, I think we talked about last time I was on your show, most powerful women in accounting from the future, those kinds of things, there comes a lot of imposter syndrome. I am not a CPA. I do not have an accounting degree. I have a biology degree. I taught myself how to do this stuff. And every day I see posts on social media and things like that. Yesterday, someone from an enrolled agent who specializes the legal stuff in the representation, and she was saying that some organization or something like that wasn’t recognizing her as doing what she was doing because she’s not a CPA, that there was something saying that she couldn’t do that thing, that she didn’t have the credential. She’s like, “This is so frustrating to me because most CPAs can’t do what I do, and they don’t teach this stuff in school. Why do I need to be a CPA to do this thing that I’m doing?”

    It’s same thing with what I’m doing with my clients. At this point, I’m not doing a whole lot of the background management accounting. I teach people how to fish. And if they don’t want to do the fishing themselves, I teach them how to delegate that to someone on their team or to someone that they can delegate the day-to-day stuff that doesn’t want to do the bigger picture, 30,000-foot view stuff that the big brainstorming things that I love doing with my clients. So I am actually no longer billing myself as an accounting firm. I’m billing myself as a consulting firm.

    The big thing that shifted that was about six months ago, I was on vacation in Australia with my husband and woulda, shoulda, coulda seen it coming years before my fantastic business partner, Vanessa, who I’ve worked with for five years, ended up having some big personal things going on in her life that she needed to take a big step back from everything. It resulted in some upheaval, not between me and Vanessa but just in Vanessa’s life where I was watching my business basically burst into flames from literally the other side of the world. It’s one of those disruptions where it was just me and Vanessa for quite some time and recognizing when we were in that position of, okay, this is life. We’re going to roll with it. We’re going to figure it out. She needs to step back. I wish her all of the wonderful health and blessings. I love Vanessa so much. It’s not about blame. It’s not about fault. There are things that I can see looking back where I could have seen some of this coming a couple years ago. It was like being a frog in slowly heating water, ignoring some of those red flags and signs. If, for no other reason, then — I adore Vanessa. I love working with her. I had often said, what if something happened to you? I don’t know if I’d want to do this anymore in the same way that if something happened to my husband, I don’t know if I would want a two-acre farm with goats and chickens. Those are the dreams that he and I have together.

    So when my business partner, my work wife, had to leave, I completely had to reevaluate everything. I realized, you know what, I don’t want to do the back-end management accounting stuff anymore. That was Vanessa’s favorite thing to do. I really enjoy the automation and streamlining those processes. I want to develop deeper relationships with fewer clients and just focus on the strategy, advisory services. I’ve been turning my business upside down focusing a lot, but I also felt like there was something I was missing.

    This is a really big shift for me because just in the last handful of months, I basically put Polymath, my business, somewhat on autopilot. I’ve got a couple of clients that I’ve kept that I don’t know if I could ever part with them because I love them so much, but I’m not really taking on a lot of new clients right now while I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical on writing a book.

    John: Good for you. Look at you.

    Ingrid: Well, this was something that as I was trying to figure things out, when Vanessa was having to leave, it’s so interesting to see how these things happen and the timing of them. I don’t believe in coincidences. All of this stuff came down right on the spring equinox. So here we are just after the fall equinox recording this. So six months ago and I said, you know what, I’m going to give myself a season to figure this out. I’m going to give myself three months, which is actually really perfect timing because in June, I’m speaking at the Scaling New Heights Conference, and that’s my last big commitment. I taught five classes at Scaling New Heights this year, and it was a blast. I loved it. It was a huge, huge undertaking to teach five courses at a conference in one go.

    So that was the last big commitment that I had that I needed to wrap up before I could really figure stuff out. So just kind of working through what needs to change and figuring things out, I was seeing a business coach at that time and looking to sort some of this out with her. At one point, I was looking at all of this stuff that I had to do, not really knowing where I was going, feeling like things were totally up in the air.

    This is part of where the imposter syndrome comes in. Here I am one of the top 40 under 40, and I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m going to put that right out there right now. None of us have any clue what we’re doing. We’re all making this up as we go. And if anyone says otherwise, then life’s about to hit them with the “Yeah, you think so.”

    John: Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. Right, square in the face.

    Ingrid: So anyone who’s feeling unsure, you’re doing great. Just keep swimming. We’re doing great. So here I’m trying to figure this stuff out. I’m looking at my website and my marketing and the stuff that I’m doing for clients and the classes that I’m teaching. The conference is coming up. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed and like it’s all ineffective and having no idea what the priorities need to be because I have no idea if I’m going to keep doing any of this or if I just want to throw in the hat and help my husband with his business, just figuring all this stuff out. I was talking with my buddy business coach, talking about marketing and clients and do I need to find more clients and networking with colleagues and finding that people who want to collaborate, make awesome things like podcasts and stuff like that, and trying to figure out what the priorities are.

    We were talking about the idea of the one thing, the book The One Thing, which I haven’t actually read yet, but I’ve seen the TED Talk, and trying to figure out, what’s the one thing that by doing that, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary? Sheryl, my coach, asked me, “Well, you’ve talked about your client avatars, what they have in common. But what are the colleagues that you want to network with? What do they have in common?” And I realized there’s one thing. .The people that I want to collaborate with, the people that I want to work with, like me, want to create a rising tide that raises all ships. We don’t believe in a zero-sum game. And I realized that the people who do believe in a zero-sum game and who are operating in a zero-sum game mindset, that there’s really no point in playing with them because they’re always trying to win at somebody else’s expense, and that’s not how I roll. It’s win-win or no game.

    John: Right and yeah, because not only is it a, you know, there’s only one winner, but they want to be the winner, which is not good for anybody.

    Ingrid: There’s always something weird and underhanded. There’s something trying to take advantage, and it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. So I realized that I needed to start every conversation I have with new people I meet moving forward with ways to find out whether or not they’re operating in the zero-sum game mindset. So that was the first thing. But then this idea kept percolating in my mind over just the next like 15, 20 minutes.

    I started thinking about it in the context of Shirzad Chamine’s fantastic book Positive Intelligence where he talks about the saboteurs. We all know the saboteurs, those voices in the backs of our heads that say all these negative things to us and cut us down. They just get in our way, and they pull the wind out of our sails and make it so that we don’t have the energy to do the things that we need to do and it’s because of these niggling voices. He talks about how the judge is the lead saboteur, and that there’s a bunch of accomplice saboteurs like the victim and the pleaser and the avoider, hyperanalytical, hyperrational, hypercritical. There’s all these different things, but they’re all rooted in judgment, judgment of ourselves, judgment of others and judgment of circumstances. As I was thinking about this in context of the idea of a zero-sum game mindset and for anyone listening who doesn’t know what zero-sum game means, now that I’ve said it a million times, it’s the idea that in order for someone or something to win, something else has to lose.

    So I realized that judgment is the saboteurs as zero-sum game thinking is to pretty much all of our human limiting beliefs. When I realized that, I realized that I kind of cracked the code, that by realizing this, by focusing on getting past zero-sum game we can do a much more effective job working with our clients and try to bring things back to a win-win collaborative conversation there, working with our families, our spouses, and our friends and finding ways to create win-wins, focusing on our common interests rather than opposing positions. But also within ourselves, those niggling voices in the backs of our heads that cut us down are based in a zero-sum game mindset that make us think that in order to be happy, we have to sacrifice something, that somehow we don’t deserve to be happy and that is ridiculous. It is so ridiculous. And since then, I’ve been seeing this everywhere. It’s just like the movie 21 where, you know.

    John: Yeah, with Jim Carrey. Yeah.

    Ingrid: Right. I’ve realized that creating not just a nonzero-sum game but a positive-sum game, so focusing on those win-wins is how we can create infinite potential in our lives. We just have to find the people who want to collaborate on those ideas with us, and we can do things like stop taking more resources than our planet can give us. We see things on the bigger picture, on the longer game, and we focus on what’s the real win. And that I realized was pretty much the biggest message that I could communicate to people. That is what I’m focusing on with my book is how to do that, how to communicate it in simpler words to be able to reach people.

    I think that that could very well be the vaccine to what is plaguing the human race right now, why we don’t listen to each other, why we have political disruption and economic disruption and environmental disruption. Let’s listen to each other and try to find those win-wins.

    John: That’s awesome. What a huge takeaway for everybody too. If you shut down that judgment inner voice, then the other inner voices have no conduit to let anything out.

    Ingrid: Well, and it took a major business disruption.

    John: Really awesome, Ingrid. Holy cow! Lives are changed right now, mine anyway. I mean, golly, this is awesome. Awesome.

    Well, before I wrap this up, though, it is only fair that I allow you to rapid-fire question me.

    Ingrid: I have a couple for you.

    John: Yeah. And after all that deepness, I don’t know if I’m ready for these. Here we go, though.

    Ingrid: I bet you can find deep existential answers to these rapid-fire questions, if you would. They can be quick and easy and simple silly or they can go deep if you want. If you could be any animal, what would you be?

    John: Oh, man, that is pretty deep. Pretty deep. I don’t know, for some reason, I think dolphins are cool. They’re wicked smart. They’re super fast. They can do all kinds of cool stuff. Plus, you have the whole ocean to go play in. And then people are nice to you. They don’t want to hunt you. I don’t know. It’s like everyone’s your friend. But yeah, so I don’t know. I guess the dolphin. That would be kind of cool.

    Ingrid: That’s a great answer. Love it. Okay, and here’s the other one. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?

    John: Oh, man, I feel like being able to sing is a superpower to me because I’m terrible at it. That would be a good one. If I could just sing, that would be fun. But yeah, I don’t know if that’s a superpower, but it is to me because people that can sing well are, yeah, I don’t know how you do it because I cannot.

    So awesome. Well, this was so much fun. Thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Ingrid: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me again, John. It’s so great to reconnect with you and say hello to all your fantastic listeners and catch up a little bit.

    John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Ingrid in action or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.

    Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or wherever 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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