Episode 234 – Jen Gardner

Jen is a CFO & Roller Derby Player

Jen Gardner returns to the podcast from episode 55 to tell us about her brief hiatus from roller derby, joining a new team and helping them win their first championship in 11 years! She also shares with us some of her co-worker’s reactions to her passion for roller derby!

Episode Highlights

• Taking a brief break from roller derby
• Joining a new team and winning their first championship in 11 years
• The team skills she gained from roller derby and how they apply in the office
• Co-workers showing support for her passion in roller derby

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Jen’s Pictures

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Jen in roller derby action

Roller derby action

More roller derby action

Fun at the roller derby


Jen’s links


  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Welcome to Episode 234 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following 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 hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked. I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s coming out very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list so you’ll be the first to know when it’s being published.

    Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes every Wednesday and now with Follow-up Fridays. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Jen Gardner. She’s the Vice President of Finance at The Copley Consulting Group in Rhode Island. Now, she’s with me here today. Jen, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Jen: Thanks for having me.

    John: I’m excited. Since we got to hang out at the CFO Conference in Chicago a couple of months ago, it was so much fun to meet you in person. That was great. But since we did hang out, I know a lot of these answers anyway, but I figured I’d throw some rapid-fire questions at you that are a little bit different. Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Jen: I don’t really care.

    John: Okay. That ending really ruined it for everybody.

    Jen: Yeah. Yeah.

    John: What’s a typical breakfast?

    Jen: Eggs and some kind of side potatoes or —

    John: And healthy. Look at you.

    Jen: Try.

    John: Do you have a favorite Disney character?

    Jen: It has recently changed. It used to be the Little Mermaid but we’re really into Moana now.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Jen: Yeah. She’s a little more her own woman compared to Ariel.

    John: There you go. How about brownie or ice cream?

    Jen: Ice cream.

    John: Ice cream? Nice. When you read, more Kindle or real books?

    Jen: Real books.

    John: Totally. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?

    Jen: I’m a big Disney fan. I just got back a couple of weeks ago. So it’s fresh on my mind.

    John: Nice. Very cool. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under?

    Jen: Wait. Does anyone actually ever say under?

    John: On occasion, yes, they do. Then I feel like everyone, when they hear that, they Twitter bomb them to make them fix it.

    Jen: Yeah. No, that’s not okay. It’s only over.

    John: It’s not okay? I actually had someone say, “If the answer isn’t over, then this conversation is over.”

    Jen: Hey, that’s a good one.

    John: I was like, “Oh, wow. All right.” Yeah. But when we talked on Episode 55, which is crazy how long ago that was, we talked roller derby, which is just awesome. And you’re still playing, which is great. It’s so great.

    Jen: It’s my seventh season.

    John: I was going to say how many years has it been? Seventh? Wow.

    Jen: Yeah.

    John: And you took some time off there.

    Jen: I had a baby. They don’t encourage full contact sport while you’re pregnant, so I took that year off.

    John: It’s like, “Man, you can’t smoke or drink or hit people in roller-skates. What the heck?” But that’s very cool. What’s the name of your team again? I forgot. I’m sorry.

    Jen: I’m actually on a new team. I’m on the Old Money Honeys.

    John: Old Money Honeys.

    Jen: Yes.

    John: Nice. I like it. Then what’s your player name?

    Jen: Sunscreen. My number, SPF9.

    John: It’s so good. That’s awesome. Is it the same league that you were in before?

    Jen: Yeah. I’ve just changed home teams. I was on actually a new team last year and then on my third team this year.

    John: Yeah. You’re like a free agent.

    Jen: Yeah, but it’s good. I’m where I’m supposed to be now. Actually, now, we just won championships.

    John: Really?

    Jen: Yup. It’s very exciting. This team has not won championships in 11 years. It was a very emotional, exciting win.

    John: That’s awesome. Congratulations. That’s huge.

    Jen: Yeah. Thanks. Now I’ve actually been on all three teams for a championship win, so it’s been full circle.

    John: I mean there’s clearly a common denominator.

    Jen: Right? I must be.

    John: You’re the difference maker.

    Jen: No, definitely not.

    John: No, that’s great though. That’s so cool. It’s one thing to play, but then to be on championship winning teams three times, that’s great.

    Jen: I know. Never when I was Captain though, so I guess that gives you any hint.

    John: Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t sell yourself short. Just because you don’t have the captain armband doesn’t mean that you’re not a captain in your own way, Jen.

    Jen: Thanks for the pep talk.

    John: There you go. I’m more of an example of what not to do. That’s the example I said. Either way, there’s an example being set. We talked about it before. People that want to catch up, you can go to Episode 55 and hear all about it. But roller derby really does give you some skills that you bring to the office.

    Jen: Yeah, I think so for sure. I mean I think the classic team sport example is being able to work with people and especially all kinds of different personalities and get along. All that obviously has its benefits. But yeah, there were definitely a lot of opportunities to hone leadership skills too, so it used to be on the board.

    John: Right.

    Jen: Every account in, I get asked to be the treasurer.

    John: Exactly.

    Jen: This was no exception.

    John: I think what’s even better about it all is just it’s something that you share in the office and that co-workers know about.

    Jen: Yeah, it is. The owner of my company came to see a bout and had an absolute blast. That was fun. The marketing executive critiqued my name choice like, “Well, clearly, you made a smart choice not going into marketing.”

    John: I thought it was clever.

    Jen: Thank you.

    John: But then again, I’m also not in marketing.

    Jen: No. Yeah.

    John: That’s just really cool that something that not only you felt like you were able to share, but that they embraced it so much that they actually came to see the bouts.

    Jen: I know.

    John: Which is great. Is that something that happens a lot in your office? Of people sharing outside of work, things like that and people celebrating them?

    Jen: Yeah, I think so. We’re really a small office. There’s less than ten of us. It was Monday morning today. I didn’t get too much work done the first, I don’t know how many minutes of my day, maybe 60, maybe an hour, catching up with everyone. Well, people had been away too, but you work with these people. I think I see my co-workers more than my family. I don’t know.

    John: Your waking hours, I believe it.

    Jen: In waking hours, exactly. So you want to like them and get along with them at least.

    John: Right. I mean it’s such a novel concept, right, to actually care about them?

    Jen: Yeah.

    John: Above and beyond what they can do for you in the office, they’re real people. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks — I mean because clearly roller derby, no one ever told me in business school that you’ll be a better VP of Finance or professional when you go do roller derby.

    Jen: I know.

    John: People that think that their passion has nothing to do with their job?

    Jen: I still hesitate honestly to bring it up right away. I don’t know why. It’s such an alternative thing, but every single time without fail, when I bring it up, people are delighted by this information. We have an entire conversation about it. You really grow more of a relationship with whoever that person is rather than your functional business relationship. I can’t imagine that wouldn’t be this scenario for the most part.

    John: Yeah. I mean provided there’s nothing illegal.

    John: Because something that is so unique, like Roller Derby, is something that, like you said, every time delighted. That’s something that no one hears when you’re talking financial statements. “They were delighted.” That isn’t a word that anyone uses.

    Jen: No one is usually ever delighted to have an accounting conversation.

    John: Right. Exactly. If you’re able to change that to be something that is delightful, then why not?

    Jen: Yeah. No, it’s totally true.

    John: Even if you don’t think that the other person shares the same thing, which clearly, it’s not like you’re coming across dozens of people that are like, “Oh, me too. I also do roller derby.” And you’re like, “Wait. No, that’s crazy.” But with me and my comedy, I mean it’s something that’s unique, but yet people can still relate to it or at least want to have a conversation with you.

    Jen: You get to talking about them too. I found out someone I work with used to play ice hockey in college. I used to play ice hockey in college. Then we found a connection, not the absolute best relationship. After that, it opened up a little more. So you just never know. It’s never going to hurt, I don’t think.

    John: That’s a good call. It’s just not going to hurt. And even if they’re not interested, at least they know who you are and like what you’re for.

    Jen: Yeah. People are going to think I’m less professional or something, but everyone knows you’re professional. They work with you. No one’s ever thought that. I don’t know why I still actually do worry about that just a teensy bit. But it’s things like your podcast. You talked about this at the conference we saw each other at. I always go, “Stop. Stop. That’s a silly concern.”

    John: Yeah. But it’s legitimate. It’s legitimate though.

    Jen: Yeah. Yeah.

    John: But I find that every time, it’s in our own heads. Then the one chance that there is somebody that does judge you, they don’t need to be in your life anyway.

    Jen: Yeah. Agreed.

    John: It’s like, “Well, it doesn’t matter.” I mean you’re going to give up all these awesome people to satisfy one grumpy person that’s never going to be satisfied ever.

    Jen: No. And I haven’t even met this grumpy person yet.

    John: See. There you go. Challenge accepted. No, I’m just kidding. I’m kidding. No, but it’s so true. That’s what I hope. By doing the podcast and having so many people on, it just shows people that this is normal. This is what everyone else is doing. So let’s shine a light on and talk about it. Then it becomes delightful, like you said. Very cool.

    Before I wrap this up though, it’s only fair that I offer the opportunity for you to rapid-fire question me. If you have any questions you want to fire away on, we can do that.

    Jen: Yes. I have three questions.

    John: Oh, boy, here we go.

    Jen: My first one was a little innocuous. So hamburger or hotdog?

    John: Oh, that’s good. I’ll go hamburger.

    Jen: All right. Good choice.

    John: Okay. There are some wrong answers to some of these. That’s the loaded part of this.

    Jen: Well, the toilet paper question is definitively wanting answers correct.

    John: Exactly.

    Jen: All right. So original versus reboot?

    John: Oh, yeah, I’m going to go original.

    Jen: I think both. I’m answering my own questions. I’m sorry. I think both.

    John: No, no. That’s fair. That’s fair.

    Jen: All right. This is the hard one. Backstreet Boys versus NSYNC?

    John: Oh, wow. That is a hard one. That’s a tough one.

    Jen: The one that really shows who you are.

    John: That’s a tricky one. I guess I’ll have to go in sync, but they’re both — wow. I mean because for some reason, only Backstreet Boys songs are in my head right now.

    Jen: Backstreet Boys was the clear right answer, but maybe you weren’t a teenager in the ‘90s like I was.

    John: I was but I wasn’t a teenage girl in the ‘90s. So I link NSYNC for the Timberlake effect.

    Jen: Now, he’s such a phenomenon.

    John: Right. But as a group, yeah. So that is hard.

    Jen: Yeah. That’s tough. You have no information now.

    John: Yeah. He asked me in the ‘90s. Unfortunately, I’m old now. So that’s how that works. But no, this was so much fun, Jen, catching up with you. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Jen: Yeah. No problem. Thanks for having me back. It was an honor.

    John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jen in action or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. 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 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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