Episode 240 – Kristen Rampe

Kristen is an CPA & Improv Performer

Kristen Rampe, CPA works extensively with the accounting industry on talent retention, talent development, and partner harmony. She spent ten years in public practice with PwC and a regional firm in San Francisco, before founding her consulting practice in 2011.

When Kristen was first on the podcast, on episode 27, she talked about her passion in watercolor painting. She is now back to talk about her new passion in improv performance!

Episode Highlights

Getting into improv
How improv helps her with her job
Asking about passions outside of the office with clients

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Kristen’s Pictures

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Kristen performing improv with at a local comedy theatre

Encouraging conference attendees to try improv


Kristen’s links


  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Welcome to Episode 240 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. I hope everyone’s had a happy holidays and is recovering from the glutton of food that I know I ate, so good for everybody.

    This is John Garrett and 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 to let everyone know my book’s coming out next month 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. You’ll be the first to know when it’s being published.

    Please, don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every Wednesday and Friday and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Kristen Rampe. She’s the owner of Rampe Consulting and the founder of Slide Deck Improv and now she’s with me here today.

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

    Kristen: Thanks, John. I’m really glad to be back for the Friday Follow-Up.

    John: Totally. From Episode 27. That was so long ago. Crazy.

    Kristen: Yeah, yeah. It feels like years. I think it was.

    John: Yeah. It was almost decades, to be honest. No.

    Kristen: Nearly, nearly.

    John: No, but I’m just excited to have you back and I’ve rearranged the order now. We do the rapid fire questions up front.

    Kristen: Okay.

    John: I hope you’re buckled in. Here we go. First one, if you had to choose. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Kristen: Harry Potter.

    John: Harry Potter, okay. More diamonds or pearls?

    Kristen: Diamonds.

    John: Oh, okay. All right. Do you have a favorite movie of all time?

    Kristen: Yes, and we’re going to go with the Sound of Music.

    John: Oh, okay. All right. That’s a great answer. More cats or dogs?

    Kristen: Cats.

    John: Okay, all right. Brownie or ice cream?

    Kristen: Oh, brownie with ice cream, but we’ll take the brownie first.

    John: Oh, no. You can combine. That’s good. What’s a typical breakfast? If you say brownie with ice cream, you win all of the internet.

    Kristen: Well, brownie with ice cream clearly would be the best option but since I don’t always have those on hand, favorite breakfast, gosh, sometimes I go easy with Raisin Bran but I also love me a good eggs on toast.

    John: Oh, yeah. Okay, all right. The last one. Maybe the most important one is toilet paper roll. Over or under?

    Kristen: Over.

    John: Over. There you go.

    Kristen: Yeah, without a doubt. I change it. If I go in there and someone’s put it on under, I change it so it’s over because it’s one of those minor pet peeves that really drives my life.

    John: That’s awesome. I’m hearing more and more from people that say that they will change it. Then I ask, will you tell the person that they did it wrong or you just ninja change it and then they’ll figure it out later.

    Kristen: Yeah, I think I would ninja change because it’s one of those where it’s not worth the loss in whatever relationship status I had to correct someone on the toilet paper situation. I wouldn’t change it at someone else’s house. This is only like in my own house.

    John: Oh, okay. All right, because I know people that would change it everywhere. Good for you. You’re a better person for that.

    Kristen: No. I’ll tolerate it.

    John: But when we last talked a couple of years ago, it’s watercolor painting and a lot of the artistic side of you. Is that something that you’re still exploring?

    Kristen: Well, I wouldn’t say I don’t do it at all but it’s not as much of a thing as it was for me back then, and before we got on our chat today, I was kind of reflecting back on that and thinking about how throughout my I guess life as a whole, but especially my adult life has been creative expression kind of been a thing and visual arts has shown up often.

    But I know that I also just — I like to kind of dabble around and so I’ll do the watercolor painting one year or two and then it’ll be sketching and then it’ll be who knows whatever I can find to take a class in. But watercolor stuck around for a while, but I kind of took a little break from that lately.

    John: Is there something else that’s filling this or is it time with family?

    Kristen: I’m glad you brought up time with family because if I were to be like a totally real person, I would say that that definitely takes up a lot of my free time, so I don’t have oodles of time to just hang out — well, let me say it correctly. I choose to spend a lot of time with my family.

    John: There you go.

    Kristen: But my other thing — yeah, right. I didn’t get my language correct. It’s not being told to me. I am doing it. But yeah, I am spending more time and partly, it’s just a little more accessible to me where I’m living now is doing improv classes that I take at a couple of different local places that we have here where I live in Michigan. I love it. It’s great fun.

    It fulfills me in so many ways just being out there with a group of people who are also willing to just make stuff up on the fly and play around. It’s like adult play. I mean there’s a lot of ways to play but that’s one that I particularly enjoy and it’s just great fun.

    John: It totally is. I can just tell the way you’re talking about it. It lights you up.

    Kristen: Yes.

    John: I had someone on the podcast last year, Mark Winburn, and he referred to singing as his breathing and happy. You could just hear it in the tone of your voice. I mean it’s breathing and happy. That’s really awesome and especially with a lot of what you’re doing with Slide Deck Improv and a lot of more speaking and things like that, I imagine that makes you better at your job.

    Kristen: It does, yeah. I mean it makes me better at my job. It helps me do my job in some ways but I can do those things without it but I go and take these classes really out of that. I mean there’s multiple things but most of it is the fact that it’s purely enjoyable and it’s great to have a space to be able to do these things with other people who are interested and willing to try it out and watch everyone give improv a go, whether they’re new or more experienced is super enjoyable.

    John: Yeah, and so are you able to do shows as well or is there a showcase at the end?

    Kristen: Yes. That’s what I do. I take intro classes all the time even though I’ve done it a bunch of times and can take more advanced but there’s something that I enjoy about also being a part of people who have never done it before and then yeah, so usually the class will be six to eight weeks long and then at the end, the last class is typically a show and so we invite friends and family to come and they all get to have a laugh at a free show with a bunch of amateur improvisers.

    The thought of joining an improve troupe where you actually are really kind of committed as a group and working and practicing together is really interesting to me and I would love to do it but I travel a fair bit for work and it makes that whole commitment piece really hard. I couldn’t say that I could come every Wednesday or whatever day of the week is their thing because I’d be like well, but the second Wednesday I’m gone and the first Wednesday, my kids have a thing. I’d be a bad team member.

    John: Yeah, plus those showcase shows are the best shows you’ll ever have because the audience is so routing for everyone.

    Kristen: Oh, yes.

    John: Because they’re just excited that they know one of the people performing and they’re glad that they’re not one of the ones up there doing it.

    Kristen: Exactly.

    John: Yeah. That’s really cool though. Also, just something that just lights you up, and yeah, and your family to come see you perform as well.

    Kristen: Yes. I’m excited for the someday. I was thinking — so I probably have one coming up in about a couple more weeks and I’m wondering, can I bring my kids to this one because it’s actually a Sunday class so it’s in the afternoon, it’s not too late but the challenge is they tend to be a little bit R rated from time to time. I have twins and they’re ten years old and I’m not quite ready to bring them in to the R-rated show but someday, someday soon. The next couple of years, we’ll let them come check it out.

    John: That’s fun though. Just curious, the companies that you’re doing consulting with and areas that you’re speaking in, do you find that people are sharing their hobbies and passions more or is it something that you’re seeing?

    Kristen: I love to ask about it and explore it whenever I either one, get an inkling that somebody just got something that they’re up to or two, it’s a great just sort of relationship building type of question like so what do you do? And then getting them to talk a little bit about what lights them up and what drives them outside of work helps build those relationships. I think it’s been having your messages sort of in my toolbox of how do we get to know people and what they do out of the office is nothing but helpful.

    I certainly still come across some people who, for whatever reason, don’t have something specific going on or maybe they just got other things that they’re working through right now, but I love it when I get a chance to learn about different things that people do.

    John: Yeah, or I find too is sometimes, people just don’t think that they qualify as a runner or an improve performer or an artist or a piano player and it’s like well, if it’s what you like to do, and you do it semi-regularly then I think that counts, I mean like what more do you need? And yeah, I think that that’s a big barrier for people to have to get over is well, I don’t make money at it. It’s not how I make a living.

    Kristen: So it’s not my thing.

    John: Right. I mean you also don’t get paid to be a mother. I mean you’re clearly a great mom. Are you not a mom now because it’s like just crazy? It’s just I think giving people the confidence and permission to be like no, no, you’re that. Why not?

    Kristen: Yeah, absolutely. You do that thing and it helped us all see that human side of people in what they do which I guess brings in those connections and I think that’s valuable to everybody.

    John: Right, no absolutely. I guess do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that think you know, hey, I love to do this thing and it has nothing to do with my job?

    Kristen: Yeah. Well, I like the concept of that proactive sharing and it’s best in like a reciprocal kind of conversation. You start with a curiosity about someone whether it’s the person who sits three desks away from you that you don’t usually talk to or someone you do usually talk to and ask them like, what are you up to? What are you doing when you’re not watching your kids?

    Obviously, the answer is sleeping or passing out or drinking but besides those things, what else might you be doing you know, and get them to get off the dime a little bit and then again, you know, living in the kind of current circle where people are typically kind of busy and a little bit stressed.

    Sometimes, you got to be a bit forward and be like, yeah, one of the things that I like to do is improv and then you can share a little and get to know them.

    Like this morning, I was just meeting with a guy who’s a fellow parent at my kid’s school. He’s one of the most positive, happy, outgoing people that I know. He started to kind of develop his own little emotional fitness program he calls it, and so he’s helping people just kind of develop some habits that can help them feel better as they start their day and when things kind of get troublesome in the middle of the day, get back on track, and it’s just so cool.

    He wanted to share with me what he was doing and we talked about it today and it’s fun to see what people are up to. I think that inspires people to do more and do better for themselves and whatever their interest is. That’s what I like about it. Words of wisdom, ask other people the question, let them talk then you can share some of your things.

    John: Yeah. I love how you said that. It inspires other people around to be like oh, it is normal to have things outside of work so I’m allowed to talk about this and no one’s going to look down on me or think that I’m not very good at my job or the millions of answers that I’ve heard from people. Instead, it’s no, people celebrate that stuff. It’s cool.

    Kristen: Yeah. In fact, I have another story of someone who’s just all over the personal hobby scene. I work at a co-working space where we have lots of people who you know, they work as freelancers for small companies or remotely but they want an office environment and we have a great culture here and some of the people I’ve gotten to know is actually, it’s a couple that sits across from me and the woman is all over — she calls it Granny Crafts but it’s like crocheting and embroidery.

    She she’s crocheting stuff all the time and she just crocheted these little three peas in a pea pod, little toy for someone who’s having a newborn baby. It’s super cool. In fact, I’m a little bit obvious because I’m like, my hobby right now which is improv, I kind of got to wait for the class and go do the class.

    To be honest, I do subject my family to doing some improv from time to time, but it’s not so easy to do solo because I need a partner but for her, she can just do her thing. So maybe, John, when we follow-up in another couple of years, maybe I’ll have like my new thing like back to watercolor, I can do it by myself.

    John: Right. That is a good point because I mean your family or even just strangers on the street that maybe don’t know that they’re playing the game.

    Kristen: Right, yes.

    John: There’s a comedian, Eddie Gossling, I worked with many years ago. He used to have this joke about, you know who the most ticklish people are? Random people on the sidewalk.

    Kristen: Awesome.

    John: Yeah, but that is true. Something that you can do in a group is cool because there’s a lot of benefits to that but yeah, you have to wait or get the group.

    Well, this has been really cool to catch up, Kristen. But before I wrap this up, I feel like it’s only fair that I allow you to question me back. Whenever you’re ready, fire away.

    Kristen: All right. I’ve got three questions for you. Ready?

    John: Okay, yeah.

    Kristen: Rock, paper, or scissors?

    John: Oh, man. This is a good one. I’m going to go rock just I think because I’m lazy and when you do the 1, 2, 3 you’re already in a fist, then I don’t have to do a move.

    Kristen: Now, all your listeners know that next time you’re betting on something, yeah, go with paper then you’re going to win.

    John: Yeah, exactly.

    Kristen: Heads or tails?

    John: Heads.

    Kristen: Okay. Last one, stand-up or improv?

    John: Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah. I mean I think I’ll go stand-up but I certainly enjoy improv. I had to make that choice for myself. For those listening, they’re very, very different. There are people that, “Oh, they’re the same.” No, no. Very, very, very different.

    One, the audience is already on your side because you’re using their ideas in improv. In stand-up, they are sitting there with their arms crossed, make me laugh, funny boy, which is a fun challenge. But yeah, so I guess stand-up but improv certainly has its place. I enjoy doing that as well.

    Really good questions. Those were good.

    Kristen: Thanks. I had to come up with something competitive so I could compete with your good questions you have upfront.

    John: My brownie or ice cream one?

    Kristen: That’s right. I didn’t even have any answer because you let me go with both and I had to go there.

    John: No, no. You hit the green light for sure on that one. This was great. Thanks, Kristen for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kristen in action or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com and while you’re on the page, please click that big button and 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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