Episode 241 – Jose Zavala

 Jose is an Accountant & Hunter

Jose Zavala talks about his passion for hunting and how it has given him the skills of being patient and taking a step back to breathe in stressful and fast-paced moments in the office! He also discusses how the idea of dressing for success does not always have to be a suit and tie!

Episode Highlights

Getting into hunting
Hunting and bonding with family
Skills acquired from hunting that he applies in the office
Closing deals with clients on hunting trips
Dressing casual with clients
If someone tells you it’s dumb, they’re dumb

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Jose’s Pictures

(click to enlarge)

Jose, his brother and his dad a couple of years ago during opening day.
Smoking meats with the smoke coming out.
 
Jose doing his podcast with some friends.
Jose and his dad during the World Cup in 2014.
 

 

Jose’s links

Transcript

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    Happy New Year and welcome to Episode 241 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And.” Those things that are above and beyond their technical skills, the things that actually differentiate them when they’re in the office.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know, my book will be published in a couple of months. It will be available on Amazon and a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show and changing the cultures of they work because of it and this book will allow you to be able to spread it to your co-workers and friends even better.

    Please don’t forget to subscribe on the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Jose Zavala. He’s a principal at ZTX Advisors in Houston, Texas. Now, he’s with me here today. Jose, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Jose: No, of course, John. Thank you for having me, man. I’ve been a big fan of your podcast. I love what you’re doing. We’re more than just number crunchers.

    John: Appreciate it, man. Thank you so much. Yeah, but you know the drill right out of the gate, 17 rapid fire questions. Get to know Jose on another level here. Let’s do it. Now, everyone listening that knows Jose will be like, I had no idea. Yeah, favorite color?

    Jose: Blue.

    John: Nice, okay. How about a least favorite color?

    Jose: Green.

    John: Interesting. All right. When you fly, window seat or aisle seat?

    Jose: Aisle all day.

    John: I’m the same. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?

    Jose: Actor, I would say it’s going to be probably Will Ferrell.

    John: Oh, there you go. How about more pens or pencils?

    Jose: Oh, pens.

    John: There you go. No mistakes. I like that. That’s confidence. How about puzzles? Sudoku or crossword?

    Jose: Sudoku.

    John: Sudoku’s exactly how I do my tax return.

    Jose: I’ve never thought about it like that. John. I’m just letting you know.

    John: Well, if you go to jail, it wasn’t my idea. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Jose: Night owl.

    John: Night owl. Okay, all right. How about more chocolate or vanilla?

    Jose: Chocolate.

    John: All right. Since you’re an accountant, I have to ask, favorite number?

    Jose: Thirteen.

    John: Oh, is there a reason?

    Jose: It’s my birthday.

    John: There you go. All right. How about prefer more hot or cold?

    Jose: Hot.

    John: Yeah. That’s easy in Houston for sure. I don’t even think you have a choice. Even right now, it’s probably over a hundred on January 1st, like who knows?

    Jose: I’ll tell you this. We spent probably the last six Christmases in shorts and tank tops. That’ll tell you something.

    John: Oh, wow. I think everyone listening just wants to punch you right now. For financials, balance sheet or income statement?

    Jose: Balance sheet.

    John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite sports team? Any sport.

    Jose: The US Men’s National Soccer Team although they’ve really made me upset lately but I’m a huge soccer fan.

    John: Yeah. When they’re good, it’s fun. That’s for sure.

    Jose: I’m a diehard fan. I’ve gotten in trouble for cancelling plans with family and friends because their game is on. During the World Cup, don’t even think about even calling me, don’t bother.

    John: That works, man. That works. That’s awesome. Awesome. How about would you say more suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?

    Jose: Oh, jeans and a t-shirt.

    John: My bad. Shorts and a t-shirt. All right. How about for your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Jose: Oh, PC all day. I tried a Mac and it slowed me down way too much.

    John: Yeah. I don’t even know. I’m not even allowed in the stores. I’m not cool enough. On your mouse, are you right-click or left-click?

    Jose: Right-click.

    John: Right-click, fancy. All right. Two more. More Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Jose: That’s a great question because I love both. Lately, I’ve been geeking out with Star Wars because of the new movie coming out.

    John: Yeah, and the new show on Disney Plus or whatever.

    Jose: Oh, yeah. Right now, it’s Star Wars, but I go back, I love them both.

    John: Sure, 51, 49. It’s right on the fence. All right. Fair enough. The last one, favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have.

    Jose: Favorite thing I have is actually my freedom. The ability to do whatever I want to do it and how I want to do it.

    John: There you go. That’s hard to argue that one, man. Hard to argue that one.

    Jose: It’s a long time coming. Now, I can call the shots and that’s been the most amazing thing in the world.

    John: Good for you, man. That’s awesome. Very cool, very cool. I know we talked a couple of weeks ago. You’re quite an avid hunter. Is this something that you grew up doing?

    Jose: You know what? No. I got into it probably my teenage years. My uncle has a pretty big range down in south Texas. For those of you guys that know hunting in south Texas, that’s like prized deer. You’re talking big old bucks. We were lucky enough and blessed enough to be able to go down there with him. That’s where I got the edge.

    Ever since then, we were going and then my dad saved up enough and now he has his own little property in east Texas. They’re not as big but it’s still nice to go out there and do that. So now, we have our own property. I’ve got a couple of different places I can go now.

    John: Nice. That’s fantastic, man. That’s really great. Is it something that you mostly do with your dad?

    Jose: It’s a whole family event. Opening Day, at least in Texas, is a holiday.

    John: Right, right.

    Jose: I actually changed the baby shower date for my daughter because they wanted to do an Opening Day and I told them no. I made everybody changed their plans for that because it is a holiday. I mean you see camos and trucks and four-wheelers and side-by-sides and for the small towns, that’s the majority of their economy, all of those “city slickers” coming in and spending our money.

    John: Right, yeah. That’s funny. I went to high school in Southern Illinois outside of St. Louis and you could tell during school day what kids were hunting because that first day of hunting school, I mean they might as well just cancel school. I mean it’s half of us are there. Yeah, that’s awesome, man. That’s really funny.

    Do you have any interesting stories or cool more rewarding story from your hunting experiences?

    Jose: Yeah. For me, there are days where I’ll go and sit with my dad. We don’t talk. You have to be quiet but it’s just there’s still that bonding time because you’re together or whenever I shot my first buck, we decided to process it ourselves, doing that together with my brother and my dad and everything.

    That’s been kind of to me, the best thing is it’s just that time I spend with them and then trying to get ready and then the arguments of no, your feeder needs to go here, no this needs to go here. It’s all part of the process but the most rewarding thing is something I can share with my family. It’s something that brought us a lot closer together.

    I’ve got friends that have a couple of places so I go with them so it kind of really solidifies the relationship with those people.

    John: Yeah. That’s awesome, man because I mean it’s a long day. I mean you’re out before the sun, I imagine. I don’t know. I’ve heard stories anyway. But you’re up super early and then it’s a long day. I mean especially if you’re able to shoot something, then there’s the cleaning and taking care of that and getting it all processed and all that side of it. So yeah, it makes for a long day together.

    Jose: I’ve got a funny story. When I first started, my uncle and my dad still made fun of me for this. You have to be up at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. because you want to sit out there before the sun even comes up because you want to sit yourself and just stay because any little movement, you know, they’re going to hear you or smell you.

    I remember we’re up late and we get up, we had two hours of sleep. I’m like man, who made that rule that you had to get up this early? They just started laughing at me. Ever since then, every morning, it never fails. Every Opening Day, we get up. It’s like, okay, I get it now.

    John: Yeah. The deer did, Jose. That’s who. It wasn’t our idea either. That’s awesome. But now, it’s a tradition.

    Jose: Oh, 100%.

    John: That’s really funny. Do you feel like hunting has given you a skill that you’re able to bring to your accounting profession besides waking up early?

    Jose: One hundred percent is patience. Having to seat there and wait because you can sit there and literally not move for four hours because any little movement, any little noise you make may scare something off. For me, it has been patience. I’m go, go, go, go, go non-stop. I mean I don’t stop. I’m always on the go.

    Having to take a step back and really just relax has been helping me too because sometimes, I get into the thick of things and I start working, I’ve got a lot of client work and next thing I know, it’s six, seven hours in. I’m just okay, I need to take a step back and just kind of you know, decompress a little bit. That’s to me has been the big thing, has been the patience and that ability to be able to step back and slow down.

    John: That’s huge, man. I mean especially in this day and age because I mean we get all caught up in looking side to side on what other people are doing or even just getting excited about what we’re doing. It’s easy to overheat, if you will. That’s great that you have that outlet.

    Jose: I mean I’m horrible about it but this has really been able to show me just take a step back and essentially smell the roses and it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. With the whole instant gratification that people want stuff now, now, now, and I’m guilty of it too. This is kind of taught me like hey, if you wait — what was the movie? If you build it, they will come?

    John: Yeah. Field of Dreams.

    Jose: Yeah, Field of Dreams. That’s kind of what would stop me a little bit is that like okay, I can take that time off, I can take a step back, and the world isn’t going to end.

    John: Right. The work still gets done. Really cool that you’re able to see that because not everybody can see that because they’re out there in the field and their brain is still doing work. That’s a good release for you. Is this something that you talk about with clients or co-workers?

    Jose: There’s a few clients of mine that really enjoy it. We’re talking about finding a way to get them out there, you know, maybe one weekend to go out there and let them enjoy it too or kind of you know, get a taste because it’s really hard to find because you got to find a lease or you’re going to own some property. It gets hard. So that’s what they were looking. It’s kind of like a thank you to some of our clients especially the ones that are local. Hey, this is something that we can do for you as a thank you.

    John: That’s a great idea because I mean I’m sure that they didn’t teach you that in business school but it’s just hey, you light on, so do I. You happen to be my client but so what? Let’s go do this.

    Jose: My clients know that Opening Day, probably that whole week afterwards, getting to me is going to be very limited. They already know that. It was just kind of nice, unless something’s an emergency then of course, I’ll take care of it but if it’s not an emergency, we’ve been able to really distinguish what is an emergency and what isn’t.

    John: Right, right.

    Jose: Everybody thinks everything’s an emergency.

    John: Exactly. Yeah, but I mean that’s great that you have that relationship with them and they have that relationship with you. They get it. I’m sure you get it on their side as well when they have hobbies and passions that are going to lock them out of something for a couple of days or whatever.

    It doesn’t make you less professional or less good at your job at all. If anything, it makes you better because you’re able to focus at the time when you’re actually there. Before you had ZTX, was it something that would come up when you had colleagues?

    Jose: Yes. One of my good friends now, we both worked at the same firm. That’s how we started bonding originally was just talking about our stories and what not and then —

    John: How great is that?

    Jose: Yeah, that was awesome. He had his own property which is about an hour from where our property is now. We started talking, he left the firm, I left the firm, we stayed in touch and now, we work closely together and we’re friends but we’re also work colleagues I guess because we work together a lot on some of these clients and so it’s actually been really, really good. It’s a good opening line if you’re trying to get to meet someone or something then hey, what do you like to do? What are your hobbies? If they say hunting, then it’s like oh, instantly, you’re like you have that connection with them.

    John: Yeah, we’re best friends right now. I pull out the scent and start spraying you right now. Wait, whoa, whoa. Not that kind of — what? But that’s really powerful, man. Because you didn’t bond over financial statements or debits and credits, you bonded over the passion that you have outside of work, that’s carried on. I’m sure that you worked with a bunch of people when you’re at that firm. It’s much bigger. You had that somebody that you’ve stayed in touch with not because of the accounting side of it as much as the other which is really powerful I think.

    Jose: It definitely has been amazing. We were trying to close a deal. We actually brought them as like hey, you guys want to come hunt ad we get to know them a little bit better and really kind of pitch them and ended up closing a deal with the clients.

    John: That’s fantastic, and while you’re hunting.

    Jose: You’re talking, you’re hanging out, you’re outside, loosen up. It’s no longer about you know, hey, here’s what I can — no. It’s just like hey, man. This is me. This is him. This is what we can do. This is what we’re about. If you want to work with us, great. If not, let’s just go have some fun. It was a very non-sales pitch, just kind of like a hey, let’s just have a good time. Then afterwards, it’s like all right, guys. I like you. Let’s do some work together.

    John: I really honestly believe that, and there’s a lot of brain science behind it as well for my research is that that trust is actually developed from being interesting, from those passions and interests and if it’s a shared passion, wow. Anyone can probably do the work that they needed done or there’s quite a few people that could’ve but you’re the one who took them hunting and bonded over being just a real person.

    Jose: I think sales talk was minimal if none. Just like hey, this is who I am. Just give me a chance to show you who I am or what I can do. It worked out.

    John: That’s awesome, man. Yeah, because I have a thing that I call the trust rut where the more that we try to convince someone that we’re good at our job, the less that they actually trust you.

    If you were to rent a car in the north in the snow and you get stuck and you just gun it, you just sink down into a rut. Because I mean now, when I need somebody, I assume you’re good at your job. You don’t have to keep telling me this. I think now, you’re trying to convince yourself you don’t suck at your work. It’s cool that you’re able to you know, that confidence comes through. That’s really awesome, man. That’s fantastic.

    How much do you feel like in a larger organization, it’s on the leadership to set that tone or how much is it on the individual to just within their little department or their little circle to create that?

    Jose: Personally, I think just going to start at the top, I mean you got to set that culture, you got to set that mentality of openness and welcoming because I’ve worked at firms where it was just very professional, very that old school, this is it and this is how it works, you’ve got to do your job because I told you so and I don’t care what you have to think. What we do is right and what you think is wrong.

    John: Right. Oh, man.

    Jose: It’s just like, okay. I have ideas too. You don’t have to implement them but at least listen. Hear what I have to say. I mean I’m implementing of this stuff now and I’m just like, and now you know I’ve got some of these people calling me hey, how do I do this? It’s just like now, you want to hear me. But I think honestly, it’s top down because yes, there is kind of with us, as an individual to go out and kind of get yourself out there and things like that which is the hardest thing to do, I mean you do your standup.

    I do videos all day but setting up for the people, I still get deadly scared talking to people, top-down. It should start at the top. Set that precedence. Let people know, hey, it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay if you’re quirky, be quirky. If you’re this or you’re that, but just creating that culture, that good culture.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. I think it makes it a lot easier because then people can you know, just see it modelled in front of them. I mean that’s what I did when I got out of school and started at PricewaterhouseCoopers, I was modelling behavior of people in front of me because it’s like oh, well, they’re successful and that’s what you need to do in order to be successful and then you find out that their modelling behavior in front of them and no one’s actually being themselves totally. It’s that tone at the top can be set. You can show that and be a little bit vulnerable that definitely helps big time.

    One thing I’d like to go back to is when you were saying that it was just really professional, and the definition of what’s professional is really vague. The work that you do now is just as professional as when you were in that office, whether you’re wearing a three-piece suit or not. I mean it’s still professional. So yeah, I think that that’s one thing that I think the listeners hopefully can start to think differently about what is considered professional really?

    Jose: I agree with you 100% because what I thought was professional was the three-piece suite. You go in, you know, now is a lot of clients. I show up with sometimes shorts and my button-up and it’s all about you know what I can deliver and this is who I am and I work polos a lot. I don’t have to wear a three-piece suit every time. That shoes too? That’s great.

    John: We’re talking about you, JJ, the CPA.

    Jose: That’s exactly what I was thinking about. Don’t get me wrong.

    John: No, that’s his brand though. Absolutely.

    Jose: Yeah, depending who I talk to. I’m part of the NAHREP which is the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Part of their mantra and what they talk about is you know, dressing up for success. When I hang out with them, I dress to the part. Okay, I want to look my best and everything but a lot of my clients, I go and visit them, I mean flip-flops, shorts.

    John: Because they probably are too.

    Jose: Yeah. They are too. That’s the kind of client I’m attracting and that’s who I like to work with. I think professional, it’s just the way I said it, you’re right. It all depends on you. I was always told you had to be it was that very strict just kind of like three-piece suit. But at the end of the day, just be yourself. Going back to that, being yourself and these people are going to like you. They’re not going to work with you. If not, then they’re not.

    John: JJ’s personality comes through like whether he’s wearing that suit or not. Don’t let it hamper you and suffocate your personality. No matter what outfit is, it doesn’t matter.

    Jose: I got a pick on JJ though because we did the Accounting and Social Media Symposium and he was rocking some pretty short shorts there. JJ, I love you my friend.

    John: That’s hilarious.

    Jose: But I got to hang out with him and I got to see him. JJ is one of the coolest, most down-to-earth guys. You see him with a suit. You think, oh, he’s a stuff. No, he’s not. He’s the complete opposite.

    John: Right, exactly. He was on the show so people can look him up and listen to that. That’s a really great episode as well. I think it’s easier to define unprofessional. To me, unprofessional is when you’re inhibiting someone else’s ability to do their job. Everything’s pretty much fair game up until the point where you’re stopping others from doing their work.

    That’s why I think it’s easiest to look at it. If you really like to play the electric guitar, you can’t bring it in with your amp and just start jamming away in the office. Talking about it and sharing those stories and all that within reason should be completely acceptable if not mandatory type of thing or the hunting stories.

    I mean yeah, you can’t just walk in with your gun to the office and be like, hey, everybody look at this or drag a deer in like hey, look. It’s just that’s going to inhibit people’s ability to do their job. Talking about it and sharing stories obviously creates relationships that matter.

    Jose: It’s a lot better than talking about hey, well, how did that last audit go?

    John: Right? We’ll get to that eventually but let’s start with some cool stuff first.

    Jose: Yeah.

    John: Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that might think hey, my hobby or passion has nothing to do with my job so I’ll just keep it to myself because no one cares?

    Jose: Oh, no. Not at all. Your hobby and passion is what you love and that’s how people get to know you because when you talk about it, you’re passionate about it. Passion comes out and at least for me, it does. When I talk about something I’m passionate about, I really like it, it comes out and so people can see it and they get to know the real you.

    I feel like that kind of — when you talk about that, it brings down your barriers, your walls that you have of okay, they get to see the real you. You and your prime. This is what I love to do. This is what I love to talk about. I think for sure do it. If somebody tells you it’s dumb, they’re dumb.

    John: There you go. I love that. That’s at simple as it gets. That should be on a t-shirt right there. That’s it. If someone tells you it’s dumb, they’re dumb. That’s it in a nutshell. That should be the title of my book. I don’t know what What’s Your And is all about.

    Jose: I mean it’s true because I mean if they’re going to hate on it, let them. I mean obviously, they live a miserable life. They’ve got whatever and then this is funny because I was watching some kind of podcast webinar thing and somebody was talking about being a Youpreneur where you can essentially make a business model out of what you love. I mean look at people that have podcasts that are huge based on Pokémon. It’s like okay, someone may think oh, that’s childish. Okay, but that’s what you like then that’s what you like.

    I like hunting, I like soccer, people hate soccer, okay. Well, good for you. It’s what I like and that’s what I’m passionate about.

    John: Right, yeah. That was Chris Ducker by the way, the Youpreneur, and he’s great, really good book as well. You have these passions and these hobbies and yeah, sure. You’re good at accounting or you’re good at whatever your job is. Law or engineering or IT or whatever, but you have these other dimensions to you as well. The longer I found that you let them go dormant, that they will eventually be instinct and then that’s when it gets really scary.

    Jose: Yeah. Your job doesn’t define you. Your job is what you do to support yourself. It doesn’t define you. I feel like, and I was really bad about this where I defined who I was or I tried to label myself on who I was based on my job and what I did and my label and my title and once I kind of started to step away from that and really focus on let me just be the best me I can be, I mean I’ve started delivering a lot better to my clients, I started feeling a lot happier, started being a lot better, and it kind of opened up this whole world of possibility now.

    That would be my biggest advice. Don’t focus too much on it’s a title, it’s a job, and everything. But that job does not define you. If you’re doing tax returns and you’re working at X company and they let you go, you can always go work at Y, you can always go work at Z, you can always open up your own shop. The sky’s the limit.

    John: That hunting passion or soccer passion that you have is going to be with you no matter what firm you work for or what title you have at that firm. You get promoted. The technical skills change but your passion stays the same.

    Jose: Precisely.

    John: This has been awesome, Jose. Really, really great. Really powerful, man. That’s good stuff. But before I wrap it up, it’s only fair that I allow you to rapid fire question me back since I so rudely open the gates on that right at the beginning.

    All right. I’m ready.

    Jose: Hot or cold coffee?

    John: You know what? I’m not a coffee guy, but hot chocolate.

    Jose: Okay, hot chocolate. Tax or audit?

    John: Oh, audit. I have no clue what tax people do. Do they leave the office? I don’t even know. They are always on a different floor. I don’t even know my own taxes. It’s audit all day if I had to choose between those two.

    Jose: Amazon or Google? Smart Home devices.

    John: Yeah, I mean I guess Amazon.

    Jose: Alexa?

    John: I just got a Smart Plug. It’s pretty cool. I don’t have the listening devices things because I don’t need them knowing how crazy I am at home. But it is pretty cool because on my phone, I could just open the app which is probably listening to me all the time anyway and just be like turn on the living room light and then click, it’s on. I’m like wow, we are in the future now. This is nuts.

    Jose: I don’t know if this is relevant to you or not, I play video games. Xbox or PlayStation?

    John: Nintendo. Old school. I have the original Nintendo from when I was a kid. You know the original Nintendo?

    Jose: Oh, you still have it?

    John: Yeah. I still have it. What’s really cool about that is that technology is advanced so far now that you can actually fit 100 games on one cartridge. I just have one cartridge that’s in my Nintendo now that has 100 games on it that I got out of Etsy for $30 or something. But I have the original Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt cartridge. Yeah, and several of the games that I used to play when I was in fifth grade when it came out. That’s how I old I am. But yeah. So yeah, I’m a Nintendo guy. Some of those controllers with too many buttons. I don’t know what they’ll do.

    Jose: Funny you say that. I don’t have the Nintendo but I’ve got the Super Nintendo, the original one. It’s got a bunch of games and yeah, I still play that to this day. I mean nobody can beat me at Mario Kart. I’m just going to put that out there right now.

    John: Challenge accepted, man. Next time I’m in Houston, it’s on, buddy. I missed the final exam because I was playing Mario Kart.

    Jose: Oh, really?

    John: Yeah. I’m pretty into it, man. I’m pretty into it.

    This has been so fun, Jose. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Jose: Of course, man. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

    John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jose in action or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on that page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture that I’m doing.

    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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