Episode 260 – Joseph Rugger

Joseph is an Accountant & Traveler

Joseph is back on the podcast from episode 44 to talk about his return to full-time public accounting, his latest trips around the globe, and how the culture and philosophy of his new job compliments his lifestyle!

Episode Highlights

Return to public accounting
Visiting Australia
Missionary trip to Honduras
Working remotely
National parks bucket list
Batting practice on the Texas Rangers’ field
Accountability for personal goals within the firm

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    Welcome to Episode 260 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 also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s being published very soon. It will be available in Amazon and a few other websites so 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 to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Joseph Rugger. He’s a profit consultant and account manager at Tooth & Coin in Dallas. Now, he’s with me here today. Joseph, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Joseph: Hi, John. Thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

    John: Ditto, man, and to catch up with you and where in the world — now, you settled down in Dallas so it’s easier to pin you down with all the travels that you were doing over the years, so it’s cool to catch up. But I do my rapid-fire questions up front now, so hope you’re ready. Here we go.

    If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Joseph: Game of Thrones.

    John: Oh, okay. More cats or dogs?

    Joseph: Neither.

    John: Neither, there you go. People? Barely?

    Joseph: People, that’s a better one.

    John: On occasion, okay. Oceans or mountains.

    Joseph: Mountains.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay, all right. How about a favorite food?

    Joseph: I really love a good steak.

    John: Which one?

    Joseph: Fillet Mignon.

    John: It sounds fancy, right? How about do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Joseph: Hot.

    John: Hot, interesting. Okay. Well, I guess that’s Dallas for you. Two more. Do you have a favorite sports team? Any sport?

    Joseph: Texas Rangers.

    John: all right. Last one. Toilet paper roll, over or under.

    Joseph: Over the top, buddy.

    John: Yeah. There you go. Will you change it if it’s not?

    Joseph: Yes, especially change it at other people’s houses. If I’m at someone else’s house and they’ve got it on the wrong way, I will flip it forward, I’ll do it, do everybody a favor.

    John: Everybody a favor, right? Welcome to adulthood. That’s awesome, man. That’s so fun. So fun.

    When we chatted back on Episode 44, crazy, so long ago, but yeah you were travelling all over and as an outsourced CFO role that you had, is that still travel something that you’re still doing?

    Joseph: Yeah. I do get a chance to travel some but back then, I kind of had put together a couple of part-time jobs but since then, I’ve settled down and now have a full-time gig, I’m working back in public accounting, working for a digital CPA firm, all of our employees all work remotely but it’s called Tooth & Coin, and they’re at Little Rock, Arkansas, started by a buddy of mine, Jonathan VanHorn.

    I am back working full-time and my travel is much more concentrated now. I still did get a chance to travel. I think once you get the travel bug, it doesn’t ever leave you. I guess it’s one of those things that once you get a chance to see how awesome the world is or more specifically for me, the United States of America is, the better it is to get a chance to do that stuff and see stuff and go different places.

    I definitely have done quite a bit of travelling since the last time we talked and now that I’m working full-time, it’s a lot more concentrated, it’s a weekend trip here or there or making sure that I’ve got time in the schedule but make sure that I’ve got time to do my work and all the other stuff that goes along with that.

    John: Have there been any favorite places that you’ve been to or some cool adventures?

    Joseph: Yeah. I’ve got all kinds of cool adventures. In 2018, I got a chance to do two world trips that were super cool. I went to Australia for two weeks, had just a big fun time in Australia, got a chance to go see Kangaroo Island outside of Adelaide, spent some time in Sydney in the Blue Mountains, that aboriginal walkabout, all kinds of stuff, the cruise around the Sydney Harbor Bridge and all that fun stuff, so I did that.

    Last year, I had to do two really cool trips. It certainly was not very popular that I did them during tax season now that I work in public accounting again but last February, I got a chance to go on a mission trip and I went to Honduras, I went to the Honduras dental mission and worked for a week at an outreach in one of the villages there called Togopala.

    It was in and out of San Pedro Sula which is where the mission house was that our field work was out in the field. I took a little Spanish when I was in college, I made straight C’s in Spanish. Dr. Lewis got on to me quite a bit on that class. But no, I downloaded Duolingo and practiced for a while and I went to mass in Spanish several times over the course of the couple of months leading up and downloaded some audio books and I get pretty good at speaking Spanish. I don’t really have any medical skills, so I ended up working crowd control because I knew a whole lot more Spanish than most of the folks that were on the mission trip with us.

    That was a lot of fun. One of the days that we were there, we got to put a roof on a lady’s house that lived in one of those stick houses with a tin roof kind of thing where when the sun is shining sideways, it shines through the house.

    John: Oh, boy. Yeah.

    Joseph: It’s a very poor place. They need all the help that they can get. More than anything else, they just like to show up and love on those people and smile and give them hugs and do stuff for them and that kind of thing, it’s a lot of fun.

    John: Do a couple of tax returns just for fun. No, I’m kidding.

    Joseph: Actually, funny story. I’m working on getting on my year-end closes. I work on the accounting side of the business. I’m working on getting all of our year-end closes done. I think I got two or three year-end closes done while I was in Honduras. We go out the mission and do the mission all day and at night, after the dinner, I would sit at the mission house and I would log into their Wi-Fi and we’re using zero accounting software.

    I promise, at least three times a night, I crashed the entire mission house Wi-Fi trying to get zero to load which is not exactly a very daunting program that’s out on the internet.

    John: That’s hysterical, man. But that’s awesome that you have that flexibility to be able to help down there and then also get the work done that’s needed to be done when it was. I think you should at least get up to an A minus now. We should go back and revisit your grades because yeah, I mean if you’re able to be that conversational with the people, then yeah, you’re lightyears ahead of me for sure.

    I mean my two years is Spanish and high school. I know banyo because you can’t act that one out, bathroom. All the other things you can act out but bathrooms and emergency, that’s something where I need to know the word for, and then stupid words like biblioteca which who’s asking for a library? Nobody. But good for you, man. That’s really cool.

    Joseph: My favorite phrase that I learned really quickly, so I dealt with a lot of the kids, so a lot of the kids would come through the dentist mission and probably the first time that they would see the dentist. We actually did the field work at a school. My go-to phrase was, alto aquí amigo which is stop here, friend.

    John: Oh, that’s funny.

    Joseph: I said that one probably a hundred times a day.

    John: For some reason like the three amigo like I mean it’s just hysterical. Yeah, I just picture you like Mr. Gringo guy over here dropping amigo on everybody.

    Joseph: My Spanish with my southern accent.

    John: Right, so cool, and also great that you’re just getting out and about in Australia. I’ve been to the Blue Mountains there and man, that’s amazing. They refer to it as the Grand Canyon of Australia and it’s so beautiful there.

    Joseph: Did you do an aboriginal walkabout?

    John: I did not. I just did the hike there, there’s that about a hundred years ago or whatever, some crazy guys built a pathway into the side of the rock.

    Joseph: The Three Sisters, yeah?

    John: Yeah, absolutely. The whole time I’m going down those stairs, I’m like, I’m going to have to walk up this, this is terrible. I think we’re close enough. This is good. Everybody, let’s stop and take a picture and then let’s go back up.

    Joseph: That hike was not for the faint of heart at all.

    John: Not at all, man. It is intense, but it is cool seeing so many parts of the world and what’s different but also what’s similar is also neat. The new rule is talking about some of your travels a thing that happens with co-workers? I know they’re all remote, but I imagine that on occasion, you guys communicate.

    Joseph: Yeah. We have a weekly team meeting. As you can imagine, if you were going to design a remote CPA firm, people that like to travel would probably be pretty attractive to that kind of a firm. There are a couple of us that do a bunch of travel, so we have a video call once a week where we kind of check in and start out with figuring out what we’re doing with our personal goals and that kind of thing.

    It is very common for there to be two or three people that are on the video call that you can tell very clearly that they’re on an airport terminal and they’re going different places, going to do different stuff, so that’s a big part of what we do.

    One of my co-workers who lives in Little Rock, he and I were both on the west coast and he went from San Diego to LA up to Oakland. He and his wife do a Monday night football every year for their anniversary and I missed him by like a day or two of being out there, so we were swapping notes about different stuff back and forth and I had a chance to go visit the Channel Islands National Park which is off the coast of LA.

    I spent the weekend in Ventura and ran a half marathon across the Pacific Coast highway right along the beach down there in Ventura. One of the days that I was there, I went to the Channel Islands National Park. I’m on national park 43. We have 61 now, but I’m getting closer. The ones that I have left are all pretty arduous treks. They’re not ones that you can stop by on the way to the next one.

    John: Right, they’re on the middle of Alaska or something or you’re like, what? Do we even need this to be a national park because I mean no one’s coming here? But yeah, definitely that 43 of 61. Man, that’s impressive. That really is. Yeah, yeah. You said something that just started on accident?

    Joseph: When I was travelling the country a couple of years ago, I started making a list of the places that I wanted to go, and some of the places that I’m sure you’ve been are on that list. I always wanted to go to Niagara Falls and I always wanted to go to Niagara Falls, and always wanted to go to Yosemite and Yellow Stone and I started looking at all the different national parks. There’s just so many of more places that I wanted to go. I really wanted to go to Dry Tortugas National Park about 80 miles west down in Florida and I really wanted to go to Acadia National Park up in Maine which I’d always heard great things about.

    As I was out kind of travelling and wandering around the country, it became one of those destination type things. I always wanted to go try to find a baseball game to go to if I could and then I also wanted to find national parks.

    John: Definitely. Speaking of baseball, I saw that picture on your social media in the Rangers stadium taking BP, was it, I think?

    Joseph: I’ve got a season ticket package with the Rangers, and the Rangers are just a super hospitable organization. One of the things that they allow season ticket holders to do is they allow you to come on to the field and take batting practice while the team’s out of town. They have a couple of days that you show up and you get out and you ten or 12 hacks or whatever and you also get a chance to go shag fly balls afterwards.

    I was out there playing around with a buddy of mine and I got him to throw a baseball up like I was robbing a home run in right field. I got a really cool still shot of that that I put on my social media but I played college baseball so baseball’s always been a passion of mine and something I’ve always love doing so getting a chance to run around on a filed like you’re eight years old, I don’t think you ever outgrow something like that especially in Major League field.

    John: Right. That’s so cool, man. Do you find that people are sharing hobbies and passions more or you’re more aware of it or is it that I have more work to be done, I guess?

    Joseph: I think one of the great things about the firm that I’m with, they’re philosophy is that we work to live, we don’t live to work. One of the things that we start out our weekly call is we all set up personal goals every quarter at our quarterly meetings, certainly our work goals are important, but we all set our personal goals each quarter and it’s an accountability group on your personal goals.

    With some people that want to leave less than a carbon footprint and they talk about how they’ve done that, one of them wanted to try more recipes at home that were new recipes than cooking the same old stuff, several people have reading and exercise goals.

    I mean all of us have some kind of exercise goal to get to the gym or to do so many minutes of working out each week. Going back to setting the tone at the top, that’s the tone that the firm owners started, we really live by that. We certainly have our accountability goals or work but we always start out every single meeting with our accountability for our personal goals because we all have a life outside of work and you realize that’s important and that was something he felt like was missing in the accounting profession, so he wanted to start a firm and do things a little differently.

    John: I love that because yeah, I mean he hired all of you not just the accounting Joseph piece, he hired all of you and that’s really great that he has that mentality of nurturing and shining a light on the whole person instead of just the part that he makes money off of I guess. That’s very cool and very inspiring to hear that you can do it and be successful, that it doesn’t have to be the way that it was 20 or 40 or 100 years ago, it can be different and probably even better. That’s great, man. Very cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks that my hobby or passion is not my job or some people might think they’re distractions?

    Joseph: Yes. I was listening to Tim Ferriss. I don’t know if you ever had a chance to listen to Tim Ferriss, but he’s a big time author and blogger and he’s also got a podcast that’s out there. He’s talking about siloes and the importance of just having different areas of interest in your life. Specifically, he talks about work and how work can’t be the only thing that you do. He says you got to have different siloes in your life. You can’t just be a mother, you can’t just be a husband, you can’t just be a CPA, you can’t just be a comedian, going back to what you said earlier is that we embrace the whole person.

    If I put all of my eggs into one respective basket, what happens whenever that one piece, the only thing that I have any value in, when it doesn’t go well? It’s a place where you get dark and depressed and in a bad spot.

    If all you do is to be a mother and your kid comes back with bad grades and got into a fight at school, if that’s all that you’ve got, certainly that’s important. I’m not discounting that, but you’ve got to have something else other than just being a mother or just being a CPA or just being a comedian, or you’ll burn yourself out. I see it all the time.

    John: Yeah, for sure. I actually read an article at Duke University. They di a study and found that people that have more dimensions to their life are less prone to anxiety and depression because you’re not waiting for the news to come down if it’s all work. If it’s a no, if a client goes somewhere else or whatever, that’s 100% blow to the face, but if you have other sources of identity or confidence, that anxiety and depression isn’t as deep or not at all which is a huge factor, making you a better professional. I love that. It sounds great.

    What great piece of advice, you know, because you’re not just one thing. You’re so many different things. That’s why I love just the What’s Your “And”? You’re more than one thing. No one really cares about the first part that you say usually, like your job. It’s all the other stuff that people care about more, so that’s awesome, man.

    Well, before this wrap this up, it’s only fair I turn the tables and let you question me. Whenever you’re ready. I’m sitting down.

    Joseph: All right. I have my rapid-fire questions, John. Last time, I didn’t get a chance to ask you the questions, so time to turn the tables.

    John: No, because I was a real jerk.

    Joseph: All right. We’re going to go ahead and get started. Netflix or Prime.

    John: Wow. That’s a good one. I guess I’ll go — gosh. Prime. Just whatever recent thing.

    Joseph: Prime or Disney Plus?

    John: I’ll go Prime. I don’t even know what’s on Disney Plus yet. I need to probably look at that.

    Joseph: All right. Next question. Amazon or Walmart?

    John: Amazon.

    Joseph: All right. Car. Hybrid, electric, or full gas?

    John: Full gas. Hybrid seems like you’re copping out, right? I mean either go one or the other.

    Joseph: Go big or go home.

    John: Yeah, pretty much.

    Joseph: All right. Notre Dame Football 2019. New Year’s Day Bowl or who cares bowl?

    John: We’ll see how it all plays out, but I think it seems like it’s going to be a December 28th bowl, the way that they’re talking. It is what it is. But we’re still good so I don’t care. But yeah, college football was pretty fun this year, that’s for sure. But I like that little SEC dig in there. I see what you’re doing.

    Joseph: Last question. Who is a better Notre Dame coach of all time? Lou Holtz or Ara Parseghian?

    John: Wow. That’s a really good question. Personally, I’m going to just have to go with Lou Holtz just because of my personal connection. I was there when he was the coach and I’ve met him several times and he’s an awesome, awesome dude and also, writing the foreword to my book.

    Joseph: That’s a no-brainer.

    John: So yeah. I think I’ll go coach Holtz on that one, but Ara was amazing and an amazing person as well and all that he did for charity even after he was a coach.

    Joseph: I do have a funny Lou Holtz story if you want to hear it.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. Go ahead.

    Joseph: I went to school at Catholic High in Little Rock and there was this really old priest that was there for 50 years. His name was Father George Tribou. Whenever Lou Holtz was the head coach at the University of Arkansas, Father Tribou wrote a letter to coach Holtz and said, coach Holtz, we’d really like for you to come to speak to our seniors. Lou Holtz wrote a really nice Dear John letter and said dear Father Tribou, thank you for the invitation but my schedule’s really busy. I can’t make it.

    Father Tribou grew up in the depression, he was a really hard-nosed priest. Upon getting this letter back from coach Holtz, this Dear John letter, he wrote a card back to Lou Holtz and it very simply said, “Dear Lou, go to hell. George.” If a priest is telling you to go to hell, that’s somebody telling you, you better get your rear in gear. Lou Holtz actually ended up coming down to my high school and he ended up developing a friendship with Father Tribou, and I got a chance to see him speak my senior year and got a chance to meet him and I got my Notre Dame hat signed at that dinner or whatever, so anyways, I thought you might appreciate Lou Holtz story.

    John: He’s a great guy. He really is. It was really funny because last year, there was a conference that I was the closing of the first day and he was the opening of the second day and so I stuck around to see him and then the company, I had shoved them a picture that I had from my junior year in 1996 with coach Holtz and he had signed it and so I showed him that picture, I had it on my phone now.

    They were like, oh, my goodness. You have to meet him. He was like, I remember that game against Navy in Dublin, Ireland and all this, and yeah, it was just really cool. He was really great. He’s like, hey, if there’s anything I can do, let me know. I was like, well, I have a book that I’m writing. He’s like yeah, send it and let me see what I can do. There you go, man.

    Joseph: Fantastic.

    John: Yeah, yeah. Well, thanks again for being part of this and yeah, keep up the good work and can’t wait to see more of the travel pictures on social.

    Joseph: Yeah. For sure. Thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure.

    John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see those pictures of Joseph travelling or maybe connect with him 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 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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