Episode 273 – Jared Robbins

Jared is an Accountant & Soccer Player

Jared Robbins talks about his passion for soccer, how it has helped build the work ethic that he applies in the office, and how the leadership of his firm is encouraging a culture of being open in the workplace!

Episode Highlights

Getting into soccer
His most enjoyable game
Skills in the office he has gained from soccer
The culture at his firm
Why culture in the workplace comes from the top down

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    Welcome to Episode 273 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 in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and,” those things above and beyond your technical skills that actually differentiate you when you’re in the office.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published in just a few months. It’ll 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 where they work because of it. And I think the book will really help to spread that message as well.

    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. And this week is no different with my guest, Jared Robbins. He’s a Staff Accountant with Adams Brown Beran and Ball in Wichita, Kansas. And now, he’s with me here today. Jared, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Jared: Yeah. No, definitely. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to talk about what I’m doing outside of work.

    John: Oh, me too, man. I’m super excited. But we all know that the rapid-fire questions are right out of the gate. This will be an easy one: favorite color?

    Jared: I’m going to have to say red.

    John: Red. Okay. How about a least favorite color?

    Jared: It’s got to be yellow.

    John: Yellow. Nice. Okay. All right. How about oceans or mountains?

    Jared: I’m originally from California, so it’s got to be the ocean.

    John: Got to be the ocean. All right. All right. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Jared: Probably Will Smith.

    John: Oh, solid answer. Solid. Yeah. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Jared: Very much early bird.

    John: All right. How about pens or pencils?

    Jared: Pens

    John: Nice. No mistakes. I like that. That’s awesome. How about Sudoku or crossword puzzles?

    Jared: Sudokus probably. I’m not a huge fan of either, but I used to like to do Sudokus.

    John: Sure. No worries. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Jared: I’m a huge Star Wars fan.

    John: Really? Okay. Awesome. I’m not going to lie. I haven’t seen anything since the original three because I heard bad things and I was like, “I don’t want to ruin it,” from when I was a kid.

    Jared: I’m a sucker for it, so I went to all of them.

    John: I need to get back into it. Yeah. For your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Jared: I’m a PC person personally.

    John: Yeah, me too. I’m not cool enough. But not that you aren’t. On your mouse, right click or left click?

    Jared: I use right click personally.

    John: There you go. That’s where it’s at. How about a favorite animal? Any animal?

    Jared: Oh, that’s a good one. I’m going to have to say a dog just because I just love my dogs.

    John: Okay. What kind of dog do you have?

    Jared: We have a Boxer puppy. She has an insane amount of energy, but she’s very sweet, very energetic.

    John: That’s awesome, very cool. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation/

    Jared: I have to say Massachusetts. I just really enjoyed the East Coast and the whole vibe over there. I thought it was a really fun place to be.

    John: No, that’s solid answer. Absolutely. How about Balance Sheet or Income Statement?

    Jared: I like the Income Statement, see how much they’re making.

    John: Right. There it is. Bottom line, boom. How about a favorite number?

    Jared: I’ll say 25. That’s my number on my jersey right now. That’s just the number I’ve been running with for a while now, so I think 25 is a good answer there.

    John: No, that works. That works. I’m a Notre Dame guy. That’s Rocket Ismail. So that’s pretty awesome. Then how about a jeans or khakis?

    Jared: I like khakis personally.

    John: Nice. Two more. Favorite movie of all time?

    Jared: I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I’m a big sucker for the Fast and Furious movies, the whole series. I just really like those.

    John: All right. The last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?

    Jared: Favorite thing I own? Let’s see. I think it’d have to be my house. I mean I recently purchased my first house. So that’s just something I’m very, very proud of.

    John: No, congratulations, man.

    Jared: Thank you.

    John: It’s the most expensive thing you’re ever going to buy probably, so there you go. You better like it. I mean let’s jump right into it. I mean playing soccer — I mean professionally even — is pretty awesome. I mean how did you get into that? Paying since you were a little kid, I assume?

    Jared: Yeah. I’ve been playing soccer since I was about four. Soccer is actually what brought me out to Kansas initially. I live in California for the first 20 years of my life. Then on a college scholarship, I moved out to McPherson, Kansas. Then after college, I ended up relocating to Wichita to work with the firm I’m with now. But yeah, I mean soccer has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a young, young kid. And it’s just always been there for me.

    John: That’s fantastic. Did you do — I mean I grew up playing soccer as well — like select teams and travel and all that stuff?

    Jared: Oh, yeah. No, I’ve played select teams since I was probably about ten, I’d say. Then I really jumped into the top level amateur right about my first year of junior college, which is a really fun experience that got me all over the United States playing, which was really just an awesome experience overall.

    John: That’s fantastic, man. That’s really cool. Then I mean playing in college and on a really, really great team, I mean you guys were championship level, the two years that you had in McPherson, so that’s pretty sweet, man. That’s got to be exciting.

    Jared: Couldn’t close the deal on it, but we got close.

    John: Yeah. But I mean think of the hundreds of teams that weren’t even there.

    Jared: That’s very true.

    John: That’s cool. What position do you play?

    Jared: It’s funny because my entire life, I’ve been a defender playing outdoor soccer, but when I transitioned to playing indoor soccer — I mean I stand at six four, so I’m one of the bigger dudes on the field. And they said, “Hey, throw them up top, playing them as a target.” So now, I’m by nature a forward, which is really fun.

    John: Yeah. So the Wichita Wings being an indoor team, which is a much faster game, I would imagine — I mean I think.

    Jared: Well, it’s funny because a lot of people, especially in the United States, aren’t massive soccer fans or anything like that. But they find indoor soccer a lot easier to watch just because how much faster it is, how much more physical, just how many more goals that are in general. I would just describe it as a hockey rink with turf. I mean, it’s a boarded in arena. I mean you’re just constant action. I mean you get a lot more people enjoying to actually watch that rather than going to an outdoor game, I think, in the United States.

    John: Right. Because the typical criticism that I hear on soccer is, “Well, it was one to zero. That’s so exciting.” Where it’s like, “Well, you have no idea of the game within the game that’s happening.” I mean some of those near misses or hitting the post, you’re like, “What? That’s amazing,” type of a thing where in indoor, yeah, I mean the score is much higher. So that’s how Americans think anyway.

    Jared: I don’t remember the last time I saw a one-zero indoor game, I’ll say that.

    John: You’re right.

    Jared: They’re seeing a lot more in there. No, but I think that is the biggest criticism soccer gets in the United States because a lot of people don’t understand it as much as just, “Hey, this is boring. It’s 90 minutes of back and forth for one goal. Where’s the fun in that?” I mean indoor is easier because you’re seeing a bunch of dudes getting smashed into walls and you’re seeing ten goals in the game and it’s the same amount of time almost. So I mean it’s just really fun for a lot of people.

    John: Yeah. Plus, I guess it probably feels like the audience or the crowd is closer because they’re all around. I mean it’s enclosed, indoor. It’s got to be a little more exciting at times.

    Jared: It gets a lot in there, I’ll tell you that. I mean in our arena, we have spectators around the whole arena. We get a really good crowd and it gets really loud. So it’s a really cool atmosphere in there, which is really fun to play for.

    John: That’s awesome. They should do that when you’re in the office. They do that at the firm, right?

    Jared: Yeah. As soon as we walk in, we get an announcement of our name and you just hear massive roar throughout the office.

    John: I mean, hell, if anyone did a Cash Flow Statement properly, I think they deserve the roar because I would want that if I did a Cash Flow Statement right. I’d be like, “Look, everybody, a miracle.”

    Jared: I’ll bring that up in my next staff meeting. We’re going to make that happen here.

    John: Do it, man. Do it. That would be so cool. Do you have any more rewarding stories from some of your games, from playing, memories that come to mind?

    Jared: I’m thinking back to probably the most enjoyable game I ever played. That actually was an outdoor game. But it was when I was playing with the top level amateur team. We actually ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was for semifinal, national semifinal. And we were playing in front of 13,000 people about.

    John: Holy cow. That’s awesome.

    Jared: Yeah. It was a lot of people for where we were. I mean we ended up winning. I just remember the whole place just going silent. That was one of the coolest moments I’ve played in.

    John: Yeah. You got 13,000 people silent. That’s pretty solid.

    Jared: It was pretty amazing. I’ll tell you that.

    John: That’s really cool, man. I’m so excited to have you be a part of this. And that’s really interesting. Is this something that you feel like gives you a skill that you bring to the office in accounting?

    Jared: I mean I think my work ethic is what got me here. I mean with accounting and tax preparation and all that, I mean it’s really just — when you’re grinding out those returns, I think a lot of it comes down to just your ability to put your head down and work. I think a lot of that comes into play when we’re in the middle of our busy season. And I’m trying to balance this and go into practice later that night.

    John: Yeah, no kidding. I mean accountants during busy season, they’re just happy to make it home. And you’re like, “No, no. I got practice after this.” All the guys on your team are probably like, “Man, I’m exhausted.” “You have no idea.”

    Jared: You’d be surprised how many accountants we have on our team. We probably have about four or five accountants on the team.

    John: Are you serious?

    Jared: Yeah. It’s kind of funny.

    John: That’s amazing, which just completely shatters that stereotype that most people have of professionals in general. But especially accountants, it’s like you got a third of your team as accountants. Look at that.

    Jared: It’s fun because I can talk to them about stuff as well. And they don’t actually understand what I’m talking about. Just this fun.

    John: Yeah. That’s true. That’s interesting. That’s really interesting. Is this something that you talk about at work?

    Jared: Yeah. It’s funny because — I mean we mentioned earlier the whole stereotype in the US about soccer being boring and all that. I mean a joke that goes around the office is just about how with me playing soccer, they’re like, “Oh, it was another one-zero game and all this, all that.” My co-workers are really good to joke with about it. But yeah, I do talk about at the office and everyone’s really supportive. My boss is really supportive of it and just helping me balance everything out, which is awesome.

    John: That’s really fantastic. Yeah. I mean did you ever once think, “Hey, if they know that I’m a soccer player that it’s going to make them think that I’m less dedicated to my job or less good at accounting or all these things that people tell.” I mean I did it back in the day as well. Was it ever a concern for you?

    Jared: I don’t know if I’d ever say it was concern. I mean I always — when I brought it up to my boss, I mean I was very open about it. I told them, “I mean my first priority here is work. But I mean if I can make this happen, I’d really like to.” I mean he was very supportive of it with him saying, “I mean as long as work gets done and you’re able to balance it all out, I want you to go for it because you only have so many chances to do this sort of thing.” I mean he’s been very supportive of it.

    John: That’s great, man. That’s really cool because, yeah, I mean sometimes it’s, “There isn’t a charge code for this,” or, “Get your head down. Get more work done.” You’re like, “Look, I’ll get the work done too,” which is at the end of the day, the end product is getting work done. But if it takes you four hours or ten hours, it doesn’t matter. Just get it done.

    Jared: I think a big thing is that work life balance. I mean during busy season, you’re putting in a lot of hours in, but you need to be able to balance out and have something to look forward to outside of the office. And that’s what this is for me. This is my escape from work really.

    John: That’s such an important point. It’s something to look forward to. And I love how you put that. That’s awesome. Plus, it’s exercise, which is accidentally good.

    Jared: Yeah. I’m going to hit two birds with one stone, right?

    John: Yeah. Totally, man. You’re efficient. I like this. That’s awesome. Yeah. Do you feel that those relationships with co-workers are different because of sharing your hobbies?

    Jared: I think the kind of culture we’ve built here in the office is a very open kind of culture. So I think everyone has some sort of personal relationship and which is really, really fun to work with and really enjoyable. I mean it makes it easier to go to someone and talk about, I mean, something that happens outside of work rather than just what’s happening inside the office.

    John: Oh, totally. Yeah. Because I mean, then it’s just a normal conversation that can turn towards work. Where if it’s just work, it’s like, “Man, really? Again?”

    Jared: Yeah. Exactly. I think that’s really fun. It makes the relationships that we’re building here at the office just that much smoother to work with.

    John: Right. Yeah, which is that’s an excellent point as well because I mean if it’s all work all the time, well, that isn’t always the best way to develop those relationships to get the work done in the end. So having those other things to talk about, then you can ask — people asking you, “Hey, is it one-zero game again,” or you asking somebody, “Hey, did you take 49 hours to run a marathon,” whatever. I don’t know how long it takes. It just seems far. But those kind of questions at least opens up that conversation and that working relationship as well. It’s cool that you found a place like that. That’s awesome.

    Jared: I’ve been really happy with what — I mean everything has transpired how it has. I mean it’s been a really good situation for me both professionally but also personally. I mean it’s just been a really great situation.

    John: Yeah. Now, you’ve got a house and a dog, a girlfriend. Look at you. You’re on fire, man.

    Jared: You’ve got a little bit of everything in there.

    John: Right. Exactly. Exactly. I’m just curious because I think a lot on weird stuff, but how much do you feel like it’s on the organization to create that culture, like what you guys have there? Or how much is it on the individual to maybe just in their little small circle start to share those passions with others?

    Jared: I think it’s both. I mean I don’t know. Here in our office, our boss really pushes just that personalized approach, I mean that discussion with everyone in the office, from the top managers to the interns, stuff like that. I mean he really pushes that personal connection. But then also, with that being said, it is on the individual to go in and start the conversation, talk about what’s happening outside of work and really just try and build that connection with everyone around you, I think.

    John: That sounds fantastic. I mean that’s exactly what it is because I mean they can create that environment, but if you don’t do it or take initiative — but it’s cool that leadership even is showing like, “This is how things are here. This is normal. Actually, if you don’t have something, then now, we have to talk.”

    Jared: Yeah. If you aren’t building these relationships, then there’s an issue.

    John: I mean exactly, because I mean it’s one leads to the other. And if you want to build relationships, if you want to technically be a trusted adviser, if you want to build that trust, then, yeah, you have to have something outside. Have you come across other soccer players or soccer fans in the office?

    Jared: Yeah. Well, it’s funny. We had a couple of interns that started, a couple of massive soccer fans. We talked about our favorite sport teams over in England all the time, which is just really funny because I could’ve just name-dropped the teams beforehand and it would’ve gone over everyone’s head because they would have no idea who those teams are. But it’s fun now because I can talk about it with them.

    John: Yeah. That’s cool. It’s also cool for the interns to see somebody a couple of years ahead of them that is successful and has a life. And it’s something that they are also interested in. Yeah. I mean my main team in England is Fulham only because of Brian McBride. They have the Americans over there and Clint Dempsey and all that.

    Jared: Yeah. Clint Dempsey. Yeah.

    John: Yeah. I went to high school outside of St. Louis. And Brian McBride was at SLU at the time, so I saw him in college. Then, yeah, to see him with the national team and then Fulham and all that was just incredible. But that’s awesome that you have somebody that you can also talk soccer with.

    Jared: I’ve been joking with my boss. I’m like, “Come on. I need someone else I can talk soccer with here. You’re killing me here. We have no one else to understand it.” Then there we are and I was like, “Oh, finally.”

    John: They’re like, “How about basketball?” You’re like, “No. I know it’s Kansas, but no.” Yeah. And even the people that don’t know soccer at least ask you about it maybe on occasion, like somebody comes to a game or something like that. That’d be pretty neat.

    Jared: It’s funny you mentioned that because I mean I have a couple of co-workers here that have actually been to a game now.

    John: Oh, really?

    Jared: Yeah. They were a couple of people that were like, “Oh, man, soccer, one-zero game, all this, all that.” Then they went to a game and like, “That was kind of interesting. It was fun. It was energetic.” And I’m like, “Yeah. I mean that’s what I’ve been saying for two years now. I mean you didn’t listen to me, but it’s okay.” But no, I mean it’s been cool to share with other people, I think.

    John: Yeah. For sure, man. And now, you need some of your soccer teammates to come into the office and let them see what that’s like. No, I’m just kidding, man. Don’t do that. No, but I guess is there anything that the firm does specifically to encourage that sharing because it sounds like you’re in a really great place and something that maybe another organization could hear and be like, “Oh, we could do that.”

    Jared: I don’t know if they do anything specific. It’s just they push the personal approach that you get with your co-workers with. I mean just meetings that we’ll have where, yes, we’ll talk about work but then afterwards, we’ll talk about, I mean, anything. I mean sports, I mean obviously, here, the Super Bowl was massive.

    John: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

    Jared: I mean that was a big talking point in the office. I mean it wasn’t just the discussion about work in the office. It’s a discussion about everything outside of work, which people can relate to. I mean, obviously, the Super Bowl here was huge. So you had everyone in the office talking about it.

    John: It sounds like they just model the behavior. The tone at the top is, “This is how things are here. And we do it too.” So it’s not like it’s you’re breaking rules or something.

    Jared: I think that’s exactly it. I think they show how they are on a personal level with the employees. I think everyone else just mirrors that and just follows their lead.

    John: Before we bring this in for a landing, do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks, “Hey, I’ve got a hobby that no one’s going to care about or it has nothing to do with my job.”

    Jared: I mean I would just say go for it. I mean talk to your boss. Talk to your superior about just what you want to do because I mean I think a lot of people are very willing to listen with — I mean as long as you’re willing to make it work with work you were doing already. I mean this has not affected my workload at all. I mean I’m working the same amount of hours. And it’s just — I’m able to work around my schedule now, which has been really cool. I mean it doesn’t have to be anything special. I mean obviously, people here weren’t soccer fans and I was still able to go to my boss and say, “Hey, this is what I want because this is what I’m interested in. And this is what makes life outside of work fun for me.” I think a lot of people are willing to listen to that.

    John: That’s fantastic. Kudos to you. Not only does it make life outside of work fun for you, it makes work also fun for you because if outside of work is miserable, then you’re going to be miserable in the office too.

    Jared: Yes, very much so.

    John: That’s awesome, man. Well, before I wrap it up, I’ll let you be the host. You can rapid-fire question me since I so rudely started out the episode just peppering you with questions.

    Jared: I’ve got a couple for you. We’re going to start off with favorite food.

    John: Favorite food? Oh, wow, man. That’s going to be tough because, wow, I like a lot of food. Does ice cream count?

    Jared: I’ll take that as an answer.

    John: I mean cookie dough ice cream, like ice cream that has chunks of stuff in it, like all of the calories in at once.

    Jared: You’ve got to make sure you got everything in there. Then I think the other one I like is what’s the place you want to visit most?

    John: Oh, Wow. Man, I’ve been to a lot of cool places. Yeah, wow. One I still want to visit, I don’t know, New Zealand, I guess. I’ve been to Australia, so I should’ve just gone when I was there.

    Jared: That’s a good one there. I like it though. I like it.

    John: Awesome, man. Well, thank you so much, Jared, for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”?

    Jared: Yeah. No, thanks for having me. I had a blast. I look forward to listening it.

    John: Yeah. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jared on the field 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, 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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