Episode 288 – Tim Cowley

Tim is an Accountant & Rugby Player & Board Game Player

Tim Cowley returns to the podcast from episode 91  to talk about how his passions for rugby and board games help with developing relationships with clients and how they help with quick learning and adapting in the office!

Episode Highlights

Partnering with the local professional soccer team
Playing board games online through quarantine
Meeting people through hobbies
You never know what skills are professionally applicable

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Tim’s Pictures

(click to enlarge)

Tim and his wife

Wheelchair rugby team tournament
Art from rugby teammate – it is Tim and another player on the team as Blood Bowl players


Blood Bowl, music, and beer judging

Study in Emerald Game Night

Tim’s Links


  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Welcome to Episode 288 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I follow-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 have impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published 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 and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.

    Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Tim Cowley. He’s the managing partner of Cowley CPAs outside of Detroit, Michigan, and now he’s with me here today. Tim, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Tim: Thanks for having me back.

    John: Absolutely, man. Episode 91, God bless you for being on so early. Thank you, man. It has been a wild journey.

    Tim: Yeah, still alive, so it’s a good thing.

    John: Exactly. Exactly. So, I mixed it up a little bit, do the rapid fire questions upfront here. I hope you’ve got your seat belt on and you’re ready. First one, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Tim: Harry Potter.

    John: All right. How about a favorite band or musician?

    Tim: Still Plush.

    John: Oh, okay. How about hamburger or pizza?

    Tim: Probably pizza.

    John: Yeah, yeah. How about when you were a kid, favorite activity in gym class?

    Tim: Definitely not rope-climbing, probably dodgeball.

    John: Right? Why do you climb the rope? For some reason you get to the top, you touch the metal, then you shock yourself. It’s like that’s a terrible trick.

    Tim: Assuming you get to the top in the first place but, yeah.

    John: Okay. All right. Dodgeball, solid. How about more oceans or mountains?

    Tim: Mountains.

    John: Okay. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?

    Tim: At a beer-tasting one time that was blue cheese and peppercorn. That was pretty good.

    John: Oh, wow. That sounds interesting. Okay, and the last one, last one, maybe the most important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under.

    Tim: Like any sane person, over.

    John: Right, that was a test.

    Tim: Okay, good.

    John: Because if you said under, they would be knocking on your door right now. Sir, we’ve got to take you outside. Yeah, so last time we talked it was at 91. It was rugby and brewing beer and then board games. Are all those things that you’re still actively passionate about and doing, or anything exciting from a couple of years ago?

    Tim: Yeah, I’m still — well not playing rugby right now because obviously it’s hard to distance when you’re next to somebody.

    John: It’s hard to tackle a guy from six feet away.

    Tim: Yeah, right. Up until, obviously a couple of months ago when everything hit, we still had everything, going out for spring season. We still are doing some indoor stuff. There’s a soccer club that’s actually turning professional, right by us, called DCFC, that’s got probably thousands of fans and a stadium over Hamtramck, by us. We partnered with. They have an indoor facility, and we were doing our indoor stuff there. We had a flag rugby league going on in the winter time until we had to stop it later on, February-March time. So I haven’t been doing a lot of exercising recently, but up until that point, still around, still…

    John: That’s impressive, man. Because it just hurts my legs right now just thinking about it. That’s impressive.

    Tim: I still think I’m in better shape or was when we were practicing everything since when I was in college. I think I was in worse shape then, and I was playing football then. The amount of running is obviously a lot more, but definitely as I get older, I’m approaching my 37th anniversary of my birth. We’ve got one guy who’s in his 40s that still plays more at the time, and then get one guy that actually I met playing board games and then he started playing rugby, who’s a year or two older than me that’s still playing. He’s in ridiculous shape.

    John: He’s like Tom Brady’s cousin. He’s doing some weird diet thing or something.

    Tim: Yeah, he still has abs too, and I can’t make that — he has defined abs. I can’t make that boast.

    John: Right, right. You sure it’s not a t-shirt? It’s just a t-shirt.

    Tim: I have abdominals obviously but not…

    John: I have an abdominal. It’s a single thing. No, that’s super cool, man. In the last couple of years, you’ve been playing in the leagues, still traveling around and doing that?

    Tim: Yeah. We’re not travelling as much. We used to travel around as far as Pittsburgh or some other neighboring states, but we’re a little bit closer league right now. It’s been mostly Michigan stuff, but it’s still playing a bunch of teams and getting out there and enjoying running and the people and things sore the next day. It’s one of those things where you don’t really realize what kind of a release it is until you don’t do it for a while.

    John: That’s a good point.

    Tim: I was ready to get back to it and then something happens that prevents me from going back. Obviously it’s a little bit more stressful than usual but you know.

    John: Right. That’s an interesting point of when you’re doing it, you don’t realize how much of an impact these outside-of-work passions have on your life as a whole. If someone were to tell you, “Okay, just stop working for six weeks,” all right, I guess I could, because you’d fill it with the other things. I feel it’s harder to turn off the passions than it is maybe to turn off the work.

    Tim: Yeah. Same thing with going out and visiting restaurants and going and drinking with friends and stuff and going to a board game, all that kind of stuff you took for granted before. It’s not exactly the same right now obviously because you can’t really go anywhere. Some of the stuff fills the void like I’ve been doing obviously online Zoom calls and trying to do the networking and stuff like that over the Internet, which is not exactly the same.

    John: Right.

    Tim: But definitely missing those connections with people.

    John: Yeah, because that’s the thing. In doing the research for my book, in the hierarchy of needs of modern humans, right there with shelter and food is human connection. It’s as important as shelter and food. To turn that off is super hard where you’re still able to do your work. It’s cool to hear that you’re able to maintain that anyway, even in this time, those passions, even just a little bit.

    Tim: Even work stuff, the office I’m working out of is still — a couple of attorney’s offices work out of there. Obviously no one’s been going in. We’ve been all working remotely. Even professionally speaking, I’ve been doing some accounting work for a firm in California. They do a daily 15-minute video chat just to keep people engaged and not going crazy, I guess, just staring at their computers at home.

    John: Yeah. That’s awesome though. The rugby story and the pictures from you playing are just awesome. It’s so cool. The board games, that’s something that you’ve been into for a while as well. Are you able to do that over Zoom, sort of, or not really?

    Tim: Yeah, there are a couple of different ways to deal with that. They have online tabletop simulator things you can basically go — there are app versions you can play of a lot of games. There are also virtual tabletops you can go basically to play a game on, which I really haven’t done that much with, but doing some stuff over Zoom calls, that kind of stuff. Some stuff just doesn’t lend itself to being able to do that if there’s a lot of pieces people have to move or if you have to hand over the cards or whatever. You can’t obviously.

    John: Right. Everyone sees all the cards.

    Tim: We did a couple of things where if people have the same game, they can play it, and you can work it out that way.

    John: There you go.

    Tim: Yeah, just a little different adaptation of not getting together specifically.

    John: Yeah. Before all this started, is it creating your own games, or is it just playing some newer kind of games that people have created? It’s not the usual Risk and things like that. It’s some more unique games.

    Tim: Yeah, yeah. They come out with, the last time I heard, is about a thousand games a year that. It’s like drinking from a fire hose, trying to keep up with everything, but there’s a bunch of people that their full-time job is basically to review and talk about games. You can watch some of that and get an idea of stuff. Even the amount of games, if I bought a game every week, I still wouldn’t be able to play all.

    John: Yeah, yeah. That’s wild.

    Tim: But then you can get into stuff like I’ve been doing a lot of, which is nice, thanks to quarantine time, I’ve got a small problem buying miniature games and that kind of stuff and spending time with those. You’ve got to put them together. You’ve got to paint them. It’s a whole process, but it’s a separate part of a hobby that some people get into or don’t.

    John: Yeah, yeah, but they’re miniature so they don’t take up a lot of space so why not buy a bunch of them. Right?

    Tim: They’re small, doesn’t mean they don’t take up a lot of space.

    John: That’s a good point.

    Tim: If you ask my wife about it, she’ll tell you that our former guest bedroom is now our game room is now bursting at the seams as well.

    John: Got it, got it. That’s cool though, man. It’s something to do and take your mind off of work at times and also a social thing which creates that human connection, like you were saying, even when we last talked, of different people from different professions and different backgrounds, similar to the rugby which is great. It just opens up your network.

    Tim: Yeah. It’s a good way to meet people. Depending on what you’re doing, if you’re going to a game night or if you’re going to a store that holds events, whatever, you’re going to meet people. Some people you might not talk to outside, some people you may. I’ve got some people that I talk to all the time that are good friends now, doing that kind of stuff, and then clients and that kind of stuff. Like anything else, you get out there and you meet people. You’re going to get some returns from it, professionally and personally.

    John: Yeah. Some people that I’ve talked with, actually a lot of people, when it comes to sharing, they’re a little bit reluctant because they don’t want to be judged by clients or coworkers or things like that. Is that something that’s ever crossed your mind?

    Tim: Not really. It helps not to care that much about what people think about you.

    John: Well, yeah, you could drive yourself crazy worrying about what everyone else does.

    Tim: I know when I was still working at the firm I was at before, first time playing rugby, I know there were a couple of times where I went in the meetings and I had a black eye. Nobody would say anything about it, but they were clearly staring at it. It was like, okay, this is a little bit awkward but whatever. The fact that people really enjoy it and I get clients that think it’s great, I don’t think it’s a detriment by any means.

    John: Yeah. I agree with you. I guess I didn’t know that we weren’t supposed to say. You asked me what I did this weekend so, yeah, I drove to the city and did a comedy club. What do you want? I don’t know type of thing. I love how you said that the right clients care, and they like it. You can’t be for every single person. Whether it’s the company that you work at or it’s a client or another department or whatever, you find your right fit, and those people care about you. That’s something that lights you up. Those people, they’re more fun to talk with and work with.

    Tim: Yeah. I feel like if you have something to talk about besides just the nuts and bolts of what you’re doing, makes it a lot easier. I got clients I work with, I got one client that I go stay out there a couple of days because they’re a couple of hours away. We have dinner one night. We talk about obviously more than just work stuff. It’s good to be able to talk about more than just work.

    John: Yeah. For sure, man, for both sides of that conversation. That’s awesome, man. Very cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to someone listening maybe that thinks that maybe their hobby or passion has nothing to do with their job?

    Tim: Like everything else, professionally, you’ll never know what’s going to come up that’s going to be applicable. I’ve had stuff that, specifically with playing games and stuff, just the fact that you’re learning how to do something in a set rubric or rules or whatever, there’s obviously applicability for that in accounting or for the business stuff. You never know how it’s going to apply. You never know what person you’re going to make a connection with. I’ve been at evergreen events that you just start talking to somebody and you get on some topic and then 25 minutes later, you’re still talking to them about it. So making a meaningful connection versus just saying, “Well, this is my business, and this is what I do.” It’s not a surface level connection and I think can really help you out.

    John: Yeah. I love that because everyone else in this room is also a really good business whatever person like you do, or an accountant. Well, we’re all good. Is everyone here fired from their job? No. We’re all still getting paid. We’re all good at what we do. Plus or minus, some are better, but not significantly better that you’re going to remember. Then you bump into someone else who also likes board games, it’s like, oh, I remember her or I remember him. It’s not because they were an accountant. It’s because of the other thing. That’s great to hear that it plays out in real life anyway instead of my bubble world of theory type of thing.

    Tim: Yeah. I like beer and beer-making, and I can talk to clients. I’ve got a couple of brewery clients. It’s just a natural fit because they like someone that knows what’s going on there. Some things that you may know that someone else may not know if they don’t know anything about the process or — doing software implementation for this one client that if you don’t know what the process, I don’t know how you can get into the detail of making sure it works correctly. Again, there’s always stuff that could be applicable. Or if you can learn stuff quickly or adept, that’s also pretty important too. Some of my hobbies strengthen those skills.

    John: Yeah, because here’s a new game, here are the rules, play. It’s like, wait, what?

    Tim: Don’t be terrible is also the key.

    John: Right. Why is Tim always the first one to lose? I’m like, oh, he’s an accountant. It’s like, no, no. I learn the rules. I get it. Now everyone’s like, wow, accountants are super-fast. They get all the rules. What is this Paycheck Protection Program? When that came out, you’re like, oh, easy. New rules every day, okay. We got it.

    Tim: Well, if you’re assuming that there were rules at the beginning sort of thing.

    John: I guess that’s true too. Never mind. 47-sided dice, what is this? That’s awesome, man. Well it’s so cool to hear that these are things that you’re still passionately pursuing and still playing rugby and brewing beer and playing games. It’s super cool to hear and so encouraging. Thanks so much, man.

    Before we wrap this up, it’s only fair, since I rapid fire questioned you at the beginning, if you want to ask me any questions, you’re now the host of this show. It’s the Tim Cowley Show. Fire away. If you want to ask anything, I’m all yours.

    Tim: All right. Skiing or swimming.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay, can I do snowboarding? Could I do that one? Does that count?

    Tim: I suppose, yeah. I lost over one time when I was in college. I messed up my knees. Every time I got through, I fell down, every single time.

    John: It is a little tricky on that one. Luckily I go to the places where you ride up in the little car and then you can walk out.

    Tim: Okay.

    John: You carry it.

    Tim: It’s a little bit different.

    John: Yeah.

    Tim: All right, beer or wine.

    John: Oh, yeah. I’m a wine guy. Sorry, man.

    Tim: I drink wine every once in a while too.

    John: I think everyone should drink wine. Why not?

    Tim: Yeah. It’s like everything else, if you buy bad, bad whatever, it’s going to be bad. If you buy a little bit better, it’s going to be — same with the way I feel about vermouth. You buy a Gallo. It’s terrible. If you buy the $10 bottle of vermouth, it’s infinitely better than… So.

    John: Yeah. The great thing about wine, like at Trader Joe’s or something like that, you can get pretty decent wine for ten bucks or even less. It’s like, all right, that works. Cool, man. Thanks so much, Tim, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? It’s been really great catching up.

    Tim: Yup, it’s my pleasure.

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