Episode 308 – Caleb Newquist

Caleb is a Content Creator & Blog Writer

Caleb Newquist returns from episode 15 to talk about his move to being a full-time blog writer, how he deals with receiving feedback on his writing, and one fun way to help with sharing your hobbies in the office!

Episode Highlights

Left Going Concern
Started writing full-time for Gusto
Sharing his writing in the office
Having a “work husband/wife”

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    Welcome to Episode 308 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’s being published next month, and you can pre-order it now, right now on Amazon, Indigo, a bookshop, 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 comes out in print.

    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, Caleb Newquist. He’s editor at large for Gusto in their Denver, Colorado office and now he’s with me here today. Caleb, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Caleb: You bet, John.

    John: There we go. This is going to be super fun, man. You were on Episode 15.

    Caleb: Yeah, yeah. I was trying to think of what year it was. I don’t remember what year it was. I probably wasn’t married. I definitely did not have kids.

    John: Right. I think it was 2016.

    Caleb: Yeah, so definitely no kids and I guess I would have been married in ‘16.

    John: Yes, I remember you were married, but you had no kids.

    Caleb: What do we say? My wife and I, we joke, we say, we’re adequate.

    John: We’re adequate parents.

    Caleb: Yeah, just getting through the day.

    John: There you go. Well, now you have two. In case one messes up —

    Caleb: Well, we thought we were so adequate that we would try to improve upon it by having another one.

    John: Right? No, I love it, man. It’s great. I do have my rapid fire questions. Things I never asked you last time, and probably should have because we’ve hung out a few times since.

    Caleb: Yeah, we have. Well, I’m excited. I love a good lightning round.

    John: Okay, here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Caleb: Game of Thrones.

    John: Okay. All right. Do you have a favorite animal? Any animal at all?

    Caleb: Right now, I’m pretty partial to cats. I love a house cat.

    John: There you go. That’s simple, man. That’s simple. How about brownie or ice cream?

    Caleb: Probably ice cream?

    John: Probably ice cream. All right.

    Caleb: Yeah, if I choose ice cream, then I assume that I get all the flavors that I want. A brownie is a brownie like you can do some walnuts, you can do some pecans. Maybe there’s some variation on the frosting, but I feel like ice cream, you’ve got a whole world in front of you.

    John: I like that. Plus, you can get brownie chunks in your ice cream.

    Caleb: That’s right. You see now. Very good.

    John: All right. How about a favorite adult beverage?

    Caleb: Yeah, well, it’s summer. In the summertime, I’m very seasonal adult beverage drinker. So like in the summertime, I like a cold kölsch, which is a German style of beer. Yeah. Very clean, crisp. Delicious.

    John: Very cool. How about do you prefer more hot or cold?

    Caleb: I think I prefer things hot. Yeah.

    John: Okay. Yeah. Then you can get that beer. That’s where it’s at.

    Caleb: Yeah, that’s right. If I have a cold beer, I mean, a cold beer on a cold day is fine. But a cold beer on a hot day is the best.

    John: There you go. Two more. How about a least favorite vegetable?

    Caleb: Least favorite vegetable? Oh, gosh, that’s hard because I like vegetables. I’m like equivocating here, but too much garlic. I don’t even know if garlic is a vegetable, but too much garlic.

    John: As for me, man. Okay, I’m with you on that. Actually, yeah, because it’s one of those where you can’t shower it off. It’s just there.

    Caleb: Yes, exactly. It gets on your fingers gets too close. You’re just like, what happened? What did you do? Eat some fragrant pizza, I guess.

    John: Yeah, there you go. The last one, this one’s probably the most important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?

    Caleb: Oh, you know, I’m not committed to either side. But if you forced my hand, I would say because we have cats, I would have to be under, and because I have a toddler. I guess with the toddler, it’s indifferent though, because she just grabs it. It doesn’t matter if it’s over or under. She just grabs and pulls and pulls and pulls and pulls. But I guess if you’ve got cats, then you have to go with the defensive posture, which would be under.

    John: I love how you call it the defensive posture.

    Caleb: It’s funny. Of all the quirky relationship arguments that you can have or differences that you can have, that is one that does not come up in our household.

    John: That’s great.

    Caleb: Yeah, my wife and I have actually talked about it like we were both kind of dumbfounded that we didn’t have strong opinions about it.

    John: Yeah, as long as it’s there.

    Caleb: Yeah, the toilet paper just needs to be there.

    John: Arm’s length away.

    Caleb: Yeah. Right, within reach.

    John: Yeah, exactly. That’s awesome. Very cool, man. Well, Episode 15. I mean, God bless you for being on so long ago. I had no clue. I’m not sure if I still have a clue now, but I definitely didn’t then.

    Caleb: I’m using the same microphone, John. You at least had the microphone figured out. Like you said, I want people to sound good. I want people to sound like very white or something like you want to do —

    John: Just you, man. Just you.

    Caleb: Well, I’m no Barry White. But yeah, you had the microphone then, you have it now.

    John: No, that’s awesome. Well, much appreciated. We talked blogging and how much you were in your Big Four days on the side, and then how it turned into Going Concern, and are you still writing and active with that sort of stuff?

    Caleb: Yeah, yeah. So I left Going Concern about two years ago, full-time anyway. That was 2018. That’s when I joined Gusto. The work that I did Going Concern, and I was doing some work for Gusto at that time too, with a little side gig that I had, my writing was what they were interested in, that’s what they liked. They liked my opinion, and my perspective, and my voice around accounting in the accounting world. That’s kind of how that job came about.

    Since I’ve been there, I’ve done a lot of writing, but I think the thing that I like best in my current job at Gusto, and this is not an ad for Gusto, dear audience, but I’m talking about the work. I do a weekly newsletter called On the Margins. It’s very similar to newsletters I’ve done in the past, except it’s less frequent. I only do it once a week. But the layout’s the same, like I write some commentary on some accounting, relevant news, and then I throw in some links to like, either Gusto content or other stuff I’ve read during the week that I think was interesting or funny or something.

    And yeah, so we fire off that newsletter every week. It’s got a subscriber list of about 100,000. It’s a great list. I get tons of great feedback, people are really generous with the positive feedback, and then there’s people that don’t want to read my stuff at all. But that’s fine too. That’s how it goes.

    John: I mean, I think that that’s something that a lot of us struggle with is we have a side thing or whatever like that, which now is with Gusto, it’s turned into your actual career, which doesn’t happen for everybody, a lot of times it stays on the side, but we’re hesitant to share, because we’re scared people are going to judge it or judge us as not being dedicated to our job or whatever. Is that that’s something that you went through as well back in the day or did you just –?

    Caleb: I think with Going Concern, because I went from having a very kind of small, personal blog, that was not widely read, and then I went to having something that was being read by a lot of people, you get used to criticism pretty quickly. Again, because that was my job, that’s what I was getting up doing every day, you just kind of get used to that part of your life, being on display all the time.

    Any kind of, I guess, creative endeavor, is you have to get it in front of people if you really — or it’s not that you have to, it’s just like, it’s almost like you want to if you have something to say whether with words, or whether through some other art form like comedy, for example, that you would know well, of course, but you have something to say, and you want to get it in front of people, and you want to get feedback on it. In terms of stand up, you know, that feedback is instantaneous. In writing, it’s not as fast. But writing on the web, it’s pretty quick. You don’t have to wait too much longer if people really like what you have written or don’t like, they were really shy about it.

    Even now with the newsletter, people respond to me almost right away. When they get it, they read it, and then they reply, and they shoot me an email. Whether they like something or whether they disagree with something, and they want to just respond and give their kind of perspective on something, people are pretty quick about it. That’s nice.

    I guess for me, it’s easy to be open, I suppose about that. Because I do a little bit of creative writing outside of work and do workshops occasionally, I did a workshop back in January, February timeframe. I think it was an eight-week workshop on speculative fiction. That was a little bit more nerve-racking, because it was with strangers. It wasn’t with coworkers, but it was kind of an experience where you get used to this thing that you like doing, you get used to it being in front of other people, and the more comfortable you get with that, I think the more natural it is, like when you’re in the workplace or anyplace else, you’re just like, hey, this is something I like to do. You like talking about it and you like telling people about it.

    John: That’s true. Yeah, no, that’s exactly it. It’s how you get better. I mean, if you don’t share it with anyone, and you don’t release it into the world, then you don’t know if it’s good or not, or if you want to improve, I mean, at some point, you’ve reached a point where you’re pretty good, and you can tell what’s good feedback and what’s just crap, trash feedback, trolls, but it does make you better.

    Oh, that’s written into the comedy world. I mean, yeah, when I’m up there, and I say something that I think is hilarious, and then no one laughs and you’re like, well, there you go. I will tell that one again.

    Caleb: That one goes in the bin. Yeah, right.

    John: Exactly. The bin is overflowing. Trust me. Have you seen people sharing hobbies more now is more of a thing, or are people still kind of how it was when we talked in 2016?

    Caleb: A little bit, one thing that we’ve done at Gusto that — well, it’s not something we did anymore. But when I first joined the company a little over two years ago, everybody in their signature line would have a little thing that said — and then the tagline was “With Gusto.” In your signature, it was a thing that you like to do, and then it would be tagged with, “With Gusto.”

    John: I love that.

    Caleb: Yeah, it was a really clever idea for the signatures. I was always curious to see what people at my company, what they did with Gusto. There were things like, oh, my boss, hers was hunts for vintage treasure. I had another colleague who, oh, love to dance the Bollywood music and scuba diving and, oh, playing ukulele, and all kinds of — people always had these neat things in there. It was always fun to see what people put in there. It was a subtle way to let people know something about you. If you thought about it, then yeah, you can always ask, and people were always happy to talk about those stuff.

    John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, what a simple way to just bring a little bit of that outside of work interest passion into the office. Like you said, you were always curious to see well, what is the bottom –? Most of the time, people don’t even look at those signature lines, because they’re like, yeah, whatever. Blah, blah, blah, blah, fax number, what?

    Caleb: I consider the environment every time I print something, okay?

    John: Exactly. Right? But then you start to read them, because you’re like, wait a minute, what? And then there’s conversations that happen that never would have happened otherwise.

    Caleb: Exactly. Yeah. No, it definitely adds just the little dash of humanity that you’re looking for.

    John: Yeah, I love that, man. That’s such a great example. Such a great example. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has an outside of work interest that they feel like, well, this has nothing to do with my job? No one’s going to care.

    Caleb: I guess my only one piece of advice is that whoever you’re closest to, I think we all kind of have — my wife has a work husband, for example. He’s into boating, even I know it. She has a really close relationship with him, and she really cares a lot about him. I think we all kind of have relationships like that at our work.

    That’s the place to start, just starting with one person. Even if you already have a close relationship, if you think about how well they know you, do they know about the thing that you’re really into whether it’s a hobby or something else, like do they really know about that thing? If they don’t, then great, that’s the perfect person to kind of open up to and let them know about whatever it is that you’re passionate about.

    John: Right, yeah, just start small, and then that’ll give you some confidence, give you some momentum, and then before you know it, you’ve got your email signature line, and you can add “With Gusto.” Why not? Yeah.

    Caleb: Even if you’re not a Gusto employee —

    John: The small G.

    Caleb: That’s right. Yeah, you’d have to do the small G, I suppose.

    John: Such great advice. It’s been really fun catching up, Caleb. It’s great to hear yeah, what you’re up to now. I mean, how’s your job straight up?

    Caleb: Yeah, no, I mean, I write — I don’t know if I write every day, but my primary directive in my job is to create content. The vast majority of which is writing. I’m very lucky because I do like it. It never gets old to me. Putting words on a page and moving them around and trying to figure out what works best. I’m really fortunate to work with people who are also writers or editors, and they help me be better. I think that’s the other thing too that people can think about is like bringing that passion into work.

    I mean writing is like not everybody is lucky enough to do the thing that they talk about on this show like to do in their job, but what’s cool is if you do bring that into your job, you might end up meeting someone or encountering someone who has that same interest. It’s your opportunity to learn, it’s your opportunity to get better. I mean, I know you’ve made that point to me, just privately, but I’m sure you’ve made it on that point on your show countless times.

    John: No, I appreciate hearing it from you though, because then it’s not — I’m in bubble world making this up. No, no, it’s legit. Even if you don’t have the same thing, it at least brings you closer together. You’re not necessarily hunting for vintage treasures, but it’s cool to find out like, what did you get last weekend? Ask her, you know, the flea market or where she went or whatever type of thing. And yeah, and then all of a sudden, it’s just interesting conversation. That’s awesome, man.

    Well, it’s only fair that since I started out the show rapid fire questioning you, if you would like to question me, it is now the Caleb Newquist show. Episode One, everybody. I am your first guest, so thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. Here we go.

    Caleb: I’m so glad to have you on the show, John.

    John: Yeah, no. Much appreciated. Much appreciated, Caleb.

    Caleb: I’m asking you the questions now, right?

    John: Yeah.

    Caleb: All right. What’s your go-to bagel order?

    John: Oh, you know, I’m a cinnamon raisin toasted with butter.

    Caleb: Wow, that’s a good one.

    John: That’s mine, and I have found in Denver that the best bagel place, Rosenberg’s, does not do toasted. No, they don’t. The butter is like in the packet. I’m like, no. I lived in Brooklyn, where they would give you so much butter. I mean, it was like a whole tub of butter on your bagel, and it was toasted. It was hot. It was great. And yeah, so that’s what I’m talking about.

    Caleb: I’m sorry. Yeah, I think at Rosenberg’s, I think they just do them hot. I think that’s probably why they don’t toast them.

    John: I’m with you.

    Caleb: When I was living in New York, I was in everything with butter person. You’re right. They would put so much butter on that bagel. You couldn’t even hold it because your fingers would be covered — it’s the best. Oh my god.

    John: It’s so good. I had cream cheese. There’s too many kinds and like, no, just butter. I know butter.

    Caleb: I’m with you on the butter for sure. Okay, cool. What’s like an opinion or like whether it’s about a book or a movie or something, what is an opinion that you have that is not widely held by others?

    John: Oh, okay.

    Caleb: For example, like everybody loves Game of Thrones, but he’s like, I hate Game of Thrones. That’s just an example.

    John: I’m trying to think. Yeah, that’s a good one.

    Caleb: It doesn’t have to be a show. It could be a book. It could be anything.

    John: Well, I mean, I think that Cable Guy is a hilarious movie. It’s a great well-written, hilarious movie.

    Caleb: Yeah, most people hated it, right?

    John: Yeah. It’s so good and so deep and so funny that I will fight you on that. Yeah, that’s probably the one that comes to mind first. I have a lot of opinions about a lot of thing. When you do comedy, you kind of have to.

    Caleb: You have to come loaded.

    John: Exactly.

    Caleb: True. Okay, cool. I see a Notre Dame helmet in the background there. I’ll ask you, who’s your favorite Notre Dame Football player of all time?

    John: Oh, wow. That’s also a tough question. Yeah, I guess probably — well, I mean, yeah, probably Rocket Ismail. I mean, he was just so electric. He’s like a really great guy as well, and just really fun to be around. But yeah, I mean, he was just amazing on the field. I mean, the greatest thing ever was Michigan punting to him twice in the same game in two touchdown returns. It’s like, do you not watch? He was before me. But he was great.

    Caleb: I remember him. I probably would have been, — is that ’88, ‘89 when he was there?

    John: Yeah. Tim Brown was ‘87 when he won the Heisman, so it was after that. So yeah, early ‘90s. That team was so stacked. I mean, they had Bettis and Rick Mirer and Stonebreaker. I mean, it was crazy, the team that they had, and the pros that came out of that.

    Caleb: Cool. Because you’re a comedian, when you want to go see comedy, who do you like to listen to as far as stand up is concerned?

    John: Yeah. Greg Kite. Okay. No, no. Not Greg.

    Caleb: I love Greg kite.

    John: No, no. Greg’s great, and we’re buddies, and you’re buddies. All three of us are buddies, actually. But yeah, I just said that to make sure you listen to the end of your episode. Wow. I mean, Dave Chappelle is amazing. He’s so funny and —

    Caleb: Very cerebral.

    John: Yes. Cerebral and very insightful, and just prolific and churning out great content. It’s amazing. When you turn his specials on, you’re going to laugh, and it’s like, there you go, but it’s also going to be like, oh, I never thought of it that way sort of a thing, so yeah. There you go, man.

    Thank you so much for having me on your show, Caleb. It was blast.

    Caleb: Great having you, John. Great having you.

    John: No, no. But it was fun having you be a part of What’s Your “And” ?, and also just hanging out and having you be just a part of this community. Thanks, Caleb, for taking time to do this.

    Caleb: Yeah, my pleasure.

    John: Absolutely, and everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Caleb in action, or maybe connect with them on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com, all the links will be there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button to be anonymous research survey about corporate culture.

    Don’t forget my books available for pre-order, so go to What’s Your “And”? All those the buttons are there so you can pick whatever store you like most. Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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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