Episode 314 – Chris Hooper

Chris is an Accountant & Outdoorsman & Volunteer Firefighter

Chris Hooper returns to the podcast from episode 68 to talk about his semi-retirement from accounting and how he has been spending his time from continuing weightlifting to becoming a volunteer firefighter!

Episode Highlights

• Chris is still weightlifting
• He witnessed friends go professional in WWE
• The support system in weightlifting communities
• Why he semi-retired from accounting
• Joining the country fire service
• Why the skills in firefighting do not translate to accounting
• Why he feels people share less about their hobbies recently
• When discussing hobbies, it is about who makes the first move


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    Welcome to Episode 314 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett, and 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 next week. You can pre-order it now on Amazon, Indigo, a few other websites, especially the ones in Australia, like Book Depository and Fishpond and ones like that. We’ve got some really cool pre-order bonuses like a buy-one-and-I’ll-personally-give-a-digital-one-to-your-friend offer. So, check out whatsyourand.com for all the details and sign up for my exclusive list, and you’ll be the first to know when it comes out and when the launch party is and other cool stuff.

    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 Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Chris Cooper. He’s a partner with Cirillo Hooper and Company, and now he’s with me here today. Chris, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Chris: Thanks for having me, John.

    John: Yeah, this is going to be so much fun. Episode 68, God bless you, man. That was the beginning. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

    Chris: No worries.

    John: I do have my rapid-fire questions. These are seven that I probably should have asked you earlier, but I didn’t. Let’s see what happens. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.

    Chris: Game of Thrones.

    John: Okay, all right. How about, do you have a favorite animal, any animal at all?

    Chris: Cats.

    John: Cats. Okay, all right. This one’s a tricky one, brownie or ice cream.

    Chris: Brownie and ice cream.

    John: That is the correct answer. That was a trick one. Good answer, man. How about what’s a typical breakfast?

    Chris: Bacon and eggs.

    John: Oh, solid. I thought you were going to say brownie and ice cream. That would have been… With my book coming out on Tuesday, Kindle or real books.

    Chris: Real books.

    John: Real books. Yeah, definitely. Two more. How about a favorite adult beverage?

    Chris: West End Draught.

    John: Oh, nice. Okay, all right. Last one, toilet paper roll, is it over or under?

    Chris: Over.

    John: Over. Okay, all right, very cool. Yeah, that’s the way it should be. Yeah, Episode 68, we talked, I remember it was weightlifting and wrestling. You’re the only wrestler I’ve had on the show in all of the episodes. Is weightlifting and wrestling still a part of your life?

    Chris: Well, weightlifting is obeyed in an amateur context, as in I go to the gym.

    John: Sure. You’re ahead of me on that.

    Chris: Yeah, not professional, by any measure. I think you get to a certain age, let’s call it, where you realize that you’re never going to play top of the crowd in your weight category. You go, okay, cool, I’m just going to do this as a hobby now. The wrestling thing, by the time we did that episode, I was already a spectator. It’s been good to watch some of, I guess, friends from Adelaide make it to the big time. I think the most notable right now from Adelaide is Rhea Ripley in the WWE, for anyone who watches that. She’s climbing the ranks in the women’s at the WWE. It’s awesome watching her, so, go Adelaide.

    John: Yeah, that’s super awesome to hear, man, and it’s cool to know that you were there in the beginning is that as well, except for people have heard of her, and this podcast will be there soon enough.

    Chris: Yeah, yeah. Right.

    John: You’re the magic touch, man. That’s what I think it is.

    Chris: I love being able to say I was there when.

    John: Right. No, absolutely. Plus, they’re real people, and they’re nice, and you know what they’re really like and what have you. Yeah, absolutely. On the weightlifting, too, I know that there was some semi-pro stuff that you were doing. Does it even matter if it’s a hobby that’s on the side versus something that you’re pursuing in your life?

    Chris: I don’t think it matters. Really, it didn’t even matter in the semi-pro leagues anyway. I think this is worldwide that, in professional weightlifting, you could score bottom of the league, and everyone would still be super supportive. Because it’s like, as long as you’ve beaten your numbers and as long as you’re doing a little bit better than you did last time, you’re winning. I think that was probably my favorite thing about the powerlifting community is that there is that support around there, where it’s like, you’re only competing against yourself, which I like it as a sport.

    John: Right. Yeah, which is fantastic because it doesn’t matter. Are you doing it professionally or not? It’s still a hobby. It’s still a thing on the side.

    Chris: Yeah.

    John: Because I feel so many people are, they feel pressured.

    Chris: Yeah, to be the best at their hobby.

    John: Yeah. I don’t want to say what my “And” is because, well, I’m not getting paid to do it.

    Chris: Yeah, or I’m not the best at it. Well, that’s not really the point, is it?

    John: No. That’s exactly why it’s your “And” because otherwise, it would be the first part.

    Chris: Yeah, absolutely.

    John: Your “And” would be accounting.

    Chris: Yeah, right.

    John: What’s your “And”? Accounting. Yeah, that would be hysterical actually if somebody was like, yeah, I’m a power lifter, and I do taxes. It’s like, whoa, really? Okay.

    Chris: I must know some people like that, right? Not really. I think I’m becoming one of them, though.

    John: Well, which is interesting because, yeah, I know that you have quite a few things going on outside of work as well, and some new things as well, from when we last talked.

    Chris: Yeah. Look, I said before, I’m kind of semi-retired. A lot of accountants listening will be mad at me for this, but I work one or two days a week, accounting-wise, sometimes five days when it’s real busy. It’s end of financial year at the moment, so we’re busy. In September, it’ll be real quiet, and we’ll probably be able to take a whole month off. So, yeah, I’m not working full-time in practice anymore because it got to me where it’s like, when you look at accountants’ charge rates and then you look at what the median income is wherever, in America or in Australia. You go, okay, cool, divide that charge rate by what the median income is, and you don’t really have to work 100 hours a week. That’s where I’m at now, where I’m doing enough to pay the bills and keep food on the table and save some for the future, and that’s about it. I’m doing everything else with my spare time. Yeah, it’s good.

    John: That’s awesome, man. I know one that we’ve traded some emails and even the pictures on your social media, the firefighter?

    Chris: Yeah, yeah. I guess you would have seen from the United States, the bush fires that hit Australia, the first half of the year, or actually just looking over my desk. I’ve got all of these training workbooks on firefighting, which is pretty funny. Look, there is one of these things. So, to step back a little bit, after Accodex, I moved to the country. I’m in a small town. Population is like 900 people, and it is one of those things in rural Australia where it’s like, if you’re young and able-bodied, it’s expected that you join the Country Fire Service. It’s not a full-time job. I’ve got a pager that goes off once a month, and I have to go put on my gear and put out a fire or attend a road crash or something like that. Because, I guess, the country is so big that you’ve got to rely on volunteers when you start getting outside the cities, a kind of look after ourselves. There is that expectation.

    So, as soon as I moved, I basically enlisted and went through all of the training and that sort of stuff. It’s been probably the longest induction in the history of the CFS just because we had those huge bush fires in January. I hadn’t even gotten my stripes then, so I was just sitting on the bench, watching, which sucked. Then we had to practice some of the training and stuff like that. Now, as of a couple of months ago, I’m officially enlisted.

    John: Nice, man.

    Chris: Yeah, doing that. I’ve already had the pager go off, twice in the last month, which has been good. Not good because obviously there’s an accident here or a disaster or something, but to be able to contribute in that capacity, it’s been good.

    John: Exactly, and to feel good that you’re benefiting other people.

    Chris: Yeah. Something that I haven’t gotten from other volunteering is there is this real sense of community. I think that it makes sense why people volunteer to do this. Because for an outsider looking in, it’s like, who volunteers to do this?

    John: Right.

    Chris: You saw it in January. It’s like, why? Most of those people you would have seen fighting those fires, none of them were getting paid, so, yeah, there’s this thing that it’s like, who does this voluntarily? I think I’m starting to understand why people do do this voluntarily.

    John: Yeah. It’s definitely very powerful, and serving a greater good than just yourself, which the world can always use more of. Just out of curiosity, do you feel any of the skills from firefighting or mentality from firefighting translates to the accounting at all?

    Chris: Probably not at all, to be real, but I think that doesn’t mean that the skills aren’t useful. You know what I mean? The training that’s actually provided is just second to none. I’m super just looking forward to doing all of this stuff because it’s stuff that you just don’t get an opportunity to do in normal life. To give you an example, a couple of weeks ago, I was doing training on these atmospheric gas detectors. It’s these little machines that tell you what gases are in the environment, for hazardous material leaks and stuff like that. Nobody thinks to do that in normal life or gets an opportunity to do that kind of thing in normal life. Whereas, this is very much the normal these days. Next month, I’m going to learn how to chop open cars, to attend road crashes and stuff like that. That’s exciting. You don’t get to do that in ordinary life. I think that was part of the challenge or adventure I was looking for when I moved out to the rural areas, and it is. It’s been very interesting.

    John: That’s interesting. Yeah, yeah. So would you rather be fighting a fire or doing tax returns?

    Chris: Man, fighting a fire, 100%. There have been moments — again, this is bad because it means there has been an accident, but there have been moments during the day where it’s like, I wish my pager would go off. Because the thing is, the pager goes off, and you just have to drop everything and be at the station within two minutes. The next thing you know, you’re hustled into a truck. You just don’t get time to think. You just react, and you have to rely on instinct. Yet there have been moments where it’s like, I wish the pager would go off. It’s interesting, you should get a firefighter on the, a professional firefighter on the show and ask them what they think about, during their dull days, whether they’re going, I wish I was doing tax returns or something. Maybe they are. Maybe if they do it full-time, they’re like, I just want a quiet, normal job.

    John: Yeah. Well, I actually had a firefighter on. Emily Bartlett has been on. She’s a firefighter in Michigan, and she works for the city. There’s plenty of times where, during the day, all of a sudden, hey, got to go.

    Chris: Yeah, yeah. I think it’d be the opposite extreme, if you did it every day for a living.

    John: Yeah, but it also shows that that’s a passion because you’re like, I wish I could go do this more. Very rarely, just being honest, with most professionals, very rarely do professionals say, I wish I could go do this more, like go do more tax returns. I wish I could audit more things. I wish I could — on occasion, there’s one that’s interesting or cool or fun or whatever, but every time your pager goes off, you’re excited.

    Chris: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

    John: Yeah. It’s like, oh, I get to go do the thing that I love to do, type of thing. Yeah, and it’s great as an “And” on the side, which is cool. That’s super cool. Do you feel like people are sharing their hobbies more? Are you hearing more about them or seeing them more?

    Chris: Probably not as much as when I was first on the show. I, honestly, I think it’s gone backward, and I think it’s gone backward in the last couple of months. With cancel culture and everything like that, everyone’s turned inward a little bit. It’s like, well, I can’t talk about my hobbies because what if my hobbies offend someone and, heaven forbid, I get deleted from the internet or something?

    John: Right.

    Chris: That’s just my take. I think people, in general, are just posting less. I don’t know if there’s — there must be hard stats in terms of daily active use accounts, across all of these channels. I suspect the numbers across the board have gone down, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it’s like, well, if you’re not on social media, then you must be doing something else, like going to the gym or doing sports or hiking or bushwalking or whatever, that’s not being on Facebook or Twitter, which I think is a good thing. People may be engaging with their hobbies more, but they’re certainly not posting about them, if that makes sense.

    John: Not posting as much but maybe talking about it or whatever, yeah.

    Chris: Yeah. I think that people aren’t posting as much, generally.

    John: Yeah, because certainly, the last six months have been trying for all of us, and it makes it tricky to actually go and do your passions as much.

    Chris: Well, that too.

    John: Yeah. I think it’s also shown people how important having those outside of work interests really are.

    Chris: Absolutely, especially for mental health.

    John: Yeah, for sure. If only somebody would write a book. Wait a minute. No, but you’re exactly right, the mental health, the anxiety and depression. Yeah, it’s impressive. There’s a whole chapter in there on that one. Well, that’s cool, man. That’s super exciting. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe has a hobby or an interest outside of their job and they feel like it has nothing to do with it, so, why share?

    Chris: Look, I think you’ll find that most people have got something outside of work, and all you have to do is dig. I think if you talk about something other than work with coworkers, they end up talking more about theirs. It really comes down to who makes the first move, and why don’t you?

    John: Yeah. It’s pretty rare that you share and then they’re like, we’re never talking to you again and, oh, yeah, you’re fired.

    Chris: I can’t recall any incident of that ever happening, so I think you’ll be okay.

    John: If that does happen, then you’re welcome because you found out faster than you should have.

    Chris: Absolutely, absolutely. I’d want to know.

    John: Yeah, totally. Well, that’s so fun, man, so cool. Well, it’s only fair that before we wrap this up that I allow you to rapid-fire question me since I started out questioning you. It’s now The Chris Hooper Show. Welcome, everyone. First episode, you’re the host. Thank you for having me as your guest. I appreciate it.

    Chris: With the book coming out, I’ve got some questions about that because it’s always an interesting time. How long do you think — how many hours did you put into the book?

    John: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, I don’t even know. It’s been, yeah, well, definitely two years of pretty dedicated —

    Chris: Wow.

    John: Yeah, and then probably two or three years before that of just in your brain where — like when a star is formed in space where all the gases are just swirling and figuring out, what do I want to even have in this book, and what do I want it to look and feel like?

    Chris: Yeah. So, really, it’s been 30 years in the making.

    John: Yeah, it’s a journey, man. It’s definitely a journey. Anyone writing, you can’t just casually write a book.

    Chris: No, I haven’t met anyone who has. How did you decide on the cover?

    John: Yeah, so the cover, it’s actually my concept that I brought to the publisher and then they, of course, made it way better. I actually just kind of had it in my brain as I was finishing the manuscripts. I was like, oh, wouldn’t it be cool if in bigger letters, it was What’s Your “And”? but then in smaller letters in the background, it was a bunch of different hobbies and passions that people have? So then when you get up close, you’re like, wow, this doesn’t even really look like a business book. This is interesting. It makes people want to lean in. Then it got super complicated though because “And”, in this sense, is a noun. What’s Your “And”? So, on the cover, it was, how do we make “And” a noun? Is it double quotes? Is it single quotes? Is it italics? We ended up going with just a different color.

    Chris: I get that.

    John: Yeah. Well, I like it too, because then the color is the same as the subtitle, which is: Unlock the Person within the Professional.

    Chris: Yeah.

    John: That’s what your “And” does. I was like, well, there’s a little subtlety there to that, I think.

    Chris: I like it.

    John: Yeah, I’m excited. I think it’s cool.

    Chris: Yes. Very last question is, what was the hardest bit about the entire book writing process?

    John: The hardest bit was definitely just getting out of my own way. You feel like, I need to have every single thing that I ever know, in this book. You don’t. You really don’t because the reader, coming into the book, knows zero on my scale, and going out of the book, knows more.

    Chris: Yeah. Mission accomplished.

    John: Yeah, exactly. Do they need to know twice as more? Maybe, but probably not because this is enough, type of a thing. So, literally, just getting out of my own way and being like, I have something of value to offer. This actually makes people’s lives better and makes them enjoy work better and makes companies attract and retain talent more. It’s like, no, no, this does make a difference. So, that was the hardest part, for sure, and it’s all in my head, which is dangerous.

    Well, cool, man. Well, thanks so much, Chris, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was super fun.

    Chris: Likewise.

    John: Awesome. Yeah, and everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Chris in action, or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com All the links are there, as well as pre-order the book. Don’t forget about that. It’s really good. Chris is quoted in it, so don’t forget about that. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.

    Thanks again for subscribing onto 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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