Georgia is a CEO & Adventurer
Georgia Green, CEO of BEUrevolution, talks about some of her adventures and how she balanced between her travels and being the CEO of a company. She also talks about why she felt this was the best hobby for her and why the individual sets the tone in a company!
• Filling the gap between school and retirement
• 4000 mile bike ride
• Why she moved to Texas
• Her cross country trip
• Coordinating business calls and making deadlines while traveling
• Letting go of the outcome
• How colleagues reacted to her travels
• Discovery vs failure stigma
• Why change comes from the individual
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Picture’s of Georgia Hiking
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Welcome to Episode 315 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and 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 another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, the things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re in the office.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book came out yesterday. I can’t believe it. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, Bookshop, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. Thank you so much to everyone who’s already ordered it and has even left a review. It means so much. I look forward to hearing how much it changes your workplace cultures, going forward.
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, Georgia Green. She’s also a recovering CPA, and is now the CEO of BEU in Dallas, Texas, and she’s with me here today. Georgia, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Georgia: Hey, John. I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.
John: Of course. It’s going to be so awesome. I’m super excited. We have my rapid-fire questions. Let’s get to know Georgia on a new level.
Georgia: All right, let’s get started. Fire at will.
John: Simple one, favorite color.
John: White. Okay. Yeah, I don’t get that often.
Georgie: I argue it’s a color.
John: That works. I think, one other time, I’ve had that. That’s awesome. How about a least favorite color?
John: Purple. That’s super hilarious to you and me.
John: Everyone else, if you hate purple, good for you. All right, here we go. How about a favorite cereal?
Georgia: Favorite cereal. Okay, there is a protein cereal that I love. It’s just made out of protein. You can, yeah, just Google it. It’s amazing.
John: Oh, my goodness. Okay.
Georgia: It’s like School something.
John: That is the opposite of frosted flakes. That is very different.
Georgia: It’s like a Fruity Pebbles equivalent but healthy-ish.
John: Okay. I’ll give it a try. I’ll give it a try. How about pens or pencils?
Georgia: Pens but only if they have a specific type of grip and weight to them.
John: Oh, okay. All right. And weight by…
John: … The pen itself as opposed to the line it —
John: Okay, so you’re getting a workout as you’re writing. I like that.
Georgia: Yes, exactly. It’s good when you’re really heavy in thought.
John: Pun intended. I see what’s going on. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Crossword. All right. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Georgia: I’d have to say Angelina Jolie for the role she plays and her humanitarianism. She’s like this badass but still feminine, sort of, going out, saving the world sort of thing.
John: Right. Yeah. In movies and outside of the movies.
John: Are you more of an early bird or night owl?
Georgia: Annoying, level 11 morning person. I wake up at 4:00 a.m., I’m hitting it, but 8 pm and I’m like a child. You just need to put it out for a nap.
John: That’s hilarious. All right, how about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Georgia: Never seen either one of them. So, fun fact, I have not owned a TV for 12 years.
John: Holy cow. That’s amazing. You’re like Amish. That’s impressive.
Georgia: I didn’t know what’s going on. Ignorance is bliss.
John: Yeah. Okay. How about when it comes to books, mine being out, I’m excited, Kindle or real books?
Georgia: I have to go with real books. They smell good, and the texture. You have to touch them and pet them and love them.
John: Yeah. Right, there you go. Talk nice to them.
Georgia: Yes, yes.
John: All right, I think I know why you don’t have a TV anymore. You’re like talking to your books.
Georgia: That’s right. You know I’m the first one on your book. I’m just going to pet your book.
John: Right. You’re just in the airport, random strangers. That’s awesome.
Georgia: It’s a conversation-starter. Nobody says, “What are you reading on your phone or your Kindle?” They say, “What are you reading in real life?” It opens conversation and connection.
John: And having just gone through the publishing gauntlet, if you will, all kinds of fonts, all kinds of pages, weights, all of it that goes into a book. It really matters. It’s a work of art. It really is. How about, you have the accounting background, favorite number?
John: 11. Is there a reason?
Georgia: Because I see ones all the time, like when I happen to look up at the clock, it’s either 1:11 or 11:11. They just appear, so I decided that one-ish, 11 was going to be the number. It chose me. I don’t know.
John: There you go. Okay. All right. How about heels or flats?
Georgia: How about no shoes?
John: Oh, okay. I’ll take that.
Georgia: If I can wear a suit dress with bare feet and rock that in a corporate setting, I totally will. I might start making that a thing.
John: I think you probably could, actually. There we go. All right, here we go. Oceans or mountains.
Georgia: Mountains, 100%. I have to climb something. I’m much more turf than surf.
John: All right. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Georgia: I would have to say champagne.
John: Oh, there you go.
Georgia: I believe that life is worth celebrating, so you can drink it all the time.
John: You can drink it all the time, exactly.
Georgia: We’re celebrating. It’s 6 am. Woohoo!
John: There you go. I like that mentality. That’s good. That’s very good. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Georgia: Definitely PC.
John: Yeah, me too.
Georgia: I have no clue. When I look at a Mac, it’s like what am I supposed to — I don’t know what I’m doing.
John: I have no idea what to do either. How about — we’ve got three more, three more — favorite ice cream flavor. I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Georgia: Vanilla. Is that a nerd?
John: No, that works.
Georgia: It has to be slightly melted. It’s like an ice cold milk, and if you put it in coffee like an affogato, that’s the best.
John: Now, that’s some next level right there. Because that’s the cream and the sugar at once.
Georgia: Yes, yes
John: Right, right. How about, again, with the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement?
Georgia: I would definitely have to go with balance sheet because I think cash is king.
John: Okay. All right. There you go. The last one, favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Georgia: I’m a minimalist actually. Literally, I own two plates. There’s not a lot that I do own, but my baby is I hand-made a custom-built bicycle that was engineered, specifically handmade for my body or weight, and I built every single component on it in order to bicycle 4,000 miles. I built it, made it. That thing is useful for only one purpose, and I love it.
John: That is incredible.
Georgia: It’s a work of art in my living room.
John: Yeah, that is incredible. Well, you spent so much time designing and building it, you might as well have it in your living room. That would be crazy not to.
Georgia: Yes. It’s like my Michelangelo.
John: That’s awesome. That is so cool. It’s a one of a kind, literally, and it’s for you. That is awesome. That, I guess, dovetails into your passion of just adventures in general. You can’t drop, cycling 4,000 miles, without me being, that sounds really far.
John: They have airplanes now, but building an airplane is harder, so I built a bike.
Georgia: It requires no certification.
John: Right. Was it in one ride, or has it been over time?
Georgia: I did it all in one ride. I was kind of climbing the corporate ladder. I had everything everybody thought was successful. I had the house and the picket fence and all the toys and the house full of this stuff. I kept saying, there’s got to be something more. What is this? They teach you — you’re indoctrinated into this thing. You go to school. You pick your career. You have two kids on average. You get to a certain point. There’s nothing that they teach you until retirement. There’s this giant gap. Nobody says how you fill your gaps. I was in that moment of like, I’m filling my gap. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, but I thought to everything I said I was going to do. So, it was one of those moments where I said, okay, I’ve got to do something different with my life. What do I enjoy doing? What am I — just going out and experimenting. I thought, what can I do where I can still work and still run a company and still get out and do the adventure side? So, I had this bike custom-built and then did 4,000 miles all in one trip, just went from campground to campground and sat at the picnic table and did some work.
John: Okay, so you were doing both.
John: 4,000 miles, I have no idea. Where is that from? Where to where?
Georgia: Yes. That trip went from Grandy, North Carolina and then went down the coast to the tip of Florida then back up and across to Texas. That part’s really interesting and played a big part of my journey and how I ended up moving from Minnesota to Texas, which is a whole other story. I remember when I crossed the border into Texas, this woman came running out on her porch. Now, mind you, okay, I have 150 pounds of gear on the bicycle and 100 pounds towing, with two dogs in the trailer that is custom-built.
John: Oh, wait, you had dogs too.
Georgia: Yeah, I took two dogs. So, it looks like this covered wagon, and here’s this woman pulling this covered wagon of dogs who were sticking their head out the trailer like they’re talking about, having a great time. This woman comes out her porch, and she comes flying out. Her arms are spread wide, and she’s goes, welcome to Texas. I was like, these are my people. I love Texas.
John: There you go. That is very Texas.
Georgia: Yes. I remember that, and it really — what’s interesting is, that was the first time that I had ever done some big giant adventure, and it really gave me the momentum to do other great big adventures, like my hike. We’ve talked about my hike across the country and different things.
John: Yeah, which I’m not going to skip over, that’s for sure, because that’s equally exciting. So, did this lady, when she ran up to you, also give you a Texas flag? Because I feel like that’s protocol for Texas.
Georgia: What’s interesting about that is the bike is not easy to miss. It is literally a covered wagon towing behind a bike. I had the yield signs that are reflective and lights everywhere. What I found was people were more welcoming when I have their state flag going and billowing out the back. Otherwise, they might be annoyed that I’m holding up traffic or whatever, like this cyclist getting this orientation. It’s like taking up the whole lane. Well, I can’t not take up the whole lane when I’m hauling two dogs, right? So, if I have the state flag behind, people are honking and cheering, but when I hit to Texas, and I had the Texas flag behind you, let me tell you how insane that was. It was like a Fourth of July party. Everywhere I went, people were just cheering me on. It gave me momentum. It was so powerful to have — really the lesson there is who do you have cheering for you? Because it’s not easy. Life is not easy. Doing anything is not easy, and doing anything challenging is not easy, but when you have people who are just throwing gas on it, and they’re like, woo! Okay, this is easier and I’ve got it.
John: Yeah, because the adrenaline gets there. That’s super cool. Yeah. You referenced the hike, literally, across the country. Where did you start and end?
Georgia: Yeah, so that one was at the border of Mexico, to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington. The bike trip was cool. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great experience. It wasn’t easy. But on the bike trip, I had the security of knowing that I was only one ride away from something that could get me to help. I can ride my bike to the grocery store if I needed food. I could ride my bike to an emergency service, and I would be fine. This specific one was, I chose this adventure to actually research fear. It was actually a more — whereas, the first one was like an adventure for fun, this one was — and more sense of safety — this one was intentionally to put myself in a place where I’ve never done anything like this before, was harder to manage. It was a lot more logistics, a lot more financial commitment. Here I am, a woman in the wilderness with a 54-pound backpack going into the woods. I’m a giant target. So, I had to figure out how to navigate all of that, and once you’re in, you’re in it for five to seven days before you get to a road that you can even hike out and then hitchhike to get to a town to get resupplied or whatever. It was truly an intense, scary commitment, and I intentionally did that on a quest to overcome fear, based on the research that I was doing.
John: Wow. That’s incredible because you’re shipping things ahead of time, I guess, and then trying to map out, well, how far am I going to get to it? Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, or whatever. Every time, you’re just tweaking and dialing it in and then getting it down. I’m sure by the time you were in Washington, you’re like, I got it down to a science.
Georgia: Yes. You know what’s interesting? I love that you said that because — so there was a lot of research. There was eight months’ worth of research. I had to figure out what my burn is when — who has walked 12 hours a day with a 54-pound backpack in the mountains? How do you develop with that? How do you carry that on your back? What foods can you eat that are not heavy and that are not perishable? I also owned a business, so I had to time my investor calls. I had clients. I had board meetings. I had all this that I had to hit at certain days and times. So, I had to calculate out, this day I have to hike this many miles. If I didn’t make it, for injury or whatever, a fire, I had to reroute several times due to fires; how do I still make those commitments? I never missed a deadline even once.
John: That’s impressive.
Georgia: A lot of times, it was like, okay, I’m killing myself. I did 26 miles one day just to get to my deadline on time, and you call up ahead of time. So, I’m calling at a gas station and saying, “Okay, I know this sounds weird. This is a weird ask. Can I ship a box to you which contains my laptop? Can I ship a box to you and come and pick it up? Here’s what I’m about to do.” They’re like, okay, yeah, that’s fine.
John: Are you going to buy a Slurpee while you’re here? Are we going to make a business transaction?
Georgia: Yeah. So, a lot of logistics went into it, but I loved what you said about, by Washington, you have it figured out. I think the lesson there for me was, when I started in California, I had to do the Mojave Desert. It was awful. It’s 108 degrees. It was intense, and I was just starting out. I was new at it. I can tell you, I’m the type of person where I do what I say, so there was a lot of ego in it. I can’t quit because then my name is attached to being a quitter. So, it was a lot of just getting through it and surviving it, but by Washington, I figured out that it’s not about getting to Canada. It’s actually about enjoying the journey. So, somewhere along that line, I actually started having fun, and it was when I decided to let go of the outcome and just start enjoying it. Knowing that if I just put one foot in front of the other, I would eventually get there, so stop pushing so hard.
John: Yeah, and what a great analogy for professionals, in general, of just, we’re always pushing ourselves so hard, and we forget about, there’s life. There are these other things that are outside of work that are also important, and to enjoy them too, or even enjoy work while you’re at it. Clearly, this came up in calls because you’re still doing work while you’re doing the cycling, while you’re hiking from Mexico to Canada. Was there ever a part where you were like, hey, people are going to judge me as being not very good at my job or not dedicated or whatever, or you didn’t even care?
Georgia: Yeah. No, that was a huge one. When I first went to my family and friends and said, this is what I’m going to do; well, first of all, they were like, are you having a midlife crisis? Are you okay? Then I have a lot of people who were my close advisers, my inner circle, who said, “Georgia, you’re committing career suicide because nobody does this. You don’t get to be a business person and an adventurer. The adventure type is for the young people who are just out of college who are trying to figure out their why. This isn’t an adult, grown woman in the middle of your career sort of thing to do. You have to pick one or the other and that people are going to judge you.” If you’re in the CPA world, investment banking world that I was in, or later, went into organizational development, that sort of consultative work; the only option for you was golf. No hiking across the country and living in a tent for five months. They were concerned about, like you said, how do you trust that you’re going to hit your deadlines? How do you have that sense of, am I working with an actual professional when I show up on video and I’m covered in who knows what? You’re just lucky you can’t smell through Skype.
John: Exactly. Yeah, but then no one cared, come to find out. Or I would imagine it was the opposite where everyone was excited.
Georgia: Yeah. What’s interesting about that is it took me a really long time. My bike trip was four years ago. My hike was three years ago. For a time period, after both of those, there was almost a shame that I didn’t want to tell people. Other people would tell my story to people. You can’t believe what she did, and they would look at me like, you did that? Because I’m in a suit, and they’re like, I’m having a hard time picturing this because it’s two totally different things. It’s opposites. It’s paradoxical.
So, they would tell my story, and I would almost like hide my eyes. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it. This was this huge accomplishment that I did that I was ashamed of, in the business setting, and suddenly, people started saying, “Let’s talk about that.” Then they started to realize that the skill sets needed to do something that huge, actually translated into a business setting. It challenged me to make those connections and realize that I was a different person when I came out of it. I do feel like it opened me up. It taught me a lot of things. It showed me who I am. I started talking about it more, and the more that I did, the more people wanted to know about it because I think it freed them up. Because I think their stuff, like everybody wants to do this, they want to do something, maybe not hiking across the country, but they have something in them that they want to do, that when they hear other people doing it, it frees them up to say, okay, there’s a possibility for me. That’s the hope that I see in their eyes now when I talk about it.
John: That’s so awesome to hear that transformation that you went through, that you had this mindset going in because — it’s probably why you thought this way is because others told you. You can’t do this. This is career suicide, as you said, and whatever, but it’s clearly not. You’re here. You’re better than ever. Actually, yeah, like you said, those skills translate, so you’re actually better at your job now because of that “And” or that outside of work experience.
In the book, I talk about how we define expertise so narrowly. Our expertise is our college degree and our continuing education. It’s not. There’s other expertise that we have that, clearly, you’ve been able to display, so it’s cool to hear that that’s true and that I’m not making it up. Also how it impacts others that hear your story, and hear everybody’s stories on here and stuff like that, as well.
Georgia: Well, I think the most important thing, from a business perspective, for a business to be successful is to have creative, innovative, passionate people who can’t not do what they do. They’re in it because they love it. When you do that, it’s limitless, but in order to do that, you have to challenge that narrowness that you were talking about. So, when you get pigeonholed into that — and I think that comes from — Georgia-only philosophy here — I think that comes from way back in the day when you were a blacksmith, your kids were going to be a blacksmith, and your kids’ kids will be blacksmiths. You didn’t do anything else. Your identity was tied to what you did, and that created certain skill sets, and you get stuck in a sort of rut. We’re even taught that. You have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life, and you’re 18 years old.
Georgia: You barely know who you are, let alone what you will be doing, right?
Georgia: Here’s the thing that I believe, is when you’re a little kid and you try something and you explore something, then you’re discovering. When you grow up as an adult and you try different things, what is that called? Failure, right? We start. We’ve put this stigma to discovery as failure, and so we’re in fear of searching out that creative outlet and looking for the thing that we’re excited about. When you do that and you’re in fear, that’s where — fear is where innovation and creativity goes to die. That’s what’s happening to our companies. When you can have people explore the different components, the different parts of them, the different facets of who they are; it translates into the business, and you’ll see the business grow. So I agree with you. We have to get rid of that narrow mindset.
John: How much is it on the tone at the top to create that culture, or how much is it on the individual to just share, these are my outside of work interests, this other expertise that I have that I can bring to work? It’s probably a balance, but do you think one’s more important?
Georgia: I love this question. I love it so much. So, the name of my company is BEU Revolution. The reason that I added the revolution is because a lot of times, people think the tone comes from the top. That is only true if you believe that you’re limited by the beliefs at the top, but you’re not. I believe that true change in a company actually comes from the people rising up and starting a revolution and saying, “I’m going to be me, unapologetically. I either fear or I don’t.” I’m not going to be in fear that I don’t fit underneath whatever the tone at the top is, I’m either going to go where I belong, or I’m going to start this revolution and rise up.
The interesting thing when I talk to — so I talk with a lot of VPs and C-suites. Every single one of them believes the same thing. They don’t want this old school mentality of how business operates in this narrow-minded, pigeonholed tasking sort of thing, but I think everybody’s doing it because everybody’s done it. So, when we say tone at the top, it just really is every person has to start their own revolution, and it starts inside of you. The more you, the more that you are who you are, the more that you’re going to influence the company culture around you. Do not wait for the tone at the top to change. Do not force that tone at the top to change. Be more of who you are, and that’s going to create change.
John: I totally agree. That’s awesome. Yeah, because I remember in the corporate world, I just found myself starting to model behavior of people that were ahead of me. Then I realized, wait, they’re modeling behavior of people in front of them and then people in front of them. At some point like in the 1800s, there’s some huge dork that we’re all following.
John: No one stops to just be like, wait a minute, this is ridiculous. Especially when you become that partner, you become the C-suite, you become that, even a manager; it’s yours. You’re that person, so make it whatever you want it to be. As long as the work gets done, then it doesn’t matter if you make it whatever you want it to be. If people want to be a part of that, then great. If people don’t, then also great, but it’s creating what you think it should be, not what it’s always been. I love that. Just don’t be afraid to bring yourself to work, even if it’s a little bit at a time. It doesn’t have to be, open the floodgates, because that’s like, whoa, okay, hold on.
Georgia: Yeah. Try to be a good person and people might reject you a little bit but…
John: Exactly. This has been so much fun, Georgia. This is so encouraging to hear and inspiring. I feel like before we wrap up, though, it’s only fair that I allow you to rapid-fire question me since I so rudely started out, peppering you with questions. So, it is now The Georgia Green Show, Episode One. I’m the guest.
Georgia: All right, John. Well, welcome to the show. I have some very important questions.
John: Thank you so much for having me.
Georgia: Okay, so I’m sure all of your listeners want to know, stripes or polka dots.
John: Oh, okay. You know, that’s a good question. I’m going to go stripes.
Georgia: Okay. All right. Vertical or horizontal?
John: See, that’s tricky because I’m tall and skinny so, if it’s vertical, then I look even more tall and skinny, like a freak. Yeah, I’m going to go horizontal. I’m just thinking socks. We’ll go horizontal stripes.
Georgia: There we go. I like it.
John: Pinstripe — well, yes, that would be vertical, of course, because that would be — could you imagine a pinstripe suit with horizontal?
Georgia: You’re starting a new trend. See, that’s why I like you. You challenge the why, why you just want to go one way. All right, if I were to give you an elephant and tell you that you can’t give it away or sell it, what would you do with it?
John: Oh, wow, that is awesome. I guess I would have to start a circus because you’ve got an elephant. You can’t not.
Georgia: It’s an initial capital because you need some monkeys.
John: Yeah, I guess I would have to start a circus.
Georgia: All right, so then what would your second added animal be?
John: That’s a good question. Do trapeze people count?
John: Because those have always been pretty cool. I actually had a guest on the podcast who was in the circus, right out of college, so, yeah, I’ll call him up. We’ll just get that going.
Georgia: Give you some tips and training. You’re going to be doing some back flips, some flying trapeze.
John: Right. I don’t know if I’ll be one of them. I would probably be more of The Greatest Showman kind of guy, I guess.
Georgia: His director.
John: All of a sudden this just went from having an elephant to flying in The Greatest Showman. Hugh Jackman could come to my house and be a part of the circus.
Georgia: Very important question, favorite superhero and give me three descriptions as to why.
John: Okay, favorite superhero. I’m old school, like a Spiderman, just very unassuming. It kind of happened by accident, didn’t totally want the power but then did. It’s mostly at night, and it’s just on the hush-hush. Yeah, if you met him during the day, would be like, there’s no way that dude’s a superhero, not in a million years. Plus, he’s got the webs, and you can fly around, not creepy flying, but like swing. Then you get the adrenaline because it’s like, okay.
Georgia: Professional flying, not could be flying.
John: Yeah, not like I’ve got wings, or Superman. I don’t even know what that’s all about. That’s just weird.
Georgia: I believe that a person’s superhero and characteristics are actually what they identify in their inner self, so do you think that is representative of who you are?
John: Yeah, probably, just because, for a long time, I’ve been totally cool with being the best-kept secret, which is no way to be anything.
Georgia: Once your book’s out, the secret’s out.
John: Yeah, pretty much, so the secret’s out now. I guess I need a new superhero. I need something else that’s like showy and out there all the time.
John: I also realized that in my circus tent, there would be stripes. It would be vertical stripes. I had to think that through really fast. There we go. This has been so much fun, Georgia. Thank you. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This has been a blast.
Georgia: Yeah, I’m having a great time. Thank you.
John: Absolutely, end everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Georgia in action or connect with her 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. Also, while you’re on the page too, why not buy the book. It’s good. Trust me, I wrote it.
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.