Episode 320 – Ryan Bartholomee

Ryan is a CFO & Lego Builder

Ryan Bartholomee returns to the podcast from episode 163 to talk about his continued passion for building Lego figures with his family, live tweeting, and some of the shows that have recently featured his tweets! He also talks about how his Lego figures are conversation starters in the office and what Shenandoah does to encourage an open culture at work!

Episode Highlights

What live tweeting is
TV channels that recently featured his tweets
Lego Island
The culture at Shenandoah Petroleum


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Ryan’s Pictures

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Getting ahead with LEGO!

Iron Man LEGO art

LEGO island

Tonight Show Cover Art of #QuarantineABook

Ryan’s Links


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    Welcome to Episode 320 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 to do 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 you know that my book is out. You can order that now on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for more. Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. Thank you so, so, so much for those. It’s just been overwhelming. 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, Ryan Bartholomee. He’s the CFO at Shenandoah Petroleum Corporation in Midland, Texas. Now, he’s with me here today. Ryan, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Ryan: Thank you so much for having me back. These Follow-Up Friday episodes are a lot of fun. I’m excited.

    John: Cool. Thanks, Ryan. No, I’m just excited to have you back. I mean, we’ve hung out a couple of times at the Texas Society events and now, we just get to hit record and let people see how awesome this magic is.

    Ryan: Definitely.

    John: There we go. So seven rapid fire questions. Things I’ve never asked you, and I probably should’ve, because we’ve hung out several times. Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    Okay, all right. How about cats or dogs?

    Ryan: Dogs. I’ve always had dogs.

    John: Always had dogs. Yeah, me too. I’m more of a dog guy. How about — this is a tricky one. Brownie or ice cream?

    Ryan: I’m going to have to go with a hot fudge brownie a la mode.

    John: Oh, I see what you did. You combined them.

    Ryan: To get the ice cream melting.

    John: Nice. That is actually the correct answer. Most of these don’t ever have a right answer, but that’s one of them. How about what’s a typical breakfast?

    Ryan: For me, I actually have waffles with peanut butter and honey.

    John: Wow. That’ll keep you full. Do you have lunch then too?

    Ryan: Smaller lunch.

    John: Okay, I was going to say man, yeah, that sounds great. Wow, that’s impressive. How about now that my book’s out, Kindle or real book?

    Ryan: If I’m lying in bed early or late, Kindle, but if there’s not a charger nearby, then definitely real book. I do appreciate both.

    John: Yeah, both. All right. How about chocolate or vanilla?

    Ryan: That’s tough. I’d probably go with chocolate.

    John: Yeah, there you go. The last one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?

    Ryan: Has to be over.

    John: It has to be over. There’s only one right answer. Although all the cat people, everyone with cats. They think that it’s under, I guess. But yeah, but Episode 163 when you were on last, so long ago. We chatted about social media, live tweeting, and going to Comic-Cons. Are those still things that you’re excited about?

    Ryan: Definitely. The social media has been easier to keep up with this year. We’ve had some Comic-Cons delayed with COVID-19. We’ll definitely be excited to reconnect and do that again in the future, but don’t have as much stories about that lately.

    John: Sure, sure. What’s the new passions? I’ve seen him on social media. They’re awesome.

    Ryan: Okay, going to social media. I don’t know if I’ve defined live tweeting well, but it’s an interactive way of watching TV using a hashtag of the show you’re watching to try to get it to trend on Twitter so more people watch the show. You may be rewarded by the network or a celebrity on the show with a like or retweet.

    Sometimes, your tweet is even shown on TV. For me, this happened several years ago with America’s Got Talent when they did that, The Voice more recently with the travel channel, and then the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. You get to expand your influence on Twitter. My goal is usually to achieve 1.5 million impressions per month. Impressions are the total tally of all the times the tweet has been seen. Sometimes, you even receive gifts. We got a couple of cool and sweet gifts this year.

    One was from the Hallmark Channel. They’ll have new movies and have people live tweeting with that. They sent us four pints of eCreamery Ice Cream with custom flavors.

    John: What?

    Ryan: Their flavors were Love Ever After, which is strawberry sorbet with strawberries swirls, Summer Nights, which was vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and cookie dough, Fall Harvest which was chocolate chip ice cream with brownie bits and Caramel swirls. Christmas which was chocolate ice cream with peppermint sticks, pieces, and chocolate cookie crunch.

    John: Wow. That sounds awesome, man. Did you have a favorite of those four?

    Ryan: Out of the four, that’s sorbet with strawberry swirls. It was just phenomenal. They’re all delicious. They did not last long.

    John: Right. I was going to say. They sound amazing. That’s awesome, man.

    Ryan: So good. We had to reorder from eCreamery, so it’s good marketing for them too.

    John: Right.

    Ryan: Another sweet gift that we got Marcus Lemonis from CNBC’s The Profit had a contest on Twitter, and his team selected a bunch of people to receive a sample of macaroons from a company he’d worked with, the Macaron Queen. Everybody loves macaroons. We had to reorder from them too.

    John: Right, yeah.

    Ryan: We’ve been eating a lot of snacks and a lot of sweet stuff. Those were sweet gifts that we enjoyed. Another thing, I had tried for years to make it on to the hashtag segment of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Finally, this last May, made it on to the show where he read my tweet on air, and then that’s happened three additional times since then, which is beyond my goals, expectations and dreams. That’s been a lot of fun.

    John: Yeah, you’re a Tonight Show writer. You should update your LinkedIn.

    Ryan: Right. It’s a sweet gig, but some of the tweets, the first hashtag was prom fail. I tweeted when you’re homeschooled and the only girl in your school is your sister, you are destined for a prom fail.

    John: Right?

    Ryan: It was a problem back then. Another hashtag was college in six words. I tweeted $150 textbook sells back for $5.

    John: There you go. Oh, man. Terrible.

    Ryan: Painful, painful experience, but glad I can have some redeeming value from it.

    John: Right.

    Ryan: Another one was describe a movie badly as the hashtag. I tweeted Aquaman bath time, but bigger. I really enjoyed that movie, but as a terrible description of it.

    John: Right? Exactly. Bath time, but bigger.

    Ryan: The last one is he was doing the show at his home while quarantining, and the hashtag was quarantine a book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Amazon is what I tweeted.

    John: Oh, that’s awesome. That’s so cool.

    Ryan: Yeah, starting to act like he’s recognizing my name in the last one.

    John: Yeah, it’s like and Ryan, again, my best friend, BFFs. We go way back. But still, man, that’s super cool. You throw it out there and it gets your creative juices going. You’re not doing it strictly for that, but then to get that reward at the end, whether it’s ice cream or Fallon reading your tweet. That’s super cool. It’s not something that happens in the office on a regular basis. It’s a cool little added bonus. Then I know you’ve been up to some other things as well, which have been really neat to see.

    Ryan: Back at the beginning of quarantine after spring break, which feels so, so long ago, we brought a lot of our larger Lego sets that my wife and I put together over the years to let our three daughters who are 9, 7 and 4 years old play with them on the dining room table. Our youngest daughter called the setup Lego Island. That is what we’ve referred to it ever since.

    John: That’s so perfect actually. It is like Lego Island. It’s a diner table. There you go.

    Ryan: Building Legos is something we enjoy doing as a family. It is fun to walk my kids through following the instructions and paying attention to details and seeing an incredible final outcome. There’s also a great analogy for life where all work’s in process, but rest assured the finished work of art is something beautiful.

    John: Oh, wow. That’s deep, man. It’s like fortune cookie deep. That’s really good.

    Ryan: We’ve been reading a lot of fortune cookies too. That really helps. It’s also fun to see their imaginations at work because they play with them. Some of them, our favorite sets includes the Star Wars Death Star and Millennium Falcon. We’ve got a Retro Batcave, we’ve got the Disney Castle, Harry Potter’s Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. We’ve got sets from the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, United States Capitol building, and then most recently, a framed portrait of Iron Man made entirely out of Legos. Legos have officially become art for us. I’ve displayed sets in my office from time to time, and they’re always great conversation starters.

    John: Yeah, that’s super cool. I mean, how long did the some of those take? I think because when I was a kid, it was like, there were white, blue, red and green bricks, I think, and then it started to get some of the space stuff, but they were smaller kits usually. These are huge, man. They have to take some time.

    Ryan: They do. I think the Iron Man framed portrait took me probably about six hours to put together.

    John: Wow, that’s amazing. But it looks sweet. I mean, I saw your post on Twitter. I was like, wow, that is really cool, and they’re huge. That’s really cool. I guess, do you follow the guide strictly or do you get a little bit creative sometimes?

    Ryan: Usually, I’m trying to follow the guide but with the Iron Man one, I decided to modify it, since it is art and made some modifications kind of centering him more and having to do some things for his shoulder to not look funny after I did that. But yeah, it was fun to put my own twist on it, make it my own.

    John: That’s fantastic. It’s also cool to hear that you bring some of the sets in to the office on occasion. I mean, then there’s a conversation around that.

    Ryan: Definitely.

    John: That’s cool, because I feel like so many times people just leave that outside, or they think that maybe mentioning it, and that’s a good first step, but why not just bring it in, then you don’t even have to mention it? It’s just there.

    Ryan: Absolutely. Get over your fears and insecurities when it’s right there for a conversation.

    John: Yeah. Plus then you realize that more times than not, and by that I mean, all the time people think it’s cool.

    Ryan: Absolutely.

    John: No one comes in and breaks it up like we’re in fifth grade. Like, “Oh, yeah.” People are like, what? That’s amazing. Their reactions have to be super cool. That’s awesome, man. I guess, have you seen more people sharing hobbies, passions, interests?

    Ryan: Definitely, I’m more intentional, and not afraid to share personally, but I’ve seen, and I’ve been a lot more attentive when others in the office are sharing about their passions or interests outside of work. I try to ask follow-up questions to make sure I understand, try not to stress about taking time to talk about something not work related, realizing that it is healthy for our organization has helped me relax, not only are we not wasting time, we’re building a better team as we appreciate what enables us to, as your book refers to, breathe in happiness. All of the work is getting done, we’re efficient, work well together, and part of that is years of showing each other that we care.

    John: That’s so cool to hear, and encouraging that like I’m not crazy. If the book applies in the real world, not like in a bubble make believe thing, because I mean, it is easy to stress if there’s work to be done. I got to work, got to work, more work, but there’s always more work. I mean, always. What’s five or ten minutes to just have a normal conversation? And then before you know it, then work doesn’t become as hard then, and then in the end, you’re better as a team especially. That’s cool to hear, man, that it’s in the real world as well, which is really neat.

    I love those examples that you gave of just asking follow-up questions, and just wanting to understand better. Are there things that you do specifically or the company does specifically for this?

    Ryan: I mean, mostly, it’s a culture. We have a small company, we’re salaried, we don’t have a culture of clock watching, so that helps. Especially, if we’re caught up with major tasks and processes for the month and quarter, it’s not uncommon for us to catch up with multiple team members about various topics of interest.

    There’s a healthy tone at the top with our executive vice president and the son of the owner is quite good at golf, which has certainly yielded some great connections for our company. We like to hear — his team performed in their most recent tournament, our team members are excited to share highlights from their weekend with each other, several hang out outside of the office together. We also share about our kids and all their accomplishments too.

    John: That’s cool to hear, yeah, because I mean that’s where we care about each other.

    Ryan: Definitely.

    John: It’s so weird that that needs to be even said, or even stressed like that. Hey, care, or that isn’t always the norm, which is crazy. But it’s cool to see that that’s what’s happening there. Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening? Because I mean, there’s a ton of people I’ve talked to that have said, look, I’ve got a hobby or an interest, but either no one cares or it has nothing to do with my job so why talk about it?

    Ryan: Definitely, just value others and show how much you care by being attentive to their interests. You might even learn a new interest or hobby you want to pursue. When you get the chance to share your interest, go for it. Decorate your office with conversation starters about your interests. Don’t stress that time connecting with team members on a deeper level is ever wasted. Relax in the thought that a healthy organization is worth this time investment. Don’t feel insecure about your passions and interests. You never know who has them in common. Don’t be afraid to add new interests or revisit old ones over time and bring your whole self to the office. Be authentic.

    John: Wow, man. That is loaded. I love that. All of that. That was so good. You were on the launch team. Thank you so much for being a part of that, and read the book, and it’s just so cool to hear. I appreciate it.

    Ryan: Absolutely. Thanks for having me on that team.

    John: Who’s the book for? For people that are listening that are maybe like, well, I don’t even know is this for me or how would you describe it to someone?

    Ryan: I’d say anybody who’s in an office-like setting or even just on a team, kind of a functioning group that you want to improve and connect better with each other and perform better, performance better connection. I mean, that’s what it’s about.

    John: That’s cool to hear. Yeah, because I originally started writing mostly professional services, accounting and lawyers. But then, it’s gotten bigger than that, which is cool to see how it can help so many different people. It’s a simple thing, so yeah.

    Before I wrap this up, and I so rudely started out the episode firing away at you with my rapid fire questions. We will turn this into the Ryan Bartholomee Show. I’m your first guest. Thank you so much for having me on.

    Ryan: Thanks for being here.

    John: Oh, yeah, no, I booked myself.

    Ryan: I’m excited. My own podcast. This is very cool.

    John: Right? I mean we’re going to read some Fallon tweets. We’re going to mix it all up here.

    Ryan: I’ve got several rapid fire questions for you. I guess the last one may not be as rapid fire. But first, is there any TV show that you’re binging right now?

    John: Oh, Yellowstone is the show that my wife and I, we were told about, and we’re watching it. Yeah, that’s a good show, because it’s similar to Breaking Bad where you just have these characters, and you have to decide who’s good and who’s bad. Depending on the episode, sometimes they’re bad again, and then good, and then yeah, so Yellowstone. Good show.

    Ryan: If you could build anything out of Legos, what would you build?

    John: Wow. Oh, man. Like the ten-year-old John is super excited right now. Wow, I guess — man, anything out of Legos. I mean, I’m sure it exists, but well, probably the Notre Dame Gold Dome, the administration building is a pretty cool, iconic place. I know that the football stadium is already a thing. But the dome is pretty awesome, special place for me.

    Ryan: Last question, how challenging is it to write a book? What is your favorite part of the experience?

    John: Well, oh, man, writing a book is stupid hard. It is stupid hard. It is, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve been in front of 1,000 people telling jokes in Atlantic City before. But it’s just get out of your own way, and know that what you’re writing can make a difference, and just get it out there. I guess the favorite part of the journey was, yeah, I guess, when you start to see it come to life, the writing and all that. I mean, it was four plus years of ideas, and about two of those years of writing and editing.

    Just to see it as you get closer to the finish line of where it starts to come to life and you get that PDF of the pages, and his is what it’s going to look like, and then this is the cover and all that, and that’s a pretty cool part, then the feedback from everybody now isn’t part of the book process, because then my work is done now, it’s up to the reader to decide, but the feedback coming back overwhelmingly positive has been really cool, because I mean, there’s enough other books out there, I wanted to write a book that’s different and going to make a difference, and that you actually finish.

    Ryan: Absolutely. I love the micro chapters. I got encouraged as I was reading through it. Oh, I’ve already finished another chapter going through and before you know it, you’re done with the book, and it’s like, wow, that’s awesome. So many practical things. I really do appreciate it. I’m excited to share and spread that message. It’s a good one.

    John: Thank you so much, Ryan. That’s awesome.

    Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Ryan and his Legos and some other cool stuff, or maybe connect with them 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 and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to hit subscribe 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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