Episode 329 – Sal Rezai

Sal is a Certified Professional Bookkeeper & Hula-Hooper

Sal Rezai, founder of Accounting by Sal, talks about her passion for hula hooping and how it has helped with her physical confidence fostering relationships with clients! She also talks about how having a hobby outside of work can help provide a purpose for yourself!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into hula hooping
• Health benefits to hula hooping
• Increased physical confidence
• How clients react when they discover her hula hooping
• Building trust with clients
• Why she did not share her passions as much before
• Having a purpose in life


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    Welcome to Episode 329 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”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.

    I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is out. It’s been out for about six weeks now. It’s available on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, all the websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. It’s so cool that so many people are buying it and leaving such nice reviews. It just means so much that everyone’s listening to the show as well and changing the cultures where they work because of it.

    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, Sal Rezai. She’s a cloud accounting specialist with Accounting by Sal in Edmonton, and now she’s with me here today. Sal, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Sal: Thank you so much, John, for having me. I’m excited to share my “And”.

    John: Oh, absolutely. This is going to be so much fun. I’ve never had a hula hooper yet, so this is so cool. It’s going to take me back to my childhood. This is going to be awesome, super fun. My rapid-fire questions, get to know Sal, so here we go. Favorite color.

    Sal: Yellow.

    John: Yellow. Okay. How about a least favorite color?

    Sal: Navy blue.

    John: Oh, interesting because they usually go together. Okay, all right.

    Sal: Well, I love yellow, and it’s really hard to find out in the market easily.

    John: Yeah, yellow without the navy blue, yeah, because they’re always hanging out together.

    Sal: Yeah.

    John: How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?

    Sal: Crossword, I love crosswords.

    John: Okay, all right. Very good. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?

    Sal: Dubai.

    John: Dubai. Oh, wow. Yeah, I’ve never been.

    Sal: Yeah, it’s amazing.

    John: Is it like Disneyland for adults, just crazy?

    Sal: Yeah. To be honest, it’s more of man-made, but it’s so luxurious. You feel you’re in a different place. It’s so bright. It’s light at night. 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., you got out in the street, it’s bright. You’d love it. It’s so peaceful.

    John: Wow, that’s impressive. Okay, very cool, very cool. This one’s tricky, brownie or ice cream.

    Sal: Ice cream. For sure, ice cream.

    John: That’s a good pick. That’s a good pick.

    Sal: My mouth is watering now.

    John: Yeah, we’re both going to have to go get some ice cream when this is over. That’s for sure. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Sal: Johnny Depp.

    John: Oh, yeah, there you go. Yeah, he’s in a lot of good stuff, for sure.

    Sal: Yes, nowadays, I guess.

    John: Right. Yeah. How about more early bird or night owl?

    Sal: Early bird.

    John: Early bird. Wow. Okay, all right. Getting that hula hoop in before the sun comes up. I see.

    Sal: Exactly, you got it.

    John: There you go. With my book being out, are you more Kindle or real books?

    Sal: Kindle.

    John: Kindle. Yeah, you can take more with you. How about, do you have a favorite number?

    Sal: Favorite numbers, I have two. I have three and five, and there’s a reason behind it.

    John: Yeah, what are the reasons?

    Sal: Five is a month of — so it’s May. May 3rd is my birthday. The reason I love three and five is because whatever I wanted to accomplish in my life and do whatever goal or anything that I have, it actually happens in the month of May.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Sal: That’s what I love about it. I got married in May. My birthday is on May. Mother’s Day is on my birthday. Anything I wanted to accomplish basically happens on May.

    John: That’s awesome. Very cool. I feel like I’m ruining the streak by having you on November. This is crazy.

    Sal: My kids are telling me that I am very spoiled in May because I get so many gifts.

    John: Yeah, spread them out a little bit.

    Sal: Yes.

    John: Actually, we’re halfway. We’re halfway to May.

    Sal: Okay.

    John: There we go. That works. How about, oceans or mountains?

    Sal: Mountains.

    John: Mountains, okay. All right. Heels or flats.

    Sal: Well, I used to love heels, but now flats.

    John: Flats, okay. Yeah, I’m more of a flats — no, I’m just kidding. I’ve never worn heels. I don’t even know how you guys — you women do it. It’s amazing. Since you’re an accountant, I have to ask, balance sheet or income statement.

    Sal: Balance sheet, for sure. It gives me a lot of information.

    John: Yeah, it does actually. You can’t hide anything there. That’s for sure. How about, Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Sal: Star Wars.

    John: Star Wars. Okay, all right. Your computer, are you more of a PC or a Mac?

    Sal: PC, definitely PC.

    John: Yeah, me too. Absolutely. On your mouse, right click or left click right?

    Sal: Right click.

    John: Right click. That’s where cool stuff is, right? Open up all the… Oh, that’s how you do it. All right, I’ve got two more. Do you have a favorite TV show of all time?

    Sal: Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of TV. My kids are laughing at me that, “You don’t even watch TV.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t watch TV.”

    John: Yeah. Unless Johnny Depp’s on it. Then it’s a movie.

    Sal: Yes, exactly.

    John: That’s not TV. That’s different. That’s different. All right, and then the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Sal: Favorite thing I have, my kids. I own them.

    John: You’ve paid enough for them. That’s for sure.

    Sal: All my energy and strength.

    John: That’s very cool, though. Yeah, that’s super awesome and such — I mean, that’s an honest answer, for sure.

    Sal: I love my kids.

    John: Yeah. That’s very cool. So, let’s talk hula hooping. When did you get started? Were you doing it as a child, or was it something you got into more as an adult?

    Sal: I was introduced into hula hooping through my sister, my eldest sister. She started hula hooping, and we went to visit her house, and I found this hula hoop. I’m like, “Wait, do you hula hoop?’ She’s said yes. I’m like, “How do you do it?” She started showing me. She did the basic hula hooping, but it was really interesting. I was like, “What’s the weight on this?” She’s like, “This is three and a half pounds.” I’m like, oh, my God, this is heavy.

    So, I tried. I kind of twisted my waist a little bit, but then I loved it. She literally took me the other day, and she’s like, “Let’s go buy this.” So we went together. We bought from the sports store here in Edmonton, and I loved it since then. When I travel, I take it with me.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Sal: Yeah. I’ve been hula hooping every day for 10 minutes. Honestly, not a lot of people know about this, and when I tell them, they are shocked.

    John: That’s so great. You said you went over to your sister’s house, so you were an adult?

    Sal: I was, yeah. It was just a couple of years ago, to be honest.

    John: Wow. Okay. Yeah, because when I was a kid, my granny lived in Delaware in the US, and they have a Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. In the summers, we would go visit, and I won a hula hooping contest when I was 12 where it’s like, you just start hula looping with the kids and whoever does it the longest. It was forever long. I don’t think I hula hooped since. I was like, I’m going to retire on top. I’m the champion of this 12-person contest. I haven’t since, and you are the opposite. You never hula hooped until —

    Sal: I used to watch the shows on TV, kids are hula hooping, especially in the circus. It was my dream, to be honest, to seeing those things. Really, do I ever get to try these things? Yes, I didn’t do them in my childhood, but I definitely — I’m doing it when I became an adult, so it’s interesting.

    John: No, that’s great. Good for you.

    Sal: Yeah. My purpose was to do it more for losing weight. Then I was like, no, I’m actually — I mean, this is a fun thing. I do it. I go in circles. My kids are loving it. It’s just fun honestly.

    John: That’s so great because so many people think that’s for kids. Or it’s something, as a kid, I wanted to do, but I never did. It’s like, no, no. Now that you’re an adult, you can do whatever you want. Now you have money, and you have time. Good for you. I think that’s so fantastic.

    Sal: It is, yeah.

    John: Then I heard you throw that in there of they’re weighted. Because as a kid, it’s the plastic whatever, but now they have weighted hula hoops?

    Sal: Yes. Yeah, they have weighted. They have three-and-a-half and then they have five pounds. Obviously they have those plastic ones for kids that you can find them in Walmart and Superstore. The ones that are weighted and the one that are strictly for sports, you can only find in sports stores. I bought mine in a specialized store. There was three-and-a-half and then we bought the five-pound, very heavy.

    John: I was going to say that’s like a bag of sugar but then when you start putting that around your waist for 10 minutes, golly. I may have to eat the two bowls ice cream just for this.

    Sal: I got sore at the beginning, and I had a lot of pain around my waist. To be honest, now it’s not like that. I got so used to it, and it feels that it’s actually light now.

    John: That’s great, yeah, because you feel the muscles in your body getting used to it.

    Sal: Yes.

    John: I would have to imagine, just with hip flexibility and your core and everything like that, do you feel healthier from doing it?

    Sal: A lot more and more flexible. I can now actually move my neck easily. First time I put it around my neck, my kids freaked out. They’re like, “Wait, mom, you’re getting hurt.” I’m like, no, no, no, no, let me try this because I want to be more creative.

    John: Right? So you’re not just hula hooping around your waist, around your neck also?

    Sal: Around my neck, my arm and my — yeah, whole body.

    John: That’s impressive.

    Sal: Yes, it is.

    John: Wow. That’s super cool. That’s really cool. You also mentioned that it’s something that you travel with, so it comes apart. It’s something that it’s not important to you that when you go to a conference or when you go on vacation that you keep that routine going.

    Sal: Yes, yeah, exactly. I was actually in conference a couple of years ago, and I took it with me, but I left it in the hotel room because I forgot. So when I went there and then they asked us to share a fun fact about you, I started sharing. This was a fun fact for me because a lot of people didn’t know about it. I shared it, and they were all asking me to go bring it right away and show it to them.

    John: Right. No one said, “Wait, you do bookkeeping? Go get your computer and show us how to do an accounts receivable.” No one ever said that ever in the history of the world, but go get the hula hoop, I want to see this. Everyone said that. That’s so cool to hear. That’s super awesome. Do you feel at all that hula hooping gives you a skill or a mentality that you bring to work?

    Sal: I think one thing I really noticed is it actually gives me more confidence, physically, as much as I was really afraid to move my body, for example, my neck. When I was young, I wasn’t able to do this or that. I was afraid I’m going to break my neck, or I’m going to break my wrist. It actually gave me physical confidence. I can move easily without having the fear that I’m going to break or I’m going to have a twist or anything, so, yeah, physical strength, for sure.

    It made me more active. In my mind, I always have this, okay, you know what, I really need to go practice now. I really need to go practice my hula hooping. It’s never a time where, oh, no, today, I’m not going to do it. Because I see the results, so that motivates me, actually.

    John: That’s so great to hear because it’s another source of confidence, it sounds like. Because being good at your job, that’s a source of confidence as well, but not everything in work always goes our way.

    Sal: No.

    John: Where hula hooping, it always goes your way.

    Sal: Yes.

    John: Because you’ve been practicing it, you’re good at it, you’ve developed a skill, you’re doing it around your neck. Golly, that’s impressive. You can’t just do that on the first day. Well, I would probably do it on accident, I’d be like, wait, am I doing this right? No, you’re choking. That’s super awesome to hear, just how much it’s benefited you in life, but then that carries over into work as well. That’s really cool. Is this something that — well, clearly, it’s come up with some colleagues of sorts or peers at conferences — is it something that some clients know about as well?

    Sal: Yes, some of my clients know, especially some of my clients in US. We were just talking about physical activities with one of my client in the US. This was three months ago. Suddenly, I started talking about hula hooping, and he started questioning me. He’s like, “My daughter, she’s seven, and she never did hula hooping. She’d really love to.” So, I started talking about it. He was like, “Wait, you’re hula hooping?” I’m like, “Yes. I’ve been doing this for a while.” He literally asked me to show him. Oh, my God.

    John: I don’t believe you. Prove it.

    Sal: He said, “Why don’t you show me?” Then he started calling his daughter, “Come see Sal. She’s doing hula hoop.” Oh, my God.

    John: All of a sudden, my accountant is cool. Now his daughter’s like, “When I grow up, I want to be an accountant because accountants hula hoop.” That’s what it is. Because why not? We have other dimensions to us, and that’s cool. I would imagine that the next time you talk to that client, hula hooping might come up. Hey, how’s your daughter doing with it, or whatever. That’s a cool conversation enhancer.

    Sal: Yeah, I think he was going to put her into a class or something to sort of practice, but with the COVID and stuff, it was just all stopped. We did actually talk about it a few times.

    John: That’s fantastic. That’s super cool. Because I would imagine that those conversations, they’re a little bit different than just other clients where hula hooping isn’t part of the conversation, or they don’t even know or whatever. In what way are the relationships different? Is it just the conversations are different, or they may be just more enhanced, relationship-wise?

    Sal: I think it’s more enhanced, relationship-wise, when you talk to your client. I guess what happens is when you share your passion and things that you do beside what you’re doing for them, that actually builds more trust and more confidence between you and your client. That gives them the peace of mind that, yes, I have somebody behind my book, behind my numbers that is actually real and authentic. So, that’s the difference.

    John: Yeah, I love that so much. Because when it comes to bookkeeping, you can get a lot of them. There’s a lot of different people out there that provide that service, but part of that service is more than just, here are your financials every month. It’s, how’s your daughter’s hula hooping? Those conversations outside of the work that you’re doing definitely make it sticky. Before you got into hula hooping, earlier on in your career, did you have something else like a hobby or an interest? Or was it just a lot of work a lot of the time?

    Sal: I think it was more of my study, my university time. I was going to the gym, but I didn’t have any other passion besides just really working hard and getting my education down and get that done. Yes, I was going to the gym. Yes, I was running five kilometers a day, early morning, just that to keep me active and get the work done. Otherwise, no specific passion.

    My background, I’ve always had a responsibility to support my family and bring bread on the table, so I think that shifted my focus a little bit. Once I had this freedom where I started working for myself, and I started having some freedom and all this; that’s when I shifted my mind around, you know what, I have a passion, I need to go look for it. Coincidentally, my sister introduced me to this hula hooping, so now it becomes a full-time passion.

    John: That’s super awesome. It sounds like running and fitness and exercising in general has always been an outside-of-work interest, but now it’s in the form of hula hooping, which is cool. Is it something — because that’s something that I often think about, too, and all the people that I’ve interviewed on here is, is it because as you get older and more confident in your work, in your case, starting your own business; or is it something where, earlier on, you probably could have shared, but no one ahead of us was really modeling that, so you didn’t know that you could?

    Sal: I think for me, personally, it was lack of resources for me at that time when I was young because the background — again, I’m just going to focus more on my background. The country we came from, emigrated and the background I had, it was more of a poor country. There wasn’t a lot of resources out there. There wasn’t a lot of facilities out there. Yes, we were watching a TV show that these kids are hula hooping, but it was like a dream for us. It was like a dream, and we were always wondering what it was. Later on, as you get educated, as you see, talk to more people, get involved in the community, you build your networking; you think, okay, wait, what is my passion? Yes, this individual is sharing their passion and activities, what they do besides work, but what else do they do?

    For me, the biggest change in my life was to start — when I started working at the bank. I worked for one of the banks here in Canada for seven years. That’s when I talked with my coworkers. They were all sharing their passions outside of work, and that’s when I thought about it. I’m like, you know what, wait, I must have a passion too. I must have something that I wanted to do outside of work. Yes, I have family. Yes, I have work. Yes, I have my kids. Yes, I go out. Beside that, what’s one thing that I really like about it? Yeah, so that’s when I thought about it.

    John: That’s awesome. That’s so cool to hear. Sometimes it is a little bit of a wake up call when it’s like, wait, everyone else is also doing something. In my case, it was literally like, am I the only one who does something? Because no one was really talking about it so then you start to just be like, oh, well, I guess I shouldn’t talk about it because no one else does. It’s the opposite. I love to hear that your coworkers at the bank were talking about their thing, their “and”, and you were like, wait, I need to get one because everyone else does. That’s so great to hear because — I love too, how you said that there’s your family and then there’s your faith, but your “and” is different than that. So many people rely on family, and maybe it’s hula hooping with your family, but it’s still hula hooping.

    Sal: Yes, exactly. Yeah, definitely. It’s something everybody needs to think about and somebody — I mean, yes, all of us have specific skills and passion. It’s just that we need to get that out. We need to have some thought and say, okay, you know what, yeah, get it out and put it there and practice it, start enjoying it and really feeling. For me, when I hula hoop, I actually feel it, that my body is hula hooping. It’s talking to me.

    John: Yeah, I feel it the next morning probably, too, when I’m like, why did she let me do the five-pound one? This is crazy. Yeah, I love that because you feel alive in and things are in color now, but it’s not just when you’re hula hooping. It sounds like it’s all of the rest of work and life. It just enhances a lot of other parts of that. That’s super fantastic. Do you have any words of encouragement to people, where it’s like, find the “and” but then once you do, how do you go about sharing that or talking about that in a way that, for people that think, I have a hobby, but it has nothing to do with my job, so why talk about it?

    Sal: I think the first word of encouragement I would put out there is everybody needs to have a purpose in life. Not having a purpose in life, life doesn’t mean anything. Days are being passed. We’re aging, but what is the purpose in life? You really need to have a purpose. Once you have a purpose, just see what results are you getting. Again, think about it, say, okay, do I have an “and” like somebody else does? One individual loves to run marathons. Maybe that’s their passion. For me, it’s hula hooping. For me, I didn’t have any purpose before in life. Yes, I had a purpose of working and all those, but what else? I never felt my body. I never felt that I was so confident. So, yeah, have purpose and feel that confidence, whether it’s physically or mentally. Find out, go search for your “and” if you haven’t yet.

    John: No, I love that. I love that so much because it enhances so much more of your life and your work. It’s not just having the “and” but I imagine that sharing it — because you were hula hooping for a while, and then all of a sudden at the conference, it comes up. I have to imagine that that’s like another dimension of an experience where you’re like, wow, this is actually pretty cool. Doing it is cool, but sharing it is double cool, I guess.

    Sal: I’m pretty sure, John, when people listen to our episode, they will be shocked to hear me saying that I’m hula hooping because I’m pretty sure a lot of people still doesn’t know.

    John: I hope that they’re like, you know what, I hula hoop too, or I’ve always wanted to hula hoop. Sal, where do I get these hula hoops? Totally, the next time you’re at a conference, it’s going to be like, everyone take a break, let’s all hula hoop. I love it. I think it’s so awesome. It’s so cool to just hear that when you shared that — I mean, that’s got to be, for a second, a little bit scary, where you’re like, this could blow up, who knows what people are going to say. Then when you share it, and everyone’s like, not only is that cool, go get it; that’s got to be so fantastic, just a great feeling to feel that.

    This has been so much fun. Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me. It is now the Sal Rezai Show. I’m your first guest. Thank you so much for having me on, Sal. I appreciate it. So, yes, you’re the host.

    Sal: Yeah, thanks for giving me the opportunity. I’d love to ask you these firing questions.

    John: All right, let’s do it.

    Sal: Are you more of a texting or a talking?

    John: Yeah, I think I’m a talking, yeah, talking.

    Sal: Awesome. That’s perfect. Okay, so what’s your favorite day of the week?

    John: Oh, favorite day of the week. I’m going to go Saturday. College football happens on Saturdays.

    Sal: Yeah, I love Saturdays too. I love Saturdays. Would you rather speak every language in the world, or would you rather be able to talk to an animal or animals?

    John: Ooh, wow.

    Sal: I thought it was just the questions.

    John: I love that question, too. That’s a really good one, speak all the languages or be able to talk to animals. You know what, I think animals are going to have some cool stuff to say, so I would rather talk to animals because sometimes I’m done with people.

    John: Yeah. Whatever country you’re from, it’d be cool to talk, but animals, yeah, that would be super fun. Those are all really great questions. That’s really fun. Thank you so much, Sal, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This was great.

    Sal: Awesome. Thank you for having me, John.

    John: Absolutely, and everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Sal or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. Also, don’t forget to buy the book, links are there. Also, there’s an anonymous research survey about corporate culture that I’m doing that’s on the page.

    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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