Episode 342 – John Bly

John is an Accountant & World Traveler

John Bly returns to the podcast from episode 152 to talk about how he maintained his passion for traveling through the pandemic and how it has affected people being more open about their hobbies and passions!

Episode Highlights

• Places he wants to visit
• Renting an RV
• Places he visited this year
• Noticing more openness about hobbies and passions


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    Welcome to Episode 342 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett and each Friday, I’m following 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 has impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited. My book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. If you’re interested in buying 25 or more maybe for your clients or your team, there’s a form at whatsyourand.com so you can get discounted pricing from my publisher. I’m happy to hook you up with that for sure. Thank you so much to everyone who’s reading it and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. It’s been really cool to see how much of a difference it’s made. 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, John Bly. He’s the managing partner of the South Atlantic region for Aprio. Now, he’s with me here today. John, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    John B: John, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to having a few laughs and share some fun here over the next little bit.

    John G: For sure, man. In Episode 152 two years ago, it does feel like way, way longer. I don’t even know if that’s even a phrase. It’s hard to believe I wrote a book by saying way longer, but anyway, I’m just excited to have you back. I have these rapid fire questions. I have seven that I didn’t ask the first time that maybe I should have, now that I think about it.

    John B: It’s 2020 and it’s a whole new world, so two years ago is like a decade ago. So, rapid fire away.

    John G: That’s true. Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?

    John B: Harry Potter.

    John G: Okay. All right. This one’s a tricky one. Brownie or ice cream?

    John B: Ice cream. But for some reason, I never got into brownies.

    John G: Okay. All right. Fair enough. What’s a typical breakfast? If you say ice cream, super bonus points.

    John B: Typical breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a banana.

    John G: Okay, healthy. Look at you. Good for you. I know you travel quite a bit. That’s what we talked about before. Would you say planes, trains, or automobiles? Also a good movie.

    John B: “You’re going the wrong way.” “How do you know which way I’m going? I’m not going the wrong way.”

    John G: Right.

    John B: Planes or trains, definitely not automobiles. Either plane or train is good.

    John G: Yeah. All right. Since my book is out, are you more Kindle, real book, or Audible?

    John B: Real book. I like to be able to touch it and feel it and make notes in it.

    John G: Yeah, and I super appreciated you being part of the launch team, man. Thank you again for that. All right, two more. How about a favorite animal, any animal at all?

    John B: I’ll say dog just because I like to give hugs and cats run the other way.

    John G: Right. There you go. The last one, this is an important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?

    John B: Over. I used to be an under. My wife didn’t like it. I’m an over now.

    John G: You don’t have to sleep on the couch tonight. Good for you, man. Good for you. That’s impressive. Well, I remember back when we chatted a couple of years ago, it’s world travel and those cool pictures from Australia, New Zealand, Asia and all the cool places you went even with your family and stuff, which was awesome. So in the last couple of years, has travel still been a thing for you guys?

    John B: Yeah, it’s still a huge passion. The kids have been everywhere basically. The only place they haven’t been that they remind me fairly regularly is Antarctica, and they haven’t been to parts of Asia, so they want to get there. Post-pandemic, that’ll definitely be high on the list. I don’t know when we’re going to make it to Antarctica, but Asia is on the list for sure.

    John G: Yeah. Have you done Antarctica without them?

    John B: I have not. I know some people who have done speaking gigs, so maybe that could be on your list.

    John G: In Antarctica. Those penguins are unruly. They’re just brutal.

    John B: Yup. It’s one of those things on people’s bucket list, to speak on all seven continents. They’ll go for free, right? They’ll pay their own way just to say they did it.

    John G: Right. Exactly. But even in the last nine months, travel obviously has been a little bit tricky, but you guys have still made it happen because that passion is very real.

    John B: It is. We did our best to stay “quarantined” for a couple of months, and then as it looked like this thing wasn’t going to be a couple of months and it was going to be longer, the passion in our life had to continue. So the end of June on literally less than two weeks’ notice, we booked an RV. By the way, we’ve never been in an RV before in our lives.

    John G: Nice.

    John B: We booked an RV. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. We booked an RV. For those travel enthusiasts, the best place to rent an RV is Phoenix, Vegas, or Denver. For some reason, they have a hundred times more than any other RV outlets in the country to rent.

    John G: Okay. Good to know since I live in Denver, so maybe I need to hook myself up with one of these. All right.

    John B: So we rented an RV, also didn’t know anything about them. Apparently, there’s a website like an Airbnb that you can actually rent somebody else’s RV.

    John G: Oh, okay.

    John B: It was half the price of a corporate one. The family of five spent 31 days roaming the West. The only deal my wife and I had — she’s a saint. The only deal we had upfront was Daddy has to work, so that means if I want to enjoy the sights and the sounds and do all the cool things then she has to drive the whole time, so I actually never even started the RV.

    John G: Oh, what? You had a personal driver. That’s impressive. You know what, that’s a fair trade-off for the toilet paper. I think that’s fair. I think that’s totally fair.

    John B: We could do seven or ten days and I could be totally disconnected, but if we’re going to do 31, I’ve got to be connected. You can appreciate this. I even led a webinar from the back of the RV with my wife driving. I had four screens set up. It was pretty cool.

    John G: That’s impressive, man. That’s really cool. Also, that passion is very real and you can’t put that on the side for that long type of a thing, and there’s a workaround. There’s always a way and you made it happen, which is super cool.

    John B: I agree. If you’re that passionate about something, there has to be a way, right? Now, we did it as safe as we possibly could. We were staying in the RV and we did it all outdoors. The last time we were together, we traveled the world. This was our travel through the US. We hit a whole bunch of states that certainly the kids hadn’t been to and a few that my wife and I hadn’t been to, so tons of national parks, a positive because we’re all looking for positives in 2020. We were in Yellowstone. One of the advantages of the pandemic, they don’t have large tour buses because nobody’s taken large tour buses. So the sightseeing, it was way less crowded and there was no big buses in front of it. It was perfect.

    John G: That’s awesome, man. Yeah, that is a great idea. Was Yellowstone like a highlight or was there something that was also equally cool or fun?

    John B: Yeah, Yellowstone was definitely my highlight. The kids were torn between the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. We spent four days in the Grand Canyon, which was really cool. I had been to the Grand Canyon before, so while it’s absolutely stunning and amazing, I had been there before, so not quite as high on my list. We went to Rocky Mountain National Park. There was some cool dinosaur stuff we did that I didn’t even know existed in the US.

    John G: Right. Yeah, just a little bit west of Denver. Yeah, absolutely, man. That is nutty up there because my nephew’s way into dinosaurs, so they bring him up there. He’s six.

    John B: You don’t have to be six to love dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs too, John. What are you saying here?

    John G: No, I’m just saying he’s way into it. He knows more about dinosaurs than I ever did, and he’s six. I’m like, holy crap, I’m an idiot. His favorite dinosaur is one I can’t even say. How is that? But it is cool, man. That’s awesome. So did you drive all the way from North Carolina then?

    John B: The most honestly thing we did, we needed to get on a plane.

    John G: But again, there’s no one on planes either.

    John B: Correct, so we flew to Arizona, rented the RV. I did a round trip from Phoenix, 31 days, about 6500 miles, and it was awesome. We hit it all really with seriously less than two weeks to plan. You could tell that the summer was going to be slow compared to what we’re used to, so we said let’s find something that fits us. Travel is definitely that passion, so how do we do it in a way that is still a lot of fun? Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t take it back. It was an amazing experience.

    John G: That’s so fun. Plus, two weeks’ notice, one, you guys are avid travelers anyway. But two, when you’re driving, it’s super easy. You pull out the map or go on the internet and you’re like, “Hey, this is just an hour that way. Let’s go.” “Okay, cool,” just being nimble on your feet. That’s a great example for your kids as well to see that.

    John B: It was and it was a totally different type of experience than we had ever done because you’re right, we did have to be nimble. We were headed out of Idaho towards California to spend the last five days down there in California line, and it really wasn’t open. Ironically, we’re pursuing this and it’s still not really open. We really couldn’t get in to California, so we pivoted and we spent a bunch more time in Utah instead. It taught some life lessons about being a little bit nimble and being creative and just living in the moment. The kids all really enjoyed it and it got them out of the stress of being home and doing all that stuff that happens in 2020.

    John G: Right. Yeah, what a cool story and something that all of you will remember forever. That’s awesome, man. That’s super cool. Do you feel like people are sharing their hobbies and passions more now than they did a couple of years ago when we first talked?

    John B: I do think so. I’m an avid golfer. The club that I’m a member of, there were 6000 more rounds through the end of August at the club than there had been ever in any year.

    John G: Oh my goodness, and that’s only in eight months.

    John B: Yeah, so I think people are definitely trying to find — they’re having — what I’ll say is more free time because a lot of people aren’t commuting back and forth. A lot of people are not having the types of social calendars that they historically had. And so they’re filling it with the passions that they’re pretty strong about. I hope that people are. If not then they’re having a worse 2020 than I am. That’s for sure.

    John G: Right. Yeah. The other thing too is with all these video calls that we’ve had, we’ve had coworkers in our homes now, so they see the things on the walls or the painting or whatever you have in the background and ask about that. It’s been cool to see how this message is even more relevant in the last nine months where the band aid was just straight ripped off, where you can’t put on the facade in the office anymore. You’re at home. The kids need to get home-schooled. They can’t log on. The Amazon deliveries come in. The dog is going nuts. It’s just crazy and that’s life and that’s who we are. We’re all just human, so it’s been neat to see how it’s played out for sure.

    John B: I think there are some people who found some new passions, too. For whatever reason that I can’t even think of, maybe there was something. Certainly, peloton is an example of people who have found their passion in exercise that maybe didn’t have it before.

    John G: That is an excellent example where everyone else is doing it, so I guess I need to jump on, too, but then you find out it’s also healthy and it’s fun and all that. Yeah, that is true, a lot of new things. I think a lot of it is we just tell ourselves not to do something. My wife, she has always been really creative but let it slip, just wasn’t doing it as much, and then just got into painting. People are actually buying her paintings. They’re really good. I’m like, what? This is awesome. Yeah, it’s just cool to see her just light up from that because she has a different energy now from being able to do your passions, which is cool. So to everybody listening, just do it. Do you have any encouragement for people listening that maybe think, “My passion, no one’s going to care about” or “It has nothing to do with my job, so why talk about it?”

    John B: Oh, definitely. I think in 2020, I think that people have shared more of their passions with other people and that everyone is looking for — well, maybe everyone’s an exaggeration, but almost everyone is looking for where they belong. Where’s their tribe? What is the group that also believes or thinks or does what I like? I think that that’s super helpful when you think about going from community building, which is something that the human race generally likes, to then being more socially distant, et cetera. Then finding a way, whether that’s online or whatever, to be able to find people with similar passions really is something that I think they ought to dive in and chase.

    John G: Absolutely. Then if some of those people have the similar passions that you work with then that’s extra magic. The engagement is so much higher. It just works better in the end. So not only have it, but share it is a huge key. That’s awesome, man, so cool. It’s been so fun catching up with you, John. But it’s only fair since I started out the episode with my rapid fire questions that I turn the tables and make this the first episode of The John Bly Podcast. Thanks so much for having me on as a guest. I appreciate it.

    John B: Absolutely. I heard there was an AICPA conference recently.

    John G: Yeah, just last week.

    John B: There may have been some interesting banter that you led. Do you mind giving a little insight as to the humor that was shown?

    John G: Oh my goodness. Yeah, the Digital CPA Conference, they had me kick it off the night before the conference was, so I did an hour of a little bit of standup. Then we did like a Family Feud game, which was really fun and interactive. I always ask these open-ended questions kind of Family Feud style, and one of the questions was besides your significant other, name something you bring along on a date. Most of the answers were taken. One lady said a condom, and it was hilarious because I’m pretty positive that a lot of people never thought that that word would ever be said at an AICPA event, but leave it to me to make that magic happen. I, of course, quickly pivoted and turned it into risk management, which seems a little more user-friendly for the AICPA crowd or CPA.com crowd. Yeah, it was super fun. Everybody that was there had a lot of good laughs and all the nice comments. It was really, really fun to see.

    John B: What’s the most random — you’re now an author. What’s the most random experience you’ve had with it whether somebody was like, “Oh my gosh, I read your book” and it wasn’t like the epiphany moment, but something totally random, or the strangest comment you’ve received about it.

    John G: I would say that probably from parents who had their kids just leave for college, how much the book applied to them, maybe the stay-at-home parents that their identity was lacrosse mom or whatever, soccer dad, the parent that stays home that helps take care of the kids. So now that the kids went away to college, it’s, “Well, what’s my identity now? What are my passions?” and just realizing that it applies to not just corporate professionals. It applies to just everybody really. That was really something that hit me. I was like, wow, this is a lot bigger than I thought it was. That was cool where it was like, wow, I didn’t even realize how much it would resonate with that. Even people that are doctors, they’re never really taught how to manage people. They’re taught medicine until they’re 30 and then it’s, “Okay. Now, go run a business and be in charge of it.” I think it’s helpful for them as well. It’s such a simple thing to just ask people what their “and” is, what lights you up, and then care about them. I guess that would be probably the most random thing where I did not see that come in at all.

    John B: That’s awesome. Well, it’s great that you’re making that sort of impact on people’s lives. It’s probably very rewarding to hear the feedback as well.

    John G: Yeah, it is. Well, it’s also rewarding that people are reading it. That’s why you spend two years writing a book. I wrote it in a very conversational way so then it’s easy to read. It’s not a cumbersome task where it’s like, “Oh, this is hard.” No. It’s actually — some people have even said they’ve read it twice already, which is kind of cool. There you go.

    John B: Last question. The vaccine happens and you’re totally clear to do whatever. What’s the first thing you’re going to do 2021?

    John G: Wow. The first thing —

    John B: And no dollar limit. Pretend it’s all free.

    John G: Probably, honestly, this might be — this isn’t super exciting, but my parents live in an assisted living home here, so they’ve been completely locked down. I’ll probably take them out to dinner because it’s hard on us, but on them, it’s got to be even — I can’t even imagine. So probably just take my parents out to dinner would be the first thing, and then go to Antarctica so I could tell your kids I’ve been before they did. I’m kidding, man. This has been so much fun, John. Thanks so much for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”?

    John B: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

    John G: Awesome. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of John on his adventures or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button to the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to get the book. It makes an excellent holiday present, if I say so myself.

    Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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