Episode 355 – Karen Reyburn

Karen is a Creative Agency Owner & Harry Potter Fanatic

Karen Reyburn, owner of The Profitable Firm, talks about finding her passion while dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome, breaking down the resistance of being creative, overcoming shyness, and her companies pillars and values concept!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into Harry Potter
• Why we may resist creativity
• Overcoming shyness in her early years
• 4 company pillars and 6 personal values system



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Karen’s Pictures

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Alnwick Castle in England

Steall Falls in the Scottish highlands

Harry Potter Studios in London.

Karen’s Links


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    Welcome to Episode 355 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.

    If you like the podcast, you can go even deeper into my research with my book available on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it. It’s really, really cool.

    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, Karen Reyburn. She’s the owner of the Profitable Firm, a global creative agency for accountants, and she’s based in Scotland. Now she’s with me here today. Karen, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Karen: It’s a pleasure, John. It’s so great to be here. I love this “and” concept. It’s so great.

    John: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I’m excited to have you be a part of it, first guest from Scotland, so checking that off the list.

    Karen: Scotland might be a little embarrassed because I’m a dual British-American citizen. I’d like to apologize that I don’t have a Scottish accent, but I’ve been here 20 years. I’ve got some.

    John: It counts, exactly. It counts for me. We’ll do 17 rapid-fire questions, have some fun, get to know Karen right out of the gate here. Here’s a good one, chocolate or vanilla.

    Karen: Vanilla. Don’t like chocolate.

    John: Okay. All right. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?

    Karen: Crossword actually.

    John: All right. There you go. How about a favorite color?

    Karen: Yellow.

    John: Yellow. All right. As a creative, how about a least favorite color?

    Karen: I would say black. I think it just seems very dark and negative. I’m a big fan of optimism and cheer and positivity, which yellow.

    John: Yellow, yes. Like bumblebees, you’re a little mixed.

    Karen: Well, I had a bad experience with bees, John. I’m not sure we want to talk about that. I got attacked by a hive of them when I was small.

    John: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, never mind that. I apologize. Look at me. I’m terrible. How about more hot or cold?

    Karen: Cold.

    John: Cold, yeah.

    Karen: I live in Scotland. I grew up in Arizona, so I had plenty of hot.

    John: Yeah, yeah, so you’re balancing it out. I see what’s going on. All right, how about a favorite actor or actress?

    Karen: I just suddenly went blank and then have so many.

    John: Okay, you can have more than one.

    Karen: Well, I wouldn’t say this is a favorite ever, but I think it’s because I was talking to somebody recently about the actor who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films, Matthew… I’ve suddenly gone blank on his surname. We were talking about how he was this terrible —

    John: Matthew Lewis.

    Karen: Thank you. He’s this terrible-looking — I mean, that’s just sounds mean, but he’s just kind of a geeky-looking kid and then he gets incredibly hot as he gets older. You talk about getting Nevilled. I’m like, oh, he’s got — it just seems like a lot of the Harry Potter actors actually just seem like such cool people. I follow them on in Insta or TikTok or whatever. They’re just really fun people, and I love it.

    John: I wonder if they were cool people anyway, or if being part of the Harry Potter series made them open up.

    Karen: I kind of feel like you have to be cool anyway. There is an element to which you’re not going to suddenly become this wildly different person. It’s going to bring out the cool — I mean, you know that video of Daniel Radcliffe rapping the ABCs? Just the talent, it’s incredible.

    John: That’s very true. All right, that’s a good answer. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Karen: I am a night owl. I would lean towards that. I don’t like getting up early, but once I’m up, I love being up early. It’s kind of a catch-22. I stay up super late. I drag myself out of bed, but if I’m up early, I’m like, woohoo, I’ve achieved all this stuff by 9 am.

    John: Right. Exactly. Okay, how about more Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Karen: Oh, if I have to pick one, Star Wars.

    John: Okay, or probably just Harry Potter. That would probably be the trilogy, I think, if you had to pick a series.

    Karen: Yeah, I was like, the answer to that one is Harry Potter. Yes.

    John: There you go.

    Karen: Star Wars is okay, but I offend Star Wars people by how much I don’t care, and I really don’t like Star Trek much at all. Yeah. Sorry, all the people who have now stopped listening.

    John: No, no, no, no, absolutely not. Absolutely not. Are you more of a PC or a Mac?

    Karen: Oh, Apple. I’ve got an iMac, an iPad, iPhone, tablet, an Apple watch, literally every —

    John: You have an iEverything. Look at you. There you go. All right, all right. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?

    Karen: I don’t really like ice cream very much, but if I had to pick one, it would be sugar-free vanilla because I don’t eat sugar.

    John: Back to the vanilla. Okay, all right. Yeah, there you go. All right, how about more heels or flats?

    Karen: Flats because always, but also, I threw out my back about seven weeks ago, and I don’t want to wear heels again.

    John: There you go.

    Karen: Seriously. Why do people do this to themselves?

    John: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. All right, as the owner of a creative agency, more digital or print advertising?

    Karen: This is the answer we always give everybody when they ask any marketing question. The answer is, it depends. Who is it for? Who’s the audience? What is the company? What’s the purpose? What are you trying to do? My default would tend to be digital, especially these days, but I think there’s great power in print.

    John: Okay, all right, all right. Are you more oceans or mountains?

    Karen: Okay, my answer to that is the Isle of Mull, which is my favorite place in Scotland. It’s off the west coast of Scotland, and it has both. That is why I love it. One of the reasons I love it.

    John: No, absolutely, that totally counts. Absolutely. What’s a typical breakfast?

    Karen: Sourdough bread with smashed avocado and bacon.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Karen: Just gets all the protein and the veg and the carbs and everything, and it lasts me till like 2:00 because I always forget to eat lunch.

    John: I was going to say that’ll fill you up. Three more. Do you have a favorite number?

    Karen: 23.

    John: Is there a reason?

    Karen: Yes. When I was in high school, I played basketball. That was my number. I think at the time I picked it, my gosh, that was probably back Michael Jordan. You were like, yes, that was his number. And also Psalm 23 from the Bible. So, it kind of went with both of those, which I liked.

    John: Very cool, very cool. When it comes to books, Kindle, real books or audible.

    Karen: Real books. I am a, hold it in your hand, underline it, feel — and also, I’m on my phone and screens almost constantly as a digital creative agency, so I like to be able to not be distracted.

    John: Yeah. No, I like that. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Karen: Favorite thing that I own. Wow.

    John: Like, there’s an emergency, you have to grab something and run out.

    Karen: Well, I was going to say my house, and now you’ve kind of —

    John: No, that counts.

    Karen: How do I grab my whole house?

    John: No, that counts. Absolutely. Your house totally counts.

    Karen: That counts?

    John: Yeah.

    Karen: I think it’s just because I lived in Scotland — I’ve lived here for 20 years, but when I first moved here, I was just going to be here for three years and then go back to America. Then I decided to stay, and then I kept staying, and then I got my residency, and then I got my citizenship. I finally bought a house which, for me, was like, this is my home. This is where I live. This is my place now. That was the moment my family was like, oh, man, I don’t think she’s coming back, which was sad for them.

    John: Right? We can change over the bedroom now because she’s not coming back.

    Karen: Yeah. That was also when they were like, right, seriously, the stuff in the garage has to go. You can’t keep storing it here. That’s been 20 years. Let it go.

    John: Exactly. You’re like, I don’t even remember what’s in there.

    Karen: Seriously, I didn’t. I actually went through the boxes, and I was like — there are photo frames of people that I haven’t spoken to in 20 years. I’m like, right, okay, we can let these go.

    John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That’s awesome though. Yeah, owning a home, very much is like, this is home. This is where I live. It’s permanent. It feels more permanent anyway.

    Karen: I know the time we’re recording it, this particular year, I’ve spent a lot of time at home. It’s been a great blessing to, even when your home drives you a little crazy, to still love it and be grateful for it and to say, well, if I have to spend a lot of time not traveling and not going places, this is the place I want to be.

    John: No, that’s awesome. That’s very cool, very cool. Also gives you time for more Harry Potter stuff.

    Karen: It sure does.

    John: So let’s chat about, so how did that get started? Were you, early in, waiting in line for the books at the very beginning?

    Karen: No. Interestingly, I didn’t even really engage with it, I don’t think, when it first came out. I’m trying to remember what year it was. I think it was 2011, I want to say. That’s a rough estimate. I was looking it up for somebody one time. Basically what happened is I had an illness called chronic fatigue in America. Over in Britain it’s called ME. It basically means that your immune system is really low, and your energy levels drop to an exhausted point.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Karen: You never quite know how much energy you’re going to have when you wake up in the morning. It usually hits with a virus at first. Then the virus goes away, and then you’re left with this complete exhaustion. They didn’t know what it was. It’s a diagnosis of exclusion, so you get tested for literally everything you could possibly have. When they find out you don’t have any of those things, they call it CFS.

    So I went through various stages of it being, first I got the virus, then it went away, but I still felt horrible. Then I would get better and be like, oh, I’m all healed. I’ll never have to worry about this again. Then I’d have a relapse. There was a period of time where I had a relapse. It was particularly bad.

    When I’m in relapse mode, I would be able to work and then come home and collapse, and just do it all again, the next day. That was all I was able to do. There would be spells of time where for two or three weeks, I couldn’t work at all. This was more or less before homeworking too, so if you weren’t working, you weren’t doing anything.

    John: Yeah, you were literally weren’t working.

    Karen: Literally nothing. I remember I watched through the entire 10 seasons of Friends, which I had never watched all of them from start to finish. That shows you that’s all I could do, was sit back and watch. I got them from the local library. I would go, that was my big outing for the week, I would go to the library, get these DVDs and bring them back and watch them.

    When I finished Friends, I was like, what am I going to do now? They had the first Harry Potter book, the physical book at the library. I tried to read it when it first came out and just couldn’t really get into it. I don’t know. It was like too much. I’m like, what is all — there’s Quidditch and there’s this, just different terminologies.

    John: Made-up words, right.

    Karen: Yeah, I just wasn’t into it. So I tried it again. I was like, well, I’m bored. What else am I going to do? I let it sit there on the chair next to my bed, and one night, about 11:00 at night, I remember looking over at it and going, oh, hell, I’ll just pick it up and read a chapter. I read the whole thing, could not put it down. 4 am, I put the book down and was like, I have to get the second one. The whole story just got me. I’m that kind of a reader, when I’m into something, I don’t put it down.

    The next day, despite being quite exhausted, this was not library day, but I went anyway, and got book two. I read book two. Then I discovered, hey, there’s films of these. So I would finish the book and then get the DVD from the library and watch it. I remember, after I finished the fifth book, The Order the Phoenix, I went to the library, and I was like, they don’t have this. Why did they not have this DVD? I thought, well, that’s fine. They just don’t have it. Looked it up on Amazon, wasn’t there. I suddenly went, oh, my word, it hasn’t come out yet. I’m still like, I’m in the middle of this. This is so exciting. I can get into this now. I’m not late.

    John: You’re in real time now.

    Karen: Yes, that’s exactly how it felt. So, every time, from that point on — I mean, I finished the books really quickly, but every time after that, when the films came out, then we got to go to the cinema. I remember one time, a bunch of friends and I dressed up in all the different characters for, I think it was the sixth film. We went to the cinema at midnight, when it came out. We had a Dobby, and we had a Lucius Malfoy. I think I was Bellatrix. It was just such great fun.

    I just got into it at first and then you just start collecting. You start gathering. People start figuring out you like it, and they give you stuff. I was talking to a friend of mine recently, that he said, I haven’t been to your house, but I would imagine that there’s just Harry Potter stuff sprinkled everywhere. I said, well, the funny thing is, when I look at my house, I think oh, there’s a few things. Then somebody comes to my house, and I mention something, like oh, I’m really into Harry Potter. They look at me, and they’re like, Really? You think?

    I just look around and realize, like every blanket that’s strewn on the sofa is one of the Hogwarts houses, and there’s a whole bookcase of Harry Potter Lego in the corner. There’s just all kinds of little stuff that I have floating around.

    John: That’s so awesome. Yeah, because why not? It brings you joy.

    Karen: It really does. The Harry Potter Lego, my friend and I, we found them on eBay. This was before Harry Potter Lego was a thing, so we would get them for like 50p, a pound. It’s like $1.50 or something, really cheap. We got the great idea to take a road trip to some of the places in Scotland where the films were filmed.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Karen: Take the little Lego people there and take all these pictures and video.

    John: The Lego people in the scene.

    Karen: Yeah. I felt like I was about seven years old.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Karen: Right? So, we did this. We had such fun that we did it again. Every time I kept going to a Harry Potter place, I would bring these Lego figures. Now, I probably have, oh, I don’t know, at least 200 Harry Potter Lego figures of all the — I mean, I have 4 Privet Drive in Lego. I have the night bus in Lego. I have all this Lego, and I will take them to different places, and actually created an Instagram called Potter Journey. It’s got like 200 followers, so if anyone listening wants to be like, 202 or whatever, but I didn’t do it for that. I just was like, it’s just fun.

    We’re really big at PF, my creative agency, on creativity, true creativity which is not for an audience, not for a purpose as such, but just to play, like a child, like true creativity which is — you might even draw something and then throw it away, but the creative process is to make your mind think differently.

    I have a friend here whose daughter, she’s now 12. I’ve kind of brought her into the Harry Potter universe, and she has very happily joined me there. She and I will go on road trips in the Highlands of Scotland. The way that she thinks about things, like, ooh, we could do this, or we could have them do that, or we could put them in the water. It’s always way beyond something that I would think, and it’s so fun.

    John: That’s awesome, and I love that concept of just thinking differently. The “and” allows you to think differently. How important do you think that is, not just for creatives, but for just all professionals?

    Karen: I think it’s important for every human being. I believe passionately that every human being is creative, not that you can be, but that you are. You are born that way. You’re created — every human being is created to be creative.

    I own a creative agency working exclusively with accountants. One of the biggest barriers for accountants is, oh, well, I’m not creative. I don’t design things. I don’t paint. I don’t write very well. I don’t whatever. We’ve really been working for a long time on really addressing that and saying, yes, you are. You’re creative because you’re a human being. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re creative in the way that you might imagine creativity to be.

    I think our society has really turned, the worldwide society and culture has turned creativity into this thing that an artist achieves. Whereas, true creativity has to do with problem-solving or thinking a different way, and curiosity. Curiosity, and this is why children are so great at what we consider creativity, because they’re not thinking about what they can’t do. They’re thinking about what they could do. They get in a laundry basket with a bunch of holes and say it’s a boat. We go, well, your boat’s going to sink. They’re like, well, how else am I supposed to move through the — they’re just not thinking that way.

    John: Exactly. No, I love that. I love that so much, where, as adults, we’ve put up all these walls, I guess, to make life easier, but it makes it very gray and boring.

    Karen: Well, I think we’ve done it to — that’s interesting, make life easier — I think we’ve done it to make life feel more safe because we’re like, well, creativity can be a scary thing. It can be an embarrassing thing to us, if we let it. I think it was interesting when you were asking about this podcast about talking about this. I remember in the early days, when I would mention to people that I was really into Harry Potter, I remember thinking, are they going to think that this is like, here I am, this owner of a global professional creative agency? It didn’t last too long in my mind because of everything I’ve preached to our clients and to other accountants, but it does cross your mind.

    You say, oh, they’re going to think I’m really childish. They’re going to think this. They’re going to think that. All that happens is the people who are like you and think like you, go, hey, that’s really cool and fun. Maybe it’s not my thing, but that’s your thing. That’s your “and”. Actually, most of my clients, at least their kids are into Harry Potter, so they will be out with their kids. They’ll send me a picture of their kid with their Hogwarts robes on or their kid’s birthday cake, and they know that I will be like, that is the coolest thing ever. I want a cake like that.

    I think we really resist creativity sometimes because true creativity means trying something that may fall apart, that may make you look stupid, or you think makes it. It doesn’t, but you think it does, because it’s all in the mind. I would go to some of these places. There’s a castle called Alnwick Castle in England, which is about two and a half hours from me. That’s where they filmed some of the scenes from the first and the second Harry Potter films.

    I brought the various figures that I wanted, and I had the scenes in my mind. There were certain places that I wanted them. I’m lying there, flat on the ground, with these little Lego figures, and I’m setting them up. I’m flat on the ground with my camera. What was so funny, the adults would walk — some of them would give a double look and keep walking, but the kids would just stop and just stare. They get this big smile on their face, and they’d be, look it’s Hagrid, look it’s this.

    I remember the first time that happened, I was tempted to be so embarrassed because everybody’s looking at me. Suddenly, I though — you’ve got to remind yourself, you’re probably never going to see these people again. Also, it’s actually bringing them some joy. It’s certainly bringing the kids joy. I have to remember that they’re not — I mean, there might be a few people laughing at me, but by and large, they’re not. They’re actually going, that is so cool and so fun. It just caused me to take note.

    I’ve even had people stop me and be like, I’m sorry, can I take a picture of these? I’m like, yeah, sure, go for it. Then I tell them about my Instagram, and they go and look it up. They’re like, this is — come over here. Come, look at this. This is so great. We just have the best time.

    John: That’s fantastic. Yeah, because we’re not in junior high anymore, where people are going to just make fun of you the whole time. I think we’re just stuck in that mode of, we’ve been so ingrained. Ken Robinson speaks about this so well, of just how education just trained us to be scared to fail or go outside the Rails or —

    Karen: Oh, education, don’t even get me started on that.

    John: Right? When you do step outside, it’s like, oh, wait. Yeah, sure, there’s a handful of people, but they have nothing.

    Karen: And they’re not your people.

    John: Exactly.

    Karen: That’s the other thing I have to remember. If somebody is going to truly make fun of that, then they’re not the kind of people that I’m going to spend time with anyway. As you said, most of it is in your own head, and some of it is leftover from — because creativity taps into childhood and childishness in the best possible way, it also harks you back to how you felt as a child.

    I was one of the most shy, nervous, scared children you’ve ever seen in your life. I wouldn’t even go to physical school until I was, in America, in second grade because I was too afraid. I was afraid to be in a class of people. I would hang on to my mom. Even when I started, I went to a private Christian school that was very, very small, and that was scary enough for me. I tell people this now, and they never believe me.

    The big thing that really helped me the most is I got to university, and I remember I had to speak in front of a group of 300 peoples that — I was part of a Christian group called Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and there was like, 300 university students every Friday. They asked me to make an announcement, and I was like, oh, I can’t talk in front of 300 people. Somebody said, listen, you just have to tell them about this thing. I thought, well, that’s fine. I know about this thing. So I get up to announce this event. I said something, made some joke, and everybody laughed, not at me, but with me. I was like, oh, I like this.

    John: Right. Right. There’s some magic there, that’s for sure.

    Karen: Yes.

    John: Very much so. It’s also, you’re doing those Lego pictures for you. You do have an Instagram account or whatever, but you’re doing it because, I enjoy doing this. I’m not asking for your approval or what you think. I really don’t care. Is it good or not? I don’t care. I like it. That’s, I think, the hardest hump for people to get over is not everything is for everyone else’s approval. It’s just for you.

    Karen: I get that a lot because I — you know how some of your strongest strengths are your greatest weaknesses. It goes both ways. So, the superpower of caring for other people and empathizing with them and really engaging with them, which I do, means that, on the flip side, the weakness for me is that sometimes I care a little too much.

    I’ve really appreciated, even just by owning this agency and working with the team and the clients and getting to know myself better, as you do as you get older, and getting to the point where you’re like, yeah, everybody has their “and”, their thing, or some multiple “and”, and that’s what makes us human. That’s what makes us cool. That’s what makes it less boring.

    I talk to accountants all the time, who are saying things like, well, I need to make sure my video is professional. I need to make sure my marketing is professional. Actually, the way you’re thinking about it probably means boring. What you really need to be is yourself, and you need to be the most yourself you can be. That’s what people want because then they will learn to trust you.

    John: Professional means the same as everyone else.

    Karen: Oh, seriously.

    John: It’s like, oh, if I scratch out the logo and the name of the company from this website or from this one-sheet or from this video, do we know that it’s actually yours? Or is it the same as everyone else’s? Something that I love that you guys do there at PF is the five pillars.

    Karen: Oh, four, four pillars, yes.

    John: Or four pillars, rather. I’m sorry, I added one, so we get five now.

    Karen: No, it’s okay. We actually have four pillars and six value, so maybe that’s where you got the five, right smack in the middle.

    John: Yeah, divided by two, the accountant in me, it’s base five.

    Karen: We’re not the numbers people, John. That’s what the accountants do.

    John: Exactly. The pillars idea is so cool. What is that about?

    Karen: Yeah. It started, I think round about the time I had started the business. I was thinking about what we stood for as a business, and I was thinking about how often, well, I would say always, with a person who owns a business, the business values reflect my personal values. So at first it was my personal values, and I wanted the company to stand for those too.

    The original four were integrity, generosity, service, and rest. I actually changed them because what I meant by service was to truly serve with heart, not just customer service or whatever, which means nothing actually, has a negative impact; but to truly serve and to give and to go beyond. I thought, well, service isn’t quite a good word there, so we changed it to, now we have creativity, integrity, generosity, and rest. Those are our four company pillars that are the foundation on which the company is based.

    Then we started talking about values, which is our way that we, day to day, deal with things. So those would include things like take responsibility, show positivity, collaborate, be gracious, and the whole team is expected to live up to those.

    John: Yeah, then there’s the personal ones as well, which is even above that, which is really cool, too, for everybody to have their own —

    Karen: Yeah, so we moved from the company ones to — I think it came up because somebody, one of the team and I were talking about coffee or Harry Potter or something, and she said, it’d be kind of cool if we had our personal pillars as well. She just jokingly said, “What would your top five things be?” I just rattled them off. I was like, oh, I don’t know, like whiskey, Harry Potter, walking, coffee, and Jesus. We had this hilarious laugh about, she’s like, really? Jesus last? I’m like, well, because he created everything, so it’s fine. I was like, sorry, no offense. It’s not in order.

    John: Yeah, exactly. We’re all at the same table. It’s all good.

    Karen: Yeah, exactly.

    John: I think that’s cool to ask people those because then it’s like, oh, okay, these are things that matter to Karen.

    Karen: Yes, and that’s what it became, is — it was a joke at first. My five have not changed. I called my fifth one my faith pillar, but we don’t do them in any order. The point was to say, what matters to you? What little things and big things — one of the team has taco pillar, and one has chai pillar, and one has pasta pillar or farm pillar. That just means that we know what’s important to them.

    We also have two core values that we live our life by. My two are freedom and honesty. It takes a while to figure out what your two core are, but those kind of work together. So, we’ve designed those little icons for each of us. On the PF website, if you go to the About page, every team member has their five personal pillars and their two core values. So, you go there, and you’re like, ah, yes, this is my person. I too, like tacos or pasta or coffee or whatever.

    We’ve started asking clients, if they had five pillars, what would theirs be? Everybody loves it. They’re like, oh, I’m going to have to think about this. Ooh, would it be, is it gin, or is it wine?

    John: You get five. You get five.

    Karen: I know, you only get five. They’re like, is it cool if I have two pillars that are alcohol? We’re like, listen, you make this a call, I’m just saying.

    John: Whatever you’ve got to do. I love how none of the pillars are more work, and how that’s okay. That’s totally okay.

    Karen: Well, not only okay, but I want all my team to be people who are well-rounded people who actually talk about tacos and farms and pasta and their dog because we spend so much of our time at work. I know, lately, within the past year or so, we’ve all realized how integrated work and everything else is, but I’ve always believed, if you spend this much time at work, you need to be your real self. You don’t finish work, and then become somebody else. You bring your best self to work. If that means talking about something like pasta or farms or chai or whatever that’s important to you, then it helps us to know that.

    We were talking about how people love to have an opinion about things like coffee. I said, if you really want to get your social media going, make some really controversial statement, like, tea is better than coffee, and see what happens. Half of your people will be like, no, coffee. In my case, it must be black coffee. None of this milk and sugar nonsense. If you’re going to have coffee, get to the good stuff. I feel very strongly about this. Then somebody else is like — I mean, my dad, who’s passed away now, was always like, it kind of just tastes like roast dirt. I’m like, the funny thing is, Dad, you’re not too far wrong. It’s just really good dirt.

    John: Exactly, exactly. That’s awesome. I love that concept, and something that everyone listening can easily do today with your team. I love how you’re asking clients and how it’s grown beyond that, and how much people are gravitating towards that idea. I love it.

    Karen: Yeah, I would love that, if you’re listening and you — ideally, it’s the top five things that you’re just like, if somebody who knows me would know that these are things that I default to or my rest thing or my relaxation, my fun thing. When I was on holiday this year, for a couple weeks, I didn’t end up traveling too far. It was in Scotland. All of a sudden, one day, I texted one of the team, and I was like, I literally had coffee in the morning, I went for a long walk. There was something I was coloring in, some Harry Potter thing, had some prayer time and meditation time and then drank some whiskey at the end of the day. I didn’t plan it. I wasn’t like, oh, let’s go through the five pillars. I went, that’s how you know, when you have a day where you just want to do things for you, those are your things.

    John: Exactly. No, I love that. It’s what lights you up.

    Karen: Yeah, and there are no rules. There are no rules. One of the team, one of his pillars is the name of his dog. You’re just like, well, that’s who’s important to you. It’s one of the things in your life that’s important to you. There can’t be any rules. They’re just five things or people or whatever that you would default to and that you love and that people know that you love and enjoy.

    John: No, that’s awesome. What a great takeaway for everybody listening. This has been so much fun, Karen. This has been really awesome. It’s only fair though that, since I started out the episode, peppering you with questions, that we turn the tables, and welcome everyone to the first episode of The Karen Rayburn podcast on your birthday.

    Karen: Yes.

    John: Happy Birthday, Karen.

    Karen: Thank you.

    John: Thank you so much for having me as your guest. I’m so happy to be here.

    Karen: Oh, great.

    John: Yeah, so whatever you’ve got, fire away.

    Karen: My first question absolutely is what would your five pillars be?

    John: Holy smokes. Well, I think I have to include my wife.

    Karen: Is it going to be wife pillar, or is it going to be her name?

    John: Brooke, okay, Brooke. We can go Brooke and then college football and ice cream and music, like concerts and what have you, and I guess comedy.

    Karen: Okay. Ooh, I like that.

    John: It goes back to my background. Also, I enjoy funny things.

    Karen: That was brilliant. I love it. See, this is the fascinating thing to me, is everyone can come up with five, and usually, it really shows you something about the person. Because if music and concerts are your thing, you’ll be really suffering, not being able to go to concerts.

    John: Right, exactly, exactly. The live stream, it’s just not the same, and even sporting events, similar. I can watch on TV. Luckily, college football happened, but it’s not the same without being able to go. But ice cream is always here.

    Karen: Ice cream is always here. I just discovered, somebody pointed out to me that in America, this isn’t in the UK, there’s this website that allows you to order ice cream to get delivered to your house. I don’t even remember what it was called, but I remember looking at this and being like, wow, America, that is next level.

    John: That is next level. Then you can order the the insulin right after that for your diabetes, also your dentures because all your teeth are going to fall out.

    Karen: You can also order things like soup and healthy vegetables, so maybe just have a balance there. Yeah.

    John: Boo!

    Karen: Now we understand, this is why ice cream pillar.

    John: What would we do with that? It’s crazy.

    Karen: Protect our bodies. Let’s see. Well, I’ve got a couple other questions. Since we’re talking about Harry Potter, what would your Hogwarts house be? Do you know what your Hogwarts house is?

    John: I think not Slytherin. I feel like Slytherin is, oh, okay. I feel like that one was kind of shady. Is there a way to find out?

    Karen: Yes, there is. You go to the Wizarding World website, and there’s an official — you’ve got to sign in to make an account and then it will do an official sorting hat. It’s a serious test, John. The whole team has done it. A couple of them ended up in Gryffindor, and they’re like, well —

    John: Yeah, I would say Gryffindor for me actually.

    Karen: They’re like, Harry Potter’s house, and everybody gets that. They tried to take the test multiple times, and they kept getting the same answer.

    John: Yeah. Oh, but it’s based on what your… Yeah, so Slytherin is ambition, pride and cunning.

    Karen: Yeah, that’s it.

    John: Yeah, and Gryffindor is determination, courage and bravery.

    Karen: Yep.

    John: Oh, maybe — well, no, there’s wisdom in Ravenclaw, so probably not that one for me.

    Karen: I know. I was like —

    John: The wit.

    Karen: I have to work really hard. I’m not like naturally smart. My sister’s a Ravenclaw. I’m like, yeah. Basically, if you slim down the four to the simplest principles, you’ve got ambition, bravery, learning, and loyalty. Those would be the four categories.

    John: I guess bravery, probably, because I’m pretty crazy like that. I do this for a living thing, so what do you want?

    Karen: Yeah, I know. This is the thing. Absolutely. Okay, another question I have for you is what is your favorite holiday of them all?

    John: Favorite holiday. Yeah. Wow, that’s going to be a good one. It’s not Halloween. Halloween is my least favorite. Although I love candy, so I’m torn there.

    Karen: So, after Halloween, with the sales.

    John: The day-after sale, exactly, that is my favorite. I don’t know. Thanksgiving is always so good because the food is just — there’s gravy on everything. It’s just so good.

    Karen: So much carbs, you know?

    John: Oh, yeah. Then the leftovers, there’s turkey sandwiches for days, and the cranberry sauce and the stuffing. Yeah, and there’s less pressure than the gift-giving of Christmas and Hanukkah and those sorts of things. So, yeah, I guess I would say that.

    Karen: Yeah, I like that. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving for that reason, because you just eat good food and give thanks for it.

    John: Pretty much. Yeah, and then food coma.

    Karen: Yeah, food pillar, carbs pillar. Anyone who has those, that will be your holiday.

    John: Those actually should have been my pillars, sugar, carbs.

    Karen: Can I just have five food pillars? Is that cool?

    John: Exactly. None of them are fruits and vegetables, though. It’s like, John, are you sure? Are you going to make it?

    Karen: Oh, yeah, I got this.

    John: Exactly. Exactly. Well, that’s awesome. Thank you so much, Karen, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This has been super, super fun.

    Karen: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I just love the whole premise of it, and it’s just brilliant from start to finish. Thanks for having me.

    John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Karen in action or some of her pictures from her Harry Potter adventures or maybe 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, and don’t forget to get the book.

    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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