Episode 363 – Gail Wilson

Gail is a President & Music Lover

Gail Wilson, founder of GWA Business Solutions, talks about her passion for music and attending concerts! She also shares when she realized that learning about other people’s hobbies add insight to who they are as people!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into music and concerts
• Gail’s first concert
• Her favorite concert she has attended
• Attending socially distanced concerts and karaoke nights
• Why it’s important to have an escape from work
• How knowing someone’s “And” provides insight to who they are as people


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    Welcome to Episode 363 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 the book. It’s available on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and then writing such nice reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, 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, Gail Wilson. She’s the president and founder of GWA Business Solutions in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and now she’s with me here today. Gail, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Gail: Hi, John. How you doing today?

    John: Doing awesome. I’m so excited to have you be a part of this. I also love concerts. You love concerts. This is going to be so much fun. I feel like I’m also the guest. We get to share all of our “ands”. This is going to be a blast.

    Gail: You got it.

    John: Before we get into it, I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Gail on a new level here, right out of the gate. I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one, favorite color.

    Gail: I knew you were going to ask me that, and I don’t have a favorite color. I love favorite colors, but if I had to pick just one, you know that beautiful color you see when you look out in the Caribbean Sea or whatever your fancy is, and you see this blue-green. That would have to be it.

    John: Yeah, yeah, that is blue-teal, blue-green, whatever it is. Yeah, it’s so perfect. It really is. It’s interesting that the whole ocean isn’t like that. I’m sure there’s a reason. How about, okay, so least favorite color.

    Gail: I love color, John. That’s a tough one. I would say a color I don’t look really good in and that most people don’t look really good in. I would say that would be like a really super bright red.

    John: Okay. Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. How about, this is a fun one, shower or bath?

    Gail: I like them both. You’re asking me all these questions.

    John: You like all of the things.

    Gail: Right? Unfortunately, there’s nothing better than having a really good shower.

    John: What if you filled the bathtub through the shower head, then it’s both at the same time.

    Gail: Yeah, yeah, for sure.

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

    Gail: Crossword.

    John: Okay, there we go. We’re on a roll now. Here we go. Diamonds or pearls.

    Gail: Diamonds.

    John: Okay. All right. Two for two. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Gail: I met Jane Seymour, and it was really fun to meet her in person.

    John: That’s cool.

    Gail: She was at a stage event. Of course, I didn’t have a backstage pass. Somehow I got to see her. I’m not quite sure how I finagled that, but I did.

    John: Good for you. Good for you. That’s cool. Yeah, really great actress as well. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Gail: Early.

    John: Early. Okay, all right. How about when it comes to books, Kindle, real books or audio book?

    Gail: I like a real book, but I also like Kindle.

    John: Sure. No, no, I hear you. How about, since you’ve got the accounting, bookkeeping background, favorite number?

    Gail: Nine.

    John: None. Is there a reason?

    Gail: I just always thought nines look really smooth.

    John: Yeah. No, they do. You’re right. Yeah, I hear you. Okay, how about a favorite sports team?

    Gail: It’s got to be the Jays.

    John: Oh, okay, all right. There we go. Oceans or mountains.

    Gail: Oceans, big time.

    John: Because of the blue. I see what’s going on.

    Gail: You got it.

    John: Yeah, here we go. This is a fun one, balance sheet or income statement.

    Gail: Income statement.

    John: Income, okay. Somebody asked me this one at the end of an episode. It’s been fun to ask people now, is, socks or shoes.

    Gail: Flip flops.

    John: Okay. There we go. There we go. That’s hilarious. That’s awesome. How about, Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Gail: I like them both, but I’m an original Trekkie. I was like five years old back then, even though I’m 29. You didn’t ask my age, but

    John: Not at all. Not at all. You were four or five when you started watching them. Right? Three more. Your computer, PC or a Mac.

    Gail: PC.

    John: Okay, yeah, me too. Favorite ice cream flavor. I love ice cream.

    Gail: Oh, it has got to be that one where they put the yummy vanilla and then they add all this caramel and then a little bit of chocolate chips.

    John: Yeah, like a Moose Tracks almost?

    Gail: Yeah.

    John: There you go. Yeah, all the chunks. All right, last one, favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Gail: It’s going to be my iPad.

    John: Oh, your iPad, okay. There we go.

    Gail: I’m a computer person, you know?

    John: No, totally. So let’s talk concerts and live music and all that. Is that something that you grew up going to? Or did you start doing it, later point in life?

    Gail: My mom loved Elvis, so I grew up listening to Elvis and listening to music for my sister. She’s nine years older than me, and she always had music on. In those days, it was a while ago, you would save your allowance to buy one song.

    John: Right, like a single. Yeah.

    Gail: She would spend her allowance every, maybe once a month, buying an album, right? So I had Led Zeppelin playing and all this stuff as a young girl, great things to grow up with. We also had comedy, which is why I like to make people smile, which was Cheech and Chong.

    John: Okay. That’s great.

    Gail: This is what I was listening to. So, when I had an opportunity to go to a concert, I was about 15 and with a date. My date said, “We have an opportunity to go and see Supertramp.” Of course, Supertramp’s album was Crime of the Century, bloody well write, all these really great songs that you need to think about. So we go down to the concert, and I loved the concert. I did not need drugs. I did not need alcohol. I just needed music. When I’m stressed, I put just music on and the live music, then that’s the escape. That’s the time where I can say, I don’t have to think about any of my customers’ questions.

    John: Right.

    Gail: I don’t have to think about what solution do I have to come up with. I just think, how am I going to get in and enjoy this moment? Because the concert, the music, it just draws you in, the positive energy of everyone around you, because I don’t see people at concerts that are unhappy.

    John: Right.

    Gail: Right? When you’re at a concert, everybody’s happy, and anybody that didn’t like it is gone. So it’s a way for us to escape to a completely, 100% positive, comfortable environment.

    John: Yeah, I love that. That’s so true. It’s so true. Because somebody asked me at the end of one of these episodes, sporting event or concert, which is such a hard one because I love both, but then I thought about it. I said concerts because every time I go to a concert, it’s an experience, every time. There’s the audience there. There’s the band. There’s the interaction between the two. Everyone’s singing and all that. Where at a sporting event, sometimes it’s an experience, but sometimes it’s a two-to-nothing baseball game, and whatever. I eat some nachos. I agree with you. There is that experience there, for sure.

    Gail: Well, that reminds me of a story, and it’s a good one. I went to see Keith Urban a few years back. One of my state friends was in town, and he was going to the Microsoft conference. He goes, “Oh, you know — some famous person was playing there, but he couldn’t get me in. I said, “Hey, why don’t you come to the Keith Urban concert with me? My husband can’t make it, and my son is coming with me.” So the three of us go down. We go to see Keith Urban. My family knows my friend, Robert, very well. It was great. We had a really good time.

    Besides the good time I had, I was sitting in the American Express lounge, having a drink. I looked over and I said, “Hey, that guy really looks like Kevin Pillar, doesn’t it?” Robert’s like, “Yeah. Yeah, it does.” The guy beside us goes, yeah, and there’s like four other members of the team. There’s smoke and all these other guys, and they’re all in this private room. This girl goes over and gets her picture taken with Kevin Pillar.

    I said, hmm. I love Kevin Pillar. He’s probably our favorite. We love him. Wouldn’t it be great if I get my picture taken with him? So, sure enough, my son had gone out to get junk food because that’s what kids eat. I went over to where the bodyguards were and asked Kevin if I could get my picture taken with him. He graciously said, yes. My son walks in and says, “Figures, my mom is standing there getting her picture taken with Kevin Pillar.” It’s so obvious that I like to meet people. I’m not crazy people when I meet people. I’m just like, “Oh, hi, how are you? Can I get my picture? Thank you very much. Have a great night.”

    John: Yeah, but he plays for the Jays, and he’s in Canada. He’s just happy that people recognize him because he’s not on the Leafs. Everyone knows the Leafs. That’s super awesome though that it combined the two where it’s a Blue Jays player at a concert, and you get the picture. That’s awesome.

    Gail: In the middle of the concert, he was on the floors. I like to be a little further back. Some concerts, the floors, but not at the Molson Amphitheatre or Budweiser Center, whatever they call it now. Anyway, in the middle of the concert, he gives Keith Urban a Jays shirt.

    John: Oh, that’s great.

    Gail: Keith Urban puts it on, so that even made it better.

    John: Yeah, so then the place went nuts. That’s awesome. That’s very cool. You’ve been to concerts all over the US and Canada. You’ve been to quite a few. Is there one that’s one of your more favorites that comes to mind, or more unique, I guess?

    Gail: The favorite person I ever saw was at — there’s a little casino in Niagara Falls, and it seats 1500 people. Steven Tyler decided to go and play there with his country band.

    John: Okay.

    Gail: I got these seats, fifth row, center.

    John: Wow.

    Gail: It was like he was right there with you. This was different. He was probably the most charismatic performer I’ve ever seen. Maybe he normally isn’t like that, but it was just, there’s only 1500 people. I don’t know if you know a lot about him, but he has this charity called Janie’s Charity. He was performing that. It was just this song, Janie’s Got a Gun.

    John: Right. Yeah.

    Gail: It was just such a meaningful concert. It’s funny because people don’t think you can get that from a concert. They’ll say, oh, it’s perfect if I listened to it on my recording. Well, who cares if it’s perfect on my recording?

    John: Yeah, it’s super fun when the band goes off script, or they do extra solos, or they link something out, or they tell the story behind the song, or they do a different version of it. That’s why you’re there. You can listen to it at the mp3 or whatever or on Spotify, or now just say, tell the gadget what song you want to listen to, and it plays it. Or even some people that do covers of somebody else’s song, or maybe it’s a song that they wrote that someone else made famous and so they’re, here’s my version of it. Yeah, and that’s always fun to see, where you’re like, what, that’s awesome, type of a thing. Or it’s Steven Tyler singing country music. That’s great.

    Gail: I have to admit he did sing my very favorite song, Dream On, and I recorded it, of course, on my little cellphone. It was just a different experience because of him being such a great star and being in such a small environment. I remember hearing one of my friends went to see — was at the El Mocambo, which is a little club in Toronto, and famous people come, and the Rolling Stones played there. They said it was the same kind of thing. Then the Rolling Stones just came up. Wow. That’s not an opportunity you get. He’s never played in a band again that I know of.

    John: Yeah, yeah.

    Gail: He’s back touring with Aerosmith when tours are back on again.

    John: Right. Hopefully soon, hopefully, soon. Yeah, we’re all missing live concerts, but you have been able to see some live singing even during the pandemic, which I think is so fantastic how clever people have been to make it happen. Because when we chatted before, you talked about it was like a karaoke night but because all these bands aren’t touring, the lead singers and people that are really good singers aren’t performing. You stumbled into a karaoke night, and it was like all-star night almost.

    Gail: It was incredible because the last time I saw live music, a friend of mine, he owns Toronto Fashion Week for men’s and women’s fashion, and you know what’s happened to the fashion industry. It was a cool event. We ended up meeting an Olympian at this little event in town that nobody knows how to pronounce that they see how it’s spelled called Stouffville.

    John: Right.

    Gail: So, here are all these people that are pretty famous, coming into Stouffville to watch the Canadian Fashion Film Festival, and then we went to the same venue and saw a band. This band played at Boots and Hearts. It’s a huge country festival in Canada. Some little guy that’s in his basement, and they said, this is the first time we’ve played since COVID hit. It was August.

    John: Yeah. Wow, that’s crazy. Then you told me about how one had the clear shower curtain liners around the singers so then it could keep the COVID in, I guess. I don’t know.

    Gail: Yeah, that’s a great story, John. Thanks for reminding me of that. We were driving along, and we thought, hmm, there’s a cute little place right on the water. Let’s stop in there. There’s a little pub and great. It was the whole nine yards, so we went in there. I said to my husband, “That sounds like live music. That does not sound like an album.”

    John: Right. Let’s go. Find it. Find it.

    Gail: We get in there. We got this amazing table. Here’s this shower curtain up inside, not just one. There are two shower curtains with a shower curtain in between, so, picture that. It’s like a crossword puzzle. You have two little boxes, and the shower curtains are all around it. The guy doing the karaoke, manning it, he’s on one side. He’s sitting there sterilizing everything, two microphones, and everybody has to have a microphone cap on, and he’s pointing the sterilized microphone through the little partition there between the two shower curtains so that — and these people could sing. I was just saying to my husband, “I don’t care if it’s even really bad music. I just want to hear live music.”

    John: Yeah, yeah.

    Gail: This guy that was up there, I was floored. I said, that person must be a professional. The next person one got up. She was just as good. The next person — the whole night had to be all professionals.

    John: Yeah, because they’re not touring and they’re not performing anywhere. Instead, they’re in a shower curtain cube at a bar in the middle of nowhere, just working out their chops. Yeah, and I love that. That’s so great. I feel like that should be a movie with Will Ferrell in it or something, where it’s just pandemic karaoke, or I don’t even know. Even with all this, you’re still able to get some live music and even listen to the music as well. I loved how you said that earlier, where just listening to music is that escape from work and that stress relief. You’re not always thinking about work. When the music comes on, you’re able to take a break. How important do you think it is for people to have something to take that break?

    Gail: It’s so true, John. There’s stress. Doesn’t matter what comes in your life. You could have death in your family. You can have whatever in your family. You can imagine, what do you think was playing at my mother’s funeral?

    John: Oh, well, not a Cheech and Chong bit, I’m sure. Right?

    Gail: Elvis.

    John: Yeah, Elvis, like you said, yeah, yeah.

    Gail: We played Elvis at my mother’s funeral because that’s what my mother brought us up doing. She was a happy person, full of life, lots of fun, and funerals are a very solemn time. My father didn’t want to go. We put a little bit of — it wasn’t like we’re dancing or anything in the funeral parlor. Don’t get me wrong.

    John: Yeah, yeah. You were celebrating.

    Gail: Yeah. So, you know what? At the end, my dad was like, “Am I ever glad you talked me into coming to this funeral.”

    John: Right. Yeah, no matter what’s going on, even if you’re having a bad day or something didn’t go your way, a client didn’t choose you, you didn’t get the promotion, whatever it is, there’s all ranges of bad things. Then, yeah, given the pandemic, I’m homeschooling my kids, my spouse got laid off, whatever it is, there’s all kinds of crazy happening. It’s so crucial that you keep that “and”. You have that outside-of-work hobby and passion, whether you can actually do it, like going to concerts, not as much, but listening to the music, you can, and stumbling across that karaoke night. It’s almost like an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s so crucial to have those. I agree with you, totally.

    Gail: Right. I’m visiting Florida right now, and things are very much safe here. They still have live music outside. The other day, I listened to a steel drum band guy. He goes, “I was lucky. I gave up on cruise ships in January before all this hit, so we had gigs lined up.” Then Tommy, I sent you a picture of me with Tommy.

    John: Whatsyourand.com, yeah, yeah.

    Gail: Yeah, and seeing Tommy for many, many years. Tommy Treadway, he is just one guy, and he goes around and sings. Sometimes he sings with a band as well. I had a lot of fun the other night, and there was nobody there, by the way. There was art table and then about 35 feet away, there was another table, but it was all outside. It was at a restaurant where people were coming and going and picking up the food. It was just something the restaurant area of the resort wanted to have something fun for people to listen to while they were waiting for their pizza.

    John: Yeah. Do you find yourself talking with, like when you’re at a conference, with people about their “and” or maybe music in general or clients as well?

    Gail: Yes. Especially since I’ve met you, John, I’ve been telling everyone that I’m going to be on this podcast. They told me what their “and” is, and really a great insight into who people are because everybody wants to tell you their “and”.

    John: Right?

    Gail: I also said I like deep-sea fishing because I do. I love to go fishing, but concerts are really what I do the most of.

    John: What really lights you up. Yeah, and you can have more than one. You don’t have to have just one. That’s so awesome to hear that you share that and then people are like, well, here’s mine. It’s like, wow, that’s awesome. It sounds like more people can be on the show, so that’s even better. That’s just cool to hear that you’re not hiding it, and no one cares, that has nothing to do with my business, whatever. It’s, no, no, share it. Why not? Because people like to hear that as well.

    Gail: Well, we have to get educated all the time. When you go to a conference, everyone thinks, oh, you’re at a conference. It’s going to be so easy. You’ve got to be staying in a hotel room. All your meals are cooked. You’re looking at them. Are you kidding me? Breakfast at seven, and I might get home by 11, if I’m lucky, and then crash and have one of those showers we talked about at the beginning.

    John: Yeah, yeah. Right.

    Gail: Then pick yourself up and then we go from there, right.

    John: Your brain is full. That’s for sure, yeah, and then meeting new people and all that stuff. That’s for sure. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks, my hobby has nothing to do with my job, no one’s going to care about it?

    Gail: I would disagree, 100%. I remember one time I was dancing around the office. We were having something going on. Everybody said, wow, I didn’t know you liked dancing so much. I thought, how could you have worked for me and not know that? So we started talking more about our hobbies, and everybody got to know each other a lot better. I think it really helped the organization.

    John: Yeah, I agree, obviously, 100%. It’s cool to hear that it’s not just theory, make-believe. It’s legit real, and it worked. That’s cool. This has been a blast. It’s so much fun. We could talk music all day, for sure, but it’s only fair that, before I wrap it up, I turn the tables and allow you to question me. So, welcome to the first episode of The Gail Wilson Podcast. I don’t know. I tried to make it feel like it’s at a concert. Thanks so much for having me on, Gail. If you have any questions, or I’m happy to be your guest.

    Gail: Well, John, welcome and thank you. You know what, I had to do a little prep work for this. I found out you have a punch line. I have a punch line. It’s really boring. Solutions that fit. Yours is much more fun than mine. It is. I really do, I love it because it’s true. Your punch line about getting serious results doesn’t have to be that serious. It’s true.

    John: Yeah. Well, thank you.

    Gail: Because I’ve met you at conferences, and it’s really important to have people get a little bit of lightness in their feeling because what we do is open heart surgery. It’s very serious work that we do in this field, and we have to really get to know all of the people’s ugly parts, right? Many people, they all say, everything’s great. Here’s my question for you. Everybody’s telling me how great everything is when, why are you calling me in then?

    John: Yeah.

    Gail: How about you, when you meet people, what do they say to you? Do you have to convince them that comedy is good? Or do they already know, you know what, our conference is a little dry, can you lighten it up a bit?

    John: Oh, so when it comes to speaking at conferences, yeah. Sometimes people are nervous because they hear the word funny. They think that it’s not going to have any value or have any substance to it. Because oftentimes, speakers, if they’re funny and engaging, there’s not a lot of substance to it. It’s like cotton candy, where it looks big and it’s going to fill you up. Then you eat it and then two minutes later, you’re hungry again. Or they have a lot of content, but they’re really boring, and you don’t end up listening to any of it because you’re falling asleep.

    The greatest compliment I’ve gotten is that I’m really, really good at combining the two, which is, I think, the way it should be. If people aren’t listening, then they’re not learning. If they’re laughing, then I know that they’re listening because you’re not going to laugh at a joke if you didn’t hear it. So, bringing a little bit of humor, a little personality to it.

    Not everybody’s on board right away because it’s definitely different. It’s different than what’s been done. The cool thing is, is that there are a lot of meeting professionals out there that are feeling the pressure to do something different. That’s when they turn to me and then they realize, oh, wait, it’s actually about 90% substance and the meat, and about 10% is the funny that’s just sprinkled throughout so then you feel better about it.

    That’s definitely something that I’ve had to overcome at times in conversation is, that it’s not just funny. It’s not a clown show. It’s funny for a reason. It’s the same with work. People that are in an office, it doesn’t have to be all serious all the time. It can be funny. There can be stories. You can be dancing, like you said, and still get your work done. If anything, I think you get your work done better if you’re dancing.

    Gail: Well, I’ve studied a little bit about how to relieve your stress. I do some meditation and different things that I do. One of the things is actually from a Taylor Swift song that you’re supposed to do. Shake it up.

    John: Okay, okay. Right?

    Gail: It really, it’s a stress reliever. I always say people need to go to a lot of concerts, and they’re not on drugs, like me.

    John: Right, exactly. I’m the same. I’m the same.

    Gail: Even though it really does shake off that stress.

    John: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. Well, Gail, I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s been so fun talking concerts and getting to know you more. Thank you so much.

    Gail: Oh, thank you, John, for having me on. It was lots of fun.

    John Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Gail at these concerts or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s 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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