Episode 403 – Rob Rastovich

Rob is a CTO & Cattle Rancher

Rob Rastovich, CTO of ThingLogix, talks about being brought up and taking over his family’s ranch that has been passed down for many generations and how he navigates between the two vastly different worlds of being a rancher and a technologist! He also talks about the reaction he gets when people in the office find out that he is a rancher and how it encourages them to open up about their passions!

Episode Highlights

• Growing up on the ranch
• How ranching relates to his career as a technologist
• Having a foot in two different worlds
• People are more comfortable with you being who you truly are
• Working with people, not their roles
• It is better to do it wrong than not do it at all


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    Welcome to Episode 403 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. And to put it in 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 what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, everywhere you buy books, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you, look for what’s your hand on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. 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.

    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, Rob Rastovich. He’s the CTO at ThingLogix, and now he’s with me here today.

    Rob, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Rob: Oh, my pleasure, John. Thank you for having me.

    John: This is going to be so much fun, but I got 17 rapid-fire questions, get to know Rob out of the gate here. All right, easy one. Favorite color?

    Rob: Blue.

    John: Nice. Mine too. All right, how about a least favorite color?

    Rob: Least favorite color? Puce.

    John: Oh, I don’t even know what that looks like, but it’s sounds disgusting.

    Rob: It’s the name. I don’t even know what it is either.

    John: It’s just the name. It’s just the name. How about more rain or snow?

    Rob: Oh, rain, definitely.

    John: Rain? Okay.

    Rob: Oh, yeah, I’m a rancher. We like a rain.

    John: There you go. Yeah, yeah. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Rob: Matthew McConaughey. All right, all right, all right.

    John: Ah, all right, all right, all right. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Rob: Yes.

    John: Oh, both, as a rancher, yeah.

    Rob: I’m a rancher early in the morning, and I’m a technologists late at night.

    John: Right. Oh, goodness, man. I’m already tired. How about what’s a typical breakfast?

    Rob: Cinnamon raisin bagel.

    John: Nice.

    Rob: Actually, the breakfast is typically butter, but I put a bagel on it just to make sure that, you know. I have a little bread with my butter.

    John: Right. Nice. Same, man. Toasted with butter, cinnamon raisin bagel, it’s the best, man. So good. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?

    Rob: Oh, Sudoku.

    John: Okay.

    Rob: Oh, yeah. Every time I get on a plane, I try to beat my own record.

    John: Right. I like it, man. That’s awesome. Very cool. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Rob: Oh, tough one. Tough one. As geeks, we like them both, but I’m going to have to go with the classic, Star Trek. I grew up on it.

    John: Sure, sure. How about your computer, PC or Mac?

    Rob: Mac.

    John: Mac. Okay. All right. All right. How about your first concert?

    Rob: The Oak Ridge Boys and Kenny Rogers.

    John: Nice. That’s awesome. That’s very cool.

    Rob: They played Country and Western, so it was a double show.

    John: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s very cool. How about favorite season, spring, summer, fall, or winter?

    Rob: Fall.

    John: Yeah. Yeah.

    Rob: Because that means winter is the vacation time. That means that vacation is on its way.

    John: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s a good call. How about a favorite number?

    Rob: Favorite number, three, like everybody else.

    John: Three?

    Rob: Yeah.

    John: Is there a reason or just —

    Rob: Trinities. You know, everything comes in threes.

    John: Yeah, sure. Okay. Yeah. Totally works. How about your books, more audio version, Kindle, or real book?

    Rob: Oh, definitely audio. Yeah, 100%.

    John: Yeah, I didn’t realize that until mine came out and everyone kept asking for the audio version. I’m like, really, it’s going to be this voice reading it to you, right?

    Rob: And then they go, “Ah, no.”

    John: Right, exactly.

    Rob: No, 100%, yeah, because they’re just so much more convenient now these days.

    John: Yeah, that’s for sure. And you can also adjust the speed and all that. As a kid, did you have a favorite cereal, or even as an adult?

    Rob: Honey Nut Cheerios.

    John: Oh, solid. Yeah. It’s a classic. It’s a classic.

    Rob: I would have loved Frosted Flakes, but my mom wouldn’t let me have them.

    John: Okay, okay. Yeah, I was a Frosted Flakes guy. I guess my parents weren’t necessarily the best on that. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?

    Rob: The favorite thing I own is my excavator.

    John: Oh, that sounds awesome.

    Rob: When you have the ability to lift heavy things and dig big holes, it changes your life.

    John: Oh, my — I’m going to go get one now.

    Rob: Oh, you got to have one.

    John: That’s incredible. The excavators, they’re a kind to get?

    Rob: Oh, yeah. You know, they range from minis up to the big ones. You know, my goal is that one of those really big ones, like those earthmover ones that just go out and dig holes for no reason.

    John: That’s incredible, man.

    Rob: Yeah, that’s awesome.

    John: I love it. That might be the best answer I’ve ever gotten to that question. An excavator. Yes! That is incredible. I live downtown Denver, so I would just go around just probably breaking all the laws.

    Rob: Oh, yeah, you can break a lot with one. That’s for sure.

    John: Right. Right. Just digging holes in people’s yards. They can’t tell because it’s so much. That’s incredible, man. I love it. That’s a solid answer. Solid answer. So yes, that kind of dovetails into ranching because, I mean, there’s no other reason to have an excavator.

    Rob: Yeah, you wouldn’t have one to write code with.

    John: Right, right. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So how did you get into ranching? Is it something that you did growing up?

    Rob: Yeah, I live on — so Rastovich Family Farms, third generation farmers. So my grandfather actually started the farm. Deschutes County is a little county that we live in inside Central Oregon. So we’re the first ranch. We’re 102 years old this year. We’re the first ranch to reach 100 years old and still owned and operated by the original family. So I don’t know if it’s a choice as much as it’s a DNA, right? It’s like, you don’t know how not to farm. You’ve been doing it for so long.

    John: I love that, man. That’s incredible. Was it kind of like, I mean, I would visit my grandparents, but you probably grew up literally on the farm because it’s the third generation. I mean, your dad was there too. So it’s not like you’re visiting. It was —

    Rob: No, it was every day. It’s out there. So last name is Rastovich, we actually live on Rastovich Road.

    John: Oh, nice.

    Rob: Because the farm has been here before there were roads out here. So when they started putting roads in, “What do we name this one?” “Well, Rastoviches live at the end of it. Let’s just name it Rastovich.” So that’s in there. So no, yeah, I definitely grew up here.

    John: That’s super cool. That’s awesome. So do you have any cooler, more rewarding stories or something that crosses your mind of like, you’re never going to believe this sort of a thing?

    Rob: Well, so in my little town, Bend, Oregon, it is actually known — I don’t know known for but like a lot of little towns out west, we have a bunch of microbreweries. Our brewer here is Deschutes Brewing Company. They distribute nationwide. Bend is always known for its brew pubs and those kinds of things. And our ranch actually works with the pubs, and we pick up the grain from the pub. We feed that to the cows and then we sell the meat back to the pubs so that when you come to town and you have a burger and a beer, you’re eating a burger raised in the beer you’re drinking.

    But Gary Fish, who actually started Deschutes Brewery, always claims that he was the first brewer in Bend. Not true. In 1919, my grandfather came here and started this little farm, right? The other thing that happened in 1919 was prohibition, right? So he built the barn and then under where the cows came into milk, he made a false floor into there and he would brew beer and he would hide it under the cows.

    John: That’s incredible.

    Rob: So he was a bootlegger in addition to a rancher back in the day. It was still bringing beer out now. So I’m sure he was feeding the — spent grains for the cows back then, and we’re still doing it today.

    John: Yeah, I love it, man. That’s awesome. That’s such a cool story. I mean, just the millions of stories I’m sure that, you know, just like every day is what you do. There’s always something. That’s the thing with the ranch is it seems like there’s always work to be done.

    Rob: Yeah, it’s never done. You don’t retire from ranching. You just, you know. Yeah, one day you just fall over.

    John: Right, right. There’s always a fence post to hold a dig or something, like there’s something.

    Rob: Absolutely.

    John: That’s cool, man. So do you feel at all that the ranching work gives you a skill set that you bring to your job in tech?

    Rob: For sure. The thing with technology and technologists, we find really cool things to do. We’re always finding, you know, oh, we could do this, or we could do this. And because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do a thing, right? As a rancher, very practical. They always talk about ranching. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Where are we, you know, if you need something, you go make it. You make something work, or you walk around the ranch. We have gates that are made out of high school lockers. I have gates made out of old bedposts and stuff like that. So whatever you can use, use it.

    So if ranching where necessity is the mother of invention, technology, invention is the mother of necessity. We invent something and then we try and convince you that you need it, right? You must have a connected washing machine. Why? I don’t know, but —

    John: Because we made it.

    Rob: Yeah, we made it and it’s so cool. You could be the first one on your block to have a connected washing machine, right?

    John: A refrigerator that I can video call you on. What?

    Rob: Yeah, exactly.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Rob: So I think that what I would common sense approach, brings to technology, we try to really produce things that are solving a problem in the world, if you will. Yes, I do go out and I like to play around. Just like in ranching, you like to see what you can make and see what you can do. You get down to the shop and you can build something. Yeah, like to code up something to see if it’ll work. I remember the very first time that I ever had a little Arduino and I had it on the kitchen table, and I was trying to just turn the light on, right? And I was able to get on my computer and I made the light flash on the Arduino. I showed my wife, I go, “Look, I can make that light flash.” I was so excited, right? And her response was, “You’re going to clean all this stuff up, aren’t you?”

    John: Right. It’s like, “Can you appreciate what I’ve done here?” Yeah, and then the rancher’s family side is like, “Hey, can you clean this up?”

    Rob: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

    John: But that is a good point. I mean, that balance and that practicality and that, you know, hey, let’s not go too far down this rabbit hole unless we have a purpose, like there’s a reason for this. You know, there’s only so many hours in the day and there’s a bigger project. Yeah, that mentality probably saves a lot of butts in the tech world, for sure.

    Rob: I mean, not to say we haven’t gone down our share of rabbit holes, but I try to at least go — at least recognize that at some point and go, “Mm, maybe we shouldn’t be here because we’re not really doing anything.”

    John: Right.

    Rob: We’re not really accomplishing anything other than making ourselves feel good.

    John: Right, exactly. That’s awesome. So is the ranching, something that comes up at work, I would imagine?

    Rob: Oh, yeah. So ThingLogix is based in San Francisco and the ranche is in Central Oregon, in Bend. So in Bend, because I’ve lived here my whole life, in Bend, I only know ranchers. The people I interact with our ranchers. So when we get together, we’ll have a beer. We’re talking and I will mention that, well, yeah, I do programming. “You’re a programmer.” “Yeah, we have a technology company in San Francisco.” And they look at you like you got three heads, right? They know that there is the internet and that they use it and they like it, but they didn’t really know that people programmed on it and they did that right.

    Then I have another foot set in San Francisco and I go down to San Francisco. The only people I know down there are technologists, right?

    John: Yeah.

    Rob: And they say, “You have a ranch?” You’re like, “Yeah.” Cerebrally, they know that hamburger must come from someplace.

    John: Right, right, right.

    Rob: I’ve never actually met anybody that actually knows a cow that became hamburger.

    John: Right, right, right. Exactly.

    Rob: So I do have a foot in both worlds, and I’m a man with no support group.

    John: Yeah. No, I mean, I can relate because, I mean, I was a professional comedian but also a CPA. There are no comedians that are also accountants and then no accountants that no comedians.

    Rob: That’s true.

    John: The vocabulary, the conversation, everything couldn’t be more black and white.

    Rob: Yeah. And I did that for a while too, actually. I did stand up for a couple years down in LA. I was down there for a little bit. That was the hardest thing in the world to do. I have no regrets. I know exactly how not funny I am now. There is no ambiguity there, right? Yeah, I have such respect for people who do that.

    John: To have a cattle rancher say how hard comedy is, man, that’s impressive.

    Rob: Yeah.

    John: So I’ll take it. But it is interesting, though, how the worlds are so different, but the skill sets cross over. It’s like impossible to take, Rob the rancher away from you when you go to San Francisco. You’re still a rancher. When you’re in Bend, you’re still a tech guy. It’s so interesting to me how people try to separate part of who they are away when they’re in different settings. I feel like you just become a shell of yourself.

    Rob: Yeah, there are those people. You take on different personas. And I think you’re right. That’s actually a process that’s, I think, that people go through. Stand-up comics, I remember the best advice I ever got was from a coach who did it and he says people enjoy watching other people have fun. It’s just like in stand-up comedy. If you’re there trying to be funny, you’re going to make everybody uncomfortable. But if you’re there just being yourself and just sharing out stuff, even if you’re not funny, your people are going to be comfortable. I think that’s the same way with no matter what. As long as you are who you are, people are going to be comfortable with you. They’re going to trust you. If you’re going to try and be something or try and fit into a role, you can pick it up right away.

    John: No, it’s so true, and yet almost everyone’s doing that, playing a part in a movie where it’s like, well, this is what a CTO is supposed to be like. And it’s like, no, I’ve got a ranch and stuff to go do and that’s what a CTO is supposed to be like. I’m the CTO, that’s what I do. Have you been like that all your career, or is it something that comes with confidence as you get more experience?

    Rob: Yeah, I think that comes with age. I think there’s a lot of times in your younger careers where you’re always trying to fit into those roles. You’re trying to become whatever it is that you want to become, either the CTO, a CEO, or you’re trying to fit in that. And I think I always tell people that I’ve discovered that I’ll never be the smartest guy in the room, certainly not the best-looking guy in the room. I’m never going to be the most talented guy in the room. But the one thing that I try to be, honest and sincere and who I am, and I think that integrity, that sincerity makes people feel comfortable. Even if you’re not the smartest guy, at least they feel comfortable, and they can interact with you a little bit. And so I think that that’s really important.

    John: You’re the best Rob Rastovich in the room, you know?

    Rob: Oh, yeah.

    John: No one else can do that. You can’t out-Rob Rastovich Rob Rastovich.

    Rob: Well, hopefully not. If you are, I’m not doing a very good job of it.

    John: There is a story about Lewis Black, who’s someone wrote a movie part. The name of the character was Lewis Black. They wrote it for Lewis Black. He went and auditioned and didn’t get the part. He’s like, “What is wrong?”

    Rob: You’re not the best Lewis Black, yeah.

    John: Right. But you’re the best you, and so if you can bring that to the table, like you’re going to pack so much more of an impact than a fraction of you trying to be someone else. So I love that about you. That’s really cool, man.

    Rob: And we are. I mean, I guess my two professions are pretty obvious, right? I mean, they’re pretty, you know, a rancher and technologist are pretty, but we are all very many things, right? We’re all fathers and sons and daughters and mothers. We’re workers, and we have political views, and we have moral views. We’re all these different people wrapped into one. And I think sometimes we try to say, okay, well, you are one of those things. Well, I’m that but many other things too.

    John: That’s exactly it. That’s exactly right. And the people around us are really awesome, fascinating people if we just take a minute to ask. If you’re down in San Francisco and somebody’s like, “So Rob, what do you like to do for fun?” And you’re like, “Well, I got this ranch.” “Wait, what? Hold on.” Everybody, stop the press. There’s follow-up questions there. If it’s, well, what’s your job? Well, I’m a CTO. It’s like, well, so is everyone else in San Francisco.

    Rob: If you say you’re a CTO in Bend, everybody’s like, “What?” If you say you’re a rancher in San Francisco, it’s like, “What?”

    John: Exactly. Like, are you lost?

    Rob: Yeah.

    John: That’s super cool, man. That’s really cool to hear. Do you feel like the talking about these other sides of you and then maybe the people around you leads to different kind of relationships or as opposed to just all work all the time?

    Rob: No, they do, especially in the tech world. Ranchers tend to be, they’re a mistrusting lot. You have to have a longtime relationship with them. But once you’ve kind of gained that trust, then they’re pretty much, you know, you get what you see. But it’s funny in the tech world, talking about ranching and talking about farming and those kinds of things really does open up a little bit of a door, I think, for sometimes. Even during the pandemic, when we’re doing this, we do video calls. In fact, I just got off when somebody — I had a new project and somebody introduced me. The project manager goes, “Well, you know, I used to work with Rob and there’s something interesting about Rob, that he owns a cattle ranch in Central Oregon.” And then all of a sudden, the first half of the whole conference call has nothing to do with the project we’re talking about. Everybody’s like, “Yeah, I like beef,” and “Oh, and I drink beer,” and “I like this,” and “Oh, I do this.”

    So it does actually open up those doors and gives you a little bit of permission to talk about whatever might be your particular passion. Inevitably, it’s like, for whatever reason, programmers, technologists, we get a lot of technologists who are musicians and a lot of technologists who are like a woodworker or a metalworker or something like that. Then they start kind of opening up and start talking about what their little hobbies are and what they make and what they do. So it’s pretty cool.

    John: Yeah, because, I mean, then it’s just, wow, that’s like fascinating people that I work with.

    Rob: Well, yeah, you actually start working with people and stop working with roles, right? Okay, you’re the project manager, you’re the this and you’re the that. And you actually say, okay, well, I know what your role is. But now you can actually start working with the person who it is because you’ve opened up a little bit.

    John: I love that so much. That’s so rich. So do you have any words of encouragement to people that are listening that maybe feel like they have a hobby or a passion that no one’s going to care about or has nothing to do with my job?

    Rob: Oh, well, I mean, pursue them, for sure. I do on a ranch, I can get a lot of different hobbies. So I’ve done woodworking. I play guitar and I do metal fabrications. I love to get on my excavator and —

    John: I was going to say.

    Rob: — dig holes, anything that has to do with gears and wheels, I love working on that and making that, you know, making those things. So there’s a lot of different things. But a lot of times I’ll get, you know, people will start talking to me. I’ve done like stand-up comedy. I was a certified hypnotherapist for a while and all these different things. I get the comment like, you know the math just doesn’t work. How could you have done all of those things and still be 29?

    John: Right, right.

    Rob: I may have lied about the 29 thing, but I don’t explain it. But the thing is I remember reading a book and it was Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. It was the stages of development. I remember when I was really young, each stage, each time of life, you go through this stage of development, you know, like when you’re in high school, it’s intimacy versus isolation. You got this conflict in each life. I remember getting into the book and at the last part of the book, it was loneliness versus accomplishment. So basically, you’re sitting on your front porch, you’re 90 years old, and you’re either sitting there and you’re looking back and going, “Oh, look at all the regrets I have in life.” Or you’re sitting there and you go, “I’m just going to enjoy sitting here because that was one hell of a ride. That was a wonderful life.”

    And that hit me hard then. I was probably 18 or 19 when I did that. I thought, you know, I never want to be a person that has one of those regrets. I don’t want to be sitting out there having a regret saying, I wish I would have tried. I wish I would have done it. That’s probably the best piece of advice I ever got is it’s better to do it and do it wrong than to not do it.

    Stand-up comedy is a great example of that. I’ve always wanted to do that. And when you fail, these failures that you end up with, those are just as important, if not more important, than the successes because I know in my heart of hearts, I’m not funny and I’m never going to be a stand-up comic, right? I know that for certain. And I’ve got video from the LA cabaret in the improv to prove it to anybody.

    John: There you go. There you go.

    Rob: So when I sit on my porch now and I look back on my life at 90 years old, I am not going to sit there and go, “God, I bet you I could have been a stand-up…” No, I’ll be happy that I was not a stand-up comic.

    John: Yeah, tell me about it, man. If only we had met 15 years ago. No, but that’s so deep man and I love that loneliness versus accomplishment. And we get so wrapped up in the accomplishment side and professionalism tells us all that, and it’s three quarters lie.

    Rob: Yeah.

    John: Like be good at your job and try hard and do well, but there’s so much more out there, and I love that. That’s awesome. Well, it’s only fair, before I bring this in for a landing, that I turn the tables since I peppered you with questions from the beginning so that I get to ask you, or you get to rather ask me whatever you like. So the first episode of the Rob Rastovich podcast right now. So you’re the host. I’m all yours.

    Rob: So I get the rapid-fire questions and then —

    John: If you want to fire away, whatever you got. L

    Rob: Okay, so we’re going to need your favorite steak.

    John: Favorite steak, New York Strip.

    Rob: New York Strip.

    John: Yeah, I’m in New York Strip. I don’t like the grizzle in the fat. I know it’s good for the cooking and all the flavor and whatever, but I’m lazy and I don’t want to cut it off.

    Rob: Okay, grass-fed or corn-fed?

    John: Oh, you know, I’m embarrassingly not educated enough to know that there was a difference.

    Rob: I know beer-fed is the best answer. Beer-fed.

    John: Beer-fed, barley-fed, I don’t know, whichever. But I would probably have to have them side by side to be able to tell, but I’m just happy when it’s a steak. So just fed at all. But, yeah, I don’t know. I guess I feel like grass-fed seems to be more on the sticker. So that sounds to be like what’s out there more. So that’s probably I’d have more.

    Rob: Oceans or mountains?

    John: Oh, you know, that’s a good one. Probably because I live in Denver and I can just look out my backyard and the mountains are right there, I’ll probably say oceans simply because I have to get on an airplane to go there and so it’s more of a treat. I’m on vacation. The mountains are right there. But they’re both awesome, for sure. But yeah, probably the ocean simply because I’m relaxing and on vacation.

    Rob: Favorite cocktail.

    John: So you know, this is a very funny story. I didn’t drink a lot growing up. I had like some stomach issues, and so I didn’t really drink a lot. So I knew wine pretty well, but I didn’t know anything about alcohol or hardly at all. So I was at — my wife used to order stuff for me, and it was usually at like resorts. So it was vodka and something fruity. So I’m at a bar by myself in Chicago meeting up with some professional people that I know. They’re like, “All right, let’s just meet up here.” So we go to this bar and they don’t have wine. I’m like, I’m screwed. Like, I don’t know what to do right now. So I tell the bartender vodka and something fruity and the whole bar shut down. They were like, “What?” This is a grown man, everybody.

    Rob: With an umbrella.

    John: Right. He’s like, “What do you mean by fruity?” And I go, “I don’t know. Pineapple is good.” He’s like, “So like vodka and pineapple?” “Yeah, why not?” So I text my wife, I go, “I need to know.” So now I have vodka gimlet and vodka cranberry.

    Rob: There you go.

    John: Yeah. And so those are, I guess, my go-to’s. Yeah, I like a good cider. I’m usually good with a good cider. So yeah, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be invited to the ranch.

    Rob: Well, so I drink Southern Comfort, me and all the grade school kids, right?

    John: Right. That’s true.

    Rob: Ask anybody you know if you would like some Southern Comfort, and 100% of the people will say, “I don’t drink it because I got sick on it in high school.”

    John: Exactly. Exactly. That’s awesome, man.

    Rob: All right, your tech questions, is it Java or C#?

    John: Oh, Java.

    Rob: Oh, good boy.

    John: All right. I knew that one. I knew that one.

    Rob: Azure or AWS?

    John: Oh, I don’t think I know what both of those are. I was getting ready to say — when I was in college, I did engineering for a freshman year and we did Fortran. That’s how old I was on that. I programmed a roller coaster that launched. That’s why I’m not an engineer anymore. But that was Fortran, so I know what that is anyway, but that was a long time ago. But, yeah, I don’t know the difference between those two. Sorry.

    Rob: No problem. And then the deep probing question, how did you come about the concept of What’s Your “And”? Where did that come from?

    John: Yeah. So I was public accounting. I left that to do stand-up comedy full time. I was in New York City. I wrote two Emmy-nominated award shows, comedy. I’m on Sirius and Pandora, all this stuff. And then I had some near-misses and was like, you know what, I’m going to kind of marry those two past lives together. So I was speaking at a conference and the meeting professional comes up and says, “Hey, do you know this guy named Mark?” and I was like, “I’ve never heard of that last name in my life.” And she goes, “Well, he knows you. He said, I know John Garrett. That’s the guy who did comedy at night.” And it was 12 years since my first PwC office that moment happened, and he remembered me for a hobby. I never met him because he’s one of those accountants that does taxes, and I am one of those that does not know how taxes work. So I never met you. I never worked with you. It’s crazy. I never even went to that floor.

    So I thought, well, everyone deserves to be known and remembered 12 years later. They’re not going to remember you as the CTO. They’re going to remember you as the rancher, and they’re going to remember me as the comedian or as the ballroom dancer or the artist or the whatever it is that lights you up. So that was the seed that became this giant tree now, basically. The book came out in September, and yeah, it’s just so cool to just see other sides of successful professionals that are out there and what really lights you up. Because sometimes the work lights you up, but sometimes it doesn’t. But every time you’re and lights you up.

    Rob: Have you seen this as you go and you bring this concept into corporate America? Have you seen the results and what it does?

    John: It’s so cool to see just cross-departmental communication increases, because instead of going to someone just random, it’s no, no, I know them. They also do the same thing as I do. Or I actually know who they are. You can have that conversation around. Like you said, the first half of your meeting was talking about ranching and beef and cattle, and it’s like, you know, you have that human connection first and then we get the business stuff later. Then it’s just smoother and richer and deeper and attracting talent, retaining that talent. If you actually care about what lights people up for real, then if you can harness that and bring that energy to the office, to work, then just everything’s better. It’s a simple thing, but it’s not easy, I find. So that’s why I’ve got some implementation packages of 3, 6, 9-month like how deep you want to go. Let’s just increase the lifetime value of an employee.

    Rob: Have you seen that need for that connection increase because of the pandemic?

    John: Oh, yeah. I mean, the pandemic just ripped the band-aid off of what was there because people used to show up at the office with this, you know, well put together veneer of, yeah, my life’s great. Everything’s awesome. And then all of a sudden now that we’re video calling into each other’s homes, you hear the dog barking at the delivery person, the kids can’t log in for homeschool. Who knows if I cleaned the house or whatever? I mean, it’s just human and it’s raw. This is who I am. It’s an ADA meeting, so you get me in a t-shirt and I didn’t shower. What do you want? But it’s more authentic and it’s real.

    So what I hope is as people move forward and start to go back to offices that the toothpaste is out of the tube, don’t try and put it back. Ask people about their dog. Ask people about the art behind them or about their families and about the things that you saw, because that’s who they are. You hired the whole person, so why not embrace the whole person as opposed to just a little part?

    Rob: You know, it’s so funny. I started doing this, because you start looking at people’s backgrounds, because yes, yeah, I noticed your football, I noticed your sign, I noticed your typewriter. So you start making these, all right, he must have this. Then one day, this guy goes, “What is that golden spatula that sits behind you?” It’s like, “Well, I did a cooking contest, and I won a cooking contest, and I don’t cook.” But it was those kinds of things that you can actually start going in and, like you say, starting to get to the human side of things. I think that’s awesome. That’s awesome.

    John: Yeah, it’s been really cool. And thank you so much, Rob, for being a part of this. It’s been so fun getting to know you and having you be a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s been super fun.

    Rob: Oh, thank you, John. I really appreciate it.

    John: Yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Rob out on the ranch 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, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. And don’t forget to check out the book.

    So 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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