Episode 406 – Amanda Wilkie

Amanda is a Consultant & Hobby Collector

Amanda Wilkie returns to the podcast from episode 193 to talk about how her life both personally and professionally have changed in the last year! She also tells us about some new hobbies, with her being better at some than others! 

Episode Highlights

• Changes in 2020
• Cast iron cooking
• Gardening
• Contributing to a book
• Change in business culture since the pandemic
• Becoming more intentional with making time for coworkers



Please take 2 minutes

to do John’s anonymous survey

about Corporate Culture!

Survey Button

Amanda’s Photos

(click to enlarge)

Amanda’s Links


  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Welcome to Episode 406 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.

    I’m so excited, my book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. Go to whatsyourand.com for more. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far or listened and then been so kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews and for, more importantly, changing the culture where you 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 Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Amanda Wilkie. She’s a consultant with Boomer Consulting, living in the Washington DC area. Now she’s with me here today. Amanda, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Amanda: Oh, happy to be here, John, always great to catch up with you.

    John: Likewise. This is going to be a blast. I have seven rapid-fire questions, things I didn’t ask you the first time, and now that I think about it, probably should have. Here we go.

    Amanda: Now’s your chance. Let’s do it.

    John: Now’s your chance. Right, right. Here you go, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.

    Amanda: Ooh, Harry Potter.

    John: Harry Potter. Yeah. How about a favorite TV show of all time?

    Amanda: Schitt’s Creek.

    John: Oh, nice. Yeah, very funny.

    Amanda: Probably watched it, all the way through, five times now. Thank you, COVID.

    John: Right. There you go. I know you’ve traveled quite a bit. You’re from the South. Tea or sweet tea.

    Amanda: Oh, sweet tea.

    John: Right? There you go, and you’ve got to boil it with the sugar. It’s not like add sugar later.

    Amanda: Oh, no, that’s not sweet tea. That’s disgusting is what that is.

    John: Right. That’s criminal.

    Amanda: Mm-hmm.

    John: How about a favorite day of the week?

    Amanda: Oh, that’s a tough one. We’ll go with Saturday. That’s my long run day.

    John: Yeah? Oh, okay. Okay. There you go. When it comes to books, audio, Kindle or real book.

    Amanda: Audio. I like to multitask. Now that I know that you’re reading your book, I will actually have an opportunity to listen to you read it. I’m looking forward to that. Thanks, John.

    John: Okay. Yeah, that was hard. It was eight hours to record that in a studio. They had a voice coach piped in. Yeah, it was work.

    Amanda: You got it, first take, though, right?

    John: Actually, there was only one line that I had to redo, which was pretty amazing. Normally, it’s a total redo or not total, but a lot. Yeah, they were actually like, oh, wow, there’s only one line. I was like, well, I wrote it. What do you want? That line probably shouldn’t have been in there anyway. Never mind. Two more. How about your first concert?

    Amanda: New Kids on the Block.

    John: Okay. There we go.

    Amanda: I’m not even ashamed to say it. I saw them when I was 12, and I saw them again in my 30s. Totally different experience, we’ll just say that, totally different experience, from 12 to 30-something.

    John: It’s weird that you remember all the words, right?

    Amanda: Yeah. Now I’m in my 30s, I understood all the feelings that New Kids on the Block was giving me. I didn’t quite understand when I was 12.

    John: Fair enough. That’s awesome. That’s very different than my first concert which was Metallica. That is different feelings.

    Amanda: Yeah.

    John: Last one. Toilet paper roll, over or under.

    Amanda: John, look at the patent. It’s always over.

    John: Right?

    Amanda: Over.

    John: Amen.

    Amanda: If I come to your house and it’s under, I will fix it for you because you are wrong.

    John: That’s awesome. I love it. I love it. Fix it. That’s awesome. Yeah, Episode 193, when you were on, we talked hobby collecting. I remember rollerblading being one of them, for sure, which is pretty unique. Is that still a thing for you, or did COVID change things?

    Amanda: Well, COVID changed a lot of things, of course. Last time we talked, we talked about that evolution of all those different hobbies and me going through that journey of realizing that it wasn’t because I lacked focus or because things just wouldn’t stick. It was that I just really had that passion for learning things, whether I applied it or not.

    A lot of things changed in 2020. We had to completely redesign how we worked, just like everyone else. We had to completely redesign how we do consulting engagements, how we meet the objectives of the engagement, and being able to learn quickly and learn new hobbies and learn new approaches, I think, really helped us and helped me adapt pretty quickly. That was great, but that also meant that I wasn’t traveling anymore. I went from traveling 75, 80% of the time to, I spent 14 months at home.

    John: Right.

    Amanda: John, my partner and I, we’ve never spent 365 days together straight. I’m happy to report we made it, but it was one of those things. Wow, this is completely different. He was also very surprised to learn that I can actually cook.

    John: Nice.

    Amanda: Not just cook. Like you said earlier, John, I am from the South. I grew up in North Georgia, very close to Chattanooga, Tennessee, so, yes, sweet tea is a thing, but also cast iron cooking. One of the things that I did in 2020 was I perfected cast iron chicken, cast iron pork, cast iron steak. Basically, all my meat is now cooked in a cast iron skillet. My grandmother, may she rest in peace, will be so proud of me. I do know how to properly care for cast iron. I do not wash it with soap and water. That was something that took some trial and error. There were a couple of meals that probably weren’t that delectable.

    John: Smoke alarm going off, all that stuff.

    Amanda: Once or twice, yeah. Luckily, the Fire Department never actually showed up, though.

    John: Right. Well, you’ve got to make sure it works. It’s like, all right, just in case we need it. What is the cast iron care? What is that? What is the secret on that?

    Amanda: Oh. Well, you don’t actually wash it, John. You don’t wash it.

    John: You just like let it ride?

    Amanda: Well, you do scrape it and remove anything that’s stuck on it. You clean it with salt. You basically scrub it with salt. You don’t want it to rust, so you do put a little oil or something in it to keep it nice and moist.

    John: Okay.

    Amanda: If you see someone actually washing cast iron with soap and water, that’s not right.

    John: They probably put the toilet paper under.

    Amanda: Right, they just do it wrong. Then they’re just wrong. Yeah.

    John: They’re just wrong. No, good to know. Good to know. That sounds awesome. Were there other hobbies that you picked up as well? Or did you just ride that one more focus?

    Amanda: Well, there was a lot of cooking that happened. One that I realized I’m not so good at, John, is gardening.

    John: Okay.

    Amanda: I killed many a plant. I completely destroyed two herb gardens, one indoor and one outdoor.

    John: Okay. All right.

    Amanda: I’ve decided that.

    John: Literally.

    Amanda: Yes, way too much water. Yeah, my herb garden is completely — they were never fruitful. They just went straight from seeds to they died quickly. I killed a tree.

    John: Okay.

    Amanda: Yeah.

    John: Wow, this is next level. I feel like you should just flip it around. No, no, I successfully.

    Amanda: Yeah, I was successful at killing a tree.

    John: The Jack Kevorkian of gardening and trees.

    Amanda: You know I think that’s something that’s important. You’re not going to be good at everything.

    John: That’s true.

    Amanda: You know?

    John: Yeah. Yeah.

    Amanda: There are a lot of things that I’ve learned that I am good at, but I think just importantly are the things that I’m not good at. Perhaps one day, maybe we’ll call it retirement, I may try gardening again.

    John: Right. It’s good to know. That’s a good point. It’s not necessarily a failure. You try. It’s fun. You gave it a swing. It’s not for you right now, but it might be later. That’s great. It’s fun to, you can laugh about it. You can tell some stories about it. So what? You live to tell about it and move on.

    Amanda: I can admire other people’s plants. I buy my flowers now. I don’t grow them. All is right with the world.

    John: Right. Just don’t come over and touch my plants.

    Amanda: Yeah.

    John: You can just look at them. Just look at them. That’s it. That’s really cool.

    Amanda: Yeah. I know you were busy writing a book. I actually contributed to a book on blockchain. That was something that we talked about last time as well is my passion for emerging technologies. I contributed to the Emerald Handbook of Blockchain for Business. I had the honor of co-authoring a chapter with Dr. Sean Stein Smith.

    John: Yeah, who’s also been on the show as a drummer.

    Amanda: He’s awesome. He’s a man of many talents and a great, great resource. He works a lot with the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance. I’ve had the honor of being on their podcast. Being able to collaborate with him on this chapter was awesome. He’s a brilliant mind. You know him, but your listeners, I think they should definitely follow him as well. He and I teamed up on a chapter about speed efficiency, decreased costs and technical challenges of blockchain in business.

    John: Nice.

    Amanda: I wrote one chapter. I can’t imagine everything you had to do to write an entire book.

    John: Then it’s the layout and the cover and all that, but good for you. That’s awesome. That’s a power duo right there. If you’re going to read any of the chapters, it’s that one, and then read the rest of the book later.

    Amanda: Exactly. I started with that chapter.

    John: Right. Good for you. Congratulations. That’s awesome.

    Amanda: Thank you.

    John: Yeah, because that is not easy. That is not easy, for sure.

    Amanda: Yeah. One of my hobbies, it’s been a hobby for a while, but it’s definitely a holdover into 2021, is running. Again, traveling less in 2020, was really able to focus on running more regularly, and I am signed up for my first full marathon.

    John: Wow.

    Amanda: Yes, John, 26.2 miles. I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon which is here in Washington DC at the end of October.

    John: Yeah, it’s the 0.2 that gets you at the end.

    Amanda: Yes.

    John: I did a half and then stopped. I mean, it was the finish line. It’s not like I ran half of it and then stopped.

    Amanda: I’m done. I’m done right here.

    John: Well, it shouldn’t be called a half. It’s far. That should be called, a marathon should be a double marathon. There’s no half. Like, what?

    Amanda: Well, yeah, 13.1 is no small feat either.

    John: Yeah, that’s far. Yeah. I used to do a joke about how I found out I’m not a very good runner because by the time I finished, the winner was already back in Kenya.

    Amanda: One of my favorite running shirts says, “13.1, only half crazy.”

    John: Oh, yes. There you go.

    Amanda: We’re going full on crazy.

    John: Full crazy. Full crazy. Well, good for you. That’ll be awesome to watch. That’s another thing. You’re competing against yourself really. Because I feel like so many times, people are, well, someone’s going to ask about my time. Forget them. It doesn’t matter. Did you run it? No. Who cares?

    Amanda: My goal is to make it to the finish line.

    John: Yeah.

    Amanda: That’s all I want to do is finish and get the medal and wear the medal around and then of course, eat and drink all the things, all of them.

    John: Because after, yeah, the gloves are off. You can do whatever you want. That’s awesome. That’s super cool. That’s super cool. Do you feel like others are sharing their hobbies and passions more? Do you feel like with the Zoom calls and the things like that as well, that that whole world is starting to open up?

    Amanda: Yeah, I definitely think they are. I think, prior to March of 2020, if you were on a video call, and you saw a pet or a child come into the camera frame, that was taboo. It just seemed very unprofessional. Now, it is so comfortable. It’s just so part of the business culture that if I see an animal, I need to know the animal’s name. How old is the animal? Where did you get this animal?

    John: Right.

    Amanda: Same with kids. How old is this kid? Where did you get it? Is it yours?

    John: Just put them on the mic. Just hand over the headset. Right.

    Amanda: I think so many firms are struggling with how do we maintain our culture? How do we build a culture for not coming back into the office? I know it’s going to be a struggle. I don’t think anyone has it quite figured out yet, but I do think that having that comfort level and being able to say, bring your kid in, bring your pet in, show us around your house, which I’ve done with some of my colleagues, that is a way that we are starting to build that culture. I hope that we maintain that. We’re going to have to maintain that.

    Something I’ve really been thinking about and a lot of us have been talking about lately is, John, the kids who graduated from high school in 2020 and 2021, or started college in those years, they are used to the distance learning. These are your interns in four, five years. This is what they’re going to be comfortable with, so you’re going to have to learn to build a culture. You’re going to have to find ways to bring them together.

    I do think 2020, it gave us some opportunities to build new hobbies, find new ways to connect. I did not start baking bread. I know a lot of people did that. Did you get into the whole sourdough starter craze thing?

    John: No. We didn’t collect toilet paper either. There was that whole craze. I’m not sure if collecting is the right word, hoarding probably. Yeah, there was some gardening. My wife did try kombucha, to make kombucha. That went about a couple of months. It’s now painting, I guess, or something. Yeah. I picked up rowing, which I never thought I’d row anything. I hate running. Every time I run, my brain is like, you should be doing these other 100 things instead. Rowing is very efficient. It’s a full body in 20 minutes, and then I’m out. I got 20 minutes.

    Amanda: Yeah, 20 minutes of rowing, yeah, give me two hours to run. I’ll take two hours of running over 20 minutes of rowing any day.

    John: See, it’s just you find the thing that you like and go with it. Before that, it was zero exercising, so at least there’s something. It’s been a weird year. You’re right. Those companies and organizations that had their culture based off of passing each other in the hallway and complaining about the coffee in the break room, suddenly, you had no culture. If your culture is built from the outside, in, then your culture is fine because you’re bringing those outside-of-work, your “and” to the office and making those human connections, that it doesn’t matter if it’s remote or in the office or hybrid or whatever.

    Amanda: Without all of that unintentional one-on-one time, like you said, passing each other in hall or in the break room, we’ve had to become much more intentional. You have to reach out and ask, “How are you doing? How are you spending your time? Where are you focusing?” I think that the intentionality of it is something that is very important, and we need to stick with. The intentionality of it is also one of the things that’s making it easier for people to start to share and open up.

    John: Exactly, and normalizing it. It’s like, well, this is what everybody does. If you’re not doing it, then that’s weird. Where, 2, 5, 10 years ago, it was the opposite. Whoa, whoa, what’s with the oversharing? Well, it’s just my pet.

    Amanda: Yeah. I don’t care what you’ve been doing outside of the office. That doesn’t impact us.

    John: Right, exactly. No, that’s such a great takeaway for everybody listening. It’s a simple thing. Just be intentional with that and care. That works. I feel like it’s only fair, before I wrap this up, that I turn the tables since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning. We’ll make this the first episode of The Amanda Wilkie Podcast. Thanks for having me on. Whatever you’ve got, I’m all yours.

    Amanda: Oh, I’ve got a whole list. Let’s see. Let’s start with, we’ve been talking about hobbies, what’s your favorite hobby, John?

    John: Oh, wow. If I could eat ice cream while watching college football, live, that would be pretty awesome. Then there was a concert at halftime. Well, I was in the marching band, so I love that too, but after the game, then there’s a concert. That would be heaven. Yeah, eating ice cream at a college football game would be probably my favorite.

    Amanda: Gotcha. That’s your one favorite is ice cream at a college football game?

    John: Well, I’m trying to combine two.

    Amanda: That’s okay. It’s a compound hobby. I like it.

    John: Yes, yes.

    Amanda: Morning person or night owl.

    John: I guess I’m more effective in the morning. I’ll say morning, but I don’t do the 5am or whatever, like stupid o’clock people. Sun’s way up by the time I, yeah.

    Amanda: Well, before noon is technically still morning.

    John: Yeah, so let’s go with morning. Yeah.

    Amanda: Alright, favorite movie quote.

    John: Oh, wow. That’s a good one. I guess one that comes to mind is from Good Will Hunting, the, “How do you like them apples?” That whole scene is just great. I don’t know. There are so many Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley movie quotes that come to mind as well. Yeah, man, that’s a good one. It’s hard to pick just one. Or Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”

    Amanda: Classic. Classic.

    John: That’s a great line. I’ll go with that one.

    Amanda: I do like that one. That’s solid. Stick with that one. Alright, so I mentioned perfecting my cast iron cooking. How do you like your steak cooked?

    John: Yeah, I am a medium, medium or medium rare, a little bit of pink but not so much red. Yeah, a little bit of pink in the middle there.

    Amanda: You’re a solid medium.

    John: Solid medium, yeah.

    Amanda: Alright, tacos, soft or hard.

    John: Oh, that’s tough. That’s tough. I think I’m going to go crunchy on that one. I like the crunchy. It just makes it, I don’t know. There are more senses involved, I guess.

    Amanda: There you go. I would say that’s the right answer, John.

    John: Okay. Whew! I almost got kicked off The Amanda Wilkie Podcast before it started.

    Amanda: Nope. That’s the right answer. Crunchy is good.

    John: Awesome. Awesome. Well, it’s been so much fun catching up with you. Thank you. Thank you so much for just being a part of What’s Your “And”? and just living this message for everybody to see. Thanks, Amanda.

    Amanda: My pleasure, John. Thanks so much for having me.

    John: Awesome. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Amanda in action or maybe connect with her on social media and check out the book, 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.

    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.


Related Posts

Episode 166 – Josh LeBlanc

Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Josh cycles, goes fishing, and travels at his wife’s...

Episode 413 – Tim Barr

Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedInTim is an Executive & Ultrarunner Tim Barr talks about...