Episode 417 – Geraldine Carter

Geraldine is a Business Strategist/Coach & World Traveler

Geraldine Carter, owner of She Thinks Big Coaching, talks about her passion for traveling, how it runs in her family, some of her favorite trips, and how her experiences traveling play a role in her management style!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into traveling
• Her favorite trips
• Traveling with locals
• Meet them where they are
• Discussing traveling at work
• Wise leaders set the tone at the top



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    Welcome to Episode 417 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 differentiates 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 and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want this voice to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? 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, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it, and now listening to it, and writing such great reviews 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, Geraldine Carter. She’s the owner of She Thinks Big Coaching, and now she’s with me here today. Geraldine, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Geraldine: Hi, John. Thank you so much for having me.

    John: This is going to be awesome, so much fun. I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Geraldine right out of the gate. I hope you’re buckled in and ready to go. All right, I’ll start you out with an easy one though. Favorite color. Wow. Okay. I barely know how to spell that. That’s impressive. I like it. All right, how about a least favorite color.

    Geraldine: Orange.

    John: Oh, yeah, that’s a very popular least favorite. How about oceans or mountains?

    Geraldine: Mountains all the way.

    John: Oh, not even close. All right, all right, there you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?

    Geraldine: Meryl Streep.

    John: Yeah, solid answer. That’s a solid answer. She’s so good in everything.

    Geraldine: Yeah. I’m not very original, I mean, on my part, in terms of answers.

    John: No, no, but it’s solid. When you’re good, you’re good.

    Geraldine: How can you not love her?

    John: Pretty much. How about, would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Geraldine: Early bird. You won’t find me awake past 9:30, ever.

    John: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s awesome. There you go. That was an easy one. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?

    Geraldine: Oh, ick, neither. I’m working on a Rubik’s Cube right now, but it’s just sitting on my desk.

    John: That works. That’s when you start peeling the stickers off and then putting —

    Geraldine: Yeah, I’m a total sticker-peeler.

    John: Totally. I’m done. What do you know? That’s awesome. I thought I was the only one that did that. That’s great. Oh, this is a good one, a favorite Disney character.

    Geraldine: Well…

    John: There’s so many now.

    Geraldine: Is Anna a Disney character? I can’t remember.

    John: I think so. For Frozen?

    Geraldine: I’m pretty sure, right?

    John: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, very cool. No, that totally counts. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Geraldine: Star Wars if I had to.

    John: Okay, all right. No, that works. How about your computer though, PC or a Mac?

    Geraldine: Yeah. No, I’m a total Mac addict.

    John: Really?

    Geraldine: 100%, never going back.

    John: A little bit of a cult almost, that bubble?

    Geraldine: Well, I don’t rub it in unicorn tears or anything, but it’s just so much easier.

    John: That’s fantastic. That’s what PC people like me do. That’s where all the unicorn tears go. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.

    Geraldine: Oh, my gosh, I make ice cream. I actually have my own private label.

    John: What?! Oh, that’s so awesome. Yeah, that’s your “and and”. That’s next level. That’s very cool. Do you have a favorite flavor?

    Geraldine: Cookies and cream.

    John: Oh, okay. I’m a huge fan of chunks in the ice cream. It’s like maximum calories per spoonful to my face.

    Geraldine: That’s right, by the pint.

    John: Totally. People keep the lid? I’m like, why do you keep the lid?

    Geraldine: I know, all the way to the bottom.

    John: Right, right. Quitters. How about a favorite movie of all time?

    Geraldine: Oh, The Princess Bride, without question.

    John: Yeah, solid. Oh, man, that’s hilarious. So funny. So funny. A favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall.

    Geraldine: Winter all year, please.

    John: Oh, okay. All right. Winter, mountains, I’m catching on.

    Geraldine: I could do without the darkness, but if I could have winter all year, I’d ski all year. That would just be the best.

    John: Yeah, Anna from Frozen, all of this is coming together now.

    Geraldine: There’s a theme.

    John: There you go. Since you’re in the accounting space, balance sheet or income statement.

    Geraldine: Projections.

    John: Oh, okay. There you go. How about a favorite number?

    Geraldine: Yeah, I was thinking about this one, and I couldn’t decide between 57 or 72.

    John: Okay. Is there a reason why?

    Geraldine: Well, I don’t know. It’s kind of nerdy. One of them is prime, and one of them is multi-factorial. I really like them both, but it’s totally random.

    John: Okay, yeah. So it’s 72 and 50…

    Geraldine: When I got my Hotmail address years ago, there were apparently already 56 Geraldines, and they gave me 57, and then the number just kind of stuck around. I don’t know, 72 has just been like this theme in my life. Who knows where these things come from?

    John: I like it. No, no, I like it. Very cool. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?

    Geraldine: Hmm, hardcover.

    John: Oh, hardcover even. Okay, there you go.

    Geraldine: Yeah. I want legit books. I want to hold on to a book.

    John: Yeah, something I can throw at somebody if I’m angry.

    Geraldine: Including my children. Get away!

    John: Right? Paperbacks just don’t do the trick. You can’t slam it on the table and intimidate anyone. Two more. A favorite adult beverage. Oh, nice. Okay, all right. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Geraldine: My cargo bike. I ride my kids to school. I stick them on the back. They seem fine to me, riding to school.

    John: Really?

    Geraldine: Yeah. It’s the best.

    John: That’s awesome. That’s one of those bikes with the long rack in the back?

    Geraldine: Yep, exactly, and it’s got like a little hula hoop around the side so they can hold on and stuff.

    John: Okay. Nice.

    Geraldine: The best is when I go uphills, and my daughter, she pushes me in the back. I tell her to push me up the hill, and she pushes me.

    John: Help you get up. That’s so cool. Yeah, when she grows up, she’s going to tell people like, you know, I’m so strong. I helped my mom push up the hill. That’s very cool. Let’s talk world travels, and you’ve been all over the place. Did you grow up traveling? Or was it something, after got adult money, you were like, let’s do this?

    Geraldine: I grew up traveling. It runs in my family. It runs in the female side of the genes on both sides. My dad’s mom was a big traveler back in the early 1900s and everything. My mom’s side, she was born in the South Pacific and French Colonies, and her mom and her aunt were travelers. They saw an ad in the paper in France. They needed hatmakers in the South Pacific. They got on a steamer and went to Vanuatu, used to be the New Hebrides, and had my mom. That’s where my mom was born. She moved back to France and then eventually moved to the US.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Geraldine: Yeah, so half my family’s over there. We, of course, went back to visit frequently. No grass grows under my mom’s feet, and for a long time, none grew under mine. I just wanted to go everywhere because there’s so many cool things to see.

    John: That’s awesome. Are there some favorite places that you’ve been? I’m sure there’s a handful.

    Geraldine: Yeah, it’s hard to pin down what’s your favorite kid. It’s for different reasons. Apparently, I like politically complicated places.

    John: Okay.

    Geraldine: Burma just blew my doors off. It was so interesting. Of course, tragic, it’s been really difficult over there, especially recently. Cuba was just wild. I went in 2000 on a French passport, in case anybody from the IRS is listening, or the government. It was legal, in my view. China was just, I couldn’t get over myself. I felt like a little kid who — you don’t realize that as you get older, your sense of discoveries just evaporates over time. When you are little and you first turn over a rock, and there’s a salamander under there. You’re like, oh, my God! You take it running to your mom. You’re like, look, look, look, and she’s like, yeah, whatever, it’s a salamander. Riding my bike around China was like that, all day long, every day. What is that? I would see stuff. I’m like, I don’t even know if that’s — what’s the 20 questions game — I’m like, I don’t even know if that’s something I would eat or if that’s something that I would — is that something I would build a house with? What is that? It was like that all day long. It was just so cool. Not to mention the fact that the map I had, had no key on it because it had been crossed out. I couldn’t tell, when I had it in my hands, if it was upside down. Exactly.

    John: Right?

    Geraldine: Your listeners couldn’t see, but he just waved his arm in a circle to be like, which way is north on this thing? I can’t tell.

    John: I can’t even tell if the letters are upside down.

    Geraldine: Yeah, but eventually, I learned to recognize which way was up and down. It was other worldly to be like, I never knew that I wouldn’t be able to find north on a map simply because I couldn’t read the script. It was like that all day long, every day.

    John: That’s awesome. It sounds like it’s places that are so different than the US. That’s the thing. It makes you see, oh, wow, not everyone lives like this. I appreciate where I live more now, maybe, a little bit of the things that you take for granted. Or, wow, that’s a cool idea, we should bring that back with us, type of thing.

    Geraldine: Yeah, all those things and more.

    John: Those are incredible places. I’ve never been to any of those three. I would imagine Cuba’s a bit of a time machine. Yeah?

    Geraldine: It is a total time warp. It’s, honestly, like you’ve landed in 1950.

    John: Right? The cars, the outfits, the music.

    Geraldine: Yeah, oh, my gosh, the music emanates out of houses and out of backyards. It’s just everywhere, everywhere. I went with my mom. Because there are so few people who own cars, many people hitchhike just to get around. Because they’ll say the walls have ears, they don’t want to talk, right? We would pick up hitchhikers, so to speak. I hesitate to call them that because they’re just locals trying to get home. I speak Spanish. I’ve turned around. I’d sit in the passenger seat, and I would talk to them. I’d ask them questions, and I’d tell my mom, as we’re going places. We would just hear the most fascinating stories that you wouldn’t be able to get in any other setting because they won’t share freely, because they just don’t know who’s listening. That was just a wild experience. It was also really interesting. They’re so well-educated, and yet, it’s impoverished. The disconnect between those two things, I haven’t experienced anywhere else. It was a noticeable shift.

    John: Wow, that’s really interesting. Yeah, you’re right. When you’re in a country like Cuba, you never know who’s listening, and they trusted you, which is cool. You get to hear the real scoop, how the locals live, which, when you travel, do you typically — I would imagine you’re with the locals, you’re where do regular people go, I’ll see the touristy stuff, too, because you have to, but do you go off grid a little bit?

    Geraldine: Yeah, and this was all pre-smartphones, so we were depending on who I was with. Sometimes I was with my mom. We traveled a bunch together. Oftentimes, I travel alone on my bike. The best thing about traveling as a woman alone is you’re not a threat to anyone. You get invited inside all the time to have dinner with families. You get in. Come sleep over, sleep on the couch, or we’ll give you a bed or whatever. I got the royal treatment wherever I went. It was just the best.

    John: That’s so funny.

    Geraldine: Yeah, I just got to see into lives that I think you wouldn’t get in so many other circumstances.

    John: Yeah, you were in a lot of pictures, I bet.

    Geraldine: Well, not overly. Most people didn’t have cameras really.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay. All right. That’s so crazy. Do you feel like all the traveling and all that, that gives you a skill or a mindset that’s carried over into work, even maybe before the coaching?

    Geraldine: Yeah, the thing that always struck me or the thing that struck me most, especially when I was in Asia for, I was there traveling for about six months, there are more than a billion people in India and a billion people in China, and all these different countries have different religions. India is mostly Hindu. China has its own thing going on. I come from a mutt kind of relatively Christian background, and growing up in US, certainly it’s culturally Christian. I hadn’t really ever thought that much about it. When I spent that much time in Asia, I was like, it doesn’t make sense that so many other people could be wrong about what they believe and how they view the world. Because there are just too many different points of view, it doesn’t make sense that so many people could have a point of view that is incorrect. That makes no sense.

    John: Right.

    Geraldine: Not just religion, just so many parts of life. It just made me a more open and curious person to try and understand how people experience and see things, rather than to try and force what they think through my own lens. If there’s something that I bring to the work that I do now, it’s to just meet people where they are because you have no idea what’s going on. Just meet them where they are. It’s much easier.

    John: That’s totally true. Because rather than Americanize them, or, okay, I understand you’ve been doing it this way for generations, but you’re wrong. No, you can’t do that. It’s cool that it’s, well, walk a mile in your shoes and see through your lens. You’re clearly making decisions that you think are best for you. You wouldn’t self-sabotage repeatedly like that. That’s crazy. So there’s a reason you’re doing things.

    Geraldine: And what can I learn from this? What can I learn from you? What do you see that I don’t know? There’s a lot that we’re isolated from knowing, despite the internet and everything. There’s a lot that we don’t know. When you live inside the confines of the US and surrounded by giant seas on both sides, there’s a lot that we don’t know has happened.

    John: Right. Yeah. No, totally, and especially like the story from their side, what the “news/opinions” that are in their country, versus the news/opinions that are in ours. Yeah. No, that’s so cool. It’s like in your own eyes and ears, and feel it, and sense it. That’s cool that you can take that to your clients now, is meet them where they’re at. I think that applies to really everyone in their career. If you’re leading a team, if you’re leading a whole company, you’ve got people, meet them where they’re at.

    Geraldine: Like I said, people have a lot going on in their lives. At the end of the day — another thing that always struck me was that no matter how different we might be, what I saw, time and again, is that people want to spend time with their families and their loved ones, and they want what’s best for their kids. They want their kids to have a better shot at life. People might be being difficult or having a challenging day or challenging time or whatever, but it taught me to always remember that, at the end of the day, we are so much more alike than we are different. If you can just understand what’s going on with people, rather than get frustrated with how they’re being, it just makes interactions so much easier.

    John: I love that because we are so much more alike than different. Yet, it’s human nature, I don’t know what, to focus on the differences. It’s like, but what about the 99% sameness, how about that part? No? Okay. So, is the travel something that comes up, or stories from travel, with clients or with work colleagues?

    Geraldine: Let’s see. It doesn’t necessarily come up with clients too often because they’re focused on their own journey. Admittedly, it’s been a while. I put my passports down. When I was done traveling, I was done. I came home and put my passport down, and that was it.

    John: 15 countries and seven continents, I feel like it’s passports, with an S.

    Geraldine: Well, it is passports. I do have two.

    John: Oh, yeah, well, the French one as well. So, I guess it’s not as natural for it to come up because you’re not traveling as much now, with the family and stuff.

    Geraldine: Yeah, and it’s not really in the context of things. We’re trying to get stuff done. We’re trying to move their businesses forward and get them making transitions in their own work. If we have time to jibber-jabber, sometimes I’ll throw in a story, especially if it’s relevant. I have a few good travel stories that have good messages behind them, so I’ll throw them in if I find an opening.

    John: Yeah, because it’s one of those where, yeah, you don’t force it. You’re not shouting it from the rooftops. It’s not anything like that. If it comes up, then why not? Because some people just feel that if it’s not work-related, then it’s not at work. It’s different when you have clients that are paying for time then there’s that, type of thing. They have issues that they need help with and all that, but sometimes, if it comes up, then it’s cool to share because it takes that relationship to a different level.

    Geraldine: Yeah, and there’s more to us than just the work that we do. Like you say, when we’re able to share and open up about the other parts of our life and what else we have going on — there’s a reason that there’s a thing called social grease, and having some social grease to lubricate relationships and keep things rolling and not have everything be all work, work, work all the time; just makes things more cohesive. It makes things work better. Relationships, at the end of the day, are what drives business. If you ignore the relationship at the expense of just being all business, money, numbers all day, you won’t get as far as if you can appreciate that you’re actually dealing with a human being who has a life outside of work.

    John: That’s so rich right there. Yeah, totally. You’re right. It’s social grease. It’s not technical skills grease.

    Geraldine: Yes. Let me grease this conversation with some formulas.

    John: Check out this Excel macro I got here. I am so good. It’s so true. It’s so true. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that space to find out the rest of the other sides of the people around you, the dimensions to them? How much is it on just an individual to be like, well, I’ve got this little team, and I’m going to start within this little circle?

    Geraldine: Well, I think there’s something to be said for, you can only control so much, but I think wise leaders set the tone at the top. They understand how to get great work out of their employees and build cohesive teams that work well together. I’m just a big believer that everything comes from the top, and if you want your employees to behave a certain way, you’ve got to model it.

    John: Yeah, and even the top doesn’t have to be the top top top. It could be, you’re in charge of a department, you’re in charge of a team, you’re in charge of whatever. Your little ecosystem can be the most awesome thing ever.

    Geraldine: It’s the local top.

    John: Yeah, the local top, there you go. Exactly. Exactly. That’s probably the most important because that’s the person that you interact with.

    Geraldine: Yeah, that’s the person you’re looking at.

    John: Yeah, exactly.

    Geraldine: If you’re just business, business all the time and you’ve got to bring, maybe a personal or family concern to talk about, you feel like there’s no room for that kind of conversation. Those are the things that ding at longevity inside businesses.

    John: Amen to that, totally. Because also too, if I feel like I have a somewhat personal relationship or something beyond just title relationship with that person, then I talk to that person more times than — ten times, nine of them are about normal things. The tenth one is telling me I didn’t do something right. Okay. But if the one time you talk to me is the only time you’re telling me, I didn’t — then I’m out. The critical feedback is super critical all of a sudden. The other way, it’s a friend pulling you aside.

    Geraldine: The positive stuff needs to vastly outweigh the negative stuff in order for the negative stuff to just be like, okay, cool, got it. I’m on it. I’ll do it better next time.

    John: Exactly. It doesn’t sting, and it’s — yeah, you’re right, actually. You’re not as defensive. It’s amazing how much benefits come from…

    Geraldine: Under a heat lamp of constant criticism.

    John: Yeah. Well, I’ve been there. It’s like, really? I’m not that bad. Come on now. You mess up three times in six months, and that’s the only three times that that person talks to you. It’s like, yeah, you know what? I’m out. Do you have any words of encouragement to anybody listening that might feel like, I’ve got this hobby or passion that has nothing to do with work and no one’s going to care?

    Geraldine: Well, it depends on how open you want to be about things. I’m just a general believer that it’s easier to be open about things and go with the flow and pay attention to the signals that you’re getting from the other party about whether or not they’re open to hearing anything.

    John: Right?

    Geraldine: Right. I’m careful not to foist my own interests on other people who look like their attention wants to be somewhere else. So, that is, pay attention to the person you’re with and read their cues and act accordingly, but I’m a believer that people really like connection. We crave connection. We’ve learned that this year when we, all of a sudden, had it stripped away. Some people are not always the most social creatures, or maybe they’re not the most comfortable. Maybe they’re a little bit shy. Maybe they’re feeling a little bit reserved. Sometimes they just need an opening, and they need somebody to kind of nudge the door open. I like to kind of nudge the door open and see if there’s any reception and put myself out there and just be warm. If somebody picks it up, great. If they don’t, cool.

    John: Also great. I love that where so many people are so permission-based where we don’t want to get slapped on the wrist. We don’t want to get yelled at. We don’t want to get whatever. Instead, we just don’t do anything. Then somebody actually goes out and does it and comes back alive. They’re like, wait, what? You’re allowed to do that? Yeah. There was one client that I was working with. They had a couple of different offices, and one office wanted to do this happy hour sort of thing, once a week. So they just did it. About two months later, the other offices found out. They’re like, how come we never did? Well, they just did it. They didn’t ask permission. They didn’t whatever. It was just like, we’re going to do this, and then no one says anything. 99 out of 100 times, that’s what happens. Just go do it. As long as it’s legal and not taboo, then knock yourself out. Cool things happen on the other side of that.

    Geraldine: Go do things and get out of your routine because there’s so many cool things out there to do.

    John: Yeah, and if not, just go to Burma and hang out for a little bit, or Cuba or China. See what I? Brought it all back.

    Geraldine: Yeah.

    John: There we go. Yeah, this has been awesome, Geraldine. I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this the Geraldine Carter podcast. Thanks for having me on. Well, you do have your own podcast actually. What’s the name of that? So everybody can subscribe to that one too.

    Geraldine: Yes, so my podcast is Smart Strategy for CPAs. We do only business strategy. We never talk about tax.

    John: Oh, there you go. Excellent. That’s awesome. Well, I know nothing about tax, so I’m glad to be on your show. Thank you so much.

    Geraldine: Yeah, I don’t either which is why I host a podcast for CPAs. It makes no sense.

    John: Right? That’s awesome, but, yeah, whatever questions you want to ask, I’m all yours.

    Geraldine: Yeah, so thanks for having me on your show. I would like to know if you prefer nachos or potato chips. I’m just talking like only a chip.

    John: Oh, the corn chip.

    Geraldine: Yeah, I’m not talking a tray of nachos with cheese and avocado in that.

    John: Got it. Corn chips, potato chips. Potato chips, I’ll go potato chips on that one.

    Geraldine: Okay. Beater car or socks with holes.

    John: Oh, Lord, that’s… I’ll probably go socks with holes because I can mend those. A beater car is going to get me stranded somewhere and then I’m going to have to walk home with my socks and holes. It’s just going to be terrible all around. Or, yeah, after walking, all my socks would then have holes in them, so then I have both. Yeah, I’ll go socks with holes, easier to fix, easier to fix.

    Geraldine: Go back to the potato chips, much easier.

    John: Yeah, I’m just going to wear potato chips.

    Geraldine: Okay, so you’re in Colorado. I’m in Idaho.

    John: Yes.

    Geraldine: So, Wyoming or Utah?

    John: Oh, I’ll go Utah. I just feel like there’s more variety, I guess, maybe. I don’t know. That’s my own naive… I’ve only done a little bit of Wyoming. I’ve done more of Utah. Maybe that’s probably why. I just feel like there’s a little more variety to it, but I can be wrong.

    Geraldine: Not quite a square.

    John: Yeah, exactly.

    Geraldine: More square and less square.

    John: Wyoming cut out the corner or Utah would’ve also been square. One of you is going to be not be square, and Utah’s it. That’s how it works out. This has been so much fun, Geraldine. Thanks so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s awesome.

    Geraldine: Thanks, John. Thanks so much for having me on your show.

    John: Totally, this has been so much fun. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of Geraldine from her travels or maybe connect with her on social media or get a link to her podcast, 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. Don’t forget to check out the book.

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


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