Episode 445 – Shannon Weinstein

Shannon is an Accountant & Fitness Professional

Shannon Weinstein, owner of Fitnancial Solutions, talks about finding her passion for fitness and dancing, how she integrated it into her work as an accountant, and how she found ways for her organization to encourage people to be open about their passions!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into fitness
• How she got into teaching fitness and dance
• Integrating her passion for fitness with her career
• Skills that translate from her fitness to her career
• How her organization encourages to be more active

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    Welcome to Episode 445 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 in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that 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 and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in depth into the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. 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.

    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, Shannon Weinstein. She’s the owner of Fitnancial Solutions, a digital accounting practice serving small business owners all over the country, and now she’s with me here today. Shannon, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Shannon: Yeah. Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.

    John: This is going to be so much fun. I have, get to know Shannon out of the gate here, 17 rapid-fire questions. This will be fun. Here we go. Star Wars or Star Trek.

    Shannon: I’ve seen neither.

    John: Okay. Okay. Fair enough.

    Shannon: I’m criticized for that daily by my husband.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Shannon: Impartial. I will piss off someone if I say one of them, so, impartial.

    John: That’s true. That’s true. Although the Star Trek fans can’t beat you up. No, I’m just kidding. Only because I’m a Star Wars. How about a favorite day of the week?

    Shannon: I’ll say Friday.

    John: Friday. Okay. Nice. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Shannon: PC.

    John: PC. Yeah, me too. How about on your mouse, right click or left click?

    Shannon: I guess, left click?

    John: Left click, making the decisions. That’s where it’s at. Yeah. Just pick this. All right. How about a favorite Disney character?

    Shannon: I will say Megara from Hercules.

    John: Oh, nice. That’s, yeah, the first time I’ve gotten that one. Good answer. Good answer. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw puzzles?

    Shannon: I loved those logic puzzles where you had to decide what kid had what pet. Remember?

    John: Oh, right.

    Shannon: The box and the grid.

    John: It’s like the matrix sort of a thing. Yeah.

    Shannon: I loved that. I probably attribute most of my critical thinking skills at work to playing those as a kid.

    John: That actually makes sense. Right? Yeah, because they would give you five sentences, and then you had to fill in all the things. Awesome. Yeah, you’re taking me back. All right. How about a favorite color?

    Shannon: I’ll say teal.

    John: Teal. Solid. Okay. How about a least favorite color?

    Shannon: I’ll say brown.

    John: Yeah, very unpopular color. I’m not even sure why it’s a color anymore. It’s so unpopular. I joke that I think brown’s just around so the color looks good.

    Shannon: It’s so unpopular that M&M’s covered it up on all of them.

    John: Right? That’s dead-on accurate. You can’t even argue that. Here we go. Favorite actor or actress? The Rock. Okay. Yeah, he’s super fun. Super fun. How about talk or text?

    Shannon: It depends on what you’re trying to say. I am definitely easier to get in touch with via text.

    John: Okay. All right. All right. How about diamonds or pearls?

    Shannon: I’ll say diamonds.

    John: Okay. All right. All right. How about, since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement?

    Shannon: Can I go statement of cash flows on that?

    John: Oh, that’s the hardest one of all. No one even knows how to do it.

    Shannon: No. No one knows how to do it. No one knows how to use it, but I think it’s the most useful one of them all.

    John: Oh, it’s totally the most useful. Now that there’s computers, you just go to Reports print, and there it is, cash flow statement. Oh, that was my nightmare in college, for sure. Here’s a fun one, first concert.

    Shannon: Oh, that was TLC.

    John: Yes.

    Shannon: And the original Destiny’s Child opened for them.

    John: What?

    Shannon: Yeah.

    John: That’s nuts. That is crazy. Oh, my goodness. That is super awesome times two.

    Shannon: Yeah, I got to see LaTavia and LeToya. Who can say that?

    John: Right? That’s so good. That’s so good. I saw No Doubt open for Live. Everyone’s like, who’s this No Doubt band? Now, no one’s heard of Live.

    Shannon: I’m calling that my first concert. I’m not counting Raffi when I was three.

    John: Well, that doesn’t count. Yeah, that doesn’t count. Right, right. How about a favorite number?

    Shannon: A favorite number? Nine.

    John: Nine? Okay. Just because. All right. Yeah, that’s a good one. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?

    Shannon: Audio book. I listen to them on walks all time. Otherwise, I have no time to read.

    John: All right, two more. Chocolate or vanilla.

    Shannon: I’ll say vanilla.

    John: Vanilla. All right. Yeah, yeah. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Shannon: My dog.

    John: What kind of dog is it?

    Shannon: He’s a red doberman.

    John: Oh, nice. Very cool. Very cool. That’s awesome. Let’s talk fitness and everything that I don’t do. I’m a terrible person. How did you get just so into fitness? At what point did that happen? How did this all get started?

    Shannon: Yeah, I ask myself that all the time actually. When did that happen? Because growing up, we were definitely like a Happy Meal family. Growing up, we were just, ate out all the time, got takeout, didn’t really pay attention to what we were eating. It was just a very lax, lazy type of approach. This was also in the ‘90s, where I’m pretty sure we ate chicken nuggets made of God knows what, TV dinners. We didn’t have the whole foods access that we have now.

    John: Exactly.

    Shannon: We ate a lot of, pretty much garbage, growing up, and didn’t do a lot of exercise. It really wasn’t a thing that was part of our lifestyle as a family. What I realized was, after I graduated college — the first time I set foot in a gym was in college, and I didn’t like it. It felt like a chore. It felt like a pain in the butt. What happened was my mom convinced me to go to my first ever Zumba class after I graduated college when I was living at home for about a year. She convinced me to go to this class, and I was like, this is silly. This is like old people, Jazzercise, Richard Simmons type of stuff. Because it kind of was. It was goofy. It was kind of cheesy when it first came out.

    A couple of years later, I’m living in Boston at the time. I joined one of these women’s gyms, and I went to the Zumba class. I don’t know when it happened, but I was hooked after two or three classes. Because I took hip hop dance when I was younger and I was all over the structure of the class, learning the moves, it was easy to follow. I just lost myself in it where I was like, that was an hour already? We didn’t have the watches at the time, but I look at my heart rate monitor or whatever, and go, oh, my God, that was 500-something calories.

    I did it because I loved it, and I found a great community in those classes, and met great people. We became friends around the classes. That’s the thing with fitness is you have to find your people or your thing that you’re happy to go to and look forward to. It was like people who go to church together or people who volunteer together. We went to dance together. I fell in, absolutely, love with it.

    I also became an instructor. It turns out, I became an instructor, six months after I really started taking classes, three, four, five times a week. I was obsessed. The interesting part is I became an instructor in about August, September. My father passed away in December from pancreatic cancer. Why I’m telling you this is because, on his deathbed, literally told me, “Shannon, never get sick. Take care of yourself.”

    John: Oh, wow.

    Shannon: I hung on those words ever since. I was like, okay.

    John: Yeah, seven days a week, I will do this.

    Shannon: Yeah, orders received. I started eating better. I lost about 40 pounds. I just got my mind right and said, this is my life. I don’t want to end up like that. I don’t want to be a victim to things that happen to me. I want to take control of my own health. That was when I really pivoted into it.

    John: Well, that’ll be a spark. That’s for sure. It’s so awesome that you found something that, the dance background that you so enjoyed, and it was fun and energetic, and then the community. Yeah, why not? I’m going to come anyway, so you pay me to do this. I’ll be the instructor.

    Shannon: Yeah. I didn’t even think I was going to teach. That was almost eight years ago. I didn’t think I was going to teach ever, but they were like, just sign up for the thing so that you can come to the events with us. Because I was the only friend that was outside the gate that couldn’t get in.

    John: Okay.

    Shannon: You need to be an instructor to go to certain events and conventions and things. They were like, sign up for it so that you can come to all the stuff with us. I was like, okay, cool. I also love this. This will be fun. I’ll learn how to teach, but I’ll probably never teach. Eight years later, here I am, multiple formats and modalities, multiple trainings, and teaching other people. It’s crazy.

    John: Yeah, you probably left all of them. They’re all at home eating pizza and ice cream. You’re like, I have Fitnancial. I actually named my firm that.

    Shannon: Exactly, and I did because when I created my own business, I was serving my fellow fitness professionals with accounting and tax services. That became my industry and my expertise. I started marketing and actually using fitness analogies in everything I do. I still do to this day.

    John: So good.

    Shannon: I use it to explain very simple financial concepts to people because it actually is a very similar discipline.

    John: That’s incredible because that’s a differentiator. Someone else can come in and provide small business advice or accounting or whatever, but I know how your business is and words that you like to use. I actually get you as a person. Why not let them know that side of you? That’s awesome. Was there ever a part that you thought, well, this isn’t work-related, never shall the two touch?

    Shannon: Oh, no, I loved it. I actually would integrate a lot of it. I invited all my coworkers to my classes knowing they would never come, but I made it very well known that, I have class tonight, or I have class this morning, and I’m coming from the gym or I’m doing — I would say, I need to leave early today to go teach class. When Shannon has to go teach class, it was almost like I have an MBA class. It was no different than I have to go, and I have class tonight. Because that was a priority and that was a boundary I set to say, on these days of the week, I have to go teach. It was also a great way of seeing alignment in values with a company because I say, if me leaving for a half hour early on a certain day of the week, comes between me doing my job or not, then I don’t think you understand.

    John: Me as a person.

    Shannon: Right. You don’t think I’m going to get it done. I just loved integrating the two. I also did sessions at work for other coworkers. I actually led weekly walks to just get our asses out of the office and go do a walk around the campus. We were working in an office park, and I would do a walk around the campus and get everyone just to get out of their chairs, and do walking meetings together. Instead of like a big staff meeting, let’s just all go for a walk and talk while we’re there. We would get a mile and a half done every week. It’s something better than nothing, but we get a mile and a half done.

    I would do stretch sessions at your desk, if you’re stuck all day. What do you do with your shoulders? How do you stretch your wrist, stretch your… They found that valuable. They also knew that Shannon was the, not the fit one, but the one that was fitness-focused. I actually had a coworker who, funny enough, bought a cheesecake at the cafeteria and was sitting across from me. She looked like she was covering her test, and I would cheat on her with the cheesecake. I was like, what are you doing? She’s like, I don’t want you to see what I’m eating. I’m like, I don’t judge any —

    John: I’m not your mom.

    Shannon: No. I probably have my own piece. It was funny because that became part of my brand was knowing that I love this stuff. I love dancing. I love — because why hide that? That’s part of who I am.

    John: Right. No, no, I totally understand. I was the same way. I joke that I was too dumb to know that you’re not supposed to. You asked me what I did over the weekend. Well, I went and did this comedy show. All of a sudden, it’s wildfire, type of thing. Do you feel like there’s a skill that translates from the exercise and the fitness, over to make you a better professional?

    Shannon: 110% yes because — if you talk about it from the perspective of in fitness as an instructor, for sure, because I had to teach a bunch of people who didn’t want to do what I was telling them to do.

    John: Oh, wow. Yeah. You’re right.

    Shannon: You tell 30 people to do burpees when and how many, and they just do it. You also — here’s the thing. When they just do what you say blindly, you don’t get an ego about it, but you get used to like, I command you do it. It’s like a Simon Says thing. What’s funny is — you can also jokingly be like, pick it up, let’s go, Carol, let’s go. It’s so funny because you get out so much of that, what you want to say, and it brings out your personality. It makes you show up differently with high energy. It also, what’s so funny is, when you get used to people doing what you say, you actually develop a confidence because they listen to you. They do what you say. Now you go into work. You’re like, we’ve got to get this done. It’s so funny because you show up with more confidence because you’ve been — you know this in comedy — you’ve been told yes without being told yes.

    John: Right. Exactly.

    Shannon: A lot. When you’re told yes a lot, you show up differently with confidence. Whether they’re actually saying yes, I will do that; the fact that they’re doing it, what you say, it instills all that confidence in you.

    John: Yeah. For me, it was like, well, this can’t be any worse than doing a joke and no one laughing. This can’t be worse, but you’re exercising this muscle outside of work that then when you get into work, it’s like, oh, I got this. I do this all the time. This is great. You have to lead a group. You have to help guide them.

    Shannon: Also, it was really a coping mechanism too, of, don’t worry, because I get the dance at the end of the day, at the end of all this stuff that I put up with at work. I stopped taking work so seriously because it wasn’t my only thing anymore. It didn’t bring me joy. I just said, you know what, we’re going to tolerate this. It’s going to pay the mortgage. Then we’re going to go home. We’re going to go dance, and we’re going to be happy. That’s it.

    John: The more that you’re able to share that side of you though, then the more joyful work gets. You create connections with people at work where you’re like, wait, you like to do that? I like to do that. What? I didn’t even know, sort of a thing.

    Shannon: Yeah. I’ve met a lot of people who have the same hobbies or found out that they have the same — it’s multidimensional. It’s not even just one or two things that mark you in a personality resume of, what do you like to do in your free time? We were just talking before you hit record about these bland corporate bios that are like, in her spare time, Shannon likes to spend time with family and her dog and go for walks. It’s like, great. Who doesn’t like that? What else does she do? What was the last thing that made her laugh really hard? What was the… I love asking questions. Instead of get-to-know-you things, I’ll say something like, hi, I’m Shannon, nice to meet you. What’s your name? Oh, it’s John. What are you grateful for? It’s a pattern interrupt.

    John: It’s deep.

    Shannon: Yeah, I know. We should be able to come up with something quickly like that. It’s a pattern interrupt. It also leaves a mark and keeps things memorable for you.

    John: Yeah. I love that. That’s so good, so good. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that space, to find out what people’s “ands” are, to shine a light on them, to celebrate them and make it normal? Or how much is it on the individual to just start that from the bottom in their little circle?

    Shannon: I think it’s a mix of both. I think it’s also the corporation or, let’s say, the company or department, depending on what the structure is. It’s their duty to foster it and not let it die off and not discourage it. If someone is showing up with that type of attitude, and they’re trying to foster an environment like that, this is what happened with me when I started my walks. My department 100% backed it up. They were like, go on Shannon’s walks, this is great. They highlighted it and recognized it as a great initiative that I was doing. They promote — when we were talking about different stories, you do have to be forthcoming. I think the people who do have more of that extroverted “tendency” would probably have to be the first ones to speak up and share something like that and make sure it’s known that there’s a safe space to share, what do you do outside of work?

    John: Right.

    Shannon: Because I think there’s just this hard line we think is drawn that, well, we don’t talk about our personal lives at work, which, fine, to each their own. I think there’s something to be gained by getting to know your coworkers and people in general at a different level and finding commonality because I feel like it just brings you together a lot faster.

    John: It definitely does. There’s research at Duke that shows it’s less anxiety and less depression, if you have these other dimensions to who you are. Northwestern has a study that shows that if you combine real life and work life, better moral decisions. It just makes you a better professional.

    Shannon: Yeah.

    John: It’s just cool to hear that you witnessed that, and also that there’s Shannon’s walks. You didn’t wait for permission from corporate on high to say, we’re going to do walks. You just, hey, we’re doing walks. I don’t need approval. This isn’t North Korea. We can just go on walks, and then you go. We’re always waiting for permission. It’s like, just go do it, and then everyone’s going to think it’s awesome. So many times, I’ve heard this. Yeah, it’s just so cool to hear that you did that. Kudos, for sure. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that feels like, well, I’ve got this hobby, but it has nothing to do with work, and no one’s going to care?

    Shannon: I would say, if you have a hobby that you’re truly passionate about, and you wish that you could integrate the two, you feel like you’re leading a double life, that’s okay. If it’s making you uncomfortable to the point where you’re like, I just wish that they got to know the real me, then let that shine a little bit. It doesn’t have to be, let’s say you were into comedy, or you did comedy on the weekends like you did, doesn’t mean you have to go do stand-up at work. It doesn’t have to be literal.

    John: No, not at all.

    Shannon: It doesn’t have to be literal. You could literally ask in the cafeteria, hey, have any of you been to a comedy show? What was your favorite one? That is revealing enough. You can insert conversation on a get-to-know-you basis that’s just like, hey, I have a fun question. Or you can even — I wish I had done this more, where I actually could come up with cards or something, conversation starters that would have good prompting questions. Because just the idea to get to know each other, you don’t even have to make it about your other passion. I think it’s just getting to know what everyone else is interested in and acknowledging that.

    John: Yeah, because I think some people, oh, were you just telling jokes? No, no, I had a job. I was doing my job. When I left at five or six or whenever, after that, I’m doing that and pursuing that. It was a fun hobby that I did at first, and then I accidentally got good. That’s the other thing too, is it doesn’t have to be a business. I enjoy this. Okay, great. You’re not doing it for anyone’s approval. You’re doing it for yourself. Yeah. That’s so good, so good. Well, this has been so much fun. I feel like it’s only fair that before I let you go that I turn the tables and let you pepper me with questions, since I started out firing away at you. I’m all yours, Shannon. Here we go. I’m also a lot nervous. What’s my favorite cheesecake? No, I’m just kidding. I’m just teasing. I’m teasing.

    Shannon: Here’s what’s funny. I do rapid-fire questions on my own podcast as well.

    John: Oh, okay. Nice.

    Shannon: I’m actually going to start with the ones I ask my guests. I’ll just turn the tables back. They’re all around money and wealth, which is interesting. As an accountant yourself, I think this will be an interesting set of questions. What is one investment you currently can’t live without?

    John: One investment. I would say it’s investing in me, if that’ll count. There’s this thought leaders group out of Australia, but they’re worldwide. It’s a lot of people that are on their own, doing their things. It’s been really cool to be a part of that community, very supportive, and also learning from each other. Yeah, that’s definitely one that… It’s super cheesy answer, I feel like. It’s not a financial investment. Bitcoin. No, I don’t know.

    Shannon: Yeah. I love it when my guests give a ticker symbol. I’m going, no, no, no, no, no, no, that’s not what I meant.

    John: Okay, good. All right, I was along the right path. Okay, I was just making sure.

    Shannon: I do enjoy hearing the interpretation of what I’m asking as well, because that tells me a lot about the person.

    John: Because it’s like, all right.

    Shannon: Yeah, what do you mean by that? What is one thing you learned about money that turned out not to be true?

    John: I guess just those self-limiting beliefs kind of thing when you grow up. My dad was career Air Force, and we were the middlest of middle class, kind of. When you start to do well, financially and stuff, that it’s not a bad thing. It’s okay and that you deserve this. You work hard, and you provide a lot of value. I think that that’s probably the deservedness of things, is definitely something that I still deal with. It’s not like I’m Richard Branson. Although I feel like once you cross a certain point, it doesn’t even matter anymore. I’m way before even the hill, but if I told my parents what I made, I think that they would lose their minds, just compared to what they had.

    Shannon: Yeah. Yeah. I feel the same way. I felt the exact same way. What makes you feel like a millionaire?

    Shannon: Talking to Shannon Weinstein. That’s a good start. Probably that and flying business class, an international with the lay down. It’s like, what are you crazy? I know you’re a huge stand-up fan, but just like Louis CK has a great bit of flying first class, and the Internet goes out. He’s like, you’re in a recliner in the sky. What is wrong with you? I’m laying down, full on laying down, watching TV. This isn’t even real, type of thing. I guess I’m a simple guy.

    Shannon: The last one I have, because we talked about the comedy thing, is who your top three all-time comics are, dead or alive.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay. I don’t know. I’m a huge Brian Regan fan. I think Bob Newhart is hilarious, also an accountant, so maybe I’m a little bit biased. Man, there’s a buddy of mine, Tommy Johnagin, that is so, so funny.

    Shannon: I know Tommy.

    John: Yeah, he is so, so funny. Even Ryan Hamilton is hilarious too, another buddy of mine. There are so many, Bill Burr, Chappelle, Gary Gulman, yeah. I prefer, typically, the clean observational kinda, just like you look at the world through a different lens, sort of thing. I never even thought of that, that’s amazing, type of thing. Not the shock as much but just telling it how it is and just that no fear is awesome.

    Shannon: Yeah. I look at comics like restaurants where it’s like, what are you craving?

    John: Right. Yeah.

    Shannon: What are you in the mood for? Because I love my Mitch Hedberg at certain times and then I love my Bill Burr at certain times, and then my Lewis Black.

    John: Oh, yeah, Lewis Black too, and also such a nice guy. Holy moly, such a nice guy.

    Shannon: Oh, my God, so nice.

    John: He’ll drink you into oblivion, but he’s such a nice guy. He’s so awesome and so funny even so angry. You’re right. It’s like a restaurant because everyone thinks that comedy is one thing. It’s like, no, no. You just don’t walk into a movie theater and just sit down. No. You watch the preview. You know what movie you’re going to see. There you go. It’s really hard to pick. This has been so much fun, Shannon. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?

    Shannon: Thank you.

    John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Shannon or connect with her on social media and pick up her podcast, or check out links to her business and definitely her Instagram, go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read 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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