Episode 453 – Robina Bennion

Robina is a Wealth Doula & Artist

Robina Bennion talks about finding her passion for painting, how her art and feeling off the energy of others go together, becoming a “wealth doula” and much more!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into art
• Her favorite paintings
• Becoming a wealth doula
• Why she feels it is on both the organization and the individual to create an open workplace culture



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    Welcome to Episode 453 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 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 and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. 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. 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, Robina Bennion. She’s a Soul-Self-Wealth doula, and now she’s with me here today. Robina, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Robina: Thank you, John. I’m super excited to be here.

    John: Oh, this is going to be so awesome. We’ve been trading LinkedIn messages and emails for quite a while now, and so I’m excited to have you be a part of this.

    Robina: Same.

    John: This is going to be so much fun. I do have rapid-fire questions, though. Get to know Robina on a new level here. I’ll start you out with maybe an easy one. I don’t know. Favorite color.

    Robina: Teal blue or gold. I do alternate gold. I love gold too.

    John: Gold. Yeah, that’s solid. All right. How about a least favorite color?

    Robina: Kind of like CalTrans orange. Well, I’m from California, so we have CalTrans, which is like the safety cones, it just doesn’t look good on me.

    John: Right. Is Robina dressed as a cone? What is going on? Yeah, that doesn’t look good on anybody. You’re right.

    Robina: No. No.

    John: How about, oh, speaking of clothes, how about heels or flats?

    Robina: Heels are super empowering. I don’t know. There’s something about it. It makes you stand up straighter, but I love being barefoot.

    John: Oh, barefoot, so, no shoes. Okay. All right. I like it. That’s a good answer. How about your first concert?

    Robina: Garth Brooks.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Robina: Yeah, that’s a big one.

    John: Go straight to the top.

    Robina: Yeah, that’s a show right there. Well, and I just stopped. There’s nothing better. That’s the only concert I’ve been to.

    John: He’s quite a showman. That’s for sure.

    Robina: Yeah, back in the day. I won’t say how long ago that was but back in the day, yeah.

    John: Just a couple of weeks ago. It’s all good. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?

    Robina: Oh, I love jigsaw. Yeah.

    John: Okay. Yeah, yeah. It’s a picture. It’s kind of fun.

    Robina: Right?

    John: Yeah, totally. How about a TV show you binge-watch?

    Robina: Gosh, there’s a few of them. Lately, because of Netflix. I will say, when The Crown comes out, I binge-watch all the way, from one to the end. I just want to see what they come up with. It’s very interesting. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by it.

    John: Well, it’s just a different world, I guess, the royalty and whatever and all that, yeah. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Robina: I’m a PC girl.

    John: Yeah, me too, not the girl part but PC.

    Robina: I’m a PC human. How’s that?

    John: No, no, no, it’s all good. When you said it, I go, me too. Wait, hold on. My bad.

    Robina: It’s all good. I don’t know heels or flats, John?

    John: Right? Barefoot. Yeah, but one of each, one of each, I think. It seems easy. How about a favorite Disney character?

    Robina: Oh. Well, gosh, Disney’s expanded so much these days.

    John: Right. There’s a billion.

    Robina: Oh, gosh. If I went back old school, I’ll go back to Disney when Disney was Disney for me. I watched Little Mermaid, I don’t know how many times. I went back and listened recently. The music, if you listen to the words, it’s pretty fitting. Yeah, I’ll go with Little Mermaid for right now.

    John: Very good. That’s a great answer, great answer. Since you’re PC, on your mouse, are you more right click or left click?

    Robina: Well, gosh, I’d say ambidextrous because I’m right-handed, but I will use my mouse and my left hand a lot. I taught myself to do that, so I could be multitasking.

    John: You’re clicking both sides on both hands.

    Robina: Yeah.

    John: Wow.

    Robina: Yeah.

    John: I couldn’t possibly imagine using a mouse with my left hand. That’s crazy.

    Robina: You can train yourself in a day. I wanted a ten-key, so if I can move my mouse and ten-key at the same time, right?

    John: Oh, man, you’re just super-efficient. That’s next level. How about pens or pencils?

    Robina: Oh, I love pens. When I write, it’s in a pen. Although the auditing tax side of me is all about the pencil.

    John: Right. Is it a colored pencil? Is it a regular pencil? Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, the accountant in you, balance sheet or income statement?

    Robina: Okay, I’ve listened to you ask this. I’m a Libra, so I love the balance. It’s all about how much money you’re making to ensure you’re profit — I don’t get wrapped up in wealth and all of that, but ensuring that you’re profitable and going in and analyzing that, that’s where the problem-solving is. That piece, to me, is a lot more fun. The balance sheet is the reward at the end. That’s like finishing the puzzle, everything falling into place.

    John: Yeah, I always say it’s great to know if it’s right or not, because then it balances. The income statement, I might have done it wrong, and I don’t know.

    Robina: Right.

    John: Yeah, as long as it’s positive. That’s a good point. All right, we’ve got a couple more. Are you more of an early bird or night owl?

    Robina: I am both.

    John: Okay.

    Robina: Yeah, it just depends. I will say I’ve been more of an early bird lately because night owl, it’s hard on your body.

    John: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I become tired for the next two days. It’s like old man. Yeah.

    Robina: Early bird is where I get all the magic in, the writing or whatever comes to me in the morning.

    John: Before everything else starts to get in and filter or clog it up.

    Robina: Yes.

    John: How about your favorite number?

    Robina: Oh, gosh, I’m going to go with 33.

    John: Okay. Is there a reason?

    Robina: It was a great year. I stayed 33 for about eight years.

    John: Oh, right.

    Robina: I don’t know. I just love that number. There’s something about it. I love any date that has to do with my birthday. Yeah, and who doesn’t love three?

    John: Right, three and then there’s two of them. It’s great. 3,333, but that’s weird. 33 is solid. Yeah. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book.

    Robina: Real book.

    John: Yeah, I’m similar. Three more. Favorite actor or actress.

    Robina: Hugh Jackman. He’s so diverse. I love Greatest Showman, that whole movie, but just the fact that he can be Wolverine and then dancing on a stage is just — I love watching him act. Yeah.

    John: Yeah, he’s hogging up all the awesomeness. It’s frustrating but cool to watch. Would you say more chocolate or vanilla?

    Robina: I like them together, with a little bit of peanut butter thrown in. I’m more of a salty, I like salt stuff versus sweets.

    John: Yeah. Okay. I like it. All right. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Robina: Other than all of my friends, my friends and my family are the most precious things that I have. I don’t own them, but I have. Yeah, I would say I have this teddy bear that my grandma gave all the grandkids a long time ago, and I’ve always cherished it. I keep it with me. When I go out somewhere, my son holds it for me. I’ll take it hiking with me. There’s that energy within it. I don’t know. I just cherish it.

    John: No, that’s super cool. I could totally relate to that. That’s awesome.

    Robina: Yeah. I live in California. Houses burn down all the time. I probably would grab that and take it with me.

    John: Right. Right. Exactly. Exactly. That’s really, really cool. Let’s talk about your “and” of, I guess, just art. How did that get started? I’ve seen your stuff. It’s awesome and so diverse and different and colorful. Was it something that you started as a kid or got into later in life? What’s that journey?

    Robina: Yeah, it’s definitely later. I grew up with a brother who is very artistic in the way of how I used to think art was. He could replicate anything. He’s amazing when it comes to art. For me, when I got to, probably high school, I did an art class. I remember I got a B on something and then I flunked the color wheel. I just thought I have no artistic ability, but I could draw. If you give me something, I can draw it. So, I just shelved it. Every once in a while, during busy season, I bring out a pencil and just draw something to relax.

    When I started my own business, I worked with a company. They’re called Root and River. The way that they do branding is very different, finding out what’s the message you want to share with the world, and they combine the artistic side with it. They would draw my words. It just woke something up inside of me. There is an image that Emily, one of the owners, drew. I was like, I’ve been drawing that since I was 15, randomly. I went and dug out my drawings, and I just, from there, I started painting. I watercolor.

    I realized I, after a while, I would meet with people, and I would paint after. I was painting their energy or the energy of the conversation, so it’s just migrated from there. Now it’s getting in tune with my own energy, painting what I’m feeling, and it’s really a freedom. After so many years of public accounting, it, so being structured, to allow myself the freedom to just make, I don’t think they’re mistakes on the canvas, but just to create whatever I want. That’s how it’s evolved.

    John: That’s awesome. Plus, then you can take, like you said, the energy from that conversation, and then it’s a way to get it out of you, I guess, because I would harness that and then just have a big black canvas of, rah. I hate that guy, rah. By getting it out, it’s not inside you anymore, and you’re not carrying it around. I’ve seen your pieces. They’re not what I’m talking about at all. It’s a beautiful expression of that, and I think that’s really neat. That’s a cool way to think about it.

    Robina: Well, like you said, the filtering, I used to do that. I’d pick up people’s energy all the time, and we do. You read a room, right? You know the energy in the room, if you’re going to stand up and tell some jokes. It’s kind of like filtering that experience onto the canvas, and I would send it to people and say, this was what came through after maybe our session or something. They see themselves in a different light because of that. Because what can feel like a heavy conversation to them, when they see that it’s a bright and vibrant color, I think it transforms the way that they look at that experience.

    John: Wow. Yeah, that’s really deep. That’s interesting. Yeah, because then it’s them revisiting that conversation and being like, maybe I didn’t see it the same way that Robina did. You’re able to put a positive spin on it, either way. That’s really cool. Yeah. Do you have some of your pieces that are more of your favorites? Or it’s probably like asking people their favorite child. I’m sure they’re all great, but do you have some that are more your favorites or ones that spoke to you more?

    Robina: I know your audience can’t see, but behind me, these are some of the ones that I really love. This one over here is a 13-day process.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Robina: Yeah, it did not start this way at all. I don’t know. I love them each differently, like you said. For the record, I love both my children equally, just in different ways. Right?

    John: Right. Right. It depends on what they just said to me, so maybe one a little bit more right now. No. That is cool because they are all different and unique. Like you said, 13 days, that’s not just sit down, color in the numbers, do whatever and leave. It’s coming back to it. I’m sure, in your mind, you must be playing this out some in your mind, of, should I revisit or not, or what would that look like, sort of thing.

    Robina: Right. There are some, I will paint over the canvas. It’s like, okay, I’m done with that one. I’m going to add something new. This one was actually, it was a 21-day painting meditation that I was supposed to be doing. I made it to day 13, and I didn’t want to paint any further. Who knows, one day I may add to it. This one behind me, the other one.

    John: Yeah, like a starburst.

    Robina: Again, people can’t see.

    John: Hurricane starburst sort of a thing, yeah.

    Robina: It was just to sit down and do it one shot kind of thing.

    John: Yeah, that is cool. I love that freedom to be like, you know what, I’m going to paint over the canvas and start over, or I’m going to come back and add something later. It’s never done done if I don’t want it to be, type of thing. That freedom is pretty liberating, I would imagine.

    Robina: It’s just different than how a lot of things that I did in my life, throughout my career. To be able to have this flexibility and say, I can put anything I want on there, and it’s not like every piece of it is an artwork, it’s just freeing. I enjoy the process. Trust me, all of my art is so different. I haven’t really landed on a style yet. I just keep exploring.

    John: Well, and like you said, it’s this energy in and what you’re feeling, and then it’s your way to express it onto the canvas, visually. That’s great. You had the public accounting background, and then I know in the intro I said, Soul-Self-Wealth doula. I didn’t want to try and explain that in a million years, but maybe, in your words, because it’s much more than just, obviously, accounting. There’s some depth and dimensions to it.

    Robina: Oh, yes. Yeah, I stepped away from public accounting career a few years ago and started on a new path. It started with people saying, “Can you coach me around money?” I wanted to provide them an opportunity to do something different because I didn’t want to be one of those people, I just wrote budgets up for them. That didn’t feel like it was really adding value to anybody’s life. I didn’t want to be hovering over them, we need to spend here, because that’s not healthy either.

    I went down this path of, I became a certified money coach which is more about behavioral and looking at your life experiences and how it’s showing up in your relationship with money. In turn, I realized it shows up in many ways. Like the “and” that you talk about, the things that you do with your life, how does it show up for you, personally, as Robina in the world? What about those dreams and things that just feed your soul and however you define soul? Then wealth, money.

    For me, the doula part is walking through the journey with people to really rediscover, how do I live my life in alignment with all of those areas that feeds all of me, not just this career-focused CPA Robina, but the fact that I am so much more than a CPA, and a way that sparks joy. It brings just light and life to everything that I’m creating. Often, that is a journey for people to allow things to die away, to honor them and celebrate what they provided them in the journey, to move on from that so that new things can be birthed within them. That just may be birthing a stronger relationship, say, with a spouse around talking about money, or even within your own business.

    John: Wow. I am so glad I didn’t try to explain that. You’re right. It’s creating that space and lifting those weights off of you, especially around money. It’s the way we grew up. It’s the way we see. It’s whatever story we tell ourselves that probably isn’t true. It’s great to be able to lift that off of people and then allow them to grow into their own relationship there. Wow, that’s got to be really enriching. That’s so much better than, here’s your budget and stay in these lines or else, type of concept.

    Robina: It helps to answer, why don’t I stay within the lines of the budget? Maybe there’s this rebellious side of you that has always, it’s pushed against that, for whatever reason. You discover that, and you find new ways to work through it.

    John: Yeah.

    Robina: It is very rewarding, I have to say. Just to go on that too, is to bring in the art piece of it now, is just a whole other, it’s the icing on the cake. Because now, when I’m working with people or I’m putting together material, I bring in my art. I’m getting ready to launch a book, not to do a plug, but to play just as an example, is I didn’t want to use anybody else’s art in it. I put my own art into the book, and that, to me, just excites me. It’s really supporting people to come from the left brain and the right brain and support them to tap into that creative side, because that’s what opens up all the possibility.

    John: Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s just cool to hear how intertwined they are because they really are, like you said earlier. You can’t take the “and” away from Robina. It’s like asking you to not do art again. You’re like, what, not breathe, how’s that possible, type of thing. They are intertwined. If I’m coming to something, well, I’m bringing the artist with me. I can’t leave that person behind. They’re all here.

    Robina: Yeah.

    John: That’s super, super cool. How much do you feel like it is on an organization to create that space to find out what people’s “ands” are and celebrate them, versus maybe a small circle amongst your peers, just getting it started from a smaller level?

    Robina: I can only speak to the accounting profession.

    John: Sure, yeah.

    Robina: Because that’s where I spent my life. I think it’s both. I would love to see leadership bring more of this into their organizations because, just like you talk about in your book, people are happier. It creates more conversation. It realizes that we’re more human. We’re not just these computers that we work on each day that spit out numbers. I believe that that builds the teamwork. At the end of the day, if you’re feeling that call within you, create your own group. Those small groups are what really can, I think, I don’t know, enliven your life, make a business better. Then it catches on because then someone else in another office is going to say, “Hey, I heard you’re doing this.” Of course, now that everything’s remote, you could just start a new trend within a company, and you just change it from the inside out.

    John: Yeah. No, absolutely. It’s one of those things where I feel like so much of us live in a permission-based mindset where we’re just waiting for permission to do it. I’m like, well, I guarantee you that your leadership has never even thought of this. If you never asked, or just go do it, 99.9% of the time, they’re going to go, wow, that was awesome, do more, and we should have thought of that.

    That 0.1% of the time when they slam you for it, well, then maybe you’re not where you should be, type of thing. Is that the environment that you want to be in, with people like that? So many good things come from sharing the human side to you. The more remote we work, the more tech is involved in our job, the more all that, the more human has to — it’s not a teeter-totter where, oh, more tech, less human. No, no. It’s the same. You have to actually ratchet up the human more.

    Robina: Right. In the accounting profession, you get review notes all the time, so it almost feels like everything that you’re creating is a mistake.

    John: Right.

    Robina: It’s never like, oh, great job, Robina, and they put gold stars on your review papers. It’s always like, oh, you missed this work paper reference. Oh, I didn’t refer A1 to X2 or something. Having that communication with my team, at least reflecting back when I was doing that, I was running a lot. Having somebody on my team who also ran, created this exchange, you are like I am. When the review notes came, it didn’t feel like it was just a diagnostic that was coming back to you. It was okay, I know who Robina is, and I’m not going to be so offended by this because now I can hear it in her voice. There’s some relational thing that can happen there, and the person is going to be more willing to come to you and ask questions. What did you mean by this review note?

    John: Yeah.

    Robina: Because I can get in my mode where I was just getting my job done, and so maybe there wasn’t the expansion there that I needed. That opens the door for someone to feel comfortable, pick up the phone, message me, at least I hope.

    John: No, for sure, because it’s almost like a friend pulling you aside and saying, “Look, Robina, I know you can do better,” as opposed to a manager coming down with, you big dumdum head, how did you even pass the exam? There’s no way you know how to add. It’s like, oh, my Lord. That’s how the tone can come across, for sure.

    I remember when I was new at PWC, and I was on a project. The manager only talked to me twice, and both times were to tell me what I did wrong. It’s like, well, how about the awesome stuff that I’m doing over here? No comment. You’re like, what the hell, I don’t want to work with you ever again. This is not a pleasant experience. It’s not that I need to be coddled. It’s just that you can have some other dimensions to our relationship here and then it makes it not so critical feedback.

    Robina: I will say, the other thing about that is that kind of conversation of like, oh, you dumdum, how did you pass the CPA exam, that became the conversation that I had in my head, the further I went in my career. It’s also, the more I got separated from my “and”, I’d have to go out and find these more intense things to do because my career became more intense. Instead of going and running three miles, I’m out there trying to do an ultra-marathon or something because everybody has time in their life for that when you’re working during busy season.

    It was like, the further I went from doing those things that made me happy that were tapping into these own unique gifts that we have, because I can’t just stand up on a stage and crack jokes. That’s our own unique gift. The further I got from that, though, the more that dialogue in my head was, Robina, you’re a dumdum. People are asking how did you pass the CPA exam? This rhetoric, also because it takes me away from interacting with other people and that humaneness. Like we talked about, when you’re the average of the five people, and you’re only hanging out with yourself, that can be a not great place to be in.

    John: That is not good. Trust me, everybody. I know that for a fact. You’re right. That is so profound, that the higher you got and the more intense work got and the more removed from your “and” you got, the more you were grasping at just crazy things. Then you’re just burning the candle at 17 “ands” now, which is impossible, but you’re like, each “and” in the middle, why not? Let’s go for it all. It’s just not healthy, and it’s not a sustainable way to live, for sure.

    Robina: Just trying to find that energetic balance. If you’re at the extreme of one “and”, then you might go to the extreme of the other just to offset the two, and find that place, whatever you’re doing, whatever your “and” is. For me, it’s just I’ve come to this complete place of calm. I’m not thinking about what I have to do next week or what I did last week. I’m just fully immersed and enjoying what it is that I’m doing in that moment.

    John: Yeah, I love it. That’s awesome. Like right now and seeing it. No, but you’re right. That’s exactly it. You’re bringing who you are, all the parts of you, to all the things that you’re doing, and it’s just a much more balanced way to be. That’s awesome. Such great words of encouragement for everyone listening. Just rewind, listen to Robina again, and then do that.

    Robina: Maybe not running marathons during busy season.

    John: Oh, yeah, not that part.

    Robina: I actually don’t recommend that.

    John: I actually don’t recommend running at all. No, I’m just kidding.

    Robina: Yeah. Now I’m just about hiking. I’m a little bit more calm.

    John: I’m just lazy. That’s really what it is.

    Robina: You’re just on your peloton watching the scenes go by.

    John: Right. Exactly.

    Robina: That works.

    John: That’s hilarious. I feel like, before we wrap this up, that it’s only fair that I turn the tables since I peppered you with questions at the beginning and would hate to see what that painting looks like. I feel like it’s only fair that we balance this out, first episode of the Robina Bennion podcast. I’m happy to be a guest. What do you got for me?

    Robina: All right. Well, welcome to the podcast everyone. Today my host is John Garrett with What’s Your “And”? We have a few questions so you can get to know him. John, going back old school when you were younger, Saturday morning cartoons or Saturday Night Live.

    John: Okay, when I was younger, Saturday morning cartoons, Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, all day long. Then as I got older, it became SNL and Kids in the Hall and In Living Color and all that. Yeah, but when I was younger as a kid, yeah, definitely.

    Robina: Because the old school cartoons are way better.

    John: They’re so good. They’re so good and just hilarious. They’re always good, always, always.

    Robina: Yeah. My kids never appreciate the comment, I made a wrong turn in Albuquerque.

    John: Right?

    Robina: Yeah.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Robina: Next question, John. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

    John: Oh, wow. It’s probably not considered a superpower, but to be able to sing would be a superpower in my world. I can play instruments. I can hear music well. I can all of that, but when it comes out of my mouth and then hits my ear, it is, yikes. Old women in church turn around. They’re like, look, God still loves you. You don’t have to sing. It’s all good. I’m so bad. I would require a lot of training, I don’t know. Singing, it would just be great to be able to sing and not have everyone be like, hey, you know what, just stop, type of thing.

    Robina: Well, at least people did that. My mom just let me sing, and then I look back. I’m like, I didn’t know how to sing at all. Why did she let me stand up in church in front of everybody and sing?

    John: Oh, my gosh, maybe she can’t hear either, or tone deaf.

    Robina: Maybe.

    John: Just sort of like, that sounds beautiful. No, not really. We need 27 kids all together to counterbalance and then a really perfect note comes out.

    Robina: Yeah. I think a little bit of Robina, you can’t do anything that you want to do in life. There are limitations within.

    John: Yeah, within that, yeah, for sure.

    Robina: I have one more question for you, John. A new James Bond movie is coming out. Who’s your favorite bond?

    John: Oh, my favorite Bond, yeah, that’s going to be hard. I don’t know. Sean Connery is the classic. Pierce Brosnan maybe, I don’t know because he just seems kind of accountant-y, so maybe I can relate.

    Robina: Not your stereotypical accountant.

    John: He could be an accountant. Sean Connery, no. The newer guy, no. Yeah, I feel like Pierce Brosnan, I’d probably say that.

    Robina: See, I’m a Daniel Craig fan. I don’t know. I think it’s because he’s so against the rules.

    John: Yeah, he’s a badass. He’s a total badass. Yeah. No, no, absolutely, which I can appreciate, 100%. Yeah, awesome. This has been so much fun, Robina. Thank you so much for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”?

    Robina: Thank you, John. It’s been a blast. I’ve really enjoyed it.

    John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Robina outside of work, or maybe some of her art or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. 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.


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