Episode 455 – Shawn Parikh

Shawn is a CEO & Cricket Player & Tennis Player

Shawn Parikh, Founder and CEO of Entigrity Solutions LLC., talks about his passion for playing Cricket and Tennis, and how he finds time to do activities with his family on a regular basis!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into Cricket
• Cricket in comparison to Baseball
• Getting into Tennis
• Playing for the company Cricket team
• Teambuilding skills through playing Cricket
• Work/Family life balance



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    Welcome to Episode 455 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. The book goes more in depth into the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it. 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, Shawn Parikh. He’s the CEO of Entigrity Solutions, providing offshore staffing to accounting firms out of New York City, and was one of the CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 under 40, and now he’s with me here today. Shawn, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Shawn: Hey, John. Hi, how are you? Thank you for inviting me today. Pleasure to be here.

    John: Oh, my goodness, this is going to be so awesome. I’m so excited to have you be a part of this.

    Shawn: Well, I’m looking forward to it.

    John: Yeah, before we get into cricket and tennis though, I have some rapid-fire questions for you here. Get to know Shawn on a new level. Here we go. I’ll start you out with an easy one, I think. How about a favorite color?

    Shawn: Well, black.

    John: Black. Okay. All right. There you go. How about a least favorite color?

    Shawn: There’s nothing like a least favorite, but I black or white is what I like.

    John: Okay. All right. All right, that works. Are you more of a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?

    Shawn: Jeans and a T-shirt.

    John: There you go. There you go. That’s what I thought. How about a favorite day of the week?

    Shawn: Mondays.

    John: Monday. Okay, all right. There you go. I’ve never gotten Monday before, so that’s a first. How about puzzles, Sudoku puzzle, crossword or jigsaw puzzles?

    Shawn: None of them. I’m very bad at all of these. I’m a good math guy, but when it comes to logic, probably I have done miserably.

    John: Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. I love it. How about, do you have a favorite actor or actress?

    Shawn: Can we name from the Bollywood?

    John: Yeah, absolutely. Totally Bollywood, absolutely.

    Shawn: Well, I don’t know your viewers might know this. I’m sure there are not many Indian viewers. Of late, I have been watching one of the nice guys called Pankaj Tripathi. He has got a series on Netflix. Maybe you can try and watch one with subtitles maybe.

    John: Okay, okay. I love it, man. No, that’s perfect. That’s a perfect answer. Would you prefer more chocolate or vanilla?

    Shawn: Vanilla.

    John: Vanilla. All right. There you go. How about, this is a good one, when it comes to books, more audio version, e-book or real book?

    Shawn: Real book.

    John: Real book. Yeah, me too. I’m the same on that.

    Shawn: Honestly speaking, the attention span of people is decreasing, so do I, but I do find some time to read books because I think that’s something that goes with me and will go with me.

    John: Right. Yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. Since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement.

    Shawn: Both on this. You can’t ask an accountant. You cannot do that.

    John: You want the full general ledger. You want everything.

    Shawn: Yes.

    John: You want the full trial balance.

    Shawn: Yes.

    John: All right.

    Shawn: Just on that, I would like to tell you one thing. Apart from cricket and tennis, I am also, you can say, one of the business analysts, financial analysts, so, of course, income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, everything.

    John: Everything. All of it. There you go. All right. All right. There you go. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Shawn: A night owl.

    John: Night owl. Okay. All right. All right. Do you have a favorite number?

    Shawn: Well, nothing like that. Never thought of this, but probably nine, if somebody asks me.

    John: Nine. Okay. Nine’s a good number. Absolutely. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Shawn: Star Wars.

    John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too, for sure. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Shawn: Mac. We are all an Apple family, so, our Macs, our iPads, our phones. We are all family sharing, connected on Apple. Yeah, we are an Apple family.

    John: Wow. You’re super cool and stuff. I hope we can be friends. You’re like, if my PC-ness is okay.

    Shawn: Well, now probably it’s more like you’re now stuck with what you have started using too, so, yeah, accept the Apple now.

    John: Exactly. I’m just lazy, pretty much. How about, do you have a favorite Disney character?

    Shawn: Well, because I was born and raised in India, Disney had significant presence in India. There was an Indian version of the title song of DuckTales that I used to sing.

    John: Oh, yeah. DuckTales, nice.

    Shawn: All those, TaleSpin was there, all those cartoons. Disney has probably a big impact for kids who have been raised in the ‘90s in India, so, yeah, definitely.

    John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. How about favorite ice cream flavor?

    Shawn: Well, I told vanilla.

    John: Oh, just vanilla? Okay.

    Shawn: Just vanilla, yes.

    John: Just vanilla. Okay. All right. Two more. Do you prefer more talk or text?

    Shawn: Talk, absolutely. I’m old school.

    John: Yeah, I don’t want to go back and forth seven times, all this texting. All right, last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Shawn: The favorite thing I have is probably my daughter.

    John: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. Let’s talk cricket, man. How did you get started? I’m guessing, when you grow up in India, you start before you walk.

    Shawn: Yeah, yeah.

    John: How did you get started playing cricket?

    Shawn: Well, I would definitely not know where the starting point was because in India, it is like religion. Everyone plays cricket. Cricket is not just a sport in India. It is like a religion. Just to give you an example, in Entigrity, we have full-year Entigrity Premier League, and I participate in that, wholeheartedly. It brings a different joy. Everybody is so much crazy into watching it. Even if you’re not playing it, you want to track which team is winning it, which team is losing, which person is scoring what, how many wickets are being taken. You can actually relate it to baseball in America. The one who pitches the delivery is called the bowler, and then you have a backer. We call it the batsman, right?

    John: Yeah.

    Shawn: We call it a game in America. In India, cricket is called a match.

    John: A match, yeah.

    Shawn: Yeah. The ground is probably three or four times bigger than baseball and a little complicated than baseball. Typically, end up scoring 10, 15, 20 runs in baseball, right?

    John: In a good day, yeah.

    Shawn: In a good day, yeah. There are different formats in cricket. You have smaller format which is Twenty20. You have midsize format which is probably a 50 over format. Then you have Test match format which goes for five days.

    John: Oh, my goodness, five days.

    Shawn: Five days.

    John: Wow.

    Shawn: Yes.

    John: That’s like the World Series almost for baseball, where it’s back and forth, back and forth. Is it one game over five days? Or is it five different games?

    Shawn: Yes, just one game over five days. Yes.

    John: Oh, my goodness. That’s like Monopoly where you just never end play. It just keeps going. That’s impressive, man. That’s awesome. What position do you like to play most in the field?

    Shawn: Typically, in baseball, you have that. In cricket, you typically don’t have that position. They ask that, whether you’re a bowler, whether you’re a batsman, whether you are an all-rounder, and someone who stands behind the wicket, behind the batsman, behind the batter is called wicketkeeper. That’s probably designated role in the field. Those are what the roles are. You typically don’t specialize in any role. You have to manage the placement of the field, but it’s not like somebody’s — there are positions, by the way. There’s mid-on and mid-off and covers and forward short legs. There are positions on the ground, but typically, there is no specialization. If you ask me, I have actually got an injury on my left shoulder, so I’m not able to bowl right now. I need to undergo surgery, but typically, I used to bowl. We call it swing bowling. I used to bat a little bit. I’m not very patient.

    John: Right. You’re swinging everything.

    Shawn: Yeah. I’m very impatient with my batting, so I try to start hitting as I reach the wicket.

    John: That’s cool to hear that you’re still playing now. When it’s in season, you’re playing. That’s cool, man. That’s awesome.

    Shawn: Well, definitely, the days back when I used to play, it was definitely much more energy, but I’m 36. I’m not that old, but I’m managing to play. As I said, for me, today I have made a little bit of success with my venture, Entigrity, but the real joy of what we are trying to do, I was actually listening to one of the RJs which I love the most, in Ahmedabad city where I am, in western part of India. Darjeeling is one. He was talking about what is our definition of happy. How would you define that you’re happy? One of the situations is this — he actually listed out ten symptoms of, if you are under these ten symptoms, you’re happy; or if you’re these 10 symptoms, you’re not happy. One of the symptoms of being happy was, you’re able to play and enjoy the sport that you love.

    John: Yes. That’s what the whole What’s Your “And”? is all about. You get your work done. You get those basic Maslow’s hierarchy things taken care of, and take care of your family and all that. It’s okay, but what brings me joy? What lights you up? It’s playing cricket or playing tennis. That’s awesome, man.

    Shawn: Well, tennis, I’ve played tennis, probably in my professional career, early into my late 20s and after that. I liked to play in bits and pieces. The coaching used to happen probably six months, and I leave, and then again, six months and then I leave. I have done the coaching of tennis a little bit, then I started just two and a half months back again. I am really, really grateful that I have been able to start it again. I’ve been continuing and playing it an hour every day. Because I’m not a very gym-going guy.

    John: Well, me neither, man. That’s so boring.

    Shawn: I would rather prefer to play a competitive sport and enjoy my time, whether it’s individual or team sport, and I probably have that cardio workout, rather than lifting dumbbells.

    John: Right. No, no, no, I’m with you, man. I’m with you, totally. As far as the tennis and the cricket, is this something that your colleagues know about, in your career, or your clients know about, that that’s something that you enjoy to do?

    Shawn: Let me tell you this, my colleagues, definitely. Not everyone works with me in my circle. Typically you end up working with 20, 30 people in my company. The people who report to me or who work alongside me are 30 people. Most of them know that. Of course, we play cricket together, so they often know that because it’s our office premier league.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Shawn: Yeah, it’s Entigritive Premier League. We play together, and it is year-round. It is not a seasonal event. Every weekend, it goes. You’re part of a team, and your scores, pointing system, scoring happens. Apart from that, for tennis, most of them know that I play tennis. Client, my team talks to client. I don’t.

    John: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah.

    Shawn: My interaction with client has gotten limited in the last few years.

    John: Sure. Now that you’re the CEO, it’s a little different.

    Shawn: Well, not that, but from the point of view of operational management. At the end of the day, there are 600 accounting firms that you work with. I’m still connected with some of the old clients, which I closed and I closely work with. I used to travel and I used to meet in person, close clients. I’ve created those special relationships which are going to be with you forever. Yeah.

    John: Yeah. That’s where the differentiator is, having a slightly personal relationship that’s like, what’s your “and”? What lights you up? Who are you as a person, type of thing. Do you feel, at all, skills from cricket translate to work, or even tennis? Does any of that transfer over, to make you a better CEO or a better accountant, before that?

    Shawn: Definitely with cricket. One thing that I always believe is that it is a team sport, and no individual can contribute. Business is very, very similar. If you are growing, scaling, it cannot be because of just one person. There may be one captain driving the ship, but it has to be the team effort. That is one thing. At the same time, one thing that you will learn is you have to invest in the vision of one guy. Of course, you then co-share the vision. The cricket actually wants you to — you have to make decisions every time. Out of ten, probably two are wrong, but you have to continue to back the team, back the captain, back the vision. That’s what probably cricket sometimes does.

    John: That’s cool, man. Yeah. Because so many of these “ands”, you grew up playing cricket, and no one told you, when you went to college and university, that playing cricket is going to make you better at your business job. It clearly does, and it’s a cool thing to accidentally have happen.

    Shawn: I think any sport that you play, it makes you a little more competitive, maybe. I don’t know.

    John: For sure, especially if you’re a team player, type of thing, too.

    Shawn: In an individual sport, you want, not that it’s a negative feeling, but you want to outplay your opponent, basically. That kind of competitiveness definitely translates into your business. Of course, there are health benefits and wellness benefits around it.

    John: Yeah. Especially in the last year and a half, you have something to go do. Instead of just sitting at home and the pandemic or whatever, I’m able to look forward to something, whether it’s watching a cricket match, or it’s going and playing cricket or playing tennis or whatever. It’s something that brings you joy. That’s super huge.

    Shawn: That’s one of the things. My daughter plays — she’s just six. Okay, I have a six-year-old. She plays tennis.

    John: Oh, nice.

    Shawn: Of course, at a very primary level. She’s getting coached right now. She has started this last three, four months. She’s also doing skating, roller skate skating. She’s going to participate next month in a state competition. That is something really, really, I’m proud of her. I don’t tell her that much, but, yeah, she’s doing that. I don’t expect her to excel. I just want her to participate because I don’t want to keep any kind of expectation from her. Because as long as they turn out to be good human beings, that’s it. That’s the other thing, is that’s something that they do for themselves.

    John: Exactly.

    Shawn: I’m happy. She’s liking something, and she’s following, even at six. We are happy.

    John: Yeah. No, and I love how involved you are, as well, and it’s something that brings you joy too. It’s something that we were talking about, before we started recording the podcast, but just what is love. I love your vision of that. When we had talked, you said just love is interaction. I love it. How it’s just interaction with your daughter, interaction with your wife, interaction with your family, like you said, and even interaction with coworkers. It’s still loving your coworkers.

    Shawn: I wouldn’t want to admit that here. What has happened is, bootstrapping the business and scaling it up has taken a big toll on me in the last three, four years, five years. Now I’m realizing it’s very, very important to have that cordial relationship, outside of just work, work and work. Now I’m trying to get into that zone or get into that relationship. I will admit that I have not been very, very good at informal — I have been talking to them all the time, work and work and work.

    John: Right, right. Well, yeah, when you’re building something from the ground up, for sure, that’s so hard, but we need to intentionally make time for those things because they matter. It really makes us better at what we do. It’s just cool to hear that you’re turning that corner, man, and you’re right there. That’s super awesome. Before we wrap this up, do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening that maybe they like to play cricket or they have an “and” that’s something that seems like it has nothing to do with their job, or they think no one’s going to care? Do you have any words of encouragement?

    Shawn: Well, I would say, obviously, in early part of your career, I come from a very, very low middle class family, though, so it is very, very important to secure your family, financially, medically. That first piece is important. Once you have little bit of success, and you’re financially secure, definitely make sure you give time for things you like to do, whether it’s playing tennis, or whether it is interacting with your daughter, or whether it is playing cricket with your colleagues. When you’re not doing that, probably you should be listening to John Garrett’s show, What’s Your “And”?

    John: Right. I love it, man. Thanks for the plug. That’s perfect. If you’re “and” is listening to What’s Your “And”? then you’re my new favorite person. That’s exactly it. No, but you’re so right. Once the basics are taken care of, make time. Make time, for sure. That’s so good. Well, I feel like it’s only fair, since I asked you so many questions at the beginning, I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the tables and make it the Shawn Parikh podcast.

    Shawn: I think you should have — let me ask you a question. I think everyone asks this question to you. Well, accounting and comedy, same thing, you know? How did this happen?

    John: When I was with PwC and I would go in, to do internal audit work, clients would say, you’re my favorite auditor ever. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad because I think it’s really good, but on the other hand, am I not doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Because maybe I’m missing a bunch of things. Yeah, but it’s just bringing some personality to your work and to your profession and to your career. I think it breathes life into everyone around you. Yeah, certainly not the norm, but there are a handful of us out there actually. That’s been fun, to have them be a part of this too.

    Shawn: Let me ask you another question. What kind of anxiety or, let’s say, nervousness was there? I’m sure it would have been liberating once things started turning, but jumping immediately from accounting to doing shows, what kind of anxiety, nervousness was there? Creating content and people not laughing at your jokes or not having the laughter.

    John: What was I thinking? Basically, did my mom send you? I did it for years, at night, on the side, at night and on weekends. I did comedy while I had my day job. It was my “and”. I was a CPA and a comedian. At some point, just reached a breaking point where I was going to leave the company that I worked for and happened to catch a couple of breaks. It was like, well, you know what, I’m just going to try and run as fast as I can and try to get escape velocity to get out into the orbit of the comedy world. I was fortunate enough to be able to do so, but I did it for at least five years, at night, on the side. I also don’t advocate that because it’s so much harder. My “and”, I used to do it for fun and for joy, and now it became my job. It didn’t provide as much joy as it used to, because I had to do it in order to pay the bills. Keeping it on the side is, I think, the ideal situation. You have a steady paycheck, you have benefits, you have all of that, and then you’re good at your job. Then you have this other thing on the side that just lights you up and provides joy, and you can do that when you feel like doing it, type of thing.

    Shawn: Well, one of my hobbies, I don’t know if I told you or not, but one of my hobbies is to analyze businesses. It gives me real joy, understanding business models, looking at the management, conference calls, and it almost feels like a story, tying to something.

    John: No, that’s awesome, man. Yeah, and I just appreciate you taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”? Shawn. This has been really, really fun.

    Shawn: Thank you, John. It has been a real pleasure and fun to be on your show. I think what you’re doing is wonderful, and sharing joy with people, as well as people who identify with personal-professional life balance and living it with fun energy.

    John: Yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Shawn outside of work, or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. 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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