Episode 507 – Andrew Lassise

Andrew is an IT Professional & Teetotaler & Golfer

Andrew Lassise, founder of TECH 4 Accountants, talks about his journey to sobriety, developing business relationships on the golf course, how his sobriety affected his business relationships, and much more!

Episode Highlights
• Alcoholism and getting sober
• How his sobriety affected his business relationships
• The impact golfing has had on his professional life

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Transcript

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    Welcome to Episode 507 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. And 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.

    And if you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. And 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 audiobooks. The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why this outside of work passions are so crucial 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 on Amazon, and more importantly changing the cultures where they work because of it. And 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, Andrew Lassise. He’s the founder of Tech for Accountants out of West Palm beach, Florida, and the host of Tech Talk for Accountants Podcast. And now, he’s with me here today. Andrew, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Andrew: John, I’m so stoked to be here. It only took us like 4 months of rescheduling to like finally really knock it down.

    John: Exactly. Well, we’re both busy people, man. We’re both busy people.

    Andrew: Yeah. What am I gonna do? Book it the next day?

    John: Right? Exactly. Exactly. But no, this is gonna be so much fun, and it was such a great time being on your show. And so, now to be back, return the favor. Now, I have some rapid fire questions though I like to ask you right out of the gate. Well, maybe this is an easy one. Favorite color?

    Andrew: Well, go blue.

    John: Yeah, mine too. Solid. All right. How about a least favorite color?

    Andrew: Not just regular brown, but like dark brown. Like what were you thinking brown.

    John: Right.

    Andrew: I got toddlers, so—

    John: Oh, there you go. Okay. Okay. Lot of just color overlap. How about a favorite actor or an actress?

    Andrew: I’d have to go modern day Leonardo DiCaprio.

    John: Oh! Okay. All right. So not like, yeah, the What’s Eating Gilbert Grape Leonard DiCaprio.

    Andrew: Oh, no. Especially Eating Gilbert Grape version. I was thinking more Titanic.

    John: Oh, Titanic. The middle there was weird. The Beach, like stuff like that.

    Andrew: Yeah, The Beach.

    John: Yeah. The Beach was terrible. Oh, my goodness.

    Andrew: Definitely Gilbert Grape version though. That was my first Netflix movie random.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Andrew: First thing I watched on Netflix.

    John: Yeah. When you probably ordered the disc and got it in the mail.

    Andrew: Yeah. The streaming was just like “Oh, by the way, you can stream movies here.” And I was like “Huh?” And What’s Eating Gilbert Grape happened.

    John: There you go. There you go. Are you more of a talk or text?

    Andrew: Text.

    John: Yeah, just getting it done. How about a favorite cereal of all time?

    Andrew: You know, that’s a really good question. I’d say today it would be Magic Spoon. Are you familiar with Magic Spoon?

    John: I am not.

    Andrew: They’re literally cereal entrepreneurs. Right? Like play on words punt, but they do like keto, low sugar, but they do like rebrands of like Fruity Pebbles and stuff like that. But it’s like adult version and they have it as like a subscription model.

    John: Okay.

    Andrew: It’s pretty cool. It’s good.

    John: I’m gonna have to check this out. I like it. I like it. How about a TV show that you would binge watch?

    Andrew: Oh, man. Everything that’s out right now, but I’m currently loving The Dropout.

    John: Okay.

    Andrew: Oh, my gosh. So good.

    John: So good. Right? There you go. How about puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, or a jigsaw puzzle?

    Andrew: I’d go Sudoku.

    John: There you go. That’s how I do my taxes actually. I just randomly guess numbers and then there we go. We’re done. I mean, the IRS is so busy. They’re not gonna find out anyway. They can’t even answer phone calls. Oh, here’s a fun one. Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Andrew: Star Wars.

    John: Yeah, me too. I’m the same. Yeah. Couldn’t quite get into Star Trek. I don’t know why. How about computers, PC or a Mac?

    Andrew: PC.

    John: PC. Okay. All right. I wasn’t sure if that would cross a line for you. I wasn’t sure how that would work.

    Andrew: If you did like some weird like “Oh, like what flavor of Linux is your favorite”, it’s like “Well, you know, there’s a lot of conversations between like Mint and Ubuntu.”

    John: Right. Exactly. I actually wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. I was like we’re just gonna go with what’s the logo on the outside of the box. How about your first concert?

    Andrew: Jack Johnson.

    John: Oh, okay. Nice. That’s solid.

    Andrew: You’re gonna ask more security questions?

    Mother’s maiden name. Street you grew up on and childhood best friend.

    John: Blood type. Okay. Yeah, I guess that is a security question now that you bring it up. I never thought of that. This one is not though, and it should be a security question. Ice cream in a cup or a cone?

    Andrew: A cup.

    John: Cup. Yeah. I do the combo. I put the cone on top ’cause I still want the cone.

    Andrew: You want the cone. You don’t want the mess.

    John: Yeah. And my teeth are sensitive, so I can’t like just bite into ice cream. Like it weirds me out when I see people do that. I’m like “What are you? Are you an animal? Like what are you doing?” You’re in Florida, so this is an easy one. Oceans or mountains?

    Andrew: I’m gonna go mountains actually.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Andrew: Yeah. You’d think ocean, but it’s like I take it for granted, you know. Like ocean’s right there. Like I don’t appreciate it ’cause it’s there.

    John: Yeah. I’m the inverse in Colorado. Like they’re right there. I just stand in my backyard. I see the mountains. They’re right there, you know, but I have to get on an airplane to go to the ocean, so it seems special. Okay. How about a favorite adult beverage?

    Andrew: Ah, well, the State of Maryland took away my privilege to answer Yuengling was my pre-2013 answer.

    John: Okay.

    Andrew: Well, I’ll have to go with White Monster. Would be the next answer.

    John: Oh, yeah. Okay. All right. There you go. I mean, there are all kinds. So you know, who knows? How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Andrew: Definite early bird.

    John: Early bird. Okay. All right. We got three more. Did you have a favorite number?

    Andrew: Number 1.

    John: Oh, yeah. Is there a reason?

    Andrew: ‘Cause it’s the best.

    John: It’s the best. Why did you ask me this? What?

    Andrew: Yeah.

    John: Right? How about when it comes to books? Audio version, e-Book, or real book?

    Andrew: Audio version.

    John: Audio. Okay. Yeah. I didn’t realize how popular that was until people kept asking me for that. And I guess Audible has a whisper sync, so you can listen and e-Book, and it will bounce back and forth based on wherever you paused, which is kind of crazy.

    Andrew: That’s cool. I didn’t realize that.

    John: So I have to up-level my game on that too when someone asked. It’s like “What? What are you talking about?” And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Andrew: Well, I own my children, so I’d have to pick them, and I own the dogs too. I’ve got receipts to prove it.

    John: Right. All right. What kind of dogs do you have?

    Andrew: We’ve got two Terriers. They’re yappy, but they’re great.

    John: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve got a Terrier mix as well. When we did the dog DNA thing, it came back like Rottweiler, Chihuahua mix.

    Andrew: That’s not right.

    John: And I’m like I would like my money back. Like did you guys just pick names out of a hat? Like this is like what? It’s crazy. He’s clearly a Terrier mix, but whatever. It’s all good. So let’s talk the Sobriety, which I know is a big thing. I guess, how did that get started?

    Andrew: Yeah. Like I used to think that like if someone is like a sober person, I don’t know, just in my head, I was like “Oh, you’re like that guy that’s like in high school or college that was not drinking then and continued to live his life being that guy that doesn’t drink.” Right? So that was kind of like the perception that I had in my head. And then what I discovered ’cause like I started drinking at 16 and like I really liked it, and I liked it so much that I did it all the time, some people would call that being an alcoholic.

    John: Right. Right.

    Andrew: Like “Okay. Big deal.” Like I blacked out like life. So it’s frowned upon. Right?

    John: Yeah.

    Andrew: So basically, like the thing that like really it sucked, but then turned around to be a big blessing was at January of 2013, I made the stupid decision to drive home in a blackout from a hockey game.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Andrew: And I recall I came out of the blackout and I see in my rear view mirror the red and blue lights flashing. And it’s like “Oh, okay. Let’s see.” So I’m getting arrested right now. And then I had in my passenger seat— I had a bottle of Fireball whiskey. So I knew I was gonna get arrested. And I was like but I don’t wanna also get an open container charge. So I decided to start chugging—

    John: Oh, my goodness.

    Andrew: …the Fireball.

    John: Right. ‘Cause it’s an empty bottle then by the time they get to the car.

    Andrew: Right? So I got an additional charge of consuming an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle, plus all these different DUIs and yeah. So that day, ask me then, like the worst day of my life like hands down then. And thankfully, nobody got injured or anything. It was just I was an idiot and reckless. And so, basically, then I got a lawyer. It was the first law office I’d ever been into. But like I’d imagined like when you go to a law office, it would be like the leather-bound books and the nice like very fancy— Like now that I’ve been to other lawyer offices, like what you expect? Right?

    John: But not this guy.

    Andrew: Yeah. ‘Cause this guy think more like a Hogwartz kind of like trinkets, like stuff all over the place floating.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Andrew: Like didn’t make any sense. And so, the guy, he’s like— I don’t know— like 180 years old, and he’s got this polka dot bowtie. His name is Gil. And he’s like “All right, Andrew, like you’ve got this DUI. Like this is really serious. You know, I’m glad you’re here, but I’ve got one question. I need you to answer me honestly on this.” Like “Okay.” He takes out a like a quarter. Right? He’s like “All right, now tell me, do you like magic? ‘Cause I take DUIs and make—” He does like this hand motion. “And I make them disappear.”

    John: What?

    Andrew: Yeah. So that was my first experience with a lawyer.

    John: At least he didn’t take your quarter. Like he was charging you way more than that.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    John: But that’s wild.

    Andrew: So he like put together like this whole strategy for like how we’re gonna beat this thing. Right? He’s like “You’re gonna preemptively put a breathalyzer in your car so that when we go to court, we show them it was a one-time thing. It was a mistake. You’re a good person.” Just obviously, I mean, you’ve got a breathalyzer in your car. You’re like “Don’t keep drinking.” Like if you do that, you know, that will really hurt our case. So I go to court with three self-imposed DUIs on top of the one that I got the breathalyzer on. And they were like “You have the choice, Mr. Lassise, of jail or maybe some time in rehab may do you well.” So I took the latter and really didn’t have any intention of actually getting sober or anything like that.

    John: Sure.

    Andrew: But actually, just what ended up happening though was like I was just playing the role of like a good sober person, right, just so I could like check the boxes. And they kept saying at like 12-Step meetings and stuff like “Oh, you know, just keep doing this and like your life will get better. It’s like life beyond your wildest dreams.” And it’s like but life sucks if I’m not drinking. So like, no, that’s not how it works.

    John: Yeah. It’s tough.

    Andrew: Yeah. But like what ended up happening, like kind of backfire of the century, was I was so convinced that like the whole sobriety/sober thing like was made up and that people weren’t actually like sober and happy. So I was like I’ll do everything you guys tell me to do in rehab, and meetings, and stuff. I’ll do everything. I’ll do the whole shebang.

    John: ‘Cause you didn’t think it was gonna work.

    Andrew: I know it’s not gonna work. It’s not gonna work because life sucks if you’re not drinking.

    John: Right. Right.

    Andrew: And then like 3 months into faking being sober, it like kind of hit me. It was like, you know, this whole faking sober is getting me like such a better life than like the one where like I gave myself DUIs before going to court for my DUI. Like maybe there’s something to this and just things just started getting better and eventually just came to conclusion. I was like, even if this is like BS and not real, like I am like objectively way happier faking life as a sober person than I was just doing everything that I was before. And so, yeah, just recently, I celebrated 9 years of—

    John: Congrats, man.

    Andrew: …not giving myself DUIs or anything even on weekends.

    John: No. I mean, that’s super impressive, you know. And so, kudos to you, man. I love that, how they like Jedi mind tricked you into you were like “Yeah, sure, whatever. I’ll just go through the motions and whatever.” And then all of a sudden, you’re like “Oh, wait, I actually am a sober person. Look at that. Like that’s awesome. They got me.”

    Andrew: Yeah. Like I drank the Kool-Aid. I definitely do.

    John: No. I mean, kudos to you ’cause, I mean, everyone’s got something. And to be able to get your arms around it is not easy. And especially when it’s so pervasive and it shows up everywhere, I mean, you’re a golfer too, so it’s like people on the golf course. It’s like whether it’s during the rounds. It’s after the rounds. It’s “Hey, you wanna go for a drink?” And “Yeah, sure, I’ll get a White Monster.” There we go.

    Andrew: Yeah. I think I’ve had literally every good reason to drink happen to me. My wife and I got engaged on St. Patrick’s Day at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. And like if you wanna pick like a good time to be like drinking, St. Patrick’s Day at St. Patrick’s Cathedral right after you get engaged and everyone is like “Shot, shot, shot, shot, shot” that would have been a good time to do it. And we didn’t drink then. I’ve been at the table at like multimillion-dollar deals where everyone else was drinking and like peer pressure. It’d be like, I mean, now’s a decent time to like not try to rock the boat.

    John: Good for you, man. Good for you.

    Andrew: Yeah. But it just kinda becomes like— I think of it like an allergy like if someone’s allergic to peanut butter, which we were talking about earlier, which now I apparently am.

    John: Right. Yeah. It’s like “Come on! You’re gonna take all of this away from me? Like good Lord.” You know, it’s like you still got cheeseburgers, so we’re good.

    Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. And they do still taste good too, so that’s—

    John: Nice. Nice. But yeah. But if somebody’s got an allergy, yeah, it’s all good.

    Andrew: Right. Well, I was like so focused on myself. I was like “Dude, if I’m not drinking, like everyone’s gonna be like paying attention and like questioning it and all stuff.” And like just everyone kept living their life ’cause no one cares.

    John: Right. Right. And I feel like that’s a lot of our hands or we think that people are gonna care more or less or whatever. And it’s like, no, like they got their own thing, you know. And we’re all worried about whatever each of us are gonna think that no one’s actually genuinely caring. Like we’re all just worried about our own thing to actually care about someone else, and it’s weird like that.

    Andrew: Right. I’m the extra in everybody else’s movie.

    John: There you go.

    Andrew: And in everyone else’s movie, they’re the main character. So like I may have like a stronger role than other people, but like I am only the star in my own movie. And that’s the only movie where anyone really cares what’s like happening or like noticing.

    John: Exactly.

    Andrew: I can’t even recall like when someone was like “Andrew, you’re usually blacked out drunk and you’re sober right now. What’s going on?” Like I think I just was living my life and just no one cares. No one cares.

    John: Right. But I mean, kudos, you know. And then somebody asks and then you can share. And is this something that comes up? I mean, you’re at these deals. You’re at these events. You’re at these things. And it’s like “No, I’m good.” You know? But does it turn to talking more about it?

    Andrew: No.

    John: Or is it more of just a past?

    Andrew: No. Never.

    John: Yeah. It’s just a past.

    Andrew: No one cares.

    John: We’re good. Right. There you go.

    Andrew: It’s like “Oh, hey, you want a drink?” It’s like “Oh, no thanks.” It’s like “All right.” Like in my head, it’s like “What’s he gonna think about me? Maybe I can like position it where I time it to where I go to the bathroom when he is ordering drinks and then be like, oh, you forgot about me?” I’ll just be like “Nah, I don’t do it.” And they’re like “Cool I’ll keep living my life ’cause it doesn’t—” If anything, like it’s better. I like lost all drinking privileges because I was making everyone else’s life way worse. So like by doing that, it’s like I can just like participate in society and like not have to like wake up the next day and like look through my phone. It’s like “Huh, an hour and a half phone call with my ex-girlfriend. So that happened, huh?” It’s like text messages from people that are just like “F you. You suck.”

    John: Yeah. How did I get to where I was going? Like all those things. Yeah, man.

    Andrew: Yeah.

    John: Well, kudos to you, man. That’s super hard and that’s impressive for sure. And so, I guess golf is maybe more of the thing that comes up talking with others?

    Andrew: Yeah. So like the golf thing, I was maybe like 12-ish, maybe a little younger. And my dad, he was like “You have to learn how to golf if you wanna like be a professional.” And so, I was just like “Yes, sir” like as any good 12-year-old will do. Right? And so, I just started playing and it was something where it was just kind of like “All right, yeah, like I play and like I learn a couple things” and just kind of whatever I do with my dad. And then like some bosses down the road, They’re like “Oh, do you golf?” And it was like “Yeah, yeah, sure” and then just like networking opportunities. I mean, we’ve had some giant deals happen on the golf course. And so like just being like mediocrely okay at golf has had like a way bigger impact on like my professional life than the not drinking piece of it.

    John: Right. Yeah. I’m sure that they go hand in hand ’cause I’m sure that the being sober while playing golf helps. I would feel like the old Andrew maybe wouldn’t have been part of deals, or invited back out to golf, or things like that. That’s cool that, yeah, there’s other parts to you as well. There’s not just the IT work side of Andrew. There’s other dimensions to you and you unlock them depending on if they ask, like if somebody cares, if somebody’s also sober, if somebody also plays golf, if somebody also does something else, then you have different ways to create those connections, which I think is fantastic.

    John: Yeah. I mean, literally, like your entire platform, it’s like IT. It’s like “Oh, can you build an app?” And it’s like “Yes, we do ’em at computers.” And like that’s the extent of like where that is. It’s like “Oh, IT. That means computers, and you’re a programmer, and you’re a network engineer at Amazon, and all these things.”

    But you know, like that curve ball and not like a raging alcoholic, which I don’t know if you he knows about IT people love to drink.

    John: Sure. It’s the hard work, party harder kind of mentality.

    Andrew: Yeah. It’s kind of like life on earth. I think everyone it’s just like “Oh, like no one parties like an accountant?”

    John: Right. Yeah. Everyone’s got the extreme and then everyone’s trying to keep up with everyone around them. And they think that this is what they have to do to be successful and all of those things. None of it you really— You just have to be good at your job, and a good person, and responsible and then everything else is fine.

    Andrew: As long as no one’s life is worse because of your existence, like you’re at least like doing good enough.

    John: Yeah. Totally. I mean, we’re all trying hard, you know. We’re all trying hard here. And so, yeah, I mean, I guess do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe feel like they have an and or a part of their story that they feel like no one’s gonna care about or it has nothing to do with my job, so why even talk about it?

    Andrew: I mean, I think the idea of not just being characterized by just the type of work that you do and having those outside things and those outside connections, it also differentiates you. It’s not just the “Oh, I met this it guy.” Most IT people don’t golf and most of them do drink. So like the IT professional that specializes with accountants, so it’s like that twist right there is like “Oh, that’s different than Joe, everybody that does everything for everybody” and peeling back the layers. Yeah. But sharing that with people, I mean, that’s just connecting with humans in general, you know.

    It’s having like the shared experiences and like sharing the vulnerabilities and stuff. 9-1/2 years ago, I probably wouldn’t be like “Oh, yeah.” Like I drink so much especially at work. Like that wasn’t a good look, right? Or even like 8 years ago where it was like “Ah, like I’m still kind of new in this sobriety thing, but it’s not really like—” Like if someone is like “Andrew, like I was really excited to like do business with you, but I heard about what happened in your life in 2013 and now everything is different”, like what happened happened. Like maybe you could Google it. I haven’t checked in a while.

    John: We’ve all got something. And you were able to get your arms around it and become a better version of Andrew. That’s fantastic. And I mean, not everybody’s is open about those things, so kudos to you, man, and anyone listening. I mean, we’ve all had something that we’ve worked through and that we’ve had to get our arms around. And it’s not easy being human for sure. And so, we try to hide those things because we think everyone else is super human. It’s like, no, no, we’re all human. We’ve all got flaws. We’ve all got these things. And so, kudos to you, man. So I appreciate you coming on and sharing it.

    Andrew: Yeah. You know, it’s been a journey for sure. And you know, it’s not all magic, everything’s perfect.

    John: Right. Going back to the lawyer guy like there’s quarters everywhere. Quarters are falling out of my pockets. No, but you’re right. It takes work, man, and kudos to you. Absolutely. And you know, I think it’s fantastic, and I appreciate you sharing it for sure.

    Andrew: And I’m curious, flipping it around, excluding mine, what is like the most memorable podcast that you’ve been on?

    John: Oh, that I’ve been on excluding yours. Okay.

    Andrew: Excluding mine. And I know it’s coming out of nowhere.

    John: Yeah. That’s a really good one. Well, probably Indeed had me on. That’s a human resources Indeed. You see the commercials? They had booked me for their huge Indeed interactive conference in 2020 that unfortunately got canceled altogether ’cause it’s huge HR conference. So they had me be a part of like an exclusive podcast thing that they invite people to. And so, that was really awesome because that was my first foray into the human resources world. And it’s Indeed, which is like the Super Bowl of HR. So it was pretty awesome.

    And then to the woman who interviewed me, when we were done, she said that she actually has a PhD in behavioral science and that she’s never read anything that puts it so clearly as my book does in that way of like it’s the people. It’s not the hierarchy. It’s not the structure. It’s not all these other things that we try to do to people. It’s what’s inside the people is what makes your organization’s culture.

    And she’s like “I’ve never heard it like that. And the way your book does it is so clean and—” And I was like “Wow, that’s really, really high praise from someone who has a PhD and clearly read a lot of stuff.”

    Andrew: Right.

    John: So that was very encouraging to me to know that “Oh, I’m doing something that’s good and different, and people need to hear it more.” You know? And so, that one was probably one of the cooler ones that I’ve been a part of for sure ’cause it was just a big deal for me in a different space than I’ve been mostly.

    Andrew: Yeah. Those cool ones are always like the standout.

    John: Yeah, man. But no, I appreciate you taking time to be a part of this and thanks for, yeah, just shattering the stereotype. So it was awesome having you on, Andrew.

    Andrew: Awesome. John, thank you so much for having me, man.

    John: Everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Andrew out on the golf course or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, as well to his podcast, The Tech Talk for Accountants. And 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.

    So thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast 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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