Episode 523- Alexandria Romero

Alexandria is an Accountant & Runner

Alexandria Romero talks about how she went from couch to 5k with her passion for running, how she develops strong connections with her team, and much more!

Episode Highlights
• Getting into running
• Her favorite marathon
• Talking about running at work
• Why the tone at the top is most important within a company’s culture
• Developing a strong connection within her team

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Alexandria’s Pictures

Alexandria running in the Bolder Boulder 10k

Alexandria after completing the Pikes Peak Ascent half marathon which races from Manitou Springs, CO to the Pikes Peak summit at 14,115 feet

Alexandria with her husband Patrick and son Julius, at Disneyland in October 2021

Alexandria’s Links

Transcript

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    Welcome to Episode 523 of What’s Your “And?” 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 another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills. Like who else are you beyond the job title?

    And just a quick plug here for globaldogart.com. Michael Puck was a guest on the show last year, and his “and” was dog photography. And he wanted me to let you know that research has shown that pictures of dogs foster social connections amongst people, promote trusting relationships and business settings. They also increase our well-being, reduce stress, all things that make work better. And so, he’s teamed up with other dog photographers all over the world to create globaldogart.com. Check it out. Bring some dog art to work. The really cool thing is is that all the Global Dog Art Gallery contributes 100% of their proceeds to save 1 million dogs by 2030. So check that out, globaldogart.com. And also check out the book. It’s on whatsyourand.com and on Audible as well. So 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, Alex Romero. She’s a virtual CFO living in Pueblo, Colorado, and a 2022 AICPA outstanding young CPA Award winner. And now, she’s with me here today. Alex, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Alexandria: Yes, thank you for having me. I’m very excited.

    John: No, this is gonna be a blast. We’ve met virtually several times with the Colorado Society things and what have you, but I have some rapid fire questions I never asked you before. So before I decide to accidentally go running with you, I figured it’d be something fun. So here we go. Let’s start you out with Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Alexandria: Star Wars. And only because of Baby Yoda. He was the key that I finally was like “Okay, they got me. They got me.”

    John: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Baby anything really, that will get you. There you go. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?

    Alexandria: PC for my computer, but everything else in my life is Apple. Apple Watch.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Alexandria: Yeah. We’re an Apple family except for our actual work computer.

    John: The computer. Okay. Interesting. All right. All right. How about more oceans or mountains?

    Alexandria: So I feel like this is a funny one ’cause I live right next to the mountains.

    John: Right.

    Alexandria: But totally the ocean. I love the ocean. I love the beach and yeah. And I have those Rocky Mountains, you know, whatever.

    John: Right. Yeah. But it’s because the mountains are always there. I mean, in Denver, I can see them all the time where the beach I can’t, so it’s special.

    Alexandria: Yeah. Absolutely.

    John: It means I’m on vacation. I had to get on a plane to go somewhere. It’s probably warm, you know. We’re good. So yeah, absolutely on that one. How about— I’m a huge ice cream fan. Ice cream in a cup or in a cone?

    Alexandria: Absolutely cup. I’m not a cone fan. It’s gotta be a cup.

    John: It’s messy. It gets all over. Yeah. Totally. Totally.

    Alexandria: Yeah. Yeah. I’m weird. I don’t like the crunchy with it too.

    John: Oh, okay. Interesting.

    Alexandria: I know.

    John: All right.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: All right. Yeah. We’ll still hang out. It’s all good. It’s all good. How about balance sheet or income statement?

    Alexandria: Gosh, that’s a hard one ’cause I feel like they’re married. I mean, you can’t have one without the other.

    John: Okay. With a full trial balance. You just want it all.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: All right.

    Alexandria: Yeah. So I don’t think I’m gonna choose. I think I like everything. I wanna know the entire picture.

    John: Okay. Look at you. All right, there we go. That’s a good CFO right there. That’s what that is. How about a favorite adult beverage?

    Alexandria: Gosh, you know, I really like different teas.

    John: Oh, okay.

    Alexandria: Yeah. So there’s a lot of tea shops. And so, I feel like that’s more of an elegant like adult, you know, when you think about it. Like I go to teas, so that’s my thing. I really like different teas.

    John: That’s cool. No, that absolutely. that definitely is. How about heels are flats?

    Alexandria: So I do heels all the time except when running. It’s definitely flats, and I have quite the shoe collection for running shoes.

    John: There you go. Do you have a brand of choice?

    Alexandria: I do. Brooks And they come out with specialty shoes more than they should because I always think I need to have the Thanksgiving shoes, and the Christmas shoes, and the summer shoes. Yeah.

    John: They get you.

    Alexandria: All the shoes.

    John: There you go.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: There you go. That’s awesome. Very good. How about a favorite number?

    Alexandria: I’m gonna go with 3 ’cause it’s a magic number. Schoolhouse Rock!

    John: Yeah.

    Alexandria: Going back to old school.

    John: That’s awesome. That’s so good. So good. How about when it comes to books, audio version, e-Book, or real book?

    Alexandria: So I really like having an actual book, but I actually read ’em and get through ’em when they’re audio, so it’s really hard ’cause there’s nothing better than having a library book. I came from a library, so I do appreciate that. But I actually will finish them in a reasonable time if I’m listening to it.

    John: Yeah. And plus, you can do double speed, or one and a half speed, or whatever.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: So yeah, it can move along pretty quickly. How about a favorite animal? It could be any animal at all.

    Alexandria: I’m gonna go with my own dog, Matterhorn, ’cause he is just so awesome.

    John: Oh. Okay. And he’s got a cool name.

    Alexandria: He is.

    John: I mean, Matterhorn. That’s like incredible.

    Alexandria: Yeah. So he’s a Great Pyrenees. So he’s big, and white, and loves the mountains. So Matterhorn was just the most appropriate name.

    John: That’s awesome.

    Alexandria: So awesome.

    John: I love it. That’s very cool. Very cool. How about when it comes to puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, or a jigsaw puzzle?

    Alexandria: You know, I don’t do many puzzles. But you know, when I was little, I used to really like the normal puzzles.

    John: Yeah. Jigsaw puzzles.

    Alexandria: Yeah, Jigsaw.

    John: Yeah. Yeah.

    Alexandria: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    John: Yeah. There you go.

    Alexandria: Yeah. So I’ll go with that.

    John: Okay. All right. All right.

    Alexandria: I have memories of those.

    John: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. How about a favorite color?

    Alexandria: Pink. Absolutely.

    John: Pink. Okay.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: That was a slam dunk.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: There you go. There you go.

    Alexandria: Easy.

    John: How about a least favorite color?

    Alexandria: Brown.

    John: Oh yeah, that’s definitely a very unpopular answer for sure. How about are you more talk or text?

    Alexandria: Definitely text. I feel like I took all the talk out in middle school and high school. I was one of those call waiting, you know, all night. And so, I talked myself out.

    John: That’s so funny. That’s so funny. How about a favorite actor or an actress?

    Alexandria: So I would say Tim Curry and that’s because—

    John: Oh, yeah!

    Alexandria: …he’s in a lot of my favorite movies. So, Rocky Horror Picture Show, old school Annie from the ’80s, and—

    John: Absolutely.

    Alexandria: Scary Movie 2. I mean, all these like random movies that I really like.

    John: Scary Movie 2. There you go.

    Alexandria: I know. I know. It’s an odd one to really like, but he’s the one that’s in all of those, so it’s like he must be the magic.

    John: That’s the common denominator there. I love it. We got three more or two more rather. Do you have a least favorite vegetable?

    Alexandria: Probably Brussel sprouts.

    John: Yeah! Solid.

    Alexandria: Super cute. And my dad would try confuse me like—

    John: Baby cabbage.

    Alexandria: Yeah. But it’s like it doesn’t help unless it’s like fried with like bacon and those are okay.

    John: Exactly. You know, all the unhealthy stuff that goes on, it’s too much work.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: It’s like the grits of vegetables. It’s like just takes too much work to make it good. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.

    Alexandria: Gosh, I think the favorite thing I have, this is gonna sound cliché, but it’s probably my husband and my son. They’re just so awesome. I love hanging out with them. And so, I’m very lucky that both my husband and I work remote. And people have asked us how is that. And we’re like it’s awesome ’cause we’re hanging out with our best friend like all day, every day.

    John: That’s very cool. Very cool. That’s incredible. And then when you’re not hanging out with the family, you’re running.

    Alexandria: Yeah. Away from the family. No.

    John: Well, they’re not joining you. That’s for sure. So yeah, so let’s talk about running and just how’d you get into running?

    Alexandria: So where it started is I had always looked at running as being something that was too difficult for me that I was never gonna be able to do. I could only run maybe a couple houses and my husband had said that you are only in good shape if you’re running. That that’s like gonna prove that you’re in the best shape. Because if you can run, it means you’re in good shape. And so, I was thinking about that. I was like “Yeah, I think you’re right.” So I did the couch to 5k. I signed up for 5K and that’s where it started. And you know, I didn’t just kind of dabble in it. I was like “Well, now that I’m doing this, let’s go full on.” And so, I did in that first summer. I had 6 weeks that I had a 5K every single weekend.

    John: Wow! That’s impressive.

    Alexandria: Yes.

    John: And I mean, from couch like not running at all. Like not really into doing six 5Ks in 6 weeks. That’s impressive. That really is. And if you add ’em all up, I feel like that’s a marathon. So you should check that off as like—

    Alexandria: I should. Yeah. I was brand new to racing and here I was already doing marathons.

    John: Yeah. Right? I mean, it’s a monthly thing, but it’s all good. But no, I would take it. But no, that’s really impressive that you were just like “Hey, I’m just gonna do this.” And was it kind of pandemic related or—

    Alexandria: No, this was probably 2015 or so. Yeah.

    John: Oh, wow. Okay.

    Alexandria: So it’s been a while. I mean, well, the couch to 5K, it’s a really easy program to follow. You just have to do it. I mean, that’s the biggest thing. Just finding the time and actually doing that, but they train you to be able to do a 5K and then it’s like if you get to that point, then it’s like don’t stop.

    John: Then it’s momentum and keep it going and yeah.

    John: No. Plus, once you find a cool brand that makes awesome shoes, then you have to wear ’em. So now, I have to go run.

    Alexandria: It’s true. I had to try out every single pair that I buy on a weekly basis.

    John: That’s incredible. That’s so great. And so, do you have some of the runs that have been your more favorite ones?

    Alexandria: Yes. And so, I actually have tattoos of the meaningful runs that I have done. And so, the first tattoo I have is of the Disney half marathon. I did the Tinkerbell in Disneyland, and it was incredible. And it was the first time I had ran a half marathon without stopping. It wasn’t superfast, but it was fast enough that I was able to qualify for then the Pike’s Peak Ascent. And so, that was my second race. And then—

    John: Wow.

    Alexandria: most recently, I did the Las Vegas half marathon and that’s been after I had a back surgery. So it was kind of like a comeback race.

    John: Oh, my goodness. Yeah. No. That’s impressive. Wow. I mean, in Pike’s Peak, goodness.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: That’s quite a run. I would get a tattoo for that one I would imagine. Probably getting a tattoo hurt less than doing the run.

    Alexandria: Absolutely. Yes. ‘Cause it is. It’s ranked the hardest half marathon in the US.

    John: Yeah. And that was your second one. And you were doing 5Ks. You were on a couch.

    Alexandria: Right? I know. Go big or go home.

    John: I love it. That’s really, really impressive. Kudos to you for real. Like that’s really fantastic. And also something too that you brought up of the time and the whatever, it’s like it doesn’t matter what your time was, you know. You’re not doing it for setting a world record or getting a gold medal in the Olympics. You’re doing it for you. If you’ve changed the phrase to I enjoy running, then it takes a lot of the pressure off of instead of calling your— I’m a runner and it’s like, well you know, I enjoy running it. It sounds a little less pressure on yourself, I think, type of thing.

    Alexandria: It does.

    John: Yeah. ‘Cause it doesn’t matter what the time was like. Like my time was finished. How’s that sound like?

    Alexandria: Absolutely. And that was definitely me at the Pikes Peak Ascent. It took me quite a while, and there were times I didn’t know if I was gonna finish. But just crossing that line and being on the finisher’s list, it’s like that’s fine. it doesn’t matter.

    John: Yeah. That’s impressive. Give me a banana and a medal. And now, let’s get the hell out of here.

    Alexandria: Yeah. Get me off this mountain and we’ll be good.

    John: We won’t be back for a while. We’re good now. Like we’re good.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: Yeah. Have your son look around. All right. We’re done. Like we’re not coming back.

    Alexandria: And that’s it. The family was up there waiting for me for far too long. And so, they were ready to get off that mountain too.

    John: But kudos for you. That’s really, really cool. And I think it’s fantastic. And so, do you feel like— I mean, of course, at no point in your schooling does anyone say “Hey, go be a long-distance runner ’cause it will make you better at your job.” But do you feel like there’s a skill that you bring from running to work?

    Alexandria: Yes, absolutely. So when I actually completed the Pikes Peak Ascent, I was in the middle of my CPA exams.

    John: Oh.

    Alexandria: Yeah. And so, it was just one of those things that— ’cause Pikes Peak, I can see it out my window. It’s something that I’ve grown up looking at forever and known about this race. And it always seemed like something that was so impossible. So it’s like if I can actually do something that I think is impossible to complete, it was just another motivation to say the CPA test at point feel like it’s gonna be impossible to complete. So it is just that motivation and that knowing that, yeah, I can do hard stuff. I can get direct.

    John: Yeah. And your family is waiting at the end for way too long for both of them.

    Alexandria: That is probably the truest thing I have ever heard. They’re at the end waiting and it’s taken far too long. They’re tapping their feet. And they’re like “No.” But it’s true. It is so true.

    John: How many parts are there? Good Lord.

    Alexandria: Exactly.

    John: It’s like you need more of these? That’s funny. No, no, no. I’m totally teasing. But is this something that you do talk about at work with coworkers?

    Alexandria: It is. And where I had my tattoos, they’re on my foot, and I didn’t really think about it when I got my first one. You can’t see them when I run. They’re not visible.

    John: Oh, right. Yeah.

    Alexandria: I have on socks and shoes. And so, you really only see it when I have on high heels and I’m in work attire.

    John: At work. Yeah.

    Alexandria: So people always ask me about them. And so, it’s a great way to just talk about your ’cause it’s very visible.

    John: Yeah.

    Alexandria: So it’s actually been something that I’m like “Well, I didn’t intend for this to be something that wasn’t seen when I’m running and only when I’m in a work setting, but it’s really worked out.”

    John: That’s fantastic though. And it’s cool to hear that it’s not judgment or “Oh, you’re fired ’cause you have an outside of work interest.” It’s the opposite it sounds like where people are asking you about it, which is fantastic, which is what you want in a work setting, is people that care about me enough to ask. You know? Like what is that? If they didn’t care about you, they would just brush it off and just not even talk about it. And it’s neat to hear that it’s a conversation starter of sorts like that. And I guess how much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create an environment where people can share their “ands” or even go even in further and shine a light on them and stress how it’s important that you have one? Or how much is it on the individual to just create that little small circle on their peers?

    Alexandria: Yes. So I think it is incredibly valuable if your company stands behind it and is promoting it. The tone at the top is huge. And if it’s supported from the very top, it’s just gonna encourage everybody else to see that it’s acceptable, that it’s valued, it’s something that we wanna focus on. But if you’re in an organization that it isn’t there and it’s not one of the main objectives or something that they want to create this environment, you can. You can do it within your own team and be the one that speaks out and says, you know, let’s talk about this. Let’s do that. Let’s try something new.

    And where I was most recently, I mean, there was a general sense of, yes, we want everybody to know each other and know what makes them tick more. But within our finance department, we really dove into that. And we via assessment and looking at what our character strengths were. We knew what each other’s passions were. We were excited when somebody went to a Nuggets game ’cause they loved the Never Nuggets. And so, it has just made our team so much stronger because we knew about each other and we cared about what others were thinking, what their passions were, what their values were, what made them super excited.

    John: No, I love to hear that so much. And you know, how much did that compare to maybe other places you’ve worked where, well, I kind of knew about people, but not really? But it sounds like this other place where you really get into it and you roll up your sleeves and care about people. It’s gotta make work better.

    Alexandria: It does. And what I really saw is that people that maybe not connect generally were then forming relationships because they had more of an understanding of who that person was.

    John: Yeah. Yeah.

    Alexandria: And I even found that in myself that somebody that I might not sit down and have a conversation or go to lunch with, once I found out that “Oh, they had a child that went to this school and they did this or they really liked going ice skating”, you know, just different things, it just made even working together, and asking those questions, and building that team so much easier for everybody.

    John: Yeah. You know, something that you just brought up that made me think of like— Yeah, I mean you definitely don’t have to have the same “and”, but it’s just— When you’re around people that are more interesting, you want to be around them more. And there’s interesting people around us. We just don’t know because we don’t pop the hood and ask, you know. And what’s under here? Like what makes you tick? What is your “and”? Like what are those passions that are outside of work, you know, sort of thing? And and people also then have to quit lying to themselves and saying “Well, I’m really passionate about whatever my job is.” It’s like, all right, then volunteer and don’t get paid. Because if you’re so passionate about it, then why are you getting paid?

    Alexandria: Yeah. Yeah. In finance, we all like accounting. Okay, that’s great. You know, whatever. But you don’t just think and eat, breathe, and live accounting all the time.

    John: Yeah. And creating that space for where people can just be honest with themselves and be honest with each other. And interesting people are interesting.

    Alexandria: Yes.

    John: And you wanna be around them more. And whether it’s your thing or not, I actually wanna be around you more.

    Alexandria: Yeah. And I wanna learn. I wanna hear why is it important to you. What do you do? Like that sounds crazy.

    John: What is that? Right?

    Alexandria: Yeah. Yeah. I have no frame of reference around this. Please educate us.

    John: Right?

    Alexandria: We don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. This sounds crazy. And you actually think that’s even more exciting when it’s not the same “and” because you learn something and it’s sometimes just so mind blowing what people are passionate about and what they do that you would never even think of that even existing.

    John: Yeah. And maybe that’s a new “and” for you or next time you go do it, I’d love to come along. Yeah. Sure.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: Like why not?

    Alexandria: I just wanna check this out. This is really cool.

    John: I get to do it every week on this podcast. And it’s like “Oh, wow, this is incredible. Like this is so much fun.” And just when you see people come so alive talking about it, it’s almost like the perfect sales pitch. It’s like “Yeah, I wanna do that.” You’re so excited about it.

    Alexandria: Yes. Oh, what did I sign up for?

    John: Right. All of a sudden, I’m halfway up. I’m halfway up Pikes Peak having an asthma attack or something and a heart attack all at the same time. And it’s like “Oh, boy. Like this is fun.” But that’s such a great point.

    Like whether it’s your and or someone else’s “and”, like it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to have the same one. Just care about each other and that’s really incredible. And what a great takeaway for everybody listening of just share. As long as it’s not taboo or super political or whatever, gonna really ostracize people, your outside of work hobby is not that, you know. So start with that and who you are. And behind the job title, there’s a human there. That’s really awesome.

    Alexandria: Yeah. Even events you do, things you do with your family. I mean just sharing who you are, who you really are.

    John: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And start with yourself. Just get to know yourself, you know.

    Alexandria: Yes.

    John: And then share with others I guess, you know.

    Alexandria: Yes. And that’s sometimes hard. It’s like, well, I don’t know. But then as people start talking, it’s like “Oh, okay, yeah, I can relate to that. I do this.” Or “Yeah, I know—”

    John: Yeah. I do have stuff outside of work that—

    Alexandria: Growing up, we went camping every summer or whatever it is.

    John: Exactly.

    Alexandria: Doesn’t have to be big. Just little pieces.

    John: Yeah. I love it. And just like your month full of marathon, all those little pieces add up. Right?

    Alexandria: Yeah, it does.

    John: Look at me bringing it all back.

    Alexandria: Right? Full circle

    John: There we go. That’s awesome. Well, Alex, this has been so much fun, but I feel like it’s only fair since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning that we turn the tables, make this the first episode of The Alex Romero Podcast. Thanks for having me on and I’m all yours. So whatever you got, fire away.

    Alexandria: So both of us being in Colorado, fall is such a huge thing around here I feel like and all these different events. So I wanna know what’s your favorite fall event that’s coming up?

    John: Well, I am a huge college football—

    Alexandria: I was gonna say except for college football almost.

    John: Right? I mean, that’s my favorite season. It’s like not gross hot. The leaves are changing. Hot chocolate becomes more normal. There’s some pumpkin stuff starts popping up. College football is happening. Yeah, absolutely. All of that is just so great. Yeah, I love fall so much ’cause it’s not cold yet, but it’s just that little bit of crisp in the air where it’s like all right, you know, like it’s nice.

    Alexandria: And it’s super gorgeous here in the fall time in Colorado.

    John: Oh, yeah, in Colorado. It’s amazing. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, it’s so great. And the no humidity is like just brilliant. Like whoever thought of this humidity idea was— I don’t know what they were thinking.

    Alexandria: I don’t know. I don’t know. I was in Florida in June and—

    John: Wow.

    Alexandria: Yeah.

    John: Yeah. Good luck with that.

    Alexandria: Yeah. We made it back.

    John: It was horrible though. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. But yeah, definitely college football would be the quick answer.

    Alexandria: Yeah. And then also, salty or sweet?

    John: Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. I think I’ll go sweet. You’re talking about my personality, right? Just kidding.

    Alexandria: I didn’t put any reference around that question, so there you go.

    John: If it was my personality, it would definitely have been salty, but I do prefer sweet for sure. I’m a sucker for that. And obviously, the ice cream is definitely gonna be in there for that, so awesome. Well, thank you so much, Alex, for being a part of this. It was so cool hearing about this, and I look forward to following your running on social media and everything, and cheering you on. So thanks, Alex.

    Alexandria: Thank you.

    John: Yeah, absolutely. And everybody, if you wanna see some pictures of Alex from her runs or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. everything is there. And while you’re on that page, please click the big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read the book. And thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcasts 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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