Episode 53 – Deja Sconiers

Deja’s coworker relationships get better with age


After a friend came back from a South African trip with some bottles of wine, Deja Sconiers knew she wanted to learn more. Now she’s got her own blog and is educating others about wine.

In this episode, we talk about how studying wines has helped Deja be more patient at work and take time to understand and respect the process. While her office isn’t super conducive to sharing, she has managed to develop strong relationships with a few coworkers — some of which are actually helping her with her wine blog. Deja has found that it’s much easier to develop those bonds with coworkers who also have a hobby or passion they’re doing outside of work.

Deja Sconiers is an Accounts Receivable Specialist at Electrolux.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from North Carolina A&T State University. She is also a Future Business Leaders of America alum.

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Other pictures of Deja

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Deja is in her element at a local wine store.

Pouring some white wine at a tasting party.

Deja is a student of wines and really enjoys learning more about them.

Deja’s links


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    JOHN. Now it’s time for this week’s guest, Deja Sconiers, a specialist with Electrolux North America in Charlotte North Carolina. She’s a Future Business Leaders of America Alumni who later graduated from North Carolina A&T State University. Now she’s with me today on the Green Apple Podcast. Deja I’m so excited to get into it with my first question that I love to ask everyone, which is going way back in the day. What is it that made you want to be an accountant in the first place?

    DEJA. Way back, well way, way back. Originally I’m from Denver Colorado and I was heavily involved in FVLA and DECA, and all the business related high school things back then. I competed in FVLA and I made it all the way up to the state level and I was one slot away from nationals in accounting. So, ideally when I went into college my plan was to be a management major and go into Sport and Entertainment Management, but I was what I would say a prerecession graduate. So, my mother like, “no, you’re not going to make any money doing that. This recession, here it comes, you need to change your major.”

    JOHN. Wow.

    DEJA. I was like, “well what am I gonna do? What am I good at?” I was like, “alright, I’ll go into accounting, why not?”

    JOHN. They give you trophies for this, right? Let’s do this.

    DEJA. Exactly. I won awards for this, so I can do this. This isn’t that bad. It came pretty naturally to me, I wish I would have dedicated more as far as my course work, but overall it’s accounting. Accounting is accounting. So that’s how I got into it.

    JOHN. That’s so great. Look at you now, you’re doing awesome.

    DEJA. I think I’m alright. I’m holding in there.

    JOHN. They don’t let you hang out with the cool sales kids on accident, alright? They would keep you all locked up.

    DEJA. Right, exactly.

    JOHN. That’s very cool. I think even cooler is in your nights, weekends, and free time, what’s that passion that drives you?

    DEJA. The passion that drives me is experiencing things that others want to, that maybe they’re afraid to try. That’s where my passion is. So the whole wine thing, I can go way back as to how I got into wine.

    JOHN. Yeah.

    DEJA. A friend of mine lives in North Carolina, but every year he would go to South Africa to the jazz festival there. Every year he would bring back cases of wine, and I was like, “ah man, what do you know?” And slowly but surely I started trying new ones and deciding there’s some I didn’t like, I got sick off of some of them, and I was like, “this is so complex, I want to know more.” I just went from there, I picked up a few books and there’s a website WineFolly.com and she has a lot of resources on her website. I just started trying wine, go to the store, buy a bottle, if I don’t like it cook with it! You know what I mean?

    JOHN. Right.

    DEJA. Then, write it down and people started asking me for suggestions. “I’m going to a bridal shower, what should I take?” “I’m going to a bachelorette party, what should I bring?” “I’m going to a housewarming,” and I was like, “alright, I’m pretty good at this, let’s try it.”

    JOHN. That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite wine? I’m sure that you have several.

    DEJA. Um.

    JOHN. Or maybe a varietal I guess, maybe that’s easier.

    DEJA. I can’t say that, I can’t give you a favorite.

    JOHN. Just so many, right?

    DEJA. No, there is. I really like Cerance, it’s an Argentinian wine that I’ve had. I actually tried some in Barcelona when I was there as well. It’s a white drink, it’s kind of spicy, but it goes with a little bit of everything I found out. So that’s one of my favorites.

    JOHN. That’s awesome. My wife and I just got back from South Africa about two months ago. We went to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, and man it’s awesome there. Because of the conversion rates, their bottles of wine were so cheap.

    DEJA. And Paris too, I can get a whole bottle of wine at the restaurant for $10, Excuse me, Euro’s. I was like, “the markup in America is ridiculous.” I’m done buying wine in the restaurants now.

    JOHN. Right, when you see the price you think they’re going to bring it out in a box, because it’s like France.

    DEJA. Exactly.

    JOHN. That’s awesome.

    DEJA. I’m trying to be humble and not become a wine snob, but it’s slowly coming on me.

    JOHN. Well, you’re not a snob about it, you just know what you like and what you don’t like. That’s it. We don’t know hardly anything, we just know what we like. I don’t care if it’s $100 or $10, it’s good.

    DEJA. Exactly. I’ve had good wine, I’ve had bad wine, I’ve had expensive, I’ve had cheap wine. I started with Barefoot in Walmart, so it’s not like…

    JOHN. There you go.

    DEJA. You start from the bottom and work your way up. I tell people that. People are like, “I don’t like wine.” And I say, “no, you just haven’t found the right wine for you.” That’s all it takes, trial and error.

    JOHN. So many kinds. Over in South Africa even, the varietals that we call them here in the US, they use the same names, but they’re slightly different. Each country and each region has it’s own little spin to each of those. So definitely take some time, feel your way around, and just ask. People want you to enjoy it, people like you. You want everyone to enjoy wine.

    DEJA. I do, I do. Everyone, it’s for everybody.

    JOHN. Especially at 10AM.

    DEJA. Wine is not just for evenings, it’s not just for after five. I have found myself, “hey, it’s been a long morning already, let me just take a little sip.”

    JOHN. Just take the edge off a little bit. So you’ve been to Paris and Barcelona. So, what are some of the coolest places, or most rewarding experiences, you’ve had with your wine passion, if you will?

    DEJA. For the most part, just building my following and reaching out to people that do similar things to me. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from some really big wine bloggers and wine makers. I’m actually planning a tour of Napa Valley for next Springish or Summer. I have a friend that’s from Oakland, so I’m trying to get that all organized. I have two wineries that are interested in doing a video blog with me, and I have to see what comes of that. I am pretty well with nerves, so again, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone.

    JOHN. Yeah.

    DEJA. To get in front of a camera, talk to people, it’s something new for me.

    JOHN. I think that you’re so brave to do that, and it seems like for stepping out of your comfort zone, good things have happened.

    DEJA. Yeah, it has. And that’s what I encourage everybody to do. I have to practice what I preach. Just trying, even if it’s a new hash tag or tagging a person, this social media thing is broad, you know what I mean? There is really no right way of doing it at all. You just have to try. Try something new, and you never know.

    JOHN. I think it’s so great, and congrats on the momentum you’ve got so far. The trajectory is straight up, so that’s so cool. Do you have the blog up yet?

    DEJA. I do have it up. Mainly right now it’s Deja Vines and that is my website. I am working on it as far as getting the blog posts up, but a lot of people follow me on Instagram and that is ZDejaVine on Instagram and Twitter.

    JOHN. That’s awesome, and we’ll definitely have links to that on GreenApplePodcast.com for people to crossover and follow you, to connect with you. Would you say from your wine hobby, or passion, that maybe there is a skill set that you’ve developed that has helped you at work? Something that you feel like you’re doing that other people aren’t doing outside of the office that does help?

    DEJA. I have incorporated a lot more patience because it’s a process. I’ve learned to respect the process. As we know, in wine tasting there are different steps to it and in order to get the full flavor of things you have to pour it right, you have to smell it right, you have to taste it right. For my job, a lot of people heavily rely on me for information, but at the same time I have to remember to go through it the right way, take my time and understand what’s needed of me. Something I often know is that I’m not always going to get it right. That’s one of the things that I have learned just by taking this on as a passion and just relaxing maybe what I feel are my standards, because this is not the right way and there really isn’t a right way. Just learning how to be patient with myself, and that’s something that I can work into work.

    JOHN. Yeah. That’s so profound, and so great that you see it in the moment, as opposed to looking back. You’re in the moment and you see it. Something I think a lot of people don’t know, when it comes to bottles of wine, it’s common if you buy a case for one of them to be bad, it just happens. So it’s nobody’s fault, it just happens.

    DEJA. Yes.

    JOHN. You just fix it and move on, no one’s lives are lost, things can be fixed everybody, this is accounting, no one is dieing here, it’s all good.

    DEJA. Right. In a world where you feel like everything has to be so correct the first time, you put a lot of pressure on yourself. There have been times where I’ve given suggestions that people don’t necessarily like, and I have to learn not to take that personal, but that’s just a matter of your taste buds, and wine is so subjective, you know what I mean? It’s not cut and dry. So, like my job could be. That’s what I’ve learned, I’ve learned to be patient with myself and to be confident in what I know.

    JOHN. That’s great too. That confidence is also huge. So is this something that you talk about at work or to a few people maybe?

    DEJA. Yes, I do. I have a close knit group of coworkers that know my passion, that know what I do, and that’s something that I wouldn’t necessarily endorse at my job. But, I do have really good support around me. I’m fixing to do a New Year’s wine tasting, so I’m going to pull a few people from my job to do that with me.

    JOHN. Right. That’s a great idea. Then it just breaks down those walls and gets you out of that uncomfortable office and out where you can actually build those connections and those relationships.

    DEJA. Exactly, yeah.

    JOHN. Then they’re even stronger when you get back into that cubicle world.

    DEJA. In the office, yeah.

    JOHN. So just out of curiosity, and for people listening, how do you choose who to share with and who not to share with? Because I think a lot of people have that anxiety, like what you described. What’s your thought process, or what keeps you from wanting to let it spread, or keep it under wraps more?

    DEJA. For the most part I am an observer. So I observe how people interact with your dreams. So I’m very careful, I always believe that people have to earn the right to hear your story, and that means that I have to trust you enough that A) I can trust you with my dreams, and B) that you will support me and vice versa. For the most part the people that I know, love, and trust at my job, we have spent time outside of work cultivating a relationship, whether it be happy hour or attending another networking event. So you build that relationship with people so that you can say, “hey this is my idea, what do you think about this?” And they’ll tell you the honest truth and you don’t feel like anybody is trying to undercut you or talk bad about you. For the most part it’s about maybe two or three people that I can trust and share my information with.

    JOHN. Yeah.

    DEJA. One of them, she’s actually my editor per pay, like I pay her every time I do a job, to edit one of my posts.

    JOHN. How great is that? That’s awesome!

    DEJA. She’s the technical writer for our job, so I can send her my blog posts and she’ll edit it for me and offer suggestions, and it’s perfect.

    JOHN. That’s so great.

    DEJA. It’s like, “hey I’m buying you lunch if you can edit this for me real quick.” I have another coworker that’s an event planner, so we’re always bouncing different ideas across each other, and it’s just fun that I’m actually working with people that have other desires besides working.

    JOHN. You all get your job done, and you’re very good at what you do, but when you’re at lunch or taking a quick break or something like that.

    DEJA. It’s not all work.

    JOHN. Exactly, what’s ten or fifteen minutes.

    DEJA. Right.

    JOHN. I talk to some people and they’re like, “well there isn’t a charge code for socializing.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but 15 minutes?” There isn’t a charge code for smoke breaks or going to the bathroom either. Do you need a code for that? No.

    DEJA. You have to do that.

    JOHN. We’re not talking about an hour here, just ten or fifteen minutes. Or at lunch, then it’s your time. So I think that’s so fantastic, what a perfect example for everyone to hear. I also love how you brought up how people have to earn the right to hear your story, or your dreams especially. That’s when you’re fragile, vulnerable, and people can just crush you.

    DEJA. I’m all for constructive criticism, but I’m at the point where I don’t want the negativity, and you can tell when someone is being negative and when they’re being constructive.

    JOHN. Yes. I love it, I think it’s so great. I would love to come on a wine tour with you, you could teach me a ton of stuff. That would be hilarious, and so fun!

    DEJA. It would be fun!

    JOHN. A group of accountants on a wine tour.

    DEJA. I’m not so serious with it, I can be so fun. I think the end goal for me, I want to eventually have my own wine store here in Charlotte. I’m giving myself five years to do it, if not I’m moving overseas. So, it’s either the wine store, or I’m moving overseas.

    JOHN. Alright. There you go.

    DEJA. I am open to whatever comes, and I think that’s the fun part of it to me. A lot of people don’t see the background work, they don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears.

    JOHN. No, they sure don’t.

    DEJA. Nor, you trying to manage actually working, because I know I need to work, I have bills to pay. Until this is something that I can make money off of, I’m going to manage it as my passion and still do my job.

    JOHN. Do you feel like some people judge you, like maybe you’re not as good at your job because you have something outside of it?

    DEJA. No! Because a lot of people don’t know.

    JOHN. OK.

    DEJA. At my job a lot of people don’t know. So it’s not like I’m running around saying, “oh this is my wine blog.” No, it doesn’t take up my time at work, but I’m an insomniac so I can be up at 2 o’clock in the morning looking at wine stuff. So a lot of it I do in my private time, which for me is better, because I’m in my own comfort zone. It’s way more important for me to do it outside of work.

    JOHN. Right, I got you. I got a question for you. Do you feel like your relationship with the people who do know about this is stronger or different than the other people that don’t know?

    DEJA. I think it is. I think once you get with people who have other passions in life, you’re connected in a way to things that become your way. You never know who you can meet just by telling someone, “hey I have a wine blog.” “OK, I’m going to a dinner party on Sunday, I don’t know who I’m going to meet at this dinner party, but I know I have to bring wine.” If I didn’t tell her, she would never know, and I may have never been invited to sit at the table with them. The mere fact that I’m willing to share my passion and other people can share theirs, it’s almost like a small family and they can support you.

    JOHN. I think that’s so great. Just imagine, once you start opening that up at work there’s going to be some high up people that definitely love wine, and they’re going to know you by a first name basis. Your connection to the top is going to get so much stronger, and that’s going to be really, really cool.

    DEJA. Yes, I know.

    JOHN. But it’s completely understandable where you’re at now, and I think a lot of people are now. You’re actually steps ahead of a lot of people, you’re on the way. I love it, I think it’s so great.

    DEJA. Thank you so much.

    JOHN. When it comes to creating this culture, or sharing, or what have you, how much do you think it is on the company or the firm versus the individual?

    DEJA. It would be nice if the company would support your passion, but I know that there is no room for that. I think that it should incorporate a part of you, catering to your passions. Because, we’re only there for eight hours a day, but it consumes a lot of our day.

    JOHN. It’s more of the waking hours than we are with our family.

    DEJA. Right, exactly. You’re up getting ready for it two hours early, and then you’re up for another five hours trying to beat the stress from the day. It does take up your day, and I wish corporations would understand that people have lives.

    JOHN. Yeah.

    DEJA. We have other things we want to focus on.

    JOHN. You’re a perfect example of someone who maybe works in a place that doesn’t encourage this, doesn’t have that culture that’s ideal, that “everybody bring your passions and share.” It’s quite the opposite, but you’re still doing it! Which I love, it’s awesome. You’re like, “look, this is who I am. Yeah, I’m not shouting it from the rooftops with a bullhorn, but within my small little circle I’ve got these connections that are super, super strong. I am sharing, I’m not a robot.” You’re providing a little bit of color in this gray world. I have to imagine that when you’re talking wine and your friends are talking about their hobbies and passions, there’s a breath of fresh air that happens.

    DEJA. Yes.

    JOHN. I love what you’re doing, and like I said, I’d completely love to come on a wine tour with you. But, I have my 17 rapid fire questions I have to run you through first to make sure that we can hang out.

    What’s your favorite Disney Character?

    DEJA. I love Mulan.

    JOHN. Do you have a favorite TV show of all time?

    DEJA. I’m gonna go with A Different World.

    JOHN. When it comes to computers, PC or Mac?

    DEJA. PC.

    JOHN. When it comes to a mouse, right click or left click?

    DEJA. Right click.

    JOHN. Star Wars or Star Trek?

    DEJA. Star Wars.

    JOHN. Do you have a movie that makes you cry?

    DEJA. Come back to me on that one.

    JOHN. Alright, we’ll pass.

    When it comes to financials, balance sheet or income statement?

    DEJA. Income statement.

    JOHN. Reading, Kindle or real books?

    DEJA. Real books.

    JOHN. Do you have a favorite number?

    DEJA. Seven.

    JOHN. Do you have a favorite sports team? Since you wanted to get into that Sports management.

    DEJA. Two football teams, I will not live it down. I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan first, then a Broncos fan.

    JOHN. What do you like to have for breakfast?

    DEJA. I’m not a big breakfast person, that’s the hard part. If I had to choose, I love omelets and pancakes.

    JOHN. Yeah, with a glass of wine right?

    DEJA. Yeah, mimosas.

    JOHN. Sudoku or crossword puzzle?

    DEJA. Crossword puzzle.

    JOHN. Do you have a favorite color?

    DEJA. Purple.

    JOHN. How about a least favorite color?

    DEJA. Brown.

    JOHN. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?

    DEJA. I love Matthew McConaughey. Favorite actress I’m going to go with Diane Carol.

    JOHN. Are you more of an early bird or night owl?

    DEJA. Early bird.

    JOHN. Movie that makes you cry?

    DEJA. I don’t think I have one!

    JOHN. That’s totally cool.

    What’s your favorite place you’ve been on vacation?

    DEJA. Hawaii.

    JOHN. What’s the favorite thing you own, or the favorite thing you have?

    DEJA. The favorite thing you have would probably be an antique wine opener from my grandmother.

    JOHN. Very nice. It works in perfectly with what you’re doing, so that’s great.

    DEJA. Yes it does.

    JOHN. That’s so great. Thank you so much Deja for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.

    DEJA. This was fun!

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