Alex is a Partner Program Manager & Socializer
Alex talks about her love of socializing on social media as well as in person, how it helps with her career, meeting her best friend online, and much more!
• Meeting her best friend online
• Sharing about your life at work
• Where the change in workplace culture starts
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Welcome to Episode 557 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 another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that differentiate you when you’re at work. It’s answering the question who else are you.
And if you like what the show’s about, be sure to check out the award-winning book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why these outside of work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. And I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
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. 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, Alex Miles. We met 5+ years ago at a conference, and I finally got her on the show. She’s the partner, program manager, accountant channel with FreshBooks. And now, she’s with me here today. Alex, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And?”
Alex: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited. It’s so good to finally sit down and talk with you. Yeah, like you said, we met at a conference back in 2017 and kind of stayed connected through social media over the years as you do in today’s day and age. But yeah, it’s so good to be here.
John: No, this is gonna be awesome. So much fun. And I have 17 rapid-fire questions. Get to know Alex.
Alex: All right, let’s do it.
John: Probably should have asked you in 2017, but I never got around to— I’d be random. Hi, my name’s John. So anyway, what’s your favorite color?
Alex: My favorite color is lavender.
John: Oh, nice.
Alex: Yes. I love lavender.
John: Yeah. And it’s got a scent with it.
Alex: Yeah. Oh, yeah. And that’s my favorite scent.
John: Oh, there you go. All right.
Alex: Yeah. When my husband and I went on our honeymoon in Maui, one of the things that I really wanted to do was go to the lavender farms. So I made him do that. Instead of sitting on the beach, we drove up to the mountains in Maui and did a tour at the lavender farms.
John: Well, where else are you gonna see lavender farms though? I mean, not in Idaho, that’s for sure.
Alex: I mean, there actually is surprisingly.
John: Oh, really?
John: Holy cow.
Alex: Yeah. Every summer, I like to go to— There’s a lavender farm about like 20 minutes from here and you can like pick your own lavender. It’s really cool.
John: That is cool. All right, there we go. How about a least favorite color?
Alex: Ooh, I’m gonna say red, but only because I don’t like red on me. So I don’t like the way my skin mends with red.
John: It’s funny. The least favorite color is almost all the time a color that people don’t like to wear. Like that’s the reason why. It’s always, always that, which is great. I love it. How about a favorite Disney character?
Alex: Ooh, favorite Disney character.
John: Or any animated character really, Disney seems to have ’em all now.
Alex: You know, I’m gonna have to go with Mickey Mouse only because my son is currently obsessed with Mickey, and Mickey just makes me so happy.
John: Yeah, it’s a classic. You can’t go wrong with that. Absolutely. Very good. Very good. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku, Crossword, Jigsaw? We’ll throw in Wordle. That seems to be a new one.
Alex: I’m gonna have to go with Jigsaw.
John: Oh, okay.
Alex: But only because my husband forces me to do Jigsaw puzzles with him. I’m not a puzzle person at all. But quality time, I’ll do jigsaw puzzle.
John: Okay. Okay. Nice. You’re a team player there. I’m impressed. I like it. How about are you more talk or text?
Alex: I am more talk ’cause I like to talk. I like to voice text.
Alex: So I’m a huge voice texter. And even on Slack, I like to use the voice memo of Slack instead of typing everything out because I just feel like I can like fully articulate what I’m trying to say via text or—
John: And the tone comes across ’cause it’s an audio message.
Alex: Exactly. So regardless whether it’s a phone call or a voice text, you’re listening to my voice. So, sorry. And also, I suck at texting back. All of my friends know this about me. I am the worst texter when it comes to texting back. I will start a text message and then I’ll get sidetracked, like total squirrel moment. And I forget to text back. So if I force myself to voice text somebody back, it forces me to like immediately get back to them.
John: Yeah. ‘Cause once you hit record, you can’t get sidetracked like halfway through.
John: It’s like all right.
John: I like it. Okay. How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Alex: Ooh, I’m gonna have to go with Ryan Reynolds.
John: Oh. Oh, okay. He’s a popular one. That’s for sure.
Alex: Yeah. He’s easy on the eyes as well.
John: All right. And he smells like lavender. And so, there’s that.
Alex: Right. I’m sure he does. No, he’s also just a really great actor and he’s hilarious.
John: Yeah. And he seems like a really good person too.
Alex: Yeah. And a great dad it seems like. And yeah, he just seems like an overall great guy.
John: I’ll take it. Totally. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Alex: Oh, I’m gonna have to say neither ’cause I’ve never seen either one of them, but I’ll stick on the star theme here. And I’ll go A Star is Born, but the Lady Gaga version.
John: Oh, okay. Okay. There you go. Nice. I like it. I’ll dig it. That’s a good twist. I was like “Where’s she going with this? How many star things are there?” Yeah. A Star is Born, of course. All right. There you go. I like it. That’s awesome. Your computer, PC or a Mac?
Alex: Oh, it’s a PC.
John: A PC’s is the thing that I use ’cause I’m not cool enough to use a Mac. That’s what it is.
Alex: Mac all the way.
John: That’s very funny. Ooh, this is a fun one. Sunrise or sunset?
Alex: I’m gonna have to go with Sunrise. And I say that because we just moved into a new house, and we sit up on a hill, and we can oversee the valley. And our master bedroom oversees the whole valley. And so, in the mornings, the sunrise is so beautiful, and I love waking up with the sun.
John: Ah, that’s impressive.
Alex: Yeah. The sun peeking through and yeah.
John: That’s what having young kids will do for you right there.
John: That will do it. And how about ice cream, in a cup or in a cone?
Alex: A cup. I mean, I like cones, but they get messy and—
John: And it’s all over. Yeah. It’s just like a race against time to finish it before it gets all over the place. Yeah. How about a favorite day of the week?
Alex: Ooh, favorite day of the week. You know, I have actually grown to really like Mondays. As crazy as that sounds, I’ve grown to like Mondays just because I reset for the week and I have become a very to-do list person. And so, I write down all of my to-dos for the week, and I have a vision of like what my week looks like.
John: Nice. Absolutely.
Alex: 5 years ago, I would not have been a Monday person, but here I am.
John: Or a sunrise person.
Alex: Or a sunrise person.
John: Yeah. That’s hilarious. How about a favorite band or musician?
Alex: Lady Gaga.
John: There we go.
Alex: I have my brother-in-law to thank for that. He has always been a Lady Gaga fan, like since he was very little. And I have grown to love her. My kids actually absolutely love her. You know how Spotify or Apple Music do the like yearly wrapped list and whatever? Well, both my husband and I are like 0.5% of the top listeners for Lady Gaga every year because our kids—
John: Oh, my gosh.
Alex: …are so obsessed with Lady Gaga.
John: That’s great. It’s better than Barney or whatever the kid’s version is that’s out now.
Alex: We will get in the car and my son immediately says Ga-ga. He’s 2. And he is just like he needs Gaga to play. I went and saw her with my brother-in-law back in September. And we had VIP packages. And we were right up against the stage. And I don’t know if I will ever go to such an incredible concert. Like it should be on everybody’s bucket list.
John: Yeah, it’s an experience. That’s for sure.
Alex: It is an experience. She is so talented.
John: Yeah, no doubt. I forget if it was Netflix or whatever, The Becoming Gaga, that’s such a great— Whether you like her music or not, I mean, it’s an unbelievable special behind the scenes, peeling back the curtain of what it’s like to be her, you know. And really, just the human side of her is impressive.
Alex: Yeah, she is amazing for sure.
John: Yeah. I mean, she’s no Alex Miles, but, you know, whatever.
Alex: I know. Trust me. I know.
John: Trust me. I know.
Alex: Put her people in contact with my people. I’ll teach her a thing or two.
John: Right? Exactly. Exactly. How about a favorite number?
Alex: 12. And I say that because I was born on July 12th, so 12 has always just been—
John: That’s a solid number.
Alex: …my favorite number.
John: So there you go. All right, we got two more. When it comes to books, audio version, e-Book, or the real book?
Alex: I really like real books. I like holding a real book and just being focused on the book itself. But I do love audiobooks, and podcasts, and all. I like listening when I’m doing something like cleaning.
If I’m just sitting there or driving, I feel like I get distracted when I’m listening to something. My brain just starts thinking about a million other things. So if I’m cleaning, I like an audio book. If I’m just sitting there, I like a real book.
John: And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Alex: I do love my Peloton.
John: Oh, okay.
Alex: Yeah. I love my Peloton, but I think what I love a little bit more than that— and my husband, when he listens to this, he’s gonna roll his eyes a little bit— my phone.
John: Right? You can’t send voice texts without a phone.
Alex: I know.
John: I guess maybe on your computer. I don’t know. Macs are so fancy. But your phone on your Peloton. There we go.
Alex: Yeah. Kill two birds with one stone.
John: That’s awesome. I love it. That’s so funny. But let’s talk socializing. Were you like that as a kid and just kept it going or is it how it’s always been?
Alex: I feel like my entire life my mom has always called me a social butterfly.
Alex: And I’ve always been that way. I’ve always been somebody that just talks to strangers as bad as that sounds. I will have conversations with anybody. Yeah. I’ve always been a very social, outgoing person. It’s never been hard for me to have a conversation with people.
John: That’s awesome. And I mean, now it’s a huge asset to have for your job. I mean, a skillset that you can’t teach necessarily how to do that. So it directly leads to work skillset.
John: I guess do you have any favorite moments of talking to strangers or random people where it’s like “Wow, that was an amazing experience or kind of like no one’s gonna believe that that just happened”?
Alex: So I think something that’s always been really cool for me when it comes to just socializing and going back to like my phone and like being very active on social media and having that tie into my job a lot is connecting with people through social media and having the opportunity to meet that person in real life, and forming friendships with people online and knowing so much about them through a screen, and then getting that opportunity to finally be face-to-face with that person.
Something that’s really cool to me is back when I was in college, I joined this fitness group on Facebook. And it was people, primarily women, just girls, college-aged, all around the world that were a part of this group. And I made friends with a handful of girls. And one girl in particular, we really just hit it off. And I randomly one day— I was like “I’m gonna go to Ohio and I’m gonna go visit her.” And my parents were like “No, you’re not.
John: Right. It might not be a real person.
Alex: Yeah. This could be like an old bald man for all we know. Like nothing against bald men.
John: Right. I was like “Hold on.” No, I’m just kidding. Like I’ll be there soon enough.
Alex: You’ve got a lot of hair. You’ve got a ways to go.
John: You’re very kind. Thank you.
Alex: No, but I randomly just booked a flight to Ohio. And I flew to Ohio. She picked me up at the airport, and it was her. And we talk every day still. This was 8 years ago. And she is my best friend. We went through pregnancy together. She is, yeah, one of my best friends. And she lives a million miles away, but met online through social media.
John: That’s so cool because like there’s times where I’m like this isn’t even real. It’s make believe. We’re talking right now and tweets are flying by. But it is real. And you know, you stay in touch that way and then you can reach out and just stay up-to-date with people and things like that. But then you’re right. When you do meet them, it’s pretty awesome to be like “Wow, you’re really like this all the time.” Or I get all the time “Wow, you’re so much taller than I thought you’d be.” And I’m like “Well, what’d you expect?”
Alex: I won’t lie. I thought the same thing when I first met you. Same thing with you actually because we met on Twitter through Qubo chat. And that’s how you and I got started connecting. And then we’ve met in real life at QuickBooks Connect. And I remember thinking the same thing. I mean, you look like you could be tall, but like you are very tall.
John: It’s like 6’6″ is like an okay. You know, like I feel like anyone taller than me, I’m like “Whoa, how do you fly? Like how do you drive a car?” Like I’m right at the edge where anyone taller than me, I’m like “Oh, my God.” Like somebody on the podcast actually one time asked at the end— They asked, “You know, what’s your favorite thing about yourself?” And I said, “That I’m appropriately tall. Like I can get things off the top shelf, but I’m not awkward.”
Alex: Yeah. Like lanky.
John: Yeah. Like “Why aren’t you in the NBA? You’re so tall.” And it’s like “Well, I’m a point guard. You know, like I’m not even really that tall.” But it is funny the reactions that people get to things. And I’m sure people with you, it’s like “Wow, you’re like this all the time. That’s cool.” You know? ‘Cause it’s neat to see that. And I guess like I said earlier, that just lends directly into your job, is being authentic online, being authentic in person, just this is who I am. And like has there ever been a time where it crossed your mind of like “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t talk about the Peloton or maybe I shouldn’t talk about my family or other things ’cause people are gonna judge me for not being all work all the time or anything like that”?
Alex: No. I mean, in previous roles, I definitely felt that. But I feel like where I’m at currently and where I’m at in my role and the company that I’m at, I feel like I can always be authentically me. And I feel like that it just goes to show what leadership can do and how much of an impact that leadership has on how you can fully bring yourself to work. So I feel like there have been times where I can’t necessarily talk about it, but where I’m at currently, yes, I absolutely can talk about everything under the sun.
John: Right. Right. Yeah.
Alex: And not feel like I’m out of line for talking about it or sharing.
John: Yeah. And just curious like do you feel like relationships are different with your coworkers in a place where you’re able to share more?
Alex: I feel like there’s a level of comfort for sure. I feel like if I show people that I’m comfortable enough to talk about me being a mom at work, me getting super sweaty and hopping on to a meeting and talking about this really hard ride that I just got done with, then that kind of leads into other people feeling comfortable enough to do that and share themselves with me. I feel like if I share, other people will share. And that’s how I am just in general, not just my work life, but my personal life as well. I’m a very open person as far as what I share and who I share to.
John: Yeah. And I would imagine that, I mean, work gets done differently maybe better by knowing these other sides to people around you and also just ’cause you care. You know, just that level of caring has to make a difference for sure. And I guess how much does it matter on the organization creating that space or how much is it on the individual to just be like “Hey, I’m gonna start it with maybe my circle of my peers or something like that?”
Alex: I feel like it definitely starts with the organization or maybe not necessarily the organization, but going back to leaders. Opening up that door of allowing people to be authentically themselves and going back to what I was saying about if I share other people, will share. Having a leader that shares themselves and my leader, Twyla, she is very open and shares about her daughter, and her husband, and her interest. Her running.
John: And her running. She was a guest on the podcast as well.
Alex: Yeah. Yeah. And so, she opens that door for the rest of the team to talk about themselves. And every meeting that we have, we talk about what we did over the weekend. Or, I mean, the one that we had yesterday, we all talked about how our Christmas was or what we got for Christmas, what we did for New Year’s, all of that. So yeah, I feel like it starts with leaders for sure.
John: And it’s important that it doesn’t have to be CEO leader. It’s the midlevel leader or the whatever level leader, like within your little group can be just awesome. You know, it doesn’t have to be organization wide necessarily ’cause it can go both ways on that. Like the CEO could be super sharing and really open and then a mid-level manager not and then everything below that gets ruined for that experience.
John: So it goes both ways.
Alex: I love listening to what’s going on in people’s lives. Like if they’re willing to share, I love listening to people talk ’cause I love when people like to listen to me talk.
John: Right? Exactly. But it’s so great to hear how it makes some difference.
Alex: Yeah. Absolutely.
John: And I also love that example and that’s something that people can easily take with them that are listening now of how you start a meeting with going around the table with something personal or something that’s a question that peels back a little bit of the professional veneer of what we try to present to the world.
Alex: And I feel like it opens up a level of comfort for the meeting itself as well. It just gets people loose. And I mean, there’s meetings that’s not necessary. It’s not necessary to start a meeting with talking about what your favorite color is or what you did over the weekend.
There’s definitely meetings that it does not make sense to do that. But for normal team meetings that are recurring that we have this time together every week, let’s like get to know one another a little bit more, get to know our interests. And I mean, it helps us as a team. I feel very connected to my team, and I’m very thankful for that because I’ve been in situations where I don’t feel a connection to anybody on my team. And the team that I have at FreshBooks is like stellar. We’re all very connected and in tune with one another. And I feel like a lot of that has to do with just connecting and taking that extra 5 minutes to get to know one another and talk about what we did over the weekend.
John: And it literally is 5 minutes. I mean, it’s literally 5 minutes.
John: And if you can’t get your work done ’cause you took 5 minutes to create a connection with another human, then maybe this isn’t your right job.
John: You got bigger problems.
John: But the benefits from taking that 5 minutes to just take your foot off the gas for a little bit to just have a human connection, the benefits are so much greater and in ongoing.
Alex: Oh, 100%. Yeah. I agree.
John: That’s really cool to hear that that’s going on there. So do you have any words of encouragement, anyone listening that’s like “You know, hey, I have this hobby, but I don’t think anyone cares or it has nothing to do with my job, so why talk about it?”
Alex: It does matter. What you’re doing does matter and people do care. Everybody may not care, but somebody does care. And if you are in a space that you feel like you can’t talk about what you enjoy doing, something that ignites the fire that allows you to do your best work, then maybe you should reevaluate where you’re at. I’ve been there, and I reevaluated, and I’m very happy and content. And I feel like if that is what you want to talk about, but you feel handcuffed or muzzled to do so, then reevaluate and go somewhere that’s gonna allow you to be you.
John: No, I love it. And I mean, and if you’re in a manager level or a leadership position at an organization and listening right now, go ask your people what they do, like what lights them up, you know, because that matters. And like my dream is that organizations, that’s part of your goal setting for the year, is you have your at work goals, but then you have outside of work goals that have nothing to do with work at all. Like I wanna take my kids on two vacations. Okay. Cool. How’s that going? Like we’re halfway through the year in June, where are we at? How many vacations have you done? Well, let’s book ’em. Let’s go. You know? And like making sure that people are living their best life and they’re gonna do their best work.
Alex: Because ultimately when you are able to not only talk about the things that you enjoy doing outside of work, but also do those things outside of work and make time to do those things outside of work that correlates to your performance at work. That correlates to your happiness at work. And whatever energy you put out outside of work and you’re able to talk about it and whatnot, you bring that same energy to work and you’re reignited.
John: I love that. That’s awesome. Such a great word. So perfect. Well, this has been so much fun, Alex, but I feel like it’s only fair since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning of the show that we turn the tables and we make this the first episode of The Alex Miles Podcast. So thanks for having me as a guest. So I’m all yours if you want to ask questions. Fire away.
John: I’m all yours. I know. I’m very nervous actually.
Alex: Thanks so much for coming on the show, John Garrett.
John: Hey, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me. It took 5-1/2 years for us to finally get together.
Alex: Yeah, that’s my first question. What took you so long?
John: Right? Well, I wanted to write a book and that takes a long time.
Alex: No. One of my questions that I have for you is you’ve been in the podcast game for so long. You started with Green Apple and rebranded to What’s Your “And”? And you’re now on 557. What’s been the hardest part of running a podcast and being in this space for as long as you have?
John: The hardest part is getting people to be a guest. You don’t have to be all world something or have this side hustle that makes money or whatever. Like if you have any hobby, or an interest, or anything outside of work, then What’s Your “And”? is for you. It’s your message too, you know. And I feel like so many other podcasts, the host is maybe a bigger ego and it’s about them. And this show is about all of us. And so, if you’re listening now and you have a hobby that you just started 2 weeks ago, let’s talk about it. Like it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to be good, you know. And so, I feel like it’s me reaching out to people to be like “Hey, do you want to be on?”
They’re like “Me. Really?” “Yes, you, of course you.” Like “Why not you? Like who else?” You know? And so, that’s been the hardest part, has been getting people just to see the value that you are enough. You don’t have to do whatever someone else is doing. Like just be you, and you are enough, and I want you on the show. Yeah. And reach out. Absolutely. Because I mean, there’s only one person I had to be like “Hey, do you have something else” because it was kind of illegal. “Anything else?” And they’re like “Well, no.” And I’m like “Well, let’s talk later then.” You know, that’s the only person I’ve said no. It’s just so fun to see people light up on what they love to do outside of work.
Alex: I love that. Great answer. Okay. So I am a huge gift giver. Going back to just being a socializer, I like just learning about people and being able to gift things that really mean something to somebody and not just giving gifts to give gifts type of thing.
John: Oh, yeah. That’s the worst.
Alex: What is the best gift that you’ve ever been given?
John: Oh, man. Well, having Alex Miles be on the podcast is probably right up there.
Alex: Wrap me up.
John: That’s right up there. I mean, I could get like super deep with life from my parents. I mean, that’s a pretty good gift. I mean, for real, for real, like my parents are saying that whatever college you get into, we’ll figure out a way to make it happen. And then I got into Notre Dame. And I still don’t know how my parents made that, any of that. I mean, I, of course, took the maximum loans I could, but I don’t know how my parents filled in the gaps. I really don’t. But that’s a pretty amazing gift to be able to tell someone that education matters and you busted your butt to get to whatever school you want to go to and then we’ll make it work. That’s a pretty amazing gift for sure.
Alex: I love that.
John: It’s nothing that I can like—
Alex: You’re gonna make me cry.
John: …take with me. But I mean it, it matters, you know. I mean, so many people, they’re like “Well, I’d love to go to this place, but I can’t” or “I’d love to this, but I can’t.” And it’s like to be able to have parents that see like where they came from, which wasn’t necessarily much, to be able to be like, wow, we can really give you a boost is pretty awesome. So that would probably be for real like without getting deep with like life in general. But yeah, that’s a pretty cool one, I think.
Alex: That’s awesome. I love that.
John: Well, thank you so much, Alex, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? You’re awesome and I just appreciate you being a part of this.
Alex: Thank you so much for having me. This was so fun. I’ll be back next week.
John: All right, very good. Awesome. I love it. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Alex in action or maybe connect with her on social media, I’m telling you she’s on there a lot, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are on there. 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 check out 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.