Episode 587 – Jason Staats

Jason is a Founder & Creator of Silly Things

Jason Staats, founder of Realize LLC., talks about his passion for creating funny content and how it both applies to his career and separates from his job, using AI tools, bringing your whole self into the office, and much more!

Episode Highlights

· Getting into creating silly content
· Using AI tools
· Skills from content creation that translates to his work
· Importance of bringing your whole self into the office

Jason's Links

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Podcast Transcript

Welcome to Episode 587 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 side of work. In other words, 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. It’s the answer to the question of who else are you beyond the job title. And if you like what the show’s about, be sure to check out the award winning book. It’s on Amazon Indigo, Barnes and Noble bookshop, a few other Sites. All the links are at what’s your and.com. The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why this outside of work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such 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 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, Jason Stats. He’s the founder of Realize, a community of accounting firm leaders and the host of his podcast, Jason Daley, And now he’s with me here today. Jason, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your Hand.

Jason Staats [00:01:34]:

Hello. Thank you for having me, John. It’s great to be here.

John Garrett [00:01:37]:

Yeah. After we got to hang out and meet each other in person in Chicago at bridging the gap. So, yeah, I’m excited to have you on. I have 17 rapid fire questions, which I wanted to ask you in person, but I didn’t wanna make it weird. So I figured I’d just do it for the podcast. So

Jason Staats [00:01:53]:

Let’s do it.

John Garrett [00:01:54]:

Your seat belt is on. We’re ready to go.

Jason Staats [00:01:55]:

17. Jeez Louise. Okay.

John Garrett [00:01:57]:

Yeah. It’s gonna get to know you quickly. Favorite color?

Jason Staats [00:02:00]:


John Garrett [00:02:01]:

Green? Solid. Okay. How about a least favorite color?

Jason Staats [00:02:04]:

Yeah. Brown.

John Garrett [00:02:05]:

Brown. That’s by far the most popular, least popular. I don’t even know if that Sense, but it’s everybody says that.

Jason Staats [00:02:11]:

It’s all the other colors. Like, if your favorite color is brown, like, pick a color. That’s all the colors.

John Garrett [00:02:15]:

Right. Right. Yeah. Exactly. How about your 1st concert?

Jason Staats [00:02:20]:

Oh, 4th grade. I had a recorder solo.

John Garrett [00:02:24]:

Oh. Oh, you performing even. Okay.

Jason Staats [00:02:26]:

Oh, yeah.

John Garrett [00:02:27]:

Alright. I like it. Nice. Alright. How about a favorite Disney character?

Jason Staats [00:02:31]:


John Garrett [00:02:32]:

Or anything animated, I’ll take you.

Jason Staats [00:02:34]:

Big guy in Moana. I can’t remember

John Garrett [00:02:35]:

his name.

Jason Staats [00:02:36]:

Yeah. But he cracks me up. He’s voiced by The Rock. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:02:39]:

Yeah. I don’t remember his name either. But, yeah, great character. How about a favorite actor or an actress?

Jason Staats [00:02:45]:

Ryan Reynolds and Donald Glover, it’s a tie. I can’t pick 1. To the extent that I’ve literally had dreams about each in the last week

John Garrett [00:02:52]:

Oh, okay.

Jason Staats [00:02:54]:

Getting into their friend group. Like, that’s like, a grown man having dreams about that. That’s the extent to which that goes.

John Garrett [00:03:00]:

Very talented individual. That’s for sure. Oh, this is an important one. Toilet paper roll. Is it over or under?

Jason Staats [00:03:06]:


John Garrett [00:03:06]:

Over. Yeah.

Jason Staats [00:03:08]:

I assume if people say under, you just you don’t even publish those episodes?

John Garrett [00:03:11]:

Yeah. We just stop, And it’s the shortest episodes ever. That’s how I got up to 587 or whatever we’re on.

Jason Staats [00:03:17]:

There were actually, like, 800 that you recorded there.

John Garrett [00:03:20]:

Yep. All these cat people. That’s the only excuse they got. Star Wars or Star Trek?

Jason Staats [00:03:26]:

Star Trek next gen, man. That was like prime elementary school, early middle school. I like both, but You can’t beat Patrick Stewart.

John Garrett [00:03:33]:

There you go. Yeah. No. Very much. Computer, PC or a Mac?

Jason Staats [00:03:38]:

Historically, PC, but I just spent the last 2 months while traveling using a Mac, and it’s just better. Problem is that, like, it just doesn’t support everything that I need.

John Garrett [00:03:48]:

Alright. I’m not cool enough to even Try. So but I like the 2 month idea because then it’s like, well

Jason Staats [00:03:52]:

I saw you at your Surface laptop at the conference.

John Garrett [00:03:55]:

That’s awesome. Right?

Jason Staats [00:04:00]:

Still recovering from big firm life, I see.

John Garrett [00:04:03]:

Yeah. Totally. Oceans or mountains?

Jason Staats [00:04:06]:


John Garrett [00:04:07]:

Okay. Alright. There we go. Oh, this is a fun one. Shower or bath?

Jason Staats [00:04:11]:

Oh, shower. I don’t need to I don’t need to land my own stuff. Right?

John Garrett [00:04:16]:

There you go. Ice cream. I’m a huge junkie. In a cup or in a cone?

Jason Staats [00:04:20]:


John Garrett [00:04:20]:

Tone? Oh, okay. What’s a typical breakfast?

Jason Staats [00:04:24]:

Blowing right through it until lunch.

John Garrett [00:04:26]:

Oh, okay. Alright. Just Skip. Alright. How about balance sheet or income statement?

Jason Staats [00:04:32]:

Balance sheet. Oh. Until the bodies are buried. Right?

John Garrett [00:04:35]:

Yeah. And plus then you know it’s It’s right because it balances. Yeah. So it’s like, alright. We’re done. Like, there we go. Do you have a favorite number?

Jason Staats [00:04:43]:


John Garrett [00:04:44]:

Yeah. Is there a reason?

Jason Staats [00:04:46]:

Because in, like, middle school basketball, they made you pick 1, and you just said that at the top of your head and then never had a reason to change.

John Garrett [00:04:52]:

Right. And then you were 22 forever. I get it. There you go. Nice. We got 2 more books, audio version, ebook, or the real book?

Jason Staats [00:05:01]:

Audio into real book if it’s worth it. Oh. So audio, there’s, like, on my book tier list. If it’s an okay book, I’ll audio all the way through, and the, like, The speed also scales with how good it is. Sure. If I get in a bit and it’s killer, then I’m switching to physical.

John Garrett [00:05:16]:

Oh, okay. You’re slowing it down and then make the jump. Okay. Alright. And the last 1, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?

Jason Staats [00:05:24]:

Oh, can I just say we’re thinking about moving, and I would say this house because I moved in right when I got married? We had our 3 kids here, and, like, all of my kids’ childhood, like, visuals are associated with this stupid house, and all of its flaws. So, like, as we’re as we’re thinking about getting a different one, I’m like, oh, when it’s you know, all of a sudden you get Yeah, Jake.

John Garrett [00:05:46]:

You’re in the middle of love it or list it, aren’t you? You’re like, oh, but all the things. Stupid house. Yeah. No. That totally counts, man. Of course, all the memories and all the things that you’ve gone through. Very cool. That’s awesome, man. Yeah. So let’s talk making silly things. Like, how did this start? Was it right after the recorder solo? You were like, that’s it. I’m, making silly things.

Jason Staats [00:06:06]:

Or I think there’s certain people, and you’re probably one of those people, who just have a different level of absurdity in their brain that they’re not allowed to express in day to day life. Yeah. And we’ve all seen this when, like, somebody makes this stupid video, and you’re like, how did that come out of that person said, like, That’s what’s going on in there all day, and it’s I didn’t do any media stuff, like, in high school. Like, I wasn’t the movie nerd or any like, I wasn’t any of that, but I always just make enjoyed making silly things from, like, cartoon flipbooks in elementary school. You know? And I just like, I I would just love, like, The fun of bringing that thing to life and, like, just making absurd things that, I don’t know, that nobody else lets you make in other mediums.

John Garrett [00:06:52]:

Yeah. No. And that’s a huge compliment that because I was like, where is this going? Where is he? You seem like the kinda weirdo that, Yeah. Yeah. Nailed it. Because there is there’s like a bizarro world that happens in my brain where it’s like, man, wouldn’t that be awesome if This happened or wouldn’t it be awesome if that happened? Or when I’m on stage speaking, you don’t even know the b roll. I mean, it’s wow. That person really chose that sweater vest to wear today? That’s amazing. Like or whatever. I mean, just all the things that go through my head.

Jason Staats [00:07:21]:

Interestingly, like, how many common Thoughts we have, like, in that dimension. And, like, you you find a way to, like, express this thing and so and other people being like, Oh my gosh. Yes. Like, that’s the really fun thing to me. Right?

John Garrett [00:07:34]:

Right. Yeah. Because then you feel less like the circus sideshow and more like, oh, not just me. Cool. Yeah. Alright. Yeah. And, I mean, through through stand up is where I was able to share a lot of that, you know, and and so you’ve chosen the route of Mostly YouTube and and podcast?

Jason Staats [00:07:51]:

Yeah. So and this is where, like, I’m struggling with this now is when I ran a firm, like, it was the creative outlet, but now I produce videos, and that’s basically my job. But I would argue much like stand up, What I published is what people want and will engage with. Like, if you go out and you do a set and the whole thing bombs, You gotta iterate. Like, it’s for them to ever have you back. Right? And so, like, what my end is now is the stupid stuff that I just like making. And, like, I’ll go make 1, like, with my kids.

John Garrett [00:08:26]:

Yeah. Okay.

Jason Staats [00:08:27]:

And I tell you what, like, the AI tools are just pouring gasoline on that ridiculous, silly fire of, like, this stupid stuff that you can make just, like, Super quickly and easily, in fact so I am a listener of this show. They didn’t make me say that line that was at the beginning here. I’m a listener. I have always had 1 beef with the production of the pod. Like, nothing major, but just, I don’t know. Some feedback I could give you as, you know, fellow creative. Okay. Specifically, the intro jingle. Like, for me, it’s it feels just a little too corporate.

John Garrett [00:09:05]:

I picked it. That’s probably why.

Jason Staats [00:09:06]:

Yeah. So I whipped something up for you. Let let me know what you think of this.

John Garrett [00:09:25]:

Is that Anderson Cooper?

Jason Staats [00:09:29]:

It didn’t quite stick the landing at the end. Instead of and, it just kinda went, ah, but my latest ridiculous obsession is these AI thinks it will make music for you, and they’re getting so good. Like, I don’t know that you can call that good, but They’re, like, passable enough to be, like, absolutely hilarious to me, and it’s like, and so my mind just goes to What’s your thing Jeremy? Make with this. Anderson

John Garrett [00:09:54]:

I love it, man. I love it. You got the flooded Irish. You got the Anderson Cooper, visual. You got, like, What’s your and? You got a list of several ands in there? Nice, man.

Jason Staats [00:10:05]:

I think the genre that I put in was polka Irish.

John Garrett [00:10:13]:

Isn’t even a thing, but it is now. So that’s even better. That’s that’s awesome, man. No. I love it. I will definitely consider that because, I mean, I chose that that intro and the jingle. I don’t listen to podcasts. Like, I’m not a consumer of things. I’m a creator of things, And those are 2 different individuals. And so I didn’t listen to any podcasts, so I just picked something that didn’t irritate me, really, is how I landed on it. So maybe it needs a refresh.

Jason Staats [00:10:37]:

I’ll send you the song, and and we can work out the licensing offer.

John Garrett [00:10:41]:

Right. Right. Well, you’re welcome, everybody. There we go. Like, I I wonder why no one’s listening to the show anymore. Like, it’s they’re like, what? Oh my right when they turn it on.

Jason Staats [00:10:51]:

There’s a certain, like, ear piercing quality to AI stuff right now. And, really, visuals is the same way. Like, it’s kind of cursed and looks weird. But

John Garrett [00:10:59]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s hilarious. So do you have, like, Some, like, favorite things that you’ve created over the years. I mean, maybe from the very beginning even, or maybe it’s something with the kids.

Jason Staats [00:11:10]:

Probably yeah. The thing that is, like, nearest and dearest to my heart is probably the first thing I made with the kids one day. And it was actually after the end of this last year where I’d literally been making videos all day, and they were like, these are valuable videos. They’re gonna teach people things, and people will like them. But they’re not, like, stupid, ridiculous videos. And I got done, and I was like, let’s just get weird. And so I went upstairs just with my phone, and, like, my kids love performing. About 2, a 4, and a 6 year old. Like, they just love they love watching my videos. They think that’s really funny. And so they love They understand all that and love the idea of performing. So we made a little movie. It’s 2 or 3 minutes. I can run you through the plot line. It follows the traditional hero’s journey. It’s called the day Sharky ate baby kitty. And so Sharky is a pink little stuffed animal. Baby kitty is my 6 year old’s most beloved stuffy. Oh. And the general plot line is the cat gets eaten. We go on a journey to recover said cat. Shark jumps into the boat at one point. There’s a pretty graphic scene where the shark bites mom, but then eventually we get the cat back out of the shark. And it’s got, like, music and sound effects. And, like, I Edited the whole thing with my son, and, like, we watch it back, and they just think it’s the most hilarious thing ever because, like, they’re the stars of the show. And and I think it’s kind of like mind opening for them too because, like, we all consume so much. But to see into the other side of that, I think, is cool.

John Garrett [00:12:35]:

No. I love this story too. There’s a little bit of Jonah in there. There’s a little bit of, we’re gonna need a bigger boat, jaws lines. Like, I feel like there’s some there’s a lot. That’s great. And just to make it up on the spot is awesome, man, and and that’s that’s really cool. And that’s the kind of thing that, yeah, 20 years from now, you’re gonna look at and and have good laughs about.

Jason Staats [00:12:53]:

That would be amazing. Like, I don’t know if you had family videos growing up.

John Garrett [00:12:57]:

Oh, yeah.

Jason Staats [00:12:58]:

Yeah. Our version of family videos was like standing up the camera on the tripod in Corner on Christmas morning, and you’ve now got 4 hours of footage that is dad telling you to put the wrapping paper into the garbage bin. Right? And I would love for somebody to make me, like, a 10 minute supercut of that. But, hopefully, this is, like, a more interesting

John Garrett [00:13:19]:

question. When I was a kid, it was the reel to reel with no audio. So, you know, they were just like you know, it’s like the The JFK assassination kind of footage.

Jason Staats [00:13:28]:

There was no audio?

John Garrett [00:13:29]:

Yeah. No audio. Yeah. Yeah. So it was I mean, it’s colored, but then you get back these, like, little reels of film that you put into a reel to reel projector, and then it shoots it up on the screen that you, like, put up. And then after that then was 8 millimeter, like camcorder when they first came out. But, man, those camcorders were huge and heavy and, Yeah. But then in in high school, we we made for a class project. We made a Dukes of Hazard episode, And there was no script. Like, we just went out with my parents’ camcorder and shot this thing. Like, the Duke farm was gonna get sold, and so they were like, well, we’re gonna race To make money so we can save the farm from these foreign, like, investors from overseas or whatever. But the the Duke boys were too dumb, so every race, they only race for a dollar Instead of, like, real money, and so there’s, like, a 1000 races, like, and then and, like, the commercials were bleach for, like, bleach burnouts And, like, all these, like, you know, total Conversion. Hard deal. Oh, man. We were those were back in the day. Like, editing was so hard. I mean, it’s it’s crazy, and you’ve You’ve done a lot of that that editing side as well from your creation.

Jason Staats [00:14:40]:

Yeah. It’s so most people know me from YouTube and Twitter mainly, and it’s People look at it, and they’re like, wow. It’s very impressive. And it’s like, well, it’s because you didn’t watch all the really awful ones that I did. I so I was running a I was running a 40 person firm and published 2 videos a week to YouTube for 18 months. So, like, As with anything, the reason that they’re good now is because I spent more time and money on that than anyone would have ever thought was reasonable at the time, Just like you doing over a 1000 shows, you know, on stage, like, how anybody gets prolific at anything is just investing more time and energy into that thing and anyone else thinks it’s reasonable, and they might be right. But I especially think like, when I think about, you know, trying not to raise iPad Kids, and just, like, consumption culture. And you talking about, you know, wanting to create more than consume. I think one of the best things I can instill in my kids is just, like, tearing down some of the mystique of, like, this thing that I watched or this thing that I consume or this video game that I played and instead, like, understanding, like, people do this for work, and, like, this is their jobs, and this is how it works and trying to build some of that curiosity in so that they can create too and not just consume.

John Garrett [00:15:56]:

That’s great. Yeah. No. I mean, especially The more that reality TV is not real. You know? I mean, it’s like but then you try and explain that to people, but it’s called. I don’t care what it’s called. Like, you know, it’s At the end of the show, there’s a list of writers. Why do you think that is? Like, you know, it’s just it’s a Yeah.

Jason Staats [00:16:14]:

I’m a little afraid we’re gonna get, like, a second boom of reality with, like, the strike now and how long this is probably gonna drag on, and that was kind of the original thing that kicked that off.

John Garrett [00:16:25]:

Right. Yeah. With Survivor. Yeah. No. I I love it, but so you used to run a firm, and, like, how much did those skills play out? Did it give you any skills that you used at work at all?

Jason Staats [00:16:39]:

That’s a good question. I don’t know. Probably just, like, interpersonally and how I connected with people. I think There’s probably some kinda bleed over there. My role was I was able to get completely removed from the doing of the work, and I just oversaw Strategy and and people and and all of that stuff. But there was occasionally stuff where we would put out things as a firm, and I could I could absolutely put out, like, content that was Much better than you would expect from a traditional firm, but there wasn’t a ton of bleed, like, crossover, I don’t think. And that’s, I think what made it fun was, like, running an accounting firm and going in and talking to the same people and the same clients every day. Like, I needed a way to Spice things up. Like, that wasn’t enough for me. Yeah. And so this was kind of the polar opposite of that.

John Garrett [00:17:28]:

Yeah. Yeah. And then now that you’ve made The leap, if you will, to where this is the career, is there an and beyond making silly things, or is it does it matter? Do you need 1?

Jason Staats [00:17:40]:

I would say that the stuff that I publish for work, the stuff that goes online generally isn’t silly. What I would bucket as silly things.

John Garrett [00:17:47]:

Got it.

Jason Staats [00:17:48]:

My aunt is just creating. Like, I just love creating, like, from the stupid song to, like, anything. Like, I love bringing funny things to life. In the state of, like, content online right now, you can make funny stuff and it gets a ton of engagement, but it’s really hard to build a business around funny stuff. So my business is being helpful Yeah. Whether that’s on social media or YouTube or anything like that. But I still absolutely adore, You know, hanging out with people like you and, like, learning about joke writing and improv and being able to take an idea and in 30 minutes have this Silly little 92nd thing that you make or you make with your kids. And Yeah. I would say that’s always kind of been my end. Like, we do, like, little Skits in our family and stuff like that. So

John Garrett [00:18:31]:

Fair. No. No. Yeah. So it they’re close, but they are different. So it’s not just more of The same. There still is an outlet. There is a thing that’s not the career type of concept. And yeah. And so when you did work and ran the firm or even, you know, before running a firm, like, in in all of your career. Did you share that side of you with people? Well, I guess they knew a little bit, but maybe not, obviously, the silly videos.

Jason Staats [00:18:55]:

I didn’t. Towards the end, like, People were aware that I would like I like I mean, I had the biggest channel on YouTube for accounting

John Garrett [00:19:05]:

for a loaner.

Jason Staats [00:19:06]:

Yeah. Yeah. And, like, I think when people think about making this content, they get this, like, spotlight effect of like, oh, everybody’s gonna be watching. Okay? Let me tell you. The people in your life generally could not care less. Like, there was not a single person in my firm that that watched any of my content. I can’t get my wife to watch any of that. Like, like, Absolutely nobody cared. So people in my firm knew, but it’s like, they were turning up and, like, it was a job. And like you talk about, like, they kinda put Their blinders on for, like, what am I supposed to be in the context of this job rather than, like, turning up as your actual self.

John Garrett [00:19:43]:

Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. And because, I mean, that’s the thing is, like, if they did watch the videos and if they did comment on the videos, like, that experience at work then just becomes so much richer. And it’s like, wow. These are people I would wanna hang out with. Like, this is great. You know? Like, I remember when people would come to, like, my open mic nights when I was, you know, new. And, No. I wasn’t nervous. It was awesome. Like, it made me wanna turn it up because it was like, oh, these are people I know. Like, I’m gonna actually ask them for feedback, so then I’m gonna, You know, this is gonna be great, and, you know, that that’s a cool feeling.

Jason Staats [00:20:18]:

And I don’t know if you had this experience, but the most common Thing people said who knew me from work when they would see this stuff is like, who is that Jason? It was like Ah. Because you came into work with this expectation of, Like, here’s what you’re going to be, and here’s how you be a a boss out of an accounting firm. And then you go do this other thing, and they’re like, who the heck is that person? I’ve never seen them before.

John Garrett [00:20:41]:

Yeah. No. I definitely had that mostly from the other side where I would go to the happy hour or to the after work thing or whatever, And I’d be like, wow. She’s, like, really cool. Like, can you bring her to work, like, on Monday? Because you kinda me. You know, but there’s this other side of you that’s amazing, and and I would argue that that, quote, unquote, other side of you is probably a majority of you. The small you is the one that you’re showing at work because you feel like that’s who you’re supposed to be, and it’s exhausting. And it’s like, no. No. No. Like, That’s a cool you. Like, bring that. It’s got some personality. It’s got some sass. It’s some flavor. Like, bring it. It’s a shame that so many people default to the automatron. You know? I I just imagine like a Chuck E. Cheese, you know, character Stern where it’s just like, you know, it’s like, oh, man. In in this day and age, especially, we can see right through that. Yeah. I mean, in seconds. And it’s it’s sad that that’s the way it is and to hear that that’s, you know, an experience that you had too. So it’s it’s it’s pretty prevalent, you know, out there.

Jason Staats [00:21:48]:

Yeah. We’re totally fixated on the outputs, like, not acknowledging the fact that, like, it’s ultimately the person inside the the machine that is going to, like, Great. Those outputs. And so it’s like you just we kinda shut that side of us off. And some people are more capable of doing that long term than others, I think. But, Like, ultimately, those 2 things are too tightly intertwined to, like, just pretend 1 one side isn’t there.

John Garrett [00:22:11]:

Yeah. And I I mean, I have to believe that at some point, it’s gonna break. Like, it breaks. Like, each person like you said, some people can keep it together longer, but you can just see. I mean, their their eyes, they’re dead inside. You’re like, what is

Jason Staats [00:22:23]:

going on?

John Garrett [00:22:23]:

Like When you

Jason Staats [00:22:24]:

were just telling me before we recorded that, like, all the people that were, like, in your friend group at that firm, like, they’re now lifeguards. They’re now, like, all these Oh,

John Garrett [00:22:31]:

yeah. Yeah.

Jason Staats [00:22:32]:

None of which are accountants, so I think that is people breaking.

John Garrett [00:22:36]:

No. They’re like, but, you know, I’m out. You know? And and it’s amazing how it’s just, you know, what makes you feel alive? And it doesn’t have to become your job. For some people, it can. You and I were fortunate enough to be able to achieve escape velocity And get out. But for most people, it’s it’s not, and that’s totally cool too. I think that that’s the flip side of it is this Hustle culture is it’s gotta be a side hustle. No. It doesn’t. It has to be a side, something you suck at, and that’s great. I mean, for you, that’s what it was. I mean, it was aside something you sucked at, and then you just worked at it and cared enough to get good. Then we’re able to to make that leap, but for people that don’t make the leap, That’s still great. That isn’t the winning. You know? Like, it’s because we still have to have another thing. You know? Like, so

Jason Staats [00:23:22]:


John Garrett [00:23:22]:

It’s important. I I feel like a lot of people get lost in that that hustle mentality.

Jason Staats [00:23:28]:

Well, and, hopefully, the messaging, like, You know, this podcast and, like, we go to conferences and you meet really talented people that run firms who have this mindset of, like, employing an entire person rather than their Work avatar. I think the people I worry about most are the ones who do not get exposed to a positive environment like that, and they are Out of there before they ever have the chance. So, hopefully, people are able to be exposed to more of those types of firms.

John Garrett [00:23:54]:

No. Absolutely. And that leaders care for sure. So that’s great, man. Well, do you have any words of encouragement to anyone who has an and, but they think no one cares because it has nothing to do with my job?

Jason Staats [00:24:05]:

Yeah. Something that’s always stuck with me is, you know, like and I have kids now. This could be family. This could be your dog. It could be whatever. But, 20 years from now, the only people that are gonna remember that I, like, worked late and went the extra mile for those clients and all that stuff are gonna be my kids. So I think you you kinda have to advocate for yourself because nobody else will. And Would, you know, 5 years into the future version of yourself be proud of the decision that you made and and how you spent your time? Our many aspects of what we do is built around, like, being the hero for other people, and that feels really good. But, ultimately, It’s also a real big source of, like, toxicity and can go way, way, way too far. When in reality, like, unfortunately and I have I think I have a healthier perspective on this since leaving the firm. The really unfortunate reality is for most of the clients that we serve and And even the people that work for us, like, we’re a means to an end. We’re how they get the audit done, we’re how they get the tax return done, we’re who signs their paycheck. And that’s not the case with a 100% of them, but, like, 95% of them it is. Yeah. And so it’s really easy to go on to work every day and put the cape on for all of those people When, like, the people that actually want you, like, are they’re at home. Like, they pay the price for that. So just like, yeah, having that, I guess, level of Understanding of an awareness of how you spend your time and who you’re ultimately serving and what their interests are and whether they’re actually aligned with you or whether they just Need you to finish up that audit, please, because we gotta get this, you know, next thing out the door.

John Garrett [00:25:45]:

Right. No. Exactly. And then By peeling back those layers, then those deeper connections, deeper relationships, things become sticky, you know, whether it’s coworkers, clients, things like that. It’s just a richer, fertile ground that you wanna be around.

Jason Staats [00:26:01]:

Especially with people you spend 1,000 and thousands and thousands of hours with like, you spend more time with your coworkers than you do your spouse. Like, imagine, like, going through all that time and only knowing them very surface deep and not, Like, understanding who that person is.

John Garrett [00:26:14]:

Or imagine doing all of that, and then 12 years later, they don’t even remember you. Yeah. Or not even 12 years later, 1 year later. It’s like, oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. That guy. Yeah. Don’t remember his name. It’s crazy. It really is. And we think that, Well, our technical skills are so far superior, they’ll remember. No. They won’t. The human side of you is is what people will remember.

Jason Staats [00:26:38]:

Yeah. Like like, what is life ultimately about if not, like, how we bump into other people and support them and build relationships and all that stuff?

John Garrett [00:26:47]:

Exactly. I love it, man. Well, I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning. You already know how to run a podcast, so I will just be in the hot seat here, and thanks for having me on.

Jason Staats [00:27:02]:

Yeah. No. Thanks for being here.

John Garrett [00:27:03]:

I like your intro song, by the way.

Jason Staats [00:27:05]:

I know. Thanks. So you mentioned we did a conference together recently. It was just a ton of fun bridging the gap in Chicago. We got to do a fun little awards dinner.

John Garrett [00:27:15]:


Jason Staats [00:27:15]:

And I got to see their and even through the lens of this podcast, stats. I got to see professional John

John Garrett [00:27:22]:

Oh, boy. Who

Jason Staats [00:27:24]:

is dedicated to his craft. And let me tell you. It was so much more important to you than it was to me that that award event went well that night.

John Garrett [00:27:35]:

Yeah. I think than anyone else in the room, really. But Yeah.

Jason Staats [00:27:40]:

Which is, like, awesome. Like, it’s fantastic. Like, you have this dedication to your craft that, like, this has to go really well. And to be totally honest, like, it was kind of eye opening to me. In fact, I was so inspired after that that I Actually, put together a little song. If you don’t mind, I’ll play this for you.

John Garrett [00:27:57]:

Okay. Here we go.

Jason Staats [00:27:59]:

About that night.

John Garrett [00:28:14]:

Oh my lord.

Jason Staats [00:28:29]:

I think you absolutely made, like, that night and that conference day for a lot of people. Like, that was such a fun event.

John Garrett [00:28:35]:

Well, thank you, man.

Jason Staats [00:28:37]:

To bring us back around to a question, you know, your hand originally was comedy. But as he said, you reached escape the office. So when it comes to comedy and the fact that it’s like, oh, this is not me. This is my identity. I have to make sure this Hey, Jason. Is what John’s about that. Right? Like, I get that. Direct. What then is your end, like like, beyond that when that has been businessified? Right?

John Garrett [00:29:01]:

Yeah. Yeah. No. And that’s a great great question. I mean, there’s also college football has always been a big piece of me. Growing up as a kid, we moved a lot. My dad was in the air force, so I didn’t have an NFL team. We didn’t grow up in a city where, You know, so it was it was just moving a lot. So and my dad loved college football as well, so we’d always watch on Saturdays. And So college football, we’d always go to we lived in the East Coast. We go to the Army Navy games, which are super awesome. Yeah. So college football was a thing. Music has always been a a part ever since Recorder. I never got the solo, so I’m a little angry about this. But, yeah, most people don’t. That’s why it’s a solo, only 1. So music and and college football and And ice cream also counts, as an ant. I’ve I’ve learned that even the simple things are ants. You know, if if it’s something that lights up your soul. If I told you that you could never have ice cream again, like, that’s gonna hurt a little bit. Or or even answering the question of, like, What would you want to do more of? You know? And more tax returns is not high on the list. More case law, more, You know, whatever is you know, it’s but eat more ice cream? Yeah. Definitely. Top 3, hands down. You know? And so yeah. So for me, college football music And ice cream are easily I’m just trying to make my answer as long as your question was is really what I’m doing here. But You got a ways

Jason Staats [00:30:24]:

to go still.

John Garrett [00:30:25]:

You got a ways to go.

Jason Staats [00:30:26]:

Musical interlude here? I you

John Garrett [00:30:27]:

know, I didn’t come prepared. I didn’t do I didn’t know we were supposed to I I didn’t know I it was like a carrot top episode where it’s like bring your own skits, and, like, you just it’s like

Jason Staats [00:30:36]:

I do think, like, there’s a growing number of people, and obviously my end, like, is pretty adjacent to what I actually do, and maybe it’s a cop out. But I I do think there’s a growing number of people who find over the course of their work that, like, they really enjoy community building and coaching and and, like, that’s maybe something that they’re doing on the side initially, and then they find a way to make a business out of that. Do you have any sage wisdom for Those folks as they make that jump where the bad version of that is the thing that you love no longer becomes fun. Right?

John Garrett [00:31:06]:

Man, it’s super hard. It’s super hard because yeah. I mean, like, for me, when I made that jump, now all of a sudden, instead of just doing the shows I wanted to do, Now I have to do shows that, you know, there’s a bar show 2 hours away for $100. Well, I need to go do it because I need to pay rent and have food. So now all of a sudden, you’re you’re having to do things. You’re you’re feeling the pressure of doing that. Now the joy isn’t there as much for sure. And so I think that I would push people, and I’m gonna hold it hold you a little bit accountable as a friend of just, like, there’s something else That’s deeper and just that you know, find that thing that has absolutely nothing to do with it at all. Like, it you know, like, for me, it was comedy and, you know, college football and and music. It’s like these are I mean, like, going to a concert is awesome because it’s it’s being in the audience and experiencing a show in the same way that people got to experience. You know, it’s just different though because it’s it’s music, and it’s a cool thing, but it’s just learning from that and the stage presence and whatever. So that’s a little close, but even then it’s different. And so, you know, it’s it’s just finding those things that that really light you up. Like, we grow up. We have to get straight a’s. You have to have perfect attendance. You have To this and that, you have to pass these exams. You have to first of all, you don’t have to anything. You’d find out later. And second of all, like, For what? Like, what about the thing that’s not perfect? What about the thing that you would get an f in? What about the thing in, But you’ll like it. So as an adult, as long as you have a career and and a job that you’re able to take care of yourself and your family, then With extra time, like, do the thing that makes you happy. Like, it doesn’t have to provide anything. It’s just I enjoy it. And that’s why it’s it’s taking the label off of it even. Instead of calling yourself a runner, just say I enjoy running. Then no one’s asking your Boston marathon time. It’s like, alright. Cool. You enjoy running. Tell me about it. And so I would just tell people is if you’re gonna make that leap, Have something else that brings you joy outside of that. That’s a release. That’s, you know, just a way to to just Make you happy because the joy of that thing is not gonna be as strong anymore.

Jason Staats [00:33:28]:

Yeah. I think we’re almost programmed. Like, as I’m thinking of my kids growing up, like, we’re almost programmed with that as you we go to middle school to do well, To set you up better to high school to do well, to be able to go to college, to get a degree to do well, to get your CPA, to go be successful, and then you’re submerged in work culture where success, like, is framed through the lens of your peers and what success looks like in that little Ecosystem. And you never really escape that, like, until you make the conscious decision to not just be.

John Garrett [00:34:03]:

It’s almost like we’re all on on the playground. Was it the the merry-go-round? That wheel thing that we’ve just run as fast as we can till everyone’s, like, flying off and puking and whatever. And we’re all on that merry-go-round, and almost none of us wanna be on it or especially going that fast, and no one puts their foot out to just be like, yo, Slow down. Like, why are we doing this? Instead, it’s no faster, faster, faster. No one says, hey. Why? Like, why? I remember when I did comedy and lived in New York City, and people were like, oh, I did 7 open mics last night. I’d be like, why? Were they good audiences? Were you learning? Were you Or are you learning bad habits? Were you not actually progressing? Were you not actually getting better? And in just sounding like you were busy doesn’t Impressed me. You know, I did 7 shows at Gotham in front of live like, paying audiences that were awesome. Oh, cool. Tell me about it. But I did 7 open mics in front of 4 people at each one at a bar shows.

Jason Staats [00:34:58]:


John Garrett [00:34:59]:

No. I’m not impressed. I’m actually, like, we should’ve just hung out, and I could’ve helped we could’ve helped each other Just hanging out in each other’s living rooms. You know? Just it’s defining success for what you want it to be as well. And that’s the thing is, you know, like you said, all that Middle school to high school to college to, you know, CPA or whatever your degrees are in, and then you walk in as if you own the place. Like, look at me, CPA. And then they’re like, welcome. We all are too. Like Everybody else.

Jason Staats [00:35:26]:

Yeah. You know? And you’re now at the bottom of the bottom of the totem.

John Garrett [00:35:28]:

Nothing matters. Like, it’s just All the stuff that you thought was so crucial, like, I would I would not even be a functioning adult without these things. Then you walk in, you’re like, oh, well, that doesn’t even make me special. Like, I’m not unique at all. And if you wanna be remembered and wanna be unique, then it’s the human side of you. And it’s the things that you do suck at or that you do not for pay. That’s the cool stuff.

Jason Staats [00:35:54]:

Yeah. That’s what makes you you when you go into the Such a homogenized, you know, work environment. And that’s especially, like, my main beef with bigger firms is you don’t want outliers. Like, they are in the business of, like, plugging you into the system. Right?

John Garrett [00:36:09]:

Yeah. Well, I mean, it does make it harder to manage. I mean, you know, like, if you look at the military, I mean, it’s we get, You know, crew cuts and just, you know, everybody wears the same fatigues and the same everything, and, you know, the only differentiator is your last name and the your rank, And that’s it. Everything else is the same. And so we just take that mentality to everything else in business, and it’s like, well, maybe it works in the military because there’s Certain things that they need to be able to do, but in business, not so. And so it it does make it more difficult to manage treating people individually. But I think in the long term, there’s a stronger ROI there, and it makes just for a better place. That makes the world a better place because you’re you’re you’re dealing with people that are activated. They’re alive as opposed to people that are AI robots or whatever it is. Been fully replaceable when when truly they’re not or they shouldn’t be. But if we treat them that way or if they act that way, then they they are, and that’s really sad To me.

Jason Staats [00:37:10]:

Even running a business, like, even on the client side, like, the client doesn’t want to interface with a machine. Like, that’s, like, that’s not what anybody wants.

John Garrett [00:37:17]:

They want people that also have hobbies and passions and interests or people that get our industry, you know, or whatever it is. I mean, if if you’re making videos on the side And then all of a sudden a client comes in who’s a a movie producer or whatever or makes the video equipment or, Like, you would be like, this is the coolest client ever, and they would go, that you’re the coolest CPA ever because you get the lingo. You get what we do. You appreciate what it is. In a lot of law and consulting and accounting and engineering, I mean, it’s a commodity. I mean, there’s a firm down the street that does the exact same thing. That’s a tough gut punch for a lot of people to understand that, yeah, yeah, I’m not special, technically, but as a human, you are. But for some reason, that’s the thing that we leave outside first and always.

Jason Staats [00:38:06]:

Well, thanks for coming on, John. Where can people find you?

John Garrett [00:38:09]:

This was really great. Really great. What’s your and.com, everybody? They already know. But yeah. But, it was super fun having you be a part of this. So thanks, Jason. And I’ve never had People bring their own sound effects, so this is the next level. Whoever’s the next episode better bring it.

Jason Staats [00:38:24]:

The bar has been set.

John Garrett [00:38:25]:

Yeah. Absolutely. But thanks so much for being a part

Jason Staats [00:38:27]:

Thank you, John.

John Garrett [00:38:32]:

Yeah. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Jason Taking some silly things or connect with him on social media, check out his YouTube channel and his podcast. Be sure to go to what’s your 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 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 your job title.

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