Episode 601 – Stephen Vono

Stephen is an Insurance Broker & Vinyl Record Collector

Stephen Vono, Senior Vice President at McGowan Pro, shares his passion for vinyl records and music, which has enhanced his professional career. He talks about how hearing John speak at a conference motivated him to start the Risky Records Podcast that combines his love for music and work, creating a humanizing effect on his professional image. Stephen discusses the resurgence of vinyl, his extensive record collection of over 2,500 records, and the importance of integrating personal passions into the workplace to create human connections and improve client relationships. He emphasizes the responsibility of leaders and individuals in creating a work culture that encourages sharing personal interests.

Episode Highlights

· Integrating personal passions into the workplace improves client relationships.
· Sharing personal interests at work creates human connections and a more enjoyable work environment.
· Passion for vinyl records can enhance work and client relationships.
· Personal interests can lead to new roles and functions within the workplace.
· Starting a podcast about a personal passion can help humanize your professional image.

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Podcast Transcript

Stephen Vono [00:00:05]:
Hi. My name is Steven Vono. And when I’m not collecting vinyl records, I’m listening to John Garrett on What’s Your “And”?

John Garrett [00:00:16]:
Welcome to episode 601 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. 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 actually differentiate you when you’re at work, It’s the answer to the question of who else are you beyond the job title. 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 a few other websites, all the links are at what’s your and.com. It’s a perfect post-holiday gift if you didn’t get what you wanted. The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture.

John Garrett [00:00:59]:
I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and seeing such great reviews on Amazon, thank you so much for those, and more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it. And if you want me to read it to you, that’s right. This voice reading the book. Look for What’s your hand 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, Steven Vono. He’s the senior vice president at McGowan Pro, an insurance brokerage based out of Framingham, Massachusetts, and he’s the host of the Risky Records podcast. And now he’s with me here today.

John Garrett [00:01:35]:
Steven, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?.

Stephen Vono [00:01:38]:
My pleasure, John. Thanks so much for having me.

John Garrett [00:01:41]:
Man. This is gonna be a blast. We’ve got to hang out a couple of times. You see me speak at a couple of conferences, and I have some rapid-fire questions I probably shoulda asked you the last time we were hanging out, but I didn’t wanna make it weird. So I thought I’d record it for all of like, everyone to hear. Like That’s

Stephen Vono [00:01:54]:
alright. That’s alright. Weird is okay.

John Garrett [00:01:57]:
Yeah. That’s true. Weird is okay. So So might as well just kick it right off here. What was your 1st concert?

Stephen Vono [00:02:02]:
Oh, Stephen Stills in 1978.

John Garrett [00:02:06]:
Oh, wow. Okay. That’s awesome.

Stephen Vono [00:02:08]:
Yeah. I’m old. No. No.

John Garrett [00:02:11]:
I love it, man. That’s I love that question because I love concerts, and they’re always great. Like, they’re always like classics.

Stephen Vono [00:02:16]:
I was a junior in high school.

John Garrett [00:02:18]:
Oh, very cool, man. How about a, favorite color?

Stephen Vono [00:02:22]:
Favorite color would be probably blue.

John Garrett [00:02:25]:
Yeah. Alright. Mine too. How about a least favorite color?

Stephen Vono [00:02:29]:
Urine yellow.

John Garrett [00:02:32]:
There we go. There we go. I haven’t looked too often, but, yeah, that’s not a good color. I guess that’s awesome. How about when it comes to puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, jigsaw puzzle

Stephen Vono [00:02:43]:
I like to explore puzzles. I like to

John Garrett [00:02:44]:
explore puzzles. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. How about a favorite Disney character Oh, wow. Or any animated character, I’ll take it. I think they own all of

Stephen Vono [00:02:54]:
them by now. That’s true. That’s true. Well, Bugs Bunny comes to mind as king of cartoons for

John Garrett [00:02:58]:
me. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a that’s always a good one. Very good. Alright. I’ll take it. How about a favorite actor or an actress?

Stephen Vono [00:03:05]:
Favorite actor, one of them would have to be Al Pacino.

John Garrett [00:03:09]:
Al Pacino. That’s great. Yeah. Absolutely. Oh, this is an important one. Toilet paper roll. Are we going over or under?

Stephen Vono [00:03:15]:
Not that again. I used to be under. Now I’m over. Okay?

John Garrett [00:03:20]:
Oh, okay. Alright. How’d you get

Stephen Vono [00:03:22]:
I lost an argument during COVID. Oh. We’ll just leave it at that. Okay?

John Garrett [00:03:28]:
I feel like there’s some PTSD involved in this. Like, you’re a little bit shaken.

Stephen Vono [00:03:32]:
Just a tad. Just a tad. Just a tad.

John Garrett [00:03:34]:
Alright. Alright. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?

Stephen Vono [00:03:38]:
Star Wars, definitely.

John Garrett [00:03:40]:
Okay. Alright. I was worried that that was gonna trigger something else. No. Oh, we’re good. Alright. Your computer, PC or a Mac? Prefer Mac, but use PC. Oh, interesting.

John Garrett [00:03:50]:
Alright. It’s work related. Oh, there you go. Alright. There you go. How about oceans or mountains?

Stephen Vono [00:03:55]:
Oh. Mountains.

John Garrett [00:03:58]:
Mountains. Alright. Yeah. How about oh, that’s a fun one. Shower or bath? We’re getting personal now.

Stephen Vono [00:04:04]:
Shower

John Garrett [00:04:05]:
Hey. You never know, man. You never know. Like, every once in a while, you accidentally get in a bath, and you’re like, this is really good. Like, it’s like

Stephen Vono [00:04:12]:
Although I like a hot tub.

John Garrett [00:04:14]:
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Which is basically a bath without the soap. So Exactly. Yeah. There you go. What’s a typical breakfast?

Stephen Vono [00:04:22]:
Typical breakfast, sauteed mushroom, onion, and pepper, and I crack eggs over in the frying pan.

John Garrett [00:04:28]:
Nice. There you go.

Stephen Vono [00:04:29]:
Almost daily.

John Garrett [00:04:30]:
That sounds good, man.

Stephen Vono [00:04:31]:
I love it. And black coffee.

John Garrett [00:04:33]:
There you go. That’s the most important part. How about a favorite number? 8. 8? Is there a reason?

Stephen Vono [00:04:40]:
Yes. When I was a kid, I went to visit my uncle in Brooklyn, New York, and it happened to be the day of the Kentucky Derby, he walked around. I might have been, like, 7 years old at the time. He walked around with a hat, and you had to pick a number, and that would be your horse. I had number and I had number 8. I couldn’t tell you the name of the horse, but I remember I won, and it was like a I won, like, $11, right, because it was the family gathering, and I was so excited. Like, $11. I mean, back then, that bought a lot of candy.

Stephen Vono [00:05:13]:
You know?

John Garrett [00:05:14]:
Right? Absolutely. And you’re just like, I’m I’m this is my favorite number. There we go. That’s as good of a reason as any. How about when it comes to books? Audio version, ebook, real book?

Stephen Vono [00:05:24]:
I’m an audio guy. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:05:25]:
Yeah. Yeah. No. That blends in with your hands, so that makes sense. How about ice cream? I’m a huge ice cream junkie. You go in in a cup or in a cone?

Stephen Vono [00:05:34]:
And I’ll just say it, chocolate chip cookie dough.

John Garrett [00:05:37]:
Oh, okay. And the flavor. Alright. Yeah. There we go. Alright. We’ll take it. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:05:41]:
No. I’m a cookie dough fan too.

Stephen Vono [00:05:42]:
Monty.

John Garrett [00:05:43]:
Yeah. Yeah. No. Absolutely. As many calories as we can get into my gullet, I guess, is the word. Like, just There you go. How about let me see here. This is, how about not too personal, but socks or shoes? Socks.

John Garrett [00:06:00]:
Okay. Alright. That one makes me think too, man, because it’s like,

Stephen Vono [00:06:04]:
I don’t know. Inside or outside?

John Garrett [00:06:06]:
Yeah. Right? Exactly. Yeah. But socks, I feel like, are more fun. Like, you can have, like, little little party going on.

Stephen Vono [00:06:11]:
Yeah. And we have wood floors, so I do like to slide.

John Garrett [00:06:15]:
There you go. You’re like a little risky business Tom Cruise style. Yeah. Like Yes. Pick up. Just with pants.

Stephen Vono [00:06:21]:
Okay. But to the listeners, I’m fully clothed. Okay? Today

John Garrett [00:06:25]:
Right. Exactly. Exactly. And the last 1, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?

Stephen Vono [00:06:30]:
Favorite thing I own or have, well, obviously, my record collection is one of them. Another quick one that comes to mind is when Fenway Park in Boston renovated, she bought me a brick with my name on it. And so every time I go to a game, I visit my brick and I take a picture.

John Garrett [00:06:48]:
That’s incredible. So that’s fun.

Stephen Vono [00:06:50]:
And my car, I have a little BMW Z4, which is a 2 seater sports car and I love tooling around in that, so that’s a lot of fun too.

John Garrett [00:07:00]:
That’s awesome, man. Very cool. Well, yeah. Well, record collection, let’s Get going on it. Like, how did this get started? I mean and how many records are you up to now?

Stephen Vono [00:07:11]:
So I’m up to a little over 2,500. Started collecting when I was 9 years old. I was given 4 records for my birthday, The Beatles Let It Be, the Mamas and Papa’s Greatest Hits, the 5th Dimension’s Greatest Hits, and Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas.

John Garrett [00:07:31]:
Wow. That’s all you need right there. It’s like you I would add to a record collection of 4. Like, it’s there it is.

Stephen Vono [00:07:37]:
Well, it covers all genres almost.

John Garrett [00:07:39]:
Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:07:39]:
You know? Yeah. So that’s what got me going. I loved music. And then when I got into college, I was a disc jockey, and I I was a jock on the radio station in Emerson College in Boston. I also had a side business doing weddings and parties, so that really is when I started collecting a lot more vinyl. Because back then in the eighties, the full conversion of CD hadn’t quite happened yet, and I was still DJing with vinyl. And a lot of jocks around me had already made the switch to CD, and I’m like, nope. Don’t want to go there, and I didn’t.

Stephen Vono [00:08:17]:
And I kind of held out until you couldn’t buy vinyl anymore, and I kept what I had, but there’s been this massive resurgence in vinyl.

John Garrett [00:08:27]:
Oh, huge. Huge. And what? Maybe 10 years or so?

Stephen Vono [00:08:30]:
Yeah. Last 10 years, and I think it was either 2021 or 2022, I can’t remember which, where vinyl finally outsold CDs. Yeah. And you’re starting to see that if you just go in a regular store. There’s you know, like Target sells both vinyl records and CDs still. But if you go to Barnes and Noble, I’ve noticed they’re only selling, for the most part, vinyl records, and I don’t even think they sell CDs anymore. But yes. That’s kinda the genesis of it and how I got started, and I just kept going.

John Garrett [00:09:05]:
No. That’s incredible, man. And so do you have like Like, how many record players do you have then?

Stephen Vono [00:09:10]:
So I have 1 main turntable, but I also have my dad’s record player so when he and my mom first got married in 1958, that was, like, one of their first major purchases. So that is a WebCore. It’s nice, you know, wooden cabinet. You have to lift the top, and and it still works. It still plays.

John Garrett [00:09:35]:
That’s awesome.

Stephen Vono [00:09:35]:
Yeah. So I don’t use that as much because the needle looks like a garden implement. You know, and I’d I’d like to take care of my records. Right? So but the turntable I normally use is a Bang and Olufsen. It’s from the 19 eighties, and and that I just brought it in, last year for a tune up, and it works awesome.

John Garrett [00:09:56]:
Yeah. That’s the thing with those. Like, they last forever. Yeah. Like, they they’re forever. I mean, like, my grandparents had what I imagine was, I guess, like, your your first portable. I I don’t know. Like, in Brooklyn, New York growing up there, they had it was a a crank photograph.

John Garrett [00:10:11]:
It was like a suitcase looking thing. You could bring it to the park And, like, open it up and crank it Yep. And then it would get going, and and it was whatever the speed is that’s records that are a 100 years old.

Stephen Vono [00:10:23]:
Thinking it was 16 RPM or something like that. Yeah. By the way, when I was a kid, I had one of those suitcase style, but it had the speakers on both sides, and I still have that as well, on, it works.

John Garrett [00:10:33]:
No. That’s cool. Yeah. It it was just like this amazing technology that was in, you know, yeah, like, the 19 twenties, 19 thirties.

Stephen Vono [00:10:41]:
Out,

John Garrett [00:10:41]:
you’re like, how is this? This is crazy. You know? And we think we’re so, you know, advanced now, and it’s like, well, not I mean, they were doing that back then. You know? It wasn’t Like, they were all cave people, you know, that type of thing, like banging rocks on walls. Like, this is our music. It’s like, no. No. They had, like, legit stuff. That’s so great, man.

John Garrett [00:10:59]:
And and, like, do you have some of the records besides the original 4, I imagine, that are that are some of your favorites Well, you’re like, wow. This is a cool one.

Stephen Vono [00:11:08]:
Yeah. Honestly, it’s hard to name a favorite.

John Garrett [00:11:10]:
Well, absolutely. I mean, after 2,500, I mean yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:11:13]:
Yeah. I think that there’s certain records that I listen to where it brings back memories and moments in my life that are highlights. Certainly, the first 4 records I I mentioned, you know, the Beatles, I think that there’s a lot of funk that I really get into George Clinton Yeah. Funkadelic. Right. One of the highlights is U2’s Joshua Tree album. That album, I just love. And there were some other albums from that same genre, that same time period, like REM, the cure, stuff like that that I really liked, the ones with a lot of longevity over the years for me would be anything where the the bands had a genesis from Woodstock, New York 1968, 1969.

Stephen Vono [00:12:00]:
I can’t remember which year specifically

John Garrett [00:12:01]:
Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:12:02]:
But a lot of bands got their start there. Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Joni Mitchell. All that kind of stuff, I still love and listen to. And I I have a wide variety. You know, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really gotten into classical and jazz. I love cool jazz from the fifties and sixties, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, stuff like that. I’ve really gotten into the Rat Pack and those jazz vocalists. I love, you know, Frank and Dean, Ella Fitzgerald and those types

John Garrett [00:12:38]:
Oh, yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:12:38]:
And I’ve kind of passed a lot of that on to my daughter. I’ve my wife and I have 1 daughter, and I remember when she went to college, which is in probably about 8 to 10 years ago, she called me up one day, and she goes, hey. Wanna know something really interesting? I’m like, no. What’s up? She goes, I think I’m the only person on campus that’s ever heard of Ella Fitzgerald.

John Garrett [00:12:57]:
Oh my gosh. That’s a crime against humanity. Like, that’s crazy.

Stephen Vono [00:13:00]:
That was like a proud papa moment.

John Garrett [00:13:02]:
Well, it’s very proud, but it’s like, what the hell’s everyone else doing? Are you serious?

Stephen Vono [00:13:06]:
Yeah.

John Garrett [00:13:06]:
Like, that’s crazy.

Stephen Vono [00:13:07]:
I couldn’t believe it.

John Garrett [00:13:08]:
No. That’s incredible, man. So, like, do you ever play any backwards to see if there’s any messages On the record side.

Stephen Vono [00:13:15]:
So I I did way back when. I remember Sure. Like, because you had those old rock and roll. Like, I would take the, you know, Black Sabbath records or

John Garrett [00:13:24]:
Yeah. Sabbath or, like, yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:13:25]:
That sounds good. Or whatever. And I just for the fun of it, on my record player that looked like a suitcase that I mentioned earlier, I’d spin them backwards. I never heard anything. So

John Garrett [00:13:35]:
There’s nothing. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. No. No. I just figured I’d ask him. Oh, lot of BS, my opinion.

John Garrett [00:13:41]:
Well, it’s good marketing, though. I I think it seems like it. Any story is good marketing. Right? Yeah. Exactly. No. That’s that’s incredible, man. And Do you feel like music and collecting these records gives you a skill set that you bring to work at all through your career?

Stephen Vono [00:13:55]:
Yeah. Actually, well so as I mentioned, I was a jock on college radio, and I had all these records. People love talking about the records. And so when COVID hit and I started working from home, I would get phone calls. So I for work, I’m an insurance broker. My focus for the last 25, 30 years has been professional liability insurance for accounting firms. So my clients would call, and they have a problem, and I have to help them solve it. And then after that conversation’s over, they always kind of look at my picture and they see this massive wall of stuff behind me.

Stephen Vono [00:14:37]:
And they’re like, what is that? Like, oh, it’s my record collection. And I would explain what I just explained to you, and they’d want to talk about it. And I have one a couple of people that are like, all right, I want you to randomly pull a record off the shelf, and I would do that and I’d reach back and pull it. And so that kinda gave me an idea. Actually, I’m kinda jumping the gun. So I was a chock. I’ve got the records. I’ve talked about it at work.

Stephen Vono [00:15:04]:
Years ago when we first posted our bios on our website, the last line is Steven is a music affectionate. Ask him about his vinyl collection.

John Garrett [00:15:15]:
Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:15:16]:
And I would know when people looked at the website because they would ask me about my vinyl collection. Yeah. But now with the Zoom calls or the Teams calls and the video calls, they see it. They literally see it behind me, and they wanna, so they wanna engage more about it. So then what happens? June of 2022, I’m at a conference for accounting firms.

John Garrett [00:15:39]:
And you

Stephen Vono [00:15:40]:
were a guest speaker, and you’re like, John Garrett, what’s your and? And I’m like, well, this sounds interesting. And it just kind of spoke to me. You’re like, hey, people have a profession, but you’re not just an insurance broker. You’re not just your college degree. There’s a soul in there. There’s a person that has passion, and I’m like, yep. I get it. I totally hear you.

Stephen Vono [00:16:04]:
And then when I heard that message and thought about the problem solving plus the records, I came up with the idea of Risky Records. I went to my marketing team at work, and I said, hey. What do you think about this idea? And they’re like, are you kidding me? I love it. This is great.

John Garrett [00:16:22]:
That’s incredible. I love it, man.

Stephen Vono [00:16:24]:
So we started it in January, and I just call people who I know have a connection with defending accounting firms so I have lawyers who defend accounting firms on the show, and we talk about the risk environment for accounting firms and then the guests will pick a record, and we stroll down musical memory lane. And it’s great.

John Garrett [00:16:48]:
That’s incredible, man. That means so much to hear. Like, just so awesome that, you know, I’m up there talking, and it resonates so much with you that you take action and go and create a podcast taking your and and your work combined, you know, and and, of course, marketing loves it because it’s humanizing you.

Stephen Vono [00:17:05]:
And I I need a lot of humanizing. Let me tell you.

John Garrett [00:17:08]:
I don’t know about that, Steven.

Stephen Vono [00:17:09]:
But I would tell you this is the thing is that I think for me, one of the things that’s really helpful is I do work. But now I am bringing in a passion to work that I’m including not only people at work, but my clients Yeah. And they’re enjoying it, and they’re having a good time with it. You know Yeah.

John Garrett [00:17:32]:
And even if somebody isn’t a vinyl record collector, you know, they can at least relate. They can also see how you light up about it, and it’s like when I’m able to see it, you know, this wall of I mean, 25 100 records, you hear that, and then you’re like, wait. And then you look, and you’re like, Holy cow. That’s a lot of rec because, I mean, records are, I don’t know, an eighth of I mean, a sixteenth of an inch thick, and you do 2,500 of and then you see a wall of it. It’s like, wow. That’s a that’s a lot of records. You know? And so it’s it’s clearly not something you accidentally just started last week. You know, this is a part of you that has been You since the beginning.

John Garrett [00:18:08]:
You know? And and to ask you to give that up or to choose insurance brokerage over, you know, music, I mean, that’s crazy.

Stephen Vono [00:18:18]:
Well, it’s the music that I love. The vinyl record itself, you know, it’s a big 12 by 12 piece of cardboard, that is the sleeve, and it’s a lot of times the artwork that I like a lot. So over on this wall, I’ve built some very thin rails so I can display more of the records just because the artwork is many times very interesting, a lot of times, not so much. You know, it’s like anything else. People who collect baseball cards, they have their favorites for whatever reason or whatever people collect. You know?

John Garrett [00:18:55]:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:18:56]:
But that’s why I like that. But it’s been a really we we started it in January, the podcast, and it’s just been a great way to bring who I am to not just my workplace, but to my clients, even more so to my clients, and that’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it.

John Garrett [00:19:16]:
I love it, man. That’s so awesome. I mean, it’s just so awesome to hear, you know, because, you know, it’s it’s not hard. It’s just, you know, what lights me up, and then share that with the people I work with and, you know, my clients. And I know you did it before on the bottom of the website in your bio, But now it’s like you’re bringing it forefront. Like, not everybody makes it to the end, you know, and I’d I’d love to see on the bio where that’s the first line. Like, Steven collects records. Like, ask him about his collection.

John Garrett [00:19:45]:
And, oh, yeah, by the way, he also does all this other stuff. You know? Like, he’s

Stephen Vono [00:19:49]:
Oh, yeah. He’s also a risk manager for accounting.

John Garrett [00:19:51]:
Right. Yeah. Exactly. Well, whatever. You know? Yeah. Exactly. But everyone’s gonna be so hooked on the first part where they’re like, wait. I didn’t even see the risk manager part.

John Garrett [00:19:59]:
I was so busy being like, what? That’s incredible. That’s I mean, it’s so cool to hear how much it’s I mean, it’s benefited your career, you know, and and that’s that’s sharing this. And and especially when it comes to insurance brokerage, I mean, not to be rude, but, I mean, it’s a commodity. You know, there’s a lot of insurance brokers out there. Yeah. And, like, what is it that makes you different isn’t, Well, I call you back faster, and it’s, you know, it’s like, no. No. I have a record collection.

John Garrett [00:20:22]:
Let’s talk about it. You know, let’s create a human connection here that makes us actually get to know each other on a little bit of a deeper level, and that makes me better at doing my job to serve you.

Stephen Vono [00:20:33]:
I always believed that, you know, one of the things when we get together with all the employees, one of my business partners always says, Steven knows his clients. He knows where they go on vacation. He knows where the kids go to college or school. He knows what they like to do because I talk about it.

John Garrett [00:20:53]:
Right. Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:20:54]:
And now with the podcast, I bring my record collection into that arena as well. I think that your passions, whatever they might be, is a connecting point.

John Garrett [00:21:06]:
Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:21:07]:
I was sharing this whole concept with someone else, and I’m trying to remember what it was that they did, but I said, you know, the thing that’s nice about the record collection is most people like music at some point. Right and you’re like, you know, a certain genre or maybe many genres. But because I have so many genres and because it’s music, people relate at some level. So you you may have a passion that is much more specific where mine is a little broader because it’s about music, not just the vehicle of vinyl, but I said I was sharing with a friend of mine, you can bring that passionate anyway and try and figure out where that connects with somebody else. You know, like, I have some friends. Hey. Let’s get together for coffee. And the ones who are not coffee drinkers always say, I don’t drink coffee.

Stephen Vono [00:22:05]:
Alright. Fine. You’re missing my point. I wanna get together with you.

John Garrett [00:22:08]:
Right. We don’t need

Stephen Vono [00:22:09]:
to drink coffee so figure it out, folks. That’s all I know.

John Garrett [00:22:16]:
Exactly. Right. It’s just like, why not? I mean, personally, I don’t drink coffee either. So whenever somebody I always in the in the calendar invite, I put coffee slash hot chocolate because I’m getting hot chocolate. And you know what happens almost every time? The coffee drinkers go, I shoulda got hot chocolate. Yeah. You shoulda, because why wouldn’t you?

Stephen Vono [00:22:34]:
Or at least mocha. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:22:36]:
Exactly. Like, you’re a kid. Like, why why would you Open your

Stephen Vono [00:22:39]:
world, people. Open your world. Right.

John Garrett [00:22:41]:
Yeah. No. I love it, man. It’s it’s so incredible. And, like, how much do you feel like it’s on the organization or leadership To create this space to encourage people to not only have an ad but share it versus how much is it on the individual to just, hey. I’m gonna share with my peers and get started that way.

Stephen Vono [00:22:58]:
That’s a great question because I think people who are in leadership roles, if they’re really good at leadership and they’re really good about including people in the workspace and if they really want to do that and that’s part of their goal, it’s on them to make the invitation available, in my opinion. But all relationships go both ways. Right? If every if somebody in a relationship you have 2 people in a in a friendship, a family relationship, whatever that might be, a client relationship, it goes both ways. So if somebody is always giving always giving, there’s a disparity in that relationship. Both people need give and take, so you need a global approach. You can’t just say it’s the leader’s responsibility. The individual needs to also have a voice and say, oh, I’m into this. Oh, by the way, is there a way that and maybe they need to think about how they can include it in their workplace before they just say, I want to include this in my workplace, not just I want, therefore, there’s just the demand.

Stephen Vono [00:24:06]:
No. What’s the plan? How do you wanna do this? How do we go about it? So I had a plan. Hey. I think we have problems that we need to help our clients figure out. I’ve got a a thought. Let’s do a podcast. And to make it fun and entertaining, let’s talk about music. And, yeah, they just they went bananas, and, it was a lot of fun.

Stephen Vono [00:24:29]:
So, you know, we created a logo, Risky Records.

John Garrett [00:24:32]:
Oh, yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:24:33]:
Go to our there you go.

John Garrett [00:24:34]:
I got the coaster still. Yeah. Yeah. It looks like a a 45. It’s awesome.

Stephen Vono [00:24:39]:
So we had coasters made for the you know, when I go to a conference and I have my little booth and I sell my wares, we give out the coasters with the, well, what’s this? A conversation starter. So if you go to our if you go to the McGowan professional.com website, that’s where we house the, the podcast right now. We’re in the process of trying to figure out ways to broaden that scope. It is a video podcast. You know, you see the pictures of the the video of the people having the conversation with my wall of records behind me.

John Garrett [00:25:10]:
Right? No. Exactly. And and I I think it’s so great, and you’re Right. Like, the invitation from leadership, I think walking the talk also helps, and you’re you’re an example of that. You know? Like, it’s like, well, no. I’m doing it. It’s not a trap where I’m like, hey. What do you like to do outside of work? And, you know, you never show it yourself.

John Garrett [00:25:30]:
It’s no. No. I’m showing and then The the world is out of balance now, so reciprocity has to happen. Like, the other person now has to share because otherwise, Like, psychologically, we’re we’re out of balance, and so it’s it just encourages that to be like, hey. This is what I like to do. What about you?

Stephen Vono [00:25:49]:
Yeah. I think in our office, we’re pretty open to that. 1 of our my business partners, Gary, he’s really into family tree research

John Garrett [00:25:59]:
Oh, genealogy and stuff? Okay.

Stephen Vono [00:26:01]:
That. Yeah. And he will share pictures of his travels to Ireland and Scotland, which is where his family’s from, and he’ll go on vacation, and he’ll always send pictures and do that to the to the whole office and explain who he meets and how we met them and where they went, and it’s interesting, and it’s fun.

John Garrett [00:26:23]:
Yeah. And, I mean, you might not be into genealogy, but his enthusiasm and energy and it’s it’s infectious. It’s like, well, Yeah. This is cool, man. Like, you know, we’re not in 5th grade where we make fun of everyone anymore. You know? No. We’re not. No.

John Garrett [00:26:35]:
It’s And I

Stephen Vono [00:26:36]:
think your point is you’re right. I’m not into genealogy, but I know Gary. I like him. I like his family, and he’s from Ireland. His family’s from Ireland. My family’s from Ireland, at least, obviously, my mom’s side. I got a last name that’s very Italian. I’ll let you figure that out.

Stephen Vono [00:26:58]:
My grandmother’s from Wexford. So Gary sent me some pictures when he was in Wexford, and he goes, that’s awesome. And we and we connect that way, so I I would actually enjoy that a lot.

John Garrett [00:27:09]:
Yeah. No. I love it, man. It’s it’s so incredible. And and so do you have any Words of encouragement for anyone listening that, you know, maybe they have an end that, well, no one cares because it has nothing to do with my job?

Stephen Vono [00:27:20]:
Oh, yeah. Maybe it has nothing to do with your job, but it has something to do with you, the individual, and you, the individual, has a lot to do with your job. Alright. And I think that when people do those kinds of self disclosures as to what their and is, that’s the conversation starter. And sometimes just having more things to share with people at work besides whatever the project is you’re working on or whatever, that makes work more fun, I think.

John Garrett [00:27:53]:
Absolutely. Yeah. Why, like, why are we doing this?

Stephen Vono [00:27:55]:
And I think leaders, you know, in my industry, you kinda mentioned it earlier, it’s commodity. But I’ll I work with accountants. That’s all I work with. And I know that right now, there’s a real issue with CPA firms holding on to people. But if you make your workplace a lot more fun and they’re starting to learn this. You know? I’ve seen a huge change in the last 5 years

John Garrett [00:28:23]:
Well, yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:28:23]:
When they’re still working on it.

John Garrett [00:28:25]:
Like, when you started at 0, like, to 3 is a huge change. Like, you know

Stephen Vono [00:28:29]:
And I joke around all the time. I’m like, oh, this is gonna be a fun conversation. Right? I’m having a podcast with an attorney and an insurance broker.

John Garrett [00:28:37]:
It sounds like a bad joke.

Stephen Vono [00:28:39]:
It does, you know, an attorney and insurance broker got on a podcast. What happened?

John Garrett [00:28:44]:
Hate it.

Stephen Vono [00:28:45]:
Well, go to Risky Records and find out. Right?

John Garrett [00:28:47]:
Exactly. There you go.

Stephen Vono [00:28:49]:
But I’ve had that. I’ve had CPAs on, and it’s like, you’re kidding me. And the thing is is I tell people all the time when I tell them, I’m going to a conference for accountants, they’re like, oh, poor you. I’m like, no. You’d be surprised.

John Garrett [00:29:03]:
Yeah. You just crack that shell just a little bit, to be surprised There’s a human behind that.

Stephen Vono [00:29:07]:
There really is. And the last conference you and I were at was really out of the ballpark different. Right? And they were all accountants. And it was a lot of fun, and it was a lot of energy, and it was really good.

John Garrett [00:29:23]:
That’s awesome, man. Well, such great words of wisdom, and I I I feel like, though, before we wrap this up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables. And, of course, you already have your own podcast. You’re a pro, but we’ll make it the Steven Bono Show. Why not? Because it

Stephen Vono [00:29:36]:
rhymes you

John Garrett [00:29:37]:
and everything. So, you know, like, We don’t need work to approve this one. This is just you going rogue. So, like, happy to be your guest. Thanks for having me on, and whatever you have for me, I’m I’m all yours.

Stephen Vono [00:29:48]:
Alright. So number 1, well, who’s your favorite comedian?

John Garrett [00:29:51]:
Ah, man. That like, that’s such a hard one too. It’s like favorite record, but I I would say Brian Regan is always a go to for me.

Stephen Vono [00:29:58]:
I love him.

John Garrett [00:29:59]:
Yeah. I mean, it’s just always good.

Stephen Vono [00:30:01]:
I’ve seen him live.

John Garrett [00:30:03]:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. He’s such a nice guy too, which also helps. But yeah. So, I mean, that’s that’s always a good one.

Stephen Vono [00:30:07]:
What was your favorite TV show growing up as a kid?

John Garrett [00:30:10]:
Oh, man. So whew. Yeah. Probably, like, Woody Woodpecker, for some reason, like, going back to the cartoons, Tom and Jerry was also one of my favorite. I I guess I was just very violent on the inside, but, like, it’s or, like, the Roadrunner. Today also a good one. Like, I just love, like, seeing stuff get

Stephen Vono [00:30:29]:
blown up and, like, when we’re anvil dropping out of

John Garrett [00:30:32]:
the sky. Right? Totally. And, like, you’re an adult, and it never happens. It’s, like, so disappointing.

Stephen Vono [00:30:37]:
Did you know that the voice for Woody Woodpecker was actually the wife of the creator I’m trying to remember the guy’s name.

John Garrett [00:30:44]:
Mel Blanc? Was that

Stephen Vono [00:30:45]:
No. Mel Mel was Bugs Bunny.

John Garrett [00:30:47]:
Oh, that’s right. Woody Woodpecker was completely different Okay. And it was his wife. Wow. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. That’s incredible.

John Garrett [00:30:55]:
Yeah. That is cool. Yeah. I don’t know. Just as a kid, probably those.

Stephen Vono [00:30:57]:
Alright. Let’s get deep. Who’s inspirational for you in your life? Oh, wow. And you can’t say your mom and dad.

John Garrett [00:31:04]:
Right? Well, I mean, I guess can I say my grandfather?

Stephen Vono [00:31:08]:
Oh.

John Garrett [00:31:08]:
Like, does that count? Yeah. Like, yes. Am I cheating? A little,

Stephen Vono [00:31:11]:
in my opinion, but if he was inspirational, he was inspirational. Alright. Let’s change it up. Who was inspirational for you to be

John Garrett [00:31:19]:
a comedian? In the funny. Yeah. Well, I mean, it it sorta happened on accident, You know, getting into comedy, I was at a training in LA in Pasadena for when I was at PwC, and we went down to the improv. It was a couple of weeks in a row, and Whose Line Is It Anyway would film in studio and then come to the improv and do, like, 45 minutes, and before and after was stand up, And, you know, it’s like a 3 hour show, and, you know, famous people are dropping. Adam Sandler came in 1 night at the very end. You know? Like, when you see these people hanging out and, you know, Drew Carey’s there. You’re talking to him at the bar. It’s just weird and cool, but, you know, when you’re not in show business, it’s like, what? This is amazing.

John Garrett [00:31:58]:
Yeah.

Stephen Vono [00:31:59]:
It’s kinda surreal.

John Garrett [00:32:00]:
But I’ve been fortunate to have like, Jimmy Brogan was he graduated from Notre Dame. He was a legend in stand up. He’s super good friends with Jay Leno, and he was on The Tonight Show staff from the beginning with Leno for, like, 12 years. And There was an article in the Notre Dame magazine about him, and I had just started doing stand up. I wrote a letter, a handwritten letter, like, to him, And he had someone look up my phone number, and this one, we still had landlines.

Stephen Vono [00:32:32]:
I remember those.

John Garrett [00:32:33]:
Yeah. I remember those. Right? And he called me From The Tonight Show studio, after the rehearsal, before they taped the live like, the the show, and he’s like, John Garrett, this is Jimmy Brogan. And I’m like, wait. What? Like, how do you what? What’s going on? You know, I just finished dinner. Like, it was just yeah. And so we chatted, and he’s been sort of a a Yoda for me you know, and then through him, been able to meet, you know, Wayne Carter and Henry Cho and Mark Schiff and, I mean, Seinfeld and Jay, of course, and, like, just so cool. There was a a show once where, there were, like, 8 or 10 of them that got together.

John Garrett [00:33:10]:
It was, like, all people that had done Carson, and they were doing a a stand up show together in Ohio, and I lived in Indiana at the time, so I drove over. And after, they said, hey. We’re going to dinner. Do you wanna come? And I was like, yeah. So I just sat on the corner, and I like, I don’t even know if I ate. I was laughing so hard.

Stephen Vono [00:33:27]:
I can totally

John Garrett [00:33:28]:
honest even trying to be funny. It’s just they were telling these stories when they lived in New York City, and they were up and coming and, you know, the Comic strip was brand new. The improv hadn’t even happened yet, you know, and then they would all pile in a car and drive 3 hours to somewhere in New Jersey that was doing comedy, and then the guy halfway through the show is like, oh, sorry. We’re not gonna be able to put you guys up. The musician went long or whatever, and then they’d all get back in the car and drive back to New York City and be happy about it and, you know, just all these stories that I’m like, wait. I did that just Last month. Like, this is crazy. You know? Like and so, yeah, Jimmy’s been a bit of a I don’t know if it’s inspiration necessarily, but a mentor of sorts.

Stephen Vono [00:34:09]:
Or been instrumental in your

John Garrett [00:34:11]:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you do you do now? Meeting all these people that have done it, you know, before you to be like, oh, okay. That’s cool. You know? Like, and And, like, you know, Wayne Carter’s been awesome. I mean, he was a former IBM person and left that because he’s like, you know, computers are going nowhere. That That is that’s his joke that he says about it, but he but, you know, and then and he hosted E and E’s evening at the Improv and, you know, did a bunch of stuff. So, yeah, just to be able to hang out with these people is is super cool, you know, and just to be able to email them and they respond and, you know, like, whatever.

John Garrett [00:34:41]:
And so so that that’s probably been been a cool thing for me to That encouraged me to go down this crazy path because it’s weird out here. You know? Like, you’re in outer space all by yourselves.

Stephen Vono [00:34:53]:
Yeah. I get it.

John Garrett [00:34:54]:
And To have people that came to outer space before you and say, hey.

Stephen Vono [00:35:01]:
Go to this star, not that star.

John Garrett [00:35:03]:
Yeah. Exactly. Or yeah. Right. Or just go kind of this way. Yeah. That’s that’s been cool.

Stephen Vono [00:35:09]:
So That’s awesome.

John Garrett [00:35:11]:
Yeah. Awesome, man. Well, I appreciate you being a part of this and just, you know, the impact that, you know, this message has made on you and you sharing that with me, you You know, when we were hanging out, it just means so much, Steven. So thank you so much for for being a part of What’s Your Hand.

Stephen Vono [00:35:24]:
My pleasure, and thank you for sharing what you do because it like you said, it’s impacted me to the point where I have got a new role and function at my workplace as a podcast host, and I’m enjoying it a lot.

John Garrett [00:35:39]:
Yeah. In new friends and deeper connections.

Stephen Vono [00:35:41]:
Yeah. Exactly.

John Garrett [00:35:46]:
Everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Steven in his collection or connect with him on social media or get a link to his Risky Records podcast, be sure to go to www.WhatsYourAnd.com everything’s there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button to the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book. So thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcasts or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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