Episode 617 – Zane Stevens

Zane is a Chartered Accountant & Soccer Fan

Zane Stevens joins host John Garrett to share insights on his nontraditional approach to accountancy firm structure, prioritizing employee happiness for increased productivity. He delves into his personal passions, including his significant involvement in coaching soccer and managing a youth soccer league. Zane credits the skills he's developed through coaching, such as patience and recognizing individual motivations, as valuable lessons that translate to the corporate world.

Episode Highlights

· Zane Stevens emphasizes the importance of work-life balance and remote work options to ensure the happiness and productivity of employees.
· He shares his passion for coaching soccer and managing a youth soccer league, highlighting the personal fulfillment it brings.
· Coaching children in sports has taught him valuable lessons in patience, understanding individual motivations, and the importance of leveraging individual strengths in a team setting.
· In professional contexts, he advocates for the recognition of individual strengths and the importance of not forcing individuals into roles for which they’re not well-suited.
· Zane values the lessons of teamwork and communication learned through sports and discusses how these skills are transferable to corporate environments.

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Podcast Transcript

Zane Stevens [00:00:05]:
Hi. This is Zane Stephens, and when I’m not involved in soccer, I’m listening to John Garrett’s on What’s Your “And”?

John Garrett [00:00:16]:
Welcome to episode 6 17 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 actually differentiate you when you’re at work, is the answer to the question of who else are you beyond the job title. And if you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the award winning book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at www.WhatsYourAnd.com.

John Garrett [00:00:50]:
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. And 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. You won’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 Zane Stephens. He’s the founding partner at Protea Financial in the San Francisco Bay Area, just celebrated their 10th anniversary.

John Garrett [00:01:27]:
And now, he’s with me here today. Zane, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

Zane Stevens [00:01:32]:
Hey, John. Thanks for having me. I’m actually just going straight to my Audible right now, and I’m gonna go and add What’s Your And? To my wish list.

John Garrett [00:01:40]:
Oh, nice.

Zane Stevens [00:01:40]:
There it is. Okay. Add it to my wish list, and I will be listening to that in in the near future.

John Garrett [00:01:46]:
Well, thank you, man. You’re gonna get a lot of my voice here, So it’s gonna be a lot of that, like, there.

Zane Stevens [00:01:51]:
Well, it’s a good one. So it it should be a good lesson.

John Garrett [00:01:54]:
Well, I appreciate it, man. Thank you so much. And that that means a lot. Thank you. And I figured, let’s start the show off like I do all the other ones. Let’s rapid fire questions, get to know Zayn on a new level here, and have a little bit of fun. Let’s start out. I I think it’s an easy one.

John Garrett [00:02:07]:
Favorite color? Blue. Blue. Mine too. Yeah. Solid.

Zane Stevens [00:02:11]:
My favorite soccer team is Chelsea Football Club and they’re blue.

John Garrett [00:02:14]:
Yeah. They’re yeah. More of royal blue. Mhmm. There you go. Okay. Alright. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:02:18]:
Yeah. They’re like the Yankees of soccer. Yeah? Sorta. Yeah. But more likable, I guess.

Zane Stevens [00:02:24]:
Definitely not more likable. That that’s for sure.

John Garrett [00:02:27]:
I know. I was joking. How about a least favorite color?

Zane Stevens [00:02:30]:
I don’t really have one. I mean, browns are a little weird, I guess. Right? You know, that cocky color that, you know, we all got taught to warn as accountants when we first joined an audit firm, like, this is the color pants you should wear. It’s probably up there in the list of, you know, though I wear shorts in the same color all the time. When they’re not paired long pants, it probably just grinds me a little bit.

John Garrett [00:02:48]:
Yeah. Yeah. I I think they make you wear the khaki because then when you wear a light blue shirt, it seems very vibrant. Again, it’s still just a light blue shirt.

Zane Stevens [00:02:55]:
Yes. It’s super vibrant and that you’re growing up in South Africa when perfect for, sweat stains.

John Garrett [00:03:01]:
Oh, yeah. There you go. Perfect. How about, when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku, crossword, a jigsaw puzzle, Wordle, anything like that?

Zane Stevens [00:03:10]:
Not really. I mean, we do a lot of, puzzles with my kids, but, you know, interesting fact, I’m color blind and it’s getting worse over time. So

John Garrett [00:03:17]:
Oh, okay.

Zane Stevens [00:03:18]:
Jigsaw puzzles are getting harder and harder because I can’t see the colors anymore. So it’s a struggle, but, you know, we’re still, like, we’re only at the 1,000 piece puzzles with the kids, so I can still add a little bit of value, but jigsaw most likely. We do we did a little bit of Wordle for a while. I used to do a little Sudoku, but I think Jigsaw is still the favorite.

John Garrett [00:03:36]:
Yeah. Okay. Nice. I like it. How about more talk or text?

Zane Stevens [00:03:40]:
You know, do a ton of talking for work. But my friends, no, don’t and my mom as well. Like, don’t call me. I’m just not gonna respond really. So text me and you’ll get an answer pretty quickly. If you try to call me, I’m probably ignoring it.

John Garrett [00:03:53]:
There you go. Text me and say that you called me. Like, that’s alright. Alright. How about, sunrise or sunset?

Zane Stevens [00:04:00]:
Pretty indifferent to both, you know.

John Garrett [00:04:02]:
Sure. Fair enough. Noon. Let’s we’ll go with noon.

Zane Stevens [00:04:05]:
Yeah. They’re just part of the day. I can see that why people see beauty in it, but then also you realize that those colors are from from pollution and you’re like, oh.

John Garrett [00:04:12]:
Oh, yeah. There you go. Good point.

Zane Stevens [00:04:14]:
I’m just a little too I’ve I’ve learned too much of my time to appreciate this part as much as I should. But

John Garrett [00:04:19]:
Sure. Yeah. Okay. How about do you have a favorite actor or an actress?

Zane Stevens [00:04:23]:
You know, before he passed away, Heath Ledger was just, like, my go to guy.

John Garrett [00:04:28]:
Oh, so good. Yeah.

Zane Stevens [00:04:29]:
I think my wife at at the time was worried that I would, like, go seek him out and replace her because I I I truly loved his work and just everything he did.

John Garrett [00:04:37]:
So Oh, he’s so good.

Zane Stevens [00:04:38]:
Yeah. He’s definitely up there, but as a kid, I watched a ton of, you know, slapstick type comedies. So, you know, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, those those type of characters. You know, I I really enjoy them. So it’s a bit of a mixture, but easily, you’re still, if I find a movie that I haven’t watched the video or even a movie I have watched, I’ll definite definitely take the time.

John Garrett [00:04:57]:
Even like A Knight’s Tale, man. It’s so funny. It’s so funny and like so good and it’s just like even that one just like sneaks up out of it because everyone thinks, you know, of course, the Joker which was amazing.

Zane Stevens [00:05:07]:
2 of my favorite movies, A Knights Tale and 10 Things I Hate About You.

John Garrett [00:05:10]:
There you go. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. This is an important one. Toilet paper over or under?

Zane Stevens [00:05:16]:
I don’t care.

John Garrett [00:05:17]:
Just close to the toilet. We’re good. Yeah. Alright. Yeah. There we go. Alright.

Zane Stevens [00:05:20]:
You know, I’ve got young kids at home, so it doesn’t really matter. And I we have 4 cats, so, you know, so it doesn’t really matter.

John Garrett [00:05:26]:
It’s crazy. Alright. Fair. Are you more Star Wars or Star Trek?

Zane Stevens [00:05:30]:
Never watched either.

John Garrett [00:05:32]:
Okay. Fair. Totally fair. How about a first concert that you remember?

Zane Stevens [00:05:36]:
You know, I’ve I’ve listened to quite a few of your guys’ episodes and, like, I always hear this one and, like, I literally cannot remember what my first concert was. I probably should have reached out to my mom and found out, but she probably wouldn’t know either. But I’ve got a lot of good memories of listening to, you know, a lot of rock bands, local South African ones in small venues. There’s a couple of very famous bands, you know, one being the Polytones, which actually came through LA and were really successful for a short period.

John Garrett [00:06:00]:
Yeah. Yeah. I’ve heard of them. Absolutely.

Zane Stevens [00:06:02]:
And watching them in venues where it’s, like, 200 people in it, you know, can reach out and touch them type situation, have a beer with them afterwards. I’ve got a lot of good memories around that type of concept, but I can’t really think of a specific first one.

John Garrett [00:06:14]:
Those shows are great because I mean they’re bands that deserve to be in bigger venues, but they’re packing all of that energy and talent into a smaller venue, and it’s just like boom. I mean, it’s it’s incredible.

Zane Stevens [00:06:25]:
Yeah. There was also another famous one. I just for the life of me, can’t remember their name, but I watched it in, like, the auditorium of a high school, the one here.

John Garrett [00:06:32]:
Yeah. Okay.

Zane Stevens [00:06:33]:
They’re just, like, full on mosh pit going crazy, and then, like, the next like, 6 months later, they were playing in a a major stadium. Like, how did that happen? Like, that’s ridiculous.

John Garrett [00:06:42]:
Yeah. That’s crazy. Yeah. Yeah. How about a favorite number?

Zane Stevens [00:06:45]:

John Garrett [00:06:46]:
Oh, is there a reason?

Zane Stevens [00:06:48]:
You know, I played a lot of crickets and loved cricket growing up. And one of my favorite players was a guy called Andrew Hall. He wore the number 99, and he was just sort of one of those guys that was, you know, obviously good enough to make it internationally, but was never the best at anything, really a good all rounder. So he bowled, he batted, he was a good fielder, and he was just sort of a hard worker, a grinder, and I really just appreciated that, so I was drawn to his number. And I, you know, I wore it while I was playing indoor crickets, and I’ve used it for other sports as well.

John Garrett [00:07:15]:
That’s fantastic. What a great story behind it too. Absolutely. And since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement?

Zane Stevens [00:07:21]:
You know, it’s always a bit of both.

John Garrett [00:07:23]:
So you want full trial balance, I guess? Like, you’re going blank.

Zane Stevens [00:07:27]:
You know, because we deal with wineries where, you know, working capital is such a large portion of it. Right? A big part of it is understanding what those costs are. So, you know, sales down to gross margin, super important, then understanding your working capital numbers within that is just really important. So I think, you know, all the demons live in the balance sheet and you have to know what’s going on that, you know, if we get a pair set of books and they’re a total mess, it’s living in the balance sheet. So that would start with the balance sheet. But, obviously, knowing those margins is very, very important because if you know those margins, you can make a lot of decisions around marketing, hires, all the, you know, build backs, all the things that come in the wine space. So that all everything related to inventory is very important to me.

John Garrett [00:08:09]:
Yeah. Okay. Well, yeah, that makes total sense. Absolutely. How about ice cream? You know, I love ice cream. In a in a cup or in a cone?

Zane Stevens [00:08:16]:
A cup.

John Garrett [00:08:17]:
Cup. Yeah. Solid. Yeah. Because then you don’t lose any. Would you are you saying more of an early bird or a night owl?

Zane Stevens [00:08:23]:
So we have an office in South Africa. So I’ve got in the habit of starting work at 4:30 in the morning.

John Garrett [00:08:28]:
I was gonna say, holy moly. Like, that’s crazy.

Zane Stevens [00:08:31]:
Yeah. So definitely spend a lot more time awake in the morning hours than I do at the night hours. So I would say I’ve become more of an early bird over my time, but, you know, during high school and college, I had, like, a very small window of concentration every day. You know, 9 till 10 where I had to do all my studying for exams, and if I didn’t, well, it’s

John Garrett [00:08:48]:
tough, like, you know. I love it. That’s fantastic. How about, cats or dogs?

Zane Stevens [00:08:54]:
Well, I have 4 cats, so I think that

John Garrett [00:08:56]:
answers the question. Yeah. That answers it not even close. Are your computer more, PC or a Mac?

Zane Stevens [00:09:01]:
I have a PC. I’ve tried to use my wife’s Mac once before and I thought it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever tried to do and I’ve never never tried again.

John Garrett [00:09:09]:
I I I might have I don’t know when I was, I don’t know, 15 maybe or I don’t know when. And I I didn’t know what to do. I was like, I don’t even know what to do. Like, I’m out. Like, I don’t it’s crazy.

Zane Stevens [00:09:18]:
Yeah. I’m like, where’s the back space? I don’t understand. How do I delete stuff?

John Garrett [00:09:22]:
All the things. I mean, just like the mouse looks like it has one button. It’s like isn’t there what do we like, what’s it’s just weird. 2 more. Do you have a favorite Disney character or an animated character of any sort?

Zane Stevens [00:09:34]:
I loved Aladdin growing up. So, you know, the the genie has always been a fun character, so I would probably I guess I would have to go with that one. It’s one of those, you know, as a young kid, I had a friend who loved it and we would watch it hundreds of times and learn all the lyrics and that was definitely one that that always sticks in my mind and it’s always one of my favorites And even my kids know, like, oh, well, that ends on. You wanna watch that, dada? I’m like, yeah. That would be great.

John Garrett [00:09:58]:
That’s awesome. We need to get AI to make Heath Ledger voice Aladdin. And then, like, your worlds are colliding. That would be fantastic. Right? I retired. I’m just gonna watch this on loop. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?

Zane Stevens [00:10:12]:
I’m gonna go with my house.

John Garrett [00:10:14]:
Oh, nice. Yeah.

Zane Stevens [00:10:15]:
It’s just one of the you know, it’s a it’s a safe space. It’s where I wanna spend my time. It’s where my family’s at and, you know, somebody that’s come from a different country and wasn’t even sure at some point, like, would ownership in California be even possible to have my own house right right now and just the place that I can go spend my time, be comfortable, you know, get all those activities just for my friends and family? That’s really important to me. So I think my house is probably the most most important thing and what I cherish the most in life.

John Garrett [00:10:43]:
That’s awesome, man. Very cool. Well, yeah. Well, let’s talk youth soccer coach and all things related to that. Like, how did you get started with that?

Zane Stevens [00:10:53]:
When I first went to junior school, so in South Africa, there’s junior and high, there is no middle school. So in junior school, I went to a school that was big on rugby. It wasn’t quite for me, but then I changed schools with about, you know, 2 years to go, and that school was a big soccer school. And I was like, oh, this is more my pace. I’m gonna give it a go and fell in love, like, instantaneously. I just thought this is fantastic, makes a lot of sense. You know, there’s physicality without really hurting each other. You know, I’m not the fastest person around, so I can run but still play in the game.

Zane Stevens [00:11:25]:
There’s, you know, different shapes and sizes that have opportunity. I thought that was great. Got into the idea of, like, well, if you’re gonna play soccer, you have to find a team to support. Stumbled along Chelsea Football Club, pre Russian money.

John Garrett [00:11:35]:
Oh, okay. Okay. Alright. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Zane Stevens [00:11:37]:
This is 1997.

John Garrett [00:11:39]:
So Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah.

Zane Stevens [00:11:41]:
Money. But, you know, still pretty glamorous team, you know, Zola, Desai, lots of great players that play for that team. So Yeah.

John Garrett [00:11:48]:
A lot of history too and tradition.

Zane Stevens [00:11:50]:
Yeah. A lot of history tradition, pretty to watch, mediocre in the mid table. I was like, well, I love the way it looks, I’m gonna support them. And sort of just enjoyed soccer from there. I, you know, it was one of those crazy things, you know, growing up in South Africa, watching games late at night, making sure I don’t wake my family when I’m cheering for goals, just, you know, loving it all, just watch as much as I could. I would, you know, consume like Sundays I would just sit the whole day, you know, watching South African soccer, which is really not great, and just taking it all in. And just grew a passion to it. It just became my favorite thing to a point where, you know, the results of my favorite team affected my mood.

Zane Stevens [00:12:22]:
Right? Just being

John Garrett [00:12:23]:
Right? Sure. I’ve been there. I’ve been there.

Zane Stevens [00:12:25]:
Definitely not healthy, but, you know, it is what it is. We just grow to love these things. And as I had kids, I just sort of started playing soccer with them. We wanted to get them active at a young age. So, you know, we looked around and soccer was the thing that, you know, from a young age, you can get kids involved. It’s really ball skills that based around soccer and both my kids showed that they loved it, so just kept, you know, encouraging it and then got to the age where, like, okay, great, we’ve got to get them into a rec program, and then I realized, oh, welcome to the US. There are not coaches. Parents have to volunteer to do this.

Zane Stevens [00:12:57]:
And I was like, oh, interesting. Didn’t realize that’s how it works, but okay. I will sign up to be a coach and actually signed up. I said, oh, I’ll be an assistant for my 1st year. Let’s just try it out. They were short, so they said, do you mind coaching a team? I was like, sure. Why not?

John Garrett [00:13:09]:
You just got promoted.

Zane Stevens [00:13:10]:
Got promoted, you know, without a day’s work.

John Garrett [00:13:13]:

Zane Stevens [00:13:13]:
yeah, just had a blast, you know, just being able to teach the kids skills. I quickly realized that my understanding of soccer and my ability to coach and, you know, I coached karate and cricket and other sports before, so I’d done the coaching thing before. So I just sort of picked it up, took a bunch of, you know, ragamuffins through and they had a pretty good season and had fun and, you know, part of it went away. Parents would come to my office. They’re like, the kids just had so much fun. They just wanna be coach by coach saying going forward. I was like, oh, wow. That’s pretty good.

Zane Stevens [00:13:42]:
I’m I’m loud. I make them run a lot and, you know, I expect a lot from them, but I guess if they enjoyed that, you know, having boundaries and

John Garrett [00:13:51]:
Yeah. Some structure and some discipline.

Zane Stevens [00:13:53]:
Yeah. And just telling them, like, hey. You you had to play a sport. You’ve made a commitment, either you or your parents. I don’t expect you to be the best, but I do expect you to give your best for your teammates and work really hard and it seemed to work and I really enjoyed it. So that was my 1st season, but, you know, seeing the structures and seeing what’s going on, I was like, Well, I think there’s some changes that need to happen. And I looked forward and there was a call to, Hey, we’re looking for board members. So I went out and got convinced over a beer to get enjoy to join the board and from there took on the position of VP of Rec Soccer which was unexpected, and now I coach both my kids’ teams for the last 2 years.

Zane Stevens [00:14:31]:
You know, I have a at the moment, they’re 6 and 8, so they’re in 1st and second, So, you know, between, you know, coaching for 3 years, had both of them for 2 years and, you know, it’s been fun, you know, totally different, you know, perspectives. My older kid, very athletic, loves the game, just wants to do well all the time. My younger kid, very athletic, very skillful, but doesn’t care about it. He just wants to have fun with his friends. Right? So coaching these 2 very different kids, loving both experiences, you know, had the ups and downs of, oh, you know, with my youngest, the 1 win team this year. Last year, my older kid, we went undefeated in the season. You know, so the the total extremes of situations, but love it all and just looking forward to, you know, coaching them further. I got involved in some other sports.

Zane Stevens [00:15:13]:
I sort of coached baseball this past year, which I know absolutely nothing about baseball.

John Garrett [00:15:19]:
And that is so hard to learn the rules of baseball. Like, I I remember, actually in San Francisco, my brother and I were at a Giants game, and there was a college kid from Switzerland who was on like a month long whatever in between school, whatever they call it. We were standing in the standing room only and he’s like, can you explain to me the rules of the game? And I’m like, yeah. Sure. And I started to and I was like, oh, this is crazy. Like, I don’t even know. I don’t even know. I don’t even know what to tell you right now.

John Garrett [00:15:45]:
And then, sure enough, like, 2 innings later, there’s a bulk. And I’m, like, oh, my god. I don’t even know how to explain this. Like, look it up on your phone. Like, I’m not I don’t even know, like, what just happened. Like, it’s crazy. Those rules are nuts. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:15:57]:
So good for you, man. That’s impressive.

Zane Stevens [00:15:59]:
Well, you know, with kids at this age, like, it’s just sort of keeping them motivated and teaching them good values. Right? It’s really

John Garrett [00:16:04]:
not about true. Fundamentals.

Zane Stevens [00:16:06]:
Yeah. You know, and I had people who on the team, the other parents that had played for a long time, you know, especially my youngest, which is still a t ball team. And it’s like, you know the fundamentals. You teach them the fundamentals. I’m gonna, you know, keep them in line. I’ll be the the discipline in this team and, you know, I’ll take warm ups and things like that, and you just teach them and you tell me where to be. And it worked out pretty well, but, obviously, that age is always interesting. We have the kids that can play and, you know, you know, I’m throwing, you know, balls 50 feet in the air for my mic kid to catch and then rolling it along the ground for the other kid to catch.

Zane Stevens [00:16:37]:
You know, it’s sort of trying to keep them all engaged at the same time, but cater to their strengths. It’s always interesting where, you know, I think of, like, a sport like baseball is really tough because there’s a lot of downtime trying to keep them motivated and involved in in the game and, like, it’s scary, man. The first time I I went on the field to, like, coach baseball, like, I just helped out the one game, I stood there going, this kid is gonna die. Like, the ball is gonna hit him in the face. He has no idea where the ball is. I was like, you know, constantly turned to him. I’d be like, hey. Do you know where the ball is? And he would, like, look over his shoulder.

Zane Stevens [00:17:06]:
I’m like, no. The batter is over there, dude. That ball is, like, know it’s t ball, but that ball’s still hard. It’s gonna hurt.

John Garrett [00:17:11]:
It is still hard.

Zane Stevens [00:17:13]:
And so it was super stressful. I’d I’d rather stick to the soccer even though I know they could probably get way worse injured.

John Garrett [00:17:20]:
But I think that’s a great point of just meeting kids where they’re at. And there’s such an an age difference, you know, the kid that’s born at the beginning of the year versus the kid that’s born at the end of the year. That’s a huge difference when you’re 6, 7, 8 years old. I mean, that’s massive. So I imagine that has to translate over to work somehow.

Zane Stevens [00:17:37]:
Yeah. I mean, I think it’s there’s generally the skills in life that everybody needs. Right? And that our company, we’ve a lot of the time, we talk about our pillars of strength, and it’s 2 simple simple pillars, right? And it’s teamwork and communication. And constantly talking about teamwork and communication and even in like an individual sport like accounting, you still have to work as a team. You’re still reliant on people around you for information to be able to move on to the next task, to be able to get information, to be able to complete your job. If you run into something new, you need to be able to reach out and get some help from somebody. So, you know, I sort of take the idea of, you know, teamwork into all aspects, like constantly talk about how we’re working for each other and we’re there to support each other. And whatever we’re doing, we need to be, you know, very aware how that will affect other people on your team.

Zane Stevens [00:18:32]:
And, you know, everything that you do has a consequence for somebody else. Like, it’s never in isolation. Right? You don’t meet your deadline, well, that person is now gonna suffer and maybe have to work late hours to get the work done because you couldn’t get your work done on time. The same way as on a soccer field, if you decide like I’m just not gonna show up today and I’m gonna pick the grass, well, now somebody else has to work twice as hard because you’re not willing to put in the effort. So there’s a lot in coaching, you know, a sports team versus a team of accountants or professionals or any space to realize that nothing we do in is in isolation and everything we do has an effect on the people around us.

John Garrett [00:19:08]:
That’s so spot on and and that’s a muscle that you’re exercising outside of work. So then when you do come in the office, it’s just more natural and and more organic. And do you feel like you’re a different leader now after, you know, coach Zane came out?

Zane Stevens [00:19:23]:
I think it’s definitely taught me patience. You know, I it wasn’t that I was an impatient person, but I definitely wasn’t a patient person either. And when you’re dealing with a 5 year old that’s only there because their parents asked them to be there, you sort of learn a tolerance to people who just might not be feeling it, you know, as much. And it’s understanding that if you have these 10 kids in front of you, each one of them are gonna be motivated by different aspects of their life and there’s different ways to get every single one of them involved And that translates very easily into a team environment because if you have 10 people in front of you on a team, all 10 of them are motivated in different ways, and they’re all gonna care about their project in different ways as well. So how do you get them all to the same level where we can at least make sure that the project is moving forward in a way that we’re not putting pressure on one person?

John Garrett [00:20:14]:
Yeah. No. I mean, that’s exactly it. Because, I mean, you know, I I think the old model was almost like the military where it’s just hammer everyone flat. And then everyone’s the same. Everyone’s got the same haircut, the same camouflage, the same everything, you know, the same outfits, the same whatever. And then even when we started in public accounting, like you joked I joked about the blue shirts, you know, like the the blue pinstripe suits, you know, ties, whatever. Like, we all look the same from the back and then all of a sudden, you know, now it’s a bunch of individuals, you know, and so, like, it’s having to meet each person where they’re at and then finding out, like, who else are you and, like, what does light you up on a deeper level, not just on a superficial money level, but like what lights you up? Like what are you here for? And it’s, you know, to be super accountant is probably not first on the list.

John Garrett [00:21:04]:
So let’s be honest, you know, about it all and and, you know, find that out and share it.

Zane Stevens [00:21:10]:
It’s understanding what people like to do and how that fits into the organization and try to give them opportunities where they can be successful. You know, there’s gonna be areas of work, like, that people just don’t like.

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

Zane Stevens [00:21:22]:
And not everybody has to be good at that one skill set all the time. We can help you improve in that area, but we don’t have to then like shove it down your throat. It doesn’t make any sense, right? Like, there’s no point in me on a soccer field taking that one kid who is so scared of the ball that they wanna burst into tears and saying, cool. You’re gonna be goalie this week, and everybody’s gonna shrink your face. Right? Doesn’t make any sense. So why would we wanna do that in life?

John Garrett [00:21:46]:
A 100%, man. I love that. That’s such a perfect analogy. That’s exactly it. And yet in corporate, it’s like, yeah, but you’re getting paid so that’s what you do and it’s like, yeah, but I don’t that’s not really my thing. I’m really really good at this other thing. Oh, well, we don’t want you to do that. It’s like, well, why not? Like, what what are we doing here?

Zane Stevens [00:22:02]:
Yeah. And I think in the accounting space, you know, we do still get a lot of people from, you know, the CPA firm structure, audit structure you call in South Africa, where it’s very much, I’m just gonna climb these little pigs and eventually I’m gonna become a partner, where, you know, sometimes hard for people to understand like this is an accounting business, not an accounting firm, and we don’t have partners and all, like, we might use the same terminology sometimes, but it’s CEO, CFO, operations, head of departments. You know, there’s a different structure, and we’re not yet to sort of make you into the next partner because I’m not yet a moldaventure of, you know, similar looking squares. I’m here to let you be who you are. You know, we’ve been fully remote from day 1, so it’s not all about get the job done. It’s about get the job done in a way that you can live your life and make it as easy as possible for you to have a good life and, hopefully, stay happy. You know, I’ve generally found if people are happy, they do a better job.

John Garrett [00:22:55]:
That’s awesome. Yeah.

Zane Stevens [00:22:56]:
If you’re depressed, you just don’t feel like working. You don’t really feel like doing anything. Right? So the idea of being depressed at work is not gonna be great at all.

John Garrett [00:23:04]:
Yeah. I mean, you’re exactly right because I mean, if you’re outside of work life is chaos, then your work products, it’s just not gonna be as good. I mean, it’s just not. And and when I speak at conferences, it’s are you living your best life? And are your people living their best life? Because then they’re gonna be amazing at work. You don’t even have to tell them. It’s just make sure they’re living their best life and then everything good happens. You know, it’s it’s really that easy.

Zane Stevens [00:23:26]:
Yeah. And I try to sort of set the example. Right? And, like, touching my kids sport is all about that. I like twice a week I finish work at 3:30 and they’re like where you going? I’m like oh I’m coaching soccer from 46, you know? So I’m out of the house from like 3:35 to 6:30 and that’s what I do and you know, on Friday nights, I go paint lines. I finish work and I fetch my kids at school, and then I take one of my kids with me. The other one has dance class, and we go paint lines. And, you know, that’s just what we do. It’s part of my life.

Zane Stevens [00:23:52]:
It makes me happy to be able to get involved on that side and, you know, I never knew it would bring me joy looking after a league with 1300 kids over a 104 teams, but it’s, you know, it just got through my 1st year of running it solo and, you know, obviously got a bunch of support and help, but you know, in the role of VP and as much as that was exhausting, it’s very fulfilling and, you know, it made such a big difference and especially for somebody like me who if I don’t have anything to do, I’m just gonna work. It’s just that simple. Right? You know, pre kids, I would easily put in 100 hour weeks. I do not recommend, but I would do it because I could.

John Garrett [00:24:26]:
Right. You didn’t hit pause to really dig down deep, and and I loved how you said that where, you know, like, it’s exhausting to do all that for the soccer league, but it’s energizing. And, like, imagine if work was the same where, yes, it is exhausting, but man, I’m fulfilled and my cup is overflowing and, you know, where it’s it’s not just I paid you and you did the work and we’re done. You know, the the people are depleted. You know, imagine a place where work actually filled your cup you know, in in more than the bank account, you know, just spiritually and and emotionally and energized, you know, energetically. I love it, man. That’s awesome.

Zane Stevens [00:25:03]:
I mean, that’s a big thing. Right? You know, a lot of people will be like, oh, I’m an accountant. I’m like, I’m an accountant. I love it. You know, I I enjoy what I do. I love making a difference in people’s lives. And, you know, sometimes, you you just need to have a different outlook on it. I think a lot of people are like, oh, I’m an accountant.

Zane Stevens [00:25:15]:
I’m just doing a set of books. And, like, well, I’m an accountant that helps these small wineries and a lot of the time, we’re the people that are giving them information to stay in business. Like, that means a lot to me. We’re making a difference in people’s lives and, you know, just trying to figure out in your life all the aspects that do make you happy and doing them often. Right? And it’s part of the way I sort of plan my life out as well. I use time blocks, and I make sure I’m doing things that make me happy. And the things that don’t make me happy, I try to get rid of or not do at all and, you know, it’s not perfect. It’s a work in progress and there’s always gonna be things that you’re like, Ugh, this is just not where I wanna be spending my time, and you just have to do it until you can figure out a way to get rid of it.

Zane Stevens [00:25:55]:
But generally speaking, like, you know, love my family, love my job, love coaching and running the soccer league.

John Garrett [00:26:01]:
Yeah. No. I I love that so much, man. And it’s there’s so many other facets to who you are and and like you said, do them when you can. You know, I mean, it doesn’t have to be every day or every week, but, you know, twice a year, whatever your thing is, make time for it and see what happens. Yeah. That’s awesome, man. So great.

John Garrett [00:26:18]:
Well, this has been fantastic. But I feel like it’s only fair since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning that we turn the tables, make this the Zane Stephens podcast. Thanks for having me on episode 1. So I’m all yours. I’m in the hot seat. Whatever questions you have for me.

Zane Stevens [00:26:34]:
I’d love to know how you came up with that design from behind you. Oh, the ampersand? Just, like, everything that’s there. It’s just I love the backdrop.

John Garrett [00:26:42]:
Oh, my normal backdrop of video calls?

Zane Stevens [00:26:44]:

John Garrett [00:26:44]:
Yeah. Well, they’re all things that bring me joy. It’s a Notre Dame football helmet. I did some work with the Notre Dame football team for several years and so that brings me joy. It’s like a real actual helmet, like a real one, which is kinda neat. Play like a champion today and that’s a Notre Dame sign. I have a couple of trophies from one is from the award show that I did with Notre Dame over the years and then another one’s with LSU Football. Now I do their award show.

John Garrett [00:27:08]:
The flag is from my dad’s funeral. He was in the military, so military honors and all that. And then the ampersand and the what’s your and that’s all related to the branding. Not a lot of ampersands out there. It’s kind of a cool thing. So, yes, I’m just embracing it. There’s a national ampersand day which accidentally is like within a week of when my book was published which I didn’t even know. So that was I guess there’s a day for everything now.

Zane Stevens [00:27:33]:
Pretty much.

John Garrett [00:27:34]:
Yeah. But it is cool to have those, you know, pictures or things like we’ve been in each other’s homes now, you know, and these are things that bring me joy and they’re also conversational can openers. So then you’re like, hey, is that an earning football moment? I’m like, yeah. And then, you know, wherever that conversation goes, who knows, you know, type of thing. Where if it’s just a generic gray wall or the blurred out thing, it’s like, oh, give me a break. And then somebody always tries to hold something up. I’m like, it’s blurred out. I can’t see it.

John Garrett [00:28:01]:
You got to hold it in front of your face. Yeah. You

Zane Stevens [00:28:03]:
gotta be like this and then maybe Yeah.

John Garrett [00:28:05]:
Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. No.

Zane Stevens [00:28:06]:
I loved it. I really love love your background. It’s just just a great look.

John Garrett [00:28:10]:
Oh, thanks, man. Yeah. Well, it’s just it’s more to distract people from my face. So it’s like, look at those things. Like, there we go. Like, it’s it’s all good.

Zane Stevens [00:28:18]:
Well, I I definitely gotta find something that will distract people from my face going forward then.

John Garrett [00:28:23]:
Just kidding, man. You don’t need that. It’s all good. Yeah. So that’s it.

Zane Stevens [00:28:27]:
I want another question.

John Garrett [00:28:28]:
I want more. Oh, I’m gonna say Let me off the hook. That easy.

Zane Stevens [00:28:31]:
Yeah. Tell us where your dream vacation would be.

John Garrett [00:28:36]:
Oh, man. Okay. That’s a good one. So, oddly enough, probably my favorite city that I’ve ever visited is Cape Town. It’s incredible. I’m going to Singapore and Bali coming up shortly. I’ve never been to Asia so I’m excited about that just to see what that’s all about. Yeah.

John Garrett [00:28:58]:
I mean I think that that’s pretty high on the list. I mean it’s pretty awesome, you know, like I’ve been fortunate enough to do a fair amount of travel. Yeah. I mean usually it involves a beach just because I don’t live near one and seeing a good amount of nature and like cool things that you can’t like in Bali, there’s a a volcano that you can like hike on the rim of and there’s a town that’s sort of in it. And I’m just like, well, where else you gonna do that? You know, I can so it’s just one of those things where it’s like, alright, let’s do some things that you just can’t do, you know, at home. And there’s it’s a mix between sitting on the beach and relaxing but also, like, get out there and do some stuff, you know, like see it and experience it. Get off the beaten path. Get out of, you know, where all the tourists are and be a little bit local.

Zane Stevens [00:29:46]:
Yeah. That’s great. Yeah. We’re trying to achieve the task of letting our kids see every state in the US and we’re working doing a pretty decent job.

John Garrett [00:29:55]:
Good, man.

Zane Stevens [00:29:56]:
Yeah. Chelsea had a summer series in the US last year and we watched the game in Philly and then sort of, you know, did Philadelphia, jumped over into New Jersey to go to the aquarium over there, stopped in Delaware in the train station, counted that.

John Garrett [00:30:08]:
Yeah, that counts. Absolutely.

Zane Stevens [00:30:10]:
They went down to DC, spent some time at DC, and then, like, for the last couple days, we just grabbed a resort in Virginia and just hung out at the pool for a couple of days, and like, tick, tick, tick, knocking the stage off. We’ve got a cool map where the kids can scratch it off when we get home and Right.

John Garrett [00:30:24]:

Zane Stevens [00:30:24]:
The only problem is we made the mistake of going to Hawaii really early in the in this task. So whenever we ask them what do you wanna do, they’re like, are we gonna go to Hawaii again? I’m like, probably, but we’ve also got a lot of other states to tick off.

John Garrett [00:30:37]:
We gotta get at least halfway. We gotta get at least halfway, and then we’ll then we’ll go back.

Zane Stevens [00:30:41]:
Yeah. Exactly.

John Garrett [00:30:42]:
Very cool, man. Well, it’s so great having you be a part of this, Zane. Thank you so much for being on What’s Your “And”?.

Zane Stevens [00:30:47]:
Thank you.

John Garrett [00:30:51]:
Yeah. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Zane in action or maybe connect with him on social media, 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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