Episode 92 – Ed Kless

Ed touches all the bases for better connections at work


Ed Kless grew up near New York City with parents in a baseball “mixed marriage” – one rooted for the Giants and the other rooted for the Dodgers. Luckily, both teams moved before he was born, so it was easy for him to grow up a Mets fan. He’s attended a game in 18 baseball stadiums across the country, with Citi Field being his favorite. He recalls a great story about being at the game when the Mets won the National League Championship over the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, chanting Rick Ankiel’s name as he continued to struggle to find the strike zone. He also brings up just how much baseball lingo has made it into the regular business world, with phrases like pinch hit, home run, touch base, and to 86 something.

In this episode, Ed and I talk about authenticity consulting theory, which means saying what you see or saying what you feel. It’s the most powerful tool we have to communicate. We also discuss how it’s easier for an organization to shut down a positive culture than it is for them to foster it, because the latter requires buy-in from the individuals. Ed also says that “Human beings behave by what we believe, not because of what we know.” This is what actually drives our actions. Unfortunately, this is directly at odds with the corporate world, which is based on what you know. So getting to the beliefs of each individual takes some time but results in a strong culture.

Ed Kless is the Senior Director for Sage Accountants Solutions. He’s also the host of two podcasts – Sage Advice and The Soul of Enterprise.

He graduated from Pace University – Lubin School of Business with a BA, Liberal Studies. While he was there, he was an active member of the Preston Theatre Club.

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Other pictures of Ed

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Ed’s original Fidget Spinner, a baseball he keeps on his desk to play to occupy his time while on calls and webinars.

Ed and his son take in a Mets game at Citi Field.

No matter where they go, they’re always representing Ed’s New York roots.

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  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Ed: Hi, this is Ed Kless. And when I’m not watching the New York Mets on TV, I’m listening to John Garrett on the Green Apple Podcast.

    John: Welcome to Episode 92 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday, I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion, which makes them stand out like a green apple in a red apple world. When I tell you to imagine an apple in your head, I’m sure for most of you, it’s a red apple, because in school, A is for apple. The picture is always the red apple because that’s the stereotype.

    And the interesting thing is all apples actually start out as green. And then over time, they turn red, turning into that stereotype. But deep down inside all of us has this passion for something other than our job, and that’s what I love to shine a light on each week here on the green apple podcast, because that hobby or passion is what we really started with before professionalism took that away from us.

    Thank you so much to everyone for subscribing and leaving ratings and comments on iTunes and other Android apps that really helps get the message out there to new listeners.

    Now, it’s time to introduce you to this week’s guest, Ed Kless. He’s the senior director for Sage Accountants Solutions, but maybe corporate iconoclast is more appropriate. He’s also the host of two podcasts, the Sage Advice Podcast, and also The Soul of Enterprise with Ron Baker, who’s already been a green apple himself.

    Ed, you’re obviously a busy, busy man, so thank you so much for taking time to be with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Ed: My pleasure. Thanks for having me, John.

    John: Oh, I’m so excited to have you on, especially after we met at the Sage Summit in Toronto.

    Ed: Yes, yes.

    John: We had so much fun and I gave a little bit of your back story, but maybe in your own words, a little bit of where you’ve been and how you got to where you’re at.

    Ed: Almost a loaded question in my case because I’m not exactly sure how this all came about. In a way, I joke, and only it’s a half joke, is that my job description is being Ed Kless.

    John: Right. Pretty good job security right there.

    Ed: It is. It’s like I’m pretty good at it. I’ve been at it for about 50 years now, but I started — my first job out of college was with a CPA firm even though I had only taken two Accounting classes.

    John: Oh, wow.

    Ed: And it was basic financial and managerial and that’s about it. I far enjoyed my finance classes, but my minor was Musical Theater, which explains a lot about me pretty quickly.

    John: Wow. Okay.

    Ed: Yeah. I just had a very interesting, even college group, but I started working for a CPA firm in there, what was called the Management Advisory Services Department. This is the late ’80s. What was really interesting about that is while I was this really super junior person who had nothing, I did have my own office on day one. The reason is that my office was also the computer room.

    John: That’s so funny.

    Ed: Into a room which no CPA would cross at the time because in it was two computers. There was I think it was two IBM ’80s with probably 20-megabyte hard drives on them, and there were copies of Lotus on each one of them. There was a printer hooked up with a little switch box that you could print from either computer.

    Some people started to come in, mostly, the junior professionals. They would come in and they would sit with me and they would use the computer and all that stuff. But I remember this one guy who was the managing partner of the firm. I don’t know if you remember that your audience would probably — I’m dating myself here, but there was the TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati?

    John: Oh yeah, absolutely.

    Ed: There was a character, Les Nessman, who was the news guy. He didn’t have his own office. He just had tape on the floor and he had, if you remember like the characters, they would have to pretend to knock on his door to come in to his office.

    John: That’s so funny. Did you tape –?

    Ed: No, no, no. But what I’m saying is it was sort of like that in reverse though. It was almost as if there was a shield, an electric shield that would prevent the managing partner from walking in this room, because inside this room, there were keyboards. And I think he thought if he was in the room, he would be considered a secretary, like if you’re in the room with a keyboard, he’s a secretary. So he would physically be walking down the hall and stop, dead in his tracks, in the doorway to talk to me and wouldn’t cross the threshold.

    John: Oh, that’s too funny. That’s too funny.

    Ed: A very bizarre thing.

    John: That’s also a very safe space for you and all the associates to —

    Ed: It was. It was a very safe space. People would hang out there. The door was always open, but anyway, it was a real interesting gig and I remember the first assignment that I was given had nothing to do with technology. It was this other partner and this is a crazy story. This is a long time since I told the story. But the first job I was given was I was given a set of work papers from this audit that had taken place the year before.

    Apparently, the guy who was leading the audit had left the firm recently. He left the firm, and this partner was so pissed that this guy left the firm that he didn’t want to see this former associate’s initials on the work paper so he gave me the work papers. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of these. It’s an electric eraser.

    John: Oh, my goodness.

    Ed: It’s electric eraser. You can look this up. It’s an electric eraser. And what it was, it looks like a dentist drill but it had an eraser a bit on the end of it. So when you pressed it, it would spin around and go, “Zzz,” right? And he had me erase this guy’s —

    John: It seems like almost illegal.

    Ed: It does seem — it really does but I had to erase the guy’s initials from the little checkbox because he didn’t want to see this guy’s initials because he had such a bad situation with this guy leaving that I had to erase it. You know what? It was an introduction to the time sheet. He actually had me bill the customer.

    John: Oh, my gosh. That’s very good. That’s very good. That’s so good. Oh, man. That’s amazing. I mean, it seems illegal, it seems neurotic, it seems like everything is just crazy and you’re like, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this,” like, “I went to four years of school for this.” This is amazing. Absolutely. No, that’s so awesome, man. That’s so awesome. So how did you end up at an accounting firm? I mean, how do you go from a musical theater minor to working at an accounting firm?

    Ed: You know, my major was actually Liberal Studies, which meant that I really just had three minors, the one in Musical Theater, but then also, Business Administration and Information System. Back in the ’80s, if you were willing to touch a floppy disc, you’re a technology guy. So this gig opened up and it was a couple of miles from my house. This CPA firm wanted someone who knew computers. I think I was probably the only one who showed up for the interview who, when he said that he had experience with computers, didn’t mean that I played video games. So they hired me and I worked there for two and a half plus years and then I ended up working at another CPA firm in the city, in New York City. This was at Long Island where I’m originally from.

    Then in the city, I started my own practice. Therefore, I realized accountants had absolutely no clue with regard to selling technology, like they were completely clueless, and said I can do this way better than they can and began, not my own firm, I did have a number of partners in the organization. Then sold my interest in that business in I think it was January of 2001, if I’ve got the tax year, right? And then for about 18 months, I was doing kind of my own thing in the consulting space and then came to work full time for Sage after consulting. I spoke with Microsoft Great Plains at the time which was Microsoft/Great Plains. And then also with Sage and then Sage hired me full-time. I’ve been at Sage 14 years and 24 days.

    John: Wow. Congratulations, man. That’s impressive.

    Ed: It is impressive.

    John: This day and age. I mean, especially. That’s really great.

    Ed: Yup.

    John: So what made you choose such a unique Liberal Studies with the business background?

    Ed: You know, I think it was because I really wanted that Musical Theater minor, honestly. I had always had an interest in that. And the only way that I could make it work and still graduate in four years was to have a Liberal Studies major. So I was like, “What the hell. I don’t care.”

    And I am grateful for it. I honestly think that there needs to be more people in business with Liberal Arts degrees because I think it’s a huge mistake to think that all we need is people with business degrees and MBAs and all those stuff. Fast forward after my original story there but I’m now sitting in front of this customer when I was a partner at this firm. You know, I’m waxing poetic about some subject in business and the guy goes to me, “Do you have an MBA?” And my response was, “I got four of them.” He’s like, “Really? Four of them?” He’s like, “Yeah, working for me.”

    John: Right. You cut me off. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. No, that’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. And actually, it’s interesting you brought it up because just a week or two ago, Rachel Fisch and I were talking about that on the Green Apple Slices that are on Mondays and Mark Cuban came out saying, “What we need are more of the Philosophy majors and the Foreign Language Studies and the Liberal Arts degrees because we need those people that can think creatively and can relate to other humans, doing the technical stuff.” Computers do that. So it’s taking that technical information and then being improvisational thinking on your feet and stuff like that. So you and Mark Cuban, simpatico, hanging out.

    So when you’re not busy with Sage and ruling that world, what sort of hobbies, passions, things that you love to do when you have some free time?

    Ed: Well, you know, I still love the musical theater thing, but I have to say that my big passion in life is baseball. I just absolutely love baseball. I was brought up in a baseball family. I actually brought — and you’ll appreciate this, this as a New York reference, but I was brought up the son of a mixed marriage, and that in New York that means not Catholic and Jewish. They can handle that, but yeah. My mom grown up as a Giants fan and my dad was a Dodger fan.

    John: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Ed: That was pretty much a mixed marriage. But fortunately, for them and for me, both the Dodgers and the Giants left New York in 1957. And the Mets were born in 1962 and I was born in ’66. They were able to come together in the melding of the minds. I’ve been a New York Mets fan ever since.

    John: Yeah, yeah. My grandfather was born and raised Brooklyn and down in Bay Ridge and he used to say that all the kids used to choose sides, whether you’re a Catholic or Protestant because of the managers of the Dodgers and the Giants. I guess one was the other. And so that’s how you picked your side, was where you went to church.

    Ed: Yeah. I read something the other day that we joke about this, but it is more likely that you will change what religion you are than change the first ever sports team that you root for, your allegiance to that team.

    John: Yeah. Wow, that’s pretty unbelievable when you think about it. But it’s also totally true. That’s impressive, man. So you’ve been Mets all the way. So you’ve had some really, really high times and then not so much.

    Ed: Mostly low times, yeah, mostly.

    John: Mostly low times.

    Ed: Mostly low times. And I say this to my Yankee fan friends. He’s like, “You know, there’s no skill in being a Yankee fan. There’s no skill.”

    John: That’s true. You just win and you spend more money and win again.

    Ed: You just exist. There’s no active engagement.

    John: Yeah. No, it’s true. I mean, it is true. I mean, going to the different games. I mean, granted, I’m more of a Cardinals fan so the Mets fans have a little bit of a beef going back. They’re having a hard time letting that stuff go but which is fine. I understand. But the Yankees fans, I mean they’re just — I mean, it’s unbelievable how that is and yeah, it’s a whole nother level when you get there. So what are some of the more — I guess is there like a coolest, more rewarding memories that you have from being a Mets fan?

    Ed: Oh, there’s a lot of great memories. But probably, the one I’ll just highlight here would be being at Shea Stadium at the time in 2000 for the Mets winning over St. Louis Cardinals, by the way.

    John: Right, right.

    Ed: The National League pennant. Okay. So I have to admit it. Do you remember a guy by the name of Rick Ankiel?

    John: Oh, yeah, absolutely. He got the yips and kept throwing the ball over, everybody said.

    Ed: I was part of that.

    John: It’s all your fault.

    Ed: It’s all my fault. Me and 50,000 of my closest friends at Shea Stadium. Poor Rick Ankiel comes out to relieve and I think it was the sixth game of the — no, it must have been the fifth game because it was — yeah, no. Yeah, fifth game because it was three in a row that the Mets had won in New York. And he comes out and throws a wild pitch to the backstop. Then of course, the 50,000 men are just relentlessly on him. Well, next pitch, he throws one even higher.

    John: Right, like there’s a netting behind the home plate, yeah.

    Ed: Yup. And then another one, and then like all — so now, everybody — I’m in the upper deck. I kid you not. I’m in the upper deck in Section 1 of Shea Stadium in the upper deck which is directly behind home plate. And our entire section is, “Up here, Rick!”

    John: That’s such a New York thing, man.

    Ed: Right. And the guy was psychologically broken, but I will say this, I really have a lot of admiration for him because he went back into the minor leagues and became a hitter.

    John: Yeah, he was the outfielder, yeah.

    Ed: He’s an outfielder and got back to the major leagues as an outfielder. He couldn’t throw a strike from the mount but there is a video that you’ve got to find of him filled it in the center field getting a pop fly and the guy throws an absolute strike from centerfield where the catcher does not move at all, and he just stands there and boom. And Ankiel gets a massive round of applause and a standing ovation for a throw. Now, the guy from third didn’t test his arm and didn’t try to score, but he gets a standing ovation for just the throw.

    John: Just the throw. Right. That’s like so far yet from the pitcher’s mound a home plate, forget about it.

    Maybe you should’ve let him pitch from centerfield and then he would’ve been a lot better. No, I totally remember that. Absolutely, man. Just playoff baseball is just one of the coolest things. I mean, it really is because it’s all on the line.

    Ed: It’s very cool. One of the strange things that happens, and I’m pretty sure that those people who are not baseball fans have completely turned off this episode, by the way. So just so you know. But the other thing that happens in playoff baseball that it only happens in playoff baseball because you’d never do this during the regular season. If your team is ahead, you never think, “All right. How many hours are left?” You never think that.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Ed: You never think that. But in playoff baseball, you’re like, “How many hours are left?” The focus of the game just kind of flips at a certain point, and I can remember like during this Cardinals-Mets series, we had six more rounds, six more rounds, six more rounds.

    John: Yeah. And you’re looking at the lineup, who’s coming up to bat? Like, “Okay. We can get those.” “Oh, no. It’s the heart of the lineup. Oh, no.” And you’re like freaking out about something that’s going to happen 45 minutes from now. You wouldn’t even know.

    Ed: Right, and you’re more focused when your team is on defense than on offense, and that’s a flip from the regular season as well, right?

    John: No, that’s interesting insights. You’ve been around for a while. My favorite was Cardinals-Astros NLCS and it was the year that then the Cardinals went to lose to the Red Sox when they were on fire. But it was extra innings like bottom of the 12th inning or something like that. Jim Edmonds had a walk-off homerun and it’s hands down the best sporting thing I’ve ever seen live.

    I mean because you don’t know when it’s going to happen. You don’t know that all of a sudden, you’re eating nachos, “Oh, the game is over. What?” I mean it’s just pandemonium, like the fans are — they wouldn’t leave, and you have to experience that firsthand for sure. You know, it’s a pretty cool thing, but I mean with the Super Bowl or with the National Championship College Football, you know, really any other sport, you’re either going to make the field goal or you’re not and then the game’s over. But baseball, it’s like we don’t know how long this is going.

    Ed: Yeah. It could theoretically go on forever. It could go on forever.

    John: And some of them have felt like that. That’s for sure. That’s for sure. I mean, I imagine that you visit other ballparks as well?

    Ed: Yes, yes. I think me personally, I’m up to 18 ballparks. My son, who’s 11, is up to 19, but that’s a long story. He’s one ahead of me.

    John: Yeah. I was going to say, “How the heck did that happen?”

    Ed: Yeah. Long story short, he and his mom ended up — we were actually at Sage Summit in Washington D.C. Rather than sit around and — no, they drove to Pittsburg, which is where my wife is originally from, and went to a game in Pittsburg while I was doing Sage Summit.

    John: Got it.

    Ed: He’s one up on me with Pittsburg.

    John: Yeah, yeah. The Pirates Park.

    Ed: Yup.

    John: That’s funny. So do you have a favorite one? Is there one that you’re like, “Yeah, this has been my favorite park.”

    Ed: You know, yes, there’s clearly some emotional attachment here but I really like Citi Field. Now, I will say this, that Shea Stadium was a dump, right?

    John: Right, right.

    Ed: Shea Stadium was a dump that they had opened in 1964.

    John: Right. Oh, get ready for the emails. Here they come.

    Ed: Yeah. It was. I mean, there’s no question about it. The best thing that Shea Stadium was known for other than the Mets winning in ’69, I suppose well, in ‘86 was the Beatle concerts.

    John: Oh, that’s great. Yeah, right.

    Ed: Right? And it was a lousy venue for music too. Anyway, but I’d really do like Citi Field. But all of them, the new modern ballparks are really quite nice. I’ve been to the older one in Atlanta. I’m like, “Well, why do they need a new stadium there?” Because it was quite nice. Same thing here down in — I’m in Texas now, well, the major ballpark in Arlington is about to be no more, and I’m like, “What’s wrong with this ballpark?”

    John: Oh, man. I remember going to that like ten years ago. That was such a nice park. Wow.

    Ed: It is a nice park. I mean, the problem was is that they’re going to a domed thing now, right, which I suppose you need but anyway, kind of silly. But I can tell you my worst park how about that?

    John: Yeah, yeah. Let’s do that. Those are more fun, anyway.

    Ed: Without question. Hands down beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was the Metrodome.

    John: Oh, wow. Interesting.

    Ed: Was just the absolute worst place to watch a baseball game. First of all, the seats all face the 50-yard line, right?

    John: Of a baseball stadium. Right, it’s like — right, right. Well, it’s football half the time.

    Ed: It was one of this multipurpose, right. But multipurpose —

    John: Yeah. But your back’s just a lot of whack.

    Ed: Exactly, and which is pretty much dead centerfield. All right. Well, now you got to spend the entire game with your neck turn the other way, right?

    John: Right. That’s so funny.

    Ed: And that’s on a good seat because in a good seat that is closer to home plate, which is really kind of like the corner of an end zone when you think about it, right?

    John: Sure, right, right.

    Ed: So which is awful, and every seat faced the 50-yard line. So that was it. And the way that the lighting system worked and the hefty bags that they have on the roof or whatever the hell it was, it was so terrible. It was like watching a baseball game and the expo of a conference.

    John: Oh, my. Right, right.

    Ed: Right?

    John: Yeah. Like the echoing and the yeah just, “Ugh.” No, that’s true.

    Ed: Yeah. It’s absolutely horrible.

    John: Yeah. I remember when I was younger, I went to a game at the — I’ve never been to the Metrodome but the Astrodome. I don’t know if it’s because I was in 6th Grade, but I thought that every single hit was a homerun because it just popped in the way it echoed around. It’s like, “Oh, that one’s gone” and it was like Infield Fly rule. I’m like, “Oh, never mind.” The dome kind of — it messes with your head a little bit from when you’re used to baseball outside. Oh, that’s for sure.

    Ed: Yeah, that’s for sure, really weird. But the tip by the way, the tip to those of you who’ve already left the broadcast, looking to see if something is a homerun, is you can’t watch the ball, you have to watch the outfielders. That’s the key.

    John: That’s true.

    Ed: Yup.

    John: That is the key. See, that was 6th Grade John didn’t know that trick, because the outfielders didn’t even budge. Maybe he doesn’t see it. Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe you’re an idiot, John. Maybe that’s what it is, yeah. So is baseball, this passion, is this something you talk about at work?

    Ed: Oh, always. Here’s the crazy thing about it, we all do because there are so many terms that have come into the business world from baseball. Some of which are easily understood. It’s like pinch hit, right? That will say, “So and so needs to pinch hit for me.” So we get that. Even you know, good things, “Hey, you scored a homerun. You hit a homerun on that one.” So you’ll hear that. But a lot of people don’t know that the phrase touch base is from baseball. One of the things that drives me completely insane is when people, instead of say “touch base,” they say, “touch basis.”

    John: Right.

    Ed: Like B-A-S-I-S. Well, first of all, that makes absolutely no freaking sense.

    John: Right. Exactly.

    Ed: Touch basis. And it’s not bases either, it’s not B-A-S-E-S because you would only touch one base at a time. It’s touch base. It really means you need to go back and touch the base — when you’re touching base in between pitchers, usually, the runners do that just to check because you don’t want to be thrown out if you’re leading too far off base, right?

    John: Right. Kind of a check-in, yeah.

    Ed: The check-in. So we’ll check in. There’s a term that’s used because that’s from baseball. There’s one that’s not often used. You may have heard it, to 86 something?

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Ed: Have you ever heard that, 86? And that’s a baseball term too. That means a great fielding play where the center fielder throws to the shortstop in the shortstop home which is in the score card, 8 to 6. That’s 86 set

    John: Wow. Look, we’re all learning. We’re all learning. No, that’s really fascinating though and it’s really cool to see that it’s the vernacular that we’re all using. So whether you like baseball or not, it’s infiltrated.

    Ed: It has.

    John: Yeah, that’s really cool.

    Ed: It has. And I recommend that people who are not first generation Americans who are here, you really do have to begin to understand a little bit of baseball because there’s so often the phrases from baseball will be used and employed in conversations, and unless you understand what they’re talking about, I mean so it’s not just in business. It’s pretty universal. The point where even people who don’t understand baseball understand what the terms mean. So you’ve got to get up on baseball.

    John: Yeah. So do you feel like other than knowing what the terminology means and things like that, that this baseball passion has impacted your career?

    Ed: Oh yeah, without question. I mean, for lots of different ways, in addition to just baseball games that I’ve attended with colleagues throughout the years because that’s just one of the things that you do and there’s some bonding moments over that. That always gets back into the conversation you and I are having here, about the history of the game and how we connect with one another in the past. There’s also a really interesting thing that I think that happens, and this is not just baseball but all sports is — so I’ll give you an example. If I’m on a subway train in New York City and I’ve got my Mets hat on and I see some dude with a Yankee hat on, we’re pretty much going to glare at one another.

    John: Right. Yeah, we’re not friends. I don’t care if you saved my life. We’re still not friends, right? Yeah.

    Ed: But the further we get from New York, the more likely we are to be like, “Hey. So if I have my Mets hat on and I see a Yankee fan walking around in Dallas, I’m like, “Hey, how are you doing?”

    John: Right, right, right. That’s interesting.

    Ed: If I see someone like in Sidney, Australia with even — it doesn’t even have to be a Yankee hat on, it could be any hat of any major league team in the U.S. on, in Australia, I’m like, “That’s my bud.”

    John: Yeah. No, that’s true. That’s an excellent point because then all of a sudden, you’re friends for no reason, just because you have a similar passion for sports. And even if it isn’t your team, you can at least bond over some stories of you know, like we’re talking Cardinals-Mets and things like that. That’s really, really cool. So yeah, I mean this has been really fascinating. I guess one thing that I’m always curious about is have you been in organizations or seen organizations, maybe they’re at Sage, that encourage people to share these passions or things that they do specifically for this to happen?

    Ed: Do organizations do it? I don’t know. I mean, I think organizations can do the opposite and that is shut it down, which is stupid.

    John: Yes, yes.

    Ed: Right? And I think that there are certainly people who are unwilling to talk about their hobbies and their passions, but you know, this is how we get to know one another and bond over things. As a species, we haven’t really changed all that much when we begin to think about it. One of my favorite analogy is just to talk about the projector sitting in the middle of the conference room table, is the new campfire. Right? You know, it’s this glowing orb in the center that we sit around and tell stories. That’s what we do.

    John: Yeah, that’s true, with bullet points now.

    Ed: With bullet points now, yes. Because God forbid, you try to do a presentation without a PowerPoint and just have a conversation with somebody.

    John: Right. No, that’s exactly right. It still comes down to that human to human connection and that relationship. I think that’s really interesting too how you said it’s easier or it could have a bigger impact, organizations shutting it down as opposed to promoting it. And what I’ve found too is from all my interviews and some of the research is that people automatically assume that the organization’s going to say no. So they just don’t do whatever it is that they think is natural, which I think is fascinating that they want permission in order to speak openly about something that they really love to do that’s not work.

    Ed: It’s interesting. Maybe it’s because of my study of consulting theory in practice, but there’s the concept in consulting called authenticity. And authenticity consulting doesn’t mean the exact same thing that it means in just everyday conversation. If you look up the dictionary definition of authentic or authenticity is being trustworthy or worthy of trust, something like that. Honesty, integrity, you’ll see words like that. But specifically, in consulting theory, the word authenticity means saying what you see or saying what you feel.

    John: There you go. Yeah.

    Ed: And what I believe is that as a consultant, as a professional consultant, authenticity is the most powerful tool that we have in order to facilitate the implementation of our ideas. And if we’re not authentic in a consulting arrangement because remember, because it’s not just — we can be honest and not be authentic, right?

    John: Yeah, right.

    Ed: It’s possible to be both of those. And what authenticity requires in consulting is for you truly to be that authentic person and say what you see and say what you feel. And even if that’s bringing up your passion for baseball or your political views, it doesn’t mean that you should be insulting of people who are Yankee fans. It doesn’t mean you should be insulting the people who are Republicans or Democrats because you’re not one, but I do think that understanding ourselves as human beings requires that we be authentic about that. I’m always genuinely interested in what people’s beliefs are.

    John: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, whenever I would start a new job or go in when I was with PWC as an auditor or whatever, and whenever I would sit with someone, I would always just be like, “So what do you like to do? So what do you do?” Yeah, that was the question. So what do you do? And then they would always tell me about their job. And I’m like no, “I know what your job is. I don’t even care really, to be honest. What is it that you do when you go home? What’s inside you?” That passion that no matter what job you have or what position you have within this company, it’s always inside you.

    Ed: Yup. And it’s important. Now, this is a negative example but it’s a powerful one, so I’ll use it. Human beings aren’t defined by what we know. We’re defined by what we believe. 19 guys didn’t fly a plane into the World Trade Center in September 11th because they knew how to fly a plane. They flew those planes into the towers because of what they believed. So we behave because of what we believe, not because of what we know. Yet in business, there’s this predilection for thinking, “Oh, well, what do they know? What do they know?” And no, it’s — yes, that’s important but it’s beyond that. It’s what you believe that is critically important. And this is the whole Simon Sinek stuff, right? Start With Why, et cetera.

    John: Right, exactly. And that’s the thing too, is I had a guest on a couple of weeks ago, Garrett Wagner, and he says, “The connection isn’t what you do, it’s why you do what you do,” and sort of a thing. And you know, it’s such a fascinating thing that, unfortunately, isn’t taught in university or taught in continuing education classes or reinforced by really anyone. And so it’s just great to hear that perspective. Well, this has been so fun, so fun, but I do have a rule where until we hang out, go to a baseball game together, I do have my 17 rapid fire questions that I got to run you through.

    Ed: Okay.

    John: I know your friend, Ron Baker, has probably warned you about this but we’re all good. He survived, I know you can too.

    Ed: All right.

    John: So let me fire this thing up here. Here we go. First one, I’ll start you out easy. Pens or pencils?

    Ed: Keeping score to baseball game, definitely pencils.

    John: Nice. How about do you have a favorite color?

    Ed: Green.

    John: Green, all right. How about a least favorite color?

    Ed: I don’t really have — fuchsia.

    John: Fuchsia. That’s a good pick. That’s a good pick. How about when it comes to computers, more PC or Mac?

    Ed: Oh, Mac, without question.

    John: Mac. You’re one of the cool kids. I am not. All right, being from New York, favorite toppings on a pizza.

    Ed: Okay. I am a big fan of the pepperoni with onion, not grilled onion, regular onion, and then also a little bit of shredded garlic.

    John: Oh, wow. All right, so you’re not kissing anybody for a while.

    Ed: Nope.

    John: How about more suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?

    Ed: Oh, I have not worn a suit in maybe ten years.

    John: There you go. More Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Ed: Oh, that is probably the toughest one. I’m unequivocating on that. Star Wars.

    John: All right, all right. How about cats or dogs?

    Ed: Probably dogs because a dog will retrieve a baseball.

    John: See, it all comes back, it all comes back. All right, how about when it comes to financials, more balance sheet or income statement?

    Ed: Statement of cash flows.

    John: Statement of cash flows. See, that’s one I don’t even know how to do. So God bless you. How about more Sudoku or Crossword puzzle?

    Ed: Sudoku.

    John: Sudoku? All right. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?

    Ed: Currently, I would have to say it’s Rufus Sewell. He was in two TV shows that I’ve been watching. One is The Man in the High Castle. He also played Lord Melbourne in the PBS thing on Victoria.

    John: Oh, yeah. That’s a great show. How about more oceans or mountains?

    Ed: Oceans. Brought up on Long Island, love the beach, yup.

    John: Sure, absolutely, absolutely. How about do you have a favorite cereal?

    Ed: Cracklin’ Oat Bran, believe it or not.

    John: Would you say you’re more early bird or night owl?

    Ed: It’s changed in my life. Right now, I’m currently more early bird.

    John: Okay, all right, all right. How about do you have a favorite number?

    Ed: 8. Yogi Berra

    John: Yogi Berra. Two more. Do you have a favorite band or musician?

    Ed: Billy Joel.

    John: Billy Joel, there you go, in New York as well. And then last one. The favorite thing you owned or the favorite thing you have?

    Ed: The original fidget spinner. It’s a major league baseball that I got about 10-15 years ago, and the sole purpose, never been hit, never been thrown. It just sits on my desk and I play with it.

    John: Well, thank you so much, Ed. This was so fun. Thank you so much for being with me on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Ed: My pleasure, John.

    John: That was so great! I loved how Ed said human beings are not defined by what we know, it’s what do you believe that’s critically important. And unfortunately, the world of business is based solely on what we know, so it takes some extra effort to try to communicate those beliefs.

    If you like to see some pictures of Ed or the links to his Sage Advise Podcast or the Soul of Enterprise Podcast, maybe connect with them on social media. Be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. So thank you again for the ratings on iTunes or whatever app you use for listening and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, which is to go out and be a green apple.

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