Sometimes, a job that was initially fulfilling begins to feel less meaningful over time. Luckily, there are several strategies you can follow to help you reignite your passion for the work that you already do or even redefine your role around what gets you excited! Today, we are joined by Randy Crabtree, speaker, writer, co-founder, and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals and host of The Unique CPA podcast. Randy is also a two-time finalist for Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and a regular presenter for National Accounting Associations in state CPA societies. In this episode, Randy shares his experience of navigating his mental health after a midlife stroke and his advice for finding passion in the work you do. We also discuss some of the tips and tricks he suggests for mitigating work-related stress, finding direction in your career, and bringing your outside passions to work with you, plus so much more. If you want to find out why Randy believes that “passion is everything,” make sure to tune in today.
Key Points From This Episode:
- How Randy reevaluated his mental and physical health after a midlife stroke.
- Advice for navigating work-related stress and burnout: first, acknowledge it!
- The importance of finding someone to talk to and choosing to reframe your challenges.
- Why Randy decided to redefine his role in the business.
- Determining what you are passionate about and creating your role around that.
- Tips for finding direction in your career as a young professional.
- Ways you can change your daily habits to help you avoid burnout.
- Bringing your outside passions into the work that you do.
- How you can benefit from “shutting down” at the end of the day.
- Insight into why Randy is so passionate about education.
- What advice Randy would give to his 30-year-old self.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast. Helping middle market professionals connect, grow, and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[00:00:21] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Branch Out Podcast. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today, we are joined by Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals and host of The Unique CPA podcast. Randy is also a two times finalist for Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting, and he is a regular presenter for National Accounting Associations in state CPA societies. For our conversation today, Randy shares his experience navigating his mental health after a midlife stroke, and his advice for finding passion in the work you do. I hope you all enjoy.
[00:01:01] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.
[00:01:07]AD: Randy, welcome to the Branch Out podcast. I’m looking forward to our conversation today.
[00:01:12] RC: Alex, thanks for having me here. I am as well. You and I have had a couple of good conversations already and looking forward to more.
[00:01:17] AD: Well, you know, maybe a good place for us to tee this up and talking to listeners here for a minute. Before Randy and I jumped on here, we were chatting about his life, and we’ve had a couple of conversations leading up to this episode today. I’m excited for where we’re going to go with some of this content. But what I think is a really exciting part here is Randy, you are in Joshua Tree right now. You had turned your camera and showed me. You are sitting in – I don’t even know how to describe your backyard. In the middle of the desert in some ways. Tell me about that. What’s going on? How’d you get there?
[00:01:43] RC: Yeah, so it’s – when are we recording? February 13th? Oh, Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. Not sure when you’re releasing this, so that might not be timely.
[00:01:53] AD: If you’re just hearing it, you missed it.
[00:01:57] RC: So, I’m in Joshua Tree. My wife and I three years ago, pandemic related, basically decided that, you know what, winter time is my slow time. She got to a point where she could work anywhere. I don’t travel for business, January, February, March, April. I travel May through December, because I’m out educating the accounting and tax community on different topics, and so that’s when they want to see me. We decided that, you know what, let’s just take off for the winter. Let’s get out of Chicago suburbs, which is our home base. Let’s get out of the snow and let’s also refresh. So it’s a workation, I call it. We’re working, we get up at – we’re California right now, like you said, Joshua Tree. We work at 6:00 a.m. and we work till 2:00 p.m., within eight hours and then do a bunch of hiking. But it’s not just, let’s get out of the cold. But it’s also, let’s just refresh, rejuvenate.
We may talk about some of this stuff today, but I had some issues I went through in the past mentally from work and physical aspects. It’s just nice to feel comfortable doing nothing for a while, or doing nothing half the day, and enjoying warm weather and going hiking. So yeah. You and I talked last week and I was in the Central Coast of California. New spot today. Then tomorrow, actually, we head to Tucson, Arizona. Everything we go to usually has some hiking involved with it as well. So yeah, that’s how I got here and that’s how you saw that mountain, desert landscape right outside my window. It’s just an awe looking at them, looking at it now. It’s just amazing. So yep, that’s where I am.
[00:03:41] AD: I said this to you when we’ve talked before. I’m envious of your life and I aspire to reach there. But let’s talk about – you alluded to this a little bit. Why did you get there? Bring me to some of your thinking and some of the life experience you had recently that have led you down this kind of path behind some of this.
[00:03:55] RC: Yeah. I’ve always been a guy that just likes to have fun, likes to work hard, do what I need to do, but enjoy life. I’m a big craft beer fan. In fact, in our community, there are profession – people know me as the craft beer guy probably as well. So you know, I’m just having fun with that. But what happened, unfortunately, that kind of took a weird turn for me a few years back. Just set the stage real quick, and we can expand on any of this if you want to, because I’ll talk about this all day. But nine years ago, in fact, a week ago today was my nine-year anniversary of a stroke I had. I’m very fortunate, I think and I always quote this number. I should verify it’s accurate. Actually, I’ll just ask ChatGPT if it’s accurate, because I’m sure I’ll get the information I need. But I think it’s 8% of stroke survivors “fully recover,” because anytime you have a stroke, you lose part of your brain, the cells die.
I was very fortunate that it wasn’t a significant number of cells that die, but it was a full-blown stroke. What that did to me is just put me in this path of going down kind of this hole mentally for a few years, for five years afterwards. That me having fun, enjoying everything kind of took a right turn and really brought me down for a while. Just because, what happened was, it was – you and I sit here right now. We probably are feeling a little twinge in our head, and we don’t even pay attention to it, because it just – a little headache you have, you get a little dizzy, or something and we don’t even recognize it. What happened to me is, I would start to feel something, and boom, “I’m going to have a stroke again. I’m going to die this time. I’m not going to survive. I’m going to be disabled. What’s my family going to do?” This just going on, and on and on caused me to go down this mental hole of depression and PTSD and panic attacks.
I’m very fortunate I get to go out and educate on this stuff now. What I do is I equate it to our profession somewhat, because we’re unfortunately have a reputation of being this high pressure, and we probably are. It’s somewhat self-induced, I think. I think there’s things we can do change. High pressure, high burnout, nonstop stress because of deadlines, and client calls and clients we want to deal with and all this stuff. I take this journey I went down mentally, and I kins of equate it to what we do in our profession at times. Then, it’s not just, “Oh, here’s doom and gloom.” It’s, “Hey, here’s things we can do to be better,” so one of those things. That’s a very long answer to your question. Thanks for being patient, Alex.
[00:06:38] AD: No, I like it. Keep going. Keep going.
[00:06:41] RC: One of these things that I did after I mentally got my head back straight was, I’m going to redefine my role in the business, I’m going to do the things that I’m really good at, the things that I enjoy doing. That’s where the education and the travel came out. But I’m always going to have fun with what I’m doing. If I’m not having fun, we’ve got to figure something out. Part of that fun was, let’s just travel. The times I can travel, when I’m not busy out educating, let’s travel, let’s enjoy life to the fullest. I’ll tell you the truncated story of this mental illness I went through is, every day is great now. It may sound like you might not believe me, it’s unbelievable. Every day is great and I just love what I’m doing.
[00:07:25] AD: I appreciate you sharing that story with us here. I want to come back to how you made that decision, that process of aligning yourself to spend time doing the right type of work for you. But before we go down that, let’s talk about equating the distress, the pressure. If I’m hearing you right, and what you experienced was, and we chatted about this a little bit last time. It’s not uncommon for a stroke survivor to have a reoccurring stroke afterwards. Then, beyond that, you’re just feeling and experience that. As you shared with me last time, you were conscious and aware of when it was happening the first time, and you were fortunate to recognize in yourself and get yourself to the right medical care to help with that.
But going forward, what you were feeling was this existential threat, this dread, this worry, this fear that it was going to happen again to you. Obviously, that’s a greater magnitude than hopefully the professional stress that most people are under, but it’s still a level of pressure and stress in your journey through that, and learning how to manage that internal fear and turn it into living to the best and finding ways to enjoy what you have in front of you. Walk us through that. Then, how have you seen that correlate in with a professional? How should they be thinking about if they find themselves feeling overwhelmed by the many elements of life?
[00:08:36] RC: Okay. You’ve got an hour right now, right? Because that’s about how far long I could go on this. A couple of things. One, I’m going to go backwards a little bit on your question. One, when I talk about this, equating this to our profession is, stress in general is not a terrible thing. Stress causes you to react, it causes you to, hey, an animal just ran in front of your car and stress is what kicks in for you to slam on the brake and avoid hurting the animal, the car, the people in it, all this. That’s stress.
The problem is, in our profession, we can have uncontrolled stress. That’s the deadline, deadline, deadline, deadline, nonstop. The last three years, it’s been insane. There are new deadlines. Things we haven’t thought about before, PPP deadlines, and ERC deadlines and whatever, all these things that have happened.
So if we can’t control that stress, then that’s where burnout kicks in. In my mind, and I don’t know if this is a true definition, but in my mind, burnout is a form of mental illness. Mental illness is what I went through with this. What I did is – there’s many solutions that we can do to avoid it. Here is my personal, what I did. When this was happening, and again, you can equate to this business. People burn out – actually there’s statistics out there. I can’t remember the society that did this. But this some National Society of some kind of science that did a study that said, the accounting profession has a higher likelihood of developing – individuals within the accounting profession have a higher likelihood of developing depression and it’s work related.
That’s why I think we can equate these two. For me, personally, when I’m talking about what I went through, I think we could talk about the profession too, and see how we can be better at this. For me, personally, I recognized what was going on. I didn’t hide everything that was going on. I say, everything, because there were some things that I did not let people knew, because I felt they were too dark to share. I didn’t want people thinking that my mind was going these darker places. But what I did was, I finally talked with my wife and shared with her what was going on. I didn’t call it depression at the time. I called it, I was having my melancholy feeling, again. “Hey, that melancholy feelings kicking in again, I don’t know why.” I would have a spot in my house where I would go sit when I was having these feelings, but I would tell my wife about it. Again, not everything, which don’t hide things if you ever go through this. I did. I wish I didn’t.
After a while and it took years, I decided, “You know what? I should go see somebody, a counselor, a therapist.” For me, it was just going to talk to somebody. Now, here’s the interesting thing. The first counselor I saw, and if anybody’s have an issue, the point of this I’m going to tell you is, not every counselor is perfect for everybody. That doesn’t mean you stop. You just find somebody that fits with you. The first counselor that I saw, she was great, wonderful person, I’m sure helps a lot of people. Her advice to me, and I’m truncating the story. This went on for a while is – it’s funny, though, I’m truncating this and going, huh.
[00:11:55] AD: To extend the story. Yeah.
[00:11:59] RC: With her is, she basically just told me, “Hey! These things that you’re concerned about, these things you’re worried about, you can’t control it so stop worrying.” I’m like, “You know I’m a CPA, right? This is what we do. We control things. We know that we have the answers. We know that we come up with the solutions for our client,” and that’s part of the problem. This is what part of our problem is, because we feel we are the ones that need to do everything for our clients.” Bottom line, I’ll make the story – I’ll try to truncate the story a little bit more.
Two more counselors. Third one I went to, don’t know what she did, I don’t know what the magic was she did. We just met a couple times before, all of a sudden, I realized, “You know what? I am in charge of this, and there is something going on in my head that I don’t like.” This wasn’t this simple, but for me, what happened, it was a week or two-process, where I just started looking myself in the mirror and looking at this thing that was in my head. Because to me, it was like almost this separate entity, and this is the PG version. It was, “F-U, get out of my head, you’re not real. I’m not listening to you anymore. F-U, get out of my head, you’re not real. I’m not listening to you anymore.” That wasn’t the solution. But that started the end of the issues for me, the panic attacks, the depression, the PTSD started going away. It was from dealing with a counselor, that’s really what helped me.
[00:13:22] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders podcast.
[00:13:30] AD: I really appreciate you sharing that. I won’t go into my necessarily own journey around this at this moment, but I’ve worked with counselors, I’ve had dealt with mental health issues and continue to. I think many people do in their own ways. What you said that really hit home to me, and I think this ties in really well around specifically professional stress. I’ll share just for context for myself.
A bulk of my life stress comes from being an entrepreneur, which largely creates professional stress around me. There’s always more to do, you’re juggling a thousand variables, and it can be very isolating at times, because you are the decision maker, you’re figuring it out. So there is that overwhelm, pressure, and feeling behind what you’re trying to do that makes you spiral, and feel out of control, and overwhelmed and I agree, burnout.
I think it’s Adam Grant in one of his books talks around burnout and essentially points to it. It’s driven by being in an uncontrolled situation, where you feel like you have no influence over where you’re going. Then you feel burnt out by that dynamic. I assume everyone listening to this podcast has felt burnout at one point or another, and we probably will continue to. It’s a very – especially in a high-pressure industry, whether accounting, law, anywhere that’s a profession, there’s high pressure. You layer in life and everything that life throws at us throughout all of that.
The key that I really appreciate you sharing and finding help, finding someone to talk to, finding a community, finding ways to work through your own thought and wildly important, element of it. But also recognizing that it is a level of reframing and it’s not as simple is just looking at it differently. It’s not as simple as just, “It’s done. It’s gone. I’m not going to let this bother me.” But I’m a big believer in accepting responsibility. And if I’m having a problem, I have to accept my own responsibility behind it, go fix it for myself. Doesn’t mean I’m beating myself up, doesn’t mean that it’s that simple, doesn’t mean that’s not real stress and pressure in life. But when you shift some of that perspective of what you’re dealing with and tackling head on, you tend to get a lot more traction a lot faster.
[00:15:29] RC: To expand on that, if you don’t mind. You had asked me this question too. So other things that I did or changing my role in the business is a thing I did. Now, not everybody can make these major changes in their role, but you can make minor changes. For me, I was a managing partner at the time this happened. I continued to be managing partner for the next three years, even though I was struggling. People knew, but they didn’t know everything. Honestly, when I look back now, that was not my role, even before the stroke. I mean, managing partner, I’m good at starting a business, I’m good at getting it growing. Once it gets too big, I don’t want to deal with the – man, I think you and I talked about this. I don’t want to deal with the processes, and procedures, and the KPIs, and all that, and the EOS that we’re implementing now. I think it’s great. I’m not going to be the guy to do that.
Looking back now, I’m like, “Okay, yeah.” Why did I want to continue to have this role, which I probably wasn’t completely suited for? I think it was mentally. This is my identity. I am a managing partner. If I’m not a managing partner, what am I? Well, I’ll tell you what, that isn’t my identity. My identity is education, education of our profession. It took me a little bit of time to make that change, but I completely went from managing partner of the firm to, all I do is go out and talk about the industry. Whether it’s mental health, whether it’s tax credits and incentives, whether it’s defining your role on the business, whatever. That’s pretty much my role these days. What I tell people is, you know, do a self-analysis, see what you’re really passionate about.
Was I passionate running the firm? No. Am I passionate about education? Yeah. Am I passionate about talking about tax? I am. Am I passionate talking about mental health? I am. So I was able to figure out what my passions were within the business, and define my role around that. Now, not everybody can make this major change. I started this firm, I was a managing partner of the firm, but you can make little changes. Let’s assume someone listening that was in public accounting, and you want to do – you’re feeling a little just tired of what you’re doing, you’re doing the same client work all the time, you’re doing – but when you think about your passions, you have a passion for the trucking industry, but your business doesn’t deal with the trucking industry.
You know what? Go out and propose to your manager, your supervisor, your partner, whoever you’re working with. “Hey, I got this new trucking business, this warehouse and distribution business that I really want to try to go after, because I’m really excited about this. I grew up loving trucks, I still love trucks, I love trucking.” Then, do that. Go on. See if you can bring a client in. If you’re excited about that, that’s just going to really show in everything you do. That’s just one simple thing that, can’t make a major change, maybe, but you could do a – is it simple? I think it’s pretty simple that try to bring in one new client.
[00:18:18] AD: Let me ask you. For a younger professional who is feeling what I call the mid-career burnout, right? I’ve talked to a lot of people, I’ve certainly felt it myself where you’ve been in a role, you feel like you’ve done pretty well in the role, you’ve had some upside. Then you’re kind of just saying, “I don’t know if I love this. I don’t know if this is what I want to do.” Let’s talk specific around accounting, because I know this is a common occurrence. What do you say to that individual there in that kind of, I don’t know what to do phase? What should they be thinking of to help uncover maybe some direction for their career?
[00:18:49] RC: I think the first reaction most people have is, “I got to change jobs.” That’s not necessarily what you need to do. You just need to look at what you’re excited about doing. I would talk to whoever your supervisors and just tell them, don’t hide what your feelings are in things, “Here’s what I’m going through. Here’s where I am right now. Is there something I can do different? Is there another in audit? I don’t like audit at all, and I haven’t told anybody I don’t like audit.” I mean, it can be that simple. Now, you go to your supervisor and say, “I’m really just not doing audits. I think I like the tax section a lot more. I like advisory a lot more.”
You know what? Don’t just keep doing what you’re doing, because you feel like that’s your role. Talk to your supervisor, see if there’s something different you can do, or you the one that bring it up. Like I said, you want to start doing something different. You want to do that. I mean, that’s a simple thing and there’s a lot of major things you can do to avoid burnout too. I mean, just change your habits that we could go into as well. But that’s –
[00:19:50] AD: Let’s do that. Let’s go down that path. I think that’s an important one.
[00:19:53] RC: Yeah. When I mentioned before, I do a webinar, in-person presentation on mental health in different industries. And you had mentioned it before too a little bit, I’m actually going to start doing this just for entrepreneurs too in any industry, which is kind of interesting. I got a call – in fact, as soon as you and I are done, I got a call about doing this with – we already got it scheduled. It’s just a matter of dialing it in.
I can name a thousand different things you can do. Here’s some major ones that I can give you in three minutes each or maybe a minute each, that you can really expand on different areas. But this major partner, this firm in Iowa. Courtney and I have talked quite a bit, and she follows this – what is it called? James Healy or something, Full Focus or Free to Focus system. Michael Hyatt. Wow! I was way off. I had the H right, but that’s it. Sorry, Alex, you know.
But she does this, I won’t give you the whole thing. It’s just other than just structuring your day, structuring your week, structuring your month, having your three key things, not a to-do list that’s 500 things long. You got your three key things, and when you get those done, you can add something else. You block out certain times where you do certain work, and block different times where you do other work based on what you know your energy levels are.” There are certain times where people can’t get a hold of you. You’re not going to look at email, text or anything else. So you can really dig deep into this.” If you want, Courtney DeRonde, there’s some videos out there, where her she talks about what she’s doing. I like it because it’s not just specific overall. This is our industry, at least my industry, and I know that you support as well, accounting industry.
To wrap this up with her, they’ve gone to implement this in the entire firm. And they’re at a point now where this tax season, they are not allowing anybody to work more than 45 hours in a week during tax season. They follow the statistics and the numbers on this last year, they actually got more work done, were more profitable, build more hours by working less, just because they were able to focus. So some simple like that you can have, simple – I mean, that’s probably not real simple to implement. But once you implement that, overall, it’s just you getting more towards that work-life balance.
[00:22:15] AD: It’s funny, and you and I did not play in this, and I’m literally googling this on the fly here. You’re talking, she’s the managing partner of Forge Financial. Dan Montgomery actually was on the podcast a few episodes ago. We’ll link it in the show notes for anyone listening. We talked around how they have used Full Focus. Coming from his perspective, it’s wild because our whole conversation there, and this I think ties in really well. Our whole conversation, Dan and I in that recording, was around effectiveness, productivity, making more, getting more done. And recognizing that going back to this feeling of burnout, this feeling of overwhelm in the workplace, that can add this extra stress, and pressure and dread. Oftentimes is much more of a function of a mismanagement of time, and a lack of clear priorities, and where you’re spending your time, and efforts and what you’re doing.
Then, behind all of that, recognizing that humans, we tend to be very autopilot creatures, right? We don’t necessarily think about what we’re doing all the time that we want to think we do. But we tend to follow patterns and habits pretty well. If you don’t have a structure, and a system and a way of knowing what the next steps are in building that routine and consistency, it’s very easy to be off track and off path on that. It’s funny, like a small world in there, kind of ties all that back in there. But I think that that’s a really good element there, of just simply getting control of your time.
[00:23:35] RC: Yeah. She’s great at that. Am I great at doing what she does? No. Am I trying to be a little bit better than that? But again, not to sound like an altruistic or anything. I just love everything I do now, so I’m not worried about that. That’s another story. So a couple of other things. You and I both know John Garrett. I love just telling people about what he says, What’s Your And?, just allowing people you work with to bring their outside of work passions into work and be there who they are, not that they’re the auditor, or the tax professional or the adviser, but they’re the mountain climber, or the hiker, or the craft beer enthusiast, or wanting to go and visit every baseball stadium or whatever their hand is. I think that’s important to allow people to share their fun things at work and make that part of it. That’s a simple thing that people do just to make the workplace better. But this one I really like, and I don’t know if you and I talked about this or not.
Brian has a company consulting with accounting practices and whatnot. But he has this plan in place that he calls, and I’m not sure if there’s a term for it, but basically shutting down at the end of the day. You know how we all can be on 24/7. I mean, it’s so easy with your phones and – well, on your phones, basically, you can have access to anybody anytime. You’re always looking at your emails, you’re always looking at your text, your team messages, your Slack messages, whatever it is. It’s so easy to not shutdown at the end of the day. But your mind needs that, you need this time that is not work.
Brian and I have talked about this, he and I did a podcast together, where it’s basically shutting down at the end of the day. This is an hour discussion; we’ll do in two minutes here. Basically, go through a routine. At the end of the day, bookmark your work. This way, you’re not thinking all night long. “Wait! Where was I? What am I going to do when I get in in the morning? What’s the starting point? What are the projects I need to work on?” When you get in the office, you already told yourself that, so you can forget that now. You can train your brain to turn that off, I don’t have to worry about that.
Two, at the end of each day, or sometimes they’ll come up with an instead of plan. Instead of thinking about work, when I get home, I’m going to make this dinner tonight. I’m going to go out to dinner with my spouse. I’m going to read this book. I’m going to do this jigsaw puzzle. I’m going to, whatever it is. Have a plan that you know you are going to work on when you leave the office or your room in the house you’re working on or wherever. Then three is, make a ritual around that shutdown. Don’t just think to do it. Whatever the ritual is, slam your computer shut up the end of the day, simple as that, or do some meditation. Or at the end of the day, you do 15 pushups. That’s your routine that you know the day is over. But again, now when you do that, your mind is trained that, “Oh, yeah. I’m done for the day. I bookmarked. I have this plan I’m going to do. Now, I go through my ritual days closed. I won’t think about work till I get in in the morning.” That I think is a really cool thing.
[00:26:40] AD: I think that’s great advice. It’s something. I’ve certainly tried shutdown ritual. I’m better at it on weekends than I am on a day-to-day basis. I’m pretty good at it, knowing on a week-to-week basis. I’m not so good on the day-to-day. Just hearing you, I’m like, “Yeah, I need to work on that.” I will share one thing I’ve done, and I did this last – I guess it’s been a few months now. I bought an iPad Mini, and everyone knows, I guess what an iPad Mini is. It obviously has my text messaging on there, but I have that app hidden. I do not have Outlook, I do not have Gmail, I do not have any messaging, I do not have any project management, I read a lot of articles. It has the internet browser, obviously on it.
It’s this thing where I feel like if I have to have my phone, because everything we do in life, even just being at home, you want to look at something, you want to surf the – you always want your phone, but your phone has all the triggers and all that pull you back in. So I’ve been making a habit of in the evenings putting my phone actually asleep within another room and everything, and I live off the iPad Mini at night.
It’s a way to definitely not a digital detox, which I may need that. But it is a way to detach from and – going back to knowing that if you don’t intentionally set up that space or a way to get yourself away from it, it’s going to keep finding its way back in. Can’t just say, “Well, I’m not going to,” because it will find its way back in.
[00:28:01] RC: Yep. Now, I’m using the Alex method in my presentations. We’re going to talk about getting your separate phone or iPad Mini that does not attach to anything that could be work related. I like it.
[00:28:13] AD: That’s helped me a lot.
[00:28:14] RC: Then, there’s just simple things you can do. I mean, things like just getting exercise and eating healthier. One thing my wife and I do, well, it’s weird, we’re not doing on this workacation, I guess, I call it. We’re actually working, because we do it afterwards. But when we’re at home, we both work at home, although I travel a ton. When I’m not traveling, I work at home. On my calendar actually says, “10 a.m., 2 p.m., walk with Kathy.” And we go for a 15, 20-minute walk twice during the day and people are like, “I’m too busy. I can’t do that.” No, your mind will be so much more ready to go on to the next task. Maybe, you want to do it when you finish a project. “Hey, I finished the project. Now, I’m going to go do my walk and then I’m going to start the next one.” Whatever it is, but just something simple like that makes a big difference and you don’t take your phone with you. You disconnect for that small time. Don’t eat at your desk, that kind of stuff.
I know people keep thinking, “Yeah, but I got so much time and so much I have to do. My to-do list is never going to get ended. I’m never going to get through it.” That’s where what Courtney does comes into play, because you will. You’ll have more time by working less. You’ll be more productive if you follow certain systems.
[00:29:29] AD: Completely agree with that.
[00:29:32] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with leading middle market professionals.
[00:29:40] AD: I want to take us down one more path before we wind down here. Education, you’ve mentioned this a few times. You’re very passionate about it. It’s clearly something that you care about. Just tell me a little about that. Why do you care? What do you do? Walk me through those thoughts?
[00:29:51] RC: It may just be an ego thing. Maybe I just like people to hear me. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s that. Hopefully it’s not that.
[00:29:59] AD: It’s not the sense I get.
[00:30:02] RC: This isn’t exactly there. But you know what, I’ve been in this profession a long time. Honestly, in my mind, I think I feel like I want to get back. I’m trying to think to myself, “Do I really believe that or is this – am I just making some up?” No, I think I want to get back. I get so much satisfaction out of – let’s just talk tax credit. I get so much satisfaction about a client who’s normally CPA firm will come to us, they’ll tell me, “Hey, this was awesome. You just help me. We save this client $100,000 on taxes, because of something I educated them on.” I’m like,” Man, that’s amazing. That is just so cool.” Because one, they just got a client that they’ll never leave them, if as long as they don’t want them to leave. Maybe, hopefully, it’s another client they want them to leave, they’re not going to leave. They can actually, when they come up with these kinds of clients, they can reduce their client base with the clients they don’t want to deal with too. I think that’s important.
I haven’t defined the mission for sure. Danny Shimamoto has his mission, where I think is, like kind of making the world better one accountant at a time. I want to steal his mission, because that’s what I feel like. If I can help one person at a time, get better at what they’re doing, not get burnt out, not leave the industry, help one accountant at a time, help their client be better, be more successful, be able to hire more people, because we’ve got some tax credits incentives into them. I just feel good about that. Honestly, when I do any presentation, whether it’s tax or anything else, it’s never a sales pitch. But people realize you’re passionate about this, they come to you and eventually, the work comes too. There is that byproduct, for sure. It’s not just educate to educate. A lot of the times, it is, but it still comes back to you.
[00:31:45] AD: This is definitely not where I’m thinking our conversation will go, but I think this is actually a good point here. A lot of the work I do is around business development and helping individuals think about business development and be more successful. A scalable way to do good business development is education, seminars, speaking. The reason it is and you hit on this actually, I might write this in some of our content now that I’m thinking of it. When you are showing passion about something, and back to your point earlier, find something you’re passionate about, find some area that you actually get excited about. And then, recognize – there’s definitely studies out there. HBR has a couple articles around this of the feel good effect, the, when I’m doing something that I’m not looking at the direct return to myself, but I’m looking at what I’m doing for someone else. That often becomes where we feel like we have more time, we feel better.
The actual study, and I won’t go too deep in this. It was around this idea that when we’re doing something for someone else, it allows us to be more present in the moment, more focused on what we’re doing and have kind of a greater sense of meaning and value, which gives expanded sense of time, which tends to make us feel better. It feels like, I enjoy this, I enjoy what I’m doing, I feel good about this. I don’t feel like I’m rushed, and overwhelmed and just running. Instead, I feel like, “This was good. I’m happy to be here.” Positive effect of that is professionals. It’s it can be refueling, it can be energizing, but it also, in everything in life in one way or another, there often is a what’s in it for me element, right? Because we can’t do everything all the time just for fun and not know why we’re doing it, because it may feel good. If there’s not a real benefit, the feel good is great and that is a benefit. I don’t want to diminish that. But why am I putting the effort in? Why am I going outside of my comfort zone? What am I doing this for?
What you said is, it’s a byproduct. It’d not the goal. It’s not the intent. But you know, it’s a byproduct. You know that if you’re passionate, you show up, you demonstrate your knowledge, and your skill set and your expertise, and you do it with passionate, and bring character and energy to it. People want to do business with you. The byproduct is, they’re going to reach out to you, and you said this last time, you get a lot of people reaching out to you is a follow up or is a byproduct of that. It really ends up being a real win-win situation under that.
[00:33:49] RC: Oh, yeah. Not to toot my own horn, I guess. But, I guess I’m going to. I present in a lot of places where people will rate reviews over there. A very common one is, “Boy, Randy’s knowledge and passion really shows through.” That right there, my adrenaline just starts flowing with that, because people get excited about my education style. That just makes me happy. But yes, passion is huge. Passion is everything. I should write a book called Passion is Everything. There probably is one out there already, but maybe not. That’s the title. Oh, man! Writing a book, this one, that’s part of what I’m doing. No timelines on it. No specific date when it’s released. It’s about figuring out ways that we can be a better profession for ourselves, our clients and our firms. Passion is Everything, maybe that’s it. Maybe we got something.
[00:34:42] AD: I think you got it.
[00:34:44] RC: Yeah, there we go. Alex, I’m going to have to quote you in the book on that. So, thank you.
[00:34:49] AD: All right. I’ll keep an eye on for that. I really appreciate you coming on here and sharing your thoughts today. It’s been a great conversation, but I think you also – you open up a lot of different areas of thinking that I think are important. What I love to wind down, just like one last question. You’ve had a 30 plus year successful career in public accounting, and as an entrepreneur and growing a business. If you could go back to Randy that was 30 years old, what would you say?
[00:35:16] RC: Okay. I’m going to answer that, and first with everything, I’m going to go back one second. So here’s the deal. Was everything perfect the whole time in my career? No. Was there a lot of stress? At certain times. Did I actually get burnt out when I was a managing partner of a CPA firm, which ended 17 years ago, when I started Tri-Merit? Yeah, I did get burnt out, because I did things wrong. What I would tell that 30-year-old is, just do what you’re going to do. Because where I am today is a byproduct of all that, and I don’t want to change a minute of what’s going on today. Now, could I have got to this point sooner? Probably. I was looking at this, like the butterfly effect. If I make one little change there, who knows where this goes. So in reality, I would just say, “Do what you’re going to do.” Even going through the stroke, and the depression and everything else, I would do it again, which is weird.
But the biggest thing, and we just said this, making this the title of the book is, follow your passion. That’s what I would say. Don’t follow the money. If you’re following your passion, the money will come with it, or at least the satisfaction, which should be enough. But you know, when I was 30-year-old, I was taking any client on that would come and I didn’t care about if this sounds bad. But I didn’t care about half the industries I was dealing with. If I could have just concentrated on whatever, legal industry. I think I enjoyed that, boom. Their passion would have kicked in, and I probably wouldn’t be here today doing this. That’s why I wouldn’t change it. But that’s what I would say, follow your passion.
[00:36:49] AD: Well, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s always easy to look back. I think that’s great advice. It certainly speaks to where you’re at, and feeling, and recognizing that every step along the way led you on that journey. Right. So again, I appreciate you being on here, appreciate you sharing your thoughts. For our listeners, how can they get a hold of you?
[00:37:06] RC: I mean, our websites probably the best spot, which is tri-merit.com. There’s a Meet the Team on there, my contact information is there. Our marketing team is really good, so I’m usually all over social media at some level, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the main place where I probably hang out on social media, but tri-merit.com is the best part to start with.
[00:37:27] AD: Cool, awesome. Well, we’ll make sure that’s all linked in the show notes below so listeners can follow you and learn a little bit more from you. Randy, again, appreciate you being on here today.
[00:37:35] RC: Thank you, Alex. I had a great time.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
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