Amy disconnects to better connect with clients and coworkers
Amy Vetter has wanted to be a CPA since she was a little girl, to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather. At the age of 12, she was even doing the books for her mother’s cleaning service! In high school and college, she discovered explored her artistic side by painting and playing the violin and viola, but the steady nature of an accounting job won out in the end. More recently, after achieving success in the business world, she realized she needed to be more mindful and took up yoga. She describes it as being transformational, so she became a yoga instructor and opened her own yoga studio.
In this episode, Amy and I talk about how she was able to use her yoga to pivot into a new career on the technology side. It’s allowed her to take time away from work to be alone with her mind and to remember to breathe. This is something that she has built into her weekly routine because she says, “We’re better at work and at home if we intentionally make time for our passions.”
Amy Vetter is Chief Relationship Officer – Partner Channel for Xero Americas. She’s also the author of the book Business, Balance, & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life, a TEDx speaker, and the contributor to many publications such as Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, CPA Practice Advisor and Accounting Today.
She received her BBA, Accounting from the University of Cincinnati. She later went to Nova Southeastern University for her MBA, Business.
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Welcome to Episode 104 of the Green Apple Podcast. That’s two years’ worth of interviews where each Wednesday, I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion that makes them stand out like a green apple in a red apple world. And I can’t believe we made it. This episode is extra special because it’s being recorded live at the Accountex Conference in Boston.
Thanks so much to everyone for subscribing and leaving ratings and comments on iTunes or other apps that you listen to podcasts on. This is how the computer suggests the show to new listeners so thank you much for just taking 20 seconds clicking five stars because it really helps get this message out there.
Okay, now it’s time to introduce you to this week’s guest, Amy Vetter. She’s the Chief Relationship Officer Partner Channel for Xero Americas and the author of a new book called Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life. She’s also a TEDx speaker and a contributor to many publications like inc.com, entrepreneur.com, CPA Practice Advisor, Accounting Today, and I mean goodness, after hearing all this, Amy, I’m just thankful that you had time to be with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
Amy: Thanks for having me.
John: Oh, I’m so excited. I mean we’ve been following each other in social media, and you’ve been killing it. I mean TEDx Talk and the new book, right?
Amy: Oh, thank you. Yeah, it’s been a really cool year so a lot of work to get to this point. A book doesn’t happen overnight. Neither does a TEDx Talk believe it or not.
John: Right, no, it totally doesn’t because it’s even shorter so it takes you even more time to condense it down.
Amy: It’s so hard, yeah. It was a really awesome experience to do it, yeah.
John: Yeah, absolutely. For those of you who want the book, it’s Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life which is so fantastic so we’ll get into that too as well. But maybe just a quick background of what you’re up to now and a little bit of how you got there.
Amy: Sure. For anyone that doesn’t know me, I’m a CPA.
Amy: You don’t usually get that kind of response though.
John: No, but you should, you should. We are high fiving right now.
Amy: We’re doing the rock symbol. Yeah, so my grandfather was a CPA in the 1930s and so I really grew up with the accounting industry in my blood for the most part. My mother didn’t become a CPA and so she was really guiding me toward that so at 12 years old, I thought I was going to be a CPA so I had my career goals set very early. I don’t know that I knew what CPA stood for or anything else.
John: “I want to be my grandpa.”
Amy: But it was a way to carry on his legacy.
John: That’s very cool though. That’s very cool.
Amy: And then my mom had maid services so I worked in her office from the time I was 12, the bus would drop me off.
John: The bus, yeah. Just the bus brings you, yeah, right to her.
Amy: Yeah, then I went on the whatever bus route that got me there and was there at the time when businesses were extremely manual. I mean you think about what technology has today, I mean she had no computer system, nothing telling her what her numbers were. She would have a tax account and that would give her her numbers maybe six months after the year so everything at that time to be a business center was in your head. I did manual bank deposit slips for her and work orders for the maids, all that stuff.
John: That’s so great. That’s awesome. You’re training for this it’s like 6th grade.
Amy: Yeah, pretty much, yeah. At the same time though, I played violin and viola and I was a painter in high school.
John: What? Yeah!
Amy: And so throughout high school was really trying to figure out which direction do I go?
John: Right, do you want to make money or not?
Amy: Yeah. Now, that has actually changed my mind about — so I’ll tell you why because I definitely have the messaging and I’m not saying it’s wrong at all. I’ve had a great career in accounting that it’s a safer path for sure. However, I think as I’ve gotten older, I believe if you’re passionate about something, you will be successful. You will find a way to be successful. It might not be the way you intend, but you can still follow a path as long as you work hard.
John: Totally, I mean then because I went from Big Four to stand-up comedy full-time which is insane.
John: So anyone that’s like, “Oh, should I do that?” I tell everyone no because I don’t want to be the one that tells you yes because you’re going to come find me one day and punch me in the face plus I also think that if a stranger tells you no and then you decide not to, you’ll never make it because I mean it’s so hard.
Amy: But if you want to do it, you don’t care if someone says that.
John: No. I had somebody tell me no and I’m like thanks for the input but I’m still doing it because it’s inside me. I got to let it out. That’s so cool though. Do you still play the violin and viola?
Amy: I played through college. I was in like community orchestra but once the accounting career got underway and marriage and kids like that definitely fell to the wayside. It wasn’t actually until recently that probably in the last oh, my goodness.
I guess more time has gone by than I realized, but I guess about ten years ago, my son decided he was — they always had to have an instrument starting from a young age because it was so important in my life and so he picked electric guitar and we actually went to the Michael Jackson movie at the time and it was that live concert movie and there was a woman lead electric guitar player in his movie, and I’m talking to my son like, “I want to play.” “What are you talking about? She’s playing.” And so I decided to learn bass guitar.
Amy: So that I could round him out and do it with him.
John: That’s so great. Do you play the bass, he’s lead?
Amy: Well, yeah. And then now, so it’s even evolved into you know, so my younger son plays drums and sings.
John: You’re the Vetter band.
Amy: We’re the Vettenators.
John: The Vettenators.
Amy: We have a real name.
John: That’s so great.
Amy: My husband didn’t want to feel left out so he started playing keyboard. We are a band but there’s nothing cooler than playing together with your family like that it’s so awesome.
John: That’s so awesome, that’s so awesome, and now you’re with Xero, right?
John: Do you find at all that the music side of you or I know you exercise super healthy as well and all that. Do you find that any of that translates into your business? Into your business life?
Amy: Yeah. I mean that’s definitely the reason I wrote the book because I definitely took a transformation journey and part of actually that led me there was yoga, and I was kind of forced into yoga because I had gotten sick after having my second son and I wasn’t allowed to do my normal workout and I was told I could only do yoga if I wanted to do something so I’m like, “Okay.”
John: Right, sit like a pretzel and breathe, like what are we doing?
Amy: I don’t want to do that. But then when I started it, it really started changing everything.
John: That’s great. So good.
Amy: What I learned from it really was transformational because one thing that I noticed immediately was how good I felt after I was doing yoga and because I was so driven and my career as a CPA, just trying to make partner and so forth that I never really stopped and let myself be alone with my mind, really let things release even stuff that was stuff and to keep going to yoga and being by yourself.
I mean you’re in a room but you’re really by yourself. I just saw how beneficial that was and then certain things that you learn in yoga, I mean it sounds silly but you forget to breathe in your business life.
John: Totally. Absolutely. It’s such a simple thing but it’s pretty important to everybody.
Amy: In the beginning, when they were having you breathe, I just didn’t get it. It seems like a simple thing.
John: I’ve been doing this pretty much all my life I think, or even before I was born I think pretty much, yeah.
Amy: But how it affects your nervous system and completely settles you down and how you feel after yoga class when you’re completely intentional with your breathing, I didn’t want to go back and work until midnight. After I was done with that, I felt completely different. And so really started thinking about how to incorporate some of the things I was learning from my hobby into my work life and to really start pivoting in my career and that’s truly what I was in public accounting.
I have my own business, I was a partner in a CPA firm, I’ve done a number of different things in the accounting field but I decided like you said, rather than quitting because there’s so many reasons sometimes in your career, you just want to quit because things don’t feel good.
I actually took the journey and said, where do I go with this? I really pivoted in my career and have spent pretty much the last ten years in the technology side of accounting, training, educating, helping, give advice to product engineers about what accountants need to see and then speaking out at conferences. I didn’t give up all that expertise I had with what I had built in my career but figured out another path that I could use with it.
John: Sure, you just repackage it.
Amy: And yoga really, I believe, help give me that space to figure that out.
John: That’s awesome. I mean that’s so powerful. Do you talk about yoga at work or when you were doing it?
Amy: Well, part of the problem, and you can talk to any yogi, once you really get involved, you’re like an evangelist so you really have to hold yourself back because you’re like, “Really? We’re happy for you.” I obviously went through my own journey and then I became a yoga teacher and opened my own studio.
John: Oh, wow.
Amy: The amount I feel I give back with it to other people so that they can feel what I got out of it was really important but what I talk about in the book is it doesn’t have to be exercise. Your hobby can be quilting. I’ve got stories of a bunch of different executives in the book. One is video games. If exercise doesn’t resonate with you, you shouldn’t force yourself to do it because then, it’s stressful. It’s not actually giving you the relief that you need.
John: Yeah, it’s even worse actually.
Amy: Yeah, so you really need to think about what are the things where time just disappears if I just do it. One of the gentlemen in the book when he talks about video games, you know, what it really helps him do is he can fail in a video game. You can go take risks. He can find different strategies which kind of taught him in business life, how do I take those risks? How do I do them in ways where it’s not too much of a risk but enough to see if it’ll work? If it fails, I’m okay because I’m going to learn from it. It’s like how you use these other hobbies to really get your creative duties going in your work life.
John: Exactly, because I mean it’s funny because when you’re in business school, no one tells you, “Oh, do yoga and that’ll make you a better CPA.” “Play video games, it’ll make you a better CPA,” and none of this. And so it’s all stuff that happens on accident and it’s the same thing that happened with me from doing stand-up.
Somebody remembered me 12 years later after I left the firm that I didn’t even worked with the guy, and it’s just, how am I in your short list? And it’s just the way the brain works and all the chemicals and so it’s just so cool when you meet interesting people and that’s what you’re going to remember about them and we work so many hours and we’re blood, sweat, and tears into that résumé and professionalism just gives us a false hope of you know, get another degree, get another certification. And no, over here’s your personality, how about that? Just a little bit. A little bit of that just goes on so much.
Amy: Well, it makes you human.
Amy: So like you said, that’s how he remembered you, that’s also how you connect with clients, connect with your co-workers. When people find out this side of me then I become interesting in a different way to people and then they want to share the things that they do.
And also I think is important as someone who leads a business, also leads teams within a corporation that when people that work for you see that you make time for it, they know it’s okay for them to do it too. It starts creating a culture on its own that makes people happier in the workplace because they don’t feel like they’re going to get marked down because they weren’t there at the hour that you want them there.
John: Right, that they were there before you and would stay after you.
Amy: But if they perform better and they’re meeting their deadlines, why do you care?
John: Yeah, no. I mean that’s the thing. I mean even when I worked, I was like why is the person who’s obviously very inefficient at their job, getting bonuses —
Amy: Because they’re filling someone out.
John: Right, and maybe they’re not good at what they do. Do you know what I mean? Would you ever step back and say that? No. He said he just got promoted and stuff and so I guess that’s an interesting point and something that I kick around in my head is how much is it top-down to create that culture or how much is it on the individual to maybe create a small group or to buy in to that?
Amy: I think it’s a little of both honestly. You have to feel you’re empowered to do that at work so someone’s got to create that environment but in little ways when you do your own hobbies and people find out about it, they start asking you questions and sometimes, it just starts infiltrating by example. I think it’s really important and I’m sure you see with this podcast, you uncover all these hobbies people have that never talk about it.
John: Oh, totally.
Amy: They’re like oh, my god. I like you so much better now because of that.
John: I mean we can go through over almost a hundred I’ve done, I don’t know what their jobs are but I can tell you what every single person’s hobby is or passion and the other thing that’s funny too is I’ll get messages that people are — I’ve been friends with this person for ten years and I had no clue that they make gingerbread houses or whatever it is. It’s so cool to hear that because it’s like what have you guys been talking about? I mean you’re friends. I don’t want to know about your job.
Amy: But it’s almost like I think part of, and I talk about this in the book as well, when you’re trying to balance your life and find these outside hobbies, there’s a couple of things that happen. One is that we think is selfish if we take this time for our self to do these dreams and the problem is it’s not selfish. We’re actually better at work and at home when we give ourselves time and it shouldn’t be left over time, it should be intentional time and it’s not negotiable time so if you block your calendar to say, I’m going to do yoga during this hour and then your employee’s like, “Oh, can I have a meeting at that hour?” You say no.
John: Yeah, because I’ve got another meeting.
Amy: Because it’s just as important because you know you’re better with that employee when you meet with them or your client or whomever. The second thing that I think is a major issue and this really goes to our brain is being an adult learner and so as we go through our career, at least I’ve realized with myself is you become an expert in whatever you’re doing, and when you’re a child, you’re trying everything and you look back at that time and you’re like oh, I wish I could do all those things again. But you kind of pigeonhole yourself in one path. Well, when you go try a new hobby, you’re not an expert.
John: No, then you feel like a failure.
Amy: Right, and so adults just don’t go back.
John: Right, you’re afraid to fail, that’s you, yeah.
Amy: And then but if you had your child go to that hobby, you go back tomorrow.
John: Yeah, you force them. I remember swim lessons and I was five or something and I was like, I do not want to — you’re not a quitter.
Amy: Exactly, but when you’re an adult, you give yourself permission to quit.
John: Totally. It’s like yeah, I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to go to or I’m not very good at it. But that’s the thing. From the comedy world, creatives usually are comparing themselves to the ultimate. If you like movies, you’re comparing yourself to Spielberg or comedy to a Jerry Seinfeld or you don’t see the people that do it when they were first starting, and even the hobbies and passions, those are revenue generating, this is for fun. It’s pure joy.
Amy: There’s actually a great video. You have to pull up Steven Spielberg’s — I think it was a year ago. It just hit me but he was talking about his beginnings and when he didn’t know what he was doing and how it just kind of came into his life by accident.
John: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing is I think too a lot of people that I talk with or like well, I like to paint but my paintings aren’t very good, yeah, but so what?
Amy: It’s on the eye of the beholder.
John: Yeah, and no one’s hobbies or passions are good. That’s why they have a job. I mean you know, you have to be really, really good to go full-time at anything and that’s not the intention, just like enjoy.
Amy: I also think, and to that point, another great writer on this is Elizabeth Gilber.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Right, right.
Amy: So she talks about creatives and so much of that book is highlighted for me because it’s like oh, my goodness. This is exactly true. But when you take something that’s a hobby for you and try to make money on it, you start losing that as your outlet and so you have to be really clear like what you want to make money on and what you want to just feel good, and to not judge where you stand at it that it’s okay.
All the time I have new yoga beginners coming in to the studio and then they want to compare themselves to someone that’s been practicing for ten years and they have dedicated themselves to practice for ten years. You’re not going to start that way. You need to go through that journey and respect the fact that they went through that journey not compare yourself to being more in deference to you know, that’s awesome they made this commitment. I want to make a commitment in my life.
John: I guess what might be some barriers that people don’t want to share? That whole like we were talking about of, well, I’m not very good at it? Some other reasons or maybe some words of encouragement just to get over that?
Amy: Well, I think you can’t keep planning that you’re going to do something and it’s been interesting as I’ve been giving these talks for the book of what people surface of things that they miss so just a couple of weeks ago, I was doing a talk and a woman’s like, I used to love playing tennis but now, I’m too fat. I can’t do that. I’m like, you’re not.
John: Right, not at all.
Amy: But that’s all — anyone looking at her, would not go, you couldn’t play tennis that she’s putting up a front.
John: That’s true. That’s so true.
Amy: We block ourselves from making that commitment. The thing is like I said to her even that day, if you enjoy playing tennis, volunteer and help coach, volunteer. You could do other things around it until you feel comfortable to actually walk in the court again.
Take baby steps. But one thing, there’s a lot of research about brain health in the book but one thing is if you want to create a new habit, you need to do it consistently for 30 days. As adults, it’s harder to create habits because we’ve spent more time not doing those things than doing them.
So really picking something and then everyday doing it, and even the days that it doesn’t feel good, you go back tomorrow and journal about it so in your journal, you can put what did I like about it, what didn’t I like about it, but how did it make me feel and then every day write that, it’s just really short.
You can do it in a journal or on your phone or however you want to do it but then review it after 30 days, and go is this something that I want to make a habit? I’d calendar this in, this is achieving what I wanted but until you actually consistently do something, you can’t pass judgment on instance or you might go in and have the wrong teacher or whatever for you but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for you.
John: The sun’s out today so it’s not — it’s like what are you talking about, man? No, that’s such great advice for everybody that takeaway immediately that they can do. I mean that’s so awesome. I mean that’s exactly what it’s all about. That’s perfect.
So I mean this has been really, really fantastic. But I do have my 17 rapid-fire questions that I like to run you through just to kind of get to know Amy on another level here. So let me fire this thing up here. We’re going to have a little bit of fun. You’re going to be so good, so good.
Here we go, first one, first one. I’ll start you out easy. Do you have a favorite color?
John: Blue, yeah, how about a least favorite color?
John: Orange, all right. Interesting. How about when it comes to financials? More balance sheet or income statement?
Amy: Balance sheet.
John: Balance sheet? All right, all right. How about do you have a favorite animal? Any animal?
John: Horse, nice! Very cool. All right. Are you more diamonds or –?
Amy: I feel like I’m on a game show.
John: Yeah, and the best part is all the answers are right. How about more diamonds or pearls?
John: Diamonds, there you go. How about when it comes to a mouse, are you more right-click or left-click?
John: Right, yeah, creative. How about with computers, more PC or Mac?
John: Mac, fancy. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Amy: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars, all right, all right. How about when it comes to writing more pens or pencils?
John: Pens? No mistakes. Man. How about more Sudoku or crossword puzzle?
John: Sudoku? Yeah, yeah. How about do you have a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Amy: Italy or Hawaii, the same.
John: Okay, very cool. No, those are excellent picks. It’s hard to argue either one of those. How about what’s a typical breakfast?
Amy: Oatmeal with protein powder.
John: There you go. How about as an accountant, you have to ask, do you have a favorite number?
John: 8, is there a reason just it’s nice and balanced?
Amy: I just like how even —
John: Yeah, perfect. How about do you have a favorite band or musician?
Amy: I would say AC/DC.
John: Nice! Yeah. Solid answer. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Amy: Well, not actor or actress but my favorite show is General Hospital. I’ve watched it since I was two years old.
John: General hospital. So two more. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
John: Early, yeah, yeah. And the last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Amy: It’s not own, but my boys.
John: Yeah, that’s a solid answer. Definitely.
Amy: Yeah, they make me so happy.
John: That’s so perfect. And everybody, be sure and check out Amy’s book, Business, Balance & Bliss: How the B3 Method Can Transform Your Career and Life. Amy, this was so fantastic. Thank you so much for being with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Amy: Yeah, it was fun.
John: Wow. That was really, really good. I loved how Amy said we’re better at work and at home if we intentionally make time for our passions. I mean that’s so true and it’s so hard to do because we feel like they’re throwaways or they’re on the side but we really have to be intentional about making time for these things that really drive us.
If you’d like to see some pictures of Amy and connect with her on social media or get a link to her book, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com and while you’re on the page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about firm culture. It’s really going to help out the book I’m writing that’ll be out in April.
So thanks again for the five-star ratings on iTunes or whatever app you’re using 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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