Jaime soufflés her way to better client connections
Jaime Rein knows what working under pressure is like, having been a trained chef for many years prior to getting into bookkeeping. When she made the move, she thought she was leaving that world behind but quickly realized how much her training benefited her bookkeeping career. Being flexible to pivot at any moment, working through stressful times, being confident in your skills, having grace under fire, and “presenting the plate” to the customer are all very similar in both worlds – and things Jaime does very well. While training to be a chef, she learned the phrase “mise en place”, which is French or everything has it’s place, which just so happens to be exactly the same as bookkeeping.
In this episode, Jaime and I talk about how she was reluctant to share her past with clients for fear they wouldn’t take her seriously. The only downside she’s found is now people are nervous inviting her over for dinner thinking that she’ll be judging their cooking. She has realized how much she’s able to relate to her clients because most of them are also small business owners who have big dreams but could be at a point where they might need to walk away, which she proves is completely okay. Most importantly, by sharing passions you begin to realize that no one really conforms because we all have a story that is both unique and brilliant. In Jaime’s words, “It makes life a little bit brighter when you’re not talking just numbers.”
Jaime Rein is the owner of Rein Business Services in Prince George, British Columbia.
She graduated from the College of New Caledonia with a Bookkeeping degree and later earned her CPB designation.
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Welcome to Episode 99 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion, making them stand out like a green apple in a stereotypically boring red apple world.
When I tell you to imagine an apple in your head, I’m sure for most of you it’s a read apple, because in school, A is for “apple”, that picture – it’s always the red apple, because that’s the stereotype. But the interesting thing is that all apples actually start out as green, and then over time, as they grow on the tree, they turn red, turning into the stereotype, but deep down inside all of us is this passion for something other than your job. That’s what I love to shine a light on each week here on the Green Apple Podcast.
Thanks so much to everyone for subscribing and leaving ratings and comments on iTunes or other Android apps. I never thought of doing this myself before, but this is how the algorithm works to suggest the show to new listeners, so thank you for taking just 20 seconds, click five stars. It really helps get the message out there.
Now, it’s time to introduce you to this week’s guest, Jaime Rein. She’s the owner of Rein Business Services, a professional bookkeeping company in Prince George, British Columbia, and this is another guest that I’ve actually hung out with and knew she’s be perfect for the show. Jaime, this is going to be so much fun. Thanks for being with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
Jaime: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited for today.
John: Oh, man. I am as well. We got to hang out at Sage Summit in Toronto. I’ve been practicing saying it properly. It was so fun. I was like, I have got to get you on the Green Apple Podcast so you can share your story with everybody, because this is just so awesome.
Jaime: It was like I’d met my brother from another mother that day. It was like cosmic that we met. It was awesome. It was. I’ve never laughed so hard.
John: Well, thank you so much. The noogie you gave me really me feel like a brother. That was really nice.
Jaime: That was pretty hard. You’re pretty tall to get a noogie. I had to take you down.
John: It wasn’t embarrassing at all, right there in the middle of the vendor hallway.
Jaime: No. When they kicked us out and took us away in handcuffs, it was kind of embarrassing, but we just said, you know…
John: It’s a small price to pay. You know what? It’s a small price to pay. But I’m so excited to have you on. I gave everyone a little bit of an introduction, but maybe in your own words, a little bit of what you’re up to now and kind of how you got there.
Jaime: Well, I own a bookkeeping firm up way up in Northern British Columbia. It’s a small firm. My whole entire philosophy is that I wanted a workplace that gives a flexible schedule for men or women and has a different outlook in life. I didn’t want to go back to that corporate environment.
As I’ve grown in my own business, I’ve found this whole entire new avenue of speaking and talking to people, talking to young entrepreneurs, other bookkeepers. It’s been an incredible ride so far in what I’m doing.
John: Yeah. That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. That’s really cool. After meeting you, clearly, it reinforces my idea that the stereotypical accountant definition is not correct, because you are clearly not the textbook version. What made you want to get into accounting and bookkeeping?
Jaime: Looking back when I was 18, 19, this would have been not even in my top 1,000 of career to-do. It wasn’t even on my radar. I was always into fine arts. I thought I was going to be the Ansel Adams with boobs.
My first year in university, we’re talking 22 years ago, I actually went into Computer Science, because I’m really good in math. I hated it, because I was like that one girl amongst boys. It didn’t sit right with me, so I actually went back, and I got my Culinary Arts degree. I worked in kitchens as a kitchen manager for quite a few years, and I loved it. I thought that was going to be my career. I thought that was going to be the path I was going to go on for the rest of my life. I had dreams of opening my own restaurant.
Bookkeeping really for me wasn’t even on the radar at that point. It wasn’t until really my husband moved me up to Fort Nelson which – Prince George is remote; Fort Nelson is so remote. It was our first year of marriage, and I swear to goodness, he kept saying “Honey, it’s really small.” He was so afraid I was going to leave him in our first year.
I got up there, and there was one pub to cook at. That’s where everybody ate. I was so young. I just instantly turned up my nose, and I thought “I’m not flipping burgers.” Going from a world where you create this beautiful food and you get to drink some of the best wines, and to go to a pub just for me – it was soul-crushing.
I kind of listlessly wandered around trying to figure out what to do. I found this couple. I heard that they were hiring. I had no business even putting my resume in for the job. It was for an admin job. I had no skills whatsoever for that job, but I went in there going “You know what? I’ve got to try something new.” I just remember walking into that interview, and I was being interviewed by the wife at the time and their daughter, and they had – asking me all these admin questions. I had no idea about accounting software. I barely knew what an Excel spreadsheet was. Answering phones – alien to me. All I could say was “I will make you great cheesecakes.”
That was my sellable skill at that point. I will cook for you. You will never starve in your office if you hire me. It was the husband that actually came out. He came out of his office and he goes “Are you the one they’re interviewing?”
I’m like “Yeah.”
I come from a world of kitchens, which when you’re working in the kitchen, it has to be one of the hardest environments to work in. He goes “Get in my office.”
I’m like “Okay.”
I walk into his office, and he goes “I only have one question for you.”
I’m like “Okay.”
He goes “If I say ‘Beep you'” – which you can fill in the “beep”, John, what he said – “what are you going to do?”
I thought “You know, at this point, I don’t know that heck’s going on with this interview, but I’m going to stand my ground. I’ve done it in kitchens. I’m going to do it now.”
I said “Look, if I deserve it, I’m going to say ‘Okay’. If I don’t deserve it, you might get it back.” I thought, nope. I’ve lost this job. I’m going to be going flipping burgers at the pub.
He just looked at me, and he started laughing. He went to his wife. He goes “I really like this one.”
Working with them for the first couple months – they taught me a lot, and she was actually the one who actually put me back through school to get my bookkeeping. I worked there for five years, and I have to say, they taught me so much about being an entrepreneur – being a good entrepreneur, about being an incredible bookkeeper. That experience alone was life-changing for me.
John: That’s amazing. Yeah. It’s just moving up to the North Pole almost.
Jaime: It was.
John: “We’re in the worst place ever, so I might as well do the craziest job I could ever think about.”
Jaime: It was total desperation at that point. “Please, somebody take me. I will make you cheesecakes.”
John: Right. That’s awesome. It saved your marriage and everything.
Jaime: It did. I stayed with him and stayed with them, and it was actually a perfect career change for our marriage. The total polar opposite.
John: No, that’s great. You stayed with it, and now, you’re rocking. That’s really, really cool. Really exciting.
Jaime: I love it now. I love the career that I’m in now, and I love my business. But there’s still a yearning for cooking all the time.
John: Yeah. I was going to ask you, how did you get into the cooking? Is that something that you just when you were very young you always just wanted to help out and it just kept going?
Jaime: No, not at all. My mom is the most beautiful cook you will ever meet. Same with my dad. Our whole entire family was surrounded. My mom is one of ten brothers and sisters. Get-togethers – it was food. It was that joyous occasion. But I had an incredible mother that cooks. I still do. If I want to get a free meal, I go to her house.
It was really just by chance that I thought “You know what? I love to travel. I love the opportunity to work in a high-stress environment. That’s that place.” It allowed me that freedom of using my fine arts. It is a very creative environment. That’s what drew me to it at first was this creative environment that allowed me to move really wherever I want. It was transient. It was great. I stayed up a lot of nights cooking for people. It was incredible.
John: That’s really cool. It kind of merges a couple of your passions there: the being able to wander, being able to travel and see different things, but also to appreciate the food and the wine and all that you said. That’s really neat. Do you have any cooler or most rewarding story or experience that you had doing that or one that stands out?
Jaime: I don’t know if it’s cooler. I don’t think I’ve ever a cool moment.
John: Right now, Jaime, you’re on the Green Apple Podcast. Are you kidding me?
Jaime: You’re right, John. Come on. When I look back, this is going to be it. My coolest moment in my life.
John: You’re welcome.
Jaime: I think I’m pretty cool, but –
John: I agree.
Jaime: It was when I was in chef school. They run this restaurant. In town, everybody would come. We got to try flambés. We had to try our hand at being a waitress. We had to be in the back end. You’ve got the full gamut when you’re learning.
This night, I was on point for doing flambés. It happened to be when our mayor was in. I’d never done a flambé before. Really, we should have had a test run first. I singed the top of the roof of our building, because I just flambéd it. It was a beautiful – I was so cool at that moment.
John: I thought you were going to say you on top of the dish. I’m like, “Wait, the roof of the – what?”
Jaime: The roof of the building. I got that flambé so high. It was so embarrassing. It was just like, yeah. I am so cool at this moment.
John: Right. That’s pretty awesome. Deep down inside, the little kid in you is like “That would be so great if this happens”, and then it did, and you’re like “Oh, my God”. And the mayor got to see it. There you go. That’s hilarious.
Jaime: It was. It was always little moments. Going through the chef training was extremely hard. The two chefs that I trained under – they put you through the test. We started out with a huge group of us, and by the end, half of us had gone. They weeded out most of us.
They put you through the ringer. At the time, I thought they were insensitive. They would yell. They would throw things. I didn’t realize what they were doing was really teaching me what it was going to be like. That stress that you’re going to encounter – you either move past it and build the skills necessary, or you just crumble and you fail, right? Now, looking back, I think it was one of the best training I could have had when I was younger, because it taught me confidence. It taught me to stand my ground. It taught me if I could do that, I could really do anything. It was an incredible experience.
They like to have some libations, especially during the class. It was this really hard service that we were going through. I was in charge of it that day. They called me in the office in this really gruff voice, and I thought “Ah, that’s it. They’re really upset with the job I did that day.”
I go in, and they’re like “Lock the door.” I get in there, and they go “Here’s some alcohol for the fruit punch.” We sat in there and drank fruit punch while everybody else was cleaning up. But it was that instant validation like, you know what? You did an awesome job. There was just moments that you go “Man, I did.”
John: That’s great. They sound like skills that translate directly to owning your own bookkeeping business.
Jaime: You know, at the time, leaving, I thought I was leaving that world behind. I thought nothing would translate, because I was younger. Now, going through, I realize how much it did teach me that I’m very anal retentive about certain things in my business. I realize it was actually from my training there that I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term “Mise en place”? It means “A place for everything and everything in its place.” That’s what chefs do in the beginning.
You get everything. You don’t go into the kitchen and start cooking right away. You have to prepare everything before you hit that service. It’s the same with running your own business.
Some people just instantly open up their doors, but there’s so much work ahead of time that you have to do to get that product out. I’ve really learned even helping my new startups or my entrepreneurs in those steps that they need that are fundamentally – presenting that plate to your customers.
It’s all that customer service that you have to do. It’s building that teamwork that’s so critical. Me and my staff – it’s not “I’m the boss, and they’re my employees.” We are a team. We’re a team that’s every day rocking it. I will do the dishes with them beside. It’s this huge teamwork. Really, that’s what taught me to carry forward today.
Looking back when I was young, I had never thought it would be skills that are relatable in the real world, but – that and grace under fire. There is not a lot that can shake me nowadays.
John: I know. I tried when we were hanging out at Summit, and you were unflinchable. I was like “Come on.”
Jaime: You know that after going through experiences like that that you can come through it. You’re fine. It’s incredible experience for me to have to go through.
John: Yeah, I know. Absolutely. Coming from a stand-up comedy world, I know exactly what you’re talking about. The stuff that I’ve done and seen and been a part of – it’s like I don’t even blink an eye anymore half the time at stuff. But no, that’s really awesome and really cool that you’re able to see it, because a lot of people, they just think “My hobby, my passion is just kind of a throwaway.”
Jaime: Right. But I’m getting older now, John.
Jaime: Yeah, I know, right? It can come as a shock. I know I still look like I’m in my 20s.
John: One day at a time, Jaime. One day at a time.
Jaime: As you get older, you realize there was a point to everything in your life, and everything builds who you are and where you’re going to.
John: Right. Yeah. No, that’s so profound. You’re like Yoda, but way younger.
Jaime: I am Yoda. Maybe not green.
John: Oh, yeah. My bad. Wrong one.
Jaime: I think I’m a little cuter than Yoda.
John: Absolutely. Hands down. People can go look at pictures at greenapplepodcast.com and see that I’m not lying. Is this cooking and this passion something that you talk about at work with clients and coworkers?
Jaime: You know, it was funny. At first, no. Not at all. It was always two-fold. When I started my business, I was so scared that people wouldn’t take me seriously, especially in such a professional environment. Then you hear people’s war stories about being accountant and bookkeeper, that’s what they wanted to do for the first time, and as soon as they walked out of the womb, that’s what they wanted to be.
John: Yeah. I don’t trust those people, first of all. Those people are suspect.
Jaime: Yeah. Right. I just thought, you know what? People – when they hear that this is kind of a career that I fell into, they aren’t going to take me seriously. Coming from a completely different environment, I just kind of kept it to myself for a long time, and then the other side – the personal side – is when people find out that you’re a trained chef, they don’t want to invite you over for dinner.
Jaime: You always get that look when you get over to dinner, and they’re like “Oh, have you gone to school?”
I’ll tell them, and then the wife will be giving the husband dagger eyes like “You should have told me this, because I wouldn’t be cooking for her now.”
You kind of have to relax people to say, you know what? If you come from that environment, you love food, and you love that they’re giving you this opportunity to experience your food and how you are inviting them in and stuff like that.
At first, no. But now, in my Yoda age, in reflecting, you know what? I actually tell more people, because it breaks down a lot of barriers, especially with my business owners. It makes me more relatable. It makes me a person. The person that had dreams of running my own restaurant. They instantly go “You know what? This person has had a dream. A dream that is totally different than what she is doing now.”
When I talk about their dreams – because that’s what you do with entrepreneurs; it’s all about their dreams, their hopes, their wishes – sometimes, that dream, you have to walk away from, but that’s okay, because something else is better, right?
Jaime: It just makes you more relatable as a person to have this other side to you. A wacky side. Like now, I kind of embrace my geekiness. That’s what I try and teach my daughters, that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to have this different side. My Yoda years are much –
John: They’re much better. Yeah. That’s the thing. I agree. It’s one of those things where all through school we just want to conform. We want to be part of the cool table. We want to just be in with the group. Then you realize that when you get out in the real world, you’re just the commodity.
Jaime: It’s kind of like what we’ve talked about too is you get out there and you realize nobody conforms. Everybody’s story is so unique and brilliant. If we talk about our differences, holy smokes, we’d be a better place. I just love hearing people’s stories.
As you’re telling your story, people tell you theirs. That’s the part I love hearing about people.
John: No, that’s awesome. That’s exactly it. Everyone’s got a story. Some people think “Well, mine is boring” or whatever. It’s not. I remember speaking at a conference. I love to do this, actually.
I’ll say “I want to hear in the room who has the most boring hobby. Yell it out.” At this one conference in particular, it was really funny, because a woman yells out “Genealogy.”
I go “That’s not boring. Genealogy?”
A woman from the other side of the room yells out “I do that, too. There’s nothing boring about that.”
It was all of a sudden like hecklers heckling hecklers.
Jaime: You started a war.
John: Yeah, because all of a sudden, now, they’re best friends for no reason. It’s just really a cool thing.
Jaime: All of a sudden, two people across the room that most probably would have never talked to each other all of a sudden, they have something in common. It just brings people together. It’s amazing when you start talking to people.
John: Yeah, absolutely. It’s really, really neat. Is this something when you’re talking with clients that you just – it comes up in conversation, or do you actually strategically look for this and have this conversation?
Jaime: I don’t know if I do a lot of strategic planning when I’m talking to people.
John: Really for anything, Jaime.
Jaime: Because you’re dealing with people. You can have a plan. You can have how you’re going to steer a conversation, but people – they’re so different. How you have to relate to them is so different. I think it was Ron Baker in one of his courses – he’s absolutely 100% one of my biggest, profound thought leaders. He’s absolutely changed my life, him and Ed Kless.
John: Both Green Apple Podcast guests, for the record.
Jaime: There you go, right? That’s why I came on.
Jaime: He was the one who said “You’ve got to slow it down. When you’re bringing on clients or customers, you’ve got to slow down the conversations.” That was very profound to me. As soon as I started slowing down the whole entire process, you have these really authentic conversations with people. A lot of times, when business owners are coming into my office, they aren’t coming in at the best of times. They’re coming in at the worst of times. Their business is having problems. They’re having massive bookkeeping issues whether their previous bookkeeper walked away or there is problems with it – they’re years behind – they’re in a very vulnerable spot.
Sometimes, just going “It’s okay. Your dream might be shifting.” You just kind of bring it up and say “This is experience. I’ve had these incredible experiences in my life, and this is just an experience. This just is a moment in time for you. We’re going to just shift and pivot.”
The restaurant industry – that’s an incredible part when you’re working in the kitchen. Something is failing – you’ve got to shift so fast and move to the next action, because those people sitting at those tables are not going to wait for you. You have to move fast. People are just so amazing. You just have to take a moment at a time, but there’s no strategy. It’s just being a person.
John: Do you find now that you are more open in sharing and also just interested in their story as well more than early on that your relationships with clients are different?
Jaime: Oh, absolutely. I think this is true for a lot of business bookkeeping or accounting. At first, you just take a client. You think of just the books.
But then, as I’ve learned and grown and heard some amazing though leaders, I learned that it’s the people that come first. It’s their stories. Absolutely it’s totally changed how I view people. Even people that I talk to I would much rather hear about them as a person than how they use apps or stuff like that. Let’s get back to the humanity.
John: Right. It’s almost like when people are talking the business, you’re listening but you’re kind of not.
Jaime: You’re not. Yeah.
John: Then when they’re talking about their life and their passions and things that they love to do, there’s oxygen in the air all of a sudden. Things are in color. Their eyes are open. Everything’s great. You really gravitate towards that for sure.
Jaime: It’s always going back to that “Why” with the people. It gets so lost when they’re in year five. This is why I love working with young entrepreneurs is they still are so filled with zest for their business. They are not year five an extremely jaded. But even those jaded people, when you sit down and you say “Tell me your dreams. Where were you going with this? Tell me.”, and you start getting them to open up about your dreams – I’ve had restauranteurs come in. They’re my clients. I can go “You know, I understand. I get it. I get how hard this industry is.”
It makes that point that you’re listening to them. You’re not just treating them as a client. You’re all of a sudden become their cheering squad. This person to back them in life and to build their dreams again, right? Whether they’re dream has slightly changed – it’s just for me, my dreams have totally changed from what I thought I was going to be doing to what I am doing now, and my life is better. It’s not what I thought, but it’s better.
I just try and tell them “We might have to change your dream, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be bad. It could actually be better.”
John: Yeah. That’s fantastic and really encouraging for others to hear that you were all about professionalism and your technical expertise and all that. As much as Jaime can be all about professionalism, hiding that passion and not wanting to let that out, and once you did, business accelerates and relationships are better. Everything’s good.
Jaime: It makes life a little bit brighter when you’re talking to people and they aren’t just numbers.
John: That’s excellent. Really, really good. Yeah. Jaime, despite us having hung out, before I come up to the great white North or wherever you live, I do have my 17 rapid-fire questions that I like to run people through.
Jaime: I am ready. I’m ready to roll.
John: Here we go. We’ll start out easy. Favorite color?
John: Black counts. How about a least favorite color?
John: Blue. All right. Are you more oceans or mountains?
Jaime: Oh, mountains, 100%.
John: Yeah. All right. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
John: Firefly. Okay. All right. That works. When it comes to computers, PC or Mac?
Jaime: Oh, PC.
John: PC. When it comes to a mouse, are you more right-click or left-click?
John: Left-click. Getting stuff done. All right. Balance sheet or income statement?
Jaime: Cash flow statement.
John: Cash flow. That’s the one I have no clue how to do it, so good for you. How about do you have a favorite number?
John: Two. Why is that?
Jaime: I have two beautiful kids.
John: Well, that’s a good reason. How about more pens or pencils?
Jaime: I’m actually a Sharpie person. Multiple color Sharpies.
John: Sharpie. Wow. Yeah. That’s a whole other level. All right. More cats or dogs?
Jaime: Dogs, 100%.
John: Dogs. All right. How about diamonds or pearls?
Jaime: I’m going to say diamonds.
John: Diamonds. All right. Do you have a favorite Disney character?
Jaime: Mulan. Definitely.
John: Mulan. Wow. Yeah. That’s a good one. How about Sudoku or crossword puzzles?
John: We’ve got four more. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Jaime: Not really. No.
John: Okay. How about a favorite comedian?
Jaime: John Garrett.
John: You’re already on the show, but I will take it. Early bird or night owl?
Jaime: Night owl, 100%.
John: Night owl. Yeah. Absolutely. Least favorite vegetable?
Jaime: You know, I love all vegetables.
John: Yeah, well, because you know how to cook them properly. The last one – the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Jaime: This was hard. I think it would have to be – welcome to my geekdom – it’s a signed copy of Adam West Batman.
John: That is really cool, actually. That is really, really cool. But Jaime, this was so fun and really, really awesome. Thank you so much for being with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Jaime: It was so much fun. Thanks for having me, John.
John: Wow, that was so great. I loved how Jaime said it makes life a little bit brighter when you’re not talking just numbers. That is so true, not only for you, but also everyone around you like your clients and your coworkers and your friends. Developing trust and a good relationship isn’t done solely through the work. Showing you care about all of them is so crucial.
If you’d like to see some pictures of Jaime and her culinary arts award or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com. While you’re on that page, please click that big, green button to do the anonymous research survey about firm culture.
Thanks again for the five-star ratings on iTunes or whatever app you use or 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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