#21: Extraordinary Lessons from an Ordinary Woman
with Geni Whitehouse
March 30, 2023 | 65 Minutes
On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak with Geni Whitehouse
Extraordinary lessons from an ordinary woman are what you'll find in this podcast episode. Geni is a shining example of how you don't have to have special talent to write a book, give a TEDx talk, become a well-paid professional, or even be a stand-up comedian to further your message and make an impact in the world.
But you do have to reach out, be persistent, and be willing to do uncomfortable things. She is the voice for ordinary people with the tenacity, willingness, and persistence to embrace their unique being and use that to their advantage. She says, "I'm a redneck Southerner CPA, Keynote speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, author, stand-up comedian, Basset Hound lover, working in Wine Country California as an advisor to fancy wineries. If an ordinary woman like me can do it, so can you.” And her mission is to take the mystery out of the numbers so people can use them to reach their dreams.
In our conversation, we talk about…
- how her WHY, once she discovered it, has driven everything she does today,
- how her mission today is to take the mystery out of the numbers so that people can use them in creating the life of their dreams,
- how finding evidence about what she thought was impossible for her changed her belief about her abilities,
- how stand-up comedy and improv is helpful to get people engage and learn,
- why she believes that writing down that she wanted to become a keynote speaker brought it into her life,
- how her desire to get her message out motivated her to do something uncomfortable and become a speaker,
- how listening to her “real me voice” enabled her to create a wonderful TEDx talk that resonated with ordinary people like herself.
About Geni Whitehouse
Geni is a southerner-turned-Californian. She is a CPA, author, thought leader, influencer, and self-described nerd.
She is dedicated to helping accounting professionals escape the drudgery of low-value offerings to become Level 5 advisors through The Impactful Advisor and teaches them how to forge meaningful relationships and works as a winery consultant at Brotemarkle, Davis & Co.
Geni also writes for accounting industry events and publications at Even A Nerd and is the author of How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard. She believes there is magic in the numbers and loves to unlock that magic as a CPA so that people can apply it in creating the life of their dreams. After all, it's her mission in life to make boring subjects, like accounting and technology, interesting, because once the subject matter is interesting enough, knowledge spreads. Concepts take hold. Light bulbs go on. People then start to feel empowered, not overwhelmed. And because she was trained in stand-up comedy, she has this special gift of delivering engaging presentations and speeches and making nerdy stuff relevant, interesting, and meaningful.
That’s how she became an award-winning international keynote presenter for over 22 years and counting where she manages to bridge the gap between nerdy subjects and the business problem her audience is trying to solve.
- Website 1: https://geniwhitehouse.com/
- Website 2: http://www.evenanerd.com/about.html (with a WHY video)
- Website 3: https://theimpactfuladvisor.com/
- Website 4: https://www.bdcocpa.com/company/team
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evenanerd/
- Tedx talk: Leading from Within - The Basset Hound versus The Nun
- Book: How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting - 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard
- Podcast appearances: https://www.podchaser.com/creators/geni-whitehouse-107a4S2Wf
Connect with WhatsNext.com
- Free Workshops: https://www.whatsnext.com/workshops
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@whatsnextcareer
- Podcast: Inside-Out Career Design
- LinkedIn Career Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/2080874
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/whatsnext-com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whatsnext.career
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/WhatsNextMedia
Connect with Nicola & Peter
Books, resources, and people mentioned in this episode
- TED talk: Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action
- Joey Asher: Even a Geek Can Speak – Low-Tech Presentation Skills for High-Tech People
- Speechworks – https://www.speechworks.net/
- Tedx talk: Geni Whitehouse – Leading from Within: The Basset Hound versus The Nun
- Frank Farrelly: Provocative Therapy
- Frank Farrelly
- Keith Johnstone
- Monty Python’s: Lion Tamer Accountant
- The Container Store – https://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm
- Robert Fritz: The Path of Least Resistance – Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life
- Keeper – https://www.keeper.app/
- Winery – http://www.lecourougewinery.com/
Drop us a note
Any topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear? Let us know at [email protected]
About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast
This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?
Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the WhatsNext.com Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”
They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.
Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.
Geni Whitehouse 00:00
But it took me finding evidence that somebody like me could write a book to actually believe it. And that's what holds us back, you know, it's our own lack of belief in our ability to do something. Only, you know, rockstars can be on stage right or only people who are born with some unique ability. Not true.
Peter Axtell 00:20
Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're obsessed with answering a single question. Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the WhatsNext.com CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of: "What's next for me?" and "What should I do with my life?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given.
Peter Axtell 01:23
Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to WhatsNext.com/workshops. We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's WhatsNext.com/workshops.
Nicola Vetter 02:17
Our guest today is Geni Whitehouse. Geni calls herself the countess of communication. And as a TEDx speaker has tons of tips to share about influence and authenticity.
Peter Axtell 02:32
She is also the most unusual CPA you can imagine generous, kind, intelligent, funny, and endlessly nerdy.
Nicola Vetter 02:43
That's why we always thoroughly enjoy talking with Geni, if only we lived closer. And in our conversation, we talk about how her WHY has driven everything she does today, how her mission today is to take the mystery out of the numbers so that people can use them in creating the life of their dreams, how stand-up comedy and improv is so helpful to get people engage and learn, how finding evidence about what she thought was impossible for her, changed her belief about her abilities, how her desire to get her message out, motivated her to do something uncomfortable, and become a public speaker, how listening to her "real me voice" enabled her to create a wonderful TEDx talk that resonated with ordinary people like herself. And now it's time to listen and learn from Geni. Welcome, Geni. I've been thinking long and hard about how we could possibly introduce you. You're an advisor, a nerd, a public speaker, a basset hound lover, a CPA, an influencer, a trained stand-up comedian. It's always an adventure with you. We might need hours to get through all of these. So let's start with your what's next moments where you had to figure out what's next for you. Tell us about those.
Geni Whitehouse 04:26
I've had so many of those. That's one of the challenges. I think that's one of the things about my life that's different. I think it's the number of times that I've come to the end of the rainbow as it were and had to figure out what I was going to do next. I think the biggest one, well, let's start with the seventh-grade moment where I decided I needed to be an accountant. That was when I decided I wanted to have financial control over my own life and not to be subject to somebody else's management of the finances. And I loved math, and I went to my math teacher and said, What do you do for a living? And this is seventh grade, I'm already trying to figure out what I can do for a living. And she said, you either be a teacher or you become an accountant, a CPA. And I said, which one makes the most money? And she said, CPA, and I went, Okay, done. That's what I'm gonna do. And my dad happened to sell tax books to CPAs. And so he already thought they were the thing. And he was a math enthusiast also. And so that was like, Well, that makes a lot of sense. He says, they're cool. My teacher says they make a lot of money. There's my journey, I got to start doing that. So everything I did from that point forward, was to make sure I could become a CPA and become a partner in a CPA firm. So I had to get a scholarship to schools and do all that kind of stuff. But I was on this dedicated path. And then, you know, you get to the end of the path. 15 years later, I make partner in a CPA firm doing tax work. And it was the first time I stopped and went, I don't think I want to do this. I'm not enjoying it, I'm not making a difference. I'm struggling and working long hours, I have two kids that I don't see very much. I'm going to die in my chair, if I keep doing this. And so finding out that the thing I thought was the dream wasn't really the dream made me stop and go, it's time for me to look at something else. And so that was my first fall off a cliff moment.
Nicola Vetter 06:26
So, how come in seventh grade, you made the decision, I need to make money? And that's the priority. If I understood you, right.
Geni Whitehouse 06:37
That's right. That became and that shows you what I was going through. First of all, it was a nerd. And that's not I'm not faking the nerd thing. And to me, that's an honor, not a negative comment. Although it wasn't a great thing to be all during school, in high school, and when it comes to dating, that's not the label you want to have. But because my dad had kept losing jobs, he would get fired because he would get angry at his boss or do something and he would get fired, and they would not be working. And so my mom who had been a stay at home, and there were four kids, I was one of four children. My mom had been a stay-at-home mom, she had a college degree, but hadn't been working. And in sixth grade, she had to go back to work. She had to go to work and get a job. And there was a moment of terror like when you get sick, she's not there, like she used to be, and you know, things like that. So I think that was the thing that told me I can't be dependent on someone else. And watching my mom, a female, be relying on a man for her income, I'm sorry, I can't, I'm not going to be in that position. So I gotta make stuff happen now. And so that was a motivator. But what happened? So it was a wonderful thing, because it inspired me to do things like I mean, I remember walking around with a vocabulary notebook, learning different vocabulary words, because I had to get a good enough score on the LSAT so I could get a scholarship to call it. I mean it was really ridiculous. On a great note, we're gonna write down words.
Nicola Vetter 08:00
Good planning, good planning on your part.
Geni Whitehouse 08:03
It's a bit scary, but I also enjoyed learning, so I mean, you know, but it was really a dedication, but you get so hell bent on something like that. You don't listen to the internal voice going but wait, let's have fun. Let's do this and why are you struggling, and you know, all of that and sometimes it takes getting to the end of what you think you're striving for, for you to stop and go, Well, I'll do I like this? And you know, but it was a great gift because it got me to learn a bunch about accounting, which is the language of business. But I also knew I had to take what I knew and do something else with it. So I quit the day they made me partner. The next morning, I left and actually went to work for a client who had a software company and they were a teaching company. So I started teaching software to people and that was getting me on the path of what I really wanted to do which was to be a speaker teacher. But it was very scary thing to do to realize after all that investment that I was going to walk away from you know, everything that I thought I wanted.
Peter Axtell 09:07
Was the actual day to day, I was thinking about CPAs get paid very well so you're probably making great money, you're a partner, you got to be making good money, was the actual work you thought it would be one thing and then it turned out to be another?
Geni Whitehouse 09:21
Yeah, when you're in seventh grade you have no idea what accounting is, you have no frickin clue. It's got something to do with math. And the thing that I liked about math was problem solving. You know, figuring out an angle or finding an algorithm. I loved geometry and things like that. And what accounting is, is a set of rules that you apply consistently. It's not problem solving. I had taken a computer programming, a bunch of computer programming classes in college and that was much more along the lines of figuring out how to do stuff, and that actually drew my attention. But I was on this path to be a CPA and so I was like okay, the computer stuff I'll take for an elective and I gotta get through and pass the CPA exam and do all this other stuff. And so it really wasn't what I was wired to do. And again, I didn't listen to that. I struggled, I always felt like I'd look around at the other people in my office, and they were like really good at it. And they didn't have to work 12 hours to be average. And so, but that moment, and what in fact happened is, the money wasn't as good for the cost in my personal life, and the amount of energy it took for me to sit in that chair, and do repetitive detail work, I would come home a zombie. And again, I kept doing it because I thought I can't give up. This is a dream, I gotta keep doing it. And when I saw what it what it meant, at the end of it, it just wasn't worth it anymore. And in fact, I doubled my income a year later, once I left, which was a shocking thing. But I started doing software implementations and things like that, that were at the peak at that point. It was the y2k time and software knowledge was actually highly valuable.
Peter Axtell 11:02
We're gonna get to your TEDx talk on the nun and the basset hound, that's a cliffhanger for everybody, wait for this, it's really worth hearing about. But you had some sort of prescience to even be aware about the voice in your head, which we call the egoic voice. But you seem to have some awareness of that early on. Did someone point that out to you that you had this this egoic voice, this nagging voice?
Geni Whitehouse 11:28
I really didn't have they awareness. I mean, that was the only voice I heard, right was the voice of you should do this. This is the right path. And this was, I mean, I went to school, graduated in 1981. At that time, you went to school to get a job, right? That was the way we thought back then. That schooling was about the most employable thing. And accounting was a highly valuable employable skill to have. So that was the voice that I heard, what you should do. And it wasn't until I got to the end of the shoulds that the voice of what I call the basset hound, what I want to do, came out, and it was actually, I mean, I went home that night. And I woke up in the middle of the night. And it was like, I don't know where it came from. But I wrote down everything I was gonna do to walk away. And it was so clear to me, that I followed it, I wrote down, I'm gonna do this, I'm going to take this client, you're going to do this, I'm going to do that, I'm done. This is it. And goodbye. And I was so clear, there was no doubt from that moment forward. And I don't know where that came from. But I'm glad it happened. And it gave me the courage to go in the next day and resign.
Nicola Vetter 12:31
So when we met in 2012, I think it was, we made a short video about your WHY, which we call the North Star. How has your WHY played a part in your life over these last 10 plus years?
Geni Whitehouse 12:49
So I learned about the WHY from I think right about the time Simon Sinek released that TED, his was actually a TEDx talk also, with a billion viewers or something now, but I had discovered a company that taught accountants how to do advisory services. It's a skill that I now teach to other people. But one of the things that she introduced, our instructor introduced, was this Simon Sinek video, and we had this whole discussion about, you know, why we existed. And at that time, that was around 2008, I decided that my WHY was to make boring subjects interesting.
Nicola Vetter 13:23
Love it. Every teacher should have that.
Geni Whitehouse 13:28
I know. And because I've been to so many boring training classes around accounting, and no wonder nobody likes what we do. Everybody thinks we're boring, because the way we present stuff is awful, and hard to understand and all that. So in 2009, I wrote my book, How to Make a boring subject interesting, around that talk. But I realized later, much later, that really, that isn't my WHY. Because if that was my WHY I would be going around teaching accountants how to communicate, or teach technology people how to communicate, and I do some of that. But what I really do, what I'm really motivated by is taking the mystery out of numbers. And if you look at everything I do, and I have a speaking business, I had a bookkeeping business, I consult with wineries in Napa Valley, and I train accountants to be advisors, everything that I'm doing is around taking the mystery out of the numbers so people can apply those and create the life of their dreams. And that was the thing that was missing from tax work, because when you give somebody a tax return, it's like you're putting it in a drawer, I'm gonna give it to whoever needs it. I'm gonna mail it to the IRS, and then I'm never gonna look at it again, that doesn't help an owner of a business achieve anything in their business. It doesn't change their life. It keeps them out of jail. Yeah, that's kind of important, but they don't value that. So that was the thing about the work that I did. That really drained the energy from me, I couldn't make a difference. I could file a return and if they owed a bunch of money I would go home and not be able to sleep because I'd have to tell somebody they owed money when I knew they didn't have it. And I didn't know what to do to help them make more money. So and during the day, I would go out into small businesses and do software consulting, and I'd sit down with a client, and help them do their books. And typically, it was somebody doing the books who wasn't an accountant. And they would come, when I'd walk in with briefcase and little suit on, and they would go as soon as I walked in, I'm not an accountant, they raised their hands like I was going to arrest them, because they were ashamed of their lack of knowledge. And they were terrified by this accounting thing. So I would come in and make them feel comfortable. I'd make a joke, or we'd have a thing. And I'd say, Good, you don't need to be, I'm an accountant, we don't need two of us. And so the tension would be released. So that's really what I enjoyed doing about the work I did inside the CPA firm. But I realized if I stayed there, I was gonna have to come back and do the tax work. That's what they saw as the real value.
Peter Axtell 15:55
But your example of knowing your WHY is a perfect story about how you thought it was one thing and then as you lived it more and thought about it, your WHY became more clarified and refined. And I can really see how that WHY has guided you because you can see the energy in your face and around that. And this is what Simon talked so much about. So that's a perfect illustration.
Geni Whitehouse 16:24
Well, and you know, what's interesting, people asked me about the speaking thing, so I became a speaker by accident, really. I never wanted to speak. In fact, in high school, I'm supposed to speak and there were three of us. And they said who wants to speak and I was the first one to step back, I'm not gonna be a speaker. But what happens is, you get so motivated to get a story out there so that people don't suffer like I did in that job, that you were willing to do things that you weren't necessarily planning to do, like become a speaker. I wanted the message out there, first of all, to the good accountants, that they could be more valued, and secondly to our clients that we can do better for them. So that passion is what really motivated me to get out and do things that I would have never thought I would do like speaking and taking stand-up comedy training and things like that. I mean, I didn't wake up as a kid go, I want to take stand-up comedy training. What? No way. Or be a speaker. But I really wanted to share what I had figured out as I figure it out. And that's what keeps me going, I think. Making boring stuff interesting was absolutely a component of what motivates me. But it's a bigger thing than that. It's really, I'm really sad when people are afraid of math and numbers, and they can't therefore harness the information there and apply it to their work. And so that's what motivates me in everything that I do. It's when I have aha moments when I'm able to unlock the fear or remove it for people. And when they say that thing you said, finally made me understand it. And I've created weirdo things online, like a little tree analogy about financial statements. And 100,000 people have downloaded it. That's when I go, I'm reaching them, I'm filling a void for somebody. And hopefully, it'll make a difference.
Nicola Vetter 18:11
So here's a side note, you coined the phrase, "even a nerd can be heard." How did you come up with that?
Geni Whitehouse 18:20
Well, I wish I could say it was a brilliant idea that I had on my own. But it was actually because when I decided I wanted to be a speaker, or that I needed to be a speaker, I went and found every book I could find on speaking and I lived in Atlanta at the time, and I went into a bookstore and there was a book called Even a Geek Can Speak. And I pulled the book off, and it had great, goofy kind of images. And it was just a perfect book for me. The first book about everything you kind of need to know about how to be a speaker. And I read it cover to cover and I get to the end of it and the author is a guy named Joey Asher, who's an attorney in Atlanta where I live. And I'm like, Oh, my God, so what, go look him up and call him. Say, I just read your book, I need to meet you. And he said, Okay, meet me for lunch tomorrow. And I'm like, really? Wow. You're a famous author. So I walk into lunch and said, I'm gonna write the sequel to your book. And it's gonna be called even a nerd can be heard. And he said, great, you do that. And that was in, gosh, that was probably in 2000 when I did that. And I wrote the book nine years later, and I sent him a copy. And he was like, This is great. But his was about and what was interesting about this is I had already taken stand-up comedy training by then. And he mentioned my instructor in the book. He mentioned the person I'm like, oh my god, we have all these things in common. So it was really a cool moment. And he's been great, I've taken his training, he actually runs a company called Speechworks in Atlanta. They train people to be speakers. And so I took his training classes as well. But he's been a big supporter of the book and me kind of stealing his title for my own book, but I built my business around it and what that did for me, and this is the thing that I want people to realize, you know, being a nerd is a negative. Being a Southerner in wine country is a negative. Being a basset hound among the animal breeds is not a big positive. I mean, basset hounds are slobbery, you know. And so what I learned is I am what I am, I want to take what I have and leverage it. And so I might be a nerd, but I can still be heard, I might be a Southerner in California, but I can still teach you stuff. And let's all laugh together about it. And I might be a slobbery, basset hound, but I got to embrace that, because that's all I got to work with. And so that's kind of the framework that I come from. And that's not intimidating to people. If the slobbery basset hound comes over, and tries to teach you something, it isn't gonna be scary, right? It's gonna be, you know, you know you can do it. And if a Southerner who embraces my southerness, comes into wine country, and tries to teach you stuff about accounting, and I use a case study, and this is a blessing of being in the CPA firm that I work in. They allow me to do all kinds of goofy stuff. And we have a fake winery called lukourusewinery.com, which actually has its own website. And it's about a bunch of Southerners who moved to California and have a winery. So I teach accounting through this sort of redneck winery. And I make people laugh, but I get the concepts through as a result of the laughing. That's why that stand up became a thing that I knew I needed to do. Because laughter breaks down the barrier to learning in a way that nothing else does, in my opinion.
Peter Axtell 21:34
So to recap, this wonderful session. You find out about this attorney, and you have the southern gumption, you know, the Redneck gumption to go and call this guy up and say, you know, I read your book and I wanna come and meet you. That's a terrible southern accent, just terrible.
Geni Whitehouse 21:53
Bless your heart.
Peter Axtell 21:54
Bless your heart. And you actually pick up the phone, and you call the guy.
Geni Whitehouse 22:01
And I call him.
Peter Axtell 22:02
And he says, Okay, we'll go have lunch. And then that connection, that reaching out leads to this, that leads to this, that leads to this.
Geni Whitehouse 22:10
Leads to all kinds of stuff and inspiration. And it, yeah, it took me nine years to write that book. But I had that title. And I kept writing chapter one and throwing it out and I could never get it right, until another part of my journey where I'd meet this person who had written her own book, and she gave me a direction on writing a book. And six weeks later, I think it was six weeks later, I wrote my book. But it took me finding evidence that somebody like me, could write a book, to actually believe it. And that's what holds us back. You know that it's our own lack of belief in our ability to do something. Only, you know, rockstars can be on stage, right? Or only people who are born with some unique ability. Not true. You can learn processes, you can learn tools, you can get help, you can do it. If you have enough passion to go figure it out and just try.
Peter Axtell 23:01
We watched your insightful, hilarious and fun TEDx talk from 2011 last night. It's called, Leading from Within: The Basset Hound versus The Nun. Okay, that's one of the wackiest titles I've ever heard, Leading from Within: The Basset Hound versus The Nun.
Nicola Vetter 23:24
And we'll put the link in the show notes.
Peter Axtell 23:26
Right. What I wanted to say Geni, this TEDx talk is 11 years old now. I think this is one of the best TEDx talks I have ever seen. And I'll tell you why.
Geni Whitehouse 23:37
Peter Axtell 23:38
Because in that talk, it is so well written, it has a combination of poignancy, it's hilarious with a nun and a basset hound, it has a great lesson all wrapped up in one thing, it's a complete, concise, really tight TEDx talk. It should have millions of views. So I encourage anyone who's listening to this to go and watch it because this isn't about accounting. This is about life and is beautifully delivered, it isn't perfectly delivered and that makes it even better. You know, the basset hound probably stepped on his ears a little bit there during the clicker or the slides or something like that. But it is wonderful. And in that TEDx talk you are talking about the two voices in your head which we call the Egoic Voice, the basset hound, which would be the authentic you and the nun, which we would call the Egoic Voice. So that voice that constantly tells you what you should be doing. So tell us about those two, and how the authentic you finally won.
Geni Whitehouse 24:49
The interesting thing about that talk is the reason the basset hound came out as a result of that talk and we raised basset hounds, so we had two females, we had puppies when I was a kid, we raised bassets. So I had been around basset hounds my whole life, I had two bassets in Atlanta, I've had another basset hound after those two passed away, we got another basset hound. So basset hounds had been the only dogs I've ever had. So they're a part of my life. And I am going to do this, I get asked to do the TEDx talk. So I was a local Napa Valley event. I've been speaking around the wine industry, but never like that. And so some people that knew me, were putting an event together and reached out and said, We want you to do a TED talk, which by the way, happened. Within three months of me posting on my website, the fact that I wanted to move from educational speaker to keynote. I had decided in, and I think it was in October, the year before that, I went on my website and wrote this thing, I'm going to make it public, I want to move from the small stage to the big stage, I want to be a keynote presenter, I have no idea how I'm gonna do that. But this is what I want to do. And then almost immediately, I get an email where I'm invited to do a TEDx talk. And what that means if you want to be a keynote is you can have evidence in video form, that you can be inspirational and on a big stage. So that was a critical thing that I had to do. And I knew it, in order to become a keynote. I had to be able to show that I could be that kind of a speaker. So that was amazing that that happened that quickly. And nobody went to my website. And it wasn't like I had a billion followers or people found me because I did that. But me writing it down, brought it into my life, I believe. And that's the way things have happened pretty much ever since then. But that was a critical thing for me if I wanted to make this transition. But so they invited me to do it and immediately I go, Oh, my God, what am I going to talk about? I'm just a dumb old redneck in California, accountant. I don't have... and the other people that they had selected, I knew who else there was a CEO who had invented a non-perishable soccer ball for underprivileged kids to play with in countries around the world. I mean, there were people running organizations, they're all and I'm just this dumb little employee working in wine country, you know, an accountant. What the heck am I going to talk about that matters to anybody? And then I realized, that's what I need to talk about. Because those are the people in the audience. Most of them aren't CEOs, or inventors or something amazing, or all these other things. Most people are like me, we're just us. And so that's when I realized that the thing, I had to share was really this journey of listening to the real me voice and embracing that. And that's why I went the nun, and I was raised Catholic, I went to Catholic school for a brief time. And then we moved to South Carolina, where Catholics weren't cool. There weren't very many Catholics in South Carolina. And I went to public school at that point, but I had experienced nuns. And so and I hadn't had bad nun experiences. But I mean, that to me, was the black and white person with the rules that was telling you what you should do. And my basset hound that was sitting there beside me was also black and white, but it was just a bundle of furry love. And when I'm in my real voice, that's who I am. And that's what motivated me. And so I designed the talk around that, because I thought this is the only thing I really have to share is how I figured out how to listen to my own true voice. And that's what I shared in that story. And the reason that that was well laid out, Peter, is because of that book, and the training from Joey Asher because one of the main points he made, one of the main things about doing a good presentation is to have three points. And if you watch that talk, it's built around the three things that changed my life, the three bumps in the head, it took for me to open my eyes finally, and listen to the real voice. But that's what it was. But the fact that it was laid out like that had to do with the training and that book that Joey Asher wrote. So yeah, it all comes back together.
Peter Axtell 28:58
So illuminating, so you took the training and applied it. Boy does it show. Yeah.
Geni Whitehouse 29:05
And yeah, that's, that's one of the things people want to speak, and they don't take training. And to me, it's like, if it's like anything else, there are things you need to learn, like how to hold the mic if you're on stage. And that came from the stand-up training, I learned so much about first of all, timing, and I learned a process I can apply for humor, which was invaluable. I mean, it's something that I use all the time.
Peter Axtell 29:28
Yeah, I thought about being a brain surgeon. I could just go watch YouTube videos, and maybe maybe that would work, you know.
Geni Whitehouse 29:35
Exactly. There's so much even if you are naturally comfortable on stage, there are things you can do to make it better about how you package the story that you're trying to tell.
Nicola Vetter 29:44
Okay, Jamie, a small secret about myself. I was trained and provocative therapy by Frank Farrelly and improv by Keith Johnstone, who sadly died just a few days ago. But stand-up comedy is something that really, really appeals to me, too. Why did you decide to get trained in stand up comedy and how did it help you in your life and career?
Geni Whitehouse 30:15
Well as part so I remember I left the CPA firm, and I went to this company where we trained and it was a project management software company, it was a reseller of project management software. And we were training, construction people in using really computers for the first time. And so they had a package set of tools and I would present this training. Well, one of the other instructors came back when we all came together and talked about what we're doing and mentioned that he's taken stand-up comedy training. It was the first time I ever knew that was a thing. And I thought that's cool. And he was, you know, and he was talking about that, I'll never do that, oh, my gosh. But that was in my brain at that point that there was a thing that you could do, because otherwise I wouldn't have known that was even a thing you could do. So then I left there, I did implementations, I kept doing training. And then I joined a software company where I had to make a presentation. And I had to present information to an audience that was hostile to what I was trying to convince them to do. I needed to convince tech resellers to partner up with accountants. And I had prior to the presentation, interviewed a bunch of them and said, How do you feel about accountants, and without a doubt, 100% of them said, we hate them in all our sales calls, and we don't want to have anything to do with them. My job was to build alliances with accountants, so I'm going okay, this is not gonna be good. And so we had our conference in the software company, we invited all these resellers of tech in, and my topic is why to form alliances with accountants. And I already know none of them want to do that.
Peter Axtell 31:52
That's a compelling title right there.
Geni Whitehouse 31:54
I know, that was a packed room as you can imagine, Peter, because they had to go, they had to hear me because it was a big push for this software company. So I've thankfully had a cube mate next to me who knew every movie on the planet, you could name any topic and she could give you a movie clip on that topic. That was a gift. And I said, I gotta go in with these people who hate me, I need something I can do to make them, I need a comedy clip about accountants that I can break down the tension. I don't know where that came from. And it's like, I gotta put some money in here, because I got to break the tension. And she said, Oh, you need to go to Monty Python's, the Lion Tamer clip, which you should put the link to. And basically, it talks about how nerdy and awful accountants are. So I start my presentation, and I go, my job is to help you form alliances with accountants. And I interviewed you and without fail, here's what you told me you thought about accountants, and I run this Monty Python video of just this totally boring, awful guy. And basically, the message is accountants are boring. And they start laughing and all the tension, but when I started, they're all like, this is gonna be awful, here's a CPA talking about boring accounting crap. And I make them laugh. And I go, Yeah, I feel it, I feel the energy shift. They're open now to what I'm going to say. And I basically said, This is what you told me you thought about us. And you know what it might be true. But when a client has a problem, they call me before they call you. And if I say no, when they come to me saying, I'm gonna buy this new software called Navision, new vision, no vision, whatever it's called. And if I as their CPA, say, who? Don't do that. Your deal is done. So you need me to be on your side. And they went, Oh, yeah, you're right. And so we shifted, they were, I mean, I can't tell you that they all were immediately won over but that comedy, enabled me to get the message across to people that would have been hostile. And so at that moment, that was the first time I went, I need to get good at comedy, because this is something I need to use. And so the thought occurred to me at that point, but it wasn't until the next thing that I talked about in the TED talk, within a few months of that my dad passed away just dropped dead jogging. He was 68. We saw him at Christmas and January 4, he's out running and drops dead in our neighborhood. My mom finds him...a terrible thing. And I don't know what to do with the grief and I'm in Atlanta and my mom, my family is in Greenville, South Carolina so I have to drive from Atlanta to Greenville. My husband and kids come pick me up and we gotta go to the funeral stuff. And I am just devastated, and I get in the car and I go, How am I going to cope with this? This is the first time I've been this close to a loss and somebody that I was very close to. And immediately I get, you can do a presentation. You can do eulogy at the funeral, and it has to be funny because my dad had a great sense of humor. And so that's how I the whole time I'm, you know, I'm thinking about what I can say and bringing up things and stories and I stand up at his funeral to talk about things that he did that were funny, and I do this whole thing I'm perfectly capable of doing it. I'm not sobbing and or anything. But I also see that the humor allows people to express the emotion they're feeling. So the line between humor and grief is a very thin one. So some of that pent up emotion came out in the laughter, it was okay to laugh, even though we were grieving. But while I'm doing it, I get this thing that says, you need to get good at comedy, you need to go take stand-up comedy training. I'm going, okay, Dad, I hear you. I hear your message loud and clear. I'm gonna go do it. And then I go Google stand-up comedy training, and I find a guy in Atlanta, who's a comedy instructor. And I signed up.
Peter Axtell 36:02
Geni, when you talk about stand-up comedy, particular improv, I can imagine people listening to this, myself included, I think, Oh, my God, just shoot me, I'm going to go and sit on a stool and people are gonna throw their paper cups and drinks at me. Weren't you just terrified to take that on?
Geni Whitehouse 36:23
It's really weird. You know, I would, I should have been but, again, I had this fire, I needed to get my story out, I needed to make accounting better. That was, even though I was in tech, that was really my first stop on the way to making accounting better, because I knew if we could automate some of the crappy stuff that was accounting, we can make it better. So I am on fire to make the profession better. And so it wasn't, but it was also, it felt like, and when you go outside of your comfort zone, it's like, this is the thing I can accomplish and if I do it, imagine how I'm gonna feel. I don't know. But it was really, it didn't terrify me first of all, because I didn't know how scary it really was going to be. That's part of the benefit, right? But I thought this is a totally different thing. I'm going to be with people that I have never, you know, I hang out with accountants, I spoke at accounting conferences. I was always in this circle of people like they are in a profession like mine. And I thought this is a chance to go with people that aren't like me to learn from other people and see different stuff. And from the first meeting, the first class, it was at night for six weeks, it was like, this is the coolest thing ever. I love these people. I love this thing. I like sitting here laughing and you know, it's work, but it's a blast. And you have to get up and do write your routine in front of people. So you do a routine, you come in and present it, the trainer would say, fix that, change this word from this to this, and then pause after that. And then you'd watch people become funny. It was amazing. So it was just like huge light bulbs. And then your graduation was, you presented your routine at the punch line, the stand-up comedy club in Atlanta. But I really, and I was, you know, going to throw up the night of the routine. But I did it and it was a blast.
Nicola Vetter 38:18
And laughter is actually healing, you know, so you can grow through that. That's also the idea of provocative therapy.
Geni Whitehouse 38:26
Yeah, it's Wow. It's an amazing thing.
Peter Axtell 38:30
There's another point I want to bring up right now. What you talked about is that you said, I had a a story, I had a mission, I had a WHY that I wanted to get out to the world, what you're really saying is that your attitude about being outwardly focused, in my view, allowed you to say I'm going to learn to do stand-up comedy, so that I can deliver my story so that I can help people for real, and I'm gonna go do something scary in order to make that happen. That's very different than a self-absorption, self-centered way to put it. I just wanted to point that out. I think it's so beautiful.
Geni Whitehouse 39:08
I didn't want to be a speaker to be famous. I didn't, I still don't, and I'm not. So it's a good thing. That wasn't my goal. But it was really, I really wanted, I really didn't want anybody to suffer like I had for those 15 years, I didn't want people to be in that place. And I also really felt for those clients because the profession is not delivering the help that our clients need. There's so many businesses that struggle so it was a dual mission, I want the accountants to be recognized for what they're capable of, because most of them have this reputation of being terrible communicators, right. And we are most of us, but they're doing amazing work and they really do care. But they don't have time in many cases to communicate that or to convey the fact that they're really there to help. And so it's a dual mission. And so, when you are that much on fire, you're willing to walk over the, you know, hot coals to get to the thing at the end. And it's, that's how we learn. That's how we evolve along our path.
Nicola Vetter 40:09
Yeah, I want to get back to the nun and the basset hound just for a moment. Because the main question that we are trying to answer on this podcast is, is it possible to find an authentic, meaningful and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? And the question for me is how have you navigated those two parts finding meaning and paying the bills, or in your words, probably the nun and the basset hound?
Geni Whitehouse 40:46
One of the things that I did, so I did this first presentation, and then I became known as somebody who could communicate, right? In the company, I started doing more and more presentations, I started really finding ways to communicate information. And that became a big, a big selling point for me. And that led me to when the company that I was with was going to be acquired, they fired the President and I basically said, I'm not doing this anymore, I left. And then I found my way to being a full-time speaker, I went on the CPA circuit, and started speaking at accounting conferences and technology conferences about educational things like how to use software and stuff. But I began weaving in the comedy and all that stuff, it's part of how I presented, I used it in my presentations.
Nicola Vetter 41:33
And a full time paid speaker.
Geni Whitehouse 41:38
Full time paid speaker. I joined up with somebody who I had heard speak over the years, who also ended up being the reason I ended up with this software job is because of some of the stuff that so anyway, the whole sort of circuitous path, but because I had heard him speak about the top 10 software applications, I was able to form a connection with a software company that I ended up joining, and becoming and doing that first presentation. So I mean, it's interesting how all of the things tie together in your life to lead you down a path. But he said, I've seen you, I know you did stand-up comedy training, I've seen you speak, why don't you join me, and let's go do the speaking thing. So I did that for a period of time. And during the speaking, I found a piece of software that I just loved and ended up joining that company to sell that software to accountants. And so the speaking thing enabled me to work my way into all kinds of other opportunities. But I could leverage that skill in a way that made me marketable. And that's the secret. And when there's enough passion in you for something, hopefully, you can find a way to apply that passion in whatever job that you do. And that's the secret. And oftentimes, you don't have to leave the job. But you have to look at it from a different point of view. And one of the things I did, so I leave there, I go join a different software company, that company gets acquired, and they moved me to California. Meanwhile, the job changes because now I'm in a bigger company with a different role. And I'm a VP in charge of other stuff. But I was miserable again. They hired me because of the speaking thing. And they were gonna let me do outreach, but instead, they had me doing a bunch of admin work and managing teams and basically firing people. And I was just miserable. Oh God, I did not come here to fire a bunch of people, I want to make things happen. And so during that job, and I'm in California now and all my network is in Atlanta, even though I had some speaker contacts, but I'm here miserable again. And so I did a couple of things in the job to try to shift my own internal perspective about how miserable I was. First thing I did was take improv classes, which I've never done, which to me is harder than stand up because now I got to depend on other people. Right? I can't just stand there and focus and talk. I've got to interact with whatever you say. And I also have to be way quicker on my feet. When you're doing stand up, you can learn what you're going to say but when you're in improv, you're out there to the wolves. And that was scary. And so I wanted to get that dimension. I don't know that I got really great at it. But it was a really big eye opener game, but I had some fun. I enjoyed it. It was like comedy base. I did that. And then I started working at night at The Container Store. I'm a VP at a company and at night I drive 45 minutes to The Container Store, which I loved and
Nicola Vetter 44:32
Peter Axtell 44:34
Geni Whitehouse 44:36
I first of all wanted to see what it felt like to be in that environment but The Container Store, if you think about when you walk into The Container Store, it's like Nirvana. It's like you've arrived in organized heaven. Right? There's like beautiful white containers and lights and everything is out where you can touch it and see it and the people there are nice. So it's always been one of my favorite things because I think if I get the right container, I'm going to be more organized. And I have 500 containers that are stacked up in an unorganized fashion as part of my journey, but it was like that, my dream thing was to be more organized. So I looked online, jobs. And in order to get hired, you had to make a presentation. You had to pick one of their products and present it to them in a group, and they would see how you did and hire you. Because Container Store is an education-based company, it's amazing. They, when you walk in, they'll help you find things and explain how to use it. So they hire people that could present. So I thought I was able to do that. So I applied I didn't say I was I just said I was a project manager in a company and I applied to work part time at night. And they hired me and it was the most fun I had in a long time. And I would go in there and you'd come in, they had a huddle, did tell you what the new product was, you go, I work the register, I am certified in the point-of-sale system for Container Store, y'all. But I learned what that was like, too. What software's like from that perspective. And then I met customers and stuff, and I spent my entire salary on containers. But it was like I walk in there and just, ah, I can make an impact with this customer and get them to the right shelf or whatever. But it was like a, it was a crazy thing to do. But it was a great mind shift. And also, we were selling point of sale software. Our company was selling that technology. So I got exposed to it from the user side. But it was really, it gave me a mental boost. And I brought that back the next day and be like, Okay, I can do this.
Peter Axtell 46:43
This is so crazy. We have a trained CPA who can make a couple 100,000 a year, stand-up comedian, now she's a VP and says, I think I just go and get a job at The Container Store.
Geni Whitehouse 46:57
At The Container Store y'all.
Peter Axtell 46:58
You couldn't make this up.
Geni Whitehouse 46:59
And I had a cute little blue apron, and I was so happy, I just loved it, and they had the best people, they had the most wonderful people, everything about that if I could have made a living doing that full time I would have. It was really fun. But it gave me enough energy to keep doing until I figured out where I was gonna go.
Nicola Vetter 47:19
So because you couldn't make a living, doing this full time, that's why you returned to the CPA world?
Geni Whitehouse 47:25
Well, what happened is, I decided finally at one weekend, I decided, Okay, I'm gonna have to go back and do taxes. I'm out here, I don't have an option. I'm miserable. I can't keep doing this. I don't want to go back, I can't go back to Atlanta. I'm out here in the middle of this expensive, you know, Bay Area, California market. I'm gonna have to go do tax work. So I started looking at local firms where I could go be a tax person again. And I had decided that's what I was going to do. And that was over the weekend. On Monday my boss called me in and said, We need to talk and I'm like, Okay, we're gonna demote you and send you back to Atlanta. And I said, Okay, What's plan B? And she said, we'll pay you to leave. And I said, I vote for that. They gave me six months’ severance to leave. And it was the best, I was like, this is, I didn't know people could pay you to get out of the company, you got to be really bad for people to give you money to leave. And it was the biggest, it was so amazing. I'd never had a period where I didn't have to work. And so I had six months to do that. Then I wrote my book. I immediately decided I had to figure out what I was going to do. And even though it was terrifying, because I had six months and I gotta figure out what the heck I'm gonna do for a living. I immediately signed up to go to this workshop by Robert Fritz.
Peter Axtell 47:25
Geni Whitehouse 47:30
The author of a book called The Path of Least Resistance. Something totally alien to me, was a creative thing. And I flew to New York and rode a train to Vermont. And we had classes at his house. And he taught us. And it was like, this whole creative thing. I was like the worst creative person. We had to make little things, mine were always awful. But I got exposed to a whole different world that I never imagined before. And so I don't know what led me...well, I do know, I had a friend who was a big, who was inspired. I read his book, I saw it, I went to his website and saw that he did these retreats and went, this is how I need to start the first week of my being out of corporate world. And so I went and set that up and did it and it was amazing. But those are the kinds of things that we need to do before we're desperate, before we're out of the job. We need to look for things outside of our own world and expand our horizons so when we want to do something else, we have a network, we have connections, we have new ideas that are outside of our norm. And to me that was, that was a huge blessing. And again, a lot of it came from this friend that I met before I left my corporate job, who put on a thing called The Salon in San Francisco. So I'm in Pleasanton, which is a little suburb not far from San Francisco. But she's in San Francisco. And I went to this salon, because I got an email invitation from somewhere and went to this thing, not knowing what that was, or anything. And basically, she just convened a bunch of people and we talked to each other. And I met her and immediately clicked with her. And she introduced me to all sorts of people outside of my normal sphere, sphere of influence, like Robert Fritz, he's the one who'd written the book, who helped me write my own book and things like that, but it's taking a risk to do something you wouldn't normally do. That opens up opportunities to things you would never know about otherwise. And I had the luxury of, you know, a supportive spouse at the time. And I was, I'm gonna go do this, I'm gonna go okay, and I'm gonna do it. And, you know, I had the luxury of that. And being in a place where there's a lot of inspiration and creativity. I mean, Northern California is where a lot of cool stuff is going on. But if I were just in my office with my heads down, I would never be aware of that. So it's being attentive enough to pay attention to the basset hound desire, that we all have within us that brings things your way I think.
Peter Axtell 51:35
I think that you've just kind of answered the next question, which was how to lead from within and live your dream? And you also explained how you would pay the bills. Because somebody listening to this will say, Well, it's great to go and, you know, follow your dream, but I have to pay the bills.
Geni Whitehouse 51:53
So did I, I was the primary income source, my husband is much older than I was, so I had to pay the bills. I didn't have an option to do. And yes, I was fortunate to get laid off by a company. But it was the things that I did prior to that, that I think made the difference, made looking for ways to expand my world, that gave me a launchpad for what I was able to do after that. And so one of the beauties of being the speaker is you do have networks. And that's really one of the things that I think people don't do enough of. I had spent a lot of time building networks. You know, as a speaker, I'm in front of a lot of people, but I also maintain connections with all the former employees of all the places that I'd been, you know, and I've been on social media and LinkedIn and those things for a long time. So I had a bunch of contacts that I could then rely on when I was looking for other jobs. And that's what many people don't do, especially accountants, we're not big on networking and social stuff. And so when a job ends, all of a sudden, now you build the network. And that doesn't work, you reach out and say, I need a job, will you connect with me? Well, that doesn't go over in quite the same way. So I think the networks are a great asset to have.
Nicola Vetter 53:08
So you are one of the early LinkedIn influencers. You just mentioned LinkedIn. Can you share some specific tips on how to use LinkedIn for a person that's looking for what's next?
Geni Whitehouse 53:24
I think the first thing you have to do in any social media or blogging or anything have to do is use your natural voice. You need to present yourself with something that stands out about you and leverage that. I mean, like I have Basset Hounds on my background. I have found that's one of my things. And you know, people aren't finding or hiring me because of the basset hounds. But I guarantee if you've got a basset hound, and you're looking for something and you see mine, you're gonna go to my page, but tell your story not like I was doing this for 13 years, and I got laid off. That's not the way to tell your story. Mine, I took my laid off story, I put it in my book. And I said the company that laid me off was the first investor in my speaking business. They were, they funded my book, and I thank them in there. Thank you for laying me off because it created all this stuff that I'm now able to do. So we have to find a way to tell our story in such a way that we stand out on LinkedIn. Don't reach out asking for something. I've had some great LinkedIn reach outs where people say, I watched your talk. I love your basset hounds. I have one, too, I'd love to connect. Wow, okay, I'm connecting with you. Not I work in digital marketing, and I want you to sign up for my thing. That doesn't work. Make a personal connection and then I'll go look up your thing and if you've got something that I need to go oh my gosh, you like basset hounds too and you do this thing. I'm going to work with you. But that's one of the things I didn't really know when I started my website and in 2007. I just started writing stuff and because nobody was going to my website, and I didn't know any better. I just created my own site. It's ugly, it's all black and red. Those are the colors of accounting, by the way. So that's what I use. And I just started writing what I thought, and I didn't filter, and I didn't worry about it. And I was an early blogger, an early accountant blogger, and I put humor in it. And I mean, I did things from my book and all that stuff. But I just started writing stuff and people started reading it, like, wow, there's like a person reading it. And then when LinkedIn decided they wanted to go into more of the sort of publishing thing, they were looking for accountant bloggers, and I think there must have been only two or three at the time, because they reached out to me and said, You're writing stuff, we've seen it, we want you to be an influencer. And we're going to promote your writing. And so I would write posts there after that, and they would spread it out across this thing. And I'm gonna get all these followers and comments are like, wow, this is big time.
Nicola Vetter 56:00
So that's a way to differentiate yourself as well, which is a plus in the market. Right? And now you're a so-called Top Voice on LinkedIn.
Geni Whitehouse 56:10
Yeah, they keep changing the saying, and I was like, that's cool. So yeah, so people see you. And that is designed to be a working networking environment. And so that's a great place to be seen and heard. And I do LinkedIn live streams, I use a lot of their platforms, they have all kinds of tools around that. And you can really leverage whatever story you have to tell that way. The hard part for many of us is, what story is it that I have to tell, right? And that gets back to what you folks are helping people do, is really define your story, define what your message is, what makes your heart sing, how you communicate it and why you exist. And I think that's people are still struggling with that.
Nicola Vetter 56:53
I'd love to have someone like you on the team. I tell you that.
Geni Whitehouse 56:58
Anytime just give me a call. I'll join you anytime, I need another job to add to my four things that I'm doing now.
Peter Axtell 57:05
When I see people on LinkedIn, Geni, I ask the same question on how somebody differentiates himself on LinkedIn. And when I look at it, I just get a lot of the same kind of join my thing or do this thing. I don't see anything that grabs me. So do you think the essence of that is that some examples of people are telling their story in a live stream or they're telling their story on LinkedIn? Sort of counterintuitive that I'm not getting, help me.
Geni Whitehouse 57:35
The secret I think, and this is a hard lesson for somebody who's trained at telling the story, right? Projecting it out. That's what you do as a speaker. I'm up there, I got all eyes on me, and I'm just talking to other people. The secret to really to being successful is listening to people. So if I want to stand out, you do what I just told you, you tell me that you saw something I did. Or that you read something that I did. Or you do whatever. That's how we connect. I care about you, not, let me tell you how great I am so you'll follow me, right? And that's what I teach accountants to do as advisors, make their clients feel smarter, not come in as the expert and trying to convince them how smart we are, which is what most of us do. If we're going to speak and after I did my TEDx talk I coached speakers for I don't know how many years after that and help select speakers for TEDx talks for our event. And the number one mistake people make is they try to get on stage and prove how smart they are. Right? They're trying to communicate that. And what I did was to prove that I'm not that smart, right? I'm a basset hound for God's sakes, nobody thinks those things are smart. But when you embrace that vulnerability, and that limitation, people are more open to receiving it. So that's what I would say on LinkedIn, don't list how many years you've done, whatever you did, who cares? What is your unique angle that you have that I can resonate with? Where can we connect on a personal level? What's coming from your heart? Why do you care about things, and you know, what is it you're trying to do in the world, and that's how we connect. That's where the WHY comes in. Right? It's that flame that you have inside of you that I want to line up with, and I don't care how many years you've done it. Again, if you're an accountant, that's the number one thing we put on our website. I've been doing this for 15 years. Well, you know, who counts the years? Prisoners. Nobody else cares. And that's what it felt like I was in prison for 15 years. I've been at my tax chair for the last 15 years. That does not indicate anything. These are the things I've learned over the years. These are the kinds of things that I've done in the world. This is the story that I want to tell, this is whatever. And then, that's how you connect. I had a guy, a guy named Ben Stein, who has a software company called Keeper. He sent me the best LinkedIn connection I've ever gotten, and it started with, I followed you, I went and read your book, and I have changed every software demo I do after that, as a result of reading your book, I use your tips every day in my software demos, and I just want to thank you for doing that. Do you think I turned down that connection? I called him up and said, you are an amazing individual. And he said, Well, it's true. Your book changed my life on how to do a software demo. And I said, well, I need to see your software demo. And so he did one. And it was amazing. And it was software that I now recommend. And that's the kind of thing that we can all do. Find out about somebody. If there's somebody you want to get to know, then find something out about them. And reach out that way. Not I'm a great blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, please hire me to do your stuff. No, I want to hear about you. And again, that's how I train accountants to become advisors. Ask different questions. And your value will rise. It's not about making people feel stupid. It's about making them feel smarter.
Nicola Vetter 1:01:22
Yeah, I truly, I truly love that. And I think it's something that everybody should take to heart to practice every day. You're also making a difference in that way, in the life of the one that you want to connect with.
Geni Whitehouse 1:01:42
I hope so. I hope so.
Nicola Vetter 1:01:44
We are actually getting to the end, we could go on forever with you.
Peter Axtell 1:01:51
But just make this a marathon podcast. Okay, folks, we're gonna go for eight hours now just talk a lot. Okay, we can't do that.
Geni Whitehouse 1:01:59
That's a typical accounting presentation, Peter. Don't do that.
Nicola Vetter 1:02:05
So I think there was such a wealth of experience, of tips, of fun in this conversation. And I would just like to give you the opportunity to leave our audience with probably some pearls of wisdom that you want them to really keep in their minds.
Geni Whitehouse 1:02:29
I think it would be, listen to that basset hound voice, whatever you call it. Take time to stop the fear and the you must and you should message, if you can try meditation, try whatever tool you can find. I use meditation, to quiet that voice, that noisy voice and listen to your heart. And that's where everything changes.
Peter Axtell 1:02:53
When I watched your TEDx talk, you said in that talk, the price doesn't make it right. You said it's never too late that an old dog can always learn new tricks. And the third thing was, stuff doesn't mean a thing. If you've got a dream, you've got to pay attention to that. It's what you said in your TEDx talk. Beautiful.
Geni Whitehouse 1:03:14
Thank you, Peter. That's amazing that somebody actually watched.
Peter Axtell 1:03:20
I'm hoping that you'll accept my LinkedIn invitation. I'm hoping that you'll do that.
Geni Whitehouse 1:03:23
Peter Axtell 1:03:23
Ah, bless her heart. Thank you. What a blast. I knew it would be a blast. Thank you so much for your generosity, your outward focus, just your state of being, how hilarious you are, how compassionate you are, how intelligent you are. Even for a Southerner you're pretty intelligent. Oh, I'm just, I just alienated all the Southerners who are listening to you this.
Nicola Vetter 1:03:31
Peter Axtell 1:03:35
Just kidding. We're just riffing here. But seriously, thank you. Thank you.
Nicola Vetter 1:03:57
Thank you, Geni.
Geni Whitehouse 1:03:58
Thank you both, Nicola and Peter. It's an honor and a privilege and an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Peter Axtell 1:04:05
We hope you enjoyed this interview. Geni helped me look back at the power of WHY in our own discoveries and teachings about purpose. I was inspired not only by what she's accomplished, but how she continues to be a truly generous person. And of course, I laughed my head off.
Nicola Vetter 1:04:24
Yes, we've definitely had fun. I was reminded of how effective actual evidence is, when we have limiting beliefs that are hard to overcome. You can't argue with evidence.
Peter Axtell 1:04:41
Check it out yourself. To learn more about Geni head to whatsnext.com/21 where we share the transcripts, links and more. Again, that's whatsnext.com/21.
Nicola Vetter 1:04:58
And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts or watch it on our YouTube channel whatsnextcom and subscribe so you'll never miss an episode. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.