Mike Barrett: Job Interviews: career and life advice from just about everybody.
Mike Barrett: Hello there yet again. This is Mike Barrett, here along with my brother Patrick, as always.
Patrick Barrett: That’s me.
Mike Barrett: Well I mean, I’m not like “always” with him.
Patrick Barrett: Yes, I am always with you [laughter]
Mike Barrett: When you hear us, I’m with him.
Patrick Barrett: As far as you know, we’re always together. Inside your phone.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Exactly. So, anyway–yeah … So, here, as per usual, with my brother Patrick. And today we have an interview for you with our accountant. But accountant is sort of a small word. It doesn’t real give the idea of the full scope–
Patrick Barrett: There’s a lot more going on in this episode than just accounting. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Right. So, we thought we were gonna be learning a little bit about accounting, and businesses, and administration, and that kind of stuff.
Patrick Barrett: And we did.
Mike Barrett: We did for sure. And even if you’re not someone who feels like they’re into that, it is still a very useful–
Patrick Barrett: Useful, practical information.
Mike Barrett: Absolutely- things that will absolutely make later parts of your life a lot easier, whether you’re an employee, or a business owner, or just anyone who really pays taxes, or ever owns anything, or makes any money in any kind of way. Some information–
Patrick Barrett: If your life will be connected to money then, in fact, this might be relevant.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. So, very useful information from that standpoint- and I think even if right now you don’t think you would want a career in any kind of accounting or financial consulting or any kind of thing like that, if you listen to this interview, there’s a good chance–
Patrick Barrett: There’s some unexpected stuff in there.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, you’ll become aware of some aspects of that field that you probably don’t already know about, and things that would, I think, be interesting to a lot of people, but that a lot of people, again, never actually find out about it. So, we do talk about those things; we also talk about Bri’s family life and challenges, you know, that she had to overcome with respect to some of those things, we talk about how she–
Patrick Barrett: At like high school age- mostly high school age, and then early 20s, that kind of period of life.
Mike Barrett: High school age and shortly after. Right. And also talking about how she felt like she wasn’t a good student, and, you know, the sorts of challenges that arose from that. Bri, as it turns out, was a high school dropout, which we didn’t know when we started talking to her.
Patrick Barrett: We did not, yeah.
Mike Barrett: Right. And certainly, we’re not advocating that you become a high school dropout, but it’s very interesting to hear sort of how she became a professional person after that.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. This interview definitely involves a lot of- maybe chaos is the word- like unexpected results, twists and turns- and we definitely are not putting it out there as the- you know, we’re not saying you should seek out chaos in your life.
Mike Barrett: Bri, herself, would also say, don’t copy what I did.
Patrick Barrett: Exactly. Yeah. But it’s just such a great example of someone who encountered that, and then reacted to it well, and yeah–
Mike Barrett: And I would probably go as far as to bet that if you were to speak to, I don’t know, 50 adults that you consider to be successful and well-settled people, at least 10 to 20, maybe even 30 or 40 of them, have lives not as, perhaps, varied and twisty-turny as this one, but closer to this than you would probably think.
Patrick Barrett: More than you would think. Yeah, this was a really awesome interview, too, because- it’s funny, I don’t know if this is the sort of thing everybody feels or if it’s more–
Mike Barrett: Just you.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Just me, alone in the universe. Yeah, exactly. But for me, it’s… so often I just- you’re out in the world, you kind of observe people doing something, and you kind of think like, “What is that person’s deal?” Like, if I could sit down and talk to that person for a while, you know what, how’d they get here?” Or whatever- I’ve always had this sense of, I bet the people who seem- either on paper or whatever- they might be- not boring people, but that their story isn’t super exciting- I bet a lot of those people have some surprises up their sleeves. And this just totally validated that. This is, exactly that. So, I was really–
Mike Barrett: This is a solid piece of evidence for that.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Aha! I was right that whole time. So, yeah, this was definitely very informative, touching on a lot of things not just accounting.
Mike Barrett: To tease a couple of things, right- hijacking shipments of copper–
Patrick Barrett: There’s almost scenes from action movies. Like, not quite, but in that ballpark for sure.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, so, a lot of, I think, very actionable things and just sort of also useful background information, really, no matter what your professional plans are later in life.
Patrick Barrett: And we do- well, yeah, another thing- we don’t get deep into people’s personal lives’ growing up in every interview, but it’s definitely relevant in some of them, and it was certainly relevant in this one. And I think that’s a really valuable thing as well because you almost can’t get into the story of somebody’s professional life or their educational life without getting wrapped up in what was going on personally. Because–
Mike Barrett: Sure, where did they come from?
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. We kind of plan these things and learn about them usually as, separate silos of your career, your education–
Mike Barrett: You mean, like we as “society?”
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. That’s how they’re normally approached. But in real life, they’re not like that. And the things that you do, the decisions you make, and the situations that you end up in are gonna be inextricably connected to what’s going with you at that moment. And there’s a lot of that going on here, and it’s easy or- it’s understandable, as a high school student, or as someone in college, someone kind of looking to get into the job force or whatever to think, “Oh, well it would be great to be able to do that, but I have X, Y, and Z going on. How am I gonna do that?” And that is super valid very often. It’s not a question of its valid or not, but it can be really useful to hear from someone who definitely a lot has going on and to see what did they do, and how did they eventually get somewhere where a lot of people would be pretty happy to be.
Mike Barrett: And again, not to get into too many specifics before the interview, but one of the things that I find the most interesting and positive about what Bri described is that the key skills that sort of helped her succeed and helped her pull her path together through life- they’re things that anyone can do, they’re things that don’t cost money; it really is all about mindset and taking specific kinds of actions–
Patrick Barrett: Being determined to get through whatever it is you’re facing.
Mike Barrett: And that’s free. And to some extent, you can do that no matter what your background is or no matter what other things you might have going on. It can be harder to put it into practice for sure- I’m not minimizing those kinds of struggles, but–
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, from the perspective of “What can I do to help …,” you can never ensure anything in the future, really, but to help put myself in the best position to do well and to move forward, whatever–
Mike Barrett: Those are things that anyone can do.
Patrick Barrett: You can be determined that you’re gonna have this approach… that we will learn about in a moment.
Mike Barrett: As always, we have over introduced the–
Patrick Barrett: Nah. They want to hear more from us.
Mike Barrett: So, without further ado.
Patrick Barrett: We’re just so excited to talk about it. All right. Here it comes: our interview with our accountant.
Patrick Barrett: Okay. We are here today with Brianna Bond, who happens to be our accountant. And yeah, I don’t know if you would like to just, in your own words, tell us what your job is?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Hi, guys. I know we’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes already, but “hi.”
Patrick Barrett: We have. Officially, “hi.”
Mike Barrett: Hi. Brianna gave us those, glass Starbucks latte things that are kind of expensive.
Patrick Barrett: They’re Frappuccinos.
Brianna Bond: These guys are jacked.
Mike Barrett: She you offered them. Like a lot of people would put them away and offer other stuff.
Patrick Barrett: Usually, we’re super low energy. Not this time. Anyway, so–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, I run Ledger. I’ve been doing that for ten years now. It was under a different name before.
Patrick Barrett: So, what is that? Can you describe what Ledger is, what it does?
Brianna Bond: Really anything.
Mike Barrett: Well, actually, can you, for our audience who may not be familiar with the term ledger, just in an accounting context in general, could you describe what a ledger is, generally–
Patrick Barrett: Assume that we don’t know anything.
Brianna Bond: it is a clever take on how accounting is to be done in the olden days, which was literally on paper, and you would enter the money in and the money out. And that was it. That was your books.
Patrick Barrett: The ledger–
Mike Barrett: And you would do that sitting on a ledge, right? You were the– [laughter]
Brianna Bond: And then at some point when your business has gone really bad–
Patrick Barrett: Those people came to be known as ledgers. Yeah [laughter]
Mike Barrett: So, the ledger was the physical document.
Brianna Bond: It is a book–yes. It’s just a book and that was where the term “books” came from.
Mike Barrett: No way.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Shockingly. So, you see these mafia movies and they’re, scribbling in the books. That was how it works.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Or cooking the books.
Brianna Bond: Right. They’re cooking the books.
Patrick Barrett: They used to actually cookbooks. No, they didn’t. So, your company, named after the–I guess there’s no version of that- it’s just software now?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It’s all just software, thank God.
Patrick Barrett: … replacing the ledger. Yeah. And then how would you describe what your company does?
Brianna Bond: So, I would say that we do anything that touches the finance part of a business. We don’t do any personal finance; it’s all business- bookkeeping, AP, AR, payroll stuff.
Patrick Barrett: AP and AR?
Brianna Bond: So, accounts receivable or accounts payable. Accounts receivable will be when you’re billing your clients. So, we do a lot of that for our clients, just helping them manage the ongoing stuff: getting the invoice out, making sure it gets paid, going HAM on people when they don’t pay it. [laughter] So, that kind of stuff. But nicely. Nicely going HAM.
Mike Barrett: Going HAM.
Brianna Bond: But then accounts payable, managing their bills for them to make sure that they get paid.
Mike Barrett: I would really love for us to get in a situation with you where we get to watch you go HAM.
Patrick Barrett: Go HAM. Yeah. That would be–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. You know, the problem with retail kind of businesses, I don’t have that kind of fun. Kind of a bummer.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Would be good if you needed to go HAM on someone.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. All that working out for nothing. So, is this–you know, if we had 15-year-old you here, is this what you thought you’d be doing for a career?
Brianna Bond: Oh no. Absolutely not. I was trying to think of this because I wanted to kind of be prepared for a question like that, but… I was not a good teenager.
Mike Barrett: This is super interesting. So, I will be open and honest here; until I met you, I didn’t know that I had a stereotype about accountants, but I did.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. It was so deeply ingrained–it’s like no, that actually is accountants. It’s not my fault.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. And I had known other accountants, and they kind of fit the stereotype that I thought. But again, that I didn’t consciously have, but I did have.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. No, I get that a lot.
Mike Barrett: You don’t say.
Brianna Bond: “Oh, are you a tattoo artist? Or “are you in a band?”
Patrick Barrett: “In my spare time…”
Mike Barrett: Generally–and again, I’m kind of stating things that may be obvious to us, but our audience probably, maybe, is not familiar with- although there are an increasingly number–an increasingly large number of–
Patrick Barrett: There we go.
Mike Barrett: … of our clients who have mentioned that they have some kind of small business thing they tried to do, Oo like a food truck they started over a summer, some kind of thing like that- which is cool- anyway, so I just sort of always assumed that accountants were just sort of globally, universally people who had sort of always been good teenagers, good adults, I mean. It just feels like–
Patrick Barrett: It’s the fit with, like–
Mike Barrett: … it feels like it goes with the mindset.
Patrick Barrett: … almost like a teacher’s pet, academic kind of–
Mike Barrett: Right. Making sure everything is done properly.
Patrick Barrett: … like very straight-laced kind of–
Mike Barrett: If you ever watched the show Parks and Rec, there’s even a huge joke about that. One of the characters works for an accounting firm whose clients are other accounting firms.
Patrick Barrett: He’s like an accountant for an accountant. They’re like the nerdiest–
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Like, the most condensed–
Brianna Bond: I got one of those clients last year, it was like the best day ever. “I get to be an accountant for an accountant!” [laughter]
Mike Barrett: So, yeah, I would if you could, can you explain to us–it doesn’t even have to be what you thought you were gonna be when you were 15, but can you sort of track for us when you decided to pursue this? Was it a shock to you? Was it as shocking to you as–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I mean, how much time do we have? Because my path is long and winding.
Patrick Barrett: We have a long time.
Mike Barrett: That’s kind of the whole point, so–
Patrick Barrett: That’s why we scheduled an extra chunk of time.
Brianna Bond: I would have never foreseen this. However, once I started doing it, I was “Okay. This fits my personality.” You know, I’ve always been a very analytical person.
Mike Barrett: Well, how did you start? Like, we’re you just walking down the street and there was some books, a ledger? And you were like, “Hey.” And you just kind of–
Patrick Barrett: “Someone’s got to handle this.”
Brianna Bond: So, this is the craziest thing, I worked for a company that did repossessions on semi-trucks.
Patrick Barrett: Going HAM.
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: Super HAM on a semi-truck driver.
Brianna Bond: So, I was repo agent for semi-trucks. Because I don’t know–
Patrick Barrett: What age was this? Like, timeline-wise, where are we?
Brianna Bond: This was–how old am I? I’m 36. I was 25. And I would go out across the country and get these trucks back and these are very large assets.
Patrick Barrett: By yourself?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Do you have a superhero mobile? How do you–hop in a car and drive to wherever this truck is?
Brianna Bond: Well, I mean, there’s lot of research up front. Like, I got to figure out where the truck is–
Patrick Barrett: You’re like Dog the Bounty Hunter!
Mike Barrett: For trucks.
Brianna Bond: For trucks, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: That’s so awesome.
Brianna Bond: These are really big assets. A lot of people don’t know those trucks are very expensive.
Patrick Barrett: They’re super expensive.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Oh, man. That’s a whole other–okay.
Brianna Bond: The long-haul truck drivers, these trucks could be anywhere in the nation. And so, I would go over–
Patrick Barrett: Why didn’t you just keep doing that forever, that sounds awesome.
Brianna Bond: I know. It was really fun. So, then I got pregnant and I couldn’t be like pregnant Dog the Bounty Hunter. That’s just too cliche.
Patrick Barrett: Well, could you? You kind of have more leverage in that situation. Like, what are you gonna do? Like, I got enough going on here. Give me your truck.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. You can’t just–
Mike Barrett: I have to say, if I’m putting myself into this, I’m imagining that I own a long haul truck–
Patrick Barrett: You’re not making your payments.
Mike Barrett: …and I haven’t been paying. It’s getting repossessed. And the person repossessing it is visibly pregnant. I would be like, “Yeah. Okay. Go ahead.”
Patrick Barrett: That’s what I’m saying.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. But maybe–
Brianna Bond: I was just like, “Yeah. I got to stop. I got to.” So, then I just started getting on the flip side of that, so we leased the trucks out as well, so I started on kind of doing the accounting for that, and a little bit the sales. But mostly just the amortization and all that fun stuff.
Patrick Barrett: They didn’t have an accountant up to that point? They were doing it themselves? They just said, “can you do this?”
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I mean, the CFO was doing it. But it was–
Mike Barrett: Wow- this is one of those things–and this has happened, by the way, in every podcast so far- you just said a sentence that has caused me to have five simultaneous questions. And we’re not gonna be able to get to them. I’m trying to pick which one- so sales, who are you selling the skill of truck repossessions to?
Brianna Bond: No, no, we’re selling the trucks [laughter]
Mike Barrett: Oh, okay.
Patrick Barrett: We trained Dog in our–
Mike Barrett: It’s like, “Wow. That’s a market I never …” so you would repossess the trucks.
Patrick Barrett: And then sell the truck.
Mike Barrett: And then the truck needs to be sold. And that’s to recover the money that was– okay.
Brianna Bond: Right. Because their use life is insane.
Patrick Barrett: So, you only sold trucks that you had repossessed. You didn’t have like a truck lot.
Brianna Bond: Well we would buy them. Yeah. No. Right. We would just buy a few. We weren’t like huge. Maybe 20 trucks.
Mike Barrett: So, 20 trucks or so–
Patrick Barrett: At a time, you would have? Or like total ever?
Brianna Bond: At a time. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Oh.
Mike Barrett: Was this like a family business? Did you answer an ad on Craigslist?
Brianna Bond: It was not my family business, but it was a small family business. And this was my year three with this company. And they actually had a holding company and then three different arms. One, where they built houses, random, this equipment financing arm, and then transportation brokerage, which- I’ve worked in all three of their arms. So, this is why I’m saying I don’t know how much time you have.
Patrick Barrett: Go for it.
Brianna Bond: This was the step right before I just became an accountant. So, I ended up doing this part of it, and then I started taking over the QuickBooks… I’m gonna shorten this part into–this is like a six-month span- but my mom got sick. And I was in Arizona my mom was in Maryland. My sister, who lived with my mom, was still a teenager. And it was like, “you need to move out here.” Like, “you might own a teenager soon.” So, I moved out to Maryland. And the company, it wasn’t work I could do remotely. So, after I kind of spooled down with them, I started doing bookkeeping, like through Craigslist. I just needed money.
Mike Barrett: Using the skill set that you developed?
Brianna Bond: Right. Yeah. Like, I just need money, and this is how I’m gonna do it. So, I went to school part-time in Maryland while taking care of my mom, and sister, and doing accounting.
Patrick Barrett: So, this is–you have a baby at this point? Because you said you were pregnant.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I have two kids. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Wow. So, around the time that you were–because you mentioned, it seemed like there’s two factors that went into you leaving this because you said you’re pregnant. It was kind of–well, sorry- that was why you stopped the repo part, and that’s when you moved into more of the accounting. Was it sort of like general administrative stuff with a focus on accounting?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I think that’s fair. You know, riding a desk.
Patrick Barrett: Sort of, like–yeah. Okay.
Mike Barrett: Riding a desk. Is that a thing people say when they otherwise would be riding a truck?
Brianna Bond: That is a thing–have you heard that? Like “turn in your badge, you’re riding a desk.”
Mike Barrett: “In our company, you’re either riding the truck or you’re riding the desk.” You pick. “Or you’re riding the house if you’re in the house-riding part.”
Patrick Barrett: That’s the verb we use.
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Patrick Barrett: So, you left the repo arm. You are now riding a desk.
Brianna Bond: Just general–
Patrick Barrett: And then this development happened with your family where you decided- or, you had to–
Brianna Bond: Moved across the country, and so, you know, I was in school, but I also needed money, because I didn’t have a scholarship to have extra money. So, I was working part-time as an accountant for a nonprofit childcare agency that was run by the County of Maryland.
Patrick Barrett: And this was, you said, like you were answering ads, is that how you ended up with that?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Okay. When you say you were answering ads, these were kind of short-term gigs or are they like side jobs you do once? Or you jump from one to the next?
Brianna Bond: They were just part time. So, if they would advertise part time; I work pretty efficiently, and I’ve always known that about myself. So, if they’re like it’s 20 hours a week, I’m like, “No it’s not, it’s ten hours a week.” So, I could take that and probably have two. But I was also gonna school, which is–yeah. I was gonna nursing school and I thought that was gonna happen. So, then I just started making too much money doing bookkeeping.
Mike Barrett: You were gonna nursing school, viewing accounting, basically, as like a side hustle–
Patrick Barrett: Taking care of your mom.
Mike Barrett: The accounting kind of took over in a financial sense.
Patrick Barrett: And your sister and kids?
Brianna Bond: Right. Yeah. It took over.
Patrick Barrett: Good job.
Mike Barrett: Nicely done.
Brianna Bond: I thrive on chaos.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Well, you found yourself in the middle of some.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, I just gave up school. Like, I did fine in school. While I was a bad teenager, I’m really good academically. I just… I get bored with it, I guess. And that’s why I did horrible in high school. I did horrible.
Patrick Barrett: Interesting.
Mike Barrett: I definitely want to talk about, again, everything.
Patrick Barrett: Again, lots of questions there. Okay. So, accounting… “Accounting figures heavily.” Okay. So, nursing, was there something that led you to think, “Okay. I should do nursing.”
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Why nursing? As opposed to anything else.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I really like gore. Like, I mean–
Mike Barrett: Say that again.
Patrick Barrett: She likes gore.
Mike Barrett: That’s what I thought she said.
Brianna Bond: Like, the more disgusting it is, I want to be in that.
Patrick Barrett: Do you see it when you’re going HAM on people? There was a little gore, but not enough?
Brianna Bond: Well, when I lived in Baltimore, I did some volunteer EMT work. And it was so fun, but they don’t pay anything. So, I was like, “how can I expand on that?”
Mike Barrett: Volunteer EMT.
Patrick Barrett: Did you also like helping people? Or just gore?
Brianna Bond: I mean that’s… sure. It’s a nice bonus.
Patrick Barrett: You got to do what you got to do.
Mike Barrett: Obviously, if you like gore, there’s many darker paths you could have gone down.
Brianna Bond: Right. It’s like I’m helping people, but also, it’s fast paced, which I thrive on chaos. Love that.
Patrick Barrett: It’s action–
Mike Barrett: And the problem-solving, analytical stuff–
Brianna Bond: I’m never gonna be bored; I’m always solving a problem; it’s really fun.
Patrick Barrett: Do you get much gore now that you’re in the accounting world? Or do you need get a fix somewhere else?
Brianna Bond: It’s not the same kind. It’s like IRS gore.
Patrick Barrett: That counts too.
Brianna Bond: The most exciting day I have is writing an angry letter.
Mike Barrett: Do you spill blood on the–
Brianna Bond: It’s just kind of fun. I mean, the threats are still there. They’re just more like finally worded.
Patrick Barrett: It’s more, I got you. Yeah. There’s, I like a subtlety and art to it.
Brianna Bond: There’s art to it, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: I never would have seen the connection between angry repo person–
Mike Barrett: I guess.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah.
Brianna Bond: This is why I have fun when people hire me to do collections. Like if I have a bad day–
Patrick Barrett: You have like–
Brianna Bond: … I have this outlet there.
Patrick Barrett: It’s almost like a gym you belong to for emotional purposes.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. So, did you do the volunteer EMT work before you decided to try nursing, or were they kind of simultaneous, or did nursing come before?
Brianna Bond: I did do it before, but I also continued doing it while I was in school. So, I was really busy.
Patrick Barrett: How long did you stick with the nursing stuff before…?
Brianna Bond: Only one year. And then I was just–like this isn’t gonna–
Patrick Barrett: You just kinda realized…
Brianna Bond: I was already, what, 26 at that point. I was like, “I’m gonna do this for another six years? No. I’m not starting that late. I’m not doing it.”
Patrick Barrett: Is the training that long?
Brianna Bond: I mean, yeah. You’ve got to get your four years and then–yeah. It’s pretty–and at my speed because I had kids and other stuff. So, I was not–
Patrick Barrett: Oh, yeah. You’re doing a whole bunch of stuff at once.
Brianna Bond: I couldn’t dedicate myself.
Mike Barrett: Had you gone to college before that or this was like–you didn’t go to college. You did the other things?
Brianna Bond: I didn’t. I am a high school dropout.
Mike Barrett: No way.
Brianna Bond: I’ve never even gotten my GED.
Patrick Barrett: So, the formal training post-high school, which, as you said, you didn’t even finish high school- the only formal training you had was this one year in nursing school. Is that accurate?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Cool, so… [laughter] “Cool.” “Awesome.”
Brianna Bond: And you’re like, “and you’re fired.” [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Do you know any local accounts we can talk to?
Mike Barrett: I have to say, this- I feel like you should lead with this.
Patrick Barrett: You should.
Mike Barrett: Like this would- I dunno, you would have–
Patrick Barrett: The truck repo thing, that’s like an action hero, this is cool. Because I thought that you- you don’t need to have a degree to be an accountant? Is there a certification you have to get? Like, how does that work?
Brianna Bond: So, you do have to–in order to be a CPA, you do need to take the Becker exam, which- in order to take the Becker exam, you have to have an accounting degree. So, there is that. But I’m not a CPA.
Patrick Barrett: Okay. So, CPAs have to go that route. That’s required.
Brianna Bond: Right. Yes.
Patrick Barrett: So, you have to get a four-year degree–
Brianna Bond: That’s why you get the fancy title.
Patrick Barrett: There you go.
Brianna Bond: You paid for it.
Patrick Barrett: I know you just said this, but just so I’m clear and our listeners are- so to be a CPA, guaranteed you have to get a four year degree– a degree in accounting? Or is that a stupid question?
Brianna Bond: I’m pretty sure you have to.
Patrick Barrett: I didn’t know if there was like more than one major.
Brianna Bond: I mean, there’s lots, there’s forensic accounting, there’s…
Patrick Barrett: But some version- that’s kind of, I believe, like law school, right? You have to graduate from law school to even be able to take the bar in most cases?
Mike Barrett: In most places now. It didn’t used to be like that. And I’ve read, actually, that a couple of states are no longer that way. But now– when I was doing it, that’s what you had to.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. That’s my next plan. I’m gonna go take the bar exam. That’s my next career plan.
Mike Barrett: Do it.
Brianna Bond: Let’s just see.
Patrick Barrett: We’ll do a part two. But accounting for businesses, as you just said–
Brianna Bond: Right. It’s more–
Patrick Barrett: Is there any certification you have to get or, it’s more just familiarity with the software?
Brianna Bond: There’s not. I mean, yeah. It’s familiarity with the softwares, I guess, that are available. Although that changes too. And that’s something that can be trained really easily. It’s just the principle of accounting- I did take accounting classes, but I didn’t get a degree in it.
Patrick Barrett: Like, at a community college, or…?
Brianna Bond: Right. Actually, it was one of the pre-reqs of when I had the repo job, they sent me to accounting classes.
Patrick Barrett: So, you would know by the book what you could and couldn’t do, or what the situation is, if that makes sense?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Wow. Did you ever have a time when you repossessed something that you should not have? Like, someone made–
Patrick Barrett: Like, accidentally or something?
Mike Barrett: Yeah. I mean, not the wrong car. I mean–
Patrick Barrett: I think that’s just theft.
Mike Barrett: Yeah- that you were told [inaudible] this person is behind, or they actually weren’t or–
Patrick Barrett: There was some mistake made or something.
Brianna Bond: No. No. I mean, because we owned all the trucks, too, so we knew- I mean, there were times we repo-ed things where you just generally felt bad about it. Like, “I know you can’t pay your bill but …”
Patrick Barrett: This is also– yeah.
Brianna Bond: “… it’s also ours and we’re paying for it.” So, it is sometimes morally rough to do.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, for sure.
Mike Barrett: Well, I imagine the economics of this have changed, and I don’t know if it’s something that you’re familiar with or not, but at that time, for a truck driver, what sort of was the business model? What did they do?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. You get paid per mile. So, you think of the rate back then was not a lot, and it depended on what you’re hauling and what type of truck you have. So, I also was, at some point before this, the director of operations for the, the brokerage arm. So, I know way too much about this. Like, if you’re hauling refrigerated goods, if you’re a flatbed, if it’s copper, which is like- if you’re hauling copper, there’s a good chance you get hijacked on the side of the road. So, there’s a whole bunch of factors. But it’s just per mile. And that’s why nobody ever tries to drive empty because it’s just money. You’re giving away money.
Patrick Barrett: You’re just wasting- Sure. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Wow. So, also, Director of Operations. Can you sort of describe for our listeners what that means in kind of a concrete sense in that company at that time?
Brianna Bond: That meant managing 25 transportation brokers all over the country and everything that came with that- getting all their vendors approved, the truck drivers themselves.
Patrick Barrett: Managing transportation brokers- is that a fancy term for the actual drivers, or are these people–
Brianna Bond: No. So, transportation brokers develop relationships with drivers and customers who need things shipped.
Mike Barrett: So, something for our listeners to understand–and please correct me if this is not totally accurate in this context–but this idea of brokers has actually come up a couple of times before and we’ve never fully explored it. And just to help everybody understand–again, tell me if I’m wrong here–but generally, what a broker does sort of is acting as a middleman if you have a business where there’s someone who needs to buy a lot of stuff- in this case, a lot of drivers, they need to hire those people, or they need to buy a lot of food, or they need to buy a lot of whatever- and they don’t really have the time to deal with the potentially thousands or millions of options that they could choose to buy from, instead, these brokers will spring up kind of in the middle.
What the broker does is kind of goes out and- to use a modern term- the broker kind of curates good vendors, good sources of whatever raw materials, or whatever it is in that industry. And the broker also develops relationships with the person who needs to do a lot of buying or a lot of hiring or a lot of whatever. And so, that way, your company, the company at the top of this chain, basically, instead of having to know a million different vendors who are coming and going, only has to know, a dozen or 25 brokers. And then the brokers do the job of–is that basically how it works?
Brianna Bond: That’s exactly right. And you take a cut off the top. It’s like old fashioned LinkedIn. Like, you just–
Mike Barrett: Sure. And I think- I don’t know this industry in particular, but also for our audience- I think that as time goes by and the internet becomes even more and more of a thing, and it becomes possible, actually, for the people at the very bottom to deal directly with the people at the very top- then the role of brokers is either evolving or in some cases going away completely. Is that…?
Brianna Bond: I mean, I’ve been out of it for quite a while, but I would imagine that’s the case. And you see things, like I have clients who do retail and they need to order 12,000 items from China. And instead of having a broker like you would have to do, you get on Alibaba and find the person.
Patrick Barrett: I was gonna say, Alibaba.
Mike Barrett: Right. And Alibaba is sort of like Amazon or eBay for manufacturing large things.
Brianna Bond: Yes. Large quantities of things. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Sorry. So, you were Director of Operations. You were dealing with 25 brokers. How old were you when you were doing this?
Brianna Bond: I was 24.
Mike Barrett: And what was your–
Brianna Bond: I started there as the secretary.
Patrick Barrett: Cool.
Mike Barrett: And you were good at it, I would assume.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I mean, it sounds weird to say, especially on record, but I’m just really good at finding holes, I think, and being good at my job, which is a hard thing to find. You guys probably haven’t worked anywhere corporate for a while.
Mike Barrett: It’s been a while. And it didn’t go the best.
Mike Barrett: One thing that you find is just lie, “Everybody is so incompetent and yet they’re all employed.”
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. And I think a lot of times incompetent, it’s, you know, hard to say. You know, you have to make a generalized statement, I guess, if you want to come about it. So, I wanted to generalize, obviously, this doesn’t apply to every single person. But a lot of times it seems more like lack of interest. It’s not like you’re trying really hard and you’re failing. A lot of times it’s like–
Mike Barrett: You just don’t try.
Patrick Barrett: … it doesn’t seem important to you.
Brianna Bond: Right. You know, for like [inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: It’s not really–so I think most people probably in that situation, just a guess, but it seems like it’s not like you don’t have the skills or the potential to do this well. It’s more the decision to be engaged.
Mike Barrett: And I think a large part of that, too, I mean, this is something we really can address now, I guess. But it’s that a lot of people just get whatever job they can get. And they don’t really think about–
Patrick Barrett: They might not care about it.
Mike Barrett: … should I try something else or should I–
Patrick Barrett: The boss.
Mike Barrett: … you know, and that kind of leads to that apathy, especially if you’re in an organization that’s large enough and pays well enough that you don’t have to think about–you know, it doesn’t matter that–
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. I can apply this much effort and I’ll be fine. I guess the reason to declare why I brought that up, I think a lot of our listeners fear failure very much and they’re really worried about it. And I guess the point I’m trying to make is, if you’re worried that you’re not gonna be able to get anywhere in a company or whatever, a lot of times–
Brianna Bond: It’s not about skills.
Patrick Barrett: … the most important thing is if you’re really dedicated to doing this and it really matters to you, and whatever, you can avoid this situation most of the time most likely as long as you are committed to really putting the effort to the job.
Brianna Bond: I would agree with that. I mean, I’m not qualified for any job I’ve ever had. I never was to start. But if you go in and you care and you stay insanely curious, I think, that’s something that I still have even at 36.
Patrick Barrett: You mean you’re old.
Brianna Bond: If you just stay crazy curious. And you’re just intrigued and you’re not afraid to ask questions and say, “Well, I don’t know how to do this, but I can find out.”
Patrick Barrett: Right. Somebody somewhere knows how to tailor it.
Mike Barrett: It’s not that impossible.
Brianna Bond: Especially like the internet didn’t exist in this capacity when I was 24 years old.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, for sure.
Brianna Bond: So, the whole resources you have now, you can learn anything and improve your situation.
Patrick Barrett: It determines–
Mike Barrett: It’s really important.
Patrick Barrett: It makes it sound like–
Brianna Bond: And all those jobs are absolutely just like, “Well, I need a job.” So, I guess I’m a secretary now.
Patrick Barrett: So, you saw that online. I mean, what was the process like?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I think for that–I mean, it’s been a long time. But I think for that job, I started as a secretary of this holding company and worked my way up to director of operations.
Patrick Barrett: Was that over the course of a couple of years or–what was that–
Brianna Bond: Thirteen months, I think.
Patrick Barrett: Wow. Good job. How many people were in this organization?
Brianna Bond: The holding company employed 40 people; I think.
Patrick Barrett: Cool.
Brianna Bond: So, it was great.
Patrick Barrett: Was it secretary right to that? Was there an interim stop? Like, how was that process?
Brianna Bond: There was one interim stop and then the director of operations left, and I took her role. So, I was just interim assistant to the director or something.
Mike Barrett: By the time that that happened, did you know–I don’t know if there’s an ownership or the board. Like, who decided to move you up to that position and how did they know you at that point?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Well, let’s see. Chuck Smith, he knew me as–I’m trying to remember the name. So, I can’t remember–
Mike Barrett: That name sounds fake.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. He’s just like all-American guy. He was the president of the brokerage arm. And I was two under him–three under him at first as a secretary.
Patrick Barrett: But your elbowed someone off. [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: And then I worked my way up to assistant director under Mary. And then when Mary just found a new opportunity, it was too good to pass up. Even though everybody loves this company. It’s a great place to work. I worked directly under Chuck.
Patrick Barrett: So, you had kind of proven yourself in the assistant role as “I [inaudible] choice of this person [inaudible]”
Brianna Bond: Yes. It was something I think about a lot, like when I’m feeling down about whatever way work is going is what Chuck said when he picked me for that spot. He’s like, “My favorite thing about you is not that you pretend to know everything. You don’t. It’s that you say, ‘I don’t know but I can find out.’ And if you just keep doing that. It takes a lot to admit, ‘I don’t know.'”
Patrick Barrett: Especially, it’s funny because you mentioned you’re a bad teenager and you’re bad academically. I feel like a lot of people who are very stereotypically good academically, very dedicated to that, are very scared to ever say “I don’t know something.” You kind of feel like you always have to project this image that you are competent or whatever, or fully versed on what’s going on. And then you have this fear of saying, “Well, actually, I missed this thing from a week ago that I should have known now. Well, I’m terrified. I’m just gonna fake it and act like you know…” and you’re internally freaking out or whatever. But it seems like this is a very good skill. It doesn’t seem to be taught or rewarded–
Brianna Bond: It doesn’t. But I mean–
… in school of admitting “I don’t know this what you’re asking.”
Brianna Bond: … if you’re in a place where you’re pretending like you know everything, that’s kind of admitting to the world there’s nowhere else for you to go. Like, who wants to do that? That’s kind of boring.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. That was–I forgot who it was. Someone said something in some presentation or something, only mediocre people are always at their best. It’s like kind of, you know–and actually, I have nothing against mediocre people. You know, we need them too. Not me.
Brianna Bond: What do you mean by “you, people”?
Mike Barrett: No. But that actually does kind of circle back to something I wanted to ask you about. So, you mentioned feeling down about something related to work, which is something I fully understand.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. What does that look like?
Mike Barrett: I think anyone does. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re kind of the highest vibration as you’re lower.
Patrick Barrett: The [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Absolutely. Could you address that, too? Because again, I think a lot of our audience is sort of strongly encouraged not to feel bad about anything ever. And I don’t think that maybe they understand that it’s actually pretty normal as a professional adult to–
Patrick Barrett: It’s a pretty unavoidable.
Mike Barrett: … to feel down.
Brianna Bond: It’s unavoidable not only as a professional, but as an entrepreneur. Everybody is like, “It’s the best.” Half of your time is spent in the drags of just crushing, “Am I doing anything right?”
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Because there’s nobody telling you. You know, [inaudible] and have a person say, “Today you work on this.” And you say yourself, “I guess I should work on this.”
Brianna Bond: And so, sometimes on my worst days, I’m just like, “If I could just go get a job.” And so, somebody would tell me what to do and I could just go home at the end of the day. And that’s it. And I want the freedom to go rock climbing on Wednesday mornings.” So, yeah, it’s definitely a struggle. There are highs. You get to play lots of cool things, but I don’t think there’s anybody who’s like, “My job is aces all the time.”
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Never unhappy. Well, I feel like we have–
Mike Barrett: I do actually know one person like that.
Patrick Barrett: Everybody else.
Mike Barrett: But he’s the exception.
Brianna Bond: We are gonna go egg their house after this [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Exactly. Take him down a peg. I think it feeds into, like you said, this perception of entrepreneurship is very much romanticized, especially now. And it kind of, in a very negative way, feeds into this sort of Instagram reality where people only share the highlights. They only share, “Oh, I’m rock climbing on Wednesday morning while you guys are in office.” But people who might do that–
Brianna Bond: Come to me – crying to my desk.
Patrick Barrett: You know, a person who would share that wouldn’t share, “Oh, my number one client just cut me off for no reason. Now, I have to do…”
Mike Barrett: “Oh, I just made this sales presentation that did not go very well.”
Brianna Bond: That’s what we need. We do need more of that. Although, I’m probably guilty of only posting- I don’t know if I post anything about it at all, but if I do, it is probably only good stuff.
Patrick Barrett: Well yeah, most people naturally–
Brianna Bond: It’s natural.
Patrick Barrett: It’s natural–
Mike Barrett: Someone to make an anti– only for the worst days.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Like, a bad day social media thing. You know, I mean this huge stupid mistake.
Brianna Bond: That’s called Reddit. That’s what the–
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. And that’s why it’s anonymous.
Brianna Bond: Right. Yeah. I mean it’s just a constant up and down. Like, you have a good day. Like, “I just chipped a huge proposal and they were all about it.” And then it’s like, “Oh, God. But then what? What if they say yes?”
Mike Barrett: That’s right.
Patrick Barrett: What if they say yes.
Mike Barrett: Don’t do it. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: What do you think is the single most important resource for test preparation? Well, I’d love to say that most important resources are our Black Books or our video courses, but that isn’t actually true. There’s actually something even more important than those resources, which is a set of official test questions to practice with published by the same company that makes whatever test you’re prepping for. So, for the SAT, that means you should work with official questions written by the College Board. And for the ACT, that would mean you should work with official questions written by ACT, Inc. If you don’t know why it’s so important to practice only with real practice questions from the test maker, then you’re probably missing out on the most important idea in test preparation. To learn more about that crucial ide keep listening for the special segment at the end of this episode. And for more on the SAT and ACT, head over to questprep.com or search for the SAT Prep Black Book or the ACT Prep Black Book on amazon.com.
Mike Barrett: When you were talking before kind of taking us back to doing nursing school and doing sort of on the side accounting. And then, eventually, deciding that the accounting was the better thing to do. At that time, I guess you could sort of say like around there is when you switched from being an employee in your own mind to an entrepreneur, you know, standing on your own–
Brianna Bond: Right. I mean, I don’t think it was a conscious decision.
Mike Barrett: That was what I was gonna get, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: What necessity kind of–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I was like, “Well, I’m taking a few part time contracting things and maybe one of them will hire me full time.” But that never happened. And I just kept accruing clients and almost–now, I got a company. Like, I don’t know how that happened. I really don’t. It was never a plan. Some people had the plan. And I–
Patrick Barrett: So, you kind of found yourself with, “I have these clients on kind of by default.” Like, an independent contracting–accounting agency, essentially.
Brianna Bond: Right. I better get an LLC. So, I just had at the time–this sounds stupid to say–but a pretty large Twitter following.
Patrick Barrett: For unrelated reasons? Just cuts. Just like people are suddenly, “I’ve got to follow you on Twitter.”
Brianna Bond: I don’t know if you guys know, but I’m kind of funny. I guess I was funny on Twitter.
Mike Barrett: Well, I haven’t seen that, obviously.
Patrick Barrett: On Twitter, yeah. You’re just the best kind of funny to be in 2019.
Brianna Bond: Right. Right. But that was in 2008. Like, I’m OG Twitter.
Mike Barrett: So, you were funny on Twitter when Twitter was cool.
Brianna Bond: Back when Twitter was great. Back when Twitter was just everybody making jokes and not just screaming about politics. So, I gained a pretty good following. And then if you just talk about your work. “Hey, that’s the girl who does taxes, by the way.” So, it just became overwhelming.
Mike Barrett: And so, you could–or correct me if I’m wrong–could you, I guess is a better way to phrase this? Could you take clients from anywhere? Do they have to be American, like for legalities or [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I just stuck to you as accounting just because–
Patrick Barrett: That’s your area.
Brianna Bond: … I can barely keep up with the U.S. tax laws.
Patrick Barrett: Like, as they [inaudible] and everything.
Brianna Bond: Right. There’s so much and knowing everywhere else is just a lot.
Patrick Barrett: So, if you were motivated to do that, you could practically do it. It’s just you’d have to take out a whole bunch of expertise.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Right.
Mike Barrett: And that’s another thing for our audience is this question of jurisdictions, basically, or geographical areas where the laws are a certain way. They might be different by state for some professions, different by county for other professions, different by country. And so, to be a good professional provider of the service, you have to know, basically, what the rules and customs are like in a place. And that’s why, for example, like a doctor or a lawyer might be licensed in some states and not another or whatever. So, again, I’m sort of explaining that to everyone. But you didn’t need to worry about that as long as they were dealing with U.S.–
Patrick Barrett: I’m sorry. As long–
Mike Barrett: -as long as they were dealing with U.S. tax situations or accounting financial situations. That was–
Patrick Barrett: The same [inaudible] on what your–
Brianna Bond: That was my [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: And so, you could–like with your Twitter following, you could just attract people from–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. That was pretty much the start of my entire business.
Patrick Barrett: So, just to be clear, you had the realization, “Wait a minute. I have all these clients. I’m, basically, like my own accounting agency or whatever.” Then you consciously said, “Well, I might as well–my Twitter people that I already have known that I’m doing this.” Or was it like the Twitter people found out and came to you.
Brianna Bond: No. I think I was like–yeah. That was it. It was more like ranting about IRS forms in an offhand and funny way. They’re like, “Well, she does taxes even though it makes her angry. I guess I’ll go see if I could hijack her.”
Patrick Barrett: So, you were able to kind of kick start your business a little just because you had been tweeting a lot and tweeting made people–
Brianna Bond: Yes. It’s ridiculous.
Mike Barrett: That is fantastic.
Patrick Barrett: That’s awesome.
Brianna Bond: I never advertised. I just yelled on Twitter.
Mike Barrett: Do you think given how Twitter has evolved in those 10 or 11 years, do you think you could do the same thing now?
Patrick Barrett: Like a person could do that or what do you think that would be like? Do you have any–
Mike Barrett: Do you think one could do it? Not you but could somebody–
Brianna Bond: This is a very loaded question because I think you have to have a lot of friends. I am fortunate enough to know people who have much larger Twitter followings than I do. And I don’t know how much that factored in back then, but it would certainly factor in now. And also, you just kind of have that personality.
Patrick Barrett: That fits that sort of channel.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. People don’t–yeah.
Mike Barrett: Did you ever–
Brianna Bond: It’s a very casual channel. So, you have to be able to do that. The good thing about talking about taxes on Twitter is that everybody hates taxes. So, there’s nothing to argue about.
Patrick Barrett: That’s fair. Like [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: So, that you kind of kept it like strictly on the top–
Patrick Barrett: The lighter sort of–
Mike Barrett: Yeah. I just keep it light.
Patrick Barrett: [Inaudible]
Brianna Bond: You know, “Let’s just yell about taxes together. This is ridiculous.” There’s a great tweet out there, actually. This is not relevant to any questions, but it’s so good. It’s like, “The government knows what you make. Knows how much you report and then makes you guess. And then puts you in jail.”
Mike Barrett: Right. I’ve seen this.
Patrick Barrett: It’s such a good deal.
Brianna Bond: We could improve this.
Mike Barrett: It’s like a conversation between the government and a guy, right?
Brianna Bond: Right. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: You know what I make, yeah. So, is Twitter still a significant part of your life or your time or anything? Or is that kind of a bygone chapter for now?
Brianna Bond: I mean, it can be entertaining to me. And if you cultivate it really well, you kind of skip the things that are depressing. I think that, for me, I ditched Facebook for a long time, for, like seven years because it just got to be so much noise.
Mike Barrett: Did you hear that saying “Twitter makes me fall in love with strangers. And Facebook makes me hate people …” [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: That’s right. That was so true in Twitter back in 2008 and 2009. It was so good. Some of my best friends are, you know, people I met on Twitter.
Mike Barrett: Really? That’s awesome.
Patrick Barrett: Is your current relationship or non-relationship with Twitter, you just sort of lost interest, or you got busy with other stuff, or it just kind of happened?
Brianna Bond: Like I don’t have time to spend on it anymore. Really. That’s probably the most of it.
Mike Barrett: Do you remember a specific moment, day, whatever when you thought of yourself as an entrepreneur for the first time? Or you thought of yourself as standing on your own without, you know–not “Maybe one day I’ll find another job.” Well, it sounds like from what you said before–
Brianna Bond: Literally, that’s not yet for me.
Mike Barrett: Somedays we do still fantasize about [inaudible] But you know, when you said, “Okay. Like, this is what I do now.”
Brianna Bond: This is a very practical answer that you’ll probably expect from an accountant. But when I started looking for it, like I was so deep and just, “I don’t want to deal with this anymore,” that I actually started looking for jobs and realized I priced myself out of a market because it was more lucrative to work with 30 clients at a reduced rate than one client at a full rate. I was like, “I’m stuck here.”
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. “I can totally justify making his movie.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I can do it, so now I’ve got to go all in. So, that was it for me.
Patrick Barrett: So, you remember kind of that moment or that point where you [inaudible] that. You said ledgers has been around for ten years. Was that the start of the ten years when you’re like, “All right.” Or you were already a few years in?
Mike Barrett: No. Well, yeah. No, I didn’t make a lot because I didn’t actually–Ledger has been around for ten years. But for the first five years, I didn’t focus on it. It was kind of a side hustle. I also owned part of a web development agency.
Mike Barrett: Part of a what?
Brianna Bond: Web development agency.
Mike Barrett: Got it. Got it.
Brianna Bond: So, I spent–
Patrick Barrett: Is there anything that you don’t do?
Brianna Bond: No. I would, literally, do anything for money.
Patrick Barrett: Every minute’s like, “I also did this.”
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Well, we started this talk when I was 23, so I still have 16 to 23 I have to get into.
Patrick Barrett: Awesome. So, web development. So, you said at that point the accounting was like a side hustle [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: It was like 50-50.
Patrick Barrett: So, they’re like both side hustles kind of.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I was splitting my time between them.
Patrick Barrett: Did you have clients– did you have some clients who are clients of both things or–
Brianna Bond: I did not. The web development agency had a much higher ticket client base. Like, we worked for Adobe. We worked for Harvard.
Patrick Barrett: Sorry. When you say high ticket, you mean that each job brought in more [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Oh, yeah. And they were just like bigger name. And my accounting agency has always kind of serviced smaller businesses by design. I like it that way. But it’s just a totally different client base. Adobe doesn’t need me to be their part-time accountant.
Patrick Barrett: Was there a reason–you know, it seems like you have these two things you separate 50/50. And it seems like now you’re exclusively focused on [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: I am exclusively focused on that. I sold my portion.
Patrick Barrett: Okay. So, was that–where you were looking to get out of that or the opportunity–
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Okay.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It was fun, but I would just reach a point where I could go no further because I’m not a developer. And my project management skills were pepped out.
Patrick Barrett: So, that was at the role that you play where you managed–okay.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Business development and project management.
Mike Barrett: Could you describe for our audience what project management is. I know it’s a very big thing, but just sort of if you’ve never heard the phrase before, what’s that?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It is herding cats with a fancy title.
Mike Barrett: Herding, H-E-R-D.
Brianna Bond: Herding, H-E-R-D. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Riding cats to get so much–yeah.
Brianna Bond: I mean, last–yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Herding cats, yeah.
Brianna Bond: So, it’s basically dealing with the people who are doing the work, like the developers we had. And the client translating because developers often are not great at client management themselves. So, you’re acting as a barrier between them and kind of translating what needs to get done, and the timeline it needs to get done, and all this fun stuff.
Patrick Barrett: It sounds kind of like the broker role we described earlier where you’re between the person–
Brianna Bond: More or less, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: … who has the money and the person who has–
Mike Barrett: Except that the project manager and the worker [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. The same company.
Mike Barrett: … will be on the same company. Right. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: So, how did you come to do that? How did you start?
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. So, you’re now the developer–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, my ex was a developer and he was kind of a freelancer. And then when we worked together, I was like, “You got to stop selling your time. You’re out of time. You know, you’re kind of income cap. Let’s see if we can turn this into an agency.” And we did. It took three years and then I sold out my portion and he stayed on for two more years and then sold out his portion.
Mike Barrett: So, is there a third partner or somebody else came along?
Brianna Bond: We did. After a while, we brought in a partner. And then now he owns it all himself.
Patrick Barrett: And that’s still going on?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Mike Barrett: It still exists.
Patrick Barrett: Do you ever wish you stayed with it or anything? Or is that the right move to make stuff [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Not really. I mean, they’re doing great. So, sure. I guess from a bawler status.
Patrick Barrett: That’s always important to consider.
Brianna Bond: Mostly I’m just this is––the person running it is exactly who needs to be running it.
Patrick Barrett: I got you.
Brianna Bond: He deserves every ounce of success they have. And he is much better than I was, you know, so that’s the best possible outcome.
Patrick Barrett: So, do you feel like you learned over the course of those years that you could do this, but it wasn’t right for you?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I think I was okay at it. But it’s just like I don’t want a manager ego. And that’s a lot of what a project manager does.
Mike Barrett: A lot of what it is, yeah.
Brianna Bond: Because they say, “Make this logo bigger.” And you’re like, “But it’s gonna look stupid.” And you have to kind of deal with that. It’s just I don’t have a lot of empathy, so it’s not my–
Patrick Barrett: You’re not good in the empathy.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. I just don’t have that. So, it was good for me. It was fun. But I’m glad it’s not for me.
Mike Barrett: I think that’s an interesting thing, too. An interesting aspect of, well, adulthood for me. I don’t know if other people figured this out much earlier than I did. But what you just said about realizing that there’s a certain skill set–in this case, project management–that you just don’t feel that’s your calling or the thing that you were built to do. Are there other sorts of skill sets like that that you’ve run into in your time? Like, for example, with nursing, it doesn’t sound like nursing was something that you said. I’m not really good enough at this to devote myself to it. It was more like this other thing over here at the time was more interesting.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It was poor timing. Right.
Mike Barrett: Right. Have there been for example, you mentioned that you don’t do a personal accounting. Is that because you realized you don’t really like it? It’s not your strong suit. Or how do you make those decision?
Brianna Bond: It’s because most people’s personal finances are much more limited. You know, it’s just I don’t want to do your 1040 return. And you’re making the same W-2 every year, it’s just boring. There’s nothing exciting about it for me. There’s nothing that we can really improve that much unless you’re doing– people already have independent wealth; in which case, I am nowhere near qualified to deal with that.
Patrick Barrett: Did you have experience in that world or–
Mike Barrett: This better be [inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: But you said, you know, you don’t want to just fill up somebody’s 1040. And [inaudible] talk to people [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. The first one I was talking about, people would say on Twitter, “Here do my personal return.” So, I did it. I’ve done my fair share of personal returns.
Patrick Barrett: So, you had some hands-on experience. It just felt very mechanical. Like, you just plug something, and you just don’t really–
Brianna Bond: It just like I can’t feel–I don’t feel like I’m providing any value. You could literally do what I’m doing on turbotax.com. There’s nothing here I’m putting things on a form.
Patrick Barrett: And the business is [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: As opposed to using–and that may be something else actually that I would guess a large portion of our audience is unfamiliar with, unless they happen to know an accountant already. There actually is a fair amount of creativity possible in accounting, right? Absolutely.
Patrick Barrett: It doesn’t have that complexity so [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: Yeah. I didn’t really think about this until just now. But maybe we should say clearly and if you can please expand on this and tell me where I’m not exactly right. But it’s not that you’re doing things that are illegal, which it might seem to somebody who’s not familiar with how these situations work. It’s more to that by choosing to move money at certain dates or times or by choosing to call a structure a particular–under a certain label then it gets treated one way by tax law versus another way.
Brianna Bond: Right. There’s a lot of different paths that your taxes can take. And all of them are gonna be legal, but they might have different outcomes.
Patrick Barrett: Like tax law itself is, I guess, designed in a way that there’s all these different options you can make depending on what seems to fit your situation–
Brianna Bond: So, very much great–
Patrick Barrett: that you helped people figure all that out, like what’s the best way to do that. And as you said, that’s more possible with business taxes than individual regular people. It’s pretty much like [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Pretty [inaudible] More or less. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. That’s another one of those things that just sort of as you become older and an adult, you sort of realize intuitively there’s a lot of ways you could do someone’s taxes that are all perfectly legitimate and different benefits. But I didn’t know that when I was in high school. So, I imagine.
Patrick Barrett: Because they don’t teach kids in high school about taxes.
Brianna Bond: They don’t teach it. That’s why one of my goals for 2020 is to teach Hillsborough something about personal finance.
Mike Barrett: Really?
Patrick Barrett: That would be cool.
Brianna Bond: I don’t know how to do it. I have not yet planned that out.
Patrick Barrett: So, you haven’t approached them or anything?
Brianna Bond: No, I have not yet. I’m working on kind of figure out how you even do that?
Mike Barrett: That’s so cool. How did you–
It’s important to me because we didn’t learn about this stuff. My parents went through multiple bankruptcies because they probably weren’t taught it. And then I only got to learn from watching them, which is no.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. What not to do.
Brianna Bond: Well, I only learned what not to do. And when I see my son coming in, he goes to the ATM and he’s like, “I want $10.73.” And I’m just like I’m an accountant and I’m failing.
Patrick Barrett: These are basic things.
Brianna Bond: And it’s like that’s more important than knowing that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. For most people.
Mike Barrett: Which it is.
Brianna Bond: For most people, it’s just–
Mike Barrett: You know, [inaudible] powerhouse for everyone.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Exactly.
Mike Barrett: No but you mean it’s more important.
Patrick Barrett: I’m saying–yeah. Absolutely. In general, you could make the assumption that for most people the tax thing are more practical.
Brianna Bond: Right. You need to learn–
Patrick Barrett: Cover the life skills first then, you know, if there’s different parts you want to go down.
Brianna Bond: [Inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: Make more sense.
Mike Barrett: It is an interesting thing that I’ve observed across a lot of the clients, and readers, and people who reach out to us, whenever anything related to decisions around money or any kind of thing like that comes up, you know, that we have been sort of privy to. Everyone does whatever their parents did, because it never occurred to them that there’s any other way to do it.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. [Inaudible]
Mike Barrett: Because sort of–sort of? Let me try that again. It’s sort of almost like a family value, even though it’s never explicitly said, I think, in a lot of families. But, you know, this is how we handle money. We do it this way. And in most cases, I would guess that that is not something that anyone ever consciously thought about and tried to improve.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Because probably what your parents is what their parents did. And not just with money, but it’s such a natural path to take because it feels so risky to do something different from what you grew up seeing. Even if you saw someone do that during those periods. It could feel like, “Well, this is [inaudible] …”
Mike Barrett: Well, there is actually a really interesting question on Reddit the other day. The question was– it was explained in five question. And the question was, in direct concrete terms, how does a large corporation avoid paying taxes in the United States?
Patrick Barrett: Like, what is–yeah. Because you hear about that a lot.
Mike Barrett: Because that comes up a lot, so like Apple or whatever company of sure stuff.
Patrick Barrett: What is the company that has that work and everything. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. And that’s one of those things., if you know how it’s done–which I do roughly abstractly–it never occurs to me that that’s not obvious. But of course, it’s obvious, correct? A lot of–yeah. So, how would you consider teaching younger people that? Have you made any kind of–
Brianna Bond: I don’t know. I mean I feel like now you’re the experts on this how to teach younger people things.
Mike Barrett: Well, thanks.
Brianna Bond: But this is just something that I really want to do. I don’t even know if it’s viable. I don’t know if accounting does this.
Patrick Barrett: Just observing your son, that’s a sign you just felt like [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. All the kids, his friends, come over, like, “Let’s go blow $87 on, you know, Skittles at public.” So, like [inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. That does sound off. But–
Mike Barrett: Is that a tangible thing they’ve done? Because [inaudible] how would they–okay.
Brianna Bond: Yes.
Patrick Barrett: That’s a real anecdote.
Brianna Bond: It’s real. That happened last weekend. It’s crazy. It’s just like I just want you to be better prepared than I was. Like if that’s all–any parent does is try to teach them a little bit better than we did. Maybe eventually somebody will be Okay.
Mike Barrett: Right.
Patrick Barrett: A thousand years from now they’ll be the one to do it.
Mike Barrett: How many Skittles does $87 buy?
Patrick Barrett: That’s a lot of Skittles.
Brianna Bond: So, much.
Patrick Barrett: Well hopefully you’re buying the family size because [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: And this is–I don’t know if you can see in the camera. Obviously, if you’re listening you can’t see.
Patrick Barrett: I know you can’t see.
Mike Barrett: Brianna actually has a [inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: Yes [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: I do love junk food. Like, I love junk food, but I need $7. It’s too much. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: That, we can be reasonable.
Mike Barrett: If anything, that money should be invested in a tattoo of [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Right. I thought it would make me stop eating as much junk food. No. Now, I’m just [inaudible] about the time.
Mike Barrett: Why did you think that?
Brianna Bond: I don’t know.
Patrick Barrett: Well if I’m always looking at a representation.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Maybe it will be enough.
Patrick Barrett: I will eat less, right? You could have gotten a tattoo of a gross merchant rubbing muscles.
Brianna Bond: Sorry, podcast. We’re real people running into the table.
Patrick Barrett: We are. Yeah. We’ll fix it and post.
Mike Barrett: You’ll fix it.
Patrick Barrett: I will sometime.
Mike Barrett: Apparently for post. A couple of things that I would like to touch on before we–I do want to talk about the years up to 16 and also a bit about ledger and software and those kinds of things. But just briefly, you mentioned the phrase forensic accounting, which again, I’m gonna guess is something–
Brianna Bond: My dream job.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. Me too. Can you please describe for us what forensic accounting is and how it would differ from–
Brianna Bond: It is for the deep dive stuff where it’s like some rich evil person is funneling money offshores and you need to track it. Fun stuff like that.
Patrick Barrett: So, it’s necessarily criminal in nature you’re investigating.
Brianna Bond: Usually. Usually, it is. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: You’re like looking from the outside, right, at what’s publicly available.
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: And you’re trying to figure out whether–
Mike Barrett: And you’re trying to figure out what is organization.
Brianna Bond: You’re figuring it out. And also, if it’s even deeper than that, sometimes it’s like they’re doing everything legally in terms of accounts, but they’re adding–
Patrick Barrett: Add points towards [inaudible] kind of–
Brianna Bond: … fluffing invoices and then embezzling, you know, office space. Like, that kind of stuff, where surrounding–
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Office Space the Movie.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Rounding pennies up and then just suddenly that money is like, “Where did it go?” That really fun kind of thing.
Mike Barrett: And this actually might be a moment to just talk about money laundering and what that is. Again, more for just the general background knowledge of our audience. Money laundering, as I understand it, it’s when someone is engaged in an activity that is illegal and they can’t just take the money they’re getting.
Patrick Barrett: Suddenly, by $100,000–
Mike Barrett: And hen say–yeah.
Patrick Barrett: … and not being able to explain where [inaudible]
Mike Barrett: So, what they do is they sort of put that money–they have to find creative ways to get that money into the extreme of legally recognized money. So, it might be something like you own a business that only operates in cash. And really you only sold $500 worth of stuff today, but you reported it as 5,000. And now you’ve got 4,500 bucks in cash you can just sort of–
Patrick Barrett: And on paper it looks like it’s income from your business or [inaudible] it’s from another business that’s illegal and–
Brianna Bond: Car washes? We’ve all seen Breaking Bad.
Patrick Barrett: Breaking Bad [Inaudible]
Mike Barrett: Right. That’s basically what [inaudible] And so, part of what a forensic accountant might do is–
Brianna Bond: Would be to find something like that.
Mike Barrett: Try to figure it out.
Patrick Barrett: Wait a minute. Nobody goes to this restaurant. But they’re reporting a million in income in a year.
Mike Barrett: So, how–I guess if, maybe, you knew this, you would already be telling. But how does one become– how do you get that gig?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I think that you just have to have so many college degrees. That I have no time for.
Patrick Barrett: Just stuck about. Yeah.
Brianna Bond: Just stuck about. That’s the thing because I really don’t even know. Because at this point, I’m like, “Well, what am I gonna start?” Like, what does it matter?
Patrick Barrett: Will that kind of person work for the government? Like, you’re working as a law enforcement?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, you probably work for one of the big four, which is, you know, the accounting firms.
Mike Barrett: The big four accounting firms.
Brianna Bond: Deloitte– I even know the rest– KPMG.
Patrick Barrett: A friend of mine, actually, just got a job with one of the big four in Chicago.
Mike Barrett: I only know two of them.
Brianna Bond: One of those or the IRS.
Mike Barrett: Sorry to the other two. Anyway, that was probably [inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: So, that was you. Yeah.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. The IRS or the FBI.
Mike Barrett: So, you’d have to work for one of these large–
Patrick Barrett: So, IRS, FBI, or one of these gigantic firms.
Mike Barrett: There’s not like freelance forensic accountants?
Brianna Bond: I don’t think so. It’s a pretty hard niche to break into.
Patrick Barrett: So, what–you could be like a vigilante forensic accountant.
Brianna Bond: Right. Isn’t there a Ben Affleck movie about that?
Brianna Bond: I don’t know.
Brianna Bond: I think there is. It’s called The Accountant.
Patrick Barrett: That’s like the only time one of your people got to be in a position of–yeah.
Mike Barrett: Now, I’m trying to figure out if there’s a forensic accounting tests we could come up with that you could do.
Patrick Barrett: I hope so. Do you want me to?
Mike Barrett: We’ll have to think about it. Okay.
Patrick Barrett: So, the big four, as you call them–I say that like I know that term. But I always think it’s the big four.
Brianna Bond: I don’t even know where they are.
Patrick Barrett: Of course, the big four. So, if they hired a forensic accountant, like I can imagine what, you know, FBI, IRS of a person would need that for. But would a big four company they’re investigating around people or just they’re–
Brianna Bond: I think that they would just investigate or just be doing audits to make sure. There’s a lot of–
Patrick Barrett: Okay. Just to keep track and make sure that we’re not facilitating something illegal unknowingly or something.
Mike Barrett: Could you also give us a decently technical professional definition of what an audit actually is? I imagine it’s another term people hear don’t actually know what it is.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, it is a corroboration of all the data that you, yourself as a citizen or business, have put forth to the taxation entities like the IRS or whatever your state where it might be to make sure that that’s not fake, essentially.
Patrick Barrett: So, you’re being asked to produce–
Brianna Bond: Prove it all.
Patrick Barrett: … like you may use statements previously. And we have some reason–
Brianna Bond: We have some reason to believe–
Patrick Barrett: … either by random selection or briefs or something.
Mike Barrett: Sorry. Here’s another thing that I’m assuming maybe most of our audience doesn’t know. When you submit your taxes, when the average person or corporation, or whoever submits their taxes–this is gonna be an interesting thing–no one checks it usually?
Brianna Bond: Usually–
Patrick Barrett: Unless, it gets audited, it just gets accepted. They say, “Okay. This is the number we were told they owe.” And I think there’s some battery of automated checks against–
Brianna Bond: There are some automated checks.
Patrick Barrett: … depending on the kind of job you have, let’s say–
Brianna Bond: And then, if those flag, you are probably thrown into an audit pool. But even from that pool it’s random selection.
Patrick Barrett: Even from that, you might not be–at a certain point, it’s just volume of man hours. It’s not possible to audit all the people that they, maybe, would want to audit.
Brianna Bond: Sure. No. You got to choose your fish.
Patrick Barrett: So, you just, you now–
Brianna Bond: That’s why if you stay under a certain income level, you’re probably never gonna get out of it.
Mike Barrett: Because the cost of auditing you that way, whatever–
Patrick Barrett: It’s like a business–
Brianna Bond: You’re gonna get $7 in extra taxes because I made a typo. Now, you’re gonna go chase that from somebody else.
Patrick Barrett: And from their perspective, it’s not really their primary concern, I believe, isn’t justice or anything. It’s not we want to catch the guys who did their taxes wrong. It’s just it costs us X dollars to do an audit. We want a good shot at getting more than X dollars out of it. Like, it’s really purely like a very accountant sounding one ledger.
Brianna Bond: Very much profit based.
Patrick Barrett: Kind of if I’m gonna send a guy to your house to look into this, I want to make sure he–
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Mike Barrett: And so, it’s kind of like if we put this into, like high school or college terms, it would be almost as though I’m your midterm or final exam. In addition to submitting the thing, you also told the professor what grade–
Patrick Barrett: You said, “I got an A.”
Mike Barrett: And the professor was like, “Yeah. That’s roughly–
Patrick Barrett: The professor randomly picks a certain selection [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: That seems mostly right.
Mike Barrett: Did you really know that much stuff?
Patrick Barrett: I want to point out also for our listeners that it probably sounds super boring that we’re sitting here talking about tests. But a part of the thing, like we were saying earlier, that schools don’t teach kids these skills. It’s not really discussed or brought up. Once you’re an adult, you don’t have a choice. Like, you have to know and care about taxes.
Brianna Bond: It’s not optional.
Patrick Barrett: Like, you realize at a certain point if you start making any money, you have to pay all that stuff.
Mike Barrett: Literally any amount of money once you have–
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. It’s not just that we think it’s cool and fun. Or maybe you do just want to talk about taxes, maybe you don’t, or whatever. I don’t speak for you. But this is a thing that is necessarily gonna be a part of your life when you’re an adult. Like, you have to–
Mike Barrett: As much as it’s knowing how to drive. Actually, more than knowing how to drive.
Patrick Barrett: More than that, you cannot drive and not go to jail. Well, you can’t not do your taxes, not go to jail.
Mike Barrett: Also, the thing that you mentioned about hauling copper, I might be vaguely aware of that. No. But it’s an interesting thing.
Patrick Barrett: That’s [inaudible] one your guys got carjacked or a truck–
Brianna Bond: Oh, yeah. Sure. It’s happened before. Yeah. I mean, people–
Patrick Barrett: So, why do you need a truck with a lot of copper. What do you do with it? Like, you–
Brianna Bond: You don’t stop. Like you just–
Patrick Barrett: No. I mean if you just got it. If you just [inaudible] car jack [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: If you’re the copper jacker. You’re the copper pirate.
Brianna Bond: Oh. I guess there is black markets for it.
Mike Barrett: Actually, you probably have to launder the copper in the sense like you got to find some supply that you can sell it to, right?
Brianna Bond: I guess so, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: You open a fake drive-thru where people pay for cheeseburgers with copper. It’s how probably how it works. I’m gonna assume.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It’s the big thing, especially–this was in Arizona. I hope my stomach didn’t just get picked up. Copper mining is a thing and it’s all the empty houses. If your house is sitting empty or your house is under construction, and the wiring gets ripped out.
Patrick Barrett: Oh, a friend of mine–
Mike Barrett: The wiring they? Wow.
Brianna Bond: They are [inaudible]
Patrick Barrett: And old plumbing, too, copper plugs.
Brianna Bond: Old plumbing, yeah. But not anymore.
Patrick Barrett: Copper–I think [inaudible] copper pipes. Yeah, old plumbing.
Mike Barrett: And so, did your company–again, sort of like mundane administrative things, but things that I think our audience is unaware of. Did your company carry insurance for that kind of thing? Like, say, that someone reports that the copper–
Patrick Barrett: The truckers issue that–
Brianna Bond: The truckers have their own insurance, yes. But we did have backup insurance in case. But also, the people are insured for– the copper mine would be insured for stuff that happens to its–
Patrick Barrett: The people themselves doing hiring truckers.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. There is insurance everywhere.
Mike Barrett: So, a part of the cost then of transporting this copper is everyone involved has insurance for when they–
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: It’s like being a doctor, like malpractice insurance, you have to have one at a certain level of coverage for copper heists. I did not know we were gonna talk about that today. Is there anything else?
Mike Barrett: Are there– yeah. Were there other things [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: We’re talking about career paths. And a way of responding to that, that copper heisting is a valid career path for anybody.
Patrick Barrett: If you’re taking on the risk–
Mike Barrett: As a copper pirate, which is what I’ve decided to call them.
Brianna Bond: That’s a much better term.
Patrick Barrett: Copper pirates.
Mike Barrett: Wow. All right. So, thank you for explaining that. What did you do from the time that you dropped out of school until where we’ve picked up on your stories?
Patrick Barrett: Dropped out of high school.
Mike Barrett: I’m sorry, dropped out of high school.
Patrick Barrett: You dropped out of so many things.
Brianna Bond: I’ve dropped out of– I’ve given up on everything, basically, at some point.
Patrick Barrett: Your first attempt at dropping out.
Brianna Bond: So, let’s see. I dropped out of high school.
Mike Barrett: How did that go over with your family?
Brianna Bond: Oh. It was not great. I mean, my mom has a master’s degree. You know, she really values education.
Mike Barrett: Can I ask in what?
Brianna Bond: She has a CFO–and MBA, I guess. I don’t know.
Mike Barrett: Interesting.
Patrick Barrett: We’ll call it MBA.
Mike Barrett: Do you think that your interest in analytical thinking and numbers and stuff is in any way derived from her influence or–
Brianna Bond: Probably. Both my parents are very analytical.
Patrick Barrett: I don’t know [inaudible] about this. I was gonna ask earlier, you said that your parents went through multiple bankruptcies. But I was gonna ask before if you thought witnessing that kind of helped develop the sense that you have of not wanting to be in that position. And maybe that’s why you kind of stumbled into the accounting.
Brianna Bond: Well, I do think that it contributes to my extreme love for doing–for client’s forecasting and budgeting work. Like, “Okay. Sure. Let’s take care of the money you have right now. But also, are you gonna have money in the future?”
Patrick Barrett: Like, protection in the future. Right. Because now, money is–right. The future about it.
Brianna Bond: Right. And that’s, essentially, just the core problem of bankruptcy is you’re like, “Oh, I’m good.” The line just oops. And now you’re scraped.
Patrick Barrett: Interesting.
Mike Barrett: Could you also explain, again to our audience and to me – I have a vague understanding of how bankruptcy works and how a person or company could have more than what in their history. But I think for a lot of people, just as they would assume that the government always checks your taxes when you submit them, but that’s not true. I think they would assume bankruptcy is sort of a full year financial life forever.
Patrick Barrett: End of top–
Mike Barrett: How does it actually work? What are the–
Brianna Bond: I mean, it kind of that your credit is destroyed. So, especially, if you go through two of them, you’re basically starting from scratch twice. But if you just rack up too much debt and you cannot pay it, there’s a point where you just have to like, “Well, I’m just never getting out of this. Let me ask the courts to wipe this away.”
Patrick Barrett: So, it’s a decision that you make as like, this is my option, at this point. Like, instead of trying to just keep making these payments that I’m not making.
Brianna Bond: Right. I’m not gonna be able to ever get out from under this. Then you say, “Please. Please, wipe this out.”
Patrick Barrett: And the court, I guess, has to evaluate your situation, and decide whether that’s–whether you qualify [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Whether they agree with you. I mean if they think–a lot of people do, unfortunately, try to use bankruptcy. It’s just like, “Oh, I’m gonna go buy 80,000 fancy cars.” And then write it off.
Patrick Barrett: And then just–
Mike Barrett: The bankruptcy.
Brianna Bond: And they think that they’re gonna get to keep the car. That’s not how that works.
Mike Barrett: Could you even just keep one? Because I’d still be working.
Brianna Bond: You get nothing, and your credit is trash.
Patrick Barrett: That’s a great example of something that should be taught to teenagers. You don’t keep the car.
Brianna Bond: That’s not how that works. So, yeah, I mean, but it is kind of a game changer. And that you’re officially moved to–now, you really have to operate on a cash basis. And that’s something that, in personal finance, everybody should be doing anyway. But in this kind of leveraged world, we’re all really not, you know.
Mike Barrett: And can you describe operating on a cash basis as opposed to–
Brianna Bond: Don’t use credit cards if you can’t pay them off every single month. Don’t finance that car unless–I mean, don’t finance –cars are a depreciating asset. There’s nothing there.
Mike Barrett: And when you mentioned leverage, leverage in this case would be the idea that you don’t have enough money now to buy a car, let’s say. But somebody will give you–
Brianna Bond: But you got good credit. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: Right. So, you could pay a couple hundred dollars, have the car. And then over time, you’re gonna pay much more than you would have paid upfront.
Brianna Bond: So, much more.
Mike Barrett: But you don’t have to have it upfront. You can sort of–
Brianna Bond: Right.
Mike Barrett: And that’s [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. And then people just get too deep in that. And then you’re buried, and you can’t get out from under it.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. So, you’ve described yourself as analytical and kind of attributed your facility with money and accounting to that characteristic. You also said that you think both of your parents were pretty analytical.
Brianna Bond: They’re analytical and I feel like–
Patrick Barrett: But they had issues that were not–
Brianna Bond: –they had these problems, maybe, coming from a place where– my whole family has been relatively poor going back to as far as we can, like all my grandparents–
Patrick Barrett: You mean generation as a whole.
Brianna Bond: Really, just generationally poor.
Mike Barrett: If they were too poor to keep their records, you mean–
Patrick Barrett: All the records years ago.
Brianna Bond: And so, I feel like–I don’t know if you’ve heard of this poverty mindset, but something even I still struggle with. And now I’m in an okay position. But when my parents–dad, if you’re listening, I’m totally projecting here. I’m just making claims I think might be true. Once you get a little bit of money, I have to spend it all right now. This should be gone. I’m never gonna get this again.”
Patrick Barrett: Sure. “Someone should come knock on my door and say it’s theirs or something.
Mike Barrett: That mindset that’s a very real thing. And it’s an interesting–and it kind of goes back to what we were saying before. If you grew up with that mindset, until you hear you say that it’s a mindset, you might not even realize that that’s a mindset.
Brianna Bond: No, you don’t. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: And if you grew up without it, listening to you say that those people will think you’re insane. Why would you–
Patrick Barrett: Why would you do that?
Mike Barrett: But it really is how you grow up one way or the other. I mean, not only those two, but this–
Brianna Bond: This essentially comes into play in our household because my husband grew up pretty loaded. His dad is an orthopedic surgeon.
Patrick Barrett: There you go.
Brianna Bond: And I’m just like, “Should we go buy these things because it’s on sale. We might need it.” And he’s like, “What are you talking about?”
Mike Barrett: Right. [Inaudible] to think about that.
Brianna Bond: I’m just like–
Patrick Barrett: Well, it’s interesting because I think there’s–and again, you know, it’s a broad statement. It doesn’t apply to everyone. But I think there’s very much a perception that people who grew up with money would be the ones who would be more inclined to spend it. Which can be true, certainly, in some [inaudible] But it can also be the exact opposite where because–
Brianna Bond: In my experience, it’s been the opposite.
Patrick Barrett: -if you grew up with people who were fiscally responsible and everything like that, then they don’t have the mindset necessarily of, “This is on sale, I should buy it.” Whereas–
Brianna Bond: They’re just automatically responsible all the time and boring.
Mike Barrett: Which is, looking back might be how over generations they became that way.
Patrick Barrett: And again, to be clear, this is general–
Mike Barrett: A generalization.
Patrick Barrett: A generalization. I definitely anecdotally have seen it in action. But there is the opposite. There are people [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: We’re talking in broad strokes here.
Patrick Barrett: And then spend it on everything.
Mike Barrett: Wow. So, when your parents went through these bankruptcies when you were younger, did you know it?
Brianna Bond: I feel like I didn’t know about the first one, because I was probably pretty young. The second one, I think I was in my teens and I had a better idea.
Mike Barrett: Did you have an opinion on it? Was it just the thing that was happening?
Brianna Bond: Not really. Again, I was a really bad teen, so I wasn’t really the most engaged. But, you know, I think that once I hit having to take care of my own money, it’s like, “Well, I don’t want to do this. Like, this is bad.” I know enough to know that this is bad.
Mike Barrett: So, personal bankruptcy has been declared. Not business only.
Brianna Bond: Yeah, right.
Patrick Barrett: For even extra background, were they entrepreneurs in any way? Did they have regular jobs, you know?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, my mom has always worked for people. She’s never been entrepreneurial. My dad had his own tiling business and so, I guess, freelancing. I mean, he didn’t really have employees besides us kids during the summer.
Mike Barrett: So, you do also know how to tile something?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I can throw down some tile for sure. It’s good. My brothers can build a house.
Patrick Barrett: What have we not asked about yet that you can do? What else is your skill?
Mike Barrett: Yeah. What else can you do? What are some stuff?
Brianna Bond: Let me think. Sometimes there’s things I just straight up forget about. And then [inaudible] Let’s see, where have I worked?
Patrick Barrett: “I can do this.” Like, you mentioned rock climbing. So, you’re [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I mean that’s not a job. I’m just–
Patrick Barrett: But it’s a skill if you’re an action hero.
Brianna Bond: I’m hoping.
Patrick Barrett: You know, tile rock climb.
Brianna Bond: It’s pretty fun.
Patrick Barrett: Steal a truck. Can you if you’re repossessing a truck–
Brianna Bond: I can drive a truck. Yes.
Patrick Barrett: That’s awesome. Are you legally, could you “like steal it” if it belongs to you? Like, if you’re repossessing it, do you have to confront the person? Hypothetically, let’s say–
Brianna Bond: You have to notify the local authorities that this is happening.
Patrick Barrett: Okay. So, hypothetically–
Mike Barrett: You have a pretty wide degree of leeway once that’s done, right?
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: If you caught them at a gas station and they went inside and left it running, can you just hop in and drive it away?
Brianna Bond: You sure can. And we’ve done some much shadier things than that.
Mike Barrett: Like, did you have a copy of the key already or do you have all the keys?
Patrick Barrett: Do you retain a copy? Does that make sense? Did they send you out with the key or you had to get the key from them?
Brianna Bond: No. They have the keys. No. There’s one–this guy was just evading us forever. And we were like, “No. You need to bring the truck in. Like, we got to get new tags on it.” And they went to the bathroom. I’m like, “There’s the key in the pocket.” Like, now, it’s mine. And that was all it took. But we were trying to get this guy in for six months.
Patrick Barrett: I guess that makes sense if you have the key and he doesn’t have another key, you have the truck now. But you can’t do anything.
Brianna Bond: Right. Now, it’s my truck. And then the cops are there being like, “Okay. Now, we can complete–it’s your truck now.”
Mike Barrett: Did anyone ever trash the truck when they knew that you were trying to take it back?
Brianna Bond: I mean, I don’t know if they did it purposely, but there’s definitely trucks that weren’t working.
Patrick Barrett: Really?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. We found one hidden in the depths of Manhattan, like just backed into an alley and covered with boxes.
Mike Barrett: Well, obviously that’s like Jason. But that’s impressive.
Patrick Barrett: How did you find it?
Brianna Bond: Because we had GPS on it. But we go out there and–
Patrick Barrett: All I see this satellite sized boxes.
Mike Barrett: Kind of like this must be [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Literally nothing here. Like, this is just an alley full of boxes. So, we had to go out three days in a row.
Mike Barrett: That is [inaudible]
Brianna Bond: Finally, somebody sneezed and a box kind of flew.
Patrick Barrett: I wonder, like you said, you know, you got pregnant and left that side of things. If it weren’t for that, would you have just had a career just–
Brianna Bond: It was extremely fun. But, you know, it’s not really up for everything.
Mike Barrett: Did you ever feel like you are danger? Did anyone ever try to physically [inaudible] you?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I mean, there are some. I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization about long haul truckers. But I’m gonna let you fill in the blank.
Mike Barrett: We made enough already.
Patrick Barrett: You can describe your own experiences.
Brianna Bond: That could be pretty threatening for sure. I don’t really fear a person.
Patrick Barrett: And in response to that–you said you never a person?
Brianna Bond: No. I’m not a fear-based person. It doesn’t work on me. And look– sure.
Patrick Barrett: You’re able to size this.
Brianna Bond: So, that’s not something that has ever really worked for me.
Patrick Barrett: It sounds like you’re–
Mike Barrett: That’s very interesting.
Brianna Bond: Except for my first night in this house where all the sounds were new, and I was like, “There’s somebody in here.” That was the only time.
Patrick Barrett: Like the ghost of a trucker from two years ago.
Mike Barrett: I knew I’d get you.
Patrick Barrett: I’ve tracked you down. You shouldn’t have tweeted so much.
Mike Barrett: So, how did you then move from director of ops to these other roles?
Brianna Bond: I’m trying to remember.
Patrick Barrett: Ops sounds a lot like—
Brianna Bond: But I think that—
Mike Barrett: Ops does sound a lot like–
Patrick Barrett: It’s like you’ve got goggles and you’re coming up out of the water [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Maybe I was just– I was doing double time because they’re all in the same building. And I just got so good at the repo stuff and even the house management stuff that I was like, “Mmh …”
Patrick Barrett: Were there other employees who were involved in multiple arms, as well, at the same time, or [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: No, I was the only one. Yeah.
Mike Barrett: You were like the X Factor–
Brianna Bond: I guess I was the jack-of-all-trades person there, willing to do any fun, ridiculous thing that they gave me that day [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Make some dude cry [laughter]
Mike Barrett: I’ll do that [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Me too. I was terrible. I probably have a lot of anger or [laughter] something. It felt like that.
Mike Barrett: At that point, were you living on your own or were you still living with your parents?
Brianna Bond: No, I was living on my own. I moved out at 17. We just did not get along. And I was a terrible teen, I was like, “Nope.” Through no fault of my parents, my parents are great and we’re great friends now that I’m an adult. [laughter] And my stupid choices, they’re not responsible for. But as a teenager, I was terrible, and I moved out.
Mike Barrett: When did you decide to drop out? Have you ever regretted dropping out? Honestly, I don’t know if I would if I were you. I love–
Patrick Barrett: It sounds like you’re doing alright.
Brianna Bond: It’s really hard because I have kids now and I want them to stay the course, if not, just because you just can’t quit and run from everything in life; which was very much my MO at the time. But also, it’s hard for them to understand because we’re doing okay.
Patrick Barrett: It worked out alright, so what are you …? Do they throw that in your face, like, “You dropped out.”
Brianna Bond: A little, yeah. No, I’m like, “Taylor, you could get a scholarship and go to college for free.” He’s like, “Okay? Why do I need to go to college?” I’m like, “Generally, I agree, but if it’s free, go. We’ll see what happens. Also, if you’re in college, you can live here.” So, it’s a motivator, and it would be nice for my kids to not have to immediately start hustling just to stay alive like I had to, through my own stupid choices, but still.
Mike Barrett: Sure, but that was the situation.
Brianna Bond: I moved out at 17, I was like, “Well, now I need money immediately.”
Mike Barrett: Sorry, so was it when you were– May I?
Patrick Barrett: Hijacked my copper. Go on. [laughter] I just got heisted.
Mike Barrett: So, was it when you were 17 that you became a secretary at this place or that was earlier?
Brianna Bond: No. So, in between, this is–definitely have to be edited, but I also feel like I have to be honest.
Mike Barrett: Please.
Brianna Bond: So, I went to being a stripper, almost immediately.
Patrick Barrett: Wow. That is a whole other career path you didn’t mention until now [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Please cut that out. I don’t know, what should I say? So, I worked at a bar for a while. This is the lie part.
Mike Barrett: Wait, is this the part that we’re not cutting out?
Brianna Bond: I’m gonna give you a lie, so that you don’t have a hole there.
Patrick Barrett: Do you want to ask the question again?
Mike Barrett: I have to say, first of all, I don’t have any negative view of what you—
Patrick Barrett: I think we don’t care; I can imagine that you would care [laughter]
Brianna Bond: No, I know. I don’t care. My kids, I don’t care about … If this is about kids, I don’t want to scare off your listeners.
Mike Barrett: I’m just trying to figure out–
Patrick Barrett: Are we gonna be one of those podcasts where we’re like, “Do we keep this in?” [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: This is an eventuality [laughter] I hadn’t considered, how should we–I could just go back and not ask you the question.
Brianna Bond: It’s your choice, I don’t care.
Mike Barrett: I do want to know personally, but I will go back and [laughter]
Brianna Bond: I’ll just say [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: I feel like our whole deal is– well, first and foremost, if you care, we can just cut it out, it’s not gonna—
Brianna Bond: No, I don’t care. Everybody knows.
Patrick Barrett: If you don’t care. I feel like our whole thing is we’re trying to be upfront [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: Direct, honest, open.
Patrick Barrett: -this is what it was like [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: I am totally cool [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: -they’re gonna know if we did.
Mike Barrett: If you’re hearing this, we [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: What if this is a ruse, and we’re like, “Well, we need to have a discussion to cover the real truth [laughter] which is that you were an assassin or something.
Mike Barrett: Did you already plan to do that when you dropped out or you dropped out [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: No. No, it was like, “I need money.” What ways can you make money literally that day? This is how.
Patrick Barrett: So, you dropped out–so dropping out coincided with going out on your own, leaving the house?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. My mom graciously let me stay a little bit longer, but I was still being a jerk.
Patrick Barrett: Did you decide, “I’m leaving,” or did they say you need to leave?
Brianna Bond: No. My mom kicked me out, yeah.
Mike Barrett: Did she feel like you were a negative influence on the family dynamic or just …?
Brianna Bond: No. I think my little sister was too young to really be affected by that, and we were just doing stupid things like stealing our car. And getting caught, and not even being good at it.
Mike Barrett: Which is funny because you would eventually go on to steal much larger things professionally.
Brianna Bond: The strangest thing is that I lived in Arizona for three years and I did my first three years of high school there, and I was a great student. I was in honors classes; I was doing AP classes. Then we moved to Maryland for my senior year, and the credit system there was such that I had been taking honors classes, but in order to get my degree, I had to be relegated to freshman classes as a senior. And I immediately became the most bored person ever, and I just stopped going to school.
Patrick Barrett: So, you were doing well up until that point? If you had never moved, you would assume that that whole period would not have happened?
Brianna Bond: If I had never moved, I would have finished my senior year in Apollo with having college credits. Everything in my life can be blamed on the Maryland school system [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Give us a minute to just absorb this development.
Mike Barrett: Right. Not a whole minute but a few seconds.
Patrick Barrett: This is like a made for TV movie. This is exciting. So, later in life, you ended up in Maryland to take care of your mom because she was sick?
Brianna Bond: So, yeah, I moved there once for just two years.
Patrick Barrett: So, you were in Maryland previously for high school, or not even for high school [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. And then I moved back. So, I lived there–
Patrick Barrett: You dropped out of high school and came back to Arizona?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: On your own? And your family had moved away at that point too, it was just you in Arizona. You didn’t have siblings, parents, anybody there?
Brianna Bond: Right. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: So, that was just like, “I was happy in Arizona. My friends are there. I’m going back to Arizona.”
Brianna Bond: Yeah. All my friends are there, I know it, and I hate the cold.
Patrick Barrett: So, you just got your bus ticket or something?
Brianna Bond: I got a one-way plane ticket, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: With your own money that you just had enough to do that?
Brianna Bond: That was it. That was all the money I had.
Patrick Barrett: That was it?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I called my friends, like “I have to live on your couch because this is the last $215 for this ticket.”
Patrick Barrett: So, were you living with friends who are still in high school?
Brianna Bond: No. They were–
Patrick Barrett: At this point, were they graduated, or they were older kids [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. They were graduated, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: So, they were kids you knew in high school who were in older grades and now they’re graduated? Were they in college? Were they working? What were they doing?
Brianna Bond: They were working random jobs. Yeah, it was four people in a two-bedroom. It was rough.
Patrick Barrett: So, it was one house with several of these people that you knew?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: It’s funny because the irony–well, it’s not funny, it’s ironic that you could have almost had that fairy tale high school ending of having your senior year back in Arizona except you weren’t in the mindset, I guess. I cannot believe that you were doing well for three years, and then–
Brianna Bond: I was doing great. That’s crazy.
Patrick Barrett: So, you were bored?
Brianna Bond: That was it. That’s the thing, is that–
Patrick Barrett: At the time, if we had asked you then, would you say, “I’m bored,” or would you be like, “I miss my friends.”
Brianna Bond: No. I didn’t care. I’m a loner. I had friends but it was just–
Patrick Barrett: No fear, no friends, no nothing? You’re just like a cyborg. [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I know [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: You don’t feel fear, you don’t have friends…
Brianna Bond: I’m definitely on the spectrum, so that factors into it. I’m fine being alone.
Patrick Barrett: But it was just you were in these classes, where you were re-learning stuff you already knew, and you were bored?
Brianna Bond: I was in these classes where I’m like, “Yeah. Thanks. I know how the reproductive system works …”
Patrick Barrett: Mitochondria [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Well, and so I just stopped going. And then I didn’t go for three weeks, but the school wasn’t able to reach my mom because I was smart enough to not give them her number [laughter] They just didn’t know.
Patrick Barrett: You could’ve been a real … I don’t know, like an underworld– whatever the secret agent–
Mike Barrett: Crime boss? No.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Somebody for the bad guys. Like, you could have–
Brianna Bond: Like an assassin?
Mike Barrett: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Like that, yeah. I feel like you were thinking ahead at a young age. “I’m gonna do a lot of bad stuff so I’m not gonna give you any of the contact info.” [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: I don’t know if I knew that I planned it.
Patrick Barrett: “Should I hand this over?” It’s a weird kind of responsibility that you were displaying in that moment, yeah–
Brianna Bond: I would get up, pretend that I was going to school, and then just go sit at the McDonald’s until my mom went to work, and then I’d go home and go back to bed. Because I had been out all night partying, and I snuck out of my basement [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: This was also a time before everyone had a home security camera.
Brianna Bond: Oh, yeah. Right [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: So, I think you have mentioned, not today, that you had a lot of siblings, right?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: So, were any of your other siblings having a similar, did they have any adjustment issues or whatever you would call it?
Brianna Bond: I think that I was the black sheep model, and my dad cracked down on me so hard that it scared the rest of the children into submission, which is nice.
Mike Barrett: So, were you the oldest then?
Brianna Bond: Yes. Everybody else was relatively good. My twin brothers, who are 18 months younger than I am, they did some stupid things, like breaking into schools in the middle of the night, but no real [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: No lasting…?
Brianna Bond: Yeah, nothing bad.
Patrick Barrett: Well, I was right. What’s the next question? What do you think about the SATs?
Mike Barrett: It’s funny, because I thought we would just sit here and just talking about accounting stuff, which would have been very interesting. And we have a little. [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: A whole lot of things. So, up until, I think you’ve pretty much said this, but I want to drive it home and clarify it for myself. Up until that moment where you moved, there was nothing really to indicate that you were gonna have this left turn or whatever? This abrupt turn off from the [crosstalk] “normal” path of, “Go to high school, go to college, do whatever?”
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I don’t know if college would have been in the plan just because my family was–.
Patrick Barrett: Did your parents go to college? You said your mom had–
Brianna Bond: My mom got it later.
Patrick Barrett: That was later on?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. She went back to school later, and my dad went to college for a little bit, but I think he dropped out, probably, just for financial reasons. Even back in, that would have been the ’80s, it was too much for him. Then he went into manual labor and stuck with it.
Mike Barrett: So, when you were this model student–to me, if I were gonna go to, I mean did go to AP classes, but I did it with the idea that, “Okay. I’m gonna go to college.” It was an automatic thing. Were you just doing it for the challenge of it or because it was–
Brianna Bond: I didn’t even know what AP meant at the time. They just put me there because honors was not– [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: This goes to so much–
Patrick Barrett: Honors was not–
Brianna Bond: The honors class wasn’t hard enough for me.
Patrick Barrett: So, you were doing well enough, like they said, you should get the next thing, basically?
Mike Barrett: So, AP was just the hardest thing available?
Brianna Bond: Right. It was the next hardest thing.
Patrick Barrett: Did you approach them and say, “I feel like this is too easy,” or they saw that your grades were [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: I think the teachers back then were a lot better about–
Patrick Barrett: They were paying more attention, and they thought that you should be–
Brianna Bond: This was an engaged child and who’s getting A pluses without ever doing an ounce of homework.
Patrick Barrett: Were there certain subjects that you were into?
Brianna Bond: Science, I was really good in biology and–
Patrick Barrett: You liked it; you enjoyed the …?
Brianna Bond: I loved. Yeah, I loved that. Math, I think I was pretty good.
Patrick Barrett: It has ended up serving you well.
Brianna Bond: I’m definitely not great with the creative stuff. That’s a no for me.
Mike Barrett: Really? That’s interesting to me because, I don’t know, I would have thought of, what we were talking about before with problem solving with the accounting, to me, that is an act of creativity. It’s not like graphic design or sculpture or something, but it’s a thing where there are given rules and constraints and you have to figure out on your own, a new way to do it, I think.
Brianna Bond: I think that the rules and the constraints helps. I have a guideline. If you just give me a piece of paper and say, “Draw something beautiful.”
Mike Barrett: I see what you mean.
Brianna Bond: I can’t. I need those rules and the constraints and guidelines.
Patrick Barrett: “In one minute.”
Mike Barrett: It’s interesting you need the rules. I don’t just mean you, anyone, myself included, I think a lot of people—you need the rules because finding the holes in the rules is the creative thing. If there’s no rules–
Patrick Barrett: If it’s wide open, then you’re not …
Brianna Bond: How do you find the variables?
Mike Barrett: Yeah, but what do you …
Brianna Bond: If everything’s a variable then [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, there’s nothing to work off of.
Mike Barrett: Sorry. When you said the AP thing and not even knowing what it meant, that really resonated with me. So, much of–and if you’re sitting in the audience and you are in high school or college, and you’re wondering if I’m saying this directly to you, I am. [laughter] I promise, this a thing you need to be aware of. So much of the decision-making–it’s not even always decision-making—so much of what happens to a person at that age–well, not only at that age. But anyway, so much of what happens is down to a lack of knowledge. If someone had said to you, “AP stands for Advanced Placement. It’s this part of this thing.”
Brianna Bond: You’re getting credit for college now.
Mike Barrett: “–and if you don’t plan to go to college, then this is really not even worth your time.” Something like that. That would have probably changed at least how you thought about it. Especially you being so, like you said, a little bit having the seed of defiance in you, but looking for ways to optimize things, ways to …
Brianna Bond: If I had known that I could take AP classes and they would feel to me like a regular class, I probably would have doubled down and been in an entirely different position. You know what I mean? But I just didn’t know what that meant at all. I didn’t even know what the A and the P stood for.
Mike Barrett: And so, much of that–
Patrick Barrett: So, the teacher never said, “This will be on the test that you’ll take,” and directing it towards the end of [crosstalk]?
Brianna Bond: I didn’t know that there were things at the end of the class.
Mike Barrett: Because there’s tests in other classes, why would you–this will be on the AP, okay [laughter] What is that?
Brianna Bond: I had no idea.
Mike Barrett: So, much, too, though of what I hope this podcast will help people with and, and what your training could do if you do train younger people on taxes and finances and—so much of that stuff, it’s not that people are deliberately keeping secrets from those who come behind them, it’s that adults often don’t recognize that a younger person doesn’t know it.
Patrick Barrett: Or somehow it seems fitting to them, “Well, why would you learn taxes when you’re in high school?” [crosstalk] If somebody told me about taxes, that would’ve been really helpful.
Mike Barrett: And it’s just a blind spot, more than a deliberate decision to keep people down or keep them ignorant or keep them whatever.
Brianna Bond: There’s nothing malignant about it, it’s really just a lack of understanding that a child who’s 17 literally has to do taxes next year. Why aren’t the seniors are learning about this?
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, this is gonna happen. And I think another important lesson there for our listeners is, don’t assume that just because some adult hasn’t brought something up, that it must not be important. [laughter] If there’s something going on and you think, “This seems important, but nobody’s telling me about it.” Go with the impulse if it seems important [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Most of the time it’s the opposite.
Mike Barrett: Investigate it at least enough to determine for yourself if it’s important or not. But yeah, so many things–
Patrick Barrett: And especially with a change of pace today in technology, there’s a ton of stuff I’m sure that teenagers see coming and are aware of and might think, “Oh, that’s something. We should be talking about this. But wait, none of the adults I know are mentioning it, so it’s probably not a big deal.” There’s a decent chance that you might have a better perspective on that and you [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: I was on a road trip with the kids once, and we spent 10 hours from here to Alabama talking about predatory lending.
Patrick Barrett: Like you do. [laughter]
Brianna Bond: And I was like, “This is a useful use of my trip.”
Mike Barrett: Predatory lending, by the way, could you explain to our audience?
Brianna Bond: So, just ridiculous interest rates taking advantage of the fact that people think they need this thing. Like, “Ah.” In a city like–
Patrick Barrett: They’re going after people who aren’t savvy enough to realize that “I’m getting a bad deal,” basically.
Brianna Bond: That, “This is really bad,” right. Yeah. Especially as it happens a lot on cars, and this was the topic because my son has high hopes of like his first car is gonna be some $40,000 [laughter] Like, “Okay.”
Patrick Barrett: Full of skittles [laughter]
Brianna Bond: “Let’s do some math on how much you’re gonna make working in Publix next year.”
Patrick Barrett: Hope you’ll be okay with that.
Brianna Bond: So, he’s like, “Can I just get a loan?” Like, “No. No. No. No. No. No.”
Patrick Barrett: Huh.
Brianna Bond: It’s a lot of– you don’t even know what they don’t know.
Mike Barrett: And they don’t know what they don’t know. They just know how–
Brianna Bond: And they don’t know, right. They don’t know what to ask, you don’t know what to say, so why don’t we just get something in place that covers all the bases if we can.
Patrick Barrett: Cover as much as you can.
Brianna Bond: Because you see a lot of it, people get their first credit card in the mail and like, “Oh, yeah. This is free money.” No, it’s not.
Mike Barrett: I’m also trying to–sorry, the AP thing is still [laughter] I’m trying to put myself in the position of a guidance counselor or a teacher or something at your school at that time. I think I would have just assumed–if someone comes into–when I was teaching SAT classes in person, if someone is sitting in the class, I assume that they’re taking the SAT and they want to go to college. I would just say, “By the way, you don’t need to be sitting here.”
Patrick Barrett: You wouldn’t stop and explain what the SAT was to these people because you would make that assumption.
Mike Barrett: That’s such a great example of–not the SAT thing, but the AP thing. It’s such a great example of how this stuff is not spelled out all the time.
Patrick Barrett: A friend of mine in high school was involved in a million extracurricular things, and would have done well enough on the PSAT, which is funny. Do you remember what that is [laughter] Do you remember it?
Brianna Bond: Practice? I don’t know.
Patrick Barrett: PSAT is–
Mike Barrett: Kind of.
Patrick Barrett: Sort of. It’s only real purpose besides just giving you an idea of how you might do on the SAT is to see if people qualify for a National Merit scholarship.
Mike Barrett: Have you heard of a National Merit Scholar, what that is?
Brianna Bond: I’ve heard of it; I don’t really know the [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: It’s a pretty, relatively big [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: We happen to both have been [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: It was pretty amazing.
Brianna Bond: Mark got the Bright Futures thing, so he talks of it.
Mike Barrett: So, Bright Futures is an in-state scholarship.
Patrick Barrett: So, it would’ve been a big deal for my friend to do this. And he had been running himself ragged, just involved in all these things, theater and all this stuff. And his mom observing this was like, “Oh, he needs a rest. He needs an easy day or something.” So, she turned off his alarm the morning of the PSAT for real, not knowing and not having any idea that it was happening. He knew it was happening, but he didn’t, I think, understand what it would have meant for him potentially. And so, he never did it.
Mike Barrett: Because in Florida where this happened, if–
Patrick Barrett: It only counts your 11th grade year, this one time you take it.
Mike Barrett: And if he had gotten the score on it that he normally got, because in our school, you took it 9th and 10th grade to get ready for it. When we took it in 11th grade, that would count. If he had just done in 11th grade what he’d already done in 10th grade.
Patrick Barrett: He already made the cut last year, so he would’ve- definitely would have gotten it.
Mike Barrett: He would have made the cut, would have gotten, therefore, free [crosstalk] school.
Patrick Barrett: At the time, it was $5K a year scholarship at Florida.
Mike Barrett: Above.
Patrick Barrett: For a lot of schools it was a lot of different things, but it was a significant thing. And it was just, nobody directly said to him, I only probably knew it because I’m the youngest one and I knew Mike had gotten it.
Mike Barrett: Now that you mention it, the day we took it, I don’t think I knew we were taking it [laughter] I don’t remember anyone saying–
Patrick Barrett: And it’s just—how crazy is that? Yeah, it’s a similar thing, this was a huge deal.
Brianna Bond: I think what I’ve heard, because we should have addressed this with our younger kids, where they’re not doing the PSATs but they’re doing whatever the Florida State requires.
Patrick Barrett: Some FCAT thing.
Brianna Bond: They try really hard to make it low pressure on the kids, but at what expense? If it’s the PSATs, it’s important–
Patrick Barrett: Especially as they progress if you actually do need to do this.
Brianna Bond: –if they want like $5,000 to be there on time.
Mike Barrett: Well, especially in the case of your friend who was as close to a lock on that as you could possibly [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Somebody who, for sure, would have gotten it.
Mike Barrett: Because he had already done it.
Patrick Barrett: And it’s just …
Brianna Bond: There’s always a fine line between too much pressure and just enough information to—
Patrick Barrett: And also to provide basic info about what’s happening.
Mike Barrett: Sorry, it’s just something that we see over and over again in a variety of guises. And the “I didn’t know what AP meant, no one told me” [laughter] It’s one of the most–
Patrick Barrett: Because it totally adjusts your floor of what should you [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: I wish I could say this–
Patrick Barrett: And also, because the school that we went to was a magnet school; it was very focused on that sort of thing. And also, our mom was super involved in school-related stuff and finding out about all of that, and I had two brothers who went there before me, so—
Mike Barrett: And also, it’s already been clear to me, obviously, that you’re an extremely intelligent person. But if you could do really well in an AP class without even really even knowing what it meant, there was a ton of potential there academically.
Brianna Bond: Right, it’s a bummer. I don’t regret my life, but just to look back and be like, “Oh, if I had known that I was smart, would I have applied myself differently and not wasted a few years doing—”
Patrick Barrett: Or had the opportunity to be in a school where you’d be appropriately challenged and–
Mike Barrett: Who knows what?
Patrick Barrett: –and understand the ways that you could benefit if you applied yourself to the level that you were capable of doing it.
Brianna Bond: But it is just not something that anybody in my family ever thought about. My parents hadn’t gone to college at the time, so they didn’t think [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: And as you said, it’s not malicious, it’s just, it doesn’t occur to us to do this. We maybe don’t know; we don’t know that you don’t know. It’s like a sitcom where people are–you’re observing [crosstalk] part, there are people that are failing to communicate [crosstalk] how did that ever happen [crosstalk] in real life?
Mike Barrett: You know how in every sitcom there’s that scene where the two characters are talking about totally different things, but they’re having a conversation and each one thinks the other one is [crosstalk] they realize–
Patrick Barrett: And then the moment at the end as they realize–in the sitcom it’s funny, and in real life, it’s sad [laughter] When everything comes together.
Brianna Bond: It turns out so much worse for so many people. It’s a bummer.
Patrick Barrett: And it does feel–sometimes it’s unavoidable, but a lot of times it seems like it’s at least mitigatable, if not totally avoidable. And I hope that we can teach people some of this stuff, so they can not have this problem. And a theme that came up, actually, a couple interviews ago and has now is just that willingness to say, “I don’t know how this works and I’m gonna ask somebody and see if they do.” And unfortunately, you’re not guaranteed to have a guidance counselor who is gonna be engaged. And so, sometimes you have one that’s awesome and sometimes you don’t, and sometimes it’s somewhere in the middle. So, it’s not “Oh, just ask a question, and you’re guaranteed to be fine,” but it’s a good first step to mention to a teacher or mention to somebody, “Hey, I’d like to do this,” Or “Is it possible to get college credit?” Or “What is gonna happen if I do this or do that?” Yes, that is difficult.
Brianna Bond: We didn’t even have a guidance counselor [crosstalk] thing.
Mike Barrett: But I also feel like the trajectory of your life, and not only yours, obviously, but we’re talking to you right now so yours. [laughter] So, the trajectory of your life shows that if you have that relentless curiosity, like you mentioned, and a desire to work hard, and help people solve problems, and do those kinds of things, it’s a very–what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s a robust way of looking at life, and no matter what kinds of–I shouldn’t say no matter, but there’s a lot of things that can happen in those early days that if you keep sticking to these principles and, “How can I help people? How can I …?”
Patrick Barrett: Solve problems.
Mike Barrett: “How can I ask questions?” You do eventually lead yourself, at some points, to–you know what I mean?
Brianna Bond: You will find an opportunity [crosstalk] say that.
Mike Barrett: I didn’t phrase that well, but yeah.
Brianna Bond: It’s rich with opportunity and not in the traditional way. But just as long as you stay curious, you’re always gonna find something fun.
Patrick Barrett: And I think, too, and this is something that came up a couple of interviews ago in a similar context. The most immediately available opportunity that you might have to go for might not be a good one, but part of it is, “Take whatever you have to do right now and then continue keeping …” It’s not that something that is great is gonna fall in your lap right off the bat. That might happen.
Mike Barrett: Well, when you became the secretary of that company, I’m sure you didn’t anticipate eventually you’d be the director of operations, right [laughter]
Brianna Bond: I really did not, yeah. Obviously, I didn’t. Yeah. I’m definitely not a good model for, “Don’t have short histories on your resume.” My resume was eight pages long, I don’t even write it anymore [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: You don’t need to.
Brianna Bond: I don’t bother.
Patrick Barrett: You’ve earned the right not to do it.
Mike Barrett: You mentioned, also, the idea of one of your first gigs, I think, in Maryland being for a nonprofit agency. Could you describe for our listeners what a nonprofit is, how that’s distinct from other kinds of corporations. Or is it technically a corporation [crosstalk] I don’t know. Organization.
Brianna Bond: I believe so, yeah.
Mike Barrett: It’s a 501(c)(3).
Brianna Bond: 501(c)(3), yeah.
Mike Barrett: It’s a corporation, right?
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: It’s got a C in there.
Mike Barrett: The C is the part of the tax code that [crosstalk] Anyway, I was gonna make a stupid law school dropout—
Brianna Bond: Nonprofits.
Mike Barrett: So, what is that?
Brianna Bond: They are an organization where, at the end of the day, the goal of the company is not to make money in profit. That is not to say there will not be money coming in, it’s just that it is not used to line the pockets of the owners. So, it’s either kept in the business for improvements or given back to the charity—whatever cause they’re associated with.
Mike Barrett: In a nonprofit, can the directors or leadership of the nonprofit draw a salary from the nonprofit and still call it a nonprofit?
Brianna Bond: So, yeah. People do get salaries, it’s just an expense. But at the end of the very bottom of the line item, you should have no money left over. You need to be spending everything you’re taking.
Patrick Barrett: There’s a cap somewhere if you are the head of a non–would you call that person CEO if you’re the head of a nonprofit?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: So, I assume, is it the case that that person, if you make more than X, you can’t call yourself a nonprofit anymore or is there some loophole? Not that I’m trying to–
Brianna Bond: A lot of nonprofits, the CEOs make a ton of money.
Patrick Barrett: I thought I’ve heard that.
Brianna Bond: It’s just more that at the– it’s not the people directly who are accounted, it’s the organization as a whole. So, sure. You could bring in a $1M in revenue, pay your CEO $500,000, but you’ve got to spend that $500,000 on something else; the remaining.
Patrick Barrett: So, the justification for it being a nonprofit isn’t necessarily a cap on what you’re paying anybody, any particular person in the organization?
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: It’s that you have to pay out a certain amount toward the charitable causes [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It’s just that you just can’t be accruing money. There are no shareholders. There’s nobody who is trying to make you do things in order to turn an actual profit—revenue being different from profit. And we definitely had money coming in, but it was also leaving. And it was also never enough [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: -and you were volunteering you said, right? This was [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: No, I got paid for that.
Patrick Barrett: Oh. There is something else I was thinking maybe you were volunteering.
Brianna Bond: Oh, the volunteer EMT, yeah.
Mike Barrett: Oh. What was the, I don’t know if you can identify the group or not, but what kinds of activities was it that the nonprofit [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It was a Carroll County Childcare. It was for low income child [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: That’s right. You said that. I’m sorry. Yeah.
Brianna Bond: So, heavily subsidized childcare; so, subsidized by the county, subsidized by donors, subsidized by fundraising activities that we did, and for people–
Patrick Barrett: So, your organization didn’t provide childcare, they paid for childcare for [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: No, we had a childcare center.
Patrick Barrett: Oh, you did? Okay.
Brianna Bond: But the costs of running that far exceeded the income [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: So, you had your own one … Instead of taking payment for it, you just—
Brianna Bond: We took half payment and then found the money for the rest. And my mom was on the board of directors there, too, and is a grant writer. So, she’s great at finding money.
Patrick Barrett: What was your experience like there? Looking back on it, how would you describe it?
Brianna Bond: There wasn’t a lot to it. Pretty much my job was just the transactional kind of stuff.
Patrick Barrett: Did you feel like you were doing good work, or were you frustrated that you wanted X to happen, but what Y kept happening, that sort of thing? Or did you just get satisfaction out of the work you were doing?
Brianna Bond: I felt like it actually made you see, like, “Okay. We are doing this great thing.” Daycare anywhere else would be four times the cost, and these parents need to go to work. But also, you know how expensive daycare is; it’s ridiculous. But at the same time, it made me pessimistic in that we’re only making a tiny dent in the families in this county who need help.
Patrick Barrett: You’re addressing the problem for these people, but there’s so much more [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: And it was just like you think you should feel good, but you just feel bad because you’re not enough.
Mike Barrett: You’re helping but that makes you aware of how much more help is needed.
Brianna Bond: Right.
Mike Barrett: And you can’t possibly do it all.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. That was the hard part for everybody who worked there, I think.
Mike Barrett: Did people in that group, agency, company, whatever, did they tend to stay on for a long time like the other employees?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Mike Barrett: It was a labor of love for them?
Brianna Bond: Yeah, it was very much. They definitely weren’t paid very competitively. The people who worked in the daycare themselves were very invested in these kids, and just helping them get to be, if not through their parents, in a place where they could be better, in a better position.
Patrick Barrett: You mentioned dropping out of school at 17, leaving home, back to Arizona. So, the job you mentioned there was being a stripper, and then 23, I think, was the secretary job. So, there’s the gap in between, so what was the …?
Brianna Bond: The gap in between was I got married at 18 and had a kid, and then I was just doing that work from home. I’m was gonna say “just” a stay-at-home mom, that’s a serious amount of work. So, yeah, that’s what I did. And then [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: You said you were working from home also, or?
Brianna Bond: No. I was just working at the house.
Mike Barrett: Not working from home, okay.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. With a child who never stopped crying. So, that was rough. Then my husband and I split up, and I was, “Well, I need money.” He went to jail, so I needed money really urgently. It wasn’t like “I’m getting child support now.” It’s like “I’m on my own.”
Patrick Barrett: This is the guy with the web development thing later?
Brianna Bond: No, I’ve been married a lot. I’m great at two things, careers, and relationships [laughter]
Mike Barrett: -that was a very funny way to say, “No …” [laughter]
Brianna Bond: He went to jail for driving with some alcohol.
Patrick Barrett: Driving drunk. DUI, DWI? I don’t know if that’s different.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. But it was not his first. In Arizona they take it very seriously. So, he got thrown in jail. And Taylor, my son, and I were just, “Okay. We’re doing this alone now.” So, I did the secretary job.
Mike Barrett: How long was he in jail?
Brianna Bond: Well that time was only 11 months, but that was not his last one either. He had alcoholism.
Mike Barrett: I’m sorry to hear that.
Patrick Barrett: So, stay-at-home mom up until that point?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: And then you …
Brianna Bond: Secretary.
Patrick Barrett: This was still in Arizona the secretary job?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: So, you got a job then, as you said, you urgently needed some kind of work. You answered an ad or something for [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah, I believe so. I think that I just looked on Craigslist or something.
Mike Barrett: When you went in for that interview or whatever the process was for the secretary job, what was it about you, do you think, that they saw and responded to positively? And how did you present yourself after having, like we talked about, a gap in your resume [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: It was really intimidating to be like, “Well, I have accomplished nothing. And the best I can do is keep a child alive but let me be the face of your company.”
Mike Barrett: Which is not a small thing.
Brianna Bond: Because it was not only the secretary, but literally the first thing you see when you walk in the door is me. So, it was very intimidating to get a job after so many years of not having one. But I wish I could ask them what they saw in me. I hope it was just a willingness to be like, “I will do that, and I will learn how, and I’m a generally nice person.”
Patrick Barrett: That does matter [laughter]
Brianna Bond: I can’t say that they had high hopes for a secretary position that had a whole bunch of requirements, but I’m sure there was probably people more qualified. And, hopefully, I was just cheap enough that they said yes.
Patrick Barrett: So, your resume at that point was effectively blank, basically, from a practical–
Brianna Bond: Yeah. Because I didn’t put, “I was a stripper.” I didn’t put that on there.
Patrick Barrett: So, I guess the interview must have been the big thing, probably?
Brianna Bond: I guess so.
Patrick Barrett: It was just the impression that you made?
Brianna Bond: I know. Shockingly, people thought I was worth having around [laughter]
Mike Barrett: You speak extremely clearly; you use advanced vocabulary terms.
Patrick Barrett: Kind of like intangible things that are just, I think, a good—
Mike Barrett: And I wanted to ask you about that, also. Do you think that came from your period of time when academics was going really well, that you just absorbed those kinds of …?
Brianna Bond: Maybe I also read a lot.
Mike Barrett: That way of speaking?
Brianna Bond: I read a lot of books and–
Patrick Barrett: Just your whole childhood?
Brianna Bond: Just my entire childhood, I was just reading. I’m reading, Centennial at 11 and reading, which is 1,000 pages.
Patrick Barrett: I don’t even know what that is.
Brianna Bond: Oh, James Michener? Centennial?
Mike Barrett: I don’t know, what is [laughter]
Brianna Bond: I was reading horror, Stephen King.
Patrick Barrett: Gore, that’s right. That’s a passion of yours [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: So, I read a lot, and I picked up the words. And sometimes I still say them wrong because the mark of a reader is that you never hear somebody say it. So, I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna order some hors d’oeuvres.” [laughter] So, I have no idea. But I read a lot. So, I don’t know. I always try to hang out with people smarter than me, too.
Mike Barrett: That’s really interesting. What genres–you mentioned horror and so on. Has it always been kind of limited to that sort of thing or do you—like, wide-ranging—?
Brianna Bond: I really enjoy it. Anytime I get a notification that Stephen King wrote a new book, I’m pre-ordering it. That’s a must for me. But I don’t read a lot of fiction besides that. I read a lot of self-improvement, especially business recently, because I had to commit to my business or get off the pot, I guess. So, I read a lot of that.
Patrick Barrett: Do you have any particular business-related book that you feel like was especially useful or might be–I guess it might not be geared toward possibly teenagers or college students who might be thinking [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: So, one that I think has been most helpful in business for me, even though I wouldn’t say it’s really business-oriented, is called, Code of the Extraordinary Mind. And it’s really just an affirmation that you don’t have to do things in this linear way. It’s okay to think differently and please do, in fact, think differently. Here are some ways to reframe.
Mike Barrett: That’s interesting.
Brianna Bond: I’m a big West Wing fan. I don’t know if either of you have seen that.
Mike Barrett: I have a few episodes, yeah.
Patrick Barrett: I don’t—
Brianna Bond: But Tobey, who is the communications director for the president on the show, has this saying, which is, “Don’t answer the question from the press. Reject the premise of the question.” Which is–
Patrick Barrett: [laughter] You don’t have to be bound by someone else’s–
Brianna Bond: I don’t have to be bound by that; I reject the premise of your whole [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Good try [laughter]
Brianna Bond: It’s, basically, my entire life motto.
Mike Barrett: Reject the premise; I like that a lot. I don’t think you’ve rejected any of our premises so far.
Brianna Bond: I think we’re in agreement on a lot of–
Patrick Barrett: Definitely [laughter]
Brianna Bond: On the ridiculousness of most premises [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: That is true.
Mike Barrett: If you did it was so subtle; we haven’t even noticed.
Patrick Barrett: Do you have any concrete, “Oh, one day I’d like to have 1,000 clients and some people under me to handle them,” or “I’d like to get into this other area…”?
Mike Barrett: I’m sorry. You mean in the accounting life?
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, or just whatever from a professional standpoint. Is there some, you’d like to get your business to a certain point or you’re considering some other path entirely? Do you have a vision of where you’d like to be down the road?
Brianna Bond: I’m still working on my vision because I only recently reached a point where it was something I could even consider, besides just the day in and day out slog of like, “Well, this is–let’s keep paying the bills.” I don’t want to quit this business. I feel like–and mostly because of the sunk cost fallacy [laughter] I’ve been doing it.
Patrick Barrett: Mostly for a bad reason [laughter]
Brianna Bond: It is.
Mike Barrett: The sunk cost fallacy, we’ll expand. I don’t think we have to say what it is now, but it’s basically–
Patrick Barrett: You might as well.
Mike Barrett: Okay. In this time, then, that I’m saying we’re not gonna say it, I’ll just say what it is.
Patrick Barrett: Take your time.
Mike Barrett: But for the audience, it is the idea that once you have invested your energy, or your money, or your time in something, that you should continue with it until it’s finished, no matter what happens between when you started working on it and when it’s ultimately finished. And the problem with that can be, sometimes you invest, say, a million dollars in something, and you could stop at that point and you’ve lost your $1 million, and that’s bad. But you don’t want to stop then, so you spend another $5 million over the next six years and you still can’t get it to work. And when you eventually have to just cut ties completely and say, “Okay. This isn’t working,” you’ve lost–
Patrick Barrett: It’s way more of a disaster than it would have been.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, you’ve lost much more than you would have lost if you just stopped.
Patrick Barrett: That you shouldn’t try to justify things not working, or you shouldn’t try to justify all the effort you put into something already by continuing down that path. If it’s clear, then stop.
Mike Barrett: Or a really good example would be to say, “Okay. I’ve already bought tickets to a movie next week. I paid $20 for that.” Because I paid $20 for those movie tickets, I have to go see that movie, even if I decide later on that I actually don’t really care about the movie or another opportunity comes up. And then I’m gonna spend the time to go see the movie and the money and the gas and all of that, to drive out and see the movie. Those are all extra costs because I committed to buying the tickets earlier, whether I spend those extra costs or not, I’m not getting the money back from what I already spent. I didn’t describe that well, and that’s why we should talk about it after this.
Brianna Bond: I think, even harder, is that for me, it’s like an emotional sunk cost.
Patrick Barrett: Of course, now. For sure.
Brianna Bond: If it was numbers, I’m an accountant. I would be like, “This is a loss, bye.” But for me–
Patrick Barrett: But putting your life energy into something and walking away from it–
Brianna Bond: –it’s 10 years of trying to make it work. And it has worked, and I think that’s why it’s harder for me to ever think about cutting and running, because if 100% means, let’s just use an example of selling my accounting agency, I’m at 60. So, it’s a lot harder to just say, “Why not go the 40?” than to start over with something fresh. But do I see myself doing this forever? I’d be shocked. I really would, it’s just–
Patrick Barrett: So, you think one possible exit for you would be to be sell the company at some point?
Brianna Bond: Yeah, I would entertain selling it.
Mike Barrett: And when you say that you would be shocked, I think from this conversation I have an idea why you may be shocked, but could you tell me why you would be shocked?
Brianna Bond: I get bored very easily.
Patrick Barrett: That was gonna be my guess.
Brianna Bond: I feel like in everything I do, I reach a point where I feel like I’ve helped as much as I can help. And I do feel like that’s especially true for professional services, where if I’m not willing to go get my CFP or my CPA, if I’m not willing to let–I’m capped by knowledge and how much I could help.
Patrick Barrett: You’re limited by certifications and that sort of thing. So, in theory, you probably could do more, but legally or practically, you have to have these pieces of paper that say you’re–
Mike Barrett: And that would also add to the sunk cost for if you invest the time to get that degree or either of those certifications or whatever. It’s only useful in this domain. It’s not like you can turn around and go [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: And you don’t want to do it only because you’ve been doing things like that for a while.
Brianna Bond: And I found myself in this, actually, just maybe in June, I was like, “Huh, should I go back to school and actually get all this stuff on paper?” And then it’s like, “But why?” I know I’m doing fine, (A) It’s not necessary, and I don’t want to do this forever, so why do that? So, I don’t know what will happen. Hopefully, I’m just rich and get to sit on my patio.
Patrick Barrett: That would be– yeah.
Mike Barrett: That would be something.
Brianna Bond: But I think I’d get bored of that.
Mike Barrett: Bored of that.
Patrick Barrett: “There’s got to be a better way to sit on this patio.”
Mike Barrett: So, it sounds like you don’t have your eye on any particular trade or anything.
Brianna Bond: I don’t. I wish I could say, “I feel like this is what I will do,” but I really don’t know. And I do have a lot of interest, personally, in helping kids understand personal finance. But I feel like there’s a window on that, where right now I can still be a cool-ish authority figure that they can relate to, but when I’m 45 or 50 that might not be the case. [crosstalk] I know. It’s just like, “Well, I really better do this now …” [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: When you’re 50 you’ll seem cool with 35-year-olds [laughter]
Brianna Bond: They’re not gonna need my help anymore.
Patrick Barrett: But I feel like you’re an interesting case, certainly for our listeners, because I think a lot of our listeners, as mentioned earlier, are terrified of, not even just, “What if I don’t get a college degree? What if I don’t get a degree from the right college?” It’s as narrow as, “I can’t be successful, not only if I …” It has to be this particular major, this degree from this school or I’m never gonna have X, Y, and Z happen. And so, you don’t even have any college degree. You don’t even have a high school degree, and you’ve demonstrated the element that you did have or still have, is this determination to be useful, solve problems, be engaged with what you’re doing.
It’s hard to present a broad lesson for everybody, and it’s not gonna be the same for every person. But it seems like the key factor for you was that; was that attitude that you brought to whatever you were doing as opposed to–I think for a lot of our listeners, the feeling is, if you don’t have these pieces of paper, you’ve got no chance. And it certainly is helpful to have them in certain situations. It’s not like they should never do them, and you should only drop out of high school and follow this path. But it’s important to understand that there’s so many paths. And obviously, yours is very different from what a lot of people would have [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: There’s so many. I think the thing you could do to nail down anything is just care. And that means, not only care about what you’re doing, whatever that may be, care enough to be thoughtful about it.
Patrick Barrett: The way that I think about it is, it’s a funny thing to say but pretend like it matters to you. Pretend like this is super important [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Take some ownership of it and really [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: -act like this is something that will–
Mike Barrett: Pretend that if it goes badly, you will feel bad. Like you will–
Patrick Barrett: And if you pretend that enough, you’ll start to actually get that feeling. Hopefully, you’re in a situation where your bosses will reward that.
Brianna Bond: You do. And I naturally have that, so I’m not faking it till I make it on that particular item. I will get overly invested and I have so many opinions. As all my clients’ business, I treat it like it’s my own, and I get really invested like that. But even if you do have to fake it, I think that if that’s the situation you’re in where you need the job–
Patrick Barrett: That can be how it is.
Brianna Bond: That’s the difference between you and some jerk who’s got eight degrees but comes in, like [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Can’t be bothered to get involved.
Brianna Bond: Yeah, that’s the difference.
Mike Barrett: That was a really good impression.
Brianna Bond: That’s my Chad impression [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: You nailed it. I was like “Is there a fourth person in here?” [laughter]
Mike Barrett: So, what I was gonna say before that slipped my mind, you mentioned, when we were talking about what your next act might be, that you work with a lot of companies. And one thing that I’ve always found interesting in times that I’ve worked with clients from different companies, you see a lot in that kind of capacity. You’ve seen so many types of businesses up-close and personal in a way that, I think, the average person doesn’t. And it’s interesting to me that still with that range, nothing jumps out at you as–
Brianna Bond: I feel like if I stay working in any kind of service for other companies, it will be more in a coach and advisor role. Because that is a good portion of my job now, whether unintentionally or intentionally. The things that business owners stress out about is money, almost exclusively. So, if you’re their money counterpart, they’re coming to you, like, “Oh my God. I’m freaked out. I’m stressed. Am I gonna be able to make payroll?” And in that, you just become somebody for them to sometimes vent to, but also for you to be able to step into the advisor role.
Patrick Barrett: It’s like a counselor [laughter]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. There’s a lot of just therapy happening. And so, sometimes the situation is out of anybody’s control and you got to let it play out and it’s gonna suck. And just working through that with a business owners is like–
Patrick Barrett: But even hearing someone say that’s the case.
Brianna Bond: “Please sit on my couch and we’ll get you through it.”
Mike Barrett: [laughter] And tell me if this is not accurate, but it’s not all that consulting ever is, but what you just described would fall under the umbrella of consulting, right?
Brianna Bond: Right, yeah.
Mike Barrett: Which is another term I used to hear a lot. I remember when I was in high school and college, I had no idea what it really meant.
Brianna Bond: “What does that mean?” Yeah.
Mike Barrett: So, this would be a type of consulting. You could almost argue that what you’re doing now is a type of consulting, couldn’t you or not really?
Brianna Bond: No, yeah. I definitely–
Patrick Barrett: That accounting itself is consulting?
Mike Barrett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s consulting in a sense.
Brianna Bond: Right. For some of my packages, it is a line item. We’re literally just talking about it and seeing what happens and, yeah. For sure. I don’t know, consulting is a general term for an intangible kind of–
Patrick Barrett: It’s kind of a catch-all, “We’re paying you to give us advice on something.”
Mike Barrett: And to have insights, maybe, and experience and possibly connections that we wouldn’t have otherwise, so that’s why.
Brianna Bond: That would be a great next path. I would love to just get paid to just sprout opinions just everywhere [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Me too.
Brianna Bond: That’s what I want.
Mike Barrett: That does sound really cool. So, could you take us through, in as much detail as you feel comfortable, could you take us through, what an average day is like for you right now?
Patrick Barrett: What is life like in your current–
Brianna Bond: Right now, in the current iteration of this agency, it is a lot more doing for me, personally, than I think that—is ideal.
Patrick Barrett: Your own personal day-to-day involvement is greater than what you’d like it to be, something like that?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I’m in a spot where I have enough revenue to grow, but I don’t have the time to train people. So, it’s really tough.
Mike Barrett: Could I interrupt you for one second? I feel—and it goes back to the other side of something we’ve mentioned a couple of times—I feel like a lot of younger people don’t–I feel so old when I refer— [laughter] but they are young.
Brianna Bond: They’re young [laughter]
Mike Barrett: All of you young’ns out there don’t recognize or don’t realize how hard it is to find a talented, interested person–
Patrick Barrett: Which is the other end of–
Mike Barrett: That’s what I’m saying, who’s gonna act like they care, who’s gonna show up on time, who’s going to invest some energy. That’s really hard to find.
Patrick Barrett: And the impression you can make, like you apparently did in the interview, where you come through as someone who is–
Mike Barrett: I bet that that’s a large part of why that company’s [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: -is asking questions; “How does this work? What can I do?”
Mike Barrett: This is a person who is intelligent and is gonna work really hard at the secretary task. So, yeah, I just wanted to point that out while you are mentioning that you specifically are having this problem right now.
Brianna Bond: It’s very hard.
Mike Barrett: You need [crosstalk] to hire somebody [crosstalk] You want to hire someone; you just can’t find someone.
Brianna Bond: I want another me. And of course, that’s impossible, unless you give somebody that financial compensation or ownership, it’s hard for them to want ownership. At the same time, I don’t want to give that away. It’s like you’re stuck in this vicious cycle of nobody can–
Patrick Barrett: It’s a hard trade-off.
Brianna Bond: -get it done. So, my day is usually between consulting meetings. Probably half my day is meetings, and the other half is either designing my delegation out for the next week or doing the things that my team can’t do.
Mike Barrett: That you can’t—
Brianna Bond: Yeah. It’s just me, which is the higher-level stuff, like forecasting and budgeting.
Mike Barrett: What do your meetings–do you have to physically go to a place? Do you do them online?
Patrick Barrett: Are they phone calls or are they in-person or a variety?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I do Zoom chats, video chats. Almost none of them–you guys are my only local clients, I think.
Patrick Barrett: Oh, really?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Patrick Barrett: Well, check us out.
Mike Barrett: I’m honored to be here.
Patrick Barrett: So, that’s working from home in your office somewhere with a laptop.
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I’m home today, so we didn’t have to go far. But my office is downtown Tampa or from the couch.
Mike Barrett: And we—I think, actually, Patrick is the one who found you. So, I don’t know.
Patrick Barrett: I am.
Mike Barrett: It wasn’t through Twitter, right?
Brianna Bond: It was from Gusto.
Patrick Barrett: It was not through Twitter.
Brianna Bond: The payroll part, yes.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Gusto was–
Mike Barrett: I was gonna say, so, now, how do you attract clients? Is it word of mouth? Is it …?
Brianna Bond: Let’s see. I’ve been doing a big email campaign that’s working really well. I don’t know. Is it ethical to buy lists? Because I did [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: I think it can be.
Brianna Bond: I mean, if they sell them on Fiverr, it’s got to be ethical, right?
Mike Barrett: I have to say, we never did that, but if anyone’s asking [laughter] People who are on [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: -can be shady or can be not shady.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. But I mean, why not?
Brianna Bond: Just direct outreach to the owners of businesses who might be my target market.
Mike Barrett: Well, those just in particular, I think, are captured. And it’s public information how you would email the head of a company.
Brianna Bond: Yeah, right. And it’s like we can find your information, so just having somebody do it for me. And that’s been really good.
Mike Barrett: Wait. You mentioned that you got the list that way. Did you then write your own emails or did you [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I wrote an email and I sent a video with it. Because I feel like people just engage with videos.
Mike Barrett: And you made those things on your own?
Brianna Bond: Yeah.
Mike Barrett: You didn’t get– okay, cool.
Brianna Bond: I am bootstrapping it, I guess. Sometimes I do AMAs too.
Patrick Barrett: Oh, really?
Brianna Bond: I haven’t done one on Reddit, but I’ve done on– what else? I do Facebook AMAs for certain groups and certain industries. I’ll be like, “Hey. You want me to– your people look confused.”
Mike Barrett: That’s really interesting.
Brianna Bond: “Let me help out.” So, I just open up office hours for a day and people can book their own 15 to 30 minute call. I feel like the more you can just provide value, whether they’re paying you or not, when they are ready to pay you, they’re gonna come back and think of this person who helped them. No questions asked. So, I try to do that. I value open sourcing knowledge as much as possible. Which is a fine line because at some point, you need to get paid.
Patrick Barrett: You can do both, but you got to figure out the right way.
Mike Barrett: Well, an interesting benefit of that, too, I think, is it exposes you as the accountant or the consultant or whatever; like you get to see way more stuff because you’re bringing all these people in.
Brianna Bond: There’s definitely a selfish part of it, which is, “This is content, I guess.” I haven’t had the wherewithal to actually write any of that, but I see the potential. And that’s all that matters [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: I know it’s there. And just connecting with lots of people, really [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah. On average, my clients stay with me for four-and-a-half years. So, right now, I don’t have to do a lot of marketing.
Patrick Barrett: That’s cool.
Brianna Bond: It’s pretty nice.
Patrick Barrett: Do you find that when that relationship ends, is there a common thing of, they need a bigger agency?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. So, this is the goal; if one of the goals for your business is to outgrow me, let’s set that up from the start. Everything we do is gonna be about getting you there, (A), financially, but (B), so that we have the processes setup to hand it off to somebody better. We celebrate it. Like, “Sure I’m losing money from you, but …”
Patrick Barrett: It’s a graduation.
Brianna Bond: “… it’s like a graduation. Congratulations. Now, you need somebody in your office all the time.”
Patrick Barrett: So, they would go to an in-house person?
Brianna Bond: Probably, yeah. That’s [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Have you ever been offered or tempted to be that in-house person for somebody or is that not …?
Brianna Bond: I’ve been tempted, but I have priced myself out at that market pretty largely, so.
Mike Barrett: But you’ve mentioned this idea, we all have, of being engaged and trying really hard and all of that, absolutely. On a more tactical level, what advice would you give to people who might be considering whether to apply to college, what kinds of programs to go into, whether accounting is something that they’re into, whether insuring long haul copper trucks is something they’re interested in—how would a person who has listened to your vast experience, and I’m sure a part of it will resonate with a lot of people, how would such a person then say, “Oh, I’d like to learn more about this” or “I’d like to take the next step related to one of these things?”
Brianna Bond: So, this is very hard because I feel like my answer is practical, and I wonder what you’ll think about it. I don’t really believe in the “do-what-you-love” thing. I’m sorry. I like to grow plants and nobody’s gonna pay me money to do that. So, I don’t feel like that’s great advice. But something that you have an aptitude for and can tolerate is a pretty good start. I do think that people need to be practical in considering things like job security. Like, I’m sorry, every English degree holder out there, that’s rough for you because it’s too general.
Patrick Barrett: It’s not necessarily targeted [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Trades are really good, and I think that more people should be pushing trade school and not looking down on it like it’s some kind of backup option for–
Patrick Barrett: A compromise or a failure or something that you [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: There’s plenty of electricians out there making way more than I do.
Patrick Barrett: And air conditioning guys, and plumbers.
Brianna Bond: Killing it. So, I feel like that’s really good. Plus, you can grow those too, so you can go from being a trade to being a business owner. I don’t know about college because I didn’t really go. [laughter] But when I think about advising my kids on this first, that’s really stressful because you’re like, “I’m gonna tell you this thing that, A, I don’t know anything about personally. B, if you get it wrong, you just potentially spend a ton of money.” Whether yours or scholarship money, it’s still money gone for something you might not ever use again. So, it’s really hard to know what the right answer is.
Patrick Barrett: And it’s such a huge choice so early. It’s basically kicking off your adulthood by making or not making this [crosstalk] gigantic commitment.
Brianna Bond: It’s a terrible thing to do. I wish there were more general education degrees, so that you’re then put on hold until you decide what you want the other two years to be spent on.
Mike Barrett: That’s a really interesting point, and this is a good moment maybe to mention; there always have been a lot of ways to do college and higher education, but they’re becoming more and more common. And it’s becoming–statistically, if you look at the whole population of people going to college, university, whatever, it’s becoming less and less common that you stick with one thing and four years later you’re out, and then you have an idea what to do next.
So, this idea of, like you said, maybe do a couple of years, get some exposure to some ideas, some industries, some schools of thought that you find interesting, and then go try to find a job with that and see what you think and then come back, that’s becoming more popular. It isn’t really like a defined path at a lot of places, but it is something that a fair number of people do. You also are seeing way more internships, externships, all of that kind of stuff being worked in. And so, yeah, I would agree, one of the biggest problems, to me, frankly, is when you’re 15, 16, 17, 18, 40, [laughter] you don’t know what you want to do. So, how are you–and even if you think you know, there’s a very good chance that’s gonna change.
Patrick Barrett: To prepare for that is difficult.
Mike Barrett: So, this idea, this iterative, “Work on this for a while in school. If you really like that, then go try to get a job with it, see what you think about the job, then come back,” where we talked in another interview in the medical field, it’s a very common thing to shadow a doctor. You just go follow a doctor around for a few days or however long, then you actually see up-front, this is what it’s like to be a doctor. I wish that existed for everything [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: It’s such a huge valuable experience.
Mike Barrett: There are so many–when I was in law school, I am positive, given the conversations that I had, most of the students, myself included, did not actually know what–
Patrick Barrett: Life was like for [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: Yeah. What was your day gonna be like as an attorney? And many of them adapted and love it, and that’s fine.
Patrick Barrett: But it’s not going the way they thought [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: But it’s not what you see on TV. It wasn’t like the TV shows, it wasn’t–yeah. There’s just so many possibilities that are out there, and if you don’t grow up having a family friend or something who’s in a particular field, I can say with a high degree of certainty, your idea of that field whatever field that is, is not correct. It’s different on a day-to-day level than what you probably think that it is. So, I like what you said about it. That makes a lot of sense.
Brianna Bond: If college is moved to a situation where the first things that you taught were things like logic, problem solving- And I don’t really know how those would be taught, it’s hard to quantify “what is logic.” But if you tackle those things, like, “Now you need to learn algebra.” It would take people farther.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, I agree with that.
Patrick Barrett: That’s the more practical life skill–
Brianna Bond: Because there’s universal things that apply to every job, and then if you’re set up to have those, you can decide later.
Mike Barrett: It’s funny because what you just described is the classical life skills.
Patrick Barrett: I was gonna say, that’s what [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: The general education and liberal arts. It’s supposed to be that [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, academics is supposed to be–
Mike Barrett: But that’s not what it is anymore [laughter] It should be the case. I fully agree, personally, it should be the case that at some point you’re learning all of these background ideas, which can then be molded to any situation. And there are, for sure, some schools and some students who—that’s basically what ends up happening for them. But for the vast majority of people, as you can tell by the fact that they can [laughter] You said it like it’s a new idea to [laughter] It shouldn’t be, but–
Brianna Bond: My first year of college was not those classes. It was math and social studies … [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Just like high school 2.0, or …
Brianna Bond: It’s not helpful to my jobs, yeah. Right.
Patrick Barrett: I’m sorry. That was nursing school? Or it was–
Brianna Bond: That was the first year, it was mixed, and you had to do the basics for- And I didn’t even get through the basics.
Patrick Barrett: So, when you started nursing school, that was gen ed, basically? General education?
Brianna Bond: Right.
Patrick Barrett: I didn’t even realize that would be–
Mike Barrett: A thing.
Patrick Barrett: Part of that. I thought it would– yeah.
Mike Barrett: Well, it’s kind of like–I know you just mentioned this obliquely, but, as concretely as possible, what do you think you will say to your own kids when it comes to this?
Brianna Bond: I will say, “Learn coding. Don’t go to college.” That’d be my answer right now.
Patrick Barrett: Makes sense. And that’s–a lot of reason to—software— [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah, software engineering. My husband is a software engineer. He dropped out of college because his success in that was like, “This isn’t worth it anymore, and now I’m doing this.” And my son is learning Java in high school right now, and the kids—keep teaching these awesome things because–
Patrick Barrett: Not on his own, but actually in high school [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah, in his classes. Last year he did 3D modelling, which is a little more artistic than his flavor. Because he just learned the language, start there, and–
Patrick Barrett: A programming language? Coding language?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. A Programming language. And it’s the job security of the future.
Mike Barrett: When you mentioned learning that and not going to college, how would you do that? I have an idea myself. But for our listeners who might think that you have to go to college to learn that. What would you [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: You don’t. And I would even argue, just from what I know, Mark being on the board of directors at Gainesville in the computer department, the curriculum is largely wildly out of date.
Patrick Barrett: That was my impression. But I [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: And you’re gonna learn a lot more on the free resources, like Khan Academy and [crosstalk] and all the other ones. But you can learn so much. And a lot of what you learn, you just go pick something and break it and then fix it.
Mike Barrett: Well, and that’s an interesting thing, too. You can learn so much from a software standpoint. You can also build your own stuff to a degree that really isn’t possible in other fields. If you wanted to be an industrial engineer, you can’t really build your own software system and then see what happens to it, but you could build your own whatever software thing in– yeah.
Patrick Barrett: I think a lot of people who would see coding as this personality-dependent, like it’s for some people, it’s not for other people. You have four kids; you think you’d give the same advice probably to all four or a …?
Brianna Bond: Yes [laughter] They’re all wildly different.
Patrick Barrett: Well, you did mention you have to be practical.
Brianna Bond: I do. My daughter, well, my son is like, INTJ. My daughter is extrovert, creative.
Mike Barrett: These are personality types, like, Myers-Briggs [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: She is creative, always drawing. And I still made her go to Codeacademy [inaudible], because these are fundamentals. It’s what typing was in the ’60s. And if you can–then you should have it.
Mike Barrett: You have to know how people talk to machines for machines to do things.
Patrick Barrett: So, whether you’re creative or not creative, or you consider yourself to be, some aspect of what you do is gonna touch on computers and being involved in them.
Mike Barrett: I give people that advice a lot. Even when they say “I want to be an occupational therapist,” or “I want to be—” like things where you might think that you could get away with never having to use a machine. That’s not gonna last [laughter]
Brianna Bond: It’s not.
Mike Barrett: At some point a machine is gonna be heavily involved in some way. And by machine, I mean software system, robot possibly, something. Any kind of automated–
Brianna Bond: And at some point, they can’t take care of themselves. So, your job is to now take care of them or program them or [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: Or to use them in some unique way.
Patrick Barrett: I remember, this will show how old we are, when the Internet started to be a common thing that you would—seeing in a commercial for Doritos, and at the end it’s like, “Go to doritos.com.” And I remember thinking, “why would Doritos have a website? What is the connection between food …?” But just to show, it used to not be obvious that any food product would have its own website, and in a similar way, it might not be obvious that an occupational therapist would have to have some connection to the computer world. But I think in the same kind of way, it’s moving in that direction; everything is somehow gonna be connected to that.
Brianna Bond: Even in accounting, I mean I, in a very rough term, do programming with spreadsheets. It’s all the same, you’re not gonna get away from it if you want to be considered for any job ever.
Mike Barrett: Well, on that topic, what types of technology do you use? Can you talk about an accounting stack? Is that a thing? What are the software or the things that you use frequently?
Brianna Bond: So, we use QuickBooks Online. We use Gusto for payroll.
Patrick Barrett: Gusto.
Brianna Bond: They process the payroll, but just their user interface is so beautiful, and their team is so competent at keeping all the tech stuff in line.
Patrick Barrett: Have you thought of working for an organization like that? I guess it’s not–sorry, I’m talking about [crosstalk] just we were talking about your future [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve thought about it, for sure. I’ve seen people in my thing go–that’s their next step.
Patrick Barrett: Sorry. I was just [crosstalk] interesting.
Brianna Bond: And then I use Float for forecasting, and all these things are Cloud based. And I think the best part about it for me is not really that it gives me information, but it makes it easier for my clients to turn boring accountant-speak into something they can see–
Patrick Barrett: Digest something—
Brianna Bond: -something that translates for them. For Float, it turns it into a beautiful visual graph of the day you’re gonna run out of money [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Is that in their marketing? [laughter]
Brianna Bond: It should be. It’s like [laughter] So, that’s what I use. I know a lot of other stuff, but those are my preferred things. I feel like it’s a huge problem in the accounting industry that a lot of CPAs are not keeping up with the cool tech options that we have, and it’s a bummer.
Patrick Barrett: So, you would say business accountants are doing that generally more from what you see that CPAs are not?
Brianna Bond: Well, no.
Patrick Barrett: Or just accountants in general?
Brianna Bond: Just any business accountant, CPA or otherwise, they’re just not keeping up. And there’s a huge hole as more and more businesses are Internet-based. They’re not understanding how their clients make money, receive money, move money around, send money out, and it just leads to a lot of frustrating conversations. And then that’s when they come looking for somebody like me who understands it.
Patrick Barrett: Honestly, that’s what I’ve expected when I was looking for an accountant. So I was super happy to find you. [laughter] I was like “this seems different.”
Mike Barrett: When you’re imagining maybe hiring someone else, do you expect them to know how to use these pieces of technology, or are you gonna train them? What do you want them …?
Brianna Bond: In my dream world, they would know. So, I think I have to either get right with paying somebody more or get right with training them. That’s an internal battle I’m waging every single day.
Patrick Barrett: Did you learn to use these pieces of software just by doing it?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I just taught myself. Played around and broke things.
Mike Barrett: You would expect, hopefully, that an employee might also be able to pick it up on their own, or …?
Brianna Bond: Yeah. I would expect somebody has– it’s really hard because you want to walk these fine lines of not being exclusionary. And a lot of people don’t have the resources in their younger adult years to have a computer that’s capable of this stuff, which is just a MacBook at this point. But, also, just have the tech savvy to understand, even if you have to learn the software specifically, like how to just click around and mess things up. As a business owner, I have to remember to build in the time when I hire them that I don’t expect them to be super productive right away, which is a fault I definitely have.
Patrick Barrett: There’s a curve, and in the beginning it’s, you’re wasting–you’re not wasting time but you’re losing time.
Brianna Bond: If you need them to be productive on day one, you’ve waited too long to hire. And that’s a huge problem for me.
Mike Barrett: Well, I see we’re running up against the time thing. This was–
Patrick Barrett: Awesome [laughter]
Mike Barrett: Thank you so much for your time.
Brianna Bond: No worries.
Patrick Barrett: This was fantastic.
Brianna Bond: I hope somebody gets some value out of it.
Mike Barrett: I can assure you that people will [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Two people will [laughter]
Mike Barrett: This was super informative, entertaining.
Patrick Barrett: And also, we should do this again in 10 years and see whatever moves you’re making next.
Brianna Bond: See how many more I’ve gone through?
Mike Barrett: I don’t know who our accountant’s gonna be, if you’ve gone into something else, but we’ll figure that out at the time.
Patrick Barrett: I guess so [crosstalk]
Brianna Bond: I’m giving you four years’ notice [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: We can work around that.
Mike Barrett: I think you’ll agree that a lot of different topics just came up in that discussion with Bri.
Patrick Barrett: More than we had counted on.
Mike Barrett: I thought we were gonna sit down and talk about accounting, and we did a little.
Patrick Barrett: We did, yeah. It’s in there. It’s easy to overlook it with all the other big-ticket items [laughter]
Mike Barrett: Exactly, exactly. And there’s several things I would really like to call out specifically, because–and again, this was not intentional, not anything that we knew about beforehand—but really a lot of what she said, I think, resonates on a lot of levels with many of the clients that we’ve had. Even though, obviously, most of the clients that we’ve dealt with and most of the people who write us emails and things like that are not people who would consider themselves poor academically or are not people who are planning not to go to college or to drop out of high school, because obviously, if that’s your plan, you don’t take a standardized test and talk to people who help you do the whole standardized testing and college thing.
But we know that when Bri talked about not being a good teenager and not getting along well with her family, and having some family issues at home, and family financial problems, and feeling like the normal path that you could take was just not a thing that she could do, on some level, I’ve had probably–90% of the people that we’ve ever worked with have mentioned something along those lines. “I’m not gonna be good enough to get into college. Everybody else is so much better.”
Patrick Barrett: That there’s some sort of thing everybody else will just default into and that you, for whatever reason, you’re not qualified to do that.
Mike Barrett: You’re just not gonna be a part of that.
Patrick Barrett: When really, probably, the more common thing is, like you said, most people don’t think that they’re on that path that they think other people are. But the other people aren’t really either [laughter] Generally, there’s a myth of, “Oh, there’s this thing that everybody falls into.” And it might look like that, but everybody has something or multiple somethings going on under the surface. We had no idea of Bri’s whole back history until she we started talking about it.
Mike Barrett: And so, a lot of people maybe are worried that they won’t get into their top-choice college or they won’t get into an Ivy League school or they won’t make their parents proud or whatever it might be. Here is an example of someone–and there are many, many people like this, again, it’s a large portion—
Patrick Barrett: Different versions of–
Mike Barrett: —but here is an example of someone who not only didn’t get into a top-choice school, but didn’t have a top-choice school to try get into.
Patrick Barrett: She didn’t even get to do any choosing.
Mike Barrett: And just on a totally different– by the time that rolled around, on a totally different kind of trajectory with a totally different set of priorities. It was just, “How can I make enough money to stay alive?”
Patrick Barrett: And support a child on my own.
Mike Barrett: And all of this. But because she was so driven and she said had such a good analytical mind and was willing to ask questions and try to be just a very competent person at whatever she had to do, she worked her way into it or through a very interesting set of careers and at an increasing level of responsibility, all these different jobs. And is, I think, by any measure, a very successful reliable solid person now. And so, I just want to say, obviously, I’m not suggesting that anyone out there follow any particular person’s life path. This was certainly not a standard life path to follow. I don’t even know that you could recreate–
Patrick Barrett: Well, and also, it’s not that she set out to follow this path. You couldn’t if you wanted to. She didn’t do it intentionally.
Mike Barrett: It was piece by piece.
Patrick Barrett: It was one-step-at-a-time kind of thing, and that’s how life is a lot of times–
Mike Barrett: For a bunch of people. Nearly everybody. So, no one is saying do this exactly, but what we are saying is–or what I’m saying, it’s a really great example of how by wanting to be a productive person, and do good work, and be reliable, and be competent, and be willing to be resourceful, and all of those kinds of things, you can create for yourself a very solid career. And not just a solid career–
Patrick Barrett: You can push through difficult situations and come out better than you might have thought you would.
Mike Barrett: And it’s not just a solid career financially, but Bri is a person who helps people, who has been–
Patrick Barrett: Just contributing [crosstalk] and helping others. Helped us, obviously. It is interesting, and it’s also what you just said, but it’s not like once she was at age 19, she was like, “Oh, by the time I’m 27 I want to be in this one place,” and then she pushed through and got there. It was more of like, “Well, this is going on right now. I have to react the best I can.” And then you see what the next option is that comes up. So, it’s okay to be in a situation, whether you’re 15 or 35 or whatever, where you don’t really know where you hope to come out on the other side of something challenging in front of you, but you try to just look at, “What can I do right now with the information I have? What’s the best step I can take?”
It sounds like she did that quite a bit and was able to–maybe it’s a combination of being able to keep your cool and also not having a choice—which I think overlaps a lot more than people realize—where instead of just freaking out, she took whatever actions, made whatever decisions she had to make. And I think—this is funny, because you and I, this is our first, I think, episode that was gonna get released where we speak with someone who didn’t complete college, and it’s not gonna be our last one.
I think we both were a little bit excited when that’s part of the story, and I don’t want that to come off the wrong way. Because, as Mike said, we don’t think that the right thing for most people is to not go to college, but an example of a person who doesn’t go to college and doesn’t finish college is the perfect counterexample to what we encounter all the time with students who contact us, who, as Mike said, they have a certain school they feel like they have to get into. And it makes perfect sense, I totally get where that would come from especially in a high school environment, especially from a–
Mike Barrett: And we, very frequently, have helped people get into those schools that they really wanted.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, exactly. It’s not that that’s a bad path by any means.
Mike Barrett: That’s not bad.
Patrick Barrett: But it is– the high school experience is much more, generally speaking, more predictable, more laid out in front of you. If you’re a freshman, you’re probably gonna be a sophomore next year, and junior there year after. If you’re in Algebra 1 this year, you’ll probably be gonna be in Algebra 2 next year. There’s more of a linearity. Linearity?
Mike Barrett: I think that’s right.
Patrick Barrett: Is that a word? Linearness?
Mike Barrett: Or linearness?
Patrick Barrett: Line-atude.
Mike Barrett: Linearicality.
Patrick Barrett: Linearicality. Thank you very much.
Mike Barrett: It’s highly linearical.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, precisely. Whoo! That was almost embarrassing. So, that is built into the high school experience in a way that it is not built into the post-high school experience very much. So, it’s not that we are saying, “Oh, awesome. You didn’t go to college. Nobody should go to college.” It’s not that. It’s like, “Great.” Here’s an example where you are a high school student and you have this kind of pressure, whether it comes from yourself, or from your peers, or from your family, people who want the best for you, for sure, generally speaking. And this pressure can be there, and it can feel like, “If I don’t go down this path, then …”
Mike Barrett: “Then my whole life is over.”
Patrick Barrett: “What chance do I have at being happy? People are gonna be not proud of me, they’re gonna be ashamed of me.” All this snowballing feeling.
Mike Barrett: Plus, all my friends are not having this feeling. Everyone else is [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Everybody else is doing great, which, of course, isn’t true. But it’s understandable that it feels like it’s true.
Mike Barrett: But that’s how it seems.
Patrick Barrett: It feels like it’s true. So, we get excited when we talk to somebody who didn’t go to college at all and is doing well, just to show, “Look, if this person can completely go down [crosstalk] path exactly, you can definitely just get into a different school from what you thought and do really well.” You don’t need to be–as long as you have that determination to make the best move you can make, according to where the pieces on the board are for you right now, as long as you’re gonna do that, and it’s perfectly fine to freak out sometimes and maybe have a moment or a day or a week where you’re worried and you don’t know what to do. But if you can recover and just do the best you can, that’s what most people are doing. And you’re gonna go down a path in some way that is not what you expect—for most people. it will include college or something like college, but if it goes so off the rails that it doesn’t, that’s not the end of your life by any means at all.
Mike Barrett: Well, and one interesting thing, I think one commonality among many of the interviews that we’ve done and just what you see looking around, talking to people, listening to their life experiences—one thing that Bri does have, and I would say it’s, in my opinion, among the most critical things that you find in people who are happy with their careers, is a willingness to get interested in stuff and take ownership of things and try to make things better. We’ve heard it over and over again in these interviews, and as Bri said in this interview, it’s just that so many people around you are so incompetent.
Patrick Barrett: And disinterested.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, disinterested. I was gonna say I wouldn’t–
Patrick Barrett: Even [crosstalk] of that.
Mike Barrett: I wouldn’t even really say incompetent. I think it’s that most people, when you get out there in the working world, and they have their reasons for this, it’s a very complicated set of issues. I’m not claiming that we can explore it all in the next 10 seconds, but most people in most jobs are not doing their best at that job.
Patrick Barrett: They’re not engaged.
Mike Barrett: They’re not mentally engaged, exactly.
Patrick Barrett: And it might just be a feeling of, “Why would I even be mentally engaged?” Does anybody care about their job [laughter]?”
Mike Barrett: There’s plenty of jobs I had when I was in [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: There’s people who definitely– yeah.
Mike Barrett: I absolutely get it.
Patrick Barrett: And that is a choice people can make, but you also generally can’t really expect that to–you’re not gonna climb the corporate ladder, [laughter] generally speaking. You might if literally no one else cares either and it just happens that way, I guess. But if you want to give yourself the best shot, there’s a connection [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: And so, that is the thing—if a young person were speaking to me right now and saying, “Okay. Maybe I won’t get into this college. Maybe I won’t do whatever.” The thing I would say and do say is, get interested in stuff, or if you can have that desire with whatever you’re doing, whether it’s school work, or a part-time job, or whatever it might be, the real skill is to want to do better, and to ask questions, and to admit when you don’t know what’s going on, and figure out, for example, “I am the secretary …” I mean, I’m not, but I’m speaking as Bri, as I imagine. “Okay, I’m the secretary of this company, and in that role, I’m seeing how the company works.” Not, sorry, secretary of the company, but secretary of the person who runs the company. “And in that role, I’m seeing large parts of how the company works, I’m starting to understand how it all fits together. And then, how can I then take that growing body of knowledge and be useful to the company?” And that actually segues into the other major thing that I want to talk about. Do you mind if I speak about it for a second?
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. Go nuts.
Mike Barrett: Cool. So, one of the other things which I wasn’t planning to have come out of this interview, but it’s really cool that it did, is just how many companies there are out there; how many kinds of jobs exist. Just in this one interview, we talked about everything from laying tile to there being insurance companies that insure long haul truckers’ copper shipments, all that kind of thing, secretaries, being director of operations for companies, being an accountant. All of these [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: The web design firm, right? She had a web design firm with somebody.
Mike Barrett: She had a web design firm, absolutely. Forensic accounting is a thing that I already knew existed, but I didn’t really–
Patrick Barrett: Never really talked about it.
Mike Barrett: When I was the age of somebody who might be listening to this, I didn’t know that was a thing. It’s pretty cool.
Patrick Barrett: People hunting down rogue semi-truck drivers or whatever.
Mike Barrett: Yeah, exactly. And that’s one other thing to keep in mind, well, two prongs of that. So, one is just as a general statement, if you can find yourself working in a relatively small company and/or a family-owned company, where maybe the culture of the company is a bit more informal, if you’re into it, you probably can learn a lot of different aspects of what goes on in that company, and broaden your awareness and your skillset more than you might have thought when you’re looking for jobs or whatever. You might not realize that that’s a big advantage. If you’re looking for that, it’s a big advantage.
Patrick Barrett: Well, we talked about that, actually. Oh, this is another interview we haven’t released yet. So, stay tuned, everybody. But we speak to a restaurant owner in a later episode who talks about that, and if you’re gonna work in the restaurant world, there’s the more corporate types of locations where everything is a lot more rigid. And then there’s the more mom-and-pop kind of places where you might have a little–
Mike Barrett: Flexibility.
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, and it’s a very personality-based thing. And if you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, do I want to be with a mom-and-pop operation? Do I not?” Look, it’s really just as simple as, do you have a gut feeling, like, “Oh, that would be cool. I’d like to be involved in that.” Or “Ew, I don’t like to-” [laughter] It can be that simple—it might go either way … You might be in a situation where you’re able to find out, and you find out. So, it’s not that you have to know right now if one is more suited to you than the other. But this is an interesting aspect of that to keep in mind.
Mike Barrett: I think a lot of people who might be in high school or college or just people who may be older than that even, but who’ve always had large company, corporate jobs, they might not be aware of the fact that if you’re thinking about working in a small company, one possibly good thing, if you like that is, you can maybe learn a bunch of different aspects of it.
So, again, that’s the one prong, is small companies and/or family-owned companies can be a good way to get that type of experience in a sideways way. The other prong of that that I wanted to reiterate is, right now, again, if you’re in that late teens to mid-20s age range, I can just about promise you there’s exponentially more types of jobs in the world than you are currently aware of [laughter] and in this conversation, we touched on many of them. Oh, brokers is another huge thing I totally forgot about.
Patrick Barrett: So, yeah, I was thinking because you’re building up to that point. Here’s interesting little food for thought for our listeners here, to put this into perspective. It is entirely possible, if not likely, that you will spend some large portion of your life, maybe most of your working life doing a job that you literally don’t even know about right now.
Mike Barrett: Yeah. For two reasons [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: If you’re sitting here–yeah. Because it may not exist yet; it might be an emerging job with the changing technology and that that sort of thing, or it could just be a part of the economy or whatever is going on in our world [laughter] that you just haven’t encountered yet, because you just haven’t. There’s so much out there. It brings some uncertainty to a full stop, where you’re sitting and you’re thinking, “Oh, should I do this, or should I do that? Should it be this thing or that thing or whatever?” The right answer might literally be a vocabulary term that you have never even encountered. So, sitting around and wondering about it, might not–I don’t know. To me, it gives a little bit of serenity, a little bit of- It might be that I don’t even know this.
Mike Barrett: And this is for a different conversation than now, obviously, but it gets into a case of, then what is the best overriding strategy for all of them? Which we’ll talk about later, maybe.
Patrick Barrett: And we’re also–this whole experiment of this whole thing with the podcast is approaching that, well, let’s look at all these people’s different experiences and that sort of thing.
Mike Barrett: But to go back what Bri was talking about and what we can take away from this discussion, again, totally apart from her actual life and accounting and all of those kinds of things, is just, I want to start planting this seed for our listeners; there’s tons of jobs out there. And the vast majority of them are things where people who are two steps away from that job don’t even know that it exists.
Patrick Barrett: They don’t think about how that, somebody’s whole life, is doing X, Y, or Z.
Mike Barrett: For example, repossessing semi-trucks. If you didn’t know someone who does that, you probably don’t know that that’s a thing.
Patrick Barrett: But yeah, that was not on my radar or yours, I don’t think we know—
Mike Barrett: Exactly. And yeah, so that’s another huge take away from this. And not even getting into the actual things that we sat down to talk with her about [laughter] So, along those lines, of the things we did sit down to talk with her about, whether you were thinking about going into business for yourself at some point, or maybe possibly even becoming an accountant, or maybe you weren’t thinking about it now, but now you realize there’s way more to it after listening to this, whether you’re in that group of people who might be eventually ever needing to think about accounting or not, I think, it’s probably still very interesting to you and just useful for building your model of how the world works to know some of the stuff that Bri mentioned here. For example, how audits are decided, how–sorry, I should say tax audits. How that kind of thing is decided or who is likely to be audited, that kind of stuff. Or what an accountant actually does. What is the difference between doing personal accounting for an individual versus business accounting for a company of a certain size. Also, along the lines of that, I thought it was really interesting when she said, “Well, one of my goals for a lot of the clients,” I’m paraphrasing, “Is to get them to be so big and complex that they don’t need me anymore, they’re gonna …” [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: -find somebody else who is– yeah.
Mike Barrett: So, again, even if you’re not interested in accounting specifically, you are a person who needs to know how the world works, and a large part of the world involves accounting one way or another [laughter] so, hopefully, this could be useful for that reason, if not [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Absolutely. I would say that a lot of my experience being an adult is–
Mike Barrett: Is that what you’re calling this [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, that’s what we’re going with.
Mike Barrett: That’s the name we’re giving to this [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah, exactly. A lot of this whole thing right now is being in a new situation that you’re not really that comfortable with, but feeling like you should be, so you’re gonna go with it. And these sorts of just practical discussions of accounting and taxes and whatever, you pick up of a lot of little bits of information that make those situations in the future for you, lucky listeners, maybe you feel a little less foreign and uncomfortable, and a little less like you don’t have any idea of what you should be doing [laughter]
Mike Barrett: Because at some point, you’re gonna have to pay taxes or something. At some point you’re gonna have to confront some version of this, so yeah. Another thing that I just wanted to point out before we close. I almost forgot about this; I can’t believe it. The parts of Bri’s experience that were more focused around her academic situation in high school—a fair number of the people listening to this are likely to be parents or teachers or guidance counselors, or something like that. And if you’re not one of those people, then the other half of the people listening to this are people who contact, who deal with those people—students, children. There’s something that Bri alluded to, which we have seen a lot. Which was when she said, “I didn’t even know what AP meant, actually.” And I mentioned that during the talk at the time, too, but if you are in the position of explaining stuff to young people, I’m speaking to the older people, the mentors. Why can’t I ever say that word [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: I don’t know.
Mike Barrett: Those people out there, there’s a tendency for adults or older people or whatever, to just sort of assume that everything the adult knows about how the world works–
Patrick Barrett: There’s a certain base set of knowledge.
Mike Barrett: —is also something that the child or student knows about how the world works. And that is shockingly not true in a lot of cases. And that’s one of the reasons we want to do these podcast episodes, honestly, is to just help start this conversation, and help people know things about how the world works, and how jobs work that we didn’t know, when the time would have been super useful to know. And just that we’ve also seen that other students and clients just aren’t aware of.
So, yeah, if you find yourself in the position of explaining something to a high school or a college student, or just being any sort of guidance figure to that person, don’t assume that they know how, for example, college debt works. Don’t assume that they know how voting works. Not that they’re not intelligent, but they haven’t done that before, they haven’t confronted it. So, you can’t just assume that somebody knows, for example, how to keep the lights on in an apartment or something like that if they have never been in charge of doing it. There’s a good chance they just take for granted that it happens, because up until this point in their lives, it’s just happened. So, why wouldn’t you take [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: Yeah. A lot of the preparation that high school students get is much more connected to academia and much less connected to practical considerations in your life. Whether it’s the practical side of academia; how much this costs or whether your credits will transfer or whatever, or just normal life skills. Not to say that high school students don’t have life skills, but they’re not generally taught them in high school.
Mike Barrett: In high school, right. That’s not [crosstalk] and that also goes back to something Bri was talking about with money management and what she called the poverty mindset, and those kinds of things; all of that stuff, how you deal with money, how you deal with careers–I shouldn’t say all, but a lot of it is heavily influenced by your family experience. And so if you come from one set of experiences and you’re either being taught by or teaching someone from another set of experiences, you probably assume that they have a lot of things in their background that they don’t have. It’s stuff that you had in your background, so you think that everyone has it.
Patrick Barrett: And vice versa.
Mike Barrett: Right, exactly.
Patrick Barrett: A difficult factor or–
Mike Barrett: Just an element, an aspect of this kind of–
Patrick Barrett: Complicating factor, that’s what I wanted to say, in a lot of–
Mike Barrett: Sorry, I thought you were looking for a synonym for a factor, not [crosstalk]
Patrick Barrett: No, yeah. What’s another word for factor? A complicating factor in a lot of just human communication in general: everybody makes a certain set of assumptions when talking with someone else about something.
Mike Barrett: And this is also why—just a small mini-pitch for our Black Books—this is why books are hundreds of pages long. Because people are sometimes, like, “Well, can’t you just assume someone knows like SOHCAHTOA?” No, the answer is you can’t. The thing that you assume everybody knows is something that someone else doesn’t know.
Patrick Barrett: And there’s something that you don’t know.
Mike Barrett: And they’re assuming that you know something that you don’t know.
Patrick Barrett: So, we try to just get all the information out there, state it all.
Mike Barrett: And that’s why it all has to be spelled as clearly as possible.
Patrick Barrett: And we’ll get emails from people, like, “I love how you talked about this, that was really informative. I never knew that.” But this other thing was not talking down to me but, “Everybody knows that stuff.”
Mike Barrett: They knew this, yeah. Actually, yeah, you did, but not everybody– right.
Patrick Barrett: For somebody else, this is the first–yeah, that’s why we’re trying to get all the–
Mike Barrett: And that’s why one of the great things about books is they have pages and you can just turn— [laughter] If you don’t like the page you’re reading, you look at another page [crosstalk] So, it’s useful too. So, I just wanted to point this out, here is a person who is highly intelligent, who is very motivated and driven, who reads self-help books, almost obsessively. This person, when she was in school, there just wasn’t a connection made. Which was like, “Here’s what you have, here is all of your …”
Patrick Barrett: There’s almost definitely some [crosstalk] person at her school who could have connected her—
Mike Barrett: Who could have just reached out and said, “By the way, do you even know what this is about?”
Patrick Barrett: Or “Hey, none of your credits transferred from your last school and you’re about to go down a really, difficult, untrodden path here. Let’s talk.” “Maybe somebody can be—what—that really blew my mind when she was like, “Yeah, up until that point, I was an honors student. I was the quiet kid who got good grades and never did whatever,” and then went off the deep end.
Mike Barrett: And then suddenly I wasn’t, yeah. And that’s another thing– who could’ve done that.
Patrick Barrett: What if there was another teacher who could’ve cleared up that credits thing in an afternoon? Maybe there wasn’t. I don’t know. It sounds hard to believe that that couldn’t have been resolved by somebody.
Mike Barrett: Another thing, too, that I’m learning more and more in my old age [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: Twilight years.
Mike Barrett: When I was younger, meaning when I was in high school and college, I was always certainly not the most conscientious student, but I was somebody for whom school came relatively easy. Easy enough anyway that I never had to really break a huge sweat to do anything. And, obviously, not everybody in school was lucky in that way. I’ve since come to understand that part of–yeah, it really is largely luck, because a lot of the way school was set up to teach us stuff was also just the way I learned stuff automatically. And that’s not how everyone is.
But anyway, I had very little sympathy at the time for people who were struggling. We were lucky enough, certainly to have, a solid family background, and it just never entered my mind that someone would be going through these kinds of things. And now, as an adult, as someone who has worked with people in this age group for a long time, it’s not just about affluence or socioeconomic anything, it’s just family dynamics, medical issues, all kinds of things can be happening. I was once tutoring a student, Patrick knows this story, but I’ll keep it short. Just as one example, she was in another country and some kind of revolution or riot was breaking out in the street that she lived in. And she had to go because she had to go hide.
Patrick Barrett: Dozens of feet away [crosstalk]
Mike Barrett: And I’m not laughing at– that’s not funny, but–
Patrick Barrett: Just who would think that there’s–
Mike Barrett: If you’ve never been through that, you wouldn’t think that that’s a thing that can affect your academic life. Anyway, so again, if you are a parent or student or even just a classmate of someone who seems to be having a difficult time in school, there’s all kinds of reasons why it might be happening. It might be a person who is–it’s often, in fact, in my experience, is a person who is actually very highly intelligent, would be able, certainly, to excel in the school, but maybe doesn’t even have the time or hasn’t had it explained to them, “Hey, you do this, and you do this, and you do this, and that’s why it’s useful.”
Patrick Barrett: How it will impact them later on.
Mike Barrett: On the flip side of that, by the way, we often have people approaching us about what their sixth grader should be doing to get ready for college. And the answer for that is almost always is nothing. It doesn’t really matter at that point. That’s a gross blanket statement. But I’m just saying, there’s a big disconnect between what types of activities will be rewarded and useful, and who is able to do those activities at a particular time or whatever. And yeah, just something to keep in mind no matter what side of that divide you might be on. It’s rough out there in a lot of different ways, if we’re [laughter]
Patrick Barrett: So, yeah. That’s all for now. If you liked the show, please take a moment to rate and review us on iTunes or the podcast player of your choice. And of course, if you want to hear more episodes, remember to subscribe as well. You can find our SAT Prep Black Book and ACT Prep Black Book on Amazon.com, and you can find our online video courses on Questprep.com. Please tune in for our next episode coming up in a couple of weeks, and in the meantime, feel free to reach out to us on our Quest Prep Facebook page or the Quest Prep YouTube channel.
Patrick Barrett: This episode was hosted by myself, Patrick Barrett, and my handsome brother, Mike. No, wait. Scratch that. Reverse it. Our guest was Brianna Bond. Every musical element was created and performed by Parker Haile Hastings. The summit of Mount Everest is made of marine limestone, which means it was the ocean floor around a half billion years ago.
Mike Barrett: And here’s that special segment we promised you on the critical reasons why you should only work with official practice questions published by the company that makes the test you’re prepping for. So, as we said earlier in the episode, the single most important resource in your test preparation is not a set of preparation materials made by us, unfortunately; [laughter] we wish that it were. But instead, the single most important thing you actually need is a set of real practice questions from the company that makes your test. So, that would be the College Board for the SAT or ACT Inc., if you’re taking the ACT. And the reason for this has to do with the fundamental nature of standardized testing. Most people who take the SAT or the ACT never really stop to think about what that fundamental nature is, or what a standardized test is even for, or how the purpose and design of the ACT or the SAT should determine the right strategies to use on those tests.
So, let’s pause for a second and think about those things now. The whole point of a standardized test is to measure the same things every time the test is given, because this consistency allows colleges and universities to have an objective standard that can be applied to all applicants who submit test scores. So, if you think about it, a standardized test score is the only objective number that can be part of every student’s application, because all the other numbers in the application like grade point average, class rank, etc. those are all heavily affected by each student’s unique school, teachers, and course load.
In fact, standardized test scores are so reliable and so consistent that they even allow colleges to track and compare student performance year after year. Because a college can rely on the fact that a 27, for example, on the ACT in December 2018 or whatever is roughly the same as a 27 on the ACT in February 2020, and so on. So, keep that in mind. The key reason that standardized tests still exist is that they provide a numerical measurement that can be applied consistently across all applicants, year after year after year.
But here’s the thing. If these tests provided that unchanging numerical reference point by just recycling the exact same questions every time the test was given, then that would actually defeat the purpose pretty quickly. Because students would figure out what the questions were, and after a while, everybody would know all the right answers in advance before they even took the test. So, the testing companies are in a weird position; they have to create a test that somehow measures the same thing every single time it’s given, year after year to over a million test takers each year, but they can’t do that by just reusing the same questions, because then everybody would eventually know what the answers to those questions are and the test would be useless.
So, the testing companies get around this by making sure that all real test questions follow a strict set of rules or standards. These standards cover all sorts of possible attributes of a test and its questions. So, some of the standards are obvious, like the fact that the ACT always has a section called the Science Section, and the SAT always has a section called the writing and language section. Some standards are a little less obvious, like the fact that the math sections of the SAT and the ACT never require you to know calculus in order to answer a question. And some of the standards are even less obvious than that. You get the idea.
So, there are tons of these kinds of standards on both the SAT and the ACT, again, ranging from super-obvious things to not-very-obvious-at-all things. And these standards allow the tests to measure and reward the same underlying skillset over and over again without actually recycling the same questions word for word. Among other things, these hidden standards actually guarantee that the right answer to every single official test question is 100% predictable and consistent with all of the other official test questions, even if it might not seem that way to a casual test taker.
In fact, as it turns out, most test takers never do realize exactly how strict and consistent those standards are. At most they might notice that the SAT and the ACT each seem to have a consistent feel, but they never really go beyond that. But a trained test-taker knows that the easiest and most effective way to beat a standardized test is to learn the standards for the test, and then exploit the weaknesses that are automatically built into those standards. So, this is basically like knowing exactly what’s gonna be on the test. You can’t know the precise wording or content of a question that will appear on test day, as we just said, but you can know precisely how each question on test day will be built.
So, you can know what kinds of relationships you’ll see between a reading passage and the questions that ask about the passage. You can know what kinds of relationships you’ll see among answer choices to each question, and you can know exactly which kinds of answer choices are rewarded and which kinds are punished. On the other hand, if you don’t develop a sense of the test’s standards, then you’re stuck in an uncertain position of just thinking the test is hard, and not really knowing what the questions are actually asking, or how you should respond to them. And this is the standpoint from which most people take standardized tests.
So, there’s only one way to make sure that you’re giving yourself a chance to develop the right instincts in the first place about how the test is actually designed. And that is to practice with official test questions written by the company that makes the test. This is because practice questions written by other companies, including test prep companies, don’t have to follow the same standards as the real test questions. The admissions process doesn’t rely on fake tests written by third parties, it only relies on real tests written by the testing companies.
So, if a test from a third-party company isn’t reliable, then there will never be any large-scale impact; nobody will ever know. So, we always recommend that you avoid any practice test written by a third-party company. Basically, if a practice test is not written by the same company that makes that test, then it’s a fake practice test. Lots of companies do sell books and online courses based on fake practice tests, but those fake practice tests never adhere to all the standards that dictate what can appear on real practice tests.
And this is also why we don’t write practice questions for you to work with. We only tell you to use official test questions from the companies that make the test, and we only demonstrate our strategies against those official questions. And that way, you know for certain, all of the ideas we teach you in our Black Books and video courses will be 100% applicable and relevant on test day against the real test. You know that because you’ve seen them against the question after question after question created by the companies that actually make the test.
So, I’m gonna repeat this because it’s super important. And for a lot of people, the first time they hear the idea they’re maybe not totally sure that I actually mean what I’m saying, so I’m gonna say it again. If you practice with real test questions from the company that makes the test, then you know that the underlying concepts in those questions and the patterns, relationships, and so on that you’re exposed to, are the same as what you will see on test day. On the other hand, if you practice with fake questions from any other company besides the company that makes the test, then there’s no guarantee that what you’re encountering in those fake questions will actually appear on test day. And in fact, we’ve seen lots of fake questions from major companies that included some details that definitely could never, ever, ever appear on a real test because they violate standards of that real test. And more than that, we’ve also seen that sometimes major companies fail to include details that will definitely appear on all real tests. So, working with fake practice questions means there’s a real chance that you’ll develop habits and instincts that could actually hurt you on test day. And it also means that you’ll miss out on the opportunity to develop the habits that would help you on test day.
One very common example of this kind of thing is that fake questions sometimes reward you for interpreting a passage the way that you might interpret a text in a literature class. But the actual SAT and ACT never include questions where finding a right answer depends on literary interpretation. And there are many wrong answer types on both tests that specifically punish you for doing the kind of literary interpretation that would be encouraged and rewarded in most high school and college literature classes.
Another example of this kind of thing is that fake questions sometimes require you to know math concepts that don’t appear on real SAT or ACT math questions, or they might require you to know science ideas that couldn’t appear on the actual ACT science section, and so on and so forth. So, if you practice with questions like those, you’re giving yourself a distorted view of what can actually appear on test day, and again, that interferes with your ability to prepare in the most effective and efficient way possible.
So, I strongly advise that you get your hands on some real practice questions as the first step of your training for a standardized test. You can find official practice questions for both the SAT and the ACT for free online, and you can also buy books with official practice tests from the companies that make those tests. We affectionately call the official College Board SAT book the Blue Book, and the official ACT Book the Red Book, for reasons that are super obvious if you’ve ever seen one of those books; because one is mostly blue and the other one is mostly red.
So, having access to those real test questions is the only way to give yourself the chance to work out how real test questions actually function, so that on test day, you’ll know the unwritten rules to follow and the weaknesses to exploit. And that’s key if your goal is to get the highest score possible and avoid wasting your time. Of course, if you’d like somebody to spell out for you exactly what the important unwritten rules are for both the ACT and the SAT, so that you don’t have to put your own time and energy into figuring that stuff out on your own, then I would humbly suggest that the second-most important resource is either our video course or one of our Black Books.
You see, our entire strategic approach to the SAT and the ACT is based on reverse engineering lots and lots of real official SAT and ACT test questions, and then teaching you only what you actually need to answer every single question confidently and correctly on test day. We show you what these tests actually reward and what they actually punish, which is often very different from what most people would expect. And that’s why the vast majority of test takers, teachers, and parents think that the ACT and the SAT are much harder and much less fair than they really are once you know how they actually work.
So, for more on our books and video courses, head over to Questprep.com, or search for the ACT Prep Black Book or the SAT Prep Black Book on Amazon.com. Thanks.