Career Success with Doug Veliky
On episode 39 of The Unique CPA, Randy Crabtree talks to Doug Veliky, Chief Strategy Officer of craft brewery Revolution in Chicago. Doug’s unusual career path started in public accounting. After being knocked back for several positions which could have combined accounting with his love of craft beer, he started an Instagram account and a blog about craft beer for fun. These ultimately helped him land his first position with Revolution.
Today, our guest is Doug Veliky. Doug is a CPA who began his career in public accounting, but spent the last, I think nearly five years at Revolution Brewing in Chicago, which is actually a top-40 craft brewery in the country. He’s served most of that time as the CFO, but interestingly, he’s now transitioning to their Chief Strategy Officer. I made it through—I told Doug, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to say that—I was gonna announce it as CSO—Chief Strategy Officer is where he is now. And as that role, he has the responsibility of overseeing finance, marketing, and the company’s strategic direction.
I had the pleasure of first meeting Doug nearly six years ago at a beer event in Chicago, which actually was a lot of fun. Doug was able to take some pictures of me at that event with Garrett Oliver, who is the brewmaster and I think part-owner of Brooklyn Brewery out of Chicago. We had a great time that night; both Doug and I are craft beer enthusiasts, so our paths have crossed many times since and I always enjoy talking to Doug and I think you will see why. So Doug, welcome to The Unique CPA.
Thanks for having me, Randy.
Yeah, and you are a little bit, I think—not a little bit, a lot of bit, probably—the definition of “The Unique CPA.” Most people I’m talking to on the show have been either working with public accountants, which you do, as your role as CFO, but in public accounting, too. And you’ve got this uniqueness that has taken you into the finance end of things, but then also in the marketing and strategic planning, which we’re going to get into. But before we do, can you just give me a little background of you getting into public accounting, and why you did and your roles over the years?
Sure. I’ll make this fairly quick, but I have to go back to like the way I grew up as a kid. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I was just one of those hustler kids who was always, you know, at the end of the street holding the lemonade stand. I had the paper route for the neighborhood for the Pittsburgh Press at the time, which now it’s just the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. So I was the paperboy in the neighborhood. Then when I turned 13, you know, and I was allowed to be a caddy at the golf courses, then I was a caddy.
So I just kind of always had that hustle to me. I’m not exactly sure where I got it from, but then like, even with like baseball cards, I wasn’t just like collecting baseball cards. In sixth grade, I had a table at a show with a friend and we were selling cards, buying cards, and doing all that at a very young age. So I just always kind of had that business / entrepreneurial spirit in me. Credit to my high school— you know, this is 1998, 1999—they had an accounting class, which was not very common back then, and I still don’t even know how common it is. But then, in my senior year of high school, they introduced for the first time an AP Economics class.
So it was one of those things where I think only maybe 8 to 12 people signed up for it because you didn’t have to—it wasn’t a requirement for anybody. It was just somebody who kind of wanted to go the extra mile and get a head start on what college might be like. So I took that in the school’s first time rolling it out and just fell in love with economics. So when I went to college, I went to the University of Richmond in Virginia, small school.
The Spiders, right? Isn’t that the Spiders?
That’s right. The giant killers of the NCAA tournament. Yeah, so they were most known for their accounting program—economics as well. But they have a professor who wrote the PA study guide for I think it was Gleam. His name is Joe Hoyle. So he was like the best professor I’ve ever had, and the whole staff there was great. So I started off as an econ major, and then really couldn’t decide between accounting and econ. I liked the big picture, the very kind of broad way of thinking, then I also love the black-and-white side of accounting.
So I ended up staying a few summers so that I could major in both ,couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, and definitely saw more job potential in accounting. Econ is a big leap of faith. So that’s how I ended up in public accounting, started at KPMG in Washington, DC, and their government audit program. A partner who went to Richmond just convinced me of the cool opportunities and cool travel with that. So that’s the quick version of how I started and ended up as an accounting major and in public accounting.
And then you spent two years doing that, is that right?
Yeah, just a little over two, and got to work on a few fraud investigations—very minor things that just came up as part of our audit that turned into, you know, slightly major problems in places I was helping out. And I was so fascinated by that—that’s when the concept of forensic forensic accounting, you know, we’re in like, 2005, 2006 now. That’s when that as a topic as a, you know, arm of accounting firms was really starting to blow up. And I really wanted to get into that, and I was like, not really patient about it either.
The firm had put a lot of money into me getting a top secret government clearance, so that I could work on like the Department of Justice, I worked at the DEA. So they were reluctant to move me out into this other group, because then it took like, over a year for me to get that clearance and all the interviews and process around that, and me just being a 24-year-old, kind of like wanting, wanting to control my own destiny, I just immediately started looking around and all these firms were recruiting for, you know, people with two, three years experience in audit to move into forensics.
So a job came up in Chicago, and my sister lived in Chicago already, so I was, you know, familiar—hadn’t visited that many times, but just knew I enjoy it there. Kind of wanted to get out of the government seeing, you know, that entrepreneurial background, it’s not that there’s not companies in DC, but a company like Chicago, comparative-wise, in terms of how many, you know, companies there are, I viewed Chicago as kind of having more to offer.
So I, without much thought, just decided to move to Chicago on about a month’s notice. And it was perfect timing, my lease was up, and I just moved. And I had two of my best high school friends live there, so I had a good head start on friends. And so then I spent two more years doing work at a consulting firm doing forensics. So it was like, disputes, investigations, transfer pricing cases—this is when backdating stock options was a big problem, and just in the news all the time. So I got to work on a few cases like that. Clients were a board of directors who were hiring us because they thought fraud was happening at the company, and we had to go into a company and pretend we were like, tax consultants, but really, we were doing an investigation of like, email discovery and looking for something different that was going on that shouldn’t have been, like phony sales. You know, this is, again, mid-to-late 2000s, when a lot of this stuff was very prevalent. So there was a lot going on in this space.
So between that and then restatements, helping companies get through a restatement, did a lot in this two years I worked there. I was on the road almost every day, quick to burn out from it and the travel.
Yeah, I’m sure. So now we’ve got some background. You’ve been in public, you’ve been in forensic accounting, then let’s set the stage. Because I want to get to where you are now. But let’s set the stage of kind of that becoming a passion somewhat. Because beer is one of the things we’re going to talk about as a passion, obviously, that’s what you’re doing now. But when you came to Chicago, were you already into craft beer or when did this part of you… because after this forensic job, you went to work for a beer distributor, right?
[bctt tweet=”In college, instead of buying a case of Milwaukee’s Best, we’d buy a 12 pack of bottles of those for about the same price and we’d have half as much but get a more flavorful beer.” username=”TriMerit”]
And were you a craft beer fan before that? Or did that kind of add to your craft beer “fan-ness?”
Yeah, I mean, in high school when my my dad wasn’t a big beer drinker, but his brothers were, and my parents were just they’d always want to have a case of beer in the garage. I don’t even want to think about how old some of them ended up being. But when they bought beer because they only bought it you know, two cases a year, they’d buy something decent. You know, they’d buy like a Sam Adams seasonal, or Yuengling, or Rolling Rock at the time. Those were like the big brands you could get there. There wasn’t much. Then there was like a some local ones like one called Penn Pilsner was a beer. And so that was what I would steal.
I wasn’t a big drinker in high school, but like by by the very end of my senior year, you know, I’d go to some parties and bring like two of my dad’s beers with me. Fairly innocent, but so when I would all everybody else would be drinking Milwaukee’s Best, and I’d be showing up with like two bottles a Yuengling or Rolling Rock, something like that.
So just from that being what I had when I got to college, you know, I happened to live on a floor with some other guys who, you know, we would all just rather buy a split a six pack of something like that that, Yuengling or Rolling Rock—those were available in Virginia where I went to school. And instead of buying a case of Milwaukee’s Best, we’d buy a 12 pack of bottles of those for about the same price and we’d have half as much but get a more flavorful beer. So I just kind of like, happened to be around other people that kind of had that same mindset, like wanting something a little more flavorful, a little heavier. And then maybe drinking hopefully, about half as much of it.
Yeah, exactly. I did kind of the same thing as you. I’m older than you. But when I was in college, it was you know, everybody was drinking Old Milwaukee or something like that, and I’d go for the St. Pauli Girl, or or even the Michelob which I thought was the the higher end—at least probably was at the time. So yeah, I kind of went the same path that you did.
So, again, I want to set the stage because I think it’s really interesting what you’re evolving into right now. But when you said growing up—and I think this has kind of contributed to everything—growing up, you’re a hustler. You’re out there, you’re working, you’re always entrepreneurial. You have that same mindset now, because and I haven’t even mentioned this—I mentioned the fact that you do photography, but you do some beer photography, really cool stuff. You can expand on this stuff. But you also have an Instagram site called Beer Aficionado with 23,000 followers. You have a YouTube channel and website, BeerCrunchers, where you’re doing interviews of people in the beer industry. And with BeerCrunchers, I know in the past, you’ve done a lot of financial analysis on beer topics as well. So besides your day job, you were doing these all these other things, and that you think that’s just a continuation of that hustling spirit you had growing up?
Yes, somewhat. So my third job when I left the forensic accounting, the place I’d actually worked the longest, as I was brought on—I was the second hire into internal audit department of giant privately held company called Reyes Holdings. You know, it’s a family office, they have multiple businesses underneath it. So it’s kind of a long winded answer to explain what they do, but it’s primarily logistics, but with very different subsidiaries that focus on beer distribution, McDonald’s distribution, broadline food, and Coca-Cola. More toward the end of my tenure, they became a one of the biggest partners of Coca-Cola to handle their bottling and distribution.
So I started there in early 2009. And the beer side—you know, I was into beer, I was someone who always, you know, chose the most flavorful kind of beer available to them. As I started working there, that’s when craft beer, or at least after a few years, that’s when craft beer really started to enter the picture come 2010, ’11, ’12—it really started heating up and it became a bigger part of their focus of what they were, they knew that they couldn’t ignore. And they were actually one of the earliest of the large distributors who realized they need to, you know, focus on local.
So, you know, there would always be beers in the fridge at work, and there was a rule if it was past five o’clock, you’re allowed to have a beer at your desk. Like if you were working a little past then, that was acceptable. So over time, what was always you know, Miller Lite, Corona and Heineken, started becoming Antihero and Daisy Cutter—two of the big early, you know, hoppy beers in Chicago. And so I was just like, enamored by that, kind of was already drinking those beers, but the fact that they were also becoming part of the company I worked for’s strategy was fascinating to me.
And then I became, you know, just one of the, you know, beer nerds in the office. You know, if I bought a six pack of something new, I’d bring in two of them and set one on the desk of somebody else who I thought would like it, and just became known as like the “beer fairy” kind of person. I got other people into beer and other people were getting into beer on their own, and just obviously, from working at a company who does beer distribution, there was just a lot of beer fans in the office.
So that kind of was like a springboard to going from, you know, choosing good beer to being like, into beer and wanting to, I always say, go beyond—as in, like, I now look at beer stuff on the internet. That’s like a level that you at some point reach in beer fandom, where you’re actually like, going on beer websites. There’s a lot of people that choose good beer that don’t care enough to actually go read about it, but once I hit that level, I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. I wanted to eventually—you know, I had been in internal audit for four or five years at that point, I wanted to do something different—I wanted to get into the business. And I of course, wanted to go on the beer side of the business.
So I wanted to like kind of create a brand for myself of just like who I was and demonstrate what I knew and would learn along the way. And I was right when Instagram was getting hot—2012, 2013, so I started this account. And I noticed that like everybody’s pictures were just so bad at the time. And my wife had a nice camera she happened to be into photography, had a little side business, photographing families and their kids. So I learned how to use her camera and would take like, you know, higher quality pictures like actually on a camera, and then get them onto my phone, versus taking them with the phone, which back then, quality was not so great.
[bctt tweet=”I became one of the beer nerds in the office. If I bought a six pack of something new, I’d bring in two of them and set one on the desk of somebody else who I thought would like it, and just became known as the “beer fairy” kind of person.” username=”TriMerit”]
I was quickly able to stand out with good photos, which was the most I had to offer at the time because I wasn’t a master at describing beers. You know, I would get better and better as I went. So it evolved over time of me trying to make the pictures not just a high quality picture, but somehow entertaining, by having something interesting going on in the shot that had to do with the beer label, and then eventually trying to be better at copywriting. From doing that, and all of this was really me trying to show that I’m really into beer, and someday maybe being able to show my bosses or coworkers—like just as one other like tool in my tool belt to show why you should like want to, next time I apply for a job that pops up on at one of the beer subsidiaries, that I thought this could just be this one extra, you know, feather in my cap to show for it.
Well, it seems like a passion for sure. Do you know how many pictures you have posted on Instagram? I have no idea.
I actually do—I hit a round number. It’s just over 1,800 in about eight years.
That’s pretty good! And they’re always so interesting. I mean, I have no skill with photography, but the way you do it, and it’s not just pictures too. Some of them are “movements,” which I don’t know what, I guess you just call it “moving pictures.” I don’t know. Movies? But then in addition just there’s movement within the picture. But then just the blurring effect, and just everything you do, I have no idea. But do you think, then, that you were looking at that as a springboard but obviously it’s a passion, did that lead to your CFO role? We’re gonna get to the CSO role in a second, but the CFO role at Revolution?
So there’s one more step! I tried and failed twice for two jobs that came up, each of which I thought were perfect. So I tried for one, failed, and that’s when I started the Instagram account. That’s when I was like, “Alright, I’m not going to get discouraged. But I’m going to try to add something else. I want to know even more about beer than I do right now.” So I started that Instagram account to like, send me on a path to get there.
Then I took a different approach. One day, I talked to my boss and said, “I put together a deck of a proposal for a job that didn’t exist on the beer side that I thought was a great opportunity for the company.” They were beginning to focus on e-commerce, where the distributors could accept orders from an e-commerce website so that, you know, from a corner store, to a bar, restaurant, to a grocery store, they could place their beer orders online. And that’s all it really was at the time, is a site that functioned as a place where you could order your beer.
At that point, I’d gotten very good with data and everything you could do to add value through the data that you were compiling by having these orders on e-commerce. But there was also the soft side of the website that was missing, I thought, that was articles and social media content that could help these retailers who buy beer from you. And by adding more value to their business by making this website more of a full-service place that they’d actually want to spend time, versus just place their order and get out of there—so I put together this presentation of all these things I thought this website can do, and some of it was like, you know, journalism or copywriting to benefit them. There was social media components, then there was like heavy data sides too, but it was a strange thing for one person to be presenting, because again, it’s different sides of the brain, right thing you normally think of as multiple people.
At that point, I had had this Instagram account that had maybe like 5,000 followers at the time, but that was more than most craft breweries in Chicago even had then, and I would show them that, as like just kind of showing that what I had built in just a small time with just in my spare time, and it got a lot of traction.
To make a long story short, I had to present this over and over again, to people who would say “This is really interesting. I think you might have something here. Why don’t you go share it with this person?” This is like a 30+ billion dollar company. There’s a lot of people to go through for something that’s like breaking the norm a little bit. And so I kept getting passed off and passed off by people saying, “You know, I think you’re onto something,” which is great. It was building up my confidence.
In that time, certain people were jumping from company to company, and I’d have to start back at the beginning. It eventually just got to someone who saw it, who was the new decision-maker and said, “Nnnnno, not happening.”
[bctt tweet=”I decided to create a beer blog, but it was like a piece of what I wanted to do for this company. And it was almost a way of not necessarily to prove them wrong, but maybe to prove to myself that I had something here.” username=”TriMerit”]
And so that’s how the blog came about. The blog became my way of saying, “I think I have something here, I think I have a lot to offer to this side that I was pitching but I don’t really have anything to show for it.” So I decided to create a beer blog, in my own way on my own topics. But it was like a piece of what I wanted to do for this company. And it was almost a way of not necessarily to prove them wrong, but maybe to prove to myself that I had something here, it just wasn’t—the timing didn’t work out, or I was lined up with the wrong kind of personality to take a chance on something like this because that’s what they would have had to have done, is take a risk.
And then after nine months of having this blog, it turned out the head of sales at Revolution was a reader of it. And then when they decided they were posting for a CFO role, he had figured out who I was, he knew I worked for their biggest distributor, and he liked my way of thinking in the way I presented these blog posts. So he nudged me when they posted the CFO role and said, “Hey”—and I didn’t know him at all, I’d never met him—he nudged me and said, “Hey, Doug, you should apply for this job.” And then few months later—this is 2016 now, Summer of 2016—I got the job.
Wow. You’re playing the long game there with all that. That is pretty cool. Obviously, we all know, at least people listening to The Unique CPA, what a CFO does, I would assume. But you went in that role, and I know, you’ve been transitioning them to the CSO role. But that’s been longer I think, officially, and you’re saying that started in 2012. But I know you were doing more in the marketing and the social media before that, right?
Kind of. People would leave the company, and then there’d be temporary holes, and it wasn’t like—I never really oversaw marketing, but I would say, “Hey, I can handle the digital marketing side,” basically, like the company’s social media, “I can’t handle all the events and sponsorships and all the other pieces that there are.” So the broad term of marketing.
At the brewery, there were times because of what I did on Instagram and my skills in photography, and the ability to write copy, there was like a period of over a year, where I just kind of ran the social media and let the people that were left in marketing, whose focus was on the other areas, do their thing, and we just worked together. It was just this thing I did on the side for a while. So I had dipped my toe in it.
But then the biggest thing that I had done over the years that opened the door for me eventually moving to this was just the ability to present good ideas over the years that, you know, this is something I learned a lot from being a auditor—especially internal audit—to be a good internal auditor, you need to understand what everybody’s job is: what they do, and the whole process. All the guts, the nuts and bolts behind it. And to be a great internal auditor, you have to be able to empathize with what everybody does and what the challenges they face, and not diminish their role in any way, and really understand, you know, why their role is a pain, just like everybody else’s.
That’s something I apply when, like, pitching a new idea at the brewery. I make sure I talk to all my coworkers and learn what a bad day looks like for them, what can go wrong in their role, what are the things that really bog them down, so that when I pitch an idea, I pitch it while taking into consideration exactly how it’s gonna affect each and every one of them—and a lot of people miss that step. But by doing that, you end up getting buy-in at a much higher rate, and that’s how ideas come to be. You think through everybody it’s going to affect and how it’s going to affect them, and if you kind of acknowledge that upfront, it helps you, you know, sometimes say, “Actually, you know, that is a bad idea,” and never get to the point of pitching it. Whereas if you don’t understand who all it’s gonna hurt or affect you, you know, you’re gonna throw a lot of bad ones out there.
What you’re saying is your knowledge of data analytics, or data analysis or use of data, like you were doing with BeerCrunchers and analyzing beer data, you can translate that into the marketing and the things as well, whether it’s verbal data that you’re receiving, and now let’s mold all that together and see what’s going to make the most sense. That’s pretty cool.
Yeah, I mean, there’s all kinds of ways you need data and marketing. You need to know what styles are selling well, and on the uptick versus on the downward trend, and so you need to get what they call scan data—data that the grocery stores, that third parties compile, that they get from big chain stores, to understand, you know, what’s, what’s moving faster, slower, from pack sizes, to styles of beer. A lot of those, the idea is to pivot into or out of an area, those are kind of, you rely on marketing for a lot of that. So that’s one way that you need to use data for sure.
And then with social media, like running ads on Facebook and Instagram, those pump out a lot of data on how many people watched your ad, how many people watched it the whole way through if it’s a video, the demographics of those, and you get almost an overwhelming data, more than you know what to even do with, that you can use to make decisions on how to kind of boost your posts in the future, and how to better target the right people who kind of want to see what you have to share, versus kind of forcing it on people who don’t want to see it.
Well I just added to your data because I watched one of your video videos all the way through right before our conversation here. It was something I think you posted the last day or two about somebody trying to escape the brewery with the Mega Hero? Yeah, that was good. Did you shoot that?
No, two folks on my team did. I tried to kind of let them do their thing. So it was someone else’s idea and I said, “Make it happen.”
All right. Well, I built everything up to this CSO role, and we talked a lot of background. Really explain what it is you’re doing now. Because you still are overseeing accounting, so you still are part of the financial, you still are part of the finance, you still are part of that. But your passion seems to be more on that marketing and strategic plan side. And so what is the real role that you’re doing now?
Yeah, so about maybe six months to a year after I started, someone who was just a few years out of school, who I had worked with, who was one of my like, kind of staff—senior auditors at my last job—reached out and was very interested at coming to work for Revolution, was wondering if I had anything. And this was someone who was very much a jack-of-all-trades, was someone who could figure out just about anything. And so I was really excited about that, because that’s what I needed. I didn’t need someone super specialized in one area, I needed someone who I could trust, could shift gears between eight different things. And this was the guy.
So we brought him over to be an analyst—a very general title. He did compliance, he did a lot of like digging through sales data and finding opportunities for the company, helping the company dig through its own data to interpret its results in more specific ways. And then we got to a point where our controller really wanted to do operations, and this gentleman wanted to get on that controller path. So actually, right toward the beginning of the pandemic, we did a kind of a rotation, a shifting, and created this new role for our controller at the time. They moved him into the controller role, and he’s just someone who’s built for this, and I knew that—I’ve worked with him so long, we have such a good chemistry—he knows what all my feedback and comments are gonna be before I even say it. And it was someone that I just needed to get out of his way.
And so when the role of our head of marketing came about, which was like, right around Thanksgiving time this past year, I was able to kind of make the suggestion to our owner that this would—I had been in the role for four years, I kind of was hungry to add a new tool in my tool belt or new experience, and because I’d dipped my toe in marketing so many different ways, I was able to show him what I’m capable of in small doses. And because we had this deep accounting team, I knew that they only needed me for the big decisions—the things that they just didn’t have the experience or confidence to officially say yea or nay on. But between the team I had, I knew they could kind of function without a whole lot of oversight from me, because you know, finance and marketing, even at a company Revolution—we’re not huge, but we’re not small either—it’s a lot, it’s too much, but it’s made possible because of the way we’ve built up the team and me realizing that I don’t need to be shy about saying like, “This guy can do everything I can do,” from the sense of like anything day to day.
And then so I stay involved in finance. I’m still his boss, he runs anything major by me. But so many things, I just say, he asks me a question, I say, “You know, you decide, you can make the call.” That’s my style is to try to stay hands off, because that’s what’s gonna keep him and other members of my team on that upward trajectory of their own, by kind of not making all the decisions, and kind of pushing it back to them and say, “You know, you think this through and I’ll live with whatever you decide.” And I think that’s important.
But then that allows you then to free up to do what you’re most passionate about.
Yes. Becoming most passionate about. You know, I spent my whole life doing finance and accounting. So it’s a weird thing to walk away from. And it took a lot for me to tell our owner that “I want to do this” because I was like, second guessing myself. I’d literally been doing, you know, finance accounting for 20 years. “Am I sure I really want to do this or am I just having like a one of those months where you have like a kind of a freakout moment?”
But no, I decided to go for it, and he couldn’t have responded any better, and it was a matter of days before it was all put together, and made official. So it happened very fast, but it never would have happened if I hadn’t spoken up and said, “I want to do this, I think I’ve shown that I’m capable of doing this. I’m gonna figure it out. I’ll need a little, a couple months to get my footing.”
And yeah, so that’s one of the biggest challenges of moving into this whole new space, besides not like having, you know, studied marketing all my career—more of like, kind of figuring it out along the way—is not having done some things myself. You know, there’s certain things that you think, “Well, I shouldn’t be deciding something about a sticker we’re gonna make, like, I don’t really need to be spending my time on that.” But if you’ve never done it before, you know, it makes sense to maybe figure out how stickers work once, and then hand it off to someone. But if you never—and I’m using a silly example—but certain things that are like small ball decisions that you know, it’s hard to completely be hands off immediately. You kind of need to be, I almost need to change my style a little bit and be extra hands on in this first three to six months, so that I can build our team out further, but better understand—to use a word I used before—better empathize with what’s going to come at them and what they’re going to have to deal with every day, just by doing it for a little quick period.
And that’s kind of what I’m about three to four months into right now is kind of doing a lot of marketing things that I don’t want to be doing long term, but I’m just learning myself and getting a feel for.
Well, talking to you before we recorded, and even last week or so I can tell, that it is a very exciting time for you in your career, and I’m assuming the exciting time for Revolution Brewery as well.
Any final thoughts on this whole path that you’ve gone through and advice that you would give to anybody, I guess, in their career, in public accounting, and anything?
Sure. Everything kind of changed for me when I decided that—you know, I was at a very kind of corporate, stiff job, not in a bad way, just very organized, very formal, let’s say. Suit and tie every day. So deciding to start an Instagram account and posting kind of like entertaining, silly pictures, and being willing to let these other coworkers of mine see it, and actually show it to them, that took a leap that took me a little while to get comfortable with, of just like, not really worrying about what anybody thinks of you. In the long run, if you be yourself, and let that personality shine, that’s gonna work out for you in the end.
And everything started changing for me, when I started doing that, which built my own confidence, because all of a sudden, you’re getting all this positive feedback. Sure, you might get some negative feedback, but you learn from that. That kind of propelled me to this, like, “control your own destiny, grab the bull by the horns” type of mentality, I failed to get many jobs along the way, but I used each of them. Every time I failed at one, I created this Instagram account, I created this blog, that still eight years later, I still run, partially out of ego, like, I’m not gonna let this thing die. I created this for a reason, and I keep it going.
So that was something in the early days, and then like right now, now that I’ve made this career transition, one of the biggest challenges I face is more personally, not trying to overcompensate for the fact that, you know, I’m a little self-conscious about marketing, because I didn’t study marketing in college. I’ve not taken very many marketing courses. But I’m kind of running our marketing based on feel, relationships, you know, experience I’ve had over the years. But because of that, I tend to maybe burn the midnight oil more than I should and subject myself to burnout, which I’m trying to catch myself now, I’m doing better of, especially in this last month, of making sure: just be comfortable in my own skin, don’t be afraid to admit that something is new to me, and I might need a little extra time.
I don’t think I’m failing anybody right now. And I just need to make sure I’m kind of setting a pace for what I’m trying to do that is sustainable, and not trying to overdo it in the early going. So if anyone ever is feeling, can relate to that in some way, shape or form. Yeah, I encourage you to not overanalyze what you’re doing and what people are thinking about you. Just you know, be reasonable on yourself and make sure you take that time to yourself to charge the batteries and be in it for the long haul.
Nice. Nice. Well, I appreciate that. Before I wrap it up, then, if anybody wants to see any of these things we talked about how can people find you?
The YouTube I don’t do a great job of updating, but Instagram is very regular. That’s @BeerAficionado. And then fairly active on Twitter, too. And I keep that pretty different,a little more conversational—that is @BeerCruncher. And then my website is BeerCrunchers.com, where you’ll see some kind of beer industry thought pieces as mostly what those are all about.
And then the one thing I didn’t mention that that it would be remiss in not saying is that just to further show these skills you’ve had, you’ve won a couple of writing awards, too, right?
Yeah, very unexpectedly, especially the first one.
The biggest beer festival of the year is called Great American Beer Fest in Denver, Colorado. And then there’s a guild of beer writers with members all over the world of everybody who writes about beers for publications. Blogs is a member of this group, and then everybody submits their pieces once a year. There’s 13 categories.
2019, I got a first place for the first one I ever submitted—one of my blog posts—and then 2020 on a completely different angle, like that one was more about social media. So I won for Best Beer Criticism of the Year, Best Beer Commentary or Criticism. The next year I won first for Best Technical Writing for a piece on how the three tier system of beer works. So the 12 for distributors and retailers. That was more like of a data driven post.
Well, as I said at the beginning here, you’re a Renaissance man. A man of many different passions and skills. So I just want to thank you for being here today.
No, I appreciate it. And I just want to wrap it up telling everybody I mean, I think we can learn a lot from what Doug had to say. Everything you heard him saying he was, you know, he was prepared in every situation he was ever in, you know. He went to his boss at Reyes and said “Here’s what I want to do,” and that didn’t work out. But that worked out in the long run with his current job.
He’s tenacious. Maybe not work till midnight every day, but he’s working on that—and he doesn’t, I’m sure—but that he’s working on that too. You know, just the data.
But I think what we can do is take Doug’s story, and meld it in to public accounting, from a standpoint that as the industry is evolving right now, we’re all looking to get to be more of this advisory service. And that’s really what he’s done throughout his career, with the number crunching and with just the data and with even the marketing. That’s advisory, using his financial skills to do that.
So as we evolve, and become more advisors than reporters and of taxes and accounting, I think just the skills that he shows and the passion he’s shown for his industry is important. So, again, Doug, I wish you luck in everything you’re doing in this no role, and I appreciate you being here.
Thanks, Randy. Thanks, everybody, for listening.
Thank you for joining us today. And you can find all the links and show notes for today’s episode, as well as more about Tri-Merit at TheUniqueCPA.com. Remember to subscribe and join us for our next episode where we’ll be going beyond compliance into forging new pathways of delivering value to clients, diversifying your revenue streams, and leading edge management techniques and styles.
BeerAficionado on Instagram
@BeerCruncher on Twitter
About the Guest
Doug Veliky fits The Unique CPA mold perfectly, with a passion for social media, analytics, and their applicability to the beer industry. After becoming Revolution Brewing’s CFO in September 2016, Doug led the Finance, HR, Legal, and Compliance functions. In June 2017, he also began utilizing his artistic passions to oversee Communications (Packaging Design, Website, Social Media, Digital Marketing) for the company. Doug’s current role is Chief Strategy Officer, overseeing Finance & Marketing, along with the strategic initiatives of Revolution Brewing.
Prior to joining Revolution, Doug was the second hire into the Reyes Holdings Internal Audit Department in 2009 after spending two years in KPMG’s Audit, Risk & Assurance practice, followed by two years at Huron Consulting Group in their Financial & Economic Consulting practice. Over the course of 8 years, Doug evolved the Reyes Holdings Internal Audit department from a team of 2 to 12, while regularly placing members into leadership roles around the company. Doug was promoted to Internal Audit Manager in 2012 and Director/Head of Internal Audit in 2014.
Doug earned his bachelor’s in business administration, with a double major in accounting and economics, from the University of Richmond in 2004. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner and a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.