With Justin Grant
The Unique CPA has reached a milestone on Episode 100, and the tables have been turned on Randy! Longtime producer Justin Grant, founder of Professional Productions.net, asks the questions on this special episode, which in addition to being the hundredth, is also the first Unique CPA Happy Hour! Wondering what that’s all about? Tune in and find out—there are a few more surprises waiting, too!
Welcome to the first Unique CPA Happy Hour. And I bet all of you out there in listener land are full of questions, one of them being, “Who’s this guy?” Well, I’m Justin Grant, the founder of Professional Productions.net, and I’ve had the privilege of working with Randy and Tri-Merit as the producer of The Unique CPA, for what, about three years now?
Yeah, at least. More.
Yeah, okay. And in addition to that, this is the hundredth episode of The Unique CPA. So we wanted to introduce a new style of episode—Randy will do it from time to time, just as the mood strikes—and that is The Unique CPA Happy Hour. It will be a little more casual and more relaxed. We’ll not just have a conversation like normal, but we’ll be having some libations—not to steal from the Drink While You Think podcast.
I mean, we kind of are, it’s true. But yeah, Kenji and Matthew, sorry, and also thank you.
We thought though, like Randy always says, you are more than just your job. The accounting profession is made up of human beings. So let’s live that a little bit—this is the time—and really enjoy ourselves.
Producing The Unique CPA has put me in a pretty unique and in my view, enviable position. I’ve gotten to hear the insights, the stories, the warnings, all kinds of fascinating information from so many guests across the accounting profession. I feel like I could take, you know, the exam at this point, and do pretty well.
Do you have your 150 hours?
Yeah, I’ve got—well, actually, yes, I definitely have enough postsecondary education.
Alright. There you go.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve got that requirement covered.
But most importantly, though, I’ve learned so much about Randy himself—his personal journey, his career, his vision for the future of the profession, the struggles he’s had, both in life and his career, and well, you’re in pretty good shape now. You’ve triumphed over a lot of those struggles, and that is awesome.
Yeah! So today on episode number 100, we’re taking a look back with Randy at this first century, and we’re looking forward to another. So Randy, welcome to The Unique CPA.
Wow, that sounds weird, but thank you. I appreciate you having me here today, Justin.
Well, exactly. Thanks for letting me turn the tables, do this in reverse.
Before we get started, we both selected a couple of very nice beers to enjoy while we have this conversation, so why don’t you start by talking about yours?
Well, I think I probably mentioned this in the show, and I had no idea I was going to do this until about fifteen minutes ago, but I was able to get a special delivery of Pliny the Elder to my house a couple of days ago. And if anybody doesn’t know Pliny, the Elder is from Russian River Brewing out of two locations—Santa Rosa and Windsor, California. It’s my favorite beer in the world. It is an IPA. It is probably one of the grandfathers of the IPA—not Sierra Nevada grandfather, that’s really the grandfather probably—but Pliny has been around a while and is an awesome beer. So I thought you know what? If we’re celebrating Episode 100, and I have my favorite beer, and people know me as the beer guy, I gotta open the Pliny the Elder.
It doesn’t get better, does it?
No, it does not.
And yes, as the guy who listens to every episode of the show, I can confirm you have talked about Pliny the Elder before.
Okay, I assumed I did.
Yes. And what about your second choice? I know you’re gonna crack into the Pliny first, but—
Yeah, so normally I am well stocked on beer in the house, and I have some very good ones in here now, but I’ve been trying not to stay super overstocked any longer. But the second one, I thought I’d stay with the theme, with the IPA, and this is Bodem from Half Acre Brewery in Chicago—in my opinion, probably the best IPA made in Chicago, which is, so I’ve got two really, really good beers here today.
I actually thought about pulling out a stout as well—we’re not gonna get to three, I don’t think. If we do, we’ll take a break. I’ll go get the stout.
Yeah, well, we very well may get there. So for now, we’re starting with Pliny, Bodem second, and we’ll see if a third comes out.
Alright. Well, let’s have a listen to that Pliny popping open. Yeah!
There was not a lot of pop when I did that.
Eh, it was pretty good.
Hopefully we can hear a little pouring sound on this one. Oh, this is not only my favorite tasting beer, but it’s my favorite aroma when it comes to beer. It’s just an amazing—
I love that. You know what that is for me, is Chimay from Belgium.
Oh, yeah, that’s very good too.
But I don’t have Chimay today.
What I do have, although before I talk about the beers, I actually want to tell a story. I was looking for advice, because I wanted to have my beers have some significance. And so I was looking for advice from my best Scottish friend, Dan—he definitely knows his beer. I’d already decided on one, but I needed help on the other, so I asked him, and I just said, you know, “Can you recommend”—and I had a theme. I’ll explain it later. And he checked with his friend, Angus, and they helped me pin it down.
So I told Dan what this was for and the two of them in, you know, just pure typical Scottish style, they started bantering about, like making jokes about me being on a podcast—and no one can see me right now because we only do this in audio, but if you look at the image on the show notes, you can see that I have—I bear some resemblance to Dave Grohl.
So anyway, the first thing they came up with is The Brew Fighters. And then they also said that you and I should do Scotch whisky sometimes, and then we can say that it “smells like two spirits.”
Got the puns going today. Alright, nice.
So anyway, Alright. So both my beers are brewed in Scotland. They both have dual meanings. And yes, if you’re wondering, why am I talking about Scotland, in spite of not having that accent, that is where I am at the moment.
The first beer I have is Wanderlust and it’s by Six Degrees North in Aberdeen. It’s a Belgian style witbier, or white beer, with citrus fruit, coriander, you know all that good stuff. It’s very refreshing and light and summery. I wanted to choose a Belgian style of beer because my first introduction to beer was in my mid 20s—I went to Belgium, it was the first time I was in Europe.
And you know very well, Randy. There’s no better country you could go to, probably, for beer than Belgium.
Yep. Belgium. Germany’s up there as well.
It is. But Belgium, especially for its relative size compared to Germany, and they don’t have the pesky purity laws preventing them from having fun.
No, they do not. Reinheitsgebot—is that how you say it?
I think that is exactly how you say it, nice!
So I—and by my mid 20s, which, the mid 2000s, I’ll admit—American craft brewing hadn’t quite gotten to the level that it’s gotten to now, so it was really, it opened my eyes to beer being in Belgium.
Yeah. Oh, no, for sure.
And then, but I wanted it to be Scottish. So it’s definitely in the witbier style, but a Scottish brewery, and it’s by Six Degrees North, and it’s called Wanderlust, because a little over seven years ago, I followed my wanderlust. I’ve lived in Arizona my whole life, and I just picked up and moved to Scotland.
I’m in Scotland this second although I’m currently living in England with my wife—we just got married in September, but we’re looking to wander back up the border.
We just looked at a house this week. So we’re, fingers crossed. So we’re pretty excited. And she’s from Scotland originally too. So she wants to come back as well.
Oh she is? Nice. So the real estate there, is it like here right now—it’s still kind of going a little crazy where there’s multiple offers on properties or is it not the same level?
It is like that, and it has been—it’s lagging a little, but not in Edinburgh, which is where ideally we’d like to live, however, the house we’ve looked at is about 25 minutes outside Edinburgh. And it’s beautiful—it was built in like 1900.
And it’s up on a hill, and it like, overlooks the city and it’s just—it’s absolutely idyllic. It’s almost like a fairy tale. And it even has like a spire, you know like a princess spire on the house.
It really is, it’s like—
You could have Rapunzel there?
Yeah, yeah, you know? Right?
So it’s amazing, and so we’re really hoping. We just put an offer in.
I was gonna say. So the offer’s in?
Yeah, it sure is.
Alright, well good luck.
Thank you. Hopefully by the time this this episode airs—
Which is actually pretty quick for us. You know, we’re recording this will be out in less than three weeks which normally, you know—
Yes, it’s not like us.
—we’ve got six months of inventory right now, so this one’s coming out quick.
Exactly. That’s it. So that’s the first, and yeah, I’m really hoping for that to go through.
The second beer I’ve got is by Tempest Brewing, which is in the Scottish Borders—in Galashiels, specifically—and it’s called Mexicake. And it couldn’t be more different from a Belgian style witbier, because it’s an Imperial Stout. It’s got chocolate, vanilla, chilies, lots of other flavors. And it also has a dual meaning because I grew up in Arizona, as I mentioned, and that’s a place with a lot of Mexican culture. So it’s also just an excellent beer, but it’s a nice link between my old home and my new home.
So it’s, you’re between your wanderlust that you’re at now, and your roots in Mexico—not Mexico—but in Arizona with Mexican heritage around there.
That’s it, yeah.
Nice. Great choice.
Thank you. So as we enjoy these, I guess I should crack one open too, huh?
Yeah, ‘cause I’m waiting for you. And I’m ready to taste this.
Yeah, I know it! I’ve got cans, which, they’re all about the environment here. So it’s cans are almost exclusively.
Alright. Nice. Nice pop. Oh, perfect, perfect.
And I’ve even got a Chimay glass to pour this into.
Oh, boy. Is that acceptable? You can use that? Because everybody in Belgium, all the breweries have their own special glass.
And it’s like, their beer tastes best in their glassware.
That’s right. I was disappointed that I don’t have a Hoegaarden glass to put the Wanderlust in.
There we go.
Oh man, that beer is good.
I was very fortunate that a year ago in early 2022, January, February, we spent—my wife and I Cathy spent a month in Sonoma County,
Which is where Russia River Brewery is. So I did many trips to Russian River and brought back many beers with me from California. But we’re very fortunate there is a company that’ll deliver it. It’s not cheap, but I get a delivery a month.
Not cheap, but worth it.
Oh, definitely worth it. It’s a great beer.
And I’m assuming Cathy enjoyed the wine while you all were in Sonoma County.
She did, but she also loves Russian River Brewery. There’s so many different types of beers. There’s one out there called Pliny the Younger.
Which is a short term release—it comes out, normally it was November—I mean, not November, February. And so last year, when we were there, a local brewpub, where we were staying for a month—just a local spot, ended up, we were there to pick up some dinner or something, and Kathy started talking to the bartender and said, “Oh, so when are you having Pliny the Younger?”—just kidding with them. And they go, “Oh, yeah, we’re tapping that tomorrow.”
So we were, that’s the third or fourth time I’ve had Pliny the Younger. So it was pretty cool just to go do that when we were in town. And our oldest, Michael was with, and so Michael got to experience Pliny the Younger as well. So it was a fun time.
That’s awesome. And what a bit of serendipity.
Well, as we enjoy these, I wanted to mention something—well, something I’ve learned about you, and this is in spite of what you’re always saying. It’s like, every third episode, you say to your guest, “I have a big ego.” Always say that you’re egotistical. And I’m sitting there editing you like, “No you’re not!” Everything, like, just, no, you’re not. And like, if anything, you’re a little bit reluctant, even—at least humble, I guess—about the limelight. You know? You like to feature your guests and you love to hear the insights they’re sharing—
—and their stories, and so many of them have been told on the show. And you’ve been able to direct many, many of them, through your guests, toward how fast accounting is changing.
That’s been a major focus, and that kind of leads into the first question I have. I’m pretty confident that this is one that many loyal listeners will have thought to themselves, and I don’t think you will have ever answered it, especially because you made it a focus of the show. It’s about “the changing face of public accounting.” Those are the exact words. So what was it about that—and just what was it in general—that gave you the idea to start a podcast about it and about the accounting profession in the first place? Talk about those humble beginnings for a minute.
Okay, so I love the question, and I didn’t get any of these questions ahead of time, so I’m excited about this. And a little nervous. Actually, I don’t get nervous. But when we—I didn’t originally come up with the idea for The Unique CPA on my own. It was our head of marketing at the time, and I don’t know if it was somebody else. I wasn’t even in the conversation. They came to me and they said, “Hey, we’re gonna start a podcast.” And I said, “Great.” “Well, you’re gonna host it.” I go, “What? I don’t know anything about podcast or hosting.”
I’m just glad you didn’t say, “Okay, great. What’s a podcast?”
Yeah! That’s true. And I had listened to Serial, and I had listened to—why is my mind blank? American. Ira Glass. What’s Ira Glass?
Oh, Ira Glass wasn’t he… This American Life.
This American Life. You got it.
Yeah, there we go.
So I had listened to him. But when they said that, I’m like, “Okay, so our firm is a specialty tax firm,” and I’m like, “I’m not going to do a podcast about specialty tax, I can’t do every episode talking about R&D tax credits, or whatever it was, whatever the flavor of the month was with credits.” And so my inspiration, you know—I didn’t come up with the idea of the podcast, but my idea was, one you know, who wants to listen to that every episode?
Well, you know, you could have done 100 episodes on the ERC. So I mean, little did you know, at the time.
I probably have done five or six at this point on the ERC. And it’s evolved. It used to be about education. Now it’s about battling misinformation.
But so the idea was, okay, this profession, you mentioned already, this profession is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. There’s a lot of things we’re dealing with as a profession, accounting in general. And so why don’t we talk to people who are leaders in this industry—whether they’re managing their firms, whether they’re influencers, whether they have ideas, whether they know technology, whatever it is—and let’s just hear what their thoughts are and what they see going on in the profession. And I think that’s something I would want to listen to. And I feel if I want to hear something I want to learn, well, other people might want to learn.
So I always tell the guest and you know, this probably—you’ve probably heard it, that you’ve edited it out, and they may have gone live a few times. But I always tell the guests, there’s two things, there’s two goals of the show: One, we educate the accounting profession on something that’s pertinent to them. Two, we laugh.
And so as long as we—
I don’t edit that out. Come on! Why would I edit that out?
I don’t know! I should listen to the show someday!
Yeah, I mean, that would help. That’s true. No, that’s great. I’ve always loved that approach. So it’s definitely part of the question. I just, you brought it up, so I’m glad you did. Because, yeah. And you always had that in mind from the beginning?
Yeah. Well, that’s when we came up with and I think I think I’ve done this on the podcast, too. But I think I can remember it: “The goal of our show is to keep you at the forefront of the changing face of public accounting—changing face—“by having conversations with interesting leaders”—
—“fascinating leaders, and bringing you their stories, insights and advice.” So yeah, we’re educating, “changing face,” let’s see what’s going on out there.
It’s funny, I used to, like, have a vague idea of the script, until I started reading it. Now I listen to myself say it every single time I hear it.
Oh, that’s right. And I like you doing it better than me doing it, so.
Well, thanks. But we needed to do that for the Beer Temple episodes, because it would have been weird having you pre-recorded, and then going live.
So that’s why, if the listeners are wondering why we did that, that’s why we did that. And then we’ve just kept it since then.
It’s been great, though. And how many people that we go through that decide who was going to record that? You were like the third person. I’m like, “Yeah, you’re the one.”
Yeah. Well, and we tried to get—because my wife Lou has such a nice accent and voice.
We tried to get her in there, but it just didn’t, I don’t know, it didn’t quite fit. So then you said, “Could you record one?” and I’m like, “Yeah, okay.” And there we go. It worked.
It was a winner. Nice.
Well, let’s go back even further, and so, bringing into the perspective, your journey in the profession: You started out in Public. You have said that you were a generalist. You eventually evolved from that to co-found Tri-Merit.
Then that had a very particular—I’m going to say niche (“nitch”) just to make you happy—a very particular “nitch” in mind.
Yeah, you’re welcome.
Are you a “neesh” guy?
I think I’m more actually in-between. I think I would normally say “nish.”
“Nish!” Wow! Alright.
It’s become a running joke on the show, so I thought I would throw that in there. But yeah, your niche was was specialty tax. Then, of course, the stroke you had in 2014—the way that obviously affected your life, massively changed your role within your career and within Tri-Merit, and then the story you just told about how The Unique CPA got founded—and starting as a podcast—but evolving further than that into much more.
So, in many ways, your life and your career have mirrored a lot of the changes that are happening in the accounting profession. With all that as a backdrop—and I know that was a very large backdrop—but first, for the profession, and then, for you personally, what have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in your career?
Alright, first, the profession? Well, I mean, you know, we’re going way back with when I started. And in reality, this is my third career, but my first two were pretty short. And so I didn’t come straight out of college into accounting, which I graduated in ‘85. So ‘88, I started in accounting, and that first year in accounting, we were still shipping out tax data to an outside provider who would type in the information and send us tax returns back.
And we would look at it. If it was wrong, we’d have to send it back to them, and then they’d send it back to us. We were doing about half the returns that way, and half, we had a new system in place that I think we could do ourselves. It wasn’t punch cards or anything like that.
Well, not that old. I’m thinking IBM AS-400 or something. I mean, pretty ancient, but…
Yeah. Pretty ancient. Although, my first year in college, my undergrad was computer science, my first year in college, we were using punch cards to do computer programming.
Fortran and COBOL, I assume.
Fortran, COBOL, BASIC.
Pascal probably as well. I know the name at least, but I don’t remember anything about that.
Yeah, I mean, been a while.
Well, and so the biggest change, one of the biggest changes, is just technology. The technology—everybody needs to be implementing as much technology as they possibly can in our profession, in their business. It just has to happen. And I feel that too many people are avoiding it. I mean, you can automate so many things in your business just to make you more efficient. But I think people sometimes think “I don’t have time for that, because I’m pumping out tax returns,” and they need to do that. So just technology change in general is really the biggest.
You know, dealing with people and talking about their businesses and advising them from a, you know, one-on-one standpoint? I mean, that’s all the same for the most part.
Yeah. The human element is mostly the same.
Right. And so technology is the biggest thing. But I think some people, some firms, are lagging on technology implementation, and if you are, don’t because it’s really going to make your life easier.
Yeah, great! Now, what about in your career?
My career? Well, this is a topic I’ve talked about probably a lot on the podcast, and we just said it—you said it different than I did—but “nitch,” “neesh,” or how—I can’t even say it the way you do.
“Nish.” Mix them together.
“Nish,” alright. Is this a combination of Arizona and Edinburgh together or something?
I tell you what, I mean, I didn’t have a very typical Arizonan accent in the first place. And I guess coming over here, it’s probably changed it a little bit. But I mean, do I really sound Scottish though?
No, not at all. I never would have thought that.
I like to say—actually the same friend Dan I mentioned earlier—I like to say he has a “media” Scottish accent. Like, he sounds very Scottish, but you have zero problem understanding him.
In much the same way, I tell people, because they say, “What kind of accent do you have from America?” And I’m like, “Well, I just kind of have a media accent.” Same kind of idea.
I can’t tell where you’re from, based on talking. I mean, I can can tell us so much from Minnesota—
—or Canada or something. Or I could tell someone’s from New York, or Boston specifically.
Boston especially? Well, we will have just had an episode with John Pastore on, and Steven Vono, a couple of weeks ago, once this releases, and boy, you could tell where John was from.
Yeah, for sure. He’s got that accent. But so from my evolution personally, it’s the—when I started my firm, I had no idea what I was doing. Honestly, it was three years, three and a half years out of college—or out of my master’s degree, or program. I never got the degree from the master’s, but out of the program and just knew I wanted to have my own practice.
And so, you know, I took everybody and anybody that would pay me, and didn’t concentrate on anything specific. And so my evolution is when I started Tri-Merit and found a niche service, is what we are, you can have a niche industry, a niche service, whatever. That just totally changed, and it got me so invigorated, what I was doing and how I was helping, that just made—and it allowed me to become an expert at a certain area of the tax code, and that expertise, I hope shines through when I’m talking about it. Which I don’t talk about, I don’t educate a lot on this podcast, but I do a ton of webinars where I’m talking about whatever, maybe one of different eight different tax incentives, and that niche and that passion and that knowledge hopefully shines through and that—I can’t imagine starting a firm now or running a firm now without trying to become a niche expert in whatever—service or industry or something else.
And so that was the biggest evolution for me. And I almost just fell into it. But man, am I glad I fell into it.
Yeah, and that really shows—the difference it’s made for you—because you’ve talked about how burned out you were getting on in Public and how burned out you were getting just on generalist tax.
The fact that you could do those focuses and just how enjoyable that was. I don’t think—I mean, that’s the thing you’ve always said is you want to have the passion about whatever that niche is. So, you know, for you, especially tax. For somebody else, it’s going to be something entirely different. But the point is, you know, your stuff, you like it, that makes work feel a lot less like work.
Yep. And this would not be an episode of The Unique CPA podcast if we didn’t mention John Garrett.
Oh, here he comes!
I had to do it, I had to bring in John. In fact, I just talked to John yesterday and actually sent him a new guest for his show. And I had lunch—or breakfast—with a CPA yesterday, who has this passion of coaching soccer. He coaches high school soccer, he’s coached at all different levels, soccer, he’s coaching right now—we are recording this March 31st, and he’s currently coaching high school soccer during tax season.
And he just makes sure that he can work that into his life. He doesn’t let tax season get in the way of what he enjoys doing. And he’s also head of tax for a large firm. So he’s able to get his work done, he’s able to still do his passion. If you can go one step further and have your passion be your career, too? I mean, my passion is education, and I’m out educating all the time, and you know, that’s not, I mean, my passion is craft beer too, which we’re having right now.
But in work, it’s education, and that doesn’t feel like work to me at all, when I’m out educating on whatever topic it is.
And so, you know, John, I’ve had on the podcast twice (Episode 30 – Episode 62). Before he was even on the podcast, I always asked the question—boy, I’m being redundant because I say this a lot of times on the show.
You sure do.
But I was always asking people about, you know, what their outside-of-work passion was. But John gave me a name for it. John like said, “Okay, this is why that is important, and it’s because you are more than just your job title.”
And that’s your “And.”
So it’s your “And,” John Garrett, What’s Your “And?” I’m gonna make sure everybody that ever listens to this show, buys his books.
I think it may have already happened. Incidentally, your friend—he’s based in Chicago?
Who’s that? Oh, that I just had breakfast with?
First time I met the guy. Never met him before. Didn’t know who he was.
Oh, how funny. Well the reason I asked was just because US Soccer is based in Chicago.
Oh, I didn’t know that.
Yeah. So what he should do is go say, “I want to be your accountant.” That’d be perfect!
Now he’s integrating his passion with his work! You are completely—look at you. You are well educated, so, and you actually are well educated. Because how many degrees do you have? I don’t even know.
I have three. And, you know, this is relevant too—I was thinking about this as you were saying what you were, about—the nexus is your friend’s a soccer coach, I used to referee soccer.
And I did that while practicing as a lawyer, because that’s my other, you know, profession.
Your other hobby?
Yeah, I didn’t always do podcasting, yeah. I mean, you know, but I would find the time to do that because it would keep me fit.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to referee—it was mostly high school and lower, so you know, I got to I got to be, I guess, in a weird way, like a positive role model for kids. Not that they’re like trying to emulate the referee. But you know what I mean.
You could still influence the game in a positive way.
Yes. Oh, yeah.
So I had just always enjoyed that, and I always wanted to make time for it. And it kept me in good shape in addition to that.
And I really feel an affinity, having experienced the professional life, for people in accounting. And so, I mean, when you—especially when you talk about mental health struggles and other things like that, with guests, I feel that. I mean, I really do because I’ve been there because I’ve also been a professional that was practicing in a profession that’s also struggling to keep up with the times and modernize and all the same sorts of challenges that accounting is facing.
And then you add on top of that, I had to talk to lawyers every day.
Yeah. I don’t want to do that.
No, I’m just kidding. There’s many nice lawyers.
Well, you’re okay. I’ll talk to you.
Thanks, I appreciate it.
So Doug Brown was somebody we had on the show, and Doug was an ex-lawyer, or ex-lawyer? He might be a lawyer still. But Doug talks about, basically, mental health and Doug made a big impact on me, because before interviewing Doug, two years ago, or whatever it was, or a year and a half, I don’t even know when that came out.
I want to say two years ago.
Yeah. He kind of got me thinking more about mental health in our profession. And that’s really gotten me on to this, whatever you call it—soapbox or crusade—
—of helping hopefully educate the profession on ways to avoid burnout and be healthier mentally, physically, and more productive and more profitable. So that’s—Doug was a big part of that. And I should tell him that.
You should. Have him back on again, why not?
I think I should.
And just to kind of like, bonus add on to the question, since we’ve covered the profession and your career, how about the show? What’s the single biggest change or way that the podcast has evolved? In the first 100 episodes?
Well, one, I don’t prep for five hours before.
Well, yeah, I know that feeling from prepping for my first episode here. You get comfortable with it after a while, I’m sure.
You do. So how’s the show evolved? That’s the question, right?
That is the question.
Are we going there already? Like we’re forgetting a question?
I’m halfway done with my first beer. I might be getting a third beer before we’re done. This might might be a two episode show here today.
Oh man. I don’t even want to—100 and 101? I don’t know if we can do that. Well, we’ll see.
Alright. So the evolution of the show: One, it’s just me personally being more comfortable for sure, with guests. Me not worrying about being perfect. You know, I don’t have to do that. You’re here—
—You have me to make you perfect.
Exactly what I was gonna say.
We were right in sync there!
We were! Because what I used to, when I first started—I wanted to be one take, we’re gonna get through this, we’re not gonna make any mistakes.
And we’re gonna, I’m not gonna stop. You see it now, when I’m recording. I’ll stop.
Yeah, you guys out there, you have no idea how many times we stop and it sounds smooth.
Because you’re really good!
No, it’s not just me. You’re really good at keeping things conversational, and so it makes my job easy, because I’m just recording a conversation, and cutting the bits that you don’t want to be there.
So that’s that’s kind of your answer, then, is that it’s gone from where you felt like you needed to just absolutely nail everything to now it’s a nice, easy, smooth ride with someone and you’re enjoying the conversation?
I think that’s it. But it’s also—it’s always been about educating the profession. Now, at the beginning, it was just how people are doing things, because I think there were things they were doing that were pretty cool. And now it’s like helping—things people are doing to make sure that profession is better. I probably had that mindset at the beginning, but now that is my mindset going into each show. “What are you going to talk about today that it’s going to make our profession better, make it more attractive to people to come in, and be healthier for everybody involved?”
Yeah! And you know, I almost hesitate—well, yeah, I can’t even say what I was thinking just now because you have had outstanding guests from the start.
I have. Lucky.
That doesn’t mean they’re the topics were kind of always, like you just said, it’s evolved into “How are you making the accounting profession better?” Whereas early on, I think, thinking back because I joined it around, I don’t know, the teens or the twenties? Somewhere around there was where I started producing it.
I was wondering.
I think so. And so yeah, while there were very germane topics, always—the betterment of the profession as a whole was not quite the theme yet.
Even with these excellent guests, who probably today if you had them on would absolutely have ideas along those lines.
Oh, for sure.
Yeah. So the fact that you’ve been able to evolve into that theme, and you really have—I don’t know how you pulled it off, to be honest, when you were just starting the podcast. You’ve said yourself many times. “I don’t know why people come on to talk to me. I don’t understand like, what? What’s the benefit to them?” But now I think that’s pretty clear. But sure, maybe back when it was just starting, that was a logical concern. And yet for whatever reason, they came out and hung out with Randy for 45 minutes.
So I’m just looking at the past episodes right now, because my second episode was John Sensiba.
And I talk about John Sensiba quite a bit still. So that was the number two episode. And John—I talked about, I recorded an episode today, and I talked about John multiple times today on the episode.
There you go!
I learn, and maybe there’s a question you’re gonna ask me, but I learned so much on each show, which is cool. My third episode, Josh Lance.
Josh Lance, one of your favorite people.
Right. I talk about John Garrett and I talk about Josh Lance, and then John Sensiba’s right up there as well. And they taught me so much, and I think that they helped set the stage of, you know, where we were gonna go, just from their interviews. So that was, I’ll always be grateful. So episode 9, Jeremy Clopton, and he’s been on twice. He’s been on my conference. I’ve been on his podcast a couple of times.
Jennifer Wilson, she was episode 10. Jennifer Wilson, one of the most influential people in accounting, came on my show—our show, it’s not mine. It’s the world’s show—
I like that!
—on episode 10.
And then, episode , I believe?
Yeah. And so it’s just amazing, looking at the people that we’ve had.
And that’s where I get in awe that like, these people—I just had Dan Hood. I’ve known Dan as a name forever—editor-in-chief of Accounting Today. And he came on the show very recently, also.
Yeah, no, it’s true. And actually, I mean, I will say this: I was, of course, joking earlier about having to talk to lawyers all the time, being a lawyer myself. But I can’t make that joke about accountants because like—and just people in the profession—because everybody you’ve ever had on the show, I’m like, “Wow, what a likable, nice person.”
And clearly, the profession is full of them. And it really just, kind of, as an outsider, so to speak, makes you want to root for these people. I mean, it really does!
Because you listen to them, you listen to their stories, you listen to how passionate they are about a lot of the issues that you’ve brought up. It’s not, you know, it’s not like you are “unique” in the fact that you’re really pushing for these kinds of changes to the profession and everything else. No, this is—this is a movement. And I just think it’s the coolest thing that The Unique CPA, and you, have become such an integral part of it.
Well, I’m having fun.
If I wasn’t having fun, we wouldn’t be doing it.
I know. And it is fun! And to be honest, that’s why producing the show is so fun. Like, honestly. Take any random person off the street and say, “Tell you what, I’ve got your dream job for ya, buddy. You’re going to listen to accountants talk about accounting every week, and you’re gonna make them sound better.” How many people would say “Yeah, that sounds amazing, sign me up”? But then you do it, and it’s like, this is really fun. This is great.
Yeah. So one of the best compliments and I don’t know if I told you this, that I feel I ever got, is when you told me that your wife Lou enjoys hearing the show. I’m like, really? That’s pretty cool.
I know! Lou who is from the UK and who works in primarily the mental health field.
I didn’t even know this!
She and I need to talk.
Yeah, I know. I mean, that’s kind of the funny part. That’s one of the reasons why she said—and she, even though she’s from Scotland, originally, she’s lived in the Newcastle area, which is in the north of England—northeast—for most of her life. And so she says words like “canny.” Canny is a very Newcastle word. And so anytime I mention, you know, The Unique CPA, or you, or whatever, she’s like, “Aww Randy is so canny, man.” And it’s just, it means like, “canny” means a sound, decent person. I mean, that’s just what it is.
Oh good. Phew! I was wondering!
You can tell by how it sounds, right?
Yeah, you can.
It’s just a word that sounds like a nice thing. So no, it’s great. It’s awesome. I love the fact that people—and I mean myself too—people who are not accountants; I’m trying to remember who it was that you had on recently who made an absolutely valid point. He’s the social media guy. I’m too far into the beers—I’m forgetting names.
Duke Alexander Moore, DukeLovesTaxes?
No, that’s a good call but no—his episode was just released. He had the Twitter war.
Oh, yeah. Jason Staats.
Jason Staats, yeah, who is who is currently doing—I should’ve remembered, because he’s currently doing very well on the Accounting High Accountant Bracket Challenge right now.
He is, yes.
He’s up against, I think Blake Oliver, isn’t he?
He is. Neck and neck right now.
Yeah, anyway, best of luck to both of them. They’ve both been on the show. But yeah, he was saying that his wife never listens to anything, because you made the big reveal that he wanted some time away from his kids, I think it was. That’s why he’s in the office all the time.
So, but it was funny to me, because he said like, this is kind of “inside baseball stuff.” And that’s absolutely true. And yet, this is such a listenable show. And I know I’m tooting my own horn here too, but it’s absolutely true. This is listenable to just regular people, which you wouldn’t believe.
So do we have a love fest going on here now?
I think we kind of do.
Your beer is what, 8%, and mine’s 10%? So I think they may have something to do with it.
Well, that’s, yeah, but we’re doing okay.
The good news is, I’m the producer. So I can cut it.
Yeah, you can fix it. This is not going to ruin our clean rating, drinking beers on the podcast, is it?
No, I don’t believe it will. We’re doing nothing illegal and we’re not using any foul language. That’s what Apple cares about.
Alright. Well, the podcast I recorded today, there’ll be one “bleep” you have to do, and it wasn’t me.
Well, I’ve always done those, you know that. I think it’s usually when Scott’s on the show.
Yeah, Scarano, he may have an issue. This was Matthew May today. It was only one time. And it’s his third episode.
Was he talking about Bitcoin? Is that why he was getting so fired up?
He wasn’t. He was actually talking about Kenji, his partner.
Oh! Well, that makes sense to the joke between them? That Kenji like started it, and then he hates to admit that it was Matthew that made it work?
I think so. It’s something like that, but they have a good thing going.
No, they certainly do. They certainly do.
Wait a minute, why’s the music going? That didn’t sound like the end of the episode. Well, you’re right. But Randy and I chatted so long that we made way too much content for one episode. So we’re going to release a special extra episode this Friday, April 21, where we’ll hear from past and future guests who will be asking their questions as the tables remain turned on Randy for a little bit longer. Be sure to join us on Friday, and thanks for listening to The Unique CPA.
About the Guest
Justin Grant is the founder of Professional Productions.net, which provides bespoke, high-ROI podcasting services to busy professionals. Justin is a podcast producer, professional audiobook narrator, voiceover artist, sound editor, and technical writer with over 25 years’ experience in voice work. He has overseen the launch and production of over a dozen podcasts, including technical management, creative collaboration, and marketing efforts. He ran a solo legal practice between 2013 and 2018 and served as company director for a UK podcasting company from 2021–2022, before founding Professional Productions.
Justin graduated from the Arizona State University College of Law in 2012 and subsequently passed the Arizona bar exam, then earned a Master’s at the University of Edinburgh Law School in 2019. His wide-ranging expertise also includes other forms of digital media and marketing, such as technical editing, voiceovers and voice acting, video, and site design.
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.