Making Accounting Interesting with Greg Kyte
On Episode 138 of The Unique CPA, Randy Crabtree chats with Greg Kyte about his unusual journey in accounting. From the controversies around the CPE available for listening to his Drunk Ethics podcast, as well as Oh My Fraud, another podcast Greg co-hosts, they discuss the importance of finding a niche in accounting in order to make yourself, and your work, more interesting—which has a cascading beneficial effect on everything you do.
Today, our guest is Greg Kyte. Many of you probably know Greg or have heard of Greg before, but Greg is a CPA, which I think is important to point out. In addition, he’s a cartoonist, an emcee, a CPE presenter, a standup comedian—probably the second standup comedian we’ve had on the show. He’s cohost of the current podcast called Oh My Fraud. He’s been the host or cohost of other podcasts, which we’ll get into as well.
I’m gonna say this as well—whether he wants me to or not—but he has in the past been named one of the top—a couple times, I think—Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by Accounting Today, which I think is awesome. Greg, welcome to The Unique CPA.
I’m excited to be here. And just to give some context to that top 100 reference: It’s true, but it was, I think, over a decade ago now that I was included that list. It’s just because—it wasn’t that I was influential, it’s that I was interesting. So I, yeah.
Hey, it’s got “influential.” It doesn’t matter. Interesting is influential.
I’ll take it. I mean, I’m not—I didn’t refuse the award.
Right. Nice. And I think it’s like president. Once you’re Top 100, you’re always Top 100. You know? That’s what you’re called.
You know what? It’s funny. I was just talking about this with somebody else, where I will falsely inflate people’s expectations of me in any way that I can by saying that I was twice included in Accounting Today’s Top 100 list. Not gonna mention that was in 2012, 2013. I also, you said, as you mentioned, I was a stand up comedian. I was the opening act for Weird Al Yankovic. Again, not gonna tell people that was a one off show at the state fair—at the Utah State Fair—and that that also, that was 9 years ago. So.
Hey, in my lifetime, that was like, yesterday. SoI would count anything you got. I mean, it’s an award? It’s an event? You’ve done it. You’re still it.
That’s true. It’s true. So like I said, I’ll take it.
Well, I gave you a quick intro, and I wanna go into some of these things from the past that I know you’ve done, but you wanna give us a little more background than I gave? Because your current job is not in public accounting, but you’re an accountant. And so why don’t you give us an overall background of who you are and what you do?
Yeah. Cool. I’ll give you kind of the broad lookback. I, in a former life, I was actually a junior high math teacher for 10 years. When I was in college—so I went to school at the start of college at the University of Washington out in Seattle, and the big choice was, do I study math, which I was great at, or do I study accounting, which I had actually been doing? I’d been the bookkeeper, my mom owned a pharmacy for about 10 years in the Seattle area. And even as a high schooler, I was doing just her bookkeeping for her drugstore, and I loved it. I really enjoyed just the work of bookkeeping.
This was back in the 80s. So I was using the 13 column analysis add and I was adding them up horizontally and vertically and making sure everything tied out. And just the sheer satisfaction of a pencil paper calculation that was the size of two textbooks, then it all tied out. You just go, “nailed it,” and just feel so good about that.
So, yeah, so in college, it was like, do I do math? Do I do accounting? I chose to go the math teacher route, and I very quickly learned that I made a horrible mistake, and a bad life choice because I did not—yeah. Because, it’s you can pick a job that has high pay, but low satisfaction, and that might be okay. You can pick a job with low pay and high satisfaction, and you might be able to live with that. I chose a profession that was low pay and low satisfaction, so I was like, I gotta do something else. So it was funny, because for a long time, I was like, the ship has sailed for degrees and advanced learning, but I was unhappy enough in my career that I did go back and I started just doing, you know, night school extension classes, the online courses that were available back in the mid 2000s. Got my accounting degree, got my MBA, got my license as a CPA, and started working as an accountant in—I got the license in 2011. I started working as an accountant in 2008. I did one year at a public accounting firm, or as I like to say, 2,003 hours at a public accounting firm, and I was hired away by one of the clients. And so I’ve been working as a controller for a group of medical office buildings, that been my day job for 14 years now.
14 years. Wow. So was that 2,003 billable hours or total hours?
No. That was total hours. And, okay, here’s the crazy story. Is that, like I said, I was with that firm. I got hired away by a client. When I was at that client, we decided to switch accounting firms before I got my license. And they were like, maybe don’t—like, even my coworkers, were like, do you really want—because it was my decision. And I was like, yeah, we need to switch accounting firms. They’re like, do you wanna do that before they sign off on your hours? And I was like, yeah, they’re not gonna be weird about it. They were so weird about it. And they wanted to be like, “Oh, you only have this many billable hours.” And I was like, come on. That’s not how this is written.
So I don’t remember the rules. Is it 2,000 hours you have to work to, you know, satisfy, you know, you passed the exam, now you gotta work for a year and 2,000 was the number?
Yeah. So the way that it’s written is, “one year working under the direct supervision of a CPA,” and one year is defined as 2,000 hours. And again, then you go, there’s nobody who’s a first year accountant who’s getting 2,000 billable hours in a year. And there’s almost zero accounts period who get 2000 billable hours in a year.
So what if you—man, I’m 60, I’ll be 61 by the time this airs. So I don’t remember anything. I remember sitting for the exam. I remember the room I was in. I remember that it seemed to go on forever, and there was thousands of people. Well, there might have been ten. It seemed like there was thousands of people, and there probably was. But I don’t remember. I mean, I just, I was listening to one of your podcasts recently, which we’ll get into, Oh My Fraud, but I was listening to one of these, and then what you were talking about, the ethics exam—oh, and you do have another, at least short term podcast called Drunk Ethics, I think.
Yes. Short term, and it might get pulled. We’re actually under, literally, we are under scrutiny by NASBA.
Yeah, it might, like, something about, like, the content’s great, but they’re like, but this brings disgrace on the profession or something, is that’s, like their argument. So yeah, fi you wanna get the funnest ethics CPE you’ve ever gotten, you gotta get your Drunk Ethics now while it’s available.
Well, I did listen to some of that as well, and it was very funny. You could tell that there was some drinking about, and let’s set the stage. As long as we’re going here, and then we can go back, let’s set the stage of what this Drunk Ethics is. Let’s talk about that.
Well, again, I’ll give you kind of the longer story. So I’ve been doing webinars and CPE training for a decade now. Do you know who the author Dan Ariely is? Does that ring a bell?
No. But I’ve heard you mention him when I was listening to your podcast, but, no, I don’t.
Okay. So he’s a behavioral economist. He wrote a book called Predictably Irrational—fantastic—arguably one of my favorite, if not my favorite business book of all time. But he’s a behavioral economist. He wrote—two chapters in Predictably Irrational were about ethics—and then he expanded on that, and wrote an entire book that was all about ethical behavior, and how it’s counterintuitive, and how if you look at traditional economics, that it doesn’t line up with, you know, maximizing personal benefit and stuff like that. Very, very interesting. And I I love him. I love his work. I reference it nonstop throughout my ethics presentation.
And for one presentation I had, it was me and two co-hosts, and I decided, hey, every time one of us says Dan Ariely’s name, we have to take a shot. And so we did, and it got sloppy. It wasn’t bad, it got a little—it was just, I had to hold the reins really tight by the end of the the podcast to make sure we were delivering the content. And that gave me the idea that that would be such a fun idea for an actual presentation. And Blake Oliver over at Earmark was the only guy who’s ever shown any interest or support of that idea. And so me and a buddy, he’s a stand up comedy buddy of mine—we’ve worked together doing stand up for a long time, done a lot of stuff together, he has an MBA, he’s in marketing. And so he’s my co-host, and we do seven shots in 50 minutes, really in 49, we take one shot every 7 minutes, while we’re discussing the intricacies of professional ethics. And it starts out just super normal. And by the end, it’s the same thing—he doesn’t have a dog in the fight. He’s just there to have fun. I’m like, we must deliver content, and the dynamic is he’s having a party. And I’m like, white knuckling the, you know, the learning objectives, “we must finish talking about this.” So fun, but we got drunk doing it.
And after we recorded all of those, I was worried that they were all garbage and unlistenable. And I was pleasantly surprised that they’re actually a lot of fun. And, even one we’re both bombed, we’re still, like, we’re still saying some pretty profound things. Yeah. I was pretty happy with it.
Well, and we are a clean rated show. So some of the things that we will we can always bleep out if we need to, but your co-host on the one, I think it was episode 3 I was listening to, by the end, he was using the the P in CPA for a different term.
Which I think we could say on the show.
Yeah. Well, it’s funny you mentioned. Again, so I’ve relisted to all of them, but there’s a lot that doesn’t stick in my brain. I remember him doing that, but I can’t remember what he changed it to you. And what let’s leave that as a mystery. If you need to find out, that’s episode 3 of Drunk Ethics, go find it.
I think it was 3. I’m pretty sure it was 3. So, alright, so, I have to go back before they’re pulled off the shelf, I have to go and listen to all of them and get my, my ethics. I think I have until September of ’24, for my next due date. So I have time.
Yeah. And we’re fighting them on it. We’re hoping that we can talk to them through it and help them to embrace the concept.
So is it just the drinking part that they have a problem with?
Yeah, well, I think there was somebody who just, I think, was offended by the concept, from all that we can tell, because someone took the time and effort to email every single state board of accountancy throughout the United States.
Yeah, to, like, I guess, you know, tattle on it? I don’t know. Just to, or because they were so concerned about it as like, a flawed model. And so his effort his or her efforts brought it to the attention of NASBA, the National Association, and almost just out of protocol, they had to launch an investigation.
They had to follow up.
Alright. So it may not get pulled.
We’re hoping not.
I hope so. We are also on Earmark, so we don’t want anything bad to happen to any of the shows on Earmark. So we are going to make sure that that stays. I’m gonna start a petition. We’re gonna do that right now.
I just don’t have all the emails for all the state societies. So someone else will have to do that.
There you go.
Alright. So let’s go back a little bit—we fast forwarded, let’s go back. Because what I was gonna say when we’re talking ethics—I honestly don’t remember after passing the exam, that I had to take a separate ethics exam. And you guys were talking about this on Oh My Fraud, you were talking about this. And do you know, did that come in later, or do I just not remember back in 1988 that I had to take an exam after I passed, an ethics exam?
They have had that for a significant amount of time. Like I said, I got licensed in 2011, and part of my licensure was I had to pass a state with, like, rules and laws test, specific to Utah.
And then I also had to pass the—the AICPA has an ethics exam that covers, and even now, it if I’m remembering, right, the AICPA one, when I took it, you had to get at least 90%, but it was open book.
So it was not a difficult hurdle to overcome. But that said, there’s been so many changes when it’s come to ethical training requirements in the profession, even in the last ten years. In the state of Utah, when I first became a CPA, we had no requirement for any ethics CPE. It was just like, it’s like wide open here. Get 40 hours in whatever you feel. 40 hours a year, 80 every two years, in whatever you feel like. And then it was just maybe five years ago that they implemented a four hour ethics requirement for that. So we’re seeing that, but also, you you know, if you’re talking the 80s, you’re talking pre-Sarbanes Oxley, pre-Enron, all that stuff when, you know, when things really went—not that there weren’t scandals before that, but we know that was a real inflection point in terms of public perception of the accounting profession, where there was so, there was a huge effort made to go. “No, no, no! We’re not all like that, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that people are doing things right.” So I would not be surprised if that was a if that was a post-SarbOx, post-Enron change, to make that test a requirement for licensure.
Yeah. I think if I remember, none of that stuff happened until you got involved in the industry. So back in my day, we didn’t have anything go wrong. Nobody was doing any fraud. There was no bad audits.
There was none of that.
They were like, this Greg Kyte guy is getting ready to get licensed. And so we need to tighten stuff up, NOW.
Yeah. He’s out doing comedy, he’s drinking. He’s got all kinds of things going on.
We’ve got bad feelings about this guy. So there’s moral turpitude that’s gonna happen somewhere with this fella.
Well, so I’m glad they put that in place for you. That was very nice.
You know, gotta get the guardrails out. It’s one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.
Alright, so you’re making me laugh, which is nice. That’s part of the—I didn’t tell you ahead of time, that we have two goals of the show. We educate on something that the accounting profession will find interesting.
I think we’ve already done a little of that. And we laugh. Those are the two requirements.
Right on. So Well, there’s been a great episode of The Unique CPA. Tune in next week!
Where we will drink and think. Oh, no. That’s already, Kenji and Matthew from Acuity got that. Darn it.
We are starting, and you know, I should give credit to Matthew May and Kenji Kuramoto, but we are going to be recording this Friday—and we didn’t pick Friday, I know they have Fridays. But we’re gonna be recording The Unique CPA Happy Hour. The first version of The Unique CPA Happy Hour is going to be recorded this Friday.
Awesome. That’s very exciting.
Yeah, excited about that. Episode 100, we’ll be recording, which, this episode will be released after that one. So it’s gonna get a little confusing to people.
Right, but no, because, you know, in podcast land, like, there is no chronology. You just, you hop around and you find the episodes that you like.
Kinda like this interview. I’m hopping all over.
Alright. So let’s get back to chronology for a second. Good segue, thank you. And let’s talk about, before we segue into three different, four different directions, we were talking about your history. And the one thing I wanted to talk about is that you are—well, I had Jason Blumer on the podcast last week. Again, chronology wise, who knows when that’s coming out compared to this one.
But Jason, who runs his own CPA firm, Blumer CPAs, and Thriveal, which is a community of accountants that is a really cool community—conferences and that. And, I think you were part of this origination, the ThriveCast podcast, which started, what, ten plus years ago?
Yeah, it will be—they’re pushing 11 years now with the ThriveCast. 2011 was a big year for me. So like I said, I got licensed that year. I met Ron Baker in real life in the beginning of 2011.
At one of the Verisage symposiums. I got invited to that, again, all of this just because I’m interesting, not because—they’re like, this guy seems like he’s fun at a party. Let’s invite him to this thing. So and I met Jason Blumer at that event that Ron Baker put together in 2011. And then there was this weird thing where I because podcasting was becoming a thing. Actually, even in 2011, it kinda felt like, I I felt like we were kinda past the hump.
Like we’d missed the front wave of this whole thing. But I was like, oh, but, you know, maybe I could start, like, some kind of business podcast. And I had actually just messaged a friend of mine that I was—a comedian friend of mine who was also very interested in business and well read and things like that. And I I sent him a message saying, hey, what would you think if you and I started a podcast? The very next day, Jason Blumer calls me and says, hey, what would you think about starting a podcast with me? And fortunately, I never even heard back from that friend, because I told Jason—
—In your entire life?
Oh, no. I’ve talked to him since then, but I didn’t even bring up the message when I saw him. I was just like, okay, I’ll take that as a no, and I hope it’s a no, because I already said yes to somebody else. So, yeah, so we started the podcast in—The ThriveCast is what it’s called—in July of 2011, and I was his faithful sidekick for his podcast for ten years, for 120 episodes. And after ten years of doing it, it was like, we’ve done it. Because at first, we had no idea what we were doing. We were just, like, it was very much a fake it till you make it kind of thing.
Oh, I know what that is like.
But after, you know, after, I don’t know, six, seven, years, we had it felt like we’d figured it out. We had this podcast and we knew how to do it. And it was sort of like, okay. And for me, I was like, okay. I’ve done this thing. I’ve kinda, you know, cracked the code. I’ve done it. And now it’s like, I feel like there’s other stuff that I should be doing.
So I gave Jason a 18 months’ notice that I was going to be—because it kinda like what you said. I was like, do this podcast for ten years.
And I’ll feel great. So that was kinda the idea. Like, hey, after we do our 120th episode, I think I need to go find other stuff to do. So that and what was weird is that as soon as I told them that, then all of a sudden that, like, breathed new life. The fact that it was now like a scarcity thing with recording, because I love Jason. We’re great friends. We’re actually gonna be doing a thing together, next month or in like, a month and a half, for Bill.com. And we haven’t worked together since last summer, and we’re just excited to be able to do the “Jason and Greg Show” again for a thing.
But, yeah, so I had a blast. I was super sad when it was over. But also, I’m prone to over-extending myself and overcommitting myself. So, you know, having one less thing on the plate was a good choice.
Yeah. Sometimes I think I have that problem too. I have a hard time saying no to things, whatever it is.
One, I’m just having the time of my life. I mean, I get to sit here and talk to you, and this is my job?
Right! I hear that. It’s like, this is ridiculous, that this is what we can do.
Right. So you are the grandfather of—and I called Jason the same thing. He said he thought I was calling him old. No. It’s just that you were doing podcasts probably in the accounting profession, as long or longer than anybody.
You would think you’d be much better at it by now.
No, I’m still just… so rough around the edges.
I’m kidding. I’m kidding. You’re very good. I gave you a compliment beforehand.
That your sound is about as good as I’ve had on the podcast so far. So you’re a professional.
So, I mean, I really wanna get to Oh My Fraud because this is such an interesting podcast. But I also, your history just is so intriguing to me. And so one thing I just wanna talk about there, and you can expand on this however you want, but you were part of Going Concern for a while. So why don’t you give us a little more background on that?
So to approach that, because yeah, I wrote for Going Concern for a number of years, great, great websites still around, still being snarky and as counterculture as ever. But what I did—and this is something that Jason and I just hammered on, for the entire ten years that I was working with him—is how accounting firms, one of the basics that you need to do, if you really wanna take your firm to the next level, is you have to identify a niche. And for a lot of firms, it’s basically like an industry niche. I specialize in this industry or this small set of industries. But with Tri-Merit, with your company, you also found a niche, but it wasn’t so much with an industry, it was more like with an offering that you have, with the business credits.
Yep. You got it.
Yeah. So finding a niche, it’s super powerful because if you find the right niche for you, like, people will come to you and be like, please, I need your services. Please do this with me. And for me, my niche in accounting, because, again, not in public accounting, I spent barely any time in that. But I’m still a member of the profession, and my personal niche as a personal brand was I was a CPA, plus comedian, and that’s where that came together. That’s why I got invited to Ron Baker’s Verisage symposium. That’s why Jason Blumer invited me to be on his podcast. I had been a licensed CPA for all of six months when he invited me to be on his podcast, that was supposed to educate the accounting profession. I’m like, I’m the dumbest one in the accounting profession still, I don’t know anything to talk about. But being able to bring that, so that’s my niche, and so with that, I was also blogging for Jason. That was one of the, it was the podcast, it was blogging, I was going to his conferences, and I was emceeing those as well. So it’s kind of a basket of services that he was getting from me.
But then those blogs caught the attention of the folks over at Going Concern. And that’s when I met Caleb Newquist, that’s when I started blogging for them, and I blogged for them for a bunch of years. And that’s when the cartooning actually came in. At one point, it was so weird, I read a business book and the business book was by a guy who was also in marketing, and he was like, you gotta exercise different sides of your brain, and because of that, I draw. And that’s what I do to exercise a completely different side of my brain.
And I go, I used to—I was kind of an artist, like, back in high school. I enjoy it. I was like, I’ve dabbled just a teeny bit in cartooning, a long time ago, like, barely any, but I was like, I think I could crank out some cartoons. So I just did—I just made some. It felt like, you know, how, there’s been this big resurgence in like, adult coloring books?
Yeah. Just because it feels good to color, and that’s sort of what I was getting from doing these cartoons. It’s like, it’s just kinda fun to do this. And I did feel like I was doing what that guy said, exercising this creative side of my brain. And after I made a couple, I was like, I wonder if anybody would like, buy these. So I called Going Concern, I got ahold of Caleb, and I was like, hey, I’m doing these cartoons. Do you wanna run these? And he was like, absolutely not. I do not want to do that. I was like, okay. Fair.
And then I went to Dan Hood at Accounting Today. And I I sent him a couple and I said, hey, what would you think about buying these from me and running them on Accounting Today? And he was like, these are not what we wanna expose our audience to at all. And I was like, okay. And then, shortly after that, Caleb contacted me and he was like, hey, on second thought we’ll do it. Which is also, again, I mean, I feel like my life is the stupid example of how a niche can, like, just make things work for you.
Because I’ve got friends who have been doing cartooning and doing—just they’re so much better artists. They’re so much better at making funny stuff out of it, but they would love to be able to just draw something and have somebody ready to snatch it up and send them a, you know, a check for it. I felt guilty because of how poor my drawings were, and that I was actually selling these things, but it’s because those other friends that I had, there was no, like, focus, to what they were doing. It was just funny cartoons that are drawn well. And you can find funny cartoons that are drawn well everywhere. But being able to go, no, these are specific to this one industry, and then all of a sudden you’ve got something that that people can’t find anywhere, and that scarcity and sorta that pent up demand that you didn’t even know was there, all of a sudden becomes a thing. So, yeah, like I said, I kinda stumbled my way into the right place.
Yeah. And but you saw there’s an opportunity. You saw there was a—you know your passion, you know what you like. You looked at that and how do I make this something that I can enjoy doing and as part of my profession?
The same thing happened with me with Tri-Merit. Kinda stumbled into specialty tax. But once I got there, I was like, I love this. And then after I realized I don’t even have to work, and I can just talk? I’m like, alright, I love this even more now.
Not too shabby.
You know, so basically, that’s what I do. I do a podcast, I do webinars. I’m gonna host a conference—you and I have talked about that.
Write articles, Accounting Today and all these others. And so that never would have happened if I didn’t develop the niche expertise. And so I think that’s a huge topic we talk on this podcast a lot. People may get sick of it. I don’t care. I think it’s important.
It’s step one of doing what you’re doing. Because recently, how often do you listen to the Cloud Accounting Podcast?
I’m pretty regular now. I actually when it goes live Friday, I usually get on a lot when they’re doing it live on Friday.
Yeah. Nice. I just listened to one not too long ago, and they were talking about how CAS, that that means, like, fifteen different things.
Oh, yeah. Everybody’s got their own definition.
Yeah. Which is weird because, it was eye opening to me, because I thought it was “client advisory services” is how I—and everybody’s trying to make a pivot if they’re not already in CAS, to move to CAS.
But like I said, I thought they were just talking about advisory.
But you can’t be an effective adviser unless you pick an industry to to specialize in so that you actually have something—like, something valuable to give to someone who says, hey, to even be able to pitch what you could do for somebody besides a tax return and a compilation.
So, yeah, it’s step 1, but it’s also a step that a lot of people refuse to take.
Well, and part of it is, if you’re starting a firm and you’re just hungry, you’re gonna take any client.
And you have to have some kind of, I don’t know if the right word is self-control to say no to some clients because if you just be patient—patience may be the word—if you just be patient, and you just concentrate on fast food restaurants, or whatever your niche wants to be, or a service offering, like, you know, SALT. You wanna be a SALT expert, or whatever it is, if you’re just patient, you are going to have those come to you, and you’re going to be able to share your knowledge. Sharing your knowledge, I think, is extremely important. You’re gonna be able to share your knowledge. You’re gonna show that you have knowledge in this area, that you are an expert, and then it’s just gonna start to grow. And having that narrow focus, I think, is so important because one, you’re gonna probably love what you’re doing a lot more because you’re concentrating on something you enjoy.
And it’s gonna show through. Alright. We could—I could—talk niche all day. This is your podcast. You’re supposed to be the expert we’re talking about here. So.
Well, yeah, but hold on—before we get too far from that, I do wanna say that, yeah, I think it’s smart. It’s not only necessary, but it’s smart. So let’s say you decided, hey, I wanna start my own practice. And then, yeah, you anybody who, I mean, you got kids to feed, you gotta, you know, you got bills to pay. So, yeah, take everybody that’ll let you do their work at first.
But the whole idea of that is to, one, just become awesome as an accountant so that just across the board, you’re just really good because you can’t do anything if you just suck at what you do. So get great at just generally being an accountant. But then during that time, you gotta see what’s coming to you and you gotta see what you like doing. And then at that point, you gotta start, you do have to have the discipline to start going, okay, I might even have to actively start firing some clients or are relocating to other firms, some clients that don’t fit fit my niche. But it is a discipline and it does come with risk. And as accountants—humans are risk averse—but accountants, we’re like, professionally risk averse. So it is a risk, but I’ll tell you, it seems like it’s a guaranteed payoff because, yeah, like you said, you’re gonna enjoy what you’re doing more, and you’re gonna be able to get paid more for what you’re doing.
Yep. Get paid more for sure.
Gotta do it!
Yep. If you can work with less clients, make more per client, have higher profit margin, have more free time, avoid burnout, all these things, I think niche expands to all those.
Yeah. And even, like, I feel like so much of the enjoyment of what you’re doing when you find a niche comes from the fact that you know that you are—like, your competence is through the roof, because you go, I know this industry backwards and forwards. I know the tech stack you need, I know the problems you have, I know how to fix the problems you have. And then you feel great because you’re just like, you’re like, you’re Santa Claus. This guy is going, here’s this. And here’s this. I got you. I got you. You’re done. You’re taken care of. Send your friends to me. And that’s your job. It’s so good.
Yep. Oh, no. I agree. So you and I will have to do another podcast where we just talk about niche because I could keep going, but let’s pivot based on one thing you kinda said before, being risk averse, when building our practice or just as accountants in general, I think that may tie into Oh My Fraud because there is risk out there, and people doing things that are not even—they’re beyond risky, they’re just illegal.
Let’s talk about, you started this podcast, Oh My Fraud. How did that come about, and then let’s expand on what type of topics you’re talking about there.
So Oh My Fraud was an example of my life backfiring on me. Because I had just made a very difficult decision to leave the ThriveCast with Jason. And like I said, I gave him 18 months notice. After I did that, I go, oh, this is really super fun, and I kinda was second guessing whether it should have given up, but I did it. And I was very much going, okay, podcasting—check. Did that, what’s next? And immediately Caleb calls me and says, hey, man, what would you think if you and I did a fraud podcast? And I was like, no, absolutely not. I don’t wanna do a fraud podcast, I just got done doing a podcast. I’m trying to find other stuff to do now because yeah, I wanted new challenges. And I was and I was like, you know, I would maybe be interested in doing it it was something where we felt like we could change the world doing it. But you know, if it’s just doing a podcast for doing a podcast, no.
And throwing in the “changing the world” thing, that was my way of like, trying to gently say no. That was my hell no, but as gently as possible. And so Caleb left me alone for, like, four months, and then he calls me back up and he goes, hey Greg, I figured out how we can change the world with that fraud podcast. And the missing the missing component was actually what Blake Oliver and Earmark bring to the table, where you can actually get continuing education.
So I go, oh, okay. So we can create amazing content, just on a content perspective. We can do the research—Caleb, he won’t say it out loud, he’s a journalist though. That guy, he’s a journalist in his bones. And he wants like, there’s times where I’ll put together the entire outline for our podcast, and he’ll send it back to me going, I don’t like your footnotes. We need like, he wants more references. It’s like, come on. So that’s where he’s coming from.
But being able to do excellent content—and Caleb and I have done a million projects over the years together, and he’s snarky and I’m me, and so together, we have this fun dynamic that both of us really enjoy. And so we’re able to put together a very entertaining, very solid content podcast that people can listen to and get continuing education for. And then I go, okay, this really has the opportunity of becoming a big damn deal. And so, yeah, we started a little over a year ago, it was the beginning of 2022 that Oh My Fraud launched. So we’re well into our second year now, and our numbers are looking great with it. And we’re excited to do this for the foreseeable future.
And is that every other week, or how often is that?
Yeah. Every other week. Once every two weeks, yep.
And I honestly wanted to talk a lot about the podcast before we started, and we’ve had too much fun on all these other topics. But why don’t we go through, do you have a favorite episode of Oh My Fraud, or did you love them all like your kids?
I do, they’re all fun. We’ve had a blast on every single one. Some of the more interesting cases that I feel like we’ve tackled, one was, it was actually an earlier episode that I did. It was probably within the first I think four months of when we started. It was a company called Mutual Benefits Company, and it was a wild case because If you just pare it down to its core, it was a ponzi scheme, is what it was. But it was interesting for so many reasons. What Mutual Benefits did is they they purchased people’s life insurance policies. So let’s say you had a terminal disease, you knew you were gonna die, and you were just like, I just need money to get me through the last little bit that I got here. Then my company, I could purchase your life insurance, which basically I’d give you a bunch of money for you to make me the beneficiary of your policy.
And obviously, it’d be a fraction of what the payout was, because I gotta make a profit on this, but it’s supposed to be mutually beneficial, hence the name Mutual Benefit Corporation. Where you get money to live. And not only that, these guys, their specialty because this was in the 80s, so they were really leaning into to people who were diagnosed with AIDS because back in the 80s, you got AIDS, that was a death sentence.
That was it.
So that’s what it seemed like. And they were even really leaning into, “We’re helping people who are suffering from this scourge that’s hit the planet.” And so there was really this altruistic side of stuff. But what they found is that those treatments that were keeping people who had AIDS alive for their full complete lifetime and their gamble went completely wrong because their whole business model was based on the idea that these people were not gonna live for very much longer, and they were living for a long time.
And so what so basically, what they started doing is they started getting they would find investors going, hey, give me your money, and I’ll buy a life insurance policy, and you’ll get this thing—which was their actual business model for a long time. and then it switched over to, oh, well, give me your money, I have somebody else I gotta pay out. Give me your money. And so it was so fascinating because a lot of times we think of Ponzi schemes as like, they were Ponzi schemes from the moment it was thought up.
But it’s interesting seeing a legitimate, and I’ll put that in quotes, a “legitimate” business, because it also feels so creepy that these people’s whole business was betting on people dying. So it’s like, yeah, so there were so many facets of that that I thought was so interesting that that’s for sure one of my favorite cases, arguably my favorite case that we looked into.
So I thought you were gonna say that they got so hard up for money, they just started killing people that they had these policies on.
They started hiring assassins? That would go out and murder the people? Yeah. That would have gotten really dark. So but, yeah, fortunately, their company imploded before they got that desperate.
Alright. So no murder involved.
Yeah. Not in that one. We’ve we’ve had a couple cases that there’s been murder as well. But it’s, yeah, fortunately, it’s few and far between.
You should talk to, I don’t know if you know Dawn Brolin, but Dawn has an IRS case that there’s a murder involved in, that might be interesting to talk about. I’m not sure if it involves fraud or not, but that might be an interesting discussion to have with her.
Yeah. For sure. I always love a tip. That’s been one of the fun side benefits of doing the podcast—we get regular emails from listeners going, hey, did you hear about this one? And probably more often than not, it’s like, no, that was not on my radar at all. And then we start looking into them. Some of them are real, real good, real juicy.
Oh, I bet. And going back to nets, you’re still itching because you’re on this podcast on fraud events that occurred in the profession.
Alright. Well, one, I have a call in three minutes, so we’re gonna have to wrap up pretty quickly here.
But it is about time anyway. Before we do wrap up—one question, and this is based on, and I know I’ve talked to you about this before, but you know John Garrett, and I always give John Garrett credit for this even though I was doing this before I met John Garrett, is I always ask everybody what their their outside of work passions are. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not podcasting or are working for the medical buildings that you deal with?
Yeah. It’s a standup comedy. That’s my love, just doing standup. I’ve got my own show out here in Utah that also has been getting some traction called “Comedy Church.” So, yeah, standup comedy as much as I can do it, I love it. It feeds my soul—it’s so funny. I need spreadsheets and I need comedy.
Because they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, but without either of them, I’m gonna go crazy.
Well, you’ve got both sides of that brain working then. That’s pretty cool. You’re like a renaissance man.
Yeah, I think that’s part of why I’m bald too. Both sides of the brain being stimulated and it’s just—
All the smoke coming out top of your head?
No time for hair, bro.
Alright. And then if anybody would like to get ahold of you, LinkedIn? Where would they look?
The best place to find me is on LinkedIn. So just, I’m Greg Kyte, CPA—Kyte is spelled with a Y instead of an I. and there’s really barely any of us out there with that name. So, yeah, Google Greg Kyte, you can really find all of my stuff as long as you spell that last name right. There’s a there’s another Greg Kite that spells his with an I, and he was a famous basketball player. He played for the Celtics.
He actually played for BYU.
Which is, I’m in Utah. So if I talk to people on the phone, they’re like, oh, wait a second, are you the—and I’m like, no. Not that Greg Kite. He’s a foot taller, but I think we weigh the same.
Yeah. He was, I mean, he was seven-foot-four or something. I think he was pretty tall, whatever he was.
He was, he was humongous.
Yep. Alright. Well, Greg. Thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it. Had a great time.
Yeah, me too!
I honestly would love to do it again. We’ll schedule one down the road if you’re up for it again.
Perfect. Sounds great. It was a blast. Thanks for having me on.
About the Guest
Greg Kyte is the current host of the Oh My Fraud and Drunk Ethics podcasts, the founder of Comedy CPE, and the Controller and CPA for the Utah Valley Physicians Plaza, where he has served for nearly fifteen years.
Greg took an unusual path to the profession, starting his career as a math teacher for a decade before switching to accounting in earnest. He subsequently started the ThriveCast with Jason Blumer before moving on to host Oh My Fraud and Drunk Ethics. He also founded Exposure Drafts Cartoons, and his cartoon work has appeared in accounting publications such as Going Concern.
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.