With Justin Grant
We’re back with Part 2 of The Unique CPA‘s celebration of reaching the 100 episode milestone, with Episode 101. Randy is once again the “guest,” and producer Justin Grant of Professional Productions.net continues his hosting duties, as the two listen and respond to messages and questions sent in by several past and future guests on the show.
Welcome back to The Unique CPA Happy Hour, and thanks for joining us for part two of our 100th Episode celebration, where Randy will be fielding questions from past and future guests. And now, back to the show.
Alright, we should probably move on.
Yeah, let’s shift gears a little bit. And we have kind of a fun thing planned here. We had reached out and asked for some comments and some insights from some of the guests you’ve had on, over the first 100 episodes, to just kind of share their thoughts and give them the opportunity to turn the tables on you the way I’m doing by posing some questions. Some of them did, not all of them. Some of them just had some nice words. But, shall we have a go and have a listen to what they had to say?
Let’s do it.
Alright. Number one.
What’s up, Randy? What’s up Unique CPA? Love that you’re doing this so I’m recording a little audio message for you guys. This is Scott Scarano of Accounting High, aka OKR, aka Lil Toddler. I got a lot of monikers, a lot of names these days.
So I’m just recording this for you to say “Keep up the good work.” One hundred is a huge milestone. You should be very proud of yourself. I love your energy—I love the energy you put into this show, and how much you care about it. I think that shows in all the conversations you have. You’re a very gracious host with all the guests. I want to say, like, you’re one of the first people that gave me confidence in the things that I was able to say. I always saw myself—our first episode we recorded, we called it “The Vaporware Episode.” I always saw myself as sort of somebody that’s more of a host and not really—doesn’t have any ideas, isn’t really the meat. Like I’ve said before, the sizzle, not the steak. I started to realize that I got a little bit of meat on me. And maybe that’s because I’m gaining a little bit of weight. I’m not quite sure.
We all are, Scott.
But you gave me some confidence in that. So I think that you got to keep up the good work, and keep that energy, and always be curious, and always care about the guests. You’re a gracious host, and that’s because you care, and you care about what they have to say. So don’t ever lose that. So when you get to Episode 1,000, I want to be able to say the same thing to you. I want you to always keep that at the forefront, because once it starts to become actually about The Unique CPA, and the man behind the microphone, then you may have to pivot. So if that’s what this is going to be, talking about these clips, make sure you do that with intention, because I haven’t had the guts to do it yet. I’ve been talking about doing that on my show, and I haven’t quite done it yet.
I really look forward to the live event, The Unique CPA Conference. I hope it’s The Unique CPA goes to Accounting High or The Unique CPA at Accounting High and we could co-headline this thing too. I think that’s a dope idea. Maybe have the awards ceremony for the bracket challenge. So I hope this isn’t just a way for you to bait me into saying something so you can get your attorneys on me for beating you guys in the second round of the tournament, but there it is. We’re in the Sweet 16, whoop, whoop, whoop, Accounting High! Naw, I’m not, just like not even rooting for us. You know this. I think we’re gonna lose to the Cloud Accounting Podcast in the Sweet 16. But you guys put up a great fight. Congratulations for winning the first round and making it into the tournament in the first place. You guys were a two seed.
I don’t know if I have any questions for you. Like, what’s the goals for next year? Like what’s the goals for this year with the podcast? Do you plan on taking this march all the way to a thousand episodes? If so, what’s the timeframe? When are you going to hit a thousand? But congratulations, Unique CPA, and the whole team over there. You guys are killing it. Keep up the great work. Love you guys. Peace out.
So some pretty nice words—really nice words from very good friend of the show, Scott Scarano of Accounting High and his inimitable style, I would say.
He really puts the “unique” in Unique CPA when he makes an appearance, doesn’t he?
Yeah, he does for sure.
And he came right in, Randy, and backed me up on this whole “you don’t have an ego” thing—that was the whole point of what he was saying. So thank you very much, Scott. I appreciate you backing me up on that one. Also got in the good natured jab, knocking you out of the bracket challenge. You knew he wouldn’t be able to help himself.
Well, if you’re running the bracket, and I have to go against you?
What do you think’s gonna happen?
I know. It was unlucky.
Now Scott, I’m very fortunate that most likely it looks like this Sunday. I’m going to be live on YouTube with him.
Oh, cool. So this will be broadcast I guess after that, but I’ll be live on YouTube with him to go over the Elite Eight matchups and see who makes it to the Final Four. So I’m going to be doing—
—nice, well, I’ll be sure to put a link to that, even though it’ll be after the fact, because the video will still be there.
So I already asked about, you know, the original goal of the show, but this theme of evolution keeps cropping up in this episode, and Scott brought it up. So what are your goals for this year for next year? And as he said, for one thousand episodes?
Well, first, I’m gonna answer the last one. So a thousand episodes, I honestly think it’s doable.
You know, I’ll be 61 shortly. And at some point—
—How shortly, Randy?
Well, we’re March 31st, so I am about 33 days away or 32. May 2nd, so.
May 2nd. Okay.
Yep, we are coming up. But, I love what I do. I mean, I love everything about what I do these days. And so I can see, even if I slow down on travel, even if I slow down—well, speaking events I enjoy too. So we’ll figure out one slowdown. But I don’t think podcasts will be it for a while. So Episode 1,000 is possible.
But when we look at evolution of what we’re doing, I mean, this is the first iteration of evolution right here. We’re doing The Unique CPA Happy Hour. So we’re changing up. It’s still The Unique CPA, but we’re having a drink. We’re a little more casual, although I always feel I’m pretty casual on the show.
You are. It’s true. But we’re not sticking to any one topic like you tend to, or, I don’t know, you actually, you intend to, and then you don’t.
Yeah that’s true. That is true.
We didn’t intend that from the start this time. So at least there’s that.
But we’ve talked, and you and I’ve talked, and Nick in my office have talked, and I’ve actually got a handful of people that I’ve talked to about this, is that maybe doing special episodes too. Something unique—ah, sticking with the theme.
Something unique in the industry just happened, and let’s just put out a special episode, almost like an emerging news release, “Hey, this just happened.” And so we’ve talked about that—whether it happens or not, we’ll see. But that is something that potentially is down the road.
But then just The Unique CPA in general, and Scott said it—I am not The Unique CPA. The Unique CPA is the show. The Unique CPA is the guests. The Unique CPA, and, EA, CPA, accountant, bookkeeper, whatever—it’s generic. But that is, everybody’s unique. Everybody has their own story, their own skills, their own passions. And so The Unique CPA has evolved from a podcast, to now a conference, to we do monthly webinars that are under the Tri-Merit name, but it’s really, you know, evolving to be a more Unique CPA thing. I can see The Unique CPA becoming a community somehow at some point. Whether that happens or not, I can see that at least what we’ll do is have an education platform available for people.
So that’s kind of a potential evolution of where we’ll go with this.
Love it. That’s excellent. And let’s move on to the next message, then. We have Matthew May. Here he is.
Hey, congrats Randy from the whole acuity team on your one hundredth episode of The Unique CPA podcast. Can’t believe the amazing guests you guys you’re able to gather each and every time you do a podcast—it’s just looking through the first one hundred episodes, it’s amazing to see the talent that you’re able to aggregate, and really appreciate all the stuff, and congrats on the hundredth episode.
Yeah, so thank you very much to Matthew and everyone over at Acuity. We already mentioned him and Kenji Kuramoto’s podcast, Drink While You Think. They were both with you at the Beer Temple for the anniversary episodes.
I am so—what’s the word? Honored, excited, thrilled, humbled—humbled, see?—that everybody loved that party we put on?
It was great!
Oh, it was. I talked to Matthew today. I think I mentioned that already. I recorded a new podcast with him today.
And he was talking about it and he brought it up and just had this huge smile. And that’s—that’s what I want to get out of the conference we’re doing this year. I want people to look back and say, one, “I learned so much, I met so many interesting people, but I had so much fun too.” Because this profession is about, you know, what we do but relationships as well. If we can build these relationships that can help us help each other, collaborate, make the profession more exciting, make the profession more accessible—waybe that’s not the word—but just make sure we’re all in this together. Because we’re in a little bit of a crisis mode in my mind. We don’t have enough people going in, and so if we can show that this is a fun profession, that’s what I want to do, so fun has to be part of everything I do.
And I love that. Let me swerve though here away from these messages for a moment from what you just said about there’s not enough people coming in, because one of the hot topics I’m seeing, in fact, I saw Blake talking about it on LinkedIn just today—maybe yesterday, too—is the exposure, by profession, to AI disrupting what is going to happen. And it seemed to me—because of course, what does everybody do? They do that old kind of thing that the anti-technology people have done since the days that, you know, like looms were replacing weavers.
“Oh no! This is the ruination of humanity!”
But what I have seen from whom I consider the thinkers of accounting, is they say, “Well no, the fact that AI can come in and it can do so much of our accounting work, that’s an opportunity because we don’t have enough accountants right now. We don’t have enough tax preparers. We don’t have enough anybody.” But that’s just it—like, technology is presenting an opportunity here, and it’s not the typical doom and gloom if you don’t want it to be, because accounting does have that problem. You have talked about it so many times, especially in the last year or so. You did this before but it’s really ramped up if you look back at the catalog.
No, for sure.
And so the fact that technology is coming in, and it will literally bridge that gap, it’s just, do you want to be a part of that? Or do you want to be somebody who’s left behind, and who doesn’t take advantage of, well, “the changing face of public accounting?”
Oh, there you go! Back to our theme. Yeah, it’s important. It’s, it’s, so you mentioned Jason Staats before. Jason just actually put out a post today talking about how GPT-4 is a couple of weeks away from being able to have really good, like, document recognition. And being able to, I think what he was saying, map a document’s data into a tax return.
And so that’s pretty cool. So yeah, technology, you know—we’ll go back to age. I’m not going to be the one probably implementing this stuff, because all I do is talk. But man, if you’re not the one implementing technology, you’re going to fall behind.
But I will say I mean, Randy, your original degree was in computer science, correct?
And you are—even though I feel much more kinship with you than probably normally someone who’s of a different generation would—
Whereas you, you and my dad, who is only 10 years your senior—10 or 11—would both be I think considered baby boomers.
I am, yes.
Yeah! He’s the guy who, like, in 2010, was still dictating to a secretary to type stuff, as a lawyer. And it’s like, he didn’t embrace technology at all. But you—you were a computer science major and degree holder. And you may not be the guy because you’re, you know
End of the career.
Yeah. Right. But it’s, you’re advocating for it, and you always have advocated for it. And so that’s the difference to me. It’s not about, you know, where you are in your career journey. It’s, are you willing to roll with the punches? I mean, that’s really what it comes down to.
Now. I mean, not to take away—there was something to what my dad was trying to do, I think, because he believed in the way that he had learned how to practice law, and it worked well. Maybe for individuals, that’s okay. But we’re talking about oftentimes on The Unique CPA, we’re talking about firms, we’re talking about the way that they’re structured, we’re talking about, you know, all these themes that when you gather everybody together, the need for change is just undeniable.
Oh, it is, and to your dad’s defense, in 2011 technology was, you know, good. It was decent. I mean, it was very good. But the change has happened in the last 12 years since then?
That too, yeah.
I mean, the change has happened in the last three months, or the last six months is insane.
I had Randy Johnston on the show, I think a couple of times—at least once. But he was also on our conference last year. And I don’t know if it was on a virtual conference or if it was just me and him talking sometime last fall. But he, at that point, and Randy’s—I don’t know how old Randy is—but he’s older than me. I was gonna say 70. Sorry, Randy, if that’s wrong, if that’s older than you are. But he was at that point, he told me that if you bought a computer six months ago, or a new phone six months ago, it’s outdated already. You have to replace it. Just because technology—and that’s just from the hardware end of things, not even the software. He said you have to replace it. You’re already outdated. So technology is just advancing so quick. And we can’t ignore it. And we have to be part of it. Because if we’re not part of it, we’re going to be in a new profession.
Yeah, no, I think that’s a great way to look at it actually. Get ready and keep ready.
On the other hand, you know, we’ve always had, in these professional arenas, continuous learning.
(Randy’s beer pops open)
Number two! Number two!
I’ll go ahead as well. There we go. Oh, yeah. nice and foamy as well. But yeah, we’ve always had this built in idea, and for good reason. We need to keep learning—it’s why every profession I’m aware of has continuing education of some sort.
Well, and you’re a keep learning guy.
Oh, well, I mean, that’s true. It’s just fun, of course. But no, I mean, we’ve got to do so many—I don’t know what you call it. We always called it CLE in the legal profession, but you call it something, C something.
CPE or CE depending on if you’re an EA or a CPA.
Okay, yeah. you’ve got those hours, you’ve got to do them. But yeah, why not? Because I’ll be honest, I always just, you know, got the cheap CLE package so that I could just get the requirements out of the way. But no, if you do it the right way, you can actually really improve the way that you do what you’re doing in accounting.
Oh, yeah, for sure.
That’s why The Unique CPA is on Earmark, of course.
I was gonna say! I don’t know if we’re playing Blake Oliver. I think he might have said some in.
He did, yeah, you’re right.
But CPE—getting that for this—that was one of my goals. Well, I’ll wait and see if we’re gonna play Blake Oliver.
Yeah we may as well wait to go with that one. Alright. I’ve detoured us enough. So let’s go ahead and go back.
That’s my job! I detour us!
Well, hey, I’m hosting this time. So I’m the one who gets to do it.
Alright, well, thank you.
Yeah! Alright. So here we go.
Kellie Parks here of Cloud Accounting Resources. And I am calling in because I’m excited about the hundredth episode of The Unique CPA podcast. This is a podcast that I find to be genuine and enriching. I love that not only does Randy talk about the things going on in our industry as they relate to compliance, or as they relate to technology, and what we’re all doing to forward our firms and help our clients, but Randy loves to address the things that’s happening with us as humans—what’s going on with our life-work balance, what’s going on in how we’re helping each other achieve success and collaborating together, what’s going on in making sure that our mental health is being taken care of, and we’re not suffering from burnout. And that’s a unique thing to have on a podcast. Congratulations, fellas. This is great news.
Thank you, Kelly. And Kelly will be appearing at Bridging the Gap, The Unique CPA Conference in 2023.
We’re very excited to have her. She really hit on the key things I think that made—that make—The Unique CPA and the broader movement what it is, don’t you think?
She did. And Kelly is—she’s an amazing person. I met Kelly four months ago—which I feel like I’ve known her forever. And that’s so cool. That podcast has done this for me where I just meet these people. And I would never have an opportunity before really but this podcast has created this. But I met her at QuickBooks Connect out in Vegas in December.
And there was an immediate connection. It just, I could tell she was passionate about helping the profession. And you could tell I’m assuming by her accent, she’s up in Canada.
Yep. “Genuine” was the first thing.
That’s what I heard, too.
Went on from there.
Yeah. She’s just amazing and just wants to help and, and just a really fun person. But that’s just so cool that those are the types of people I’ve gotten to know over the years. And if I didn’t have this podcast, it never would have happened, and now I feel like—and she’s on our advisory council for the conference. Met her four months ago, but I just could tell she has a passion for helping the profession.
Well, and you’ve said yourself, you love what you do. You don’t work. And I love seeing that because this is the—what’s the word? I’m losing the word—the essence. The essence of why that is for you, isn’t it?
Yeah. Wait, what is the essence? Tell me my answer!
What’s your “And,” or your answer?
I was just—what I was saying was, you’ve just hit on, kind of, you were talking about how the podcast has given you the opportunity to meet these people.
Oh, yeah. You’ve gotta keep this in, because this is—
Yeah! That you enjoy getting to meet people that you never would have met otherwise, through getting all this exposure. So what I was going for was, that is the essence of why when you say you “don’t work anymore,” you just love what you do, and you enjoy what you do. That’s it distilled down kind of into one idea.
Oh, yeah, for sure. The fact that I get to just meet all these interesting people, because I have a podcast. And because of obviously my good looks and everything else.
Which the producer has decided to carefully keep shielded from the general public.
That’s right! But the fact that I just meet all these interesting people, it’s just so fun. And most people I talk to, the whole theme, the whole, seems to be the theme of the show, is helping, you know? To me, that at least that’s what I feel. And the guests are always wanting to help—help with something. And Kelly wants to help for sure. And so that was pretty cool to have her on the show and to have her be part of our conference.
Yeah. Thank you very much, Kelly. That really nice message. We’d better get through the rest of these though. Because we’re really, where are we here? Yeah, we’re at an hour ten. This is impressive.
Yeah, that’s fine. I’m having fun. That’s one of the goals!
Exactly. We are accomplishing that. There’s no doubt about it. Nobody’s getting educated, but that’s okay.
Oh, there’s education going on.
No, I know. I’m just joking. We’ll take one out of two. Okay, fine, it’s two out of two. Alright. Moving on to the next one.
Hey, Randy Crabtree, it’s John Garrett, the author of What’s Your “And?” and the host of the podcast with the same name. And I just wanted to say congratulations on reaching one hundred episodes of The Unique CPA podcast. That’s quite a feat, and I was honored to be a part of that journey twice, which makes me extra, extra unique, I guess. But it’s been great getting to know you more, and really appreciate all your support for my work as well.
And when you were on my show, we talked about your “And” being beer, your outside of work hobby, your passion. And I was just curious, what’s your favorite beer right now? I think that would be something that a lot of people would be curious about. So congratulations again, and I look forward to 100 more episodes of The Unique CPA podcast.
Now. The joke wrote itself, and you already preempted it, and then on top of that you preempted his question. Because you’ve already told us, what your favorite beer is. You’re having it right now, or you just finished having it.
I did. Pliny the Elder.
But yeah, the joke, the joke, of course, that John Garrett gets mentioned more than anyone else, yeah, and he already got mentioned. So I mean, it’s just it’s absolutely perfect, isn’t it?
And John, and the reason I talked to him yesterday is I want him at our conference, because I think he’s a great kickoff to the conference.
So I’ll set the stage of why we’re doing the conference, and what I see the issues are and how we’re going to address the issues.
And part of that next step is going to be, one of the things we can do is create a corporate culture where everybody can be themselves in the office, or in the workplace, or remotely or whatever it is, but with the team, and John just does a great job of that.
Who else? Yeah, I mean, who else would you really want to play that role?
That is it. And John, I don’t even know if he realizes how important what he is—what he is saying, is to the world. I think he does.
He’s a pretty clever guy. I mean, let’s be honest.
No, and he does, but it’s even more important than he even realizes and he realizes it’s very important.
Is this old guy talk, Randy?
It might be. Like “back in my day.” So yeah, we weren’t allowed to talk about our feelings.
That’s right. That’s actually, that’s funny, but it’s kind of true too.
Yeah, no, but John is just like, I mean, I’m gonna be on this podcast coming up—I don’t know if I talked about it on the show or not—but this podcast coming up with three different podcast hosts coming and one of the things is going to be what we’ve learned from this industry of being podcast hosts. And one of the biggest things I’m going to share is my—what John’s message is. Because I think it is so, so important.
Well, and just to hammer that joke even further, you know, he mentioned two official appearances that he’s made, but I mean, two dozen times, he’s been mentioned? Thirty? I don’t know.
Yeah, it’s a significant proportion of this show’s airtime has been devoted to John Garrett. But jokes aside—for very good reason.
Yes, for sure. Yeah, he’s awesome.
So anyway, we anticipated—you anticipated, not me. I wanted to keep this off to the side. But you anticipated everything he had to say. And you anticipated my jokes. So, oh well, we did our best.
This is good.
Yeah. Let’s move on. We’ve got three more. So we will bring up the next one here now.
Randy, it’s Allan Koltin. Hey, I just wanted to congratulate you on your upcoming hundredth episode of The Unique CPA podcast. I mean, it has been an amazing journey. Very curious, when you started, what the vision was, and what you felt has transpired since then.
From my perspective, it’s become one of the go-to podcasts—and I don’t mean just in the accounting profession—I mean in the entire business community. You’ve had engaging guests, you’ve had great content, and you’ve made them really entertaining. I mean, truly, truly, it’s been a—it’s been a joy to be part of and listen to the amazing podcasts you put together. Congratulations, and good luck on the next one hundred.
So, the absolute font of accounting knowledge himself, Allan Koltin—really all sorts of knowledge. He owns Koltin Consulting, of course. He’s an author—prolific author—just a star in the profession. He unfortunately anticipated my opening question—it’s a logical one. I mean, you know—I’m sorry I stole your thunder, Allan, on that.
But it’s true. I mean, it’s something that is relevant, like knowing what was the idea behind the podcast, but he also stressed the quality of the content. And we talked about that a little bit—that and the entertainment—we talked about how you’ve just had amazing guests from the start. But let’s focus on that anyway. You’ve said as you became more comfortable and kind of more of an old hand at the game of podcasting, that’s helped you make things more natural for you. But do you think that also shifted your focus toward the fun side, even though that was your goal? At first, it’s a little harder to execute. It’s easy to say, but it’s a little harder to execute.
Yeah, I don’t think there was as many laughs at the beginning.
I think there’s a lot more laughs now. And so that obviously changed. The goal of education has always been there. I just think we were able to, you know, concentrate on more important topics as we’ve evolved. So, you know, what is going to make us better as an industry, as a profession, and as an individual going forward. And I think that’s one thing that, you know, it was there from the beginning, but somehow we’ve been able to dial into that more.
And I just want to talk about Allan for a second. This is the type of thing where, I mean, Allan Koltin.
You look at Accounting Today, where they say he’s the third most influential person in accounting. I mean, I think that’s what he was this last year. And he has so much knowledge, and when Allan—I texted him a month ago and asked him if he wanted to be involved in our conference, and he texted back immediately and said, “Randy, if you’re having a party, I am there.” And I’m like, pinching myself! How does this happen?
I mean, you look at the head of the AICPA and that kind of stuff. I mean, obviously, they’re up, but who’s out there, more recognized than Allan Koltin, I don’t think anybody. And the fact that I can call him a friend, and all due to the podcast is just amazing to me. So Allan, thank you so much. And really, this was—I really appreciate everything he’s helped me out with over the years.
Well, I tell you, I love your answer, because it leads right into my answer to your rhetorical question, which is, your ego has nothing to do with it, Randy.
That’s the reason. That’s the reason.
That’s my own running joke. It’s with me, it’s with, you know, there was a joke with my friends that Randy’s favorite subject is Randy.
That’s why he has a podcast!
Exactly. But honestly, I like hearing—you know, I do have some long winded questions, when I’m asking people questions at times.
That’s because you think.
Right. I’m like, “Alright, how am I gonna get this out? I want to get the point across, I want them to understand what I’m asking.” And then boom.
And so that’s it, but honestly. Do I really feel I have a big ego? I think—do I think I’m a great podcast host? No. Do I think I’m really good at educating our profession? I do that. I do believe that.
You’ve done a pretty good job of that, I would say, and I I think a lot of people would say that. So there you go. Alright. Well, we’ve got a couple more here. So let’s move on to the next one.
Hey Randy, this is Jeremy Clopton, with Upstream Academy and The Upstream Leader podcast. Congratulations on episode number one hundred of The Unique CPA. What an accomplishment that is. And it’s been a lot of fun to listen to the show over the years, and hear how you’ve engaged with each guest, how you’ve kept that sense of humor throughout every show, but also been really meaningful in the questions that you ask and the content that you deliver.
As I think about a question that I’d like to see you answer on the show, I’m actually reminded of a conversation that you and I had very early in my career at Upstream Academy, and it’s a conversation that I actually reflect on fairly regularly. So my question for you is, out of all the episodes that you’ve produced so far, what is one conversation with a guest that really sticks out to you as one of the either the most meaningful, or impactful, conversations you’ve had in the first one hundred episodes of The Unique CPA? Thanks, Randy. And congratulations again on episode number one hundred. I look forward to the next one hundred as well.
Yeah! Jeremy, great friend of the show. As he mentioned, he’s co-host of The Upstream Leader. He does that alongside Heath Alloway, over at Upstream Academy. And there are a couple of great leaders, and they’re all about impact over there, so Jeremy’s question certainly fits. That’s a tough question, isn’t it?
Well, it is. But it’s pretty, probably obvious based on the conversation so far—it was my first episode with John Garrett.
I mean, I talk about him all the time. That was probably the most impactful. I think I had that mindset that John talks about before that—and I know I did, but he gave me a definition of it.
So that was the obvious answer. And that is the answer. But the most impactful: There’s a couple. One, the live podcast, honestly, changed a lot. I mean, I was gonna say, it changed my life. It did in a lot of ways—that live podcast did a lot of things that changed me. I was able to create these relationships with—I mean, I knew Kenji and Matthew from Acuity, I knew Blake Oliver. I knew Scott Scarano, I knew Dawn Brolin. And Allan Koltin was there too. And am I forgetting anybody? Josh Lance—and I knew Josh well, too. But that just really solidified these relationships, and those relationships have done a ton for me. So that, for me personally, I mean, from an enjoyment of our profession.
And they all have such great information to share. And so that was, if I look back, that was probably my favorite episode, which ended up being three episodes. But also, I mean, if I look, I mean, every single episode—I mean, like there’s, I will say I didn’t I didn’t dislike any of them. They were all great.
Right? I mean, why would you have?
Yeah. But I mean, episode number 6. So I did this with Richard Kopelman. Richard Kopelman’s the Managing Partner of Aprio. And Aprio, at the time, when I interviewed him, was, I don’t know what they were. Top 100 CPA firm—maybe not far below 100. And they just got named, like top—the 26th largest firm in the country or something like that?
So Richard and I, we’ve had a lot of really good conversations about, you know, the industry and the profession. And Richard is great. And being able to say that this managing partner of the 25th largest or 26th, or 28th, or whatever the number is, largest CPA firm in the country, is a friend of mine? That’s okay. But the fact that he has this idea of how to run a business and how to have a corporate culture—and culture is huge for him. He merges in firms, but the culture has to fit before he does this. And I think that is so good. Again, goes back to John Garrett. But Richard, I think he has these great ideas of the profession. And every time I talk to him, I enjoy it. So.
I mean, I can keep, I can go on—Josh Lance. I mean, all these different episodes, but there’s been a handful, but if I had to answer Jeremy’s question, just with one, it’s tough, but I would go with the live podcast.
I like it. Yeah. And that live podcast—that was especially fun on my end, too, because, well, hey, I had some unique technical challenges to deal with. The, the situation they’re dealing with with the audio and breaking it out into three episodes.
Oh yeah! And we had eighty people in the audience that were just drinking. It was a lot of background noise.
It was. So to make it kind of a, “I’m gonna listen to a podcast on my iPhone today” compatible it was a challenge, you know, but that was fun.
But what was also fun was just that it was, I think, in much the way you’re saying for listeners—because that’s ultimately what I am too. I may produce it, but I really listen to it. And it was just such a break that you were already headed toward, but you—it was such a let loose kind of episode. While you still you say you don’t prepare anymore, I’m sure you prepared a little at least for that.
That one I prepared.
Yeah. But the way that, you know, when you, even at that point, which it was not too long ago, but we looked back, you know, to Episode 1 or whatever—just the way you guided everybody through that episode, it was like you’d been doing this your whole life. And so the fact that that feels like a transition point for you, too—I think that’s really cool. And that’s a really nice synergy between the experience of this show as a listener and the experience of the host.
Oh, yeah. I believe that that was a turning point. When I look at, and my guests have been great all the time. But man, when I look at the after, and before, I mean, they were all great shows, they were all great guests, but I just feel more comfortable after that show.
I love that. And it shows I think.
Alright, well, we’ve got one more to go. So here is the final message for you on this episode number 100.
Hey, Randy, it’s Blake Oliver. Congrats on your 100th episode. As a podcaster myself, I know what a huge milestone that is. It took a ton of work to get there. So hats off to you.
Here are two questions that I’d love for you to answer on the show. One: What is the biggest challenge you faced in your career as a CPA? And two: What advice would you give to aspiring CPAs, especially firm owners? Thanks for a great show. And here’s to another one hundred episodes.
Alright! So yeah, Blake mentioned, he’s a podcast host. And that’s the Cloud Accounting Podcast, of course, an unbelievable resource for accountants.
We also mentioned earlier, he set up Earmark, which is an unbelievable resource if you need CPE. So yeah, he’s definitely a guy who’s doing things in the accounting profession, and he talked to you about Earmark—I think it was episode 72? Yeah, that sounds right. And he also joined you at the Beer TEmple. So I mean, yeah, we’re really bringing it all together with this last one.
And yeah, his questions were about the biggest challenge you faced as a CPA. We didn’t really talk about that. We talked about your evolution, but not the biggest challenge you faced. And then your advice. So why don’t we start first with the challenge.
So the challenge as a CPA, for me, was I just wasn’t prepared to run a firm. I mean, I knew when I started my firm, three and a half years after I graduated—well, not graduated—after I finished my accounting hours, enough hours to take the exam, I started a firm. And that was always my goal. I don’t know why—I always wanted to have my own business. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And I was. From age 16, I was an entrepreneur—I started a window washing company at age 16. And so this is what I wanted to do, mainly because I don’t like people telling me what to do, probably. But the biggest challenge was I just wasn’t prepared. I wish I knew more. I wish I would have listened to The Unique CPA podcast before I started my career.
Speaking of things you’ve said in many different ways on this show over the one hundred episodes, it’s “I wish I knew what this guest knows now, when I was starting out.” That may be the biggest theme of the show, actually, if we think about it.
Oh no, for sure. Because they are! It’s amazing the knowledge they have, the expertise they have, everything that they talk about is things I didn’t know. I was just like, “I’m gonna go get clients, I’m going to do tax returns. I’m gonna do financial statements.” That was it. That was my whole goal. I’m gonna do tax returns, I’m gonna do financial, I’m gonna do accounting. That was it. I had no other goal than that.
So the biggest challenge for me was just that. When I started my practice, there was no focus there was no “nitch” or “neesh” or whatever that other word is you say.
“Nish.” Yeah. Go right down the middle.
I can’t say it.
It just rhymes with “fish,” man, it’s not that bad!
It’s tough! I can’t do it. But that that was the biggest challenge for me.
Now. The biggest thing is I would never change anything in my past I would never go back and say “I wish I would have done this different or done that different.” Because the point in time I am right now sit I’m here today talking to you, I would rather be nowhere else. I would rather have no other point in time in my life than I have right now. I love everything I do, I love where I am in my life, I love where I am in my profession, I love everything that’s happened to my family. I am so spoiled from that standpoint. So I wouldn’t go change.
I’ve had challenges. I mean, I’ve had a lot of challenges. I mean, my accounting practice, I got burnt out. I started a real estate development firm, that my partner and I couldn’t get along anymore. You know, we had $220 million of projects underway that I basically walked away from. I mean, there’s a lot of things that I’ve done wrong over the years.
Haven’t we all, though?
But man, I am in a perfect spot. I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. So yes, to answer Blake’s questions, challenges? Yes, I wasn’t prepared to run a firm, but I learned so much from not being prepared that I can use today. That is, that has been perfect.
And the moral of the story is you don’t want to repeat Randy’s mistakes. Listen to The Unique CPA.
Exactly. Exactly. That’s for sure.
And let me just say, really—what you’re saying about being in the right place, and feeling that, really just down to your bones. I mean, you can tell the way you just spoke about it. It’s genuinely a privilege to be able to be a part of that. So thank you.
Alright. The beer is kicking in, but thank you.
No, it’s really not!
Nah, I was gonna say. But Blake asked two things. What was the other question?
He did. The other question was the challenges, but then also what kind of advice you might have for aspiring accountants, particularly firm owners.
Alright. So “nitch,” “neesh,” “nish.”
Yeah! Nice! Three ways. You got it. Fish—nish.
Yeah, I got it. That is like the biggest thing because—
—You’re going to hammer that till the end of time, aren’t you?
Yeah, I am. Because we talked about this already with Josh Lance, was what, maybe episode number three or four and he’s been on a few times?
Yeah, let me let me look back—I got it up on here. Yeah, he was episode three. And he was episode, he was on the live podcast as well.
And so Josh, what I love about Josh—I love everything about Josh, he’s just a great guy.
But what I love is the fact that he’s concentrated on, in my words, a “nitch” from day one. Craft breweries, which probably I have a little affinity towards him because of that.
I mean yes, that will bias you just a tiny bit, right?
Exactly. But when you do that, you just create this knowledge base that you can share, and your passion shows through, and your knowledge shows through, and clients will come to you.
I mean, Brandon Hall talked about that in his episode too, because he got this niche for real estate. And so that I think is, the thing is, you’re going to get nervous, you’re going to get afraid, you’re going to be scared, you’re going to think “I can’t not take on all this other business, because it’s not my niche.” And that’s fine. You can take on some other clients. But man, if you concentrate on the thing that you’re passionate about, this industry you’re passionate about—it’s just going to in the long run, you’re going to have more fun, you’re going to avoid burnout, you’re going to probably be able to bill more per hour just because of the expertise, and that expertise is going to show through.
And so that’s I think the thing that I would tell, you know, anybody that’s starting to practice now is to incorporate your passion as much as you can in your practice. And if you can create a niche that’s based on that passion, you’re gonna be unstoppable.
To be honest, I can’t think of a better way to kind of close the episode. What do you think, Randy?
I think we’re there. Although I can go all night long. I’m having so much fun.
I mean, you say that literally every episode, so it’s okay. I appreciate that I got that compliment, too.
No, I am rating this up at one of the top. You know, I already said the live podcast, but —we were drinking beer at the live podcast so there may be a theme here.
Yeah! I think you’re right. Maybe you should do that every time. We’ll really elevate the show. Get some Pliny the Elder out there every time. It would be expensive. Expense it to Nick and it’ll be fine.
That’s right. I’ll just tell Nick. We’ve gotta buy Pliny for the episodes.
So one thing I want to talk about, but I had a ton of fun on the Dan Hood episode as well. You know, Accounting Today. It was just—the guy is passionate about the profession. You could see that shine through and—
—Well, and you know what, I hate to interrupt you that early, but he’s an outsider in the same way that I am. So I really related to him. It was an amazing episode. I’m glad you’re talking about it now.
Yeah. Okay, so you thought so too, because that came out with a week ago or so, or two? And he does a great job. And just, man, every time I talk to that guy, and I was very fortunate to be on his podcast recently, too.
I just, you know, like I say, I don’t feel like I work. I mean, I would’ve went forever on that podcast, because I just had so much fun talking to him. And he’s a great guy. And he does so much for the profession, too.
He surely does. There’s no doubt about it. And I’m really glad you had him on. I hope that kind of reciprocal relationship can continue and that you guys appear on each other’s show many more times, because that was great stuff. You guys really had a good rapport. It was nice.
I think we do. Well, we’re recording one on Monday, or no, Tuesday.
Tuesday, and he and I and two other people are recorded an episode as well. So we’re gonna, I think it’s gonna be his platform. But he reached out to me a couple days ago. And, and, and we’re gonna do that. So that’ll be fun.
Well, I think we’ve just about managed after 97 minutes now. This has to be a record. I mean, obviously—you split, or I split—I split the Beer Temple episode into three, but you had like seven guests. So that doesn’t really count.
This has to be a record for a single guest. But you’re the guest. So there we go. It’s even better.
So we did not we did not do what Scott warned us against—it wasn’t about me, right? Today’s podcast?
I don’t think so. I hope we can get Scott on soon and confirm that it was not about you. We were talking about—of course we were talking about the podcast, and the history and your experience with it and all that sort of thing.
But that’s the thing. Randy, the joke aside about your ego, the reason why the show is so fun to produce for me—I’m just going to talk about myself now—is that you are bringing somebody on every week that has a unique perspective. And that’s not an intended pun. It’s absolutely the truth. And they come on and they talk about something I have no idea about, because I’m not an accountant. And yet every single time, it’s interesting. And that really sums it up. I mean, that just really does. And so much like you, I’ve had the opportunity to really enjoy what I do for a living.
And like I said earlier, I’m really quite grateful for that. It’s a great time on this show, and long may it continue.
Awesome. Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that hopefully people appreciate what we’re doing. Because if it isn’t fun, if it isn’t educational, then I’m doing something wrong. And hopefully, we’re meeting those two accomplishments.
Yeah, I think that you are, because the listenership is growing. And the results really seem to show it. It’s great. And so we’ll look forward to the next hundred, and who knows, maybe even as Scott Scarano alluded to, the next nine hundred episodes, and we’ll get to a thousand.
It is daunting, but that’s my goal now. Scott mentioned it, we’re gonna do it.
Yeah, I mean, there you go. And leave it to Scott to come up with something that outlandish and yet that possible, right?
Yeah. And so Scott in general? I mean, Scott and I talked for the first time at the end of 2021, and I remember specifically: I was in a hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, and I have no idea how I got introduced to Scott actually. But we connected. And I’m sitting in this hotel, and I’m talking to this guy and like, I mean, “I love talking to this guy. I’m just having so much fun.” And he’s all over the board.
Scott is everywhere. And I enjoyed it. It was just such a fun conversation. And then the fact that basically he mentioned in his audio recording there, that I—I won’t even take credit, whatever—our conversation gave him the confidence that he actually has something to share.
No, he did say that. You’re not taking credit. He absolutely said that. And I’m glad you brought it up because I was having trouble formulating my response. But man, what a compliment, right?
Oh, I honestly, when I heard that, when he texted it to me, I started crying.
Because it was so—I love the guy. He’s awesome. He has so many good ideas. And his brain—and I don’t think my brain goes as fast as his.
I don’t think anybody goes as fast as Scott’s. I mean, let’s be honest. My goodness, this dude.
Yeah! He’s nonstop. But I always feel like I have ideas too. I feel like I have ideas and things.
You do! You joke about it. You say the marketing department hates you because you’re constantly giving them your ideas all the time.
And but my ideas are how we can better the profession. But that’s the same boat he’s in.
I mean, that’s the same thing here, you know, Accounting High is educating the profession, he’s figuring out ways that we can help each other. And the fact that he said that was just like, I mean, I almost feel like I don’t know if he’s my son, or my little brother, or my best friend.
Or your Lil Toddler. I mean, you know, any of those things.
My Lil Toddler, my OKR. But yeah, it was so great to hear that, and I really appreciate Scott, and I think—I know—his heart’s in the right place, and I know that he is doing what he can to make this profession better as well.
Yeah, no doubt about it.
Well, I guess on that note, it’s weird to be the one telling you, if you have nothing else for us, Randy, would you like to share the ways that we can get in touch with you? If anyone’s interested about what we talked about on the show today?
Just go to your local craft beer bar. I’ll be there.
It’s Randy at Tri dash dot com, for what it’s worth.
Wait, Randy at…? No, email@example.com.
Oh, you’re right. It is, yeah. See? I messed it up.
I’m on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the best. Just search for Randy Crabtree and you’ll find me. Or, our marketing department’s so good, just search on the internet for Randy Crabtree, and you’ll probably find me a lot of places.
So yeah, I think we’ve gone through the whole formula.
So if there’s nothing else to add, well, here comes my voice!
Thank you for joining the show! Get all the show notes and resources from today’s episode, and find out more about Tri-Merit, at TheUniqueCPA.com. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform, and leave a five star rating. We’ll see you next time as Randy joins Daniel Hood of Accounting Today, and several other podcast hosts, on another special episode of 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, video, and site design.
Our sincere thanks to all the contributors to this special episode: Scott Scarano, Matthew May, Kellie Parks, John Garrett, Allan Koltin, Jeremy Clopton, and Blake Oliver.
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.