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Work Friends: The Secret Sauce to Surviving the 9-to-5

Published by Summit Marketing Team on Mar 12, 2024 6:00:00 AM


The Young CPA Success Show: Episode 13

It’s no secret that work friendships can often be one of the many reasons you punch in the proverbial timeclock. In this episode, Joey and Hannah discuss the importance of work friendships and share personal experiences. They are joined by coworker and Tax Supervisor at Anders CPAs + Advisors, Chrysa Cousley, who shares her journey from a big-four firm to Anders and her involvement in the firm's Young Professional group. She discusses the group's structure, purpose, and her personal growth within it. The conversation also touches on the importance of disconnecting from work, retaining young professionals in the accounting industry, and the value of mentorship.


Intro (00:00:00) - Welcome to the young CPA Success Show. If you're a young accounting professional, this podcast is your ultimate guide to navigating your early career. Join us as we share valuable insights, expert advice, and practical tips to help you kickstart your path to success and excel in the accounting industry. Let's embark on this exciting accounting journey together.

Joey (00:00:24) - Do you want to talk about work friends?

Hannah (00:00:26) - Let's talk about work friends. Okay, so I have a story about work friend. Okay. So, my very first work friend. My very first work friend, I worked for my grandmother at a check cash advance place in my town. She was the manager and I started she hired me at 12. She paid me cash to come in and file paperwork for them. But then they hired me on full time and I worked for them until off and on until I was 20 and my very first work friend I met there, she then at 16 I think is when she was hired, became my very best friend. I was in her wedding, she was in my wedding.

Joey (00:01:09) - So this is like a lifelong work friend.

Hannah (00:01:11) - This was a lifelong work friend. Like she was my person. Unfortunately, she passed away this year, and that was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced. But because of that connection that we made in the workplace, I got to experience that kind of friendship in my life. And that is amazing that a workplace could potentially foster that.

Joey (00:01:34) - It's really interesting when I think about friends because I, growing up was very shy, did not have a lot of friends. I did a lot of like solo activities. It was really good at playing golf. Like I could be alone and just play golf for hours and be fine, or I'd go fishing or hiking or something and just be alone. And then I went to college and joined a fraternity and made a bunch of really good friends. And I think a thing that's really interesting that happens is as you grow older and you lose some of those natural connections, whether it's we're, you know, we're in the pledge class together.

Joey (00:02:12) - We're doing all these things together. It's really, really, really hard to create genuine friendships and connections with people. And that's where work friends become so important, because those are the people. Now that you spend most of your time with. And that's where, like when I think about how my friendships have evolved. I still have my college group chat, but we're all over the place we're living in. You know, I'm here in New Mexico. We got guys in Kansas, we got guys in Missouri, we got guys in Utah, we got guys in Georgia, Colorado. But we're not all in the same place. We spread out and went different places. A guy in Texas, I can't leave my guy Britton out there. But we get to see each other like once every 2 to 3 years. And it's like, we know I know their kids. I've met all their kids, but I don't know their kids. And that's very different from some of our work friendships where, you know, I'm getting ready to go run a half marathon with one of our coworkers in Tucson, and another coworker is going to be there cheering us on.

Joey (00:03:18) - And another one might come down because that's the crew, and we're just all going to hang out and do this thing together. And. Without that like cohort of good work friends. Like, I don't know where I would be from a friendship perspective now.

Hannah (00:03:35) - Oh, absolutely. Our coworkers are my co my work friends. They see the best of me. They get the worst of me. They get all of the in between. I am so fortunate that like I with my work friends, I share pieces of my life with them like they were friends who know who my kids names are and the things that we're doing on the weekends, like you said, like you're getting together with some friends to run a marathon together because you share, share that interest. And like you said, like we spend more waking hours with our coworkers than we do our families in a lot of occasions. So today we get to chat with Chrysa Cousley, who is with our firm's young professional group. Obviously, she works for our firm, but she is also a in leadership with the Young Professional Group and I'm really excited to hear from her how us as a firm, we are creating that environment to foster those friendships, to foster mentorship, to learn, to grow, to gain roots here in the firm.

Hannah (00:04:36) - So I'm excited to hear what we're doing in that regard.

Joey (00:04:39) - Yeah, and it's such an important infrastructure to think about within a firm. Right. When I started, I did not have like I had one guy who was starting with me shout out to you, Alex Trebek. Huge appreciate, you know, huge fan at the time that we spent together. I loved working with him, but it was just the two of us. We didn't have a large cohort of people that you could hang out with and do these events with, and learn how to network and like, learn how to navigate the firm. So I love that Chrysa brought is going to bring some really good insights into. Some of the infrastructure that Anders is putting in place to, like, really help those young professionals create good, lasting relationships both inside the firm and outside the firm, because they have YP events. You know, we have events all the time that are external. You can bring other people from the community to come in and build that genuine connection.

Joey (00:05:38) - And that's what I think is super important because like you said, if you don't build that connection, you're just going to have a bunch of people you work with and not a bunch of people you work with or you call friends.

Hannah (00:05:48) - Exactly. And we have an opportunity, you and I, Joey. Being remote, we have the opportunity to potentially participate in some of these young professional events, their meetings, things of that nature. And that's so important for us in a remote environment, especially considering I'm here by myself all the time, I still get to experience that human connection through things like this, through meetings, through YP meetings and ways to be involved in that way. At the end of the day, we all crave human connection. We were made for connection. We crave it. We need that, and we need to get plugged in as much as like you would love to probably go golf by yourself, you know? 

Joey (00:06:24) - Not anymore. No, I don't want to do that anymore. My life has completely changed from that now.

Joey (00:06:28) - I want to go with friends.

Hannah (00:06:29) - There you go and see. Exactly. You never know when that's going to shift. And you do. We'll need those people to lean on, to empathize, to talk through tough things that are going on at work. So, I love that we have a place for that here.

Joey (00:06:43) - Well, Hannah, I'm really looking forward to this episode with Chrysa. There's a couple things there at the end that, um, you know, if anybody's interested or, you know, wants to learn about how to build a YP program at their form firm or wondering why their firm doesn't have a YP program, there's some information that Chrysa shares at the end that I think is really helpful for figuring that out. And she made a very generous offer. If you call her, she will answer the phone and give you her best advice on what to do. So, we hope you all enjoy this episode as much as we do. I honestly think this is the one I've kind of had circled on the calendar for a little while, because I think this is such an important part of, like, the Andersness of what we do in that when we like, especially me, like when I started, I didn't have like a cohort of people.

Joey (00:07:32) - I had like a couple of coworkers who were my age, but I didn't really have anybody who was in that same boat. Right, right. So that's what I'm really wanting to learn a lot more about from you is like, talk us through, like your first few years at Anders and then like how you got involved in the YP staff and how you got that sort of thing and like, what you all are really hoping to get out of it. And like how somebody who maybe wants to come work with us can really benefit from that structure. I don't want to speak for Hannah. That's what I really want to talk about.

Hannah (00:08:09) - Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I feel like I see young professional groups, especially in this area, in communities. So, I've seen them just in a community setting, not necessarily in a workplace setting. So, for me, this has been my first experience seeing an actual young professionals' group within an actual workplace setting, which is really cool because we're all in my.

Chrysa (00:08:31) - Own young professional that like setting. That's kind of funny.

Hannah (00:08:35) - Yeah. So. So why don't we just dive in and tell us about your journey to Anders? Just, is this your first job? Did you have any experience prior to coming to this? What was your experience up to this point?

Chrysa (00:08:47) - Yeah, so I would say I kind of had a non-traditional path, finding my way to Anders. So, when I graduated high school, I had a bunch of dual credits. And so I went into college as a sophomore, which means I really only had one year to declare a major instead of two. I knew that I wanted to do business, and I started out as, like, international business, with Spanish. And then I had never taken an accounting class, and I had a really awesome professor, and I was like, wait a second. I was like, the accounting program's really good at Mizzou. Why would I not try and do that? And I didn't want to graduate early.

Chrysa (00:09:31) - So it was kind of like the perfect thing for me, because I could get my bachelor's and my master's in four years, and it was like the hard program to get into. And I love a little challenge. So I was like, we're just going to go for it. So with that being said, I was in the accounting program and they ask you the question, oh, do you want to do a tax or audit? And I'm like, well, I haven't even taken either of those classes before, so how am I supposed to know that? So, I said audit because that's like what everyone at Mizzou says I feel like. And then there's like the weird quiet tax people, which like, I don't think I'm quiet and I don't think I'm weird. I mean, I'm biased because it's me, but, yeah. So I actually interned with a big four firm in audit, and I did the international internship. So, I actually got to go to New Zealand for a month, which that was a super cool experience.

Chrysa (00:10:39) - Um, but I would say that when I was there, I like wasn't necessarily loving the audit work that I was doing and then I was getting kind of overwhelmed if, like, I actually wanted to do big four, or if that's just because that's what everyone did. And I kind of felt the pressure to maybe do that, instead of doing something a little different. So, I accepted an offer and they switched me out of audit into tax at the big four firm. In my offer letter. But I had never done anything, you know, with them and tax. And I was honestly just super anxious. So I guess that was going into my last year of college, and I was like, I shouldn't be so stressed about this job that I'm supposed to start in literally a year. Like a little bit of nerves is healthy. But I was just like, what am I doing? I don't know if this is actually what I'm doing for me. Or like I said, just because that's what everyone was doing.

Chrysa (00:11:43) - So, ironically enough, one of my sorority sisters, her older sister, worked in the marketing department at Anders at the time, and she was like, hey, Rachel, can you send this to your friend Chrysa, who's in the accounting program and let, like, have her tell her friends that we're hiring? And I was like, well, actually, I no longer have a job offer because I ended up withdrawing my acceptance. In the big four firm. And this literally happened like three days after I did that. And I was like, okay, it's a sign. I was like, this came out of the blue. I was like, Anders is a firm in Saint Louis. It's big in the Saint Louis market, but it's not so overwhelming. And so that's kind of how I wound up at Anders, so I did not intern there. I had no experience working on anything tax related because I had an audit internship and I had also interned with a manufacturing company.

Chrysa (00:12:47) - So I had a little taste of the corporate side of things, and so, yeah, that is how I wound up here. And I'm trying to think October 22nd, I think will be my five year mark with Anders. So it's a little bit about my journey.

Joey (00:13:07) - So what I love about that story is on this call, you have two very different approaches. You've got you who took the fast track and me who took the Van Wilder approach and was like in college for seven years.

Chrysa (00:13:18) - Which I'm like, why did I rush colleges so fun?

Joey (00:13:22) - Yeah. No, that was you know, that was kind of my philosophy because I was like, you know, you know, 2008 happened. Let's just hit the reset button. Then I got there, I was like, what am I to your point? What am I rushing? What's going on? But there's a lot that I think we can unpack, just like in that first little bit there about themes that Hannah and I have noticed are like super, super common, right.

Joey (00:13:44) - And the first one there that you really hit on that made me kind of like have a little bit of like PTSD Trauma was like just the pressure to go big for because you went to Mizzou. I went to K-State. So, two very similar schools in terms of like size and who we work with and size of the accounting departments. And I felt the same thing of like when the recruiters are there, they're all big four recruiters, except for a couple of like regional firms that would come in. I got hooked up with a regional firm that's a bit smaller than Anders, but, you know, probably in between small firm and Anders size like kind of like solid mid regional. But the only reason I was even able to know they were there was because I had a professor who used to work there who said, hey, you should go check this out.

Chrysa (00:14:33) - Yeah. And that's what I was going to say. So, I definitely felt like I was doing something different than everyone. But I had a professor, I think I had three classes with her, and I had some personal stuff happen in college, too.

Chrysa (00:14:51) - So she was always kind of my go to, like when I needed help. I knew she had my back. And so, I was talking to her about it and I was like, you know, I feel like I have to go work for them. For one, they just sent me to New Zealand. Like, that is a big deal. And for two, like, that's what everyone else is doing. And she was like, she's like, you don't owe anyone anything else. She's like you to do what's going to make you happy. And me being a college kid, I mean, I worked all through college. I'm like, that's so much money that they just spent on me, and I'm not going to go there. She's like, Chrysa, they are a huge company. That is pennies to them like it is. Okay. And she was like, if you're so anxious about this, she said, why don't you pick a date on your calendar? Whether it's a month from now, two months from now, and if you're still feeling those same kind of thoughts and those doubts on that day, then do something about it.

Chrysa (00:15:51) - She's like, you don't want to make an irrational decision just because, you know, started your senior year and you're overwhelmed with lots of things. And so I appreciated that advice. And I still try to do that if I'm coming kind of to a crossroads in my life, whether it's personal or work related, if it's sticking with me for months at a time, then that's probably not just something that's I'm going out on a whim and making a rash decision. So, I appreciated that. And she actually worked for a big four firm for a couple of years, and I think it was only two. And then that's when she went into teaching and everyone told her, like, you're making a mistake, you're leaving too soon. You're not experienced enough to do this. And I mean, now she's like very high up in the program. She's a great mentor to students. And so she kind of did something that was different. And I feel like that's like she wanted to be that person for other people.

Hannah (00:16:53) - And I love that you leaned into your gut and how you were feeling and listened to yourself versus trying to argue with yourself of, no, like, this is what everybody's doing. This is what I need to be doing. This is what the book says that I should be doing and the steps that I should be following. So, I just love that you, I can think of so many times in my life whenever I was. With a decision, and I did not lean in to the feeling of absolutely and greater. There was certainly a lesson learned from that, and I'm sure had you gone with the big four firm, you would have learned something great from that that you could take into your career. But I absolutely love that you listened to yourself. You leaned into your mentor too. I just love that you were able to utilize her in that way. And I think that kind of ties in really nicely with the Young Professionals group as well, because now we are able to lean into mentors and we potentially, even as young professionals, are able to mentor to people who might be in that same situation.

Hannah (00:17:51) - So I think that's just a really beautiful story for sure that you're able to now share with other people.

Joey (00:17:59) - Well, and shout out to your professor, too. You know, that's a role that, you know, I would say the difference between your situation in my situation where I was a little bit fortunate, it was both my parents went big for when they came out of college. So, I kind of knew what that game was. And I knew, like, okay, this isn't something you have to do, but if you don't know that, you're going to rely on that professor to help you figure that out. Yeah. And I'm it's the number one thing when I go talk to high school kids, that's like the number one thing I tell them is like, go to your professor's office hours, like, get to know them as people, not just there, because then they will get to know you as a person, and they will be able to better advise you on the non-accounting things in life.

Joey (00:18:45) - Like the very real question at age 22 or 25. In my case, if you took a couple of extra victory laps, what the heck am I going to do for the rest of my life? Like that's a hopefully a long time. 

Chrysa (00:19:00) - Yeah. It can be a little daunting. 

Joey (00:19:04) - Yeah. So okay, so we covered like how you got to Anders. You're also five years in. We've established this as well. Yes. And I do want to sit there just for the audience to understand when we first, when summit first joined with Anders, you had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with our boss, Adam Hale, and his comments. All of us was like, when we started this show, he was like, you should talk to Chrysa because she's awesome. Oh, so he's a big fan of you and what you do, but also the YP group and sort of how that is. So, can you sort of define just to start, what the Young Professionals group at Anders does and like what the mission of that, of that group is?

Chrysa (00:19:47) - Yeah.

Chrysa (00:19:48) - So our young professionals right now, they're technically is, an age cutoff, which that's something that we're kind of looking into because we're seeing some people have career changes. So even though they might not be young and age, they might be young to the profession. So in the current state, it is for anyone, I think, up to the age of 35. And if you happen to become a partner before 35, you're kind of politely excused because the Young Professionals group is really supposed to be an open forum where people can talk candidly about things that they think maybe the firm's doing really awesome, or areas of improvement and kind of a non-stressful situation. So even if there's a young partner who's sitting right next to you, he still has the title of partner. So you might not necessarily speak up with what's on your mind. So really the Young Professionals group exists um to connect those young professionals at the firm. And we have two different committees within the YP group, and that's the Young Professional Steering committee.

Chrysa (00:21:09) - So I described that one is kind of the fun one. So they're the ones doing the events, whether it's happy hours and busy season. We kind of do a spirit week leading up to some big deadlines. They plan, um, internal YP events or sometimes we'll do like putt putt is kind of the big one that we're known for, um, where we actually turn the office into a putt putt golf course. And we invite other whips and they don't have to be accounting whips. It could be someone you graduated college with who works in marketing, you know, at another Saint Louis company. And so the PSC, like I said, they're kind of the cheerleaders of the whip group and the fun and, they bring all of that to the table. So, then the other committee is the staff advisory group, which that's actually the one that I'm on. So, the staff advisory group, we kind of exist to be the middleman between the young professionals and then the partner groups and the leadership of the firm.

Chrysa (00:22:18) - So we're more so, like in the background, kind of looking at policies. And we work with HR a lot. If they're looking at revamping some benefits, they'll sometimes get our take on things and we kind of exist, I would say, to be the voice of the YPs to the leadership groups. So, both the YPSC, so that's the steering committee, the fun one, and then SAG, the staff advisory group, they're structured, in the same way. So, there's a chair, vice chair, secretary and then two At-Large members. So, we have elections for those each year, a couple of the positions have rolling terms, because sometimes it takes a little longer than just one calendar year to get an initiative rolled out, especially when there's so much going on in our industry. Like I said, just gets really busy, so we have those elections and you run for them, and then the whips of the firm vote and kind of you get voted into those leadership roles on those committees.

Chrysa (00:23:29) - So whenever I started out, I would since I did an intern here, I was like, okay, what can I do to kind of get to know the firm and how can I get involved? Because that's just what I like doing. That's what fills my cup. I don't know who's going to sit here and tell you they love doing a tax return. That takes 60 hours. I need a little human connection. So, I think it was one of my either first or second year. I ran for an at large position, and I feel like the first time I ran, I didn't get on SAG or whatever when I ran for, but I was like, that's okay. I'm new. I'm trying to study for the CPA exam. Maybe it's a sign that I should focus on studying and not doing things, you know, extracurriculars at work. And so, then I ran again and I was voted into an at large position. And then I really liked that.

Chrysa (00:24:29) - And I've always been on the SAG side. So like I said, more policy behind the scenes working with leadership, and then after that I ran again and I was secretary and secretary is one that roles into becoming vice chair. So that is my current position. And yeah, that's kind of how I got involved. I would say the big thing that I really like is that the leaders of the firm do actually want the YPs opinion, because they know that the bulk of the firm, honestly, is YPs. And so it's no surprise that accounting isn't the most glamorous industry to go into. And so they really value, I would say, the YPs opinions on things. And even if it's just gathering information and the decision ends up not being what it is, exactly one at the time, the fact that they even like consider those opinions, I think is just really awesome. So yeah, I would say that YP exists.

Hannah (00:25:38) - I'm so glad that you addressed that in terms of leadership and how you felt like they were responding to the YPs, because that was going to be a question for me in terms of how did you feel about that? I've gotten the impression that leadership really cares about really anybody.

Hannah (00:25:52) - If you've got an opinion. Yeah. Or something that you want to share or an area you feel like could be improved, they want to hear that and take that into consideration. I guess another question that came to mind is, as a YP group, what are some roadblocks that y'all have hit specifically in the staff advisory group? What types of things and hurdles do you have to overcome, or have you seen, or has it been smooth sailing? I mean, in a perfect world.

Chrysa (00:26:18) - I would say like to keep it kind of general. I would say one of the biggest roadblocks is just that, like I said, things take time to kind of get into effect. So when we come up with an idea, there's kind of a certain process that we try and vet and gather information in a casual way, from the YPs, because we don't want to be asking questions that maybe make people think that something is 100% going to happen. So you have to be very mindful, I would just say, and how you're gathering kind of the information and ideas for future initiatives to not make a promise that isn't necessarily going to come true.

Chrysa (00:27:04) - So, I would say just like telling myself, like, be patient, it takes time. This is a big firm. We've grown. I think when I started, we were at 200 something people and now we're for 50 ish. I don't know the official HR count, but we've pretty much doubled in size since I started here. And so with that growth, there's just so many more things to think about. Like, you guys were all in different states. So when we're trying to do initiatives, how does that impact people that are, you know, physically in our office in the Saint Louis area versus people that are remote and do they have the opportunity to come in like we have the big firm meeting coming up, I guess, in a couple of weeks. And so that's new and exciting. And so things like that, like it just takes so much longer. I feel like to plan things. And so I would say on SAG, it's sometimes hard for us because we feel like we're not like rolling out an initiative every year or every six months.

Chrysa (00:28:10) - And we're like, okay, we're still doing good things and we're trying and we're having those conversations. So even if it's something that might not be able to be implemented in the next year, maybe it's something that leadership really likes and they're like, not this year, but maybe in two years or maybe in five years we can do something like that. So I would just say kind of that subtle reminder that it's not wasted time because they really are listening to what we're bringing to the table. I know one thing that we've been working on this last year, which it's crazy, it's already almost October, is kind of launching like a rest and kind of disconnecting. I don't want to call it a campaign, but just kind of an initiative related to that, because I feel like Covid changed a lot of things. So we all kind of overnight became working remotely versus going into the office. And technology is great. But with that, I feel like one downside is that technology is always at our fingertips and we do constantly have the drive.

Chrysa (00:29:23) - Oh, if I'm downstairs cooking dinner and I hear my teams go off upstairs, that's fine. I'll just go check it and you kind of have more of those blurred boundaries. And so that's one thing that we're working on right now is kind of I don't want to say best practices because I feel like that's so cliche, but like ways, I guess, to empower employees to kind of set those boundaries and disconnect, so that's one thing that we're doing. And even just little things, like when you're a new associate, do you necessarily remember to put that you're on PTO, on your outlook and on your teams? Do you know that you can turn off your notifications on your phone? Um, I'll say that SAG had a meeting. It was either with the leadership or the management committee last month, and we were talking about that. And people that are in very senior positions at the firm where like, you have your notifications on your phone, like we turn ours off and I'm like, oh my gosh, really? Like I didn't know that was a thing.

Chrysa (00:30:28) - I was like, I didn't know.

Joey (00:30:29) - I was allowed to do that as a staff person. 

Chrysa (00:30:32) - Yeah. Well, I mean, I'm five years in and I have some of those thoughts in my mind. So we're working with HR right now to kind of, like I said, push out some information and know that everyone's situation looks different because we also in that same meeting, we were talking about how when you are out on PTO, sometimes it can be a little frustrating if you get an email when you've tried to communicate that you're going to be out, and it almost makes it seem like at least in my head, I'm like, oh my gosh, they emailed me. It must be important. I should probably take care of that even though I'm out of the office. Or if you see people who are higher up forwarding emails while they're on PTO and you're like, I guess I never can actually disconnect if, you know, leaders are doing that. And then someone said it was the leader of the firm.

Chrysa (00:31:28) - They said, well, that's my way of disconnecting because if I don't pass that along while I'm out of the office, he's like, I'm not truly expecting any action to be done with it. But if I don't do that, then I come back and I have 600 emails in my inbox, and that's more exhausting than if I just would have passed it along. Take, you know, ten minutes in the morning on my day off, get things out of my inbox and where they need to go. And so I feel like that was just like a mindset shift, that everyone kind of has their different ways of disconnecting or preparing to come back to make it less daunting after being out. And so just like. Little testimonials like that. I feel like the more you hear those from people at different positions, then you're you can relate a little more. And it's not like they're like I said, they're actually expecting you to take action on that or expecting you to do the same thing when you're out on PTO.

Chrysa (00:32:27) - But that's just kind of what works for them and so I would say the whole rest and disconnecting and setting healthier boundaries, I would say with work always being at your fingertips is what we're working on right now. I don't know.

Joey (00:32:45) - That's I know we're we're kind of doing that soft rollout of the, the quiet Week during Thanksgiving, which I am really looking forward to because, you know, to your point, you know, Hannah and I come from the the more remote side of the company as opposed to the in-office side. And my wife's been doing a remote job since we moved into Mexico in 2018. So for the last two years, we've both been fully remote from home, and it's I find myself I was just doing I was on PTO last, last Friday, and I had issues that were coming up, and I felt what you were feeling where I was like, I'm a leader on this engagement. My team needs my assistance and I'm just sitting here on a Friday taking a staycation day, playing, you know, FIFA, just playing video games on my couch.

Joey (00:33:33) - I should do something and I'm terrible at that.

Chrysa (00:33:36) - And so that's something that I also struggle with. And so what we're trying to do is like, tell people that it is your time. You should not have a reason. It's not anyone's business. If you want to binge watch the whole new season of Virgin River on your couch, or if you have a doctor's appointment, or if you're traveling, if it's your time and you have it scheduled. We want people to know that that's okay, as long as you've gotten it approved and gone through the proper channels and you've done your best telling people you're going to be out if they teams message you, ignore them. You tried covering all the bases. And so that's kind of what we're trying to get at, is just reminding people that you don't necessarily always have to be connected and online, because I'm terrible about that too. If I just have a random Thursday or Friday and I don't actually have anything going on, I'm like, oh, it's fine, I'll just log on, work a couple hours, then do my thing, and then once I'm on, I end up working a full day and then I'm like, well, I didn't actually take any time off.

Chrysa (00:34:45) - And so we're trying to remind people like, it's your time, do with it what you want. No reason is better than another reason for taking PTO. It's your time. You've earned it and do your thing.

Hannah (00:35:00) - So sometimes I think of my brain like having a bunch of TVs. I could say you're like looking in a in in a Walmart with a bunch of different displays and on every single TV, like there's something different on that TV and obviously on a lot of those TVs in my brain, I have work things going on on them, and I have found that it is so hard for me to unplug them whenever I take PTO. It's hard for my brain to shut off the what do I need to be doing for this client? What do I need to be doing for that client, and what just my to do list is constantly running. So I love that we're taking the time to promote initiatives around disconnecting, because something that Joey and I talk about often here is the fact that accountants are leaving the industry in record number.

Hannah (00:35:48) - Have that has that come up within the young professionals in terms of how what we could be doing as an organization to help people stay?

Chrysa (00:35:55) - That definitely has come up. And that kind of ties into some of the initiatives that we, you know, dive into, like what is going to retain our people. And because it's no secret that it's better to retain someone than have to train and hire someone new. So we're definitely having those discussions and not even just at the Anders level. But I'm also a part of the LEA, which is do you guys know what that is? The leading. Yeah, the leading edge alliance. Alliance. I'm on the steering committee for that, um, as well for YPs. And that was a huge topic of the conference in June is what do you guys want? What will make them stay? How can we do better? Um, I was actually on a I call it like a reverse panel where it was the YP steering committee members up on stage and the managing partners were the ones typing in their questions and asking us questions.

Chrysa (00:36:59) - Yeah, that was a little intense. Rather than hearing from them. And they were all interested in that. So like I said, I feel like that's not just an. Anders. I don't want to say issue or concern. That is just an accounting in general. One thing that was a common theme because I've made a couple friends at other firms because of the LEA YP group. We all kind of had the same thoughts that you really just want to feel appreciated, appreciated and involved and know the why behind things. So it's not even that we care about what the answer is. It's how that message is delivered. And if we understand the thought process and arriving to that conclusion. So sometimes I feel like it's really just about how things are framed and delivered. Because with a firm like Anders that's growing so much, there are so many great things happening around the firm. But if you're in the CFO or if you're in tax and you're an audit, you might not necessarily have a good handle on everything that the firm's doing as a whole.

Chrysa (00:38:18) - And so sometimes those awesome things get a little lost, I would say, in communication. And so really just having more I don't want to say state of the union, type talks, but just giving those updates. And what does that mean if the firm's growing and how does that impact our YPs? Because I know we've all been in our head, like if you want to be a partner, that's awesome. If you don't want to be a partner, can you even do that? Like, do you have to become a partner? Or if you are dead set on being a partner, then you do the awful number game. While there's this many people ahead of me, so am I even going to make it to partner before I'm 45 or 50 years old? And so I feel like there's just those lingering thoughts that a lot of IPS have. And so I feel like that's why it's really important. Um, to lean in on your coaches. So. And family trees. So that's another great thing that we have at Anders.

Chrysa (00:39:18) - So when you first start, you have a buddy, which I think there's a new HR term. It's a functional advisor. Like I'll still call you a buddy, you've got a buddy, which I say is kind of the person that you're supposed to ask those dumb questions to like, I know that there's a software for this. What is the name of it? Or how do I work the coffee machine, you know, things like that. And then at the next level, you have a coach. And so those are more so the people that you go to help manage your workload, if you're going to be out on PTO, they're the ones that help with getting that approved. And so they're the more I would say, like strategic kind of mentor. And they help you, um, plan your week and set your goals and have those quarterly check ins. But then you should also be talking with them weekly, honestly. And then at the highest level, we've got family tree leaders.

Chrysa (00:40:18) - So those are partners around the firm and they join in on your semi-annual evaluations. And so that's where I feel like you really get the big picture advice on what does this mean for me in the future. Should do is there are there things that I could be doing better, like what am I doing? Well, kind of. The more I don't want to say whether you like it or not stuff we're going to tell you because we want to see you succeed. That's where you really get the honest opinions. So I feel like just that is important. Um, I don't know, to stay engaged and feel like you have those people you can go to when you're struggling because it's no surprise accounting is very hard job. And I have to remind myself that I'm like, okay, what you do, there are a lot of people that would never want to do something like this. And so I feel like it can be very stressful. And when you're going through the busy times with so many deadlines, it can be hard to forget that you're not a doctor.

Chrysa (00:41:25) - You're not saving anyone's lives. Like it will be okay. The project will get done, the client will be fine if they get something a day after, you know, whatever this last minute thing is they threw at you. If that's not gonna work.

Hannah (00:41:42) - So they're very few emergencies in accounting, right?

Chrysa (00:41:46) - That's what I'm saying. Real emergencies. Right.

Hannah (00:41:49) - Exactly.

Chrysa (00:41:49) - Like emergencies where I'm like, is this actually an emergency or are you just trying to make me scramble after I've been asking you for something for five months? Because let's talk about that.

Chrysa (00:42:02) - Thing that definitely I felt.

Chrysa (00:42:07) - So like I said, I feel like it's just hard. To remember that sometimes that like it will be okay. Take a deep breath. You're not doing open heart surgery. The tax return will get done, their financials will get prepared, and all will be well in the world.

Joey (00:42:24) - One of the things I think I, as part of the merger that I've learned that I admire the most about Anders, is something you alluded to there, which is historically, Anders is really, really good at career pathing in a way that our team at summit really kind of to be a littlecritical wasn't always the greatest at kind of career pathing people.

Joey (00:42:46) - And I think that's an important thing. And I'm glad the YP's are involved in that, because that is to your point, such an important part of an organization right there, like in order for someone to be fully bought into the process, especially for those of us who are younger and who are planners, right? We want to know, am I on track? Am I going to reach my goals exactly. And what do.

Chrysa (00:43:10) - I have to do to get there? Right? What doesn't mean we're all I don't want to say all. Most of us are very Type-A people to be in this profession.

Joey (00:43:21) - Well, and I think it partially it's a generational thing too, right? Like, I read a great book by an author named and Helen Petersen called, like, it's talking about millennial Burnout. And it was reminding us of, well, for our generation, we were the first and a little bit from Gen X, but we were the first generation to like, really have college be like an actual thing, like it's not, are you going to college? It's where are you going to college? And with that came, well, if I'm going to go to college then I've got to start building my resume.

Joey (00:43:52) - I've got to do this activity, I've got to do that activity. I've got to be on this club, that club. I can't just say, yeah, I'm going to go to college. We'll see where we get in and go like, that's not.

Joey (00:44:01) - Right.

Joey (00:44:02) - Right. And that's not how that worked. And so for a lot of us, we've kind of been ingrained in this idea of, well, I have to have a plan and I have to have something to work towards because this is what I've been doing my whole life. And it that with me in my younger career, I had no idea, like what the path was. Where am I going? What's this mean for anything? Do I am I even seeing myself the way that the firm sees me, or am I just having delusions of grandeur? And I'm really not all that special? Yeah, and that's where it's so important to have, like you said, those family tree type conversations, um, and an opportunity for young people to express their intentions because sometimes, like, they don't know who.

Chrysa (00:44:49) - And that's okay you don't know. Yeah. Like.

Joey (00:44:52) - Yeah. And it's okay, you know, and it's important for the partners to know, to like, hey, this person has a desire to do this. And, you know, there's another little hidden secret of the accounting firm of the accounting profession is we have a lot of young professionals in the industry, but the vast majority of the partners are in the last 5 to 10 years of their career. And that's not also an Android specific thing that's everywhere, right? And so there's a tremendous opportunity for that. But we've got to let them know.

Chrysa (00:45:21) - Yeah. And that's one thing I'm so glad you brought up the different generations because at LEA they had a speaker and she went through how different generations communicate their work ethics, how they rank what is most important to them. I just thought that was so fascinating because I'm sitting there as she's giving these examples and I'm like, oh, yeah, that's this person. Oh, yeah, I definitely do that.

Chrysa (00:45:49) - And so it's so much more relatable. I would say when you kind of look at those different buckets and you can just really see how someone was raised and how that has impacted them and their careers. And I think actually in a couple of weeks we're doing another like generational management or, like a CPE session. And so I'm excited to see how that goes and learn some more communication tips because I'm like all about it. Like, if this is what works for you, just tell me. But I don't know unless you tell me this is your preferred method of working, how we would get through a project, or how we communicate with the client. And so I'm all about that.

Hannah (00:46:36) - I think we could choose to look at the different generations as having a big gulf between the two. Like we can look at them, and if we're looking at them on paper and probably on that list, you probably saw a really big delta between one generation and the next. But based on everything I'm hearing you say and everything I've experienced in the firm is that we are not willing to accept that for what it is.

Hannah (00:46:55) - We're willing to build a bridge and meet in the middle right and learn and grow and figure out the best ways that we can communicate between each other. And I think that is going to be absolutely pivotal to us growing as a firm, our key to our success, key to us as young professionals to to lean into that as well, and learning how to communicate between the generations.

Chrysa (00:47:16) - Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. And that's one thing. It's not like it's a small firm where you can remember every single partner's different preferences. And so that's one thing that I know a lot of the departments are working on. Like we can't have partner preferences because there are so many partners and that it can be so overwhelming to a new associate. And so kind of trying to standardize and streamline things within our procedures just goes such a long way, because then you don't have that added layer of stress as a new associate, because it's already hard enough. You're getting so much information thrown at you. I know after my first two years, I was like, wow, I just learned so much.

Chrysa (00:48:02) - And keep in mind, I graduated in 2018, so everything I learned in college was different than everything I was working on, with our clients. And so that was even more confusing. I'm like, but I got an A in that class. What do you mean those rules still don't exist. And so like I said, it's just overwhelming coming into the profession as a young professional and new hire. And so then when you have those nuances that you have to remember for every different person you're working with, it's like, okay, there's got to be a better way. So I'm all about streamlining. And to your point, we need that if we want to grow and grow well and have those procedures in place.

Joey (00:48:48) - So that brings me to my what I think should, should be our final question for today. And it's something that we're going to steal a little bit from Dave Hartley, who, to me really kind of manifests exactly what you're talking about, partner in the firm, but somebody who's really invested in making sure that and understanding that for the younger generation, millennials, but also Gen Z as well.

Joey (00:49:11) - And and it's going to continue to get that we there's there's an idea about us that. In certain situations that we just don't want to work hard. And I think that's not true. I think we just want some balance. Right. And what Dave asks of us is one of those things that exemplifies that which is and he asked us this, I think it was a podcast that we recorded them a few weeks ago, and he asked us, what's your and. You are an accountant and which to me signifies that, like I understand as a partner that you are not just this person who works. You are a full fledged human with other things. So I would like to know from you, Chrysa. So what's your. And you're an accountant and.

Chrysa (00:49:59) - And a fiance. I'm getting married in a month actually literally a month from today. 

Joey (00:50:07) - That's bull. 

Chrysa (00:50:09) - Yeah, I would say fiance caregiver for my grandpa and cat mom. 

Chrysa (00:50:14) - So yeah, I would say that's my and no kids yet.

Chrysa (00:50:20) - But I feel like that's one thing that I have actually really enjoyed with being on SAG is we rolled out a Working Parents and Caregivers initiative, and we have a whole core group that kind of gets those discussions going, whether it's tips for potty training or I'm more on the caregiver side because I help out with my grandpa, I take him to every doctor's appointment. I help him with his bills. I need something, he's my guy. Um, and I will be there for him. And so I would say that I just love that Dave asks that question, because sometimes it can be so hard. Like you said, you're like, oh, I'm just, you know, a name. I've never felt that way, and I'm not. That's not a job at them. But you do get so caught up in the client work and give so much in this career. And so I love that he tries to relate to people on a personal level, and I know that he has some extra stakes in the game, because I want to say his daughter is starting out in the industry, and he actually came and spoke to, I think it was our last group meeting, and he kind of gave one of those state of the unions about, you know, Anders and where we're headed, what we've accomplished.

Chrysa (00:51:42) - And one thing that really stuck out with me is he was like, I'm asking myself if I wouldn't ask my daughter to do this task at her job, then maybe we're asking the wrong thing or we're asking too much. And so he's like, really trying to think if the expectations are realistic or if things are being, you know, thrown at employees just too often and information overload and asking too much. And so, I don't know, I just really love that because to your point, you're not just an accountant, you're something else. And most of us have families, whether that's fiance, grandpa, partner, whatever it may be, were more than just what we do at work. And so I feel like it's so important to have that personal connection, and it just makes life so much better. If you feel like you are more than just a tack supervisor or a VCFO or whatever that may be for you.

Joey (00:52:46) - And more importantly, that that side of you is seen and acknowledged and admired for what it is, because that's also incredibly important.

Joey (00:52:57) - And I commend you for planning a wedding during tax season. That has to be a I would imagine that's a challenge. But you seem to be coping well.

Chrysa (00:53:06) - My word is.

Chrysa (00:53:07) - Spicy. It's a little.

Chrysa (00:53:09) - Spicy right now. 

Hannah (00:53:10) I like how you put that. Yeah

Joey (00:53:12) - I, I we eloped so I don't I don't, I can empathize but can't sympathize.

Chrysa (00:53:18) - Sometimes I'm like why didn't we elope? But you know, we're 30 days out, so it's a little too late for that.

Chrysa (00:53:24) - Little late.

Hannah (00:53:25) - So let's say at 40 days you'll probably be saying the same thing. So yeah, just saying.

Joey (00:53:31) - Well, Chrysa, thank you so much for joining us. Where can if anybody is kind of like wanting to figure out like a little bit more not just external folks, but like, maybe I mean, I don't know anybody who would work at Anders but didn't know the YP group because I would imagine it's very prominently, uh, a part of our employee onboarding process. But if anyone wants to learn more about the YPs or if they're in the Saint Louis area and want to come to one of those VIP networking events that you all do, where can we find more information about that and about you?

Chrysa (00:54:05) - Yesh. So I think that there is a section on our website that kind of highlights the different groups that we have. I think, like I said, I'm bad at the HR terms. I want to say they're SIGS, special interest groups, but maybe that has changed since then. Um, so there is kind of a spotlight out there on our website. And then I would say I'm always available for a phone call, email, grab and coffee, um, anything like that. And if it's not necessarily something that I can help with, I can put people in contact with whoever that person may be. So that's one of the. Great perks about being involved in the YP group is I have, I would say, friends around the firm that aren't in my department. So I just love that aspect because we're all doing very different things. But at the end of the day, we're all YPs and we're going through it together. And so I think it's really awesome how it brings people together in that sense.

Hannah (00:55:04) - Well, thank.

Hannah (00:55:04) - You so much for being with us, Chrysa. Chrysa, sorry we get to see you in just a couple of weeks at our firm meeting. So we I can't wait to connect with you in Saint Louis in a few weeks.

Chrysa (00:55:15) - It will be nice.

Outro (00:55:17) - If you're a young CPA looking to develop in their careers. We're always looking for great people. Visit our website for remote work opportunities with Summit Virtual CFO, or find all our open positions at Anders CPAs and advisors.

Work Friends: The Secret Sauce to Surviving the 9-to-5 with Chrysa Cousley

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