Jeremy Clopton helps accountants understand how to use data in their businesses to detect fraud. He runs seminars across the United States.
He reads everything, and talks to thousands of people every year.
In this podcast we discover why it’s good to be travelling more than 100 days a year, the importance of the open door policy, the best way to explain complex things to data naive clients, and much more.
Here’s a transcript.
What Jeremy said
Cindy Tonkin: 00:31 Jeremy, what’s your story? What do you do?
Cindy Tonkin: 00:41 Nice.
Jeremy Clopton: 00:42 My background is actually in public accounting, leading a big data and analytics practice for an accounting firm, a national accounting firm in the US and led that for the last years of my career.
Jeremy Clopton: 00:53 Before that I actually worked in the forensic practice using technology to detect and prevent fraud for probably the better part of about 10 years before I then switched to leading an analytics practice. I left public accounting the end of 2017 to start my own company more focused on really helping people and companies figure out how to use analytics and how to use their data to make better decisions.
Jeremy Clopton: 01:23 I was there a few months before I was recruited to join Upstream, and now I’m still helping people figure out how to use their data to make better decisions, specifically accounting firms. I help teach anti-fraud experts on how to prevent and detect fraud using technology specifically, as well as helping accounting firms figure out how to start an analytics service within their firm to help their clients make better decisions.
Jeremy Clopton: 01:49 So still doing a lot around analytics, just kind of from a different approach, more of the help somebody else help their client.
Cindy Tonkin: 01:59 And you’re in Vegas this week because you’re teaching a program. What’s that program about?
Jeremy Clopton: 02:03 I am. I am currently in Las Vegas leading a three-day hands-on seminar for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and it’s using data analytics to detect and prevent fraud.
Cindy Tonkin: 02:14 Nice.
Jeremy Clopton: 02:14 So it is three days, hands-on, it’s for really the introductory fraud examiner that’s kind of new to data analytics, could be somebody that has some experience. But what I often find is that if they’re already a data scientist, it’s probably not going to be the right fit, it’s going to be a little bit light on the data science side for those folks.
Jeremy Clopton: 02:36 But interestingly, it really helps them figure out how to apply that to a fraud setting, so it works well if you’re really tech savvy and analytics savvy but unsure the application and fraud, or if you’re a really good fraud examiner and you’re not really sure how to use technology, so it’s a great way to bring everybody together.
Jeremy Clopton: 02:58 We go from everything from the beginning of what is the data analytics process, just the phases of that, we talk about creating data, prepping data, all the way through, okay, now let’s apply textural analytics to find the indications of corruption.
Cindy Tonkin: 03:14 Cool! Nice! So you probably have some pretty good internal ways of explaining the complex to people who are a little data naïve. If you were to give a tip or two on that, how do you do that?
Complex explanations – Jeremy Clopton’s take
Jeremy Clopton: 03:34 I think that the key on … my approach to figuring out how to explain the complex things to someone that maybe just doesn’t get that area is really to figure out what’s going to resonate with them to start with and then tie it to something that they know, because if you can tie it to something that they understand it’s just going to make it that much easier.
Jeremy Clopton: 03:59 In the accounting world right now, I talk to accounting firms of all sizes. Some are very data analytics-focused and forward and then I talk with some firms that are still trying to figure out if data analytics is necessary and what does it even mean.
Cindy Tonkin: 04:15 Do I have to do it?
Jeremy Clopton: 04:17 Yeah. You know, do I really need to go to the technology route? So it’s something that you really have to break it down to something they understand, and for me probably the one that I have to explain the most is machine learning.
Cindy Tonkin: 04:30 Yes.
Jeremy Clopton: 04:31 Especially in any type of an introductory course on analytics, I think it’s still incredibly relevant to touch on the topics of machine learning because the software companies are making it to where that is becoming pretty well a basic component of lots of analytic systems that I encounter and a lot of the clients that I would work with would encounter.
Jeremy Clopton: 04:54 So it really helps to try to break it down and say, okay, well here’s when you’re teaching a machine and here’s when the machine’s learning on its own and let’s step away from the doomsday scenario, you know, the robots are coming to take your job and take over the world, and let’s actually step back and think about this in the context of what you understand. So for an auditor it’s breaking it down and saying, okay, if you were performing an audit, here’s what it will look like if technology were helping you perform that and machine learning were involved.
Jeremy Clopton: 05:26 For our audit examiners it works really well because the augmented side of that with the supervised learning is so wonderful for fraud detection because you get the experience and the nuance of the fraud examiner and working with the technology to where they’re really making each other stronger.
Jeremy Clopton: 05:46 A lot of people resonate with that pretty quickly because they can say, okay, well I see how it’s doing the really complex stuff, pulling out the relevant data based on what I’ve already taught it, and then I’m going to review that again and then it’s going to pull a better sample the next time and it’s just going to kind of iterate. And people conceptually start to get it when you … you almost have to take the technology out of it and break it out as something else.
Cindy Tonkin: 06:13 I’ve been noticing it seems to be that what a lot of people have in common, when I ask them about this explanation, is essentially what we’re trying to do is describe an end state that they actually want. Here’s the end state where this helps you do this, this, this and this, the time, or this, this and this that takes a lot of time, or this, this and this that must be 100% accurate, and the machine’s going to be 100% accurate at that time even if you’re not.
Jeremy Clopton: 06:52 Yeah, I agree. I mean, it’s like data visualization as well, a common approach. You have to go to the audience first, what matters to them, and you have to do everything in their context, and to me when it comes to analytics and data science and everything related to it, I tend to focus more on the user and the application. Never been the programmer, never been the builder, I’ve always been the user of the results or the leader of a team that was doing the analysis or doing some analysis myself.
Jeremy Clopton: 07:29 I find that the more that you focus on the end user and the audience, so to speak, everything is so much easier because you’re thinking the way they would think, and if we all felt like data scientists or accountants with my background, we probably wouldn’t explain things very well, as it turns out.
Cindy Tonkin: 07:52 But, because the client isn’t one of us necessarily, that’s why we do what we do and they do what they do.
Jeremy Clopton: 07:57 Exactly.
Cindy Tonkin: 08:01 I don’t know if it’s the same for your clients, but all the clients I speak to are really busy. They’ve got a lot of work, they’ve got a lot of things, they’ve got a lot of pressure, they’re life is upside down, they’re in the middle of flux and all kinds of different things. They just want it to be simple enough for them to not have to make the effort to think about it.
Jeremy Clopton: 08:19 Right.
Cindy Tonkin: 08:21 Give you the information.
Jeremy’s professional development
Cindy Tonkin: 08:24 Yeah, exactly. So talk to me. As a professional who’s teaching and training, you’re probably someone who keeps up professionally with stuff. What do you do for your professional development?
Jeremy Clopton: 08:39 I kind of have two sides of it. I have the compliance side of it where you’ve got to have certain training that meets certain criteria. I try to attend conferences that are relevant to the profession. Typically I speak at conferences throughout the year, so I’ll try to catch a couple sessions here or there that are relevant at conferences I’m already at-
Jeremy Clopton: 08:59 … but I have … Yeah, so I don’t have additional travel. I’ll do a webinar here or there. I get a lot of my compliance side training through teaching. Most of those hours count. To me professional development shouldn’t be about that side of it, shouldn’t be about the compliance side of it, but all too often I think it is, and again, working in the accounting industry I see that a lot.
Jeremy Clopton: 09:28 One of the things that I like to do, I’m an avid reader. I absolutely love to read. My goal is typically to average about a book a week. It depends on if I’m flying. If I’m flying I can typically get a book a flight, or one direction or so.
Cindy Tonkin: 09:44 Yeah, yeah. What’s your recent read that you loved?
Cindy Tonkin: 09:52 Okay.
Jeremy Clopton: 09:52 I actually was on the early release list for that. I think it actually comes out April 9th.
Cindy Tonkin: 10:05 Right.
Jeremy Clopton: 10:05 I’ll tell you what, that was, to me, a great one for any professional, any leader, because it has lots of processes in it, and I love processes. It even had a process for delegating appropriately, a process for creating … I mean, it was just spot-on to where we’re always busy, we’re always on the move, work could encompass everything if you wanted it to. I don’t think anybody really wants it to, and it’s a wonderful quick read on just how to do that.
Cindy Tonkin: 10:36 Nice! Michael Hyatt’s a favourite of yours. Are there any other of his books you’d recommend?
Jeremy Clopton: 10:44 I’m trying to think. He has one around meetings. I think it was called No Fail Meetings. Yeah, meetings tend to be a time-suck for most, every professional, so it’s kind of a strategy to make sure that your meetings are useful, so it’s a good one.
Jeremy Clopton: 11:00 I’m a fan of Michael Hyatt. Patrick Lencioni is one of all-time favourites, especially from the consultant side of the house. Getting Naked is one of his best books I think. Especially as an analytics professional, one of the things that I always had to talk with folks about was, okay, we need to be business developers because we’re consultants, and what I found is a lot of analytics-minded professionals, they don’t really enjoy the business development side, they don’t want to feel like a sales person. But in that book it was really good about helping people figure out, well you’re just there to help, and if you talk about helping somebody, you get past that. So that was a good one.
Cindy Tonkin: 11:52 I loved his TED talks so much. His TED talks are just so wonderful. They rated the standard of, oh, wow, here’s an explanation, something that had never even occurred to me to look for an explanation for. Yeah, oh, wow.
Jeremy Clopton: 12:07 Yes.
Cindy Tonkin: 12:08 Cool.
Jeremy Clopton: 12:10 His TED talks are wonderful, his book was great. It talked about how people can use data to play to our instincts and how we perceive data without really thinking about it, and to me it helps you explore the dark side of data. I think as a professional that’s using data, that’s something that you always have to be top of mind.
Jeremy Clopton: 12:33 A similar book on that was Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil. Again, wonderful TED talk. I loved her TED talk, I went out and bought the book after I saw it, and it’s one that I recommend to anybody that’s using data and thinking, oh, well I’m going to use advanced analytics, I’m going to use all these models and that’s going to remove bias. And it’s such a great reminder that if the data’s biased to begin with, you’re not doing anything but actually perpetuating to making it worse.
Jeremy Clopton: 13:00 So to me, the two of those are wonderful reads that really keep you in check as far as what you could be doing with data, or what you should be doing with data, so those are just a few. I’ve got a whole list.
Cindy Tonkin: 13:20 Now clearly you’re a TED talk fan.
Jeremy Clopton: 13:23 I am.
Cindy Tonkin: 13:25 Are there any particular TED talks that you have been blown away by? They don’t have to be data analytics. They might be, but they don’t have to be.
Cindy Tonkin: 13:41 Yes.
Jeremy Clopton: 13:42 That TED talk every time I watch it kind of gives me chills, and it’s one of those that really resonated. I heard it, I think, for the first time maybe three or four years ago, and I’ve got three kids at home, seven, just a few days away from turning five, and then two, and it really hit me, the whole talk did, and I’ve used that for a lot of different classes and I’ll recommend that one to people. It’s just an outstanding talk.
Cindy Tonkin: 14:16 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yes. For some reason I’ve seen that one and I don’t always see everything on TED, but I’ve seen that one and I do remember .
Jeremy Clopton: 14:26 Yes.
Cindy Tonkin: 14:27 The podcasts.
Jeremy Clopton: 14:30 Yeah.
Cindy Tonkin: 14:30 Which obviously you devour every moment that it comes out.
Jeremy Clopton: 14:34 Yes, always looking for the new episodes, yes. The other podcast … I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts. There aren’t a ton that I listen to, just completely dedicated to regularly. Probably my favourite that would fall into that category is Masters of Scale by Reid Hoffman. I just love how he talks with some of the biggest leaders of our time, whether they’re CEOs or not, and really just breaks down how they got there. Every single episode I feel like there’s something you can learn and take away immediately and apply.
Jeremy Clopton: 15:19 To me that’s always what I’m looking for is I want something actionable where I can apply it either in what I do every day, or I can take it to somebody that I’m working with and I can give them an immediate, actionable takeaway that I get from something that I’ve consumed content-wise, whether it’s podcast, book, video.
Cindy Tonkin: 15:41 You are on the road a lot. How many days a year are you on the road, generally?
Jeremy Clopton: 15:47 I’m probably on the road about 100, 110 nights a year.
Cindy Tonkin: 15:52 Okay. So that’s good. It’s not great, it’d be nice to have more time at home, probably, but-
Jeremy Clopton: 15:58 Yes.
Cindy Tonkin: 15:59 … it’s also good to work 110 days a year
Jeremy Clopton: 16:03 It is good.
Keeping healthy and sane
Cindy Tonkin: 16:03 … you have leads. It’s kind of useful for us. So given that you’re on the road a lot, what kind of routines do you have? You said before you were a runner. How do you keep yourself healthy and wise?
Jeremy Clopton: 16:19 Routine-wise I try to start every day the same. Start with water, start with some type of exercise, whether it’s walking or running, something just to get the day started. It always works out better, the day always goes better if I get some type of exercise before I start.
Jeremy Clopton: 16:41 Admittedly that’s also not always what happens, especially like the first day of the seminar you want to get down there and get set up-
Cindy Tonkin: 16:50 Make sure the rooms are okay and all that stuff.
Jeremy Clopton: 16:52 Yeah, you’ve got to get everything just right and sometimes you tend to skip it a little bit, but I always try to get some type of exercise during the day. I use an app called STREAKS, and it tracks. It allows you to, you know, the things that you want to do every day, so I have a certain amount of water that I want to drink every day and it keeps me with a reminder every so often, “Hey, you’re behind. You need to drink more water.”
Cindy Tonkin: 17:20 Drink up. Drink-up, drink up.
Jeremy Clopton: 17:21 Yeah, exactly, exactly. So it’s always try to start every day the same, try to end every day the same. What happens in between I can’t always control, but I generally, unless you’re travelling early in the morning or late at night, you’ve always got control over the start and the end of the day, so trying to make sure that those are regular and involves family time, talking with my wife and kids. Whether it’s FaceTime or send them a quick video or text messages or whatever it is, always try to have that consistency because it helps to just kind of keep you in a routine, and I think that’s a big thing is just having that consistency day over day.
Cindy Tonkin: 18:06 Nice. So that’s one of your routines that helps you kind of work smarter. What other things do you do to work smarter? What can you recommend as a good practice from your perspective?
Jeremy Clopton: 18:20 I tend to try a lot of apps, I will readily admit.
Working smarter: being productive
Jeremy Clopton: 18:24 Technology, as it turns out, doesn’t always make me work smarter. That said, the one that I find that I’ve had the most success with is Asana, and even though I’m the only one right now … Actually, I’ve got some of my team that I work with is starting to use it as well.
Jeremy Clopton: 18:47 To me I’m able to track every conference, every event, every client that I’m working with, it has its own project, I can put all the tasks on there, put due dates on everything, and at any point in time I always have that ability, so, okay, what’s my next must-do?
Cindy Tonkin: 19:02 Right.
Jeremy Clopton: 19:03 So to me using that is really important. When I’m in the office I always try to start, and I think I got this idea from Kevin Kruse, which is another author that I’d recommend has great books on productivity, but I always start with my prime three and that’s kind of … I use way too many puns in life probably, but with it being a prime I’m like, all right, we’ll go for prime, and it’s the three things that I’ve got to get done that day, and that’s always my focus and I try to get those three knocked out before I do anything else.
Jeremy Clopton: 19:36 I’m most productive in the morning, so my goal is to try to get those knocked out before lunch, and then whatever else seems to happen after lunch I can get stuff done then, but try to focus my top three things in my most productive hours.
Cindy Tonkin: 19:50 Right.
Jeremy Clopton: 19:51 I’d say the last thing that I do is time blocking on my calendar, and that’s something that it has its elements of success. It depends on who you work with. I will say the folks that I work with right now are wonderful at time blocking and understanding the whole concept, and I’ve used it for years, though. I’ve used it in other companies as well, and I’ll put my projects on my calendar and just simply say it’s an appointment. Don’t schedule a meeting, don’t schedule a call, I need this time to work on an important project.
Jeremy Clopton: 20:27 But I also found that useful when I was leading the team where I had eight different data analysts that were reporting to me, and I think we were across three time zones at the time, is I would put a block on my calendar in the afternoon, a two-hour block three days a week that was just for the team, and they knew that if they had any questions at all that weren’t urgent … if it was urgent they could always get a hold of me if need be, but to accumulate the questions, and then during that time it was completely open to anybody on the team. They’d call, I wasn’t working on anything where I couldn’t be interrupted.
Cindy Tonkin: 21:03 Yeah, yeah, exactly. Basically you had office hours. It’s one of the …
Jeremy Clopton: 21:08 Yeah.
Jeremy Clopton: 21:16 Oh, yeah.
Cindy Tonkin: 21:17 … basically he says if you haven’t got office hours, get them. Makes a huge difference. And I’m continually surprised at people who manage other people who don’t have office hours who are dealing with urgent and important things all the time so they never have time to deal with the not urgent but important stuff like managing a team, helping them work better, blah blah blah, and yeah, they get stressed. It’s a stress bucket thing.
Cindy Tonkin: 21:48 No, exactly.
Jeremy Clopton: 21:50 And I talk to people all the time, and admittedly it is advice for how to spend more time in quadrant two is spend more time in quadrant two which is-
Cindy Tonkin: 21:58 Exactly.
Jeremy Clopton: 21:59 It’s a touch annoying right? But it’s true. You have to be intentional about it, and I tell people that all the time and it’s always, “Oh, I don’t have the time to do that. I need to have an open door policy.”
Jeremy Clopton: 22:12 I just started a book that came out today. It’s called Great Leaders Don’t Have Rules.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:21 Right, okay.
Jeremy Clopton: 22:23 I have my Kindle right here, as any good avid reader does. Give me a second. Great Leaders Have No Rules: Contrarian Leadership Principles to Transform your Team and Business, and it’s by Kevin Kruse, the author that I just mentioned.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:37 Yeah, yeah.
Jeremy Clopton: 22:39 In it-
Cindy Tonkin: 22:39 And you’re loving it?
Jeremy Clopton: 22:40 … he keeps talking about get rid of the whole open door policy. Shut your door and have office hours. It’s one of the possible recommendations and I love it. It’s brilliant.
Cindy Tonkin: 22:52 Well I also find … I remember working with a manager, oh, a couple of years ago who’s like, “I have an open door policy,” and the first thing she did was shut her door to speak to me. I’m like, “So you don’t have an open door policy if you close your door.” So stop saying you’ve got an open … like, what you’re doing is fine, just don’t call it an open door policy.
Jeremy Clopton: 23:11 Right, by definition your door is closed.
Cindy Tonkin: 23:13 By definition you haven’t got an open door … if your door is closed. That’s it, full stop! Oh, absolutely.
Recruiting data analysts
Cindy Tonkin: 23:21 So, you mentioned you worked with a team of eight analysts at some point. Talk to me about recruiting. What did you look for when you recruited analysts or when you help people recruit analysts. What should they be looking for?
Jeremy Clopton: 23:39 I think when people are recruiting analysts, you can always look for the technology side, do they have the right software skill sets, do they have this degree or that degree? I am personally of the opinion none of that is as important as people think it is. Especially in the area of data science and data analytics, there’s so many self-taught citizen data scientists.
Jeremy Clopton: 24:09 The best team member that I had, probably the most brilliant who was developing tools that would read emotion out of email and well before that was the thing that people were developing, he had an accounting degree. But he was really passionate about technology and loved what he did and he was brilliant in that, and if you would’ve looked for him, you know, tried to find him based on certain classes or certain degrees or certain this or that, it wouldn’t of ever met a criteria that somebody was looking for.
Jeremy Clopton: 24:39 So, the first thing that I typically would do is kind of get past all of that and start to say, okay, well, what are their critical thinking skills? What are their creative abilities? I think that creativity is something that’s incredibly underrated when it comes to analysts.
Jeremy Clopton: 24:59 Historically, in my experience anyway, the people that are lacking creativity are the ones that you’re going to have to hand-hold the most. It’s those folks that have that creativity, that have the critical thinking ability, that love to solve problems, they’re going to be the ones that really are going to be your star performers because they’re going to go try to find solutions to these problems, they’re going to think about it in ways that nobody’s thought about it before, which when it comes to data science and analytics to me is incredibly critical.
It’s not just about the numbers
Jeremy Clopton: 25:34 Again, when I led that team I was at an accounting firm and I think over the course of that we had a handful of people that had accounting degrees that we were recruiting from within. The people that I hired externally, two math degrees, one with marketing, one with criminal justice and I think one with an analytics degree, but you really have to-
Cindy Tonkin: 26:04 It’s not just about the numbers, is it?
Jeremy Clopton: 26:05 No. It’s kind of like what we talked about earlier. It’s so much about the audience and can you actually get somebody to use the numbers? And when it came to dash boarding the visualization and creating actionable intelligence, the person on our team with the marketing background was phenomenal because her thought process was more marketing and thinking about communicating messages, and that’s something that most data analysts and data scientists that’s not really something that’s focused on.
Jeremy Clopton: 26:36 I think that that’s a skill that I look for, and I realize it’s hard to look for the skill or creativity, but it really comes down to in the interview process asking the questions. Have you solved problems like this? How would you solve a problem like this?
Jeremy Clopton: 26:53 To me it’s those intangibles that are so much more important than the degrees because, again, the software, the technology itself right now is getting to where it’s really easy to use. It’s easier than it’s ever been, the software vendors, most of them that I encounter anyway, they have lots of training on how to use their software. I need somebody that’s going to be able to apply it and solve a problem, not rebuild it.
Jeremy Clopton: 27:23 Now, if you’re recruiting for somebody to build it, yeah, the technical’s going to be a little bit more important. If you need somebody that can provide the algorithm then you’re going to have to look for somebody with experience and writing algorithms in that language. I get that. But for a lot of companies, they need somebody that can apply the technology in a way that helps their business get measurably better, not build software from scratch.
Cindy Tonkin: 27:47 Yeah, exactly. Well, based on that, you’re saying that’s what makes a better or worse data analyst is someone who can do those things and not just do numbers, so we kind of answered that question. Is there more you want to say about what makes a better or worse data scientist or …?
Jeremy Clopton: 28:06 Well I think it kind of comes down to two different things. To me a data analyst and a data scientist, I don’t know if those are used interchangeably by everyone-
Cindy Tonkin: 28:16 I think people prefer to write scientist than analyst.
Jeremy Clopton: 28:20 Oh, yeah.
Cindy Tonkin: 28:21 They’re different but they aren’t, you know.
Jeremy Clopton: 28:27 Yeah, I think they both work and I think those skills apply to both. I tend to think the data scientist are those that are doing a bit more of the coding and a bit more of the building, whereas the analyst is more the application of the technology.
Cindy Tonkin: 28:41 Right.
Jeremy Clopton: 28:42 I do think you have to have the technical expertise if you’re hiring a data scientist. You do need somebody obviously that can architect a solution.
Cindy Tonkin: 28:50 Yeah, yeah.
Jeremy Clopton: 28:52 Doesn’t mean they need to be a computer software engineer, but they need to be able to program the models to work the way they do.
Jeremy Clopton: 29:00 A lot of times for analysts, and that’s a lot of the folks that I’ve worked with in the companies that I work with when they’re looking for analysts, they need somebody that can apply the technology and not build it.
Cindy Tonkin: 29:12 Cool. So I’m going to ask you a different question now. What’s your favourite charity? I know you’re on the board of a few, so talk to me about your favourite charities?
Jeremy Clopton: 29:19 I am. My favourite charity is the Making Hope Fund, and I will readily admit I am somewhat biased for two reasons. One, I’m on the board, and second my wife founded it, along with her mother, so I am very biased in that regard.
Jeremy Clopton: 29:37 But the Making Help Fund, it’s a charity that we started last year. 2018 we started the charity. Its mission is to help ease the burden of caregivers that have a loved one going through serious medical treatment, so someone who has a family member that’s going through chemotherapy, cancer treatment or some other long-term type of care, really helping focus on the caregivers and addressing some of their needs, whether it’s financial, whether it’s emotional, whatever it may be.
Jeremy Clopton: 30:15 We’re still really young in this. Obviously it sounds like it’s something that came from personal experience, which is true. It came from my father-in-law being diagnosed with lymphoma about three years ago, and just seeing there is a lot there in place to help him and take care of him, but watching my mother-in-law helping take care of him as well and just everything that she had to deal with in that, whether it was travel, whether it was looking for, okay, where am I going to go grab lunch or dinner, where are we going to stay, different things like that really helped to shine a need on that.
Jeremy Clopton: 31:03 So we started it formally incorporated in 2018, my mother-in-law and then my wife being the co-founders, and just wrapped up our first fiscal year at the end of 2018, doubled our fundraising goals. We were really excited.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:19 Congratulations.
Jeremy Clopton: 31:21 Thank you. We were very excited by that and looking forward to an even bigger 2019.
Cindy Tonkin: 31:33 So you’re in the US, but which particular state is it based in?
Jeremy Clopton: 31:33 It is based in Missouri in the United States, specifically in Nixa, Missouri, which is just about smack down the middle of the country. It’s down in the south-west corner of the state.
Jeremy Clopton’s Lesson Learnt: Imposter syndrome get over it!
Cindy Tonkin: 31:44 Right, okay. Cool. So, let me see. Are there any others questions I need to ask you? Oh, lessons learned. If you had a, you know, I’ve learned this in my career, what’s that?
Jeremy Clopton: 32:01 Lessons learned. That’s a great question.
Cindy Tonkin: 32:05 That is one of those questions where you’re like, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ve talked about my favourite authors and I’ve actually said a lot of wise things already.” Is there anything that you kind of go, “Yeah, I had this manager when I was knee high to a grasshopper. That manager taught me this thing and it stayed with me forever.”
Jeremy Clopton: 32:23 I’d say one of the lessons is … it’s really to believe in who you are. My background, I’m an accountant, that’s my degree. I went to school to become an accountant, specifically a forensic accountant doing fraud investigations. I had no computer background, other than the fact I really, really like Microsoft Excel and I’m a bit of a data nerd.
Cindy Tonkin: 32:51 I think that Excel is the answer to all the universe’s problems and everybody can solve everything if they just know Excel.
Jeremy Clopton: 32:59 If you know Excel, it’s going to get you a lot farther ahead in life than if you don’t, I think.
Jeremy Clopton: 33:07 It’s so foundational the analytics, and I know a lot of people say, “Oh, my gosh, it’s Microsoft Excel,” but if you can do it in Excel or you can think about it in … you can apply it to any other technology that’s-
Cindy Tonkin: 33:17 Absolutely.
Jeremy Clopton: 33:18 … out there. It’s such a great starting point. It’s not the best solution in the world. I’ll readily admit there’s probably better software, but it’s a great place to start.
Cindy Tonkin: 33:28 Yeah.
Jeremy Clopton: 33:28 But yeah, I’d say believing in who you are and that it doesn’t matter what your background, doesn’t matter your titles, doesn’t matter your degrees, if you want a career in something, go. Make a career in something.
Jeremy Clopton: 33:42 I was passionate about data, I was passionate about technology, I still am. That got me to where I was at, as far leading an analytics practice in a national accounting firm. From there I’ve always been passionate about public speaking and teaching. I love teaching other professionals and was looking for a way to turn that into a career, so that’s why I left public accounting to start a company.
Jeremy Clopton: 34:09 Subsequently to that, again, I was recruited and I joined Upstream Academy and now I teach and speak full-time for a living. It’s wonderful because now I get to teach other people how to believe in themselves and how to just go do what you want to do.
Jeremy Clopton: 34:30 I work with a lot of emerging leaders. In fact one of our big programs is an emerging leaders academy for the accounting profession and it teaches young professionals how to be partners at accounting firms. Along those lines I’m helping firms figure out how to have an analytics practice in their firm.
Jeremy Clopton: 34:50 For a lot of people they may have that professional that’s really passionate about technology, really passionate about data, may not have the right degree. To me, you’ve got to believe that you can do it. I learned that lesson, gosh, it was probably within my first 18 months of my career. I was going to be testifying in a fraud investigation case that I’d been working on and was talking with my manager and partner. I said, “I know how this exam’s going to go. I haven’t passed the CPA exam yet, I’m still working through that. I’m not a certified fraud examiner yet, why on earth are they going to consider me an expert?” And he said, “Because you are one. And here’s why you are one.”
Jeremy Clopton: 35:30 And based on my experience when I was working with the training that I’d gone through, he goes, “Those letters after your name aren’t what make you an expert. It’s what you do that makes you the expert that you are.” And to me that’s really stuck with me. It’s so true and it’s something that you’ve always got to remember. I think now popular literature calls it Imposter Syndrome, I think, where-
Cindy Tonkin: 35:57 Yeah, imposter syndrome.
Jeremy Clopton: 35:57 … you’re not sure if … yeah, if you’re the expert. Yeah, you are.
Cindy Tonkin: 35:59 At some point someone’s going to walk in and go, “You’re a fraud and we know it, and you should be out of here.
Jeremy Clopton: 36:08 Right.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:08 That’s the imposter syndrome. Totally, yeah, yeah.
Jeremy Clopton: 36:08 Exactly. You’ve got to walk in there and you’ve got to say, “No, I’m the expert, here’s why,” and believe it. You have to do that. Nobody else can do it for you. You’ve got to believe that you are the expert that you are and it’s amazing the difference it makes when you’re willing to just take that and go with it.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:28 Well, Jeremy, that seems like a perfect place to say thank you very much for lending your expertise and for believing in yourself enough to be on my podcast. I’ve had-
Jeremy Clopton: 36:37 You’re welcome.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:38 … a fabulous time. Maybe in a few months when I think of some new questions I might ask you to be on again. Would you be on again?
Jeremy Clopton: 36:44 Yeah, I would love to, Cindy. It’s been fun. Thank you.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:46 This is Cindy Tonkin, I’m the Consultants’ Consultant and you’ve been listening to Smarter Data People.
Cindy Tonkin: 36:59 This is part of what I do to understand how it is that data scientists can be more effective in the workplace, smarter, faster and nicer. You can build analytics capability if you just now how to get the right help.
And if you have a team and you’re finding them harder to manage than they could be, if you’re constantly trying to squeeze more out of your budget and out of their time, and if you’ve got stakeholders or they’ve got stakeholders who are less than happy sometimes, maybe a lot more than sometimes, it can be really annoying and it can make you feel incompetent.
Cindy Tonkin: 37:32 I can help you help them get to the important problems faster, target the waste and time and save you time and money and ultimately delight stakeholders so that you can feel competent again. It’s such a good feeling. Talk to me.