From Auditor to Google: How Mike Manalac Landed His Dream Job in Accounting

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Mike: So it's like the Big four becomes idolized. The partner track becomes idolized. Nobody's talking about industry, right? Or nobody's talking about, hey, you know, only 2% of the new entrants to public accounting actually make partner. I don't know that anybody ever says that. And nobody ever asks the question, well, what are the other 98% do, right? Like, none of that is ever discussed.

Blake: So if you'd like to earn CPE credit for listening to this episode, visit [00:00:30] earmark Cpcomm, download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. Continuing education has never been so easy. And now on to the episode. Hey everyone, and welcome back to the show. I'm Blake Oliver, joined today by Mike Manalac. Mike, how are you doing?

Mike: Good.

Mike: Blake, thanks for having me. Excited to do the show. You're putting out a lot of good stuff. So [00:01:00] glad to be a part of it.

Blake: Thank you. So, Mike, I'm so excited to talk to you because you are an accounting manager at Google. I have heard it's a great place to work. What is it like working at Google?

Mike: It is kind of everything that you hear. A lot of people talk about the perks, right? But the actual work is really exciting too. So I'm an accounting manager. I'm on a team. We go by the business finance accounting team mainly handling a lot of revenue accounting transactions, but oversee a team of five [00:01:30] distributed across the country. I'm located here in Chicago and our office in the West Loop. I specifically work on two of our our biggest products, Google Search and YouTube, specifically the different deals that we make with our top advertisers to to increase their investment with Google and then to adopt our latest and greatest products. So it's a very cool side of the business. And yeah, even even with all of the some of the impacts from the post [00:02:00] pandemic to tech, I mean, Google is still such a great place to work. It was it was my dream job getting in here. And I'd still say even with everything that's changed over the years, still is. It's a it's a fun time.

Blake: You mentioned revenue accounting. Yeah. I imagine like most people would not want to dig into that. But this is an accounting podcast. So I do want to dig into that revenue accounting for Google search and for YouTube. Yeah. What is what do you mean by revenue accounting.

Mike: So I mentioned like the deals that we're [00:02:30] making with our top advertisers. If you can imagine, you know, the mom and pop that's running some Google ads isn't going to get the same deal as, say, the Procter and Gamble's or the Netflixes of the world. Right? So a lot of those bigger customers, they're not just spending on Google ads, they're spending on Google Cloud, YouTube search, our display business. They're using workspace. And, you know, investing in maps and like all kinds of things like that. So essentially those contracts become pretty, pretty [00:03:00] heavy, a lot of various to get technical for a second, a lot of different performance obligations all bundled into one contract. I mentioned a couple of big names, but like you can imagine, the the deal that will make with with L'Oreal, for instance, is going to be very different than the deal we make with a Ford Motor Company or a Coca Cola and things like that. So when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Google Ads, you want a little bit of a special treatment and and things like that. So [00:03:30] the contracts can get customized pretty quickly. We push standardization pretty hard, as I'm sure you and a lot of your listeners can can relate to. But the contracts get pretty complicated. So a lot of that's that's where the accounting team comes into play. And we also work less with a bunch of other accountants and more so with cross-functional teams. So like our legal and compliance and engineer and sales and as well as like our Fpna, which is [00:04:00] probably our closest finance ally there, we work with those various teams to put this stuff together. And so that's a little bit of a glimpse into, you know, what does a revenue accountant at Google Google do.

Blake: Yeah. That's fascinating. I'm picturing these massive contracts with these other big companies. And you've got to break all that out and recognize that revenue. Do you see AI helping you to do that more in the future? Do you use specialized tools for revenue accounting or [00:04:30] or are you building those tools yourselves at Google?

Mike: It's so funny because you can't even have a conversation about anything without AI coming into play. And of course, at Google, you know, being at the forefront of this like it's it's a big, uh, it's it's in all aspects of every team at Google. So even we have our own we have our own AI called Bard and generative AI that is, is part of search. I think for the most part, I do have [00:05:00] it as part of like my every day. A lot of that is is sort of being piloted with the Google employees. So I get to see the different generative AI that's implemented into search that we can talk about a little bit in as much as you want, but some really powerful stuff going on in there. But that's more of just the as a user of the Google products, like what that might look like one day, finance in general is is starting. We have this whole basically school, Google School called Finance Academy, [00:05:30] where we're having, I think 101 classes for AI kind of kicked off maybe three months ago. And there's all these various other tools that are, I guess, cascaded down to the various teams and things like that, but really, it's our. Leadership now that is trying to figure out, like, how do we get on this train? And I think a lot of times it comes off as like a buzzword, how somebody is going to use it, but it's really cool to see it being, you know, very [00:06:00] tangible and very much relevant in all the conversations at Google. So nothing that like today, I have I responding to my emails, although I can have some of that right and things like that, but it's still very much human involvement I guess, at this point. And the subject matter expertise is is still with the, the human here. So but interested to see how fast that changes.

Blake: What about spreadsheets? Do you have pressure to use Google Sheets for everything at Google, [00:06:30] or can you do whatever you want?

Mike: So it's funny because you can download Excel. I feel like most accountants and I came, you know, I came from the public accounting route and Excel is, you know, there's a point where you don't even need to use your mouse because you're just all Excel shortcuts. That's how you know you're you're at the top of your game. Coming into Google, it is very much pushed to use Google Sheets. Well, basically the whole workspace used to be called G suite. That whole workspace product is heavily [00:07:00] used. Same with Chad and Gmail. Like that's essentially what we use for everything that we do. So there is definitely like the default is Google Sheets Finance. You can download Excel. You have to it's funny. You have to add a little description. The question is why can't you use Google Sheets when you go to download Excel and you have.

Blake: To justify.

Mike: It, you have to.

Mike: Justify it. So like I basically have it so that I don't have to convert things from Excel to Sheets, but for the most part, [00:07:30] I'm I'm fully ingrained into Google Sheets now. I've been using it for six years, and a lot of the same formulas and and features are very similar to.

Blake: Yeah. Personally, I mean, I can't say I was ever an Excel power user, but I never really saw like massive missing gaps. I didn't understand why people were so resistant when I would send them a Google Sheet link and they'd say, no, no, I want this in Excel. I always thought the collaboration was worth it. You know, like whatever trade off you had to make. Yeah.

Mike: Big time. [00:08:00]

Mike: Yeah. Same with docs too. Like I use even in my personal life. Now that's how you can you can tell I'm maybe a little bit of a homer here, but like between spreadsheets for your personal stuff and docs for your personal things and adding comments and, you know, sharing it with different people, friends and family and stuff like that, it's it's something I use at work, but also in my personal life, too.

Blake: So you're an accounting manager at Google? I saw that you were at Walmart before Google for a little while, and [00:08:30] before that you were in public accounting. Is that.

Mike: Right?

Mike: So I'm from the Baltimore area, so the East Coast. I've since moved to the West Coast in San Francisco, and that's when I was with Walmart. And when I started at Google right now, and then I moved to the Midwest. So I've kind of tried to cover a lot of bases here on the country, but yeah, came up on the East Coast through the public accounting circuit. I'm sure a lot of your listeners probably can relate to that. So I was on the audit side of the House for top 20 firm [00:09:00] named Cohnreznick, and that was before shifting over to big four with PwC. But I did just shy of a decade. Sometimes I say a decade because I feel like to say nine. I feel like is a little bit shy. But if you count, if you count my internship, I could probably say a decade. But yeah, I did a decade in audit, mainly with financial services clients and real estate companies. So that was sort of my bread and butter while I was there.

Blake: And [00:09:30] how did you decide to be an auditor?

Mike: Um, you know, it's.

Mike: Funny, like, maybe we all go through this, like sophomore year in college after your one on ones. What do I want to major in? I think I took a it was a 101 intro to accounting class. I thought it was. It kind of clicked for me. Maybe I was always a numbers guy. I'm not entirely sure. But the analytical side was was definitely playing to my strengths. And I actually exceeded in that role or in [00:10:00] that, in that class. And a lot of my classmates were would always complain about how hard it was. And I was thinking, well, maybe that's something I should look into a little bit more. And my dad, who was an engineer for AT&T, he's he's retired now, but he was always a big proponent to, you know, if you're going to major in something, make sure that there is a job for you when you graduate, which sounds very basic but mean. You probably know this. There's there's so many majors and so many areas of study where [00:10:30] you graduate and you're looking for a job. There might not be a demand in the market. And I know you talk about this a lot, but we don't have that problem in accounting. There's definitely a demand for for accountants.

Blake: So I was a music major. Chicago, of all places. So you know you're in the loop, right? I was at northwestern and. Oh.

Mike: Very cool.

Blake: Great school. Not the right major for trying to get a job after you graduate. And yeah, I ended up getting into accounting because [00:11:00] it was something that people really wanted to pay me to do. And I knew that I'd always have work and I'd never have to worry about, you know, paying the bills and. Well, that's that's been true.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike: It's cool to hear too, because, you know, you you wouldn't think that there's the, the creative arts merges very well with, you know, the, the buttoned up accounting stereotypes that you hear. But I feel like I hear it all the time especially it was one of the reasons, even with Walmart [00:11:30] two, I was working on the e-commerce side of things. But then even at Google, you know, you're working with a lot of really smart and talented, and people that wear a lot of hats have eclectic sets of interests. I run into people all the time that are super creative or have a music background and things like that. If anything, I think it's a huge advantage. So. Cool to hear that from you too. Maybe that's why you're you're here putting out these podcasts. I'm curious, do you play any instruments? Blake?

Blake: I play the cello. Yeah, it's it's been interesting talking [00:12:00] with folks in the profession who are doing interesting things, like yourself. I keep hearing this theme that soft skills really matter in accounting and knowing how to work with people and collaborate with people. And there's many ways to learn those skills. For me, music helped me learn how to play in a string quartet and in an orchestra, and that's all about dynamics with groups of people and individuals. And I feel like it doesn't matter if you're playing a string quartet or if you're [00:12:30] closing the books for last month or last quarter, it's kind of the same thing. In the end, that might be counterintuitive, but, you know, it's all about working with those people to get the job done.

Mike: Yeah, I've never.

Mike: Heard of counting in a string quartet comparison. But, you know, you're not you're not that far off. I feel like when you were saying, you know, the similarities there, there's something about picking up an instrument all on your own. And, you know, today with the soft skills [00:13:00] is one thing, but it's also just being able to solve ambiguous problems is a big attribute. And, you know, character trait everyone's looking for, for accounting professionals, there's nothing more daunting than like picking up an instrument and saying, okay, play something. You know everything. It's all multitasking. Another big one that you need in accounting. It's all like working with ambiguity and then even following the the lead of others if you're playing in the quartet and things [00:13:30] like that. So there are a lot of similarities and you know, and that's that soft skills can be learned a lot of different ways, but it's definitely a big thing as far as communication styles and public accounting is really good with that too. You know, like that's not just something that you have to take a creative arts background or even working in industry. Like, I feel like a lot of those communication skills got built in public accounting too, but definitely something that's top of mind. And [00:14:00] I feel like it's still kind of flies under the radar. But, you know, like you said, like it's coming up a lot more and more now.

Blake: Well, and this brings me to the topic of how do we help other accountants be happier in their jobs? It seems to me just looking at your LinkedIn, looking at your website, Mike, looking at your posts, this is the first time we've talked in person, but just looking at what you put out there on the internet, you really love your job and you really love accounting. But at the same time, we also have [00:14:30] a recent study by my former employer, Floqast, which found that 60% of accountants rate their job satisfaction as a C or lower. So 60% more than half of accountants rate their job as a C or lower. How do we guess? Like how do we help them get more out of their jobs? Like what? There's something there's a gap here in that. We've got this great job, offers a lot of security, a lot of money, a lot of potential. [00:15:00] But then all these folks are just not really liking it.

Mike: Yeah, it's.

Mike: It's so unfortunate. I think some of it is. We could probably talk the full hour about the image problem. Right. I think some of it is an age old stereotype, but I think a lot of it too is you don't hear that many success stories. I know you're highlighting a lot of those. That's why I was super excited to to come join the podcast.

Blake: Yeah, glad to have you on. We need to have a success story on this show.

Mike: And that's that's the thing.

Mike: Like, there's not enough of that, [00:15:30] right? There are a lot of accountants in cool roles doing creative things, breaking the stereotypes. I just don't know if those voices are heard much. And it was part of why I sort of came out of the woodwork, so to speak, to kind of put some stuff out.

Mike: There to say, like everyone's bad.

Mike: And if you know I'm on the Reddit circles and the accounting subreddit, it's it's a lot of doom and gloom that that stat doesn't shock me, but it is very unfortunate because it's not the reality that I see. So [00:16:00] a lot of if you're saying like, how do we how do we address that? I think you're doing it. I'm trying to do it by highlighting some of the cool side of the the accounting space. And I think that's kind of what what I'm posting on LinkedIn is usually coming along with like an illustration that I put together. It's it's an informative post, but also pretty playful. I don't take myself too seriously and I don't want to.

Mike: Have it's important.

Mike: It is. And I don't want to have like a dry [00:16:30] article, you know, like, oh, what? Is he going to recite some stuff for me? Like, I can, but that's not necessarily what I think people really want to hear. So kind of just trying to break those stereotypes out in the town square, out in public with a ton of your listeners like you're doing, you know, on a on a weekly basis. So that's what I'm trying to do, too, and have a couple different avenues that I'm trying to take to get there. But I think it's important not just for the [00:17:00] minority of us to do that, but I think I really hope the AICPA, when they're solving their 12 point plan, that this is a big chunk of it, is trying to get some more promotion for for some of that fun and fulfilling side of the profession. Because to your point, a lot of people don't see it. And I feel like they think that it doesn't exist and that's a problem.

Blake: Yeah. And maybe, maybe that's why these 60% of accountants or let's just, let's just say it's like [00:17:30] half right? Roughly. Right. Yeah. We can be rough with the numbers. Let's say, you know, we've got half that are happy and half that are unhappy. And the part that are unhappy. I wonder if it's because they feel stuck, because they've they've hit this point in their career where, you know, they're they're not progressing. They're not learning. It's kind of Sally. Right. It's the same thing every month that can get really tedious. Um, I mean, you ended up at Google doing a job you enjoy, like, how did you [00:18:00] maybe you can be sort of a case study for others listening, like how did you end up, you know, getting there. I mean, you made it through audit unscathed. You didn't leave the profession, and then you got this job, like, walk me through it. Like how how has your career progressed in a way that has gotten you to where you're at?

Mike: Yeah, no, we can go.

Blake: Back as far as you want.

Mike: Yeah, well.

Mike: Let's go back to the beginning of time. No, no, I mean, I've been in my career for 15 years. I said I did a decade in public [00:18:30] accounting. So I think what happens to a lot of people, we're all funneled most, I'd say to use some rough numbers that I, you know, I'll just put my finger in the air. I bet you 99% of accountants that are, you know, studying accounting in college, you're basically funneled into public accounting. And I'm a big proponent of public accounting, so I don't want to put it down, but it almost seems like that's the only way. And the good part about public accounting is also kind of a little bit [00:19:00] of a trap in that your career path is is very clear, crystal clear. You join as an associate two and a half, three years later, you make senior two and a half years. Three years later, you make manager. That's right. About the time, at least for me, right around. I had made manager in public, had my CPA. I was doing some of the the recurring audits for maybe 3 or 4 years even. And I started to think like, oh man, is is this my whole life? [00:19:30] Like, is this what I want to do? And if you actually look to see, you know, a lot of people then make the jump to industry, which is what I did. There's a little bit of a dilemma there, because if you stay too long and you're not a lifer in public accounting, you can actually be a little you can kind of be handicapping yourself.

Mike: I think a lot of people talk about don't leave too early, don't leave before senior. Like there's a lot of truth to that. There's not a lot of people talking about don't stay too long. Don't overstay your welcome. [00:20:00] Unless. Unless that's what you really want to do, right? Like a lot of my friends that I came up with are partners now. You know, they're they're probably throwing down their card at lunch like I used to admire the partners doing all the time and living a good life, too. So but that's not necessarily the life for everybody. But that is the life that the education system funnels you into. So at least for me, I was, I don't know, approaching 30 and I was my friends were having kids and settling down and I was [00:20:30] thinking like is this do I have another move in me? Like is what am I really trying to do? And I don't know that a lot of people really crystallize, like, what do you really want to do? I think you just kind of get funneled along. I call it like the lazy river approach. Which to your career. And in public accounting, it's very easy to get complacent because every couple of years you're getting promo right and and things like that. So anyway, I just really crystallized what I wanted. And somebody had asked me once over [00:21:00] drinks in DC like, hey, what what was your dream job be if you could ever have it? I don't know if you ever asked that question to people, but a lot of people don't know what to say.

Mike: And in that moment, I didn't know what to say. And actually the the first thing that jumped out to me was like, I don't know, maybe I'd work for Google or something. And for some reason when I said it and I put it out there, I couldn't not think about it anymore. And I started, you know, following the big tech industry. And it seemed [00:21:30] like all the cool companies that I was into were all located in the Bay area. Right. And I was about as far from the Bay area as you could be. So one day it was over. I remember pretty specifically a barbecue joint called Dinosaur Barbecue in Harbor East. My wife and I were talking about, hey, maybe, maybe we make a move. And I think a few months later I put in my notice at my firm. I rented my house, I put all my stuff in storage and sold my car, [00:22:00] booked a one way ticket to San Francisco with no place to live. And and I just rolled the dice for it. So that was kind of a forcing function for me of saying I got to bet on myself to try and and energize kind of what I'm going. And, you know, that kicked off a whole nother chapter of my career that, you know, later led to some other stuff.

Blake: So you decided you wanted to go work for a tech company. So you quit your job and you [00:22:30] sold your house and your car, and I mean, you you basically just packed up and went. That sounds like when people go to LA to become actors, you know.

Mike: You you.

Blake: Really took a you really took a risk. Yeah. So so what happened? You you got to San Francisco and and did you know anyone. How did you how did you.

Mike: I didn't know.

Mike: Anyone. It was an exciting city, from what I could tell. I'd actually never even visited SF. Now, now it's a former home. [00:23:00] So I, you know, I have a lot, a lot of love for SF, but I kind of thought I wanted to go swing big, right? Just to test the waters, see what I could do. New York was an obvious choice being from the East coast, but it was maybe a little too close to home. So I chose San Francisco, and I figured I had started looking at companies. I was doing some, like, pro bono stuff for the sharing economy. This is when like Uber and Airbnb were like brand new. And I was a super host for Airbnb, [00:23:30] renting out my house and ended up having a side hustle there. And that's how it started, sort of started to like turn into something. And I wanted to be closer to the action. So the only constant there was, that's when I made the transition from Cohnreznick to PwC. So I did have a job with PwC, so that at least was a constant. But I also knew I, I didn't want to be in public forever, so I knew that was like the tail end of my public accounting career.

Mike: And yeah, so I landed [00:24:00] in San Francisco, tried desperately to try and find a place to rent. And it's funny because, like, you know, I ended up getting a one bedroom, 3000 bucks a month in Nob Hill, and they make you put down first month's rent and a security deposit between the first month rent, security deposit, the hotels I was staying at and the flights I was out ten grand like that. And I had just I had just bought a second property at the time and was broke. So, [00:24:30] you know, it was it was kind of rolling the dice, but it was one of the the first time where I was really trying to say, like, if I'm going to do it, it's going to be now, because I don't want to have a kid and have a family and not be able to pick up and leave. So I kind of rolled the dice and, you know, thank thankfully, public accounting took me there. And then being there, I had my boots on the ground. I was able to knock on doors and attend interviews and things like that.

Blake: So [00:25:00] when you say knock on doors, were you like walking around to these, you know, tech company offices and like just showing up at the finance department and saying, I want to talk to the CFO. I'm an accountant for hire. How did that work?

Mike: I'm sure if I had done that, they wouldn't have let me pass the security check in desk. But but no, it was similar in that I. I did need to go. This is this is pre-pandemic like on site interviews were actually on site and [00:25:30] I was at the Embarcadero office in with PwC, which is right down in the, in the fi di. And you know, I remember like stashing a suit jacket was probably overdressed at the time, stashing a suit jacket in like the coat closet and and having to go hide and go put it back on to run across the street to Salesforce to to actually have that onsite interview and things like that. So it's not that far off. Um, but I did get a little bit of a reality [00:26:00] check thinking that I've got ten years experience, I've got Big Four like I've got all this great resume they're going to they're going to welcome me in for these positions. And that actually wasn't really the case. I even had a recruiter say like, oh, you've got a great East Coast resume, but you're never going to make it in the Bay area. And, you know, so so there was a reality check there, but I'm sure we can go on and on about recruiter stories too.

Blake: Well, I was going to say that that suit jacket [00:26:30] that you had probably made you stand out as not a local in San Francisco. Oh, yeah. You needed the you need the Patagonia vest. You know, you really want to fit in.

Mike: I was smart.

Mike: Enough to drop the tie, but.

Mike: Over, over the over.

Mike: Time. So like, I end up writing about it a little bit of this in or most of this in the playbook that I have on my website. But Salesforce was one of the first big opportunities I had, and Uber was another one. Both of those were HQ [00:27:00] in in downtown San Francisco. So I learned quickly after Salesforce, I remember doing my it was like the third or fourth round of interviews, and I went into the office and there was like a puppy dog room and, you know, some guys eating like an ice cream cone who's interviewing me. And that's what I was like, look, I got to drop. I got to drop the suit jacket. Like they're playing by different rules here. And so by the time I had been interviewed with like Uber and some of those other ones, [00:27:30] I learned pretty quick. But it was it was trial by fire. And that's kind of a lot of, a lot of the stuff I've put out is a little bit about that journey and the learnings that came from that.

Blake: And that book you mentioned is called No Fucks Given and it's available on your website. Mike from accounting. Is

Mike: Yep, yep. Mike from.

Blake: I want to I want to talk more about the stories in that book. Yeah. Like you talk about the interviews that you did. How many interviews did you do [00:28:00] before you landed. Was it the job with Walmart? Was that the one?

Mike: So I think in the book I cover about 15, and I probably had another five that I could have done, but the lessons started to get a little redundant because I would learn the same lesson over and over again. So I shaved it down to 15 interviews. But yeah, Walmart was the first one that was leaving public accounting. I had tried for for some other companies, but Walmart was my intro to [00:28:30] to industry.

Blake: So you you interviewed at Salesforce, Uber, what were some of the other ones where you interviewed but you didn't get the job?

Mike: So yeah, at this phase, so just with public accounting experience, because it got a lot easier after I had the dynamic duo of public and industry. Right. But when I only had public, which is probably a good chunk of your listeners might, might be able to relate to this. Uh, Pandora was across the bridge, you know, the [00:29:00] the streaming radio. They were across the bridge in Oakland. That was a little bit of a heartbreaker. I got burned by a recruiter there. Twitter was another one. And Uber, Salesforce. Um, those were the ones that didn't work out so well. And I actually had to to do what I think a lot of people won't do. Like, we kind of talked about some sacrifices for moving and things like that, but the concept of taking a step back in title is, is a is a tough pill to swallow. Right? [00:29:30] But if I really wanted to break into industry at one of the biggest fortune five hundreds, which is what I wanted, I had to kind of swallow my pride a little bit, lose the ego, and maybe take a step down from manager to senior, even though a lot of people would say that was career suicide. I kind of felt there's a lot more years in my career that I have to make up for that. So I'm going to bet on myself again and I'll take that senior position and hopefully, hopefully I can get back into like management [00:30:00] and see where it goes from there. So but yeah, that was my path in into Walmart and there, if you're wondering like, oh, I thought Walmart was in Arkansas, Bentonville, Arkansas. So that's the brick and mortar side of the business. But the e-commerce business is is the team that I joined. So I was part of the internal financial reporting team for and some of the other online properties that Walmart owns.

Blake: Which is enormous. We're talking. [00:30:30]

Mike: Oh it's huge. Yeah. Like.

Blake: I mean, in terms of e-commerce volume, I don't know the rankings, but it's like what Amazon and Walmart are right up there.

Mike: Yeah.

Mike: It's top three I think eBay. I think it fluctuates too sometimes with eBay. But it's huge. And at the time this is back in 2017. So Walmart had just gotten serious with going toe to toe with Amazon because at the time, I mean, Amazon was already really big. It's not that Walmart was trying to beat Amazon as much, it was just trying [00:31:00] to take some market share before Amazon gobbled it all up. So like to your point, even though it wasn't to the, you know, the world's biggest retailer, but the world's biggest e-tailer is Amazon, right. And couldn't really hold a candle there. But there was a big investment to really grow that e-commerce business. So like when I joined, I think the the year over year growth was like 15%. But by the time I had left, it was at like 50, 60% in, in growth, in, in sales. [00:31:30] And we had acquired a bunch of companies. We got, a Hoboken startup, to kind of take the reins of the online side of the business. So it was funny because it was like I was at a fortune one company, or it felt like I was at a startup with a pocket book of a fortune, one company, which was a really interesting, interesting dynamic.

Blake: So you took a, you know, title demotion in order to get in to the industry you wanted. And [00:32:00] yeah, a lot of folks aren't willing to do that. It does take it does take an adjustment. Right? You you work so hard to get to that manager job in public to give it up. Feels like a step back, but it clearly was the right choice for you. You don't regret it in retrospect because you got where you wanted to be. So maybe more of us need to consider that.

Mike: Yeah. I mean.

Mike: I definitely, definitely have no regrets. And I think what I didn't really understand at the time was that [00:32:30] the companies that you think you're going to exit into, you know, your dream jobs, they probably don't want to manage. You're managing a team that's doing month end closes and, you know, journal entries and stuff, and they know the ERP system very well, SAP and Oracle. And then I'm trying to get a job. And I've never done any of those things. And I'm supposed to be managing a team of people that can run circles around me. That never really clicked until I actually went and tried to do it. And then I realized, [00:33:00] oh, I guess I'm not able to do those things. And, you know, it was a reality check. But again, like, you kind of got to bet on yourself, I think, and put your ego to the side was something that I felt I didn't want that to hold me back. You know, I'm still young enough. I got plenty of years of sacrifice. I've done a decade of 70 hour weeks, 80 hour weeks for busy seasons. You mean to tell me I can't make a sacrifice like this? So that was my mindset at the time.

Blake: Yeah, I think it's [00:33:30] a very healthy mindset. So you got to Walmart you were learning the ERP, you're learning the month end close, all the stuff that you were auditing when you were at Cohnreznick but not actually doing. I've always found that interesting. Just a side note that we start our career as auditing the work.

Mike: You know.

Blake: Shouldn't it be the other way around where we start our careers doing the work? And then once we get good at the work, we then go judge other people on that work that I've never understood [00:34:00] it.

Mike: That makes too.

Mike: Much sense, Blake. I think I think you're I think you're absolutely right. Like. And it's not it's not that you're not prepared coming from public accounting. You're you're plenty equipped to actually do the work. But if people are expecting you to hit the ground running, and if you're not able to show that you had already done it, or reconciliations and things like that, like, you know, people just want to see see you in action or know that somebody you've already been through the pressure cooker somewhere [00:34:30] else before they want to hand over the reins to you. So that was similar to why I think once I left Walmart, which was a great experience, worked on a lot of cool stuff. And at that point I had had the fortune 500 experience and the public accounting experience from a couple firms. That's really when I started to get traction in the in the form of actually people replying back to like my, my request to like, try and get a phone screen, you know, because before [00:35:00] that I couldn't even really get anybody. That's why I mentioned some of the letdowns when I only had public accounting experience. I couldn't even get anyone to even talk to me. Right. And that was a that was a blow. But things had changed by the time I had a lot of even more experience under my belt. After Walmart, I had at least had my foot in the door in in some ways. From there, once I got the phone screen, it took more failures before I realized what I had to do once I got the phone screen. [00:35:30] But at least I was getting people to pay attention to me.

Blake: So let's talk about the phone screens, right? You finally start getting people to pick up the phone, or at least to schedule that interview. Yeah. Like how many of those did you go through?

Mike: Oh, man. Uh, a ton of those. So I'd probably say like. At best. If you're reaching out to, say, ten companies. At this point, I was probably getting a response back from maybe 3 or 4 and then [00:36:00] the phone screen for maybe 1 or 2. Right. So it was definitely casting a wide net. I'm a numbers guy, so I put it all out there. Right? I talk a lot about this in the playbook, but casting a wide net and sort of having your A-listers and your b-listers and was a big proponent of shooting for the moon. And if you land in the stars, hey, that's not so bad either, right? So I put I put everything out there and just would see what would come my way. So, I don't know, I probably, I probably [00:36:30] had maybe 15, another 15 or so phone screens that I actually landed. And then even less of those would turn into an actual on site, and then less of those on sites would turn into the final round. And then not all of those final rounds ended up in an offer. So, you know, it was it was quite a journey. But but yeah, I got I got good at it after a while. Right. Like the phone screen is essentially I mean, again, this is one of those things that you don't think about, but the [00:37:00] person interviewing you on that phone screen, probably not an accountant, right? They probably don't actually know if you had any flubs or missteps in, in sort of your, your answer to your familiarity with 606 or 820 and you know, they're not going to call you on that.

Mike: I work with our recruiting directors or recruiting coordinators now quite a bit, too. So, you know, I have a little inside and outside perspective on that. But, you know, they're basically trying to see, like, does this guy fit the bill [00:37:30] before I put him in the room and the on site with the actual people who can call him on those things. So I kind of reframed what I was trying to do in that phone screen, and it was really my main goal was never to look more than one step ahead. Nothing is promised. A lot of those resulted in failure too, so don't count my chickens before they hatch. I think is the saying goes and just really try to impress the the phone screen recruiter just for them to feel like I was a culture fit. And I [00:38:00] checked the boxes for all the various things that I knew that the hiring manager had probably put in front of them to say, try and see if this guy knows this stuff and, you know, just basically try to get them to want to hear more from me, you know, and you only get 30 minutes. So over time, I got pretty good at that and kind of had like a little bit of a formula that, that I kind of outlined in the playbook as to like, what are the key things that I say, how do I lead off? Which is first question everybody asks, you, tell me about yourself, [00:38:30] right.

Mike: Like I should have that nailed down and then even how do I end it? Most people remember the last thing you say more than anything, right? So at the tail end of each of those I call, I had this little concept called the sizzle reel, which was really like my greatest hits that I can all cram into two minutes to, to really have that recruiter like salivating, wanting to hear more from me. And over time, I got good at that. And I had enough, enough under my belt and figured [00:39:00] out how to let my personality shine a little bit to actually get them to say, oh yeah, let's move this guy forward. And, you know, it was a inch by inch process trial by fire. But it ended up, you know, I'm glad that I went through all of that because it did click at a certain point and then, you know, went through that with the phone screen and then went through it on the on site and inch by inch. And I feel like that's we talk a lot about learning to fail. I feel like out there now, it's almost like a buzz phrase, but when you're really in it and really [00:39:30] failing all the time, like you realize how to course correct, you know? So yeah.

Blake: I love what you said about thinking about that phone screen. From the interviewer's perspective, they are not an expert in these subjects in the subject matter. So they're not like you said, they're not going to know if your answer to that revenue recognition rule question was right. You just have to get past them. They're the gatekeeper to the people who actually will know [00:40:00] if your technical skills are right. So the the technical skills are not as important in the phone interview. It's it's about showing your personality or, you know, are you a fit for this company? Are you a culture fit? I mean, and just demonstrating that you, you meet the criteria that has been set to get people into the room.

Mike: Yeah.

Blake: And and I feel like we probably in accounting to approach it the backwards way. We think, oh, I got to impress them with my technical knowledge. And then we just hit them with all of that. And this person [00:40:30] has no, you know, you're just it's all going over their head right? Yeah. Their HR their sales whatever. Yeah. Yeah. So that's um I love that.

Mike: Even the.

Mike: Even the mindset like just to kind of put a bow on that, even that mindset made the biggest world of a difference. Because once you know, you're not going to get called on something. Think your confidence is up, right? You're speaking more freely. You're actually probably performing better. The whole thing is a performance, right? All these interviews are a performance. You're actually performing [00:41:00] better simply by understanding what they're what they're looking for, what they can and can't call you on and not thinking too far ahead. Because you're right, accountants are so much like, oh, I got to tell them all the codification of this and that, and it's like, you can, but you're kind of wasting your, your 30 minutes with this recruiter, you know.

Blake: Yep, yep. You got to use that time wisely. Yeah. So so once you get in the room though, how does how do things change when you're in the room with the controller? Who's going to hire you or the [00:41:30] CFO is going to hire you?

Mike: You know, it's.

Mike: Hard because a lot of at least at the big tech companies. So like at this point, I'm talking to and all this is in the playbook too. But at this point I'm talking about like Amazon's and Facebook and Nike, Tesla and Twitter and Uber and Google as well. So like that's the caliber. And for those type of companies, it's a two month interview process. It is a it is a journey. Like you [00:42:00] kind of have to have that endurance. Not only that, your first time in the room is probably with a panel. Now, you're probably going to be meeting one on one with various people throughout the the interview, the interview chain. But most likely if they brought you on site and they schmoozed you like it in Facebook, if they're going to have the greeter walk you down Hacker Way and get you all this like free stuff to wow you, to really impress you, they're going to have you meet at least like four people on the accounting team. Right. And [00:42:30] obviously the bar is super high. So it's not really just impressing one person. You kind of got to impress four people of different levels. And the other tricky part too, is they're all going to go back and compare notes, right. Last thing you want is to have like these couple really good work examples. So I did this on this client or I did I did this at Walmart or something. You need to have so many fricking examples because you don't want people to say, this guy's only got two examples, you reusing [00:43:00] it through the whole interview process. So, you know, I didn't realize that until I had already failed Facebook the first time, right? I ended up getting three shots, which is a longer story, but that, you know, I didn't realize that until I had been asked so many. Tell me about a time when questions to realize I need to increase the amount of examples that I have and the variety.

Blake: Yeah, that's that's funny. Yeah. The [00:43:30] the group interview is becoming more and more popular. It seems like we were even doing that at when I was at Floqast. It was I think I was employee 80. Oh, when I left it was like 200 or something. I mean, you know, not huge. But we were an LA startup and we started doing those group interviews shortly after I joined, and I would sit in a conference room with, like at least two other people on the marketing team because I was the product marketer there, okay? And we'd interview people, right? And it would be like a panel. And I always felt [00:44:00] bad for the person on the other side because, you know, they have to think of responses for three people. And we only had to think of one smart question to ask, you know, during the whole interview. I mean, it's kind of brutal. And they would be in there with different teams for like, you know, an hour or more.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. No, I would say.

Mike: Most of mine were probably one on one. And then a handful of them were panels, like for instance, Amazon does an all day interview. So this was the final round. This [00:44:30] is after I did their their phone screen and then their social mixer that they had to really test the culture. Then they had me do a white paper to see if my writing skills were good. Then they had me do an on site before they eventually said, okay, I'll book a ticket for you to come to Seattle, right? But when you go to Seattle, it's a eight hour interview, you know, eight hours, and they wait till the very end, at least in my case, the very end, the eighth hour, when you're basically losing your voice because you met with so many people, and that's when they [00:45:00] bring in what they call the bar raisers. If you haven't heard of that, these guys are they can make or break you within. You know, that one 30 minute meeting. And that was like an example of where they brought in to two bar raisers, which was like an ex Microsoft guy and an ex Tesla guy that were there to, you know, put me through the ringer to see if I dig myself into some rabbit hole that I couldn't get out and things like that. So those panel interviews are really tough, and at least what I found maybe I'm curious, [00:45:30] like if this was your experience, but like those panel interviews are tough because there's usually one person that you feel like is the lead and another person that is kind of watching your every move, but they're not saying much. So in the back of your mind the whole time, you're like looking at the person who's who's not saying anything like, God, what is he thinking? Like, is he looking at my nonverbal cues? Is he, like nitpicking every little thing? He's not asking any questions like, you can't get a read when there's that many people in the room. It's hard to get a read on each [00:46:00] one of them.

Blake: Yeah, we weren't that strategic at that point of our stage of growth. You know, we were just we're like we heard I think our attitude was like, we heard that all these tech companies are doing panel interviews to start. So we're going to do that too, you know, like copycat kind of stuff. I wonder, I mean, I have I just got to wonder, like these eight hour interviews like. Has anyone actually stopped to see if doing those eight hour interviews or those two month long processes actually results in better hires? Or is this just something that happens [00:46:30] at companies when they get big and wealthy and they they can spend a lot of time and money on hiring people, and they think it makes them better to do so. You don't have to answer that. But I just sometimes I wonder if it's all just for show.

Mike: I it probably it almost seems like it because it's almost like the more well respected or more desirable the employer was like the lengthier the process. Right. So the.

Blake: Harder they make it right.

Mike: The harder they.

Mike: Make it. And it is very expensive to have a bad hire. Right? Because once you join, like there's a lot [00:47:00] of there's a lot of coaching involved. And, you know, even if you don't do a great job, there's a lot of effort to get you back on track. And nobody wants to have to do a layoff. And, you know, so it's very expensive to have a bad hire. So I get why they do that. But I would probably say the pandemic has probably changed that a little bit in that one. You're probably not going on site as much. Even back then, I had a lot of video, video interviews, that or multiple phone screens, like for Nike. I think [00:47:30] I went like four rounds with just phone screens with various people before they were they said, okay, let's book a ticket to come out to the Portland area. Um, so I think it's also not cost effective to fly everyone out from like around the country. So I don't know, I think in today's state, I bet you that's happening less and less, you know, probably less head count. So there's less hires anyway. But then there's an inefficiency too, of, you know, like, can we move faster? [00:48:00] Because I think a lot of times what it comes down to is like, you might lose a really good candidate because you had to wait two months, you know, if there was someone else who was only doing it in six weeks, you know, maybe you lost a good candidate because a different company had, you know, two weeks less of a of a rigorous interview process. So, I mean, you bring up a good point.

Blake: Well, whether or not it makes sense, it's the world we live in. Yeah. And so if you want to get that awesome job, [00:48:30] if you want to get that Google, that Facebook, that Tesla, that Amazon job, you're going to go through the ringer. I suppose it's good that we all went through the CPA exam because, you know, this is kind of like a marathon like that. Oh yeah. Yeah. You got to think about it that way. And I mean, my take away from this conversation here is my big takeaway is it's a numbers game. You got to get a lot of phone interviews in order to get the in-person interviews. And you got to do a lot of them. You got to be willing to put a lot of time into it. [00:49:00] Um, maybe the reason those folks that are not so happy in accounting, you know, maybe the reason they're not happy is because they want a different job for themselves, but they haven't been willing to put in the time to go find that job. And like you, you moved across the country to do it. So if you want it enough, if you can make it happen, right. Like, that's that's what I'm feeling. You talk a lot about this in your book. I'd love for you to tell [00:49:30] us about the book. No Fucks Given. Yeah. And you know, what inspired you to write that and put that out there in the world and what it's about?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Mike: Thanks for the opportunity to to kind of chime in on that. But, you know, a lot of it came from you've done a lot of podcasts. I'm impressed how much content you have out there, Blake, but it's only been like maybe a year since the headlines, like popular news headlines have talked about the accounting [00:50:00] shortage, talked about the pipeline problem, talked about the image problem. I feel like that's really surfaced because, you know, the the younger generation, the students now are really voting with their feet. Right? And they're going to Stem not accounting. And now it's gotten everybody's attention. So in the last few years you've seen the the starting salary at the, the firms go up. Right. But it was stagnant for so long. So you know, all of that started surfacing. And and to your point, there's all this [00:50:30] doom and gloom and like, oh, there's nothing, nothing exciting about the work. And a lot of people will look at those top jobs and think that they're they're so elusive, they're so out of reach. And to be honest, part of it for me was just to to kind of correct do my part to kind of correct that mentality of like, it is possible. And unfortunately, there's not a lot of resources out there to say, like, here's how you can actually go to do it. And I know because I looked for that resource [00:51:00] and it didn't exist back then. Well, it makes.

Blake: Sense, right? Because like the the association's their job, their primary function is to get people to go into public accounting. Yeah. To staff up those firms that are their members. They're not going to create resources to help people leave those firms. No, that's not right.

Mike: Yeah.

Mike: It's that and then even. Think about it like if you're in higher education, you get higher marks by saying, hey, look how many grads I placed. Well, who needs [00:51:30] who needs new grads? It's the big firms, so you're bang for your buck if you're a college professor is to funnel people there and they some you know, they're probably Big Four sponsoring all these events. And I think they even are reviewing and writing some of the what is it the AA associates I can't remember the accreditation, but like they actually sign off on that stuff. So it's like the big four becomes idolized, the partner [00:52:00] track becomes idolized. Nobody's talking about industry, right? Or nobody's talking about, hey, you know, only 2% of the new entrants to public accounting actually make partner. I don't know that anybody ever says that. And nobody ever asks the question, well, what are the other 98% do? Right? Like, none of that is ever discussed. So that was part of the reason for the why I wanted to put something out there was I kind of feel like I did it the hard way. I joke that like, I knocked on Silicon Valley's door [00:52:30] and nobody answered, so I had to kick it in because it kind of felt that way, you know, like, yeah. So that's sort of why I decided to come out and say like, hey, by the time I had went through all of those 15 interviews and all those, those big companies, it was learning to fail. It was trial by trial by fire. But at a certain point, I hit my stride. I came up with this winning formula. I was I was getting consistent results.

Mike: I was getting a couple multiple offers with top companies, and [00:53:00] that's when I was like, you know what? Like these things are not completely out of touch. Maybe people don't strive to do those things because their sacrifice is involved. You're probably not going to get completely around that. But there's also no guidance. The guidance that they had was to funnel them in one way. There's no materials out there to say, here's how you can go get your dream job. And that's within the accounting field. And that's basically why I said, well, maybe I can fill that gap, right? I kind of went through it. I had the winning formula. [00:53:30] At least it worked for me, right? And I was able to get it with repeated success. And I didn't come from money. I didn't go to like some fancy school or anything like that. And nobody ever referred me to these companies. So I also thought at one point it was very, you know, far reaching and going to be near impossible. But I think what I tried to do at least, was to say, hey, this resource wasn't there for me when I was coming up, but it's there for anybody who who might need that now. And my [00:54:00] little part that I can do in the accounting world, I figured, well, you know, right now it's easy you can to do an ebook is is pretty straightforward. And so I kind of started it to see where it would go. And after about a hundred pages or so, I was like, all right, I think I should put this out there. So so that's what I did.

Blake: That's fantastic. Our listeners can find no fucks given and download it on. Mike from We will have the link in the show notes [00:54:30] on the podcast or in the YouTube description if you're watching on YouTube. Mike, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your story. It's really inspiring and it has inspired me, and I hope that our listeners who are feeling stuck or who are feeling like they they are not going to be able to get that job of their dreams, will read your book, will follow your advice, and hopefully we'll end up in a better place and we'll all be better off when we have happier accountants in the world.

Mike: All right, I love. [00:55:00]

Mike: It, Blake, if we can, can I throw one back your way? I wanted to pepper it in. You mentioned. Absolutely. You mentioned Floqast. Is that the same floqast that does that that accounting show PBC?

Mike: Yes. Yep.

Blake: That was after I left. But that was the web series.

Mike: That show is is so underrated.

Mike: I think for all like The Office fans, which I feel like there's probably a lot of office fans listening that show PBC or the Floqast put together [00:55:30] is awesome. So it doesn't shock me that you're doing all this cool stuff now, too. Coming from like a company that's in, you know, into those kind of things. And so thank you for doing your part too. Like, I was inspired to to rifle through some of your network on LinkedIn and just see like, wow, there's a lot of really cool accountants out here doing something, something big and trying to break that stereotype that is really trying to say, hey, we're not all boring accountants and there is exciting work out there. So thank [00:56:00] you for kind of turning me on to a lot of new people through, you know, what you're putting out there on the podcast and LinkedIn and yeah, really enjoy it and looking forward to continuing to follow all the stuff you're putting out too.

Blake: Awesome. Well, Mike, we'll have to make it happen. I really want to meet you in person someday. So the next time I'm in Chicago. I was just there and I hadn't met you yet, so. Yeah. Next time.

Mike: Next time. Let's do it. Let's do it, Blake. We can jam out. You can bring the cello, and I'll grab an instrument or two and we can [00:56:30] hang out.

Blake: Maybe you can borrow one for me because it's a pain to take it on the plane. I did that. I did that for five years in college, flying with that cello back and forth to California. And I don't want to. I don't want to do it again.

Mike: Yeah.

Blake: You're done. Done with.

Mike: That? Well. Cool, man. Thanks. Thanks, Mike. See ya.

Blake: Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you learned something new. And if you did, wouldn't it be nice to get some CPE credit for it? Well, I've got great news. My new app, earmark CPE, offers [00:57:00] free Naspa approved CPE credits for listening to podcasts, including this one. Visit earmark Cpcomm to download the app, take a short quiz, and get your CPE certificate. That's earmark Cpcomm.

Creators and Guests

Mike Manalac
Mike Manalac
I’m a CPA and a visual thinker. More than anything, I’m just an ordinary accountant that likes to do extraordinary things.
From Auditor to Google: How Mike Manalac Landed His Dream Job in Accounting
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