Businesses are funny entities.  They make the products we purchase, seduce and entice us with their ads and even influence the world we live in.  But behind these often ambiguous enterprises are real life people like you and I.  They have lives, families, hobbies, interests, opinions and the like.  Yet, most customers never get to really meet these individuals who, in reality, are the life source of the company.  With that being said, I figured it would be nice to share some interesting facts about the guy who primarily runs this blog thingy.

So in short, my name is Jared R. Rogers.  I’m the guy at the helm of Wilson Rogers and have been for quite some time.  It is true that I am a Financier by trade and have been involved in many facets of the profession (Public Accounting, Industry Accounting, Operational Analysis, etc.) for over 13 years now.  Yet, I am far more than just a “numbers guy” and if you had a chat with me at length, you’d probably wonder just what I am doing in the accounting field.  So how about a quick round of 10 questions?

1.   Just how did you wind up in Finance?

Back in High School I had an interest in going into law enforcement.  But the idea of facing the thugs and hooligans of Chicago’s mean city streets didn’t really appeal to me.  Thus, I thought that working for the Illinois State Police or FBI was actually a better option.  Problem with the FBI is that in order to be an agent, you had to have a college degree in one of five fields (Accounting being one) AND you had to have two years of work experience.  Thus, when it was time for me to graduate, I decided to go and work for the Accounting firm KPMG, LLP.  Needless to say, I never went back and applied for that FBI gig!

2. You’ve been in the profession for over 13 years?

September 13th 1999; that was my first day in Corporate America.  Ironically, the picture below is me headed off to my first day as taken by my mom – yeah, my parents were gracious enough to let me live at home my 1st year after college (that was before I bought an apartment building at 23 and became a slumlord).

I worked in the audit practice of KPMG for about 3 years and during that time passed the CPA exam.  Eventually, I decided that 50-60 hour work weeks weren’t worth my health and decided to get a “normal” job.  From there I went to the tool manufacturer Robert Bosch (they make Bosch/Skil/Dremel) and got a gig in the accounting department.  Over the course of two years I decided that accounting was kind of boring and that the “sexy side” of the business (Finance) was where I wanted to be.

So with that, I began pursuing my MBA and in the process switched jobs to PepsiCo.  I worked at PepsiCo for about 4 years and in the process got to work as a Financial Analyst for Gatorade.  It was here that I got to work on some pretty cool things, saw the importance/value of all functions within a company (e.g. Sales, Marketing, R&D, etc) and really figured out that my mind is actually more oriented towards business as a whole versus just accounting.  After PepsiCo I moved to Hyatt where I assumed management roles within the BU Finance function and Corporate Planning & Analysis (FP&A) team.

3.  So just how did you start doing taxes?

Well, being an accounting major, I was not going to pay someone to do my taxes.  Thus my start in taxes began with me doing my own.  Owning an apartment building led me to learn the intricacies of some of the more complex individual tax matters.  I’ve always been a proponent of giving back, and during the time when I was working for KPMG, I began to participate in the IRS’ VITA program. After a few seasons of working with VITA (and the typical “hey, you’re a CPA, I have a tax question for you”) I decided that doing taxes on the side might be a cool way to pass the time during the winter.  So from there, things just started to grow and I’ve been involved in the tax world ever since.

 4.   If you find accounting boring, finance sexy and you have a business oriented mind, why do you do taxes again?

As I mentioned above, I’m not your typical accountant.  When I say that accounting is boring, I mean that the process of recording entries and preparing financial reports is not exciting.  Most of the information is historical in nature (meaning it’s already happened) and it is very routine in nature.  Finance and business tend to be more dynamic and really benefit from forward looking analysis.  I mean, if you are stuck in the desert, trying to figure your way out of the place is far more exciting than looking at the  footsteps you’ve created  in the sand right?  Thus, taxes are intriguing to me because there is a fair amount of ambiguity and getting it right can sometimes be a challenge.

5.  You left KPMG because of your health?

The short answer is yes.  At the time I hadn’t learned to manage stress appropriately and my body manifested this as mild high blood pressure.  I take my health pretty seriously so I decided that my personal wellbeing was worth more than the paycheck I was making.  With that, I decided to move on, which gave me more time to participate in activities and just love life in general.

 6. What are these said activities?

They have varied over the years, but typically involve me being active or using my mind.  I played football in High School so I’ve lifted weights for many years.  During this time I also rode as a bike messenger which really kept me fit.  I’m also a big fan of electronic music (hey Chicago is the House Capitol of the US in my opinion) and used to DJ when in college.  While I no longer DJ, I love to hear a good mix during my training and workouts.

In my initial years of corporate work, I had less time to be active so I wrote a book just for kicks.  I also became interested in motorcycles as it was a natural extension of my love of bikes.  Best trip?  Chicago to LA and back during a summer road trip on my Honda Shadow!

But all of that not being active caught up with me and at one point my weight topped out at 218 lbs (I played football at like 165 lbs).  So in 2007 I started racing bikes for these guys.  I can honestly say that the past 5 seasons have been a blast especially this most recent one.  This is from one of my more memorable races this summer:

In addition to the above, I also enjoy swimming and yoga as I find they balance my body out given all the time I spend on the bike.

7.  So your weight has obviously gone down right?

Yes, but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work.  See, when your body is used to being active, it takes a lot to get it to shed pounds because it’s adapted to the workload.  Well, that and when you like to eat like a horse and love sweets like I do!  Combine that with the fact that bike racing is REALLY hard, it became obvious to me that I would not do too well weighing what I did.  So over time, I began to modify my already 90% healthy diet and started working out even more.  With that, the pounds started to come off.  With a little more focus on my offseason training and shifting to a Vegetarian diet, my weight is down to within 10lbs of where I want it to be.

 8. Wait, you don’t eat meat?

When a car pulls up to me on my bike in the dead of winter, inevitably the driver looks at me as if I was the escaped Bronx Zoo Cobra!  The same reaction is usually what I get when people hear that I am a Vegetarian.  I haven’t “knowingly” eaten meat since mid-2010 (I’m sure someone may have slipped me a Mickey or two) and while I can’t say that I will never eat it again, I can say that I have no intentions to do so in my foreseeable future.  Over the years, I had refined my eating to mostly turkey, chicken, fish.  However, it was after reading an article about the treatment of animals going to the slaughterhouse as well as the health benefits of eating a meat-free diet (and the impact on athletic performance) that finally pushed me down this path.

When I was younger I wanted to be a veterinarian before I wanted to work for the FBI.  I also wanted to race in NASCAR which may explain why I love racing bikes?  Anyway, I have always had a love for animals and raising them for food just kind of feels wrong and wasteful.  By wasteful I mean, we feed a cow tons of grain (to make it weigh a few tons), use gallons of diesel fuel to truck it to a slaughterhouse, use tons of water and electricity to process and package it so we can have a burger.  Why not save all the middle men and just give me the chickpeas in the form of some tasty olive hummus?

9. So sustainability isn’t new to you?

Nope.  Back when I was little I remember that I had to earn my extra money.  My sister and I would go to the local train tracks and pick up all the aluminum cans that people tossed from their cars.  My father would then take us to the recycling center and we’d cash the cans in.  Thus, I think I’ve always been conscious of wasting things in this world and doing what we can to minimize our impact on what we take.  The same goes for business.  One of my roles at PepsiCo was within the Process & Control Development group.  This team’s job was to figure out how things worked and figure out how to do them better and more responsibly.  So, I’m a big proponent of helping businesses do things better, faster, cleaner and more efficiently than their competitors.

 10. I thought accountants lived in black and white.  Where do you think your open mind comes from?

I went to Catholic school from grammar to high school.  I attended a liberal arts college.  My parents always encouraged my sister and I to do whatever we wanted to in this world, so long as it was legal and didn’t hurt anyone else.  Based on this foundation, I had a lot of exposure to many things in life.  And because I had all of this exposure, I think I came to my own conclusion that there are many options when it comes to things in this world.  You don’t have to be a Catholic, you can follow the teachings of many of the other religions of this world or you can follow none of them at all.  But at the end of the day, we all tend to believe in treating people well and trying to do what is right.  So with that said, I tend to place less importance on individual beliefs so long as we believe in the same general things.

However, when it comes to the land of taxes, there is no such thing as having an open mind.  You either do it right or you cause yourself a lot of grief.  Personally, I can do without the drama in my life!

Well, I know this was a long post, but hopefully you’ve gathered a little more about the man behind the curtain.  Yes, I live and breathe in the world of finance, but I am also a regular person.  I love interacting with people, helping out those in need, trying to keep this bag of bones in shape and keeping the old mind active.  While I am far from perfect, I strive to do the best I can each day and hopefully make someone’s day a little brighter.  Until we chat again.