How to Serve Your Community and Help Others With Phil Yaeger

How to Serve Your Community and Help Others With Phil Yaeger

Posted on July 30, 2020 by

How to Serve Your Community and Help Others With Phil Yaeger

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How to Serve Your Community and Help Others With Phil Yaeger

Krista Mashore:

Hey everyone, are you ready to be fired up because I sure am. Today I have got Phil Yaeger. He is with Yaeger CPA Review. He has his own podcast and he’s going to be giving you some awesome insights on marketing and everything else, so if you’re ready to be fired up, sit back and be ready. Hi, Phil. How are you?

Phil Yaeger:

I’m fine, Krista. How are you?

Krista Mashore:

I’m so excited to have you on here.

Phil Yaeger:

Well, thank you. I am really excited about being here, and I have to ask you, what is behind you on the screen?

Krista Mashore:

It’s foam. It’s like foam. We’re in my podcast room right now, so it’s foam. [crosstalk 00:00:37]

Phil Yaeger:

Oh, okay, okay, for soundproofing?

Krista Mashore:

Yes, soundproofing.

Phil Yaeger:

Looks good. I like the colors. Go ahead.

Krista Mashore:

Thank you. Thank you. So tell us a little bit about yourself.

Phil Yaeger:

Well, I started majoring in accounting and that’s when I ended up being an accountant, but I hated being an accountant. I didn’t really want to major in accounting, but I was given an ultimatum by my family that if I didn’t stay in accounting, they wouldn’t pay for my tuition. And I didn’t like it because I thought it was very boring, and it wasn’t my personality. So anyway, I graduated with a degree in accounting. I went to school in Rhode Island, University of Rhode Island, because I’m originally from the New York-Long Island area. And I got out and we got married. I graduated, got married the following weekend and then took a honeymoon, and then I went to work. For the first five years I worked for General Electric. I worked for public accounting firms. And what did I discover? It’s still accounting.

Krista Mashore:

You didn’t like it. Most accountants, their personalities are booky, you’re not, you’re more of a people person.

Phil Yaeger:

Oh yeah. The people that I worked on during public accounting, back then they had to work for a CPA firm right before they could take their last part of the exam. That’s the way it was in New York. So they were really indentured servants. All I would hear is, “You people are so lucky. You don’t have to work in accounting to be able to take the exam.” And there was a lot of that jealousy. These older people, “We didn’t have to go through it. So why aren’t you going through it?” So, yeah, I didn’t do well with the people in accounting because I thought they were boring. They all wore polyester suits. I hate polyester. So that’s what I remember.

And then after five years I said, “What am I going to do? I don’t like this.” My favorite courses at college were public speaking. I took four public speaking courses. And I used to like to get up in front of people and give speeches, and I would make them humorous, because I actually did have a sense of humor. I’d make them humorous. But I didn’t see that as a future possibility, anything in the speaking area, talking. So what happened was I went for my MBA. Do you, want to hear all of this?

Krista Mashore:

Yeah, yeah.

Phil Yaeger:

All right. I went for my MBA at a school called Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, and the chairman of the department said, “After you get your MBA, call me up and I’ll give you a class to teach.” Well, I said, “Sounds good.” So I finished up and I started calling him every week and I said, “Well, I’m interested in teaching a class.” So he says, “Well, there aren’t any classes available.” And this went on for several, several weeks. And finally he says to me, “You know, you are such a,” there’s an expression called a nudge. I don’t know if you know what a nudge is.

Krista Mashore:

No, but I’m figuring it out.

Phil Yaeger:

It’s a New York term for a pest. He says, “You know, you’re such a pest. I’m going to give you a class to teach.” So I went in there and I really liked it, and they said, “Gee, you know how to make accounting fun,” which was hard to do. So I did it for two times. And then I said, “All right, maybe I’m going to go teach at a college,” applied to schools on the east coast. Ended up in Annapolis, Maryland at a community college, and then I took my CPA exam after that.

Krista Mashore:

You know, I used to be a teacher too. I’ve got a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. I used to be a third grade teacher. I love teaching. So, I hear ya.

Phil Yaeger:

No, it was a lot of fun. I love teaching. I always did.

Krista Mashore:

So you taught for a while and then you did a school where you actually taught accountants how to pass their accounting test, correct?

Phil Yaeger:

Correct. While I was at the community college, I started a tax practice. I started an accounting practice, back then there were no like advisory services you did, that type of thing. So it was either doing bookkeeping, accounting write-up work, or tax returns. And I liked it because I made sure that I actually spoke to the clients. I like to talk to people. So anyway, I went into that, and then I started the review school in 19… late seventies, ’79, and we went from 13 students, the next class was 45 students, and eventually after about four years, we had three locations with 540 students.

Krista Mashore:

I want everyone to get something from what he just said. So he started with 13 and then it went to 45, and after three years we had three locations. It just shows you that things take time, right? Things take time to build up and you can’t just start something and then give up because you didn’t have three locations immediately. If you’re a local professional, I want you to hear that, that things do take time. So what do you attribute to your fast growing success?

Phil Yaeger:

I attribute it to the fact that, well… I believe in talking… Well today, no one wants to talk on the phone, very few people, but even though back then, people would just communicate by letters, that type of thing. I didn’t like to just keep writing letters to people. I would try that, but if I didn’t get something… We ended up with a big contract towards the end. I forgot what it was, it was the Arthur Anderson I think it was. It was the Enron thing, and we had the contract. He had all the students on the east coast, from Arthur Anderson, to take our course. And the next day after that was announced, this Enron situation blew up.

And they basically use Arthur Anderson as an example, set an example and say, “They did this. They did that. And they knocked them out of business.” All I remember is they owed us like $25-$30,000, and I called him up and I said, “Gee, can we get a check from you?” I didn’t want to act too pushy. So he said, “Yeah, no problem. We’ll put that check in the mail to you.” Well as soon as I got the check, I ran to the bank and cashed it, because two days later they started closing up their offices.

Krista Mashore:

Wow. I’m surprised they even paid you.

Phil Yaeger:

They did. They were very good on that. A lot of the people went to Ernst & Young, they were picked up by other firms, but I always believe that one thing you should do is call people, follow-up. You’ve got to follow-up. People don’t follow-up today at all. They just figure they’ll send an email, and if they don’t hear from the person, they’ll send another email. And I believe this, pick up the damn phone and call people.

Krista Mashore:

The study from Harvard says it takes 12 touches, 12 times to contact people, calls, before they actually will answer. And the average person stops at like 1.5 on average. So super, super important to follow-up. And especially if you’re following up and other people aren’t, you have more opportunity to actually get that client.

Phil Yaeger:

Right. I wasn’t a marketing major, but I learned with the different CPA firms who sent us students, that I would drop by their offices at least once a year, take them to lunch. I remember during the Christmas holidays, I’d give them a Yaeger CPA Review mug and fill it up with like chocolate candies, that type of thing. And the people knew me. They feel like, “Wow, gee, I really know this guy,” even though I probably didn’t see them that often, but that’s the whole thing. It’s the squeaky wheel, I believe in that.

Krista Mashore:

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, I agree as well. Awesome. Okay. So tell us a little bit about your podcast. Why is it called Yeager CPA Review and More?

Phil Yaeger:

Well, first of all, I said to myself, “I’m doing a podcast. How much can you talk about CPA review?” So I decided that I’ll have also a segment that says more, more means that I interview people in all different areas.

Krista Mashore:

You’re interviewing me on Thursday.

Phil Yaeger:

Yes I am. I am. And by the way, we appreciate that. We heard it’s very hard to get a booking with you.

Krista Mashore:

Ah, thank you. We appreciate you as well for you being on mine.

Phil Yaeger:

So anyway, the “more” was the fact that there’s so many different areas today, you don’t have to just go and do someone’s books anymore. You can go into financial planning, you can go into forensic accounting. There’s so many areas that once you take the CPA and you pass that, you can then go and specialize in an area. And a lot of the areas, if you don’t like sitting at a desk all day, you will have Constant Contact. I’ve had a lot of guests on that do different areas, advisory services. They create programs, tax programs. Very impressive the young people are out there who are doing all of this, they’re real entrepreneurs. And I learn a lot from talking to them and we just have a good discussion because my podcast is sort of spontaneous, there’s no script.

Krista Mashore:

Yeah. Even today, you got on, we started right away and boom. You don’t know what questions I’m going to ask or there’s no format, it’s just having a conversation. So yours is the same.

Phil Yaeger:

So anyway, as a result of that, I’d say that probably about 60% of the podcasts are on other areas, other than CPA review. And then CPA review is the other 40%, but there is no one who advocates for the CPA candidates taking the exam. The American Institute of CPAs, who is our professional association, their feeling is this, they’re out there to protect the public. That’s why they come down on these firms. If you don’t give certain disclosures, that type of stuff, they’ll be all over the CPAs. But, I asked the head of examination in New York, I said, his name is Mike Decker. I said, “Mike, who is there to advocate for the CPA candidate?” He says, “Well, there isn’t anybody.”

So when I started this podcast, I decided I was going to become the advocate for the CPA candidates. And I would do that by honestly… I know my competition. I don’t go there intentionally knock them, but if they are making misrepresentations, which I know are false, I’m going to point out to the students because the students are very impressionable. And these other competitors are run by companies with tremendously deep pockets. So they’ll say anything they want, the people believe it. And then I hear this, “You know, I would’ve thought that they would have told me this instead of that.” And I say, “It’s a business, they’re out to make money.” They’re not out there to say, “Oh, we’re going to be good boys and girls and tell everyone the truth.” So I decided I’m going to be the advocate and that’s what I’ve done.

Krista Mashore:

So what kinds of things do they, for example, would you say, things that people are told that might not be the truth?

Phil Yaeger:

Well, one is that… A lot of them say, “Well, we have a 93% pass rate.” Okay? Also, if you need support, because the students, they buy the course and it doesn’t end there because they don’t get the education that they should get in a lot of the colleges, because a lot of the people teaching at the college level today… There’s a separate accreditation called the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business, and they want to accredit the business schools. However, they don’t care about the quality of the teaching. All they care about is research. So a certain number of people have to do research, and also they have to have a certain number of PhDs. Now you don’t need to be an accounting major to get a PhD in accounting. All you need to do is write your dissertation on something in accounting. And interestingly enough, these people don’t have the courses to sit for the CPA.

So we got people talking about the CPA exam also, a lot of them haven’t had the courses. They can’t even qualify to sit for the exam. And that really is not a good idea. The AACSB, American Assembly, their big thing is accounting professors doing research. Now I’m not looking for the COVID cure in accounting. So the question is, what research do I do? Well, I went through all that. I wrote some articles on marketing of accounting practices, that type of thing, and I got turned down by tenure, by the tenure committee. And they said, “You didn’t write enough good articles that had enough charts and graphs,” and I loved the way they used the word. It wasn’t enough empirical data. It wasn’t worldly enough. These students don’t want to read those articles that are worldly. They don’t understand them. So I try to make it more from a practical standpoint, but that’s not what it was, and I didn’t get tenure where I taught.

Krista Mashore:

Oh wow, so you’re basically the advocate for… That’s crazy though. That’s so true. So many people, when you can’t do then teach, right? So many professionals will go into teaching something because they themselves weren’t successful at it. And I always say, “Make sure whoever you’re going to hire you hire somebody based that they’ve done it and that they’re not teaching just because they can’t do it.” You want to hire a coach or a trainer that’s actually done it and can show you based upon them doing the real world stuff. Okay, great. Okay. What else?

Phil Yaeger:

Well, through the podcasts, I also decided now this time in life I’ve turned 98. I’m just kidding, I’m not 98, but anyway, as I get older, I said, “You know, this profession has been good to me. It really has, especially the CPA review. I’ve been able to send my kids to college, pay for it. I’m funding my grandchildren.” I’m not telling you this because I’m a nice guy, but this is what I’ve done. And also I decided to give back to charities and my wife five years ago got Parkinson’s. So I tried to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation. And I’m not anybody like a celebrity who will say, “Hey, I’m Phil Yaeger, hey please, my wife has Parkinson’s, please contribute to the Michael J. Fox.” No. So anyway, I decided that what I would do is start contributing to a charity called Charitybuzz. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them or not.

Krista Mashore:

No.

Phil Yaeger:

You bid on an auction. In other words, it might say, and this is one thing I won. I won the right to go to the Shark Tank set and meet all the sharks. And we were in Culver City, it was Sony Studios and we were there for three hours, and I got to talk to all of the sharks, Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran.

Krista Mashore:

Does all the money go for Charitybuzz, does it actually go to the actual charities? All of it?

Phil Yaeger:

Yeah. The celebrity will pick a charity. And then I bid on it. If I win the bid, let’s say $5000, Charitybuzz gets 20% of that.

Krista Mashore:

Oh wow. They get a lot.

Phil Yaeger:

Oh, it’s a big business, big business. I have met through this Charitybuzz thing, I’ve met Barbara Corcoran separately. I met her on Shark Tank, one-on-one, and then I said, “You know, I would like to talk to you personally one day.” And I said, “I’m going to bid on an auction to talk to you.” So, I bid on it, and it was 45 minutes to talk to her about marketing real estate, what to do with the business. And anyway, I sort of hit it off with her. And I told her the first time that I met her, I said, “Barbara I’m from Long Island, New York. And one of the first shopping centers they had was Green Acres Shopping Center.” So she says, “Oh really? I was involved with that.”

So I said, “Well, Barbara, if I ever meet you again, I’m just going to say, I’m the person you spoke to about Green Acres.” So maybe a year went by, I won the auction. We had a Skype call, because I didn’t want to go into New York, and she didn’t want to take the time away. So anyway, she spent an hour and a half with me on the phone.

Krista Mashore:

Wow.

Phil Yaeger:

Yeah. Giving me marketing ideas.

Krista Mashore:

That’s awesome.

Phil Yaeger:

And then I remember at the end, she says, “You know, Phil, you are such a nice person.” So I said, “Barbara, and I love you too.” And she says to me, “You’re full of bleep.” I love Barbara Corcoran. She really is. I haven’t seen her since, but I had lunch with Robert Herjavec.

Krista Mashore:

So that’s really cool. So you go to Charitybuzz.com. Man, they make a lot of money off of that. 20% commission, that’s crazy.

Phil Yaeger:

But I’ve gotten to know some of these celebrities fairly well, especially the ones at the Today Show because I had breakfast with, I don’t know if you know Willie Geist, does that ring a bell?

Krista Mashore:

No, huh-uh.

Phil Yaeger:

All right. I met, what’s the name, Joe, he’s on Morning Joe. I forgot his name. And also I met Hoda Kotb five times. And you know, these people, they may not know my name, but they know me when they see me, and they’re such nice people. And I contribute to the different charities, whatever they are. And also I get to meet these people and find out they are decent people. They really are, very nice people. That’s something I enjoy. And I think it’s because I really wanted to be on the radio. That’s what I wanted to do. But it was very hard to get on the radio. I tried to send in audios of myself and a couple of people said to me, “You have too much of a New York accent.” I thought actually, New York accent, we’re the only ones who speak correctly. I mean, how many people say the word coffee? Everyone else mispronounces it, but we speak correctly. So anyway, I’ve enjoyed that. I met the Beach Boys.

Krista Mashore:

That’s awesome, and the money goes to the charity for Parkinson’s disease. That’s the one that you…

Phil Yaeger:

No, no, no, no, no, it’s whatever charity they pick out.

Krista Mashore:

Oh whatever one they pick.

Phil Yaeger:

Yeah, Barbara’s was, oh, the Friars Club. You know what the Friar’s Club is?

Krista Mashore:

Yes.

Phil Yaeger:

It’s the club of all the entertainers. So I contributed to the Friars Club. That was her charity. So it’s been interesting. I’ve had a very lucky and a good life, and doing these things that I enjoy doing. And I can say this, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these things unless I became a CPA, something that I never wanted to become in the first place, but it’s opened doors for me that I never would have been able to go through, had I not taken that CPA.

Krista Mashore:

But I think a lot of the doors that are opened are because you’ve actually opened them. Right? So, I mean, you’re the one who’s opened the doors. You’re the one that took that, didn’t just stop at, “Hey, I don’t like being a CPA,” and you took that and made something into it. So I think a lot of it has to do with you. And most of my listeners, they create their own destiny. We all know we create our own destiny and you’ve definitely done that. Okay. So let’s talk marketing, because you know, I love marketing. Digital marketing is my specialty, helping professionals learn how to maximize their exposure by utilizing digital marketing, social media, and video. What do you know about that?

Phil Yaeger:

Well, you’ve got to realize I’m from the old school, but you know, do I like the new way? No, but a lot of… Let me tell you how I market. This is how I marketed the accounting program, the school. I thought to myself, if I stand up there and I do a good job and these people feel comfortable with me. They’re going to be the people who market for me. So they were my marketing people. I never really had to go and find all new people every time because the people that took the course, they liked it. They liked me. And they used to go out and say, “Hey, you want to take a good course? A guy that’s funny, make you laugh, take Phil Yaeger, he’s really good.”

And in fact, at the end of a cycle, students would come up to me and they say, “Do you have comedy writers?” And I would say, “No, no, no. These are things that just pop into my head.” Now I’ve gotten more into the social marketing. And I hired this young lady. I don’t know if you spoke to Miranda or not, but Miranda, who arranges this thing, she’s gotten into the social media, and LinkedIn is probably our number one, because I write articles on LinkedIn, human interest stories about myself. And I am shocked. The first one I wrote, 12,000 people looked at it.

Krista Mashore:

Wow. That’s awesome.

Phil Yaeger:

I’ve got to tell you, I am the worst writer in the world.

Krista Mashore:

So tell me more about LinkedIn. How has LinkedIn helped you? What do you do? Explain. Go into LinkedIn.

Phil Yaeger:

Well, first of all, on LinkedIn… and she does a lot of it for me, but I was told, it is catering to professionals. And we can actually say… You’re not allowed to really heavily market on LinkedIn. But what we do is we put in CPA candidates as a word, and we get a list of these people, and then I’m writing these articles and the people really enjoy the articles. They say, “This guy is the real thing. He’s not BS.” I like to think of myself as what you see is what you get. I’m not a phony, I don’t put any airs on. And as a result of that, people are contacting me and they are asking me all about the review course. And they’ve been taking this course, and what can I do, can I advise them? Now I also do a webinar for free every Sunday for two hours.

Krista Mashore:

Sunday, huh?

Phil Yaeger:

Yeah. And I’ll tell you why I do it. We were going to charge a nominal fee for these two hour webinars and cover important topics. But then the Coronavirus came in and I knew people were having it tough, so I decided, “Hey, you know, I really care about people. I will do this for nothing.” So every Sunday I’ve been doing two hours of a CPA review topic and I don’t charge the students because I know that a lot of them are hurting and they really, really appreciate this. And all I ever ask from anybody, “Just say, thank you. You don’t owe me anything.” We now average on a Sunday, roughly about a hundred people listening.

Krista Mashore:

Wow. Every Sunday, that’s crazy.

Phil Yaeger:

I know.

Krista Mashore:

You Phil, are just a good man. I can tell you’ve got a really, really big heart and you care about people.

Phil Yaeger:

Well that’s very kind of you Krista. I appreciate it.

Krista Mashore:

I just wanted to commend you. I like people too. And it’s nice to meet someone that likes people. You can tell that you really, really do care. Okay. So marketing. So go back into LinkedIn. So just by writing the articles, people are actually learning about you and reading. And you just post them on your regular LinkedIn page.

Phil Yaeger:

I write the articles. My followers have increased tremendously. And even though these people, they haven’t really spoken to me one-on-one, they seem to be able to tell that, this guy, as I said, “He’s a decent guy. He really wants to help the students.” And I do. And I bring in also, I use the LinkedIn information we put in… I talk about the webinar and what my mission is to get these people to watch the webinars. And my mission is really this. Not everyone can afford CPA review courses. So we have brought our price down below anybody else’s course. Everyone else charges $2,000, $3,000. I’m charging $899 for the whole course.

Krista Mashore:

What is the CPA review course? What is that CPA review? It’s for the exam.

Phil Yaeger:

Yeah. That’s all four parts. You get to talk with me if you have questions. I give you my phone number. You can reach me seven days a week.

Krista Mashore:

You need to have a life Phil.

Phil Yaeger:

I do. I’m going out after this.

Krista Mashore:

You have to have boundaries.

Phil Yaeger:

That’s what my wife says, but you know what, people say, “You look pretty young for your…,” because I always tell them, I say, “Well, I graduated this year,” and it’s this year. And then they start saying, “God, how old is that guy?”

Krista Mashore:

How old are you?

Phil Yaeger:

Well, I’m 75 this year.

Krista Mashore:

Oh, 75, you look great.

Phil Yaeger:

Thank you, you do also.

Krista Mashore:

You have a lot of energy. I’m going to be 49 this year.

Phil Yaeger:

Oh, gee, well you don’t look it. You know what, it’s a number.

Krista Mashore:

Yes, it totally is. Thank God for Botox, and everything else, right? Well, great. Well, it has been so nice talking to you, Phil. I always end every podcast by asking one question. And that is what advice would you give people, whether it be business or person, about their life, anything, mindset. If you could give them one tip, one tool, one trick of the trade, what would it be?

Phil Yaeger:

I tell them that if they’re studying for the CPA exam, for example, or anything in life, it’s not all going to come easy and you can go the easy route. The easy route is to say, “This is too much trouble. I’m not going to do it.” But what I stress to students is, you should never give up. If something is difficult, it has some value to it. Don’t give up. Because the first time I took the exam, I didn’t pass it. And I remember I was ready to give up. I’m sorry for the phone.

Krista Mashore:

And you didn’t and look at all the opportunities that you have.

Phil Yaeger:

But, this is what happened. The day the grades came, they came through the mail. It was in February and it was snowing, a very boring, very dull day, depressing. So I remember I got the grades and I spoke to one of these fellows I was teaching with, and I said to him, “Alden,” I said, “I’m going to give up. I don’t need this. It blows your ego.” So he says, “Phil, hear my words.” So I said, “What is it?” He says, “Don’t give up. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” Now, unfortunately, Alden passed away with cancer, but he was such an… Oh God, too young. But I’ll never forget what he told me. And I carry those words with me when I talk to people, it’s very important. Never give up. Anything that’s hard is worth a lot of value. If it doesn’t have any value, it’s going to just be easy and everyone can get it. So that’s my words, my pearls of wisdom.

Krista Mashore:

It’s so true. When I was a teacher, it took me five times to pass my multiple subject assessment test, five times. I’m a slow learner. I have a learning disability. And I’ll tell you with that, me being a teacher is the catalyst of me coaching. If I wasn’t a teacher, I don’t think I’d be a coach right now. So, and I don’t know, I don’t ever regret being a teacher. It was one of the best times in my life. And now I get to do it again. So it actually works out well. But yes, I totally agree. Fight, fight, fight. So Phil, thank you so much. To find out more about him, you can go to the American Institute of CPA and More, his podcast that he has going on. If you are wanting to become a CPA, you can learn more about his courses. What’s the name of your courses called?

Phil Yaeger:

It’s called Yaeger. Everyone always messes it up. It’s Y-A-E, the A’s before the E, Y-A-E, G as in George E-R. YaegerCPAReview.com.

Krista Mashore:

Now you know where to find him. Phil, thank you so much. I appreciate you. And as always everyone, you got some great nuggets here today, but if you don’t start implementing, your life will not change. And I hope you are just as fired up as I am. And I really appreciate you spending a little bit of your time with me.

Phil Yaeger:

Pleasure to meet you. You’re a terrific person.

Krista Mashore:

Ah thank you Phil. Everyone say bye, we appreciate it.

For more of my interviews just visit https://kristamashore.com/category/interviews/

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