From American Top 40 to CFO: Breaking Financial Stereotypes with Elaine Bogart
Who is Elaine Bogart?
Elaine Bogart is a champion of a finance executive, whose journey to the role of CFO has been characterized by stops working for American Top 40, marketing events, and even the circus. Her passion for understanding processes, tackling challenges, and learning about new technologies has given her the tools to succeed in various capacities. Starting her career in various finance roles, she eventually stepped up as the CFO of P3, a third-party logistics company, before it was acquired by Deluxe.
Her insights into the CFO role emphasize the multifaceted nature of the job, highlighting that it's not just about crunching numbers, but also overseeing various aspects such as human resources, operations, and legal compliance, while carrying the fiduciary responsibility to keep the company safe. Despite the misconception that CFOs are solely number-oriented and unapproachable, Bogart underlines the interpersonal skills and proactive problem-solving mentality required for the role.
What to Expect
- Hollywood Beginnings: Elaine Bogart discusses her time growing up in the LA area including nearly beginning her career as a Hollywood star.
- American Top 40: Elaine's first job was not in finance at all and she would follow a circuitous route to the CFO title.
- CFO as the Organizational Caretaker: Elaine debunks CFO stereotypes, stressing their role as integral to various organizational departments and overall company health.
- Foreseeing Challenges: Elaine highlights the importance of strategic foresight and risk management in the CFO's role to preemptively tackle potential issues.
- Addressing Workforce Reductions: Elaine navigates the complex topic of workforce reductions, emphasizing the collective, considerate decision-making process behind such difficult choices.
- Importance of Process and Career Choices: Elaine discusses the significance of processes and how her diverse, curiosity-driven career choices have shaped her role as a CFO.
- Future Aspirations and Advice for CFOs: In the final segment, Elaine shares her future ambitions and provides advice to aspiring CFOs, highlighting the expansive and engaging nature of the role.
Where to Find Elaine
Give Elaine a follow on LinkedIn.
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00:00:00:05 - 00:00:03:07
This is Casey Kasem, an American top 40 in Hollywood.
00:00:04:06 - 00:00:13:09
I was listening to that and I'm like, wouldn't that be cool to work on that show? Right. Next thing I knew, I'm reading thousands of long distance dedications.
00:00:13:09 - 00:00:19:17
Listen to this letter from a man in Mansfield, Ohio. From a teenage girl in Idaho. From a woman in Kuala Lumpur.
00:00:19:20 - 00:00:22:07
They sure sound a lot better when he reads them, by the way.
00:00:22:22 - 00:00:29:20
Careers rarely follow a straight path. But our guest today is proof that sometimes a path can win towards some interesting stops.
00:00:30:08 - 00:00:36:22
And this is when most people that have an accounting career would be working in public accounting, and that was working on radio shows.
00:00:37:03 - 00:00:40:04
But her career managed to get even more interesting.
00:00:40:05 - 00:00:46:06
I worked a few different places, one of which was a circus. Full screen was one of my favorite jobs.
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And now she finds herself somewhere completely different.
00:00:50:01 - 00:01:05:06
I'm the CFO of Nifty’s which is a NFT platform, Web3 Digital Collectibles. We have partnerships with Warner Brothers and Sony, so we do all the nfts for Looney Tunes and Matrix and Game of Thrones. My name is Elaine Bogart.
00:01:06:12 - 00:01:13:06
Join us in learning about the life of Elaine Bogart and how her various experiences make her an inspirational financial leader.
00:01:13:18 - 00:01:24:17
If you're worried about failure, don't worry about it. Everybody has failures and you'll learn from it. The perception out there is not what it really is. It's not all boring. It sounds like it would be boring. Like, Oh, CFO, how boring? But now it's done.
00:01:25:04 - 00:01:51:02
My name is Daniëlle Keeven That's uncovered hidden stories of finance professionals as they navigate money, investment and growth. Let's look into the person behind the CFO title. Let's go Beyond the Budget before we get into the episode. If you enjoy the show, please leave a five star review of the podcast wherever you listen. It helps out the whole panel studio scene tremendously and lets us continue to uncover the hidden stories of CFOs.
00:01:56:06 - 00:02:08:23
Our story begins in sunny Southern California, but as you'll hear from Elaine, the weather isn't always as you typically bet, and pay close attention to what she says about the kinds of books she would read. As a kid.
00:02:10:19 - 00:02:29:15
I was born and raised in Torrance, California, which is South Bay outside of Los Angeles. I moved around. I, I went to school, UCLA, and raised my kids up in Santa Clarita Valley in Valencia and recently moved back to the South Bay, to Redondo Beach. Now, recently, I guess actually about seven years ago and wondering why I left.
00:02:29:18 - 00:02:47:01
I you I was a dumb teenager. Well, I left like a car to get out from being at home. And. Yeah, it's beautiful here. When I was a teenager, I tried so hard to get tan, you know, And look at me. I don't get tan, I get burnt. But like, I, my friend would always get tan. Like, why am I now so and so dumb?
00:02:47:01 - 00:03:05:11
Back in those days, baby oil all over, you know, No sunscreen so dumb, never listened to my mom on that ever. Not once. And she was right. Not be out in the sun that much. I have all the freckles now to prove it. But there is a thing, too, about living at the beach is that it's very foggy and overcast a lot in the morning.
00:03:05:11 - 00:03:26:22
And when I was a kid, I was I hate this place so cloudy. And then I moved to the valley where it's like a million degrees. So I'm back now where it's sometimes cloudy, but I like it. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in my room as a big reader like Nancy Drew and whodunits and things like that and mysteries, the Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, all those kinds of figuring stuff out.
00:03:26:22 - 00:03:38:02
Books. Not that it's sports. I wish I could say I was a kid that excelled at sports, and I was super popular and all that, but I was quiet and I was super shy. Then I read a lot. I still do have a change much.
00:03:40:21 - 00:03:51:07
Eles, mystery, novel interest and fascination with process will be something that comes up later on in the podcast. But now let's turn to Elaine's false start as a Hollywood star.
00:03:54:04 - 00:04:12:22
I was really shy kid, but I was cute back then, and I was the only blond in our family, in our whole extended family. And so so anyway, my mom got it in her mind. I had an aunt or a distant and that was a talent agent. And my mom decided that I should read for this aunt. And then I would be famous.
00:04:12:22 - 00:04:31:06
We went there, which it was a big ordeal for my mom to get, you know, four kids in the car and drive all the way out there. And so we get there and I was like four years old. I am like, what's going on? I had no idea. Right? So we get in there and the talent agent said, okay, look in this mirror and, you know, make believe, talk to this mirror, make believe.
00:04:31:06 - 00:04:46:23
And I'm like, I wouldn't say a word. I was just a stuff I like. I refused to say anything. Oh, my mom's like, you only, like, talk, talk. And I'm like, I feel that you do this. I would not talk for my entire life now I have heard about how I could be a famous actress, except that I would not talk to the mirror.
00:04:46:23 - 00:04:48:07
A failure at four years old.
00:04:50:06 - 00:05:07:01
While she may not have appeared in any movies or TV shows, Elaine C Close to La La Land, choosing to attend UCLA, but Finance had yet to enter her focus. Elaine found herself pondering career mode when she heard something while laying on the beach that would change her life forever.
00:05:11:18 - 00:05:33:22
Yeah, I decided to go to UCLA because there was a big prestigious school and it was far enough away from home so that I wasn't at home, but it wasn't too far away that I couldn't go home if I needed to go on as a quiet kid, you know, I look back on it and now I'm thinking I should have taken advantage of a lot more of the opportunities that happened there, like when my kids were in college.
00:05:33:22 - 00:05:47:02
I'm like, You should do this. You should do that. And whereas I didn't do any of those the way I got into American Top 40, I thought of it and Layne at the beach one day, you know, and like, what am I going to do with my life kind of thing? I need to get a job. What are we doing here?
00:05:47:03 - 00:06:04:19
I was listening to that and I'm like, Wouldn't that be cool to work on that show? Right? I wrote to the producer of American Top 40 Dumisani. I said, I would love to work on your show. Do you have any openings? I'll be an unpaid intern. I'll do anything. It'll be fun and expect to ever hear anything back.
00:06:04:21 - 00:06:22:14
He he called me back and he's like, Come on in. And next thing I knew, I am reading thousands of long distance dedications. People would write into the show with their, you know, their Lonely heart song, and they wanted to write a letter to the girl from high school or whatever. They would write their long story and Casey would read some of them on the air.
00:06:22:14 - 00:06:39:20
So the interns and production assistants had to go through thousands of these. They came in and pick out the ones that we thought would sound good on the air, you know, or that were long enough story. So that's what I did. I did the hours and hours and hours of reading, long distance dedications. And they sure sound a lot better when he reads them.
00:06:39:20 - 00:07:01:06
By the way, he really knew what he was doing. So I did that for until I until I graduated. And then they hired me to be so ABC Radio Networks hired me to to do operations and distribution of of all their radio shows, their syndicated radio shows. And that then we distributed them on vinyl. And now vinyl's coming back literally mailed, mailed for records to each radio station.
00:07:01:06 - 00:07:02:13
That's how long ago this was.
00:07:05:02 - 00:07:22:20
It was around his time that Ilene moved towards the finance world. But as you can probably guess by now, it was not a linear path. See if you can pinpoint the moment she made the career switch As we hear about her journey from radio to finance and how her job experience gave her a high level view of the entire business.
00:07:28:17 - 00:07:49:06
I was at ABC for a while and this is when most people that have an accounting career would be working in public accounting. And I was working at on radio shows. I had no interest and not even a nothing no interest in accounting. In fact, in college, one of my friends we were working, we had on campus jobs and she's like, Come over here and work with me in accounting.
00:07:49:06 - 00:08:08:21
And I'm like, Accounting, Oh my gosh, I would never do that. And to this day, she makes fun of me for that. She's like, You are now a certified public. What? So I worked at ABC for a while. Then there was a they got board the big management shuffle. I ended up going into doing some special events, marketing, marketing and events, and I did that.
00:08:08:21 - 00:08:23:09
I worked a few different places, one of which was a circus, one of the companies, one of the small events companies I was working for asked me to also do their books and I'm like, Okay, how hard can that be? And it was really small, so it was not hard at all. I'm like, Oh, this is pretty easy.
00:08:23:09 - 00:08:42:00
If I ever needed a part time something, whatever. I didn't really think about it again until a few years later, when after I had gotten married and had had my first child. I like, wow, I can't be doing special events right now. This there's. I can't do that. I need something that's a little more in one place. So I started just doing the books for individual companies.
00:08:42:00 - 00:09:02:00
I worked I kind of partnered with a CPA who needed someone to do books for all these different companies that he did their taxes for. So it was kind of fun because I worked for a lot of different kinds, all different kinds of companies doing their books and stuff. And then there was one company that hired me part time, and as my kids got older, I kind of increased my time with them with that company, became full time, kind of moved up.
00:09:02:00 - 00:09:17:15
I also had got along the way about my my MBA. I was into I coming in cold, kind of progressively moved up. And then at one of the company when I left and became a full time controller, I went back one of the guys who was making fun of me. He's like, Why don't you have your CPA license?
00:09:17:15 - 00:09:33:16
So I'm like, You know, I don't I never I don't know. No reason. And he's like, okay, I'll see you working at Walmart. I made some kind of some kind of mean remark. I went back and I got my license super hard, by the way. I got that and yeah, and then there's continue the path up to being a CFO.
00:09:33:16 - 00:09:52:07
Yeah, it's definitely nontraditional. It actually didn't feel like a big responsibility. It felt easy and I just kind of had an aptitude for it, I think. And I think that kind of is why my career went in that direction, because to this day, I have to like, be hands on and see every little thing. I'm like, Wait, what is that journal entry rule book that I still have my fingers in it, very hands on.
00:09:52:12 - 00:10:12:00
It didn't feel pivotal. It just kind of felt natural. There's a lot of overlap. You would think that there's no overlap between those things, but being in charge of operations and distribution and a radio network, you still are worried about cash in and cash out and all of that and hitting the numbers in there in the production. And likewise, even with the circus, there was a lot of financial pieces of that event.
00:10:12:06 - 00:10:36:11
It was probably more financial than marketing, if you really like, broke it all apart. One of the things that I really like about being in finance is that you see everything. You see every little piece of an organization, all the things that are happening. I think for me anyway, my background in marketing and operations and all these different things kind of helped me see what other teams are going through so that when I say, Why did you spend all that money?
00:10:36:11 - 00:10:48:10
And they say, Well, I had to do this big marketing campaign. I know what they're talking about. I understand what they're saying. I still like that's still too expensive. Got it. But I have a better understanding because I've lived through all of those things. It's helpful for me. It served me well.
00:10:52:20 - 00:11:07:17
From radio to the circus to special events, Ilene had finally landed in the finance world. Well, next here, about one of her first finance jobs and then what she learned growing the finance team from one as an early member of full screen.
00:11:13:06 - 00:11:30:15
My first interview for a real finance job was for a controller role. Actually, to be honest, I don't remember the first one because I didn't get that job. I probably don't remember the first five because I didn't get those jobs. But the one that I did get, it was a big step up for me at the time. It was a much bigger company than I had been working for.
00:11:30:15 - 00:11:51:05
I had to convince the CFO that I was up to it and but without sounding too pleased, it was a pretty personable interview, so I was happy about that. But still I felt like there's no way he hired me. It was great. He told me later on, after I'd been working there for a while that it was between me and one other candidate and he said the other candidate was more qualified, but he thought I would.
00:11:51:11 - 00:12:10:09
I would fit with the team better, I'd be better to work with. And I'm like they said, not sure how to take that, but he was great. That company was really up to my game tremendously. It was a big step up, but it was also a company that didn't have very good and had a horrible finance stack like IT finances owned software, didn't talk to each other, everything had to be done manually.
00:12:10:09 - 00:12:35:05
It really learned those debits and credits got those down. Gold We had some it wasn't called SaaS then. We did have some annual recurring revenue, annual subscription subscriptions that we invoiced every month or annually or what have you for a little bit before it's time and full screen was one of my favorite jobs. It was tiny when I started.
00:12:35:05 - 00:12:59:05
There were maybe six or seven, just a handful of us, and we were in this tiny little office. The founder, George had grand ideas and it grew like a rocket ship. It was just at the perfect time, the perfect business model at the perfect time for everything just came together. And it was really fun for me because, you know, being putting media and tech in accounting together, I'm like, This is everything I love, right in a career.
00:12:59:05 - 00:13:20:01
And I got to build the accounting team from one from part of one because I was part time at first and then we you know, we grew as the as the revenue as a company grew and we had numerous different revenue streams. We had the machine, the revenue share from the MGM, but we also had where we charge brands and networks to manage their YouTube presence.
00:13:20:01 - 00:13:33:04
There were several different revenue streams and all turned out differently and all had different costs associated with them that had their own structures. And it was fun. It was and it was growing so fast. It was definitely my favorite job so far.
00:13:38:13 - 00:13:51:13
After gaining experience building up a finance team, Elaine's next step would bring her to the title of CFO, as we'll learn next. It's a title that comes with a lot of expectations and some not so fair assumptions.
00:13:53:19 - 00:14:17:07
The first time I had the CFO title was P3, which was a relatively small third party logistics company that kind of they distributed trailers for the movies studios as well as things for companies and brands, and they were acquired by Deluxe. Yeah, the CFO title is important to me. I guess I feel like it's not the top of the mountain, as you say, but it's kind of gives credibility.
00:14:17:07 - 00:14:35:20
It kind of is the ascent of my career, right? That's where I wanted to go. There's still more. There's still way more mountain to climb. There's still board seats and, you know, public companies, there's more to climb. But it did they feel kind of more comfortable that I had achieved to that level at least. And then still more to go, though.
00:14:36:05 - 00:15:01:20
Most people think of CFOs as CF-nos. I mean, that's something I've heard a lot. CFOs are boring and they're just only about the numbers and kind of the green eyeshade thing they used to call it, you know, where you're like not personable, just kind of in the room by yourself, crunching numbers all day. I think that's probably the idea that most people have or the CFO that haven't actually, you know, worked very closely with CFOs.
00:15:01:20 - 00:15:24:17
I know a lot of CFOs, and we can be personable, we could be friendly, but also the role takes on so much more than just the numbers. It's really over. It's really taking care of the whole organization, being integrated into everything that happens, making sure that everything is gap compliance, but and, you know, fraud proof and also just done in a good way, a nice way, a moralistic way.
00:15:24:23 - 00:15:42:19
There's just there's so many layers and a lot of the stuff, like a lot of my roles and probably other CFO is out there you do more than just you also oftentimes are over h.r. And operations and admin and legal. There's a lot of different teams that sometimes report up to the cfo. So it's it's way more than just the numbers.
00:15:42:19 - 00:16:00:15
It's finances always solving problems before people know they exist and looking out for problems that might come along down the way and a lot of times that could be misunderstood by others that aren't familiar. They're like, No, it's fine. And you're like, No, no, no. I can see four steps ahead and it's not fine. Definitely. I always have to be looking.
00:16:00:15 - 00:16:20:08
There's just so many things to look out for. You're responsible for You have a fiduciary responsibility to keep your company safe, right? You have to minimize risk as much as you can. And so you have to always be looking ahead. Obviously, we look behind to to report the numbers that already happened. But also there's a lot of risk that you need to really make sure you're not going to run into any trouble.
00:16:25:20 - 00:16:39:03
One of the hardest parts of being a CFO is when hard economic times result in a reduction of force. But it's not as simple as you might think. As Ilene puts it, they sometimes have to assume the bad guy title, even if it might not be entirely fair.
00:16:43:20 - 00:17:01:14
I think what a lot of people don't understand is not the CFO making that decision in a vacuum. There's a whole team of people who are making those those choices. And in my experience, I'm not the one selecting this person, that person. I'm not doing that. I'm saying, here's our pile of money. How are you going to allocate it right?
00:17:01:14 - 00:17:21:13
And then the different department heads are managers and CEOs and such make the difficult choices. And I think that gets blamed on the CFO sometimes, which is fine. I mean, that's what we're here for. That's fine. But also, in my experience, there has not been a reduction in force. It hasn't come with a ton of thought and a ton of planning and nobody wants to do it.
00:17:21:13 - 00:17:39:01
It's put off and no one wants to do it. I don't want to do it. Nobody does. So there's a lot of thought and planning that goes into it. And I think sometimes maybe it looks like there's not as much thought and planning because inevitably things come up. You say like, here's the people and unfortunately we're parting ways with and then something will happen and it'll be, Oh no, we can't do, you know?
00:17:39:01 - 00:17:58:12
And it just all changes. I think that might be why some people might have that perception. I don't think that's happened in any of the companies that I've worked with because I work usually with smaller ones. But yeah, a lot of thought goes into those. I hope those people don't think that the management is just saying Yeah. And you mentioned how sometimes it is seems cold from my vantage point.
00:17:58:12 - 00:18:14:22
That is often because of legal for legal purposes. And you can't say this, you can't say that in fact, just don't say anything. Right? It's like you're in such a box. They'll be friendly with them. I assume even as you get into bigger companies, it's probably even more like that where you have to be for legal purposes. And that's really a shame.
00:18:17:16 - 00:18:33:04
I remember Elaine's initial interest in mystery novels and examining processes as a kid. She's found herself in a familiar place at the head of the finance team. She'll explain in detail shortly, but not as a full circle that the winding path has taken her.
00:18:39:12 - 00:18:56:02
Process is super important for a CFO. I mean, I have to know where things came from, what happened to it and how it got to their right. And I need to be putting in process to make sure that all the right things are going in and then the right thing is coming out at the end. But yeah, definitely interested in process.
00:18:56:02 - 00:19:14:00
And I think I would say about my career the different you mentioned the different kinds of roles I've I've taken as I take roles that just seem interesting to me, something that I want to learn about. That's why I got into Web3 and the NFT platform and I'm like, That's super cool. I'd like to learn about that. How do those companies work?
00:19:14:00 - 00:19:33:12
And then then the whole crypto thing and but a lot of it is I like working with companies that do really interesting things, especially like new technologies and things like that. I like change. It was definitely a very windy path that not the fab I recommend. I told my son to use public accounting and then I didn't. I didn't tell him to join a circus or anything like that.
00:19:33:12 - 00:19:49:04
When I'm giving advice, I always tell people, do the two years of public and then go wherever you want to go, because it's just really good to have that. But I didn't do that because at that time I didn't know I was even going to be an accountant. If you're thinking maybe considering being a CFO to talk to some, it's not.
00:19:49:04 - 00:20:09:04
The perception out there is not what it really is. I actually think it's more of you're an executive manager of the company. It's not just I mean, you're also doing numbers, but it's not just that it's everything and it gives you such a good view of the business and how businesses work and how other businesses work. And for me, that's super interesting.
00:20:09:06 - 00:20:14:05
It's not all boring. It sounds like it would be boring. Like, Oh, who? CFO How boring. But now it's that.
00:20:16:17 - 00:20:40:23
Special thanks to Elaine Bogart for being on the show. You can find her on LinkedIn if you'd like to see Thanks yourself. Know anyone who would be great for the show? Said an email to our senior show producer Ben.Hillman@paddle.com Also, please leave a five star review if you enjoyed the podcast. We'll see you next time on Beyond the Budget, a podcast from Paddle Studios dedicated to helping you build better SaaS.