Michael: Hello everyone, welcome to the HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: And this is the podcast that's built for you, small business leaders, who want to have passion, provision companies. Companies filled with more profit, more purpose, and a greater legacy. And this podcast is to help share tips, encouragement, and just motivate you along, maybe great idea now and then, so that you can continue to build the company that you enjoy more and that's actually more successful and financially profitable.
Michael: Today, we're going to talk about a crazy topic. We're going to talk about mental health at work, your mental health, and then maybe your employees' mental health but your mental health. What's it worth? What's it worth to not be miserable but to actually enjoy it and what's the cost of being miserable? How much would you pay to actually make your company a place that you actually enjoy? Whether it's your employees that are driving you crazy, the systems that are driving you crazy, or the customers that are driving you crazy. I'll tell you what, we've got a long-time client right now. He's the CEO of the company, he's miserable. He would pay anything if he could get out of it. What he's dealing with is just a bunch of legal stuff. And he's kind of stuck in this swamp for the last six to eight months of just legal stuff on top of legal stuff on top of legal stuff in their industry. And he's wore out. It's no fun. So what's it worth to you? That's our topic today. What do you think about that, Kathryn?
Kathryn: Well, if you've ever worked in a miserable job, first of all. Let's just back you up a little bit. So we're talking to you folks who run companies but let's just back you up and remind you and maybe reposition you to say, have you ever had a miserable job? Like a job where it sucked the life out of you. Like every time you went to work, you were thinking, good grief, I really, really hate this place.
Michael: Right now, there are some leaders listening that are going this is my current business I have.
Kathryn: Well that is true. We'll get to that. But just as a reminder, just backing up to that place of going how did it feel for you to be miserable at work? Because I think that's the starting point, right? So when we're talking about mental health at work, what does it look like to be in a job and to feel like you just hate it?
Michael: So one of our employees, we were walking in the other day, and we were having this conversation. Walked in the office, walked through the front door. And one of our team members who's ... Our staff, who sits at a desk near the front door, greets people and everything else, I just really quick, what's it worth to enjoy your job? What would it cost and actually, I think I may have even asked her, what would you need to be paid to go somewhere else that you don't like? But what would it be worth to put up with? How much would you have to make to put up with a crappy environment? A place that just took it out of you and hated it.
Michael: And we were talking about that and she immediately goes, well my last job, I got paid X because she came out of a place that was just rotten and has lost multiple employees because of the way they treat people. Successful company, but they just kind of grind through people and somehow, people end up working there because they think this is an amazing opportunity but they hold on because it's a shiny object but they get treated poorly. But she has a friend who's in another career right now, she was talking about, who literally has been doing well in the marketing career in a larger company and is so burned out because of the place she works, they throw too much work at them, they expect too much of them, there's no ... It's not reasonable. She's literally thinking about leaving the entire industry and going to culinary school. And she's probably 30. That's just sad.
Kathryn: It is.
Michael: So for entrepreneurs, I know that there's a lot of them and this is what happened to you and I back in the Great Recession and we walked in and this was, we talk about this in our book, it was a turning point for us because we pulled into work and we go, we hate it here. And we thought about just closing the entire company down even though we were doing one and a half, 1.6, 1.7, it was somewhere in there.
Kathryn: Yeah, it was a lot.
Michael: I'm forgetting what year it was but it was like, let's say we were doing like 1.6 million a year in revenue, we were profitable, we had cash, it wasn't worth what we were going through.
Kathryn: Yeah, yeah. So this is a major big thing for us. When we talk about what it looks like to have passion and provision in your company, part of that is not just having the money coming in but actually enjoying work, right? So I will never forget those days where literally, we were so done. The culture that we had developed here that had just grown up through the busyness and the craziness of that season, it was just yucky. Like it was just yucky. And so I didn't ... Individually, I liked my employees. As a whole team, it was miserable.
Kathryn: So we really, kind of getting to that place and then watching other companies and seeing other places where people are just like I can't stand it here. It's way overwhelming. And even if they're nice people, they're overtaxed, right? Even if it's a nice company, they've lost control like we did and people are overtaxed and they're overwhelmed.
Michael: The airline industry's a perfect example of that right now in America. It is a nightmare to fly at the moment, post-COVID. I haven't talked to anybody yet who's having a good time. I'm not talking to anybody on airplanes that are having a good time. I mean the staff, is what I'm talking to. They're cranky, and they've had to be the mask police and they're fricking tired of it. So you've got this situation.
Michael: So today, we're going to delve into this conversation a little bit more. And we're going to actually give you some thoughts on what you can do to pull out. This isn't going to be just a rant on mental health or an abstract conversation. I think we're going to talk about some real ... A couple of real tangibles and we're not going to cover all the things on this. But how do you get your peace of mind, let's switch it from mental health, how do you get your peace of mind back in your company?
Michael: I think one of the things is ... It's funny, I think about the old AA conversations and stuff like that that I would hear my dad or hear somebody else talk about or even hear on Saturday Night Live.
Kathryn: First thing is owning that you have a problem?
Michael: First steps, do you have a problem? And yeah, if things are that way, if you're going, I don't like it. You could even have a company that everybody loves working for the company, but they love working for a company that you don't like the way it became. It got out of control. I know for us, this is the first one and I think realizing that you don't like it and being able to say, as a leader, I don't like it right now. This is not my ideal. And being able to say that and deal with maybe what the first emotion is, is I'm screwed. Because I don't like it and I feel like I can't ... I don't have a choice.
Kathryn: Yeah, I'm trapped.
Kathryn: I'm just trapped in it. Like I've developed something that I don't love and now I'm trapped in it, what am I going to do?
Michael: I remember the conversation you talked about, when you talked to a small business leader in Toronto at a conference. Do you remember that?
Kathryn: I do.
Michael: And what did she say to you?
Kathryn: She said, I just ... I think I was giving her my ... I was actually on an elevator, giving her an elevator pitch about the reality of what it is we're trying to do and this concept of passion and provision. And she just said, I have so lost my passion for the business. I am just exhausted and I don't like it and I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go with it. Like -
Michael: She lost the love she had for the business when she first started, right?
Kathryn: Yeah. Completely lost it. Completely lost it.
Michael: What was her countenance when she was talking like that?
Kathryn: Just her face was like she just was distraught. I mean I really hurt for her.
Michael: And this was a business conference where people were trying to figure out how do we grow our business.
Kathryn: How do we grow our business.
Michael: And you're hoping maybe if I grow it, I can grow it enough to fix it.
Kathryn: Right, right. But if you're miserable in your business, growing a miserable business is not going to ... Getting more of what is causing misery is not ... More customers aren't going to solve the misery.
Michael: Yeah. So I think the first thing is realizing, being able to say to yourself as a leader, I don't have peace of mind. I don't have what I had when I started. Or maybe I never had it but I had a dream of what it would look like and I've done this long enough, I don't feel like I have it or you've lost something or maybe it's just a little frustration and you're just like, I can see the signs of me drifting and I don't like that because we've had a really good thing here before and I've really enjoyed going to work. So admitting that.
Michael: Second, being able to say, I want to give people some hope. There have been enough of us that have changed our companies and kept our companies and changed it into something we really did like by modifying the culture and making some real tactical decisions so that we can change that. And/or, changing our own job description a little bit so it got better. Because as a company grows, the role you have needs to change and if you stay in the old role, it will actually make everything worse. There's more irritation like sand in the wrong spot.
Kathryn: Nobody likes sand in the wrong spot.
Michael: Nobody likes sand in the wrong spot.
Michael: So I think those are important to go, yeah, it's possible. And what does that look like? I find myself thinking about our situation when we were doing it. And when we talk to leaders, realizing this is important is, the culture, the job, your job description, whatever's making you miserable, there's a measure of your own choice in this thing. You chose to ... If you're going to say, oh no, it's the customers, it's the regulation, it's the legal situation, I'm in a litigious environment, well you made a decision to go into business there. So I can see how you can feel a little trapped or not, but you need to realize, you can make some decisions on that. It might be harder to figure out how you twist and change the business, but you may have to decide, do I leave it? It's a hard question. But at least it has to be on the table for leaders. Going, okay, that's it. Unless you've backed yourself into such a corner you feel like I'm really trapped because I feel like I can't get out of this either. So we've got to figure out a way to redesign it.
Michael: The second thing I'm thinking about on this topic is, when I think back to what we did, I realize, now it's easier to say with some distance, I realized it happened ... A greater percentage of why it went south on us is because of our neglect. And part of that neglect was because we got busier and you and I were running with our hair on fire trying to handle ... I mean the business was coming great. We grew 400% in that 18 month period. And we just kind of went, okay, we believed we'd done enough stuff. We had hired the right people. We spent enough time with them, they should get it, blah, blah, blah. And part of what I think was going on was certain employees even that were probably our most frustrating was they weren't getting much of our time and they weren't getting our best when we were with them. And they weren't being given what they needed. They literally ... Not what they wanted, but what they needed.
Kathryn: Yeah, yeah. Well and I think our expectations of them to be able to perform at our level was one thing. Because we were at that point in our business, we were younger as a business, right? So it had been you and I and then you and I and one more person. You and I and a couple more people and suddenly we had this team. And maybe this was more me than you, but I think I just have expectations that people are going to do what I do. Like they're going to run it the way I would run it. They're going to think the way I think.
Kathryn: So even in my own leadership, I was -
Michael: Because we think we are ... Ours is common sense.
Kathryn: Well yeah. And I think as a leader, one of the things that I've really had to grow in is realizing that just because something comes easy for me, doesn't mean it comes easy for other people. So I was notoriously the person who'd be like, if I can do it, a monkey can do it. You're not a monkey, why can't you do it. Right?
Kathryn: And so just even that mentality of realizing that there are skillsets and ways of thinking and ways of approaching life and personality types, you name it. There's a whole ... Emotional intelligence. There's a whole series of factors that combine into how we as leaders think and process and run our companies for good or ill. And if we don't realize that people are wired differently or that we ... The skills that we have, our unique genius, the thing that comes easy to us, is not easy for other people. Then I think it's hard to not have wrong expectations.
Kathryn: So I think I had some wrong expectations. It caused me to hire wrong types of people for the things that we were asking. So that was a pretty big deal for me.
Michael: Yeah. We talk about it in the book. We talk about it in a lot of different places. We've done some podcasts on it. But one of the things that's really important after we start identifying expectations and trying to figure out and really doing the hard work to figure out what are realistic expectations of people. And then making sure that we can figure out in the midst of it, sometimes ... How do we get more time in our schedule? And sometimes, this is ... I didn't want to hear this. This is a hard thing to hear, you actually have to dial back your growth. You have to actually dial back in your growth or your desire for a certain level for growth and you're working hard to get to it. Because if you want peace of mind, peace of mind costs something. The reason you don't have peace of mind often is because you've got things out of order. You either have gaps and you're missing things, or the things you're doing running your business, working on your business, are out of order. Does that make sense?
Michael: And when we talk about that, it's like okay you've got to structure this. That doesn't mean that you can't actually go into a significantly high level of growth. Let's talk about hyper-growth where you're doubling every year. I mean that's ... When we talk about the levels of growth, that's the top right there. And you could do it, but you have to have systems in place. You have to have a mindset in place. And you have to be mature enough as a leader which you have to grow your own leadership skills. That's what I mean by mature. Your emotional intelligence stuff, your ability to handle strategy, and your ability to handle tasks. And then your own personal self-development. Because what happens a lot of times is the things required of us, because the company's succeeding, or it's really, really, really hard times and it's hard to keep where you are, the stress level is more than we can handle because it creates more complexity. And all of a sudden we get the cars driving 100 miles an hour and we get this kind of tunnel vision. And we can't stop and look around and enjoy the day and everything else. So all of a sudden, your company's that. You have to dial back and learn how to handle more complexity with the same or less stress and equal or more peace of mind.
Kathryn: Yeah. I think one of the things, and obviously we beat this horse to ... No, we're going to continue to beat this horse. It's just going to be an ongoing theme, always. But we would let you know that the priority you have as a leader is to define clearly what your vision is, what your values are, what you're doing, why you're doing it, and continue to paint that picture for your employees. And there's reasons for that, right? For you, it's how do I remember why I did this to begin with? How do I stay focused on pushing through the things that don't feel good so that I can get to this big dream that I have? This BHAG, right? The big, hairy, audacious goal. And if you don't know what that is or you haven't codified that for yourself and for your people, then it is hard to maintain a really good culture. Because so much of culture and so much of people's willingness to work well and work with you is buy-in. Buy-in to what it is you're trying to achieve as a company. And whether or not it makes a difference in the universe, right?
Kathryn: So those are some of the things that ... They matter a lot. And when we hit that place where we were struggling and we didn't want to come to work anymore, didn't want to cross the threshold of our own business, that's one of the things that we had to do is pull back and go what is it about this business that we hate? What are the things that are being violated in me on a regular basis that cause me to not want to do this anymore? So that we could then begin to articulate it from the positive side, what is it we're trying to shape here? And as we started to do that, then you start to have people go, yeah, I don't fit. And then you get that, they leave, and it's actually a good thing.
Michael: When things get tough here at Half a Bubble Out and HaBO Village and you get stressed and frustrated, how do you back yourself out of that? When you start ... Because we lived in that place where it was such a deep hole it was hard to get out of. We worked really hard to get out of it. But occasionally, you and I will independently slip into some of those places where it starts to feel like it's overwhelming again. What do you do to catch yourself and then back yourself out?
Kathryn: Yeah, that's a good question. So I remember one day, this was probably a year ago, maybe a little bit more. And we were in the middle of creating a whole video series and I was just beat. I was just done. Like I was like I cannot get in front of the camera today. I just can't do it. I can't. I'm just over it. Like, you know what? Do it without me. I can't do it. I'm having a bad hair day. I don't know, I was a lot going on that day. I was just exhausted and I didn't ... I just wanted to be done. I wanted to quit.
Kathryn: And I remember just sitting in the car, driving, and thinking, okay, why are we doing this? Remember why we're doing this. And I started to literally remind myself, tell myself the story of what we were doing. And tell myself the story of what is it that happens to other people if we do this and we succeed? What lives do I get to change? What impact is that going to have? And as I told myself that story, even as I do it now, it just ... It raises this ... Just almost ... Like I get chills thinking about the potential and thinking about what could happen if I can just figure out a way to keep pushing through the hard things.
Kathryn: So reminding myself of the why of what we're doing is absolutely how I pull myself out of these things. And it just ... Life gets overwhelming, I make choices to get myself involved in things that are taking my time that I shouldn't. I mean I'm consistently having to define and redefine as a leader what is the right use of my time? How do I learn to push away some of the things that I shouldn't be doing that are making me crazy that someone else could handle. And probably be happy handling. But it is really ... The ultimate answer to that question is it's telling myself the story and reminding myself of the why. Because we took the time to clearly articulate what that future could look like, and now I can see it. And so that description, that ability to project myself into a future reality allows me to continue to move through this reality. So that's my answer.
Michael: That's good. I like the fact that you said you had this remind yourself which means this is why we talk about the importance of a clear, compelling vision is, this is just one of the many reasons. You've got to have a really clear idea of why. Why are you doing all of this? What's the point? And it has to be, for our own sanity, it has to be more than making a paycheck. Because quite frankly, sometimes you can quit, shut down the entire company, and go somewhere else and make just as much money, if not more, working half the time and having half the responsibility.
Kathryn: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, as I talk about this and as I think about mental health, it's not like ... I think sometimes we don't ... We forget to just connect the dots on some of the principles of just normal human behavior. So I'm thinking right now about the idea that whenever you come against a hard time in your life, let's move out of business, life, right? A tragedy happens, some level of pain happens, some significant loss. One of the things that absolutely happens besides the fact that you grieve through those things, is that you have to be able to remind yourself that things have happened in the past and you've survived. So we do this all the time just in our own personal world. Where we go, I don't know how I'm going to pay for that. And then you look back and you go, there's always been a way. And somehow, that reminder of there's always been a way, helps me then rise up out of the despair of thinking I don't know what I'm going to do.
Kathryn: So this is that same concept. Is you look back, you remind yourself, but then this is the where am I headed and what am I dreaming about? And those mental health realities of where your mind is and what you're thinking about, those are critical pieces of the puzzle.
Michael: Yeah. And ideally, when you have a passion, provision company and the level of passion and provision in it is increasing, you're experiencing an increase in that idea of there's purpose, there's meaning, it's a very clear why, and it's a good why. And yes, we need to make money and yes we need to make payroll. But those things become the means to the purpose. They don't become the purpose in themselves. And that's really part of what needs to happen is you want to make sure that you don't get stuck in a place where the tactics become the purpose. And so often that's where we get stuck on a treadmill. That's the hamster wheel that we're running on. That's where we get stuck.
Michael: Now some of you are going, yeah, I identify with this. Absolutely. This is me. What do I do? I'm like, it's not the one ... I've been doing this for a day. I haven't been doing this for a week. This has been going on for months. I'm stuck. How do I get help?
Michael: One of the things that we believe that is incredibly powerful in the midst of all this is some really good leadership coaching. Now, at some point, maybe counseling and deeper stuff like that. But really, great leadership coaching is allowing you to have somebody help read the bottle, the label from outside the bottle, to give you context in your life that you can't get because you're stuck. It's like being down in a valley and you need somebody to go up to the mountaintop so that they can survey the land so they know which way to go so that you don't get stuck by a river or a lake or a forest or something like that you can't go around so you can get the best way there. So you're not frustrated along the path as opposed to just trying to find your way.
Michael: And a leadership coach can really not only help you have that perspective, but can help you work on rearranging certain things that you can get some bandwidth in the company and help you see some of the dangers. Because one of the danger zones of living in this place too long, is that you start increasing the level of burnout you're in. And so a good leadership coach can help you find that.
Michael: For you and I, we've had a leadership coach for a very long time. How does a leadership coach help you or I should ... I know the answer to that. How has a leadership coach helped you and how also have you seen the coaching you've done with other leaders help them in that perspective?
Kathryn: Yeah. I would say one of the most powerful ways that leadership coaching helps me is that as I work with my coach, he is helping me codify things. So putting words and descriptions to things that I'm wrestling with. And I know something's happening but I don't know what it is. And as we coach and as he knows me more and I share more, he's able to help me go, oh, that's what that is. And there's something about putting words ... Even if ... One of the things that's really interesting about just being in a process is that even if there isn't an answer, identifying the problem and normalizing it, realizing that you're not the only person in the universe who's ever struggled with this, right? That this is actually a human problem. Oh. This is a leadership problem. Lots of leaders deal with this stuff. So as somebody who's coaching me, he reminds me of those things.
Kathryn: So leadership coaching is that place of codifying and of normalizing and then of helping me see the gaps so I can go, okay, now I know what to go after. I know what to do here, right?
Kathryn: And then the other thing that leadership coaching does for me is reminds me of even just what my strengths are. Because in the middle of the places where I'm discouraged, I can forget that I actually am smart and capable and I'm not an idiot. So there's also that piece of the puzzle that I think helps.
Kathryn: And then as I turn around and work with other people, it's much easier for me to see them because again, I'm outside their bottle. It's much easier for me to see what's going on with them and the fact that I'm being coached helps me even know what it is to be in their role. And so to be able to speak into their lives and see things and identify things and codify things and normalize things is really ... People have just found that incredibly helpful.
Michael: Yeah, I would agree. And I find that when you step away from a good coaching call, you automatically feel better even if you think, okay I had some breakthroughs and some aha moments on things I have to do that I haven't been doing. So maybe even there's stuff on your plate that adds things to your plate, but I always feel better when I know that I'm adding things to my plate that are the right things. And then, I start ... And hopefully, a lot of times that I'm trying to sort through what's the wrong things on my plate. So there's ... I know that when I work on the right things, I'm going to get more bandwidth. And I can see it in our clients when I'm coaching, that sense of aha. And quite frankly, a good leadership coach understands the pressures and the tension of leadership. And when you say yes to something, you have to say no to something else and how it sometimes feels like you're in a Catch 22. But you've just spent an hour also talking to somebody, helping to think and process through things who gets it. They hear you and they understand.
Kathryn: Yeah. Well and here's the thing, as leaders, we just have to be growing. Because the world is getting more and more complex. Life is getting more and more complex. Our employees are struggling with things that they didn't struggle with two years ago. Things like COVID come along and you have to solve stuff that you never had to solve before. So if you're not working on your own leadership skills, if you're not able to identify your strengths and weaknesses and know the places you got to shore up, then you're going to be one of the biggest reasons that your company's culture and mental health is low. Because you're not going to make it any easier. You're not going to be the leader that people can look to and find hope and encouragement and assurance that we're not doing to die. Right? So ...
Michael: And one of the reasons that we bringing this back to what we started with, that whole idea of when I was pondering the subject and I pounded in the door, pounced in the door, Tigger almost. And just asked that question pointblank of an employee. Now you may think, well you're the boss, they had to answer someway or something. That's not the way it works in our office. It's just not. But partially because we've worked really hard and we keep an eye out for that.
Michael: That said, I jumped in, asked a question, and then immediately she was well, at the last company, which sucked, I made X. So and then I finally left. And she started less than that here but she's like, I don't want to go anywhere. And recently, she made a comment to her supervisor that the job that she always thought was her dream job came open at the local university. And it was a passing comment because she said, and I realized, I don't want to go there. It's no longer my dream job. I want to stay here. There is a younger professional who has already experienced a sucky place to work, wants to be working in a good place that continues to sharpen her and grow her and everything else.
Michael: And you can see that ... I'm saying this because of this. It's a Litmus test to what's going on in your company. It really is. It may not be the end-all, be-all, but it's how are things going in your company and how are your employees responding? And if you've got a place that's kind of toxic, it may be really hard to ask the questions and get honest answers. But then if that's the problem, give us a call, we can coach you through how you get to the root of the answer and figure out what's going on. Unless you really know, this is messed up and I just got to figure it out. Those are the things that can happen. And that mental health, because really what it boils down to for us, in this podcast, and what we do on a daily basis, coaching and leading, consulting with companies and company leaders, is we want you to have the ability to have more peace of mind, more enjoyment in what you're doing. Less, really stress that's wearing you out and driving you into a place of burnout.
Michael: Because we know that you'll be able to be more successful financially if you have more bandwidth. You'll actually be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor if you can be in a place where you're not stressed out all the time. And that's the ideal. That's the reason we do this podcast on a regular basis. That's the reason ... That's our why for this because we want to see you grow. We want to see you have those tips.
Michael: Core tip today; You need to fix this so own it, own that there's a problem there, say it to yourself, believe that you can get out of it, or there's a potential you can get out of it because people like us and others that we know, have gotten out of it. They've re-engineered and moved forward and are much, much, happier with their life. There's life on the other side of this frazzled-ness and burnout if you want to work and get yourself there. And then leadership coaching is the number one tool to help you there. It's worth every dime you're going to spend and it's not going to break the bank. And finding a good leadership coach is going to be everything. And if you can't find one in your community or in your neighborhood, then give us a call because we're always here to help leaders who want to grow and we love doing that as a company and as a team.
Michael: That's it today. If you like this or found this useful, please hit subscribe, hit like on whatever platform you're listening to us on. Tell your friends about us. We would appreciate it because we want to help more leaders become successful, have thriving companies, and really be able to enjoy it all.
Michael: I'm Michael Redman.
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: This is the HaBO Village Podcast, thanks for joining us today. Bye-bye.