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The HaBO Village Podcast

How to Move Your Business Forward in an Uncertain World [Podcast]

Episode 161: Michael and Kathryn have an open discussion about new ventures they are trying and the challenges that come with them. In today's uncertain and polarized world, growing a business can often be tough and stressful. If you are experiencing anxiety about the future of your business, get encouragement and time-tested tips in this episode.

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In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover how Michael and Kathryn manage pivoting in their businesses during difficult times.

  • Find out why you need to stop and smell the flowers daily to help lower stress and anxiety.

  • Get tips for handling VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) in your life and business in the context of a polarized world.

“Sometimes, one of the best times to start a business is during the lows. Buy low, sell high."

- Michael Redman

 

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Michael:
             Hello, and welcome to the HaBO Village podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
             And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
             And this is a podcast dedicated to developing whole leaders for the whole business. Thank you for joining us today.


Kathryn:
             Wow. That was ... A little behind the scenes humor. Okay. That was our fourth attempt. Because every once in a while, it's just really hard to get going. We've been laughing, and there's tears running down my face. Welcome to the podcast. We're so glad you're here.


Michael:
             Today's going to be a montage.


Kathryn:
             A montage. Oh, that was the word you couldn't come up with before. Montage.


Michael:
             A montage of different topics. A few different topics today. One we're going to talk about is a brand new venture that we're doing. It's not a sales pitch, unless you want to buy.


Kathryn:
             And then, we're always happy to speak.


Michael:
             We're never too busy to ...


Kathryn:
             Talk to you.


Michael:
             About your ...


Kathryn:
             Money.


Michael:
             Yes.


Kathryn:
             Whatever.


Michael:
             Okay. We're going to talk about the new venture that we've been pushing towards, that's out of our book. Doing workshops and larger stuff like that. Because it really is a great example. We want to share part of the journey with you, on starting a whole new venture, after we've been in business for 20 years.


Michael:
             Back in 2012, we started the pet food company, Rabbit Hole Hay. And that was a venture, a total adventure in starting something brand new and all the challenges of it. Even though we've had two successes at this, we probably learned some things to bring along to this new startup part of our company. But it's still been like pushing a rock up a hill. Hasn't it?


Kathryn:
             Absolutely. It always is.


Michael:
             It's just ... Trying to get a whole new venture out with a whole new product and service line, and trying to get momentum and a critical mass going ... We have learned over and over again that when you're starting, even if you have a company, there are some benefits you take with that company. But you actually do miss some things when it comes to ... Well, you have to start over. There are certain things you can't short circuit.


Kathryn:
             No.


Michael:
             You can do them better and more efficiently, because now you're not brand new to them. But you're still new in a new market. So we're going to talk a little bit more about that. Do you want to add anything to that?


Kathryn:
             I think one of the things that's interesting is it's always ... Many of you have done this in the course of your life and your leadership. But starting something new while you're also maintaining the existing is also a piece of the puzzle. Because it's not like ...


Michael:
             It's starting a new venture while keeping the rest of the company going.


Kathryn:
             Exactly. It's not just, "Hey, we've stopped doing what we're doing, and we're going to start something new and dedicate all of our energy and time to it." It's, "We were working at 110% capacity, and now we're going to add something to that."


Kathryn:
             What's that look like? How do we actually succeed? What are the strategies to try and figure out how to even rearrange priorities and thinking, in order to give a new venture or a new product line or whatever it is you're doing enough time to actually take root?


Michael:
             All right. And if you're one of those leaders right now that has experienced this, and you want to try and do something new, but you got to keep the rest of it going and it's not easy ... Raise your hand.


Michael:
             I know I can't see you, but raise your hand. Okay, great. Now, you've opted in. You're one of us. Because this stuff is ... This is challenging, and you want it to be easy. But I haven't seen anything that's really worth doing-


Kathryn:
             They do say third times a term, so maybe we just haven't found the charm part yet.


Michael:
             ... Oh, it's going well. It's going well. Okay. Some other things that we're going to talk about is the state of the world right now, when it comes to just tension. And the fact that if we're not putting our heads in the sand like an ostrich, which still seems like the dumbest survival maneuver ever ... The idea that you are operating your business in the context of the world stage.


Michael:
             Politics. Different perspectives on vaccines. Different perspectives on viruses. Different perspectives on masks. Different perspectives on just how I should live my life, and what I should be able to do, and what I shouldn't be able to do. We have a lot of polarization in our society right now. Don't we?


Kathryn:
             We do. Especially, as things are ... They were opening back up. And then, depending on where you are in the country-


Michael:
             Or in the world.


Kathryn:
             ... There's been openings around the world. An opening, a closing. We get to shed our masks for a little bit. Now, where we are in California, we're entering back into ... You get a lot of places where you need to wear a mask to be indoors. Or at least they're recommending it.


Kathryn:
             And then, how do people look at you if you're not wearing one? And it is an interesting time. It's an interesting time to launch things too, because I think ... For any of you who are launching, one of the things I've noticed is I'm just more tired. And I think we're all just more tired, because there's so many things you're holding in tension.


Kathryn:
             And so, many places where things that used to be simple and you never had to think about are suddenly things you have to think about. Is that person looking at me sideways for X, Y, or Z reason? Because I am wearing a mask? Because I'm not wearing a mask? Because I'm ... It's just a really challenging time.


Michael:
             Well, and we talk about VUCA. Let's talk about VUCA for a moment. We'll come back to some of that polarization in a minute. VUCA is the ...


Kathryn:
             So there's this is concept out there. It's been around a long time, but VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.


Michael:
             Ambiguity.


Kathryn:
             Those kinds of components. Boy, are we living in a world that is volatile. That is a for sure thing, no matter where you are.


Michael:
             It has a lot of VUCA.


Kathryn:
             A lot of VUCA.


Michael:
             This is part of the background that we need to deal with and its influence. So we'll talk a little bit about that today. Those are really ... Unless, something else spurs off, those are three contexts. And then, we'll talk about, here's some strategies that you can use to try and survive in the midst of that. We'll talk about that.


Michael:
             Because we talk about VUCA fairly often on the podcast. Hopefully, today, for those of you who are new, we'll let you know a little bit more about that and some details. But for those of you who listen, we're just going to continue this conversation about looking at it and how to deal with it in different areas.


Michael:
             When it comes to what we did about growing a new market, and what we're about right now ... What do you think has been the most rewarding at this moment? Let's back up too. For us, choosing to go straight from a private consulting firm and marketing agency to writing the book. Shifting more and saying, "We're going to shift more into leadership development and business development."


Kathryn:
             What's been the most rewarding about that?


Michael:
             Yeah.


Kathryn:
             I think, for me, writing the book was such a labor of love. There were so many moments I wasn't sure it was going to happen. And then, when we got it done and we went through the whole process of, "Okay, we're supposed to be launching in May of 2020. Do we launch? Do we not launch?" Everything was shutting down. Or at that point was completely shut down, actually.


Kathryn:
             We launched with our staff. Completely remote. We debated, we went back and forth. We had never done that before. And so, that was really scary. I think that as much as I am so sick and freaking tired of the word, "pivot," boy, did we have to pivot. Because we really were looking at the way that we would move the book forward.


Kathryn:
             The launch ... Everything else was through stages for being able to go and stand in front of people and talk. In case you're not aware of this, that didn't happen in 2020. And it hasn't been happening much in 2021, so that need to completely shift was really, really scary. The question you asked was, "What's been rewarding for me?"


Michael:
             Yeah.


Kathryn:
             It's seeing it succeed despite the challenges. Maybe not as big as we want yet. I think we've got a long runway still to keep moving forward with this book, because it hasn't gotten out there as much as I want it to.


Kathryn:
             But for what we've been able to do, in the multiple podcasts and meeting people all over the world ... Some of those benefits, like the world getting so used to being on Zoom all the time. Having conversations across the globe with people we would have maybe never met if we hadn't been shifted into that, has been a lot of fun.


Michael:
             No, I agree. I think all of those things have been really cool. The fact that we actually have been persistent is probably one of the most rewarding things. Because I know we've put together good teams along the way. We have a great team.


Michael:
             But being persistent in the midst of multiple potentials for frustration or stalling us or anything like that ... You talk about pivoting. Would you say that pivoting for us has been critical to us succeeding so far?


Kathryn:
             Oh, definitely. Even in just the agency world. If you want something that doesn't change and is consistent, don't go into marketing.


Michael:
             Well, don't go into business.


Kathryn:
             Especially, don't go into business. But digital marketing is constant evolution. And so, things are changing all the time. And if we can't adjust and change strategies and think through the different pieces of the puzzle, there's no way to succeed. And I think that's true in any business.


Kathryn:
             You have to look at the opportunity and think to yourself, "Okay. I never ..." I think of the hay business. It never occurred to me when we started that business, first of all, that there were that many people who cared about rabbits. Secondly, I'd never imagined we'd be international. That just wasn't even on the radar.


Kathryn:
             Even just the willingness to step into that and say, "Okay, what's out there?" Now, we're in nine, ten countries. And so, those decisions and those adjustments of, "How does life look now, that I didn't anticipate it looking," are incredibly important for any business leader.


Michael:
             Yeah. It's interesting to go into new markets and all of that, and what that looks like. There's so many lessons that you can pull that are consistent. And there is a lot of volatility. Let's talk about the volatility a little bit, because we'll talk about that in different areas. But volatility, by its very nature, means that it changes its status quickly and often severely.


Michael:
             If you look at a stock chart, a very non-volatile chart is fairly flat. Really smooth, and it either doesn't change at all and it just stays horizontal at the same price, so it's consistent ... Or it is consistently moving in a direction. It's not a lot of volatility. Over the next 10 years, it could go up a double or triple or quadruple.


Michael:
             But there's not a lot of volatility in that thing. It doesn't go up and then come down, and then go up and come down. For some reason, as I think about volatility and the pivoting issue you were talking about, I think about the whole idea of the San Francisco Earthquake in 1987. Because what a lot of people don't understand is a huge portion of the waterfront in San Francisco is built on landfill.


Michael:
             Boston is the same way. A huge amount of Boston is built on landfill, especially down on the water edges. What we have is we have earthquakes. And if you took a bucket of sand and patted it down a little bit, or let it sit there for a week or two, or 10 years, it settles. You put stuff on top of it and it is firm.


Kathryn:
             Solid.


Michael:
             You smack your hand against it, you can hurt yourself. But if you put something on top of it, and you start to just jiggle the bucket back and forth, you know that whatever you put on top starts to sink a little bit into the sand. It makes the whole thing unstable. It's volatility. When the earthquake happened, you had a lot of these houses that were sitting on solid foundations, on top of solid ground. That if you fell on it, you would hurt yourself.


Michael:
             All of a sudden, they started shifting and sinking into the sand, sinking into the ground. Some of them started falling apart. Some of them just became un-level in a matter of literally seconds, maybe minutes with aftershocks. And that was it. That was enough of a jolt. But houses that were on solid rock a mile away, a block away sometimes, didn't have any problems.


Michael:
             They shook, plates fell off the shelves and stuff like that, but the houses weren't damaged. They didn't have to wipe them. They didn't have gas problems with fire and all that kind of stuff and those kinds of things. That's volatility to me. And so, when something happens, there's a lot of danger that can happen there. But there's a lot of opportunity.


Michael:
             One of the best times to start ... It makes me think about this. One of the best times to start a business, if you want a lot of growth, is to start it in the lows. You buy low, sell high. You start a business in a recession, you have so much more opportunity to go up out of the recession, because recessions happen cyclically. Now, you're taking advantage of, hopefully, a huge amount of growth in front of you.


Kathryn:
             Well, and the other thing that happens in the midst of things like what we're going through now, and we've seen it over and over again, is that there are opportunities in the middle of pandemics and craziness and stuff to be disruptive in the market.


Michael:
             Very disruptive. Oh, fancy word. Disruptive.


Kathryn:
             I know. It's like I'm in business or something. Being able to disrupt the market with a way of doing something that you've never had to do before. With a product or an approach or a solution that, again, it just wasn't needed before. Those are great opportunities.


Kathryn:
             But for those that are existing and living and have had businesses running along, those moments where everything shifts ... The need to pivot, it's a little bit harder when you're established. But those choices have to happen.


Michael:
             All right. We're talking ... We have a major issue. Like an earthquake or a pandemic, or a great recession and the stock market crashes or something like that. Nobody wants those. Those are painful. They hurt, wealth is lost, so on and so forth.


Michael:
             But when you look at those and the times we've had to pivot ... Typically, personality-wise, you would choose less to pivot than I would. I would choose to pivot more often than you would. Correct?


Kathryn:
             Yeah.


Michael:
             The difficulty of seeing that kind of change and meeting it. Like Facebook, changing all over the place when you're buying ads. Trying to figure out how the systems are working, or who's doing what, or who's the next best software. Because they're all claiming to be the next Facebook.


Michael:
             How do you process ... Not even, "Is it hard?" How do you process being okay and having self care? Because I know we talk about this. Having self-care and processing in the midst of all this volatility and stress, where it's not a choice to pivot. It's either pivot or suffer the consequences ... So I guess it is a choice.


Kathryn:
             Well, it is a choice.


Michael:
             But you're being stuck with ... It's not, "Everything's going great. Why mess with everything that's going great?" It's, "Everything's shaking and rattling around us. Is this the time we pivot or not?" How do you handle being forced to pivot in the VUCA and the volatility?


Kathryn:
             For me, first of all, I'm surrounded by people who I trust. So if I'm talking with you, I'm talking with other leaders, it's like, "Yeah. We have got to do something different." Then, even if it's painful and I don't want to, and I feel like I just got good at what we were doing ... I think my best strategy is that I think back to all the times we've had to do that and come out the other side better.


Kathryn:
             I've got this little, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," going through my head. If it's not going to kill me, it's going to make me stronger. I think even as I've grown as a leader, it's the ability to look at the potential shift and approach it with less anxiety. Hopefully. Non-anxiously.


Kathryn:
             And I'm not always good at that, but I think I'm getting better. I'm getting less attached to a way of doing something. Going back to even this part of the business. Of growing this leadership development, business development part of the company ... We were looking at it. And it's like, we've built online courses, and we've done online workshops and that kind of stuff that are asynchronous. Just recorded.


Kathryn:
             And I feel like we've approached this like, "This is the way it's going to work." And then, "We've seen tons of people this has worked for. We'll do an online course, and it's going to be amazing." We launched once, and we had a major catastrophe. The campfire. And that shut down ...


Michael:
             The natural disaster.


Kathryn:
             A natural disaster in our area. That was a challenge. And then, the second time we launched, I don't even remember what went wrong. Something terrible happened. It was two natural disasters in a row, and they're all bleeding together in my mind.


Kathryn:
             Now, we're in this place where it's like, "Okay. How do we find an audience and deliver this content in a meaningful way?" We're doing now these workshops, which are a completely different approach. Where we actually have people, two days in front of our faces. Still online, sadly. I really want them to be actually in front of my face.


Kathryn:
             But two-day workshops where we're actually getting to work with people in more depth through the content, and actually have conversation about it all the way through, which was not the same as the way we were doing the online course. So I love it. Partly, because I thrive on the interaction part.


Michael:
             We both do. It's nice to ... If we had our podcasters listening to us ...


Kathryn:
             And we could see them?


Michael:
             And they could talk ...


Kathryn:
             I know. I'd love that.


Michael:
             Like a comment. We could unmute somebody on their run and go, "Hey, Susie. What do you think about X, Y, and Z?" "I'm on mile three."


Kathryn:
             Oh, gosh.


Michael:
             It was funny. I thought it was funny.


Kathryn:
             Okay.


Michael:
             It's clearly not funny. All right. But that idea of interaction we thrive on. Going to the workshops, even in Zoom, at least we had interaction.


Kathryn:
             It was great. It was great. And I feel like it allows us to really go deeper with people. And so, what they're receiving and being shaped in the way that they're thinking and interacting and processing with the material is different than when they're just watching a course. And then, having a chat with us about it afterwards kind of thing.


Kathryn:
             So I really like it, but getting it done is hard. Getting the work done is hard. Making sure it's what you need it to be and delivering it well, and all of those things that lead up to a two-day event. It's a whole different way of doing it than stepping on a stage and talking to people. Or sitting behind a camera with nobody in front of you and talking to the camera. It's completely different.


Michael:
             I find myself going, "Okay. How does this bridge into the conversation of the value of it and getting it done? Why do we do this?" That's what's going on in my head. I know what my reasons are. What are your reasons for wanting to do this?


Kathryn:
             Wanting to find a way to ...


Michael:
             Wanting to continue to find a new market? Being able to find out how to help people and stuff. Odds are, even with the new direction of the company, going more into training and mentoring and education and coaching and stuff like that for business leaders ... Why do it?


Michael:
             Because it's a lot of effort, a lot of energy. You have to recreate your brand, because now you're looking for people to realize, "Oh. You guys have been doing this, but you've done it behind the door. Nobody knows you do it, except this small select group of customers that you've helped."


Kathryn:
             Yes. The ones who come in from marketing and say things like, "There is more in the trough than marketing here, isn't there? Well, yes, there is."


Michael:
             They love it. That's where we get our highest ratings, probably.


Kathryn:
             So why do I do it? Why do I want to do it?


Michael:
             Why do you want to do it and push this new rock up the hill when it's hard?


Kathryn:
             We have said over and over again, and will continue to say, that one of the things that is so painful is the business failure rate. Just the fact that people start businesses, and eight out of 10 don't make it. And if I can translate that eight to something that isn't a number, and I can say, "This is eight people, eight humans who had a dream. This is eight support systems that cheered them on and believed in them, and maybe gave them money and invested. This is eight dreams that are dashed."


Kathryn:
             If I pull it that way, and then I think of even the moments in our own journey where I wondered if we were going to have to close the doors for a number of reasons. Like, "Okay, I don't think we're going to make it." Realizing just that the intensity of that, to put so much into something and have it not make it. That tugs on my heart. How do we help solve that issue?


Kathryn:
             Maybe not solve it. There's a hundred reasons that different organizations don't make it. But how do we step into a training modality that allows more of them to have a better shot? That gives them a foundation. That helps them think about the holistic aspect of running a business. That it isn't just the thing you're good at, it's all these moving parts.


Kathryn:
             How do we just give them a mini MBA? It's like a fast and furious MBA to say, "You know what? These are the things you have to pay attention to. You have to think about them. Not in silos, but in relationship to each other." I think that's the thing. Because we've had so many companies that come in the door, which is why we're dealing with the silo thing ... People come to us with a siloed mentality.


Michael:
             Request.


Kathryn:
             Request. Right. "I need to solve this. I need to do this. I need more customers, I need more money. I need whatever." We've had to help them solve multiple other issues in their business, so that when the customers would come, they would be able to actually retain them. I think there's that passion for me.


Kathryn:
             I've always loved leadership development. We're big fans of it. I have been involved in leadership development since I was in high school, college. We've had great leaders, great mentors. Those are the reasons. It is a worthwhile rock to push up the hill, because there's people's lives at stake.


Michael:
             For me, it is people. It is the lives. It is the challenges. For a lot of entrepreneurs, there's a challenge in the midst of it. If you can find something that's a challenge, in an area that you care about and are passionate about ... We were talking to a finance guy the other day. He does business loans across the country.


Michael:
             And it was really interesting. Because even from his perspective, as a guy who crunches numbers and does business loans, he knows that if a company just wants to make money ... Like, "I need money for my business, so we can just make money," and they don't have a, "why," behind it anywhere ...


Kathryn:
             They're not going to make it.


Michael:
             The odds are, they're not going to survive. And it's one of his metrics for ... It's interesting. Because it's like, how do you put that on a spreadsheet?


Michael:
             But it's one of his metrics on whether they're a good investment or not. Because if they're not going to survive, they can't pay the loan back.


Kathryn:
             Yep.


Michael:
             And that's ... One of the things we're going to be talking about with him and interviewing him, is talking about something that most folks in the loan industry, when it comes to loaning money to businesses, don't talk about.


Michael:
             How do you actually prepare yourself and get yourself in a place where you can get a yes on a loan? And you can actually be more successful with that loan?


Kathryn:
             Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
             The people who get money are really good at knowing what they're going to do with it, and how to be successful with it. They know how to prepare and position their company and their books in a way that the bank or a private institution would actually give them money. But most people don't know how that works. They're blind.


Michael:
             So I think bringing all of that to folks is really exciting and cool. But in this area of VUCA, the way the world is ... Let's talk about that. It's polarizing. We said we would talk about that for a moment. Everywhere we look there are stronger and stronger opinions and more varying opinions about who's right, who's wrong. Who has all the facts? Who's delusional? All over the place.


Michael:
             It's amazing how much that's going on right now, and how hard it is to figure out how to find a place to really verify all the facts. Who do you trust? Who do you not? At the same time, how do you help people understand what is trustworthy and what's not? If you trust something, they may not trust it. Right now, that volatility is causing all kinds of challenges for customers, for employees.


Michael:
             There are people leaving companies that are all of a sudden like, "Well, no, I'm not going to do that." We've got a client right now who shall remain nameless, that have shared with you they're losing employees based on certain regulations for vaccination. Because somebody is starting to say, "You have to vaccinate." And that is such a contentious polarizing event.


Michael:
             People who are good employees are leaving companies, because the leadership of the company is feeling either convicted, because they have a personal convictions towards this ... In this case, actually, everybody being vaccinated. Or they're a large enough company that it's really hard to dodge the political pressures from government, of wanting everybody to be vaccinated.


Kathryn:
             Absolutely. Absolutely.


Michael:
             On top of that, you've got all kinds of everything. If there is a difference between two people, it seems to be a point of polarizing division. Whether it's race, sex, age, it just seems like it's just dividing everywhere.


Michael:
             That's a tough environment to be doing business in, unless you're very clear that your business feeds on that, which there are some business industries that do feed on that. Kind of like vultures on roadkill.


Kathryn:
             We don't train them.


Michael:
             We don't train them. They don't want to hang out with us. But you and I have talked a lot about this. How much energy does it steal from you as a business owner, just trying to navigate the complexity of all this polarization?


Kathryn:
             Oh, it's a ton. Because I think we have to work really hard at sorting out, I think, several things. One is how to be sensitive to other people. A lot of energy spent in, "Okay. What am I supposed to do to help you feel more comfortable? What is my responsibility in that regard?"


Kathryn:
             As a business owner, if we're going to have face-to-face meetings in our office, we have a mix of people that will come in. Do they need to mask? Do they not need to mask? How do they feel about it? How do we feel about it? How do you have the conversation? There's a lot of energy being spent just in that arena.


Kathryn:
             And then, the other part is ... What's worth taking a stand for? That piece of it is also interesting. We have some pretty strong activist type friends who take a very strong stance. And that's not how I'm put together at all. And so, that's an interesting thing to navigate too, even just with colleagues and friends.


Kathryn:
             I was reading a blog the other day from one of my favorite mentors. And the title of the blog was, "Clowns to the Left of me, Jokers on the Right. Here, I am. Stuck in the Middle with You." There is that sense in which, that's how it feels in some ways.


Kathryn:
             I look at ... Part of the way I'm wired is that I can see both sides. And I can see the good and the bad on both sides. And I believe parts of both sides, so I constantly find myself in the middle. And it's exhausting. It really is.


Michael:
             I got asked the other day if I ever feel a hundred percent convicted about anything by one of our friends who is, right now, a hundred percent convinced that all the data he finds that he sorts through is accurate.


Michael:
             He's got a hundred percent confidence in his ability to sort through the detail of that, and sift what's true from what's not true. Our friends on the other side ...


Kathryn:
             Have an equal, a hundred percent confidence in their ability to sort through an opposing set of data. It's like, "Ah!" It's so interesting.


Michael:
             To that extent, it's like, "Okay. How do I verify? How do I know you're right? How do we ask people?" We're dealing with all that. One of the things that is real important in the midst of this ... And I'll say this. One last example of challenges, how this causes challenges for people. And then, we're going to talk about some self care stuff. That's going to be real important.


Michael:
             As we talk about, basically one last example, one of the things that's happening for a lot of people is 45% of the population ... We've been talking about this with some of our clients lately. 45% of the population is what we would call a methodical person. Their preference for personality is to have things consistent and steady without volatility.


Michael:
             They are really good at removing volatility and complexity. Maybe not always complexity, because they plan it out, and ambiguity. They take out ambiguity and volatility out of their world, and uncertainty. They want to remove at least three of the four letters of VUCA extensively out of their world.


Michael:
             They don't mind complexity, but they're going to make sure that they control all the aspects on dealing with whatever they are that's complex. They would like it simple. In a world where you have more VUCA, what you've done is you push them into a stress point. And then, they start to live in a stress point. And then, they start to become used to that stress point as day to day. And then, it becomes the new norm.


Michael:
             This has been happening. It started happening with COVID, because we were all pushed to a fight or flight response, because VUCA was increasing. We didn't know when it was going to be over or not. We didn't know when we'd get herd immunity or not. When are the masks going to be lifted or not? Nobody knew from day-to-day. When do I get to go back to work? Nobody knew.


Michael:
             There was that regular drip of the fight or flight response chemicals in our brain causing stress. Then, you have a personality type who does not like volatility. They like consistency. They like all of that. What happens to that person that is encountering VUCA that doesn't like it, and isn't necessarily skilled or hasn't been trained to cope with it ... They move into a high stress point.


Michael:
             And then, what do they do in a high stress point? They're in a greater sense of fight or flight. And they start to behave in a way that is confrontation. They either fight or flight.


Kathryn:
             They either run or they fight.


Michael:
             They either run or they fight. Thank you very much. In that context, that's important to remember, because we've got employees like that. We've got us like that. We've got employees like that, and we've got employees that have family members like that. This thing is not ... We can't point it. It's hard to point to one event, because the event now that's causing all these things, they're all mixed together. And it started with COVID going crazy.


Michael:
             It's hard for us to remember this isn't normal, because we've been at it now for 18, 20 months. It feels normal. This is not normal. And the volatility will change, but it may even take another couple of years. Three, four, five years. It did through World War II. It was incredibly unstable. Then, the war was over. And then, once everybody transitioned back to being home, it stabilized very hard for over 10 years.


Michael:
             The 50s have a reputation for being calm and idealic for a reason. They didn't want any volatility. You start to look at, how are we going to deal with that? As leaders, one thing we can do. Give me one thing we can do to at least manage ourself in this volatility, so we don't live in this fight or flight response.


Kathryn:
             The first thing is the awareness part. And it's not like this is the first place you're hearing, "By the way, you might feel a little more tired than normal. Give yourself a break."


Michael:
             But this is, "eyes wide open," isn't it?


Kathryn:
             Yes. It's that. Because I have to consistently remind myself how I feel when my anxiety seems out of control. And I'm like, "Why am I feeling so anxious?" It's like, well, we live in a very anxious world right now. And so, it doesn't even have to be something straight personal to me. It's just an environment. I'm responding to environment and everything's heightened.


Kathryn:
             For me, the biggest thing, and we've talked about this in the past even on this podcast, is that I have to step back. I just have to step back. I have to pause. I have to breathe. It's helpful if we actually take a moment between major things that we're doing to transition. Not just dive from one thing to the next, which I'm very guilty of doing.


Kathryn:
             I've run really, really rapidly. But when we just don't stop, and we don't let ourselves just breathe and even just be device-free for a little while, I think that's when it gets dangerous. Because we're just running at a pace that's dangerous. For me, the biggest self care is to just stop and just pause. Allow myself to not be connected, not be looking at anything, but just being. Letting myself unwind. And that's just harder to do.


Michael:
             So that one key thing is finding some time every day, every other day, where literally you can schedule and turn everything off. You can step away and just sit. Hang out. Go for a run. Find your time alone that you're not trying to multitask a bunch of things, and just be able to just breathe deep and smell the flowers and step back.


Michael:
             That kind of stuff will continue to help you. What you're looking for is opportunities for more brain chemistry, to lower the stress chemicals.


Kathryn:
             The adrenaline and all that.


Michael:
             You've got to drop all those things. The cortisol levels and all that. Sitting quietly, hanging out, sitting in the backyard, sitting by a creek, reading your favorite book are great ways of doing that. Also, you need to remember and look for your employees and your staff, and realize that you're not going to be able to push as hard and go as fast in this environment.


Michael:
             You need to find out ways to make sure they're being heard. Listen to them, acknowledge what they're experiencing, what they're thinking, what they're feeling, their ideas. Realize that there's stuff going on at home too, because their home life is impacting work. You've got more complexity, and you don't have a lot of control.


Michael:
             You can influence in some, and give yourself a little bit more margin in places. You will survive the long haul better in the midst of this, if you think about those kinds of things and thinking about VUCA. There's lots of opportunities, like we were saying.


Michael:
             We're not saying don't take advantage of opportunities and grow in these places. Keep your eyes open. Look for those great spots that you can make investments in, that are really going to give you a multiple return on your investment.


Kathryn:
             Well, as a leader, your job is to be ... The best way I've ever heard it said is, "Mature leaders are a non-anxious presence." In the middle of people going crazy, how do you bring that calm, non-anxious presence? Well, you can only do that if you're growing in your own ability to own and settle and realize that, "Yeah. You don't actually control the universe."


Kathryn:
             You type-A people out there, you don't. You cannot bend the world to your will. And there's no time like now to discover that's true. All of you that are like, "I used to be able to just make everything happen." Now, you cannot. Owning that and even realizing the stress that causes you, and letting yourself breathe and grow through that is a piece of the puzzle. Because if you're going to lead people well, you can't be frantic.


Michael:
             You need to be able to help your leadership learn to do that also. This non-anxious presence, in the midst of this increased VUCA, is your goal to getting to that place as a leader. Because you will become way more effective, your company will handle the bumps way better. Going from bad shock absorbers to great shock absorbers on a car. And your company will actually thrive more financially. It really will stabilize out.


Michael:
             You'll be able to handle the shocks financially to your industry. And you'll be able to take advantage of the opportunities so much more effectively, where you will see smaller losses and greater gains in the midst of a company when you can lead like this. It's just proven over and over again. Decade over decade, recession over recession. These are great things. We're not in a recession at the moment, but we've got the challenges.


Michael:
             All right. I think, just as a dialogue today, of talking about this kind of stuff and VUCA and new opportunities ... Because in these challenging times, there are opportunities. This is what we want to walk away with. There are opportunities. You can really take advantage of them. You get some benefit from doing it before, but it's going to be hard work, just know that.


Michael:
             We're seeing that it's really valuable. But at the same time, you also have to pace yourself and be careful, because the stress in these moments of high VUCA are harder on everyone. You've got to take more care to take care of yourself and pay attention to your company at stress points, so that it manages to go through the storm.


Kathryn:
             Yep. It's a little bit all over the map. We'll be telling you more and more about the workshops and what we're doing as we move forward. But today, we just wanted to let you know what was happening a little bit. And then, just talk about what it is to actually build new things during the seasons that are challenging. Hang in there.


Michael:
             Hope you laughed a little bit today. Hang in there. Hope you laughed a little bit today. I hope it was fun. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
             I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
             This is the HaBO Village podcast. Developing whole leaders for whole companies, so you can see your dreams come true. We'll talk to you later. Bye-bye.


Kathryn:
             Bye.