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How to Turn Business Challenges into Growth Opportunities [Podcast]

Episode 90: Michael and Kathryn share their experience with weathering unexpected challenges in business and how they learned to treat them as opportunities for growth. If you are going through a difficult time in your leadership or company and need some encouragement, then give this episode a listen.

business woman weathering a storm


In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover how unexpected changes in staffing can open up opportunities for business growth and even self-reflection.
  • Find out how Michael and Kathryn weather these 'perfect storms.'
  • Learn how to adjust your mindset during challenging times to benefit your personal development.
“When there's a perfect storm, there's always an opportunity to shift."
– Kathryn redman

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Michael:
              Hello everyone and welcome to the HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And this is the podcast that helps leaders of small and medium sized businesses pursue companies with more profit, more purpose, and more legacy. Our goal is to encourage you and to equip you and to train you. And we're kind of do all of that in this podcast so that there's tons of value and if you have no place where you're being encouraged on a regular basis because leadership is lonely and you don't have anybody else that understands or believes in Passion and Provision and the idea that you can have profit and fulfillment all at the same time in your company, then this is a great place for you. If you do have that, we want you to know that you're also not alone, but this is just another voice in your choir around you that you pull together to encourage you and to find resources that fuel you during times.


Michael:
              Because today we're going to talk about those moments that are shifts that are forced upon us. We didn't choose them. And as business leaders, they come into our companies, they not only affect our companies, they affect our personal lives. And as I heard one leader say right now, he thinks he's a firefighter, really, when he sees the applications at times and, "What's your role or your position?" He says, "Firefighter."


Kathryn:
               That's hilarious.


Michael:
              Because he's always turning around and putting out fires and fighting fires in his company, he's the COO of a large company. So I like that, I laugh at that. But these shifts in companies, they're major shifts. They're not daily shifts, they're not the daily fires that happen. But we're talking about those things where, wow, all of a sudden in a small company an employee moves on, like we're experiencing recently, and it's a huge percentage of our company. If we had 50 people on our staff, that would be different. But we have less than 10.


Kathryn:
               We have the danger of what they call feeling more like a family.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               So when somebody moves on, it's like, "What?"


Michael:
              We were talking to Patrick Lencioni recently. Yes, I'm dropping a name.


Kathryn:
               We like him.


Michael:
              But we were talking to Patrick recently and Pat said that when he found out how many people were in our company, he's like, "Oh, I love that." He has 12. We have 8.


Kathryn:
               Right.


Michael:
              He's like, "Oh, I love that size."


Kathryn:
               "It's a great size."


Michael:
              And it really is 8 to 12, it's 50% bigger, and it really does shift things. And at this size where they are and we are, there is these magnitude of shifts by one or two people.


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              And when somebody comes along that you really care about and you begin to really love as a staff member and they're taking on more responsibilities and doing more things and then they leave because that's part of life.


Kathryn:
               It's hard.


Michael:
              It's hard and it's like you all have to readjust and there's this shifting or this bouncing is if you're going down a road, but there's amazing opportunities in the middle of it, aren't there?


Kathryn:
               Yeah, there are. And you know in your head, we've been at the 17 years, right?


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               We know in our head it's only a matter of time before somebody is going to leave. It is what it is.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               It's happened a bunch of times.


Michael:
              We used to be under the illusion that we got to keep all the people we liked forever.


Kathryn:
               Everybody forever.


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               And it just isn't always that way. So we know it in our heads and yet I refuse to not get attached. And so that comes with challenges. So we'd had an employee a couple, three, years ago that Michael and I had done her wedding and then she moved on and it was like, "Wait a second. You're not allowed to leave." We had officiated her wedding. So it's been an interesting thing.


Michael:
              People are going, "What? You officiated?"


Kathryn:
               I know, right? We did.


Michael:
              Remember, we used to be pastors..


Kathryn:
               Yes.


Michael:
              And in the midst of this, they invited us into their lives that much and asked us to do that. So that was really hard when she left. I mean, it was really tough. And just to say out loud for another podcast topic we have to deal with and really talk about the journey of being willing to choose to attach bond in a healthy way to our employees, to our team, especially those that are your direct team.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              It's important.


Kathryn:
               Yep. And always a risk.


Michael:
              So, as we move on.


Kathryn:
               But, so what ended up happening is we had this recent, again, an employee who we'd have come to really care about and plays a good vital role in our company, this great opportunity. And so we're super excited for him, but we're a little sad for us. And yet what that has done for us is it's put us in this position to make some shifts in how we're going to move forward that I think we have known we needed to do.


Michael:
              Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Kathryn:
               And yet we were not forced to do it yet. And this sort of shifting in him leaving put us in a position to go, "Okay, I think we can do this right now."


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And that is a really powerful thing that I think is going to change the face of our company.


Michael:
              Absolutely. Well, it's an opportunity to reevaluate because when it's one person out of 100 employees or 50 employees, there's a momentum that's going with the company that's hard to shift. And in this, it's a lot easier. It's like, oh, remember those science tables where you go to the science fair and stuff and the table, you've got this giant weight on the ground or on the table, and you try and push it and friction is holding you there? But then you turn on the motor underneath and the whole entire table vibrates, and yes, that's me and my thumbs on the table, and all of a sudden you can take that huge rock or weight and with a minimal amount of pressure slide it across the surface. Because it's not sticking to the surface, there's this opportunity for movement and relocating or redirecting your company in a way that there are blessings in it.


Michael:
              As we're talking, I'm thinking about a friend of ours. I'm thinking about Kyle, and Kyle owns another agency on the other side of the country. And I remember having drinks with Kyle in the last few months and we were just sitting there and he was sharing how hard it was because his entire agency was going through a massive shift. He had lost several key clients and at best I could tell it wasn't like he did things to just totally screw up. It was just this confluence of things that happened that all of a sudden tell you that, as much as you think you have control over your world.


Kathryn:
               You are heading into a transition of your own choosing.


Michael:
              Right. And again, how many transitions do we as leaders go in, in our lives?


Kathryn:
               Minimum of 8 to 12.


Michael:
              8 to 12.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              In our career, in our adult life, we go through these significant transitions. It's a little bit of leadership development trivia, but it's really important. And he was going through one of those things and he had also gone from about 9 or 10 employees to 3. So it wasn't the end of their organization. They were revamping everything else. He had just brought on somebody significant that was pretty high powered for their little 9, 10, 11 employee agency and was going to help them, and then all of a sudden they're paired down to 3. And now he's got somebody who's way overqualified to work with him on that and he couldn't figure out why she wasn't leaving. And she's like, "I think this is just one of those seasons where it's really painful and it's really hard and it's really confusing, but I'm choosing to believe it's one of those seasons where we're revamping and changing so that we can be more nimble and we can renegotiate our direction."


Michael:
              And so she's sticking it out.


Kathryn:
               That's really cool.


Michael:
              And he was humbled as we were talking and lost, and at the same time somewhat encouraged because he'd been at it long enough he knew that they were going to make it through it. It was just one of those things.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              And when those client things happen, those are major shifts that you don't have any choice over really sometimes. And I don't care what you say, I used to say this, if you were just better at taking care of your customers, these things wouldn't happen. But sometimes these things happen.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Well, we live in the world of post-campfire Butte County, right? There are businesses that lost their entire business. There are companies that lost clients because that business burned down. I mean, there are things outside our control.


Michael:
              Yeah, and for those of you who might be listening for the first time, we live in Northern California. The campfire is where the town of Paradise burned down completely in 24 hours and we lost over 12,000 homes.


Kathryn:
               14,000.


Michael:
              14,000 Homes in 24 hours and a city, a town, was displaced and that town is 10 minutes away from our hometown. So it radically, in fact, impacted our life and reminded us things happen that you don't expect, you have no control over, and it's just like all of a sudden there's a perfect storm.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Well, and we want to be able to say to you, when there's a perfect storm, sometimes, I'm going to say always ...


Michael:
              Okay.


Kathryn:
               ... there's an opportunity ...


Michael:
              Yes.


Kathryn:
               ... to shift depending on your perspective.


Michael:
              I believe that is. We do believe that.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. And so we had a conversation with somebody just this last week who hopefully will end up becoming a client, but she was sharing a story with us of just an illness that happened that changed everything and forced a shift in their company that was very, very much needed. And just that concept of here's a super high powered guy, very good leader, very strong, but kind of micromanaged and he's willing to talk about that, but kind of micromanaged, and suddenly he got really, really sick.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And suddenly he had no choice but to let his people be client-facing and handle stuff and take care of it for him. And it shifted the organization super positively.


Michael:
              Yeah. As we were talking in that conversation, here's what happened. I believe this happens often. A situation like this happens, they already have some good community. If he had tried to really step back quickly from being more of a micromanager, in a normal situation, it would have caused a lot of confusion, a lot of frustration, and actually because people get trained into it, even though they hate micromanagement, it would've been much harder to figure out what they're supposed to do. But because of his illness, there was a compassion and a desire for people to step up and you can say, "Here's a reason, this is it. It's very clear why we need to step up," and all of a sudden this quick shift, like the rock moving across the vibrating table, was able to happen because of that illness caused this turn, this upturn.


Kathryn:
               Well, and then the wisdom is seeing it's a good thing and not moving it backwards.


Michael:
              Yes.


Kathryn:
               So, even in that situation, there's this, "I would never choose that."


Michael:
              No.


Kathryn:
               No one's ever going to choose being out of commission for 40 days.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And no one's going to choose that fast of a shift.


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               But the amazing thing is, when it happens and your people step up or you have an opportunity to shift things, there is incredible benefit. And I have to remind myself of that because every time somebody wants to shift in our organization, wants to move along, it's like there's just that moment of, "Oh no."


Michael:
              Yeah, absolutely.


Kathryn:
               But then you begin to come back around and eventually you're able to just kind of say, "If that didn't happen back here, we would have never met this person and this person was amazing and they moved our business forward and change things. And if this person never left then we'd never have that person."


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               And there's all of those things that, that again, from a mindset perspective, I have to remember. And part of today is just, let's encourage you that if you're in a hard place in your business or if there are things happening that you don't have control over, what are the opportunities that are presenting themselves in the middle of that?


Michael:
              Okay. So, in this situation, it is that mindset again. We've talked about this on other episodes about mindset being super important and it's becoming more on our radar, so I think we're bringing it up more. But you're talking about a mindset that says, "I need to looking for what the opportunities are in the midst of this." Are you saying we should not grieve in the midst of those times?


Kathryn:
               No. Oh no.


Michael:
              I didn't think you are.


Kathryn:
               Not at all.


Michael:
              But somebody out there is going, "Wait a minute. Either they're thinking to themselves, you're just telling me to buck up."


Kathryn:
               Buck up.


Michael:
              Or they believe you're supposed to buck up and they believe that we're telling them that's all you do is buck up and turn around to the people around you and tell them to buck up. There's a grieving process in the midst of it that also has to happen.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely. Most transitions involve the loss of something.


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               So when you're sun-setting something, even if you chose, we're talking about when you didn't choose, but even if you chose, there's a grieving that happens because you're shifting.


Michael:
              Yes.


Kathryn:
               So what once was isn't going to be. What once provided you a sense of security or a sense of identity in some senses, that thing is removed.


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               And now, I mean, there's a grieving that goes with that.


Michael:
              Yes, yeah.


Kathryn:
               There's just no question. So, definitely, please, if you're not grieving, especially if it's the loss of a person on staff that you have come to really care about, if you're not grieving, some thing's wrong.


Michael:
              So grieving is an important part of emotional intelligence.


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              And now, grieving to some people is this wailing and gnashing of teeth and everything else. Because there's a lot of people who, their idea and how they're defining these words, because it's a fuzzy term, what we're talking about is we're talking about acknowledging your emotions, being willing to accept the fact that when change happens, we go through a process of some frustration.


Kathryn:
               Anger.


Michael:
              Sometimes a little anger.


Kathryn:
               Denial.


Michael:
              Right. Sadness and that kind of stuff. There's four or five stages depending on the research and stuff, but if you look at it, there's four or five stages of grieving. How do I say this? I want to make sure that we're talking about the fact that yes, you need to grieve, but there's a resilience in how well. If it affects you so much that it totally takes you out, it sidelines you, and you're grieving response is disproportionate to the event that happened, then you have to be careful. And like when we talked about in the episode on gratitude recently, we're talking about the issue of, really at some level, a deeper level net, becoming resilient.


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              And resilience is super important in this process because, as we have the right mindset, as we build the right systems, as we walked through not just looking for jobs that we're passionate about, but the Passion and Provision idea and strategy is a holistic model of dealing with people and systems, people in tasks, systems, and procedures and policies and being emotionally intelligent and aware, and then figuring out where people fit as their best selves. So all these different pieces and the systems can make us resilient because when we don't have systems, when everything gets confusing, we don't have something to settle back into, When things are confusing and I know I'm supposed to do this, this, and this, my brain is tossed all over the place, I can focus. Okay, just do these three things and get through the next phase.


Kathryn:
               Stuff in front of you.


Michael:
              Right. Just step, step, step. But also, mindset stuff of having gratitude and having that attitude that these things in front of us, these opportunities, these shift opportunities, are also opportunities to find new solutions, new opportunities, things that maybe never existed before, things that you wanted to change that you couldn't. I know sometimes losing an employee is great because you're like, "We've outgrown the way that position is put together, but that person is really settled in, they're wonderful, I like them." Sometimes not.


Kathryn:
               Most of the time around here.


Michael:
              But most of the time, really positive, you're like, "Okay, I like them, but we've outgrown that position. We need to add it. It's really hard to change," and then they say, "I'm moving on." That did not happen in this situation, for whoever's listening this inside. But you go, "Okay, great. Now are we going to fill that position again?"


Kathryn:
               We have to reinvent.


Michael:
              "Let's take that position and let's totally take it away and let's create a new position. It's going to be more appropriate for where we are in our growth process or our client process," or anything else. Great opportunities, but there's a resilience so that we are not crushed by these moments. Now, we were talking earlier today about the idea that these moments of change come in our business and one of the things is patience and perseverance is another piece on how we deal with these things, if we have patience and we have perseverance, and we have a belief that what we're doing has purpose and that there's gold on the other side. Great story is this guy who was doing treasure hunting and he actually found this mother load of gold bullion that he'd been looking for, but 35 years later. He spent 35 years looking for this treasure that he believed existed.


Michael:
              If he did not believe it existed and he did not have a measure of perseverance, the storms that came, the figurative storms and the literal storms that came over life, he wouldn't have continued to pursue that venture. And that was part of his business and the way he was looking at money. He wasn't just trying to get rich overnight. He clearly did not get rich overnight.


Kathryn:
               Overnight. He got rich all of sudden.


Michael:
              All of a sudden.


Kathryn:
               In 35 years.


Michael:
              Right. And so how do you get through those seasons, because seasons come? Because if you don't have that kind of resilience, you will also give up. And part of that resilience is perseverance and patience, understanding that those things come and go. Part of it is realizing that there's an opportunity there in that kind of resilience. We want you as leaders to be able to thrive and we want the Passion and Provision to continue to grow over time. But we realize business is hard and there's things that happen to all of us, including Kathryn and I. We could sit here for multiple episodes and talk about stories on how all hell broke loose.


Kathryn:
               Things have gone awry.


Michael:
              And it was all good yesterday.


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              And today it sucks swamp water, and all of a sudden we're in a situation that had nothing to do with us. It had nothing to do with our fault. And yet we have to deal with crap for days, weeks, and in some cases folks, we've had to deal with stuff for years, the backlash of decisions that people make sometimes, the things that you have no fricking control over. We have lost leaders. We've lost friends. We've watched marriages implode. We've watched children lose one of their parents and grow up with a frustration and bitterness because of that tension from death and from just divorce. And yet it's a perfect example of these things happen to us and they will in business.


Michael:
              But we want you to see the opportunities, we want to encourage you. Because as a friend of ours said 25 years ago, "You're either going into a storm, you're in a storm, or you're coming out of a storm." And life is kind of like that and I want to throw in there, you also have seasons of peace. But you're going to go into a season of peace, and you're going to come out of a season of peace, and there's this cycle there of moving in and out of storms and the in between.


Kathryn:
               The challenge really is choosing peace in the storm.


Michael:
              Hmm.


Kathryn:
               So there's peace in your circumstances, but when there's a storm in your circumstances, you still have a choice about how you're going to, again, your mindset, choosing optimism, peace, a belief that, yeah, this sucks right now, but there are solutions that I haven't thought of yet and they're going to come when I stopped grieving.


Michael:
              Yeah. Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And we're going to get through this, and to be able to look back and all the times that you have already come through the other side, to be able to say, "Okay, yeah, I have been through hard stuff before. And you know what? It's going to be okay. We're going to be okay."


Michael:
              The other thing that happens in the midst of these shifts is we have an opportunity to look at ourselves to grow.


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              Personally go, "Okay, I may have participated."


Kathryn:
               "How did I contribute?"


Michael:
              Somehow, and most of the time, I mean, often we have contributed somewhat. Even the situations in our life, we chose into those relationships that eventually blew up at some level and while what they did wasn't our fault-


Kathryn:
               Are you saying we're attracted to crazy people?


Michael:
              Well, we definitely were at some season in our life. There was a couple of crazy people. And folks, we just want to encourage you. Many of you have been through hard times, you've been through really challenging times in your business and in your personal life, and those things cross over. And we try and pretend sometimes that they don't. We try and put on a good game face because stuff's got to get done at work and maybe something went crazy in our personal life. We recently talked with a new friend of ours who after 40 years of marriage, their marriage is coming to an end. And we just sat there and listened and grieved with him. And you don't have any control now, but you've got the rest of your life that you have to pay attention to and work through.


Kathryn:
               And unpack your contributions.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              And two things about leadership development that are really important. We have an inner game and an outer game and this inner game is really important for us to watch and listen to. And when we come into these moments they are often transition moments where we have an opportunity to look inward and really grow. And if there are things that we need to learn that we don't, then we may come out of this storm but we will somehow find our way into the next storm. We'll have the same lessons we need to learn. And until we figure out some of those lessons, we can't get out of these situations. And so many business leaders, us included, we have created certain storms in our companies and in our lives because we haven't done the hard work to really learn and be self-reflective and I will tell you if you're asking how to do that, a really good leadership coach is important.


Michael:
              We do leadership coaching with certain leaders and it's not something we do all the time as a major part of our business, but we do it as a regular part. We are coaching leaders. We are also getting ourselves coached.


Kathryn:
               Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Michael:
              Because we believe in the power of coaching and the reflection of it at work and in our own personal lives. But we just want to encourage you, you can get through these things and you can recover from them. I was talking to a leader in New York City recently and I was having one of those side conversations. It was a real gift. It was an opportunity. I didn't expect it. It turned into a great half-hour conversation where here we are two leaders and nobody's talking to us, nobody's bugging us, and we're just getting to know each other. And I was sharing part of our journey that was similar to his, because he'd been a pastor too and he was now in marketing.


Kathryn:
               It's a trend.


Michael:
              It's a trend.


Kathryn:
               It's a very slow growing, small trend, but it's a trend.


Michael:
              And he was able to say, "I haven't worked through some of those things that you've worked through." Now, I'm 20 years older, 18 years older, but he hasn't worked through them all yet. And I wanted to say, "You can. Be optimistic, be encouraged, but you have to be intentional." Kind of a heavy subject today. This podcast, this episode's taken a little bit of a turn on that. But we want to be authentic. We want to be real when we're talking about stuff and places where it rips up your heart. We've been there. You and I both sat across tables from leaders with a beer in our hand.


Kathryn:
               Or a glass of whiskey.


Michael:
              And just being able to say, "Tell me your story. I get it, I understand, and I want to hear." Because sometimes just talking to somebody else that's another leader is super helpful. And we're in this journey. We are not meant to do it alone, folks. We're not meant to go through this life alone and we're not meant to be in business alone. And strangely enough, business isolates us as leaders. And that's one of our desires in our hearts as we equip leaders to build and grow Passion and Provision companies. You're either thinking about starting a company, you want your company to become a Passion and Provision company and you realize it's not. Or you realize these are all your core values, you've just never called it Passion and Provision. And we want to be able to encourage you. And the HaBO Village is a place where you can come along and build a community. And we just want to say that we get it and we want you to be a part of our community here and we just appreciate you and we want to cheer you on.


Michael:
              And if there's opportunities for us to talk with you, to answer questions, whether do meet ups around the country or you just send in an email, especially to information at habovillage.com. We would love to hear from you and just encourage you. We just really want do that. This is the reality of HaBO Village Podcast. This is where we're going. We take this journey, we do it together. Kathryn and I just want to be real and honest and talk about these things and take the lessons we've learned that have helped us survive and thrive and share them with you. So for HaBO Village Podcast.


Kathryn:
               I am Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And we would love it if you would like us.


Michael:
              Hit subscribe.


Kathryn:
               Hit subscribe on Apple Podcast.


Michael:
              Podcast.


Kathryn:
               I'm going to call it iTunes until I'm 89.


Michael:
              No, you're not.


Kathryn:
               Apple Podcast. Why do things change?


Michael:
              So, with that long tail on the end, thank you, have a great day. We'll talk to you later.


Kathryn:
               Bye.


Michael:
              Bye.