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The Legacy of a Great Leader [Podcast]

Episode 83: Michael and Kathryn open up about the passing of their friend and mentor, and talk about the impact of his legacy. If you are wondering how your work will leave an encouraging legacy for the next generation, then give this episode a listen.

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In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover Michael and Kathryn's personal business journey and how it was impacted by legacy.
  • Find out why intentional community-building and mentoring plays a significant part in leaving a legacy.
  • Learn what legacy has to do with the Passion & Provision business strategy.
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you."
– Shannon L. Alder

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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 dedicated to small business leaders who want to build companies full of passion and provision or profit and joy that actually have profit purpose and legacy built into it so that you are actually enjoying what you're doing as you build your company. That it's fulfilling at heart.


Michael:
              And today we're going to talk about legacy. Legacy is a real key factor to us. It's a fuzzy term. Some people think, "Okay, what is it? How does it work?" You ask 10 people, you might get 10 different answers. But I think once we start talking about how we define it, you're going to go, "Yep, that sounds familiar. And yeah, I get that. That makes sense."


Michael:
              The first thing about legacy that's real important to talk about, really, is the idea that a legacy can be a good legacy or a bad legacy, can't it?


Kathryn:
              It absolutely can.


Michael:
              And there's plenty of people who leave a mark on this world that's not a positive mark. Their legacy has been, throughout history, of maybe crime or destruction or death. And we're not talking about that kind of legacy. We want to leave a positive legacy, a legacy that is incredibly powerful. And there's no other way to jump into this and forgive us for this getting maybe a little heavy and intense today-


Kathryn:
              I can do this part.


Michael:
              ... because this episode may be a little heavy. Go ahead Kathryn.


Kathryn:
              Yeah. We're coming into this episode this morning, just processing the loss of someone very, very dear in our lives who has been a client and a friend and ...


Michael:
              Mentor.


Kathryn:
              Mentor. And we've mentioned him on several different occasions and stories. But our dear friend Doug Hignell passed away. And we are sad this morning. It is a great loss. We're happy for him because he's free from pain and that is a great gift but sad for his family and we're sad. We are going to miss him greatly.


Michael:
              Yeah. And it's important to say that this wasn't an accident. Doug has been suffering with brain cancer for quite some time and fighting the good fight of cancer. And it just ... it was time. It was finally near the end. And as many of you know, we're Christians. And Doug is a Christian, has a very strong Christian faith and was just excited to go be with Jesus, go to heaven.


Kathryn:
              Absolutely.


Michael:
              And so that was an incredibly important thing. A man that just ... he loved. well. We're going to talk about legacy today in the context of, really, a lot of things that Doug left us and the community that we're part of. Because really-


Kathryn:
              There's probably nobody in Chico, at least that's been here for any length of time, that doesn't know the Hignell companies.


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
              It's a big company. It's been around.


Michael:
              In our city it's quite a successful company. It's been around-


Kathryn:
              What? Since 1948 is when it was first started.


Michael:
              Correct.


Kathryn:
              There's well over a thousand or more homes in this town that were built by the Hignell companies early on. They've just been a big part of our community for a very, very long time.


Michael:
              Yeah. Well and when we first started in the company, they had a Bible study on Mondays at lunch. And we would go over there for business folks who wanted to go over and pray and hang out and-


Kathryn:
              Just getting.


Michael:
              ... and really get encouraged. I mean it was a time of prayer and a time of encouragement. We spent about a half hour talking and updating each other on our lives and doing things like that. And in the early days of starting Half a Bubble Out, we were kind of clueless. We had a lot of skills and everything else, but running a business is not something we had done successfully at that point. And we were like, "Okay." We were muddling our way through


Kathryn:
              Very much. We were very much muddling. And one of the things that we so appreciated about Doug was that he was not just about building his own business. He was not just about building his own kingdom, so to speak. He was about making sure that he poured into other leaders and that he cared well for how other people developed. He had a lot of business experience. I mean I think he had two MBAs. A Stanford business MBA.


Michael:
              He has a PhD.


Kathryn:
              And a PhD.


Michael:
              From Stanford.


Kathryn:
              I mean he's a super, super smart guy and he had been in business a long time. And so for him to just kind of take us under his wing and basically just pour into us and encourage us in our journey was really important.


Michael:
              Yeah. As we were kind of prepping for this morning, some of the things that were great quotes. I love quotes. They make me think a lot more deeply about stuff. This is one of the quotes that stood out to us is "Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you." I mean, and when we talk about legacy folks, we're talking about the positive things. We're not talking about necessarily leaving wealth and business or buildings or all that kind of stuff. While at times those are powerful things, they can benefit others in many ways, but a lot of times what we're talking about when it comes to legacy is those things that are left in the minds and hearts of people. They're stories that can be retold that are life giving. They are the things that "Did you help the next generation move forward? Did you help them step into something better?"


Michael:
              And if you can, if you can say that, if that's part of your legacy, if you did stuff that helped the next generation, whatever it is, whether you're leaving your company and retiring, selling your company or whatever, or your just leaving this life and life is over, it's come to an end, what are those things that people will say about you that help them be better? That help them be more successful? That help them move the needle farther in life? Whether it's caring for others or whether it's just investing?


Michael:
              I mean, one of the things that ... we've told the story a little bit but I think it's worth telling again. When we were early on and Hignell companies have been a client of ours for about 14 years. We have been in business for over 17 years. Thus three year that they were not our client. And in those three years there was things like that prayer group Bible study that we were a part of on Monday or Tuesdays at lunch.


Kathryn:
              Well, and even in that three years that they weren't a client, they bought into the documentary. And that was before they were a client.


Michael:
              Well, and they did. They purchased. They saw things that we were doing that they valued and believed in.


Kathryn:
              They helped sponsor us./.


Michael:
              Not just random beliefs in who we were, but they actually believed in the quality of what we did and the quality of our product. So we did a documentary. Many of you don't know about that. And we did that a long time ago. And they were one of our key investors in that that allowed us to really ... it gave us a nice stepping stool for who we were and our ability to tell stories and communicate and even prove that we could make things financially viable in the early days. And larger projects financially viable.


Michael:
              The other thing that happened with them was the day that things were really tight, we were struggling with having enough business coming in. We're married. We have a household. Everything is riding on us. There's no second income in our household. And we've got a daughter at home. And they walked in one day and just said ... Doug had said they had talked, Phil and Doug. Phil's the CEO and president of the company. And they said, "We've talked and we want to give you this check." And they gave us a check for $1,000.


Kathryn:
              "We're not sure what you do, but we're pretty sure you're going to do something great for us."


Michael:
              Yeah. We were so bad at communicating what we did at those days that they didn't even know-


Kathryn:
              We were still trying to figure it out.


Michael:
              They didn't even know ... like, "We don't know what you do exactly, but we know you're going to do something for us and we know you can and ..." And I think that quickly led us into working on their yellow page ads.


Kathryn:
              Yes. That was the very first thing we did. We redesigned all their yellow page ad.


Michael:
              Back in the day.


Kathryn:
              This was 2006.


Michael:
              2006 in the rural part of California.


Kathryn:
              Right.


Michael:
              So the internet was not prolific yet. Bandwidth was definitely not anything to shake a stick at in most places in the country unless you lived in the big city. So that was amazing. It was like ... okay, these are stories that this happened 15 years ago. Those are things that are left on our minds and stories about how they helped and how Doug helped. And Doug was a very educated man, but he never ever, ever used the PhD in his title ever. He didn't like any of the letters. He loved the education. But he didn't like the letters. And he was smart and he was wealthy. And he had tons of things going on. He's old enough to be our dad.


Michael:
              Gosh, there's a story years and years and years and years ago, probably 20 years ago. It was before all this stuff, the Bible study and everything else and before they moved into their new building. You may remember this. But I looked at this guy. He was a member of our church too. And like all really good immature people do, they look at people who are successful and they get jealous. And I was a really good and mature person at that point in my life.


Kathryn:
              No comment. Reserving thoughts. Edit. Edit. Edit.


Michael:
              I was so immature. And I looked at this guy who was well respected and had all the things that I dreamed of and wanted and everything else. And I knew he had a reputation of being a good guy. And I had met him a few times and talked to him a little bit. But I didn't know him very well. And I can remember thinking, "I'm sure you're a good guy, but you're a jerk." And you know what? When you're jealous or you think somebody a successful person who's not cool, you come up with all kinds of reasons. You don't say, "I'm jealous."


Kathryn:
              No. It's never you. It's always about them.


Michael:
              You come up with all good reasons about, "It's them and I actually have all my crap together." So I was actually encouraged by some friends to go meet with him and talk with him. In the midst of this weird season where I was wrestling with my own identity. I was still in school. We had left our career and I was back. And it's like, everything that I wanted to do was a dream. Nothing was even tangible yet. I was having a mini little crisis about woe is me and if I'm ever going to become anything. And I went to meet him. I actually called and I was able to schedule a meeting with him. He was running the company at the time and had the corner office and the whole bit. And I walked in and he was so kind and he was so gracious. And he wanted to know about me and he didn't care if I knew about him. He wasn't trying to tell me a bunch of stories about him and his greatness and his awesomeness. And I walked out of that place no longer being jealous of him because I was like, "You're not a jerk."


Kathryn:
              Yeah. Not at all.


Michael:
              He just wanted me to be the best me I could be.


Kathryn:
              Yeah. Well and one of the things that's been so interesting watching him and really the power of the legacy is that he has been building his legacy, as we all are, for a very, very long time. Right?


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
              And so one of the things we got to work through ... obviously we've developed our relationship with them over the years. They're one of our best clients. I mean we've gone from doing their yellow pages to managing everything about their marketing. Five websites. Multiple ad campaigns. They're very at ...


Michael:
              We went from being those kids, "We don't know what you do" to becoming massively trusted partners in their business.


Kathryn:
              Yeah. And it's just been a wonderful partnership. But along the way, one of the things that we got to do was really help him articulate and then put together his values. I mean he knew what his values were, but to be able to organize them in a way that he could communicate those really, really effectively. And the tagline of the of the entire company sums up a lot of what Doug's values have been, which is "Creating caring communities." Wherever he goes and whatever business he is, whether we're building apartment complexes or property management or coming into your house to repair something because there's a maintenance division or building a home. I mean, all of those things, his goal is to ensure that relationally there is a lot of caring and honor and respect that's going on between the different folks that are working together in his company. As well as with each customer and the residents that live in his properties and stuff.


Michael:
              The last 25, 30 years of his life was ... maybe even the last 40 years of his life were really dedicated to continuing to grow and learn how to deal with his own crap and be less of a jerk.


Kathryn:
              But you said he wasn't a jerk.


Michael:
              Well in his own words. To know his own stuff. Right?


Kathryn:
              Right.


Michael:
              Because I didn't think he was a jerk but then you get to know any of us and we have our issues. And his bristly points were Doug liked to get stuff done now and Doug liked to have a lot of control. And Doug would have been the first one to say, he does regularly, "I have been learning more and more how not to be controlling."


Kathryn:
              Yeah. And that's one of our favorite things about him because when we talk about leadership development and we talk about how important it is that you are working on what we call the outer game as well as the inner game, he was constantly learning. There was always three new books and he was passing those out to his leadership team. I think that leadership team, as a team, have probably read more leadership books than maybe any other company team I've ever come across. He and Phil both.


Michael:
              And he and Phil both are avid readers.


Kathryn:
              They're avid readers and really always looking at "How do we improve? How do we get better? How do we retrain our thinking? How do we become more efficient or more caring?" I mean there's just been this ongoing culture of learning that he has developed and that Phil has partnered with him in in the last 17 ish years. It's just been really fun to watch them, as a company further down the line than we are, and how their world helps mentor and inform our world even while we're helping them be successful. It's been just a really powerful thing.


Kathryn:
              And Doug, one of the things that always made me smile, and this was one of my favorite stories about Doug and the way that he cared for us as a company and as a couple and stuff, was we were heading into the recession. It was coming. It was hard. Things were rough. And we were doing marketing for them. And we're in one of their C-suite meetings with them and he's sitting next to me. And just quietly under his breath, he leans over to me and he says, "You know, Kathryn." Starts out like that. "You know, Kathryn."


Michael:
              With a very ... sparkle in his eye. Yeah. Because I'm across the desk and I can sort of see this happening, but I don't know exactly what he's saying.


Kathryn:
              No idea what the contact is. So he, "You know, Kathryn, this is going to be a hard season coming up and I don't know that we're going to have a lot of marketing dollars. So things are going to get really hard." And I was like, "Yeah, yeah." And he said, "And that will impact you guys. But ..." And I said, "But?" He goes, "But we're launching this new software project, like different budget. Here, different pocket. We're launching the software budget. And I know you used to sell software and I know you used to project manage and we need a project manager. And I think that you are the person for that. So I'm going to suggest to you that we talk more about that and that you say yes to that." And you know what? It wasn't really a suggestion. It was Doug saying, "This is what I need you to do for us." But it was also his way of saying, "We care and we want to stay connected to you, and I'm not sure if there's going to be enough marketing dollars, so let's find a different bucket."


Kathryn:
              And it was so interesting to me to just, first of all have him trust me with that, which I did. And it was a good season for us. But also to just have him be so kind in it. And still very Doug. Very much like, "I've had a thought and it's a really good thought and you need to pay attention to my thought."


Michael:
              Doug was the king of instant thoughts and he was just as open to changing his opinion and his mind quickly if-


Kathryn:
              If proven wrong.


Michael:
              Well, if the winds blew away. Yeah. And as we continue to talk about legacy, you'll notice, folks, and I want to draw your attention. These stories are ... I mean our friend passed away last night, but we can sit here and tell stories because we're at a loss because he's gone. I get a little [inaudible 00:16:54] on this one. But we're not. Our lives are full and better because of him and ...


Kathryn:
              Our lives are completely different because of his willingness to invest and care.


Michael:
              Yeah. He was one of those people in our lives who radically did something and he did it through his maturity and his growth and his personal touch. But the vehicle, the connection point in the midst of it, that's super important for us is it was through his business. Yeah, he did other things outside of the business, but this is a man who started a business. His dad started the company over 70 years ago. Then his dad did a bunch of stuff, retired, shut the whole thing down, and Doug went away to college. Doug got his PhD, came back and said, "Dad, I would like to start the company up again, new company, and I'd like you to be my partner and let's do it together." And instead of doing a bunch of development, they did some development, but let's do property management and let's do a bunch of other things and let's do all this.


Michael:
              And eventually the verbiage around that became "Creating a caring community." That was one of Doug's things. He had a core purpose. Out of all of this stuff, out of doing services, HVAC and plumbing and electrical, that were started to take care of their properties but also to help them control costs. A very shrewd, wise positioning. And then they started offering those services to the community. And so they were putting themselves in a better position. He was wise business wise and they made a lot of great decisions. They did a lot of really good shrewd stuff as they built a company based on values and based on people and based on family. And they were a family owned business.


Michael:
              But this is a guy who, he started a business basically at scratch and they grew it. And they grew it to be healthy and several hundred people working there and creating community. It was always about ... and as he grew older it became more clear to him that, "I'm doing all of this, not just to have a check, not just to build wealth, not just to build an empire." And Doug would say in the beginning that's probably what he was doing with his cool Corvette and his lifestyle and everything else and being all awesome in his late twenties and being successful. And then in his early thirties. I guess he probably ... I mean we were really young. But he was probably one of those punk rich kids who's in their twenties and doing really, really well and got all the money.


Kathryn:
              I don't remember that.


Michael:
              Well the way he tells it. He would tell stories. He's told me a few stories and the Corvette sticks out in my mind. But it became this core purpose of his. His vision became clearer and clearer and clearer. And the clearer his vision became about his organization, it actually allowed him to build his legacy. And if we can switch a little bit into just some instructional kind of conversation here. When we talk about passion provision companies and we talk about the core elements, we've all practiced these core elements that are so critical. And Doug and the Hignell companies are companies that are part of that for us. They're part of our community that is where we continued to believe, as we looked around us, that the values that we had for our company, Half a Bubble Out, and the values that ... we had other peers around us that had similar beliefs and similar ideas and similar values. And it was, I think, out of that community that birthed much of Passion and Provision. And that was just kind of the way we were seeing it and articulating it


Kathryn:
              Yeah. It's amazing how with them, we got to work on helping them flesh out that stuff and then figure out how they were communicating it to their employees and create cool assets. And all that while, it's noodling our thinking on how we run our own business. And so there was this really fun hand-off, in some ways, of not only believing that Passion and Provision is real, and we weren't using those words then.


Michael:
              No.


Kathryn:
              But this is real. You can actually change lives through your business, right?


Michael:
              Totally.


Kathryn:
              You can impact people. You can create value and meaning and purpose. You can have employees that love being a part of your company. You can even launch employees into a new season in their life. I mean, there's several businesses in town that are run by people who used to work for Doug. Right? And there's no animosity. They're friends and he has encouraged them and helped them along. There's just such an impact.


Michael:
              Yeah. Well, and it's funny because one of those leaders, he worked and started learning the business of property management and development over at the Hignell companies. And then he left the Hignell companies and went and started his company in that area and became a direct competitor. And over the last, I don't know, umpteen years, on and off, they've all been in Bible studies together. Small groups together.


Kathryn:
              Who does that?


Michael:
              Right?


Kathryn:
              That is a really interesting example of there's enough fish in the sea. There's room for more than one of us. That's Doug's heart. That's been Doug's heart and Phil's heart. And it's just interesting to have that modeled and to watch that. And it has affected how I think about my friends in town who are competitors, right? When I see my friend at the gym who's a direct competitor, I don't have animosity. I'm like, "Dude, I hope you're doing great." You know? Even that modeling is part of the legacy that I think matters so much for you to be healthy in business and to be a good leader.


Michael:
              Yeah. And so often we want to talk about, on this podcast and in the HaBO Village community that's developing, we want to be making sure that we're continuing to be real tangible and tactical and we're going to be more tactical about legacy and allow you to have some checkpoints on what is it? How are we doing? Kind of assess yourself.


Michael:
              But today really is more about us talking about what that is because we've experienced the legacy of a friend. We've experienced what we know a good legacy looks like. We have been the direct recipients of good legacy.


Kathryn:
              In business.


Michael:
              In business. And one that we're all proud to say, "Yeah, that's another one of our friends who has done it and done it well." And we're fortunate folks. And part of it, and this podcast is and the HaBO village website and the HaBO village course and the HaBO village community that's going to start growing, it's all about us wanting to make sure that we're being really good stewards of what we've been able to experience. We have learned to do this. We have experienced all these great things because of community we're in, because of opportunities we've had to have great mentors, to have great friends, to have these values shown to us when we were younger in our business and in our lives. The idea that we've been able to successfully weather the storms and make a Passion and Provision company and have Passion and Provision life. Where you look at our relationships and they're all healthy and vibrant. Our relationship with our daughter, with each other. And those are the things that we want for you and we want to be able to give you opportunities to hear the stories, to have the examples, to have the lessons, to be taught and even coached at that level because we want to make sure that you get to experience this.


Michael:
              We want to give this away. This stuff is no good to us if we just hold onto it. And there's plenty to go around. There's plenty of business to go around. There's plenty of knowledge and there's no reason to hoard any of it. And so we share all these because we know from experience, talking to a lot of small business owners, that they don't have this community around them. We were really fortunate in our city and in the last two cities we've been, to have a lot of peers around us that exhibit this community value and what does that look like? And we want to continue to encourage it. And many of you probably have some kind of community around you and we want to do whatever we can to just to cheer you on, equip you, resource you. And that's the goal. That's the heart.


Michael:
              And hopefully you're hearing that heart today in the stories we're telling. And you can hear those stories as examples of things that you might think about implementing or holding up as a light. A friend of ours has a great quote. He says, "People need to see a way before they can find their way." And the stories today about Doug Hignell are-


Kathryn:
              A way.


Michael:
              A way. An example of a way that is valuable and admirable and left such a great legacy in so many people's lives. The stories would fill volumes. And that is an example of what's possible. And to also do that and have a very, very, very successful company. You can do this. You can totally do this. Whatever stage of business you're in, whether you're newer or whether you've been at this awhile and you need to be reinvigorated, re-encouraged, and refueled for the next section and season of your journey. That's our goal here. And hopefully that's it. This way and these stories will help you find your way to do what it is that your best self.


Michael:
              Kathryn and I were talking about this yesterday or ... I think it was yesterday at lunch. Just talking about somebody she was coaching and how much ... it was so fun to see because you were so excited about working with somebody who's doing stuff, who's involved in leadership, and engaged and wants to become her best self and wants to discover, at this point life, what's her best self? So she can figure out where to make those contributions and how to do it. And it's just fun.


Michael:
              So we had those hopes and dreams for this community and for you and we delight when you are excited and you tell a story. We would like to hear any success stories, any value that you've gotten. You help encourage us and fuel us forward to do that. And if today has been of any value to you at all, we ask a couple of things. Hit subscribe in iTunes. It'd be great. Tell some friends to hit subscribe in iTunes. And then from there, leave any comments on our website, HubbleVillage.com under podcast. You'll find today's show notes. And you can leave a comment. Leave a thought. Leave a question. We'd love to hear from you. A story about how a legacy, either this podcast has impacted you positively or somebody in your own life that has left a positive legacy that's helped you become the better version of yourself and that kind of stuff. Do you want to say anything at the end of this?


Kathryn:
              I'm just so grateful for the examples that we have in our lives. Doug isn't the only one. He's just very high on our mind today as we just honor and think about him. Gary Vaynerchuk, of all people, he's got a big following. But he says something. I'm not going to quote it perfectly. But he basically says about legacy, "I wish people would think about their legacy. They're writing it every day." And I love that because legacy is not future. Legacy is now. Legacy is daily. Legacy is the memories and the thoughts and the impressions that you're having on people. And there's nothing more powerful than to have it said of you that you left a room better than you found it.


Michael:
              Yeah. Yeah that's beautiful.


Michael:
              Thank you for joining us today. We hope you've been encouraged. Thank you for letting us share our stories about our friend who is awesome. The world will be a little-


Kathryn:
              A little less bright.


Michael:
             A little less bright because of it, and is left a little bit more bright because of the things he did. Take care. Have a great day. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
             And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And this is the HaBO Village podcast. We hope that you have a fantastic week. Take care.


Kathryn:
              Bye.