Michael: HaBO Village Podcast. Episode one.
Michael: Welcome to the premiere episode of HaBO Village. This show is dedicated to helping business leaders like you grow profitable and fulfilling companies, and we call that passion and provision. That's where companies and the people in them thrive and experience life to the fullest.
Michael: Again, welcome to the HaBO Village premiere episode. I'm Michael Redman and this is my co-host...
Kathryn: Kathryn Redman.
Michael: We're partners and yes, we're married. We're business partners for 14 years now.
Kathryn: Married for almost 23.
Michael: Almost 23. We're learning and we're going to learn a lot more about how to do this thing called a podcast together, but we're pretty excited. I'm excited.
Kathryn: I'm excited.
Michael: Okay, so we want to just talk about why we started this podcast, since this is the premiere one and let you know, gosh, do you even want to continue listening to this thing? Is it worth your time? I hope it is. We have a saying around the office, “It's not help unless it's perceived as help.” So we're hoping you perceive this as helpful.
Kathryn: We know your time is valuable.
Kathryn: We want to make sure that we offer helpful and hopefully a little bit of encouraging and maybe even some entertaining information along the way.
Michael: Probably what you should know is that we have again been in business 14 years in a company that's in advertising and marketing firm called Half a Bubble Out and we do business consulting also. We started the company as a company that just did traditional marketing and advertising. We started in the spare bedroom, we moved to the converted garage, then we moved to the office that we've been in for... how long have we been here?
Kathryn: Eight, nine years.
Michael: Eight, nine years, [crosstalk 00:01:51]
Kathryn: As you probably guessed, HaBO is an acronym for Half a Bubble Out. We really wanted HBO, but, I don't know, somehow those folks at Home Box Office would not let us have it.
Michael: Darn copyright trademark stuff. Okay, so, HaBO Village. Why HaBO Village? Well, first, like Kathryn just said, HABO is an acronym and village is a metaphor, if you will, for community. One of the things that we've learned over the years that is deeply dear to our heart, is a concept called passion and provision that we'll talk about a little bit more, but really what we mean by passion and provision is having a profitable, successful company that's thriving financially. The financials, the bottom line, the balance sheet, it all looks good. It's growing.
Michael: But it is easy to do that and hate your job. It's easy to do that and have a culture that sucks the life out of people. We're just against that. There's these things called... well, we talk about it like this, there is toil and labor. Have you ever thought about it like that? You know what toil is? You're just toiling away. Most people think about that. And labor is really the healthy version of what that means. Because we all have to work and there's actually good for our self-dignity and our self-identity and the way we contribute to our community through work. That's a really positive thing we believe.
Michael: But when it comes to work that just sucks the life out of you and work that gives you life, we believe that the difference there is labor versus toil.
Kathryn: An easy way to understand toil, it's the idea of you dig a hole and you move all the dirt over to one side and then your boss comes the next day and tells you to fill the hole back in. Then you're digging the hole and you're filling it back in. That sense of just purposeless repetition, boredom, that meaningless place where you're just... there's nothing fulfilling or life-giving and hopeful about where you are in your job situation or what you're doing. Or even as we've experienced, because 14 years in business, it has not all been peaches and cream.
Michael: No it's not. It's been tough.
Kathryn: There have been seasons in our business where I did not come to work. Excuse me, I didn't want to come to work. I did come to work, but I didn't want to because we had the wrong people and suddenly this company we had started to give us life and to give us a different way of doing life and a culture that we wanted just wasn't working. There was misery and pain involved in that. That can also become toil.
Kathryn: So, we have a huge passion in the midst of everything we're going to talk about over the next months and weeks and years, or however long we do this, to understand the importance of culture in having a thriving place. We talk about passion and provision, we're talking about that sense of doing something that I care about, being somebody who's contributing and I understand my role and my contribution. Then, also having that be a profitable environment, so that you're meeting your needs, that's the provision part, and you're actually feeling like you're contributing 51 percent or more of the time. Because we realize that you can't all be something wonderful.
Michael: Absolutely. And the village part really lends itself or comes out of that community and culture, where we realize that, look, none of us does it on our own. This podcast is specifically focused for leaders of companies, small and medium sized businesses that have employees or you think you're going to have employees. We are very supportive of one man operations or one woman operations, those can be really gratifying for people and we have some friends that do that.
Michael: But what we're focused on and the type of clients that actually come to Half A Bubble Out and we work with are companies that have payroll. That they actually know the deal when it comes to making payroll. We have a team that's under 10 people at Half A Bubble Out. We know what it's like to make payroll twice a month.
Kathryn: Or not. Depending on the day.
Michael: That challenge... have we ever missed a payroll?
Kathryn: We have never missed a payroll.
Michael: Okay, so just so she's not insinuating to all of you that we miss payroll sometimes or all the time. We don't. You know what you're going to hear? You're going to hear the struggle that Kathryn and I go through as partners and as a married couple of what is it like to be optimistic and sometimes let pessimism sneak in and take a hold. What does that look like to just challenge yourself, because it's easy for all of us to lose our joy in the midst of it and lose our ability have vision and hope for what's happening tomorrow and the positive side of that.
Kathryn: Absolutely. I think it's important, at least from a background perspective, to understand that at least for me, I grew up working in businesses and doing a little bit of retail, some food service, that kind of stuff. But I didn't start out wanting to be an entrepreneur. I didn't even realize I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body until my dear darling husband here wanted to start a company and was absolutely passionate about me working with him.
Kathryn: I have referred to myself for a long time as a reluctant entrepreneur. I am all-in, but it has been quite a journey for me. Because business wasn't what I was chasing, I had no education in business. I didn't take business classes. I didn't take accounting classes. I mean, nothing business-related. I was a psychology major for crying out loud. Nothing further from business than, I don't know, just classes and people, very helpful. But when it came to just running a business and the business principles and accounting, I had none of that.
Kathryn: We stepped initially just the two of us and said between the two of us, we had to cover all the bases of running a business. When we move forward in this podcast and we talk about the nine areas of business and the lessons that we learned the hard way that we're hoping to help maybe prevent you from having to learn the hard way by setting you up differently, that's part of our heart too. We really want to make sure that we're passing along the things that we learned just by having to do them. Then, as people came along and spoke into our lives and shared their different resources and stuff, it was like, gosh, I just wish I had known that when I started.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. It's funny. As we talk right now in this initial podcast, really what we wanted to do is make sure that you have a feel for who Kathryn and Michael Redman are. Who are these people that you're listening to right now and do you want them to be part of your life on an occasional or hopefully a regular basis? What is this idea of HaBO Village? Can you help you as a leader? Can it help your business? Yes, it can.
Michael: Let me just speak that out real quick here. We know how to help businesses. We know how to help leaders. There are many things that we've done successfully over the years. We've been involved in a lot of leadership development and a lot of coaching. We do that in our business on a regular basis. And a lot of strategic consulting and implementation. We look at the whole picture. We work with clients, we work with nonprofits and for-profits. We work with companies that have up to a thousand employees, which is actually our largest client, but on an average we have clients that have under 300 employees.
Michael: We understand that market space and we also understand not only that space, but the small companies of under 20 employees. There's different dynamics and everything. Yes, you're all doing business. Yes, you all have to make a profit. There are some things that no matter what size you are are similar challenges and similar fundamentals you've got to learn and grow your skills in. But then there are some nuances and differences.
Michael: Real quick, just so you know, Kathryn shared a little bit about who she is. One of the things that's real important, and you'll learn more and more about us, but Kathryn and I actually didn't start in business this way. I've always been an entrepreneur. My first business that I remember, if you read our blog you'll see some stuff like this, but I remember being given, at five or six years old, a Bugs Bunny shoe shine kit. It was plastic and it was all green. It looked like grass, then the top where there was this plastic carrot, that's where you put the foot, the shoe, and then you polish it up and everything else. I went down to the local... she's laughing at me right now.
Kathryn: I'm laughing because I'm thinking to myself, if the internet had been in operation and Vistaprint had been alive, he would have created a business card for this.
Michael: I would have. And we'll talk about that in a minute. Anyway, I took this and my parents and I when I was little, we lived around the corner from a little mini-mart store. It was actually a liquor store, but in the early seventies, it was in a small town and you got soda there and candy there and beer and wine. So, kids could go to it, and I would go down three blocks away as a six year old and you could do that in our hometown when we were there, back in those days, and I would stand in front of the liquor store, waiting for people to come by, asking if they wanted their shoes shined. Well, it didn't last long and I don't quite remember if I had one or two or three customers and then somebody put their foot on the carrot and it broke.
Michael: But what that did is it started a serial entrepreneur kind of thing. I always had a business. In high school, I owned my own business and that's how I made my extra money. Did lawns and swimming pools. There was always things and I was jumping from thing to thing looking for what was that thing that I wanted to do. Actually what happened was, Kathryn and I had known each other for years, and someday we'll tell you that story.
Michael: When we got married in our mid-twenties, we actually became pastors, which is a unique thing about us. You're not going to hear a lot about that on this podcast, unless people start asking questions. We don't mind answering those, but there was a sense of what we learned working in churches is a lot about coaching people, a lot about teaching and education, a lot about leadership development in people and helping people see who they can be and how to get there. Then what we also learned was a lot about non-profits. We took that and made some detours in life and I went back to college at 30 and at 34 we started Half A Bubble Out, doing marketing and business, because we had a lot of experience in different places in different ways like that.
Kathryn: And I did have the opportunity while Michael was in school, I worked at a significantly sized company selling public sector software to city and county governments, non-profits. It was accounting and payroll software.
Michael: How long did you do that for?
Kathryn: I worked at the company on and off for about seven and half, eight years, and I was in the implementation world, and then I moved into sales. So that was my first exposure to negotiating contracts and really understanding even just lead generation and the methodology that we used for lead generation and how important it was to have somebody inside the organization that you were trying to pitch who was your coach on the inside and all of those tools and techniques that came with selling very large ticket, million, sometimes multi-million dollar projects for city and county governments. That was a really great experience that did position in business in a very different way than my graduate degree in New Testament theology.
Michael: One of the things, it's important, let's give a shout-out, the company that hired you became a significant part of our learning and growth process actually in the early years, called Bi-Tech Software, which is now Sungard Software.
Kathryn: Sungard Public Sectors, I think is their name now.
Michael: Now, it was started by two people who are near and dear to us, Gary and Judy Sitton. They started this company out of their home 35 years ago, 40 years ago, something like that.
Kathryn: Yeah, he was a professor at Chico State and had written a software program.
Michael: What they did when we came in, what we came to was a company of about 200 employees that was selling nationally and a little bit outside the country. Well, they were selling to Samoa.
Kathryn: American Samoa, so not technically international.
Michael: American Samoa. But I always like to think of Samoa. I mean, it's in the middle of the Pacific, for crying out loud.
Kathryn: Well, so is Hawaii and they are still American.
Michael: Yeah, well, that's true. Okay. They were selling, and they were a big company and they had big dollars and when we came along, they were being sold to Sungard after all these years and Gary and Judy were staying around in a five year transition, I believe that's what it was. But what we came across was a company that had really big balance sheets that had a lot of employees that really needed to be successful and they were. And yet, there was a community and a culture in that company-
Kathryn: Like a family almost.
Michael: It was. It was huge. And we watched people over the eight, ten years we were involved with them while you were working their Kathryn, we watched people come and go. Sometimes there's seasons in life, it was time for them to leave Bi-Tech and they would go away, but then they would come back and they were welcomed with open arms many times. We did life together. We watched people get married. We watched children born. We did funerals together. We did life together. We were there to support one another. Kathryn worked there, but it was the type of place that as a husband, as a spouse of an employee, I felt every bit as connected to that company.
Michael: When we talk about HaBO Village, you're thinking, "Why are they talking about this?" But it really is significant, because culture and the value of people and the value of community and what it can mean to the success of a company is huge. It can be radical and there is no reason to hate your job. Work is meant to something that is fulfilling to you. So often leaders start something with a vision and it becomes a drudgery.
Michael: Kathryn, you have a way of talking about that that I really like.
Kathryn: Yeah, I was just talking with somebody recently who was speaking of a friend of theirs who said, in that particular instance this person thought they were buying a company, but what they really bought was a job. It was sense of they were investing in and taking over the leadership of a company that they thought would give them life. Yes, they would have to work hard at it, but it would give them some freedom and different ways, and what they discovered was it was just a grind. Unhappy people, unhappy place. Not a place that they could trust anybody so they couldn't go vacation because if they left it fell apart.
Kathryn: That kind of sense where... those of us who are on entrepreneurs, we don't start companies hoping that we're just going to have a paycheck. We start companies because we want to change something. We want to change our lives, we want to change the world. There's an incredible privilege in what it looks like to hire people and know that you're funding their dreams and their families. The Bi-Tech thing for us was a really fun model of just, this is what culture can look like, even up to a couple hundred people.
Kathryn: We also watched that company shift when they were bought and lose some of that culture and really had to watch the folks that... I had left by then and started this which I was super grateful for, but we had watch people go through transition after transition of leaders who were not invested in them and were not invested in the culture and really were only about the bottom line and the buck, and watch the disintegration of this incredible culture as they moved through being owned distantly and that whole corporate look and feel.
Kathryn: Not all corporations are like that. There are some great corporations out there that take great care of their people, but we just watched some of that really yucky transition of somebody who has been super family-owned to somebody who is not and the repercussions of that. Family-owned isn't right, family-oriented in their culture, I guess is a better way to put that
Michael: Yeah, it was definitely founded, but it was definitely a corporation, a company. We don't want you to get the wrong idea. You had to show up at work and the expectations from Gary especially as CEO, were high. Gary just passed away, just recently. We had a 6 a.m. funeral. If you knew Gary, and those of you who hopefully are listening to this that know the story, you'll get a kick out of this because you were there. Folks, this is a man who over 200 people, maybe more, showed up to a 6 a.m. graveside memorial.
Kathryn: In February. It was freaking cold.
Michael: Was it February?
Kathryn: It was February.
Michael: Yeah, and it was so touching, because these people, there was a thread of history that had gone for decades with these people and so many of us knew each other. There to pay our respects and to honor the family and Judy. It was beautiful. That was the kind of loyalty that they engendered from, you will work, and we've got to get this done. It was a software company. It was, you're going to work all night if we have to, because we've got to get this done and do it right for the client.
Michael: At the same time, I remember every Friday Judy would go get something. It was a treat day every Friday. One of the things I loved is she went and got Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen. I don't know if any of you remember Dairy Queen or know what a Dilly Bar is, but if you don't, it's basically ice cream-
Kathryn: Chocolate covered yummy.
Michael: Yeah, chocolate covered, chocolate dipped ice cream on a stick. It rocks, but it's really hard to find and our Dairy Queen went bankrupt around here. Anyway, that said, it's culture.
Michael: Now, let's pause a moment and think. Okay Redmans, you're talking about all this stuff, you're talking about family, you're talking culture, you're talking about that. Well, that's not what I'm in business for. I'm in business to make money. I understand that. Let's just think about this. There's a couple different types of people who will want to listen to this podcast, I believe, that hopefully it will be helpful for you. One, you actually really, really value culture. You want to stay in business, you want to be profitable, you want to grow, but one of your core values is making sure that you honor people and that you have a good culture in your company. You started it, you want to care about people. You do care about people. As a friend of mine, who started PR-Web, back in the nineties... I don't know if you know PR-Web, but it may have been the first press release software company out there.
Kathryn: Online, yeah.
Michael: He sold it about eight or nine years ago for, let me put it this way, for a significant profit. He did well. It was a great company. It had amassed a tremendous amount of value in the marketplace. I remember him telling me a few years ago, because he had started another small thing and he had some employees. He says, “I just like employing people. I like giving them a job. I like giving them the opportunity to make a living in a place that they enjoy.” And I went, this is a guy who doesn't ever have to work again a day in his life. He told me that and he said, “I have four boys and I don't want them to see that you can just stop being productive in your life.” So, he gets up and goes to work every day. He's got a small office, but he goes to work. That's the value.
Michael: If you're the type of person who values culture and a profitable business in the midst of that and you're continuing to wrestle with how do you do it, because quite frankly margins are tight, the market is difficult, we just came through the Great Recession, since the Depression. You're doing all that, this podcast is definitely going to be for you, because we're going to give you tools and insights and tips to evaluate where you are in your competency and your character throughout all the different areas of your business. And we're going to give you encouragement and start talking about that.
Michael: I think this is going to be one of those podcasts that you're just going to find and want to have. The second type of person is this: if you don't necessarily care about culture at the moment. You have friends and you have this, but you're thinking this is work. I don't want to be tyrant, but I don't really care about culture. I don't want to give people that warm and fuzzy. I don't want to give them a ping pong table. I don't want to blah blah blah blah. I get it. I understand. But here's what I would say to you. Please consider thinking about growing your culture. I believe it's intrinsically valuable to human beings, but I know it grows the bottom line. Over the next few months and weeks, we're going to share different studies and research projects that have shown, demonstrated, over years that the bottom line, the money in your pocket actually increases and the value of the company increases as the culture and the engagement of your employees grows.
Kathryn: One of the reasons we care about doing this is there's all these reports out there, and we'll come back and we'll touch on them, but the National Small Business Administration reports that 87 percent of first time small businesses fail. They just don't make it. Whether they just get crushed and buried financially, they give up, they get worn out on the grunge, the day-to-day just trying to make ends meet. But 87 percent of first time businesses fail.
Michael: That's all businesses.
Kathryn: That's of all businesses, not small. Sorry. All businesses. Then, the other thing that really just grates at the core of who we are, because this is something that as you've already heard, we're super passionate about, Gallup released a study... what year was it?
Michael: It was 2010 the first time they released it. They update the numbers weekly and monthly, so they're similar, but 2010 was the first time I watch this.
Kathryn: Okay, so 2010, first time. They released a poll that basically told us that 74 percent of Americans are disengaged at work. If I remember correctly, the way they defined disengaged was essentially they were just going through the motions at work. They were sleepwalking.
Michael: Sleepwalking at work was the definition they used.
Kathryn: You've got all of these employees that you're paying to be on the clock eight to five or whatever your business hours happen to be and they are giving you so much less than their best because they're disengaged. It doesn't take a lot of brilliance to imagine that if could engage those workers, you could impact your bottom line, because their productivity, their contribution, all of those things would increase. It isn't just a warm, fuzzy, we want you to feel good and have a really happy place to work. It's not that, though we do. It's that we really believe that that kind of engagement from folks who are working for you and with you will ultimately increase your bottom line. You'll serve your customers better. All of the different things that impact the bottom of your business get impacted by whether or not your employees are engaged or disengaged.
Michael: Absolutely, and that's powerful, because what Kathryn touched on is really one of the drivers. Kathryn and I, we're built to help walk alongside other people and coach them and encourage them and help them see their potential, so they can see a point in life where they're thriving. We have a really, really big heart for people living fulfilled lives.
Michael: Now, two reasons for that. One, we believe it's possible. Two, Kathryn and I do it. We have a thriving marriage and it is incredibly healthy and we do a lot of work with folks, a lot of conversations, spend a lot of time with couples who are just going, “How do you do this?” We have friends that actually are successful. They have great thriving marriages and we've been at this for twenty, how long is it now? Twenty-three years? It's going to be twenty-three years this month.
Kathryn: Yeah, he doesn't look confident. Should I just let him sweat for a second?
Michael: Oh, golly.
Kathryn: No, you're right. It's twenty-three.
Michael: Twenty three years. We have one daughter, who's twenty years old and a junior in college right now. We have a really good relationship with our daughter. We have employees and we have really good relationships with them. Does that mean it's Pollyanna and everything's awesome and we never have any problems?
Michael: Absolutely not. No, we have challenges all the time, but our lives are not characterized by challenges. Our lives are characterized by peace and joy in the midst of it and then addressing issues as they come along and being honest and healthy about it. Kathryn said she was a psychology major and we were pastors, so we kind of care about these things a lot.
Kathryn: We do.
Michael: We also care about the bottom line. I like to see when my financials move. I like to see my balance sheet balanced and we'll talk about that in another episode, because one of the fundamentals of business is your finances.
Michael: We're going to talk, in every episode, we're going to try to do several things. We're going to give you, first of all, stay with the theme for those episodes. We're going to tell stories that deal with those specific areas of business, say that three times fast.
Kathryn: As a friend of ours used to say, Pacific areas of business.
Michael: He probably still does.
Kathryn: Probably still does.
Michael: In the midst of that, we're going to give you very clear, practical things to do that you can use to implement and grow in certain areas. If you need encouragement, you're going to get that from us. If you need specific areas of your business that you're trying to figure out, “How do I evaluate this? What's the potential in this area?" This is something that I avoid. Finances are something that a lot of small business leaders, and small business is under 500 people by the National Small Business Association, I believe, but in these companies that have almost no employees to a lot of employees and they go, “Ah, I don't want to touch the finances, I just don't understand it. I hate finance meetings.” We've learned to enjoy they more. We're learning more and more. We'll tell you that journey of how to do it, because we have some amazing coaches in that area of our life that we've discovered.
Kathryn: Yeah, it's really fun, because our tagline, if you were to go look at HalfABubbleOut.com, our tagline is Telling Your Story. We're very holistic about it, but we're all about really figuring out who you are from a marketing perspective. Who are you as a company? What's your story? Why do you do what you do and how do we craft that story in a way that engages the folks that you potentially have answers for? That's what we do.
Kathryn: We now have, in the last couple of years, acquired a partner in the financial realm who has taught us to tell the story of our books. That sounds a little weird, but-
Michael: It sounded weird to us.
Kathryn: It sounded really weird to us, but the idea that you can read your financials one way or another, and I have been taught to read them one way, which is hardcore cash flow, and we'll talk about that. But there's another way to read the books. How do you project and think forward if you're just micromanaging the day to day? Really, having someone from the outside step in and tell the story of our books has been very enlightening and we want to be able to share some of that with you.
Michael: As we share that, one of the things that's cool about that company that we work with, Morrison and Company, I'll give them a shout-out.
Kathryn: Woo, Jeff and [Golene 00:30:43], you rock.
Michael: They rock. They're awesome. They actually hired us first. They hired us to help them tell their story and to shape their story. One of the things that was fun is we did the discovery of learning their story more. They had multiple different areas of their business and they were like, “What do we focus on? How do we do this and how do we do that?” They're just a bunch of stellar people, so it's fun to work with people who are already on the ball. But that's really a great point, because when you're on the ball and moving and growing, there are still things to learn and grow and you know it. The more successful you are, the more you know you don't have everything nailed and the more you want to refine and sharpen things.
Michael: If you think back, it's the statistics on business failure rates, the statistics on disengagement in America and that 75 percent, 74 percent of people who are disengaged, sleepwalking at work, they're not productive. They're hating it. They're looking, they're trying to do something else.
Michael: We've not been perfect and we had the benefit of having one of our employees coming back after they left us and admit that they weren't being efficient at work. They were disengaged and that they were wasting time. They actually came back to us and apologized. I was really grateful with that and his integrity was amazing when he did that, but it was easy to say thank you very much for telling us that and one of the lessons to take away from it, because you deal with a lot of stuff when you have and opportunity like that, was to say that season, that time for that employee we somehow lost the ability to engage him. How do we continue to sharpen and improve it, because we have a high score in our engagement at our company, because we talk about, we ask questions and we score it regularly. In a small company, it's a little bit more informal.
Michael: But it's because of all those things that we are driven to help companies figure out how to put more life back in their companies. Half A Bubble Out has done that through marketing, through advertising, through business consulting and we deal with three different areas: crafting, telling and living your story. At the crafting level, you want to be strategic. You need to come up with plans. You need to understand your goals and where you're going. You need, a lot of times, an outside perspective to help you with. It's really helpful. Right at this point, I'm not saying you should hire Half A Bubble Out, because everybody listening to this at some point, you can't. But find somebody outside, a trusted friend or an advisor, if not an outside consulting company that you trust.
Kathryn: A good friend of ours says nobody gets to clarity alone.
Michael: I love that quote.
Kathryn: It's a great quote.
Michael: Nobody gets to clarity alone.
Kathryn: Another really great image that we've used with clients, and it has been true of us as we told you in the accounting realm, is it's difficult to read the label from the inside of the bottle. When you're inside the bottle, which is where you are in your company, it's really difficult to have perspective and to understand what's happening from a bigger picture. Sometimes having somebody who's outside the bottle, who can actually tell you what the label says, tell you where your strengths are, tell you where your struggles and weaknesses are that they can maybe help you shore up. Those are hugely valuable.
Kathryn: When we talk about having a village, that's a piece of why it's the HaBO Village. We're going, okay, who do you surround yourself with that help you to have strategy and perspective and understanding, who bring skillsets and expertise that you don't happen to have and you've hopefully grown in enough wisdom to own that you can't actually be good at everything. If you're going to do your best work and your make your best contribution, then you have to not only hire well and hire people who can help fill in the gaps, but then you also sometimes just need outside perspective from people who are further along the journey with you or than you are.
Kathryn: We've had incredible people who have spoken into our business, who have looked at us from the outside, who have come in, who have encouraged us, who have chastised us. We've gone the whole gamut, because in 14 years of business, you get to experience the good, the bad and the ugly. We want to be authentic with that and vulnerable with that and share with you the successes, and like I said, share with you the seasons where were didn't even want to come to work and we owned the place. That wasn't fun and that had to do with hiring and making some tough decisions and not really understanding how personalities fit together within a company. We have much to say on that topic, too.
Michael: We're pretty proud about the fact that we've survived. Sometimes you want to thrive, but sometimes surviving is a merit badge of its own.
Kathryn: It's a step towards thriving.
Michael: You've got to survive. If you don't survive, you can't thrive. We made it. I remember when we made to it five years. We were like, “Ahhh, yay.” Then we made it to ten years. Well, in the middle of all that, we went through the great recession. I remember one time... and there were lots of great times. Actually, our company was, strangely enough, the first couple years of the great recession, our company thrived. We actually quadrupled in size at the beginning of the recession.
Kathryn: Yeah, we hit the downturn later.
Michael: The wave hit us later. It hit us and it hit us hard, but it hit us later. As we were in the midst of that downturn, I remember speaking to my mom, because my mom is an amazingly wise woman. My father was a small business owner and so she and my dad did that for several years. She looked at me and she said, “Michael, if you can hold on, you guys will be great.”
Michael: Two things came out of that. One, my mom was just being encouraging like she is, and she's a very smart and wise woman. When she told me that, she infused me with hope, because I know growing up I'd seen her and dad go through some pretty challenging times, specifically in business and all the different business ventures that they were involved in. There had been some successes, but some difficult times. She just believed in us. That was part of it. When we made it through the great recession, that was amazing.
Michael: This whole podcast is the next step in our evolution of contributing and giving back to sharing and exposing people. As we talk about the HaBO Village, we were talking about doing it in community, but the other half of the HaBO Village that is really important to understand as we're closing up here and wrapping up is, my degree in college was instructional design, a training. It was a combination of communications and technology and education at the business level. How do you change performance in a company and how do you think about people and how do you train them and educate them? I became very passionate about some very good tools and things about how do you train and equip and change cultures and businesses? How do you change the numbers? People are always involved, so you've got to engage them. You can't just ignore them.
Michael: Let me look at it like this: HaBO Village is a holistic approach. It's a model or a methodology that brings resources to equip and train and encourage small business leaders. That whole idea, it's done in a very methodical way. You're going to see, as the next year goes on, more tools at our website, as we've been doing it in consulting and projects like that where there are clients, we're going to be moving to providing more and more resources that help you systematically look at the holistic picture of your company. To be able to look at each individual stage. We look at nine areas of business, and to look at each one of those areas.
Michael: Let me give you an example. One is finance. One is management. One is marketing. It breaks down into these nine areas that are all really important. We want to help you look at each one of those and the first thing is, how do you do a good evaluation? How do you evaluate where you are and where your company is? If you have a multi-level leadership structure, a two or three level leadership structure in your company, which means the CEO, the founder of the company, isn't doing the direct management of all the people, then how do you help evaluate them? That's where you start. What's your test? Where are you in the midst of that?
Michael: Then, how do you grow? Let's not pigeonhole you in this what you are and what you're not. How do we help you grow in your competency, not only in your competency to do something, for instance, lead your people, but how do you lead and manage your leaders? What does that look like? This is what the curriculum, if you will, the scope and sequence, if you will, of HaBO Village is going to be growing and developing. This podcast is actually going to walk through each of those nine areas and talk about the different things you can do to tune up that part of your business.
Michael: Because if you're in a place right now where you're saying, "Oh my gosh, I want that. I have lost my first love when it comes to work. I've lost my excitement. My business that I bought or I started is now just a job that I bought and now I'm the one responsible for everything." If that weight is on you, or you're in the middle of healthy, growing company but you have hit a place where you're trying to figure out how to go beyond. You've hit one of those transition places, like, "How do I get beyond this?" This podcast is going to be one of those tools to help you. It's going to give you practical results.
Michael: I'm excited, because I know we've already affected people's lives, Kathryn. We've already impacted companies and leaders. They tell us so. The best experience I have, folks, and Kathryn will testify, for both us actually, is when at the end of a meeting we always say, "Was that helpful?" And if they don't say yes, I want to make sure we do whatever it is so that it is helpful.
Michael: Again, it's not help unless it's perceived as help. That statement, we said at the very beginning of this podcast, the other one that Kathryn said was we don't get clarity alone, we learned those truths throughout life, but they were codified and given as sentences like that by a friend of ours who does leadership development for organization and individuals internationally. His name's-
Kathryn: Terry Walling. He's one of our guys who stood outside the bottle. Go Walling.
Michael: We love this guy and he has had a massive impact in the world, in the area of leadership and he's helped sharpen our ideas and thoughts and partnered with us for these last seven, eight years, a long time.
Kathryn: If you're lucky, we might bring him on the show at some point and let you meet him.
Michael: Oh, we're going to bring him on the show. Terry, this is your warning. You are coming on the show. It's those types of things that's like, you know what? Those are truths. You don't get to clarity alone. It's not help unless it's perceived as help. But when you look in somebody's eyes that you've said, “How do I help you?” And they tell you and then you walk through a process, it's either an hour or several months, or even years. At the end of it, you say, “Was that helpful?” And they go, “Yes.”
Michael: You know what, they write a check-
Kathryn: It's incredible fulfilling.
Michael: That's fulfilling. That makes the world. Our staff loves it when they ask you, “Has this been helpful?” And you say, “Yes.” It's off the charts. That is the podcast. Kathryn?
Kathryn: Just to wrap up, you've heard this through, but just to try and make it succinct, we really have a heart to see business leaders grow and experience life to the fullest in the context of work. We believe that as you grow, it will impact your life and the lives of those around you. Because we're small business leaders ourselves, we're people who have struggled to make payroll twice a month, to have management and leadership and hiring and firing, the pains and struggles and fears and joys and hope that all business leaders go through. We believe that we can help you to be successful. If you're willing to just look at yourselves and look at the company where you are in, to discover where you can grow, then we believe you are going to be able to experience more passion and provision in your life and in your company. That's really what we're about.
Michael: Yeah, we believe that toil sucks and labor's awesome. In the midst of that, you can find passion and provision. We'll talk more about what passion is, but it's a good thing. If you have a negative idea about what passion might be-
Kathryn: Give us a chance.
Michael: Give us a chance. Hold on to us. Let's get to that episode, episode number two, because we're going to tear that apart and look at that. I think, even if you don't like the word passion, once you hear what the researchers have discovered and what's going on and what we mean by that as we define it, I think you're going to, no matter how you want us to use the word, you're going to agree with it. You're going to find that joyful.
Michael: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. Thank you for being willing to give us forty-five minutes of your life. It's an honor and we look forward to having you come back as we walk through what it looks like to develop thriving businesses for the bottom line, for the people and create passion and provision companies here at the HaBO Village.