Today’s guests, Kathryn and Michael K. Redman also happen to be a husband and wife team. Together, they own Half a Bubble Out, a marketing and business consulting firm. They also wrote the new book, Fulfilled, together, which we’re discussing today.
In this podcast, Kathryn and Michael discuss their own business journey and experience, as well as providing some insight into how business owners can merge together business success and authenticity, in a way that’s nailed down to an actual framework. In other words, how do you find success in business while also feeling really good about what you’re doing and putting out in the world?
Nikki Van Noy: Welcome to this episode of Author Hour. I am joined by two guests today, Kathryn and Michael K. Redman, authors of the new book Fulfilled: The Passion & Provision Strategy for Building a Business with Profit, Purpose & Legacy. Kathryn and Michael, thank you for joining me today.
Michael K. Redman: Well, thank you for having us.
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, we’re excited to be here.
Nikki Van Noy: Let’s go ahead and fill listeners in on just a little bit about your guys’ background. You are married and in business together. Tell us a little bit about that?
Kathryn Redman: 18 years baby.
Michael K. Redman: We’re both married and in business together.
Kathryn Redman: Yes, married almost 27 years and in business 18 in this business, and then we were also actually on staff together at another organization for about two and a half years, so we’ve been working together for a long time.
Michael K. Redman: I kind of like it.
Nikki Van Noy: I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by the longevity of the business together or the marriage, that’s amazing.
Michael K. Redman: We’re actually going for both.
Kathryn Redman: We don’t mind if you’re impressed with all of it. It’s a good starting place for this conversation.
Michael K. Redman: We’ve been working hard to get this one, so we want everybody to give us the kudos we deserve.
Nikki Van Noy: Yes, you’ve earned them. Tell me about that experience, what’s it like?
Michael K. Redman: Which one, being married to one of these?
Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, exactly. How you meld those things together?
Michael K. Redman: Good question.
Kathryn Redman: It is a great question.
Michael K. Redman: One of the things that we have been blessed with over time is just a desire, really. We’re not very different, we’re different enough, but we’re alike enough in a lot of different fashions. We both love people, we both have a commitment to working on our stuff, we kind of set that up in the very beginning when we were young–you work on your crap, I’ll work on my crap and then we’ll work together and we’ll actually grow.
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, we actually did pre-engagement counseling so you can get the crap out before you actually tell the world you’re getting married because that just seems like a smart thing to do.
Michael K. Redman: Somebody suggested that to us and we went.
Kathryn Redman: “Hey, that’s a great idea.”
Michael K. Redman: “Okay,” because we were both terrified. Actually, Kathryn was more terrified about marrying me than I her because we’d known each other since elementary school.
Nikki Van Noy: That’s so cool you guys, I love that.
Michael K. Redman: We hated each other in school too, by the way.
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, we weren’t friends until long after.
Michael K. Redman: Till college.
Kathryn Redman: Till college, yeah.
Michael K. Redman: Yeah, we’ve been working on this and just kind of continuing to take life as it comes. Life hasn’t always been smooth and easy, there are events that happen over those many years and you go, okay, you’re either going to be together in the midst of it or you’re going to be on your own and you’re going to be two people trying to figure it out on your own. That just didn’t work for us.
I think that’s the short of it.
Kathryn Redman: I think the other thing too is we are really evenly matched. To the degree that we complement each other. I help Michael be a better Michael and he helps Kathryn be a better Kathryn.
Michael K. Redman: She talks about herself in the third person often, get used to it.
Nikki Van Noy: It works for you though Kathryn.
Kathryn Redman: I know, right?
Michael K. Redman: I’m married to multiple women. We just deal with that. Not helpful.
Nikki Van Noy: Keeps things exciting. You know what strikes me is there are a lot of unique things about your situations it seems but even if you guys didn’t love each other so much when you were growing up, you truly have a shared life experience, it sounds like. And very few people have that over such a long span of time.
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, that’s true.
Michael K. Redman: We like it a lot, it’s fun. It creates a lot of interesting dynamics. Well, I grew up in the town we live in now, which was a lot smaller back then. Kathryn moved here when she was in sixth grade. One of the things that we experienced a lot is working for married couples in small businesses and they weren’t all fun to work for.
We had that experience when we started the company and started hiring people. That was one of those pieces out of our life that was saying, “We’re going to do this differently.” Neither one of us wanted to be one of those places that people went, “Great, I’m working for a married couple.”
Kathryn Redman: It’s all good until the wife comes in.
Half a Bubble Out
Nikki Van Noy: It sounds like you guys were very intentional about that. I want to speak to that and first, let’s back up a little bit and talk about your business. What exactly do you guys do?
Kathryn Redman: Our primary business is called Half a Bubble Out, which has its own story. Half a Bubble Out is a marketing business consulting ad agency. We started out doing graphic design and video work a long time ago, in the 2002, 2003 range and then in probably 2006, we began to morph into being an ad agency.
We had a mentor of ours who was a friend, and who was a GM at 13 television stations, Fox stations, and he really wanted us to step into being an ad agency. He saw the quality of the work that we were producing, but he wanted us to go further in terms of the relationships and how we would do that.
He taught us how to be an ad agency. So, we did that, and then over the course of time, as the businesses have grown, we continue to do that for clients, but we’ve moved into a lot of business consulting and leadership. A lot of that is because clients will come in and say, “I need a website or I need this particular marketing asset,” and we basically have to back them up and say, “You know what? It’s great that you need a website but there are all these pieces of your business that you don’t know what you’re doing yet, or you don’t know how to talk about yourself.” So, we have to bring them back upstream a little bit and say, “Okay, how do we tell the world who you are if a) – you can’t actually articulate it very well or it doesn’t make sense and then B) if your company can’t actually produce or live up to the promises that you want us to make because culturally, things are broken,” or whatever else is going on. There are all these different components of business.
We moved into a lot of business coaching about the whole of business and not just marketing.
Michael K. Redman: Peter Drucker has a great quote and for those who don’t know who he is or was, he’s passed away now. He was probably the one who contributed the most to marketing in the 20th century and some people say he even invented the term ‘management.’ He did a lot of research but he has this great quote and it was, “Marketing is the entire business seen from the customer’s perspective.”
When you think about that, we kind of just started with that perspective at the beginning of okay, how do we start asking people why? Why do you want a website, why do you need a logo? Your goal is to get more customers, but then what’s going on? If you look at it from the whole perspective of a customer, immediately, we’re thinking, okay, you need people to be aware of you.
You need those strangers to walk through the tedious process of becoming a customer as they check you out, and then you’d like them to come back and buy from you again, and then you’d like them to tell other people. How do you take somebody from a stranger to a customer to a raving fan? Drucker would say, that is marketing. It doesn’t just stop at your first sale. We would talk to our clients about everything from how you are telling people what you bring to the table, why you’re different, why you’re unique and it doesn’t have to be about your IP–
Kathryn Redman: IP being intellectual property.
Michael K. Redman: Thank you for translating that.
Kathryn Redman: Subject matter expert, USMAU. Stop it.
Michael K. Redman: I mean, we’re always about okay, let’s look at the big picture. We’ve always been about the big picture, let’s make sure we have context for the landscape and let’s talk about the whole thing or you get myopic, you get focused on one thing and you drop the ball somewhere else and it doesn’t help. We wanted to be helpful. That’s kind of Half a Bubble Out in three nutshells.
Nikki Van Noy: Well, it’s fascinating to me because I’m seeing a very clear theme emerge with you guys with the business and also with this book, which is that you’re going internal and looking beyond how things appear to how they actually are on the inside. Does that sound like a fair analysis?
Michael K. Redman: Could you repeat that?
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, I know.
Michael K. Redman: That sounded very eloquent but I’m not sure I followed it completely and I want to say yes but–
Kathryn Redman: But I’m really not sure.
Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, with your business and the marketing, you guys were not letting companies just come in and present an image to the world. You were going deeper and talking about what they were actually all about and then bringing that forth through advertising, it sounds like from what you’ve said.
In this book, you’re helping companies not just look successful but also feel successful and good about what they’re doing on the inside too. Is that right or am I jumping here?
Michael K. Redman: No, I don’t think you’re jumping at all. I think that’s really good and it’s perceptive. There are a couple of things that are actually really critical pieces the way we live life.
If you walked into our office and you came to Kathryn’s office and you sat down, first of all, you’d have a great conversation, you’d laugh a lot.
The first thing you’d notice after you said hello to Kathryn in her office is all the way across the top of her bookshelf over her desk is the word authentic with these big block letters that we got for her years ago because it’s one of her favorite words.
Kathryn Redman: It’s actually authenticity.
Michael K. Redman: Authenticity, not authentic. It’s close. I bought the letters for you too.
Kathryn Redman: You did, you just forgot the ITY at the end.
Nikki Van Noy: I look at them every day probably but close enough.
Michael K. Redman: I mean, it’s close to being authentic, so one of the things is authenticity. It’s like look, be your real self. Your real self is actually quite impressive to people and the more you get healthy, the more it’s impressive to people. I guess it’s not always impressive but when we look at that, we look at the whole business, we look at the whole person, be real, be honest, be who you are and that really can stand out.
Let me say it this way. I had a professor when I went back to college at 30, after having a career in professional vocational ministry, we were pastors.
Kathryn Redman: It’s because he’s a half a bubble out, he had to go back to college at 30.
Michael K. Redman: I had this professor and I’m listening to this guy talk about the history of marketing and advertising. A lot of people think marketing and advertising is–they associate that you’re pond scum. They think, “Okay, if I can just convince you, it’s really a Jedi mind trick, that’s all it is.”
Kathryn Redman: You don’t need what I have to offer. We’re just going to force it down your throat.
Michael K. Redman: “This is not what you want. You want to buy my thing and you want to give me all your money, pull out your wallet and we just do it mindlessly,” and everything else. There’s a lot of psychology that goes into this, but he said this. He said, “One of the most honest ways to look at this is that marketing and advertising provides such an amazing service because it allows people to know that you have something that actually might be helpful to them and that they need and if you don’t tell them, if you don’t broadcast it, if you don’t stand on the curate in the middle of the bazaar in old times when there was no radio and no TV and say, ‘Hey, I have chicken eggs over here,’ then they’ll never know if they can’t find you.” Especially as economies have grown, there seemed to be a place within marketing and advertising that seems to be really honest, authentic, and have integrity and actually, was meant to benefit people and make their lives better, not just take advantage of them and take their money.
When we came into it, we kind of had this mix of wanting to be authentic and real and tell people’s real stories because we actually believe that if you did that, it actually had more power and you could build trust. If you can build trust with a customer, then you’re going to have a much more successful company. The adage that our parents taught us when we were kids, you know, stop lying because you just have to remember more things that you have to be careful about and keep track of and if you don’t lie, you actually can have a much shorter memory and be successful.
Why worry about all that stuff when you could actually create a business that was more successful by being helpful and honest? It translated into everything else we did over time because that’s where the book came from and the passion and provision came from, us trying to intentionally build something that was real and authentic and had the least amount of stress possible. Because running a business is not stress less.
Kathryn Redman: It’s not.
Michael K. Redman: Does that help?
You Bring Yourself to Work
Nikki Van Noy: Yeah, absolutely. This is such a layered thing with you guys, and I find it fascinating. Talk to me about how it makes you feel to be running a business that is authentic and that is allowing companies to be out there in a truthful way, rather than a way that fosters sales.
Michael K. Redman: Speak to that Kathryn.
Kathryn Redman: Well, one of the things that matters a lot to us I think–you know how people will say things like, “You know what? This is just business.” There’s a part of me that really hates the term, “It’s just business.” Because, that term, in and of itself implies that it doesn’t matter what I do, it’s not personal. It doesn’t impact relationships–it doesn’t affect the rest of your life. It’s just business.
“If I do something sleazy, it’s just business,” and I say, “No, it’s not. It’s life.” One of our mantras while there are appropriate ways to walk this through, we would say, “You know what? You don’t get to completely separate your business and your personal life. You bring yourself to work.”
Your team, your employees, they bring their whole selves to work. While obviously, there are boundaries and things.
Michael K. Redman: There’s appropriate times for talking about certain things.
Kathryn Redman: But there’s a humanity to business that I think sometimes gets forgotten. If we’re going to actually run a business and help others run businesses that have both that sense of fulfillment, of passion, and make a living doing it, then it has to incorporate the whole of who you are.
That’s a part of where we say, what’s your authentic self, what are your values, what’s the vision, what’s the stuff you’re driving towards, why did you start this business? So that we can translate that and help people be real about it in the marketing. Now you’re finding your tribe, you’re finding the people who say, “Yeah, that’s how I think too, I like you people.”
Nikki Van Noy: It’s interesting to me that you guys are talking about this right now because you know, for a few years now, there has been this growing discussion about the importance of authenticity at work and the whole self and all those types of things.
It occurs to me that as we’re in the midst of this pandemic, and people are figuring out how to balance all of these different aspects of life in ways that feel very messy right now, this is becoming a reality. For example, full disclosure to listeners, and I warned you guys before we started this podcast. Well, I have a toddler in the background because I’m still working and she’s not in daycare right now.
It seems to me like a lot of those companies who have maybe been sort of lagging on this whole self-authenticity train or have been talking the talk but not necessarily walking the walk, we’re in a phase where everyone is being more forced into that. Does that make sense?
Michael K. Redman: It does. I’ll tell you what’s coming to mind right now, you said it was messy, it’s very messy. Part of it is there’s a lot to learn because authenticity alone, this is probably one of the things that we’ve already talked about a little bit and we refer to it, is there’s always a holistic picture, there are always multiple pieces, it’s never a simple as just, “Be honest, tell everybody everything.” Maya Angelo had a quote that we had on our mirror for years in our bathroom.
Kathryn Redman: Yes, I love Maya Angelo.
Michael K. Redman: And the quote was?
Kathryn Redman: The quote was, “You always have to tell the truth, but you don’t have to tell everything you know.”
Nikki Van Noy: I like that.
Kathryn Redman: Isn’t that good?
Nikki Van Noy: That’s good.
Kathryn Redman: Be honest but you don’t have to reveal the entire thing.
Nikki Van Noy: I’m going to start, I’m going to put that on a T-shirt and just wear it.
Michael K. Redman: Yes.
Kathryn Redman: Right?
Michael K. Redman: It’s a much classier version of that than just TMI. But, when you think about it, I do think that there’s a journey going on and it’s hard for a lot of people because you’ve actually got to be honest with yourself and start going through some emotional growth and personal development as a leader.
There’s a lot of people out there who want to, so that’s good because they’re already on the journey. But as a whole, there are a lot of people out there who have not been trained or taught how to be emotionally intelligent, their EQ is not high yet. They’re out there working in the workforce and they’re trying to understand, and it does get messy because we’re in a place now, in a crisis situation, you can’t hide. That’s what we’re living in right now nationally and internationally.
There are so many dynamics, and one of those dynamics is you can’t hide all you want to hide, it comes out. We move into this place of survival and we have moved down Maslow’s hierarchy a little bit right now culturally and when that happens, you don’t think as much, you don’t protect as much, and some of that is good because you’re a little bit more vulnerable and real at the same time. Sometimes, you’re doing Zoom calls in your pajamas. You know, as long as you don’t get up and walk around, we don’t know.
Kathryn Redman: There’s a meme going around like, “Are you wearing pants right now?”
Michael K. Redman: There is a guy who did a webinar that our staff did training for like a year ago and in one of his episodes, they literally are like, “This is creepy. He’s in his bedroom and he’s sitting on the floor,” and you’re like, “Does he have pants on at all?” They still talk about it today.
Kathryn Redman: That was long before the pandemic.
Nikki Van Noy: He was a trendsetter way ahead of his time. Definitely seeing the future.
Michael K. Redman: I think in the midst of it, being authentic is supercritical but, sometimes you hear people say when they’re in a training or workshop or something and you think, “Okay, here is the way this works.”
Now, do you want to hear a ninja skill or an advanced skill? I think often just this actually an advanced skill. It is not a beginner’s skill. It is really good for pre-school kids and elementary school kids and then all of a sudden it becomes actually a lot harder for adults and for business leaders. Because they think, “Okay, how do we manage this?” I don’t blame a lot of business leaders for not wanting to go there in the workplace.
There are so many challenges to having a healthy culture from just cultural stuff, to legal stuff anymore in some states. We are in California and I think as much as we love living here, and we have lived here a long time, it is amazing how many laws come against the idea of actually caring and loving your employees in a healthy way.
Nikki Van Noy: Yeah I am in California too. It’s so true, it is sticky to navigate.
Michael K. Redman: It is and you know Patrick Lencioni, the author? He has written 12 or 13 books on culture.
Kathryn Redman: Organizational health kind of stuff.
Michael K. Redman: Yeah, a phenomenal guy, an amazing bestseller, and he is at the point where he is standing on stage and saying, “You guys have to ignore some of the laws. You have to love your employees, or you are never going to have a healthy successful company.”
Nikki Van Noy: Wow, interesting.
Michael K. Redman: So, you know, there we go.
Nikki Van Noy: One of the things you guys are doing with this book that is so impressive to me is you’re talking about these ideas that so many of us are interested in but they are kind of ideas. So, you’re talking about how to create a stable company and still be able to sleep at night. But not only are you talking about that, you have created a framework around it. Let’s share some of that with listeners so they get an idea of what this idea of being fulfilled can look like.
A Framework to Think Holistically
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, so we really firmly believe that if you are going to be successful in business you need a framework. You need to see a way to do things. The first thing we’d say is this is not the only framework, there are a lot of frameworks and models, but our framework, the model that we created, the goal of it is to really help business leaders think holistically about their business.
So, we are going to say, “Okay, we have identified six core areas of business.” Where you as a business owner need to have a working knowledge of each of these areas of business in order to build and sustain a successful, thriving company. So, in the center of that is vision, which is sort of the Simon Sinek Start with Why kind of concept. What is it that you are doing, why are you doing it, why does anyone care, and where are you going in the future?
We have this kind of framework around vision. Then the second piece is leadership and we talk about working on both your inner game and your outer game, and the skills that you need to be consistently developing if you are going to lead well and be somebody that people can be excited to work for and with.
The third piece is management and operations, so this is where you are doing systems and if you have a larger company, you know, your middle managers, how are they managing things, how do you deal with HR and hiring people well? And really doing that tied back to your vision because vision is always the center of how I hire, train, and fire to my values, for example, is one of the pieces of that. So, management and operations are third.
The fourth piece is marketing and sales, where we have obviously spent a bunch of our career. But that piece, how do I deal with marketing and sales?
The fifth is money. Money, money, money, we actually have to understand how to read the reports, and how to interact with our finance people. Even if we’re not a bookkeeper or an accountant, we are smart enough to at least be asking the right questions and keeping a pulse on where we are financially. It is amazing how many business owners literally only care about whether there is money in the bank today and that is really a dangerous scenario.
Then the final piece is culture. How are you intentionally driving and building your culture so that you are what we would call passion and provision? Which is a place where when I cross the threshold on Monday morning I am not thinking, “Oh my God, it’s Monday. I wish it was Friday night.” You actually enjoy working as an owner and for your employees. But as business owners, I am doing something where I get to bring my skills, my talents, and my gifts to this business. I get to do a lot of what I love to do and have people who are also being developed in those ways within your culture so that you have employees who are engaged and excited to be at work.
That is the framework because one of the things that really drove us, and this is the understanding from a Gallup poll that happened 2000–when was it, Michael?
Michael K. Redman: They published in 2010 the report.
Kathryn Redman: Yeah.
Michael K. Redman: Took about three or four years to do.
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, there was a book called The Coming Jobs War and there was a bunch of things out of that book, but one of the things was a stat that said that 74% of American workers are disengaged. They have identified disengaged as sleepwalking through the day. So here we are as business owners going, “Okay, three out of four businesses don’t make it. 74% of people working on businesses are sleepwalking through their day. No wonder businesses are failing. How do we help? How do we begin to turn the tide on that because we need employees who want to do well within the company right?”
When they are frustrated and disengaged and they don’t care about it or they feel like they’re not valued or whatever all of those pieces are, the impact on the business owner in terms of them being able to sleep at night and have a profitable, successful business is tremendous.
Nikki Van Noy: So, what you guys are talking about here really extends out to all facets of business.
Running a Business
Michael K. Redman: Yes, absolutely. Again, it goes back to being a holistic model. Michael Gerber, who wrote E-Myth, was really quite a pioneer in talking about looking at small business from a holistic perspective and writing about it. He coined the term, you have an entrepreneurial seizure. Most small business leaders started their company because they had an entrepreneurial seizure.
They weren’t really entrepreneurs per se. They thought, “You know I could make widgets. I am making somebody else rich, why don’t I make it?” Because they all assume that they are making somebody else rich. Then they say, “Well, I could do this myself,” and they go off and they start their own company.
In today’s world with the millennials, there was such a huge amount of people coming into the workforce. We had this swing, that has actually become very popular, of solo-preneurs. Everybody is like, “I don’t want to have a business, I don’t want to have employees, I don’t want to do any of that, I really don’t even want to be a leader. I just want to have a company and make money and have my own freedom.” There is this idea that I think a lot of solo-preneurs have and it’s I want to have as little responsibility as possible and be able to make my money and do what I want with my life.
Now at some level that is not a bad thing but what it breeds is thinking, “I don’t need anybody else. I can go do this and run a business and be profitable.” But you still have 80 to 90% of businesses failing. The research is really interesting because most of the research I have seen is over a 20-30 year spread. You can say I walked through the 80s, the 90s, the oughts, and now the last decade and multiple recessions.
The same problem is happening. If we have found a better way to make the mousetrap, then it would have worked better. We would have less failure rates, but we don’t. So, what happens is they get into this thing where the thinking is how hard can it be to run a business? I know how to make the widget. So, they get in, they start it, and they realize that you have to work in the business and make the widgets for the customers and then you have to work on the business.
Actually, there is a whole other set of skills that you have to learn and actually, as Kathryn was saying, be competent in, even a minimum competency so that you can actually run a business and actually stay profitable and actually continue to grow it. Over time, it will become that you have to significantly spend more and more time running a business and less time making the widget. So, it is this tricky thing that if you don’t look at it holistically, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Kathryn Redman: Well, and most of the people who start businesses these days don’t have an MBA, they didn’t go to school for a business and even if they did, a lot of the school’s teaching ends up being more corporate, more sort multi-level.
Michael K. Redman: How do you deal with the Fortune 1000 and how do you go work for them?
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, so the business degrees are a little bit like that. I think some of them are thinking of these entrepreneurial programs, but so much of that teaching is not really helping you with the fact that you need to wear all of these hats. So, part of what we have done, and you know we have sometimes called this a mini-MBA. These are all the areas you have to pay attention to if you are going to run a business and not get plowed under.
We are trying to equip people and give them tools at a high level and then be able to take them deeper as they potentially engage further so that they are equipped across multiple levels of what it takes to run a business. And also telling people to pay attention. If you are going to start a business, just know that you are going to need to think about all of these things, not just the piece that you are good at.
Michael K. Redman: Yeah and this all came out for us in really a desperation to be successful because in the beginning it was really hard, like any small business. We are trying to figure out where customers were going to come from. Then in our story, a couple of years later things were growing and we were doing well. Then we grew 400% in about 18 months and we realized that the thing you’re praying for actually almost kills you because you are not equipped for it.
The company grew beyond who we were and our skillsets. What we say is in two and a half years we doubled in size, which if you can double your company in two years, you are doing phenomenal. We quadrupled our company and then because we couldn’t sustain it, we lost half of our business. So, that is not the arc you want to get to doubling your business. It just ended up in a place with that same goal and it was painful getting there.
Kathryn Redman: It was very painful. I mean we will say there were days where we would literally say, “I just don’t want to go to work. I don’t like who we hired, I don’t like what is happening, the pace isn’t sustainable.” We just simply weren’t equipped. So, part of the book comes out of the painful lessons we learned through realizing we have to re-tool. We have to pull back and figure out how to actually run a company that we like being a part of, because we didn’t start a company so that we would be miserable with that company.
We started a company so that we would enjoy the company and enjoy the people we’re working with. So, we really had to pull back and retool. A lot of the book comes from us spending several years re-tooling everything.
Nikki Van Noy: I am curious if in light of everything that is going on right now and the impact that it’s had on business if there are any particular things that you think business owners are going to need to be more mindful about or think about differently as it pertains to what you are talking about here?
Michael K. Redman: Oh, I think there are a lot of things.
Operating During a Crisis
Nikki Van Noy: If you had to pick one that you would like people to be really aware of, what that might be?
Michael K. Redman: Way to focus me and keep me on track, good job.
Nikki Van Noy: I mean, it is a big question.
Michael K. Redman: Right. Well, let’s start with the universe. No, so right now if we are talking timelines, and I think this subject is going to become outdated hopefully in a few months. It is the issue of how do you operate within and communicate within a crisis situation? Crisis situations are different, and leaders need to understand that. We are doing some work right now for some companies that have come to us in the last week saying, “Okay, we may not have the best communication styles and practices but they have been working and now we are in a crisis moment and it is not working. What do we do?”
Kathryn Redman: Yeah, how do we even stay relevant?
Michael K. Redman: If you look at different psychological personality tests and different things like that, what you see over a lot of them is that everybody’s grouped into four major categories. We think and process life, our life, the outside world and think about it and make decisions based on really four different perspectives. You go back to the caveman era and you have earth and fire and wind.
Kathryn Redman: Water and now we have Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore and Tiger.
Michael K. Redman: And it is perfect. Obviously, because of that, it’s improved dramatically but to call somebody an Eeyore makes way more sense. So, what I am saying is there is an interesting thing as there is a normal way when we are fine and everybody is doing great, there is no crisis, we are all thinking in a little bit of all those things but we lean towards one or the other.
In business, you want to talk about systems and methodologies, and you want to put together systems that are five to seven steps. You want to help make those because that makes companies easier and smoother. In a crisis situation, you can’t give those high-level orders anymore. You have to be careful because now you are in a place where people are nervous, they’re scared. Business leaders are scared because they are thinking, “What am I going to do? Is this financial bailout thing really going to happen? Is it going to be something that is actually going to help me? What do I do with my employees?”
We’ve got companies that we work with that are saying, “Oh my gosh, it might be 12 or 18 months before I even get the supplies I need for my manufacturing firm.” How do they even stay in business and what does that look like? These are scary things that push you down into a place if you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of being stressed.
What we say as we are talking to leaders is in this moment of crisis, break things down into smaller pieces. Slow down, going slow is actually going to help you go faster. Be able to talk about things in ways that are in short bursts–one to three steps. If there is an emergency and there was an earthquake or something like that and everybody was rushing somewhere and the police and the fire department were going to try and help create calmness and organization and lead people to safety, there would be way more police officers in every corner. They would be guiding you and directing you and the only thing they would be saying is to go to the next street. Go to the next street, take a left. They wouldn’t be saying, “Go down here to Wilshire, take a left and go out to Broadway and take a right and then head out,” because people can’t hold onto that. A perfect example somebody told us the other day at Costco.
Kathryn Redman: Oh my gosh, the Costco example. I mean you probably experiencing it in your own Costco stores, but this story was epic. His wife went to Costco and they literally had employees stationed about every, I don’t know–
Michael K. Redman: Six to ten feet.
Kathryn Redman: Six or ten feet apart saying just this, “We have a lot of toilet paper, you don’t need to run.”
Nikki Van Noy: Wow.
Kathryn Redman: Right?
Michael K. Redman: And then they just kept repeating it.
Kathryn Redman: And then they just kept repeating it over and over again. In a normal scenario you would say, “Stop saying that.” But in the crisis situation we’re in that’s how you have to communicate with people because they need to hear things repetitively, and short things, and be reminded because they’re freaking out.
Michael K. Redman: If anybody thinks that this is not a crisis situation or we’re blowing it out of proportion, go visit a Costco right now and stand there in the morning when they open because everybody that we have talked to that works at a Costco says, “Yeah, we get a shipment in the morning and it is gone by 11:00.” Why? Because all of these people freak out. They are running into the back of the store and literally they’re running to get a package of toilet paper. Obviously, it is a big package at Costco.
Kathryn Redman: Which is a good gift.
Nikki Van Noy: The best gift in the world right now, actually.
Michael K. Redman: We are smart intelligent people but in stress situations we’re like, “Am I going to have enough for me and my family? Are we going to be okay?” To be able to slow down and say these basic things, “We are all in this together. It is going to be okay. I don’t know what is going to happen, but we are going to figure it out and we are going to work together on it. Let’s just modify how we do things right now because I can’t expect business as usual to happen.”
Let us make sure we have more frequent touchpoints, more frequency in what we are asking people to do. Kathryn and I were talking last night, I think we are at a point now with this whole entire thing in America where it’s still early, but we’re starting to see the psychological consequences of isolation and using Zoom or something like Zoom all day long. We are starting to see stress starting to happen in people.
We are watching our employees just to make sure we are noticing certain things. I don’t care how much screen time people have. This is not normal for us in business in America. So we are starting to see other psychological ramifications from it and we have to be aware of that as leaders because if we are, then we can manage it. We can navigate the landscape. We can navigate the storm and we’ll be okay.
It will be a little bit rockier if we don’t pay attention and we just pretend that it is not going to be a big deal.
Nikki Van Noy: That is so powerful, and I especially love that Costco anecdote. I mean that is going to stick in my head.
Kathryn Redman: Right? Oh my god.
Michael K. Redman: I was there last night, and I asked, “So is there any toilet paper?” They just laughed at me.
Kathryn Redman: Sorry, it is the evening that is not possible.
Michael K. Redman: Okay, I’ll take my taco and go home.
Nikki Van Noy: It will be nice when this phase is over, for sure. You guys, you’ve been such a pleasure to talk to. I am walking away with so many great quotes from this interview, so thank you.
Michael K. Redman: Oh, well thank you.
Nikki Van Noy: Kathryn and Michael, outside of you new book, where can listeners find you?
Michael K. Redman: You can find us at halfabubbleout.com, our main company website.
Kathryn Redman: All of our training exists at HABO Village so HABO is an acronym for Half a Bubble Out, but it is habovillage.com.
Michael K. Redman: So you can find us at halfabubbleout.com or habovillage.com and they can find us on Facebook and you could find us on Instagram and any other social media near your neighborhood.
Kathryn Redman: LinkedIn, Twitter, we’re all over.
Nikki Van Noy: And you guys have your own podcast also, what is the name of that?
Michael K. Redman: HABO Village Podcast.
Nikki Van Noy: Oh perfect.
Michael K. Redman: How about that.
Kathryn Redman: There we go.
Michael K. Redman: We try to be extremely unique and original.
Nikki Van Noy: It is good to be streamlined. All right, thank you both so much for joining us today and best of luck with the book.
Kathryn Redman: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
Michael K. Redman: Well thank you, it’s been so nice talking to you.