Michael King is the CEO of KFE and host of In the Trenches Podcast. He also helps entrepreneurs to understand their numbers and work with owners and executives to provide a clear roadmap for increasing margins, driving profits, and growing their business.
Kim Guedry is Co-Founder and President of Ceveal Solutions, LLC, a San Diego-based start-up helping organizations take their complex problems and create viable solutions. As strategic planners and problem solvers, Ceveal Solutions supports clients, across any industry, in identifying, planning, and implementing ideas so they can decrease risk and/or increase profit. Prior to co-founding her company, Kim altruistically gave over 20 years of service to our nation in the US Coast Guard as an active duty and reserve member. Some of her assignments included Commanding Officer of a Coastal Patrol Boat during the 9-11 tragedies, Deputy Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Chief of Operations for US Southern Command’s Crisis Action Team, and a Coast Guard Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer for FEMA Region II covering New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. She cut her teeth driving cutters (ships) but transitioned to support and lead operations ashore before turning towards crisis and emergency management. Kim remains a service-oriented, Captain (select) in the Coast Guard Reserves in an Inactive Ready Reserve status. Connect with Kim Guedry: LinkedInFacebookWebsiteConnect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield.[00:00:20] On April 20th, 2010 there was an explosion at the deep water horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. 11 people were killed in the explosion and an estimated 210 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over the following weeks and months. President Obama went so far as to call the event the worst environmental disaster the US has ever faced.[00:00:43] Thousands of people were mobilized to respond to the disaster and efforts were made to stop the leak, contain the oil and clean up the oil. Literally thousands of people were involved. Those efforts were largely coordinated and overseen by the US Coast Guard, and today's guest is my friend Kim Guedry. Kim was sitting in your standard powerpoint training session in Washington DC.[00:01:05] When her cell phone went off, she was being directed to Mobile, Alabama to oversee the cleanup, safety operations, and management of the people working on over 300 vessels in 70 coast guard personnel that were working to contain this massive incident to make the whole thing even more fun. Kim was also responsible for providing daily updates to the state governors and even president Barack Obama as to how things were going.[00:01:31] A pretty cool assignment right. But there was only one problem. Kim had never done anything even remotely close to this before. When Kim reported to the scene, she was overwhelmed with imposter syndrome. Why should she be here? Why should she be in charge? How is she going to manage this chaos and not only put out the fires immediately in front of her team, but also piece together the larger, longer term strategy that would be vital to their success.[00:01:59] Today, Kim is the founder of her own business, and she finds herself struggling with many of the same imposter syndrome feelings that she experienced in 2010 so we're going to talk with Kim about how she manages those feelings. And how she's found ways to press forward despite them. We're also going to talk about the balance of humility and confidence, and we're going to talk about leading others that have big personalities.[00:02:22] So without further ado, here's my conversation with my friend Kim Guedry. All right. We are recording exciting times. Kim, thank you so much for joining me this morning. How are you? [00:02:34] Kim Guedry: I'm doing well, Mike, how are you? Thanks for having me. [00:02:36] Michael King: Yeah, I'm excited. This is officially the second in person interview I've ever done, and so it's a, it's a lot different looking somebody in the face than looking at them on a zoom call, so I appreciate you taking the time to come in today.[00:02:48] Kim Guedry: Absolutely. It's my pleasure. [00:02:50] Michael King: One of the things that you told me about when we first met was that years ago, you found yourself in the middle of managing crisis communications, and a lot of the reports that you were responsible for ended up going to the president of the United States. governors, some pretty.[00:03:08] Hi, people. And, I don't know too many people that have ever reported directly to the president's office before, but you were telling me that through that you are kind of getting into the trenches, if you will, that you are kind of overtaken by this imposter syndrome. And who the hell am I to be doing these kinds of things?[00:03:26] Is that right? [00:03:27] Kim Guedry: That is, right. [00:03:28] Michael King: Well, give us a little bit of backstory about you, where you were in the coast guard at the time. How did you kind of get to that role? What was your professional background like up to that time? [00:03:39] Kim Guedry: Right. So I had done several years of active duty after I graduated from the coast guard Academy.[00:03:44] I had later transitioned into the coast guard reserves and I was based at the sector in Mobile, Alabama. there I was actually a logistics department head. And when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened, in April of 2010, I was actually at the national defense university in Washington, DC at the time.[00:04:06] And I had a strong suspicion that. Once I got back to Mobile, I would be mobilized for, for the oil spill efforts. so I found myself mobilized and in a position, as the deputy incident commander for the nighttime operations at the incident command post in mobile. we had a large area that we were responsible for covering, which was basically the Tristate area of Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.[00:04:36] Michael King: So just to make sure I'm kind of setting the scene right here. You were in DC at the time and there was an explosion on an oil rig. You know what I'm kind of picturing is there's like a bunch of these like military officers in a room, and there's some kind of like. Top secret PowerPoint, maybe like on the screen and everybody's beepers start going off like in a Tom Clancy movie and it's like, okay, Maverick, we, we've got to mobilize.[00:05:02] Is that kinda how it happened? [00:05:04] Kim Guedry: Not that dramatic, maybe, but yes. I mean, you're absolutely right. I was in DC for the reserve component, national security course, which was a joint service. You know, all, all services and all rates and ranks, senior levels. And, and that's exactly right. There were some individuals there once, once the event occurred, where, right.[00:05:24] Pagers at the time and, and cell phones, early, early days were, were going off. And we knew that as reservists, many of us would likely be, be recalled or mobilized for the event and, and sure enough, that's what eventually happened. All hands on deck sort of event. [00:05:40] Michael King: Interesting. So you're, for all intents and purposes, on the next flight out of DC.[00:05:44] Headed to mobile, Alabama, which is where your duty station was at the time. And remind me, what was the deep water horizon all about? What actually happened that caused all the pagers to go off? [00:05:56] Kim Guedry: Right. So what it essentially was is an oil rig. There was an explosion on an oil rig where unfortunately, several lives were lost, in a tragic event.[00:06:04] But then what happened following that was just. This incessant flow of oil, right? That was coming from the well. And so it was an effort to contain that oil and to stop the flow, were weeks and months later that was still happening. So as you can imagine, not only the pollution aspect of that, but also the economic aspect of that, the tourism and the fish and wildlife and everything that happened after that, is affected.[00:06:34] Local communities and offshore efforts as well. [00:06:39] Michael King: So this is kind of like a major national crisis because of the environmental impact and then the economic impact from the Gulf coast. And so all the powers that be care a lot. What's going on relative to stopping it. Containment and cleanup. Is that right?[00:07:00] Kim Guedry: That's right. And then it brought, you know, an interesting dilemma too, because the coast guard does do pollution response, and given this was well off shore, there was a responsibility there, a statutory responsibility, but also the fact that this was a commercial entity where this was initiated. So it was really.[00:07:22] A dual role where the coast guard was basically assisting the responsible party in their efforts for, for the cleanup. [00:07:32] Michael King: I can imagine that there were probably dozens or hundreds of groups, organizations, companies, government, departments involved in this just because of the scale? I mean, I'm trying to remember back to the news.[00:07:48] It was, I mean, there was oil all across the Gulf coast. I mean, there's like tens of millions of gallons, right?[00:07:54] Kim Guedry: Yeah, we were, we were essentially looking at an area from Texas to Florida essentially was the area where we were. Well, the region that was encompassed. [00:08:07] Michael King: Okay. And you were telling me your job in this whole thing was.[00:08:12] With all these, you know, many dozens of organizations that are doing different things, are involved in different ways. You've got to kind of take all of their efforts and do daily status updates on, you know, from stopping the spill to containing it to clean up. You've got to kind of consolidate all of their activities into a report so that the powers that be can feel informed as to what's going on.[00:08:40] Is that right? [00:08:40] Kim Guedry: That's right. So the area and the perspective I had on this was really, again, that Tristate area of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. And compiling that data, which ranged anywhere from thousands of miles of beach surveyed or cleaned. To hundreds of aircraft or a hundreds of vessels doing oil spill cleanup to number of people who were responding and all sorts of areas in between, such as amount of containment, boom, that was being used, which is the material that they use to contain the oil, so they can properly dispose of it or collect it.[00:09:19] And so there were. But thousands of data points really were coming in. And how do you take all of this information in and assemble it and analyze it in a way where you can push that up to the headquarter level to where that information is provided for the decision makers for a larger scale cleanup effort.[00:09:41] Michael King:  Also, that is the powers that be [00:09:45] Michael King: So that sounds like a lot. Yes. Why were you the person that was called? What was special about you. That you were in charge of coordinating all of this, or consolidating all these communications channels into like kind of a singular report. I'm sure it's, that's overly simplified, but what, what, what about you made you uniquely qualified to be that person to do that?[00:10:08] Kim Guedry: That's a great question, Mike. I don't feel like I was any different than another mid-grade officer. I happened to be living in Mobile, Alabama at the time. So for me, it was personal. This was happening in my own backyard, almost literally. And you know, so for me to voluntarily mobilize essentially so that I could stay in Mobile and to help with these efforts.[00:10:35] There it was personal and at that time. Great officer level, you know, you're often put into these situations where it is very vague and you try to figure things out as you go with lots of moving parts. And like you talked about the alphabet soup of agencies that were there and affected. so I honestly don't feel that I was any different than any other. Great officer at the time that that would have been there. [00:11:07] Michael King: When you say mid-grade officer, you've been an officer in the coast guard for 10 years at this point. [00:11:11] Kim Guedry: Probably, yes. [00:11:14]Michael King: In nothing that you had done in your career prior involved organizing communications across large scale crisis situations and putting it into, you know, some kind of a report for the president. Right?[00:11:26] Kim Guedry: No, no. Right. I mean, I've been thrust into some interesting situations. for example, I was commanding officer of an 87 foot patrol boat, and I took command three months before 9/11 happened. So those sorts of things where you're in this very dynamic situation had occurred in the past, just not to that scale or that magnitude.[00:11:49]or that. Consolidated effort, if that makes sense.[00:11:53] Michael King: Sure. When day one, you roll into the office, what's going through your head. [00:11:59][00:12:00] Kim Guedry: It was a little bit of a blur. You walk into this massive building of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in the incident command structure, which is how this was laid out.[00:12:13] You have people with different vests on which are different colors for different things. So for example, the command structure is wearing white vests. Then the response folks are wearing red vests and the finance folks are wearing green vests, and so you can kind of identify people even from afar, but it is, it's a beehive of activity for, for lack of a better comparison.[00:12:37] Michael King: Did you feel confident in your ability to step into that and execute and get shit done?[00:12:41] Kim Guedry: I was confident that I could figure it out. it was a blur and I was confident in the connections I could make. But other than that, for the position and the role I was stepping into, Nope. Nope. Not a clue. [00:12:57] Michael King: I remember after, in fact, I can't even remember sometimes in the military. But certainly after the military when I was, you know, I had started off as a staff engineer and progressed pretty quickly through the ranks and got into situations kind of similar. Just the way you describe it in, in magnitude in my mind too. There's tons of people here. I don't know what most of them do.[00:13:21] I am now in charge of making sure that they do what they do well and there's big implications if they don't. And when I found myself in those situations. I could and a lot of ways wanted to just kind of ball up and go away. Cause I'm like, why the hell am I the guy doing this? What about, why am I the one that was chosen to do this?[00:13:43] And in retrospect, I asked for it and that was one of the big reasons why I raised my hand, but I started to kind of feel like a phony. Like I'm trying to come in there and steer the ship. there's nothing special about me. I haven't done this before. And I think Seth Godin calls it imposter syndrome.[00:14:02] did you have any of those kinds of feelings? [00:14:05] Kim Guedry: Absolutely. Hands down. [00:14:08] Michael King: Tell me more about that. What was that like for you? [00:14:10] Kim Guedry: So for me, it was just a challenge, like you said, who was I? Right? Why? Why was I in this position? And, and to me it was more a matter of, okay, get your act together, right?[00:14:24] Try and figure this out. And in the meantime, just smile, nod and ask a lot of questions. And, and that whole, that whole incident or instance where, you know, you're using your aars and your mouth in the correct proportion, right where you're trying to take in all of, as much as you can, as quickly as you can. so that you can get up to speed.[00:14:47] But really up until that point, it was this blur of, right. Why am I. Who are they? Why are these people gonna listen to me? Because I have no idea what the hell I'm doing at the time until you figure it out. So, right. That was, that was an incredible challenge for me. [00:15:06] Michael King: Did you ever have a day when you came in or a moment during all the chaos where you had you thought to yourself, somebody's going to realize that I have not left clue what I'm doing and call me on it.[00:15:20] Kim Guedry: You know, I had those feelings along, along the way. But I think I would ask enough questions to make people realize, at least in my mind, that was my way of, hopefully they won't call me out, right? If I'm asking enough questions and I. Am not portraying myself in a way that I, I've got it all figured out that maybe they'll give me some grace, right?[00:15:47] And they'll allow me to learn. But at the same time, you know, you're still responsible for getting done what you need to get done and executing your mission. [00:15:57] Michael King: I think a lot of people tend to default on the other end of that spectrum when ego and insecurity come into it. And you find yourself not knowing what to do, worried that you're going to be found out.[00:16:09] Rather than ask questions as the safety net, you try to force yourself. You know, I used to say, you know, if you speak loud enough and confident enough, everybody will assume that you know what you're doing and they'll just listen to you. But you took the other approach. You said, I'm going to sit back. I'll spend, you know, 90% of the time listening 10% of the time talking or something.[00:16:30] Rather than trying to pretend like I do know the answers and directing people and giving guidance when I really don't [00:16:37] Kim Guedry: write well. I think too, I was at an interesting point in my career and where you were talking about mid-grade officers, where early on in my career, yes, I would have taken that former approach.[00:16:47] Right. Where I was, I was much like you in the sense of talking loud, make you know, move, move around, carry some papers then and people will think you're busy and you know what the hell you're doing. Right. Where later. Transition to a point in your career later. Whether it's in the military or outside where you know you're mature enough to know what you don't know.[00:17:12] We're mature enough to know that it's okay to ask questions and that by doing so and not pretending to know everything, that you're actually in a better position. One, to learn yourself in two, to make others around you comfortable with the fact that their leader may not know everything. and that's okay.[00:17:31] And I think, I think that's, that's where I am now, both in my military career and on the outside where it's okay to not have all the answers. and I'm okay with that. [00:17:43] Michael King: I love Bernie Brown. I've referenced her like a dozen times on the podcast so far, but that willingness to show vulnerability and that you don't know is the fastest way to build trust from the team.[00:17:54] It's when we go into it and we don't show that vulnerability that people tend to not trust us or trust us a lot more slowly. I'm wondering though, you're a day or two into it. There's 1,000 pieces of information coming and going. There's a red vest, green vests, yellow vest, orange vest, and all the vests and all the acronyms, you know, agencies.[00:18:16] How do you. Kind of take a breath in, step back, and start to figure out what to do next? What is the next, the literal next thing I have to do? [00:18:29] Kim Guedry: I think you said it right there. I think it's taking that step back and, and triaging, for lack of a better word on, OK, what is most important. Right now, that might not be what's most important an hour from now, but right now, what is most important for me to, to tackle or to fix or to coordinate or to facilitate right now.[00:18:54]and then kind of build from there. And once those pieces really were like a, you know, a puzzle piece that, sure, some of the pieces would change at times. But more the requirements would change, but once you start figuring out what those pieces are, you can more adequately, inappropriately put them together.[00:19:14] Michael King: How do you transition from, what's the most important thing right now? You have to make a transition from what's the most important thing right now and being hyper focused on that too. We've got to start building a longer term strategy here so that we're not always in firefighter mode. How did you transition from.[00:19:36] The most important thing. Right now, I'm being overwhelmed with just this constant barrage of data points to putting together a longer term strategy to calm things down. So it was a little bit more deliberate and less reactionary. [00:19:48] Kim Guedry: Right. That's a great question. And, and of course we had a unified area command, which was the powers that be, as you call them, above us, who pushed some of that down to what their requirements were.[00:20:02] So some of that was outside of our control, but internally I think it was really, it was very relationship based. So knowing who your belly buttons point to push, right? Who do you get that information from? Who? What are the relationships that you need to have in order to get the types the[00:20:29] Quantity and quality of information that you're looking for. And then also, I think just quite frankly, being open to the criticism of what's not working right and, and when to make those changes and even tweak the things that you're currently doing in order to build that longer term plan of moving forward.[00:20:50] and something I, at times still, you know, I struggle with, and looking back and using deep water as an example. You know, it's really what. What is your final mission? What are you trying to do? What are you trying to accomplish? So whether that's using deep water as an example or using business as an example, it's trying to filter out the noise that is not going to get you towards that final accomplishment or that final mission.[00:21:22]and yes, there are going to be some things that are going to be. Constructive in that process. And there are going to be other things that are destructive. And I think it's listening to those constructive items and trying to filter out and, and, turn off those disruptive items when [00:21:39] Michael King: people are throwing.[00:21:42] With the best intentions, advice, and suggestions at you when you're in a role, particularly when you feel like there's some imposter syndrome going on, what is the filter that you use to kind of distinguish between, this is an idea that I want to take on board and it's going to help realize that that final mission kind of thing, or this isn't something that's going to help it help me get there.[00:22:05] How do you walk through that? Because sometimes it could be a person who is saying, Hey, you really need to go left here. To get to that final goal and the other person is saying, you need to go right here. And they both say, if you go the other direction, that's catastrophic. Well, how do you filter through to determine, or do you just discard it and do your own thing?[00:22:23] Kim Guedry: No, I definitely don't just discard it. I think for me, a lot of that I may be a relationship based person. So for me it's who is that person and what is their experience? And I like to think I'm the type of person who. Who not only learns from my own mistakes, but often can learn from other people's mistakes, or at least I try to.[00:22:46]So for me, I try to use the information of people who have walked the walk and are talking the talk, right. That they're using those, their past and their experiences and that I'm able to use that to buy proxy right. [00:23:04] Michael King: [00:23:04] How long did you remain in that role? With deep water horizon. [00:23:10] Kim Guedry: [00:23:10] Right? So for that role, I was there for a healthy month.[00:23:14]and then I transitioned to an additional role as the director of on-water operations, which was essentially for, again, for that same area of responsibility, the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida region. And that was interesting. In this. Fact that during that time is when the well actually was kept. So then we were dealing with the additional problems of, okay, you have all of these boats and aircraft and things that now how do you clean them?[00:23:47] How do you decontaminate them? and how do you still clean up all of this oil and all of these things. So as a director of on-water operations, it was really starting the plans of decommissioning, if you will, and putting assets back to how they came and to making them whole again [00:24:09] Michael King: During the month that you were in that role.  What was the biggest mistake you made during that time? [00:24:16] Kim Guedry: That's a great question. So the biggest mistake I made during my second month there as director of on-water operations was really. It was really, really, it's funny, we were talking about relationships. It was a relationship mistake. I think there was, there was an individual, and I rarely have relationship challenges in getting along with people.[00:24:40] Usually I feel like I can be sort of this chameleon and you know, change to my environment. Which I think has helped me along my career, both business and, and in the military. but there was particularly one challenging individual to work with, and I think I will let it get too personal in how it bothered me, but I think that's why it bothered me is because it had never really happened before.[00:25:09] And I just struggled with that personally and professionally. Because I just don't eat. I don't like when people don't like me. Right. I think that's, that's not an uncommon feeling, but there I let it potentially affect my work. [00:25:26] Michael King: What happened. [00:25:27] Kim Guedry: Just disagreement on, one how just the operations were being run.[00:25:33] I'm from my little world, right? I'm not talking about the big picture, these things, big picture. I think we're, we're going really, really well. but in my little, my little perspective, my little world, we just had one different way of approaching other people and different ways of planning. What this next phase for our, our.[00:25:54] Responsibility was supposed to be. And yeah, it was just a personality challenge where I think he just didn't like to be quite Frank. and, and again, that had never, at least that, that visual like did that, it just never happened to me before. So I struggled with how to respond. [00:26:21] Michael King: How did you respond? That was a mistake.[00:26:24] If you could go back again and do it differently, what would you do differently? What didn't work from all of your other relationships over time? This had, what did you apply incorrectly here?[00:26:36] Kim Guedry: Probably a little too abrasive. I would probably take a more laid back approach with this individual. And maybe a little more closed door conversation versus outward disagreement in front of other people.[00:26:54] Michael King: Was ego a driver with the other person? [00:26:56] Kim Guedry: I would like to say yes. Yes. [00:27:01] Michael King: Well, the reason I'm curious is when you have big personalities. They typically don't like to be challenged in front of other people. And boy, there's fewer ways to throw up a wall then challenging them in front of other people. I know that, cause that's me, right?[00:27:20] That was me for 25-30 years of my life. And so, you know, as soon as somebody, even with good intention, is questioned, but I think it goes back to that imposter syndrome for me. Then the insecurity that goes with it. Remember I talked about, you know, being loud, you know, if I talk loud enough and confidently enough and I walk fast enough, people will just assume, and when somebody throws for me that, you know, any kind of variability there that might.[00:27:45] So, you know, what's behind the curtain with the wizard of Oz here. I would get, you know, hyper defensive and aggressive with those people. And I think it was because I knew that somebody would figure me out. They were on to me. And so the closed door conversations, while still not comfortable for me, were way better than trying to, to say it, even in a helpful way in front of other people.[00:28:09] So I. Yeah. I saw myself in that story, as the recipient of that. And so, you know, for me, identifying those people ahead of time is important so that I don't, I don't do that. Cause again, even if you have the right answer, if you approach them the wrong way with it, it doesn't matter because it's going to cause problems.[00:28:28] And now the right thing doesn't matter. You've got a more immediate problem and it's this toxic relationship. [00:28:34] Kim Guedry: Right. And I think that event did, you know it provided me with so many lessons that were not only applicable there and in my military career, but also in business where, right. Like you said, identifying those personalities beforehand and how, how, you know, when you're dealing with hundreds or thousands of people in these massive, very dynamic environments, how do you.[00:28:59] How do you do the right thing, right? Or the right thing for that individual or at that time. So I think it did provide me with that opportunity in that perspective of, okay know your audience, whether it's, you know, a fellow coast guardsman or whether it's a client or whether it's a coworker in just learning more about them or being able to read people in those situations and act accordingly.[00:29:25] Michael King: I think that exact bit of information there, this, that hyper awareness to who's around you, what is their personality? How are they going to receive you in, in the way that you are is why? For me, networking events are so exhausting. Like I come home and crash after a networking event or if I go to a conference, if I go to some local, like a meetup or something.[00:29:47] Yeah, I think that if you do it right, which is the way you describe where you're at, you know, really looking at the verbal, the physical cues, the environment, the surroundings, you know, the whole ambiance from me, it is absolutely mentally draining to do that. But it's similar in sales or business development.[00:30:05] You know, where you go from one call to the next call and it's, you know, you have to shift the way you approach. Every single time you're talking to a different client, and then sometimes you don't even know how they're showing up on that given day. Normally they could be very laid back and reserved, but they may have just come from a huge argument with a colleague or a vendor or a customer or something, and now they're in this very defensive state.[00:30:30] You have to immediately kind of recognize that in shift gears, or it destroys the relationship that you have despite, you know, no fault of your own. It's challenging. It's tough. People are tough. So you've talked about business a couple of times. What do you do outside of the coast guard now? [00:30:49] Kim Guedry: So outside of the coast guard, about four years ago, I co founded a company called Seville Solutions and we really help clients tackle their complex problems.[00:31:02] Michael King: How long ago did you start that? [00:31:03] Kim Guedry: About four years ago. [00:31:05] Michael King: Was that by yourself? [00:31:06] Kim Guedry: No. So I co founded with actually two Marine reserve colonels based in San Diego. [00:31:13] Michael King: What was the transition like going from a military mindset for how many years [00:31:22] Kim Guedry:  going on just over 20 [00:31:24] Michael King: years? Is there a mind shift change that you found you had to make going from coast guard government kind of way of thinking to business.[00:31:33] Kim Guedry: Well, I think I had, yes. I mean, it's definitely a transition, but I think I made a gradual transition and made the process more gradual in that, several of those years were on active duty, and then I did several years in the reserves as well. So in that reserve capacity, you're really. Dual hatting, right?[00:31:55] You're really wearing two different hats in that one. Yes, you still have your foot in the door in the coast guard, but you've also made that transition to the civilian sector, if you will. So for me, it was very, very gradual. and I think also in the fact that I did go into business with two other Military service members, we are able to understand each other. But I think what that does in turn is it does make it even more challenging to reach out to people who do not have that military connection. So clients and such, where they may not have that experience where the three of us may understand and to be able to communicate and translate.[00:32:39] But how is that translated. Again to the outside that that's been a challenge. [00:32:45] Michael King: How do you overcome that? [00:32:47]Kim Guedry: one, I think just with time in the amount of time, you know, the, the further I've been. You know, the longer I've been taking this transition and seeing that life does exist outside of the military, right?[00:32:59] In, watching both my husband retiring and good friends retiring and seeing that that transition is necessary because the average person does not understand. So a lot of it is just self reflection in how am I, how am I being. Perceived and received by other people. so it's just an internal process of, of learning [00:33:24] Michael King: is going into business scary.[00:33:26] Have you found, no, it still scares the shit out of me almost every day.  Has it been a scary kind of thing for you, or is it been, like a silent confidence? Like. Because you said earlier, I can figure things out. So does that confidence carry into the business or are you kind of like still in this uneasy place?[00:33:47] Kim Guedry: Yeah, no, I feel like I've done an okay job with having the confidence kind of on the outside. But again, leading to the imposter syndrome conversation earlier where it may look like that, but no. Terrifies the crap outta me. and I think it's, and it's hard and it's challenging. And every day, you know, whether you're dealing with internal company relationship problems or whether you're dealing with, you know, client issues or trying to, you know, do the business development and, and build your client base.[00:34:19] And, and you know. Execute. What brought you into business and why, why you exist? I think each and every day, those bring different challenges in, and it's still, to me, is just as challenging and scary as it was the first day. Just in a different, in a different context. Like I guess the best way to describe it is in regards to having kids, right?[00:34:44] So there are challenges of being an early parent, right? You have this baby that you know you're responsible for. They send you home from the hospital and are like, you know, here, take care of this, this new human being. and don't, you know, don't screw it up right. Well, you get over those early stages where you start figuring things out with that baby and sure that baby is going to grow and that baby's gonna mature.[00:35:06] And now I've got a teenager and, and you know, 14 and an 11 year old. Well, my challenges aren't any easier. They're just different. And I think business, at least our business is much in that same way. The challenges still exist. They're just different. [00:35:24] Michael King: Does the scariness and the certainty. And the fear that you still kind of feel impact your personal life at all?[00:35:36] Does it have an impact on you as a wife or you as a mother? Does it go from office to home at all? [00:35:46] Kim Guedry: I hope not. However, I will say I think it has changed me. Well. I say I hope not in one sense, but in another sense, I want to say I don't see how it can't because I feel like it's made me a different person in the sense I, feel like I've always had a level of confidence, but again, it's just different.[00:36:10] Right? I wouldn't, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, I would never. Be having this conversation of the fact that I was confident, outwardly confident, but terrified on the inside, like my answer, you know, 10, 15 years ago in a bin, now I've got this, I'm fine. I got this all figured out. Like that level of vulnerability.[00:36:31] Never would have been uttered from my mouth. Never, ever. So I think some of that, right, that confidence in, in figuring that, and I don't know if that comes because of the business. I don't know if that comes from many years in the military or affiliated with the military. I don't know if that comes from being a mom or a combination, you know, a synergistic effect of all of it together.[00:36:53] I don't know. Maybe it's just maturity. Maybe it's getting old Mike. [00:36:58]Michael King: some of that. [00:37:02] Kim Guedry: But no, I, I think, I don't think there's anything, when you initially asked the question, I took a negative sense to it, but I don't think that it has to be bad. [00:37:14] Michael King: Positive ways. Has it impacted you as a mother showing vulnerability, especially with two boys?[00:37:17] Kim Guedry: I think it's okay to make them understand and know that. It's okay to not be okay in 100% on your game all the time. As long as you're trying, as long as you're, you know, trying to figure it out. And as long as you're asking for help, if you need help that, that's okay to not be on your game 100% of the time.[00:37:43] That's human. That's called being human. [00:37:45] Michael King: What about his wife? [00:37:46] Kim Guedry: I think the same thing. I think the same thing, you know, where 20 plus years ago when, you know, 20 years ago when we got married, it was, yeah, it was a very different person than who I am today, and I hope I'm able to voice. Those things are better than I did 20 years ago.[00:38:05] Michael King: Well, thank you so much for coming [00:38:06] Kim Guedry: today. Thanks. It was fun.[00:38:20] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
After an illustrious career spanning nearly 40 years focused on supply chain, logistics and transportation, retail, sales and operational excellence strategy at UPS – including The UPS Store franchise network and UPS Supply Chain Solutions – Rocky Romanella became the Chief Executive Officer and Board of Director for UniTek Global Services, a provider of engineering, construction management and installation services to companies specializing in the telecommunications field. Rocky is currently the Founder and CEO of 3SIXTY Management Services, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in Executive Speaking, Leadership Development and Consulting Services. Connect with Michael:Michael KingMichael's BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to another exciting episode of In the Trenches with Michael King, where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting in the trenches of the business battlefield. I am your host, Michael King.[00:00:25] As leaders, I think we all say out loud and to ourselves that we want to create the type of culture where good news and bad news are freely shared with us. That we trust our team to bring us information about what's going right and what's going wrong, so that we can really stay on top of the health of the business.[00:00:45] It makes sure that we're solving the biggest problems and that we're aware of all the things that are going on. However. I think that if we really want to set that type of culture, we have to be deliberate about how we respond to news, whether it's good news and definitely to bad news. I know for me, particularly when I was younger in my career, when bad news would come my way, I tended to be the type of person that would fly off the deep end, yell and scream and curse.[00:01:15] You know, what the hell is wrong with you? Why didn't you get this done? But what I've learned over the years is that when you respond that way two things happen. One is people just stopped bringing you the bad news. They don't want to be the one that triggers you into asshole mode.  Number two, which might be even worse than that, is people start to lie.[00:01:36] Instead of not just bringing you the bad news, they'll lie to you about how things are going and just hope that nobody's the wiser for what's going on. Obviously that's an absolutely horrible way to run a business or how to really run a team and it's all on you as the leader to correct that.[00:01:53] So today, I'm talking with Rocky Romanella. Rocky is an honest kind of a baller in the leadership world. Rocky is the former president of the Southeast region for UPS. He's the former president of residential and retail operations for UPS. He's the former chief executive officer and director of United Global Services, which is a publicly traded company, and now he's the founder and CEO of three 60 management services.[00:02:20] Rocky is an absolute genius when it comes to helping you become the type of leader that's going to set a culture where people are willing to bring you not only the good news, but the bad news, and he has an awesome framework for helping you ask yourself the right questions and ask your team the right questions so that you don't slip into a culture where bad news is either lied about or hidden.[00:03:04] Without further ado, here is my conversation with Rocky Romanella. Rocky, Good morning, thanks for joining me. [00:03:12] Rocky Romanella: Well, good morning. It's a pleasure to be on the show with you and I look forward to speaking with you today in your audience. [00:03:17] Michael King: Likewise, so before we started the interview, you were telling me about a time a few years ago, there was a company that you were working for, and there were some really smart people on the executive team that were not asking some really basic questions.[00:03:33] And as a result, nearly 3000 employees were out on the streets. Is that right? [00:03:39] Rocky Romanella: Well, they could've been. Fortunately, we were able to, you know, fix the problem before it got to that point. But that was the potential situation that we were looking at. And I think when you look at any of the situations that potentially happen, you know, think about in the news today or in the past year or two.[00:03:57] Some household name companies that have gotten themselves in situations. Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, you think of those types of companies, and we were a smaller company at the time, but publicly traded. [00:04:08] Michael King: Well, before we dive into the details, why don't you give us a little backstory about how did it lead up to that point and how did it get to the point that, Oh boy, if something goes just a little bit more wrong here, 3000 people will be on the street.[00:04:22] What was the backstory. [00:04:23] Rocky Romanella: Well, the backstory is we're getting ready to do our final close of books and then we found a discrepancy. [00:04:29] Michael King: What does a final close of books mean for the non finance and accounting types out there? [00:04:34] Rocky Romanella: So you're getting rich. Your year ends, you're going to, you know, you're going to have your earnings call.[00:04:38] If you're a publicly traded company, you have a public earnings call. If you're a private company it's less, but you still have to, you know, file all, you know, you get a clean audit, you know, whether it's a grant or in, or whether it's, you know, one of the big four accounting firms, so can close out your books.[00:04:56] Michael King: So just tidying up the financials and reporting on what happened for the previous year. [00:05:00] Rocky Romanella: Yeah. Okay. And you can see right now, for example, it's earning season. If you're watching any of the financial news channels, it's everyone reporting their earnings now. And so you have to get that clean, you know, closure of your books.[00:05:11] And so in that process, which is a very long and tedious process, when you're through that process there, your CFO walks in and says, Hey, we've got an issue. [00:05:20] Michael King: That's never a good day. When the CFO walks in, we have an issue. Okay. So what was the issue that the CFO discovered. [00:05:28] Rocky Romanella: Well, I can't go into too much detail because we're a public company and I don't want to get, you know, I don't want to breach that confidentiality.[00:05:34] However you can imagine it was, it was a problem with the reporting of some of the numbers. And so now the question is, you've got to go back and you've got to, you know, do your research and find out what took place there. But I think the key part of that whole process is. Way up the line.[00:05:53] Someone could've asked the simple question, hey, we either have the equipment or we don't have the equipment. We actually bought it or didn't buy it. Those are the kinds of things that happened in business today that you know, there are opportunities for people to raise their hand and ask critical questions.[00:06:10] But they don't. And so what happens is the ball keeps moving along and then all of a sudden it comes to that critical point of, wait a second, we've got to close out our books, or wait a second. This is, you know, a customer thinks this is what's happening, but it's not happening. I think that's a critical component of the process.[00:06:25] Who asks the right questions? [00:06:27] Michael King: It seems like along the way, there's opportunities for maybe as many as dozens of people that are smart enough and have enough insights that they could throw their hands up and say, Hey,  this doesn't feel right. Based on what I've heard in meetings and from what I've seen in reports, why don't they.[00:06:47] Rocky Romanella: Well, Mike, that's a great question. It's a combination of a couple of different things. So the first thing is, nobody likes to deliver bad news, and most people don't do a good job of accepting bad news. And I think it starts with you as the leader. It's a tone you set from the top and by that type of leader that when Mike has bad news, he's comfortable enough to walk in, close the door and say.[00:07:11] Hey, you know, Rocky, I know this isn't what we were hoping to have happen or this isn't what we thought was happening, but this is what's happening. If I don't set that tone as a leader that I'm willing to accept bad news. Nobody ever brings you bad news. Well, nobody ever brings me bad news. I can't really ever fix anything.[00:07:30] So that's the first big issue. Do you as the leader, set the tone from the top that you won't accept bad news, and then what happens to the person who brings bad news if they don't feel like that you want to hear it or there may be retribution if I bring you bad news. So it's the climate that you set inside an organization that you're willing to hear bad news and won't accept bad news.[00:07:53] Michael King: Let's unpack those a little bit because I think the, I mean, as you identified, the, the onus is squarely on the leader to set that part of the culture. In your experience, rocket water. What are some things that when you think of the good leaders that do a good job of setting that tone, that bad news is.[00:08:12] Not only, okay, but we encourage you to bring it. What are the good leaders doing to proactively encourage that? [00:08:21] Rocky Romanella: I think they walk the talk, they're visible. They get out there, people know that they see them. Right. Cause part of, you know. Having that conversation is when people see you in the operation, for example, or they see that you're a visible person and they get to see how you interact with people.[00:08:39] I think what happens is when something is starting to go bad or something's, you know, not going in the right direction, they look around and at their level they have conversations like, well, Rocky would want to know this. Because they think that they, you know, even though they don't really know you as well as you know, they would like to know you.[00:08:59] They see you, they see you talking to people. They see that you're comfortable in your own skin, that you're, you're just like them. You're a regular person with just different responsibilities. And so that begins setting the tone that, Hey, I think he'd want to know this. I think he's the kind of person that would want to know this, or she would want to know this.[00:09:16] I think that. That begins that process. I think the second thing that's important is, okay, so you bring me bad news. I think part of the problem is, is that, you know, people are busy at whatever level they're in. There are no easy jobs in any organization, any organization. So now you keep bringing me bad news.[00:09:34] You know, it's kind of the old story. You just left the monkey on my desk. You know the monkeys, I might back down. Well. Part of what good leaders do, depending on what you're bringing me, I may say to you, okay, well I appreciate you bringing me that. That makes sense. What do you think we should do to fix it?[00:09:48] So you didn't just bring me a problem. I'm starting to train and develop you on how to solve that problem. Well, if all you do is keep bringing me bad news and people realize, Hey, you know, you're the kind of guy that accepts bad news, people will bring you their bad dudes. And so then you get overwhelmed.[00:10:05] So, I think the second part of that is being that type of leader, that sets a tone that you're willing to accept bad news. But then how do I handle that? Does that become a teaching moment? Now, if it's too big a deal, like the situation I was in, okay. Okay. Thank you for that information. Now you've got to start doing your research or homework from a legal perspective, you know, from reports and measures from what's your obligation as a publicly traded company?[00:10:28] A completely different thing, but somewhere, well, before all of that, somebody brought someone some information and they didn't handle it right. And so now it just started to get bigger and bigger and bigger. But I think the second thing is how do you accept the bad news? And then do you use it as a teaching moment?[00:10:45] And then do they walk out, trying to develop a solution as well as defining their problem too for you? [00:10:53] Michael King: I couldn't agree more with any of that. I think in my experience, one of the key elements that I've learned a lot of times the hard way in fostering a culture where, People are willing to bring you bad news is around me being vulnerable and transparent as a leader and proactively letting my team know.[00:11:12] If I give something up and say, you know, Hey guys. I got to raise my hand here because last week I handled this poorly. I signed off on something that I didn't verify and it was wrong and that caused these problems. And let me tell you how I'm growing from that. The lesson that I learned as a leader, I want to make sure you guys all learn from the mistake that I made and that vulnerability.[00:11:32] Is one of the key components and other people trust you if, if they see that you're willing to raise your hand when something goes sideways that you've caused, oftentimes people are much, much more open to bringing you those, those bad news. And boy, it's so easy sometimes the way I'm wired. is I want to just, I don't know if it's a chemical thing or if that's just a bad excuse, but the way I'm wired is my blood pressure wants to go up and, I might want to fly off the deep end when something goes bad.[00:12:03] But when people see that they don't want to be the catalyst that causes that thing. And so there, there has to be some emotional intelligence where you say, okay, I can't do that. Even if it was an egregious mistake or. The longer term repercussions of that are going to be that people just don't bring bad news because they don't want to be the reason that the boss flies off.[00:12:22] So I think having that awareness and the emotional intelligence to, to take it, digest it, and like you said, turn it into a teachable moment rather than as a reason to yell and scream and cuss and tell somebody that they're stupid. [00:12:35] Rocky Romanella:  I think that, I think, I think those are some great points that you're making.[00:12:38] And I think. The third piece though is the one that I find the most interesting. So the first two are kind of obvious. Do I set the tone from the top as the leader that I'm willing to accept bad news? And then how do I handle it when you bring me bad news? But I think there's a third piece of it, and I think the third piece of it is, is this kind of silent sanction bad behavior?[00:12:58] I think the mistake that leaders make is that you silently sanction bad behavior in the way you handle things. So for example. If safety is a core value in our organization and you're, you're moving a vehicle from just one one parking business into another parking position, and I'm happy to be standing there and you get in a vehicle, you move it when I put your seatbelt on and I don't say anything to you.[00:13:20] Well, I just, I only sang some bad behavior. So some day down the road, and I have that conversation with you about, Hey, you gotta put your seatbelt on. And you say, well, you saw me without a seatbelt. It was, it was okay that day. Right. So you just silently sanction bad behavior. I think that happens more.[00:13:37] Take the safety. That was just the example. I'll give you a quick example without using the name of a company. So my wife's been doing some work with this service company, and one of the things that they want to do is when you enter their, their, their operation or their place of business, they want agreed, they want you to greet the, the individual and maybe spend, you know, 40 to 50 seconds, you know, saying hello.[00:13:59] Sure. So far, so good. Right? And part of it is, is they have a greeter. Right? They have a person that greets, well, you know, after 40 people in this meeting show up, you need a second person greeting, right? Well, no, they don't really want to spend the money. So now, she and I are talking about it, and I said to her, well, well that's just bad leadership.[00:14:21] She goes, well, I'm confused. What do you mean it's bad leadership? Is it me? I'm doing something wrong. Is it the greeter doing something wrong? No, it's math. If you want me to spend. You know, 50 seconds with a person and you're, and the average number of people there is 40 it's X amount of minutes. Do I have that many minutes to do it?[00:14:38] Well, no I don't. Well then I just gave you, I'm going to hold you accountable to greeting everybody for 50 seconds. You don't have a chance of doing it. I'm going to tell you, Hey, you know, you gotta agree to it. Did you greet everybody today? No, I missed 10 people. You know, you gotta, you gotta meet 10 people, you gotta make sure you get those 10 people, but I don't physically have a chance to meet those people.[00:14:59] You just put me in a position to maybe make a bad decision. Like I'm just going to finally just tell you. I greeted everybody. That's when leaders silently sanction bad behavior. That's the problem, right? That's a third part of it. That I think is a bigger issue. You put me in a position, so now I have to make a decision.[00:15:18] Well, I'm either going to get fired for not greeting all the people, or maybe I don't get caught for a while and enough people come that they give me the second grader. You know, if I get the sixth day, I get a second grader, so between 40 and 60 you put me in a position that I'm either going to have to lie to you or I'm going to get yelled at every single time, and then you may lose your patients.[00:15:37] Let me in fire. That is the third spot, and I think that's the one that is absolutely poor leadership and that's when leaders silently sanction bad behavior. I know you don't have a chance to do this, but I don't want to make the decision to add the second person. [00:15:53] Michael King: Your story makes me think of a leader that I had when I was in the Navy back in my submarine days. One of his favorite sayings that used to drive me up the wall at the time, but, but now it really resonates with me is every time you fail to correct an infraction, you endorse a new lower standard. [00:16:12] Rocky Romanella: Ah, I like that.[00:16:13] Michael King: Right? So it, and it hits right with that silently sanctioning bad behavior.[00:16:17] So it's a lot of times easy to ignore it. We're busy. We have other things going on. There's competing priorities. But in your example, you know, if safety is really truly one of your core values is that other thing, that meeting you're going to, as an example, really more important than stopping and saying, you know, Hey buddy, come here.[00:16:38] Like we need to talk about. You know the seat belt thing, right? This is really important to us. And so not only are you showing them through your words, you know in that moment, but you're showing them what their axis is, there's an executive, I'm stopping what I'm doing to have this conversation with you.[00:16:52] So you get them both with words and actions there. It's, it's an interesting dilemma though, because. I think that it can be hard as leaders, in the example you used with the greeting, how would a leader know? Can you give any, you know, say, all right, I'm, I'm a busy guy and I have a big team and let's, let's stay with that greeting example.[00:17:11] How would I as a leader know that you're over task, that you're getting 60 people a minute or whatever the number is and that it's mathematically impossible for you to do a proper greeting? How would I know that? [00:17:24] Rocky Romanella: Well, I think it's two ways. Either a, you've gone up through the organization and you understand what you're asking people to do, but you're choosing to not accept that answer.[00:17:34] And so you're S you know, you, it's kind of what we all kind of grew up with, the famous line, Hey, do whatever it takes. Well, there's mean, do whatever it takes means that I don't, I don't greet everybody, but I tell you I did because you don't really want to hear it. So I think the first step is, is, you know, do I understand the business well enough to be able to.[00:17:53] No, I asked that question. A good example is, you know, we, you know, as you know, I worked for UPS for 36 years prior to the role I took on as a CEO. You know, for us it was every package, every day. That was your response. Even if you had as a, as a manager, we used to call it Brown it up. Even as a manager, if there was a package that you put your Browns on, you go deliver it.[00:18:12] Cause that package [00:18:12] Michael King: has to get delivered around enough. I like that. I've never heard of that. [00:18:16] Rocky Romanella: I got a Brown up. Well. But, but if, if you're a driver that starts at nine o'clock in the morning and it takes you half an hour to get to your first stop, it's nine 30 already, and you would have air packages delivered at 10 30 and you can only do 15 in an hour.[00:18:31] And I gave you 17. I know when you leave, you don't have a chance to be successful. So my responsibility as a leader is to not put you in that position, but I either have to get another driver. Or I have to Brown up myself. So I let you go in the hope that you'll get it delivered. Well, hope isn't a strategy.[00:18:52] That's the issue and I'm making that up. But I mean, I mean, that's the story I'm making up, but my point is, my knowledge of the business was, tell me you can't get it done on your best day. You can do 15 stops in an hour, but I gave you 17 and I only gave you an hour to do it. You couldn't even cheat.[00:19:09] I mean, you could, you, you know, you can't even be unsafe by running or driving too fast. You just physically can't get it done. Well, I didn't put you in a position to be successful. Hey, look, I'm a giant fan, a struggling giant fan here in Jersey. You know, my, my only, happiness is that we beat the Patriots twice.[00:19:28] Right? Wrong or different, whether you like the Patriots or not. The guy puts Belicheck in a position to be successful. That's what makes him a great coach. Well, that's what makes you a great leader. Do you put your people in a position to be successful? Your commander on that submarine, his goal was to make sure that every single person in his care.[00:19:49] Had the ability and opportunity to be successful, whether it's through the knowledge, whether it's the way he communicated. But if you are working 36 48 hours, it's really hard for  you to be successful if you're starting to diminish your skills. So that's, I think that's the key is do you put your people in a position to be successful?[00:20:07] So either a, you know, the job well enough, or B. I'll give you my second thing. So when I started at UPS, we all had a drive. So I was a driver, loved the job, and drove in Plainfield, New Jersey. That lesson that they taught me was any job I received that point forward in my whole career. The first thing I did was go to work a job.[00:20:29] So when I was given the responsibility when we purchased the mailbox, et cetera. To be a direct report to me. We, and then we rebranded to us today, the UPS store. First thing I did, I looked at our CEO at the time and I'm like, okay, I don't know anything about franchising. He said, look, you'll learn it. So the first thing I did was go work a day in the store, put an apron on, a work day in a store.[00:20:50] You know, I started on the supply chain side at UPS. One of the first things they did was go pick it. Order. All right, how does this work? So, yeah, my proficiency wasn't like a, you know, like any of the people that own the stores, I will never be as proficient as them there. They're world-class entrepreneurs.[00:21:08] But I took the time to try to learn the job. And. Hey, I got a sense of what was going on. And B, I got their respect that I was willing to take the time with you. That so, so the, the answer in this long winded way is simply either, a, you know it because you've done it, or B, go figure it out because you will do it.[00:21:25] Those are the two best things you can do to never get yourself in that position [00:21:28] Michael King: again. I think the importance of the answer warrants. The long-winded part, I think it's something that is, is business owners. As we grow, it's easy to lose sight of, you know, in early days of a business, most of us.[00:21:43] Or doing it all ourselves. But as we grow and we get to 10 - 50 employees, it's really easy to lose touch with what's going on. And honestly, things change. You know, on the, on the boots, on the ground level, there's frontline leaders that are doing things. So I think it's, it's hyper important that we get out there and, and work alongside our, our teams every so often just to, again, for their respect, to know what's going on.[00:22:06] Are they. Mathematically unable to be successful. What are their challenges? And like you said, just to gain their respect that you're not too cool for school, that you know, every so often you're willing to Brown up, as you said, and do the work. Another thing that I thought of is you were explaining that so well I heard an interview years ago with the first female general in the air force.[00:22:30] And, the interviewer was saying, wow, how in the world and this very male dominated, you know, industry. Did you rise to the rank of general when no other female had been able to do that before? And she said, you know, from the days that I was a first Lieutenant, up until today, even, she said, as I'm driving to work.[00:22:50] The thing that I'm thinking about is what hurdles do I have to remove from my team today so they can be successful? And that's my top priority of the day. And before I leave every single day, I said, are there any remaining hurdles that I need to remove today for my team to be successful? And she said, you know, it's not because of what I've been able to accomplish.[00:23:10] That's, that's taken me to this position. It's that I stand on the shoulder of giants because I've simply removed hurdles for them along the way. And then this is a side effect of that I have become a general, and I think that that really speaks to the heart of servant leadership, which is exactly what you're talking about is, you know, getting down and finding ways to make people successful, beyond just saying, get it done.[00:23:33] It just doesn't work that way. It doesn't work in the long term that way. I don't think. [00:23:38] Rocky Romanella: Well, I think you're absolutely correct that I also think it's what puts people in those situations that then they make some bad decisions and you're, you know, and you think, well, why would you make that? I think what ends up happening is, is that once people start to feel that pressure to where they believe that they have no alternatives, my only two choices are either.[00:24:00] You know, I have to, you know, kind of do some, you know, having an integrity violation or I'm going to get fired. You really gave him no choices at that particular point. Now that's the drastic end. That's kind of the end of the line situation. But along the way, things are happening and as a leader, it's what is the right, kind of what we started with.[00:24:20] What are the right questions that you ask? Like, you know, thinking about the whole Wells Fargo thing, you know, here's an organization over 150 years. Great. Brand. Everybody knows it. Well, how do you get to this position where all these people are making up accounts and now there's people getting fired and, and so how about the simple question that, how is it that our accounts are up.[00:24:40] Exponentially, but our revenue isn't. How about Volkswagen? You don't think somebody inside an organization was driving home one night and said, you know, hon, how come we don't get 30 miles to the guy? How come all we get in 24 I thought we get 30 that's our hours that, you know, those are like, there are simple questions always along the way that people could ask that could, you know, save people's careers, prevent these things from happening.[00:25:04] And it's a question, but nobody asks a question because they don't want to hear the answer. I always, I always say to people, you know, I met leaders, never leave their office. There's no problems in their office. You know, once I leave that office, I have to, I have to address the problem, right? So I've never been going to leave.[00:25:18] If my office is great, right? I got pictures of my kids and everybody here likes me inside of my office, but when I leave, I have to address the issues that are there and I know I will want to address those issues. So I think that that's, you know. An important part of who you are as a leader. You know, are you willing to be nailed to a diamond?[00:25:37] And I am. I said, his favorite song I have, my set is who I said I am, but am I that person? Do I walk the talk? [00:25:43] Michael King: I absolutely love that. Do you know why leaders never leave their office? There are no problems inside their office. [00:25:51] Rocky Romanella: When [00:25:52] Michael King: I leave, I have to address the issues that are out there and I don't know that I'm willing to address those issues.[00:25:57] I'm immediately thinking of, I don't know, two or three examples in my career where I've seen that behavior. And honestly I can think of a couple of examples where I've seen that in my behavior. You know, earlier, earlier on I didn't want to leave the safety of the four walls cause I knew there were problems out there that I just didn't want to deal with.[00:26:16] That's, that's incredibly insightful. Let me ask you two questions. One is, how do you think a culture gets to the point. That senior leaders do that kind of giggle, like, I don't know why we're not getting 30 miles per gallon. That's crazy. You know? And, and they know that they know what the right answer is.[00:26:34] Maybe they know it, or maybe they just kind of know it, but they know that there's something going on. So how does the culture, a company culture, get to that point? And then number two is how do you get out of it? How does it, I know it starts at the top, and that's a good generic answer. That's correct.[00:26:49] But do you have any tactical advice on how to pull yourself out of that? [00:26:55] Rocky Romanella: I think so. So on the first or the first one, I think it really comes down to, you know. This concept of your strength becomes your weakness. So if your strength is, is that your performance organization or you get things done, you, you know, those kinds of things, we'll then hook by everybody hitting their numbers or everybody hitting their targets.[00:27:16] You're just reinforcing. You know who we are, right? So you're all excited about those kinds of things. And so that's your strength. Your weakness is you're so excited about the fact that you're hitting your targets. You hit in your performance that, you know, nobody ever wants to look past that and say, wow, wait a second.[00:27:32] You know, maybe we're not really hitting those targets. I think that that's, that's, that's so important. The second thing is, is. Simple things that you do as a leader. So for example, you know, we would sit at a meeting and someone would do a presentation and they're now finally starting to hit their targets.[00:27:48] You know, they're hitting your business plan, you know, if they're hitting a rep, whatever the numbers are there, everyone's excited. And I lean over to the CFO at some point, or the engineering manager, depending on who I thought would be in their area of responsibility. I look at them and say, Hey, do me a favor.[00:28:04] These are great numbers. It's exciting to see these guys finally make it, you know, making some success. Do me a favor, go quietly, double check these numbers, make sure that they're right and if they're not getting better, go have a conversation. What's your, what's your peer here? And make sure they understand we've got to get this thing, we want the right numbers.[00:28:22] You know? And sometimes it's something as simple as everybody rounds up, right? You know, you were 19 for 19.2 for set F you know, a growth, but you want to be 20 so you're making 20 it doesn't seem like that big a deal. But you know, 20 sounds a lot better than 19.2 so, and you're saying yourself. It's not possible that we could grow that quickly, that you know or that you know those numbers can be right.[00:28:46] So you kind of quietly say to your CFO, Hey, go check that number and if it's wrong, go have a conversation with your buddy. Now, if it's, if it's really bad, you've got to come and see me. But you can save that person, you know, if you can solve problems at the lowest levels. That's what I think. You can save people.[00:29:03] You can give people an opportunity. It can be, to your point, before it could be that learning experience that, Hey, maybe I probably should have not rounded up. Okay, look, don't ever do that again. You know, we can get that fixed. Not that big a deal, but. You know, but if I started accepting those numbers, now you've got a pattern of conduct that says you always round up.[00:29:20] Now that's a problem. So I think that's, it's a question that you asked and the things that you do. And then sometimes I just go look. Sometimes I'll say, if something doesn't feel right here, Oh, I get up in the morning, I go visit it, operation, Hey, explain to me what's going on over here. You know, that kind of thing.[00:29:36] So, and then what happens is. You know, people start to correct themselves because of the questions that [00:29:41] Michael King: you ask. I think that questioning behaviors is critical with that. It's amazing, you know, Hey, let's go, let's, let's take these numbers. These are great. I want to go talk to your shift leaders or your subordinate managers, and I want to understand their opinion, like how did we achieve these goals?[00:30:00] I want to go talk to the frontline people and congratulate them and pick their brains on, you know, how did we achieve this? It's amazing. You don't normally have to peel the onion back very far before somebody says. The fuck are you talking about? That's, that's not right. You know, and cause people, people will try to keep that secret pretty high, so you don't have to pull the string too far to find that out.[00:30:21] But I think just, you know, having that questioning attitude and that, that genuine curiosity of why are we successful and showing that you're gonna ask questions and. You're going to ask questions not only in failure, but also in success. I don't believe that, you know, a lot of times we have this tendency that when we don't hit our targets and we don't hit our goals, we do these CSRs and let's pick it apart and diagnose it.[00:30:43] What, went wrong? Why didn't we hit our goals? But if you don't do that on the successes as well, it becomes very easy. To start rounding up, you know, ah, it was 19.2. The goal was 20. If I tell the boss we hit 20, then they're not going to go. Getting into our dirty laundry, things will be a lot better.[00:31:01]So I think it's important to do the CSRs and the deep dives on successes just as much as it is failures, but do it in a way of genuine curiosity, not in a way of. I'm out to get ya. And people will sniff out the difference pretty, pretty quickly. So it's, it sounds like you've put a lot of thought into these, these questions, the three of them, lots of years of experience under your belt.[00:31:24] What have you done to bring these three questions to the rest of us? It sounds like there could be a book. [00:31:32] Rocky Romanella: Yeah, there's a book, I think that's called tighten the lug nuts. It's a principle about its leadership and. In each chapter, there's a story I like to tell stories as you can tell through our interview.[00:31:41] I think nowadays, and stories I think are always great ways to learn, but there's a story in there about this whole concept of tightening the lug nuts. But in a short, you know, kind of a high level is, you know, when lug nuts are loose, they're important. You know, if I walk by a vehicle and there's loose lug nuts and I say, Hey dude, be fair, Mike.[00:31:57] We got some loose lug nuts over there, and at that moment it could take you five minutes to tighten those lug nuts, but you don't. You get sidetracked. You have other things that come up. So now something that was important becomes urgent, one of the tires falls off, and now all of a sudden you're like, ah, I've got no luck.[00:32:13] Nothing ever goes my way. What happened in the front, you know. The tire came off. Wait a minute. Why don't you just tighten the lug nuts? So the concept is don't allow important things to become urgent. When you think about when people make bad ethical moral decisions, sometimes it's because they had loose lug nuts, they didn't tighten the lug nuts, and now all of a sudden they get so far behind.[00:32:35] That's when they have to round up. Right. Wow. I didn't do it. Why did you send me an email? Can you, can you follow up on this for me? I say yes. And then all of a sudden I get, I get sidetracked and three weeks later you're saying to me as the boss, Hey, stop everything. I got to get this fixed. Or you just tell me you gotta fix it.[00:32:53] You really didn't. So I think don't allow important things to become urgent because you can only handle so many urgent things. The second thing I talk about a lot, not only in the book, but in general, and then I hope through my leadership style is I think every person has a leader. And every organization has to answer three key questions.[00:33:13] The first question is who am I? The second question is, what do I stand for? Those two, I think. Can be easily described. You know, companies can easily describe who we are, what do we stand for? I mean, you know, you walk through any organization, the cafeteria, it is, there's, there's all kinds of posters up all over our values, our mission statement, [00:33:33] Michael King: whales jumping out of water with, with clever values.[00:33:40] I have no idea if people still buy that shit. [00:33:42] Rocky Romanella: I know. So you got the first two, but number three is the question that I think is the one that you'll get challenged on. So question one is who am I? Question two is, what do I stand for? A question three has, [00:33:54] Michael King: what won't I compromise? [00:33:56] Rocky Romanella: And you have to clearly understand that.[00:33:58] So for example, as an organization, if somebody brought me a new piece of business and we're discussing how we were going to handle it. In my mind, okay, well, who are we? What do we stand for? What will we compromise? So, for example, if it's something that could be safety related, Hey, look, we're in. If we're climbing towers, Hey, if we're not in the cloud Motown or over 40 miles an hour, I don't care if it's 41 miles an hour, we're not climbing the tower.[00:34:23] Well, there could be a lot of pressure put on you for missing that. Last tower client for example. It's making this step up. The point though is if you're going to get challenged on number three, what won't I compromise? That means I might have to report bad news to wall street when I do my earnings calls.[00:34:38] I may mean I may have to report bad news for the largest investor, sir. Whatever those things are, I may import bad news to our people that there's not a bonus this year, but I have to know what number three is. Whoa, what? What are the things that I will not compromise as a person, as a leader. And as an organization, and I think those three questions are very, very critical to you as a person, as a leader in that, as an organization.[00:35:04] Michael King: Wow, that's, that is incredible. So how do you answer that then? What I mean is when I say, how do you answer that. Do you, do you think that it's a best practice for the C suite to sit down together if you're a larger company or maybe the, the top one or two key players for smaller companies, and maybe if you're a really small company, it's just the CEO, but they sit down and they really think about that and they write it down and communicate it or what, what do you have you found to be the best practice for identifying and communicating?[00:35:35] What won't we compromise. [00:35:37] Rocky Romanella:  I think you really have kind of articulated the approach that I really take, which is, okay, so what I want into my new role as a CEO. We sat down, we said, okay, we have values, we have values, statements, we have mission statements. Okay. We had a whole staff meeting and talked about let's talk about this.[00:35:55] And they kind of look at you like, yeah, I know, but that's what's on the website. That's what's on the posters. Okay? But that's who we are. Okay, so let's talk about who we are. All right, so this is what we do. This is how we do it. What do we stay at? Four Oh, you know, world class service, going through all these different things.[00:36:10] You know, thinking about the mission statement, value statements you've seen. No. You know, we're going to value diversity. We're going to go through all the classic things that you and I've seen through and people listening to your podcast have seen all over. Okay. So that's, you get through that pretty quickly and everybody, you know, talks about it and you know, they get through the awkwardness or why, why are you putting up the mission statement?[00:36:29] Why are you putting up the value statements? But you know, then the number three is, okay, we'll only compromise. So they kind of stare at you at first. Well, what do you mean? Well, I'm like, well, only compromise a service. Okay, well what does that mean? Does that mean that, okay, you won't compromise service, so you're going to do something illegal or you're going to eat or you're going to speed to get there?[00:36:49] I mean, what are the things you won't compromise? And then you really start to get to what are the things safety, integrity. Those are the things you won't compromise. Right? Cause if you compromise safety, there are going to be times when you won't complete a task because you won't do it safely.[00:37:04] There is going to be a time where a driver's over got hours and you're gonna say, Hey, I'm sorry you can't drive. Yeah, I know, but we won't, we're not going to get these packages delivered or we're not going to get this, this, this task done. Okay, but I'm not going to allow you to drive on safely. I'm not going to allow you to violate your DLT hours.[00:37:19] Those are the critical decisions, right? Because if I say I'm always going to be, I'm always going to have 100% service. Well, that may mean the only way I can get 100% services I violate what. Integrity safety could be. So that I think that third question, then you start to get really deep, and so when we look at each other and then we're like, okay, these are the things, this is a commitment we're making to each other as a C-suite or we're never going to compromise it.[00:37:43] Safety's a core value in our organization. We would rather call a customer and say, I'm sorry I couldn't get this completed. Then get it done and do it in sequence. And nothing says you care about your people more than you won't let them work unsafely. You're never going to let them do that.  It'll stop everything and say, you can't do this.[00:38:03] Same thing with integrity. I'm not going to round up, and I think there's two types of integrity. If I could just say this quickly, one is the obvious integrity. You know what number two is the integrity of your word. I said I was going to do something. Did I do it? I told you I was gonna call you back and I called you back.[00:38:17] Did I answer the email that you sent me two days ago that was important to you? That's integrity over your word. It's hard to run an organization where everyone's working together and we're all on the same page. When you don't have integrity of your word, if I can't trust it, you're going to be there for me.[00:38:34] It's hard for me to take the really kind of be a team of a team in harmony, [00:38:41] Michael King: So I'm going to challenge you. Here, I'm going to ask you that. I'm going to ask you the hard question, right? Larry King style. So let's say that, let's, let's use the example of safety. You know, what will we compromise? We won't compromise safety ever, period.[00:38:56] And, let's say that you're, you're the CEO and you find that there was a compromise of safety. And let's just say that one of your drivers violated the DOD rules and they drove more hours than they should have in a given period of time. How do you handle it? [00:39:14] Rocky Romanella: I think you start with. Okay. What are the checks and balances that we have in place?[00:39:19] Was it a mistake or was it a bad decision? So I always start with, was it a mistake or a bad decision? If it's a mistake, then you talk to the individual, your work with them, you know, and you correct the mistake. If it's a bad decision, that's now that you've got an issue of, you know, as leaders, we were paid to make good decisions.[00:39:36] So why did we make this bad decision? You know, what were the checks and balances in place? When did somebody know that there was a DMT violation? You, did they move it up the chain and say to their manager, Hey, look at the DLT violation. Okay, well what happened? So I think you have to understand it wasn't a mistake or a bad decision.[00:39:53] Michael King: So let's call it a bad decision. And this fictitious example, that was a bad decision. The driver knowingly drove longer than he knew he should have. [00:40:03] Rocky Romanella: So then, so there's two parts of that. A, the driver has a responsibility to fall on his log book, and so you'd have that conversation with them. Hey, I appreciate it.[00:40:11] If it's a good driver that really wants to do a good job, that's when you're saying, look, I appreciate your energy and your efforts. I appreciate you wanting to. You know, hit our service targets, but don't ever put yourself in harm's way. You could never get fired for you. Can never get yourself in trouble, is a better way to put it.[00:40:26] You can never get yourself in trouble by coming forward and saying, Hey, I'm out of hours. I'm sorry. I'll accept that. But for you to fill out your life, probably that's going to get you in more trouble. So. So your safe Harbor is to come forward and say, Hey, I've got some, I got an hours violation and we'll work through that.[00:40:43] If you, if you come right to us, we may be able to fix the service by sending another driver out there. Right. Right. I can fix it when you bring it to me. I can't fix it once it's after. So don't ever feel so, so I appreciate it. So if it's a good person, you want them to know you appreciate their energy and efforts.[00:40:57] You appreciate their intentions were good. But Hey, we don't compromise safety. It's okay for you to come forward. You can never get in trouble. But coming forward and bringing us to a situation we can help you with, if it's a person who's just, you know, not doing a good job or just lazy about it, say it doesn't really care if they, I don't really care about that.[00:41:14] I was feeling good. Okay, that's a bad decision. You don't have a right to put yourself in harm's way or our company in harm's way because you didn't. So that's the employee side of it. As the leader, as the manager. You know, the amount of hours the person works. Right. So, you know, but based on his, you know, his punch in punch out time that you work more than your hours.[00:41:38] So did you raise your hand? Did you go and talk to the driver? Did you say the supervisor, Hey, Rocky worked 14 hours yesterday. He's gotta be, you know, based on his weekly logs or whatever. I mean. Did you ask the question or no, I don't really want to get involved in that. So then, once you have that conversation with the, you know, with the driver, and I think going to the leadership team and say, Hey man, this guy's getting himself in trouble.[00:41:59] You're getting yourself in trouble by looking the other way. You should be asking the right questions. It's not logic, all that he's not in violation based on the amount of hope, but based on the time he punched in upon style. So you want to have that conversation with that, with the leadership team to say, Hey, you know why what's your double checks?[00:42:14] What's your reports and measures? What are the things that you have in place to prevent this from happening and help me out. It's kind of Jerry Maguire. Help me help you. [00:42:23] Michael King: To what extent though? So where I'm driving with the question, Rocky is so you, you say out loud like, Hey, we're, we're not going to compromise on safety yet in this made up example, you've got a driver that compromise on safety.[00:42:37] There was a manager that compromised on safety. So at what point do you say, all right, you can't be a part of this team. We had this, this value that we won't compromise and it was compromised here willingly, and this, this made up example. Is that a fireable offense or not yet? [00:42:55] Rocky Romanella: Well, I think, I think so. So that's a great question.[00:42:58] So I think, so then what I, for me personally, now this is me. I would take a step back. And so when I originally went to college, I went to college being a high school history teacher to baseball coach. And one of the first classes a professor has said, if everyone in the class fails, you didn't teach. But if you have one or two people who failed a test.[00:43:17] Then you've got to get what those one or two people. So I bring that example up because that's my, that's my line of thinking. So I would take a step back to answer your question and say. Well, is this a problem that everyone doesn't understand, that, that this is a core value and that I really, we haven't done a good job as an organization to reinforce that this is a serious situation right here, that we will never compromise this.[00:43:41] So did everybody fail the task because we didn't train them properly, we didn't educate them properly, or does the communication issue, or is it one or two people? If it's one or two people and then, then you got to go to the leadership team and say, Hey, look, you know, you've, you've used your get out of jail cards here.[00:43:56] All right? We're not going to discuss this any further. Your responsibility [00:44:00] is to never compromise safety and put things in place to protect you and your people and our organization. So, and I think you gotta go to that driver and say the same thing. Appreciate everything you've done, but don't put yourself in harm's way.[00:44:12] Raise your hand. But if it's a situation where you think that, wait a second, we have this issue, then I think it's time to have that conversation where you. Maybe Gavin general now, today by halo, you know. Well, a good example was before Christmas. We would always send out, reminding everybody, cause you work a lot of hours at Christmas delivering all those packages, right?[00:44:33] They reminded everybody, make sure you keep good logs, make sure you, and we tend to the management team, you better keep track of you. They are ours. We don't want anybody though hours violations because we didn't do a good job. So you, there's ways for you to anticipate things that are going to be happening along the way.[00:44:49] But I think you want to know, is it, is it isolated to one or two people or is it, I didn't teach properly and so everyone fails a test, and if everyone failed a test, and I have a responsibility as a leadership team to make sure that, okay, I got to go back and do that lesson again. [00:45:03] Michael King: Fair enough. So tighten the lug nuts, the principle of balance leadership.[00:45:08] Where can people buy it? [00:45:10] Rocky Romanella: Thank you very much for asking. It is a barn. It's, at best places, Amazon online. They do a great job fulfilling for me and, and Barnes and Noble online. Certainly on our website, www is a number three and the word 66 T Y management services.com for every book sold. so some years ago I got the opportunity.[00:45:32] To sit and have a four hour conversation with legendary coach John wooden. Wow. Yeah, it was amazing. And so I have that. I have the actual interview on my website, if you get a chance, it's on under coaches corner and it's the actual conversation with coach wooden. And in 1999 but when I met with coach Wooden and we talked a little bit, and of course at the end I said to him, coach, is there anything we can do?[00:45:55] And at that time I was working for UPS, so I was actually speaking to him on the app. Ups and he was going to be a speaker, you know, as a recording on one of our, one of our management conferences, he said to me, no, no rock. You asked me if I could help you, and certainly I have no problem doing that. I said, well, can we donate?[00:46:10] Or he said, can you donate to the Jimmy Valvano fund? And I, you know, I was so touched by his humbleness and his desire to help someone else. And of course, coach Nevada passed away at that time, but, so, so for every book sold, we donate $1 to the GBV foundation. So, I think it's a great read, but [00:46:28] Michael King: if I.[00:46:29] Rocky Romanella: Well, I shouldn't say that. Sounds boastful. I think you'll think it's a good read. I think you'll enjoy it, but at the very least, you'll be building a tower to the Jimmy V foundation. [00:47:31] Michael King: Awesome. Well, Rocky, thank you so much for coming on today.[00:47:34] This was a great lesson for me today and, I'm sure for our listeners as well, and I, I can't thank you enough for being here. [00:47:41] Rocky Romanella: Thank you. Pleasure talking to you.[00:47:51] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to in the trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Connect with Megan Everett:TwitterInstagram Personal & BusinessFacebook Personal & BusinessLinkedIn Personal & BusinessConnect with KFE:KFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am Michael King.[00:00:23] If you’ve found yourself in one of those situations, one of those predicaments where you realize that you're in a world of shit, a really bad place. You've made some kind of mistake, you've screwed something up pretty badly and you know you need help. But you don't ask for it because you're so embarrassed by the mistake that you've made.[00:00:46] You're so fearful that others are going to judge you for what you've done, or you feel like you don't have anybody around you that can even help you out of the particular situation that you're in, so you don't even bother asking. I know I have, and I think for me, when you get into those kinds of spots, you start to feel really alone.[00:01:08] Shameful, isolated and quite honestly just scared shitless. Today, I'm talking with my friend Megan Everett. Megan is the CEO and founder of Perform. She's going to tell us all about performance here in a minute, but Megan, a couple of years ago, had paid software developers, six figures to develop some custom software for her platform.[00:01:34] The person ended up not only milking her out of that six figures, but they also tried to leverage her network against her, and all of a sudden, Megan found herself alone and afraid. Ill equipped to handle what was facing her. And so, she went into a place of depression. She isolated herself and really just got under the blanket on the couch and hid for several weeks until she got herself out of it.[00:02:02] By surrounding herself with a strong support network. And also, some lawyers. So today, I'm going to talk with Megan about her journey into this really bad decision to work with this horrible company. We're going to talk about the lowest lows that she felt during that time, and then she's going to tell us how she got out of it.[00:02:22] And she's going to give you some great ideas on how you can avoid a similar fate. Without any further ado, here's my conversation with Megan Everett. Megan Everett. Good morning. How are you? [00:02:35] Megan Everett: How are you? [00:02:36] Michael King: I'm awesome. You were telling me that it wasn't in the too far distant past, that you lost $120,000 from a shitty vendor.[00:02:46]you were telling me that basically you got conned, you signed a contract, you did not lawyer up and have them take a look at it. And this vendor walked away with $120k. In cash, basically at a time when you really didn't have $120,000 to spare. Tell us what happened. [00:03:06] Megan Everett: I knew this person for about a year before I signed a contract with them.[00:03:10] So they played a nice long game and we started talking about things that I wanted done with the platform that we currently had and coding that needed to be redone and dashboards, things like that. And we came up with this idea for like the kind of just revamp, perform all together. [00:03:29] Michael King: So tell us what is Performed.[00:03:30] Give us a little bit of background on the company. [00:03:32] Megan Everett: Yeah. Perform is a forecasting software. it's a little bit more than that. So simply plug into your CRMs and we have an API to most of that, making custom build, anything else. But what we do that's a little different is we do it on an individual rep basis.[00:03:49] So we take all of the data from your whole team and then we take it rep by rep. And tell you with what they've done and the leads that they have currently, what they'll do this year. And then we give you information that you're normally not getting. Like this is what this rep closes fast. This is the leads that you're going to have to give them this year for them to do the same thing or to meet your goals.[00:04:12] So, and then we give each rap and education path and it's all gamified. We're building an app right now that'll make it a lot more fun to do too. [00:04:22] Michael King: Interesting. So you take the data that's already in a CRM and existing CRM, you've got something that plugs into it. It says, Hey, based on, you know, this particular sales reps, past performance, the goals that they've got for this year, this is what you're going to need to tee up for them if you want them to close those targets.[00:04:41] Is that accurate? [00:04:43] Megan Everett: Yeah, that's exactly what it is. [00:04:45] Michael King: So early days. You've got some software build out that you need done. And this, this evil doer for a year is kind of nurturing. And, you're telling him all these things you need built out. And then he's like, Hey, we can do that.[00:05:02] Megan Everett: And very strategically, and I didn't think about this till recently.[00:05:09] I was with the person that he had introduced me to. The day that he sent his proposal. So he knew that we were spending the weekend in San Francisco, and so he knew that I was with that person and had like a little bit of reinforcement of somebody to be like, this student's super cool.[00:05:29] He's so great. It's going to do these great things for you. So that was interesting. But he sends this proposal, this guy also has a law degree. And I trust them and he's like a super simple contract like, and does the whole, if you want to have a lawyer, look at it, do that. But you're really wasting your money.[00:05:50] And I find the only thing I'd ever used the lawyer for at this point was to file an LLC. And even then it was like, I could've done that on my own. So I really didn't know and we weren't making a ton of money at this point. We'd just like literally the week before I had gotten our first enterprise contract and the money hadn't even come in yet.[00:06:10] So I'm looking at this. The contract is for $250,000 to be paid out over the next eight months or something. And I'm looking at our growth and like what's coming in and what I think is going to come in and I'm like, we get a for this if we strategically make our payments and kind of like. I don't hire this person.[00:06:31] I was going to hire, but like then I have the software. So things were already really tight and this was going to be a stretch. But I also have this other person that's like, he builds a means and softwares, look at these other softwares he's felt, and I'm like, okay, like I'm going to do this. And then the next month comes, this is like November, 2018.[00:06:53] He starts talking about like, maybe you should come to Dallas for a while and actually work with the team so it looks the way that you want it to look. I uprooted my entire life and moved to Dallas in January. Literally like get rid of my place and I get to Dallas and he has like a few interns working for him.[00:07:13] There's no dev team here[00:07:19] Megan Everett: So what the actual fuck. And he started to explain to me that, like his team is actually in Pakistan I think. And I'm like really weird. Like why am I here? And a couple months go by and there's a lot of arguing and me having to like pull information and basically threaten to pull our contract to get any updates and I'm not getting any, like I haven't seen any code and we're in March at this point.[00:07:49] So we've gone from November to March and I've seen no code at all. So no code comes through and it's March. [00:07:57] Michael King: How much have you paid at this point? [00:08:00] Megan Everett:  I think we're towards 100,000 at this point. [00:08:04] Michael King:  So you're north of six figures in this thing. You're five months into it and still not a line of code, [00:08:12] Megan Everett: Not a line of code.[00:08:13] All I've seen literally like to illustrate our mockup. mobile pages, all I've seen and like maybe 10 and 10 is probably generous, like a Google doc of up to 10 pages that is basically like, this is like a book broken down and ways that we can use it in the app, which I'm not even sure that that person actually wrote.[00:08:38] Michael King: Wow. [00:08:38] Megan Everett: I think they pulled it from somewhere else. [00:08:41] Michael King: Where you having that sinking feeling at this point [00:08:44] Megan Everett: The thing that gets me is I was having it in December before I even knew that I was like somethings off and I had sent this text to him and was like, Hey, I need a timeline and I need benchmarks and I need all these things, but I've also already signed this contract that has no cancellation clause, and I'm like, what am I supposed to do here?[00:09:06] And his response to that was, you need to trust me and you don't know how development works. Why would I waste my time with that with you? [00:09:16] Michael King: Like literally he said that [00:09:18] Megan Everett: I have it in text messages and at this point I'm such a very naive but not seasoned owner or CEO at all at this point. I mean, I have two other employees right now when we're talking about this.[00:09:32] So I had no idea what to do. [00:09:37] Michael King: When you got that text, what did that feel like? What were you thinking? What were you feeling? [00:09:42] Megan Everett: I mean, I'm pretty sure I cried because I cry. I thought I had made a horrible, horrible mistake and the thing I wouldn't have done. I kept doing. Was I kept going to men in my life and saying like, this is happening and this is how I'm feeling.[00:10:00] And they're all so logical and a lot of them like our engineers or have like these coding brains cause I was like, is this normal? Like, like what is happening? Am I being overly sensitive? And a lot of their answers were like, well Megg, you are like a little overly sensitive in general. And maybe he's just like, this is the way that a human and he's just not responding in the right way.[00:10:23] So I dismiss a lot of this early on. As like just bad social skills and like being very intelligent and an engineer, which I later found out that he's not, and he doesn't code, but other things start happening. Like he starts like going into, he's calling my lawyer on his own.[00:10:49] He's going into my bank on his own and asking questions about our accounts and he's not on the accounts. [00:10:57] Michael King: So he's like physically going to the bank and asking them questions about your account. Yeah. And he's calling your attorney and asking questions about you and your business. [00:11:10] Megan Everett: I mean, this guy is smart.[00:11:11] He introduced me to my attorney in Dallas, and went to my first meeting with me. Part of our contract was like. Equity given upon completion of the product. So my attorney knows he's involved in the company. He went to the private banker. I'm not going to say the name of the bank with us and introduced me when I first came to Dallas.[00:11:37] So he's like, he's already put himself in a place to look like he's a business partner when he's not. And he's telling people and like introducing me to people and I'm not seeing any of this. So like when he goes to a meeting to meet an investor with me, he looks like a business partner and he's basically setting this up to be like, if I were to freak out and say, you're no longer part of the company.[00:12:03] It looks like I just took the company from him. [00:12:06] Michael King: Wow. [00:12:08] Megan Everett: Which is so ingenious, like evil genius, that that's how half the people would, it happened. They thought that like I actually screwed him over. [00:12:18] Michael King: So he was just kind of strategically inserting himself alongside you. Yeah. With the key relationships that he would be able to leverage later to make it look like he was part of, of you in your team and perform.[00:12:32] So that's when the scam was kind of coming to a head like this. Honestly, this seems like an episode of American greed. I on CNBC where it's, you know, how people scam other people and defraud people. This could legit be an episode of American greed. [00:12:50] Megan Everett: I've never seen it. There are two other large companies that, I won't say the names because they have lawsuits going on with them as well.[00:12:57] They'll have the same thing happen and he still tells people that he built their entire platform, which is part of why I was like, you built those platforms. Those are like nationwide companies that are killing it. Of course I would go with this person. [00:13:12] Michael King: So the guy goes into your lawyer, your attorney, your banker, he's, he's finding out, I'm guessing, financial information, like what do you have?[00:13:22] How much can he milk you for? He's kind of figuring that out. Probably pinging the lawyer to see how much does she really know about law and you know, how far can I push her? [00:13:32] Megan Everett: A lawyer that he plays basketball with. So this is like a friend of his, which is also interesting and like mad that I couldn't use my lawyer for anything with him, which was so beneficial to have because I had to go find a new lawyer that had no history to actually like deal with this case [00:13:52] Michael King: and all the expenses that come along with that when you're super half strapped.[00:13:56] Megan Everett: Yeah. So, it's so frustrating. [00:13:58] Michael King: But. I didn't know we were going to get a roadmap for fraud today. This is the first for In the Trenches. We have a roadmap for fraud. Everyone take notes. [00:14:06] Megan Everett: Right? Like it's so funny cause I have for a while now, I wanted to backtrack this and actually start telling people like these are signs to watch for and I put it in some kind of document or start talking about it.[00:14:19] Michael King: We'll put it in the podcast. Right? Here we go. [00:14:23] Megan Everett: So many people tell me they've had similar things happen. Not this strategic. This is incredibly strategic and I think this person has done it more than the other two times that I know of. [00:14:35] Michael King: He's a pro. [00:14:36] Megan Everett: Yeah, definitely. So everything comes to a head, and I know exactly the date because I was supposed to go to a benefit with him that night.[00:14:45] It was March 27 so we were supposed to go to that earth, earth acts, garden party or something. Anyway, it doesn't matter. And literally throughout that day, like everything is starting to blow up and I am realizing that this person is actually going to try to steal my company. So it wasn't just the money.[00:15:05] He started trying to say that. He was now the CSO of my company and that I had guaranteed to have another 20 per site and I wasn't keeping up my end of the deal with the vendors and he starts telling people there was investor fraud. We had not taken any money or gone into due diligence with anyone at this time.[00:15:27] So there was no way for there to be any new investor fraud and that he is going to do. Something that makes sure that I am out of the company and he gets the entire company. So this is a story that he's telling everyone I've met in Dallas, which is insane, and I am hearing it like I'm literally walking to get a blow out for the benefit and like my phone is blowing up and people are like[00:15:52] Did you commit investor fraud? And I'm like, we have no investors. What the fuck are you talking about? And I literally, it's like literally blowing up like that for 45 minutes of a dry bar. I'm sitting there looking at my phone and like in spheres at Drybar and everyone's looking at me like, who the fuck is this girl crying?[00:16:14] I'd be like, I just have to leave. I think I left before they even finished and didn't go to the gala. Obviously. I just went home and I was like, I don't even know what to do. And all of a sudden I have my lawyer telling me, you need a new lawyer. You shouldn't spend any performa money on it. You need to spend your own money.[00:16:35] And I'm like, I don't have my own money.  [00:16:39] Michael King: both say no. [00:16:41] Megan Everett: Right? And I'm like, I have none of my own money. Everything I have is in performa. I have a C Corp, how the fuck do I have to spend my own money on this? My life literally imploded within. What it felt like five days to me.[00:16:56] If like the Friday before this, we were all at a birthday dinner, my birthday dinner, and I had friends from my hometown there, other friends from California, and the sky had picked up the entire bill for the dinner. So it went from like, we're celebrating me and this guy's picking up a bill at stir, which is not super expensive, but like.[00:17:36] Because this thing that I spent a year and a half building was either going to go bankrupt or was going to be somebody else's is what I thought. I'll not die and it was fucking horrible. [00:17:47] Michael King: So what did you do?[00:17:48] Megan Everett: What I did is not something I recommend for anyone. I went into this like panic. I am going to try to fix it with him mode, which I think anybody who's inexperienced thinks that they can fix it, especially when they're at this place of like, I can't afford this.[00:18:05] So I started texting him and trying to meet with him and giving him more and more information, which was exactly the opposite of what you should do. But I realized that at the point I thought I was, I really thought I was going to be able to make it better and that I went on like. Just a spiral of like crying all the time.[00:18:26] I wasn't leaving my apartment at one point. I packed up my car. I told my lawyers I was doing this. I was like, I'm going to go home for a week or two. I don't get on a plane for some reason. I think it's a really good idea that it's going to clear my head to take a 30 hour drive. [00:18:42] Michael King: That'll kill your head.[00:18:43] Megan Everett: Yes. We also have to drive it back at some point. [00:18:47] Michael King:  There's too much, too much. [00:18:50] Megan Everett: So I drove back home and went to a friend's house and just showed up and they knew I was coming, but I was like, I just can't deal with life. The only people I talked to for those two weeks were the lawyers and I had never watched Game of Thrones before.[00:19:06] And I watched all of Game of Thrones in two weeks. [00:19:10] Michael King: You didn't watch that before season eight, right? Yes. Yeah. Good, good. If you'd watch season eight, you would have probably just quit the business. You're like, I did what my first missed. My first mistake was letting this guy scam me. My second mistake was watching season eight of Game of Thrones.[00:19:29] Megan Everett: but it started while I was there. So I think the first episode happened while I was home. But I went home and continued to watch it while all this was happening, which is just a really bad idea. But it took a really long time. I went back to Dallas. I was just like in this horrible fog, fiddly broke at the time because I was spending everything I personally had on lawyers and decided that the best thing I could do was to move back to California where I had a support system cause I felt like everyone I was talking to.[00:20:00] There was a quote, friends were coming into help and they'd be like, Oh, so we'll do this for you if you pay us $10,000 a month. And I was like, what is happening? And we had started to build a sales team at this point. Thank God I had a good sales leader to talk to, brought up the work for a while and I had a little breakdown.[00:20:21] It really took until like September for me to get to a point where I was like, okay. None of this is okay. I'm not going to keep arguing with this person or taking their equity away. Like I'm not even not even fucking dealing with this guy saying that he owns part of my company. He hasn't busted over three years.[00:20:40] He didn't deliver a product and he stole from us. Like send him a letter. He no longer has equity. we're reporting him to the FBI and then we're suing. To him for everything that he took times like five. So that's where we're at now. He hasn't bothered us with equity. He's still seeing things, but I don't, he can say whatever he wants, I don't care.[00:21:03] But it was very much like this process of like, I thought that I had screwed up so badly that no one would ever invest in our company. Like I saw all of that as my fault, and I think the best founders and CEOs would. Like, we're not going to blame anybody else for our financial mistakes, but it took me a longer to get over that.[00:21:25] Then it shut up. I didn't go into like action and I didn't feel comfortable telling lawyers that they were wrong. Like their whole, like, let's just like make a settlement. People kept telling me like, you're probably going to have to pay him 200,000 more. And I was like, no, like I know. So it just kept being this argument and I spent so much on legal fees, but knowing what I know now, I would have immediately just told lawyers like, we're not even discussing this.[00:21:52] Like this is a con artist. We need to take his equity back. We need to start suing them and we need to report him. And I wish I would've done that earlier, but this is where we're at. [00:22:03] Michael King: When you think about the breakdown that you had, what was that like? [00:22:08] Megan Everett: I don't know. I've never thought of myself as a depressed person.[00:22:12] I've always liked, not that I haven't been sad or been depressed before, but I've always been like any depression I've had, I can name. And it's so situational that it's more like sadness and event based, like somebody dying or like losing the job, things like that. This was different and it was the first time that I was ever actually worried about my mental health.[00:22:37] Like I don't think I've ever felt that lost or like there wasn't a next step. And I remember talking about like if I had to go get another job, I was actually so afraid that this event would mean that nobody would ever hire me. Like I had convinced myself, but like I was so stupid. I had fucked up so badly that this was just ruining my entire life.[00:23:05] And I joke about it now, but at the time it wasn't funny at all. Like I was either ordering Instacart or Postmates every single day will Instacart, not every day, but like I would order Instacart and not eat groceries and then order Postmates because I think when we're depressed, we do this stuff a lot.[00:23:23] And then I was just like watching TV and literally, so this is like June in Dallas. You know how hot it is. I was so hot, but I had my AC so low that I was literally in like Christmas flannel pajamas with a plush robe and blankets on my couch watching Netflix. Like this was like, I don't know what I was doing, and I was kind of working like I was doing what I had to, to make sure that we didn't lose our corporate clients, but I wasn't doing anything else.[00:23:58] I wasn't working with new clients or going into the office at all. I can't really explain it. The only way out of it was to literally leave where I was physically. Like I had to be around people that like. Would be there and show up and like be a support system. And I also just knew that there was no way that I was going to get out of it.[00:24:22] Being in Dallas and feeling like I had no one there. [00:24:25] Michael King: So that support system was really key in kind of pulling you from it [00:24:32] Megan Everett: and it still took some time. [00:24:34] Michael King: What does a good support system look like? If I find myself in a place like that, what type of people would you encourage me to go surround myself with?[00:24:44] Megan Everett: I think it's what I encourage people to have all the time anyway. And I actually, I think we all need a cheerleader. Like you're annoying friend who thinks you can do anything and actually believes it. We all need that person. they're also the friend that's always going to show up. Like your cynical friends that are going to tell you the hard truths are normally the ones that are going to show up, but like cheerleaders from the things that you're really going to be a billionaire and on stage with Oprah.[00:25:09] That's the one. And then we do need, like the friends that are like, this is bullshit. Get out of bed. So I have, I have like my cheerleader friend who was amazing. I actually came back to my hometown, so I went back to my hometown, rented like a little 300 square foot pool house for the summer. And, I have a really good friend who's like a cheerleader.[00:25:33] I have a friend who is my no bullshit. None of this matters. And would tell me these things, like, I don't want to fucking hear about this anymore. Why aren't you working in, what the fuck are you doing? Why aren't you in Dallas? And it would be like, what are you doing to make this better? And I think those two people are so key.[00:25:52] And then my mom and my sister are still in my hometown, and that was really important just to be able to go over to mom's for dinner or have my sister over or do something. And I think that the church for almost anything in this world is really community. And I think that's why we do things like join masterminds.[00:26:13] Michael King: It's not Instacart [00:26:15] Megan Everett: No, apparently not. Also like not your four year old, a Christmas drama from your mom. Not, not the cure either, but I don't know. I think for me it's those two key key people, because you need the person that's going to be like, you're full of shit and this is dumb, but you also need the person that's like, you can do this.[00:26:35] And I think rarely are they the same person. [00:26:38] Michael King: Do you think that, in all seriousness, do you think the four year old Christmas pajamas in the Instacart is part of the process? Is it a necessary part of the process to get out of it? Do you have to have time to kind of be in your own mind so that you can get out of that place.[00:26:55] Megan Everett: I think you do. At one point when the fog had kind of lifted, I, I hired a coach in July, which I'll talk about, but I had sent him a text and I was like, if I ever get to a point where like, I'm working for my bed for four days, can you just like snap me out of it? And his response to me was the darkness as important as the light, which gets a little annoying when you don't want to hear.[00:27:16] We were shit. But I was like, fuck it. Like it is. And it's important to feel all of that. I don't know that it needed to be to the extreme that it was like, I don't think it's ever healthy to just not leave your apartment for three weeks at a time. Am I not leaving my apartment? I mean like, you know where I live in Dallas, but literally there's restaurants all around me.[00:27:38] So it was like going downstairs and going to Starbucks or going to the smoothie place behind. Or maybe go to Eavis and pick up something, but always at the back of my apartment within like 10 minutes. [00:27:51] Michael King: Was alcohol part of that time. [00:27:53] Megan Everett: No, actually, so I don't, I have a rule. I come from a [00:28:00] family that has a lot of addiction issues, and this is a rule I made in my mid twenties that if I'm sad, I don't drink, and it's something that I just stuck to and I don't actually know how, because.[00:28:11] I'm like, fuck. Like drinking would have made that so much easier. It wouldn't have, but you know, like drinking is not something I turn to when I'm sad at all. I think I've always just been too afraid that this kind of like addiction gene will be an issue if I start doing that. Does that make sense?[00:28:32] Michael King: Absolutely. Community it sounds like is something you really value. And, it sounds like it was pretty critical in, in your ability to kind of get out of this dark place, almost kind of like empire strikes back shit, right? Like, you know, this, this was what you needed to, to get back in the game.[00:28:52]and you talked about coaching and masterminds. This is not a plug for a coaching system or a mastermind system at all. Tell me more about why you think coaching is important and why you think masterminds are important. So how does that contribute to the community or community? [00:29:08] Megan Everett: For me, I was seeing a therapist, which was great, but it was so based on like pulling me out of the depression.[00:29:16] I wasn't dealing with anything. And so I had reached out to a coach on Instagram actually, which is. I still like sometimes think it's so funny in that this is how we find people. [00:29:29] Michael King: I don't know that I'd admit that on a podcast, but you own it. That's awesome. [00:29:33] Megan Everett: I wrote it on many podcasts, including his, so that's okay.[00:29:37] So at the time, and this is awful, what am I like guilty pleasures in life as a whole? Like bachelor, all of it, like bachelor, bachelor, paradise, bachelorette. It lets me check out and just be like, Holy shit, these people's lives are Iraq. it's super entertaining. This coach, which might make it worse, was doing  a breakdown on Instagram live every week on the bachelor.[00:30:06] So I'm watching this cause I bought like I just deep and my TV, Instagram, like this is my entire world at this point. And I'm watching this visa, something about how he goes into companies and talks about culture. And I was like, Oh, maybe Mark can help me, like integrate back into my company and come talk to the whole.[00:30:30] Company about culture. And so I reached out to Mark and I'm like, Hey, how do you feel about going to Dallas and like kind of helping us with some issues. We have some unique things going on and we talk and he's like, there is no way I am helping you with your company until you deal with your own shit.[00:30:47] But it was also somebody, not just telling me to deal with it, but like I can help you feel with it. It's the first time I've ever really used to coach. And I think for me it was this turning point of like, there's so much action that you can take when things go wrong. And coaches are kind of like, like a cheerleader and no bullshit friend into the same person.[00:31:11] And I think that's where you find it. So I think that's interesting. But Mark really kind of helped me through those couple of months that were really, really hard. And then honestly, I didn't even know what the fuck a mastermind was until July. No idea at all. We don't talk about them in software, like we talk about accelerators, which are not really the same thing, but kind of the same idea of the support you get and really realized that I.[00:31:40] Once I kind of came out of the full fog that I needed to be around people that were doing really big things still because I didn't have that. [00:31:48] Michael King: Why is that important?[00:31:48] Megan Everett: I think having people around you that are like minded and are also working towards big goals keeps you on track to work towards yours. It was really easy to go back to my hometown and not do those things.[00:32:04] Most people are like in service based businesses. Most of my friends are married with kids and are stay at home moms or they have like cute little side businesses, which is great and works for them, but that doesn't align with what I'm doing with my life. So it made it super easy to just go hang out with my friends and their kids, or like go to yoga at 11:00 AM and not be working.[00:32:28] You know what I mean? Like, yeah. It was just, I didn't have anybody to keep up with or to keep me driven. And I am a very competitive person, so when I'm surrounded by other people that are doing really big things, I like, Oh, like they're doing that. Like why are they achieving their goals faster than me?[00:32:52] But when I'm the one that is achieving big goals and no one else is doing it, I don't really feel a need to keep thinking like that. Keep pushing myself. Does that make sense? [00:33:02] Michael King: Absolutely, Yeah.  And you're a former athlete, so, there's something to that that needs to compete and to be raised up. Do that competitiveness around you.[00:33:13] Megan Everett: Yeah. I'm a firm believer that you're the average of the five people you spend the bulk of your time with. So if you're around people, again, there's nothing wrong with that lifestyle. The back of my slide, if that's what you want, that's great. There's no, there's nothing wrong with that, but, that's what you're going to kind of become, you know, or, you know, You're going to kind of average out somewhere in there. Yeah. But if you want to be a high performer in a high achiever, you've got to have people around you that are doing that too. [00:33:48] Michael King: So you've come out of all of that, Megan, and you're on the better side. You disclosed a huge round of funding.I find it interesting. You were telling me that it's going forward. One of your big goals is to replace yourself as CEO in the next three years. [00:33:58] Megan Everett: Yeah. I used to be terrified probably since like the moment I had my first VC meeting that I was going to be replaced as CEO to the point where I had started thinking about who I would want to replace me and then.[00:34:17] I changed that whole subject in my head too if I wasn't CEO anymore. Because realistically, I am not qualified to run a $27 million company that I have now. And if we go where everybody thinks we're going, I am absolutely not qualified to run a half a billion dollar company, which doesn't really matter.[00:34:40] But because you can figure that out and hire people that are around you that are. But I had to really start thinking about like, do I want to be the person coming into work every day? Like do I want to be in an office 12 hours a day running a nine figure business? Not really. So I, this past few months as we were closing around, a lot of conversations came up about like, what if there is a point where.[00:35:09] We all decided that it's better that we have a really qualified and students seasoned CEO and tack, and my answers at first were like really angry, really defensive, but then I came to a point where I was like, well, the best thing for the company is probably when we get to that point for the right person to be running it, regardless of who it is.[00:35:30] And it's still mine. I am always the founder. I will still hold my equity in the company. So I'll still have a board seat and a say, and I can still be involved in what I want to be involved in, which is really interacting with the team and really large clients. Like those are the things I love doing, but it brings this question of like, what?[00:35:51] What would I do if I wasn't the CEO of Perform? Which is an interesting question. And the answer was like. Oh, I would be speaking and writing books and maybe writing my own mastermind or doing things like that where I just get to be around people because that's what I really enjoy is teaching and inspiring people and connecting other people.[00:36:17] And so it gave me an opportunity to really think about that. And we sat down a couple of weeks ago and I was like, I think that we need a roadmap for. Two to three years from now. Who is the person that we're replacing me with. And I think if young people have CEOs and some people do great, like there are CEOs that can do it and their founders and they can take it all the way through.[00:36:43] We've talked about this, that I don't really have the financial piece for it. Like I don't, and I don't have a desire to know everything that a CGA knows or everything a lawyer knows. And I'm not. Complete CEO and I don't love working 12 to 16 hours a day. Like that's not something I really enjoy doing.[00:37:07] And in software, you have to be committed to that for years and years. And so for me, it's an opportunity to step into something different, which is a reason that I started doing the mastermind to build a personal brand. [00:37:19] Michael King: I think for a lot of people, you always picture yourself in the driver's seat all the way to the quote unquote end, whether that's your retirement or what have you, but rarely do we say.[00:37:33] I want to take this thing. I want to build it, I want to nurture it, and at some point. I want to hand it off to somebody that can take it to the next level. And I want to take the, the culmination of those experiences, the good ones and the bad ones. Now that somebody else is driving that ship, I want to take those experiences and share them with other people so that they can build and nurture their own companies and do amazing things.[00:37:58] And I'll get a lot more fulfillment doing that. [00:38:01] Megan Everett:  I don't think a lot of people can do it. I think having like a complete breakdown last summer brought me to a place where I have to think about what I really want in life and what's going to make me happy. And I don't recommend having a major breakdown.[00:38:16] But, If you can get to that place where it's like, what's best for everyone involved and really what do I want for my life? And some people's answers are like, I want to be the CEO for the rest of my life and I'm willing to do all the work to be that person. And that's great. Like I'm willing to do the work to not be the person that needs the power and willing to do the work.[00:38:40] They create something totally new in my life. [00:38:43] Michael King: I think that's the thing is, you know, you talked about not needing the power. It's the ego probably keeps most of us in that place of like, hell no, I'm going to be the CEO. I'll do the IPO and you know, often to never, never land. So Perform. What are you guys, you just closed around?[00:39:02] What's next? [00:39:04] Megan Everett: We just closed our first round, which was significant, but we boot strap and self funded for. About two and a half years. So we are building an app, which I'm so excited about. So our app has a different name, which I'm not allowed to say yet, which you may not know. This is the hardest thing for me.[00:39:21] I can not keep my own secrets at all. Everyone else's. I can get my own cat. I want to scream it to social media, but this is the name of our new app. [00:39:31] Michael King:  It's, it's just us close friends right here just to, I mean, nobody's going to tell you, you can't tell.[00:39:38] Megan Everett: And all of your listeners, no, I can't, I'm not allowed to.[00:39:42] Michael King: When do you think that'll be ready? When will that be out? [00:39:45] Megan Everett: We are going to beta in May and then we'll do a soft launch and like late June, July. And then we have a really exciting thing coming in, but I'm also, I hate it when people do this, but like I'm also not allowed to talk about, we're going to launch our app officially from an event stage with one of my favorite people, so I will announce that.[00:40:09] I think they're actually going to announce it like in June. I have a blot of secrets I have to keep right now[00:40:14] Michael King: It's really, I don't even know you anymore. Let's talk about pricing. So first one, frm.com. [00:40:23] Megan Everett: Yes. Our pricing is 24.99 a month per user. And you get access to all of our courses and our software.[00:40:32] Michael King: Which CRMs do you integrate with? [00:40:35] Megan Everett: Our automatic ones, our Salesforce and HubSpot. The API is so easy, like we can just do it and then a couple days, so it's not hard. Most of them are written. [00:40:46] Michael King: What about on the scroll holes? Where can people find you?[00:40:52] Thank you. Thank you, Lauren Schwab for introducing me to the term scroll hole.  [00:40:57] Megan Everett: I think that's my favorite thing. I've never heard that. I am most active on Instagram and it's @Meg's Everett, so it's, I mean, she asked E V. E. R. E. T. T. yeah. And then everything else is linked through there, so that's the easiest way to find me. [00:41:13] Michael King: We will have links to everything in the show notes. Megan, thank you so much for coming by and sharing that story. I know it's not easy to open up about a lot of those things, but I think it's important for people to hear those messages, to understand that community is important.[00:41:30] Being around people that are going to be your cheerleader and support you. And, having people that are gonna tell you to get the fuck out of bed regardless. You know, it's important to hear those things. So thank you so much for joining us today.[00:41:50] Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE solutions. We'll see you again next week.
Rob is a Physician Assistant and entrepreneur who has taken his medical background and flavored it with the latest cutting edge research in nutrition, fitness, mindset, sleep, and human optimization.  He believes that in order for us to function at the highest level, we must get our health in order first, and that consequently if our health is not a priority, then our performance from the bedroom to the boardroom will suffer.  Rob believes in a simple, no-nonsense approach to health with appropriate testing and technology to move the needle.Connect with RobInstagram - Personal & BusinessFacebookLinkedIn Connect with KFEKFE SolutionsKFE BlogInstagramLinkedInFacebook[00:00:00] Michael King: Hey everybody, welcome back to In the Trenches with Michael King where we talk with business owners, leaders, and executives about the lessons they've learned while fighting In the Trenches of the business battlefield. I am your host, Michael King.[00:00:23] Imagine you had gone through all the steps of completing medical school. You had done the clinicals, the coursework, the exams, taken all your boards, and now you're practicing medicine as a physician's assistant, and you get out into the workplace, boots on the ground, doing all the medical things, and you realize that the system, the way it's set up is kind of garbage.[00:00:49]You find that the system as it's set up is basically geared towards profitability. Where your treating symptoms instead of the underlying fundamental causes of those symptoms. Things like lifestyle problems, etc. That's exactly what my next guest, Rob Leininger found when he graduated from medical school and got into healthcare.[00:01:11]He was very quickly disenchanted by the fact that people basically just wanted a pill that would make a symptom go away. And they weren't really interested in treating the underlying behavior, in lifestyle choices that were causing those symptoms. And so, despite the time and money Rob had put into[00:01:31]becoming a physician's assistant, he and his wife talked together and decided that it was in their best interest for him to walk away from that profession. And since Rob walked away, he's been able to go into business for himself and has basically 10 times, his income compared to what he was doing as a physician's assistant.[00:01:50] Rob now runs a virtual functional medicine practice where he does things like clinical lab testing, diet and fitness evaluation coaching, mindset, habit formation, all those kinds of things that can help transition somebody from a fundamental lifestyle level to really optimize their health, optimize their brains, and essentially do bigger and better things in the world.[00:02:15] Rob's going to share a story today on how he made that transition from physician's assistant to running his virtual functional medical practice. And we're also going to spend a pretty good amount of time talking about some really practical things that you can apply to your life to optimize your diet, optimize your sleep, and we're going to also talk about some cool technologies that are out there that you can apply to really accelerate your mind and your body.[00:02:41] And without any further ado, here's my conversation with Rob Lininger. Rob Lininger, how's it going, brother? [00:02:49] Rob Lininger: Hey, doing well today. Thanks. How are you? [00:02:51] Michael King: I’m amazing. Thanks for joining us today. I've met you through Chris Harder's elite entrepreneur mastermind, and you had a really interesting story.[00:03:00] That kind of resonated with me. You had spent years going through, the PA program, to become a physician's assistant. You did all the hard work to get all the credentials and license to do that. You started practicing and realized that the work, the actual day to day work you were doing wasn't at all what you expected or had hopes for.[00:03:23]and correct me if I'm wrong Rob, what you found is that most people on a day in and day out basis, they just wanted you to treat their symptoms. They weren't really interested in hearing that there were some lifestyle habits that were leading to those ailments and they just really wanted the symptoms treated and not so much to hear the hard news that they needed to make some lifestyle adjustments and that really kind of demotivated you, and you decided to make a move into a different career field.[00:03:51] Is that right? [00:03:52] Rob Lininger: That's exactly right. Yeah. So, like a lot of people, you know, I went into medicine with good intentions. I really wanted to help people. I wanted to change people's lives. I've always been just a lifelong health and fitness junkie. I've been working out since I was about 13 years old and supplements mining and taking care of myself and eating a good diet.[00:04:12] I guess I took it for granted that a lot of people, Never educate themselves or given a chance to learn about this stuff. So I was looking forward to my medical career too. Being that the medium, so to speak, for people to learn about this and to become healthier and to make all these positive changes in their lives.[00:04:30] And yeah, you nailed it. I mean, what I found when I actually got boots on the ground involved in my medical career was that Western medicine basically is more about symptom management than it is about managing any towards type of long term health challenges. There's very little emphasis placed on preventative medicine, very little emphasis placed on nutrition, fitness.[00:04:51] You know what I consider to be foundational behaviors that actually prevents you from getting the diseases or illnesses that you show up to the doctor with in the first place. And you know, the times that I was really trying to spend time and counsel people on those types of things.[00:05:06]I really got a response that turned me off and it was, you know, that's great. Thanks. I'm really not interested in that. I'd like an injection and I'd like, you know, some prescription to take care of this thing that's bugging me and I'm out. [00:05:20] Michael King: Is that just because of the culture we have where we think to ourselves, Hey, it's a lot easier to take a pill that's going to make my back stop hurting right now than it is to accept the fact that I need to get up every morning and run a couple of miles and eat salads instead of cheeseburgers and tater tots.[00:05:39] Is that what you think drives that? [00:05:41] Rob Lininger: I do. Yeah. I think sadly, it's a cultural phenomenon. You know, we live in this day and age now where everything is at our fingertips, right? If you don't know the answer to something, that you can just Google it and you can find anything you're interested in online and have it delivered in a day or two.[00:05:56]and people want healthcare to be the same thing. And unfortunately, that's not the way our bodies work. Our bodies are so resilient and they are still amazing. It can change. but it does take some hard work. I mean, it takes habits and it takes dedication to building these habits. You have to be willing to do some hard things, things that aren't necessarily going to be fun or that aren’t going to feel good, like exercise, especially if you're starting out.[00:06:18] It doesn't feel good for people. and so it's just this sort of quick fix mentality, this mentality of I want things right away. and unfortunately, you know. People who are patients are consumers and consumers basically drive healthcare to a large degree. and unfortunately, the overarching way that healthcare is managed in this country through, large healthcare organizations and insurance companies is it tailors to that, you know, they're out to make money, right?[00:06:44] And the way that they make money is by providing these quick sexism. So there's really no incentive to do the hard work. [00:06:50] Michael King: Do you think that if you look at countries that have socialized healthcare, like Canada and some of the countries over in the European union, does the average person, you know, Joe population have a lot of the same problems that we have in the United States?[00:07:05]because one would be led to believe if there is less incentive from you know, capitalism standpoint, that they would be more focused on preventative care and foundational behaviors and those kinds of things. So I'm curious, in your experience, do you see that countries that have socialized medicine have less of an issue with some of the health issues we see in the United States?[00:07:25] Rob Lininger: That's a great question. I would say that a lot of the Western eyes or Western countries have a lot of the same lifestyle issues in that, you know, we're sedentary. We don't need the best diets. and so they tend to have similar chronic disease profiles to what we have here in the United States. But the things that I see that are different is their healthcare systems are more progressive.[00:07:45]and so instead of just having a symptom, I give you a prescription for your symptom. They have a lot of different alternative therapies that I think. We're probably about 10 - 15 years behind on meaning that they're not in the U.S yet. Maybe they rope you in the future, but a lot of the progressive people in America who are providing healthcare in a different way, they're getting their ideas of treatment from Canada, from Europe.[00:08:09]and you know, just some examples are like acupuncture or chiropractic or some of these things that are kind of considered fringe in the U S they're actually considered, you know, normal treatments and a lot of these other countries also. The food standards, the packaging, food, the chemicals that are allowed in the environment in, say Europe, for example, are a lot different.[00:08:31] They have very high standards compared to the U.S in terms of the toxins that we're exposed to on a daily basis here. So there's a lot of things that are similar just based on the fact that, you know, life is getting easier, right? And it's a convenient lifestyle and we have to do a lot less work because we have all these appliances and all these things that make our lives simpler.[00:08:49] And so those things are universal and that they're making us less active and probably took us further and further away from our food sources. But yeah, they do have some really interesting concepts of treatment, but I'm hoping we'll adopt here in the future. [00:09:04] Michael King: I don't know why. I always get a big smile on my face when I hear that Canada's leading the charge on something.[00:09:09] It's few and far between, but when they do, it's awesome. Thinking back to your early days as a PA, did you have a kind of an aha moment where you said. Boy this isn't for me. I have to make a change and talk us through that a little bit. [00:09:25] Rob Lininger: Yeah, so there were parts of the medicine that I really loved.[00:09:27] So for my career, I worked in orthopedic surgery and before going to PA school, I was a furniture builder, cabinet builder, fine woodworker. So you know, that really resonated with me. I've always liked complicated things, fixing things that are broken, making something broken, beautiful. Again, that's the thing.[00:09:44] I really enjoyed that aspect. But what I didn't enjoy when I didn't really feel like I was prepared for in PA school was the business side specifically, like insurance, all the paperwork, you know, there's a bunch of things that, and I think this is universally true of healthcare providers.[00:10:02] We're very good at the actual business of medicine, but not the actual business side of running, you know, a medical business. And so a lot of people fail or they find that they get burnt out when they're trying to run a practice and there's a lot of paperwork involved. There's a lot of hoops to jump through.[00:10:19]and as a provider, I didn't really think that I had to do that kind of thing. But I actually found that like charting and making calls to insurance companies and getting pre-authorizations and following up with, you know, just the, the reams and reams of paperwork and tracking you had to do, especially with the introduction, those electronic health systems, that was really burdensome and it really took away from the joy of medicine.[00:10:41] Michael King: It's a bold move to decide to kind of punt your career as a PA, your income is good. You're not loving the work, but I think a lot of people would still be motivated by fear or doubts or have you to just stay with it because, you know the amount of time and money you've invested too for the schooling and clinicals and all the time that goes into it.[00:11:06] How did it become a decision for you, Rob, to make that change? What was that thought process like? [00:11:12] Rob Lininger: Well, my wife, I have to give her a lot of credit. She's a very progressive thinker and she has always thought outside the box and she's really pushed me to grow deeply in areas where I was not ready to grow.[00:11:23] And that was one of them. She was the first one who really, you know, started talking about other options and maybe getting out of medicine because I guess she was the one who was living with me as a PA, you know, overworked, probably underpaid under slept, lots of late nights, weekends and holidays on call.[00:11:42] And so she got to see, you know, how hard it was just. On myself. And so, you know, she was the one who really introduced me to the concept of residual income, which is where we were. I got my start, in the entrepreneurial world, but also I had been seeing these people who had been, you know, career doctors, career PAs, and they were unhappy.[00:12:01] They were burnt out. It looks terrible. You know, they were way overweight. They had puffy faces. They just seemed like they were tired all the time. They're in the break room. You know, we had a break from which we would go to between the surgical cases and there'd be a full bore platter of like apples and oranges and bananas, and they would be full end of the day.[00:12:22] But they would also bring in like, Yoplait yogurt and coke and donuts and that stuff would be gone. I'm just thinking, what is wrong with these people? You know, like they're so tired and they're so stressed out. Their cortisol levels are so high. They're just craving sugary foods. They're craving caffeine to keep them awake during the day.[00:12:38] And I started to see these lifestyle issues along with, you know, frankly, medical mistakes. Well, you know, you're up in the middle of the night fixing broken bones and then you're expected to come back the next day and operate on your normal schedule. or see patients in the clinic and, you know, that's the way that you make mistakes.[00:12:56]people are under slept, they're over worked over tired, and they're just not in a good Headspace. So, you know, it took some time, but I started to really realize that, you know, there were some other options out there available. Once I started sort of making those thoughts and intentions public, I was now with a lottery existence from my family.[00:13:15] People at work told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life and I'd come crawling back, you know, asking for my job again. and I had to face my own demons about that as well. Yeah. I spend a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of effort, just giving up my life to study medicine. and so once I decided to walk away and try something else, it was tough.[00:13:33] And there was probably a period of a couple of years where I was in a bit of turmoil mentally trying to work my way through all this. But at the same time, I also felt an immediate relief and I wasn't working as many hours. I was actually making more money. and I was, I was having more of a lifestyle[00:13:50] balance, just in life, you know, with family things I like to do, getting healthier. Again, back to my exercise routines, I started to see some immediate results and that really gave me the courage to keep on that path. [00:14:03] Michael King: Let's dive into a couple of things. First you said that you wanted to work on residual income or passive income, and I think I heard you sneak in there that you were actually making more money.[00:14:14] What were you doing? [00:14:15]Rob Lininger: My wife and I got into a network marketing business. We liked the products. We decided to, you know, we'd earned them for free basically as customers and decided to start promoting the products. And within a year we had paid off all my entire medical student debt and I was out earning my PA income at the end of one year.[00:14:33] And it was at that point where like, the world really opened up to me and I realized, okay, I worked, you know, quite a few hours in building this business, but not like I do in medicine. And In one year, I've been able to build more of an income that I could as a PA. and you know, as a PA, basically when you graduate PA school, you're making very close to what you're going to max out on as your income.[00:14:57] So like if I had continued to work for another 25 years, I wouldn't have been much above where I started. That's just the way that the pay structure is. I'm in a lot of medical jobs. and I started to see basically unlimited potential and this side business. Well, if I didn't have to go in the middle of the night, I didn't have to go in on the weekends.[00:15:13] I didn't have to miss, you know, family trips and all this stuff. And that was really the thing that sort of tickled my entrepreneurial bone and got me thinking about other possibilities and looking at new perspectives and, you know, reexamining the world and how I could function in the world. Still have the type of outcomes that I wanted to with people and with patients.[00:15:34] But do it on my terms. So the side business is a nutritional supplements network marketing company. And my wife and I have been top leaders in a company and we've been involved for six years, next month. And I don't know if you want the name or not, but, it's allowed us to basically travel all over the United States, live where we want to live, work when we want to work and make a fantastic income.[00:15:57] I mean, on an order of magnitude of, over 10 times more than I was making as a PA[00:16:01] Michael King: Wow. That's incredible. I think there can be a lot of stigma that comes along when people hear that word network marketing, what is that to you? [00:16:12] Rob Lininger: Some of it's valid. I mean, you know, there are really, really great companies out there and there are great companies that have bad salespeople, and so a lot of the interactions that people have with network marketing or network marketers are just the sales pitch.[00:16:27] It's just going right away to, this is the product I have. I'm going to blast it all over social media. If I have a conversation with you, I'm going to tell you about the products and that you need to buy them. And I never was comfortable with that approach. It was never something that clicked with me.[00:16:42]For me it was more about finding a solution for people to the problems that they have. But I think that largely that's not the way that it's done. You know, the cool thing about the network marketing world is basically you're supporting friends and, or family, right? So if I could buy, say supplements from my, you know, family member or my friend or someone who I care about and I could give them the money instead of Amazon, I'm always going to choose that.[00:17:06] I like to. You know, shop local, so to speak. and I like to help my friends out and if the quality of the products are the same, then it doesn't matter to me who I buy them from. And I would prefer to support someone I like. And that's what I see network marketing being. It's an opportunity for people to still make an income, but not have to be a slave to the office, to be able to have more balance in their lives.[00:17:30] So again, like I mentioned, you know, the benefits for us, we're working from home. We homeschool our kids. We travel. We can be anywhere we want to be. And so, you know, when it's done right, it can be a really great model. But, I think that a lot of people just don't know. It never network marketing as they hear the term and they think of a pyramid scheme.[00:17:49]and the two are not synonymous at all, but there's a lot of misconceptions about it in general. [00:17:54] Michael King: Why the shift away from it. It sounds like you really like it and you liked the benefits too.  Like you said, shopping from friends and family and giving them your money instead of Jeff Bezos to fund his next multibillion dollar mansion.[00:18:08] And it sounds like you are really passionate about being able to work more one on one with people that genuinely cared about the lifestyle changes and not just getting a quick fix. Why the move away from that into your new venture. [00:18:22] Rob Lininger:  You know, basically there's kind of two approaches to dealing with someone's health and their health issues and making them healthier.[00:18:30] And there's one saying like in the supplements world, which I call the shotgun approach, and that's basically, you just shotgun a bunch of different vitamins and supplements and hope for the best, and you're probably going to feel whatever, you know, nutritional gaps you have. And, you know, people will generally feel better.[00:18:47] But see if the supplements are high quality. But what I really liked, and I've always been very much into research and diving much more deep into what makes people tick on an individual basis. And so that is really, that model doesn't really fit well with the shotgun approach of state network marketing.[00:19:07] So. The reason that I'm still involved to a degree with the company, and I'm more of a management level at this point, but what I was really missing was the one on one working with people, finding out what you know might be causing, there's things at a root cause level and working backwards from that.[00:19:28] Really getting deep on the types of things that you don't get a chance to stay in network marketing. So going deep on sleep, going deep on relationships, on mindset, that on nutrition, on fitness, again, looking at genetics, looking for specific things that you can target through nutrition or supplementation, specific ways that your body is going to react to different forms of exercise.[00:19:51] And even the timing of how sleep can affect you. And it's really a one-on-one approach where you can target very precisely the goals that you're trying to target, and you can have great outcomes.  [00:20:04] Michael King: When I was first introduced to you, I think one of the words that was used was biohacker.[00:20:10] Rob Lininger: Yeah. [00:20:11] Michael King: What does a biohacker mean? It sounds cool. I feel like I want it in my life, but I don't know what it is. [00:20:19] Rob Lininger: So, you know, it's kind of a funny term and I use it with some hesitancy, basically, you know, the definition is that a biohacker is someone who looks for things that they can do, ways that they can manipulate their environment or their diet or their fitness.[00:20:33] So you get maximum results with minimum effort, I guess is probably the clearest way I could say it. Some examples would be, you know, fine tuning your sleep habits, fine tuning your diet, using supplements that are going to help you reach your body habit as goals. I'm using things like photobiomodulation, which be light, like you've heard of infrared saunas, you know, there's a number of health benefits to that.[00:20:59] So it's looking for, these things are very fringe. And I try not to get into that because I really want to keep things accessible for people and not. You know how people have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. I look for the science backed things that you know that are being studied in there are showing a positive aspect in the research that are moving the needle towards health, towards fitness, towards the way you want to look with your shirt offs that are youthful by everybody.[00:21:26] Yeah. There's a lot of individuals buying differentiation or you know, like you're not the same as I am. You're not going to respond the same to a certain diet that I would, or a certain supplement. And so the beauty of like biohacking and doing some of the testing that I offer is that you can really look at the individual.[00:21:42] On a very microscopic level, literally and see the types of things that are going to make a difference in their lives. And so, you know, biohacking is one component of what I do, and they can have really powerful results, but I'm always a proponent of dialing in the basics. So again, it's your nutrition, it's your fitness, it's your sleep.[00:22:04] Those types of things make up about 98% of it. Once that stuff's done, the biohacks, we can get you to 100%, but you got to have the basic style.[00:22:10] Michael King: Let's talk about the basics a little bit. And in particular, maybe you, let's talk about sleep. When you and I were hanging out in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I told you how I had decided to stop drinking back in November.[00:22:25] And one of the biggest benefits that I've found from that is I have more energy, you know, before I wasn't drinking heavily often sometimes, but that wasn't the norm. But I found that. Even when it had been days or a week or two since I had consumed alcohol by two o'clock in the afternoon, I was done.[00:22:47] Anything that required any level of deep thought or creativity. It was kind of a joke here at the company. Like, don't put anything on my calendar after two that requires that kind of work because my brain's fried, you know, I'm yawning and I'm really struggling. But one of the unintended consequences I've found from not doing alcohol is I sleep better.[00:23:07] Yeah. I noticed, you know what? I look at my Apple watch data. My heart rate is lower at night. I am able to fall asleep faster. I'm able to have more energy the next day, but I bet there is a mountain of stuff that I could do differently to sleep even better. So could you talk a little bit about how to optimize sleep, whatever the the tips and tricks are for that.[00:23:30] Rob Lininger: Yeah, absolutely. Sleep is one of my passions. I love helping people to sleep better. I love talking about it. I love reading about it, and I've learned a lot. There's a lot more research that's coming out all the time, and it's really interesting stuff, and I can tell you that just from a basic level. I mean, first of all, you're not alone.[00:23:48] The two o'clock doldrums where people are getting sleepy and their heads are nodding at their desk, that is, I mean, it's epidemics and what it points to is the fact that you're not getting enough sleep at night. So we have these diurnal rhythms, right? And you've heard of the diurnal rhythms of sleep.[00:24:04] And we do have a bit of a wall and sort of in that after lunch period, but you know, it's not enough. That you're getting a good amount of sleep at night. It's not enough of a loss that really puts you to sleep. But when someone is having those same types of symptoms that you were it's a number one classic red flag indicator that they're not getting enough sleep at night or good enough quality.[00:24:27] And so, you know, you mentioned alcohol, so the two biggest clique disruptors. And you know, on the planet that are out there that are used on a very, very frequent basis by most people are going to be alcohol and caffeine. And I'll give you just a little bit of biology lesson here. So you've heard the term homeostasis.[00:24:45] So it's basically your body trying to maintain like a static level. Right? If you go up, your body brings you down. If you go down, your body brings you up. Well, alcohol is a depressant, and so the way that your body responds to that is to crank up hormones like cortisol, stress hormones that are going to increase your heart rate, increase your blood pressure.[00:25:03] Most people are drinking at night. So they drink at night, they feel a little sleepy because of the alcohol. But the body's response is to actually stimulate you to bring you back up to homeostasis. And so a lot of people who drink, fall asleep. Okay. But then they wake up in the middle of the night, or they just throw a toss and turn and they don't sleep well.[00:25:20] And that's a big issue because you're not getting into those deeper sorts of stage three, stage four, the deep and the REM stages of sleep. The other one is caffeine. So caffeine the way it works is it stimulates you in what your body tries to do is bring you back down. Tell me what day is this?[00:25:39] Then typically, whether it's alcohol or caffeine, your body overshoots that reaction. And so you'll either get more tired than you would expect from it or more wire than you would expect from it. And in the case of coffee, you know what we see is people drink coffee in the morning to wake up cause they're very tired.[00:25:55]it alerts them for a little bit and then they become very tired and they have to consume more coffee, and then this habit grows and grows. But what people don't realize about caffeine in general is if you had a hundred milligrams of caffeine, say at noon, right? That's just a cup of coffee at noon.[00:26:13] The half-life. Caffeine is eight hours. So at 8:00 PM you still have 50 milligrams of caffeine circulating through your system. The quarter life would be 12 hours then, so at 12 midnight, you still have 25 milligrams of caffeine circulating through your brains, stimulating keeping you awake. So even if you're able to fall asleep, you're not able to get into those deep restorative stages of sleep.[00:26:36] And that's the kind of dysfunction that causes that 2:00 PM sleepiness and you know, the inability to concentrate and multitask and all that stuff. So those are just two prominent examples, but other things that can disrupt your sleep. And this is also basically an epidemic in America, is our exposure to blue light.[00:26:55] So how many people do you know who are staring at a screen right up until they go to bed? They may even have these streams in their, in their bedroom that they look at from bed. This is a big problem because blue light suppresses melatonin production, and melatonin is what's required to put your body into sleep mode.[00:27:11] And so we have a lot of disorders, things around sleeping in general. And sometimes just doing a basic tune up where we call it sleep hygiene. You know, the practices you have in the evening as you're trending towards nighttime, can make a huge, huge difference in the way someone sleeps and a few improves sleep.[00:27:28] Pretty much everything in your life is going to improve as well. [00:27:31] Michael King: Most of the cell phone operating systems. Now iOS and Android come with like a night shift mode where it pulls a lot of that blue light out. It gives it that yellowish kind of hue. Does that really move the needle as far as the sleep quality is concerned?[00:27:48]Rob Lininger: it's good but not great. It's definitely better than looking at the same phone without the night-shift mode on, but still when you're staring at a screen, probably the next best thing you could do would be to lower the brightness all the way down. So if I have to be on my phone tonight, I literally go into the settings and I lower all the way down.[00:28:06] You can also on some phones, change it to a red light setting and red light is good because it's non stimulatory. But you know, the best thing you can do is just not stare at a phone or a computer or a TV. You know, those are all things that contribute a lot of light. Some of those can be managed, some of them can't.[00:28:22] Like our TV, we have, you know, a big TV in our living room. We don't watch it very much, but when we do, it always feels like I'm looking into someone's bright headlights. It's so bright and there's no real way to turn off the blue light at all. You can turn down the brightness, cause you know, we're just inundated.[00:28:38] It's all these lights in our house. And it doesn't have to be a screen. It can be the lights that are overhead. What I recommend is if you're going to bed at say 10 a couple of hours before bedtime, so I'll get a clock. I start turning down all the lights in my house there. Mostly on dimmers than the ones that aren't.[00:28:54] They're not even on at night. I only use the ones that are on dimmers and my term dimmers, excuse my turn, the lights all the way down on the dimmers. And what you'll notice is if you do that, you will start to feel ready to go to bed. And it's amazing. The change it makes, like if you have all your lights on in the house, like a lot of people do.[00:29:12] All my neighbors certainly seem to have every light in the house. Phone is super bright and it looks like we have candles on our house and my whole family knows its bedtime. We're ready to go to bed and we sleep well. Sleep has just been a priority for us for a long time and I wish that it was for more people.[00:29:28] Michael King: So what do you do from like, I dunno, eight until bedtime. You got all the lights down, TV's off. You can't read because the lights are down. So what do you do for the last two hours of the day, if you can't read or watch TV or get into the scroll hole? [00:29:43] Rob Lininger: Well, we do read. I mean, there's enough light that we can, you know, read books.[00:29:47] We all read, my wife and kids and I all do a lot of reading. We generally sit in the hot tub. Every night, around eight o'clock or so. And that's kind of the start of our evening ritual. And I recommend everyone has some sort of evening ritual, but that's kind of the start of ours. Once we get Nanda for about 20 minutes or so and get out, everything that we do is kind of getting us ready for sleep.[00:30:08] So we'll play games together, card games, or four games. We like to hang out. Personally, and I don't have any offense to people who watch TV or anything, but, it's, it's not the way I want to spend my time, or I don't want to use that as an excuse not to interact with my family. So we don't really do the TV thing.[00:30:25] We spend a lot of time together. So, I mean, there's a lot of things you can do. Like I said, you can use screens at night if you turn the bluelight just way down and you know, try not to use them within at least an hour or so before bed that's optimal. But I play guitar. Sometimes we'll do some art and other things.[00:30:41] I read textbooks about medicine and things like that, that I'll, you know, either print off or buy books or, you know, save offline that I can access some other time. So there's both the options. But, you know, if you think about the social impacts to, of sitting around watching TV, it's not a very social thing.[00:30:58] And you know, you can develop a lot of relationships by turning the TV off and just looking at each other and talking. [00:31:03] Michael King: Slow down, slow down you and your crate. You're crazy. Thinking over here [00:31:09] Michael King: Nothing brings two people together. More than watching the latest episode of the bachelor and figuring out who got the Rose and who got voted off the Island.[00:31:17] That's how relationships are formed and you can't convince me otherwise. [00:31:22] Rob Lininger: Well, I would definitely be in the minority.[00:31:23] Michael King: I'm kidding about the bathroom. Only temptation Island. I had heard that even reading a paperback book before bed. Can be counterproductive for sleep quality because it's still kind of a mental stimulus.[00:31:38] Do you find that to be the case or do you think that reading right before bed, you know, like a paper book is okay?[00:31:45] Rob Lininger: Personally I think it's okay. It's a very individual thing. And the reason I say that is because I read every single night. I get into bed around 9:30 my time, I read for 20 minutes to 30 minutes and I'm out.[00:31:57] And that is the thing that really is like that final step that just pushes me into sleep. My wife, on the other hand, if she reads the book in bed, she gets stimulated and she will read the entire book and she'll be up till four in the morning. So I don't think it's a bad thing unless it just doesn't work for you.[00:32:12] Michael King: Let's talk about diet. What are some misconceptions that you see people making as far as diet and nutrition? Maybe, some fads that are out there that people think it's a scientifically proven benefit, but really it's just crap. [00:32:27] Rob Lininger: Well, that's a great question. If you're looking on Instagram and you're looking on Facebook and you're getting your diet advice there, generally it's[00:32:33] Considered to be crap, in my opinion. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is they fall into these new diets, bad things. So I mean, whether it's the carnivore diet or it's going vegan, or it's paleo, or primal or Cheeto or whatever. I mean, I always encourage experimentation, but you have to have a caveat.[00:32:52] And so one of the caveats is, I've tried a lot of these different diets. I tried keynote for a while. I liked the way that it made me feel. You know, for those people who don't know, Quito is basically a high fat diet, low carbohydrates, moderate protein diet. I liked the way it made me feel. I like the way it made me look.[00:33:07] It definitely helped. Lean me up a little bit, but the next round of blood tests I got showed that I had had a pretty significant bump in my cholesterol and not the good kind. So, you know, these things can seem superficially like they're a good idea, but you don't necessarily know unless you're actually measuring and tracking these things.[00:33:26] They could actually be detrimental to your health. So. You know, I think one of the best things people can do is track their food intake, keep a bit of a journal and also I always recommend that people do food sensitivity testing and it's a very easy way to read. It's like a hundred bucks and you can look at 150 or so, or excuse me, a food that it does for, to see if you have a food allergy or something.[00:33:52]if you do have a food allergy, it can be literally as simple as removing that food from your diet and all of a sudden you feel much better. Case in point, I didn't realize that I was allergic to dairy and I've been eating it my entire life. I removed dairy from my diet about three months ago. And literally overnight, I felt better and I didn't even realize I was feeling bad.[00:34:11] And that's the thing, I didn't realize that the gas that I was having even in the bloating, all this stuff was abnormal. And so I removed it from my diet. So, you know, just keeping a journal. If you have symptoms after you've eaten something, you can look back and you can make a connection. Possibly doing the food sensitivity testing and then trying different things and just being a bit of a self experiment.[00:34:32] Or these are all really powerful, robust tools that can teach you a lot about your body and the way you respond to certain things. Maybe food makes you tired. Maybe food makes you feel wired. Maybe it makes you bloated and gassy. Maybe it messes up your digestion. Most people don't have any idea, and they can't remember back to what they ate or when and what might have caused it.[00:34:52] And so that's a really simple thing you can do to gain a lot of information. So my goal people is not to put them on a specific diet, but to get them towards what I call intuitive eating. And for those of you who don't know what intuitive eating is, it basically means that there's some degree of tracking foods and calories and macros.[00:35:09] So your carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the beginning, but hopefully it's short term and minutes. Ideally, just to give you an idea of what works for you. And then intuitive eating is just eating what you, your body's telling you to eat and when, and then the amounts that it needs instead of trying to guess and measure and track all this stuff, which I think is not sustainable.[00:35:28] Michael King: So full disclosure, I ate my first salad. First salad ever in probably December. Yeah, I kid you not. I kid you not for, for whatever reason. I don't know.  Maybe the lettuce touched me in a scary place when I was a kid. And so I had some, you know, mental blocks or something around it.[00:35:51] But when I would eat anything salad, so lettuce, tomatoes. Peppers, it nauseated me, and right around the time that I decided to quit drinking, I said, Hey, I want to make this a more holistic thing, right? I focused on the sleep and then I also started really paying attention to diet and I said, I've got to make some changes here.[00:36:10] I'm going to try eating salad again. And so I had my very first salad in December, and I absolutely loved it. And so to your point about intuitive eating, I'm now to the point I can, my body's like go eat a fucking salad and I can tell when my body needs the nourishment from a salad and it's weird to me because I never even liked salad.[00:36:35] Much less craved a salad. And so I do think that there's something to that. The intuitive eating where your body knows, I think it knows what it needs. [00:36:44] Rob Lininger: Absolutely. Yeah. And the better you get at it too, the more you're able to recognize those signals and find what it's looking for. And I've been on really restrictive diets in the past where I had virtually no carbohydrates, like taquito diet.[00:36:56] And as an athlete, as someone who's working out and playing in the mountains, you know, just about every day of the week, I noticed. For a little while that I was doing pretty good and I felt good. I had good energy, but then I started to really notice that my workouts were starting to suffer and I was craving carbohydrates all the time, but I wasn't allowing myself to have them.[00:37:15] And you know, that's just one example, but like you said, your example is the salad. you know, those are. Basically, our bodies are so smart, we don't realize, and then we almost try to hush them up to quiet them, quiet the cravings and stuff. But oftentimes those cravings are something that your body needs and it's trying to tell you and you know, and not so quiet way, like, Hey, you actually need to eat more antioxidants and green leafy vegetables for the.[00:37:40] The minerals that you're not getting elsewhere in your diet and that you might be deficient on. And people, like I said, don't listen to those signals and they want the things that tastes good and things that are high fat and salty, but really it's a detriment to our overall diets. [00:37:54] Michael King: One more question on nutrition.[00:37:55] You talked about getting some of those food allergy tests. I wouldn't  even know where to begin. Do I need to go to my doctor and ask for one of those or is it okay I'm going to say it. Is it something I get on Amazon? How do I go about doing that?[00:38:07] Rob Lininger:  Yeah. There are some that you can get without any kind of a prescription or without a doctor's visit.[00:38:15] That's not a bad thing. I mean, some of those, the results that you're getting back aren't so difficult to interpret that you wouldn't be able to figure it out yourself or Google. Some terms, some of them are very, you know, like the third sentence. If he has, they're probably the easiest things for the average person to interpret.[00:38:30] They typically come back scored, like with a green, yellow, red thing. Like green means go. Go ahead and eat it as much as you want. Yellow. It's maybe going to cause you some sort of distress, right? And red is like, this is an allergenic foods. Your body's going to react to it. You should eliminate this from your diet now and forever.[00:38:48] Those can be done fairly inexpensively without a whole lot of need for interpretation. There are other tests though, on the, unlike a sort of complexity scale, a food sensitivity test is around a one or two in terms of complexity, but in terms of the information it provides, I would consider it a 10. it's very, very[00:39:06] powerful in terms of what it can teach you about yourself and things that it can clear up right off the bat. Now, there are a lot of other tests where you're not going to be able to order without a doctor's prescription or without seeing the provider. and even if you were, when you got the test back, you frankly would have no idea how to interpret them.[00:39:22] You wouldn't know what you were looking at. there's a, there's a pretty steep learning curve to allow these tests, especially the ones that look at genetics, biochemical pathways, mitochondrial function. all these different things that are, they're pretty intense, and if you don't have a really solid understanding of the medicine and the science behind it, you're not going to know what to do with the results.[00:39:40] Michael King: What is sleep nutrition? That's how it really gave what some really cool next level shit that most people don't know about in the world of what you do that's out there that really could move the needle. [00:39:55] Rob Lininger: That's the fun stuff. So yeah, like I said, I always focused on the basics, and then once we've got those dialed in, yeah, there are things like targeted supplementation that you can do.[00:40:05] So, you know, really depends on the person and our goals, but like supplementation for example. You know, there's a lot of supplements and nutrients that you can take that are going to decrease your estrogen, which is. Beneficial as a guy that is going to increase your testosterone, things that are go jackets, and that just means things that are going to help you get more out of your workout.[00:40:23] They're going to decrease the perceived exertion. So how hard it feels like you're working out so you actually can work out harder without it feeling as tiring. Things you can do that are going to make your workout less grueling on your body, cause less damage, stimulate muscle growth, decreased body fat so you can get into things like that.[00:40:41] Saunas and the hotbeds. I'm a big fan of detoxification. You know, people don't really think much about their environment and how our exposure to, whether it's wifi, a UV radiation, vehicle, exhaust, smog, I mean, all these different things that we're exposed to, they actually, they accumulate in your body.[00:40:59] Your body has an ability to deal with a certain amount of it. And then at some point when the balance tips and it can't clear it out as fast as this, it's getting brought into your body, then we start to see dysfunction. And so a lot of the next level stuff is around the detoxification pathways and getting those harmful substances out of your body, and those can make big, big improvements in your house.[00:41:20] As I mentioned, the Photobiomodulation. So like infrared lights. I've got a light panel that I use. There are a number of benefits to your skin, your collagen in your skin in terms of firming that up, helping you to look younger, helping to decrease damage to your skin from other things that can increase your testosterone.[00:41:38] It can help you heal. I'm open wounds and help you decrease scarring from healing wounds. There's lots of things on the horizon. There are, a lot of them that have to do with the brain health now, things that can get you out of sort of the gung go aspect where you're always in this low level state of sympathetic action.[00:41:57] So the fight or flight, right, that's the sympathetic nervous system is what helps you get ready to fight or to sleep. And in those cases, it's very, very helpful. But most people live in a chronic state of activation and a low level activation, and that's actually very unhealthy. And so there are things you can do to stimulate your brain.[00:42:15]even things like breathing, I mean, there are, there are everything from apps. That you can use on your phone. Two devices you put on your head, breeding practices you can use to calm me down, to stimulate the parasympathetic, which is the restful state to get you out of, the stress mode. And that can really help with sleep as well.[00:42:32] I mean, you name it, the sky's the limit. There are literally. People who have, as we heard from drew several hundred thousand dollars worth of the sort of biohacking machines in their home. Some of them are based on workouts like, you know, doing a 10 minute workout twice a week and you get better results than, you know, you read if you were to spend an hour in the gym, five days a week type thing.[00:42:54] There's lots of these things that have weight to them. Some of them are kind of gimmicky, but I personally enjoy reading about and exploring them all. [00:43:01] Michael King:  How do you sort through the gimmicky from the real, I think that's the, the biggest hangup I have with a lot of this stuff is honestly, it kind of sounds like snake oil, you know, in a lot of ways.[00:43:11] You're telling me I can exercise a couple of times for 10 minutes if I do it right. And that'll have more physiological benefits than if I work out an hour a day, five days a week. That sounds like bullshit. How do you work through proving it?[00:43:23] Rob Lininger: That it's sometimes tough. There's a couple of ways. Number one, I always look for science.[00:43:28] I'm not a scientist, and so you know, the way that I approach things is from a science background, so I'm looking for published studies, clinical studies, this shows the control group versus the group that used whatever biohacks. You know, and I'm looking for a clear benefit to the people who use the biohack versus the control group.[00:43:45]and the absence of those studies, and sometimes there just aren't. You know, what I do is I look to people who have used them, who have reported that they've had results, or maybe it's something that I've tried myself. You're not always going to find this buddy. And some of the studies you find, you know, frankly,  there[00:44:00] very biased. They could have been funded by the company whose product that you're trying to use. They're trying to find out information about it. So they're not always accurate. So, you know, when I approach him personally, that I recommend to my clients. And so first of all, I want to make sure that I've either got a good scientific basis of data for them that they work.[00:44:22] Or that I've tried it myself and had good results in the absence of data. And then the third thing, which I think is really key is, you know, I want to make it the biohacks accessible for everybody. Cause you know, I mean, I worked with a range of clients from lower income to some really, you know, high performers, high earners, and I want to make sure that they all have access to similar set of tools.[00:44:45] Maybe someone can afford it. The Ferrari of the workout machine and someone can only have thought before the Pinto, but you know, I'm just having suggestions, having to arrange the suggestions and having things be accessible, I think is, is really key because you know, none of this stuff helps if you're not going to use it.[00:45:02] And if you can't afford to use it, and I don't want people to feel like they're missing the boat on something when there are other alternatives that they could use for free or next to free that are going to move the needle. [00:45:10] Michael King: There's a lot to sort through with all of this, you know, is, is a business owner.[00:45:15] I don't have time to read studies and compare control groups, and I imagine a lot of, if not most other business owners and executives are, are kind of the same. But that's, that's really where you step in, right, Rod, like that's why. That's what you do, is you help sort through all that noise, make help people, make more intelligent choices on which of those things to try, how to evaluate them, which ones to avoid, et cetera.[00:45:39] Is that right? [00:45:40] Rob Lininger: Yeah, exactly. I mean, just like I would hire a consultant for my business, I'm in an area where. I didn't have the skills to really grow my business. You know, I tried to provide that same service. It's almost like a guide, someone who can help you to wade through all the information out there.[00:45:56] And there's so much and there's so many conflicting things. And there was actually a really good study recently within the past years though that said something like 80% of all the, fitness and nutrition information that the top 10 influencers on Instagram are putting out was total garbage. Like it did not match up with any of the scientific literature.[00:46:14] It was just. Okay. and unfortunately these are the people who most of us are getting, most of the population are getting their data from quote unquote data. You know, they're looking at this guy who's 25 and has. great genetics and the six pack, and he's telling you about this one exercise program that he did and he sells, or this supplement that he designed.[00:46:35] And I mean, this guy would probably have a six pack, even if he weren't taking those things or using those things, but you know, he's got something to sell. And so there's a lot of misinformation and disinformation. Really. The health and fitness space online is still the wild West. It's very poorly regulated.[00:46:50] There's really no backups, there's no control over what's offered or what's implied. and so, yeah, I mean, again, just like having a business consultant, I try to be a health and wellness consultant for people who are looking to make a change. Don't know where to start. They would be participating because they were trying to read a study.[00:47:10]and you know, I tried to make these things that are very complicated, very simple for people and very actionable. [00:47:16] Michael King: What's like an ideal client for you, Rob? So we know, we know it's somebody that doesn't necessarily want the quick fix, you know, the quick pill. What else does an ideal client look like for you?[00:47:27] Rob Lininger: You know, generally the people who I have found the most success with are people who are motivated. So again, the business executives are a great group of people to work with because they've done well in business. They're motivated, they're goal oriented. People who are ex athletes are also very good because they have a[00:47:43] pretty good understanding of the basics. So I'm looking for someone that you know who wants to work, who is willing to do the work and who's not looking for a quick fix. There are things we can do that will be quick. Six is like, you know, changing out foods if you're intolerant to them. years sleep. but there are other things that take longer, right?[00:48:02] So, if a client came to me and we decided to do some genetic testing, look at their metabolic pathways with lab tests, cheek swabs, blood tests, whatever it may be, you know, these things, they take few weeks to potentially get results and go over and look for things. Look for areas where you can make changes to really continue to move the needle.[00:48:21]and so it's a relationship. It's an ongoing thing. You know, if you compare the typical medical model where anybody can come in and you see them for 10 minutes and then you see him for 10 minutes again in three months, you know, that's not the way that I want to do things. I want to establish a relationship with someone, so someone who's willing to[00:48:38] show up, be present, learn, come with questions, be engaged, and have a conversation over the course, you know, weekly over the course of several months together, get things dialed in, and then, you know, ideally that person who leaves with the knowledge of how to manage things on their own, but, you know, sometimes people want to maintain that relationship and just keep working and sort of keep me on retainer, so to speak.[00:49:00] And we touched base. We continue to make changes. but really it's someone who is decisive. Someone who's willing to take action and who wants to get started right away, [00:49:10] Michael King: Where do they find you? [00:49:11] Rob Lininger: The best place to find me currently is online social media, so I have a private Facebook group, which I can add people to that are interested where we talk about things health and wellness related.[00:49:21] My Instagram handle is patch functional med.pa. [00:49:28] Michael King: Rob thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you taking the time to knowledge drop on everybody and give some really good tips on on sleep and eating and biohacking and all those great things. [00:49:40] Rob Lininger: I plugged her. I really enjoyed talking about this stuff.[00:49:42] And thanks for introducing me to your audience. I hope people get an actionable stuff out of this.[00:49:53] Michael King: Thanks for joining us today. Please don't forget to subscribe to In the Trenches with Michael King on your favorite podcast platform like Apple, Google, or Spotify. Once again, I'm Michael King with KFE Solutions. We'll see you again next week. .In The Trenches with Michael King is produced by Straight Up Podcasts. 
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11 hours, 28 minutes