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I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” – Unknown

A friend of the show posted a poem called Perspective not too long ago. It’s the same metaphor that JoyGenea and Michelle use in this episode of If These Heels Could Talk: a boat, adrift without any sense of just where the shore actually could be. 

We’re feeling a bit adrift this week, untethered to those things that usually help guide us in our decisions. But is it all bad? What if the tethers were holding us back from possibilities? What if, like a 14 year old article on Preparing for a Pandemic, we advise ourselves to make a plan and stick to it. To set a course and trust that, eventually, we will see land on the horizon.


J:  Hi I’m JoyGenea with Solutions by JoyGenea.

M:  And I’m Michelle with BadCat Digital.

J:  And welcome to If These Heel Could Talk.  Today on our episode we’re gonna have conversations about…

M:  Conversations about conversations.

J:  And the importance of conversations.  In the processing for some people.

M:  Yes.

J:  And I would say Michelle and I will right away identify that we are at times verbal processers.

M:  Absolutely.  I’m totally a verbal processor. 

J:  Us having the opportunity to share with you our journey actually helps us move ourselves forward.

M:  Absolutely.

J:  And this week we have a gorgeous example.

M:  Yeah on Wednesday – so today is Saturday May 2nd.

J:  Correct.

M:  We’re through April. 

J:  Yeah.

M:  Ugh.

J:  There’s a month you got to kiss goodbye.

M:  So it’s Saturday May 2nd and on Wednesday this week JoyGenea and I were together for some reason.  Properly social distanced. And we had a conversation with the intent to prepare for this conversation this morning and it was kind of a short 5-10 minute thing about how we were kind of both feeling disconnected.

J:  Right.  I’ll summarize it.  So more or less we were talking about feeling disconnected and we were just not sure where we were kind of at and I used an analogy.  I said well really we’re just adrift.

M:  Yeah.

J:  I said if you’ve ever been in a boat on a really large body of water –

M:  Which I tend to avoid because I fall in repeatedly.

J:  Well and most Minnesotans are not in large, large oceans or great big lakes.  Those types of things where when you start to leave shore and keep driving and driving and driving and heading out there’s a point where you no longer see land. 

M: Right.

J:  And all you see is water.  And there’s that definite point where you have to start to trust your navigation and you have to start to let go.   That you are no longer seeing land.  And I said, you know I think this week that’s what I’m kind of feeling. Normal is now officially gone.  What was in the past is done.  And I get it.  I got it.  And what’s coming I really don’t.

M: Even though I’m still mad about it, but we’ll continue.

J:  Right.  And where I’m gonna land, can’t see it yet.

M:  Yup.

J:  Like that shore is not in site.

M:  No. 

J: And so we are currently in this place of just being in the ocean. We are just traveling in that manner.  That was my analogy.

M:  And at times it feels like the wind has died, the engine is cut out, the oars have fallen in.  At times it feels like you’re truly adrift where the vagaries of the situation are blowing you and whatever direction they want to and that directionless, disconnected kind of feeling we were both having.

J:  We were.

M:  And the reason we’re not going to talk about that today is because we talked about it on Wednesday.  We’re good.  Like yes ok it’s named. Now what? 

J:  Yeah. 

M:  Because I was struggling to like name it and then I was struggling to think, well I wonder if anybody else is feeling like that?

J:  And that’s what I’m running into a lot in my conversations with other business owners.

M:  Yes.

J:  And just friends and people and this week I had a conversation with a good friend who was let go from her job permanently.  Not just during the pandemic.  They could see that it was gonna be a lot longer before they were able to, you know, bring her back.  And she was struggling through that and it was just interesting, almost everybody was in a very similar place of like I just don’t know and I would use our analogy and they were like oh I’m not alone.  I’m like no.

M:  Noooooo.  

J:  No.

M:  No.  And then it makes it seem like instead of, to beat the analogy even further to death, it makes it seem like instead of being on some like one man rowboat in the middle of the nowhere, you’re on a ferry with all of these other people and you know what? Maybe there’s a mini bar. 

J: Right.

M:  You know.

J:  I agree.

M:  Like, let’s make the best of it and do what we can because shore is –

J:  Nowhere in sight.

M:  Really far off.

J:   Yeah and at this point our navigation is keeping us safe and out of harm’s way and those kinds of things but it’s not actually able to navigate us to a particular location.

M:  Well and that’s really part of what my challenge was – was that idea that I don’t, because there’s so many unknowns and there’s so much I can’t plan for.  I can’t plan. So I have to plan for you know a disaster scenario that may or may not ever come.  And then I also have to hope for and plan for the best scenario and because I’m a verbal processor…

J:  Yes.

M:  It’s very difficult for me to not do that in front of or request the consultation of my employees.  And that’s a really bad thing to do in front of your employees.  If you are a verbal processor you don’t process things publicly especially not with employees because…

J:  You can, but this goes really badly.

M:  Everything that you say they take as what’s going to happen and so if you’re just kind of thinking out loud which is what a boss of mine used to call it.  Well I was just thinking out loud.  But now it feels to me like you don’t know what you’re doing.  Like you’ve never done this before.  You don’t understand.  And you’ve told me to do something while you were thinking out loud that now you’ve wasted my time.  So I started, when I started BadCat, I was verbal processing in front of people.

J:  I remember.

M:  And then I was like woah I really need to stop this.  This is very unhelpful and it was confusing people and I did get that feedback from an employee.

J:  And you caught it actually fairly quickly.

M:  I caught it really early.  I caught it when I had about 2 employees.  I caught it early.  And every once in awhile I catch myself doing it again and this last six weeks has been time that I’ve really struggled not to do that because I want them to know what I’m thinking.  I think that it’s comforting to know that your boss cares and that she’s thinking about you and that she wants the best for you, but she wants the best for as many of you as possible. 

J:  Yes. It’s good but it needs to be succinct.  Like the messaging. Exactly like our branding and exactly what we tell our marketing when we’re doing marketing for people.  It needs to be succinct.  It needs to be consistent.

M:  You have to kind of practice it in advance and have a story and have a point. Don’t just ramble.

J: Well and that’s where the power of our executive groups that we are in and the power of those relationships.  Being able to call those other people and just say wow I just like I just need to process through this.

M: And I would say any person in business on any level whether you own a business or you manage people or you need to find cohorts.  You need to find counterparts.  You need to find a professional group that you meet with consistently just to process.

J:  Well and I always say that.  So this would be one of our takeaways today.  I always recommend hold up your hand, you typically, most people have 5 fingers, you need to always have 5 people you can call at any time for support.

M:  Yup.

J:  And that they say truly that is what causes people to be successful or not.  It’s really that simple.  You hold up your hand and you be like can I name 5 people that right now I can call and talk about the business or I can call and talk about my marriage or friends or whatever is going on.

M:  And I would also kind of add to that.  I would encourage you to have that 5 but identify and know who is helpful in what sphere.

J:  Yes.

M: Because the people that I call to talk about my marriage and the people that I call to talk about my business are not the same people.

J:  I was just gonna say.  There’s 5 different people in those different silos.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Yes.

M: And 5 can be a lot and sometimes there’s you know one person who is in 2 or 3 silos and that’s fine.  That’s not what we’re saying.  We’re not saying sit down and make a list and separate all of these pieces of your life.

J:  Well if you’re that person you’ll do it.  No matter what we say.

M:  Yeah you will. 

J:  You can’t help it.

M: But I mean this isn’t homework, but this is a thing or way of saying who can you call.  Who ya gonna call, JoyGenea?

J: Ghostbusters.  I couldn’t help myself. Great movie. Flash from the past.

M:  But yeah.  Who are you going to call when you don’t understand how the Family Medical Leave Act works.  When you don’t understand what the difference between laid off and furloughed is.  When you don’t know the legal ramifications of doing one of those things, choosing one of those things.  Who are you going to call?   And there is not hardly anything that we can control during this but I can say I can control those 5 people.  Not them and their lives but who they are.  And who I invite into my weird little world of verbal processing.

J:  And I would also remind you just because you talk to one of those 5 people –

M: Doesn’t mean you’re done

J:  Doesn’t mean you’re done.  You might need to fact check that between a couple because right now the amount of information being passed and how quickly it adapts and changes has really required, like I will talk to one person I’m like I hear what you’re saying.  When did you find that out?  They’ll tell me and I’m like I’m probably gonna call somebody else, and they’re like yeah.

M:  And then tell me what they say.

J:  Exactly.  I have so many conversations that are like, and tell me what you find out.  And I’m like ok yeah yeah.  Because we are all just working so hard.

M:  Well and this is, you know, I’m still, now that we’ve had a little time to adjust.  I’m still doing a lot of my networking meetings and my networking events and that’s just been a really wonderful way to connect with other people who own businesses, run businesses, and keep those 5 who kind of live inside of that world prevalent in my life.  And so that’s that you know verbal processing that I need but that’s kind of part of it and part of it for me is this.  The fact that we’re doing this, I mean we started recording the podcast 6 months before we put episode out. 

J:  It’s almost been a year now.

M:  It has almost been a year.

J:  It’s May.  It’s almost been a year since our first fumbling recording.  I don’t think that’s been released yet.  We’ll tell you when it drops.

M:  Our first fumbling podcast.

J:  Our first fumbling.

M:  Maybe we should release that on the year date. 

J:  We’ll look into that.

M:  Yeah.   But so the point is that this process of recording this has actually helped me immensely through all of this, through a lot of different things that have happened in the last year.  Through growing really fast and this and that.  So thank you JoyGenea.

J: Michelle, I would say thank you back.  And I really appreciate that people are tuning in and they;re also connecting with that and realizing they are also on our boat with us adrift and hanging out.

M:  It’s really hard to fall off a ferry.  I like ferries because you know it’s really hard to fall.  You know they’re really big and it’s really hard to fall off of a ferry.

J:  But you can bring your car and like lots of stuff.

M:  I mean you can lots of stuff and yeah.  Every time I’ve tried to like get onto or off of a boat, like onto a boat from a dock or off of boat to a dock, somehow I end up falling in the water.  And I don’t really know how that happens.

J:  Do people videotape this?  I’m just curious.

M:  There maybe some existing footage somewhere.

J: Cuz I was gonna say it’s kind of funny. 

M:  Buried in my mother’s house.

J:  She’s gonna dig it up now that she hears this.  So we had that conversation Tuesday/Wednesday.

M: Wednesday.

J:  Wednesday.

M:  Yeah, I forget what day of the week it is too.

J: And it was really interesting how just within.

M:  A day.

J:  Less than probably 12 hours.  All of a sudden I was in a place of definitely feeling like all of sudden everything was just kind of normal.  That’s where I went.  I was like oh this just normal now.  I’ve been doing this for 5 weeks and this is normal.  I get out of my car, grab my mask, you know I walk in, I get the things that I need.  I touch as little as possible.  Like I realized I’m totally conditioned and not touch doorknobs at this point.

M:  Yeah.

J:  To be really careful about things to sanitize properly.  Like this has become normal and some ways it felt good to just feel a little bit of whatever normal was.

M:  Yeah.  I had package delivered to the office this week and if I had known that they were gonna require it to be signed for I would not have had it delivered to the office. But I had package delivered for the office this week which required me to sit at the office for 2 days. All by myself.  And it did it felt way more normal partly because I wasn’t at home in my pajamas trying to work and partly because.  JoyGenea, just, ok I just need to tell everybody what just happened.  JoyGenea just tried to adjust her chair: one of those very nice cushy office chairs. She tried to adjust her chair down so that her alignment with her table and her microphone was gonna be better and she dropped about 4 ½ inches and now looks like a Hobbit sitting across from me.

J:  Our eye level totally going.

M:  You know I no longer have any sense of what I was saying.

J:  You were discussing sitting at the office all by yourself for 2 days.  I’ll get you there.

M:  And the feeling more normal.  And that’s it.  It happened after our conversation as well this like oh.  I mean I suppose if it’s all alone I’m not opening the office up.  I could go sit there.  You know staying home can mean stay at home but if I’m at home and I get into my car that nobody else gets in and I go to the office that nobody else goes in…

J:  And you’re not scheduling meetings.

M: And I’m not meeting anybody and there’s no staff there.  I could just go to the office everyday.

J:  Yeah.

M:  Yeah.

J:  So I take it you’re contemplating that idea.

M:  I actually am.  It was easier to concentrate.  It was easier to focus and I definitely got more done.  So I might do that once in awhile but I also might not because, frankly, it’s awfully nice to get up 10 minutes before my first meeting.

J:  I hear that.  So there are a couple of things as small business owners that this week in our state we need to have some conversations around and it’s the fact that the governor has shifted the stay in place of it. Like there’s a process to reopening.  Ok.  There’s multiple steps to this process.  They’ve laid them out just about everywhere, kind of what it takes. 

M:  It’s very complicated.

J:  It is complicated.  And so the question becomes – and they’re not saying just because you could open you have to choose to all of sudden open.  It’s just a different possibility.  It’s part of their process.  They’ve now opened up another section.

M:  Right.

J:  And made that more available for them to work.  Retailers can now, a majority of retailers can open but it’s curbside pickup and it’s call in orders and it’s just different.  And I know hairstylists can now sell product and so forth but I don’t believe can have people inside quite yet and they’re working on that.

M:  That close physical contact is not allowed yet.

J:  And requirements for masks.  I’ve noticed this last week more and more retailers are putting up signs and saying you know by this date if you don’t…

M:  Have a mask we can’t let you in.

J:  And in respect to our staff.  And our employees are like we have to do this.

M:  Yeah.  And I think that’s really smart.  I don’t know if you saw it. We are in the town of St. Cloud, Minnesota and I don’t know if you saw this, but the New York Times put out a list this week and it identified the top 10 cities or towns across the country based on the percent growth of new cases day to day.  That’s what it was based on.   And in the country of the United States, St. Cloud is the top predicted city or town for a next outbreak and it’s because our time to double the cases in the last couple of weeks has been 2 days. 

J: Wow.

M:  And the next highest time to double cases, like number of days for cases to double the next highest one was like 3.8.  It wasn’t even close. 

J:  That’s concerning.  I’m gonna tell you.

M: It’s a concerning statistic.  So that’s kind of, so I’m actually a little bit in my head today and I’m actually, frankly, a little grumpy today.  I know I’m really working hard to not have it come out.  But I am.

J:  Yeah.

M:  And part of it is because of that.  I read that yesterday and I’m still…

J: And the governor you know said ok it’s gonna be longer overall but some get to open.

M: And you know I’m actually in support of that.  I really am.  I was actually nervous about trying to open on Monday and several of my staff – I had given them the choice.

J:  Yeah.

M:  Of whether they wanted to continue working from home or they wanted to come to the office because it is a choice for all of us.

J:  It is.

M:  And so about half of them didn’t want to come in and so I’m actually ok.  Fine, stay at home but that statistic kind of hit me and then I didn’t sleep that well.  You know we did our beginning of the month billing and it’s gonna be a bit of a rough month and so I was thinking about that.  And I was thinking about the statistic and I just didn’t sleep very well and then my neighbor is cutting a couple of trees down in their front yard right outside my bedroom window, so the chainsaw started at 7:45 this morning. 

J:  Yikes

M:  And then my wonderful podcast partner who I absolutely love, who is, you know, an active and fit outdoorsy kind of person.

J:  Gets up way too early.

M:  This beautiful May day, wanted to like spend part of the day with her husband or something climbing a mountain or whatever fit people do.

J:  Hugging a tree somewhere.

M:  And so we had to record our podcast at the insanely early hour of 10 am.

J:  I know.

M:  Instead of 11 which is just so much more reasonable.  So basically I am exaggerating because there’s really no reason for me to be grumpy today.  There’s no reason for me to be crotchety today but I just am.

J:  And that’s been part of this whole process.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Some days are just better than others.  Like mentally, it’s like engagement wise. Some days are just a win and some days are not.

M:  You know I was coming over to record and I was like ugh you know I just am not feeling it.  I’m just afraid that I’m gonna be ranty and you know grumbly and crotchety and just yeah.  And then I got out of the car and your like urghhhlk too…….  I was like oh crap. 

J:  We’re fine. 

M:  We’re totally fine

J:  Actually, and we’ll also clear this up from last week the person that was ill is doing much better and the person that was foggy and not so happy and that manner has cleared up also.  So, we are in different spaces.

M: We are in different head spaces and different places than we were.  It’s a day to day, hour to hour thing.  So for everybody out there who’s like, How do they stay so positive?  We don’t.

J: I watch positive things and really kind of not letting in anything.  If I can control the negativity I am. 

M:  Well I’m doing exactly the opposite.  I’m watching –

J: We have two different approaches.

M:  We have two very different approaches.  I’m watching negative things but I’m not watching the news.  I’m watching like –

J: Are you still watching pandemic stuff?

M: No, no, no.  

J:  Ok.  What did you shift to?
M: Well this morning we watched an episode of the vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.  Which is an FX production but is on, I wanna say it’s on Hulu.  Anyway, it’s hilarious because it’s about a bunch of vampires trying to navigate the 21st century and failing miserably at it.  The episode we watched this morning was about an email chain letter. If anybody remembers the bloody mary chain letter, you are now cursed.

J:  Oh funny.

M:  So of course you know, people from the 12th century, they take it super seriously and it turns into this whole big thing and hijinks ensue.  Anyway, so really dark comedies.  When I say negative that’s kind of what I mean. 

J: Got it.

M: Really dark comedies is what I’m like. Really dark. 

J: At least you’re laughing.

M:  Like maybe you judge me a little bit if you knew. 

J:  Well we’ll only go that deep

M:  Okay.

J:  I noticed as the week continued on and definitely where I’m at today was more in a, “ok if I’m on this boat and we’re out in the ocean, there are things that I can do to prepare for when we land.”

M:  Ok. No matter where we land.

J:  No matter where we land.  There are certain things that I’m going to need.  But I bumped into a while ago and I resurrected again.  There’s a Harvard Business Review article.

M:  Ok.

J:  From 2006.  And it is preparedness for a pandemic.

M:  No way.

J:  Uh huh. 

M:  That’s 14 years ago.

J: And it’s fabulous. 

M:  Oh really, ok.

J:  It is.  And I’ll have the link to it.  One of the things I loved about it.  There’s literally a checklist for every business on how you be prepared.  M:  Well where was that 2 months ago, JoyGenea?

J:  Out there.  We just had to dig for it.

M:  Yeah.

J: They talk about how you should communicate.  How you should lead.  How you’re going to reopen your business afterwards.  How you shut it down.  The cleaning supplies.  Like reading it was I’m just like oh amen.  I’m just like thank you.  So I have –

M: That link.

J:  Exactly.

M:  Link.

J:  We will definitely be sharing that.

M:  I do have to say there is one organization in town that I thought just this past week here that I thought handled themselves gracefully through a really hard week for them.  And I’m just gonna call them out because that’s how amazing I think they are.  Good Shephard Community announced their first Covid case and I will fully disclose too that they’re client of ours so we were kind of watching this happen from behind the scenes.  And watching the decisions that were getting made and how seriously they took informing everybody and how concerned they were with not only their residents and patients but staff and their families.  Not only the families of residents and patients but the families of staff and volunteers.  And I was so massively impressed. The goal was always, and every conversation that I was party to, there was never a suggestion of any sort of running away from or hiding any information.  It was always about it is our responsibility to share this information and to share it in a way that helps people understand the seriousness of the situation as well as helps people understand exactly what we’re doing about it and what we have been doing since the beginning, because you know like many other senior living organizations they just shut the doors.  Like right away at the beginning which is exactly what they needed to do but there wasn’t a whole lot coming out about internally what policies had changed or anything like that.  So the reason that I think that they did this so well wasn’t just that they announced it because I do happen to have knowledge of, and I’m not gonna say who, knowledge of other similar organizations in town that have cases but have not publicized them as they are supposed to do. 

J: Right.

M:  However, the response on social media to the news articles – the press release was beautifully written. The response on social media was mixed. Most supportive.  And then the people who support the organization came out in defense of the organization when others were not and the organization just backed off completely.  I thought it was absolutely beautiful.  We’ve been aiding them behind the scenes just kind of watching everything to make sure that there’s no big huge disaster somewhere but it’s been handled absolutely beautifully and I just – any business out there ,whether you work with the public or not, who’s looking for a primer in how to handle themselves through this kind of announcement that is the primer.  It was absolutely lovely. 

J:  I think that’s a perfect example.  It’s not like you’re the first one anymore.

M:  No. 

J:  There are examples to use out there.  I had a situation this week.  I happen to catch a conversation with the owner Shake Shack and Union Square. 

M:  Ok.

J:  But he handled it so extremely well.  How he responded to the question of you know you applied for this money and got these millions of dollars which then meant a lot of other smaller businesses were bumped out. 

M: Didn’t. 

J:  Exactly.  And I’m sure his PR staff assisted him in writing his response.  Nonetheless his response was just outstanding.

M:  What did he say?

J:  Well he said, you know, we were following it as it was happening.  When the CARES Act was being done.  We have employees. We fit under the demographics that they talked about.  We wanted to definitely step up and make sure our employees were covered.  So you know we did this.  It’s what they said we should do.  And he said as soon as we were made aware, and he said it was actually before it went public.  As soon as we were made aware that by us doing that we bumped out other people and the more they had looked at the fine print.  They gave the money back but the more they looked at the fine print the more they recognized as restaurants there was no way they were gonna probably be able to use that money in time.  And there’s that time frame on there.

M:  Yeah.  It’s an 8-week time frame on the… We’re talking about the Paycheck Protection Program. 

J:  Yes.

M:  The PPP. And Shake Shack as larger corporation getting millions and millions and millions of dollars out of a finite bucket.

J:  Yup.

M:  And then giving that money back.

J: And a lot of other companies have actually stepped back and reconsidered it.  As more and more rules and he said it and he’s right.  As more and more rules are being added to how this loan will be exactly received.  How you can use it. 

M:  When it will be forgiven.  What will be forgiven.  And now the big question is.  Is it taxable? 

J: Right.

M:  Is it a taxable income line or not?  That’s the big question right now and nobody knows the answer.

J:  And we won’t know until they say.

M:  And honestly we probably won’t know until it’s too late to change anything about it.

J:  Right.  So we just got to keep moving forward.  Again, our ship is off.  It left port.  We’re just moving forward.  But I thought his response was very well done.  It addressed the issue.  It answered the question and it took responsibility.

M:  Well and that’s you know, there’s a core there. There’s a core – be honest, take responsibility for your actions, whether you agree that they were wrong or not.  You are honest.  You take responsibility for your actions and you apologize. Period. Because that’s how you prevent it from becoming something bigger.  And so many small businesses wrap you know ourselves our own self is so wrapped up in our small business that it’s really hard to do. 

J:  It is.

M:  Because it feels like a personal attack.  I’ve spent 65 hours a week of my life on this business, every waking moment.

J: Well it’s almost its own entity. We had a whole podcast about how it is like its own entity.

M: Right.  But it’s an offshoot of you.  It’s like somebody, you know, criticizing your child.  And so it’s really hard not to take it personally.  But if you acknowledge the situation.  Take responsibility for your actions and sincerely apologize and then shut up.  Everything gets better.  And we can list all kinds of examples.   Like some airlines who beat people up in the past.  Where none of that happened. 

J:  And we all know exactly what you just said and you never had to use their name.  Like you want to talk about branding in the wrong direction. 

M:  Well and that’s the other thing I do wanna kind of bring up because these meat processing plants and these different organizations.  I will say that from a digital marketing professional, every time somebody searches that company’s name in the next who knows how many years. 2 years. 3 years. 5 years.  8 years.  There will be articles about them being at the root of the pandemic.  So if you need a business reason to not reopen your business before you’re supposed to, here is your business reason.  Your reputation will be decimated if you are at the epicenter of a cluster and spread coronavirus or covid-19 to other people.

J: Cuz the amount of your business being on the internet that you didn’t ask for that isn’t positive will be uncontrollable.  It’s a narrative you do not have control over and it will be like wildfire. It will be so much of it.

M: And you know it’s one of those things. SmithField Meats will be ok because their income long-term does not rely on people searching their names but if you’re, you know, the clothing boutique, the restaurant.

J:  The smaller.

M:  The digital marketing agency down the corner.  You don’t want to be associated with that.  It will live much, much, much longer past the pandemic.  So if you are thinking, ah whatever it’s gonna be just fine, let’s just you know, whatever.  We’ll violate the Governor’s orders and open anyway.  As I know that there is a lot of people in town thinking about it because….

J:  Thinking about it, I’m seeing it.

M:  Yeah.  I keep getting the petition sent to me. Like are you going to do this with us.  It’s like no.  I’m not.  And if you need business decision why not, there’s your business decision.  You think this is expensive? Try rebranding.

J:  So, let’s take this section and let’s add it to what you were talking about earlier.  We are consciously both aware that we’re gonna become a hotspot.

M:  Yeah.

J: That’s the reality of this.  So now we’re having a conversation with you on the fact that we made the New York Times. 

M: Yeah. Agai.n

J:  Again.  But we made the New York Times and they’re talking about us in advance of what potentially could be ahead. 

M:  Yup.

J:  And so now we’re also having the conversation about businesses opening in alignment with Governor’s statement.  This needs to be heavily thought about.

M:  Yeah.

J:  On the importance, like what is the return on investment of opening your business in that way?

M: Right.

J:  Or bringing all the employees back because that feels like that’s what they all want.  You as the leader.  You as the owner, have to be the person that really determines what is best for your business and your staff.

M:  And if you think back to some earlier conversations that we’ve had JoyGenea, we’ve talked before about lose-lose decisions.  About this being a scenario or a situation where there’s no good choice.

J: There’s not.

M: There is no one clear good choice.  You know I think the biggest thing I would encourage people to do is sit down and do a risk assessment but an honest one. Not an emotional one. So assume that somebody in your business either a customer or a staff person will eventually contract covid-19.  Let’s just assume it because it’s going to happen.

J:  Plan for it.

M:  Plan for it.

J:  As they explained in that very lengthy…

M:  In Harvard Business Review.  In the Governor’s stay in place or stay at home Minnesota or whatever they’re calling it here.  If you assume that and then say what will I do when it happens.  Instead of well that will never happen.  Whatever. That’s not a leader’s thought. That is an emotional response.

J: So these are exactly what we were talking about.  These are the things that we can do while we’re on the ship.

M: Right.

J:  Having a party. 

M:  With the mini bar.

J: Right. Cruising along.

M:  Thank goodness there is a mini bar.

J:  Cruising along, knowing we are going to land but not knowing where.

M: Yeah.

J:  These are absolutely things that we can do additionally to shore up our business to have confidence in the fact that it is landing somewhere on the other side of this.

M:  Do you remember that tv show Lost? 

J:  Yeah.

M:  Do you remember that? With plane crash and then everything got all weird.  I preface by saying there’s no spoilers because I never finished it.  It got too weird for me which is really weird. 

J:  That says a lot.

M:  But in the very first episode there’s a, what’s the character’s name, Sawyer or something.  Sawyer gathers everything that people will want or need.  All of the medication.  All of the entertainment. All of the alcohol.  All of the, you know, snacks and chocolate.  Anything that anybody could possibly want.  Gathers it.  Buries it.  Sits on top of it and starts a little misfit economy of his own on this desert island.  So as blatant and cruel as that looks and seems, you don’t have to gather up all of the resources for yourself and cop a squat.  Like that’s not what we’re talking about.  What we are talking about is when you wake up all dazed and confused, like we all are.  Right now. What’s the first thing that you’re going to do? What’s the first thing that you’re gonna plan for and how are you going to take your people along with you?  And so Sawyer got some preparedness pretty darn quick.  Thought ahead to what people were gonna want in a week.  Assumed they were gonna be there for quite awhile.  Assumed there was no help coming.

J:  And why not.

M:  Assumed all of these terrible things while everybody else was kind of sitting around wringing their hands going when is help coming.  That’s a leader.

J:  Yes.

M:  Even though we don’t like where he went. 

J:  We don’t have to like where he went.  It still represents leadership and forethought and planning and preparedness and that is definitely what we’re talking about.

M:  And not letting the emotion of not wanting the situation to be true.

J:  That’s over, people.

M:  Because of not wanting this situation to be true to cloud our judgement about what we do next. 

J: Cuz we do have control over some things.

M:  Yes.  What we do.  That’s what we have control over.

J:  And how we prepare for it.

M:  That’s pretty much it.

J:  That is it right now.  Actually, that’s most of the time.

M:   That’s it most of the time.  Everything else is yeah. You know it’s one of those things – I was listening to us  that we had kind of talked about in the past and thinking about them and I was like you know we really only ever have control over what we do and how we plan.  We don’t ever have control over circumstances.  These circumstances are just so massively foreign that were having a difficult time planning but any other control that we think we have any other time is an illusion.  So what are you doing to plan? 

J:  I’m taking a little bit of time each day to work on that preparedness plan.

M:  Ok.

J: If I’m opening up?  If I’m going to start to meet clients again what will that look like?  What’s required but am I requiring because I’m sorry I consider my health valuable.  I don’t enjoy being ill.  So that’s going to rank on there.  And I consider my customer’s health very valuable.

M: Absolutely.

J:  So that’s at the top of my list.  And also essential people because if I’m passing around a disease I’m also potentially you know coming in contact with essential workers, maybe hospital workers.  I don’t even want to cause that to happen.  So it’s like how can we just prevent all of that with my best effort?  Doesn’t mean I’m gonna win at that.  I just want to know that I’ve done everything possible to make sure that that bed is open for somebody else and doesn’t need to be kept open for any.

M: And keeping, you know, in mind that we’re both very realistic about the fact that at one point one and or both of us will likely get coronavirus and that’s true for almost everybody.  This is really about spreading that out and it’s not you know there’s all that conversation about flattening the curve and this that and the other thing and it’s gotten to the point where nobody wants to hear it anymore.

J: Pretty much.

M:  But it’s really about spreading it out and so that when I get sick there’s not 45,000 people sick at the same time.  Because I do not have any delusion that I won’t sick.

J: Well and as we’ve just learned, you know, what I mean it’s definitely -it’s in our county.  The reality is it’s in our county.  It’s definitely heavily in our community compared to what it was and compared to other counties in the state of Minnesota.

M:  And the country guys.

J:  Right.  Like we ranked up at the top.

M:  Other cities in the country. We rank number 1. 

J: We’re yes.

M: We’re number 1.  That was a great gesture, JoyGenea.  I won’t describe it for everybody we’ll just let people’s imaginations go. I think that part of this for me is, yes preparing for, you know, bringing staff back.  Preparing the office.  Cleaning schedules and sanitization schedules and I’m working on all of that but it just occurred to me that I need a plan for when I am sick for 2-3 weeks and for when every person in my office is sick for 2-3 weeks and potentially 2 or 3 of them to be sick at the same time.

J: And you know that’s what I’ve kind of been working on with one client. They hired me right away to take it on and a big chunk of what they need was that.

M: Cross-training.

J: Cross-training.  Backup.

M:  Make sure everybody has access to everything.

J:  And how do we do a lot of these things, because…

M:  How do essential functions continue if that person is no longer available to do them for long stretches of time?  A day or two I’ve got covered.  A day or two is easy.

J:  But that’s not how this works.

M:  But that’s not how this works

J:  This is two weeks.

M:  If not three. 

J: Right.  So you need to plan for that.

M:  I’ll be honest, people are dying too.  I hate to think about that.  I hate to, hate to, hate to think about that.

J: But that’s the reality of why.

M: That’s the reality of it.

J:  I’m not wearing that mask because it’s sexy.

M:  No.  It is though. It is a very pretty plaid. It brings out the blue in your eyes.

J:  I know. I do try. No, I’m wearing that mask because I really value other people’s lives.  And I really want that to continue.  And nothing we’re talking about is bad for business, by the way.

M:  No.  Everything that we’re talking about we should be doing anyways.

J: Cross-training of people. 

M: Cross-training is good anyway.

J:  Right. 

M:  People could get hit by bus at any time. 

J:  Or win the lottery.  That’s what I keep telling them.  I’m like I know you won’t be here if you win the lottery and it helps in the cross-training to use that analogy. They really are like oh you’re right I would quit tomorrow.

M:  Because it’s not a bad thing.  It’s a good thing. It’s something that they hope for.

J:  Right.  So I just always use that.  I’m like if you win the lottery, I know you won’t be here.  We need to be ready for that and they’re like oh yeah, you’re right I do play every once in a while.  I’m like yeah.

M: Well and the other thing that I’m doing that I’m really gonna recommend to people, because as a small business owner it never occurred to me it was an important benefit for my staff, but something that I did this month was I contacted my insurance agent and asked about pricing for short and long term disability insurance as well as life insurance. Even though my staff is, you know, 28, but the reason I did it is because they are scared of missing 2 or 3 weeks of work too.

J:  Yes.

M:  And they’re scared of losing their jobs. They’re young. All of their friends are losing their jobs.  We happen to be in an industry where we’ve been lucky enough to be able to retain 80% of our clients.  It’s not everybody.

J:  And that’s today’s date.

M:  That’s today’s date so who knows what tomorrow brings and that’s the conversation that I have with them.  I’m not promising anything for the future but for right now we’re fine.  For right now we have this much coming in and this much going out and I applied for this program to help and it’s going to get us through and the goal is to keep the team intact.

J: So how did they take that long term and short term care insurance option once you looked at it?  I’m curious.

M:  You know it’s funny because a couple people on staff really had no understanding of what it was and happened so fast cuz I wanted it to start yesterday.  It happened so fast that I didn’t really frankly ask enough questions about what the benefit really was to be able to answer any questions so you know the couple people on staff who had additional question were like was is that but then they looked it up and they were really pleased.  But 2 people from my 7 person staff were grateful to the point of tears.

J:  Oh wow.

M:  It really helped with their anxieties and fear.  And then I put myself into the employees – you know I’m struggling enough steering this boat adrift, imagine if I was like blindfolded in the back and I had no idea what was going on. So I put myself in a place of a staff person and a staff person who maybe has a family member who works as a nurse or a doctor or lives with somebody who is very, very vulnerable like an infant or grandparent.  These people, that person has all of these concerns about this. All of the feelings that I’m having they’re having too but with less of control over their destiny personally because somebody else controls their income.  To have done that, and I will say from a cost perspective it was almost nothing.  It was negligible.  The cost of providing this to an 8 person staff was less than our lowest priced package of any service.

J: Oh wow. 

M: And so I know that there’s not a lot of extra money rolling around right now and I know that you know that everybody’s kind of holding on to what they’ve got because they don’t know what tomorrow will bring but this was such a minimal investment for such a huge relief and payoff that I would really recommend it to any other small business owner as an investigation for yourself.  Short-term, long-term disability and life insurance and I do have to put a shout out to Joan at Park Industries for giving me the idea back in February.

J:  Ok.

M: Because she said you should look into it. It’s a really cheap way to provide another benefit for your staff and then I was like yeah, Joan from Park Industries thinks it’s cheap.  That doesn’t mean I’ll think it’s cheap. But it turns out we have the same definition of cheap.

J: Turns out she kind of knew what she was talking about.

M: Turns out, you know, the CEO knows what she’s talking about. When you say have those 5 people, and I’m not in any way claiming some sort of like intimate partnership relationship with –

J:  But she is one of the people you reference.

M:  But she’s a person that I know through other people and is somebody that I turn to as an example mentor and for advice.  Yeah, she was so right.  And I was like and it took me like 2 months to get off the stick on it too, cuz I was like yeah there’s no way.

J: Well there was a pandemic in the middle of this.

M:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

J:  It was a little hard to make decisions in March.  Let’s just say.  March and early April.

M:  It was hard to make decisions.

J:  You froze.

M:  You just froze.

J: Like how do we survive?  How do we survive?

M:  No, no, no, no. What do we do?

J: I can tell we are not there anymore.

M:  No.  We’re just not there.  And you look all cute today.

J:  Thank you.

M:  We’re not even on camera and you’re looking all cute.

J: I went all summer.  I went summer spring with the blingy earrings.

M:  Yeah, you’re blingy.  And colorful.

J: I know. It’s time. It’s time. I’m on the cruise ship.  I’m on the ferry boat. Nevermind, I’m not getting on a cruise ship. 

M:  Cruise ships are bad, JoyGenea.

J:  No cruise ship.

M:  So as you can hear this, how JoyGenea and I verbally process – and I will say I now feel so massively better than I felt when I walked in this morning. 

J:  You look a lot happier.

M: I was grumpy.  I was honestly pretty pissy. 

J: Yeah.  That’s okay.

M:  I just was and now I’m just like yeah, it’s a beautiful day and I’ve got this beautiful person in front of me and all these happy things in my life and I can do this. This will be good.

J:  And you can.  And we are.  And we’re all doing a lot better than we think.

M:  Yeah, we are.

J:  I think we all need to give ourselves a lot more credit in this.  A lot of us are still standing and for those that may have fallen down pick them up.

M:  Because you didn’t fall. You didn’t fall. The business might have.  Your job might have but you didn’t. 

J: And if you’re still healthy or you survived just you got this.

M:  Yeah.

J: We are going to get through this.

M:  Yes. And a big shout out and thank you to all of those essential workers and people on the front.  Everybody who was at the grocery store this morning.  Everybody who did trash pick up yesterday.  Boy there was a lot of trash, we missed it for a couple of weeks.  Everybody who is still out and about – the police officers who are kind of you know patrolling and making sure…

J:  I had to pull over for the ambulance on my way over here.  Like thank you to those people.

M:  Firefighters.  I had to pull over for a firetruck last night. Thank you, thank you, thank you and especially a huge thank you to the people working the front lines in health care. This is very emotionally difficult to watch and to participate in for you. We see that. We see you and we say thank you.

J: Absolutely.  Well that’s it for today’s episode of If These Heels Could Talk.  We hope that we have brought you some new ideas, encouraged you in a new direction and inspired you just a bit.  Thanks for listening.