Linda Laitala owns Raven Performance Group, an executive dialog and coaching company that helps business owners and leaders crowd source solutions to their challenges in community. 

Listen in as she talks with Michelle and JoyGenea about Raven, the importance of consulting with fellow business owners, and having a tribe that keeps you honest and accountable. 

Interested in learning more about Linda or Raven Performance Group? Check her out below!


LinkedIn: Raven Performance Group | LinkedIn

Facebook:Raven Performance Group – Home | Facebook
YouTube: Raven Performance Group – YouTube



 02:19  It is human nature to seek connection and validation


 02:50  Online conference is beneficial in terms of time and travel


 03:30  How do you get your team to focus during online meetings?


 04:27  Downside of online meeting is that people get easily distracted


 05:08  How do you establish effective communication? 


 05:54  As a business owner, you always have to think of options to offer clients


 06:11  Leaders also needs assurance and affirmation


 06:38  What is Raven Performance Group?


 07:12  Honesty is one of important trait both a client and business owner needs


 07:46  Should promote authenticity 


 08:00  Are you an entrepreneurial-minded person with leadership skills?


 09:22   Facilitating and mentoring is a challenge


 09:30  It is always good to entertain fresh ideas and learn something new


 10:12  How well do you know your team members?


 11:38  Life can change in an instant, keep on improving. 


 13:30  Each generation thinks differently


 15:18  Learn from your mistake and from other people’s mistake 


 17:49  Are you interested in becoming a facilitator? 





JoyGenea: Welcome to “If These Heels Could Talk.” I’m JoyGenea, from Solutions by JoyGenea…



Michelle: And I’m Michelle, from BadCat Digital. Super impressed, you got the intro right.



JoyGenea: I know, yay! We’re really moving up in the world. Today on our podcast, we have an amazing guest, someone that we both know and have worked with for years, and just…I consider her to be a pillar and a part of the business community…



Michelle: Absolutely. Yeah.



Linda: …in the St. Cloud and Central Minnesota area, because she also is, as we’ve noticed from a variety of the people we’re interviewing, she does not hold down an exact location in St. Cloud. She lives in an even smaller town.



Michelle: Oh, a tiny little town.



JoyGenea: And so, our guest today is…



Michelle: Linda Laitala.



JoyGenea: That’s right.



Michelle: Linda Laitala of Raven Performance Group, welcome.



Linda: Well, hello  crosstalk 00:49 



Michelle: So, Linda works with entrepreneurs, CEOs and presidents, helping them build better businesses and richer lives, and when you ask Linda, she says she has the best job in the world. So, we’ll start, Linda, welcome, with our favorite first question to ask. It’s a little warm up question. What is your favorite kind of shoe?



Linda: Well, I grew up wearing…when I started wearing shoes that were fancy shoes, wearing three-inch heels, before four-inch heels and five-inch heels were even a thing. And I wore those suckers to work all day, I would shop in them, I would do everything in them. And as a result, my favorite shoe today is Skechers.



Michelle: That’s awesome. Maybe Skechers needs to…you know what? I think Skechers did have a high heel at one point.



JoyGenea: Why?



Michelle: It was like a high heel sneaker…it was like a…



Linda: Was it a wedgie kind of heel?



Michelle: No, it was like a big, chunky sneaker that had a giant heel. I really think they did. We’ll have to look it up.



JoyGenea: That’s a…yeah.



Michelle: Yeah. So that being said, we’ll get into the real questions. JoyGenea, what’s our first question for Linda?



JoyGenea: What is one…so in the market that you’re in, and with business now in a new direction, what is one of the biggest trends that you’re seeing in your field, in kind of your industry and stuff?


 02:19  It is in human nature to seek connection and validation

Linda: People are hungry for connection. They’ve been isolated… Until the pandemic, we used to meet in groups, sitting around a table, talking. After the pandemic, people became more comfortable with screen time, so we’re now sitting at a screen, in many of my groups, talking about business, and issues like that. So, but they still need to connect. People need to connect.


 02:50  Online conference is beneficial in terms of time and travel

Michelle: Yeah, and I’ve noticed with the Zoom, and the conference calls and things, there are some benefits, you know? You get more time in your day because you’re not traveling, you know, being from home allows you to be a little bit more comfortable in your environment, maybe sometimes a little too comfortable for a professional setting. But I have noticed that it takes a lot more energy. Like, you’re giving out this emotional energy into a void, and it’s hard to get it back. So, it’s almost like you reach out for connection, but it’s like there’s nothing coming back at you. Has that been what you’ve noticed?


 03:30  How do you get your team to focus during online meetings?

Linda: It’s hard being a leader of a group like that, of any group on screen time right now. You’ve really got to pay attention to body language, are there people who seem distracted, draw them in as much as you can, watch, see what’s going on. It takes a much more skilled facilitator to do that kind of meeting than it does one in person, you’re right.



Michelle: Absolutely. I have noticed that.



JoyGenea: Well, and I want to add on that we’re kind of chatting about, because it makes just a lot of sense, and that’s the fact that when you’re in an in-person meeting, you’re utilizing all of your…right?



Michelle: Senses.



JoyGenea: Right, all my senses are being used. When I’m in this type of environment, this is a perfect example, you know, I’m not using all of those senses.



Michelle: Well, and it’s so much easier to get distracted.



JoyGenea: And they’re not connecting. Like, I’m using them, but they’re in this space, not in that shared space.


 04:27  Downside of online meeting is that people get easily distracted

Michelle: Well, and it’s a lot easier to get distracted. The social pressure of paying attention, so the social pressure of your behavior, your body language, eye contact, if your brain starts to wander a little bit, it’s super easy just to pull a tab over, and kind of, like, glaze over and pretend you’re listening, or you know, text somebody off to the side, off camera, or oops, my camera’s not working, and…you know?



Linda: Yes.



Michelle: It’s so much easier to half or partially be there. So it’s like you’re fulfilling an obligation to be there, but not really getting anything out of it.


 05:08  How do you establish effective communication? 

JoyGenea: And that’s what I was thinking, that you know, we were communicating on four or five levels right in person, and now with Zoom and this kind of stuff, we’re only communicating on the one. And you’re right, I do kind of crave…I miss the four ways, the four or five ways that I was connecting. That’s really…I’m missing that.



Michelle: Although, after a couple of years in quarantine, I can do without the smelling. That’s a way I don’t…because people have gotten a little…



JoyGenea: There’s a little  crosstalk 05:29 



Linda: That is the advantage.



Michelle: People have gotten maybe a little more relaxed than I would like them to be in a professional environment. And I don’t, just…I don’t hold myself apart from that, either.



JoyGenea: No, no…yes.



Michelle: Yes. Okay, moving on, because otherwise, if I go too far into that, we’re never getting out of it. So Linda, what do your clients need from you right now?


 05:54  As a business owner, you always have to think of options to offer clients

Linda: Oh, that connection, certainly, that we talked about, but right now, people need options. Business owners sit at a table, they have issues, what are some other opportunities that they have that they haven’t thought of yet, options?



Michelle: Creative problem solving.


 06:11  Leaders also needs assurance and affirmation

Linda: Mm-hmm. They need outside-the-box ideas, right along with what you said, they need assurance that they’re doing the right things, and sometimes they need a pat on the back, because who gives them that?



Michelle: Yeah. We’ve talked about that before.



Linda: That’s right. You sit across the table with people who have been there and done that, and they get what you’re doing. They can pat you on the back, and you know it’s authentic.


 06:38  What is Raven Performance Group?

Michelle: So, I think we should take a minute and just say what Linda’s talking about. So, Linda facilitates with Raven Performance Group, facilitates executive dialogue groups. So, that’s business owners, primarily, or business leaders sitting at a table together, or Zooming together to discuss the kind of the issues that they’re running into, and maybe groupthink, or you know, develop some creative solutions with each other.



Linda: That’s right, like a mastermind group, an executive roundtable, exactly like that.



Michelle: Lovely.


 07:12  Honesty is one of important trait both a client and business owner needs

Linda: And that being there with people who have been there and done that is extremely valuable. Probably one of the most important things that clients need, my members need right now is honesty. You need to hear the truth from someone. And it’s not always an easy thing to say, but they know that in a roundtable, they’ll get it, and it will be done with care and respect.



Michelle: Mm-hmm. But with authenticity.


 07:46  Should promote authenticity 

Linda: Authenticity, that’s the word I was looking for.



Michelle: Good.



Linda: That’s right. Thank you.



JoyGenea: I really agree with that. So Linda, what is your vision for the future of your business?


 08:00  Are you an entrepreneurial-minded person with leadership skills?

Linda: Well, I’ve already mentioned that people need connections now, and I’m finding that there’s a lot of need out there for people to connect. So, what I’m looking to do is find like-minded facilitators and coaches to lead some of my executive roundtables. Because one person can’t do it all, and I’ve been doing it, you know, myself, but I want to grow exponentially. So, I’m looking for an entrepreneurial-minded person with leadership skills, and that passion for business that just is curious, wants to know more.



JoyGenea: Nice. So, something like that, to me, strikes me as one of those great jobs for someone who’s maybe done a variety of things. They don’t even have to be that old, I was thinking somebody in their late 30s, maybe even 40s, but they’ve maybe done a lot of things in business, owned a couple of businesses, bought, sold. Like, you know, I can think of three or four friends that have just really heavily been involved in business and doing a lot of those types of things, and they’ve got great…what do I want to say, diversified portfolios that allow them to kind of…you know, not so much be retired, but be doing something that would include some mentoring, and…



Michelle: Or they’re ready for a new challenge. Yeah.



Linda: Yeah.



JoyGenea: Nice.


 09:22   Facilitating and mentoring is a challenge

Michelle: And then facilitating and mentoring is a challenge in and of itself. It’s one thing to learn something, and it’s another thing completely to share it.



JoyGenea: Yes.



Michelle: Absolutely.


 09:30  It is always good to entertain fresh ideas and learn something new

Linda: That’s right. And the person also has to be open to new ideas. Right now, I have a roundtable I call The Young Hawks, and it’s got a couple of 20-something members, entrepreneurs in that group, and you would not believe the stuff they come up with. It’s amazing, off the wall ideas, and you know, it just might work.



Michelle: You know, I would love an example. And you can feel free to say no, because I know what happens in your groups is held very sacred and private, but if there is a way to provide an example of something innovative that they’ve brought to the table, it would be great to hear.


 10:12  How well do you know your team members?

Linda: Well, one of my members is a…he demolishes houses, and the inside houses, and that’s his business. And one of his clients recently asked him to go to Tennessee, and do some work out there. Well, this guy doesn’t have much of a crew, you know, a big crew, but he took four guys out there, it was not in his niche, it wasn’t what he normally did, but he took them out there, they did the work, they got paid for it, they made good money, they got to see a little of the country, get to know each other on the road. And he said, you know, as a result of that, I think one of those people that I took out there is going to be able to lead a crew for me, and I can build on that person’s skills.



Michelle: That’s fantastic.



Linda: If they had never had that time together, they would not have known that.



Michelle: That’s fantastic. Yeah, most people would have passed on something like that.






Linda: Mm-hmm.



Michelle: Because it’s…I mean, that’s a big commitment, to go out, travel that far with that many people…



Linda: You’re quite right.



Michelle: Wow. Pretty cool. Pretty cool. What is one thing, it could be life, it could be business, but one thing that you really wish you had known a lot sooner?


 11:38  Life can change in an instant, keep on improving. 

Linda: Hmm, I thought about that question, and I think it’s that life can change in an instant. You know, and every day you get to do over. It doesn’t matter how much you screwed up today, or this week, or even this whole year, if it was just a year of bad stuff, but the mistakes you made and the dumb things you said and the stupid things you might have done, you know, every day is a do over. So, give yourself the gift of a clean slate every morning, give yourself a little grace, and…start the day fresh.



Michelle: That’s fantastic. Yeah. What book is that? It’s…”Anne of Green Gables.” In one of the “Anne of Green Gables” books, Anne says…who wrote those? LM Montgomery. In one of those books, Anne says, “Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet.”



Linda: Wow.



Michelle: Every day is a fresh day, with no mistakes in it yet. And that’s…what a great way to wake up in the morning.



JoyGenea: I like that. That is a good life reminder that I can lose sight of from time to time.



Michelle: Yeah. Yeah. Especially when you’re trying to fall asleep at night, and thinking about all of the things that you wish you had done, or wish you had gotten done, or wish you had said, or wish you hadn’t said.



Linda: Wish you hadn’t said. Exactly.



JoyGenea: Linda, I have an additional bonus question. So, if I take us too straight… But you have been hanging out with business owners throughout the last three years, and I would be really curious what you’re noticing. I’d like a little insight into the little Raven roundtables, what are some of the, like, top things you’re hearing from people right now, that they’re really challenged with? Like, what are some bigger pain points right now?



Michelle: Yeah.


 13:30  Each generation thinks differently

Linda: It falls in a couple, two or three different areas. The younger people are thinking how can I make this cryptocurrency work for me? Should I let people pay with that, should I accept it, what does my banker say? Probably the middle generation is saying how do I maximize my business and grow it, and not make so many mistakes along the road? But the older generation is saying what am I going to do with this thing now that I built it and I want to get out of it? I’ve created a monster that I cannot extricate from, and how do I do it smartly?



Michelle: You know what strikes me with that answer?



JoyGenea: Yeah?



Michelle: I don’t think that’s different. Before the pandemic, after the pandemic, I think that might have been basic-…well, with the exception of cryptocurrency, that might have been basically the same answer.



Linda: I think you’re right, yes. I mean, really, business doesn’t change that much, but some of the issues do.



Michelle: Absolutely.



JoyGenea: I would say for those of us, as we’ve rode the roller coaster, for those of us still on the ride, the business ownership ride, yeah, I do think it might have been a ride, but we came back around. Yeah.



Michelle: So, if somebody out there is considering maybe thinking about, oh, an executive dialog group, a business roundtable, I wonder what that is, and I wonder if that would benefit me, what would you tell them as the reason they should think about joining something like that?



Linda: Joining, or leading something like that?



Michelle: I would say joining first, and leading second.



Linda: Yeah, okay. Because we talked about both of them.



Michelle: Yeah.


 15:18  Learn from your mistake and from other people’s mistake 

Linda: I would say that you don’t have to make every mistake in the world yourself, you can learn from other people. I owned a business for many years, a manufacturing company, and I did not know about these business roundtables. And I’d make a mistake, and I’d pick myself up, and I wouldn’t confess it to anybody, my banker didn’t know, sometimes even my business partner didn’t know. But I really needed to talk to somebody. And after I got connected with a roundtable, I found out that, wow, this would have saved me a ton of money and heartache, had I been involved with one of these earlier.



JoyGenea: It is the wisdom of the group. It’s the wisdom…it’s the community  crosstalk 16:08 



Linda: Exactly.



JoyGenea: It’s the wisdom of the community, and you have…



Michelle: It takes a village.



JoyGenea: It does, and you want…and your employees aren’t your village.



Michelle: No, they can’t be.



Linda: No. No.



JoyGenea: That’s just it. And your wife  crosstalk 16:20 



Michelle: Yeah, your significant other, your partner…



JoyGenea: And your parents.



Michelle: …your parents…



JoyGenea: Love them, but they’re not…



Michelle: I think one of the things that really did surprise me about owning a business was how isolating it was, and how little people really understood.



JoyGenea: Yeah.



Michelle: And I didn’t think that it would be that different from what I had been doing before, which was basically running somebody else’s business. And it didn’t occur to me that it would be that different, but it’s massively different. And it’s really impossible to describe to anybody who hasn’t done it.



Linda: That’s right.



JoyGenea: Well, it’s kind of like parenting, I think.



Michelle: Yeah.



JoyGenea: When we used to talk about that, that can be kind of isolating, and you make a pile of mistakes, and you don’t get to run from them, you don’t get to call in sick…



Michelle: Yeah, you have to live with them tomorrow.



JoyGenea: Right.



Linda: Yes.



Michelle: Although tomorrow is a fresh day, with no mistakes in it. Yep.



JoyGenea: It is a fresh day.



Linda: Yeah, that’s right.



Michelle: Yeah.



JoyGenea: But it’s still interesting, that’s for sure.



Michelle: Was there anything else, Linda, that you think are the…If These Heels listeners would be interested to know about Raven, about you?



Linda: Well, I could tell them a little bit about the facilitator opportunity.



Michelle: Yeah, please.


 17:49  Are you interested in becoming a facilitator? 

Linda: And that means that the…what I’m looking for in a facilitator is exactly what you guys described. It’s someone who can lead the group, can watch, see what’s going on, and yet, it’s a lifestyle business. So you can work as hard as you want to work, you can make some pretty good money at it, and you can also create your life around it. Because in the CEO roundtables, or Raven roundtables, we say better business, richer life, and if you don’t have that balance, better business, richer life, something is out of whack, and both sides will suffer as a result. So, you have to do that. I also have…one of the interesting things about Zoom meetings is I have a member who is on a sabbatical with his family, he’s been doing this for three years now, and he’s traveling across and around the country in a motorhome.



Michelle: Cool.



Linda: He has a business here in Minnesota, that he’s got good managers to run it, he checks in occasionally, but typically, he and his family…he did this to get closer to his family, to teach them skills that they may not have gotten in school. They’re being homeschooled. And he attends the meeting on his cell phone, and it’s amazing, you know?



Michelle: From wherever.



Linda: Zoom is on his cell phone, and wherever he is. And so, it accommodates different people. And he can be in New Mexico, or he can be in Florida, or wherever he is, and you get a certain flavor of that area. And he’s been in business a long time, so we get the benefit of his wisdom. Anyone can join a roundtable.



Michelle: That’s fantastic.



Linda: Yes.



JoyGenea: I love it. Well, thank you…I hate these conversations ending. Like, I have ten more questions, I’m like, oh, no, let’s keep going…



Michelle: Yeah, I know, I want them to keep going. Yeah.



JoyGenea: But we know, we try to keep these concise. So Linda, thank you so much for being our guest today. Thank you for making time for us. This is just such an honor to have had you here with us.



Michelle: And that’s all for today’s episode of “If These Heels Could Talk.” We hope we’ve brought you some new ideas… Boy, I botched that. We hope we have brought you some new ideas, encouraged you in a new direction, I just…and inspired you a bit. I’ve got to be done. Thank you, everybody. Have a great week.



JoyGenea: Thank you so much…