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Mentioned in the show:
You can follow Post Status and our guests on Twitter:
- Lyndi Zavy (Founder & CEO, Rivers and Roads)
- Cory Miller ( CEO , Post Status)
- Olivia Bisset (Intern, Post Status)
The Post Status Draft podcast is geared toward WordPress professionals, with interviews, news, and deep analysis.
Cory Miller (00:00:02) – Everybody. Welcome back to Post Edits Draft. I’ve got a special interview today because I’ve got a friend on in Oklahoma City that Lindsay and I have got the chance to work with very recently. Lindsay’s known for a long, long time. So I’m a new friend. But I wanted to ask her because we’ve been talking about some really critical topics together. Her and Lindsay have been she’s been instrumental and really helping Lindsay build her business, a content journey. And I got a little taste of it and I was like, Lindsay, I got to have you on. Um, I know you do a lot of things, Lindsay, and I’ll let you introduce yourself from HR strategy, a lot of business stuff and helping a lot of people. Now in your role as as rolling your own shingle out into the world. And I’ve seen it really blossom in recent recent history here. And so could you tell us a little bit more about you, what you do today? And then I’m going to start poking in and saying, okay, tell me a little bit about your past and things like that for sure.
Lyndi Zavy (00:01:08) – First of all, thank you so much for having me. And truly, I would not be sitting in this seat in the small business incubator without Lindsay. And we were sorority sisters a very long time ago. I will not say how long ago. And I’m just so grateful. And I’ve loved having a front row seat to watching what what you and Lindsay have built and what you’re doing. So thank you for having me here today. Um, so I founded Rivers and Roads Organizational Development actually filed for the LLC a year ago this week. So it has been a fantastic journey. And so I do organizational development. I call it the intersection of people and operations. My background is, excuse me, I have a master’s in industrial organizational psychology. And what that led to was a 15 year career in human resources, in organizational development and change management. I had had about eight years at that was kind of my jungle gym of a career. I had six different roles think in that eight years. And then I left in 2017 to go to an infusion pharmacy that was locally owned and operated, had a great time there with the owners, really had a a true seat at the table in human resources and organizational development.
Lyndi Zavy (00:02:24) – And in 2019 they named me the chief operating Officer. And so I got that operations experience. So it’s kind of a weird background. I always tell people I just have this weird background that I’ve been so fortunate to have. And then about a year after I was moved to in December of 2020, we were acquired by a large national organization and stayed on for 18 months for that transition. And when that time was up, I wanted to pursue my long term dream of owning my own company. And, you know, it was something that I’d always wanted to do, but it just always seemed really terrifying. And it is terrifying, but it’s been great. And so a lot of there’s a lot of life that happened in between those talking points that led me to hang the shingle. But it’s been a great ride so far. So there you have it.
Cory Miller (00:03:10) – Oh, wow. There’s so much we shouldn’t have. We should have more time for this, but we’ll come back again because there’s so much here I want to dive into one.
Cory Miller (00:03:20) – Congratulations. Love to celebrate entrepreneurs like yourself doing good work in the world and doing well. So congrats. I think it’s timely that we would have this interview and I’m glad to be a part of it. So that’s incredible. I think when you’re saying like all of this stuff and got this, it’s like it to me. My path has always seemed meandering. Sometimes when I look back and go, Wow, that was a great ride. But I can see why all your background and everything led you to do those things. Because I think so often in business it’s about two things, or at least the problems. It’s money and it’s people. And so, like your intersection, what you said is people in operations, it’s to me, it’s how the work really gets done. How do we lead all that? And that’s such deep work because to date, AI hasn’t replaced us all. It’s still about people, our teams, customers. That human interaction part. I think that’s invaluable and why we have been very thankful and the Lindsay has to have of your caliber access to as she grows her agency.
Cory Miller (00:04:32) – So. Wow okay. There’s so much here. So much I think if I had.
Lyndi Zavy (00:04:38) – Go ahead. Go ahead. No, go ahead.
Cory Miller (00:04:40) – I think if I’d known what industrial psychology was maybe 20 years ago, I would have 30 years ago. For me, I would have been like, how do I get a I can do that as a job. That’s that’s super cool. Psychology applied in in the workplace. I know Adam Grant, very famous psychologist I read a ton of. His stuff and love his work. That’s super cool.
Lyndi Zavy (00:05:07) – Yeah. And I was so fortunate again, mean and again not to use the intersection terminology again, but I feel like luck is the intersection of opportunity and hard work. And the opportunity for me was a professor at OSU who said, Hey, I really see this in you and think you could be great at this. Um, which led me to apply for graduate schools, which ended up at Middle Tennessee State University, which a couple of years after I graduated, was named the top master’s program in my field.
Lyndi Zavy (00:05:34) – So had an incredible experience there. Great professors, great connections there. Um, don’t do anything small. So did multiple student associations and internships and practicums. And then I graduated right at the recession. So my husband and I were sort of in this race of like, who can get a job first because everything looks like it’s falling apart. And we were so fortunate to find a job back home. We both started at OSU. That was where we met at OSU and at Norman. And so it was just it was it just felt like it was, you know, again, that intersection of opportunity and hard work. So I was fortunate to, I won’t say stumble into this field because I did it consciously, but I just I do feel like, like you said, all of those experiences have led me to exactly where I am today.
Cory Miller (00:06:22) – What’s that? The topic I really want to talk about because as we’ve talked in preparation for this, we have to talk about leadership and burnout and current climates and all that we need.
Cory Miller (00:06:33) – I want to talk about that. But at first I know how Lindsay was able to utilize having you two doors down this vast resource of experience and expertise with dealing with people and all that has had that great opportunity to work with you. And how I intersected with that was when she was hiring her next person. And that specific h.r. In within this big nebulous of. You were so instrumental. And i just want to talk for a second about your approach because i really appreciated it. It was a very it wasn’t overly structured but it was structured really well and more so thoughtful. She was trying too hard for somebody you work through. I think I’ll let you talk about it, but and I’ll kind of come in and say some things I saw, too. But can you talk a little bit about that?
Lyndi Zavy (00:07:24) – Yeah, for sure. And again, mean being two doors down from Lindsay like likewise feel the same of just the, the expertise and the knowledge and I knew she was looking for her next hire.
Lyndi Zavy (00:07:32) – And so we really love it. I love a blank whiteboard. And so we started whiteboarding. Just what are you looking for? The competencies, the behaviors, Where might this person have come from? What kind of experiences are you looking for them to have had? And then we had this huge full whiteboard. It was like, All right, what are the deal breakers? And think when it comes to hiring, you have to think about deal breakers just like we do in relationships. Like what are deal breakers for a significant other and I’m you know hashtag careful like don’t maybe don’t make a significant other out of your next hire um but I just mean like there are some there are some commonalities where we have to live with this and so what are the deal breakers if this person you know, did or didn’t have these things, what would that be like? So that gives me sort of a profile of what we’re looking for outside of just your typical education experience, background, those kind of things. So competencies, behaviors.
Lyndi Zavy (00:08:20) – Um, and so then where we went from there is I just so I’ve hired for 15 years across all kinds of different positions, health care, higher ed, you name it, I’ve hired it, I feel like. And so I had to get really efficient in my hiring. And so I always tell people like your your job description, number one is your first line of defense on everything of making the right hire of workers, comp leave, disciplinary actions, performance management, anything. And so job descriptions feel really boring and nobody likes to do them. Leading me. It’s my least favorite thing to do. Maybe not my least, but don’t don’t enjoy it. Um, but it’s so important to get the job description right. So then once you have the job description and you know what you’re looking for, then you start calling through your applicants and looking through, you know, however you. And so we posted it on LinkedIn and I’m kind of like dancing around here. Don’t always think very linearly.
Lyndi Zavy (00:09:16) – And but so we we put on LinkedIn saw who was coming through, you know, and then once we had applications then your next line of defense is your phone screen. And I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve with phone screens. Number one, think you have the applicant call you.
Cory Miller (00:09:32) – I love that. By the way, That was so brilliant.
Lyndi Zavy (00:09:36) – It’s such a small thing. But here’s the thing that was so funny to me. Like this was sort of a learning lab for me was for this sort of marketing role. They were Johnny on the spot. They were calling me early. Like sometimes I wasn’t fully ready. Full disclosure, because like mean I’m a just in time delivery kind of gal. Like Am fits at noon. I’m ready at noon. Sometimes, you know, two. But so like when used to hire nurses, they would never call me on time. And like, I’m not making a sweeping generalization about nurses, but like, what I learned was they didn’t live and die by their calendar like an office professional does.
Lyndi Zavy (00:10:12) – So like, that may not have worked for that role. So like, your mileage may vary with your role, but for this like organized office, like sort of computer facing person, like to say this is your time to call me. And so then we did a phone screen where we had questions that were those dealbreakers, Right? So tell me about a time when, like, give me a specific example, Like don’t tell me what you would do. Tell me what you have done, because your past performance is your best predictor of future success, right? So tell me about a time when so running through some of those scenarios and you’re just getting a feel for the person, You’re just how do they talk? How do they arrange their thoughts? How do they, um, you know, what what excites them and what doesn’t. And so I use this word cautiously, but because you can’t hire on vibes, but you just sort of get a feel. And I’m so fortunate that I’ve spent enough time with with Lindsay’s team that I knew, like there was just one person that was like, you know, there was just this vibe of like.
Lyndi Zavy (00:11:09) – It just wasn’t going to be a fit. So anyway, so phone screens, take notes, share those with the team. And then from there, the team took it on to zoom interviews. Okay.
Cory Miller (00:11:20) – Can I pause you right there? Because I don’t want to gloss over. You weren’t. But I don’t want I don’t want to gloss over this. So if we scroll back, we went from job interview, major things, getting some job descriptions so people can be interested in. And part of that’s marketing. You do want someone to go, This is me, I’m interested in this, do that. What’s really interesting about the process and what you said is so putting that job description out there, I’ve heard accounts from this, from our members and other other entrepreneurs is you’re getting the deluge of potential applicants like some of these sites have auto post auto apply things. It’s interesting to me to is you took the deluge and you’re starting to sort with that first interview. And I don’t want to go past that too fast because.
Cory Miller (00:12:11) – I think it was brilliant. One back to being thoughtful. You had an intention. Let me have them call me. That’s that’s so. And knowing more about that particular job too, I go, Wow, I remember hearing that going, That’s brilliant. Now, the second one was I was like, I, I had this first glance of like, I know how experienced of an executive you are. And I go, We’re putting like high power here into that very first. And it was so interesting because. But who better someone that has seasoned that kind of can pick up some on some things. And that part two is like you were a such an incredible sorting mechanism to is just like these interviews. This whole process is so time consuming up until like a shotgun wedding. Okay, are we going to do it?
Lyndi Zavy (00:13:06) – You know, And then you’re like, let’s just yeah. And then and think what happens? And this is this is a major part of my hiring philosophy here is when it takes so much time, you get the deluge, you get the, you know, how do I weed out? How do I find and think? One thing that happens really easily is you start to do this like I like the person.
Lyndi Zavy (00:13:27) – And I used to have a boss who was like, Do not tell me if you like them. I do not care if you like them. I want to know if they’re a good fit. And if you’re not careful, you fall into the trap of Oh, I like this person. Which then think leads into things like hiring people who are exactly like you and you lack diversity. Um, I think you start sort of start to overlook some things that could be red flags and problematic because you’re like, Oh, well, they’re just a really likable person. And then also like, think we miss out on a whole group of people who might be a more introverted preference who maybe don’t let all of that show immediately. And so it’s sort of digging, but then think the next thing that happens for me and it does happen as early on as those phone screens is I tell my clients all the time, if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no. And if you hire if you hire a hell, maybe you will be calling me again in six months.
Lyndi Zavy (00:14:17) – So like you have to get those deal breakers. And so something that was always really common for us when we were hiring nurses is we spent a lot of time, our nurses spent a lot of time in their cars because we covered the state. And so we would ask them, How do you feel about windshield time? Like, would you be okay with, you know, spending so much time in the car? And there would inevitably be somebody who would say, oh, you know, I’ve never really done that. I’ve done bedside. I don’t love driving. I’m not familiar with the city. I don’t, you know. And then I would have the nurse manager later be like, but you know, maybe she’ll like it. And it’s like she has given you every he or she has given you every indication that this is not what they want to do. Or they’ve told you, you know, even even down to the level of did that did that in home health and needed it. And because of the nature of nursing, especially in nursing, in the time of Covid, we’d be like, well, let’s just.
Lyndi Zavy (00:15:09) – Let’s just see if they’ve changed. They have not changed their mind. That’s a hell no for me. And that’s a hell no for them. And if you accept that early and often. Then you’re not going to have to do it like you do it right or do it twice. Right? And so knowing what your dealbreakers are, knowing and so another perfect example right now is, you know, if you know that your job is on site, if you know that your job, like for whatever reason, you know, have a lot of clients that it’s, you know, facing maybe in it’s a warehouse. It’s something that is physically have to be on site. If you ask them what their ideal work environment is and they say remote or hybrid, if you cannot give them that not apply, need not apply. So anyway, that’s my soapbox about hell yes or hell no.
Cory Miller (00:15:51) – And from the organizational side like that, you had talked to Lindsey in this case, the hiring person, and understood those key things and then starting to with seasoned veteran executive, be able to do that.
Cory Miller (00:16:05) – What did shock me is I’m aware of one of the ones that was like not a good vibe. And I thought. When does someone not realize that one? It’s just good human to be nice and cordial to everyone. But oftentimes, you know, I’d walk into an office first person there is the receptionist and I go, It does mean no harm to be nice and human to someone. And I remember one of those studies was like, They don’t do they not understand? Or even in the world of possibility that someone on the other side could be extremely knowledgeable, experienced and experience, have their bullshit meter on and go, you’re going to treat that person poorly. Well, you just sorted mechanism.
Lyndi Zavy (00:16:53) – You did. You just. You just did it for me and like I’ve been and I won’t say if this was during this process or not, but like I asked a question and somebody was like, Well, if you look at my resume, what you’ll see is. And it was just so like almost accusing me of not having looked at your resume.
Lyndi Zavy (00:17:10) – And it’s like I have looked at your. But I am asking you specifically. Yeah. About this experience and it just. And then and. So give people the benefit of the doubt. But then if another time they give that kind of like feedback, it’s like if this is if this is how you are acting on your best behavior. Right. If that is how you are going to talk to another human on your best behavior. Think, think again. They made some comment. I can’t remember what it was. Clearly, I blocked this person out. But something along the lines of like, well, yeah, what I said is mean. Just something kind of snippy that you’re just like, No, like you are going to be client facing. You are going to be working on a team. And so again, it’s like it’s like those Spidey senses, right? Like, this is how you are at your best behavior. How are you going to be in a difficult client interaction? How are you going to be when we’re having a tough conversation? You know? So anyway, that’s for sure.
Lyndi Zavy (00:18:05) – Like, there’s just all of those pieces go together and it’s all data. It’s all data to give you to make the right decision.
Cory Miller (00:18:11) – Well, for a lot of our members, they don’t have hiring departments, they don’t have recruiters. They’re trying to do everything themselves. But you do want someone with your kind of expertise to probably do some of the initial stuff. I see so much immense value there because then I knew there was at least a spreadsheet of, okay, here’s the ones I’m going to present. They’re going to go past the second leg and I think that’s where I cut you off. But like it was so incredible to have that just here ready to get some semblance. I could look at their website. I could do those things because I was part of that second or third team. I think that kind of contributed. Okay. So I cut you off there, so please continue on. So second phase.
Lyndi Zavy (00:18:55) – Yeah. I mean, honestly, after that, you all kind of took the reins.
Lyndi Zavy (00:18:57) – You did the Zoom interviews. It actually worked out perfectly. Was think I was going to a conference where I was presenting and so you all rolled into the Zoom interviews with sort of, Hey, here’s who I’m recommending. Choose your own Adventure. Like who from here do you want to interview? And then when I came back from that conference, you all had narrowed it down. And then Lindsey and participated in some Zoom interviews just as that final sort of confirmation step. But and like, if I can just be totally honest, there was part of the time where was like, is this am I getting am I getting the candidates that they want or are we narrowing it down appropriately? We did kind of have a broad brush of what we were looking for. It could have been pretty early career. It could have been somebody more established. It could have been somebody that that we, you know, sort of taught some of the things we knew. Um, but it ended up working out great. Think you all made a great hire.
Lyndi Zavy (00:19:49) – And then on the back end, what I’ve been doing is 30, 60, 90 days checking in with the new hire because I think and I can speak from experience, I used to joke in the pharmacy that I could tell when somebody hit 90 days, I would run into them in the hallway or the restroom or would walk into the pharmacy and they would just have this like deer in headlights look, because it was like you’d been there long enough that everybody stopped treating you like the new kid and like helping you and checking in on you. But you hadn’t been there long enough to really know what you were doing. It’s a big organization with lots to learn. Like I always said, if we were a country, you could be there six months and only know how to order up the menu and ask for the restroom was like, it took a solid year of of learning to feel totally comfortable there. And so, like, I could almost set my watch by it, but like, oh, I got to go check on that person because they’re going to be that’s the day that they’re going to feel like they’re drowning.
Lyndi Zavy (00:20:39) – And so those check ins to be like, how do we compare? How do you feel? Do you have what you need? And the beauty of me being a neutral third party is you can really tell me what’s working and what’s not. Without offending anybody. And I become sort of the filter.
Cory Miller (00:20:55) – That’s the thing I was just thinking of is third party within a more objective view on things. And I didn’t know about the check ins, by the way. So I think that’s brilliant because that’s the thoughtful, intentional way, because when we pull this down to you go hiring somebody. We’re not talking about Fortune 500 countries here where you can hire somebody to kind of get a wash in a big thing. And some of the inefficiencies or downsides, it’s kind of part of the cycle. We’re talking about small to medium sized businesses here, at least in process. And so those are expensive, but they’re it’s a bigger thing. I go for a startup entrepreneur hiring the first person. It could be make or break because you’re talking about taking cash flow, setting aside for a salary that you’re, you know, saying, I’m committing to do this.
Cory Miller (00:21:47) – And then even for some of our organizations process, some of the bigger agencies are in that maybe 50 to 100. Those are still expensive because they’ve got to have that person operationally doing something that they need probably right now because of some of the hiring things within our industry and then globally. So they’re risky, extremely risky propositions, hiring anybody. So why wouldn’t you have a neutral third party with an outside perspective, with depth of experience and all this helping do some of the front back end side of works? And I love the side that when our second and I think the third it went to Lindsey I was a part of the second round is I was trying to form had opinions, had thoughts, had perspectives and then when it get to Lindsey and then back that we could go, here’s what we’re thinking Lindsey and get your perspective on everything again. Yeah because we’re we’re kind of what I’m less so but we’re wired in to all these needs these. That are happening and just having somebody to kind of. Am I on the same and I feeling this tick and yeah.
Lyndi Zavy (00:22:57) – And that’s, you know, that’s probably one of the things that I love most about my role as a consultant. As I get to be someone you can bounce ideas off of, I get to and again with my time with Lindsey and the team, I’ve gotten to learn enough about the organization and I’ve been fortunate that some of my clients, I’ve had some background information on to where I can I can jump in fairly quickly like some of my strategy clients. You know, I’ve spent some time building their strategy and spending time knowing what their their long term goals are. And so then when they call me in to do this hiring help, I’m not starting it, you know, square one. I’m at like maybe square five where I can say, okay, well, here’s what I know. Here’s what you know. Here’s some questions that I have, um, to to be better prepared. But I’m still not in the day to day to where it’s not quite as personal. Exactly. Whereas the people think who are in the day to day, the risk is, man, you are drowning.
Lyndi Zavy (00:23:49) – You are ready to get that person hired. And so sometimes I’m not going to say desperate, but you get you sort of let your standards follow a little bit because you’re like, we just got to get somebody in here to do the work. Exactly. Come in and say, hey, but we know from this experience that you’ve got to get this one right.
Cory Miller (00:24:03) – And these fractures here in this process leads to cracks and fissures that are big and just pile on downstream. And nothing.
Lyndi Zavy (00:24:12) – Nothing impacts your business more than a bad hire. I firmly believe that. And I think. Yeah, Yeah, go ahead.
Cory Miller (00:24:19) – We didn’t we didn’t have you ten years ago when I was doing our themes, we were trying to do something. We had an HR consultant, and when we finally had someone that could kind of help us with the things like, I think I’m right here, what do you think? Because there is regulation, laws, potential things that come on besides the business case of just is this person going to help us, you know, do these things? So we’ll put your website for sure in the show notes and go to talk to Lindy I and and coached by Linda.
Cory Miller (00:24:51) – Otherwise I would say you need someone that knows this process. If you’re hiring you you gotta make you don’t want to rush Matt my and our teams and I, we had this thing. I fell in love with everybody. He hates everybody in between. We made some fairly good decisions because we kind of had the, you know, but I would I totally advocate for having someone that’s objective third party with experience to do that. By the way, my recommendations is you need to call Lindy today on those type of things.
Lyndi Zavy (00:25:24) – Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
Cory Miller (00:25:26) – So that was a snippet. I wanted to share enough of that. We could spend probably hours talking about that side. But I think that leads into this, this other one. So hiring people, getting the right people, invaluable. It’s not even in the value category. It’s like from the protection and safety of like your life can come with a bad hire, your business can crumble with the right hire. That is not the right fit that you’re not watching about these things.
Cory Miller (00:25:53) – And hiring is so expensive on the bottom line from lost productivity for you and your team culturally, all that.
Lyndi Zavy (00:26:02) – It’s stressful. When you’re an entrepreneur, you are bringing somebody in to your baby. Yeah, right. You know you are. You are. It’s it’s like you’re welcoming somebody into this and don’t like to use employers as family, but this is your this is your home. Right. And so yeah, it’s it’s stressful.
Cory Miller (00:26:19) – There was a season of time like we all go through where did not have the right fit people in place and my life was miserable and from that alone I’d say take take you don’t have to go like slow, slow, slow, but be thoughtful, intentional at this process because it does have such a critical effect on everything. And in the WordPress space with what we’re dealing with there too. Lindy, I know you know some of this, but you know, remote work used to be the big benefit a lot of our members could share because most of our members are remote only and then through pandemic, remote became kind of more of a thing.
Cory Miller (00:27:01) – And I’ve heard that sentiment from a lot of our agency owners in particular, is they hire so good people. It’s a rare, you know, got to get some magic. Like this whole hiring thing is like there’s science for sure. There’s structure, there’s things we should be doing and and need to be doing. There’s a lot of this of like, okay, how it’s really we’ve in total spent 2.5 hours with this person and we’re going to marry them in the sense of, you know we don’t we don’t know and but you’re checking process to I think is so critical down the process. Okay. With that being said, money and people are big problems in business. Right Always constant forever. Always. We’ve talked about the front door getting the right people in the right seats, all that. I want to talk about this thing. I I’ve heard from someone. We know that. You’re you’re you’ve been sharing publicly from keynote speech, speech keynotes that you do this. And I was really intrigued by it, like cheerleading from the quicksand.
Cory Miller (00:28:04) – And I thought we’ve talked about part of the leadership hiring, getting the right people in and how some of that to do that. Now, this other part, the position of a leader who often thought you nailed the title cheerleading from the quicksand think is is is the talk. Yeah I want to talk about this because it so much is a leader. I feel I personally speaking of experience, Phil on an island. I’m trying to juggle all these things put on a pretty face, kind of a smile, not tell everybody I’m worried because we need money in the bank. I’m worried because this essential threat here and but I can’t panic my people. And that’s so isolating and.
Lyndi Zavy (00:28:50) – That leads to so lonely.
Cory Miller (00:28:53) – So lonely. And that leads to things like, you know, part of my story a year and a half ago, I crashed and burned. Like, I don’t even know if there’s any wreckage on the ground, but a big burnt spot, you know, and I know it leads to this what I think is, you know, cheerleading from the quicksand.
Cory Miller (00:29:08) – You nailed it with that concept. That’s so often what we do. But tell me what’s been kind of ruminating in your own heart thought in your work around that concept of, you know, cheerleading from the quicksand? What is the quicksand? You know, what does that lead to? These kind of hard things, this really almost impossible job sometimes of being on the lonely island of a leader.
Lyndi Zavy (00:29:29) – Yeah, for sure. And thank you so much because I am so passionate about this. And so I shared, you know, the acquisition of the company that I worked for happened in December of 2020. So, you know, the great news is there was nothing else going on in 2020, right? Like we it was just a really boring year and we hadn’t upended healthcare. And but I mean, truthfully, by the time we got to December 2020, I had had, you know, nine months of changing our operations and how we were going to see patients and do we mask, do we not? Do we vaccinate? Do you know, all all of those things were happening when then we went from family owned and operated to a large corporation, one of 31 branches.
Lyndi Zavy (00:30:09) – And so it was change layered on change and. And it was just it was it was hard for me, you know, as a human. My entire team, my 11 person operations team was the first to get cut. And I knew it. And I’d been a part of the team making these decisions, not making those decisions, but I’ve been a part of the team. Leading towards the acquisition. And so when we got the list from the company of who was going to go, that that hurt as a human. And that was a team that I’d grown and cultivated. And so anyway, so that that happened. And then it was just a year of just losing people and trying to keep the boat afloat. And, you know, credit goes to the corporate team that came in. Had it not been Covid, they would have deployed a team and they would have come on site and done a lot of these things. And instead it was being done remotely. And it was just it was painful.
Lyndi Zavy (00:30:56) – There’s no other word for it. But it was painful. And also, I can have the retrospect to know that the things that I was being asked to do in that role were so counter to what I enjoy and what brings me joy and what I’m good at. Um, but I had made a commitment to staying on for the owners for 18 months. So did, um, and about a year into that was when started to get my feet underneath me and feel like I could come up for air. Um, when In November of 2021, I lost my older brother to a chronic cancer. And like devastating is not even the word can mean. It was just it it upended me. And so, you know, pandemic acquisition, the greatest loss I’ve ever felt in my life, all layered on top of each other. And so at the time was running a company of about 75 people with big expectations from the former owners. And a family and a household. Two kids. My parents were grieving.
Lyndi Zavy (00:31:54) – My sister was great. My husband was grieving. I mean, that was his brother. I mean, you know, it was just all of us were in this together. And so what I say is when I got to early 2022, I was I was not running on fumes. I was running on the memory of fumes. I was I was pretending like I knew what it was like to have energy or to have any desire to get up and do anything anymore. And I realized and where I came up with the idea of cheerleading from Quicksand is that I was holding up other people and have this image in some of my slide decks of like this crooked pyramid of people, of if you’re the foundation and I’m never cheerleading a day in my life, so don’t get on these stages and do any tumbling like it just doesn’t happen. Um, find someone else immediately. No, not me. But so that that base of the pyramid, if you’re that middle base of the pyramid and you are holding up other people, you have to remember that the people that are in that middle, you know, pyramid piece, they’ve got messy foundations, too.
Lyndi Zavy (00:32:50) – Like they have grief and loss and mental health issues, and they’re worried about school and money and whatever else. It goes along with life. Right? And and so then you when you are lifting up others, if your foundation is not solid. How can you be expected to? Do a good job of holding up anybody else, and so have this radical notion that we as leaders have to study our own foundation, that that is the only thing that we have any control over is steadying our own foundation. And that includes making sure that we’re not burned out and all of the things that go along with that of, of not just self-care, like it’s not about lighting a candle and taking a bath. It is so far deeper than that because we are so far past that, right? Um, it is about setting your boundaries. It is about, you know, knowing how it is teaching people how to treat you. Because I look back on my time there and there were a lot of things that I knew at my core were counter to my values and how I wanted to live my life and how I wanted to lead others and did it anyway because it was a means to an end and the toll that it took.
Lyndi Zavy (00:33:57) – And I think that is the thing that I learned. The number one thing is the toll of the the sum total of the burnout. Of depleting my own core values, depleting my own stock, my own, you know, whatever of of fuel and joy and light. What that does over time to your family, to your soul, to your ability to just keep doing this. It’s no wonder we’re all leaving our workplaces in droves. It’s no wonder. And then and and my team. My team who I loved deeply and still do and still get to talk to them often. I was not being authentic for them and was not being a good leader to them. And my frustration and my. My difficulties made their lives harder, you know? And I distinctly remember a day I walked into a meeting with my team, who was all managers and said, Y’all, I’m sorry. I’m not prepared for this meeting. I have no idea what we’re doing here. I don’t want to waste your time, but I need you to know that am I am not okay and don’t know what to do here.
Lyndi Zavy (00:35:04) – And I literally watched all of their shoulders relax and they all exhaled and they put. Thank God we thought you had this figured out. We thought we were the only ones who were just, you know, flailing and like, thank you for your candor and for being honest that this is how you feel. And like, we were all sitting back, like literally before you got in here, we were like, oh, but like, Lindsay’s doing it. Like, we’ve got to do it. And and so by giving, by showing people like, Hey, I don’t have it all together, you are giving them permission to be not okay. And you are opening the door. And I shared with you one of the questions started asking my team meetings was, what are you doing to take care of yourself this week? And it’s not a question that leaders often ask What are you doing to take care of yourself? How are you pouring into yourself this week? And and they would start making changes because they knew that I was going to ask them next week.
Lyndi Zavy (00:35:54) – Right. And there’s only so many times that you can say nothing. I got nothing for you. But also knew, too, that they were going to you know, we had a good relationship. They were going to flip the script on me and be like, What about you? Yeah, right. Um, so anyway, I that was a phenomenally long and could talk about this for a long time because am so passionate about it, but I couldn’t do it anymore. And I don’t I know that I have the luxury of quitting my corporate salary and bonus. To hang my own shingle and do this on my own. And all of the privilege that’s wrapped up in that. And so not everyone has that ability. So in the absence of having to change everything, how can you change everything about how you’re approaching your life and your work to to not not hit burnout so hard?
Cory Miller (00:36:38) – I think there’s so much there is one. Probably as a leader having to hold a hold up everybody else and try to do that.
Cory Miller (00:36:48) – I for sure part honor that role as a leader. And the other part a little bit of rescinded you know but there was because it’s. But I think what was so freeing from what you said is, you know, walking in, I was like, I wonder what she said. I wonder what she did and what you to me was like. There’s this idealistic perfection standard, we say. I definitely did. And probably why the resentment came as is. I’ve got to be on and I’ve got to show happy and I’ve got this all the time. And then you just went in and you go, I’m not okay. And that reaction was the human connection. Yeah. Don’t you should not expect me to have it all together all the time. And I don’t. I think the message to. I don’t expect you to. Yeah, like some of them.
Lyndi Zavy (00:37:44) – There’s a dance there, right? Like, you have to make sure that you’re not just you have to still have to have, you know, people have to have confidence in your competence.
Lyndi Zavy (00:37:52) – Right? And so if you do that time after time of not being prepared for a meeting and not being ready and not being like that definitely degrades a different kind of foundation. Right? But yeah. And so like the punchline of that meeting was we then sat down and we were like, All right, let’s power through it. How are we going to do this? What do you know that I don’t? What do you need that I have? And how can we do this together? And that meeting was so much more productive when we were being open and honest about our bandwidth, about our knowledge, about our our comfort level, than if we’d all just come in and put on a face and, oh, look, I know what I’m doing and you know, but yeah, for sure as an entrepreneur too, you know, you are leading a team of people who are looking to you for all the answers and, um, you know, you’re keeping the lights on for other people. And, like, I know nobody takes that lightly, but sometimes we just have to be really open and honest about like, Hey, here’s where I am today and here’s what here’s what I need you to know.
Cory Miller (00:38:43) – Um, so I’m curious for my own interests, but I think for others too. So when you said like, not everything has changed, but I’ve got to still in tech, you know, we have this thing of like with product particularly is we got to fly the plane while it’s on fire. It’s almost like that. It’s like we got to keep flying the plane, even though I feel like the engine just exploded and drifted off, you know? Yeah. I’m curious what insights and and help and a direction you have for how do you do that? How do you so keep your fire going when you’re like it’s out, it feels or it’s getting there. You know, we definitely don’t want to be where it’s like out we’ve crashed and burned, right? So what thoughts and advice and shares.
Lyndi Zavy (00:39:34) – And love that analogy. I always say that I build planes while they go down the runway because I’m totally comfortable with just like, figuring stuff out, like, oh, we don’t have a wig.
Lyndi Zavy (00:39:41) – It’s fine. Like we’ll get there. But I love that analogy of like, you got to crash, you got it. You got to fly the plane. Well, it’s well, it’s burning. Well, it’s on fire. And so think you have to have some introspection as to like like triaging where you are in the burn. Right. So is it a is it a wing fire? Is it an engine fire? Is it, you know, is it a rickety captain seat or is it like nosediving? And so, you know, for me, I tell the story very openly, but it was probably about February of 2022. I distinctly remember I had one kid in the bathtub and one kid in the shower, and my husband came and was staring at the wall and he was like, What is happening? And was like. I’m in a hole and I’m not certain I’m ever going to get out. And like to his credit, like he was like, we’re like, I’ll find you a ladder.
Lyndi Zavy (00:40:34) – Like, we’ll get out. Like, just let’s, let’s do this together. And so luckily, I’d already been I’ve been working with a therapist through Covid because Covid was really hard on a raging extrovert like that was just so thankfully I’d already started doing some of that, that deep work. But with the help of my therapist and found a family doctor that I trust, which is huge. I’d had a family doctor that just didn’t feel like really listened to me. And so together started medication and almost immediately and I know it’s not always immediate, but like within a couple of weeks felt like a different human. So for me, that was my first step. But depending on where you are, like if it’s just like an uncomfortable seat, like maybe it’s a visit with your your employee assistance program, maybe it is looking at your calendar and looking at what drains your energy and how you can reassess your schedule. So just everybody’s journey through this is going to be so different. And I do a lot of coaching and so I really start out with a baseline of figuring out where people are and what what the triage is of, you know, where we start.
Lyndi Zavy (00:41:36) – Um, so it’s just going to be, it’s going to be different for each and every person.
Cory Miller (00:41:40) – I think there’s so many basics there, though, that really resonate with me too. Is just okay. Therapists have one. Two have one. Have had one for a very long time now. And, you know, taking care of the head and heart, you know, the inner space of what you’re dealing with. Be able to kind of unpack this because leaders, it’s isolating entrepreneurship. Definitely live that one for sure. And but having someone, again, just like from hiring and HR, just having someone third party that you don’t have to say at Thanksgiving, pass The Cranberries. Yeah, absolutely. But I love I want to emphasize this too is like you said, a Dr. A so we’re dealing with head and heart inside inner work, but we’re also that material physical body going to a physician that anchoring. I think so many of us as entrepreneurs go, I can’t take the time to go do that.
Cory Miller (00:42:38) – I can’t do that. But like, yeah, we’re talking about if we’re flying the plane, you still have the need, the mechanic on the ground to make sure the engine turbines are running. Fuel systems are good. Those are those are basic. But I think we gloss over those.
Lyndi Zavy (00:42:52) – And think and I talked about this, this is almost like an afterthought in cheerleading from quicksand as your physical health and like sorry to cut you off, but like you just like a whole fire in my brain, go for it. I think a lot of times, especially as entrepreneurs and for me, when I was an executive, I had this like it was my ego 100%. It was my ego telling me, There’s no way that you could possibly take the time. To leave this building, get in your car, drive to a doctor’s office, handle the thing, and come back to work, that they can’t be without you for that long. Right. And so I tell this story of myself. So I had a period of time, of about six months where I would wake up and my right eye would be watering.
Lyndi Zavy (00:43:35) – And it just irritated me because I couldn’t put my eye makeup on. Until it stopped watering and then and like, no need to go to the doctor, but like, who had the time was running a company, blah, blah, blah. Yes. Fast forward to the week. The owner or the I’m sorry. The president of the new company was coming in town and was the only executive other than the owners who was going to meet with him. And this cornea tore almost in half. Oh, super painful. And like it turns like this color red. Right. We went to dinner at a really nice steakhouse in town, and we planned my seat at the table to where my good I would be facing him. Did I not go? Not only did I go handle the thing with my eye, like we just changed my seating arrange. Right? Yeah. And thank God for my boss who the next day was like, Listen, I will drive you to my personal doctor, but you have to go get this figured out.
Lyndi Zavy (00:44:29) – And fast forward to it’s been two years, almost since I’ve been going through three years. It’s going to be three years in August. I’ve had two surgeries. I’ve sat in countless doctor’s offices. I’ve missed work. I’ve had to have my husband, like walked me into Dean McGee, like he was my seeing eye dog because I literally could not see. And so, like, as it turns out, folks, you get two eyeballs, you get two chances to get that right. Yeah, but my ego told me that I could not miss work to go get that watery I handled. And so, like I always venture a guess in a room full of people of like, you have something you’re putting off health wise. I know you are. Go handle it like. Like you can miss an hour now or you can miss hours and hours later. Weeks. Days. So anyway, that’s my soapbox. Like, yeah, find a health care provider that you trust. Go to all the ologies that you need to.
Lyndi Zavy (00:45:19) – Yeah. Because like, like listen to your body when it whispers. Because if you don’t like, it will start screaming at you. It will start screaming at you and mind it. And it was super painful and really annoying.
Cory Miller (00:45:30) – Well, it’s crazy. Our mindset too, is, is that okay, we’re vitally important. We have to do all these things. But okay, well, if you don’t have your eyes or your hands or different things or your physical body isn’t.
Lyndi Zavy (00:45:46) – All yeah.
Cory Miller (00:45:47) – And cared for, but taking that time is tough because I feel like we have a system that just kind of puts pressure down on us and we probably shoulder that too. And but it’s like, this time has forced me to go, Well, it’s time. You can’t not take care of yourself anymore.
Lyndi Zavy (00:46:04) – And that’s up with it.
Cory Miller (00:46:05) – That’s an actual physical component, finding those, right?
Lyndi Zavy (00:46:09) – Yeah. What message does that send to my team, too?
Cory Miller (00:46:12) – Exactly right. I was almost going to say, if we see an important team, any team member on a team struggling with something, we’re probably going to say, stop now, go to the eye, go to that whatever ologist you need to do.
Lyndi Zavy (00:46:26) – Preach it to my team all day long. But then I didn’t do it. So then they didn’t think they. Yeah, Yeah, it’s a mess. So just take care of yourself. That’s. That’s. You get. You get one chance and nobody’s. Nobody’s gonna do it for you. Like, nobody, like, mean sort of my boss being like, I will put your backside in the car and drive you to the doctor. Like, most people are not that kind. Nobody is going to take you to what you need to go to until it’s a must. So don’t.
Cory Miller (00:46:50) – Well, if you’re like me, I’m Captain Obvious or oblivious. Obvious or oblivious. One of the two where probably everybody. Lindsay two. You mentioned your husband, Brad. And it’s like having significant other if it’s spouse, somebody else that’s kind of watching going, hey, feel like you’re getting into a crater. I feel like you’re getting ready to go into. We got to have that as entrepreneurs, though, and maybe even leaders have this ideal of rugged individualists.
Cory Miller (00:47:21) – Like we’re we’re supposed to tackle everything, be superhuman. And for me, Lindsay is obviously my truth teller. So when I would get stressed out, she was like, time to go on a run, time to go and run, go run at that. At that time, that was a stress relief valve for me. But someone just to go, I love you, I care about you. You’re getting into a dark space, a bad space right now. You know, having some kind of significant other with friend, spouse, someone just to go a. I don’t think things are going overall right.
Lyndi Zavy (00:47:58) – But that takes trust, right? There has to be trust there and the person has to trust that you’re going to respond well to that. Right. But absolutely. And so, you know, always say, you know, anything that if you’re if you’re not sure, like what your stress triggers are, if you’re not sure, you know, ask phone a friend they know and they will tell you.
Lyndi Zavy (00:48:19) – Like when I had an intern in one of my early jobs who we were like on a three day like project with a vendor and on the third day she at 10:00 on the dot, she handed me an individual bag of almonds and she said, I’ve noticed that you do better when you’ve had a snack. So I brought you with so true am better when fed. And so like like if you if you don’t know yourself. The chances are someone, someone you spend a lot of time with does, and they know what you need. And so asking and then and then doing them the same favor. Like, how can I help you? What? Where are you struggling and what do you how can we get you out?
Cory Miller (00:49:01) – Yeah, well, this burnout thing in the quicksand, it truly is. It’s this feeling of I’m sinking while trying to hold everybody else up. And I think your example of the the graphic you talked about was like every everybody else has their own form of quicksand. Sometimes we often forget that too.
Cory Miller (00:49:25) – Like we’re the only one. Probably not right, that we should encourage the support networks for everybody in this. But then leaders oftentimes are the ones that get taken care of. Last.
Lyndi Zavy (00:49:38) – Yeah, exactly. And think the ripple effect of that is what we’re seeing with great resignation, with, you know, not being able to find the right team members, people leaving in droves to go work for themselves because they just can’t do the shuffle anymore. And like, look, I’m one of them. But I just think that the only thing we can control is our own foundation, how we take care of ourselves, how we approach the world and how we. Our foundation? Is it our mental or physical? Emotional health is all we can control. Everything else is is out of our control. And so when you look at it that way, I think you can turn a lot of things around just by focusing on on your own foundation.
Cory Miller (00:50:23) – Well, yeah. And I know you talked you just mentioned the quiet quitting and pandemic had a big ripple and shake up.
Cory Miller (00:50:30) – And we’re seeing some of that. I don’t even know if it’s settling, but the dust is there. Right. And that seems to know you’re you’re feeling something. This is there’s there’s a leadership. Interest in what I’m trying to say. A mirror to leadership to and all that. So yeah, talk to me about for a second while we kind of wind down is like quiet. Quitting the talent, talent, reshuffling. We’ve seen this whole introduction to the rest of world text kind of been like, Yeah, we’re here for a long time. We’ve been doing room for decades. Yeah, In this there’s a leader, there is a leadership part in this that reflects of how we’re taking care of ourselves, right?
Lyndi Zavy (00:51:12) – Yeah. And I think the hardest thing we do as leaders is to hold up that mirror to ourselves, because it’s like that, that mirror in the bathroom with the really bad lighting that you’re like, Do I really look like this? That’s the mirror that we have to hold up and think.
Lyndi Zavy (00:51:25) – Immature leaders tend to blame everybody else and think so much of the rhetoric out there right now is, Oh, quiet, quitting. People are lazy. They don’t want to work. They don’t want to do this. They don’t want to do that. No. Mean the truth is, is that we spent the last three years reevaluating what’s important to us and what’s not and what we are willing to tolerate and what we are not willing to tolerate. And if you want to be a key leader, if you want to be a mature leader, you have to hold up the mirror with every person who leaves your organization and ask, What role did I play in that and how can I do that differently? What policies and procedures have I put in place to make it not a safe environment for people? What practices are happening? What am I enabling? The number one thing that causes an A player to leave is to watch a C player get away with everything. I firmly believe that if you are losing your top talent, you need to look at what your lowest talent, what they’re doing and what they’re allowed to to do.
Lyndi Zavy (00:52:18) – Um, but then also think our job is to those that we have the luxury of still having on our teams asking them. Is there anything that caused you to think about leaving? Like what? What keeps you here and what what risk is there to you leaving? Because we always do exit surveys, right? But asking, you know, what’s what’s keeping you here? What what makes you consider leaving mean think those kind of things are so valuable to to stop the bleed and to stop, to use your analogy, to keep the engine from lighting on fire. Because think it does, it ripples, right? You lose someone, someone else is picking up the slack for that person until you hire someone and then they get you. And it just it just builds on itself. And so just and then again, too, I think I think another great question to ask in your one on ones is how are you taking care of yourself this week? What are you doing to pour into yourself so that you are not depleted? And I think that when you begin if leaders begin asking those kind of questions, their teams will know that they are that they are here for them and that they can be vulnerable and they can they can be their true selves at work.
Lyndi Zavy (00:53:26) – So that’s I don’t know, think that’s where it starts.
Cory Miller (00:53:29) – Fantastic. Lindy, thank you for your time. We got on over a little bit. This could have been two parts, but I couldn’t help with something like, we got to get into this one too. These are two parts of valuable conversation. I think they they very much connect. You know, you’re not doing this kind of intentional, thoughtful work on the front end, finding the right fits, accessing people that can help you to make some of that more objective. Okay. Are we seeing this right that that just complicates this whole the leaders dilemma here if we’re not getting the right person So and asking those questions. I love your simple yet so profound like that one question you just mentioned, are you taking care of yourself? Is is like you’re going to expect to get asked it. You should be getting asked back.
Lyndi Zavy (00:54:18) – If you’re not ready to ask it today, that’s fine. But next time, need you to be ready.
Cory Miller (00:54:23) – Well, Lindy, thank you so much for this time.
Cory Miller (00:54:26) – I know I want to have the opportunity to ask you back on because there’s more we can be talking about and tapping into your vast experiences, your expertise, all that you do in the world. And thank you for doing it and good luck. And now you’re giving your next keynote on Friday about this. It’s change that needs to happen in a world. The message needs to be heard. And so we just walk more healthily in our world. So thanks so much for your time today.
Lyndi Zavy (00:54:51) – Thank you. I really appreciate it.
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