As co-owner and CEO of Interview Connections along with being an author and producer of a podcast called “We Get It, Your Dad Died,” Margy Feldhuhn finds a way to connect with others through profound losses. After Margy had a huge loss in her family in 2015, she found herself gaining strength and transforming through it. Margy shares how out of the hard times can come an opportunity for a learning experience. Margy offers wisdom she has learned along with her take on the current great debate of the return to the office.
Voiceover[00:00:14] Three, two, one, lift-off! We have a lift-off!
Sam Jayanti [00:00:34] How do you go from being a part-time freelancer at someone else’s company to becoming the CEO and a part-owner of the company? We’re delighted to welcome Margy Feldhuhn today. That’s Margie with a hard “G”, by the way. Margy is the CEO of a podcast booking agency, Interview Connections, and she’s also a blogger and a podcast host herself in her spare time. Margy, welcome to the show.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:01:03] Sam, thank you so much for having me.
Sam Jayanti [00:01:06] So, Margy, I was struck by how many similarities we have in our backgrounds, and I hope you don’t mind me kind of diving right in, but you host the podcast– the podcast you host is about loss. Tell us a little bit about that in the context of your life, as well as the podcast and how it’s shaped you.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:01:34] Yeah, so my show is called, [00:01:36]’We Get It, Your Dad Died’ [0.9s] and I interview high performers and high achievers–most of them are entrepreneurs–about grief and about a profound loss they’ve experienced in their life. And I started this podcast actually, it was a big part of–first of all, losing my dad. I lost my dad to suicide in 2015. And I’m an only child, we were super close, my parents were still married and it just blew my world apart. [00:02:09]And it was absolutely terrible, of course, but I was surprised to find how much resilience and how much strength and how much transformation came out of that loss for [14.3s] me. And really, I became a different person. [00:02:29]And now the person I am now, the leader I am now, who’s so much stronger and more compassionate and happier, I really couldn’t have done that without losing something so big. [12.6s] And I found that really surprising because the experience of it happening was a lot different from what I would have predicted it would have been like before it happened. And so the way the podcast came about was as the [00:02:58]co-owner and CEO of Interview Connections, [1.7s] I needed to get out there and be a guest on a podcast, right? So me and my business partner, Jess, had been getting out there consistently since 2013 when she founded the business, but I was very unknown. I didn’t have any visibility, so I started getting out there consistently on four shows a month every single month as a guest. And [00:03:20]I found that in almost every show, this story about losing my dad to suicide and growing up in a house with a lot of mental illness and how that shaped me as a leader kept coming up in every interview. [13.1s] And the feedback I was getting from hosts was, like, that it meant so much to them and they wanted to know more about this. And then I was getting messages from listeners thanking me for talking about this and seeing what it meant to hear a story like theirs and to feel that connection and how healing it was for them. Then I started getting DMs from seven and eight-figure business owners who are in mastermind groups with us and coaching groups with us. And it was so interesting because I knew these people well, right? They were my peers. I knew their bio, I knew their business, and I had no idea that they had grief and profound loss in their background and attributed so much of who they are today and who their business is to this. And they started reaching out to me and saying, “You know, I never talk about this but my mom died when I was nineteen and the entire reason I’m an eight-figure business owner now is because of that loss. It changed the trajectory of my life, of who I am as a person.” And there were so many of these stories and I was like, I wanted to hear them, I wanted to showcase them because these are people who are not like me, right? They’re not talking about death all the time. It’s further back for them. They’re talking about other topics when they’re getting interviewed and in their content. [00:04:57]So it’s something that not a lot of people know about them, but it’s like this profound thing that shaped all of these leaders. [6.8s] And I started looking into Malcolm Gladwell’s research on eminent orphans and the [00:05:09]interesting correlations between loss, especially loss of parents, and high performance and high achievement. [5.9s] And so I started the podcast because I was interested in that, because [00:05:21]I wanted to create a space for healing [2.4s] and for talking openly about grief and loss and not just in a dark way–although every episode does get pretty [00:05:32]dark–but in an inspirational way, too, where we come out the other end of that darkness and reflect on the gifts that these high achievers received from this experience. [11.8s]
Sam Jayanti [00:05:46] You explained it so articulately and I’m, you know, it’s the way the podcast arose as a result of your honesty about an early experience that had so shaped you and the residents of sort of hearing from other business owners telling you that they had gone through similar experiences is really important, right? In a sense, we as human beings are always looking for bases on which to relate to each other and connect. And I think for people who suffer and experience such a deep loss at such an early age, it completely shapes and forms them. And at the same time, there’s a slight awkwardness about, you know, how open should I be about that? I mean, you know, to this day, you and I know that when someone says “Oh, where do your parents live?” And you say, Well, you know, I lost my father or mother or whatever, you know, there’s a slight awkwardness or there is an ability to relate from someone saying, “well, I actually went through a similar experience so I kind of know where you’re coming from.” So I think it’s a wonderful forum to, you know, not just discuss the loss but discuss the impact and really discuss, as you said, the gift and the resilience and strength that came from that loss because there is always something on the other side of it for us to discover, but we’ve got to make an active effort to actually discover it.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:07:21] Yeah, absolutely.
Sam Jayanti [00:07:25] So you, Margy, started as a freelancer at Interview Connections. Tell us about that early stage of your career. For so many of our listeners, we have, you know, a proportion of listeners who are quite young, who are navigating career decisions as they come out of college and university. And there’s a real challenge, I think, in the world today, where this generation is confronted with ‘the world is your oyster, you can choose to be or do anything,’ and it leaves you with sort of this wall of choices and not very many tools to actually make those choices. So I’m really interested in how did you choose to do what you did, and then, of course, we’ll get into your rise through the organization to now, of course, leading it for the last couple of years.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:08:25] Yeah, first of all, I love that you’re bringing up this paradox of choice. I’m actually–and I’m not talking about this publicly, although I am right [00:08:33]now–I’m writing a book right now [1.3s] about decision-making because I was a chronic over-thinker and was just anguishing, like from the time I graduated college through, you know, my 20s. When my dad died I was 26, and then I started working for Interview Connections. And so I was obsessed with this like needed to figure it out. Like what is my calling? What is my path? And I think–I was not led to believe because I don’t feel like a victim, but I think there is a lot of language and [00:09:10]dialog around career choices and choice of a life partner that make it seem like there’s this one path that is your calling and it’s your job to find it. Like[11.6s] , you know, that’s very stressful. And what I learned is that you have many paths. And I believe in potential life partners, too. It’s this idea that it’s not about sorting through options and finding “the one.” [00:09:41]It’s about getting your foothold and trying things and doing the best you possibly can in every position that you’re in [8.9s] because I, you know, I was such an over-thinker, and [00:09:54]indecision, I think, is one of the worst pains ever. [3.4s] And I talk about grief all the time. Indecision, though, I think cuts even deeper because it’s just so uncomfortable. And I can relate to anyone getting out of college or getting out of school, wherever you are, and this pressure of like, what is my calling? Should I just go to grad school because I’m not really sure and I’ll get some more qualifications and come back out, which is not to say you shouldn’t do that? But I think a lot of people default to that to buy time because they don’t know what they want to do. And then they end up super qualified with a bunch of debt, but still not really closer to finding their calling. So I sort of fell into this. And I think that’s sort of how it works for a lot of people. If you don’t get one of those like ‘movie careers’ like a doctor, lawyer or architect, for the rest of us, we just sort of fall into these opportunities and I think being open to opportunities in different fields and then the way that you approach the opportunity once you get it has a lot more to do with your success than picking the right opportunity because you can walk into any industry, any job level, and you can do such an incredible job that you either move up or you learn so much that it gives you the information you need to take the next step of like, OK, I like this, I’m going to move closer to this. And it’s just that consistent trial and error. But showing up–and there’s a great book by Liz Weisman, who wrote Multipliers, called Impact Players. And anybody–I wish I had read this when I was 22. But it really breaks down the mindset that team members who are impact players have and the way that they address problems, the way that they don’t just do their job but do the job that needs to be done, and the way they pay attention to the organizational needs and respond to those instead of putting on blinders and just doing what was in their job description. Those are always going to be the people who excel and [00:12:06]the skills that you need to excel in any industry–leadership, communication, problem-solving, being able to get along with other human beings–you can learn that in almost any job and then apply it to something that you do later. [15.1s] So I think the focus should be less on picking the correct thing that’s your calling and move on, you know, throwing yourself into the opportunity that you get and developing those core skills like leadership and communication and problem-solving and working with other people because [00:12:39]that’s what determines your success, not what you ultimately pick. [3.0s]
Sam Jayanti [00:12:44] Hundred percent. I think, you know, it is such an overwhelming set of choices. And I think, you know, whether traditional media or social media sort of presents people’s success or people’s identifying opportunities successfully as this sort of “they knew” and “they headed in that direction and then it happened magically,” you know, and it is such the wrong paradigm because success, in the end, is an outcome of openness, people and opportunities, right? And the three really have to come together and maybe, you know, I don’t know, that’s called luck and timing or something, for it to work out. But [00:13:29]without the openness to a variety of things, you will never discover what you’re good at, what you like doing, how to relate to people, and how to find mentors early in your career to actually help steer you and your trajectory. [15.0s] So it’s just it’s singularly important. And I think for today’s generation, you know, I have seen and worked with so many young people who come out and feel the pressure to choose and feel the pressure of that choice being some sort of indelible choice that they then can’t change. And the reality is you can change whenever you want, particularly in those early stages of your career. But they’re made to feel an environment of pressure where there’s one shot at this choice and you got to get it right. You know?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:14:25] Yeah. You will have many callings, and honestly, the most dead-end jobs I’ve ever had like I worked in a jewelry store and I hated it. I met my now business partner because I got out of college with a degree in Art and Latin and I couldn’t get a job, so I got a job on Craigslist going door to door for the environment. I made maybe $8 an hour. It was grueling work, all weathers. But not only did I meet someone who’s now my business partner and I had a good enough relationship with her that that was able to evolve much later on, but [00:15:04]the skills I got from knocking on doors were so valuable in business. That type of resilience, the mindset it requires to keep going when you get no after no [11.5s] [00:15:16]and you’re in the pouring rain. [0.9s] I didn’t know it at the time but for being an entrepreneur, that was really valuable. So the stuff that you’re doing that feels like a dead-end or you’re killing time or, you know, it’s not what you want to end up being doing, you will get so much out of those if you have like you’re saying, an open mind and you really are open, you do the best that you can. [00:15:41]All those experiences that feel random do start to come together as you get your footing and really realize what you really like. [8.2s]
Sam Jayanti [00:15:51] I think, you know, life is such a series of experiences, not just ones that you love that sort of teach you what you love, but equally, the ones that you don’t love and that teach you what you don’t like and what to stay clear of, right? And that’s just an educational experience for every single one of us. I also, you know, for so many of our listeners who tend to be women, there’s a whole body of research on how as women, we tend to be a little bit more indecisive. And we second guess our decisions and we get into this kind of cycle of constantly overthinking, second-guessing, and reversing ourselves. And it’s just a really unproductive circle that sort of needs to be broken.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:16:37] Yes. Yeah, and I mean, I am like a textbook overthinker, but I consider myself a recovered overthinker because I have become a doer. And I think the biggest thing is you just can’t think your way out of that way of being. [00:16:52]You can’t think your way out of overthinking. What really worked for me is doing–just doing stuff and getting that momentum. And the more momentum you build, the easier it is, I think, to stay in action and not get stuck in that quicksand of overthinking. [15.9s]
Sam Jayanti [00:17:09] And to develop your self-confidence, right, that making decisions isn’t going to leave you in a worse place.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:17:15] Yeah. And I think another thing is that the idea that a decision leading to a worse place is a bad thing is worth examining because I think there’s fear of what if it’s the wrong thing? [00:17:30]Some of the most valuable experiences of my entire life were because I was in the wrong thing. [4.9s] Either something bad happened to me or I made a choice and I hated what I was doing. That information was so critical. So I think it lowers the stakes of making decisions when you understand that it’s OK if you make the wrong decision, that there is really no wrong decision and that I think that sort of, for me, at least, it lowers the stakes because you’re either going to find a job you love or you’re going to get the information that you need. And even if you find a job you love, there’s always going to be ups and downs, right? You know, something will go wrong at some point and then you’ll have to do something else.
Sam Jayanti [00:18:18] Totally [00:18:18]true. So [1.5s] Margy, tell us, you said you met your business partner while you were going door to door for an environmental job. Tell us about that. How did she convince you to join the company? What were your early thoughts? How did you then decide to become a partner and eventually the CEO of the company?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:18:39] Yeah. So we met at Clean Water Action and I stayed with that company for probably like six to nine months because I was very all over the place. I was trying to find myself, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I knew I wanted to live abroad. So I worked that job for, like, I think nine months, and then I moved to Taiwan.
Sam Jayanti [00:19:05] Why Taiwan?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:19:07] That’s a great question. Because I wanted to live on a continent I had never been to. So I had South America and Asia, and then I couldn’t make and save as much money teaching English in South America as I could in Asia, so that narrowed me down to Asia. And then it was between Korea and Taiwan and just learning about the cultures, I felt that I wanted to be in Taiwan more. Just some of the stuff I read culturally about how it is to be a teacher there, it felt like it would be a better fit for me.
Sam Jayanti [00:19:40] Yeah, totally makes sense. But sorry I interrupted you.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:19:43] Oh, no, that’s okay. That was another kind of random decision. I mean, it was actually very last-minute that I pivoted from Korea to Taiwan, which is interesting. But so I traveled, and [00:19:55]then it was actually losing my dad that brought me and Jess back together because we were truly colleagues. We weren’t friends. We hadn’t had a ton of interactions, but we were connected on Facebook and social media. [12.9s] And when my dad died, I posted on Facebook because I needed–there were a lot of pets, which was my fault, at my parent’s house, because I bring home strays. And my mom was totally overwhelmed. It was going to be like a month before I could get home to Rhode Island from Taiwan. And so I needed people to go to the house and pick up pets, mostly cats, take them to their house and just foster them easily, take care of them until I could get home and take some of them back and [00:20:38]then figure out a long term plan for the other ones, like my dad’s cat. So Jess ended up commenting like right away and being like, “I’ll take a cat,” which I was so touched because I’m like, [11.1s] You know, she was my boss like a really long time ago, we really didn’t know each other that well, so I was really touched that she would step up and do that. She did end up coordinating with my mom, picking up the cat, Kitten, who she ended up adopting. She still has Kitten. Kitten is very old. And that was really the beginning of getting back into each other’s lives because we really hadn’t been in touch, I wasn’t seeing her Facebook posts or anything, but she started sending me pictures of Kitten. And I started following her social media more closely for Kitten updates. And it was because of that that I saw her posting for contractors. And at this point, I was living in Colorado, I was working at a jewelry store and I hated it. I hated driving in the snow and I wanted–all I wanted was a job where I could work from home like I didn’t care what it was. I just did not want to drive to work anymore. And I was actually building an MLM fitness business, which is so random. But I wanted to be an entrepreneur so bad. Like I wanted the freedom, I wanted the abundance. And I don’t come from a world of online entrepreneurs. [00:22:03]My parents are both lawyers. [0.9s] It was so new to me. So when I started seeing ads for people who were MLM coaches who were like, ‘I work from my phone,’ I was like, perfect, that’s what I want. And then didn’t realize how grueling MLM is. And it’s not a model that I enjoy now,
Sam Jayanti [00:22:22] What’s MLM?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:22:25] Multilevel marketing. So it’s like-.
Sam Jayanti [00:22:27] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:22:29] For me it was like, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything about business or online business, and I was just like, Wow, you can make money from home, like posting on social media?
Sam Jayanti [00:22:39] Sounds great.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:22:39] Right. Much harder than it sounds, and really not a good business model for me as a person. Like, there was just a lot out of alignment. But I wanted to make it work because I thought it was probably my only opportunity to own a business because I just I was so new to the world. So I saw Jess’s post, I said I was interested, and I sent a very professional cover letter, which I didn’t realize at the time that when you’re looking for a contractor, someone sending a super buttoned-up cover letter is like kind of funny. And so she interviewed me. She already knew I was a really solid performer from working with me previously. And so she hired me and I actually have the email, I posted it because it was a six-year anniversary in February of receiving that email. She offered me a part-time, 10 99 contractors, $15 an hour position, so no benefits, it was only part-time hours, focusing on just booking our real estate clients. And I was like, “Great, I’ll take it.” I’ll take anything. I knew nothing about business. I had not listened to any podcasts besides cereal. I knew nothing about real estate, had never owned a home or anything, but I was like, No problem. I got this. And my plan was to work these flexible, freelance hours for Interview Connections while building up my MLM business on the side and then ideally just owning my business full-time and not being a contractor anymore. So I just want to emphasize, you know, that idea that you actually have to figure things out, like this was not my plan.
Sam Jayanti [00:24:23] Yeah. Amazing. Well, and so it began, and here you are today. And I’m sure it’s been a wonderful partnership, for both Jess and you.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:24:36] Yes. Yeah, she’s a wonderful partner. We work really well together. I went from contractor to being [00:24:42]the first employee of the business in 2017 [1.9s] and we worked in person together, and that was a big piece of building our trust in our relationship because we changed over from having a team of over ten contractors and no employees except for me to only W-2 employees. And they were all local, they like came into the office. So it’s like I was in charge of that. So [00:25:08]a lot of it was me saying yes to things I had no idea how to do and figuring them out. [4.7s] And I attribute a lot of my success to that, and I would encourage other people to do that. And that really brought us together. But Jess knew that I wanted to be a business owner. She knew that I was an entrepreneur because you can just tell when somebody is an entrepreneur. And so we were talking about founding a new company together, a different type of company like a media company or something like that. And then it ended up us talking about ownership with interview connections. And then we entered into negotiations and I was like, you know, if we do an equity deal, I only want 50 percent because I want to have full skin in the game and full reward. And I laid out, you know, I can get this business to seven figures, here’s exactly how, here’s how I would restructure our programs, here are the monthly goals we would have to hit, it’s not that hard, we’re not that far away, and laid it out and she ended up trusting me and saying, “OK, let’s do it.” And we grew. We did not hit seven figures, but we grew from 400,000 in 2017 to 850,000 in 2018. So we were close.
Sam Jayanti [00:26:26] You doubled. That’s considerable. More than most people can achieve. That’s wonderful. And as you hired more people, as they all became full-time, as you had this team that has grown over the years, I imagine you’ve worked less and less from home.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:26:49] Well, that’s a good question. So in 2017, we started working in an office, which was really more Jess’s vision than mine. Because I started all this because I wanted to work from home. So I’m a homebody. I like to be home with my pets at all times. And so we were all in the office in 2017 and then yes, as we grew the team, we ended up having to get a new, bigger office. Everyone was coming into the office. Then we started doing ‘work from home Wednesdays,’ so people were working from home and then we started working from home a second day, and then the pandemic hit. And so we were in the office and I was going to the office but I really wasn’t liking going into the office because I just felt that I could do all of this from home and our clients are all over the world. They don’t come into the office. So now we’re fully remote and have been since, you know, 2020 since the pandemic.
Sam Jayanti [00:27:45] So no office space anymore.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:27:47] Nope, we got rid of our office. Although ironically, as we are restructuring our team and doing Scrum and agile, we are seeing the benefit of teams meeting in person, not every day while they work, but more time in person. So who knows how this will progress? I think possibly some type of flexible co-working opportunity where people can meet every two weeks or every week for strategy, but still primarily can work from home if they want to.
Sam Jayanti [00:28:19] [00:28:19]Yeah, [0.0s] I think, because this is a huge question on the heels of the pandemic, right, that we went into for most companies, they went, I think, you know, important technology in particular. There was always a degree of remote working, and so it wasn’t as much of a transition. And then we all went to remote. Now there’s, you know, there’s basically been a debate since we were approaching the end of the pandemic about whether to go back full time, part-time, be fully remote and people have done different things. You know, a question for you, you’re managing a team of 20 to 30 people; what are your thoughts on the glue and the interactions of in-person versus a remote online working arrangement?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:29:12] Yeah, that’s such a good point, and that’s something we think about all the time, right, like what is the tax we’re paying for different reasons? So what tax do we pay by not being in person, right? We do pay a tax. [00:29:26]It changes communication, it changes energy, and I think for us and for other companies, it’s weighing the benefits with the tax. [7.0s] For me, I love being able to work from home, so the tax would have to be so high for me to, you know, like not work from home. But I think one of the things we’re finding that’s been really helpful is just letting teams decide themselves if they want to have an in-person meeting. And I’m like, send me the bill like of the room, of the food, order whatever you want, send me the bill, like you do what you want. [00:30:03]But I don’t see a reason to go back to having an office space. It felt very clunky, it was expensive, and when you’re in a fast-growing team, you know you get a two-year lease but you can’t really predict how fast your team is going to grow, how fast you’re going to grow out of that. And then the facilities management, for me, added a lot of complexity and work that just didn’t feel necessary for our core delivery. It didn’t impact the client experience or even the team experience. [34.0s]
Sam Jayanti [00:30:39] And would you say that that’s–I totally get it from your perspective, as well as from the perspective of anyone who’s been at a company for any duration because there is a set of established relationships there–what a lot of young professionals are struggling with right now, is many of them, particularly if they started work during the pandemic, started remote and it’s worked pretty well, right, for the duration that they’ve had to do that. They’re almost averse to going back into an office. At the same time, they’ve never been in an office. And so the experience of the benefits of actually being together with people of the water cooler conversations, etc, they kind of don’t know. And would you say for young people joining your team for the first time, do they struggle with this more? Have they navigated it fine? Like, what do you think has worked in terms of bringing them closer to the team and helping them develop some of those relationships as glue, even while you’ve been remote?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:31:43] Yeah, culture is always so much more important than I think people even realize like it’s talked about a lot. But I see and I’m including my past, my recent past self, and this. I see a lot of business owners being like, Yeah, I know the importance of culture, but [00:32:02]they sort of see it as secondary to a lot of the like, harder business things. And it took a really long time for me to realize how much that was hurting the company. [12.2s] And [00:32:15]it’s not that we had a bad culture, but seeing culture as an extra when culture is the main thing, it really is. [7.1s]
Sam Jayanti [00:32:23] It’s the mistake of seeing culture as an outcome instead of as the secret sauce, right?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:32:29] Yes, its culture is the focus. I was like, well, let’s focus on hitting these objectives, doing this and this, and then, you know, make sure we have a nice culture. And it just doesn’t work. The focus on culture is almost a hundred percent in some ways. And I don’t mean like getting people to ping pong tables and stuff like that like there is superficial cultural stuff and then [00:32:53]there’s actually prioritizing the team culture. Are people burnt out? Why? Is it the number of hours? Is the work repetitive? How are we restructuring it so that smart, creative people aren’t getting bored with the work? And that’s how we came to scrum. [14.4s] But I think one of the big things is the culture and our team is great. And once you hit this tipping point of a certain number of people, especially a certain number of really kind, welcoming people, it gets easier. And I’m not taking credit for that. They’re amazing. So they do a really good job of welcoming people in. And they also they have like, you know, [00:33:35]a block every Friday called “the gang does,” that’s really just kind of like playing around and chatting, they catch up, they have a movie club now, which is outside of work hours, but they are, you know, organizing more stuff socially, especially now that things are a little better with COVID. [19.5s] And so I think that culture of people who really genuinely care about each other and want to include each other is the main reason that I do feel like new people are able to come in and be part of it and stuff like, you know, we have a Team Wins Slack channel, so people are always making an effort to shout people out, especially new people and everyone’s cheering them on. And I think that really helps.
Sam Jayanti [00:34:19] Makes a huge difference. And is your team entirely local or is much of it distributed?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:34:26] We are entirely local, so
Sam Jayanti [00:34:29] that’s really important.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:34:30] It’s really important and it’s a whole different animal once you change that. But so we do have the option to get together for things. But we started out just Rhode Island and we’re now Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which are basically the same state.
Sam Jayanti [00:34:46] So although Rhode Island would be unhappy to hear that. Right?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:34:50] I know and I’m a true Rhode Islander, so I hope I don’t get backlash.
Sam Jayanti [00:34:56] I’m sure you won’t. Let’s shift gears a little bit. Margy, tell me a little bit about–as you know at Ideamix, we are big believers in coaching and its potential to unlock each person’s success. What is the role that coaching and mentorship have played for you as you look back on your career, your learnings, and your success?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:35:21] Yeah. I wish that I had sought out coaching and mentorship much earlier because especially coming from a world outside athletics and outside business, I didn’t know that all of these successful people have coaches. I mean, I knew that athletes do. But it never occurred to me, and once I got into an online business, it was like this secret world of like, Oh, of course, all these people have coaches and their coaches have coaches and their coaches have coaches.
Sam Jayanti [00:35:55] Exactly.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:35:56] Of course, they do. It seems so obvious, but I didn’t realize that at the time. And I wish I had gotten more coaching and mentorship and sought it out earlier. But once I did get into an online business, it was incredible to work with coaches and to work with different coaches, depending on what season of business we’re in, who specialize in different things. It’s totally invaluable. I am always in at least one coaching program, sometimes more, and I feel like there’s not enough coaching outside of business, right? Like, I think people who have like a life coach personally are sort of unique, but I’m like, [00:36:40]everybody should have a coach like, [2.0s] you have to be crazy to be out here winging it like just [00:36:47]the amount of time and energy it saves you to have somebody who’s done what you want to do, [5.0s] [00:36:53]mentoring you and coaching you, and also how rewarding it is like it’s so comforting to have this relationship with somebody who is able to guide you. [11.9s] And I truly think that if you don’t have a coach or mentor, you are developing much more slowly than you would if you did. So I think it doesn’t serve your personal growth, especially if you want to grow as a person fast and as a leader, there is no way around it. You need a coach all the time.
Sam Jayanti [00:37:26] You know, it’s so true, I think more and more, I think people are realizing the benefits of coaching and that so many people, as you said, have coaches, they just haven’t talked about it openly until now. And it is invaluable having an objective person with experience and knowledge of what you’re trying to do to be able to rely on them for advice and even for them to just listen to you sometimes and kind of figure out your plan and give you some input. So absolutely true. Margy, last question. As you look back on the last few years, in particular, lots of ups and downs, coming out of the pandemic, being in the pandemic…what’s your advice to business owners who have struggled more, and you’ve struggled some, I’m sure, as well, during this time, but if you had to point to one or two of the most important things that you were able to do to stay steady and keep your team steady and keep the company moving forward during that time, what would those one or two things be?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:38:41] [00:38:41]I think the first one would be keeping growth as your highest goal because when what you want more than anything is to grow, everything that happens is a gift. And I’m not saying that when something terrible happens to me I’m like cheering about it, but it does help put things in perspective and it helps me approach setbacks as opportunities more often than I would if I didn’t have that mindset and I think that’s been really invaluable. And then the other thing I think is really. [32.2s]
Sam Jayanti [00:39:13] Just to clarify Margy, quickly, do you mean individual growth, like having a growth mindset at an individual level for every member of the team?
Margy Feldhuhn [00:39:22] Yes. So yes. And for me, when I focus on it, I’m thinking usually of like as my personal growth. But when things happen in the business and the team where things go wrong I’m like, ‘we’re all growing and it’s good to point, as a leader, to point those opportunities out. But for me, just growing as a person, [00:39:41]I know that every time I experience a setback or a challenge or a really messy problem I’m growing so much personally and professionally. [9.8s] And that while I’m not like Pollyanna and like, Oh, this is great, like everything’s falling apart, [00:39:58]because I value growth more than I value a short term “when,” it does make it easier and it helps me show up and perform more effectively. [8.4s] The other thing I would say to anyone who feels like they’re having a setback or hitting a wall with business is really looking at what’s going on because I think so often stuff’s not working, we get overwhelmed, and what we don’t do is get curious and look at what’s actually going on here. And sometimes we think we know and we’re wrong. Sometimes we’re just so overwhelmed that we’re like, it’s just because everything stinks like that’s why it’s not working. Probably not, though, right? So like, every time I’ve been stuck and so frustrated, I’ve gotten stuck on things for like literally years in the business and I’ve been so frustrated. And [00:40:51]what ended up unsticking me and loosening that knot was instead of pushing against and being frustrated, going into the problem, like deep in, doing shadowing, watching the team, looking at all the pieces, because so much of problem-solving is about clarity. [20.4s] I [00:41:12]always say it’s like 90 percent should be just getting clarity on everything that’s going on. And then only 10 percent is truly the strategy of solving the problem. [9.5s] Because once you see everything going on and you have all the information, it’s going to be very obvious what you can do to correct the situation. So that would be my other thing is focus on clarity, even when you’re overwhelmed, even [00:41:36]when your voice in your head is saying like, “I can’t, it’s hopeless,” you know, go in there and face it and look at what’s actually going on and get curious. And I really think that you can solve any problem that way. [12.9s]
Sam Jayanti [00:41:51] Wise words. You’re reminding me of a book that I think we share a common love for, and it’s in the fog of memory but it’s ‘Ask Why Not How’ because I think when you can get super clear about “why” in a really granular way, then everything else falls into place. But if you’re just focused on the “how,” and we see this with a lot of female founders that we coached at Ideamix, where they have started a business because they wanted to start a business, not because they had thought deeply about the “why” of the business and why they were doing this and bringing it back to that makes such a huge difference.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:42:34] Yes, absolutely. I actually haven’t read that book, but now I’m going to add it to my list.
Sam Jayanti [00:42:40] All right. Well, wonderful to have you on the show, Margy. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Margy Feldhuhn [00:42:44] Thank you so much, Sam.
Sam Jayanti [00:42:47] Thanks for listening today. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And while you’re there, please do review the show. We love hearing from you, so email us at info at the idea makes dot com or Instagram DM us. Our episode this week was produced by the incomparable Martin Milefsky, with music by the awesome Nashville-based singer-songwriter Doug Allen. You can learn more about Doug at DougAllenMusic.com.
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