Small business is at the heart of the Texas Economy.
This is the final episode of Season 1 and truly, it’s such perfect timing because as we complete this season we are quickly seeing the twinkle of a strong economic recovery.
Today we wrap up with a peek at the Silver Linings. And the thing about silver linings is that it truly is the sun peeking out from behind the dark clouds, as a promise that it won’t always be this way, and that there is beauty to be found even now in the dark times.
This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience email, contact@EmergingTexassStrong.com
Episode 10 Guests:
Shane Sorenson – Texas Travel Alliance
Tanya Posavatz, former co-owner of CLINK
Jonathan Jow, co-owner of BoothEasy
Shawna Reid, Visit Bay Area Houston
Hayden Lockabee, Red Velvet
Amilia Railey, co-owner Sweet Ritual Vegan Ice Cream and Big Nonna’s Pizza & Ice Cream
Bios and business information for all the guests featured in Season 1 can be found on EmergingTexasStrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support your Texas small businesses.
This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media.
EPISODE 10 TRANSCRIPT:
TX Mutual Insur…: 00:00 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a Workers’ Comp provider, committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.
Host, Linsey Li…: 00:10 On this episode of Emerging Texas Strong.
Oliver Steck, M…: 00:14 Yeah, there are silver linings. Absolutely. There’s silver linings to just about anything. This has made me work with myself, you know, and, and granted whatever dysfunctional way that I’ve had to learn or whatever, you know, failures and successes, I’ve had to go through to try and figure out how to do that. And I’m still in the process of it, but that I’ve had to go through the process and that I can present myself in a different way. So that’s, that’s definitely a silver lining.
Host, Linsey Li…: 00:40 Welcome back to Emerging Texas Strong, a growing collection of stories, lessons, and advice from small business owners in Texas, working hard to survive this pandemic economy. We follow a collection of businesses and weave their stories together. As we navigate a full season of big picture topics like what’s at stake, skills for making tough decisions and selling your business. This is the final episode of Season 1 and truly it’s such perfect timing because as we complete this season, we are quickly seeing the twinkle of a strong economic recovery fueled by open availability of the COVID-19 vaccine support from government plans, like the cares act, and optimism from economic drivers, such as the American consumer stock traders and companies alike. I have a good feeling that by the time we returned from our break, that Season 2 topics will shift into second gear and we’ll be all about advice for hiring great team members, tips and strategies for business growth and leadership development to help your company win big in the recovery. Today, we wrap up with a peak at the silver linings. And the thing about silver linings is that it truly is the sun peaking out from behind the dark clouds as a promise that it won’t always be this way and that there is beauty to be found even when there are dark times. And even after the economy has fully recovered, we will still have these silver linings that will keep growing and building on themselves. They will be vestiges of this strange year. Yes, but there will be sweet memories that are leftover. I know for a fact, there are silver linings to the pandemic economic slowdown. We got a break from the hustle. We had time to rest reevaluate and reconnect with ourselves and the people who mean most to us. I, for one just took a five minute break from working on this episode because a kitty crawled onto my lap now until 2020, I hadn’t owned a pet in almost 20 years. And during the pandemic, I, along with millions of people, adopted animals from our local shelters and my two kitties are the best they brighten my home. They make sure I stop rest, snuggle and smile each and every day we baked and got into retro home crafts like canning jams and vegetables. I’d share it with the neighbors. I’d freeze, extra cookie dough for when I, I might need it later. I became an avid fan of The Great British Baking Show. And I longed to make a Paul Hollywood approved Yorkshire pudding! During COVID with everyone at home, I met my neighbors. We became friends. We had distant celebrations in our driveway, and we looked after each other building friendships that will last long past COVID. And there are so many more examples of things that I wouldn’t take back. It’s easy to talk about those silver linings, but what about when we talk about business? What are the silver linings? They’re the hidden gifts that we see behind the clouds that will help us grow for years to come in Episode 10, we do a revisit with the guests of season one and find out what silver linings they’ve seen through this year and what kind of optimism they have for the recovery. First from Episode 4: Hotels, Hospitality, and Survival – PT 1, Shane Sorenson reminds us of a concept. I heard on Marketplace, a daily business and economic show from American Public Media. The concept is revenge spending, which means that the consumers have been cooped up for so long being COVID safe and all the while we’ve been dreaming of the time, we’d be cleared to emerge from our homes, allowed to travel, spend holidays with our family, eat indoors at restaurants and attend public events that what’s going to happen is we’re going to lean in hard into the services, travel and entertainment economy in this coming year.
Shane Sorenson,…: 04:31 Hi, I’m Shane Sorenson, director of loyalty and business development for the Texas Travel Alliance. We focus on providing professional development and advocacy efforts for the entire industry in Texas. I think something fun worth pointing out. There was a survey done recently about savings. People have not been traveling they’ve half the time not being commuting to and from work. Some of them haven’t even been sending their kids to physical school. And so they’re not giving their kids lunch money. And that sort of thing, a fun metric that I saw lately was that in a typical pre pandemic month, an American household would save six to 8% of their income in savings. That number has spiked to almost 12.9 to 13% as the average monthly savings now. And if you look at America as a whole, that’s a trillion dollars in pent up money that we’re going to see people spend at some point. And so that’s why I encourage people to just, if you’re, if you’re at the end of your rope, the, the old saying tie a knot and hold on a little bit longer, because there is a pent-up demand. And we believe that we’re going to see that as soon as restrictions lighten up. And I believe when people start traveling again, they’ve got a little bit more disposable income that there’ll be able to throw at you and throw at your destination to really experience it in different ways. So now’s not the time to stop marketing. Now’s not time to be quiet. Now’s the time to market in new and different and exciting ways. Get your voice out there and make sure people are aware of that. You exist because when it’s time to travel again, and as people start getting out there again, they’ve got a little extra money in their wallet to spend with you.
Host, Linsey Li…: 06:13 From Episode 7: Should I Stay or Should I Go – PT 1, Scott Pepper talks about how the light at the end of the tunnel is here. And he’s going to use everything he’s learned during COVID to be ready for the comeback.
Scott Pepper, T…: 06:26 Hi, I’m Scott Pepper. I’m a magician. And I also run The Magician’s Agency Theatre in San Antonio, Texas. It’s a theater that specializes in magic and variety shows for families. The light at the end of the tunnel has actually come blaring towards us about two weeks ago. So it’s what was the light at the end of the tunnel? We are now in that light for our business spring break was we opened a set at 25%, but we opened running the business like we would have done before. So now we’ve gone from trying to look for that light at the end of the tunnel to now knowing that vaccines are going to be done, you know, hopefully by may or June, knowing that I’ve only got two months to get ready for summer. So now it’s like all hands on deck, getting ready for going back to normal that quickly, which is hard after a year of not normality to now, I’ll be like, okay, we need to get this ready, but it’s exciting. It’s we use, I’m going to use everything we learned and I’m going to make sure we open for the summer. You know, we’ll still do it safely if we need to, but we’ll be open we’ll we open ready? And then at the end of the summer, I’ll take a little break, I think. But yeah, it’s, uh, I think that light at the end of the tunnel was here. And I think, uh, since the announcement of, uh, of the vaccine rollout, I think everyone’s getting ready to open.
Host, Linsey Li…: 07:43 From Episode 8: Should I Stay or Should I Go – PT 2, Tanya Posavatz on what she’s hearing about the rumblings of a return to the corporate events and meetings business, and what she foresees as the challenges for business owners in the next part of this recovery.
Tanya Posavatz,…: 07:57 Hi, I’m Tanya Posavatz, former owner of CLINK events and currently a digital marketer. Oh, absolutely. I mean, everyone, I talk to says that the RFPs are coming in, that they’re sending proposals out like crazy. I think the challenge is going to be with staffing because of how many people have left the industry. And that’s going to be the biggest challenge is finding people to fill the roles that haven’t existed for the last year and a half.
New Speaker: 08:37 From Episode 4: Hotels, Hospitality and Survival PT 1, Armanda Seledon, CSEP on the unexpected silver linings of hybrid events and what’s possible because of the new technological reality that COVID introduced.
New Speaker: 08:51 Hi, I’m Armando Seledon, CSEP, I actually worked for Visit San Antonio, as a Destination Experience Manager. So visit San Antonio is actually the marketing arm for the city. What we do is we promote tourism travel convention, conference service, and business, to come to San Antonio so that we can gain more business for the city. I remember at the beginning of this pandemic, when people were like, Oh, virtual, virtual, virtual, we’re going to go virtual. We’re going to do virtual. Even now. People are like, you know what? We’re switching to our conference to virtual and, and whatnot. I thought to myself, this is going to be a killer in our industry in the sense of it’s going to kill our industry, that you can have a whole conference in your pajamas at home. And I was like for live events and for industry events, I was like, this is going to be insane because especially in the, in the tech era that we live in right now, it’s like the accessibility of having an entire conference at your fingertips from your laptop, from your couch at home is so enticing, especially with a pandemic on the loose. So I thought, you know, that’s going to be insane, but then I’m thinking hybrid events, you know, and I think of like even the association work that we do and whatnot, being able to bring in a speaker from Dubai to speak to a group here in San Antonio, while we had a live event and bringing in this large speaker that would’ve probably cost us $10,000 originally, and then even more so to fly him and things like that. But being able to tap into those resources and those opportunities because of virtual, you know, components is amazing. So that within itself makes me think our industry is resilient. Our industry is definitely going to bounce back.
Host, Linsey Li…: 10:36 Jonathan Jow, co-owner of Bootheasy photo booth on the silver linings that he’s focused on, having the time to work on the things in our life that are important, but not urgent.
Jonathan Jow, B…: 10:47 Hey Linsey, thank you for having me on the podcast. It’s an honor to be here. My name is Jonathan Jow. I’m one of the owners of Bootheasy. We’re a photo activations company. We’re based in Austin, Texas. Our headquarters are here in Austin. We also have offices across Texas and other major Metro metropolitan cities, such as Dallas Fort worth area. But I think it’s also a blessing in disguise because now we can talk about working on those things that we should work on. Right? Those are things that we, um, we put aside, like there’s a quadrant of like needs, right? If you draw quadrant, there’s like things that are urgent, but non-important things are not urgent that are not important and things are important and urgent and things that are not important and urgent. And the thing is for a lot of us, we are always dealing with things that are urgent, regardless if it is important or not important. So if it’s really important, we’re dealing with it. If it’s not important, we’re still dealing with it because we feel like it’s urgent. And a lot of the most important things we need to do in life are the things that are important and also not necessarily urgent, but they’re important. And those are things like eating healthy, treating our body well, you know, getting in shape, having good sleep, you know, and those are things that we always put off. And that’s why I was like, Oh, I’ll go to the gym later. And then suddenly like, you know, you’re like, Oh wait, I’m overweight. What happened? Right. So, and I feel like mental health and a lot of those things are kind of the things that entrepreneurs, I feel like probably neglect. They know it’s important. They hear about it, but they’re like, well, I got to do this other thing, so I’m not going to do it. And we kind of put that off to the side. So why not use this time that we’re forced to take a rest, to work on the things that are important, but not urgent. And one of those things I think was just reconnecting with people. And I think also working on some skills. So, uh, for book club, like you mentioned, um, one of the books I find that super impactful for, for me in my business career and personal life has been crucial conversations, but it’s a great book. And I read it pretty much every year as a refresher and has a lot of good points in it. And I felt like it was really important, but yeah, so crucial conversation was the book that we chose a book club and it kind of started because I was talking to some other business owners and the industry about, you know, what’s going on and work on. And you’re like, Oh, I want to work on these skills. And then I was like, Oh, this is a great book for that. I’ve never read that book. I was like, well, Oh, you want to do a book club for it? Cause they’re like, well, I need some accountability because I’m bad at reading books. It’d be good if we had accountability for us, like, well, why don’t we do a book club? I had more takers on expected. So I ended up doing, um, four book clubs on the same book with four different groups of people and different industries and organizations. Uh, and for me, I felt like it was a good way for us to not only talk about the book, but also have a way to have a social connection. Cause we’re all stuck at home. And I felt like it was a good way for us to connect as humans be supportive each other because it talks about really important things in there and really help, you know, elevate each other and lift each other up, especially during this time. And it felt like, you know, it was helpful for everyone. There’s a wide gamut of conversations we can have over it and just seeing how we could be constructive and, you know, work on things that we wanted to work on. You know, it was great. We, we at least had a chance to like have a reason to get together and talk, but right now it’s just a fun side project to just get people together, to hang out and, you know, just to all be our better selves because we have all this time right now to do it.
Host, Linsey Li…: 13:54 And Shawna Reid from Visit Bay Area Houston on the personal connections with colleagues and how they’ve been strengthened this year.
Shawna Reid, Vi…: 14:00 Good afternoon. I’m Shawna Reid with Visit Bay Area Houston. Visit Bay Area Houston is a regional DMO located just outside of Houston. We represent the four cities of Keemah, League City, Seabrook and Nassau Bay.
Linsey Lindberg…: 14:15 What are some of the things that you’re seeing that you are thinking, you know, maybe changes that you’ve made to your business model or how you do things? What are you going to keep when this is over?
Shawna Reid, Vi…: 14:24 I think it will definitely keep the partnerships that I’ve developed and gotten closer with, you know, our small businesses, having an understanding of working closer with some of our main street organizations, our downtown organizations, the chambers are smaller merchant merchants and merchant associations, and even some of our museums and attractions, just having that open dialogue that we’ve all been able to have over the last, you know, probably it’s probably been about eight months now that the dialogue’s really started, you know, since we all realized this was going to take longer than anticipated. I think just being able to have the open dialogue with my partners and them understanding that, you know, even if they just need a shoulder to cry on I’m there for them,
Linsey Lindberg…: 15:05 What does that dialogue look like? Are you guys doing group chats? Are you just kind of, one-on-one checking in with each other?
Shawna Reid, Vi…: 15:11 Yeah, we’re doing a lot of checking in, got one of my Chambers, they do a bi-weekly happy hour, like Thursday, four o’clock, everyone gets on a Zoom chat and you know, that type of thing, or even a Tuesday at 9:00 AM everyone hops on the same Zoom call and we’re we have coffee together. And it just kind of a check-in it’s that type of, you know, it’s just a mental outlet to just re-engage with our peers. When we weren’t able to have in-person meetings, we were all served on the same Chamber boards. We’ve all been in the same activities. And then you go to a point where you haven’t seen anybody in person in four months, it’s, you know, it’s that type of thing. And you know, it’s like it’s being able to connect with folks like you, you know, probably wouldn’t have connected with you if we hadn’t been put in this type of situation. And for that I’m grateful. That’s the type of, that’s the type of change that I see as positive.
Linsey Lindberg…: 15:59 I totally agree with that. And I have this analogy I keep making that all of us who are in this and making it through, you know, just, just make everyday, putting one foot in front of the other and, and checking in with each other and talking about how’s it for you? How’s it for you? I feel like we’re all war buddies at this point. Like we have survived something that we don’t want to talk about very much, but we all can look at each other and give a nod…
Shawna Reid, Vi…: 16:29 You do the nod. It’s kind of like driving a Jeep and you just do the wave.
Linsey Lindberg…: 16:34 Um, and I do see that as a silver lining, I think before we were in such a boom time that there were friendships, but they weren’t as deep. And I think that is, you know, a blessing of this. If we got to look for silver linings, I really, really appreciate that one.
Host, Linsey Li…: 16:52 When we come back from break, we’ll look at our Season 1 guests who really went above and beyond, making lemonade out of lemons this year and found new opportunities in the year that was.
Texas Mutual In…: 17:04 Support for this program comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a safety focused Workers’ Comp Provider, supplying information and resources that can help Texas employers stop accidents before they happen. More at texasmutual.com. And now back to our show.
Host, Linsey Li…: 17:23 And there were business wins in 2020, too! Beyond the boom in manufacturing, online commerce and home goods, these Texas small businesses made a leap beyond business models that were crashing down around them. And we celebrate them for learning to surf the waves of business ownership. Even when the water was rough.
Amelia Railey, …: 17:42 My name’s Amelia and I own Sweet Ritual Vegan Ice Cream. We are a non-dairy ice cream shop, and it’s a place where everyone can go to enjoy ice cream, whether you’re lactose-free you have the allergies or you’re an ethical leader. I also am co-owner of Big Nona’s Pizza here in Austin and it’s a dairy-free vegan pizza shop that specializes in hand tossed dough and meat-free toppings.
Linsey Lindberg…: 18:08 Here’s the question; you decided to open a new business during the shutdown. That’s exceptional in itself there. And I’ve seen a few and they make me excited every time. So my question is, tell me about the opportunity that arose and how you made that decision.
Amelia Railey, …: 18:23 I had been in talks with a friend who owned a pizza trailer for about a year, about opening a brick and mortar together. And every time we would go tour one, it was too expensive or in the wrong part of town. And we found a pizza restaurant that had gone out of business because of the pandemic and the landlord was including all of their equipment in the lease. So it was almost like you can’t turn down. This opportunity. Pizza is thriving during the pandemic. Pizza is something that you don’t have to teach customers a new way to consume it. You already eat it on your couch. And it, it, to me felt like if my main business needs to close, that I could still have a small business in Austin where I want to do business and I could still sell ice cream in some form or fashion after this all washes out. And so that’s been really cool to team up with the new team over there, create a lot of new jobs. Um, it’s busy. It’s great.
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:31 That has, I have so much. So I like, I have literal goosebumps that makes me really happy.
Amelia Railey, …: 19:38 Oh yeah. We, we signed the lease and opened it within five weeks, which is pretty unheard of from permitting to everything. So opening a business during the pandemic, I’m thinking a lot more about how a customer receives the menu on their end. So focusing a lot more on photography on the poetry of the menu description. I mean, it sounds kind of funny to wax poetic about garlic knots, but you really do have to kind of say like, this is why you’re going to pay $8 for them.
Host, Linsey Li…: 20:09 In Episode 2: Pivot, I spoke with Hayden Lockabee at Red Velvet about the idea that COVID has actually helped us boil down and understand what our brands stand for and where we should be putting our time and energy to best serve our clients and our mission moving forward.
Hayden Lockabee…: 20:25 My name’s Hayden Lockabee. I am the Senior Director of Business Development here at Red Velvet. I lead the accounts team, the marketing team and the creative team. Do you feel like you guys have grown to know your brand better? Oh gosh. Yes, absolutely. We have. I think this has forced us to truly turn in and examine what we’re really about. I’m seeing all types of companies and businesses and industries react to the pandemic in different ways. And the ones I think that are doing it well, are the ones or who are handling or managing it well, are the ones that are taking an opportunity to truly assess what they stand for and really hold true to those values and ideals. And I realize that sounds very heady. Um, but you know, with less time, less resources, potentially less, you know, less manpower from a staff perspective because of, you know, revenue reasons. Um, we have to be a little bit more discerning about where we’re going to put our passion and energy and we have to like truly feel it and believe in it. Um, and I think for us this year, we, we discovered that at the core at the center of it all was human connection and it’s driven every decision that we’ve made, every recommendation that we made to our clients to make sure that what they put forward is enabling a true human connection.
Host, Linsey Li…: 21:59 Musician, Oliver Steck on the lessons he’s learned this year.
Oliver Steck, M…: 22:04 The lessons I’ve learned from this experience is I have the ability to change, adapt and work, which is encouraging. Creativity is a great resource as artists. We use it all the time and to reapply it to the business of what I do, to be able to say, I’m going to take my creativity. I’m going to retool it and then send it out this way. For example, to say, I’ve been a side guy all this time. Now I’m going to be my own entertainment, solo entertainer, and give them live music. That way that live music can be retooled and re-boxed and yeah, and put out in another way that will let me survive. And you know, it may not be the optimal way to do it, but it certainly gets you through a crisis and possibly becomes maybe it becomes the new thing that I or others want to do.
Host, Linsey Li…: 22:52 Tanya Posavatz, on the opportunities during the pandemic to start fresh.
Tanya Posavatz,…: 22:57 I think it’s easier said than done, but see this as an opportunity to step back and evaluate if you love what you’re doing, or if this is the universe giving you a kick to do something, you might not have the guts to do on your own. I moved out of events and into a new career in digital marketing. And if it hadn’t have been for COVID, I never would’ve had the guts to do that. Cause I was in a very content and settled place in my old job. And I don’t know how long it would have taken for me to that. I wasn’t truly happy anymore. And that I wanted to do something new and move to a new city, which I will be doing this summer to be near family. And, and I don’t think it’s just making lemons out of lemonade. I think it’s this pause is white space that we never get to think and an opportunity to make changes that you might always think about maybe someday, well maybe now this is the universe giving you the opportunity to make those changes.
Host, Linsey Li…: 24:22 Our final thought comes from magician, Scott Pepper on the lessons he learned from the downtime that he will try to carry on in his life as it comes back.
Scott Pepper, T…: 24:31 So masterclass.com is awesome. It’s a bunch of different people doing four to five, six hour masterclasses. And I watched about eight or nine of them during a lockdown and Bob Iger from Disney CEO, or I guess a past Disney CEO. He had a great one and I remember writing down notes for everyone. And his main one that I had was one note that I got the whole thing. I mean, I enjoyed the whole thing. It was a great talk, but the main thing was give yourself time of doing like nothing just time where you can sit doing nothing, no distractions for about 30 minutes or an hour, just peace and quiet, no distractions and see what happens and just give yourself that time every single day, even a few times a week, just to let that kind of the new ideas and inspiration come to you and just ask to be peace and quiet. And, uh, yeah, I thought that was great advice. And I think, um, I listened to that. Uh, don’t implement it as much as they should do by do, try and sit in a park every day and have lunch if I can and just enjoy the peace and quiet. And you know, I’ve always got my notepad with me and you never know when the next idea is going to come. So, uh, yeah, just give yourself some time.
Host, Linsey Li…: 25:39 Thank you to all of my guests in Season 1 for being so open and sharing your experiences from this past year so that we can all collectively learn how to grow from this experience. And thank you to you, the listeners for being a part of what we’re growing, a community of leaders in the Texas small business community who are actively supporting and cheering each other on through the recovery. As I mentioned in Episode 1, Emerging Texas Strong is a podcast for us, small business owners who are in need of practical advice. We’re here to have those conversations, document the recovery, and to hear the voices of real small business owners across this great state, as they tell us in their own words, how they’re doing, and if we lean on each other, we can all emerge, Texas strong. Speaking of which, if you’re enjoying this podcast or you’ve found it useful, please share an episode with a friend. We want to grow Emerging Texas Strong as a free resource for business owners. So send it to someone who could use these lessons to be happier and healthier business owners. This is the end of Season 1, but we’ll be back near the end of the summer with Season 2 and a whole fresh slate of topics because together we’re going to navigate this recovery. Podcast, production interviews, edits, sound design, and office snacks for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast are done by Linsey Lindberg. Bios and business information for all guests featured in Season 1 can be found on emergingtexasstrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support Texas small business. To share the hope, the journey, the struggles, and the advice be sure to follow, like, rate and subscribe to Emerging Texas Strong on the web so that Season 2 shows up directly in your podcast feed. And if you’re enjoying the show and you want to show us some love, leave a five-star review, it will help more Texans find u. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn @emergingtexasstrong or Twitter @Texasstrongpod. And if you’d like to be interviewed, please reach out firstname.lastname@example.org. Emerging Texas strong is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heart-full podcast, focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focus market audience, we’d love that. Email me email@example.com. Remember, you’ve got a friend somewhere in Texas, who’s rooting for you. I’m your host Linsey Lindberg. Join us next season for more stories of Texas small business on Emerging Texas Strong.
Texas Mutual In…: 28:19 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a Workers’ Comp provider committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.