Let’s Talk HR has been an amazing journey. A special thanks to all my audience for joining me on this journey and supporting me. We are ending this, the same way we started, with a good friend and fellow podcaster Robb Conlon, Owner/Founder of Westport Studio. Join us for an great conversation about Robb’s journey into entrepreneurship and close the book on Lets Talk HR.
But don’t be to disappointed, because this girl is not going anywhere, coming January 2024 we are launching Love Your Sales – The podcast that will be breaking down all the sales tips, tricks and objections that stand in your way to the golden, YES.
HR professionals, business owners and operations at all levels are struggling to figure out what needs to change. Our system has been shocked practices have been questioned, and conversations are finally happening. We all know there has been a huge shift in what people want. inclusion and diversity are common phrases. But often misunderstood generations are coming together more than ever on what's important. Mental health has been brought to the forefront of everyone's mind. Let's humanize these conversations. Let's talk about what's important for employees to be successful in life and at their job and how companies can create an environment to allow them to do both because successful people will make up a successful workforce. I'm Leighann. Lovely. Let's get this conversation started. Rob. Thank you for joining me today. This is absolutely awesome.
Robb Conlon 01:15
It is a bit of a full circle moment here, which is fun, and I always love those.
Leighann Lovely 01:19
Yes. So for my audience, I have Robb Conlon joining me today. It is bittersweet as I am announcing that this is going to be the final episode of Let's Talk HR humanizing the conversation. And for those of you who have been on this journey with me, two years ago, I launched bloodstock HR, and Rob Conlon, who has over the years now, I think about four years, three, three and a half, four, somewhere in there. He actually helped me launch this podcast by joining me on my first ever episode, to interview me on why I wanted to launch this podcast. He has been a great friend, he has been somebody had gone to for advice on how to even do a podcast. And it's just been such an amazing journey to, I guess, get advice from you and watch you on your entrepreneur journey. And so I'm so thrilled that you've agreed to join me today and to talk to me about this
Robb Conlon 02:30
completely my friend. And it's one of those things where I can't believe it's been two years since we kick this thing off. And now we're, we're closing it up. It's like, wow, that kind of was a snap. You know, I
Leighann Lovely 02:43
know, when I look back at you know, originally launching this, and I get I'm getting goosebumps, because of you know the story behind why I originally wanted to launch let's take, or let's talk HR. And now the reason that I'm decided to sunset it, which makes sense for my own personal journey. It truly is bittersweet, but it has served its purpose. But you yourself, have also since we met had a podcast that you invited me to come on. And sunsetted that podcast, started a new podcast, started a business. So let's talk about it.
Robb Conlon 03:34
Sure. Well, you mentioned that, you know, sunsetting a podcast No, originally you and I met when I had you as a guest on recruiting hell, which was my podcast that I made during the pandemic, to help the world get back to work. And I thought, okay, I can go be a content creator and things like that. Welcome. Everybody did that. Let's get one of the unintended consequences of starting that show was we actually helped a lot of folks get some jobs, we found over 1 million, sorry, one and a half million dollars in Job salaries and benefits for people. Plus it got me plugged into an incredible network on LinkedIn. So I'm so happy that I I started that but much like every customer journey, every business journey, there's a beginning and there's an end and sunsetting this show for you. I know exactly what you're going through because sunsetting recruiting Hell was a very emotional moment because it was one of those things that when I had very little going for me in my life, that was it was one of those things and I know that you have a ton going for you right now with your business journey, but it taking away something that's been kind of one of the main engines, if you will, for a while. That can kind of hurt so you know, for sunsetting recruiting Hell was what's necessary because I had lost passion for it. And I don't think for you it's changed a passion thing. It's just the the mission has changed, if you will, as to what you're doing so she said her purpose, and we would give her that Viking funeral, you know, on a burning boat. Right? But, but that's kind of where I went with my show. And, you know, it was, it was kind of a sad thing. I actually, not too long ago remove the bumper sticker for my car, because I replaced it with my new company logo. And it's like, oh, okay, like, it's, it's kind of this, like, not quite paving over, but like, upgrading almost in this case. And I think that's a great way to look at it for you as well. Yeah,
Leighann Lovely 05:33
yeah, you're right. And I haven't looked at it. Like that. It's, but as many entrepreneurs will say, there are seasons, you know, seasons to business, there are seasons to life, and we have to, you know, recognize it. First off, if we don't recognize it, we get stuck, right, we get stuck, and we can't move on from that. So it's it is time. And, you know, I've had a lot of people, you know, come up to me, as I've launched my business, I've talked about this, you know, love your sales, people are like, Wait, I thought you were an HR lady. And I'm like, Well, I was, I am at, you know, my core. HR is part of every business. But for the last decade, I have been on the sales, side consulting, you know, HR, you know, for HR, I suppose, it'd be the right thing. So, you know, now it's time for me to, to move forward and no longer, you know, I guess, branded myself as the the HR expert. So
Robb Conlon 06:41
you can always keep that going a little bit. A lot of times I tell a lot of folks out there that I am. I'm not a founder and entrepreneur, I'm a salesperson in disguise. But that's one of the you know, we share that skill in this case. And I think for, you know, a founder led company, which is what yours is like, just like mine is, as a founder led company, you have a very good skill set that you can, and I use the word masquerade in a way of like playing in a different role, not you know, being shady or anything like that, you know, you can put on that different face and say, Hey, today, I am your HR person. But I'm actually, you know, I'm a salesperson at heart. But today, I'm HR today, I am your marketing person today, I am your IT department, things like that. And I've had to wear a couple of those hats lately, that's for sure. So
Leighann Lovely 07:33
let's talk about that. So let's you you, you know, you had an amazing podcast. And now you have a new amazing podcast. But let's let's talk about you know, you, you started that journey, because you were you're experiencing something, you know, most people who start a podcast, whether unless it's really a b2b, you're in this company, you're doing it for that company, they start but, you know, unless it's that they start a personal podcast, it's usually driven by something you're experiencing something that's bothering you, or a personal message you want to get out. You were experiencing something when you started recruiting? What? What was going on that, that you went, I got to start this podcast,
Robb Conlon 08:23
you know, it was, it was one of those things where if I look back at it now, I was not, I was not happy with who I was, I was not happy with where I was in life, I was not happy with how the world worked in this case, and I needed to teach myself the new way of things working, if you will, you know, my, my folks used to always tell me when I was, you know, younger and looking for jobs and things like that, play the game, play the game. It's like, well, the game is kind of broken mom and dad, like, I don't want to get to generationally, you know, like snarky here, but like, okay, Boomer, you know, like that kind of thing. But like, but applying for a job or grabbing a job was very different than in years past 20 3040 years ago, you would walk into a department store and say, Hey, I'd like an application and things like that. Well, when I started recruiting, how Yes, online applications existed, you really didn't go into places to get things like that. But it was such a frustration to do them. Things like Taleo and workday and like I still get a little fired up when I talk about these these application codes because I hate them. I literally hate them so much. Like it like the user experience design is terrible. The the fact that I've entered things twice, come on guys, like it's at the time it was your 2019 and things like that. It's like this shouldn't be this way. So the essence of recruiting how it was distilled out of a joke I made to my My wife one night after being incredibly frustrated one day of job hunting, and it was, it was a very emotional moment for me because it was kind of like, I don't want to say, you know, losing it or anything like that, but just kind of like that, like, ah, like, I'm really trying to hold it together here, and it's just not working. And so I made I made the joke to her that it's like being trapped in hell. And why wouldn't we be great. It's only been a podcast about what you call it recruiting how blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I kind of kind of waltzed off back to up here and just sat down on my computer. And I said, I got to actually make that. So I got this. I don't know if I still have it. I don't think I do. But I had this microphone that was just awful. At the time, it was it was some corded thing. It was like a lapel mic. That wasn't a lapel mic. It was ported. It said Blake, like Epson on it or something like that. And I just kind of held it in a tucked into it with a free recording software for an hour. And it was this rant. It was this rant of like, This is so stupid. This is so unfair, I actually found that that file, like two or like a year or two ago, it's still on my old computer. And it's like kind of unhinged, honestly, like you can feel the pain, you can feel the frustration and things like that. And I look because I listened to it as though we are really not in a good place when we were. So that was that was the impetus for the show. And it started. You know, I look back at my show. And I oftentimes we go back and and listen to episode one. And I listen to episode 40. And I listen to episode I think it's 68, which is the last one. And between those three, you can actually hear the entire evolution of the show, the way that I grew as a content creator the way as I grew as somebody who was you know, kind of taking this a little more seriously as like a business thing. And the the way it just started was literally sitting down and that rant. It got rerecorded, but it was split into three episodes, which is kind of great so often take to was much less emotional, if you will, and much more informative. Actually, episodes one and two were some of my most listened to episodes, because they were they may not have had the quality that people expect from a podcast nowadays. But they had great information for people so
Leighann Lovely 12:27
well. And they were probably very, they were probably very emotional and raw. Because you were you were feeling it. You were authentic.
Robb Conlon 12:40
Right. Yeah, I think a lot of people who say I'm this guy, I am this guy, this guy is me. So
Leighann Lovely 12:49
great, because we've anybody who's ever sat down and tried to apply for a job. And trust me, I've I, and it's been a really long time since I've really sat down and I found a job through applying and doing the application process. Because again, I'm an HR sales lady. I stopped doing that. And I started going directly to the hiring manager through connections in my network. The last job I think that I had, they came directly to me and recruited me directly in and I think that I mean, so it's been a really long time since I've been in that game. But I know what people go through. And it's so frustrating. Spreadsheets, people are like, well, let me see my check my spreadsheet to see where I am. And it's like, oh my god, if that it's a full time job. So yeah. So now let's talk about the next job you had after that. Because if I remember correctly, the reason that you ended up getting this opportunity was tied very closely to the work that you put in to the podcast that you created. Yeah,
Robb Conlon 14:08
you're absolutely right. Because as you know, I was putting that out on LinkedIn, and to your point a moment ago about touching your network and things like things like that, like I had heard that people could do that. But I didn't really know how to do it. Number one, much less virtually. Because again, a lot of this was happening right when you know right before COVID are right at the time of COVID. Just to give people a frame of reference here. The unhinged our rant was recorded on November 30 2019. The first episode of recruiting hell came out I want to say April 20 of 2020. So again, there was that time, but in that time you know, I was almost unemployed for most of most of 2020 in this case. So at the end of that year, I actually ran across something through promoting my show online and interacting with people on LinkedIn that the marketing director for a An agency that actually produce podcasts for businesses, you know, came across my path. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, there's somebody out here who actually like, like, these people are looking for people who know how to make a podcast, holy crap, I should probably, like, reach out to these people and say, Hey, maybe I can I'm maybe I'm your guy. And we had that interview, which was fantastic. got the job. And that was really kind of the the key turning point to where I said, Okay, I guess I'm kind of jumping into this with both feet, if you will, as far as taking a look at at content and continuing to network on LinkedIn, in the way that you described.
Leighann Lovely 15:45
That's awesome. That's, I mean, that's absolutely amazing. And you spend quite a bit of time with this organization. And then I remember when we talked, and you're like, I'm not with him anymore. And we talked again, and you said, I'm gonna get my own thing going?
Robb Conlon 16:02
Yeah, there were a couple couple steps in there, things went very well, initially, with that organization, you know, I got an employee of the month twice, fantastic. twice in a row, actually, we got to a quick upgrade to a higher position, things didn't quite work out the way that they were supposed to there. So we got busted back down to private, which wasn't as much fun. But at that point, and I will, you know, if somebody's listening to this, I'm sure you know, let's be authentic, let's be real. Like, if you get demoted at work, you kind of check out man, you kind of check out. And I I don't think I blame younger myself for that. I think if I had this, I was presented with the same thing today, I would probably just skip a bunch of steps that we're going to talk about here for all in a moment. But you know, it was one of these things where I just, you know, kept my head down, did my work and things like that and said, You know what, I've got to find something new. And so it was, it was good enough for the time being kept my head down. And then early 2022 rolled around. So during this time, I had a very good chance to meet a lot of wonderful people in the marketing and digital marketing world and who had their own shows that I managed and things like that. But if you fast forward to March of 2022, that's where this kind of all really comes to a head. There were some decisions made at my former agency that were we'll just call them unwise in this case, to, to say the least. And those unwise decisions resulted in a quarter of the company being let go at once. Now, you're an HR person, I do want to I do want to bounce this off of you. If you're firing people, do you call an all hands meeting and tell them that, hey, we're going to fire 10 of you, you might receive a phone call after this meeting?
Leighann Lovely 18:02
Oh, God, no, no, you don't do that.
Robb Conlon 18:06
But that's what happened. That's what happened. In this case, which I again, sometimes you learn how to build a better company by seeing what people do wrong. In this case, so that happened, we we got one of those 10 phone calls. In this case, we lost Russian Roulette, if you will. And it was about about noon, when I got that phone call on Thursday, March 3. And I said to myself, well, I can do one of two things. I can either literally just walk away, because what are you gonna do fire me? Just be like, Alright, see you later guys. Bye. Or I can take the time to shore up and do the best for people who are bystanders in this. And those will be my customers. I had 10 accounts at that point are 10 shows under management under seven accounts, I should say. And I had about five hours to tie off all of this production work and that not a lot of time per customer to be like, Hey, guys, here's what's going on. Plus, at that time, the business that I was working for did not communicate in any way shape or form to the customers that we were departing. A lot of them really liked their producers and things like that. Insofar as that one of my colleagues when they informed her to you know, talk to her customers, she I believe she dropped a four letter word in there, but she said you effing do it. You go girl, read it, read it. If you're listening to this, go, Hey,
Leighann Lovely 19:40
and here's the thing about that. Most companies, once they have terminated somebody, they don't say go to your customers and communicate to them. That is not absolutely positively not the way you handle a situation like that. Usually when you turn Need Somebody 10 minutes before you? Do, you cut off all of their access to their email to any proprietary information that they have? Because you these are people. And when people get really bad news, like, I don't know, how am I going to pay my rent? How am I going to pay my mortgage? How am I going to, you know, pay all of my bills, they have an extremely emotional reaction. Yes. And quite often, there are two people in the room or two people on the call, usually one of both sex, if there is, you know, a female boss that's doing this, they will have a male boss also sitting there, if you're a male employee, so that there can be no allegations of sexual misconduct, blah, blah, blah, if it's a female employee, and it's a male boss, vice versa, for all of that all of these precautions are all laid out in any HR department, if it has to be done virtually because you have a virtual workforce. The same goes is that you have a secondary witness, usually, if at all possible. Just in case, this employee comes back and tries to have any allegations of misconduct of the of the company. Never do you say, Hey, Rob, you're fired. Sorry, we gotta let you go. Now, if you could go and call all your clients, and let them know. I mean, unless they don't care, because now you are extremely emotional, extremely, at this point, because anytime you're dealing with the livelihood of somebody, there is emotion involved. And you're now putting your company at extreme risk for lawsuit. Because technically, even though you've just been terminated, as soon as they say go contact our employees, you are still acting as an employee of the company.
Robb Conlon 22:08
Right? They're not paying you for the time you're doing it. Yeah.
Leighann Lovely 22:12
And if you go and tell the the client to eff off or do something to that client, that client is not going to sue you rob, they're gonna they're gonna sue the company. So
Robb Conlon 22:28
yeah. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. If they said like, hey, today's your last day, you know, at five o'clock, you're done, which, okay, fine. That's kind of like a caveat there. But like, again, what are you going to do? You know, it's one of those things, but the so what I did and I don't believe in, in poaching people, I don't believe in any of these things like that, you know, but one thing I did was I really loved my customers, they were, they were, it's a very strange thing in business and in sales and things like that. Like sometimes you actually kind of like get to be friends with your customers and that, yeah, it's really, it's one of the most unique relationships in humanity, I think of like, hey, we do business together. We really like each other. We're like, business friends, I guess, I don't know, which I don't know what the relationships called. But like, it
Leighann Lovely 23:17
should be that way. If you are a salesperson that is constantly in communication, yes, you have to keep a level of professionalism. And that person is paying you for a service. But it's inhuman for you to not become empathetic to their needs at times. And to their you know, if you call them and you're talking to them like this, and you see that they're having a bad day. It would be very inhuman for you to not be like, Hey, you're right, like is you're doing okay? And you know, if you just completely ignore that they're gonna be like, he's kind of an asshole like, he doesn't care he doesn't. I personally have clients like that I have clients who tell me everything about their life, everything. And as much as as much as I as much as I want to be able to be like, How can I help you? What can I do? I have to make sure that I don't get completely involved. Because at the end of the day, I still one day may have to fire them as a client one day may have to sue them if they don't pay me. One day may have to a million and they may have to fire me as their business. So you Yes, they can become friends. But there's always that business aspect of I like you a lot. But,
Robb Conlon 24:57
right, we have to keep some of these arias in place? Correct? Not all of them. But yeah, so you know, we that was tough because you know, where do you overstep where you not overstep but what I did was for, for as many of my customers as I could I sent them just a little LinkedIn message. And I said, Hey, I'm done. You know, here they are, they don't have any work in here anymore. I've done everything I can with the time I was allotted. And I, I think that there's a, because I could have just walked away. And there were colleagues of mine that did and I no shade thrown their way for walking away. What happened to the 10 of us was, was not kind of his case. And I don't blame them for being a really upset and be being like, No, this is your frickin problem. Now, like you deal with it, like you, you made the best deal with it. So the, you know, what I simply said to my customers was, you know, I won't be able to really contact you via the normal channels. And just in case, I can't get a hold of you, or you can't get a hold of me on LinkedIn. Like, here's my email address. And that was the only thing I presented to to any of them before leaving, and again, no solicitation, nothing like that. But once I had sent that last one about 5pm, that day, I said, All right, I am done with this company that I just got fired from. Cool, let's unplug everything. And then I said, I think I can do what they did. And I think I can do it better. And that was a slightly cocky moment. But also a nice, a slightly confident moment. And so I went to bed that night. And I said to myself in the morning, we are going into business and betting on ourselves. And so the next morning, March 4, command day 2022. We opened Westport studios, for the first time. And as I was doing this, again, when you open a business, you know, this Leanda the first day is like, there's like a trillion things to do. And I like where do I start? There's, you can read a book or two and like, what's a man? You know, there's a couple little like, manuals, but it's like, for the most part, it's like, well, I need a website, I need to talk to people, I need to get sales going, I need to like, get a domain name. You know, there's all there's a list of
Leighann Lovely 27:25
a million Yeah, number I need an accountant.
Robb Conlon 27:31
Right, exactly. So I'm working on this for like the first two or three hours of the day, and all of a sudden, my phone rings. And I'm like, I look at it. And it's one of my old customers. I go on No, like, he didn't either get the message or he's wondering about something and I can't really help him. Now, caveat here, I could have helped him because they left access to the systems and us for two
Leighann Lovely 27:57
weeks, two weeks, which is ridiculous, which is ridiculous. And And technically, technically, if you did help them, they could have come back to you and reprimanded you. Or you could have gone back to them and been like, you should owe me money for helping your client. I mean that all that gets like to be really messy.
Robb Conlon 28:25
Messy, messy. But so this phone rang and bad back to the access thing for just a moment. Like, I also looked at how these things were stored on the drive space that we had access to. And again, I would never ever damage somebody's business. But I did a couple little clicks to see what could happen. If somebody had had the mind to just sink the ship, they could have, they could have just wiped it out. Because I now know because I for a time use the same type of file system. I now know that had I just gone and wiped everything out that it would have been a mess to get back. And, again, no hostility on this but just like you play you pay people to hack your your, your website, sometimes as a company, right? Like, is our website secure, right? But just looking at that going oh my gosh, there's like there's 100 customers data on here. There's there's 1000s of episodes of podcasts that could be gone with the click of a button. See
Leighann Lovely 29:32
now you and I have to have a conversation to make sure that I'm doing everything right and then
Robb Conlon 29:37
it's all good things you don't know as a brand new entrepreneur. Right? Exactly, exactly. And actually I'm fixing part of one of my mistakes of where I got in with like data storage at first right now it's actually I had to pause part of it while we're on this recording because it takes a lot of my internet connection but But enough of that, you know again, never would even as as upset as I was would never even consider harming somebody's business like that. No, no, no, not at all. The two wrongs don't make a right. But like just seeing that there was like, the big red button to hit was like,
Leighann Lovely 30:10
Oh my god. So,
Robb Conlon 30:12
back to that phone call. Yeah, lots of mistakes. Back to that phone call, though. It's turned out it was one of my customers. And I said his name is His name is James Robert Leigh. He's a wonderful guy. He's amazing. If you're not connected with him on LinkedIn, or something like that, go find JR. He's incredible. I pick up the phone and say, Hey, James, Robert, how you doing, man? And he goes. So Rob, my team told me I needed to call you and I'm part of he's like, in the back of my mind, like crap. This is really actually about something he needs. He's like, he says, they said, We should move our show to you. And like back of my mind, like my little little like, lizard brain is going. He said, What? Like, and I said, you want to move your show to us? And he goes, Yeah, what's gonna cost? And, again, voice in my head? Dude, we've been in business for three hours. I don't even know what my website is like, pricing. What's that? So. So I threw out a number for him. I just wrote a number. I'm like, hey, maybe we could make it work at this. And he's goes, Great. See, on April 1, I was like, Oh, okay. So now I had a side hustle at that time with another, another customer. And I'm like, now I got two customers. Now I got 4000 bucks a month coming in and revenue. And then like, this is day one, this is our three. And so I'm looking at this going. This might actually work. I have a lot of stuff to do. Yeah, that was it was a very like, a moment right after it. And so that was a very humbling moment, to number one have been sought out so quickly. But it was a moment that was repeated for every single one of my former customers.
Leighann Lovely 31:56
So you didn't have a non compete of any kind put in place.
Robb Conlon 31:59
They had a non solicit in place. They solicited you, they solicited me, you know, it's one of those things is I really, I took it to an attorney, I took it to it was a little bit laughable, because this this particular non non solicit was four sentences long and did not have the company name on it. And was not drafted by an attorney. To which my attorney said, Is this really it? And I said, Yes, it is bred, because this isn't worth the paper it's printed on. So now again, I don't believe in poaching people's customers, but I if they want to walk in the door of my shop, I'm all for that.
Leighann Lovely 32:39
And it comes it boils down to one simple thing. Service, great service and relationship. You You proved to them that you were capable. And despite the fact that you had no team, you had no business name. You had no website? Name that was it. Oh, you had you did have the name, okay. You had a name. They were they were willing to hitch their wagon to you, because they knew you were capable of servicing them. And you had the relationship and that outweighed any other concerns that they could possibly have. And that's all that it boils down to. Because when when it when you're working with a company, and people get so hung up on an I work with small entrepreneurs, I work with people who have been in business for a long time. And this is where people who are in marketing, like will completely go like bonkers with me. And, and I'm like, they're like, oh, yeah, you have to have a business name that really has a statement, you know, you really got to make sure that your business name is in line and people understand it and blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, I beg to differ. I'm like, Yes. Is it important when you're out there marketing? Yes. But when you start a business, it's not about the business. It's not or it's not about the name of the business. It's not about your logo and marketing. Yes, fine. I understand. It is when you get to the sound of the marketing portion. But when you're starting out people get so hung up on Oh, what is my business name going to be? What is my logo gonna look like? What is my website going to look like? None of that matters. In the first like, very beginning when you are solopreneurs selling a service. What matters is your reputation and the relationships that you have people will flock to you. If you have a network of people who know you, like you and trust you. Yes, that's it. And
Robb Conlon 34:53
it's so funny because you know I I love my brand I feel my brand is very much in line with The way I want to run my company and things like that, and again, as a founder let you know. It's named after the street. I lived I live on the bike my wife came up with that. She's like, why don't you call it Westport? And like, that's pretty damn good. So let's let's go with that. But it's one of those things where it's been a very interesting journey of evolving that brand from Robins Westport westward as Rob to Westport is Rob and Adam and Kristen, and Abby and Emma and Isaac now, and there's, there's a half dozen of us now that this is all, like, if somebody asks them, you know, who do I work who you work for? You say, I work for Westport studios now. And that's a really nifty transition. But you have to really game that transition tightly, if you will, because a lot of times, you know, I'm still the primary salesperson here. I'm still the person that people you know, bring, you know, Hey, Rob, I've got this person who may want to meet you. And it's been a very interesting shift from the brand is Rob Rob is the brand to just peeling away from that ever so slightly, and kind of layer by layer. Of now the brand is Rob, the brand is not quite all Rob, Rob is is part of the brand, that the you know, incremental things back towards, you know, we are Westport Studios, which I kind of like, a little bit more anyway. So
Leighann Lovely 36:17
well, and that's hard for some people, some people, you know, go into business, and they're like, and I can't let go of this, I can't let go of that. But you are a true, you are you've become a true business owner, and not a solopreneur or just simply an entrepreneur, you are now a business owner. Right, have a successful business. And so now I have some questions about that. Go ahead. So as you got those clients rolling on, when did you know that it was time like, okay, we're scaling, I'm growing? When did you know it was time? Like I need to? I need to hire? Well. And you're a little bit different? Because you, you, you, I'm assuming you could you had two clients like right then? Right? You needed people to help. So when was that that you hired your first employee? When was it that you hired a bookkeeper? How did that growth happen? Growth
Robb Conlon 37:20
has been really interesting in that I love that you use you ask this question, because this is a super HRV kind of thing, right now, because one of the interesting things is, is it costs me a lot more to produce, like per podcast to produce one podcast than does produce 10 podcasts, there's a lot of stuff that overlaps on that, you know, there's there's a baseline cost of running the business, and then each additional customer you stack on makes better use of that baseline. So when I started this off, I really did, I didn't necessarily do the fiber deal. But it was one of those things of like, hey, I need to get XY and Z done for people. And I'm going to use resources that are not as permanent in this case. Now again, they the nice thing is that they've become permanent. But they are they was generally all just like contract project work initially, like, hey, I need you to make these two videos. They are a minute and a half long. And please make cuts here, here and here. You know, things like that. And so I started off with with Abby, who is my longest tenured colleague here, she's fantast. I just started doing a quick meeting. She's She's delightful. She's a student at Concordia here in Nozaki County, but Abby did some design work for me right off the bat, because I asked a connection of mine. I said, Dude, I don't know how to do graphic design. I can write, okay, I can mix audio. I can fumble through video, but I don't know how to do this design crap. And I said to him, his name's Greg. So Greg, is there anybody at your university? Who's looking for a job or, you know, super part time? And he goes, Yeah, let me go to the comms department. That sounds like where this should go. And sure enough, I got one email. From a wonderful young woman. Her name is Abby. She is now the student body president at Concordia University. She is incredibly successful. She's graduating this year. I'm super proud of her. I am so happy she's come on along. She has designed some of our most fun brands for this. And she's and again, a lot of this was like, hey, I need you for two hours, like this month at first. And so again, like this, these little project based things were really, really far few and far between. But now, you know, she and I talk basically have a one on one every two weeks in this case, but there's usually two or three things going on right now. And again, she doesn't work, you know, 40 a week or anything like that for me, but you know, she'll put in 567 hours and it's these, these sort of partial full because and I should say, to folks who are listening who are in HR and things like that, I believe in what I call a thriving wage. And this is something that's very deeply ingrained in me is that for much of my life, I worked for a wage that was underneath what I would say even not to say poverty level, but like, we couldn't do a whole lot with it, it was called Well, we can pay the pay the rent, and we can pay the power bill, and we can buy groceries. And that's pretty much it. And so that you can call that I suppose, a living wage. But is it really living if you don't get to have any fun or do anything else? No. So I believe in, I think it was FDR who came up with this concept of a thriving wage. So the minimum wage at Westport studios, so long as you're not on a, like a 90 day probationary period is $30 an hour. 30 bucks an hour. Wow. Because I believe in making sure that other people thrive to one of our core values at this company, is that the company works for all of us, not just those in charge. And that's, that's the greatest way I can show that to people is that, yeah, I could pay everybody 1250 an hour, I get lesser work, I'd have unhappy people, I'd have people bitching at me all the time about their wages. Or I can pay them a thriving wage, and help them try to focus on their development, and making themselves better and doing more as in like, Hey, can you do you think you can do this thing that is upcoming, you know, we're gonna pay you for it, obviously. But like, I'm really excited to see what you do with this brand, or, Hey, edit this audio this way, this time? What do you think, you know, so you get a lot more buy in. And this is for anybody who's in the in the HR realm. I learned from one of my former companies that I worked at that if you pay top, top third, you get some hella good talent, man. It's absolutely,
Leighann Lovely 42:01
and I'm in awe. First of all, because often people get to a certain level, a certain level or a certain threshold. And I'm not saying that you've gotten there yet. You know, it's usually when you get to you. I guess, I don't really know what that threshold is, is also and again, I don't want to pick on the age, you know, I really don't want to pick on No, you know, play the ageism card or whatever. But people who have experienced what you just talked about, you know, working at just that minimum of surviving, not being able to experience, you know, the, the going on vacations when you want to and being able and I I've experienced both, I've experienced just being paid enough. I've experienced working at a company where, you know, I kept getting promoted, but they were like, Yeah, we can't quite give you an increase yet. And I'm like, okay, so this promotion doesn't come with a wage and right, like, is that really a promotion? And then it was okay, we're gonna, we're actually gonna give you more responsibility. It's not a promotion, but and it's like, and eventually when I said, Well, I'm going to leave, and they're like, Well, why? I'm like, I, I've been here for three years, you've given me double the amount of work. And my pay has never gone up. And you're surprised?
Robb Conlon 43:32
Yeah. Good work should not be rewarded with more work.
Leighann Lovely 43:36
So at all, and then there's been jobs that I've had that I've made a ton of money. and been like, Oh, my God, why? Why are they paying me this much? And somebody's like, because you deserve that much. Because you work hard, because you're, it's not that much. And I'm like, oh, it's not. Because then I hear what other people and again, I know, I'm, you know, I'm in the industry, and I'm like, I'm finally being paid what I'm worth, yes. So for you to remember, for you to offer the opportunity for people to come in, learn, to have a voice to get the experience and to pay them in a way that allows them to still be able to, you know, thrive financially. That's amazing. Props to you. Because it's really easy for an entrepreneur to be like, Oh, I, I, I want to keep all this money for myself. Right? Because we're still you know, I mean, for me right now, I'm still in the feast or famine either I'm like, oh my god, I got a really good you know, this is really good client. I'm making a lot of money. And then I'm like, Okay, I gotta shove all this money away. And then I'm like, Yeah, but I gotta pay this person. I'm gonna try to Heroes least as possible, because I really got to keep that money just in case. It's, it's really easy to get into that mentality of, well, I didn't always get paid well. Right? You got to people have to stop thinking that way and start thinking in the way of pay them for what they're worth. do right by them now. And they will do right by you.
Robb Conlon 45:28
Yeah. And you know, this harkens back to one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was formed from a retail manager I used to work for he ran one of the most, most, the highest sales amount. Walmart's in Wisconsin. Interesting gentleman got paid a lot. Decent manager, decent manager. Well, one of the things he told me, I didn't get a lot of one on one time with him. One of the things I remember that stuck with me big time, was that investing in people is incredibly important at the beginning, because he told me that at that store that we both worked at, that it cost the company $3,000 to train a new cashier before they even scan one can of soup. And so I took that forward to say, you know, what, I saw what a revolving door that front end of cashiers was, I was the cashier supervisor. It was just like you'd have sometimes you'd have people last a day or two. And it's like, well, that you just flushed three grand down the toilet. And I'm looking at this for my own business of like I you know, training and onboarding and hiring and things like that. This is super important, because I can't afford to do that when you're a multibillion dollar corporation. Sure. 3000 bucks is a pinprick but like, but I can't do that. That's why I believe in investing in my people actually have a meeting that I am cooking up tomorrow with a connection of mine on LinkedIn to bring him in as a coach for my team to say, hey, here's how you make podcasts better. Here's how you edit better, here's how you what you can listen for, here's how you can, you know, make better and more enticing video and things like that. And I think that that's, you know, not only does that benefit me, they sit down, you know, he sits down with me. But if I have my team there with that, that's, you know, because I have to be careful too. Because, you know, if you have contractors, and if you're having people, you know, you got to follow the rules of the state, which I do. But it's one of those things where if I can just have them tag along and pay them to be at that meeting, like, they're gonna get so much out of it, even if I'm just asking the questions. So to, to go back to what you had asked earlier, I apologize, really a little bit windy on that first part, but like, what eventually then happened with, you know, bringing in additional people was that one of the things that I do not like to do, and if my team listens to this, it'll be really funny is that I just can't stand reading or whatever we call our episode blueprints. It's basically the layout of all the content, I just, I haven't had a ton of practice at it. I'm not very good at it. I, I have a, I have a different skill set. I can do it in a pinch. But I actually tapped a very good friend of mine, who had spent most of his life as a warehouse worker. And he is writing for me now. And you're like, what, what will what does what does a guy who drives a forklift have in common with writing? Well, he's always been a very good guy, he was great in English class, and he always has had a panache for storytelling. And it's kind of funny because we, we, when we were in college, we'd play Dungeons Dragons all the time, he would read the Dungeon Master telling the story for the rest of us to play with. And it's been really interesting to see him grow and evolve as writer, he's now a completely freelance writer, he works for me 35 hours a week, but he still goes out and blogs for other people that started his own business, which is incredible. At some point, you know, I'm gonna reach a point where I need him 40 hours a week, it'd be like, dude, just come on board. I don't know if that's as a contractor or as a W two. But that's, you know, that's I brought him in. And then over time, we found different ways to streamline our operations inside of the company. And that that oftentimes meant that, that Abby and Adam, who's my buddy, and our writer, and myself kind of had to work as a trio like, Hey, we're making this video. Like, after you make the frames, Adam, you edit the video, I'll slap it together and make everything you know, make it look great. But we found that earlier this year, that we could bring a whole bunch of things in house with some special tools that we have to edit these things. And we grew to a point where eventually we had so many customers now, you know, we've got about 12 In this case, that my time during the day is not best spent making videos or audio or things like that. So we hired Isaac, who is our audio and video engineer. And so it's then this wonderful little kind of like, almost like leaping onto a new platform kind of thing. Like if this other platforms to crumble away, you know, you're kind of jumping to that next platform and on that next platform is that next person. And so that HR has been kind of a challenge for us. Because, you know, it seems like having people being contractors is kind of at odds with the some of the things that I've preached earlier about making sure that people are taken care of, and things like that, because it doesn't include health insurance or anything like that. It's, it's a goal. It's a big goal, because that's if I can't take care of the people that work for me, that's a big problem. And somebody I met recently at a conference says, I need my dreams to be big enough to fit everybody else's dreams inside them. But
Leighann Lovely 50:53
you've done I mean, one, I believe that everybody, everybody has a superpower within them. And sometimes that is being a forklift driver. Totally. Sometimes that is a hidden, you know, hidden, something that they just have not had the opportunity to express because sometimes your path doesn't take you down, meeting the right person at the right time, or getting the job that you want at that moment, because you have to pay your bills. And that means becoming a forklift driver. And the fact that you're willing to see that superpower and give them the opportunity is amazing. You know, my husband, for instance, he works, he works, he's a printer. And the other day I said to him, I, I cannot for the life of me create a video, I am not good. I can I can create contact content. I hate editing it. I mean, I used to like it. But you know, after you do it 100 times, you're just like, Okay, I'm over that. I'm a little over listening to my own voice. I used to like it because it was you know, I get to listen back to it. And anyways, video, I've never done video. And so I engaged my husband in it. And I said, Will you do this? Now my husband is a DJ, he's in the DJ world. Okay, they do videos, they create videos, he creates the artwork for his for the music that they produce. And he's very, extremely talented. So I gave him all this, all this junk, all these recorded things. And I said, just, I need to get something out on YouTube about my business. And it would have taken me hours upon hours upon hours to do this. I gave it to him. And like 20 minutes later, he goes come on into my into my studio, and I was like, Okay, why? And he goes, Well, I want to show you the video. And I'm like, what, I just emailed that stuff to you. And he goes, Yeah, I put it all together. I'm like, wow, how, like, how did you do that? And I walk in there, and I listened to it. And I'm like, Yeah, I like it. And he goes, and I'm like, It's too long, isn't it? And he goes, Yeah, way too long. And I'm like, okay, and he goes, I told you that you can't have it be people stop watching if this, you know, video if you put it on YouTube, and, and so he's giving me all these suggestions. And I'm like, Oh, okay. And he put music in the background. And he puts, you know, all the stuff that I'm just like, you know, and then he goes now and so we fixed it. And he goes now when you have it put on YouTube, you have to do this because it's royalty free music and it's blah, blah. And I'm like what? Because you have to make sure that you it's royalty free. But if you don't, you know put who created it, then YouTube will bob and I'm like, I don't know what you're talking about. He has a superpower. But he can't. He can't go to a company and be like, Hey, I have a superpower. I've never done it in a corporate setting. But I can do this. And I'm like, yeah, how do you how do you give somebody the opportunity?
Robb Conlon 54:08
It's nice, right? I know.
Leighann Lovely 54:10
And the fact that you've done that, it that's awesome. And one day, one day when I have you know my thriving 20 plus 10 plus team and I you know, have to have somebody edit my podcast. He has all the tools. He has all the tools. Instead of hiring somebody else, I will probably just go okay, you're gonna work in my business, and you're gonna create all of my content, because he has all the tools to do everything. And he can do the DJ thing that he loves to do or find something else to do at maybe he doesn't want to work in my business. Probably not. He probably doesn't want me as his boss but sometimes
Robb Conlon 54:55
to making your hobby your your work can be he'd be a big thing. And it's funny, you mentioned that because that's exactly sort of what I've done. For, you know, you mentioned bookkeeping earlier is that that's always been, you know, fractional, fractional fractional. Well, my wife's really good with numbers, like, it's one of those things where it's like, it's her thing of like, she's the queen of budgeting to the point where, when I talked about those hard times earlier, when I was out of work, and everything like that, we actually gained money in our bank accounts. Like, we cut things so hard to the bone that we gained money in bank accounts on one income and an unemployment check.
Leighann Lovely 55:33
Wow, so she needs to come over to my house, and she
Robb Conlon 55:36
will, she will get your stuff straight, that's for sure. Well, that's fine. You know, I bring her in. And actually, she and I just had a nice afternoon on Saturday, where we went through the books of the business. And the neat part about that was was that when we looked at everything that was, you know, kind of at the end of the day, you know, we're we're looking at good margins and things like that, and being able to say, like, okay, we're actually running this business in a decent way. Now, again, I'm not an accountant. She's not an accountant, you know, just want to make sure we have enough set aside for taxes and whatnot, but like, taking the business to the next level of Hey, is it stable, hey, can run for a time without me out in the income and things like that, and hiring very slowly. I'm a big, big, big believer in hire slow fire fast. As far as you know, bringing people into the organization. And yes, when you're the founder, and that's your wife and things like that. It's kind of like, get over here. But at the same time. It's been, you know, being a little bit selective with that, and I've made mistakes in hiring. I, we had, we had one gentleman and this is no shade at him. This was me getting this was me taking him and putting him in the completely wrong position. 100% my fault, there's, there's no way like, almost set them up, I would say 90% set them up to fail. Like that, like that. Just, I still feel bad about that. Because he was going through a real rough stuff at that time. And we'll just say that the month of May and June here. We're really interesting. From a people standpoint, just because like, I can't I can't fault somebody for having a massive family event, and not getting things done. Like, I just can't. So it's it's one of those things where we learned that sometimes you have to really seek out that one talent that people have, like you mentioned that superpower, right? And that is what you hire for your hire truly for that skill set. Not just the the attitude. Yeah, in this case.
Leighann Lovely 57:44
Well, we are coming to time, I could talk to you forever. But Rob, there are no words to thank you for taking the opportunity to, again, wrap up the entire series of Let's Talk HR. It has been a wild ride. You helped me launch this, you have helped with advice throughout the entire podcast. And it's and it's life. And I you know, from the bottom of my heart, I truly appreciate that. And you have also helped with and this is my first real announcement. And there will be announcements. You know, coming out soon, shortly, even before this actually episode launches about my new podcast that will be coming out. The love your sales podcast that is tied directly to my business that launched in January, which is going to be much more in line with my brand still bringing in my quirky personality, and you know, antics and rants about random stuff that I always seem to bring in, in, you know, the people that I interview with. But, again, Rob, Your journey has been, like many entrepreneurs, not a straight line. But a successful one. And I thank you again, for being a friend. Oh,
Robb Conlon 59:17
absolutely, absolutely. And it's, it's neat to see these new chapters come up because every one of them has been better than the last in this case. And it's just, it's fun to see this growth over time for you and I'm really, really happy with what you've you've made for yourself so far. And don't ever get too hard on yourself with this because this whole entrepreneurship thing is is a lot like kind of hrs you have to do it right. Not everybody has the the roadmap Yes, there are best practices out there. But what are best practices may work for some but not for all so I know that you'll find you'll get your bag as they say this case. And you know, at the same time I'm looking at it myself and I think I came to the Just before we hit record here too, I was like, You know what, at some point in time I'm going to step into a true like sea level role at my company. I might need a fractional.
Leighann Lovely 1:00:10
So I'm here I know yeah
Robb Conlon 1:00:13
absolutely fantastic so I appreciate you my friend thanks for having me on and thanks for bringing me on to again bring this full circle and closer off.
Leighann Lovely 1:00:21
Well this is LeighAnn lovely signing off for the last time of Let's Talk HR humanizing the conversation. Have a great day. Thank you again for listening to Let's Talk HR. I appreciate your time and support without you the audience this wouldn't be possible so don't forget that if you enjoyed this episode, to follow us, like us or share us. Have a wonderful day