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Episode 113: Humanizing the Workplace (Minisode)

30% of your life is spent at work. How are you showing up there?

​Lisa's on the minisode to talk about corporate culture, leadership training, and bringing humanness to work. Plus, she hints at a top secret project in the works to help everyone level up. Listen in!

​Follow us: @wheeliecreative

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Episode Transcript

Lisa: Hi, welcome to Outside by Design. Today is a minisode. And it's me, Lisa, the owner of the creative agency called WHEELIE, which is a creative agency for people who thrive outside.

And I don't know if I should do an intro because we have a lot of loyal listeners, but if you're new, a quick intro is... I started WHEELIE, the creative agency, when I was 22 years old. And 12 years later, here we are in business and killing it, working with a lot of outdoor brands and, I think, getting to work with some of the industry's finest human beings. I absolutely love the work we do. I love being a creative director. And I love all the people, all the people who work at WHEELIE. I love our crew and our clients, and I feel really grateful to be able to work in the creative industry and the outdoor industry and make videos and make really beautiful work. Even if it's marketing and less, less long-format narrative, it's still really beautiful and connects with people and I'm really proud of it. So that's me in a quick intro. And I thank you so much for being here.

To put it in context, it's six in the morning and I am sitting on the floor next to my fireplace in my cabin in the woods of Northwest Montana. I always like to ask our guests where they're sitting and what they're looking at. So that's my answer, is I am looking at my dog, a golden retriever sleeping next to me, and it's pretty dark in my house. And I'm kind of like sitting in the dark with one light on across the room and it's super chill. I have my first cup of coffee... and I love that moment, your first cup of coffee, when you put two hands on the mug and smell it. And like the, the routine and the ritual associated with the first cup of coffee of the morning is like, ugh. So good. So good.

Anyway, so thanks for having the first cup of coffee with me. I was just talking about people and how grateful I am. And that's kind of what I want to talk about in this minisode.

So I don't have anything written or pre-written. So I hope this isn't too much of a ramble, but it's what I woke up thinking about. So I wanted to share my thoughts with you because this audience rocks. And throughout the years, if there's one thing I know, it's that there are a lot of awesome humans who I run into at trade shows who say, “Hey, I listen to the podcast!” and it always makes me feel really good that people give us the time and focus and, I guess, learn and love the podcast. We have some amazing guests this season. Lindsay Dyer is coming up. Elyse Saugstad is coming up. Those interviews were fun. They're already recorded. So there's some good stuff on deck.

But... people, that's what I want to talk about. So an interesting thing about owning a creative agency for 12 years is that I... I'm gonna speak in the “I” because I don't want to speak for my employees simply because my employees have their own voices and experiences and opinions.

So, because I've owned an agency for 12 years, I've had the opportunity to do something that I think might be kind of unique, which is help hundreds of brands and hundreds of businesses... maybe even thousands. It's been a long time. It's been a lot of work. I bet it's low thousands, high hundreds. Anyway.

With all these businesses and brands comes people. And I've had the opportunity to work with tons of owners and entrepreneurs and in-house teams. And it's been really interesting to me to observe different team dynamics and different cultures in the workplace. And I've been sort of fascinated in the last few years by corporate culture.

Because WHEELIE is not corporate. Like, it's kind of a shit show. It is run much like a creative agency started by someone at age 22, even though years later, here we are. It's, you know, and it's fun. And it's a creative process. It's messy. The creative process is exactly that. It's a journey and there's a lot of problem solving and figuring things out and permits and you can't really, like, you can kind of plan a shoot day, but we don't work in-studio that much. So you can't really control outdoor settings that much. So it's all about risk mitigation and critical thinking and using creativity to solve problems. And I absolutely love it.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. It's been fascinating to watch how people navigate the creative process, how different companies have different cultures and how certain cultures in the workplace are more fear-based and some are more results-based and some are more human-based. And it has gotten me into this, like... I don't know, almost what's turning into my life's work is having this wide vision and viewpoint of office life in the outdoor industry. So I've been able to witness lots of different people at work. And I started doing research.

So get this. We as human beings spend one third of our lives sleeping, one third of our lives at work, and then one third of our lives, “other.” Right? So that could mean doing whatever, right. Things like cooking, eating, basic human functions, using the bathroom. Right? But 30... so you're not really getting that much percentage of your life doing what you love or your free time, which is kind of a sad statistic. So let's just grieve that for a moment.

But the thing I'm interested in is 30% of your life is spent at work. If you're like an average human. Thirty percent. So like another way - my sister's a math professor, but I'm pretty sure she's gonna like call me and correct me - but if it's 30% of your life sleeping and 30% of your life at work, I'm pretty sure that's like 60% of your waking hours are at work, or like half of your waking hours. I don't know, help me out, Sara Slagle. Anyway, it's a gargantuan amount of time that you spend at work with your coworkers.

And so I started realizing, like, there's not a lot of opportunity out there to really focus on making the work experience awesome. Awesome for you. Really, really simple things like how to navigate conflict, how to talk about money, how to ask for a raise, how to negotiate with independent contractors, how to speak about creative work that you can't touch, or you might be talking about feelings like the feelings that a video evoks in someone, you know. So how do you give feedback to a creative team? How do you receive feedback? How do you... what's your best style for giving and receiving feedback. And how does that fit with your team? And all these, like, really, really human parts of work that aren’t celebrated or like, focused on often in the outdoor industry.

And usually it's about metrics, like getting it out the door, getting ROI, like, getting views, growing a following, like there's these very tangible, measurable goals. And that's capitalism. I'm like on a mission to totally reinvent capitalism from my little cabin in the woods. But that's another podcast for another time.

But I've been fascinated by the lack of training. And like I've had many jobs in my lifetime in customer service and in the outdoor industry at huge, huge companies and also small companies, and like the only training opportunity I remember is that stupid ski resort video about customer service that I've seen at so many different ski resorts that I worked at. It's called “Give Them the Pickle” or something really stupid. And it's super cheesy. And it's like, “Oh, if somebody wants to pickle, like give them the pickle.” And it's about like going out of your way to make someone stay like good customer service. I get it. It's a good message. But it's so cheesy. And it's like, I didn't see myself in that story’s hero of this dude giving people a pickle, you know? So I think that there's a lot of room in the industry to like help humanize the workplace.

And so just filling you in on a thing I've been deeply, deeply working on is an upcoming app. I've been working on developing an app that has really fun, cool human beings offering training sessions for the workplace. It's sort of like masterclass for the workplace. And it's going to have people from the outdoor industry. People wearing beanies, people wearing flannels, people wearing hats, or t-shirts, working from home, working from loud offices. It doesn't matter. It's all about like being a human in that moment and really authentically talking about things that we know and sharing. And I'm really excited. So I've been working on an app and that's all I'm going to say about that, but I will say it's exciting, really, really, really exciting. And I can't wait to release that into the wild and start helping people have a better time at work. Because that's what it's all about. Like, we have to work, most of us, unless you're lucky enough to not have to work. So we might as well enjoy it.

And so I guess my early morning ramble here to you is to sort of take inventory of how you want to show up at work. And there's so much content online about how you show up in relationships. And there's like, Instagram is like a bucket of self-help these days. Like, there are so many quotes and so many things about what you should be doing and shouldn't be doing and an avocado toast and like self-care and there's tons of information about, you know, what's your attachment style? Are you codependent? Like, just... I get on Instagram and that's like [wooshing noise]. All my entrepreneur pages are like becoming self-help pages and I'm like, okay, whatever.

But there's not a lot directed specifically in the workplace. There are like little references to like your “work husband” and like trying to relate it to things that are more familiar to people, but it's like, that's not your work husband. That's a coworker that you have a human connection with. And also when you're at work, you're working toward a shared goal. And that's the difference between like, a friendship or relationship and the relationships you have at work, is at work you're all moving toward the same goal. Hopefully. If your leadership team is good and the vision is there and everybody's on board, you're all moving toward the same goal.

I think that's important to recognize and take inventory of how you show up at work and how you'd like to interact with your coworkers, or if you are a photographer and you work alone, like what types of relationships do you want to have with the people who hire you? How do you know if you're delivering customer service? How do you use emotional intelligence to navigate a hard conversation or get contracts signed, or really like... oh my goodness, the vulnerability of showing someone creative work that you made with your name on it, like, holy shit. You know, and what do you do to honor that?

And I don't know. I just think there's not enough content out there helping people be humans at work for 30% of their lives.

So we're making it. We are dedicating a lot of resources and time to helping solve this problem. So stay on deck for that.

Let me know what you think of this. If anything connects with you, hit me up. My email address is I would love to hear from you. Yeah. Feel free to send me an email because this, again, is a little bit off topic for an owner of a creative agency, but also so on topic, because I've seen so many humans at work in so many different contexts and I'm fascinated by it.

Yeah. So if anything at home with you or you have questions or ideas, or you have an expertise about how to help people be people at work, let me know, hit me up.

But that's my morning thought and I hope you have a really good day. And again, thanks for listening and enjoy your day.

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