Episode 13: Three Owners. Two Loans. One Emotional Conversation

Karen, William, and Dana talk about why some businesses got the Paycheck Protection Program loans and why some didn’t: “The independent grocers. The hair salons. The small restaurants. They didn't get the money,” says Dana. “I have a staff who are single mothers, single black mothers, who are hard-working and who didn't have the foundation to go to college and are doing what they can. I'm up every night trying to help them, and I need help helping them. And I'm not getting it.”

Episode 13: Three Owners. Two Loans. One Emotional Conversation

Guests:

Dana White is founder and CEO of Paralee Boyd hair salons.

Karen Clark Cole is co-founder and CEO of Blink.

William Vanderbloemen is founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Episode Highlights:

Dana White: “What’s frustrating is that I’m the minority businesswoman that [PNC] calls when they want to talk about how they’re helping minority businesses. I’ve done publicity for them. And… crickets.”

William Vanderbloemen: “Frankly, at the end of the day, Adrienne and I are taking the hit as an S corp. If we go under, it’s us that goes under, not the folks working for us.”

Karen Clark Cole: “Some of the Zoom meetings that we’ve had with groups of people—you would think they wouldn’t work but it almost works better because everybody is so focused on the screen in front of them that you really get a different level of interaction.”

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
Let’s start with our usual crisis update. Karen, we haven’t spoken with you in a couple of weeks. I’d love to hear what’s going on at Blink. How have you guys been doing?

Karen Clark Cole:
We’re actually doing pretty well. Most people are still working from home and we’ve had to lay off a few people—workers who needed to be in the office, or in a couple of cases, workers who were doing a form of recruiting, which we’re not doing right now for our research sessions, because they were for live sessions. For the most part, though, everyone’s able to do their jobs from home. Certainly, there’s an efficiency difference, that’s for sure.

Loren Feldman:
How so? What do you mean by that?

Karen Clark Cole:
For me in particular, what used to be a hallway conversation while on my way to get coffee, sort of multi-tasking, decision made or question answered, now it has to be set up as an actual meeting, blocked on my calendar. You’ve got to log in, you’ve got to be on video. My days are literally by-the-minute, back-to-back, all day long, all week long. And so then, when I actually have to produce work, some outcomes, that’s happening in the evening, so I’ve been working till 10 at night most nights, even on the weekends. So it’s been a lot, but I’m grateful that I have stuff to do. That’s for sure.

Loren Feldman:
So the business has held up?

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, we’re doing just fine, and our clients seem to have adjusted as well, which is obviously the biggest, most important piece, that they’re still willing to engage and do work and start projects and continue on with projects that they have going.

We’ve just switched to Zoom. We’re even doing some sales training right now with a third of the company all on Zoom, where it would be normally a big in-person gathering. But it’s all happening on Zoom, and everyone’s really adapting.

Loren Feldman:
Can you give us a sense of who your clients are and what kind of work they’re hiring you for? With the economy all but shutting down, what’s keeping you busy?

Karen Clark Cole:
Digital products. Companies where their business is online. We do a ton of work for Amazon. They’re our largest client, so they’re busy.

Loren Feldman:
So I’ve heard.

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, a lot of it is working on their systems, new digital products, things like that. Another example is online project management, for example. Projects are still going, companies are still running, and so they still need the tools to run their businesses. That’s largely what we’re working on: enterprise-level systems, or consumer products that are largely digital.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, you obviously are not in as fortunate a situation with your business. Your hair salons [are] completely shut down. What’s going on with you?

Dana White:
It’s been one of the busiest times for me as an owner because, similarly to Karen, I’m working from the time I get up to 8, 9,10 o’clock at night. The updates on loans and grants change hourly, and the stipulations and everything change. So for me, between the webinars and the Facebook Lives, and we’re still just getting a ton of information.

I’ve been applying everywhere. I think I’m at my running total of 11 grants and two loans that I’ve applied for. Again, I’m still working on what the next iteration of Paralee Boyd is. Who will Paralee Boyd be as we go forward? People are like, “How are you dealing with the boredom?” I am not bored. I’ve been working. I have not had time to sit down and read. I have not had time to sit down and cross stitch and do some of the other things I like to do because I’ve been in my email. Strangely enough, people are applying for jobs. It’s so interesting.

Loren Feldman:
Are you finding people that you’re interested in?

Dana White:
Yes. We get about one or two applicants a day for various positions. That’s somewhat comforting.

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, that’s hopeful. I love that.

Dana White:
Yeah, it’s somewhat comforting. I don’t want to lose any of my staff to this. Like I said, I have a great team right now. But I understand we might. Now it’s just thinking about, how do we open when we open? Because I know if the hold got lifted tomorrow, not everybody’s running out to the movie theater or a baseball game, right? I know people are gonna come and get their hair done, but I still want to do it responsibly, considering the fact that they haven’t tested a lot of people, and then just making sure I have enough staff to help with the demand of people coming in.

We might be doing some Zoom interviews. I think when we do open, we may not open the day everything is lifted. We may take those couple days to get the staff together, have staff meetings, and then decide the day that we’re going to officially open.

Loren Feldman:
Where do you stand with your Paycheck Protection Program loan application?

Dana White:
[Laughter]

Loren Feldman:
Not the response I was hoping for.

Dana White:
The PPP. Okay, so I applied the night it came out, got booted off the system twice, couldn’t sleep, so about 3:30 that morning, I did it and got through. My bank has contacted me twice saying, “Hey, we need information on this. We need you to re-sign this.” And that’s been it.

Several small business owners here in the Metro Detroit area are in the same boat. We’re a little disheartened. When we see that Ruth’s Chris got $20 million, we’re just really wondering, where is help for small business and how does the government define small business? I’m probably in that next round of funding. But again, if they want to open in May, that’s a month from now. That stimulus package is going to take more than a month to get to us. So how do we get people paid prior to it getting funded? I don’t know, I’m just like Miss Celie in The Color Purple. I’m just sitting here waiting to see what color the wall is gonna change next.

Loren Feldman:
William, you stunned us last week when you told us that you were in fact one of the first businesses in the country, I think, not only to have your application accepted, but to have the money in the bank. What’s going on with you now?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, yeah, I think we got lucky. My COO wrote an op-ed that was picked up by Religion News Service about how churches need to hurry because even if you get first in line, you might not get there. And even if only 80 percent of just the small businesses applied, they’re underfunded by a third—$350 billion or whatever it was.

So we just feel really fortunate, and our clients are very grateful, because the more common story is the one that Dana just shared. It’s really unfortunate that it’s been that much of a snafu for people. We’ve been blessed to hear that some of our churches, even really small ones, have gotten loans that have carried them through.

I don’t think though, Loren, when we looked at the PPP, it’s not the lifeline, because it is gonna be a month. We bill things out over time, and if you don’t sell anything in March or April, then we don’t have income in July, August, September. So for us, it was a very important—and we’re grateful for it—bridge, but it was not the total solution. That’s what led us to do some restructuring that some might deem severe, but we felt like it was tempered with a lot of thought and careful projection.

Loren Feldman:
Have you decided how you’re going to use the money?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, I’m going to pay people.

Loren Feldman:
Right away? Or are you going to wait until the business fully reopens? What’s your thinking on that?

William Vanderbloemen:
No, our salaries continue. We did a weird thing. We’ve decided if our business were to die, we’re gonna die with our boots on. Right now is just not the time to sell at all. You appear completely tone deaf, particularly if you’re working primarily with nonprofits and churches and faith-based businesses, which is what we do. It just seems like, “Are you kidding me? We’re out here trying to help the world, and you’re asking for money?” I told our sales and marketing team and company-wide, this is the sentence I want you to memorize for March and April: “Serve, don’t sell.” I will pay you your salary to serve, don’t sell, and that’s why we poured—I don’t even know how many hours—into PPP webinars. Now we’re shifting.

I have an addiction—I should probably confess to the group—I am addicted to buying web domains. [Laughter] I might be single-handedly supporting GoDaddy right now. And so we bought, and we’ll have open reopeningthechurch.com and reopeningschools.com. I felt like after Easter—maybe it’s because it’s getting warmer here and flowers are blooming in Houston—but the feeling I have is that attention is shifting away from, “How do I wash my hands? And how do I get this done? And how do I quarantine?” to, “All right, when are we going to reopen and what does a responsible reopening look like?”

I am literally paying my staff to do no billable work with the exception of finishing searches that we’re doing right now to serve churches, and say “Let’s help foster the conversation about reopening.” And we’re betting big that that will happen before we’re completely exhausted of options. We lowered sales projections, we lowered payroll so that we could make this work, but I firmly believe that if we can ride this out on the far side of it, people will remember the service a lot longer than they’ll remember any sales pitch we do right now.

Karen Clark Cole:
William, what do you mean by lowering payroll? Is that reducing salaries or how do you mean?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, we went over a little bit on a call that maybe you weren’t on. We looked at our projections, what that’s going to mean if those are the sales projections. And the quick answer was, “We’ve got to reduce payroll by 40 percent.” So I said, “No more salary for me, done for the year.” My lead team said, “Okay, we’ll take a 25 percent cut.” And then the higher paid people in the company all took a 25 percent cut.

Karen Clark Cole:
Did you give them a choice? That’s what they could manage, or…?

William Vanderbloemen:
No, that was just what it’s gonna be. And if you need to leave, we totally understand. In fact, we had one-on-one conversations with all of them, so that if one of them said, “I really can’t make that work,” then that’s fine. Go where you need to, and then we can readjust the budget and maybe lower that number, but it didn’t happen. Nobody turned us down yet. It’s been, what, two weeks since we did this? So we were pretty early.

The people lower on our pay structure, we just figured the money that we would have cut out of their salaries actually would make a bigger difference in their livelihood than it would in our bottom line. Like the proportions just didn’t work. So we said, “No cuts for you guys.” By the way, we’re cutting everything by 40 percent. We furloughed some people, and we laid some people off, and so everybody who stayed actually agreed to take on more work for either less money or their salary, which is not what I would call highly compensated. Everybody took a hit. And I tried to frame it as, “I’m gonna be the lead here, and I’m taking the hit.” And frankly, at the end of the day, Adrienne and I are taking the hit as an S corp. If we go under, it’s us that goes under, not the folks working for us.

Loren Feldman:
Karen, your business is doing well. But did you consider applying for a PPP loan?

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, we did. And we got one.

Loren Feldman:
Wow.

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah. I say we’re doing well and that we’re still working, but there are lots of financial impacts for us for sure, in terms of we have 30,000 square feet of office space in Seattle alone, plus all of our other four locations. That rent is largely offset by what we call “lab rentals.” It’s renting our research labs. We have six of them in Seattle, and they’re really big state-of-the-art facilities. We try to keep those busy every day, and those really pay the rent.

Believe it or not, we’re in a pretty low-margin business as consultants at the end of the day, so we have savings, but not a pile, so we have to be super careful. So then, with that being gone, it just starts eating right away into our revenue. While the project work continues on for the most part—we’ve had only a couple that are canceled and a lot that are delayed—we’re going to have a lot of deferred revenue.

But there are other things. Most people can’t take their vacation. And so, rather than lose it or accumulate it and then not really be able to—people can’t take months and months off at a time due to the project work—what we’re able to do now is buy it from people. That gives them a little bit more cash and it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge that they have vacation that they can’t take. My theory there too is it’s not life or death changes, but it’s allowing them to get takeout from the restaurants more. We’re trying to use that to encourage people to support the local businesses who are having a hard time. There’s things like that, and then we’ve got a lot of interest payments at the bank and matching our 401k. We’re just making sure that all of those things are continuing to happen, whereas we would have had to put a pause on most of that.

Loren Feldman:
Was there any question in your mind as to whether it was appropriate for you to apply or not?

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, I mean, it’s designed for us to keep everyone employed and keep the company running so that we [do] not have to lay anybody off. That’s what we’re doing. Because if we continue to not have the income from our actual physical office spaces, we might have to shut them down. That’s going to cause major problems in our business and have a ripple effect. My CFO spent a lot of time preparing all the financials. You have to make a case for it with real numbers. It’s not really us deciding, honestly, it’s them.

Loren Feldman:
Do you expect to adhere to the guidelines so that the loan will be forgivable?

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, I mean, that’s why we got it—to adhere to the guidelines.

William Vanderbloemen:
We’re not.

Loren Feldman:
You’re adhering to some of them but not 100 percent. Right, William?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, we ran the numbers. This is rough math. It’s more complicated and granular than this. But basically, if your payroll at the end of the program has matched what the payroll was that they used to calculate your monthly payroll from last year—not headcount, just payroll—then it’s forgivable. But if you reduced payroll by a percentage, then you’re going to owe that percentage back to the government. We looked at the numbers of what we would save through payroll costs, through layoffs, and furloughs and what we would owe, and it was a no-brainer. A good bit of it’ll be a grant, some of it we’re going to owe, and by the way, we won’t owe it for a year, and at a very low percentage rate, and saving the money now, cash is king. It seemed to be a better splitting of Solomon’s baby for us.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, what are you thinking right now?

Dana White:
I… I have a feeling. I’m listening to the difference between William and Karen’s story and Dana’s story. You hear, “Well, we prepared.” There was no we prepared. Like, what is the definition of a small business? I prepared. I applied. My business is shut down and I don’t know what the government standard was.

I think everybody who got the PPP needed it in some form. I’m fortunate. I’ve gotten, in about a couple weeks, I’ve gotten about $10,000 in grants. So it’s not like nothing’s happened, and then I’m with William. The PPP wasn’t my lifeline. I wasn’t like, “Oh, I’m going to get it, and it’s going to save my business.” No, it was definitely a bridge.

But I guess you listen and you see companies that profited, and then, the people in my circle are small businesses under a million in revenue, and they didn’t. The companies that I’m speaking with, most of them don’t have benefits packages for their staff. You just go, “What is the plan? What is the genuine plan for working people?” And I’m not talking to people who can now work remotely. I’m talking about people who make this country run, period. I’m talking about the people that if they don’t go to work, the country stops. I’m seeing that these aren’t the people, the companies, the small businesses that got the money. The independent grocers. The hair salons. The small restaurants. They didn’t get the money, and it’s not that, “Oh, I’m mad that you guys got the money.” No, no, no. Your people help. They do. But I have a staff that are single mothers, single black mothers, who are hard working and who didn’t have the foundation to go to college and are doing what they can. I’m up every night trying to help them, and I need help helping them. And I’m not getting it. I’m getting it from my community, like the TechTown Stabilization grant. The DEGC, which is a Wayne County grant fund. They’re helping, they’re stepping up, and they’re turning that money around quick.

But when it comes to national leadership, I think I’m seeing, “We’ll get to you. We’ll get to you, small business.” And that’s it. I don’t want to sound like, “Well, why not my business?” But a part of me is saying, “Well, when are they going to help the companies that didn’t have a $100,000 profit or a $5 million profit or who didn’t have a profit at all last year, who can’t offer benefits for their staff, and whose staff, some of them, are the working poor?” To me, there’s a difference. If you can work from home right now, that’s different than those of us—not us, because I’m working—who can’t. There’s a huge disparity in what the definition of a small business is.

In my circle, there’s a lot more of me’s than there are of them’s. So that’s it. Please don’t make it sound like, please don’t hear that I’m, “Oh, you got it?” No. But I’m just wondering, the people who I’m seeing who are closed right now, and nobody’s working at all, the only people who are working are the owners, I didn’t see many of them getting the PPP. So I’m really hoping that they’re going to make another stimulus package that’s going to filter down to me.

Loren Feldman:
William, I don’t think anybody has spent more time trying to figure this out than you and your team did, and trying to spread that knowledge to help others. Across the board, do you have a sense of who was getting funded and who wasn’t?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, all I can speak for is the people we’ve worked with. The stories I’m hearing, churches are notorious for looking for the cheapest way out because they’re nonprofits and they take offerings from widows and people who can’t afford it. So let’s be careful with the offerings. The stories I heard, all the people who were getting turned down, down, down were the people who had switched banks every other year to get a quarter point off here or an eighth of a point better there or whatever the terms were. And then there’s just good fortune. I mean, there were a lot of people lined up. I was lucky.

Karen Clark Cole:
That’s certainly the case for us, is having a great relationship with our bank. They helped us a lot.

Dana White:
I had a great relationship. My banker called me three days before the application came out. Chase didn’t even contact a lot of small businesses. They contacted them, but then dodged them.

Loren Feldman:
Is that your bank, Dana?

Dana White:
No, PNC is my bank, and my banker called me three days before. And she said, “This is everything you need to get ready.” Huntington Bank has been phenomenal with the smaller businesses. I think Huntington Bank was very committed to getting Main Street businesses through the program. There are some that did get funded. There are some there that got loan numbers but no money. I think a lot of it is good fortune. I have an excellent relationship with several layers at PNC, all the way from senior vice presidents down to my local bank branch manager, and I heard from all of them.

Loren Feldman:
Do you have an existing loan with them?

Dana White:
I do not. I literally walked my seed money into their bank eight years ago and started my business and they’ve known me ever since. It’s also kind of personal with Maria, with her husband and her daughter. She’s a new grandmother. So I have a relationship.

Then what’s frustrating is that I’m the minority businesswoman that they call when they want to talk about how they’re helping minority businesses. I’ve done publicity for them. They’ve done pictures with me and invited me to things, and that’s how I’ve met some of the people in the corporate office at PNC is because, “Hey, here’s Dana.” And… crickets.

I have thought about switching to Huntington because my bank just wasn’t working for me, but I had a great relationship with the people there. And so now that this has happened, it’s made me kind of rethink it. At least Huntington communicated with their people. They could pick up the phone. I emailed my bank people, and she’s like, “Dana, everybody’s just out of the loop.” Even in the email, “Could you re-sign the document? And whatever you do, just reply and don’t ask any questions.” That’s like literally what the email said. It was like, “Okay…” So I think you’re right, guys, it’s relationship. But I don’t think the people who didn’t get it was because of lack of relationship…

William Vanderbloemen:
No, I don’t think so at all, and that’s horrible to hear. Unfortunately, there are just way too many of those stories. There were way too many people and not enough, and maybe more funding will come through. But I will say, if more funding comes through, the credit—like everything in my life—the credit for getting it done goes to my wife. Mainly because her father, who’s been in politics for a number of years, as soon as Congress passed it, he texted us and said, “Get in line now,” because they are notorious for not getting it done right. If you’re first in line, and you knock on the door every day, that’s your single best chance to control your destiny, and even then you might not.

Loren Feldman:
In the time we have left, I’d like to talk a little about what you see changing here and whether you’ve begun to think about how life might be different once we do emerge from this. Karen, I’m curious, you referred to the fact that your offices are not being used right now. Your life is less efficient doing everything on Zoom, but are you also learning a different way to operate? Do you think maybe going forward, you’ll think you don’t need all that commercial space?

Karen Clark Cole:
I hope not. I hope we don’t get to that where people don’t want to be together. Having everyone in the office and a beautiful space for us to work in and clients to come to has been really important so far. So, I hope not.

Loren Feldman:
Have you learned from anything else? Have you seen other things that you want to take with you on the other side of this?

Karen Clark Cole:
Well, I can tell you, some of the Zoom meetings that we’ve had with groups of people, you would think they wouldn’t work, but it almost works better because everybody is so focused on the screen in front of them that you really get a different level of interaction. I think, maybe there’s more to that. But we’ve got five offices and clients all over the world, and so we’re used to being remote. But I think this is giving us more tools and more skills at doing that well and not jumping on the plane so often. Maybe we’ll create a better carbon footprint by flying less and save a lot of money in doing that as well.

But we’re checking in with our employees regularly. There’s a lot of them who are not enjoying this. They’re in an apartment with a roommate, and they’re trying to work all day long, and it’s noisy, and it’s really stressful. Then there are people who have kids at home and they can’t get any childcare. They’re trying to work and juggle all that. It’s really stressful for a lot of people and not any fun. I think a large majority of our employees are excited to get back to work and to get their usual support. Certainly they want to get their hair cut. I can tell you, I think Dana is going to be busy the minute this is over. And you better stay open. [Laughter]

Loren Feldman:
Dana, I wanted to ask you about that. I think most of us assume that when we do come back, it’s not going to be like flipping a switch. It’s going to be a gradual thing. There are going to be some changes, and initially we may all be wearing masks and social distancing may remain in effect. What are you thinking in terms of the early days? You obviously can’t cut somebody’s hair from six feet away. Do you see changes you’re going to have to make?

Dana White:
Absolutely. I was on a call recently with someone who I didn’t know had been a customer at Paralee Boyd. “When it’s finally time for us to reopen, I’m going to go to Paralee Boyd” She goes, “The reason why I’m telling you this is because you are going to be jammed with people. You’re the only walk-in-only hair salon anywhere and everybody’s stylist is going to be booked. There’s going to be no place they can go but you.”

I have to keep my staff safe. We will probably—definitely—have masks. Gotta be careful using gloves on doing hair, because depending on the condition of somebody’s hair, that could break their hair—the rubber. We’re probably going to take appointments or do what we call “check-ins,” where people can do maybe two to four check-ins every 30 minutes. That’s where the Lean manufacturing of my business has to really kick it up a notch: where will these people be in the process that allows them to keep them at a distance from where the other people are going to be, and then moving them throughout this process to get them in and out in under a certain time. That’s what I’m working on right now.

Loren Feldman:
Do you think you’ll have to reconfigure your shops at all?

Dana White:
No, because it’s already designed to be Lean. It’s just managing the stagnation to say, “Okay, these two are here, they’ve moved here. It’s gonna take them 30 minutes to get to this point. This is the point in the salon where we can get two more people in at this station,” and moving people so they are not in close proximity all the time. In order to do that, we can’t let everybody come at once. We have to have people check in and do check-ins every 30 to 45 minutes is what I’m thinking. But if I just did walk-ins, we’d have a line around the block at both locations day one, and I’m not going to do that.

Loren Feldman:
Right. William, you had an interesting back and forth with Laura a week or two ago where she was suggesting that she imagined that churches may go a little bit more digital after this. And you said you didn’t really see that happening because people have a need to be together. Is that still how you’re thinking?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yes, but I think first of all, our work will become more necessary than ever. What I’m noticing—and this is part of why we’re building out reopeningchurch.com and reopeningschool.com—is, how do we foster conversation and realize what’s really out there? What churches are doing right now—and I think this is true of nonprofits and schools as well—is making as much connection with people as possible. The soft skills, relational intelligence, emotional intelligence: all of that is going to jump really high in the profile of the successful leader of a faith-based group in the next decade. That’s not something you can see on LinkedIn. You can’t just do a resume search to see if that works.

I think that there will be a combination. I don’t think it’ll be an either-or: Do we go back to the old way or do we do it all online? I think the interminable committee meetings that are during the nighttime where people have to leave their families and go up to the church, those might become Zoom things. I think some of the ministries that can happen digitally can happen. I think giving will be more digital. I do think the need to be together will still be there. I think what that looks like is going to be very, very different.

For the last 50 years, it’s been, “Come to the church and learn something.” Well, the idea of learning something at a location is over. It was over a long time ago. But now everybody knows. I mean, you can Netflix the best preachers in the world right now, so to speak. So we will come together, it will require a different kind of leader, and on the school side, oh my goodness a different kind of leader. I think what we’re trying to figure out is, “What is our value to clients?” And right now, it’s helping identify: What’s the profile of the new kind of leader in the new norm? And then how do you become the group that can help identify that talent quicker and better than anybody else?

Loren Feldman:
We’ve talked a little bit about Zoom. I’m curious if any of you had any security problems with Zoom? Anybody been Zoombombed?

Dana White:
Yes. I have.

Loren Feldman:
What happened?

Karen Clark Cole:
Yeah, we have as well.

Dana White:
Yeah, it was bad. The way they were getting all the people together to announce the grant, they did it with Zoom. It was a minority call, and so we got hacked full of Nazi propaganda, racist Confederate stuff, a lot of racial slurs being spit out, a lot of pornography. People just wouldn’t get off the call, and I kept posting, “You guys, we’ve been hacked, get off. The moderator needs to shut this call down.” And so then I just got off, and then they moved it to a call.

Loren Feldman:
What happened to you, Karen?

Karen Clark Cole:
It wasn’t me personally, but I know that some Russians showed up in one of our meetings, and it was quite a while ago.

William Vanderbloemen:
Did they tell you who to vote for? [Laughter]

Karen Clark Cole:
I’m not sure what happened. It was quite a while ago. We just switched to having a password and that solved the problem.

William Vanderbloemen:
We had a lot of clients, Loren, that are on free Zoom accounts—again, churches look for the cheapest option—that unfortunately had really, really bad bombings of their Easter services, like illegal graphic photographs that were thrown up in front of kids who were trying to do Easter. I’m yet to hear—and I’m sure it happens—but I’m yet to hear of anybody who’s using a paid account and using passwords who’s had the issues.

Loren Feldman:
All right, so here’s a question that’s of particular personal importance to me. Have any of you figured out how to get your haircut?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yes.

Loren Feldman:
What did you do, William?

William Vanderbloemen:
I get my hair cut every couple of weeks. I’m a little OCD about it. I called Caroline, who cuts my hair, and she works for a little salon that’s three blocks from the house. Of course they’re closed, and she said, “Find some clippers.” I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription, and they were putting out a set of clippers. So I FaceTimed her, and I said, “How are these?” And she said, “They’re great. They’ll work. They’ll get you through however long this is. Buy them, take them home, and then FaceTime me with your daughters.” So my two teenage daughters—one of them was the camera person, and the other one was running the clippers—it took an hour to cut my hair.

Loren Feldman:
You let a teenage daughter cut your hair?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, it can all grow back, right? What can go wrong? I am doing quite a bit of video, whether it’s media interviews, or Zoom stuff, or webinars, so it was getting pretty bad. Haircut Caroline we call her, because we know lots of Carolines, walked them through every step. And in exchange, we let her put it on her Instagram, so there are all these pictures of my head on Instagram with lines drawn about—

Loren Feldman:
So we can all go find that if we want to?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, you sure can. But I think it turned out to be a win-win, and then we sent Caroline and her husband a nice gift certificate for dinner. We actually have another follow-up FaceTime tomorrow afternoon to learn how to do the very top of my head, which is a little trickier apparently. So we’ll see how I look next week.

Loren Feldman:
Dana, what do you think? Is there something in this for you?

Dana White:
Not at all ‘cause Paralee Boyd doesn’t cut hair.

Loren Feldman:
Right.

Dana White:
For me, I’ve just sent away for the samples that I want to use for some of the products I want to start selling. I’ve used them here in the house on myself. I’ve done the best I can do with my hair, because I’m not a hairstylist. I just own a couple of hair salons. So I just do my hair at the house—I did it actually right before I got on this call—and try out new things.

Karen Clark Cole:
Is there an option, though, for you to be sending and selling products to your customers?

Dana White:
Yes, but I have to find the right products. I did send away for some products, and I like some of them, and I don’t like other ones. So it’s a matter of which ones to go to. I wish we had an end date. I wish they said, “Okay, June 12th is when everything is going to go.” At first, it was April 13th, so now we know that’s not it. Now in Michigan, it’s April 30th, so now we don’t know. So with everybody pushing two weeks out, I keep moving the line forward. I’m hoping that I’m just going to get started. Well, I’ve gotten started, and once I get my product in, I will start doing how-to videos. I also want to send an email to my guests when it’s time to reopen about how to prepare to come to Paralee Boyd, because we just don’t want people walking in and saying, “I haven’t touched my hair in a month,” and you go, “Okay…”

But I do want to say this, to circle back if you don’t mind, Loren, to what we were talking about before with PPP. I have to say that I just think that there are a lot of people out there who are not on the cutting edge of anything. They don’t have a family member who can call them and say, “Get in line.” They haven’t built a multi-million dollar business. And although they’re smart, their access is limited. I.e. me, right? I think we’re all just trying to do a good job and just stay in business. I just really hope that there is somebody on a national level who recognizes that and is willing to help. I want to challenge either one of you or both of you to say, “Okay, listen, how do I send the elevator back down?” For example, William, what small business do you know—I’m not saying you didn’t do it, but just my challenge is—when you got that call, what small business owner do you know who you could have called and said, “Hey, this might be a good time to get in line”?

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, that’s good.

Dana White:
We have to start acting like our governors. Our governors are not waiting to be told what to do. Small business owners can’t wait to be told what to do. I’m challenging the people who do have the access, the people who can get the PPP, the people who do have a CFO on staff to go to people and say, “Hey, listen, I just got this call, this, that and the other. Hey, make sure you include this.” Send the elevator back down. That’s what I’m doing. I have businesses that are smaller than mine that don’t know what a profit and loss is. If you go, “Okay, let me talk to you about this,” I think that’s how it’s going to get through. So that’s all I’m saying. Try to send the elevator back down, and whether they get on it or not, that’s not your issue. But at least you hit the button, and it closed the doors, and it went down.

Loren Feldman:
That is something for us to all think about. We are out of time unfortunately. I do have a very special programming note. I just want to mention that on Thursday, this coming week, April 23rd at 3 ET, we’re going to have a special edition of the 21 Hats War Room webinar that will feature all five of the regular guests on this podcast.

This will be our listeners’ chance to see which of us is in most desperate need of a haircut. We now know it’s not William. I feel like I may be the winner on that one. We all will also get to see Jay Goltz with his new quarantine beard, which I think you’ll find interesting, and everybody gets a chance to ask their own questions directly of Karen, Jay, William, Dana, and Laura.

But for now, my thanks to Karen Clark Cole, William Vanderbloemen, and Dana White. As always, I appreciate your transparency, your thoughtful approach to all of this in this really difficult time. Thank you. Be careful out there, everybody.