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Episode 33: When’s This Gonna Be Over?
Episode 33: When’s This Gonna Be Over?

This week, six months into the crisis, Paul Downs, Jay Goltz, and William Vanderbloemen take inventory. What does the crisis mean for the future of their businesses? Has it changed them as leaders? Has it affected their relationships with their employees? And they come to some counter-intuitive conclusions. For one, William tells us that he suspects he will one day look back on the crisis and conclude it was the best thing that could have happened to his business. It’s been painful, he says, but, “in some ways, we needed a jolt, and this gave it to us.” Jay understands: “When things get really bad like this, we start paying attention to stuff that we should have been paying attention to before.” Plus: do the three owners have a plan for how their businesses would continue to operate if they were incapacitated by COVID?

Episode 32: There’s a Thin Line Between Confident and Delusional

This week, Karen Clark Cole, Paul Downs, and Jay Goltz talk about whether their businesses need another round of government support, whether in the age of COVID they monitor their employees’ behavior away from the office, and whether there are aspects of running a business they would like to be better at. One thing they say they are all good at is taking action when an employee has to be shown the door. As Jay tells us, “If we didn't figure out how to fire, we're not on this show, because we're out of business at this point.” Plus: Did Paul keep his promise to see if he could connect with someone at Google to discuss his AdWords campaign?

Episode 31: We Kind of Live or Die by Google

In this week’s conversation, Karen Clark Cole, Paul Downs, and Laura Zander talk about their approaches to digital marketing. After years of relying on Google AdWords as his only form of marketing, Paul tells us, he stopped his $12,000-a-month spend a few years ago—relying instead on organic traffic. What happened when he stopped? His sales actually went up. But now, with fewer people looking to buy high-end boardroom tables because of the crisis, he’s considering shifting tactics again: “I'm wondering whether I should sort of go on the offensive,” he says, “and try to increase my marketing in the face of these declines in sales, or whether nothing I do would make any difference at this point.” Plus: Is it better to manage your own digital marketing or to hire a specialist? Our panelists disagree.

Episode 30: The Case for Not Pivoting

In this week’s conversation with Paul Downs, William Vanderbloemen, and Laura Zander, Paul explains why he’s not planning to pivot his business—even as his sales collapse. Normally, Paul says, his most reliable customers are other business owners. When they call to ask about a custom boardroom table, he and his sales staff know they are likely to buy. Right now, though, in the midst of a pandemic that has changed the way people look at commercial space, they aren’t even calling. A lot of people have suggested that Paul pivot to manufacturing desks for home offices. So far, he’s resisted the idea. “To walk away from what we know,” he says, “and do something that we don't know and that others know very well, I just feel like it would be a huge mistake.” Paul, William, and Laura also talk about how the crisis has affected their own compensation.

Episode 29: The Most Expensive Hire You Will Ever Make

For years, business owners complained about how tight the job market was and how hard it was to find good employees. Well, so much for that. Funny thing, though. In this week’s episode, William and Jay talk about how, in many ways, hiring has gotten even harder during the crisis. Part of it is having to rely more heavily on Zoom. And part of it is having to sift through the many people who are suddenly available to find the right person. “The most expensive hire you will ever make,” William tells us, “is hiring the wrong person. I mean, you can spend all the money you want on a search firm, and it’s still not as expensive as hiring the wrong person.”

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Episode 28: Hair Is Segregated

In this conversation, Karen, Jay, and Dana discuss diversity in hiring and marketing. Dana talks about the challenge of getting white customers to come to a hair salon that is mostly Black. Karen talks about the challenge of persuading Black candidates to join a company that does not have a lot of Black employees: “So the question is not: are they out there? They're out there. I guarantee they're out there. The question is: do we need to spend more time, more energy, and be willing to be patient until we find a good pool of candidates?”

Episode 27: My Jay Goltz Face

Paul Downs, Jay Goltz, and Dana White talk about how they would know if it was time to close their business, how long it takes to really grow up as a manager, what they’ve learned about managing—and occasionally firing—employees. “I think my staff hears me but eventually does what they want to do,” says Dana. “And that can be very draining because you wonder, ‘Well, why? I pay you. We’ve had training on it and talked about it.’” And Paul tells us that while he’s normally a pretty nice guy, he does have to put on his “Jay Goltz face” occasionally. “So what does that mean exactly?” asks Jay Goltz. “I’d like to understand.”

Episode 26: I’m Not Going to Shut the Doors

This week, we introduced a new member of the podcast team, Paul Downs, whose company, Paul Downs Cabinetmakers, makes custom conference tables. Paul wrote about how close his company came to failing in both The New York Times’ You’re the Boss blog and in his own book, "Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business." That was during the Great Recession. Unfortunately, Paul is once again finding it challenging to sell high-end conference tables during a crisis. “My game plan is to stick it out,” he told us in this episode. “I’m not going to shut the doors. And two years from now, I may be a smaller company, but I'm going to be around, and then we're going to ride this back up.”

Episode 25: Would You Start Your Business Today?

Jay Goltz, Dana White, and Laura Zander talk about confronting what’s changing in their businesses, possibly forever. Dana is considering a new business model. Laura is considering moving her wholesale business from Texas to Reno. “Ask yourself," says Dana, quoting an adviser, "'What kind of business would you start today?' Because that's the only one that has a chance to survive.” Plus: We get into some interesting strategies for raising prices, for managing lower paid employees, and for balancing entrepreneurship and parenting.

Episode 24: Doomsday Fatigue

In last week’s episode, we asked our panel of business owners this question: Would you be doing anything differently with your business if you knew for sure that a second shutdown order was coming? It seemed like a pretty straightforward question, but it triggered one of our guests, Jay Goltz, who called it a “stupid” question and encouraged the other panelists not to answer it. So this week, we decided to try again to see if we could better understand how Jay is processing these stressful times. And to some extent, we succeeded, and we did get a little further beneath the surface—although there’s still a part of Jay that seems to be in denial. But maybe that’s just what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. As Jay likes to say, “There's a thin line between visionary and delusional, and I've certainly been on both sides of that.”

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