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Kathy Robideau is changing journalism and elevating women … one breadstick at a time — BTB #9

Behind the Billboard

(0:00:01) KL: Is it hard work or is it talent?

(0:00:04) Intro: Welcome to the Behind the Billboard Podcast, a living, breathing, interactive conversation about getting better as a leader, a team and as a person. We believe that success is all about people and we are on a mission to help you grow. Here is your host, Kris Lindahl.

(0:00:21) KL: In this episode I had the opportunity to Kathy Robideau, the Market President of The Business Journal. I have watched closely as Kathy has led an organization, and really, they have changed the way media is done here in the Twin Cities. She is an incredible leader. Her background is phenomenal. I know you are really going to enjoy this episode. I took so many notes from her She is high energy. We both had a lot of energy. I hope you enjoy. There are so many takeaways that will help you become a better business leader. 

(0:00:54) KL: I am thrilled for my guest today. She might have little more energy than even I do, and I don’t know that I could ever say that. It is Kathy Robideau, the Market President of The Business Journal. I am super thrilled because this is so different than anything we have talked about before but it ties in so much to leadership. You have been around so much and so many different people and so many different things that is why I am so excited. But, before we get into where you are today, I want to go back to the beginning. You share a few things right before we got started and I am always interested in the journey along the way. I don’t want to spoil anything but when you said, “slinging breadsticks,” I just started laughing. So, maybe just tell us like how you got started in the early on days and where you came from. 

(0:01:33) KR: I am from the great state of Ohio, which I am very proud of. Yes, I am an Ohio State Buckeye. I am a huge Buckeye. I bleed scarlet and gray. So, I am originally from Ohio and my parents divorced when I was very young. I was three and my mom was a single mom, and my dad lived in Michigan believe it or not. I was really at a young age around my mom; she was working and raising two young kids. I have a younger sister, and then my dad who was also very involved in our lives but lived further away. I played sports as a kid and was very competitive. When people say are you competitive on a scale of one to ten, I am like, oh my gosh, ten plus. 

(0:02:15) KL: I would never guess that. 

(0:02:16) KR: Sometimes almost not a good thing but had a great childhood. One of the best childhoods. Had great friends. I worked at a young age. My first job was actually as a newspaper carrier for the Toledo Blade in Ohio.  

(0:02:29) KL: How old were you?

(0:02:30) KR: I was… gosh. I was in eighth grade, so I was young. I think back and I think I am out on these routes late at night by myself. So in high school I worked at the mall at a pretzel place. I was always working and going to school that was always something my parents instilled in me in at very young age. My father always said I want you to be independent and feel like you can take care of yourself no matter what or where you are at in your life. So then for school I was at The University of Cincinnati. I worked for the Sizzler back then so there is the restaurant thing carrying through, right? I worked weekends at a hotel to make extra money. I was in school full time lived on my own since I was 17. I moved out. I was fortunate to be connected with some good people over the years. I have always gravitated towards people I wanted to be like. I have had those people who have invested time in me over the years. Eventually, as I am in school, I am like, okay, I have to take care of myself so I can’t work two jobs and go to school full time which was devastating for my father. So, I was like I am going to put school on hold and here I come working at the Olive Garden. Here I come. Slinging those breadsticks. I am working at Olive Garden and then I ended up getting into working with Fuddruckers. Once again doing something else and stopped going to school, which was always something I promised him like I am going to finish my degree and I am going to do this. I am working and I am in management and I am doing all of these things and then I end up meeting these guys through a friend of mine who owned this medical staffing company. I end up doing this and leave Fuddruckers. I then become the branch manager and they were opening offices and doing training out of Winter Park, Florida. I moved to Florida to take on the Director of Training and Development and from there become the Chief Operating Officers. It was a privately held company, so it was like one of those, oh, we need to know how to do something. Who will do it? I will do it! You know, sure. I will be one. Sure! I will do it. I will do franchising. I will do that kind of work. You know what I mean? It was such a great experience because I pushed myself into doing things that were not conformable because I wanted to learn more. I wanted to do more. While I was there I had this great mentor, Chelle, who I am still friends with. We kind of pushed each other on different things and while I was there and I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, there was always that thing where I was thinking I need to go back to school. I promised my father I would finish my degree. I started taking classes at Capella University while I was in Florida, which is headquartered here in the Twin Cities, which may have been how I met my husband. Started taking classes there so I was working and taking classes. I met my husband, we lived here, and we are traveling all of the time. I am going back and forth. I was like what am I going to do?  Long term what am I going to do? I was familiar with The Business Journal. Loved the publication. I know this may be shocking but I always wanted to be in media. I always say if The Business Journal loses me it will be to coaching the Vikings or being the next Michele Tafoya or Lisa Salters or something because I love sports and I like to talk. I ended up connecting with a former Market President Publisher, Tammy. We got along great. I started working at The Business Journal. Fast forward to 2016 she moves to Hawaii and here I am.   

(0:05:51) KL: Wow. That is a great story. There are so many huge takeaways from that. That is why I started with the hard work versus talent. My favorite quote of all time that our company uses day in and day out is “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.” There are some other really takeaways like always being a student first. Something that I have found in almost ever single leader is we never really feel like we have it truly figured out. We are always wanting to learn more. It becomes an obsession really. You also mentioned sports. What did sports help you do that you are using today?

(0:06:24) KR: I think it taught me one, the teamwork. You at a leader on the team but that does not mean you are a ball hog. You are not going for the layup every time you get the ball down the court. It is understanding who on the team is right for every situation. You need to know the skillsets of each individual on the team in order to make the win. It is not just about you. That translates into business as well. Same thing. I work to hire people that are better than me and there are a lot of them and that do things really well that I know I just don’t do well. It takes a while to figure out that it is okay that I don’t do every little thing well just because I am the Market President doesn’t mean I need to know how to do every little thing perfectly.  

(0:07:06) KL: When we first start out we are trying to do way too many things and we are juggling all of these balls in the air and once you start getting people around you that are smarter, to your point, and start filling in those gaps and really taking those weakness and making them strengths for the organization is a huge thing. That is super smart. The reason I ask that question is so now you lead this super successful organization at The Business Journal, which is phenomenal. I am a huge fan. How do you fit into this entire organization?

(0:07:31) KR: Sure. So, high level overview. We have 43 markets throughout the country so I oversee the market here in the Twin Cities, Minnesota area. I always say I have the best team but I really do have the best team. They are the best people. They make me want to be better every day. Every day I go in I am like I want to be up to their caliber and up to their standards because I just think they are so great. I honestly try to get out of their way and I have had to somewhat coach them along in that because I think sometimes people think because I am the Market President I have all of the best ideas or I know all of the answers and I do not. So it is for me, how can I help them recognize they have it within them to make these decisions or do these things. They are better than me and they know more than me in this area. How can I help them understand that? That is the most fun for me is really sometimes pushing them. I think that is one of the reasons we are good because everybody feels like they have a vested interest in what we are doing, and they have a voice in what we are doing and they are not afraid to push back. I actually just had a conversation with someone on my team and I was like, “I like that you push back on me.” I don’t want a bunch of people saying yes.  

(0:08:43) KL: You need people to challenge you or have a different view. For those that might not be familiar with The Business Journal, you know, I get your emails and I read the articles and I see what is put out and it is amazing content. Really high quality. But what actually goes into that story? I am not sure that I even understand exactly how that works from a systematic process standpoint.  

(0:09:04) KR: Right. So we have twenty-five people and I think people think like, “how many people are there?” And that there are like there are hundreds of people. I am like, nope. Twenty-five. It is grinding it out. There is the editorial department, which is our largest department. They are the ones pushing stories out everyday. Our editors run the department. We have a managing editor, a print editor, digital editor and then we have our creative team. We have really worked at, I would say over the last few years, our creative telling stories with our creative as well. More pictures of people. People want to see people whether it is maps or connecting stories visually as well. There is our events team. We have a lot of events. Our events team, which Pam runs, who actually, I trained at the Olive Garden. So we have been together a long time. Poor Pam. Poor Pam. She runs the events team and then there is our audience team who includes all of our subscribers and then our advertising team. That is our sales team that oversees the sales department. They work very, very hard. We are a small team so I am very particular when we bring people in that they fit into our culture and they want to work just as hard as the person sitting next to them.   

(0:10:14) KL: That is great. What really attracted me to having you on here is obviously The Business Journal is phenomenal but one of the things that is really super important to me is women is leadership. Our leadership team is all female except for me. I am the only male. 

(0:10:30) KR: Congratulations. That is awesome!

(0:10:32) KL: They actually… today was a day where, we had our leadership meeting this morning and I literally said to them “Is the Kris bashing session done?” And I walked out. They just took me over today. I like that and I appreciate that. I truly believe in that and I think there are a lot of organizations that don’t. You know, the male-dominated board. The male-dominated leadership. Male dominated industries. I saw that you created these groups and I have done a lot of research on some of the boards you are on. Actually, Megan, who is our Director of Operations, is on one of the groups you put together and she loves it. Tell me a little bit about the backstory that led up to creating these and where they are today and what it will look like in the future.  

(0:11:13) KR: So I have five and a half year old twins at home. A boy and a girl. In 2015 after having my kids I was introduced to this Moms of Multiples group here in the Twin Cities. Quickly I realized how much I relied on this group and how they were so eager to help other moms it was kind of like no judgment, no questions, if you needed something, there was an army of moms there to support you. Where to get the best binkies, or you know, how to get your kid to sleep through the night. Sometimes just the support too. This is hard and it is okay to break down and feel like you are going to lose your mind. Fast forward to when I go back to work and I become publisher and I become really good friends with some of the stay at home moms in the group. There are some attorneys. Local CEOs in the group. All of these women and I am like, how can I create this in my work life? I need this in my work life. I have this great group of women where I have seen how they lift women up in my personal life, but what can I do in my work life? So, I remember this like it was yesterday. It is 2016 and I had been thinking about this and thinking about this. I am sitting there and I put this email together like, here is what I want to do. I have this list of women and it is eleven o’clock at night and I hit send. I am just like, you know what? I want to put together this group of women. I want to help connect each other, lift each other up and create opportunities. I want to broaden our network. A lot of times we get caught up in the industry we are in. We know everybody in education or everybody in health care because that is what we do. We are busy. You stay kind of in your industry and I was like, I want to broaden this and connect these women and see what can happen. I will never forget, first it is like I get one person signing on, then two people and three people and the next thing you know, I have almost are forty local CEOs that want to do this. And then I am like, okay! Now what? I have always been like that. I am like, okay, I am going to do it, and then I am like, now what? Then the following year, we created the Women to Know group. We have the Women’s Leadership Counsel, which is local CEOs here in the Twin Cities, and then we were like, what about that next generation? What about other women we need to connect so we created the Women To Know group. The idea of both groups is to help women, help elevate women, and help our community and help them broaden their network to hopefully help more women, if they want them, C-Suite positions or on more boards, or more helping each other in their personal or professional life.  

(0:13:43) KL: Congratulations. You have these groups and there had to have been some things a long you have learned that maybe you pivoted or changed. What are some of the challenges that you have had?

(0:13:56) KR: So I think some of the challenges are, okay now we have two hundred women in both groups and you have two hundred people who maybe want two hundred different things. You know what I mean? I am one person. I have a team of twenty-five people. It is a couple of different things. It is one saying, here is what the group is and here are something we can do. We obviously take feedback, but it is also making sure that the group is doing what we said we were going to do. We are also knowing that it is okay if somebody falls off. You know? I think one of the things I have learned in my life is it is okay. Not everyone is going to be 100% pleased with it all of the time. We have been very fortunate that no one has, but we have had different feedback about I would like this or I would like that. Then I say, okay, well, who can I connect them with. I would say that was a big learning thing that it is okay if we are not meeting every single goal of two hundred people. 

(0:14:53) KL: It is hard to please two hundred people 100% of the time. 

(0:14:55) KR: It is hard to please five people. Right?   

(0:14:59) KL: Right. It starts to take a life of its own. What does the future of those groups look like?

(0:15:03) KR: I don’t even really know if I know yet. The women are so gracious. I will tell you this, when I ask them to do something… so we have put panels together for the Women To Know group of some very big CEOs. No one has told me no. Not one time. Every body shows up for everybody. It is a building it. I would like to keep it around a couple hundred just because I still want to keep the intimacy and things like that. We are going to start working with some local non-profits. You know, you have people that do banking, marketing, all of these different things. How can we help some local non-profits that don’t have the funds to do some of the things we are trying to accomplish? That is one of the things we have looked at. Another thing on the women’s leadership counsel is who are some people that we know that are looking for their next chapter or are looking to be on a board and what does that look like? Who do we know who can help them accomplish that? That is kind of where we are going as we are going into year three. I can’t believe I am saying that. I think it is making sure we are continuing to stick to the mission of the group, connecting and elevating women and see where we go from there. 

(0:16:14) KL: Wow. That is great. Congratulations. I have heard really good things from everyone who attends that. It is fun to watch from the outside. So, you are busy. You are really busy. I know you have a lot going on. You are part of a lot of foundations and non-profits. I saw you were doing some mentoring. How do you manage all of these things that you do?    

(0:16:37) KR: Well, according to my husband, he calls me the taskmaster. I have always had this system of 911s and 411s. What needs to get done today? What is the 411 that I can get to? Maybe eventually a 411 becomes a 911, but today, these are the most important things I get done. Blocking time on my calendar just to be sane. Giving myself an hour even to block it. I just say catch-up. I think doing the things that I know will keep me at the performance level I want to be. 

(0:17:09) KL: You mention choices, and it is sort of funny because I truly believe that it is not time management, it is choice management. With all of these organizations that you are apart of, I am curious, why are you making those choices? What is it with you that says I want to be a part of that or I feel like I can make a difference for that foundation or that non-profit? 

(0:17:28) KR: That is a great question because I am apart of things that I feel are helpful for our business that I personally feel a tie to that I know the business leaders. I feel like we need to be involved with things from a business standpoint and also personally, I am advisor on the Thielen Foundation. 

(0:17:52) KL: I love him. Such a great person.

(0:17:53) KR: Not only a great person but what he wants to do for kids. My father was raised in an orphanage so I am very tied to kids who don’t have a lot or don’t have the means to do things. Things with kids like Make A Wish. I have a friend who lost a daughter to cancer. I am very involved in that organization too because I can’t even imagine that happening to me. I am involved in the Moms of Multiples group, which is now over three thousand moms in the Twin Cities. I say the moms group can get it done. Annually, we do something called multiple blessings. We sponsor over fifty families for Christmas. I want to show up. If I am on your board, you are not going to see me at the annual party and not at the meetings. I might not be on that many but the ones that I am, I am involved and I show up. I want to help connect those organizations to things and do more. 

 (0:18:54) KL: That is incredible. I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to spend the night with Adam at the Cole Swindell concert. He went to Mankato and so did I. I have known Blake Baratz, his agent for twenty plus years so he has been a good friend of mine. Adam is an incredible person and I love what he is doing. I knew that you were part of that organization and I wanted to hear what you had to say about it because there are certain things you have to say no to because there are so many things you get requested to do, whether it is an appearance, or a part of this board, or can you show up here, or can you do that. I just wanted to ask from your perspective why you get involved and it was really interesting to me your answer. So with those boards that you are involved in, what things have you learned and how do you think you have become a better person by being a part of those?   

(0:19:38) KR: I would say what I have learned is, honestly, I know we know this, but the importance of relationships and connectivity. Also, I have learned we are all facing the same challenges. We talked a little bit about this earlier. I didn’t just wake up and become the Market President and Publisher of the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. I was slinging breadsticks at the Olive Garden twenty years ago. I think it puts you in a space… I don’t want to say a safe space, but I think people are more open and you learn from individuals the struggles in their businesses. We are getting ready to do a big thing about workforce. It is a big issue and especially for the small to midsize business owner. You know, hearing those stories, a lot of times paying attention or meeting new people or learning gives me ideas for work and maybe I take it back to the editorial team and or maybe I want to connect them because I think it is an important story that needs to be heard. Like I was telling you, Ben Fowke didn’t just wake up and become the CEO of Xcel Energy. He was a young kid with a young baby in his car. I remember hearing that story and thinking that is what I want people to know about this guy. I learn a lot of about different companies and different things people are going through in the Twin Cities. It is the same struggles. No matter what your position is. No matter what your organization is. A lot of times people think you, because you are this job, like I am not my job. I also pull my hair on top of my head and throw on sweat pants and watch Netflix like everybody else. You know what I mean? Don’t get intimidated by different things or different people. Everyone is wanting to do better.    

(0:21:23) KL: What I think is really interesting is you think about all of the billionaires in the world. They have the same twenty-four hours we do. They get out of bed and put the same two shoes on. There are the same opportunities. It makes me think about running a marathon and you are just about to win and then you look behind you and that person in second passes you. Too often we start to get distracted and start comparing ourselves to others. We are looking at someone over here and why they are doing this, or they had this different opportunity or they came from this and that is why I love having this conversation with you because it is the hard work that you put in and you can’t take that away. That work ethic is everything and I think too many people want to have success but really don’t want to do the work to get there. They love the idea of it because they don’t want to do the hard work. I also believe, and I was included for a long time, you don’t even realize the work that goes into getting to this level. Right?

(0:22:19) KR: You don’t realize how many breadsticks you have to sling. Right? But I think you are so right. You have got to put the work in. I will work and work and work until there is physical pain. Even now, in my role now, I still want to put in the time. I still need to get better. I am always like, now what? What can I do? I think a lot of times, it is paying attention to who is around you and just because they are not in your role, maybe they are not the president or the CEO, you can learn a lot from people. 

(0:22:53) KL: Oh yeah. There is such an opportunity in this world for hard work. I mean the work ethic of this country has gone down significantly. It is unbelievable how many people don’t want to work or don’t want to work hard enough. 

(0:23:05) KR: Don’t even get me started on that. It is true. You put the work in. We are not automatically given things. Like I said earlier, my father was raised in an orphanage and was in the military and started his own company. From a young age, I will never forget this, when I was with Fuddruckers I got a new car, and this guy said, “I bet her dad got her that,” and I am thinking, wow. You know? I remember graduating from high school and my father did buy me a car and wrapped up, with the keys was the payment booklet and he said, “If you are ever late once, the keys come back.” He helped me obviously get a payment I could handle. He wanted me to understand you work for the things you have and I will tell you what, I waited a lot of tables late at night because I still needed twenty bucks still needing to get my payment in.   

(0:23:57) KL: There are so many great takeaways that you have shared so far. I want to talk a little bit about the evolution of media, right. I don’t watch the news, and I try to stay in a very positive state at all times. But I do read your emails. So that is still obviously opened but social media had changed the way news is delivered. Digitally, it is different than it used to be. What things are changing and how are you having so much success at The Business Journal with all of these changes when other publications are really going by the wayside?

(0:24:30) KR: It is staying true to what you know and what you do. It is not saying we need to start doing this because now this is becoming popular. Our company, American City Business Journals is a very smart organization. We have focus groups and they spend a lot of time and energy on research. Years ago, back in 2010 when I started, we were asking questions about knowing digital is coming and we are a print publication and what do we need to be doing? I will say our print publication continues to grow. It might be 2%, but hey, some people would be thrilled with 2%. We are in the digital space too, which obviously continues to grow, but I think we stick to the business journal lens and we are reporting business news and our three goals are to help people grow their business, advance their career, and simplify their professional life. All of our platforms, everything that we do… print, digital and events fit into those. We say does it have The Business Journal lens? If it doesn’t we don’t do it.

(0:25:32) KL: How does your organization or the department that handles this, how do you make decisions about what you should cover or maybe what you should stay away from?

(0:25:40) KR: It if funny because we get a little bit of everything. Our Managing Editor, Mark Reilly, I always say, if that guy is ever on Jeopardy, we would lose him. The knowledge in his head amazes me. All of our reporters are awesome, but one of the things he does, and I have people in the community tell me this and they actually like it. If someone pitches him story, he is like why do we care? Why do our subscribers care? Does it help them grow their business, simply their professional life or advance their career? Does it fit into that lens? If it doesn’t we are not going to do it. We are very focused on what we stick to. We have the PR firms, which we love. We love PR firms. We have people pitching stories. The reports have their sources the work with. They, I mean, the reporters they know what is going on. I have been on boards and a new board president is coming on and I find out from the newsroom before the call with the board to know who the new president is. They are very well sourced and they pay attention. They love what they do and they are paying attention to what is going on with the community.  

(0:26:46) KL: I have had some engagement with Mark and several or your reporters through articles our company has been featured in. I have had communications with Mark, and that guy is a genius.   

(0:26:55) KR: I am telling you. Everyday they talk about the stories of the day and what they are working on. It is very normal for Mark if someone is saying, we are talking about this and this is coming up to say, “Remember in 2008 we did this story that they were going to sell that for forty million?” I am just like, who is this guy? I can’t remember what happened last week. Or, someone will say you did a story on this six months ago. 

(0:27:20) KL: Well you have an amazing team and it shows with the quality of work that you put out there. Question for you. What if there is a story where you are not sure about it. Is there a group vote? Is someone unilaterally making a decision about what makes the cut? How does that happen? 

(0:27:32) KR: I would say Dirk, our editor, and Mark veto. I mean they do not run to me over every story, thank God. So everyone knows that. They do not run to me on every story. One of the things we do well is it is very factual and I have had people tell me this. You report the facts. There is so angle one way or the other. We keep our opinions out of it.   

(0:27:55) KL: That is what I love about it. It is not fake news.    

(0:27:56) KR: It is not. Dirk and Mark can say why we are not doing something. I get involved if they think I need to be involved. If I see something, sometimes I will ask questions. We ask questions back and forth a lot because that is the greatest thing. We always want to be better. We don’t rest on the fact that we are doing great. Like, lets keep doing that. No, what can we do next?

(0:28:20) KL: This, I think, could really help a lot of business leaders that are listening today. What happens when you have a mass amount of people that strongly oppose something you put out? Are there things in place that you do? I think about our business and I think about the people on social media that write crazy things because people are hiding behind a keyboard and they say and do things. How much of that stuff do you monitor or do you have to alter or make decisions where you are like maybe didn’t get that quite right and we need to edit it or maybe we need to take it down. How does that happen from The Business Journal standpoint?

(0:28:54) KR: First of all, if anything comes in I always call the person. It is kind of like eat the big frog first. Just get it over with. People want to know they want to be heard. And depending what it is. If it is a story, obviously it could effect someone’s business or brand so I always personally call them and listen through and always talk it over with the editor. We have never had a huge mass of people upset. We are very church and state when it comes to our editorial when it comes to our editorial and our advertising. Our advertisers understand that about us. We have great advertisers. I would say I always just reach out to the person and listen. If we need to make correction, we make a correction. When I constantly get someone coming at us for something, I am like; I am not forcing you to read us. Don’t read us. We are not for you. Go somewhere else. That is okay. Again, it goes back to earlier. You are not going to please everybody. 

(0:29:53) KL: When you don’t have an opinion one way or the other that is how you know what you are doing is effective. Something that you said to me before we started, and I don’t want to disclose any numbers or rates if it is not public information but your open rate on emails is like the highest I have heard of in any industry of business.   

(0:30:10) KR: We are one of the top business journals in the country. I am very proud of that.   

(0:30:14) KL: How do you get an open rate that is astronomically higher than anything else that is happening in the world?

(0:30:18) KR: I think it is a couple of things. I think they spend a lot of time on writing good stories and why does this matter? Do people want to read this? Do people care? Has someone already done it? If it has already been written about, we are probably not going to do it. Hopefully it is something new that people haven’t read yet for the day. That is a big one. The headlines, Mark Reilly, I say all of the time out of all forty three markets I think he is the best headline writer in the company.

(0:30:45) KL: Amazing. I want to click on every single article in that email. 

(0:30:27) KR: It is! We are continuously providing information that people want. If we stop doing that or we don’t do that, then we have a problem. I think I said over twenty eight thousand subscribers now. I love it. Of course now I am a little more careful now because people will see me and my name. When I am out at the club you kind of have to watch what you are doing, right?  

(0:31:11) KL: That is good. Before you become the Market President, you were also with The Business Journal. What has happened over the years when it comes to email subscribers? Has that went up significantly? Has it sort of stayed consistent? Are there certain years where that jumped a lot more? How does that look today?

(0:31:29) KR: I think obviously with the digital age people want that quick bit of news and they will keep reading. Our crossover between our print publication and our newsletters is less than 30%. It has obviously continued to grow, but we have just been… I mean, we started our newsletters; our morning edition was in 2011. I think it is just being aware of what our subscribers want and doing the focus groups and doing things online or in the newsletters. Then, if we want to extend it into more or a story or people want to know more about the people then you will see it in the print publication but we do not hold anything. Years ago you would hold things for the big print publication but we just don’t do that anymore. 

(0:32:07) KL: Are there times a year, where obviously we are in a market where we have seasonality adjustments more than other places in the country where people might be listening from. Are there times a year where media is more popular or engagement is higher?

(0:32:23) KR: I would say things might fall off a little bit in the summer time around here because we get our three weeks. People are at their cabins or are away. I would say holidays and things like that. It is not crazy. We are still going to get two and half to three million page views a month on our website. Four fifty to five hundred uniques. We are still going to stay around there. We have days like Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July weekend or in the summer months where it is slower. Sure. But people they want to stay tapped into what is going on too.   

(0:33:00) KL: I know you are connected to a lot of amazing business leaders locally and throughout the country. What are some commonalities you have seen in really successful leaders?  

(0:33:11) KR: So, I will say, you are constantly a student. You are always wanting to learn and read and it is not just like, I am here and I have made it here. Also, the importance, you know, every leader I know always talks about their team. I say all of the time, I get to meet people and people know my name from the newsletters and things like that but it is so little to do with me that I have so many people that they do so much hard work. Good leaders know the importance of having a good team.  You know, you have to have a little bit of humility and know that you don’t have all of the answers all of time and it is okay. I would say I have seen more and more leaders doing that. Number one, you know people say, leadership is leading people or an organization, but it is also leading yourself. We talked about that earlier. You see a lot of people are involved in sports or they are runners and things like that. They know what they need to do to get themselves ready to lead an organization or to lead people. 

(0:34:14) KL: I actually made a note of this as we were talking today. How much you gave credit to your team. They are fortunate to have you and you are fortunate to have them. It is really smart to have that humility. I ask that question because certain things keep showing up with every single business leader that we interview and I ask those things because I think a lot of people listening can benefit from that. Here is something else I know about successful business leaders. They have a routine to their morning. So, tell me what you do. I hope you have some sort of routine. You have twins so it might get thrown off really quickly, but how do you start your day?

(0:34:49) KR: Sometimes it does depend but I like to start my day… I am an early riser. 

(0:34:55) KL: How early? 

(0:34:56) KR: Quarter to five or five. I like to be up and going. Hopefully I can hit the treadmill. We have a treadmill in the basement and I like to hit that. I watch a lot of the same movies while I am on the treadmill or listen to music. 

(0:35:08) KL: What movies? 

(0:35:09) KR: I have been watching Creed a lot while I am on the treadmill or American Sniper. Don’t ask me why that one. So movies that I have watched and liked. That is just kind of my time. I am definitely someone who needs my time. Even on the weekends I am up early before anybody else because one thing I have learned about myself is I need my own time to kind of do my thing. I would say workout. Make my coffee. I have to have my coffee. I then check my email and see what news is coming through because I do either watch the news or pay attention. I kind of have to but I want to know even outside of our publication. So I look at the news and see what is going on and by then I am kind of getting ready and then it is like mass chaos probably for the next hour. And that depends, you know, like who is taking the kids the school? Me or my husband? What do they have going on? Once I am in my car that is my time. I think I told you that earlier. I lock and load. I have my music.  

(0:36:06) KL: Lock and load. 

(0:36:07) KR: Lock and load. I have my music going and it is very loud. 

(0:36:10) KL: What kind of music?

(0:36:11) KR: Oh gosh. Here we go. I have got the old school rap. I have such a wide variety.  

(0:36:17) KL: Who is your favorite?  

(0:36:18) KR: Probably back to the Eazy-E days. But I also like Justin Bieber. I listen to The Beatles. Metallica. Def Leppard. Even at work I say I missed my calling as my singer. I love to sing. I have the radio up. At work I am always like, “Do you guys think I missed my calling?” And they are like, “No.” That is kind of my time too. That goes back to leadership being leading yourself. I do what I know is what I need to do to prepare myself so I can set myself up to be the best me that day. 

(0:36:56) KL: So from the time we have spent together you are really joyful person. You are really high energy and smiling. I have a question for you because I found this in a lot of leaders. What types of things do you do for joy or to bring fun? Whether it is personal or professional or both?

(0:37:13) KR: So at work some of the other things I do other than my singing. It is very important to me to know the little things about people. What makes them happy? I randomly say lets go get coffee to someone. Take a little walk and give them time. If it is music. If it lunch quick or bringing lunch back and surprising them. Saying it is going to snow why doesn’t everyone go home so they are not in their car for the next three hours. Also, the competitive piece. I am very competitive so we will have little competitions around the office. Then I would say in my personal life it is the same thing. I am very fortunately. I have a good group of good friends that I rely on. My husband is great. Sometimes I am like, we have just been married seven years, and I hope he hangs in there with me. We have been together a long time. So, spending time with him and my kids. But time alone is big for me too.  

(0:38:12) KL: So you mention the time alone and the me time during the time in the car. It can become very lonely as a business leader leading an organization. When you are in those moments were there is no one around. I mentioned this before that self-talk is such a critical piece of success as a business leader. The way that we talk and treat ourselves is important because it is really who we spend the most time with. When you are alone how do you recharge or how do you get that energy when maybe you had a really successful day in your organization or your team is absolutely crushing it but you might not have anyone to talk to to share those victories with. How do you get out of the place of loneliness because I think I know throughout the years of leadership there are times where there just isn’t someone to talk to.

(0:38:55) KR: For me, it is my poor mom. I call my mom up and like talk to her. She is definitely one. I also talk to my husband. But I think one of the things I have done too, because it is, like we talked. It can be lonely at the top. You don’t always have people that are like, “Hey you are doing great.” You get people like, “You should have done this.” “You could have done that.” You know what I mean? 

(0:39:14) KL: You are a target.  

(0:39:15) KR: Exactly. I always tell people like, yeah, you think it is great being a leader? I am the first head on the chopping block. When there is a problem, who do you think handles it? But, one of the things that I do is in my wallet I have a couple of notes from my dad. I have a note from my husband. I have the letter that the CEO sent me when he promoted me. I also have every email that was sent to me and every card from when I was promoted from subscribers and clients and everything. So when I am feeling like am I doing enough? Am I doing these things? A lot of times I look at that stuff.  But when you do not have those things I have always said okay, who are the people in my life? I need to verbally share with someone and it is not just the self-talk, sometimes it is the music and I am pulling myself out. You know? Get Eminem going. “You’ve got one shot.”

(0:40:07) KL: One opportunity. 

(0:40:09) KR: I am very much someone who I don’t like being down. I don’t like being in a funk or anything so I will do whatever I need to do to help pull myself out. I do feel like one of the things I tell people in my management team is you set the tone and people are going to react based on the tone you set. So you have to bring it. You have to bring it. And if you can’t bring it, stay home. You know?

(0:40:39) KL: Kathy, you are incredible. My last question is do you have some advice or something you have received from someone that sticks out or you live by that you think anyone who is on this journey to become a better person or leader could take from you?

(0:40:56) KR: Sure! Probably one of the things that sticks out most is my supervisor years ago when I was at Fuddruckers, Paul Ridlon. I still remember him. I remember I was a manager and he said, “You know when there is trouble you need to be the calm of the storm. People need to know even if things are going crazy, you have got this. Whether you do or not. People need to look at you as the leader. Not that you need to be perfect. But they need to know that you are confident. Like, I got this. I know what we are going to go. Come with me. I got it.” So that was some great advice I got. And then I would think also lead yourself first. Whatever helps you get to be the best you. If it is getting up at five a.m. and working out. If it is listening to Jay-Z or Beyoncé or whatever it is. Remember you have to be able to lead yourself first you can lead people. That is, I think, the most critical thing.

(0:41:50) KL: Lead yourself first. We will end with that. Kathy, thank you so much for being on the Behind the Billboard podcast. I loved it. You are absolutely amazing and your team is fortunate enough to have you. I am sure you would say it goes both ways. But, thank you so much for being here.  

(0:42:02) KR: Thanks, Kris. 

(0:42:03) Exit: If you loved this episode give us a great review. Subscribe and share us socially so we can spread the word and build the community of difference makers. If there is a leader who inspires you, send your suggestions for future guests to Kris’s team at so we can get better. 

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