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Jungle Bird | Episode 03

What Are Some Work Culture Red Flags?

Catelin and Rich started a conversation on work culture that became an entire episode. Two actually. In part, one they talk about red flags they've encountered over their careers. In part two next week, they'll flip it around to talk about what makes a great work culture.


Jungle Bird



  • 1/2 ounces blackstrap rum
  • 3/4 ounce Campari
  • 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce demerara syrup
  • Garnish: pineapple wedge

This one dates back to the 1970s and is a fantastic summer cocktail.

  1. Add ice to your favorite cocktail shaker, then put in the rum, Campari, pineapple and lime juices, and demerara syrup. Shake it like your mother taught you until well chilled (Pro tip: If you use a stainless steel shaker your hand should be REALLY cold. That means it's ready).
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice (Rich has also been known to put this in a coupe glass, because he can't get enough of a coupe glass).
  3. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.


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Episode Transcript

Rich: [00:00:00] Welcome back to Cocktails Tangents and Answers. Uh, we hope you've been enjoying the episodes. Uh, I'm one of your hosts, Rich Mackey, as you probably know by now.

Catelin: Hopefully, you know I'm Catelin Drey. Your other host.

Rich: Yeah. And this is gonna be a little bit of a break from the format. So we're not gonna be interviewing a guest today. Caitelin and I are going to talk about...

Catelin: We're just gonna talk to you at length.

Rich: Yes. We'll try to curb it and you know, maybe not be 180 minutes now, about 30 minutes or so maybe 40. We'll see.

Catelin: Settle in folks.

Rich: But today's topic is workplace culture, like what does it mean? Why is it important in the agency biz? Um, and this is a big one for me. Part of why I do what I do is for all of you mm-hmm and that also rhymes a little bit, which is kinda fun.

Catelin: We're gonna write a poem though.

Rich: I know. Like there

Catelin: in all of you being your?

Rich: The team!

Catelin: Yeah.

Rich: So you Catelin, are one of the team.

Catelin: Yes.

Rich: Um, we have other team members, you know, [00:01:00] Zac is our producer. He's here in the room with us. Uh, and we've got an audience of one with one of the other team members. Who recorded an episode earlier who's still here sitting very, very quietly, but yeah. So it's, um, I don't know, like I love marketing, I love doing marketing. But this idea that, you know, having a business where people can thrive and I can watch them thrive is really great. But I digress. That's actually technically a tangent. Because this is the intro. Yeah. And I need you...

Catelin: Yes and I want to talk to you. About what we, what we have on the menu. Uh, today's cocktail featured cocktail is a jungle bird. And, um, I have recently become as well as a gin drinker, but also a rum drinker. I love a good rum, like a rum punch situation. So a jungle bird is dark rum. Uh, I'm told that Appleton is one of the better dark rums, uh, three quarters ounce of Aperol one and a half ounces of pineapple [00:02:00] juice. Half an ounce of lime juice, freshly squeezed, and half an ounce of simple syrup. And it is tropical and delightful. It tastes like juice, which it basically is

Rich: You got me into these gosh, months ago. Um, I think, you know, mid pandemic.

Catelin: When everyone was just sitting in their house drinking.

Rich: Yeah. Because we had, so what's interesting.

Catelin: Some of us haven't stopped.

Rich: amen to that.

Catelin: Whoops.

Rich: What's interesting is we always have Aperol on hand, so we've been to Italy a couple of times we got friends there. We love a good spritz. Wonderful. We've gotten into Aus spritzes, which are a little bit different as well. We will talk about one of those in another episode. Also, the bottle is just gorgeous on Italicus, but. You know, appall spritz is kind of what you do with appall. Yeah. Like what else do you do with it? And I think we're having a good conversation and we also like, complete tangent. So we'll make we'll meal, prep, chicken, and we use a small can of pineapple juice in the instant pot.

Catelin: And then what do you, you...?

Rich: I got three more cans. I can't use it like every [00:03:00] day. And so. This weird idea that there's this drink out there. That's pineapple juice and Aperol. Yeah. Um, and we also have a ton of rum because we went to the Virgin islands at one point and came back with like two cases of cruise on rum. Yeah. Uh, between four people. I think if anybody is listening. CauseI think theres an import limmit on how many leters a person can bring.

Catelin: Customs and border control is going to be knocking on your door.

Rich: Yeah. And we really do like it. The difference we did. So we used the cruise on dark rum. But then we did a little floater of black strap rum.

Catelin: I was just gonna say like black strap is really, oh, you want a dark rum?

Rich: It just, it just like that molasses-y kind of going through the, the bitter of the Aperol. And then, oh, jungle bird. Such a good drink. It is. It's a really great summer drink too.

Catelin: I know. We're so close to summer.

Rich: We're getting there. We had like two days of it and then it snowed. Uh, lovely.

Catelin: That's life here in the Midwest. Now, uh, as far as like a, a pineapple scenario is concerned, um, when my [00:04:00] parents winter in Texas and when my husband and I, it was like, literally right before the pandemic started, we flew back on like February 28th or something. And, uh, um, when we flew down to tell my parents. That we were having a baby, my husband and my mom went to this like open air bar and ordered these beautiful, like cocktails. And they came in the shell of a pineapple and I have never been more jealous about someone's beverage than I was in that moment.

Rich: Oh. And, and of course, so you're pregnant. You can't have one. And then you come home and pandemic and it's like, well, enough flying down there now.

Catelin: Yeah. Yes. So, uh, I'm really looking forward to going back. Hopefully that restaurant has survived the last two years but in that, uh, pineapple beverage, [00:05:00] vessel scenario. My husband was like, well, we can figure out how to core pineapple.

Rich: Oh, it's not hard.

Catelin: So, oh yeah, we have the tool. We have the technology. And, uh, for a while we had like three frozen pineapple shells, just like waiting to be filled with a delicious beverage. And I think, um, I might make him make me a jungle bird in a pineapple shell.

Rich: I think a jungle bird in a pineapple shell is great

Catelin: with just like a ridiculous number of garnishes.

Rich: Well, how much, like how many ounces is a pineapple shell hole? That's gotta be many.

Catelin: It's a, I mean, like that's like a Vegas drink. Like that's the

Rich: here, I'm on board. So here's my movie night. I, I love a good, uh, Thai fried rice in a pineapple shell. I have that in San Diego a couple times. My favorite thing. So I need Thai, Fred rice, in a pineapple shell, and then the other half of the shell is a jungle bird.

Catelin: So you're thinking in like a flat

Rich: oh yeah. Are you like the coconut round?

Catelin: Yeah. It's like, no, it's like the whole, so we have like an

Rich: Oh so it's the whole pineapple?

Catelin: Is it O XO or is it ox like the [00:06:00] kitchen tool?

Rich: Oxo? I think

Catelin: Oxo, I don't know.

Rich: Hugs and kisses. Is that what it is?

Catelin: Exactly.

Rich: Thats what my grandma would call it,

Catelin: but it like, it's like a...

Rich: oh yeah. It's like a, so you get down from the top.

Catelin: It's like a spiralizer for the pineapple. So it takes the core out and then it spiralizes the...

Rich: so you're doing a pineapple tall boy, basically.

Catelin: Exactly.

Rich: Wow. Now I'm definitely down for it.

Catelin: You could do like a party beverage where you like have the pineapple and then scoop out the inside.

Rich: I was just thinking of like, like a soup bowl, like sipping it, which nobody can see, but I'm doing it with my hands. But, um, so I like this even better. Yeah. So we basically need three pineapples then. So we need two halves to put our Thai fried rice in. And then we each need decor, a pineapple tall board to load up with, I don't know, like 30 ounces of liquor liquid.

Catelin: It's a lot of. It's a, it's a significant vessel.

Rich: We're back. I think we've talked before, or maybe we do again, I don't know the order of these will air in, but, um, about like needing to basically be able to sleep where you're finishing your drink because you're not going to be walking up at the [00:07:00] stairs. Interesting.

Catelin: We have that built into our home bar. We actually have like a. Like a, a designated area for the, like, I was overserved crowd

Rich: I like, I think it looks like, I think I like to call it a nap nook.

Catelin: It is a nap nook. That's fair.

Rich: I could go over there and nap. Good. Good. Um, and incidentally, we are recording this in your home bar at the moment. So the nap nook is right over there.

Catelin: It's very cozy.

Rich: All right. Well, I think we need to take a break and then we'll be back to talk about workplace culture.

Catelin: Alright we're back

Rich: And we're back and all right. Sometimes a little goofiness happens in the brakes.

Catelin: A lot of goofiness. That's like my middle name.

Rich: Or I start talking about the topic in the podcast...

Catelin: I'm like, shut up, shut up. Not, we're not recording. This is good stuff. I am really excited about this, but I'm also like a little bit nervous because I've worked a lot of tough places. So I'm, I'm nervous that I'm just [00:08:00] gonna like, get out the, get out the burn book. And like...

Rich: I will not let that happen. Right. So

Catelin: keep it together.

Rich: I've had, I mean, I've had some good places that I've worked. I've had good that's gone bad. Yeah. Like, uh, you know, I went through the, the large agency layoffs in Chicago in the early two thousands. When our agency went from 600 people to 150 people, um, 50 people. Um, and I've also had some really great bosses in really toxic environments. Uh, and that's, um, honestly helped me stay there longer because who you work for matters.

Catelin: It does. It makes, so I think. First we need to like back up and what. What, like, we need to maybe just define like a positive culture. Like it feels so nebulous and like could be a different thing to different people. But I think one of the kind of definitions I, nerd out on Brené Brown, like so hard. And I was listening to something [00:09:00] earlier. Um, About like defining positive culture and it really just centers around psychological safety. Like allow and she talks a lot about please, like, everyone should just like read and love Brené Brown, but she talks a lot about like people showing up as themselves and like being allowed to do that safely and not being nervous about like hiding or like degradation or being called names or, you know, like, so all of. I mean, and there's research around it is just like centered on psychological safety and showing up as a whole person instead of just a cog.

Rich: Yeah. And I just finished, um, and my brain is terrible, but,

Catelin: um, we remember stuff, but like not all of it at right time.

Rich: I just finished a book by Simon Sinek. It was, um, I think I've talked about it a little bit at work. Even the impossible, um, game. The impossible game. [00:10:00] Um, and one of the things he says in there, and it, it's also in a little small book that I've been looking at as well, a really fun book. That's really easy to read that he created, um, he says the exact same thing almost, and I know that he, and Brené Brown. I think they know each other actually. I'm they cross each other on the circuits and things. But he says that the number one thing employees need is to feel safe at work. The number two thing that they need is to feel secure in their job. Um, and then there were a couple more, but I just couldn't get past those first two and thinking, well, like I hope our entire team feels those two. Yeah. I think they do, but you know, you really can never tell that's a very personal thing, but thinking back to the times when I didn't like it. When you don't feel safe at work like oh my gosh.

Catelin: It bleeds into everything else. Yeah. And especially like I've had previous jobs and bosses where it, like, you can't turn that feeling off. So like, you don't feel safe, you don't feel supported and it's not like phy..., like, I never felt physically unsafe, [00:11:00] but I definitely did not feel like. I could be open and honest with previous supervisors or bosses, or even other team members, because it was so like cutthroat and like, you never knew what was gonna get back to, and like there not having like an ally or a, a an outlet to say like, "Hey, I think that's kind of fucked up". And like, maybe we should talk to somebody about it. But like not knowing where that safe place was.

Rich: Yeah. And I've had, so I was lucky because early in my career, as I kind of got out of the Midwest oh, I was still in the Midwest. I was in Chicago, but very large city, very large worldwide agency was Ogilvy and Mather or Ogilvy as I think they just go by now , um, Mather hasn't been there for a long time. Um, but, um, It was fine. So new city, new situation, I'm in my twenties, I can be completely open and honest about who I am. No big deal cause it's an ad agency. I mean, we had like a beer fridge that was stocked. Like, you know, they had [00:12:00] just stopped like smoking in the offices except for one agency that had more world as a client and they had to, they just paid the fines because the client had to be able to smoke in their office. Yeah. So like, I was glad I didn't work. That wasn't us.

Catelin: Oh, my, my asthmatic lungs are just like...

Rich: yeah, we had some, uh, some Miller work. And so we had all this Miller booze. In one of the conference rooms, it was locked. And, but there were certain times at three o'clock when you would just get a message to like come to the conference room and it would be unlocked and we'd celebrate. And I'm like, I don't like beer. Can I go downstairs and get a margarita from the barn and come back up? Um, but margaritas to go werent a thing. Like, thank God they are now.

Catelin: Right? How did we live without a cocktail to go?

Rich: But yeah, so I left that though. I went to another agency and it was great. And our biggest client was PepsiCo and we were on a, a woman run piece of business. Um, there were no issues with being who you were in any way, shape, you know, you could be gay, you could be straight, you could be a woman. You could be a man. They were really, really open to all voices in the room. You could be young, you could be old. It. just didn't matter.

Catelin: Remember I could be brown. I could be blue. it was like that?

Rich: [00:13:00] And it was like the, and that was the Gatorade side of PepsiCo, which was, um, just really, really like a family. And it was such a wonderful client to have. And then I left there and I went to the corporate side to a wireless carrier. And it was instantly like, I couldn't be me right away. There were a few people that kind of knew everything about me. But it was very much a 50-60 something. This is ironic as I say this now but basically a 50-60 something like. Straight white men, like kind of culture and it just didn't feel right. It didn't feel safe. I didn't feel safe. I didn't feel secure. I didn't, again, I didn't feel like I was gonna be attacked.

Catelin: Did you feel like your job was at risk or like you were going to be like.

Rich: No, because the, the C... C Level person that I reported to would not have let that happen. So I didn't feel like my job was at risk there later in the company. Yes, I did. It was just a nightmare,

Catelin: but that wasn't related to your identity.

Rich: That wasn't [00:14:00] no, not at all, but you know, so going there and then it's like, oh crap. Like I left my bubble of the ad agency world, where you can swear in meetings, you can drink like. Two margaritas at lunch on a rough day is not a big deal. And you feel like you, everybody is who they are as weird and as many crazy things as they've got going on. And I've entered this, like this corporate world that's restrictive. Um, when I left there, I went to a different company, oddly enough, in financial services, but. Lots and lots of women in positions of power. So my boss was a woman. The chief marketing officer was a woman. The head of HR was a woman. The head of PR was a, like, there were all of these wonderful women and suddenly it was a corporate world where I was included as who I was, um, you know, and we even at one point, like had a gender neutral bathroom, like put into a building, they were building and I was just like, And it was a straight woman championing for it because she's like, if it was my kid, I would want them to have a place they feel comfortable. And it was just like...

Catelin: [00:15:00] wait can I ask when that was roughly?

Rich: Uh, it would've been. 2014.

Catelin: Okay so not like

Rich: So not like yesterday, but like. You know, it was one of those things. It was topical at the time, but there was a diversity and inclusion, uh, group. Um, and there were subgroups off of that. For like, you know, race or country of origin or LGBT and things like that. Yeah. Um, it was just a very different, like, I'm like, oh, so you can have a big, like, I mean, it's finance. So like it's an old white man's world. Mm-hmm not so much anymore. It's getting there. Yeah. But that's typically who runs those big companies, but you can have one that's more progressive in how they treat their employees. And the culture was just so different from wireless, which should be really loose. Mm-hmm like, you know, but...

Catelin: Telecom I suppose maybe

Rich: Telecom is Yeah. Yeah, it's an interesting business. I enjoyed it. Like we had a great time and, and things did loosen up there, but I had to prove myself. You know, where I wasn't just taking at face value. Um, and [00:16:00] once I did, like, my fears were probably a little unfounded going into at the beginning. But at the same time, just the vibe just didn't feel like my vibe. Um, but the money was great.

Catelin: yeah. I just like I could regurgitate this whole, um, there's an MIT management review article about like, what has predicted as kind of workplace environments have shifted, like toxic culture is one of the most often cited reasons for people leaving. And I cannot endorse that enough that,. It's it's I mean, so like compensation is obviously an important factor, but then you look that's like second, even to corporate culture and like whether or not people can. Show up fully as themselves, but I think that's what is so [00:17:00] interesting about our culture is, I mean, aside from our spectacular benefits package and you know, like our remote work options and our paid family leave and like all of those things, are markers, I think, or indicators of. Our culture, but the bottom line is like, you would never do anything as the president CEO. What's your like, official both. Okay. Yeah. Those the HBIC of this company, like you would never do something to, or for us that you wouldn't do to, or for yourself. And like that's such a unique and valuable, like north star as a, as a company. Like I think, cuz you've worked shitty places before and like. You've seen like you've seen the, the flip side of that coin. Like knowing

Rich: yeah. You learn from the bad, like you learn from the bad sometimes almost more [00:18:00] than you learn from the good. um, but you're right. I mean, and I participate in our benefits. I get the a hundred dollars for DoorDash every month. Like you do. like, I'm excited when that thing rolls over on the first

Catelin: March first, thank goodness!

Rich: Like very exciting. So we'll see if that, I mean, we put that out as a temporary benefit from tax reasons, so we'll see, it continues. It's going through the end of this year and then we'll, we'll talk about it. But you know, people talking about. I guess, let roll back. Like our benefits are kind of stupid for a company, our size

Catelin: it's ridiculous. Its obscene.

Rich: And part of that is on purpose because our, our business is all about people. And the consistency of our people in the cohesion of our people is extremely important. And that all comes down to culture. And people like those two things tie together. So for me, benefits are table stakes. So not necessarily the door dash one, that's kind of a bonus, extra little cherry on top, right? But like, you know, the fact that we offer health insurance legally, we don't have to, until we hit 50 people. Well, we do, even though we don't have 50 people because. You guys being healthy. Makes sense to me. Yeah. [00:19:00] You know.

Catelin: So that's another, that's like actually really interesting. One of the, the things in this, um, MIT article was talking about how like your stress at work is the like number one predictor o physical health. Oh yeah. So like 35 to 50, if you're stressed at work, you're like 35 to 55% more likely to develop, uh, like serious illness, like heart disease, or like all of these things and gain weight.

Rich: Like every time I've been extremely stressed at work, I've just away we go. Um, yeah, I mean, but like health insurance is table stakes, our 401k for me, like, it's been important to me. I didn't get into it as early as I could have. So, you know, we gotta yell a lot of young people and it's like, just start committing, contributing at least to the match.

Catelin: It's it's free money.

Rich: Right? Exactly. Um, you know, those things are kind of table stakes and then we really try to go above and beyond . Um, the flexible work. I work from home sometimes one day a week. Yeah. I used to do every Friday from home, [00:20:00] uh, because it's quiet. I can pull things together. I can wrap up my week and think about the next week. Um, and so yeah, you can work anywhere and actually on that one, um, This week, it was actually our producers act who sent me a message, cuz it snowed. We got three inches of snow in Omaha overnight. It was just crazy. So we woke up to this and the city was unprepared streets. Weren't plow. Right. And so he emailed me or he sent me a message in our, our messaging platform and said, Hey, the streets look really slick. I'm going to work from home. Yeah. And the important piece of that for me. I'm going to work from home.

Catelin: It was a statement and not a question.

Rich: Yes. He was telling me and not asking me because you don't have to ask if you need to work from home. Especially in an emergency like that. Now, if you're randomly, you know, sending me a message every Monday at 8:30 that you're gonna work from home. We're gonna have a little conversation about like, what are you doing on your Sunday nights? Um, and that's in our policy. It's clearly written, but the fact that when somebody asks, if it's okay to work from home. It's like the, the book says it's okay. Right. We have [00:21:00] a process for that. You fill out this thing online. It's automatically approved. Everybody knows it on the calendar. And you do your work from home. I don't care where you are. You could go live in France for a month if you wanted to just log in and do your work. Like that's, what's important.

Catelin: Yeah. I think so much of it goes back to. Just trusting people to do what they're supposed to be doing. And like this infantalizing of employees that happens at not even necessarily like large companies, you know, when you're talking like a thousand or more employees or whatever, the like metric is, but even in organizations where. The leadership isn't secure with themselves, or they don't trust their team. And it just spirals into this like micromanagement. And like handholding and, um, just like really nitpicky, terrible stuff. Like. I had a previous job was told, like [00:22:00] I was stupid, like flat out. Yeah. It was like in like recovery sense. Yeah. I know.

Rich: It's like who says that?

Catelin: Like, I, I have like tried to like dial it back, like try to forget that. And like, there have been moments where like, I get really. Like nervous or stressed out because something like hasn't gone according to plan or like, I don't know how to do something. And it's like, I still cannot like show up for our team because of that like past experience where like, Unlearning that. You like, it's so hard and it just like, it sticks with you.

Rich: Oh yeah. It's okay. To not know stuff, but if you came from a place where you were stupid for not knowing everything. Yeah. That's, that's really hard.

Catelin: That was horrible. Yeah. Yeah.

Rich: So let's like pivot a little bit. Um, What, like, what does a positive workplace culture mean to you? Like what do you like about a positive workplace culture? And I guess, you know, coming in here, you've been here a few years.

Catelin: It's almost three. [00:23:00] Yeah. Almost three years. Almost three mm-hmm

Rich: um, good for me. I was really close.

Catelin: Yeah. A few, a few is three, as far as I'm concerned,

Rich: but like, you know, what were some things where you're like, where you like finally had like, were able to breathe and be like, oh, this is okay.

Catelin: Mm-hmm I think the, I mean, like the most recent example. Just like coming to you and saying like working full time is not working for me anymore. And you were like, okay, great. How do we fix that? And it was like, I had this conversation. I mean, like my husband and I went back and forth. We have an 18 month old and his job at the time and still a little bit is super stressful. I like, he makes more money than I do. It's like typical Patriarch nonsense. We don't have time for that today, but , he did wish me a happy international women's day, which was really moving. Um, anyway, it, it became untenable for us to like manage our home life and also like be full employees and like, It doesn't make sense for him to [00:24:00] step back because he's the breadwinner in the house. And so that has become this like cloud that was hanging over. And I, like, we went back and forth for, um, at least a month of like, I don't know if this is the right time. I don't know if that makes sense. Like, and he said at one point he's like, what happens if they tell you no?

And like that had not even I was like, oh, I don't know what happens if they tell me no. Like then what do we do? I was like, I guess I keep working. Like, I don't know, but it, it had not like occurred to me that that wouldn't be an option.

Rich: And so it's, yeah, it's good to me that, that didn't occur to you cuz I mean, you started part-time um, and you came in like not knowing the agency industry and just being like I'm gonna manage project, figure it out. Okay great. Um, and then you hit a point where, you know, you were ready to go full time. We wanted you full time. You're like, you know what? Yeah, that works for us.

Catelin: But it was also a time when like my child was not walking and we were still [00:25:00] working from home a hundred percent of the time. Yeah. And so it was like, this makes sense right now.

Rich: Well, I know you'd have the option to work from home a hundred percent of the time. Yeah. But you also extrovert that you are like being in the office. Yeah. And so, and I remember when we, um, when we split your job, when, um, we shifted you to outta project management. So you were gonna hire somebody there, like my conversation with you was like, Hey, what do you not like, what do you love about your job? What do you not like about your job? If you could get rid of half of it, what would it be? And you just paused for a really uncomfortably long time and I was like, are you okay? I'm like, okay, let me keep, cuz we're looking at splitting your job and you can keep the half you like, and I'll go hire somebody to do the half you don't because I think I know what you don't like and what you do like, and you're like, oh, oh, okay. Like, and so for me, like coming from that to. It hadn't occurred to me that they would say, I couldn't go part-time like, oh shit,

Catelin: Shit I don't know what to do with that information.

Rich: Yeah. So we gotta work on, we gotta work on your husband about like, [00:26:00] dude, like I'm not gonna...

Catelin: And, and I think that's just the difference like he works for a large company with a, you know, a very rigid hierarchy. There it's a wonderful place. He really loves the people he works for. But like that is not a, he could not conceive of that option in his role. And the fact that it was met with such like acceptance was really. Unsurprising to me. In like a, in a, in a very great way.

Rich: Well, good. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and we just basically said, so when do you wanna do this? And we've got somebody coming on board. Yeah. That's great. Here's your transition period. And boom, on this date, you you're part-time and I'll adjust it in payroll. Yeah. And a way we went mm-hmm um, yeah, I think the other thing that's weird about our culture is your part-time salary. So you don't have to, you know, you're not punching a time clock for your hours. You're working and not working.

Catelin: It's easier for everybody.

Rich: Oh, God. Yeah. , it's so much easier for me doing payroll, but we also, like you said earlier, like, you know, you're hiring [00:27:00] adults. Like who know how to do their job. And I think that if you don't trust somebody to do their job, you from anywhere, why in any time why did you hire them? Yeah. Why are you hiring people you don't trust? Like that makes no sense whatsoever. Um, and maybe it's just a luxury of being small and being able to be involved as the owner in every hiring decision. But it just boggles my mind, even when I was at very large companies, like you got a team leader, that's like, you know, having 10, 15, maybe I think 30 was the biggest my team was. I was involved in everybody getting hired and the culture fit was a big deal. Cause we tried to have a culture for the team, even inside of what might have been a less desirable culture. Yeah.

Catelin: And that's it's yeah, totally, totally true. Like your immediate supervisor, immediate manager plays such a pivotal role. In, in that like immediate culture piece, we talked with a, in another interview about. Our kind of non-traditional interview process where it's like, you just like show up for a panel interview, and we talk about your favorite food for 20 minutes and then [00:28:00] decide if you're sociopath or not. And then, yeah.

Rich: What's your favorite local restaurant?

Catelin: Exactly. Like...

Rich: Don't say taco bell, like if you throw a chain out there, you're probably not getting hired.

Catelin: Not happening. We're not interested. I do love a good cheesy gordita crunch, but that's the story for another day. Yeah. Um, yeah, I, um, One of our kind of quick hits was like any experiences with bad work culture and I was like, I don't think we have time for that.

Rich: I know and I definitely don't think we do now. I think we're probably running over a little bit is my guess. Um,

Catelin: yeah, I think the, the bottom line for me is just like treat people like people and it, it seems like such a rudimentary concept, but for whatever reason, A lot of people manage to really get that wrong. And it, it just doesn't, I don't know. It just, it seems so easy, but it's, I guess it's not.

Rich: I mean it's, I don't think it's that hard. I mean,

Catelin: because you're doing a really great job.

Rich: Well, thank you. But I mean, as an owner, so the, the hardest thing for me is, you know, as it comes to be tax [00:29:00] time, um, and I pull out like a balance sheet in the P and L yeah. I see every dollar that we spend on employed benefits, and I know. How much I budget for percent of benefits above and beyond your salary. Yeah. Um, and when I look at the amount that we put into, like the 401k, I feel really good about it. Yeah. Because our expense means that you guys are contributing and that, you know, you know, I won't be around forever and not everybody will be together forever, but you've at least started off on a healthy investing habit. Um, the DoorDash, one's a really great thing. I mean, that costs us about $15,000 a year. Yeah. Um, actually a little bit more than that, which seems like a lot of money and yeah. If we didn't do that, As the owner, I can put that money in my pocket. Right. But we're food motivated. And I know that and honestly, you know, when people leave, that is the hardest thing to give up. They're like, I'm gonna have to pay for my door dash.

It's like,

Catelin: so, and like, what does the attrition cost, you know, like if it's

Rich: It's expensive. It's very expensive.

Catelin: Like you hire somebody new who's coming in because your culture is shit. [00:30:00] and then you start over and you've, you know, like that's $15,000 sunk right there.

Rich: Yeah. We've all talked to like churn and burn agencies. Yeah. We know some of 'em who just burn people out in one or two years and then rehire. And that's exhausting. Like teaching those new people, everything. Um, I would much rather keep people happy and keep them here. I mean, we monitor salaries every year. We started going to twice a year because things were really shifting weird. Yeah. Um, to try to make sure everybody's paid fairly.

Catelin: I somehow got like added to a, a, like, it was like Reddit for agency people. And, uh, one of the questions that popped up was like, what's your agency doing for hol? Like, did you get a holiday bonus this year? And all of 'em were like, uh, we got a $25, like visa gift card and it's like big agencies. And I was like, yeah, I'm going keep my contribution to myself. Like, I don't need to tell you that I work for an agency of 12 people and we got like a pretty [00:31:00] baller bonus. Yeah. 20, 21, like yeah. Decent is underselling. I think you're under....

Rich: It's fine. I mean, it's, I mean, I've been places where like one year I got a hundred percent of my salary as a bonus, but that's huge Companies you know, and, but it was

Catelin: so I guess it was decent.

Rich: Yeah. I was there for the money. Like, and it was obviously it was there for the money. Definitely did not have a lot of the cultural things we do. Yeah, no, I do know that it's like, it's more than a pitance like, obviously, and it was something that was very meaningful for, I think every employee. Um, I know one employee said, you know, she'd never gotten a bonus anywhere before and then to get one like of that size, she was like, this is great. And I'm like, well, if we all do the work we're gonna do the next couple of years, they'll be even bigger. Cause, um, we're also very transparent, which I think creates a great point.

Catelin: I haven't even talked about that, but like that is one of the things we talked in our like all hands. Kind of yearly strategy. The level of transparency here is unheard of. I mean, like I, like I said, I've worked a lot of [00:32:00] places and to have the amount of access that we do to our leadership team, but also just the, like you lay it out and here's our balance sheet and here's where we are. And here's what Im thinking about for the next two or three or five years. And like, what does that look like for you? What does that look like for us as a team? It's yeah.

Rich: Yeah. I mean, and I remember in that particularly one this last year, the slide as we went into the year about like, Hey, so if we have a profit, which we're projected to have, and we did like, here's the amount I'm gonna take. Cause I own the business, I'm taking a profit and everybody's like, yeah, that makes sense, here's what we're gonna reinvest back into the business. And then here's the piece that we're gonna fund a bonus pool for and whether that's based on percent of your salary or it's an even split, I think we didn't even split this last year. Um, that's, you know, neither here nor there, but you know, I'll decide that cuz at some point I have to make a decision, but this is the bucket. So, you know, if we have, you know, $300,000 in profit. This percent is the bonus pool. You can do the math in your head and think like,

Catelin: well, some of us need a calculator.

Rich: Yeah. Well, true. True. I would need a [00:33:00] calculator um, but that was all laid out there. Mm-hmm and I think for an owner of a business to lay out, like, this is what I'm taking from the business, um, is unique. Cuz I know other people who own businesses who just take everything um, and I think that's really shortsighted. But yeah, it's uh, I don't know. It's an interesting journey. But it seems like it's working. I feel like we have pretty happy employees. We all kind of mesh really well together. Yeah. I hear good things. I don't always know what's going on, but I try to like, just keep my feelers out. Um, I will tell you the transparency though, has two people left because of the transparency they couldn't handle knowing that much about what's going on in the business, which boggled my mind. And then I'm like, well, they. They weren't a good fit. Anyway, you, they shouldn't be with a small business if you don't want everything that's going on. Yeah, yeah. Even positive or negative, like, you know, and anytime there's negative, it's like, here's where the negative is. Here's what we're doing about it. And here's where we're going. Yeah. You know, we lost a client and you know, people said, are we not gonna hire a new AE? And it's like, no, no, no. We're still hiring a new AE. Like [00:34:00] we're out of capacity. Even with that client gone, we're out of capacity. I need that person so that we can...

Catelin: Be able be able to keep growing.

Rich: Yeah. I mean, and then it just lucked out that you wanting to go part-time like it all just really aligned. Well, mm-hmm um, so I dunno if that's just good karma cuz I treat everybody well or if it's just luck.

Catelin: You've got some good stuff. I think you've got some good stuff coming your way in the pipeline.

Rich: I think so I'm thinking we should have made this two episodes. But it's gonna be our, we'll call it a mega episode.

Catelin: A mega episode!

Rich: It'll be our first mega episode. and clearly when you and I start talking, we just will talk for hours of hours.

Catelin: There's no, there's no end.

Rich: Absolutely. Yeah. All right. So I think, uh, parting shot. What is, um,

Catelin: so is this like our quick tip, our quick tip this week is just treat people like people. It's revolutionary folks. Like it was crazy.

Rich: Yeah. And I think as an owner, you know, my quick tip, we'll just throw these in here and let our producer deal with it. Um, but my quick tip [00:35:00] would be that. You know, if it's something that you would want from a company, give it to your employees. Um, if it benefits them, if it keeps them happier, healthier, more secure, more safe, just do it. Like the finances will work. Its it out. We've given health insurance for most of the length of this company company's been around 20 years. And health insurance has been a part of what we've done. For a very long time. Yeah. And it's a benefit. We have never looked at getting rid of, even in bad times, like we've found ways to fund the company. So I think just do the right thing and do what your employees need and what makes them healthy, happy, and safe. And the money will work it out. It'll all work itself out. And if it doesn't then maybe don't be in business. I don't know.

Catelin: go work for somebody else.

Rich: that's probably a good one and we hope you have a good culture. If you do go work for somebody. All right. I think we'll leave it there. And, uh, we'll catch you on the next one.

That's it. For another episode of cocktails, tangents and answers.

Catelin: We hope you enjoyed listening. We enjoyed [00:36:00] recording and this week's cocktail.

Rich: You can find me on Twitter or Instagram at Rich Mackey. I try not to make it too difficult. It's just my name. And you can find our agency at antidote_71. That's A N T I D O T E underscore 71 on Twitter and Instagram as well.

Catelin: And you can find me at home sipping a craft cocktail prepared by my in-home bartender, it's my husband.

Rich: We'll be back next week with another episode and a whole new cocktail recipe, plenty more tangents. And of course, answers to those pressing marketing questions.

Catelin: And if you'd like to send us a question, you can go to to get in touch,

Rich: Or you can call our hotline at (402) 718-9971 and leave us a voicemail. Your questions might be used for future episodes of the podcast

Catelin: for now, like, and subscribe. And we'll see you next week.