AYF GF 167 | Genius Team


What does it take to build a team of pure genius? In this episode, we learn that it’s all about achieving harmony from the different skillsets that each person in it has. Merrill couldn’t have picked a better person to talk about this. In celebration of Women’s History Month, our host brings in his genius mentor who has facilitated the growth of the Fundability movement in many ways. Tracy Hazzard is a podcast launch strategist and CEO of Podetize, the very company that works on every episode of this podcast. In this fun and engaging conversation, Tracy details how she and the rest of the Podetize leadership team are creating a company culture based on the Four Quadrants Model of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Institute. And that’s just one of the many topics discussed in this episode. Never miss half a beat as this absolute genius dishes out nugget after nugget of valuable insights on product design, podcasting, leadership, mentorship, and so much more.

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The Key To Building A Team Of Pure Genius With Tracy Hazzard

In this episode, we have got such an amazing guest. Tracy Hazzard is what has become a dear friend, a genius of a mentor. She has facilitated the growth of the Fundability Movement in ways. Her team produces all of our shows. She is a giant in my heart and in business and industry. We’re here to talk about her day in celebration of Women’s History Month and how she has navigated the shoals of gender and her full genius in this episode.

We have got Tracy Hazzard here, who is not just my mentor but is completely responsible for you even reading this episode because her team produces my show. When I met Tracy, it was a match made in heaven or business or however we want to frame it. Tracy, please introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about your background and why I adore you so much.

I’m not sure why you adore me, but I adore you. What I love is an open mind, and that’s what you have. I thrive in that situation of being able to take that sponge of a mind that you have and saying, “Here, try this and add this in,” and letting you absorb that and turn it into something amazing and great. That’s where I feel my gifts have been to good use. That mentorship model that I follow in my life and business is something that I missed when I started my career.

I started as a designer. I went to Rhode Island School of Design and started out in the textile industry, doing design work and designing products for Herman Miller and a bunch of other great companies, like Martha Stewart, Costco, all of those things. I was in a design world. What you don’t realize in most of those design worlds is it’s not female-dominated, which surprises you and me.

You have picked the creative side. The design would at least have massive influence by feminine or creative energy.

You would take. Not that I didn’t have some female bosses along the way. I did have a couple, but the ones that were the most influential to me and gave me the most direction in my business career were a few men who were amazing to me. The very first one was an older guy. He was heading toward retiring from the company. He was a maverick. I loved who he was. He could get away with stuff because he was almost to retirement. You could get away with it.

At 22 years old, I couldn’t get away with those things, but I admired the way he did things. He would teach me things. He would say, “I did this because,” and he would give me his why and share what he was doing with me. He would frustrate the sales teams and everything because he wouldn’t do anything exactly like they asked. I saw this method of that.

It was successful in understanding what the client wanted and then making sure he had something. We used to tease him, and he’d pull stuff out of his back pocket. He would pull this sample out of his back pocket, and it would be what the salespeople told him not to do but what the client wanted. I learned to listen to him and absorb that. That was the first one.

The second one was an amazing man who said, “I don’t want this business world specifically,” because my very first job was in automotive textiles. I would go up, and there will just be men in all the meetings in the automotive industry, like Ford or Chrysler. They’d be full of men there. I’d be the only woman giving a presentation. On top of it, I was 22 years old. There was always that, but this man said, “I don’t want the career path for my daughters to be like this.” He did some great things. When I first joined the company, he had lunch and made sure to engage us as women in the company.

I thought that was a great way to go about things. It set the tone of how I thought, “This is what the business world should be. All these mentors are wonderful.” It was always how I saw my father. My father seemed like that mentor. When he retired, I met all of the women in his company. They told me of these amazing initiatives that he put through. He worked in the oil industry, building pipelines, like the Alaska pipeline. He put in a project management path that women had access to. It was a very special program. He did it without the permission of the higher-ups in the company. He apologized later.

His retirement dinner was packed with people. Eighty percent of them were women who were saying, “I owe my entire career to your father.” I thought, “He did what I was able to access as well.” There are other men out there doing that. I thought that was amazing. The women who I worked with were horrendous. They were awful. They were competitive and backstabbing. I don’t know how else to say that. I said, “I don’t want this. I’m not going to be this. I’m not going to play at this level.” Luckily, I was good at getting along with people and still getting what I needed to accomplish.

I was good at giving presentations and convincing people. From the beginning, that’s a skill that I didn’t know I had, but I did. It has always worked out for me that I could convince people that this was the right path, whether or not they wanted to support what I was into. That’s where getting buy-in became my thing. That’s what worked for me. What I started to do was realized early on in my career that as a woman, I couldn’t go out there and say, “I wouldn’t buy that as a mom.” I couldn’t say that in a group, and I wouldn’t because it would make this view of who I was so apparent. I know you know I’m a girl.

AYF GF 167 | Genius Team

Genius Team: When you have team meetings and people are censoring themselves, you’re not getting the best thoughts from the best minds out there.


As a mom, it almost diminishes your role, even though moms are the buyers. In our world nowadays, do you realize 65% of mortgagees are women? It’s not men. They’re 50/50.

Eighty-seven percent or more of all consumer products in all categories are bought or influenced by women. I used to joke on stage about this when I told this one. I’d say, “Including men’s underwear.” You’d hear this like, “Huh?” People are thinking about it, and I’d say, “With rare exceptions of certain sexual preferences. Beyond that, you’re likely to have your mom choosing your underwear for a very long period of time. Past that, you likely wanted to have a woman see you in that underwear. It was influencing your decision whether or not she bought them for you.” That’s how it works.

When I would say that, they’d go, “Oh.” Now you understand the difference between buying and influencing, making choices for you, or making recommendations and suggesting things. What I started to look at is that there are these characteristics in designing a product. It didn’t matter whether I was designing an office chair or actual products for juveniles. I have to think about what women are choosing and what they’re going through. I have to incorporate that in the product, but do I have to tell people that it’s there? That was the question.

It’s like the submarine versus surface warships. This is a stealth move that you’re incorporating the truth. Sometimes, we’re still in an environment, even in the 21st century, where we have to hide the influence because the status quo diminishes the value of the suggestion simply for who’s offering the viewpoint. That is not okay.

What happens is that now you have brainstorming meetings or team meetings, and people are censoring themselves. It’s not just women. Don’t get me wrong. All kinds of censoring are going on, whether your religious background, cultural background, or political background. You’re censoring yourself in that group meeting. What happens is you’re not getting the best thoughts from the best minds out there and the best viewpoints.

Product development, specifically the creative realm, doesn’t happen in that wonderfully synergistic way. It doesn’t involve. I learned to do this in a covertly feminine way. We call it covertly feminine design. I gave lectures on this for a decade. That’s what we called it. What we said was, especially in an office chair. Office chairs were, by default, designed male. The standard that everybody designed to was a 6’2 male. That’s not even men.

They’re aspiring to be a tall man.

When you consider that the majority of our products, especially office chairs, are made over in China, the men doing the engineering and development work over there don’t even fit in the chairs. It’s not good for anyone in any way, shape, or form. That’s not working. For me to come in and say, “We need to make the seat slightly shallower. Look at me. I’m only 5’2.” I can get away with saying that nicely.

How many chairs have your legs been dangling? I have team members who have to move their thing all the way down, so their desk doesn’t fit their chair because they don’t want their legs dangling from the seat. That’s not okay.

That’s what we did. We would do things you wouldn’t realize, like a gas lift. That’s what that is in the chair. It’s called a gas lift. We made a gas lift with a lower low than any other chair had ever had. We dropped down and created the ability for it to drop down lower for everyone. Did we tell anyone about it? No, we would go and promote the fact that it has this range of height adjustment and that it was better than any other chair on the market. Staples would look at that as if I was going to sell it into Staples, and they go, “This is amazing.”

We designed one that had a pillow that moved up and down on the back. Women have more of a swayback, especially those of us women who had children. It’s in our lower back with more sway. Men like it mid-back. It’s a little where their muscles strain when they’re using their arms and working on the computer. It has a different positioning. They like to have the pillow slightly up.

The other thing that it does is it takes up some of that depth for those of us that are short. It has multiple purposes to it. By allowing this height adjustment to the pillow, you can put it exactly where you want it. Women get what they need and want, but men didn’t know it could be so good. That’s the real trick to promote the feminine.

An open mind is what makes the world move forward. Click To Tweet

That’s why the term covert is vital because everybody in the marketplace is getting what they need. I’m going to bracket right here. This is bullshit where we have to hide genius in the form so that it passes muster.

What ended up happening in this process of putting these things in is that I learned new languages to describe things and the benefits of things. What I realized was the importance that gender-neutral is BS. Gender-neutral is bad. I don’t mean that from like, “You should remove all pronouns and stuff from it.” I’m not talking about it like that.

We’re talking about the human body. In the vast majority, 99.9% have some female form, regardless of what you identify as, or a male form, regardless of how you identify. You got to sit in the damn chair, regardless of your sexual preference or gender identity preference. I get this. I’m connecting these dots madly.

By neutralizing what it is, you give nobody what they want. No one gets what they need or want in that process. Neutralization is that. It’s nothing at the end of the day.

It’s neutered. It is what it is.

We also don’t want to say, “This is a girl chair,” because if this is a girl chair, no shorter man is ever going to walk up to it and go, “I could use that so my back is so much better. I can use my computer, and all of this is better.” That’s why we removed the language from what we did, but it’s there in the design. Lucky for me, my husband is my partner. He’s amazing at letting me be me. For the first twenty years of my life, my dad encouraged me to speak my mind and be who I was. That was wonderful. If you weren’t going to come up to resistance, my dad’s famous for being the devil’s advocate in anything and waiting for me to take the bait and argue with him.

It was in honing those arguments that I learned how to communicate better. I was supported and loved. What’s important is that I could find myself in that process and come out to being in business and married and having a wonderful partner and relationship. I’m allowed to be me too. We can argue together. We argue about design and features all the time. I’ll say things and drop one of these things like, “Women don’t like that.” I can say that to him, and he’s not going to take offense by it or be like, “Look at me.” He’s going to instead go, “I hadn’t thought about that before.”

When somebody can sit back and take what you’re saying as not an insult or affront to his manhood, he can take it and say, “I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective before. I can now design with that in mind.” He could make better products. Together, we were a force of design that changed everything. Whether we design physical products, services, and business, these are things that we’re always thinking about.

Now, we’re working hard on the culture of Podetize and the business for our investors, clients, internal staff members, what that culture looks like, and how inclusive and encouraging can it be for voices of dissent and opposition. It’s difficult. What we’ve been working on is the communication of empathy. By that, I don’t mean like, “I feel for you. That’s so great.” That’s not me. If anyone knows me, I’m not that emotional. That’s probably more Tom than it is me. That’s the funny part.

Between you, there’s a balance of the masculine-feminine energies. The creative and strategic are all balanced.

It all works out great. I would admit that I probably have a lot more masculine than most women or executives do. I just do, and that’s okay. I’m fine with it. This is cool. I’m good with this. What’s interesting about looking at empathy is that I need to get an empathetic cognitive way in which I can look at you and say, “I can see your viewpoint. I hear you. I’m listening to that. I’m going to absorb that. I need to reconcile it against what I’ve learned and see how I can absorb that into a new worldview or perspective.”

There’s a collaboration between the views.

Genius Team: We need people with different skill sets. But they also need to be able to talk to each other and not upset each other.


If I can remove the emotional reaction from that empathy and sit there and say, “I’m willing and interested in hearing what you have to say because it’s going to make me a better person and us a better team,” so I’m in the place of openness, then that’s great. That goes back to what I said, which is I love an open mind because that is what makes the world move forward. Progress happens.

I want to thank you for sharing your evolution through this process. As most of my tribe know, many, if not most, have been through the boot camp. They know that in the first two hours of the entire weekend, we talk about your full genius, the complete genius that we want to bring our complete genius to this, which is some percentage creative, and some percentage strategic. You’ve shared that there’s more strategic. Some people relate to the feminine and the masculine, creative and the strategic.

I tried to pull the genders out of it because I want everybody to be able to have a sense that they belong in some percentage. I’m 30% creative and 70% strategic. Everybody has a mix of this creative strategist. What would you say is your mix of creative strategist? Not creative as in being able to design something, but the intuitive, perceptive, and empathic?

The reason why this is up for me is you’re building a culture in your organization of how to collaborate. That’s a creative quality. That’s cohesive and conjoining, receptivity, and openness. Those are all feminine creative traits. The cut and dry check box listing, that’s the masculine and strategic way. How do you marry those?

We do something slightly different. It’s a little more nuanced than two sides to it. It’s four quadrants. It’s the Herrmann Brain Dominance Model. We do that. We work with corporate culture development, Bill Stierle. You know Bill, probably. You’ve met him before. We work with him, and our entire team trains with him. Tom trained to do sales languaging with him and read people better. What you do when you study it is there are four quadrants. When we start to put feminine masculine language into things, it starts to get people’s shackles up.

They start to be like, “That’s not me. I don’t want to be known as that.” It’s the same thing when you study DISC or anything like that. I was like, “I don’t want to be that.” You’re preventing yourself. This aligns you with colors so that they never had this association with any names or labels. We’re removing the labels except for color. If you hated yellow, you’d be in trouble. We’ll say, “Merrill’s yellow.” What that usually means is you’re a visionary. You have a lot of creativity in your process, and we’re looking toward that.

You also got a lot of red. Red means you need human interaction. You’re good with people. You’re empathetic in that way. You crave that human touch. You might prefer a phone call versus an email. It’s an embodiment for you. We look at those yellow and red on what you would consider to be that feminine and creative side. The blue and green are all about checkboxes, to-do lists, and analysis. The interesting part is in my team, there are a lot more blue-green dominant women in my company who are all about the systems, checkboxes, and procedures.

Do you mean they imprint from the mistress of the business?

This is the interesting part. There’s a whole study about it. You answer all these questions, and you figure out where you are. Most people are two zones at once. The majority of them might be a little heavier like, “I can read you. I know you’re yellow-red, but you’ve got a lot of analysis there.”

I bet the entire fundability system between creativity and analytics.

You’re probably more of a three-zoner, and that’s common. I guarantee you your team back there is going, “Yes, but there’s no to-do list in Merrill.” We’ve got to make them do stuff and show up. That’s okay. You’ve got this one thing that’s just not you. For me, I’m dead center. That’s a very unusual place where I can speak and flip between all four color languages. That’s why we call them languages because, “I’m going to talk analyst now.” I’ve done that. If anyone goes back and watches the episode, “Today was red.” It was emotional and human. We’ve talked about gender discrimination and AI, that whole analysis.

It’s the blockchain implementation of fundability modeling.

Balance is BS. It’s harmony we should be striving for. Click To Tweet

You and I have sat down and talked about the implementation, processes, team setup, and all the different aspects of our business and how we built it. That’s got huge systems and to-do lists to look at that. I can split between all those areas fluidly. It’s my gift. I’m so lucky to be there. There are people in the world who do this well. Steve Jobs was known for this because he would call it going macro and micro. He would think of his visionary side and his people side, and being able to give presentations and all. That is his macro view of the world.

His micro view of the world was like, “What are that system and process? Let’s get this done and get this launch.” If he could flip, keep both in his mind, and zoom in and out, then he could be better at what he did to run a company. It’s a CEO thing. What I want to get everyone is to say, “We need people with these different skillsets,” but they need to be able to talk to each other and not upset each other.

We can’t have someone who is not detail-oriented, checklist-oriented, and following a standard operating procedure to make sure that all of our client’s blogs are perfect and everything is done right. I can’t have someone who just wants to talk on the phone all day, communicate with people, and get to know her stuff.

It’s like, “I like this person. That’s a great message.”

I’m distracted by listening to their podcasts instead of blogging it. We can’t have that. There’s a skillset involved in the job. We also need them to be able to say, “This is my job, and I’m having trouble with it. I think it could be more efficient. I don’t have the vision to be able to make that change. I know something has to change. How do I communicate with the higher-ups in my company, the team leader, and the management and tell them that I’m suffering and in need? How do I express that when it’s not my default mode?”

How do you express it to somebody whose default mode is just say, “It’s your job? Do it.”

Sometimes we have to say that.

That’s the green. Green is the checkbox. It’s like, “I don’t understand what you’re saying because I told you that’s your job.”

Here’s the thing. I guarantee you’ve done this before because I know you well enough. It’s like, “Here’s the vision of where we’re going to be in two years.” My COO, who you know well, Alexandra, would be glazing over and stressing out because she knows that the to-do list is a mile-long.

To make that happen is her job. She identifies with its implementation and is now overwhelmed. It’s like, “I had a thought. I think this is where we want to go.” All of a sudden, it ladened them down with pressure. That has never happened to me.

This is a thing. When I was growing up, my father taught me, “Whenever you give a meeting or set at the end of a meeting, whatever you do, you only give them three things.” I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand it, but I was like, “You give them three things?” The other tip he gave me was that, “Never pack more than you can carry yourself,” which was great advice as a woman because you don’t want to look like you’re struggling with your luggage. That certainly sets you in a different world. Next is, “If you would have to negotiate a massive settlement, ply them with coffee and do not let them use the restroom. Take no break.” I’m like, “That’s how my dad negotiated.” Those three things will set up your business negotiation.

There’s an entire book on those three strategies.

Genius Team: Harmony is the ultimate music. No one has to be in the driver’s seat. It should flow into whoever it needs to be at any given time.


There is. I use those three things all the time. I talked to someone about it once. He ran international organizations and expansion for Denny’s and the food companies and all those things into other parts of the world. He said, “What happens is that when you’re at that project management or higher level and set three things, it goes down each level with ten things. If you are a very layered organization and got all of these things that have to be accomplished, you could add up with 3,000 things that have to be done at the bottom level.”

For us to hit our one thing, we’ve got to do these ten things. For us to hit these ten things, we need to do these 50 things.

It cascades and compounds for all the people. He’s like, “This is why your organization doesn’t move because you gave them too much. Those three things need to be tight, specific, accomplishable, and in a certain time period. As they head down, they get broken down, but each level below it shouldn’t have more than three major things that they’re accomplishing at each level, even though all the way at the bottom. If you looked at the whole chain of it, you might have 300 things that were done.”

It’s like a multi-level organization. You got up at the top of the pyramid down here, but it’s manageable for every person because they only have three things. I like that.

What I discovered is in an entrepreneurial enterprise or a startup, you can only have one thing because everybody wears three hats. That’s very common. Until you have a large enough organization, it’s got to be one thing that you do at a time, or it overwhelms everybody.

You guys see why I adore this woman. I’m sitting here taking notes. She’s like, “We’re going to do the quadrants, and then we need to look at the three things and how well am I performing on the three things.” If you’re not taking notes, you are missing the whole point here. I’m going to list every one of these things out.

Here’s the thing. You said this before. The other thing about having 2 instead of 4 quadrants, the way we look at it, is that when you have 2, you have to look at things as balance. You’re looking for balance going on. In my experience, balance is absolute BS. It can’t happen. If you think about a yoga pose and you’re standing in balance, you cannot hold that forever. It’s not possible. What we strive for is harmony with the four quadrants.

It’s okay that you never loved the red side of you. You just want to live in your spreadsheets, and it’s okay that you never love that as long as you can empathize with that red, cooperate with them, be in harmony with them, and understand and recognize that the sales team, which is typically red, has to have their needs met too in order for the company to work. Once you get that harmony, everybody’s working.

I like this framework. In HVA, the HomeVestors group, we have hundreds of mutual clients with their franchisees. They use this blue, red, green, and yellow framework. They have it when we’re at an event. They have the 2 to 3 buttons, whatever it is. It’s a 30% or more you get a button for. They did a training for the vendors so that when somebody walked up and had a red and a yellow, you knew how to talk to them as a vendor. It was amazing.

Bill Stierle does this interaction exercise, and he gets everyone to stand in the four corners of a room. It’s nice and interactive, especially if you’ve got a big ballroom. You have all these cards that describe it. You put them in your ranked order, and he sends you to the corner with whichever one you feel is at the top. You might have over in the yellow corner, and your spouse or partner in business is in the opposite corner, diagonally from you. He talks about, “Do you want to know why you have conflict? This is why you have conflict. It’s separate languages.”

This is fascinating because they have roles in the franchise. Who’s your buyer? Who’s the outreach person? You hire for green, red, yellow, or blue. You hire the role that you want. I’m assuming that because I’m not a franchisee, they have collaboration meetings where everybody feels heard and seen, yet everything is moving forward. This is brilliant. If anybody missed it, I want you guys to know that Tracy said, and I affirmed this, that balance is BS. That’s your take-home message.

That will be the beam that is going out now. Harmony, to me, is the ultimate music. I’m an Eagles fan because they’re amazing. Their harmonies are amazing. Here’s the thing. They had issues getting along with others because of all those big egos, but they created beautiful music together because they learned how to let each one shine at different times. Sometimes, I need to take a break and let the drum solo go. That’s okay, and then I’m ready to come back and be that lead singer. Whatever that might be, this is how it works. No one has to be in the driver’s seat in harmony. It’s allowed to flow into whoever it needs to be at any given time.

We need to give ourselves all the grace to make progress. Stop saying, “This isn’t worth it.” We need to make the changes that we need to make. Click To Tweet

As we move to our conclusion, name it again, that quadrant thing so they can go to the website or subscribe. Who’s the author or inventor of it?

It’s Herrmann Brain Dominance Institute, HBDI. He writes and talks about it all the time. It’s BillStierle.com. He writes and talks about communication languages in politics and companies. He’s done things like the Flint, Michigan water issue. The City of Flint did not do a good job of communicating with the community. They were getting death threats because people were so angry.

He was brought in to help mediate, but that’s not what he did. He taught them how to empathize and communicate back and forth so that they could change the languaging. He does that down in San Diego and some other water boards and other places like that. This is where we all can benefit from that when we can sit back and say, “That was a tragic use of language. You’re angry about this.”

Sometimes we say it like, “You pulled the pin out and just dropped that grenade right there.” It’s the word grenade. That can be the case. We want to watch those things, but if we see and recognize them for what they are, then we can move into a place where we don’t have to be using them. We can say, “Speak to the pain and the need.” This is where you can be great at sales if you know this because you can start to understand what they’re saying.

You can also understand what their default mode of communication is. In my particular case, they’re looking at podcasting as an authority and ego boost. They want it for all of those reasons. The last thing I want to do is give them the checklist of all the things they’re going to have to do because the chances are that it’s going to shut them down, and I’ll lose the sale. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have that, but that’s why they’re coming to me because I have this checklist for them. Not because they want to know what it is.

Someone implemented it for them.

You know that better than anyone because there are too many things on the list. This is one of the reasons I love your system. I love them because I can see the layers of thought you put into it and all the analysis, systems, thinking, and everything like that. I use and do it. To give everyone a frame of reference on my funding entity, this 2022 alone, we got $67,000 on a funding entity that hardly had any money in it, to begin with, because we don’t use it as a normal entity. That occurs the whole process.

We follow your rules and what you’re doing, but we also incorporated it into the process of our system of what we were doing and how I pay bills every month, and how things happen. There is this part of it that you have to incorporate. That’s where collaboration happens when I want to incorporate something that I know. Sometimes I want to deviate from it. That’s where I come to you and say, “What about doing this? What do you think? Would this help? Would this make it better? Would this make it worse?”

You know that I’ve done it right. I did what I was supposed to do. I’m not asking you or saying this to you because I’m too lazy to do it. I’m asking you because I’m thinking, “There might be a new hack we haven’t thought of yet.” There might be something new, and now we can collaborate together instead of feeling an opposition like, “I’m not willing to do it your way.”

It’s like, “This is BS. Balance is BS, not fundability optimization.” You then get creative. There are people who can play by ear. This is how I teach my team. When you learn the mechanics of playing the piano, then you can let go of the mechanics and express yourself freely. It’s not just the mechanical, “This is a quarter note, a half note, and a full note. You’ve got to keep it there.” You can now start to express yourself freely because you’ve got the basis of how the piece is played, then you can riff. That’s what you’re talking about. You get to collaborate on riffing now that we know the fundamentals.

This is where you can have that conversation I was talking about that’s so hard, “This isn’t working for me because this system is difficult to implement. This is why I’m having trouble keeping up on my schedule or meeting my to-do list or doing these things because this is hard for me.” You hear that and go, “There might be an app, a reminder system. What if we did this?”

Some of the banks don’t have automatic transfers. I have a stack of checks here that I have to scan. I got to set a reminder for myself to do that. This is a way that all of a sudden, systems, ideas, and innovations come into play when you are not so rigid that, “My system is the only thing that works.” The other side feels comfortable coming to you and saying, “I need some improvement here. This is getting harder and harder to keep up with. I don’t want to quit it because I see that it’s working. What can we do together to make this change?”

Genius Team: Only 22% of podcast hosts are women. That’s a lot of unheard voices out there.


Some of our best intel comes from our clients who are like, “This is a thing.” I’m like, “Let’s do a stress test and see if it’s true for you or for a significant number of people.” There’s always a solve. We just have to be open to it. The things that are most important to me about my framework are openness, receptivity, and flexibility. Speaking of fundability, nobody’s done this before us. There’s no way to benchmark it against some other successful company. The only places that I can get input from are my clients and lenders. They’re saying, “We don’t do this anymore, but have you tried this?” I’m like, “I’m down to try that.”

We’re always willing to experiment. That’s something that us yellows are willing to experiment and try something. You and I have that analyst side that says, “It must be repeatable.” When we are balancing out that visionary with that repeatable, what we don’t do, and this is not my policy at all, we don’t build something and then say, “We’ll sell it, then build it.” We will build it first and test it out. If we find that it’s working, we’ll let some of you come along for the ride on the beta as we systematize it.

We will not guinea pig you. That’s not a thing because we can’t tell if you did all the steps right and got this going. I know you have your own funding entities. You’re always doing it. I have eight podcasts. I started my eighth one. It’s just about to launch. I have to wait. We decided to do a private podcast for our Republic crowdfund investors. We’re doing equity crowdfunding.

It’s investor updates on the weekly.

It’s private within that portal. We had to develop some systems and processes because we didn’t want to have them have to pay for it or deal with excessive log-ins or other things. We had to find a way to make the feed private but still allow them to access it as an investor. We’ve come up with some new methods.

It got us thinking about how people might want to make private podcasts. We’ve experimented and got it done. Now I’ve got a high level of trust communication level that I’m building with those investors by doing it this way. We can try it, and it’s a case study to say, “I’ve done this. This is how I did it. These are the regular best practices. Let’s partner up and figure out a way for you to use this to your advantage as corporation A or whatever it is.” That’s fun.

I adore you. You are so smart, sensitive, and flexible. You’re your own crash test dummy. It’s not been once that I have been battered and beaten after trying a particular strategy. I’m never going to subject my clients to an idea. It’s got to be a proven model.

I just fired my fifth digital marketing advertising company. I had high hopes that it was going to work, and we still couldn’t get it right. When I find them, I will tell everyone about them.

This has been beneficial to all of our readers. We’re doing this to celebrate Women’s History Month. I wanted to bring my mentors and coaches, the women that are so influential in my life, who have helped me build my business. You introduced me to the board of advisors, which then introduced me to multiple clubs, which are now flourishing and helping me scale my business. You have been instrumental in so many aspects of my life, including establishing myself as an authority in this space. We have 165 episodes now. What message would you tell women who struggle with having it all?

First, do you want it all? That’s a question you should ask yourself. I don’t think my full genius is doing it all. Let’s just say that. My full genius is a very different definition than somebody else’s. You get to keep that in mind there. In podcasting, only 22% of podcast hosts are women in the industry. I think, “That’s a lot of unheard voices out there.”

What’s happening there? Why isn’t that? We’re closer to double that. We’re over 40% in our company. We’re making inroads. If we can give ourselves all grace to make and keep making progress and stop saying, “This isn’t worth it. We’re still not at salary parity,” we have to make the changes that we need to make. I look at my dad and what he did within his company.

He changed every one of those women’s lives. Did he change companies outside of that? Did he go on the road and lecture about what he did? He didn’t. It wasn’t his thing, but what he did within that company changed people’s lives, women’s lives, their families, and the way everything was viewed. I look at that as a combination of us making progress where we are.

It is not okay to leave untapped the full genius of half of population. Don't leave them on the sidelines. You've got some great players. Put them in the game. Click To Tweet

Now, my company has fifteen different segment teams of areas that we work on, audio, video, graphics, all of these different things that they do. 11 of those 15 teams are run by women. Did I do it on purpose? No, but because of our skillset, models of looking where they’re strong, and they were willing to work on empathy across the table so that we could have a more collaborative team, they have the positions they have. That’s how it’s grown. I’m making a difference here, and I know that. We’re making a difference to our clients, company, staff, and how we mentor out there. Do I only mentor women? No. I mentor men too. I have something to gain from doing that.

When I mentor men, I see a way to do things that hadn’t occurred to me before. I consider it observational input. It’s essential in the innovation and development process. As I went to fundraise over the last years and figure out my model for doing it, never once have I walked into a room and felt, “They didn’t want to hear from me as a woman.” I never felt that once. Did our businesses not match? I didn’t emotionally react to the fact that they were telling me something. I would say, “That’s not how I want to do business. I don’t think we’re going to make great partners. I don’t want to take capital from you. I’m going to go a different route.”

It enables you to view this, “Is this what I want to achieve my full genius or not when we remove that emotional component from it?” When we can get there, we innovate, collaborate, and move the industry, gender, and progress for everyone along. That’s my ultimate goal. As long as we can keep making progress in some ways, shape, or form, then I’m happy.

I was struggling in a couple of areas to scale. Tracy sent me one of her high-level women who had built four teams.

She sets up our entire production team system. This woman started with us as a transcriptionist. That was all we needed in the early days. She said, “I think we need this team. What if we added this?” She expanded all of this. This is a thing that we have to look at, especially when we’re mentoring someone. I’m her mentor too. I look at my role as the leader of a company. Although I would have loved to keep her in and have her working with us for decades, the reality is she’s ready for a new challenge. She wanted something new. You had an opening that I knew she could excel at that was going to help her grow.

The point for bringing this up for me is to understand that even though Tracy would love to have kept this person in her business, she also saw the investment that my project would grow her as a soul, human, and woman that there was more she could do with me than currently was able to do there. You had Gell’s back. You said, “Gell, you’re awesome. You would prosper here,” and she has. It’s not just my mentor collaborating. You sent me a high-value team member to help me get to where you are and scale like you are.

Sometimes the thing we have to do is a little tough love. As parents, we do it. You need to kick the baby bird out of the nest at some point. This is where, as a good leader of a company and human beings and looking at them that way and not only my bottom line, system, and the way things run, I have to look at that as to say there comes a time when they don’t realize that they’re not in their full genius anymore. They’re bored. They’re not thriving. They don’t even know it maybe because they just want to keep their job and are very concerned about the other things going on in their life. My job is to show them the opportunity that’s a growth for them that is going to move them into a new field. They didn’t know it yet.

She is killing it over here.

I’m so happy to know that.

We’re wrapping up. First of all, the take-home messages are balance is BS, harmony is the construct, and masculine-feminine is a two-dimensional yes or no framework. What we’ve learned is that even this Herrmann Brain Institute Model allows us to create nuances where we all can see how we show up in the world, create relationships with other not like-minded persons, and be able to collaborate and speak to our intuitive, strategic, and creativity, and contribute to an organization. Tracy, you’re always my freaking hero. You’re my Morpheus to my Neo.

That’s what it sounds like to me. Thank you. I’m very honored at that.

If I’m the hero of my journey, you are my Morpheus. Thank you so much for joining us on celebrating Women’s History Month, this Women’s Awesomeness Month. First of all, I did want to say this a little earlier when you were telling your story. It’s weird that I’m the White, older male. If there’s such thing as patriarchy, it’s me, or at least iconically. I’m here to tell you that we men get to show up for our partners and the other half of the entire universe that we know of human beings. We get to show up and support like you did from your dad and your husband that it is not okay to leave the full genius of half of the freaking population untapped. That is not okay. You heard it from me. I’ll even say first.

To capture what you’re saying there, don’t leave them on the sidelines. You’ve got some great players. Put them in the game. Thank you, Merrill, for doing that because even though it might be this month that spurred that thinking for you, that’s okay. Don’t feel guilty about that. Do that and say, “Now I’m aware. I can keep doing this.” I had four men. I need to mix that up a little bit. As a podcast host, that’s what we need to think about.

I’m excited. Thank you so much. You are a jewel and a powerhouse of knowledge, implementation, your own crash test dummy, and all the things that inspire me to become better in my vision and implementing it. Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Tracy Hazzard, for joining me. We will see you guys on the inside.


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About Tracy Hazzard

AYF GF 167 | Genius TeamTracy Hazzard is a seasoned media expert with over 2600 interviews from articles in Authority Magazine, BuzzFeed, and her Inc. Magazine column; and from her multiple top-ranked video casts and podcasts like The Binge Factor, The Next Little Thing and Feed Your Brand – one of CIO’s Top 26 Entrepreneur Podcasts.

Tracy brings diverse views from what works and what doesn’t work in marketing, branding and media from thought leaders and industry icons redefining success around the globe. Tracy’s unique gift to the podcasting, marketing, and branding world is being able to identify that unique binge-able factor – the thing that makes people come back again and again, listen actively, share as raving fans, and buy everything you have to sell.