The Member Spotlight: Denise Taylor

Denise Blog1.jpg

The Root CoFounder, Brigid Morrissey, sat down with The Root member and Special Event Coordinator of a Party to Die For, Denise Taylor, to go more in depth about her storytelling ability and how she turns unfortunate circumstances into teaching moments.

B: What was your childhood like? Do you have a story that describes you in a nutshell?

D: As a child I was creative, active + a talker. My childhood consisted of lots of 'make believe' play. My neighbors had a really cool trunk full of costumes and we'd act like we were the characters on Little House on the Prairie. We were both Catholic families and sometimes would act out Mass and being a priest and reading, singing from the hymn books. I've ALWAYS been a talker. Parents of my friends would call me Motor Mouth, lol.


B: You’ve had several hobbies including soccer, bodybuilding, and storytelling! Recently you just told a story at The Moth story slam. What was that experience like?

D: I've always been comfortable speaking in front of others. Not just in conversation amongst friends and family. In the 4th - 6th grade, I competed in 4H speech contests. I remember when I made the state competition, I was beat by a girl talking about her pet rabbit. My speech was about child abuse + the judges commented it was too advanced a topic for my age. I recall being SO frustrated by that! I've always been about using my voice for change; making a positive difference and bringing attention to difficult subject matters and having those conversations.


The Moth is an open mic night for storytelling. A different theme is announced each month. Those who want to tell a story throw their names in and 10 are pulled each event. 3 judging panels score the speakers to declare a winner and those compete at the end of the year at a GRAND Story Slam. The stories are to be true and are limited to 5 minutes. I've spoken on 4 different occasions. Each time my name has been drawn to speak at the Moth my intention has been the same, using my story to get people to think about and experience life differently.

B: What was your story about?

D: Though I won with my story on AGE, my all time favorite topic is death and how we talk about and experience it as a society. I tied the night I shared the story about my daughter Jonnae passing from leukemia when she was 15. The surprise of her shortened life gifted me an entirely new way of perceiving our time on earth. She chose to celebrate life every day NO MATTER WHAT, as well as promote joy over sorrow. I've been committed to share her story, as well as mine in hopes of helping others move through and heal from difficult, painful seasons.


Life's one big Surprise Party. A Present can be wrapped in lots of pain and disappointment, but there's always a gift to find wrapped in it. The key is to seek it. It's really interesting, the Present of life is the only one given where we focus more on how it's wrapped, then the gift of it.


B: Death is a tough topic. Talk to me about how you’re trying to change that stigma.

D: With the Celebration of Life I imagined for Jonnae (and was able to bring into fruition) I've experienced something different than most when it comes to the end of the shared human experience we call life. To celebrate life as a Surprise Party and see death as the spirit's party hop, not the party being over, is a mission I'm fully committed to. I'm promoting and assisting others in preplanning their Celebration of Life way before death is expected. Through early conversation + discussing the desired experience, family will be encouraged to celebrate, not mourn. It's a natural occurrence to miss the loved one + those feelings will happen naturally. We don't need the somber service to make focus on grief, larger than life.

B: You just did a video for my dad. How did you decide to start packaging videos?

D: I've been to too many funerals where the eulogist admits they didn't know the deceased. Honestly, I think that's the saddest part of the funeral. That all these people who did or didn't know the deceased (but came to support the family) leave not knowing anything more about the 'party hopper' then when they came. I don't want that for those who come to celebrate my life with my family, so I created a life bio video as a surprise parting gift for my family. Instead of a boring slide show no one really watches, or a eulogy by someone who didn't know me, I contemplated what the greatest stories of my life were and who could tell them best and filmed them. As more great stories unfold, I'll update it. The Life Bio video was meant to be a surprise gift for my family in the future (+ still will be whenever my 'party hop' happens) but it was also a huge surprise gift to myself, in the Present. I got to hear people sharing descriptions and stories of me I would never have otherwise. And in the midst of a difficult season, it's been a great reminder of the life I've so fully lived. I can't wait to be gifting more and more with this surprise gift as I film the life stories of clients and share it with them and their families.

The Business Savings

markus-spiske-Lt_tJO_tpaE-unsplash.jpg

By guest blogger Brittany Fisher from Financially Well

How a Freelance Staff Can Save Your Business Money

Ten years ago, if someone told you they were a freelance anything, you would assume they meant “unemployed.” However, independent entrepreneurs are almost as common today as nine-to-five employees. Being a freelancer has its benefits, but hiring an independent workforce has perks for your business as well. Cost savings and access to a broad talent pool are just two reasons that having a remote crew is a smart choice.

 

Can I Really Save Money Hiring Freelancers?

In a word: yes. While it’s true that many set rates that are higher than that of their on-the-clock counterparts, you are in no way obligated to pay a full 40-hour-per-week salary. Think about a marketing coordinator. The average base pay, as calculated by Glassdoor, is just under $48,000. That is a huge sum of money for a company just starting out. By contrast, you may be able to find a thoroughly qualified individual to keep your business in the spotlight and only pay them for the campaigns they complete. Assuming a rate of $25 per hour at 10 hours per week, you could potentially save around $35,000 per year on a single service.

Another consideration is the cost of office space. When you use freelance employees, they pay for their own offices, utilities, and equipment. If you must lease a dedicated office space, you can easily be out $5,000 per month or more. Further, MarketWatch notes that in some parts of the country, each employee will cost you $14,800 each year in office lease expenses.

 

Organizing a Freelance Workforce

One of the only drawbacks of having your employee pool spread out is that sometimes coordinating with everyone is a hassle. Keep in mind that freelance employees are not required to be on call, and they may not be available for every conference call. You can increase the effectiveness, and thus the value, of a remote workforce by ensuring that your communication is top-notch. One way to do this is to invest in a speech-to-text transcription app or service. An automated service is a smart choice when if everyone has good audio quality with little background noise and clear voices. This service can, in fact, be 90-95 percent accurate

Another cost-effective way to keep your group on the same page is to utilize online workflow software and free document-sharing programs. Google Docs is one of the most popular of the latter and will allow you to coordinate and make changes to projects in real time.

 

Finding the Right People

Despite all of the potential cost savings, your business's bottom line will suffer if you don’t put the right people into place. This can be an alarming thought if you have never hired staff before. Make a point to interview more than one freelancer for each position. You will find that rates, availability, and experience can vary wildly. Ask lots of questions, which will help you gauge many things, including their ability to communicate effectively. If you find someone you like and with whom you have a rapport, start with a small project, which can act as an extension of the interview. That way, if they fail, you are not in a significant bind and can channel your time, effort, and resources into finding someone who can meet your requirements.

If you are unsure of where to look for people who are only interested in contract work, there are sites that exist solely to help businesses connect with the freelance community. Using a job portal like this may also allow you to see a portfolio as well as reviews from previous clients. You’ll also have access to an almost unlimited workforce in both the US and abroad.

Don’t be afraid to put part-time people in your most pressing positions. While it may seem counterintuitive, freelance employees are passionate about their jobs and are almost certainly driven to do their best since they do not have a guaranteed paycheck at the end of the day. What’s more, freelancers could help you save money over the long term.

The Member Spotlight: Maggie Galloway

Maggie+and+Brigid+1.jpg

The Root CoFounder, Brigid Morrissey, sat down with The Root member and CEO of Inscope Medical, Maggie Galloway to get to know more about who she is and what she does.

B: I guess we can start off with you telling us a little bit about Inscope. but what I’m more interested in is everything before that – How did you first get interested in medicine?

M: It was not planned. I’m from Louisville originally, and I went to undergrad at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and I got my graduate degree in Conservation and Environmental Science, so nothing related to what I do now. So after I graduated, I took a job at Fox Hollow Farm in Crestwood, KY. It’s a family farm that is really all about education as well as bringing biodynamic and locally sourced beef and vegetables to the community.

B: Dumb it down for me. What’s biodynamic?

M: Biodynamic is a methodology of farming – they’re going to kill me because I’ll butcher this – developed by a philosopher named Steiner. He also did the Waldorf schools. It’s a somewhat spiritual take on caring for the earth and the food that we eat and looks at our agricultural systems more holistically. There’s a series of principles that they farm by and it has to do with different types of sprays, like all natural fertilizers. It’s a really intricate system that I only scratched the surface on while I was there.

Through that opportunity I got to meet a lot of farmers and thought, “there’s an opportunity for me to go and get a business degree and really help these farmers create sustainable businesses around farming.” So I had that idea and decided to go back and get my MBA at night at the University of Louisville. So while I was doing that I also got a job working at Humana, initially in management consulting and then in innovation to support me while I went to school. I ended up loving working at Humana, which I had no idea coming from a small family farm to a large corporation that that would be the case, but I got to work with really smart people on big problems and really institute change in healthcare.

So I was working at Humana and went to school at night and met Dr. Mary Nan Mallory – she was a classmate of mine – and Adam Casson, who is our COO and engineer – we were classmates together. She had a particular case in the emergency department one night. It was a car accident patient, and she had to intubate him, or put a breathing tube in the airway because this patient had a lot of blood and vomit in his airway. So she had a really hard time getting a view of the vocal chords to be able to pass the breathing tube in. So she was stuck juggling between multiple pieces of equipment in order to clear the airway and pass the breathing tube. She came up with a very simple solution, which was to integrate suction into the device called the laryngoscope, to be able to clear the airway with two hands rather than three. So it was this very simple concept, and since we were in business school together, she brought it back to our school team and said, “I think we can do something about this,” and we started looking at the market a little more broadly and realized there was a much bigger opportunity around applying modern camera technologies to medical endoscopes, including the laryngoscope.

So what we’ve been working on the last four years after meeting her and starting to work on this problem was a suite of imaging devices that all connect into a central platform. Our first device is a laryngoscope. We solved that three-handed juggling problem as well as increased access to better visualization technology, both in trauma and anesthesia.. routine surgeries as well. So, really, I never would’ve gotten into this space if I had not met her and been in business school together, and we decided that we had come up with a solution that’s really going to change the way intubation worked, and we really needed to bring that to market. 

B: So you said you solved the problem with the laryngoscope. You’ve done pitch competitions and you’ve gotten funding, but have you been able to sell your product or are you still prototyping?

M: So, medical devices take forever to get to market. We do have a stepping stone product that we call the Inscope Direct that is in the market today. It’s primarily an EMS ambulance based product, and we launched that late last year. And then our main product is our video product – that product is still about nine months from market. So, one going, one in the works.

B: I have a friend in the medical field, and she mentioned how hard it is for hospitals to trust… isn’t that a big barrier for newer medical companies with new devices. 

M: The FDA sets pretty rigorous guidelines. If you’re approved with the FDA, for the most part, hospitals will trust that the product works or that the product is safe; however, there are huge barriers to selling to hospitals. There are contracting barriers, process barriers… it’s not like I can just go over to Clark Memorial and just walk in the door and sell them our scopes. There’s a very lengthy process, lots of people have to sign off on it, there has to be a clinical benefit as well as a financial benefit – they really have to be able to see the financial benefit because the cost of medicine is outrageous. So the sales process for medical devices is extremely challenging.

B: I’m going to pivot a little bit – now I’m intrigued because I didn’t know you were into farming and all that, so were there hobbies that you had when you were younger that led to your study of biodynamics, and do you still have some of those same hobbies?

M: I think I got good and bad advice when picking a major – good in that I chose the major where I was having the most fun, and bad in that it didn’t set me up for the most lucrative or straightforward career path, and particularly because I graduated from college in 2009. It was a hard time to be a new graduate, and particularly in a field where nonprofits were being cut and there wasn’t a lot of funding for new positions in conservation and environmental science. So, going back, could I have given myself better advice… I don’t know. I mean I had so much fun with that major. I got to take really cool courses like entomology and limnology (the study of lakes)… at one point I could’ve identified most of the native plant species in the Madison, Wisconsin area through one of my courses, so it was a ton of fun.

B: Your shirt is very fitting. You dress like what you’re interested in.

M: That’s 100% fact. My favorite shirts… so I’m one of these people that when I find something I love I… 

B: …buy all the same things?

M: Yes. I was telling… this is totally off topic.

B: No this is great! Let’s do this.

M: I was telling my husband while I was looking at my shoe collection, “All of my shoes are worn out, all of them are horrible.” I have no interest in any new shoes. I just want the same shoes that I already have but not worn out. 

B: You know what you like.

M: Exactly. I know what I like. So I have my favorite shirts. I have one that has radishes on it, and two that have bug patterns, and they’re the same shirt in the same size. But I’m to the point where I can only wear those shirts very selectively because I’m worried about them going threadbare.

B: I haven’t seen your radish shirt yet.

M: Yeah, that’s because I’ve been wearing it for like twelve years now. But now that there are these used clothing online platforms, sometimes I can find my favorite clothes from ten years ago by searching online. I have a favorite dress that I ordered three of last summer.

B: So what’s your favorite shoe in your closet right now?

M: I have lots of favorite shoes. I wear a size 11.5 shoe, so it’s really hard to find the right shoes, so I have one style of Cole Haan heels in four colors.. so that’s the only dress shoe that I wear, and then Salt Water sandals, which are kids shoes, but they make adult sizes. They only really last one summer season, but I’ve bought the same pair the last three seasons. My Chuck Taylors are a mess but I love them.

B: I didn’t know you wore Chuck’s. So you’re pretty active now.. you bike and sometimes with Nate [her husband]…

M: I used to be very active. I used to lift every morning, or most mornings with my good friend. I was a college athlete, I used to ride bikes…

B: Wait. You were a college athlete?

M: I was a rower at UW all four years.

B: What was your favorite part about that? And how did you first get into it?

M: I rowed in high school, here in Louisville at Collegiate. I don’t know what high schools have rowing now because it’s gone in and out of favor, but Manual High School had a team, Sacred Heart had a team… so that was how I ended up in Madison. My college rowing teammates are my lifelong friends. They’re the best people. We only see each other at weddings these days, but they’re just instant friends.

B: Yeah! Because I know for me, they saw me at my worst times, but they saw me at my best times too. There are so many lessons that translate to your career or your life. Is there any specific moment or story that you have?

M: Rowing is all about grit because it’s one of those sports where there’s strategy, but you’re not trying to figure out what your opponent is doing. You are running your own strategy and you’re doing it with eight other people in sync. So to be a successful rower you just have to be able to withstand more pain than anybody else. It’s a really unusual sport because it’s the longest sprint distances of any sport, so a typical springtime rowing race takes a little under seven minutes, but it’s seven minutes of sprinting, and no other sport sprints for that long. So it’s just very painful, and the practices are really grueling because you’re doing the same thing over and over. And you just have to be able to stick with it. Particularly in Wisconsin, the weather was really awful. A lot of the time it was freezing cold or it would be snowing, so I think from a psychological perspective, the thing that I learned to do was just tough out hard situations for really long periods of time.

B: And I’m sure you’ve faced many in your line of work.

M: That’s the game of the game with startups is just surviving long enough to make something good happen.

B: For sure. So do you have any role models whether it’s in business or in life.

M: I think the reason I became a rower is because of Tori Murden McClure, who is the president of Spalding University now, but she’s the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean… and she’s just a total badass. And I remember.. and this is kind of embarrassing, because I know her now sort of informally, but when I was in third grade I was her for Halloween. 

B: Nuh-uh. This is so good.

M: There’s a picture somewhere.

B: Does she know?

M: I think I’ve told her, and I know her husband now through the Rotary Club… anyways, it’s super funny. Anyways.. so when I think about somebody who has a lot of grit and a really diverse set of interests and really incredible leadership skills, she’s somebody I always want to emulate. 

B: Is she from here originally?

M: No. She has an incredible biography. It’s a phenomenal book. She spent most of her childhood here.

B: That’s a good segway into my next question. Is there a book you’re always drawn to over and over again?

M: I love fiction books. My favorite author is Barbara Kingsolver, so I’ve read The Bean Trees a million times. Another of my favorite books is called Crossing to Safety. I also have this affinity for teen fiction, like fantasy, like Harry Potter, and a variety of really other embarrassing magical books… Lord of the Rings, the Golden Compass series, so even thought that’s quite embarrassing to admit it, I absolutely love those books.

B: I don’t think you’re the only one though. What house would you be if you were in Harry Potter?

M: I mean I think you have to be in Gryffindor. But I was also thinking about the book that I’ve read more times than any other book.. it’s actually sitting on my desk. It’s called Never Split the Difference: Negotiating Like Your Life Depended On It. I’ve read it cover to cover.. eight.. nine times, and every time I have to go into a negotiation, I read certain sections of it because it’s so eye-opening and game changing. It has changed my ability to negotiate. I used to get super nervous when having to negotiate various deals, but there are some Jedi mind tricks the author teaches you that are golden. And for those of us that are people pleasers.. I’m a compromiser, I want everyone to think it’s win-win, so I tend to negotiate bad deals because of that because I give too much, but for my job, a lot of what I do is negotiate, so that book is just kick ass.

B: Is there a line or piece of advice that particularly sticks out?

M: There are a couple methodologies that are really good. One is called mirroring, so when somebody says something to you, you repeat the last three words of what they said with sort of a question mark intonation. So if they say, “That’s not fair,” you would say, “Fair?” and then they’d have to explain why they think it’s not fair. And so you’re getting more information, and it’s a way to say “no” without saying “no” or it’s a way to make them divulge more without letting them know they’re divulging more. Another one, a big part of the book, is around calibrated questions, which are questions that help you gather more information and also they help the person you’re negotiating against solve your problems for you. Anyways, it’s a phenomenal book. It’s by an FBI investigator who negotiated a bunch of hostage situations. I’ve got it on audiobook, I’ve got a hard copy. I read it like once a week. You might have to buy a copy of it for your library downstairs.

B: I think you’re right. Did you notice the Harry Potter books down there?

M: Don’t tell me that. I’m too busy for Harry Potter these days.

B: Do you think you’ll read Harry Potter with Hazel [her ten month old daughter]?

M: For sure. One of the things my dad did growing up was, every single night from as early as I can remember all the way up through when I graduated from high school, he read to the whole family every single night. So we went through all of the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House on the Prairie series, the Golden Compass. That was really cool for me, and that’s something I would love to do with Hazel. I’m not very good at reading out loud so I’ll have to get better or make Nate do it.

B: Do the voices and act it out?

M: Yeah.

B: So you have a little one, and you just recently moved, so is there anything about southern Indiana/Louisville.. living and working here, that gets you excited?

M: It’s funny, I was having coffee with a longtime friend this morning and he was like, “You moved to New Albany?” I grew up in Louisville. I had never been to New Albany until recently. There’s this bias if you live in Kentucky, which makes no sense because Kentucky is a hillbilly place, but we have this bias against Hoosiers. What I didn’t know is that New Albany is awesome. There’s a great downtown area, we moved to a wonderful neighborhood, all of the houses are gorgeous, they’re well kept, it’s a wonderful place for Hazel to grow up. The neighbors are all really successful, welcoming, articulate people, and I just had no idea that this charming little place even existed. Because you get in your little bubble and you don’t know what exists beyond that. So we’re thrilled to be here. I kind of want my whole little universe to be New Albany because it’s so charming and it’s so nice to have a community and a tight-knit life. And I travel enough for work that I really don’t need any more metropolitan in my life. I can get that when I have to go to San Francisco. I want it to be a secret, how great it is over here.

B: I know! It’s the best kept secret. That’s what I love so much about the small towns, especially the ones that are on the cusp of being big. I think that’s what the big cities are missing – the small town charm, and that’s what we lose in that process of, “We need to get bigger, we need to get bigger.” In that time you lose what attracts people there in the first place. And right now we’re in the best position that we could be because we get to ride this wave where there’s going to be a lot of activity and a lot of development but we get to be on the ground floor of that. 

M: Well I’ve thought about that for you personally. You have this incredible ability to really shape the future of New Albany by attracting the kind of professionals you’re attracting to the space, the kind of businesses you’re attracting to the space. I think the Mayor should give you an award for the kind of work you and your dad are doing because that’s going to make a difference here.

B: I think so and I appreciate the kind words, but dad and I knew that this could be, would be, so much bigger than us because it takes you all. We can build this space, but if we didn’t have an Inscope, if we didn’t have a Maggie Galloway we wouldn’t be where we are. And a Kyle Keeney, who’s helping direct us and he’s directing the right people in, so it’s functioning like it’s supposed to. Because it is a collaborative space, and it’s fun, and you don’t know who you get to meet when you walk in.

M: Well and I think about that and our recent move from an Elevate Ventures perspective. So, we moved the company’s headquarters over to Jeffersonville initially because Elevate came in and invested in Inscope. So we would not have become an Indiana company without Elevate’s investment. And then a year later I was commuting across the river, but we realized that, “Hey, Indiana is really great, so your economic development play worked. Nate and I both moved our businesses here, we both moved our family over here. What they’re doing is working.

B: It absolutely is. You guys are exactly, I’m sure, the demographic they want. You’re young, you’re intelligent, you’re bringing new business, you have a family..

M: We’re creating jobs.

B: Yeah. Ok. Just a couple of the funnier questions. If you were a kitchen appliance what would you be and why?

M: So my favorite kitchen appliance is my Kitchenaid mixer. I think the reason I love my Kitchenaid mixer is that I love to make things from scratch, and I like to take on really hard baking and cooking projects, and that’s also my life. I like to build things from scratch and I like to take on really hard initiatives.

B: What’s one of the recipes you like to make?

M: Well I’m really into making, which I don’t make with my Kitchenaid mixer, but I’m really into making sourdough breads, and I also bake a lot of cookies and cakes and, well, before I had a kid… turns out it’s really hard to take on a six hour baking project when you have a six month old and you’re running a business… but before that, that’s what I would do to just relax and do really complicated cooking and baking projects.

B: That’s so cool.

M: Someday I’ll get back into it and I’ll bring some baked goods in.

[Side note: We had a member cookout a couple weeks ago and she brought in some peach pies!]

B: Ok, this could maybe speak to your leadership style. How would you direct someone else to make an omelet?

M: So…I don’t like omelets, so I would tell them to make a scramble. It’s something about the egg texture, which is not really my deal. I would prefer scrambled eggs with ingredients in them. And we belong to a vegetable CSA, and so we get vegetables from a farm each week. So if I had to tell someone else (Nate) how to make an omelet, I’d tell him to open up the fridge and use as many vegetables as possible and make a scramble. I would probably give very little direction. I figure they can figure it out.

B: Ok, so you say, “Here are the parameters, now go do it.” I like that style. Ok, last question. You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it, so what would you do with it?

M: I think after going to Thailand, I am really sad about the condition of elephants outside of their native environment, so I would probably buy a native habitat for it and take it back there. I wouldn’t want to give elephant rides in downtown New Albany.

The Financials

fabian-blank-pElSkGRA2NU-unsplash.jpg

Guest blogger, Brittany Fisher from Financially Well, lays out the first steps to set financial goals.

How to Create a Solid Foundation for Your Family’s Future

What are your goals for the future, and how are you taking care of those who depend on you?  We all want what’s best for our loved ones, but solid financial footing doesn’t typically happen without planning and forethought.  Read on for practical advice so you can set your family up for security and success.

Think about the unthinkable

Parents naturally dream of watching their kids grow up, and seeing them through all the big transitions into adulthood.  However, it’s crucial to make plans in case you pass away before those dreams come to be.  

One recommendation is to discuss your situation with an estate planning attorney.  These professionals can advise families on important matters and ensure they make plans meeting legal criteria in their state.  Nolo points out it’s a chance to establish key personal preferences, such as who will raise your children if you aren’t able, and how assets will be distributed if tragedy should occur.  

Along those same lines, you should purchase life insurance to benefit your family, which could be used for things like housing or medical expenses if your family must go on without your income.  A term policy is a smart choice in many circumstances, and this guide can help you determine what would be best for you.   

One other aspect worth considering is pre-planning your funeral. With the median price for a funeral coming in around $8,508, pre-planning or even a final expense policy can protect your loved ones from a financial hardship. For the young and healthy, this could seem like a premature decision. But the benefits of putting final wishes in place now ensure your spouse is less burdened in the event of your death.

Generate basic guidelines

In order to achieve your financial goals, it’s necessary to start with a well-marked path.  If you haven’t already done so, creating basic guidelines for your current spending is the best place to start on setting up for your family’s future.  That means establishing a realistic budget and sticking to it.  

Begin by adding up your monthly take home pay, and then list your expenditures.  Don’t forget periodic expenses, like annual vet visits, vehicle registrations, and so forth, as well as variable items, such as clothing and groceries.  Deduct your expenses from your income, and aim for a zero balance. If you come out ahead, start putting more into savings. If you’re shy of balancing out, you need to reduce spending.  Usually the easiest place to cut is your variable expenses.  

Never too young to start

When your family is young, retirement is something that might not be at the forefront of your mind.  However, the sooner you start planning, the better off you will be when that day finally comes along.  With that in mind, investigate your options.  

One of the best retirement savings plans is 401(k) matching.  Plans vary widely, but basically your employer offers a retirement plan in which they match your contribution up to a set amount, putting funds toward your retirement for you.  You can use an online calculator to ensure you make the most of the opportunity.  There are some other good options as well, such as a Roth IRA or a SEP IRA for those who are self-employed.  If you aren’t sure what’s best for your circumstances, a financial advisor can help you sort details.

Your children’s education

As parents, when you’re considering your children’s future, you want to be in a position to encourage them to pursue their goals.  With that in mind, starting college savings accounts can provide peace of mind both now and down the road, when your kids are ready to start making their life decisions.  

There are two basic types of college savings plans, a 529 plan and a custodial account called an UTMA or UGMA.  NerdWallet recommends a 529 plan due to its tax advantages and because it’s specifically for college, and you can use this handy chart to find out what is available where you live.  On the flip side, custodial education accounts are without restriction, and can be applied to any number of purchases once your child is of age.  

It’s more than reassuring knowing your family has a solid financial plan.  Establish a safety net in the event you pass away, create a realistic budget, and start savings plans for your retirement and your kids’ education.  Thanks to your good preparation, you can rest assured your family is protected from financial hardship later in life.  

The CoFounder

Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 3.09.34 PM.png

Sarah from Her Exchange interviewed Brigid for a Her Story Spotlight.

Meet Brigid - Fun Facts:

1. I have a healthy obsession with Chance the Rapper. And cauliflower recipe substitutions.

2. Sunday is my favorite day of the week, even knowing that Monday comes next. It’s a restful day, and it’s a day for me to get back in balance – I get to spend time with family (I have two older sisters and five nieces and nephews between them), I get to read, exercise, take a walk outside, drink coffee – it allows me to evaluate my health from a holistic standpoint and pursue activities that help me keep God at the center of it all.

3. I prefer mountain trips to beach trips.

4. If you called me weird, I would consider that a compliment.

5. Recently, I just decided that if I start reading a book and don’t like it, I’m not going to make myself finish it – life is too short and there are too many good books.

Tell us about your business, The Root Workspace!

What we love most about it is our Why – The people that come and interact with the space! My dad is my business partner and Co-Founder. We both wanted our careers to make an impact in bettering our community. We also wanted to be part of the revitalization in downtown New Albany. Co-working was our solution – it has given us the opportunity to help people succeed in their businesses.

What are some experiences you had to go through to make that leap and what did you learn from those?

I have learned the art of patience throughout this whole process. Nothing is ever as easy or quick as you think it will be. It took a long time for us to refine our business plan. It took a long time for us to renovate the building. It took a long time for us to market the space and get membership commitments. But the patience has taught me to find the silver lining in all situations.

Because of the business plan, we better understood our vision and purpose. The extended renovation allowed us time to properly educate the public on the concept of co-working. The slow accumulation of membership allowed us to have more organic growth because we can get feedback and pivot with our business plan from the ones who took a chance on us from the very beginning.

You wrote an article about tips for being productive that initially seemed counter-intuitive to what most of us might think - Can you share some of that insight with this group?

It starts with self-awareness. I know that I can only give a few highly efficient and focused hours of work each day. The reason I can focus and be productive is because I’m feeding my soul and finding peace in other ways.

We’re meant to work. We’re also meant to spend time resting and rejuvenating. Even though we’re in a startup phase, I’ve realized that to be my best self for others and to actually create change and make things happen, I have to take care of myself. It also helps me eliminate distractions. I have so many hobbies and interests that when I can dedicate time toward at least one of them each day, I can file that desire away again for a while and then I’m not as restless when I have to sit down and work.

It's so easy to look at people's social media "highlight reel" these days and think we're the only one that "failing miserably" or going through a tough time. Would you be willing to share a business challenge you have you had to overcome to get where you are now? How were you able to overcome that or what are you doing now to overcome that’s working?

There are always going to be downsides and disappointments to any business. The trick is to see the value in making mistakes or overcoming adversity and learn from it.

For instance, I’ve never been confrontational, and the idea of it gives me anxiety. That bleeds into the most basic concept of business – making money. My dad and I have been attempting to find our price point, and unfortunately, any push back we’ve gotten has made me want to re-evaluate it.

I also sometimes struggle with the need to please others, and anytime someone perceives me in a negative way, it can eat at me. What I’ve learned from it – with much conversation and encouragement from my dad – is that it all comes from the desire to be good to other people. We want to make sure we’re being generous and fair to others while simultaneously covering our expenses.

What would you say has been the main key so far to helping you get to where you are now in your business?

The reason my dad and I are in this present state of our business because we’ve just been listening — to our mentors and others who have been in our shoes, to our members about what they’d like to see us grow into, and to each other. Our relationship has become so much stronger since we opened The Root because it has forced us to open up, face our frustrations, and better understand each other.

What are some things you've had to do as a business owner to get "out there" that may have seemed scary at first (or still do!)?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to go through a leadership brand assessment based on personality, strengths and weaknesses, and feedback from others. Getting negative feedback from others can be tough. But it will make me a better leader, and person, in the long run.

Through the assessment, I’ve learned that I’m more introverted, whereas in high school and college I was more extroverted out of necessity. It’s a necessity again because we’re so new to the entrepreneurial scene. There are so many events to attend and people to meet! It’s also intimidating to meet well-known people in positions of power and hard to know what to say. I’m usually drained by the end of the week.

What are some of your top tips for marketing that have worked for you?

Keep it simple in all aspects – in design, message, and your channels of communication.

What are the investments you've made into yourself over this process to set you up for success?

I started booking a massage every five or six weeks to help me relax and take care of my physical health.

What advice would you have for someone looking to launch their own business in 2019?

Take everything one day, one step at a time. Taking on everything on your own or with just a few others can be overwhelming, and there are always going to be a million things to do. Prioritize your tasks and understand that success isn’t always measured by what you get done on your to-do list.

What are some tools that help make life easier/better for business or for personal development?

• Anything that allows you to schedule ahead of time – MailChimp, Hootsuite.
• Having a supportive family!

What is a book or podcast you would recommend for others looking to start or grow their business or just for general positive mindset motivation?

If you’re interested in being a lifelong learner, then it doesn’t matter what you’re interested in. I love

  • Podcasts on History: TED talks, Revisionist History, More Perfect, This American Life

  • Business Podcasts: Christy Wright’s Business Boutique Podcast, The Coworking Weekly Show, Startup, Drunken Money (shoutout to my friend Paul Heintzman)

  • Storytelling Podcasts: The Moth, My Favorite Murder

  • Business Books: Originals, Contagious: Why Things Catch On

  • Books for Pleasure: All the classics

What are you looking forward to with your business in 2019?

Getting to know our members and plan some gatherings!




The Paradox

The Paradox.jpg

I took a walk yesterday. The wind rustled through the green leaves as each step carried me farther from the hustle and bustle of the city. Birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and the water was trickling over the rocks near the footpath. It was pure bliss – and in total juxtaposition to my work load.

The summer brought with it a heat wave, the smell of sunscreen and freshly mown grass, and a whole lot of deadlines. It also symbolized the start of a new season – and the opportunity to leave things behind. Gone was the seasonal depression, the unemployment, the inactivity.... so I'll take busy. I'll take busy any day, as long as I know how to handle the anxious, scatter-brained feelings that come with it.

So when prompted to give my two cents about how to be the most productive, my reply was simply this: spend time being unproductive. Is that too Millennial of me?

Blocking out time for things I enjoy was crucial for my mental health. If you read The Routine, you know that I have my morning mapped out to the minute. In addition to nature hikes, here are a few more things I've added:

  1. Meditation: Each morning, I take five or ten minutes to clear my mind and release any negative emotions I carried over from the day before, or to bask in the positive energy I feel. Headspace is a great app for that.
  2. Sketching: Not only is it therapeutic for me because it forces me to focus on the curved lines or the pressure of the graphite pencil, it is also a creative outlet that I've wanted to pursue since elementary school. Making time for hobbies that give me pleasure often lead to developing skills I can use in my job.
  3. Reading: I just bought a recliner, and there's almost no greater feeling than curling up in it with a good book. I've always been a reader, but now I'm intentional about doing it daily.
  4. Spending time with friends: I live in close proximity to several of my friends, and now that the weather is nicer, we have been adventuring around the town like an elementary school gang. Other people can prove to be a wealth of inspiration.

There will always be deadlines, unwanted workloads, and stress, so I recommend that you pursue unproductivity as well. It will equip you for those moments. It will make you more productive. 



The Birth

joshua-reddekopp-412359-unsplash.jpg

"WHAT IS IT?! What is it?!"

It took every ounce of energy I had to contain my anxiousness to the form of toe-tapping and glancing out the smudged glass. The sentiment was shared. For what seemed like hours, my entire family sat hypothesizing the gender of my sister's newborn baby. The wait was almost unbearable.

Finally – finally – after practically pressing my nose against the window pane, the delivery room doors parted and I observed my brother-in-law strut to share the highly-anticipated news, a smirk spread across his face from being the bearer of secrets. As he threw up his arms in triumph, he could barely get the words out before we were all out of our seat. "It's a GIRL!"

A chorus of cheers and shouts of congratulations pinged off the whitewashed walls in the hospital waiting room. Hugs, high-fives, and pats on the back... and a collective sigh of relief. The wait was over.

I wish I could say the same about our coworking business. This precious little girl wasn't even a twinkle in her father's eye when my dad and I dreamt about opening The Root. This business proposition formed over two years ago, and just now we're starting to see it come to fruition. We've acquired the art of patience, which has paid off on multiple occasions. Instead of twiddling our thumbs, getting upset with obstacles, and focusing negative attention on things outside of our control, we are using this calm before the storm to carry out the things within our control.

For entrepreneurs and startups, patience is fundamental.

  • It allows us to focus on the present
  • It gives us the opportunity to practice self-control
  • It prevents us from making rash and detrimental decision

Finding the right location was merely the beginning. Waiting through the renovation has actually given us more time to prepare for opening day. Here are some things we've been able to achieve:

  1. Network
  2. Form partnerships within the community
  3. Recruit potential members
  4. Develop a marketing plan
  5. Design a website and the coinciding platforms
  6. Determine our processes, like "Day One" protocol for how we accommodate members, write out our rules, and discuss different membership scenarios
  7. Order our signs
  8. Peruse for furnishings
  9. Tour other cowork spaces and connect with their managers
  10. Line up the necessities, like who we're buying coffee from and how we can get the best wifi options 

So even though we're stuck in the waiting room, toe-tapping and glancing through the smudged glass window, we're okay. We know what we have to look forward to. And that's enough for now.

The Basics

sam-manns-378189-unsplash.jpg

I took my car for granted – until this past Thursday. A conspicuous brick sailed through my windshield in the middle of the night, leaving a network of splintered glass at eye level on the driver's side. Whether intentional or not, it left me in a position to depend on others. No longer could I visit the gym, peruse the grocery aisles, or spend an evening with friends on a whim. Among many lessons learned, the overwhelming sense of powerlessness was apparent, yet it was dominated by something much stronger, something so strong, it about knocked me over: the willingness of others to come to my aid. Not only did my family flock to my side, but coworkers, friends, and even acquaintances rallied around me. What would've happened if I didn't have this support system?

Unfortunately, that's what some women in our country face everyday. Having a toothbrush to clean their teeth is a luxury, let alone owning a car.

Year after year, data show that men typically earn more than women — and women are more likely to live in poverty. Single mothers, women of color, and elderly women living alone are at particularly high risk of living in poverty.
— Center for American Progress

Why do more women tend to live in poverty? The Center for American Progress breaks it down for you:

  1. Women who work full time earn only 77 percent of what men make
  2. Women are tracked into “pink-collar” jobs such as teaching, child care, nursing, cleaning, and waitressing, which typically pay less than jobs in industries that are male-dominated.
  3. Women spend more time providing unpaid caregiving than men.
  4. Women are more likely to bear the costs of raising children.
  5. Pregnancy affects women’s work and educational opportunities more than men’s.
  6. Domestic and sexual violence can push women into a cycle of poverty.

To name a few.

The great news is, Volunteers of America Mid-States addresses several of these inhibitors. Even better? They're testing a national campaign – the #BacktoBasics movement – and I'm one of a few lucky women that has been asked to represent this community.

Not only do I want to make a monetary difference, but a visual one as well. For years, I've searched the dusty recesses of my mind in order to find a cause worth joining. But this... this is an opportunity to START ONE. 

My goal is to raise $500. I'm donating $50. I can't do it alone. Here's what you can do:

Donate. I will accept anything you can give.

Ask. We live in a time where females are realizing they have a voice to make a difference. Ask someone else in your network to support the cause too.

Share it. This campaign can be engaging and impactful if we use our platforms to speak up. I have images for you to share on your social media platform. Tag me (@therootcowork), tag VOA (@voamid), and use the hashtag #backtobasics.

Be part of something big by giving little. Let's create change together.

The Routine

the routine.jpg

Dealing with renovations, juggling membership applications, and developing partnerships to ensure a smoother countdown to the opening has kept me quite busy. My dad and I are trying to stay ahead, wanting to be as proactive as possible so we're not scrambling (although that's still bound to happen).

That's just a portion of what we're dealing with at The Root, and I'm not even including my freelance work, part-time job at the Carnegie Center, and other "side hustles." All the scrambling is mimicking what's going on in my head most days.

In order to ease some of the anxiety that accompanies a packed schedule, I decided to implement a routine. I wake up eeeaaarrrlllyyyy and go to the gym. When I return, refreshed and energized, I take a shower then make a healthy breakfast. After clean up, I hunker down to eat breakfast and sip coffee while I read the Bible. Then I journal

After getting ready I head to the Carnegie Center, then after I knock out some hours there, I dedicate some hours toward the most pressing freelance work. The evenings are when I spend time with my family.

Wow, what a difference.

Here's why:

  1. It gave clarity and purpose to my day. Most of the time, my mind feels scattered. It allows for time to schedule out what needs to get done. It clears my foggy brain.
  2. It kept me going when I felt like I wasn't going. Anyone who has freelanced knows that there are ebbs and flows with workload. When the offers stopped rolling in, and I was ebbing for a while, my routine was the only constant. I didn't know if I'd get work that day, but I knew I still had things to do! It motivated me on days when I wanted to give up.
  3. It forced me to slow down. With a jam-packed schedule, it's easy to fall into the rhythms of the world – always in a hurry and rushing from place to place, person to person. My mind races, constantly thinking about the day ahead and what's going to get checked off my to-do list. Instead of prioritizing my schedule, I schedule my priorities. Knowing that I've dedicated a block of time that can't be compromised gives me permission to think, live, and enjoy the present moment.
  4. It kept me focused, free from distraction, and made me prioritize what matters. Because of technology, we are exposed to countless events, organizations, and programs. We get overstimulated. There's too much to do. Everything is vying for our time. With a routine, I stay on task, crank out a few hours of productivity, and then compartmentalize my work life to make room for my personal life. Balance matters.

Bottom line, having a routine has too many benefits to advocate. Here's a good summary. Rather than feeling mentally scrambled, I can just stick to eating my eggs that way.

 



The Decision

uros-jovicic-322314.jpg

I have taken my talents back to New Albany. Like Lebron James, my career path led me back to my hometown. Unlike him, however, my decision wasn't really by choice at all, but more a culmination of external factors that completely changed the trajectory of my life. For the better.

Graduate school seemed like the natural next step. I had this glorified vision that after I graduated from Furman, I'd move out west, get accepted into whatever program I applied for, and go on to get my dream job and live my dream life. Sounds like the plans of a large majority of my peers. For many, their plans panned out, and I commend them. But my circumstances are much more common – dashed hopes and unaccomplished goals are the harsh reality. And nobody tells you about this, probably because words can't convey it. Maybe it's a rite of passage to come to that realization only through experience. It's funny now to look back on that season of life and scoff at the naïvety in those plans. Fresh out of school, the mind is filled with ideas and ways to change the world. I could've flown around the world and back again with the amount of air under my wings. Instead, I took off and fell flat on my face. And nobody tells you about this.

So here I am, no direction, no prospects, living at home. I'm a leech, sucking every good thing from those that love and care about me, taking advantage of their love. I'm a burden weighing down the shoulders of everyone around me. And nobody tells you about this.

But I'm a big believer in timing, and that you're exactly where you're meant to be. In the midst of my wallowing and self pity, it was impossible for me to see through the immense fog that so clouded my judgement. But even enlightenment chooses its time. 

Some time ago, I opened a fortune cookie that said, "Time heals all wounds. Keep your chin up." Andy Stanley, a senior pastor, author, and father in Atlanta, Georgia, said in one of his sermons, "Time...is...your...friend." When that fog finally lifted, I could see how perfectly my life has panned out, and I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. My decision, or rather the opportunity life has presented to me, faith, and perspective have led me to some realizations. As an entrepreneur, recognizing these things within your own situation can lead you to make better decisions.

1. Accept Help: I haven't accomplished anything by myself. Success has come from my reliance on other people. One of my greatest sources of guilt – depending on my parents – shouldn't yield guilt at all. Both of them have expressed their eagerness to aid me during this time in my life. They are setting me up for future success. Their support right now is buying me time. Instead of spending my paycheck on rent and groceries and bills, I can put that money away. Instead of taking the first job that will secure a paycheck, I can go after my dream job.

2. Welcome Adversity: If I didn't face trials, I wouldn't develop perseverance. I wouldn't know how to solve problems when they inevitably arrive. I wouldn't recognize my own strength.

3. With Time Arises Value Recognition: I plummeted down a spiral of depression. I didn't understand my self worth. But time conceived growth and maturity, which gave birth to recognition and implementation of my values. Not rushing into major decisions has taught me what I actually want out of life, because what I want today isn't necessarily what I want one month, one year, ten years from now.

4. In Every Situation Comes Opportunity: Ending up back home was the last thing I wanted. Or so I thought. But with the revitalization of the downtown area, the statewide focus on innovation, and the resources springing up for entrepreneurs, I see the opportunity to take ownership in the community I care so much about. Not many people have the chance to be a catalyst in a movement or affect change for a cause bigger than one individual.

Like Lebron, I am in a building phase. I have a team around me, I have the tools, I've made the preparations, and enough time has passed. I just have to have the patience and the motivation to get my championship ring.

And nobody tells you about this.




The Apple

Know thyself, an Ancient Greek aphorism shrouded in ambiguity, was one of 147 maxims inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. In Ancient Greece, kings and peasants alike would travel great lengths to consult the oracle, who, in a trance-like state, would share the eminent prophesies that were to be implemented by the worthy supplicants. I don't need an oracle to predict my future; I know that understanding who I am can determine how I navigate future circumstances, which can lead to a more desirable outcome. Recognizing my strengths and weaknesses saves time and frustration because I know to delegate the tasks I despise, then embrace tasks that arouse passion and joy. Discovering my personality traits, like if I work better alone or with a group, if I'm a creative or an analytic, an extravert or an introvert, leads to better decision making to maximize efficiency in the workplace. The interactions I have with customers matter; I AM the brand, a walking billboard, an ambling representation of what my business stands for. Knowing who I am – even the bad – is crucial for entrepreneurial success.

Time has taught me to observe my parents for a more objective way to ascertain the type of person I am and who I'm going to be. I'll give you a hint if you choose to undertake this exercise as well: take note on which of their behaviors annoy you the most. We subconsciously overlook our own flaws and project the anger and frustration onto those same flaws we see in other people. No matter how much you try to fight it, you pick up some of their mannerisms, viewpoints, beliefs.

But that's not always a bad thing.    

I'm 26, and I still live at home. My goal in life is to own at least an entire wall of books, I have a slight obsession with Chance the Rapper, and Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I'm also an introspective that likes to understand the "why" behind the actions of myself and others.

Starting this coworking venture with my dad has opened the door to a whole slew of self observances, one of which is the reason why I want to open a cowork space in the first place. Ever since I can remember, I've wanted my career to revolve around serving other people, I just didn't know in what capacity. After a conversation with my dad I realized that he shared the same purpose; he is channeling it by supervising and supporting the fruition of my dreams to become realities. Turns out, however, that I've gotten a double dosage of compassion for the community; It just took a recent event to occur for my mom to unveil hers from within too. 

My mom, Mary Gesenhues, listening to a fellow advocate after her WDRB interview.

My mom, Mary Gesenhues, listening to a fellow advocate after her WDRB interview.

My mom is superwoman. A couple weeks ago, she flitted to a town hall meeting to fight against the implementation of a corporation on historic land in Floyd County. That was after she had watched my two-year-old nephew all day, folded all the clothes I'd left in the dryer, and had dinner ready on the stove. When she returned, her cheeks were flushed from the excitement of her small victory. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she exclaimed, "We won! Well, they're at least postponing the project for now!" There was a buzz of newfound energy that consumed her – something I hadn't seen in her before. She was standing up for something she believed in. The responsibility she felt in preserving the town was palpable, and I wasn't the only one who noticed.

WDRB caught wind of my mom's rally cry and captured her insistence to use the space in a more sustainable fashion that would benefit the entire county. Her interview aired that night.

WDRB Camera Man.JPG

Now, back to understanding my "why." This sense of social responsibility is something beyond my control, something ingrained in me since birth. Wanting to be part of something bigger than myself, even if I had to lead the charge, was an inherited trait from my parents. A trait I'm proud of; A trait that has already empowered me; A trait that I can depend on during the days that seem impossible to conquer. No, I don't need an oracle – I can look at the actions of my mom and dad. A woman who will stand up for what she believes in, and a man who will stand up for who he believes in... maybe my own list of aphorisms should begin with know thy parents.