(512) 887-2407 [email protected]

ActionCOACH WilCo – Andy O’Brien is proud to present his third “Business Owners Speak Out” interview series. This is a collection of short interviews and education from business owners with amazing insights into today’s challenges.  

Executive Coach Andy O’Brien (AO) virtually sits down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19 and their current challenges and successes. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. 

Terry Chartier, Trinity Health Systems

AO: Tell us about your business.

TC: I’m the global Chief Information Officer for Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, a member of Trinity Health, responsible for leveraging technology to improve operations and delivery of patient care. We have strategies from a corporate, regional, and local level that we work with in order to support clinical care delivery.

AO: How long have you been with Trinity Health Systems?

TC: 21 years. 

AO: Who is their target audience?

TC: Their major customer is a managed life either under Medicare or Medicaid. It’s the community and individuals who are covered by these major insurance products. 

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

TC: It disrupted care delivery. It exacerbated some of the social determinants of health. People are deferring their health care because they’re afraid to go into a hospital or they’re out of work, so they don’t have money to buy the medications. We’re concerned about the health of the population because there’s a bunch of them that are at risk and this is going to create significant burdens and challenges on health care in the next year. 

AO: What major changes have you taken to make a difference?

TC: Telemedicine, video encounters with individuals, being able to rapidly deploy technology and understand the value to the organization. Innovation and people banding together and being creative in terms of service delivery to our patients. 

AO: What mistakes have you made, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

TC: You don’t have to have all the answers, but you have to be smart enough to consult with different people in order to not only gain support, but to drive the change that needs to be made. It’s not about injecting yourself into the solution but trying to call out to other people in order to pull in the right direction.  

AO: What is most inspiring to you today? 

TC: The ability to quickly gain feedback from the customers, put that into a process to evaluate products and then turn that product around for rapid deployment. 

How To Reach Us:

Terry Chartier

Trinity Health Systems


Tom Catlin, Keller Williams Realty

AO: Tell me a little bit about you and your business. 

TC: I work at Keller Williams Realty in Georgetown and [this] August will be my six-year anniversary. 

AO: Who is your best customer?

TC: When it comes to selling a house, I’m going to interview you and my goal is to make sure that you’re motivated to get your house sold. If you’re somebody that says, “I want to just test the market,” it’s probably not a good match. Since my motivation is supposed to match your motivation and you’re testing the waters, well, what does that make me feel like I’m going to be doing? What I want to do is price your house competitively so that you can get the most money for the house.  

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business? 

TC: We were determined by the governor to be [an] essential business and I think most agents, for whatever reason, went home and stayed home. I had the opportunity to stay in the market. The reality is, for some of us, the market has improved, and we’ve picked up market share and we maintain an understanding of how the market is fluctuating and what the impacts have been. 

AO: What are the one or two actions that you had to take to really make a difference in your business?

TC: Part of coming to the office is doing silly things. If you’re friends with me on Facebook and it happens to be your birthday, I’m not just sending you a message, I’m actually singing Happy Birthday to you. I become memorable. I stay involved, stay in front of people, communicate with people. People still need to get their houses sold, so there’s a need for us and they need somebody that is compassionate and fact-based.  

AO: Have you done any business strategy sessions or pivot sessions in your business?

TC: Immediately when COVID [hit] there’s a morning call and there are daily training videos that were not there prior, all centering around pivot. One of the things that I’m doing is reaching out to friends, family, former clients. When it comes down to it with a former client, you’re somebody I’m going to stay in touch with. 

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

TC: I’ve suggested tactics to get a house sold that did not sit well with some people and other people just love it. If you price your house right, you’re going to sell the house. That makes sense. The mistake I made is I just didn’t explain that. Learning what to say, and I think the big thing is learning to listen. When I make my clients look good and feel right or look good and they are right, we all win. My business is driven by referrals and if I can’t get a referral from somebody, then I must not have done my job well.  

AO: Tell me what is most inspiring to you today with everything going on.  

TC: Life continues. There’s still jobs to be had, there’s still people buying, there’s still people selling. Know what the threats are, whether it’s economic or otherwise, and make decisions that are wise based on that. 

How To Reach Us: 

Tom Catlin

Keller Williams Realty

512-592-2929

[email protected]  


William Leake, Apogee Results

AO: Tell us about your business. 

WL: I run a digital consultancy that focuses on ensuring that its clients are found online by the people they want to be found by, working with all the big platforms: Facebook, Google, Microsoft. Once they’re found, these prospective future customers actually engage with the company and the way the company wants to be engaged by. So, a combination of digital customer acquisition with improving the conversion and credibility of the web properties upon which these prospective customers land.  

AO: How long have you been in business? 

WL: I started in digital marketing back in the late ‘90s.  

AO: Who is your best customer or your target audience?

WL: It can be all over the map. We do help people that are really small and have just one location, but typically our customer is somebody who might already have a business in the low millions to the hundreds of millions in revenue. 

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

WL: We’ve already been working remotely; we have a pretty good culture and the work is getting done. We hired really well in terms of building the team. They’re self-motivating and self-validating individuals. 

AO: Have you had to take one or two actions that are making a difference? 

WL: There have been some challenges. We have lost a few clients. There are a number of companies that have gone into panic mode and frozen parts of their budget. We’re also getting a lot of new inquiries because people are sitting around realizing, “I’ve been neglecting my online presence longer than I should have.” We were able to offer businesses in Austin a little bit more on the front end in terms of a free consultation. 

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?

WL:  I’ve made so many mistakes over the years. One comes down to attitude versus aptitude. I have in the past been willing to tolerate some really talented team members who have the aptitude, but they rot the culture and it’s better to not go there. I’ve also made the mistake on the attitude side. One of the more frustrating things is when you find somebody of good heart, but they just don’t have the skills. 

AO: What is most inspiring to you today? 

WL: We’re all going through it together. I’d like to be optimistic that having a shared experience might lead to the ability to rebuild some trust and bridges down the road. I’m excited about the opportunity for change, rebirth, and regrowth.  

How To Reach Us:

William Leake

Apogee Results

512-381-7000

[email protected]


Robin Anderson, Mason City Chamber of Commerce

AO: Tell me about your business and how long have you been the CEO?

RA: I just celebrated my 19th anniversary. It’s been a wonderful time for us to do what we do because we advocate on behalf of businesses, we connect businesses to resources, and we have never been busier working on behalf of our members than we have over the past several months. 

AO: Who is your best customer?

RA: It’s the 80/20 rule, 80% of our members employ 25 or fewer team members. We also represent a lot of larger players. 

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business?

RA: It had a huge financial impact on our business. Although we are a nonprofit, we are classified by the IRS as 501(c)(6), which was not eligible for the payroll protection program. As a boss, my concern was for our members and showing our value to our members, but also making sure that our staff were safe. 

AO: What one or two actions have you had to take that has made a difference for your business?

RA: We called every one of our 650 members during the third week of March to do a welfare check, to make sure that they would know that we’re a resource to them. 

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs and business owners learn from your experience?

RA: Personally, I felt paralyzed at first. It took a while for us to believe this was really happening. I think in the future it’s going to be easier to take these kinds of things seriously. We actually had a pandemic plan, but when I first gathered the team and said, “When you go home tonight, be prepared as if you’re not coming back,” and they were like, “We’re having the Ag Breakfast next week, right?” It’s hard as a leader to not seem like an alarmist, because that can cause panic too. In the future, I’m trying to be more calm, more reassuring. 

AO: What is most inspiring to you?

RA: I am really proud of our community and the way we’ve pulled together. 

How To Reach Us:

Robin Anderson

Mason City Chamber of Commerce

641-423-5724

[email protected]


 

Tiesa Hollaway, Hill Country Community Ministries  

AO: Tell me about your business. 

TH: Hill Country Community Ministries is a local food pantry, clothes/closet, and resource center. We serve primarily Western Williamson and Northwest Travis County. Our primary functions provide food, the basic needs, but we also provide free clothing and have a mobile food pantry called Fresh Food For All. We’ve got seven locations and five drop locations. Our target areas are typically high-need and underserved. We’ve been around for 38 years.  

AO: Who is your best customer? 

TH: We serve our seniors and disabled that are on fixed incomes. Those are our sustaining clients. A lot of people that we serve are those that have either lost a job, lost a spouse, or maybe had a trip to the emergency room. So, they’re what they call A.L.I.C.E. – Asset Limited Income Constrained Employee. 

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business? 

TH: The amount of people we serve. We have a food pantry that people would come and get groceries. With our tiny infrastructure it was very difficult to keep that social distancing. So we went to a mobile distribution. We have refrigerated trucks that went out into the community and we can distribute food that way. We went from serving 1,400 families in February to over 3,000 families in April.  

AO: Are you seeing needs still continuing to grow right now? 

TH: They are decreasing a bit. Stimulus checks came and people are going back to work. 

AO: What mistakes have you made along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs or business owners learn from your experience? 

TH: When I first started, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Alan Graham, he started Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Community First! Village in South Austin. One of the things I ask him is, “What has made you so successful?” And his word was, “Just say yes.” My mistakes in the past have been not making decisions because of fear and I missed opportunities. He’s a wise person and because of that I’ve said yes to so many things that have worked at this organization. [Also] I felt like I needed to do everything, and you can’t be all things to all people.  

AO: What is most inspiring to you today? 

TH: The people that serve. When COVID hit, we lost 85 to 90% of our workforce, the volunteers that met that high-risk category. All of a sudden, we have all these new volunteers coming in to serve the community. The people that have really invested in the community is inspiring.  

How To Reach Us: 

Tiesa Hollaway 

Hill Country Community Ministries  

512-259-0360 



Bridget Brandt, Leander Chamber of Commerce 

AO: Tell me about your business. 

BB: Our business is to help other businesses. We do that through networking. We do that through events. We meet businesses where they are and help them with the things they need. Some need help with getting open, some need help with planning, permitting, some need help growing. We make it our job to help them achieve that.   

AO: How long has the Leander Chamber been organized?  

BB: Since 1947. I have been here for a little over seven years.  

AO: Who is your target audience, who are you serving the most? 

BB: It is broad. We’ve got a large group of small businesses that we help, but we provide even more assistance to large businesses. For small businesses you see more like a consulting relationship and with our large businesses you see more of a corporate relationship.  

AO: What is the greatest impact COVID-19 had on your business? 

BB: It taught people to [use] Zoom. I think when this is over and we can get back to normal, it is going to be an incredible convenience tool. The way we operate is we pull people together to help us make good decisions for the community and for our programming. That is sometimes hard, when we’re asking CEOs, executives, and business owners to step away for an hour to come and help us make a five-minute decision. So, I am very excited because they all now know how to [use] Zoom. The other thing is the ability to manage cash flow. We have helped a lot of small businesses figure out cash flow during this.  

AO: What one action have you taken to make the biggest difference in your business? 

BB: We took it upon ourselves when this started to reach out to every single one of our members. The feedback we got from them was incredible and it helped us design a program and procedures that would help us be able to move people through the transition that has been COVID-19.  

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?  

BB: One of the things we learned along the way is watching what we post and say and do. We saw a thing happening in one of the [other] Chambers and we were like, “Oh, this is a great idea. Let’s do this.” I mentioned it to one of the board members, she said, “I just don’t know how that’s going to be perceived right now.” Another Chamber that we know did proceed and they got a lot of negative feedback from it. So, I learned you don’t know how people are going to take different things and just being conscious about what you say and what you do, making sure your intentions are set for every single thing that you’re doing. 

AO: What is most inspiring to you today? 

BB: I think it is just love. I have seen people go out of the way to love on their neighbors, love on their friends, support their small businesses, and we have been in a position to see people step up and embrace everything around them. 

How To Reach Us: 

Bridget Brandt 

Leander Chamber of Commerce

512-259-1907

[email protected]


Melinda Ebert, That One Place Entertainment 

AO: Tell me about your business. 

ME: We do live music production as well as organizing live concerts, events, festivals, conferences, anytime there’s a gathering of multiple people. We connect people and businesses through live interactive events.   

AO: How long have you been in business? 

ME: 12 years. 

AO: Who is your best customer? 

ME: It varies depending on which role I have. Music festivals and concerts, I work with the heavier music genres, so it’s 18 to 25-year-old males. When I do a festival it’s multiple genres, so it can be family-oriented or multiple audiences as far as age range.  

AO: If you look at your target audiences today, what do you think has been the gap for that?  

ME: Pre-COVID I would say my biggest gap was getting people to know that I’m out there and getting to know what I do. I also have a target audience [of] musicians themselves because I do consulting in the live performance production.  

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on your business? 

ME: Live music is pretty much nonexistent at the moment. Large groups of people gathering is a huge impact because that’s what we live for. So, finding an outlet to let people know that stuff is still going on, there’s still a connection happening without actually meeting in person. Here in Nashville we’re limited to groups of 25, so that’s not anything when you look at tens of thousands for festivals. I’m working on a way to figure out how to do more intimate gatherings, but it’s still not the same feel and atmosphere.   

AO: What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference? 

ME: I did a virtual conference and learned a lot from it. I learned that people’s attention spans are different online than they are in real life. I noticed that people don’t usually pay attention more than 30 to 45 minutes when it’s online. When it’s face-to-face, people can go for 8 to 12 hours without a problem.  

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience? 

ME: Trying to put together events before I have sponsorship, hoping that once that comes together the sponsorship would be there. It doesn’t work that way. You have to make them coexist.  

AO: What is most inspiring to you today? 

ME: How even though the situation tries to separate people there’s a fight to stay together, to stay in contact with one another and not to individualize.  

How To Reach Us:  

Melinda Ebert 

That One Place Entertainment


Bill Combes, No Time For Social

AO: Tell me about your business. 

BC: We’re a digital marketing agency that primarily focuses on Facebook and Instagram advertising to drive business for other businesses. So, businesses will hire us because there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of how Facebook works.  

AO: How long have you been in business? 

BC: We’re six years and five months now.   

AO: Who is your best customer? 

BC: Our best customer is somebody that allows us a little bit of leeway to do the things that we need to do to make digital marketing successful. A customer that understands there is a level of difficulty involved with running properly formed Facebook marketing campaigns and one that allows us to be their advocate and make things happen for them.  

AO: What has been the greatest impact COVID-19 had on your business? 

BC: We did lose a good number of clients and we took a fairly decent hit on that. We’re starting this sort of climb back up now. But it’s allowed us a bit of breathing room to recalculate on a couple of things that we’re trying to implement. 

AO: What one or two actions have you taken to differentiate yourself? 

BC: We’re in the process right now of rebuilding our website and some of the things we’re going to put on our website, as far as case studies and content, is going to make an impact. That’s looking forward. Going back, we reached out to all of our clients to keep that line of communication open. It’s important for us to be in contact with our clients and guide them along the way to make sure they’re successful and we’re successful.  

AO: What was the response that you got from your clients? 

BC: In most cases it was very positive. For the clients, it was important for them to be able to move into more of a COVID-type posting process where they were explaining what is going on with their company. So, we immediately reacted to that. 

AO: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?  

BC: Some of the things we could have done as a business early on was develop our team members better. We had an LLC before we started our company, so when we transferred into No Time For Social, we essentially started the company with clients already. So, we’re bringing new team members on and we weren’t in the position to spend as much time with those team members. We’re taking advantage of not having as many clients right now [and] we’re in full on training mode. We’ve flipped the script from the mistakes we’ve made in the past of not having training processes in place to we’re getting training processes formally in place.  

AO: What is most inspiring to you today? 

BC: Having our family unit in place and being able to focus on family and making sure we’re putting the right measures in place for our kids. On the business side, being able to get results for our clients. When you can do that and there’s a smile on their face or an email that says thank you, that makes me want to do more for that client.  

OFFER: Complimentary consultation.  

How To Reach Us: 

Bill Combes 

No Time For Social

512-721-0333

[email protected]


Executive Coach Andy O’Brien wants to interview you! If you would like your business to be featured in one of our upcoming “Business Owners Speak Out” newsletter series, please contact Kari at [email protected] to schedule an interview.