The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 87 | Richard Fagerlin on Building Teams of Trust

October 31, 2022 Alisha Jeffers
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 87 | Richard Fagerlin on Building Teams of Trust
Show Notes Transcript

Richard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions Group and author of the book Trustology.  Richard is known across Northern Colorado - and the nation - for his keynote presentations and his team’s effective engagement in three key areas of management consulting:

Customized internal leadership development

Authentic and durable strategic planning

Executive coaching + organizational engagement

Richard shares abundantly of his expertise in building teams of trust. He’s got the gifts of leadership and discernment in abundance, and is a natural leader and thoughtful speaker. Enjoy this in-depth conversation with Richard Fagerlin.

Check out Peak Solutions Group 

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My guest on today's episode was Richard Fagerlin. Richard is the founder and president of Peak Solutions Group and the author of Trustology. Richard founded Peak Solutions in 2001 with a fresh marriage, a young child, and no clients. He gave 52 free keynote speeches in his first year in business and the connections from that first year still Bear Fruit. Today. Richard does also recently started a podcast with his son, Christian Think Wise, a podcast for hungry young profess. Richard remains a highly sought after keynote speaker, and his firm focuses in three areas of business offerings. Number one, customized internal leadership development program. Number two, real true, authentic strategic planning. And number three, executive consulting, which is like executive coaching, but more connected to the leadership team and those who report to the senior executive. This was a fun and long conversation with a very thoughtful man that I just met. We discussed the principles of trust, and Richard gave great tips on how to build and foster trust in your organization, and we talked a lot about the principles of business success. Generally, what he sees the best companies do that sets them. So all that said, and so much more, please enjoy this latest episode of The Loco Experience.

Curt:

Welcome back to the Local Experience Podcast. I'm honored today to be joined by Richard Fagerlin and Richard is the founder and president of Peak Solutions Group and also the author of testology, which I meant to read all the way, but I got about halfway through again on my second time around, uh, before this conversation. So, love it. Good stuff, Richard. Thanks for being here. Yeah. Glad to be here, Kurt. Yeah. Um, so I guess to ground people, a lot of people have heard of you, you've been on the stage quite a few times, you know, a lot of executives in our region and elsewise, but, um, can we just have you unpack who is Peak Solutions Group? Um, and we'll eventually go back to the founding of, of kind of building a solutions group instead of being a consultant. Yeah. But, uh, let's hear about it. Who it is

Richard:

today? Yeah, Well in the, um, the IRS code. You know, if you're trying to explain exactly what the organization is, we're a management consulting firm. Okay. Uh, and we focus on three key areas. Mm-hmm. that is very customized internal leader development. Mm-hmm. whether that's, um, in small groups, large groups, et cetera. We build leadership programs inside of

Curt:

organizations to try to build those, uh, young people into young leaders and beyond. Kind of,

Richard:

Yeah. All levels. We sure. You know that we look at it four ways, kind of a, a ladder of you have a aspiring not yet soon to be leaders, leader candidates. Mm-hmm. Yep. You have frontline leaders. You have leaders of leaders, and then you have executive leaders. Mm-hmm. And so we have resources and programs that, that really fit all of those. Our sweet spot, we, we, uh, spend the most time working on with leaders of leaders. Hm mm-hmm. By the way, in the, in that pillar of leadership, it's the hardest transition to make. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, if you're not yet a leader and you become a leader, that's hard. But it's not nearly as hard as you are a leader and now you lead other leaders. It's,

Curt:

uh, you know, in a way with local think tank, we were just talking about my facilitator group. Mm-hmm. almost all of them are far more accomplished in business than I am. So they're leaders. Um, and yet somehow they've, you know, come aboard this organization and part of that is I'd let them lead. Mm-hmm. you know, I, I have a, a certain obligation to lead the organization, but, but they still get to be leaders. Yeah. It's critical. So, so that's number one.

Richard:

It's number one. Number two is we do real, true, authentic strategic planning. Um, in my, in my previous background and, and, you know, observing, um, over the last 20 years, much of what people call strategic planning, uh, like to say is neither strategic nor planning. And, um, you know, it's not terrible. It's a, you know, it's basically a SWAT analysis with a few goals that you throw together into a binder that sits on the shelf a lot of times. Yeah, yeah. Um, not all of it. I've experience that. Yeah. And, and so our strategic planning process is very thoughtful and ongoing, and it's iterative. It builds upon itself. So that strategic planning. And then the third part, we call it executive consulting. A lot of people will call it executive coaching. Uh, we call it executive consulting more than coaching because, uh, coaching individuals one on one, while it's important, it's valuable and it's, you know, it's really, it's, it's a necessity. Yeah. If you also coach the system that those leaders are a part of, whether it's their team, the team, they lead their organization and somehow have a reach into the system that they're a part of mm-hmm. it's more effective. Sure.

Curt:

So it's a lot more Sure. You can develop an understanding of what that culture is, what that interaction is, what are the, the other leaders fearful of when they approach the, your client Yeah. Specifically things

Richard:

like that. Yeah. We wanna know who that person really is Yeah. In the organization, not who we're experiencing. Yeah.

Curt:

Now do you use like a formulaic thing or do you don't use eos you don't use, Uh, or do you have a platform or if you developed all your own tools in these areas? Uh, Eric

Richard:

Koit is the person who leads our strategy, um, Okay. Division. Yep. And, um, Eric has had several. Platforms that he's been involved with. Mm-hmm. uh, the EMyth Strat op, uh, our process is, um, is, is kind of similar Yeah. To those, like, there's only so many ways. Pick some of the pieces from different, pick some pieces, find, find what works, um, and then do it actually. And actually do it. Yeah, exactly. That's right. Yeah.

Curt:

Yep. And so accountability over actually doing it from you to the organization, but also from that organization to the, the people that are infected by the change or Correct. Right, Right, right. Very cool. So, Eric's on your team, I knew that. Is it, Uh, who, who, who else is on your team? Mitch Majesky. Mitch is, Oh yeah. Yep. I've heard of Mitch. I've never met Mitch. I actually know Eric fairly well. Yeah. We've hung out a few times and, and my brother-in-law, uh, and he yeah, like coached football together or something. Craig Johnson. Yep.

Richard:

That's small world. Yeah. Mitch was actually a pastor in town for about 17 years. Oh, interesting. He actually was my pastor for, I don't know, 10 or 12 of those years. And I kept saying over the last, you know, 15 years, gosh, I need to find someone like Mitch. Uh, my par Mitch married my sister. He was, he, he was the, he officiated my sister and her. Uh, wedding 20 years ago. Oh wow. And, uh, so my parents know him well and I would keep saying to my dad, you know, Gosh, I just need to find, I need to find a Mitch Cuz, cuz Mitch is one of these guys who is, you know, he is well read, well learned, real understood. Yes. He was a, a pastor, but he was also a master degree civil engineer before that. He has a wide reach within the community on all kinds of various groups and populations. Yeah. One of

Curt:

those people. Like a polymath. Yeah. Like I interviewed Wade Trel last week. Yeah. And that man could take any job in town and kick ass at it. Literally,

Richard:

literally. And, and have five people that are the best in the world at that industry. And he's like, he's friends with them. Exactly. In a. Wade is, uh, he's, he's an interesting guy. He's a great guy. So one day my dad says to me, Well then why don't you just hire Mitch? And it just so happened he was, he was looking to take a break from ministry and do something different, and it worked out well together. And so really it's the three of us. Okay. We have, we have, um, two or three other contractors that, that support us when time is, you know, is when we need that. And then we have a full-time, um, basically office manager. Yeah.

Curt:

Executive assistant. That's kind of what becomes Peak Solutions Group is kind of you're like, Okay, I've got the hub of administrative support. And then are these guys employees or they. Contractors of a sort, Do they eat but they kill kind of. Yeah. Is it one of those kind of consultancies or is it kind of a team approach to most clients or It's a little bit

Richard:

hybrid. Yeah. So it, it definitely is a team approach. Um, there's, there's a certain amount of business that comes in just because of the organization and the tenure and the longevity. There's a lot that I can't do or, you know, somebody else can do better. Yeah. And can do better. That's right. Um, but we, we all operate our own kind of our own practice within the practice. What I like to say is everyone owns their own umbrella under the same tent.

Curt:

Yeah. Yeah. And so there's like a, a overhead charge kind of to each person a little bit. That way they get support. Cuz that's one of the reasons that nobody really wants to be a consultant or a lot of people don't like, it's just the administrative burden associated with just having a for real business, if you will. Yeah. You know, and just communication channels are hard enough, but,

Richard:

Well, and in the 20 plus years I've been doing this, I think that, I think that's a key reason why folks don't, uh, I think a key reason why people don't continue being consultants is because they like doing the work. They don't like getting the work. Yeah. Yeah. And in my world, if you get the work that's equal, if not more valuable Sure. Than being able to do the work. Cause a lot of people can do the work. But to go build the relationship and gain the trust and inspire the confidence with

Curt:

customers. I mean, frankly, what lo think Tank does in a way is like, makes that arrangement with people that some of them are consultants, some of them could be, you know, but it's like, Hey, I've got the community bill. You don't have to go find the customers. Mm-hmm. you just have to serve them once a month for a half day and a little bit between, you know, and you don't have to put that consultancy hat on mm-hmm. and go to cocktail parties and go to every chamber meeting, whatever, you know, or whatever. Where do you find your clients and who are. Like ideal types of clients? Uh, speaking both maybe individually and firm wise? Yeah. Or is there a difference there? I don't even know.

Richard:

Uh, there's, we, we each have, we each kind of have, um, something that fits a little more for us personally. Um, but I, so in, in 2001, I started peak solutions. Mm-hmm. and in the calendar year of 2002, I gave 52 free keynote presentations. and just use, I used speaking Yeah. As a way to grow my platform, learn, learn better, how to facilitate and, you know, grow that platform, but also to get exposure. Sure. And, um, currently that still 20 years later is the number

Curt:

one. Those seeds are still

Richard:

plant later. Yeah. So I'm speaking at, my platforms are larger, the audiences are bigger. Sure. The. From here to theirs is further. Yeah. Um, but they come from that. And then the, I would, I would, uh, we just did an analysis of this this summer and, um, about 40% of the clients in the history of 20 years came from knocking on doors that the person on the other side didn't know me. Mm. Mm-hmm. And so, um, some it, all it takes is a couple really big clients for that to be the case. Yeah. And then, um, really the sustainability of continued work tends to come from growing organic growth internal with clients or, uh, executive turnover. So at executive leaves, moves on to another

Curt:

organization or it's like, Hey Richard, fix this last guy right up, so let's Yeah. Get

Richard:

him back in here. Yeah. Or they had experience of, Yeah. They had experience of man, our team. Really gained a lot from having exposure and, and, uh, you know, my leadership capacity was expanded because we partnered with you, and so our clients tend to bring us in wherever they go. So, yeah. You know, when I get a, when I get a client who's like, Hey, I'm thinking of going somewhere. I'm like, Yes,

Curt:

that's a great thing. Let's go. Where are we going? That's awesome, by the way. Um, Alma's best practice is to tuck your microphone thing behind the cushion there so that you, and give yourself plenty of rope. So it's not like dragging on your ear, so I'm not playing on it. Yeah, exactly. There we go. Oh, you know, Okay. It's kind of men's nature to play with things. I should put something in my hand. You can play with a dinosaur if you want to. Okay. So that, um, I guess, and are you serving like middle market companies? Fortune five hundreds? Um, small businesses in our region. It seems like not too many of those, cuz frankly your reputation is too strong now you go for the bigger, bigger fish. Or maybe you do a mix so that you can Yeah, I don't stay local too. I don't know.

Richard:

Yeah. What hap here's what happened. Kurt was clients lead to other clients. And so the, it was more the referral network that perpetuated and it was less geography. So I have several colleagues who are geographically based. One of my, one of the longest term, um, person in my think tank that I spend time with. For 17 years we've been meeting, Okay. There's five of us that have met. Cool. And one of 'em, she's her, her. Multimillion dollar consulting practice is in a 40 mile radius. Nice. Of her office in Omaha, Nebraska. Yeah. And, um, other than a couple really sizable large clients here locally, the majority of our clients are all over, all over the country. Yeah.

Curt:

Yeah. Do you like that? Or as your kids get older and things like that, it's like, I wish dad didn't have to be on the road so

Richard:

much. Yeah. If I could wave a magic wand, I would drive to my clients every day and sleep in my home every night. That would be, that would be ideal. The, um, the challenge for us is that the, we, we work best when we, we find the most success when the client comes to us versus when we go to the client. And our region has a lot of business, but we also work best when we're working in maybe larger scale, um, Fortune 500 type companies, where we can replicate what we're doing within business units, within divisions. Yeah. Within entire

Curt:

companies chunk and then that chunk and whatever. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. So, um, I guess, do you imagine like doing this for a long time, Are you looking to kind of have the next generation of peak solutions? Will it survive beyond you? Yeah,

Richard:

it's a good question. I know only really contemplated that the last few years. Um, I have a son who is graduating this spring with a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology. Uh, he and I started a podcast. Oh, cool.

Curt:

I didn't know that recently, but you wanna give

Richard:

it a plug? Yeah, it's a Think Wise podcast. Check it out. Okay. It is a, our, our focus is on young professionals. Yeah. So kind of that 25, 35. Uh, the funny thing, I don't know if it's funny, the thing about young people today is, They know a lot more, have a lot more access than,

Curt:

than you and I ever. They know how to learn anything by Googling a YouTube video that explains how to

Richard:

learn it. Absolutely. Mike, I've never, I have four boys. I've never taught any of 'em how to tie a tie. They just walked downstairs with a tie tide around their neck and I'm like, What in the world? Like I looked forward to the day I got to teach 'em to tie a tie. Right. And it was just easier for them to go to YouTube, figure it out, and walk down with the tie, and I'm like, Okay. There. My son made a comment that he could do a Ted talk on 15 different topics, but he is never done any of 'em. Right. And so we wanna help bridge that gap. Yeah. And then also I think as a, as an older person wanting to understand what in the heck does a younger person think there's some value in that and vice versa. So that's cool. We're starting a segment called, uh, Boomers Want to Know and Ask a Boomer. Cuz the young people wanna know some things from older people. Yeah. And the older people want to know things from younger people. So we'll have a once or twice a month segment where it's uh, boom

Curt:

centric. You're Gen X? I'm Gen X. Okay. I didn't think you could be a Boomer anymore,

Richard:

is just anyone older than me.

Curt:

Right, right. Anybody that's kind of out of touch. Yeah. Yeah. Well then I'm a boomer. Boom. Okay. Boomer So, um, well that's cool. So I, you know, I didn't hear the full answer, but it sounds like you'd love to have your son kind of move in toward this space. You think it's a neat. Kind of industry to serve. And gosh, I can only imagine like, how many thousands of people's lives do you think your group has impacted, or how many hundreds or dozens if you, whatever. I mean, it's hard to measure. It is hard

Richard:

to measure. It's, um, you know, it's, it's like a teacher. I remember going back to my hometown one time and telling a teacher what an impact they had made, uh, on, on me. And, and there was this genuine gratitude from that teacher. Hmm. And one of the things that he said was, you know, we, we just don't hear that very often. Mm-hmm. And so you never know. You never know what impact you're making. Sometimes it's, it's some, some little thing that you say. Uh, I ran into someone, um, this year at one of these big conferences that I speak at mm-hmm. and this, this woman had started her own human resource consulting company. She calls it trusted advisors. Okay. Based on work. I, she had heard she read your book, she read the book, heard me speak somewhere, and, you know, came up. So I hope that the number is, is large, but, but it's, you know, it's hard to tell.

Curt:

It's hard to measure sometimes. Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, and whenever you get those little whiffs, even through this podcast, I've had people like mention that something that somebody said on the podcast, help them get past something or whatever. And it's just fascinating to know that something I'm doing is touching people, you know? Yeah. Yeah. So, um, let's talk actually about Triology. Um, I've, uh, entertained the notion of writing a book. I just can't think of what I should write about. Mm-hmm. Um, but was this a, like a passion project for you? Was it something that boiled up? Was it my PR person said I should write a book so that I can like, have a better reason to charge a lot of money for Kendo speeches? Yeah. Yeah.

Richard:

When you do what we do, you should have a book that's just kind of, it's part of it. It's your business card. Right. And I don't like doing things cuz I should do them. Um, I'm a, I'm a big believer in calling and purpose and, um, yeah, I, I'm not, I don't, I play well with others mostly, but I, like if you tell me I have to do something, it's now, it's gotta be a really compelling reason why now I need to do this thing. If you ask me

Curt:

to, I'm good. If you tell me to screw you

Richard:

is kind of my nature, so. Well yeah, same. So the book. It's like for years, Oh gosh, I should write a book. And I even sat down one day and I start, I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna write, I'm gonna write a book. And I cranked out five or 10 pages and my wife, uh, had been a freelance copy editor, proofreader and editor for a publishing company. And I gave it to her and I took her 20 minutes or 30 minutes to read what I, what I wrote. And my wife said, That was terrible.

Curt:

you don't care about. That was awful.

Richard:

That was awful. I got, Yeah, I, she said, I just, I I'm not gonna get that 20 minutes back And she's gonna listen to this and not be happy at all that I

Curt:

shared it. But here's, here's what I wanna do. The rewind and like it seems to replay here, but here's

Richard:

the, here's the, there's the silver lining, Kurt. She said, there's two things you said here that. Made me wanna know more. Hmm. And I was talking about, I was, I was talking about trust in the, the effort

Curt:

and especially that how it could only be given, not earned.

Richard:

Yeah. Hadn't that hadn't made it its way to it yet. Didn't well up yet. Um, but what I said was, there's these lies we believe and she's like, There's something in these lies. And so, Hmm. So, so trust as a topic has been always been a big part of our leadership development. And for years it was actually, we had a program, it was a six day program, uh, spread out over time. And the last half day of the six day program was this workshop essentially on trust. Yeah. And it, every time we would get to it, it was like five x more valuable and received well than anything else. And so, so then what would happen was someone would be in that session and they were on a planning committee somewhere for a. Hey, could you talk about this? Do the trust thing again, do this. So for about 5, 6, 7 years, I spoke on the topic of trust, taught on the topic of trust. And every time someone would be asking these questions, Do you have a book? You know, So I decided one day, All right, now I owe the world this, This message is so important that I owe it and, and I need to work towards that.

Curt:

Well, and it's marinated and you weren't. Smart enough at any one thing, maybe five years before. Yeah.

Richard:

Yeah. And, and the, and the market explained what it needed and what it wanted. Yeah. So I actually had a, um, Isn't that so cool? Yeah, it's, well, the market's smart, right. If we're, if we're patient enough to let it, let it

Curt:

speak. Yeah. Fair enough. Well, we'll have a lot of fun talking about markets and things. We've got a lot of global disturbances going around and such. Uh, we'll, we'll to that later though. Great. Um, so if you were going to talk to, I guess Cliff knows version of trust, um, and that's frankly what your book is. So just read my book. You could also say, but if, if, if a business person is listening right now and they have a non-trusting. Kind of, you know, I'm not gonna say toxic, but there isn't a lot of trust and shared responsibility and, and you know, sometimes it's that genius with a dozen helpers, right? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And in that situation, you know, people, we've seen it, they, you know, take credit for each other's ideas. They'll stab each other behind the back, behind closed doors. Like what are the principles where the leader can start to impact change?

Richard:

Yeah. Well, first of all, it's, it's understanding how you see people. So, uh, I just had a meeting yesterday with a good friend of mine who works at Walker Manufacturing and Walker has, I didn't know this, but they have 18, I think 18 values or principles that they've been operating by. Okay. And he said, one of them is that we love people and we use money. And I think a lot of times we use. Or use people and love money. Yeah. And so how you see your relationship to and with people is really critical. So are they a means to your end or are they the end yourself? And whatever it is that you accomplish together is what you're supposed to do. So I think how you see people Yeah. Is step number one. Yeah. And so a lot of times people want to get what they want to get, have what they wanna have, do what they want to do with and through their people versus, you know, step one here is you guys, you gotta figure out how you see these, these great resources that are entrusted to you.

Curt:

I, you met Alma on the way in and, and you know, she's 19. Uh, this is her first like big girl job kind of in a lot of ways. And she's smart as all get out, very kind, trustworthy, all these things. But she doesn't really know what to do all the time. And I'm a terrible manager. I'm a good leader. Mm-hmm. and she trusts that I, that I love her and use money. Mm-hmm. you know, but, but how exactly to take her from where she is to where she she ought to be. Whether that's with, frankly, with my organization or in the future with another that fits her. Yeah. Life purpose better. Yeah. Uh, anyway, I digress,

Richard:

but, Well, I had a friend read the book and say, I asked him, What'd you think? He said it was all right.

Curt:

like, Okay. He was bought in. Yeah.

Richard:

And I was like, Well, And he goes, No, no, it was alright. It was really in. He was like, No, it was good. He said, Based to the, what you're saying here is to give people the benefit of the doubt. Oh. Can you not hear anymore?

Curt:

Yeah. I lost my, uh oh. Oh, maybe I kicked it. Yep. It should be working now. Here we go. We're good. Sorry about that. Start when we start back. Edit, edit, edit.

Richard:

Okay. We'll see. I have a friend who benefit of the doubt read my book. Yep. And. Came to me and I asked him, What'd you think of this? He's like, It was all right. And I was like, All right, what do you mean? All right. And, and we, we were joking. He was, he was just messing with me, and he said, Really, bottom line, if you're gonna have a golden nugget from Testology, it's give people the benefit of the doubt. And the, the way that we put it in, in the book is to presume positive intent. Yeah. And so when you're giving people that gift of, I'm assuming your intentions are positive. Yeah. And we go back to the first thing I said is like, What's my relationship to those people? Then I start looking at, you know, now all of a sudden I can get real practical. But if I don't have those two things as a basis of my mindset and my ideology, it's really hard to lead with a high trust environment. Yeah. To your people or from

Curt:

your people. Hmm. I was just, I, I, Well, Kimberly O'Neill was my guest just last night from Encompass Technologies and talking about some of the solutions that they offered for the beverage industry and. um, like volume manufacturing things and trucking things. And I never really thought about before, like how much like controls are necessary. And we didn't get deep into it, but I just flashed across it. If you're driving a tr a truck full of beer around or booze or whatever, like the company has to kind of know who's got how much. And cuz there's a, there's a potentiality, you know, Right here, sell a thousand dollars worth of beer to your buddy for 500 bucks and now you made five days work. Right, Right. Or whatever. Right. And, uh, just all those kinds of things. And that's, I guess part of our, like, trust is the lubrication of our economy. Mm-hmm. first and foremost, so. Mm-hmm. Anyway, sorry to, to deviate and chase that squirrel. Uh, anything else like that comes right to mind, uh, of like fixing a. wiggly situation. Yeah.

Richard:

Well, we, we talk about, it's not in the book, but we talk about in our work a lot, What's the culture of your team? Mm-hmm. what's the culture of your organization? And my favorite definition of culture is it is the sum of what you permit and what you promote. Hmm. It's the sum of what you permit and promote. And I have a, I've been working with a client, um, on, on their culture work. And they have, they have a, they say it differently. They say, These are the things that we oppose. Yeah. And these are the things that we value. Yeah. And so if you think about your team, all right, what are the things that we're permitting, that we're allowing, that we shouldn't? Yeah. And because we allow them bad things happen. Yeah. And what are the things we promote and say, This is what we wanna do, this is who we wanna be and how are

we

Curt:

promoting it? Exactly. Yeah. Well we assume a lot as business owners, a lot of times, you know, there's like, it sounds kind of cheesy employee of the month or you know, whatever that looks like. You know, Bronze star, Gold star awards, broad stars, as long as it's a star, you're third place But, but actually taking the time to communicate it cuz leaders at all level are overwhelmed a lot of times just with the obligations and constant growth of the position and whatever. Yeah. So, um, Let's go back to Akron and learn about Little Richard. Yeah. Uh, you mentioned that you were a young person in Akron, Colorado. Yeah.

Richard:

Yeah. I grew up till I was in fourth grade. I lived in Akron, Colorado from fourth grade to high school. I lived in Holyoke, both of those small towns,

Curt:

Metropolis, which is bigger, uh, Holyoke

Richard:

is bigger. Okay. Um, I think it's got 2000 instead of

Curt:

1000 people. Instead

Richard:

of 1000. Yeah. Yep. Uh, both small towns. Um, I have three siblings that graduated from Akron. My little sister and I graduated from Holyoke. Okay. And, and how

Curt:

many of you all together? Uh, there's five total. Five of us. Okay. I'll, I'm, I'm good at math, usually

Richard:

and I, so I grew up on, on Colorado State's Research Ranch until fourth grade. Oh, wow. Through fourth grade. Your dad

Curt:

was like a professor or something? Oh,

Richard:

my dad was a PhD in animal science. And, um, was around graduate students and PhD candidates during that time. Uh, what a neat thing. It was a very neat thing and, and really it relates a bit to how I act and interact today Sure. Is that I learned early on how to think and how to think differently. Yeah. And you know, my, we were, we were 20 miles from town and town was a little town Right. And so, you know, I didn't go into town and hang out with friends and, you know, have play dates like kids do today. I was just stuck there on the ranch. So I'm hanging out with these folks and I learned how to, um, you know, entertain my myself and to, you know, just basically think differently. So that was a good, that was a good way to grow up. Yeah.

Curt:

Very cool. Oops, here I am sitting way forward, away from the microphone. Um, and so. describe your, your person. Like were, aside from being a young intellectual in training, kind of with all these smart people around you, were you an athlete? Were you a nerd student wise? Did you chase girls all the time? I'm taking up to middle school by now.

Richard:

Yes. No. Yes. I, my, uh, I had, I had an older brother who was, you know, he was like four year starter basketball, football, um, you know, kind of Mr. Colorado type right type vibe and, and, uh, had a reputation that preceded him athletically. And then I was, I was kind of more like the life of the party type person. I like to be around people. I like to entertain and make people laugh. Um, I guess if I had to choose between nerd and athlete, I was more of an athlete. Yeah. Loved, loved sports. Um, but I remember there was a time in high school that one year I was, I was like, you know, captain on the football team, had a lead in the school play. I was, you know, first chair, trumpet, you know? Right. I was in the Spanish club. I was just, you know, it's a small town like that. You gotta do all things. Yeah. And, uh, that, that was, uh, I was a, you know, a master, a jack of all trades, master of none type of mm-hmm. type of growing up. Yeah. Um, which, you know, was great to survive in a small community. But as I got older, I realized that's not, that's not the way that God designed me. I, it was a good way to get me to figure that out, but I needed to, I needed a focus to

Curt:

be successful. Yeah. I'm from Central North Dakota, basically halfway between Fargo, North Dakota and Bismarck. There you go. Uh, well it's Jamestown and then I'm from a town of 100 people. I, uh, I like to tell folks I comprise the top 20th percentile of my high school class and I'm rare from, There aren't that many people that leave those communities. Yeah. They mostly stay and, you know, drive truck or become diesel mechanics or farmers, whatever. Mm-hmm. and I couldn't imagine like making that decision even though I had didn't really have another example. Mm-hmm. if that makes sense. Like I considered Peace Corps. Mm-hmm. after, after college, or even after high school. And I was like, I don't know, you don't wanna see the world do some different things.

Richard:

Yeah. I had an appetite to see the world. I, um, You know, I, I remember, you know what, fba, ffa, four H, whatever it was, we would travel and there was people that were with us in high school that had like, never been on an escalator, And my, my, we have family that's in California, so my, my, we would go visit them and they were well traveled and learned and Yeah. Yeah. And, um, you know, encyclopedia days just, you know, before the internet, Right. What's the world look like? And when I was 19, I spent a month in Europe and, um, got to have that exposure. And so I just always dreamt of, of, you know, expanding my reach. Yeah.

Curt:

Where, where did you go off to after high school? Did you go to csu then?

Richard:

I did, um, I served as an officer in the ffa. Okay. Uh, I was a na, a state FFA officer. And for that year, that's a, for those students that do that, for the majority of 'em, that's actually a full-time job. So you can't go to college. So right out of high school I did that. Oh, interesting. Traveled all throughout the state, um, gotta go to Canada, got

Curt:

Germany. And I kind of know what FFA is, but like there's a whole bunch of people listening that are like, I don't know what that is. Well, if

Richard:

you've seen Napoleon Dynamite, there's the, uh, you know, they did the judging competition of the milk. Please don't let that inform your decision on ffa. Uh, it used to be called, uh, Future Farmers of America. They changed formally their name to the National FFA organization. And it's, it's really the only youth organization that has built within it a curriculum where leadership is actually a component of the curriculum, just like learning mechanics in the shop, or judging or, you know, science, soil science, or ACT science. And so

Curt:

really like four H doesn't have a

Richard:

leadership component. It does have it, but it's, it's not baked into a regular curriculum. Not fair. So four H is more of a volunteer. Your club, your association, your Yeah.

Curt:

It's like a value. We love leadership. Exactly, but nobody really does anything about it per se. Yeah. Or if they

Richard:

do, it's, it's because they did something about it. It wasn't required and baked in. Yeah. So it was a high value, got exposed to a lot of things like, you know, in the late eighties, early nineties. I gotta hear, you know, President George. Bush. Yeah. Speak Zig Ziglar speak, gotta travel. So anyways, exposed at a young age Yeah. To some, some interesting things. Yeah, it was a good,

Curt:

yeah, it was a good experience. And then,

Richard:

yeah, then I went to a junior college, the junior college in Sterling. Okay. Uh, I like to tell my kids that, um, I did that because I did not provide myself many other options, um, you know, so the answer, that's why it was easy to answer. I was not a nerd. I

Curt:

was, Yeah. Yeah. I got some scholarships, not enough. And my dad, well my dad's sort a farm and, and in my senior year, dad was like, Well, son, you know, the farm's in a place now where, where we could help you with your school in a little bit if we. If we, if we needed to, but I, I think you'd get a lot more out of it if you pay for it yourself. Yeah. And, uh, so yeah, well that was me.

Richard:

I paid, I paid a hundred percent of all my school and I, I got a full ride to the junior college because my leadership, So I'm like, take that. I became the, I ran Foreign, was the student body president of that. Yeah. That was a great experience. Then I transferred to Colorado State. Yep. Came here, worked 20, 30 hours a week, put myself through school. Now

Curt:

wasn't your dad with Colorado State in the extension? Or, or had he left by that time? He was not. I gotcha. Cause they usually universities give the hook up to kids or whatever. Right. It was like some,

Richard:

a decent hook. Yeah. It would've, it would've not

Curt:

hurt Fair enough. So, um, kind of same deal at csu. N not an athlete, obviously anymore, I imagine. Yeah, no, I guess and, and not necessarily a stellar student, but very focused on that leadership and maybe plugged in here and there.

Richard:

Yeah. You know, Kurt, I just wanted to work, I was built to work. I wanted to be a part of the team, wanted to do something, and I knew I needed to, to be diligent to finish this thing, get a degree. So I took courses. I, my, my degree is in, in the college of journalism with an emphasis in public relations. Okay. Uh, because it seemed like an easier

way

Curt:

I could take 21 credits this semester and go it. Exactly.

Richard:

And since I'm paying for this value,

Curt:

you know, I want everything after 12 is free. Right? Yeah, Yeah. No, I was in the same

Richard:

place. So I did that and it ends up, I, every single day I wake up with a, I'm a public relations expert. I am selling an idea that I'm not paying a lot of money or any money to try and help people buy. And, and then the writing that I did, you know, tons and tons and tons of writing. And so I, you know, I think it's just really remarkable how, how certain there's no coincidence, you know, how things end up working out. Do you write quite a bit still? I do. I, I, um, we write a lot for our clients and within our projects. Mm. Um, I, uh, I don't necessarily write white papers or, you know, publish, no blogger, publish anything. I'd blog for a couple of years and yeah. Um, uh, I'd li I would like to dedicate more time to writing. Yeah. Um, just do you keep a personal journal? I do every once in a while. Not, I'm not consistent in that. I'll, I'll go on journal spurts. Um, I like to, I, I, you know, one thing that's great about journaling is it's not until you're, I don't know what it is, five to six minutes for me in where my journaling actually starts taking some value. I feel you. And, um, so I've started to do a lot, lot more of that. Yeah.

Curt:

So, um, Like, take me into the early career days at this point, right? Like you're CSU getting into the workforce. I, I looked at your LinkedIn profile and it was as kind of an increasingly impact guy with a big company and I can't remember

Richard:

it yet. Yeah, yeah. So I worked, I got an internship while I was at CSU for this company, Farmland Industries. Oh, yeah. So at the time, farmland, That's where I get my big one. Yes.

Curt:

Yeah. A lot of times this

Richard:

is bacon. You could, uh, there's a lot of things you can get from farmland could have gotten, um, farmland at the time was, was a Fortune one 20 something company. Wow. And I took an internship in it. We had a, we, we did these youth leadership conferences. Okay. And the idea was there's all these kids from outside of Jamestown, North Dakota Right. And outside of Holyoke, Colorado, where they're probably not gonna leave and come. Um, an urban area, they're gonna stay there. And so what farmland wanted to do was build relationship with those young people at 12, 13, 15, 18, so that they would have some sort of, not just loyalty to farmland, but to have an understanding that they are, if they're a farmer, rancher, a community member, they're an owner. It's a co-op. Yeah. So they, so there was, for 52 years they'd been doing this. So I took an internship as one of the college students leading these leadership programs. Yeah. What happened? And this is, this is, you know, all it takes is one or two people that know and love and respect you Yeah. To change your life forever. So in that, in that summer, someone got to know, love and respect me. And when I graduated, they gave me a job and they had just gotten promoted and they looked at my, my, you know, my resume, my basically my Yeah. Your transcript. And said, Okay, I want you to do this and this and this, and here's some stuff I'm doing that I don't wanna do. So I want you to, And I was hungry. Yeah. Like give it to me, whatever you wanna gimme. And no matter what they gave me, I just ate it up. Yeah. And I, and I just knocked it down and, you know, I did good work. Yeah. And I had that, you know, that appetite for success. Yeah. And I, looking back now, I had, in those first three years of my corporate career, I had a job that most people would take 10 or 15 years to get. Wow. That level of responsibility and that level of an organization. So, you know, two years in, I'm, I'm in meetings with C-Suite leaders in this large organization. Yeah. I'm standing on a platform talking to hundreds of people on behalf of the company. And no matter what they gave me, I was just like, I'm gonna fake it till I make it. Yeah. And my, my own personal brand just started to expand. And so we had a consulting group within the company and the guy who led that was like, I see something in you. I want you to come work for us. So I did. Oh, okay. And that group did mergers, acquisitions, Strategic planning. And we did interesting. We did a bunch of human resource, uh, consulting and, and management training. So I came to work in that group and got an exposure to that. And I was like, This, this is the, is good. Like this is how I think. Yeah. And so from there, only one more job. Before I started Peak Solutions, I became the head of human resources for five of our customers. So

Curt:

I got to Oh, wow. Like you became a fractional human resources officer, Officer of sorts. Exactly. Yep, Yep. For this previous consulting firm,

Richard:

or There was a consulting group within this corporation. We were farmer owned by these, all these co-ops, hun th over a thousand co-ops around the country. Oh, wow. And so, five of those co-ops I became the head of HR for Oh, wow. Hundred employees, essentially each of them. And I got to sit on the leadership team at 26, 27, 20. Of five different companies. Wow. And share, share in that experience. And so, like, whatever I learned was literally multiplied by five. Cuz none of them were the same. Right. None of the CEOs were the same. None of their issues, challenges, or opportunities were the same. So that's what really fast forwarded me. So

Curt:

when you think about your consulting engagements today, and like you've got trust issues, strategic planning, product market fit, you know, all the things that make it hard to consistently make good profit in business Right? Or whatever. Um, what are the, the things that, that your team really impacts the most? Is it, is it all about the people and is it like new people? Is it just getting. To be really on board that makes the difference, like where is, where is your sauce apply the best and most. Yeah. I think if

Richard:

we had to just create one bucket and say, this is what we do. Yeah. And what we do the best is we help create organizational health. Yeah. And organizational health is a big word, like trust or communication or leadership. So you don't really know Yeah. Necessarily what that means, but it's our job to come in and help assess how healthy is the organization. Yeah. How healthy is the leader? How healthy

Curt:

is their team? Oh, so you're doing a bunch of surveys and polls and different things. Yeah. And it's like visible. Yeah. Like, hey, this, your boss cares about how much you love to work here, or whatever. And so they're bringing in peak solutions group to just help us be better. Yeah.

Richard:

Vast majority of the time we're, we call it an audit. Yeah. So we, we use less one to five scale surveys and more sit and talk like this for. 30 to 60 minutes with lots and lots of people.

Curt:

Wow. That's cool. Do you have a structured format that you go through almost where you're like, Tell me about your culture, tell me about

Richard:

your list. Yeah. We have, um, we've got 10 or 12 questions that we ask in every single one of our culture audits, which then lead to the questions we really want to get to Right? So, uh, for example, one of the questions that we ask and around organizational health is tell me about a time when you were proud to work here. And then we just sit back and when they're like, What do you mean? Like, when was the time we just repeat it? When was the time that you were proud to work here? And eventually they come up with an answer. And for the vast majority, uh, spoiler alert, vast majority of the answers are usually related to a crisis. A challenge problem. It was some Herculean effort. And that's unsustainable. It's really hard to That they did that. They did. Their team did. The company did. Mm-hmm. you know, one company landed a project with NASA and they didn't know if they were gonna be able to create the things that NASA needed for this, this launch. And then in, you know, working 24 hours a day for six months straight, they finally do this and their stuff ends up on the moon or what, you know, whatever it was. Right, Right. And they're just like, we were so proud of that. And this is a lot why chaos exists within organizations is because. Chaos is a catalyst for focus. It's a catalyst for attention, it's a catalyst for thinking differently, and it's unsustainable.

Curt:

There's a, an old, uh, joke I guess. Uh, there's the kind of fun that's fun when you're actually in it and there's the kind of fun that you remember as fun, but that was actually miserable, you know, when it rained all weekend when you were camping, right? Or when the canoe tipped over and you had to like save the dog and whatever, you know, going through the rapids, this is the fun when

Richard:

you remember

Curt:

it isn't. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm. and that's why people remember those elements, even as far as being proud. Mm-hmm. Um, and so what's a healthy answer to that question? Proud is it was so easy and then it got easier. Uh, I think for

Richard:

what, you know, I would, I would just clear my, draw a drop if I heard something like, you know, we had, we had this, um, within our team, our leader got sick and we all got together. One day at lunch and we decided we are going to do whatever it takes to be successful. Get x y accomplished, hit our metrics. And we did, not only did we do that, but of that team eight, there was eight of us on that team, six of us went on to be department heads in the company later or something like that. Like that would be, it's like, Oh my gosh, you had a problem. You overcame the problem, you know, expanded everyone's leadership. You went out and then those people multiplied themselves through other teams. Like that's what I'm, that's what we're trying to, a story

Curt:

create impact and influence. And, uh, there's, I forget his name now, Bob Nedal. You probably know Bob. I forget what his, he's in a, in the executive space, but he told me he, he did a group for us, gosh, years ago now. Hey Bob, if you're listening, Uhhow. Uh, anyway, he said that leadership is anything that anybody does to impact the behavior of anybody else. Hmm. And I've always kind of carried that around as an interesting thing because it's like in your, in your situation right there, Okay, what are we gonna do? Mm-hmm. you know, so real leadership in that, in that secondary case where the leader gets sick and somebody steps up and says, Okay, here's what we're gonna do and you're gonna do this, and, you know, I don't know. I think those are, those are the proud moments, not going through misery together. Yeah. Um, so we jumped off of your career path a little bit here, but so are we getting close to Peak Solutions Group being born now? Yep. You had this tour as an HR manager for five companies.

Richard:

Yeah, I did that. I was very much having the entrepreneurial niche, itch, itch. I just wanted to scratch that. I wanted to be in business for myself. Uh, didn't know what that would look like. I thought, I thought I was going to own, create, drive, run, whatever, a manufacturing business of some sort. Okay. Um, I just like, you know, I like making, like, I like seeing things make, I don't like necessarily making them myselves, but I, I like that environment. I like the. Generally the people that work in a blue collar manufacturing environment. Yeah. Good people. I love, love and can appreciate engineering. So I, I thought that's maybe the direction I would go. Um, but I, it just, the doors were not, Were just closing, closing, closing. So in like June of 2001, I made a, I made a God and I had a conversation and I told him, Listen, I'm done trying to make something happen here. I will just go continue doing my work and I'll do it well, and if you've got something for me, it'll just have to show up. And then I was in, He's funny that way. He is funny that way. And, um, you know, when you have, when, when you make, when you make vows or promises or commitments or nevers or ever, you know, all those things, uh, you never know what's gonna happen. And then, and then nine 11 happened. Mm. And I tell the story often. It's often when I'm given a keynote, it might be, my opening story is nine 11 changed my life forever. I was in Gothenburg, Nebraska working with a group of, one of my colleagues companies, he had did the same thing in Nebraska and someone came in, explained that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers. There's no, there was no, uh, no radio. There was no tv. There was no, like, we didn't know what that looked like. Yeah. And so, in my mind, I didn't know, I just sessna sticking

Curt:

out of a window. That's what is, I was imagining the same. Yeah. Yeah.

Richard:

Whoop d Yeah. What is this? And so I just kept going with what I was, I was, I was teaching a class. I just went, going, kept going with that. And then, and then I think by the time the second plane hit, like, Okay, this is a big deal. Yeah. And they decided to like close the company. Like, we gotta send people home. And so I got in my car. So Gothenberg Nebraska at a Fort Collins. Colorado's about five hour drive. Yeah. And um, I got in my car and at the time I was reading Rick Warren's book, Purpose Driven Life had just come out and. First page, first sentence, first paragraph. He poses a question or makes us, makes a, a question. What on earth are we here for? Yeah. And I've been pondering that and I continued to ponder that in that ride home. And my radio was going in and out. My phone was in and out. My wife was at home with our 18 month old baby, our, our first child. And I just wanted, I just wanted to get home and I started thinking, what if my name had been on that? Hmm. You know, what if, what if I was one of those thousands of people that, that had lost their life? Yeah. And you know, had I li you know, I, I life is a gift and we don't know. We don't know that we get tomorrow and we only know about today. And so too many people trade There is for better tomorrow. Yeah. And they just like, Alright, I'm gonna grind it out now like, if everyone, who's everyone today who's living for retirement is wasting a lot of their. Yeah. Because life doesn't start at retirement. Life starts when you wake up today.

Curt:

Do you know, uh, Josh Emery? Yeah. Well, I, I just, uh, had a conversation with him a few weeks ago and we stumbled across, uh, almost happy. And, uh, initially he, he was like, It's a dog. And I was like, Well, no. It's a, it's a jackass, like following this carrot of almost happy if I get to $2 million a year in revenues or if I get this new contract, then I'll be happy. And people spend too much time almost happy.

Richard:

Yeah, you can, you can spend, you could spend a thousand hours on YouTube listening to people's almost happy stories where they made it to the nfl. They, they got the br you know, the, the family of their dreams. They made the money that they wanted to make, and it just, it, it never made them happy. So I'm driving home. Yeah. And I'm thinking, What on earth am I here for? What is my purpose? What is my call? What am I to do with my life? And I had this, this idea, Kurt, that the majority of people that I knew are gonna spend the majority of their waking hours at work. Hmm. And the majority of people I knew that wasn't an awesome prospect. Not what they preferred. Yeah. It's like, I don't, I, I'm living for the weekend and I'm like, Gosh, it's gotta be something better. And, and so I didn't know how to put words to it. It really only came to me about five or six years ago. But what happened to me was I decided that day that somehow I was gonna give my life to helping people love what they do and who they do it with. Hmm. And I, I, those words came to me in the last five, six years. Yeah. But that's what I decided. So between Sep between September and November, I was trying to figure out what does that mean? What does that look like? Yeah. I found an organization I could buy into and use resources for training and Right. Consulting curriculum. And I could like tie into it. At least you had something, something. And, uh, you know, through a bunch of wise council and a long, long, long story decided, okay, I'm gonna quit my job and I'm gonna go build this consulting firm. uh, had no money, had like, literally had like $2,000 to my

Curt:

name. Well, at least 18 month olds don't eat that much. Well, my gosh, Just kidding. How was that like for your wife? Was she Well, and we missed the, the love story. She came along here after you'd been kind of out in the workforce and stuff. Let's, let's you wanna back it up. Let's rewind to her and like, how long had you been married before the little number one come along and stuff. It's, it's a great question. We met, it's impactful in the rest of

Richard:

this, right? Yeah. We met at Old Chicago's in the summer of 1995, um, while I was at csu. We got married in 1998, so this, this April will be our 25th anniversary. Um, we moved together to Kansas City to start our life, uh, where I was, where I was in the corporate world. Sure. And what's her name?

Curt:

Christie. Hi, Christie. Yeah, my wife and I will go 20 years next May. By the way. Hold on.

Richard:

Congratulations. Yeah. Those are significant milestones. Yeah. Um, and so she's been, you know, an, an ever present support in, you know, all of, all of my life and this, uh, so when we started having a family, Christian was born in 2000. Mm-hmm. our oldest. Um, so she stayed home to, to raise the children and she worked part-time doing some freelance copy, editing. The stuff that she learned to be able to tell me my books sucked Right. Um, and she was right by the way. Right. She was absolutely right. Um, and leading up to this time, she, and she, she has a much less tolerance level for risk than I do. I have. Very high tolerance. She has very low tolerance. Yeah. And at one point she came to me about a month before I decided to go ahead and quit. And she says, it feels more dangerous right now to not follow all these doors that are open and what seems to be God's plan for us in this business than it would be to go bankrupt So I support you. And I'm like, Wow. That's, that's pretty awesome. That's, that's pretty awesome. Uh, 48 year old Richard, going back to 28 year old Richard probably couldn't do that. Right. Because I know things right. and I, and, and I I had ignorance. Yeah. And I had Moxi and I had trust in myself.

Curt:

Isn't there all those, uh, contrary things that are still both true. I was thinking of, uh, fortune favors the bold Yeah. And fools rush in. Yeah. Right. They're both kind of true depending on the setting. But that's cool that, Sorry, you got me emotional there. I'm just like imagining that that circumstance and so. Was she right? I mean, you were probably making what is back when, So you were making four or five grand, six grand a month, maybe a salary she's making? Not much. Yeah. Um,

Richard:

yeah, we, we figured out what we really were like doing the calculation. What do we really need to live? Yeah. Right. And what I really need to live, I could go out in two or three days of training. Consulting. Yeah. And, you know, come close to that, you know, five, six days, maybe eight days. It's like okay, I'm that plus some like surely you can do

Curt:

that, Right? It's only a third of the time.

Richard:

Geez. And um, and here's what happened. So Monday of Thanksgiving let's the stories come together. Now, Monday of Thanksgiving, I quit my job. And I cold quit it. Just quit it. Quit it. If it was today, if it was 2020, you would do a side hustle and would have a podcast and a blog, and you'd do all this. You quit

Curt:

your job. You just do it halfass for six months before you go independent. You do all of

Richard:

them halfassed. You do everything. And then, and then actually one of the, this is one of the problems with site hustle culture now, is that the idea is here to create a little extra money versus it is to create a, a good lifestyle. Right? I have a good friend who has a podcast that's built, build a big better life than a bigger lifestyle. Yeah. And build a bigger life is what I was, what I was in for. So I quit the job on Monday and on Wednesday she comes to me with a positive pregnancy test.

Curt:

Perfect. And so Well, you'll work a lot harder though.

Richard:

Yes. No doubt. I had no choice. Uh, no choice. The literally the, the ships were burned. Burned in the harbor.

Curt:

No. Looking. Well, yes. And you could have just sucked it up and taken a different job somewhere. Yeah. Well, I, You were

Richard:

employable. I see that you interviewed Mark Weaver. I, I start making cold calls in 2001, 2002. Okay. Mark's working for a p I call him up and, uh, Mark, I hope you remember this moment. I come in to like, call him up to see if we can, you know, if I can do some business for him, for their clients or whatever. And he starts laughing at me. He's like, This is so amazing. I can't believe you're doing this. And he's like, Do you want a job? And I looked at him square in the, in the face. I'm like, Hell no. I don't want a job,

Curt:

I just need some steady revenue. I'm building something

Richard:

here. And I, I left and I told my wife, I'm like, I got, I think I got a job offer today. And she's like, Did you take it I'm like, No, I didn't take it doing here. And, and there was a lot of people who were like, I want you to come work for me, but I don't want to pay you to do this work. Right. And there was a little bit of that that fueled me, so. Right.

Curt:

So anyway. Well, and frankly, to go back to a previous. They were looking at you as a, As a tool. Yeah. Not as someone to love or whatever. They saw that you were smart, capable, you could make a positive difference for their organization, but they wanted to own you. Yeah. Kind of grab you. Yeah.

Richard:

Well, and I would've loved working for Mark. He's a great guy. Totally. We would've done great things together. It would've not been a terrible thing, but I knew, I knew what I was destined for. Yeah. And, and I had already, I already, you'd have been squirming from the beginning. I would've been squirming looking for an opportunity to do this and to prove myself. And I'm one of those again. Tell me what to do and I'm gonna struggle with that. Tell me I can't do something. I'm gonna like, it's fuel. I'll show you. It's absolutely

Curt:

fuel. Yeah. That's cool. Um, and so how was that first like six, 12 months? Did you It was hard. Yeah,

Richard:

it's hard. My wife remember. 2002, July 25th, 2002, being in the hospital in labor and using the touch tone phone to transfer money around because we had bills that were due and, and it was a higher level of stress by a significant measure for her than it was for me. Yeah. And, um, and you know, honestly, I, I've been reflecting on this a lot lately. I have very few regrets in my life, and one of them is the, I'll get emotional telling you this, one of my few regrets in my life is the pain that I put her through by asking her to take more risk at times than she was comfortable. And I didn't have to do that. I, there's, there's a lot of, I, I know now ways that I could have made that financial security Yeah. Build a different bridge, kind of. Yeah. And I was just out killing and going and driving and now, 21 years into it, we can look back and say, All right, Yeah, that was fun. Yeah. Yeah. But it wasn't fun and it

Curt:

was hard. Well, especially not for her. Probably. Yeah. Um, do you want do a quick apology? Yeah.

Richard:

Well, I, you know, or say, Hey, Pink sugar, I, I just wanna say that I appreciate her standing by me and, um, even though it wasn't like an everyday I believe in you, her, her ever present, right. Her ever present action did believe in me. And I'm a, I'm a better, stronger person because of her challenge and because of her grace. So, yeah. Sorry babe. Dude, it

Curt:

is funny how, um, and, and yeah, uh, my wife and I, you know, I left a banking job, you know, 85, $90,000 plus bonus kind of thing, and, and Jill was kind of, Trophy wife, we, we have no children. And so she had like a $15,000 part-time job and kept the house nice. You know? And in the time after leaving banking, you know, I just raised my salary last month to be higher than hers cuz she magnified her career. She became the dean of faculty for an online school. She's hired 10 times as many people as I've hired in my career now. And she's good at managing and details and all, but her like locking arms with me as we like, marched slowly and not intentionally into poverty virtually. Mm-hmm. income-wise. Mm-hmm. and slowly marched out of that, you know, as a galvanizing force. Yeah. You know, and so in some ways you'd say, Well I have this regret. I suspect that the silver lining of that is a, a relationship that's got, you know, a two inch thicker hull than it would otherwise. Yeah. We've,

Richard:

we've been through a lot together and, and honestly the last, you know, the last three years we've probably been through more, We've been through more in the last three years than we had for even the 20 previous. Wow. You know, Covid Yeah. Raped, raed, a lot of coals over, over our family. Um, and many, in many of that case, uh, for either no good reason or for nothing that we had done. Yeah. And, and experienced a lot of loss in that time. And it is, um, it's ever apparent today that it's really nearly impossible to lead if you haven't loss. Mm. If you haven't had a loss or, you know, if it's really nearly important. Uh, Impossible to lead if you haven't in some ways like seen vulnerable suffer. Yeah. Suffering. And that vulnerability, it's, there's, there's two paths. Vulnerability leads to courage and honor and valor, or it leads to a bad or shrinking

Curt:

away. Yeah. Yeah. Um, can we talk about that now? I mean, to some extent, I mean, you added, added Mike and Eric to the team and you've been doing your thing and whatever, but like, it sounds like that's, this has been a really intense season for you, and so I think it's worthy of some exploration. Yeah. Yeah.

Richard:

Well, the, the, um, one thing that's important to, for a context here is if on any given day I have to choose that my family sacrifices or my, my work sacrifices, I choose that my work sacrifices, I'm, I'm not looking to build something significant where my work is the greatest. Impact I leave on this world. Yeah. I'm looking for a legacy that goes well beyond, Yeah. Beyond me through these young men that, that we've been entrusted with. So, so because of that, in February before Covid, um, the short version of the story is, is my wife's brother, who was more of a son for us than, than um, brother. He was living with us and he, he ended up taking his life Oh shoot,

Curt:

before,

Richard:

right before Covid and Wow. A really, really tragic, unfortunate family situation where, you know, lots of, lots of things that, you know, make, make that a bad,

Curt:

I said

Richard:

this different or that, or whatever. That, and, and people not able to be in the same room because of past hurts, et cetera. So, so that set things up. And then, and then that led into this downward spiral for our son who's a sophomore in college. Loses his, he's an athlete. He lose, he was a track athlete. Mm-hmm. he is a track athlete. Loses that season, been running 70, 80 miles a week to compete. Our junior in high school was hoping to be an athlete in college, in, in that sport track, cross country, their distance runners. Okay. Your junior track times are the most important of all of your recruiting. So they lose their junior track season. The next two kids are, you know, they're losing what they have. So we're all back together. Right. Um, in March when, when everything went, went down with this feeling of loss. Yeah. All that takes place Then peak solutions, we looked at the next six months of booked revenue and you know, immediately 70% of it's just wipe out, vaporized just gone. Wow. And then, um, my, my next door neighbor and one of my, my dearest friends, uh, was taken from us in a one car accident. So it's like, oh my gosh. You know, you just have a lot of loss in a short period of time. Yeah. Yeah. And. Wow. And everyone trying to navigate

Curt:

that, we are riding such parallel lies. My, one of my best friends moved here during the covid season and died of a heart attack. Jill's mom died of a fall down the stairs as a healthy 73 year old. And yeah, it just felt like it punched a lot. Yeah, it

Richard:

hurts. It, it hurts. And, um, I think that it's, I think that it reveals a lot about us, reveals stuff a lot to us, but it reveals a lot about us and it reveals, um, character traits that, you know, it's kind of like, I don't like using sports analogies for business analogies because in sports it's like 90%, 95% practice and five, 10% actual perform. but I was, but I was on a, I had a, on our podcast a couple weeks ago, one of the individuals on there said, Actually, I look at everything we do in life as practice only for those most important moments, That's our performance. Hmm. And so I looked at my family and these young men that we're raising, and how they responded to this was a measure significantly greater than how my wife and I responded, and in many cases, still better than how we respond and their resiliency. And they're the ones who had the loss. We had the loss because of their loss. Now we had the, the loss of life. Sure. Which we all experienced, and that was terrible. But then the next year, it was a college graduation, a high school graduation, a middle school graduation, and an elementary school graduation. For all four of our kids. And, you know, the thief of Covid took the celebrations. Um, uh, we were able, the older two were able to have, you know, smaller versions of their celebration. But anyway, you know, it's like, that's the kind of thing that as, as parents, we look back and, and can say, I'm very proud of how they responded and how they handled it. And, um, business wise, um, I would've never thought that it would've ended the way that it did. But 2020 wasn't a great year. Um, but we hit a milestone sales number that I never thought would be possible. And what it allowed us to do was to have focus on the type of clients and the type of work Yeah. That we want to do. And it kind of weeded out a lot of the stuff that wasn't as high impact for us or our clients. Yeah.

Curt:

Have you become more virtual since that time as well? Or are you really best on site and you're holding to it? Um,

Richard:

We've become, we've, we've changed. We've changed how we are intimate with our clients. So we use virtual as an intimacy growth. So much of what we do like right now, almost like breakouts. Yeah, breakouts coaching, group coaching. Like right now, you and I are having a moment, we've had two or three moments in here where we've shared emotional responses with each other. And if we were on the phone, that wouldn't be the same. And if we were on a Zoom screen, it'd be a little better, but it wouldn't be the same. But when we're together, there's something about the relationship that is so critical and so much of what we're doing isn't about EBITDA and, and you know, Right. Bottom line sales, revenue, margins, et cetera. It's about like connecting to the heart of people. Yeah. So still a lot of what we do is in person, but we're able to. Increase our touch, increase our intimacy, actually increase our value, because now it doesn't take anything to get a group of people from China and Korea and pulling together on a call for an hour and, you

Curt:

know, collaborate it up. Yeah, well that's one of the things I say is that it's hard to create relationships on the Zoom and digital platforms, but they're brilliant for maintaining them. You know, so if you guys are out training for a week long session workshop and things like that, and then you can do some check-ins and some bumps and whatever with people that you've already established trust with, you know, that just saves $5,000 a week off the airline bill. Yeah, right. Yeah. So, um, well, by the way, are you have a hard stop at five or how are you doing okay? No, I'm good. All right. So. What else would you wanna share? Kind of about the business journey, the, the principles learned? You know, I'm sure you have some things that are like, every good business should have, at least these things. I don't, I don't know. I, you know, what would you wanna share more from a, I guess, principals standpoint and, and really, especially I think what I'm hearing is that understanding culture, building culture, and knowing what performance looks like in my role, like those things are, uh, kind of all woven into the fabric. It seems like a peak.

Richard:

Yeah. Yeah. I think something that I didn't know that is ever evident and present is how important a really cohesive leadership team is. Mm. And I think, uh, if you think of a small business where you've got an owner and. Like four or five department heads. Right. Or you're in a big business where you have a business unit leader and 5, 6, 7 line leaders, vice presidents, whatever it is. Yep. Um, a lot of times what we do is we, as transformational leaders, we say, Here's where we're going this mountain up, heres what we're gonna climb. We give everybody a flag. We say, we're going to, let's meet a base camp, and then you do your thing and we'll see where we're at the next level and the next level. And then ultimately we get, or we don't get to the, to the summit. Yeah. And

Curt:

is that a unified vision? Yeah.

Richard:

And, and even, even that as a unified vision of, we're gonna meet up here in, in 30 days, Let's go. Right. There's something to that, but what? But what we found is, That journey together where you're carrying each other's weight. And I cannot overstate how important it is for a leadership team to have respect, understanding, cohesion, um, experiences that really, it's like the health of your leadership team is literally the, the governor of the strength of your organization. And Pat Lance made this famous in Five Dysfunctions where he talks about that as your first team. Yeah. Like that's your first team and you should give your, That first team gives a lot of attention. Yeah. It should get, And it gets the least amount of attention.

Curt:

Totally. Cause you think they can take care of the damn cells. Yep. They're your leaders. Yep. Oh, interesting. So, by the way, do you use any tools you use Disk or Myers Briggs or any of those kind of elements? Yeah,

Richard:

we use it. We use a tool. We love, love, love, love, love called the sdi. Oh, comes from the core strengths organization. Yeah.

Curt:

It's got like, you move if you get under stress kind of thing. Is that one? Yeah. Yep. Yeah. That we actually. Uh, last year or two years ago was pretty interesting. I mean, we didn't study it. We sampled it. Used it, Yeah. Sampled it. Used

Richard:

it. Yeah. It's fantastic cuz it's, cuz it's four assessments built into one. Oh. The first one is, you know, most Disc, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, whatever it is that you use, um, is a personality test. It's basically a mere reflection of how do you look to others. Yeah. And, you know, what are your styles? Those are good. You should do that. I, I'm a fan of all of 'em. Useful. This is a whole nother level. Deeper because it gives you a dot on a triangle and that dot tells you what's your motivation, Why do you do what you do? Yeah. So why you do what you do explains what you actually do. Yeah. And so I happen to be a person for, as an example here, if, um, you know, people that are close to me think that I am much more people focused and sensitive and calm and analytical and all of those things of which, I have those strengths. Yeah. But I'm motivated by achieving performance. Yeah. Period. End of sense. In others kind of. Yeah. Well, in others, but I'm, And whatever. Yeah. But, but how I achieve performance is by caring for people. Being more thoughtful. Yeah. Being more analytical. So that's not important to me. Right. If I'm not achieving something. Yeah. If we're not achieving something. If you're not achieving something. So anyway, as an assessment, it's really great. Cool. The second part is it tells you what you do in conflict. Yep. The third part is it gives you a profile of your strengths. And then the fourth part is miserable. It tells you when you do your strengths overdone, what does that look like? And they're all bad words.

Curt:

I like it. It was actually one of my, uh, one of the ones that I. More than, So I just did a, I just did my first, it wasn't a keynote, but I was in the Disrupt hr. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thing the other day. Yeah. How'd that go? It was great. Like I watched my video and I was like, I did pretty good. And so thanks tennis. Yeah. Um, for helping me back in the day on my stage skills, even though they were rusted pretty bad. Yeah. But we've done hall relational intelligence for the last 18 months around local here, and it's a Brazilian system that's more about archetype than it is about personality. Yeah. Yeah. And it's yin and a yang and it's five types. And I'll share more with you, but, uh, what I hear from you, a lot of the things that you'd like about SDI is actually kind of on some of the similar elements of, of hows, where there's overdone strengths or your weaknesses, and that's kind of obvious in most places, But also how to move yourself. To relate actionable emotional intelligence. Yeah. Kind of the core of their theory. Yeah. So anyway, I'll, I'll give you the commercial for that. I've done that too many times lately. Um, so what I would propose at this juncture is that we take a short break, uh, for the restroom. Okay. And then, uh, we'll come back and then we hit our faith family politics segments. Okay. And then we'll hit the Loco experience. All right. And, uh, we'll wrap it up. Sounds good. All right. Sure. Oh, oh. Oh, the metronome went longer than it should have. Edit this out, Alma. Thank you. Hey, um, so we have kind of a closing segments session. Probably. You read that in my email. Cool. So we talk about faith, family, and politics, all of the above. And, but we let you choose which one you'd like to start. And you've obviously referenced family and faith quite a bit in this conversation. And so I think it might be worthwhile to, it seems like a, a faith that's generational, maybe even for you. But can you, can you, can you do that first time? Yeah.

Richard:

Well I'll, I'll tie faith and family into that question. Yeah. Um, I, by the time I was, you know, in high school, I had no frame of reference really for anyone who was, um, I really didn't have a. I didn't know a lot of people with any faith. Oh, really? Um, I've been around people that had went to church, Church or who had like, were spiritual. Yeah. Um, but that wasn't real for

Curt:

not a faith forward kind of a thing

Richard:

anyway. Nope. Nope. And, um, So personally I came to a faith, uh, as a Christian in my, I'd been around church through high school, but when I was a senior in high school, um, had one of these messages from an exhale's angel at school. Is it just say no to drugs type thing. Okay. And he is like, If you wanna hear more of my story, come around tonight. And so, They had a hot dog feed and I was like, This is great. So I brought the entire football team to come here, this exhale's angel talk about how he killed people and all the women he slept with. And that's what I was, And all the boozy drank and the drugs he did, I was, that's what we were expecting to come. And instead he talked about how he life was changed when he met Jesus. And so I heard that message and something resonated for me. And that was, you know, kind of start of my faith journey. But, um, I wanna

Curt:

hear about why the whole football team came with you

Richard:

or whatever. Well, I was, I was a captain of the football team and it was, you know, it was a small football team, so it wasn't like a lot of people and it was free hotdogs. Right. And it was like, we get a chance to hear this badass story about it. Exels

Curt:

Angel, we're out here in Holyoke or whatever. Yeah. And we don't really meet interesting people from far away very often. Yeah.

Richard:

Yeah. Okay. So, So it went and there was, you know, it was really great. Some like really authentic, radical faith changes took place. Yeah. You know, people took. For real. Their hearts were changed and it was, uh, you know, a revival of sorts

Curt:

like Billy Graham style almost, is

Richard:

what I'm imagining. Yeah. It was. And then, but the problem was I didn't take personal ownership in it. Uh, my mom and dad didn't necessarily have a faith. Um, my mom had a radical, like a radical, radical transformation. Um, watching some Billy Graham on tv, our house caught on fire one day. She made a pact with God, God honored that saved the house, saved us, and she just went from zero to a hundred, which was really hard for me. Right. You know, it's like zero. I understood the zero, the hundred I didn't understand. Right. So that was a little awkward. Um, she still to like, to this day. Is this after you had had your experience? That was before. It was like, it was

Curt:

maybe when I was 15. So you had kind of rebuffed that almost like, Yeah. Okay. Crazy. You went a little too far too fast for me

Richard:

on that. Yeah. Yeah. It's like, you know, Going from eating

Curt:

I have a thing where I say I kind of judge how much I want to be friends with somebody based on how much they seem to like me, but at a certain point it's like, if you like me too much undeserved, then I'm like, Oh, not you freaking me out, man. That's right. That's right. That's right. She was like, She God's probably not that way.

Richard:

No. But she was that way to Jesus in my mind. Yeah. And um, by the way, to this day, she's, she's still one of the most authentic prayerful, God fearing, you know, just discipline. It was a

Curt:

moment for her, which

Richard:

is like, it was, I mean, she did not touch a drop of alcohol ever since that day. Wow. I mean, she just is a radical transformation and I'm very thankful for it now. And I have a, our family has a legacy because of that now. And it wasn't until, um, it really wasn't until my wife and I were seriously. Dating and it was leading towards marriage that I decided I need to make this real. And part of that was her telling me, you know, listen, you're a good guy. I know that you have good morals, but you know, you don't represent what I want as a husband. Well,

Curt:

yeah, I was gonna ask, so she came from a more intentional faith background, or more consistent, I guess?

Richard:

Yeah. She, she grew up in, um, she grew up in an environment where her parents put her in private Christian schools. And so she had some really authentic teachers and, and, and friends around her that, that lived that life. Yeah. And so she knew, she, you know, she was, it was real for her. Yeah. And so, so then we got married. That. So then that was, that was the cornerstone of our Yeah. Of our relationship and our marriage. And so together, those couple years in Kansas City were critical. Yeah. And you know, it became where it wasn't just like, we go to church, it was like, this is who we are. Yeah. And,

Curt:

um, this is our community and, and et cetera. Yeah. Mm-hmm. And so I see it almost like the, the Hell's Angel kind of put a dent in your armor, if you will, or a a, a a, a hole in your hole Yeah. Of defending against that thing. And then now you, you really embraced it. Yeah. Was there, like, in my own faith journey, in some ways it was actually more of a logical decision. I, you know, kind of had come around others and my, my wife frankly was from that background and such, and I was like, Well, after studying all this stuff, it seems. It must kinda be true. And at the very least, I told my father-in-law this, at the very least, I'll be a better person if I go to church consistently than if I don't. Yeah. Cause I believe the morals were well thought out or whatever. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Was there, was there something about the story or the, the knitting of the Bible or like what was convicting to you? Or was it more about who I wanted to be down the road? It was, it was

Richard:

more about what I wanted to create Yeah. As a legacy. Mm-hmm. And I didn't just want, you know, God to be a part of our family. I wanted to build my foundation as the word says, on a solid rock. And the more that I read the Bible, the more that Iowa was around authentic Christians, the more I realized, okay, there are crazies out there, Right. And, but these are not crazy people. And I was concerned cuz my wife knew so much, I was like, I'll never know as much as she, she does. Mm. And then I watched some people just a little bit older than me, how they led their. Families, how they led their lives, how they led their work. I was like, Okay, wait a minute, I can do that. So for me it was maybe more of an emotional connection and decision. Um, and like, that's something I want for myself. And, um, and then, you know, the, uh, you know, honestly, I had never studied, I never studied the Bible. Yeah. Never studied the word, never really read, you know, Christian books or even been around, you know, authentic worship. And we started going to, we started going to a church together that had all that. Yeah. And I was just drawn to it. And, um, you know, God's present in three forms, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit and that Holy Spirit lives inside of us. And when, when Jesus as sinned to heaven, he says, I'm gonna leave a helper. And the helper, the spirit, and the spirit lives inside of you like that. Made logical sense to me for the rest of the world. It's like that's the most illogical explanation. This spirit lives inside of you. Yeah. But here's the thing, if you've ever had something, an experience where you've had an encounter with that spirit and you know that you have a relationship with that spirit, you can't deny it. Mm-hmm. So, so I don't need, I, you know, I'm, evangelism isn't my thing. I'm a, you know, I'm more of a, you know, being able the future Yeah. See the future. Be able, tell visionary type. Yeah. And, you know, use my leadership in that. And so if you've ever had a relationship with someone, you can't, no one can deny your relationship. Yeah. And so that's, that's what

Curt:

did it for me. And I'm thinking about even moments like when that consultant spotted you at farmland or whatever and was like, you got something special going on. Or that first person like that moved you up beyond your experience level. Well, they see

Richard:

the spirit in you a little bit. Absolutely. You know what, there's, here's something that's important in those first three or four, even if you don't. Exactly in those first three or four years, I probably had 200 people in the first three or four years come up to me at some point in whatever it was. If it was in a big group, a small group, whatever, they said, you are absolutely doing what you were made to do. Right? Like unsolicited. Yeah. By like, it would be three a week forever. Like, how is this

Curt:

possible? That's a, that's great validation. So, um, one of the questions I wanted to ask you is, and I don't ask most people, I don't put 'em on the spot, but a lot of r a lot of people stay away from the church because they think, you know, Well what about all the Buddhist? Or what about all the Jewish people or the, you know, does Jesus exclude them all and you're gonna call them all like, sent to damnation Yeah. Because of your faith and, and so how do you answer that particular charge?

Richard:

Well, it's a, it's not my job to, It's not my job. You're not the decider to decide that. Yeah. It's for one and for two, I believe. I believe that God is the creator of heaven and earth. And if a God can create heaven and earth and his entire spirit can live inside of you, if you invited in, I think that he can settle that question pretty easily. He'll figure it out I think. I think he can. Yeah. And I think that he's gracious and I think that he's righteous. And I do think that there's questions that people should, should struggle with in that. Yeah. Yeah. But I have not felt like, that's my question to struggle with. I do feel like it is my opportunity to invite people to see that God or that Jesus that I know. Um, I read a book years ago. Called Blue Light Jazz, and there's a lot of Christians, I've read that book. Yeah. There's a lot of Christians like, Oh my gosh, Donald Miller is not a theologian. I'm like, Okay, fine. Here's the thing that happened in this book is that Donald Miller was talking about the trouble with church people. Right? And the trouble with church people is this question that you're asking is that because you have a high moral standard and there is a right and wrong and that you do say, um, Jesus is the way, the truth of life and is the only way to heaven that you like, how do you deny that? And in the, in the process? I think that we hurt people. By being Right. And so one of the things he did, he said he sat up these booths at a Halloween party and basically made a confessional. And when people would come in, they thought they were gonna come in and say all these bad things. And what he did was, before you say anything, I just wanna apologize to you on behalf of any church person that's ever hurt you Because I think that's the, I think that's the, I think that is what happens is in an effort to honor, respect, glorify, et cetera, uh, we lose sight and we, we, we lose relation, we lose the idea that relationship with people is more important. Yeah. And so God can work out the details of your salvation. And it's our job to present, to present that understanding and to share that with others. And if you feel prompting to, if you feel prompting to, you know, say something, then you should do that. But I think we should honor the humans.

Curt:

Very cool. Um, where do you guys find your worship? We

Richard:

are, we're going to foundations. Yeah. Church in Loveland now.

Curt:

Yeah. Now is that, Yeah. Yeah. Long story. Yeah. We won't get into all that. Fair. Yeah. Um, so you've talked a lot about family and it, was it Christie, Christine, Christie, Christie. Mm-hmm. uh, with a C or a K. C. Okay. And, um, what would she say was the reason that she saddled up with you and, and agreed to become the girl on your arm? Well, my charm

Richard:

and general good looks, I think would be what she would lead with Is that right? No, I doubt it. Not at all. Um, I think, I think for one, um, she didn't necessarily come from a stable, stable environment. Men in her life, you know? Weren't some, there wasn't stability. Yeah. And I, I do think that she saw in me a person who could protect and provide and Yeah. Um, I,

Curt:

I do think provide security until the point where you quit your job and you're like,

Richard:

surprise. Yeah. Right. And that's why I'm so conscientious about how, how I, you know, what kind of pressure I put her under. Yeah. I also think that she would say if she was sitting right here, that, that our humor together. Yeah. Um, I don't always make her happy, but I always make her laugh.

Curt:

I like it. I like it. And what are your, what are your boys' names? Yeah, we

Richard:

have, so we have Christian, Preston, Jackson, and Lincoln 22. Preston's 20. Jackson is 16, and Lincoln little link is 12.

Curt:

Ooh. Okay. Um, I don't know if you've listened to many of our episodes, but we always ask a one word description of your children. Of each of them, or of them. Each of them. Yeah. It would be. Gosh, it's hard with just individually, but as an aggregate, that seems impossible.

Richard:

Yeah. Well, Christian is 22. He's the one finishing grad school. He's kind of always been on the straight now future

Curt:

president of Peak Solutions Group. No pressure of

Richard:

something, You know, he's right. He's, he's literally one of the best friends on planet earth to, to other people. Yeah. So for Christian, I think, um, I think I would say friend. Yeah,

Curt:

I was thinking Kindred. Kindred, yeah. Or whatever.

Richard:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, Preston, he's 20. He's 20. I think the word I would use for Preston. Preston is an old soul. Yeah. We got induced at seven 30 in the morning. He was born at four 30. He came out grown, looking like a grown man. you know, he had a side part and he's been serious. Um, I would put, I, you know, there's, I would use the word wise for Preston. Preston has, um, Street smarts and wisdom that are beyond his age. Yeah. Yeah. Um, Jackson, the word I would use for Jackson is Joy.

Curt:

Um, and how old is he? He's 16. Okay.

Richard:

And he beats to his own drum. Always has. Yeah. Um, it's been fun watching him become a young man. Yeah. And, um, he's gifted. He's just so gifted and has so much to offer the world. And, uh, that's fun. And Lincoln, I would call him Mayor. Ooh. Lincoln is the mayor of wherever he goes. If he was, if Lincoln was in here, it wouldn't be long before he's doing, doing He'd the boss interview. He's, he's just, he's, he's got a high sense, Christie says, We're. we're exact. He's my, my, you know, my mini, Mini, Yeah. Um, and usually she says that when things aren't going well,

Curt:

here is a compliment though. Yeah. That's cool. I think so, Yeah. So, um, I, the first time, I don't know when we actually met, but I saw you speak at an RCS gala. I, I, I assume your kids mostly went there. Yeah. Yep. They all go there. Resurrection Christian School. Mm-hmm. Um, do you know the Johnson family? I do, by the way. Yeah. Uh, so a 16 year old, he would be the same age, basically as Isaiah, I suppose? Yeah. Isaiah

Richard:

and then, uh, Elijah, just Elijah and Preston were in the same class. Okay.

Curt:

Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. So, um, and I don't say that for any other reasons than to say, Hey, Elijah. Hey Sam. Hi Isaiah. Hi. Samuel Anyway, or Uh, gosh, the little one. Simon. Simon. I said Sam twice. He's gonna be so mad, but he doesn't listen to the local experience. That's good. So it doesn't matter. It's good. He's good. So we've talked about faith, we've talked about family. Anything else you'd like to append with the family? Sec segment here. Um, what do you want, What do you want for your boys?

Richard:

I want for my boys to be strong and courageous men to treat. Women well to lead courageously. And I want them to, I want them to be at my, my biggest hope for them is that they will be able to hear and understand the voice of God. And, um, if they can do that, then whatever they choose to do, everything else, their hands touch, you know, where your

Curt:

pointer's at. Yeah, yeah. I didn't ask, um, of you, what was it about Christie that, uh, made you wanna be part of her

Richard:

life forever? I was at a place where I needed to make a, you know, to, to settle my, my decision. Am I going to be a person of, of faith and conviction or am I. Hmm. You know, party my way into my thirties or what, you know, what am I gonna do? So she was an anchor of sorts to you. She was, Matter of fact, I met her at Old Chicago's, didn't get her name, but she had mentioned something about her faith and having grown up in private Christian school, et cetera. And I searched for her for six weeks. Hmm. I went home that night and I woke up all of my roommates and told 'em, I met the woman I was gonna marry.

Curt:

Wow. Yeah. I usually hear that from the other direction. My, my theory has been, and it's being tested here, is that the woman is typically the decider in that scenario. But it sounds like in a way that you kind of Yeah.

Richard:

Like found her. I, I actually over pursue, pursued her, turned her

Curt:

off like that I did. And she's like, freak person. It's like, gonna like you, you're cute.

Richard:

But, and I had to lie and tell her, I, I just want to be friends when I didn't. I'm like, I want to marry you. But, um,

Curt:

That's interesting. I actually, it's funny because. So through college I didn't have any faith in my world, but I did have that same, and my, my wife is a, is a Christian as well, but I did like, I liked all the good girls and I had at least two of them be like, No, you're a little too wild for me. Right, right. You know, and good for them. Right. Yeah. No, I brought you nothing but destruction. Uh, Anastasia. Sorry. You know, Anyway, I, I suspect Anna's not listening, but I think you're awesome either way. Um, politics, uh, we said we would talk about like some intense things going on in the world today. I suspect that because of your both international kind of not flavor of, of sorts, but also because you seem nearly as curious as I am, um, I suspect in the Hallows we might be the same, like a white, green kind of style, but we'll talk about that later. Um, what do you think about the world today and what. Should the leaders do different to make suffering less two years from now?

Richard:

I think that, Oh my gosh. Um, easy. It's easy, it's simple. Well, something happened, I'm gonna go back to something I said in, in June of 2020. Yeah. So I got an opportunity to do a project for the nih. Wow. Um, I was hired for the, to work for the, I didn't know who the NIH was, Right. And then, and so I was hired in 2019 to do a project in 2020 for the nih, and, and it was on trust. Okay. And so the world shuts down, the pandemic hits. Dr. Fauci is now the face of the nih. I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is the nih and I'm creating my, you know, the. Uh, so

Curt:

you did

Richard:

this, I did not do this. Okay. I did not do this. I, I was contemplating, So they asked if I would continue to do the, the keynote virtually. So it was supposed to be in front of 1200 leaders of the NIH in person. Wow. They asked if I'd do it in per, in, you know, over virtual. And I really was struggling. And I was struggling because I was creating my own set of information and data and facts. And, and by the way, that I think is one of the biggest problems today is that you're not, don't single source your information. Well, don't question, don't question those that, that have the power. And I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm saying today. I do that all the time. If you question a going narrative around, fill in the blank. You're gonna be canceled. It can't work. And so we've lost the objective ability to question, uh, especially if you disagree with the, with the prevailing wind. So I decided that I could do this thing for the NIH if I was honest and authentic. And so I started off by saying, I don't want to be here. I'm concerned about this. It being authentic is one of my highest values. Yeah. And the reason I don't want to be here is not because I don't agree or believe any of what you're doing is great, or any, or what anyone is doing is great. It's because I'm struggling. I'm struggling with some tensions. And the tension is we say, Let's flatten the curve at that time, yet let's not kill the economies on the other side and let's protect the hospitals and people there yet millions. At that point, by June, 2020, already millions of people had lost jobs in healthcare and billions of dollars was lost. Yeah. We say we want to have control and decisions made closest to where the problems happen. Yet we have one solution for everything in the world. In the world. My parents live in a town of 2000. They live six miles outside of town. They're supposed to have the same, you know, on a farm. They're supposed to, you know, stay in their house the same, same way as as something else. And so I said, the problem is, is that one side of this is inhaling and one side of this is exhaling. And I feel like I've suffocated, and I don't know if anyone else in the world feels this way, but that's, you know, that's what I felt. You

Curt:

said this in front of all these leaders. I said all of them. And

Richard:

then I had Zoom, I guess on, Yeah, I was, yes, Zoom. And I had one thing prepared to say that I didn't have the courage to say, which I wish I would've said. And this is what I would've said. And I think it addresses a little bit of what your question was. And what I would've said if I'd had the courage was. Dr. Fauci, if you're listening. And it would, it didn't have to be Dr. Fauci, it could be anyone, right? But at that point, I said, Dr. Fauci, if you're listening, two, I don't knows, and three, I was wrongs right now could change the face of the world. And so what happened between government control, health control, all education control, is as people found out more information, instead of saying, Oh wait, we were wrong, or saying, We don't know. And because we don't know, we're gonna swing way over here to this pendulum, and when we find out more information, we might change that. And so I think what we created was a, you know, a deeper dive into binary decisions where you have a right and a left, a wrong, and a right. And so one of the things that I would say to change if I could change the world today, I. I would eliminate anyone who has a completely biased opinion on the answers of anything, and let objective people lead the way. That's impossible because it's

Curt:

nearly Well, when you have centralized control, it's always gonna be biased.

Richard:

Right. It's always gonna be biased. And if you're biased, I'm bias. I'm not my Joel, my goal is not to eliminate bias. Right. My goal is to be aware of bias. Yeah. And I think that's one of the problems with the movement today is that we wanna eliminate bias. Well, it's impossible. I

Curt:

can no more do that than stop breathing. In our think tanks, we say, you know, we try to avoid conflict of interest to the best we can, but when we see it, we throw it on the table and name it and say what it could impact and, and are we comfortable with this conflict? Yeah. I didn't hear that Yeah. At all in the

Richard:

way that this was No. And, and most of the world, the law of economics is around the wise use of scarce resources, and we also have to evaluate the greater good. Mm-hmm. and, and the greater good discussion. Has, has left the equation. And so now within, within, you know, all of the, the, the geo global political realm of things, there's kind of like a narrative. Oh yeah. That has to be followed. And if you're on that side of the narrative, you feel pretty good about it. And if you're not, you feel really terrible about it. Yeah. And it's

Curt:

unfortunate, I don't know if you know this, you might not have researched me enough, but I've been kind of semi cancelled, like I'm a questioner of public health orders and this and that and what, a week before Trump said how, uh, if the poison or the cure is worse than the poison or whatever, I wrote a blog, uh, how will we know if the cure is worse than the disease, is what I wrote. Right. Yeah. And among other things that I wrote in this, in this blog, and I'm probably a dumb person forever putting this out there in the public sphere was, you know, economically speaking, Potentially one of the best things for our nation and our world would be a bunch of old fat people to perish. Yeah. And let their resources be untapped for future generations. And I, I, I qualified it with economically speaking, but I still got called Hitler. Yeah. Um, but I was like, there are at least dozens, probably hundreds of people that wouldn't come on my podcast because I expressed that one simple sentiment. And I expressed at one point, you know, I think the risk is better for me, not for my mom. Mom get the jab for me. I'm gonna pass cuz I'd rather have my body have a shotgun approach to infection and immunity than lose my job. And that was part of it. Yeah. Like you mentioned early on it was like, If you ask me to nicely, I'll probably do it if you tell me to. My answer is probably no. And I was like on my way toward getting the vaccine. And then when it started mandating, and especially when they started firing nurses that had already been infected and recovered, I was like, You know what? Not gonna do it. Screw you. You can't make me, and I'd rather die than be part of your medical industrial complex and tell people that they don't have decision making power. Well, Kurt, I

Richard:

think in this, in, in. Very polarized conversations. The problem is, is we don't talk about the problem. So you have this conversation and you make it about the vaccine, right? And then you take a topic like abortion and you make it about person's right to choose, or bodily autonomy You take, um, you know, you know, fill in the blanks. You take, you take climate

Curt:

change. Climate change. So I drive a car that burns a lot of gas or not,

Richard:

whatever, all of this. And let's go back to what's really, what's really the question at hand. So, The question isn't, should you take the vaccine or not? The question has gotta be something bigger and bolder. The question is, is, you know, is mandating something like this? Is it the right thing? Right. Um, is there proof that this does what it says it's gonna do? Um, the abortion topic, I, you know, I basically, if you take, I'm a, i, I, I am a pro-life advocate. However, most people, what they say as a pro-choice, I don't disagree with what they're saying. I don't disagree at all with what they're saying, what I disagree with. What happens when you do that procedure? Mm-hmm. Oh, interesting. And so, so, so the question is, at what point is this? What, what point is this a life and why do you celebrate the eight weeks sonogram for your sister and, and cry right when she's in a car accident and loses that child. Yet it's a very different situation for your cousin who at 28

Curt:

weeks. 30 or 40

Richard:

what? And so, Right. So all I want to have is the, is what's the right conversation to have. And I think we've lost that art of that, you know, really thoughtful conversation.

Curt:

Yeah. Um, so how do we fix it? Like, I've always enjoyed having conversations with people that disagree with me. Um, frankly, in some ways better than people. Like, I don't need any more Yes. Men. I like some, some pushback and some contention. Yeah. But I've, like, I feel like it's increasingly challenging and I'm, I'm sure that your clients are all over the board, right? Yeah. Like, as with most of us, uh, like even right now, a third of the people listening to this are like, Huh, Chris pushing the envelope again. That dumb ass. They're, they're hitting, they're hitting the fast forward button, right? Yeah. You know, So how do we, I mean, is there, is there. Trust, you're the master of trust in some, not the master of it, but at least that's probably your special sauce in some ways. How, if we go, how do we trust each other? If we go

Richard:

back to the questions you asked at the beginning around this, can we see people for individuals? Can we see them for the humanity that is there? My friend who said, eh, your book was okay. Um, what he said was, this is all about giving the benefit of the doubt, assuming positive intent. Hmm. If we can enter into a conversation in that you are a worthy human who has, who has some God given gifts and, and abilities to think, and I wanna understand that and I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt that you're not forming an opinion because you hate me. Mm-hmm. or because you dislike humanity or because you, whatever, it's that you know, you're making a decision the best, you know how, and I want to understand where you're coming from and, and it goes back to, it's not my job necessarily. To alter your opinion, it's to understand your opinion. Yeah. You know, the art of war is about getting to know your enemy, not to defeat enemy. As I, as I get to know my enemy, then maybe I might find that there's more in common, it's not my enemy, or I might understand better. How do I need to communicate to you? Yeah.

Curt:

Do this is gonna be a terrible question, but we're in the politics section, so it's allowed, do you assume positive intent for the current administration

Richard:

right now? I don't. I. Don't, it's, it's hard to, uh, it's not just, they're

Curt:

not just incompetent. They're actually potentially malevolent. Yeah.

Richard:

I think that, I think that do not have my best interest in mind. Um, I believe that they think that we don't pay attention or care as to what is happening. And what I think is the vast majority of people who aren't saying anything about it or who support that, they don't necessarily support it. They just have, they have too much invested in saying, Wait a minute, my side is wrong. Yeah. And I go back to the, to my comment to the nih, a couple I was wrongs and a couple, I don't knows, can change the face of the world. And so this is why a guy like Joe Rogan, who's never voted for Republican candidate in his life, who's all of a sudden this this bash, he's a right wing conspiracy theorist. Yeah. And he's not. But what he is, is he's a critical thinker. Who's consistently asking questions that need to be asked, and it's un, it's unpopular and un, you know, it's unconvenient to ask, Are

Curt:

you comfortable in this space right now? Like, uh, it's, it's edgy for somebody in your space, but it like, when people use words like pandemic and use words like scam, demic, Yeah. You know, I mean, to me, like at least in part, the people that have profited from this thing might be the same people that have created the thing and fixed it. And the adverse response or the conflict of interest inherently baked into that makes me worry, you know, are they gonna sell us a new drug every five years for a bug that they created?

Richard:

Yeah. I, So am I comfortable? The answer is no. And like, the only reason I'm have having this conversation is cuz it's in initial, nobody really listens to this podcast. Well, it's in response to your question. Um. And, and I, I don't allow it to, unless it's critical to the function of what I'm doing, affect the work that I'm doing. Because here's what I believe, I believe that every corporate organization, every one of your clients, all of this, that every one of 'em has too many important things to do in their regular everyday work. That getting too involved in this to get preoccupied. Yeah. So the fact that corporate organizations are, are entering into social issues, to me is highly frustrating because I feel like they've, if I read their mission, if I look at their shareholder commitment, if I look at their values, There's just so much more important work to be done than to go into that effort. And I've got a good friend who works for one of the largest, you know, Fortune 50 company, and he's, he's a CEO of one of their, one of their investment companies. And he says he spends two to five hours a week on calls about these types of things and, you know, pointing fingers at him to get better at this or to grow this or to understand this and. That's two to five hours that he could've been growing that business and capturing market share and leading his people well. Yeah. And, and the pro not reflecting and defending, But here's the challenge is that there's a lot of people, shareholders, employees, who disagree with what I just said. Yeah. They say It is our responsibility. Yeah. It is the, the, I want the CEO to be care about this. And so, Well, we can take

Curt:

it a step further. Like the ESG stuff is really under heavy fire right now. by that thumbs down. I, I see that You're like, you know, because who becomes the decider? They have the ultimate conflict of interest, right? Yeah.

Richard:

I, I think that, I think that the vast majority of organizations are doing things that, that qualify them for making good ESG impacts in the world. They're all trying to do that, and what makes sense for them, and what this does is it arbitrarily forces. organizations to make decisions that aren't part of their ethos, aren't part of their value stream.

Curt:

It's the type of fashion partism really, I think. Yeah. You know, whether it's government, spa, or encourag, it, it still is.

Richard:

And here's how we know this is true. Here's how we know this is true. Because if the, if the coin was flipped and it was something that was opposite, if it was something that was a conservative value and said, Okay, uh, instead of esg it's about, you know, what's your faith family? And, and, uh Right. You know, your con, your conservative nature. We know that that wouldn't exist. Right. And then the other thing that we know is, is people say, Well, our shareholders and our employees want us to take a stand. And the fact is, is that's not true. What they want you to do is take a specific stand. And so when you're asking me to take a specific stand and anything other than that stand doesn't count, then that's disingenuous. Yeah. Um, it used to be, Hey, just volunteer, volunteer wherever you want to. And now it's like, And here's the seven places that you have to volunteer. Right. So I think that, I think that, And they don't include the Alpha Center. Yeah, No, no. Specifically not. Yeah.

Curt:

Um, I feel like we could spend another hour on this general field, but is there anything like you would encourage, cuz people aren't really aware of what's going on in the world. If you, if you, if like, what's your source for news and if you were gonna encourage anybody to try to inform themselves on pressing topics? Like where, where do you find non-biased information?

Richard:

Uh, I don't think that it exists. I don't think it exists on either side. I, I was just given a website that was apparently supposed to be a non-biased and I looked at it and I read it and I'm like, this is biased. Um, I think that, I think that we've come to a place now where if you want an unbiased opinion, you probably need to read the other side. Yeah. And. Because you already know your side. Yeah. And then you, for yourself try and formulate Yeah. Do

Curt:

some steel manning of the other side's, opinion and things like that for

Richard:

yourself. What, what's interesting, Trump made popular the idea of fake news, but the Edelman Trust Barometer, which is a liberal leaning PR firm, that puts out a really fantastic, great report, but it, it definitely is leaning,

Curt:

all our institutions are screwed,

Richard:

Institutions are screwed. And something like 90% of people believe that they're being lied to, left, right, up, down for, And so here we have, every, every center of influence is, is is not trustworthy. Yeah. Um, Kurt, the only place where we've never lost trust is in mom. And so a shout out to the moms out there who haven't Yeah. Who haven't neglected.

Curt:

Well, and the Bible hasn't changed a lot in 2000 years either. Yeah.

Richard:

It's a steady, it's a steady source. So I try not to get too terribly caught up in that because I have very little affect in it. Yeah. Um, I think that our county commissioner to

Curt:

be a senator someday, or a county commissioner or something. Yeah.

Richard:

Make it work better. You know, the thing that I I, a quote I heard was, anybody that you would want to run for that is too smart to actually do it.

Curt:

Totally true. Totally true. Um, well, I think that's enough suffering for now. Let's talk about your loco experience. This is the craziest experience of your life that you're willing to share.

Richard:

Craziest experience of my life.

Curt:

Our moment could be a day, an hour, a month, or a year. It's something that was formative and crazy. Hmm. And maybe it was just crazy. I don't know. For your party days, did you have anything like that your wife doesn't even know about you'd like to share here on this podcast for your son's Just kidding. Um,

Richard:

I, my brother is 12 years older than me, and I always, I always joke that when I became of legal age, I became much more fun for him. and my brother and I were, were very close and he was 40 before he got married. He's never had kids. We don't have the same, Yeah, politics, religion, like there's so much, but he's, he's one of the kind. Most gentle, sincere, authentic people. There's so much of him that I want to be like, um, he's just a we're, you know, my kids think that I'm older than him cuz I'm old dad and he's Funko Kenny um, he lived on a boat for seven years. I like it. And I would say, and you know, back in those days I would like go to a travel agent to buy a ticket. And on my own I would fly to see him multiple times a year during some very formative times. And so anything that happened on the test, Rita, which was his boat was probably a Loko experience.

Curt:

Uncle Kenny. I'll be booking my trip out to see it. But he got married later or something. He got married later,

Richard:

moved into our family. Our family had a, a beautiful property about 9,000 feet outside of Durango and a cabin. Wow. Bought that from my dad and he and his wife lived there and they're building in just a glorious life with their dogs and each other and, and is

Curt:

good like Uncle Kenny. You got plenty of room. I'll be down there next time. I'm headed down to Four Corners Area. Do it Right. Hey, um, where do people find you, uh, if they want to engage Peak Solutions or

Richard:

you? Yeah. Today the only place I engage is on LinkedIn. Okay. Um, partly because of what we just talked about. You know, I think that the, um, I think, I think more harm has been done through social media platforms than is good. Um, I love to keep up with my friends and family on some of those, but I try to remain fairly active on LinkedIn and Okay. And, and share a little bit of what's going on there. So hit me up on LinkedIn. Awesome.

Curt:

Well, um, that's where I found you and, uh, you know, thanks much. It's been a great, uh, conversation. Yeah, great. And I look forward to next time. Thanks. All right, thanks Richard.