people, manufacturing, kathy, book, kathy miller, general motors, damon, career, helping, plant, superpowers, corporate, companies, talk, manufacturer, amazing, absolutely, rolls royce, lean, world
Damon Pistulka, Kathy Miller, Curt Anderson
Damon Pistulka 00:01
All right, everyone, it is Friday and what’s that mean? Manufacturing ecommerce success. I’m one of your hosts Damon Pistulka. And this good looking guy right over here is Kurt Anderson. We’re going to take it away. Today we’re going to be talking about a true story of women. Manufacturing leadership. We got Kathy Miller here to date, Kurt. My friend, partner take it away man.
Curt Anderson 00:30
Hey Damon, happy Friday Brother What an amazing gorgeous day what I tried this best time of year you know, it’s like a sports fan. Like there’s all sorts of sports going on what’s happening things are changing. It’s just you know, it just best time.
Now just for our program today. I don’t know if people can’t see this. But demon I came prepared. Damon, I know you’ve got your steel toes on today. I’ve got my stilettos on. And we are ready to rock. And are you guys sitting down out there? So hey, happy Friday. Thank you for joining us today. If anybody’s out there, man. drop us a note. Drop us a hello here. We have Kathy Miller in the house. Kathy. First off, I want to thank you for having such an easy simple name because I was I practice all week. I got that right. Kathy Miller. Happy Friday. How are you today?
Kathy Miller 01:15
We are doing great. How are you?
Curt Anderson 01:19
And I couldn’t be any better than this moment right here right now. So this has been long on our list. You’ve we’ve been watching you from afar. We are just so excited to have you on the program. So I guess you sit back and relax for one second because Dave and I will read off a couple of things here about our dear friend Kathy Miller. Okay. Let’s take a look here.
So Alright, first off, did you Damon I know like we have all stars week in and week out. Did you know we have a Hall of Famer today no women in manufacturing, gamer one and only Kathy Miller her but let me rattle off some of the positions that Kathy Miller has held over her illustrious career. Kathy, are you ready for this?
Project Engineer, Senior Marketing Manager, senior engineering supervisor, Operations Manager, global lean manufacturing leader, plant manager global director after catch my breath. She’s worked at companies like General Motors, Delphi, Parker Hannifin, Rose, Rose Royce of what was the last one he worked at? Vernon verta. Thank you very much. And Kathy, what an amazing, incredible career. My first question for you today. As a little girl growing up who was your hero? Who was your hero growing up that created this monster of a career? Who was your hero, please?
Kathy Miller 02:32
Honestly, when I was growing up, it was my parents. Nice. All right. They really were very wonderful people, very giving people generous people made sure that all of us kids had an opportunity to get an education and be confident in ourselves. So it was pretty close to home. My heroes.
Curt Anderson 02:54
Awesome. Mom and Dad’s name, please.
Kathy Miller 02:55
Greg and Diane Fishel.
Curt Anderson 02:59
Well, hey, we Diane and Craig is that we said, Yeah, yep. Perfect. Okay, well, big shout out to them for just this monster success that you’ve created. So alright, let’s slide into the next step. Okay. You’ve done an amazing job, you go off to college you gave I’d love for you to share a little bit about this. You had this wonderful story, you’re going to take a psychology path, you decided to go into industrial engineering. Do I have that correct? Yes, that’s right, what led you into this path of industrial engineering as a young lady.
Kathy Miller 03:29
So it’s actually very just really based on the realities of life. So I wanted to study psychology. And my dad was concerned about me being able to take care of myself on a bachelor’s degree and needing a PhD to be able to do that. And so I was putting myself through college.
So he recommended something that would allow me to go, you know, straight into a very stable, and just really a good career path straight out of my bachelor’s degree. So I said, I want to be a psychologist. And he was like, oh, and then he said, I said, Okay, I’ll be a lawyer.
And he said, Well, honey, it’s not really like the paper chase. And I said, Well, yeah, you remember that show? I love that. And, and I’m like, Well, what can I be? And he said, Well, you’re good at math and science. How about an engineer? So at this time, I had been receiving, you know, the literature from the different colleges about, you know, coming in. He had actually had a neighbor growing up that went to GMI. It’s so funny. And when I got the brochure, he said, Oh, that’s a great school and you should apply to that.
It’s now Kettering University, but it used to be General Motors Institute, okay. And I told him, I said, Daddy, I already threw away the brochure. I’ve already been accepted it for colleges. We’re good to go. He made me dig it out of the trash. And we moved from Rochester to Kent. As a city in my senior year of high school, and I got a call, you have to have a co op experience to go there. It’s it’s a five year school and you go to school as an intern, and in two and a half years.
And so I got a call from the assembly plant in Kansas City and asked me to come in for an interview, I went in and did a four hour interview, they called the next day and offered me a job. And he was like, Yeah, take it, it was just, you know, all sort of fell pretty easily for me. So I’ve reframed my career aspirations, in terms of, I really got to practice psychology and law along the way in manufacturing, without the formal degree. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 05:44
Better psychology experience than many managing manufacturing businesses or operations. It’s just that you’ve got to get people working together.
Kathy Miller 05:54
I love people and processes. I really do. Yeah. So it ended up being just an amazing career for me. And I eventually went back to get my degree in psychology, you know, I was still on my bucket list. So, you know, since I was able to have have a stable career and support myself, I thought, you know, I’m just going to indulge myself and study that, even at this advanced stage.
Curt Anderson 06:18
Yeah, that is perfect. And we’re going to talk more about that advanced, because we are super excited what you just did, and that was a recent congratulations to you. But again, big Hello, Happy Friday, everybody. We’ve got Whitney. Yeah, Gail, Gary wood, who’s in Rochester, New York. So hey, Happy Friday to you guys. We’ve got an absolute we have a Hall of Famer here, woman in Maine.
And Kathy, you know, it really begs the question. So you talked about, okay, why you chose industrial engineering, how you slid into, you know, General Motors kind of kick started your career? Do you ever think, you know, as a young person, maybe when you’re a college and obviously, if you’re going to industrial engineering, you’re you’re heading that way. But you know, at the time, did you think like, Were there a lot of opportunities for women in manufacturing? What was kind of your mind mindset at that time?
Kathy Miller 07:02
There are so many opportunities for women in manufacturing, as a matter of fact, what I’ve learned over the years is there’s room for everybody in manufacturing. Yes. Well, of all educational levels, skill sets, I’m so passionate about it for that reason, it’s gonna be the most inclusive industry and career out there, right? No,
Curt Anderson 07:23
did you so if I can interject real quick, like at the time, so obviously, you know, today, it’s like, we’re there’s a huge push, there’s like a renaissance for manufacturing at the time. You know, like, I’m not gonna call it anybody’s age. But you know, I think we’re in college that same time ish. But at the time, did you feel like you’re a little bit of a pioneer kind of going in?
Or like, we’re, as you came into the industry? Did you find like, were there? Were you embrace? Were there mentors? Like, who kind of helped you pave your path? Like, could you share like, early, you know, like, 2122, fresh out of college or at General Motors? What was that experience like for you?
Kathy Miller 07:56
Absolutely. You know, now that I look back at it, in retrospect, I guess it was more like a pioneer. But at the time for me, it was just my environment. So it felt very normal to me. You know, I started a vehicle assembly plant, I was literally the only young female in this large, large operation. There were women in administration. There were some women in supervision.
A few people in the instrument panel department, but I really was but you know what? I grew up with all brothers. Yeah. So I was the only I was almost always the only female. Yeah, the real and everything. So I didn’t really think about it. I never really made that big of an issue about it. Yeah, there. It was a little bit rougher environment back in the day than it is now. Yeah. But my dad was always you know, I tell a story in the book about I went for the interview and at the plant.
And people this was so funny, he drove me because I was 17 years old. My dad literally drove me and you know, I go through this for hours of interviews and they’re like, Would you like to see the plant? And I said I would love to and they said how about the guy who’s been waiting in the lobby all day when he liked the floor? And um, let’s ask him Daddy, do you want to go so you know, we go out in the plant and people are awesome.
And hollering and like my elbow is literally intertwined with my dad as we’re walking down the main aisle and people kept calling and I’m thinking to myself there is no way in the world this man is gonna let me work here. You know when they call me so I can’t be they don’t mean anything by it. You know, they’re assembling cars they’re bored you’re walking through don’t let it get to you so I never really thought about being the only female in the room and I was through so many decades unless someone else called attention to it.
Curt Anderson 09:52
Right? So So again, I you know, I love your humility, but given your you know, more credit than then what you really deserve. Right. I mean, like, yeah, you know, you’re a near you had thick skin because a lot of people might not have tolerated you know, some of the comments or what have you, but like, you know, you really sound like not only did you shine, you just thrived in a particularly difficult, you know, potentially difficult environment and it wasn’t even affecting you. It was just and you thrive through it, right.
Kathy Miller 10:19
Yeah, I mean, there were some hard times, I would say there were some situations that were tough, but I was always able to navigate through them through, like you said, people who really looked out for me, I have a lot of great mentors and allies through the years, people who were just so kind to me and help pick me up when, you know, there may be a rough or, or inappropriate situation to know.
Curt Anderson 10:46
So, you know, let’s, I’m going off script a little bit. Let’s, I’d love to hit that right there. So let’s say that there’s a young person, either, I’d say there’s a more seasoned person that’s been around veteran, you know, I, again, our age ish, if you’re, you know, whatever age, and what are some things that were those mentors that really took you under their wing, or really helped you thrive? What do you have any tips or advice for mentors today of how they could help the younger folks be more embraced in manufacturing or women in manufacturing? Any advice for the mentors?
Kathy Miller 11:18
Yeah, I think that, for me, the most important thing for a mentor is to first of all be a role model, right, and act the way that you think would be successful for your mentee. But I would also employ what I call tough love. Yeah. So you know, you want them to be successful, you’re vested in what they want to do. But you also have to be honest with your mentees about, you know, living in their strengths, but what’s appropriate, and what will help them survive and thrive in the business world. So you can’t always tell them what they want to hear.
Curt Anderson 11:57
Right. Okay. Great advice. Absolutely. Love that. So I’d like to slide into again, I rattled off, you know, a lot of your positions that you’ve carried through, you know, through again, this amazing, incredible career, can you just talk about like that corporate climb? What was like for you like for each new position, and like, as you kept taking on more responsibility, you know, again, you’re still a young person, you know, you’re in your 20s, and you’re climbing rising, just share a little bit like, what was that like, for your perspective,
Kathy Miller 12:24
I always worked really hard in the job I was in. And I didn’t have that end goal in mind that, oh, I want to be CEO of General Motors someday, or I want to be, you know, chairman of a board, I always had the attitude that I would excel, if I just did a really great job where I was, and I didn’t get too caught up in what the title was.
I just always wanted more and more responsibility and to contribute more and lead more people. So I think the one job that I really wanted badly, that really did occupy a lot of my thoughts was when I got to be a plant manager at Delphi, then a manufacturing superintendent, they called me in and said, Kathy, you’re going to the lean team.
And I, I was flabbergasted. I was like, I thought I was doing a good job. i Why are you sidelining me into the special assignment? And they were like, no, no, no, we’re gonna go lean all the way. There’s no Plan B, we want to take our future plant managers and make sure they’re in this. So there, it wasn’t always up, right.
Sometimes it was sideways. And sometimes it was one step back to go two steps forward. And those those you know, they play on your mind a little bit, right? Because people always ask, hmm, you know what happened and so you just got to keep your ego in check. And if you trust your organization, and they really want you to get the good developmental assignments, you have to go along with some of those. But I did it always did feel good when you got that recognition and promotion, I’m not gonna lie it okay.
Damon Pistulka 14:05
Well, you know, people may not dig through your profile, look at stuff but I’m, I’m an old engineering nerd, right. I look at some of your stuff. And some of the things that you did that are just remarkable in in your in your career is I forget which which position one of your earlier positions where you reduced the defect rate down into single parts per million. And if people have never did high volume manufacturing, you do not know how hard that is. Right? That is that is like is like climbing all seven peaks in the world without oxygen and not knowing your toe. It’s like literally that heart am I am I am I wrong? Yeah,
Kathy Miller 14:45
it is so hard. It’s easier to go from 40 to 20, then 980. You know,
Damon Pistulka 14:52
same. It’s his thing.
Kathy Miller 14:54
You have to look at every single incident. People have to understand structured problem problem solving and getting to the root cause and getting past the, you know, ego of who did what it’s, this is about processes, not about people.
And there, and at that time I was in automotive. Yeah, biggest failure you could ever have would be to shut down an automotive assembly plant. So there was always this law ring. Okay, not only do I have to fix this, but I have to do it quickly. You know, because you don’t want that on your record, you know, and I’m happy to say that I retired from corporate world without ever having shut down a vehicle assembly plant. Yeah. That’s my biggest my biggest things, but it was really hard.
Damon Pistulka 15:42
Yeah, yeah, it was one of my earlier roles. I was doing it for electronics and in vehicle assembly, too. And it’s like you said, it’s, you know, the the parts really, it’s gotta go down, because you never want to shut a line down in any of those places that for sure.
That’s so cool. That another one you did you did a 30% reduction in lead time. That’s, that’s crazy, cool. You know, using lean and stuff, you are applying these things. And you know, I can I can look at your history. And I can I can see why you continue to be able to move up and developing and add more value because these these are just some pretty amazing things you did.
Kathy Miller 16:18
Well, thank you. I was surrounded by really great people. I always had teams of amazing people. I always tried to assemble people who had strengths that I didn’t have on my teams and just remove roadblocks for them.
Damon Pistulka 16:31
Yeah. So much fun. So cool.
Curt Anderson 16:33
Well, we’ve got some great comments here. I’m gonna do gals dropping some great comments here. We’ve got Whitney given a shout out. And as we often do a disservice to our young girls when we there’s a cost and we still have hurdles and we can’t sugarcoat it. So again, gell Mann if gal if you’re not connected with Kathy, you guys, absolutely yeah. With Whitney, she’s an absolute Rockstar.
So anybody out there job as a no job. You definitely want to connect with Kathy, do yourself a favor, grab her book, it is a it is just a blockbuster book. We’re going to dig into the book in a minute. I’m gonna go through your career a little bit further before we jump into the book, Kathy, so okay, you work for General Motors, you work for Delphi. Let’s skip ahead to Rolls Royce. That’s a really cool name, if you will, what was it like when you left and you will talk about that transition when you went to Rolls Royce? What was that like?
Kathy Miller 17:27
So I had been working at Parker Hannifin at the time, and running a division for them. And I got a call from a recruiter, it was a nine month process between the first call from the recruiter when I joined Miss rice, what I was really attracted to Rolls Royce about was they had were investing hundreds of millions of dollars in their Indianapolis operations to revitalize them the infrastructure and put in advanced manufacturing technologies.
And I was so excited to get for to work for a company who was investing in manufacturing in the USA, you know, I feel a huge, a huge amount of gratitude to American manufacturing, because that’s where I grew up in everything I have in my life.
And what I’ve been able to provide for my family has been because of that. So even though I’ve worked with manufacturing all over the world in the things that I’ve done, and there’s so many just amazing people who are bettering their lives through careers and manufacturing, I’ve got a soft spark spot for you to the USA manufacturing. And so it was wonderful to get to be part of that transformation for for that organization.
Curt Anderson 18:40
That was a that was so good. Kathy, that was just awesome. Now, you also you had a global director position shared a little bit like from a global perspective, some like maybe fascinating things that you saw through your career, you know, going to other countries, what you were able to bring back here, maybe something shocking over there that was either positive or maybe negative are some things that you brought back, like what was that given?
So for folks, if you’re a small manufacturer, 20 3040 employees, maybe they they’re not they’re unable to have that global perspective, what were some things that you saw that you might share with that smaller manufacturer?
Kathy Miller 19:14
I think that I’ve been in plants in over 24 countries, nice, large plants, small plants, all different types of products. And I think the thing that I really loved about it was that people want to learn, you know, I it was rare, because in that one global role that I had, I was the VP of lean and quality for the whole company. And so it was rare that it’s sort of an auditing role, you know, and people tend to push auditors off, you know, because they think you’re coming to to You know, find things that are wrong, right.
And as long as I approached it that I just wanted them to get better and have more competitive environments, so their children and their children could work there if they wanted to. People were so gracious, they were just so gracious with their time and wanting to learn all over the world. And so I think for me, there’s just this common desire globally for people to find meaning in their work, and as long as you can provide that people are going to give you their discretionary efforts.
Curt Anderson 20:32
Yeah, I love it. Okay.
Damon Pistulka 20:34
Go ahead, Damon, discretionary effort I, you know, that is getting that, that that whole heart in mind in the job in the efforts rather than just their body, that’s so cool.
Kathy Miller 20:48
So cool. Yep, people have a lot more to offer than just their hands. Yeah, got their heads in their hearts as well. And if you’re going to be in leadership in manufacturing, or any leadership, really, it’s how do you engage people and allow them to come and contribute with the very best of their unique gifts and talents, regardless of the role or title that they’re in?
Curt Anderson 21:09
So what I’m, what I’m hearing is, so in the industrial engineer, by trade psychologist by spirit and in higher, right, so it sounds like just understand, you know, it’s all about the people, it’s all about the relationship. So again, as you know, as Damon’s dissecting your career, you know, there’s a there was a relentless drive to keep doing better, I love that, you know, it’s easier to go from 40 to 20, the nine to eight, I think there’s that we just love that. I know, Gary, would that you love that. Gary’s a operations lean guy.
And so but you know, talk a little bit about how you want to phrase this, when you went from your transition from your career, you’re, you decide to go back to get your master’s degree. Finally, in psychology, we’re talking about that a little bit before.
What and I know you’re busy, your family person career, how did you find time to put pause and go back to get your master’s degree in why like what lit the fire for you and evolve what you went to Penn for goodness gracious, you have an Ivy League master’s degree at Penn, and you get your your I was it was an applied positive psychology degree. Walk about what inspired you to do that. So
Kathy Miller 22:19
very practically, I was working with a coach. And I was at Rolls Royce. And we were getting very close to finishing that transformation project. And the team did such an amazing job with that. And she said, What do you want to do next? And I was like, Well, I don’t know. Maybe Ron, I don’t know, you know, maybe I’ll go work for civil and civil aerospace instead of defense.
And she said, Kathy, do you really need more global operations experience to light your fire? Have you not shown people that you can run a big global manufacturing? Operations? What what do you want to do with your life, you’re only going to be here once you know. And that’s really thought provoking. And I really took some time to think about it. And I over Christmas, I had a little bit of time off. And I found that I was reading all these books that were just giving me so much energy. And I started to look at the author’s backgrounds.
And they all pointed back to Penn. Right? They were all from professors at Penn are graduates of Penn. And so I decided to look into it and found the Masters in Applied positive psychology. And I talked to my husband about it. And I said, I know this is possible, possibly crazy at this stage of my career, but I would really love to go back to school, and I’m so blessed with such a supportive husband. And so I applied and I think probably people did think I was a little bit crazy. But it was a life changing experience for me.
And I highly recommend, no matter where you are in life, if you can find a way to do something on your bucket list, you know, I’d wanted to do that since I was 17. And, and learn about something you’re really passionate about. It’s it’s such a blessing. It’s changed my life. And so I left Rolls Royce, I went back to school, I wrote a thesis about creating efficacious manufacturing, you know, through meaningful work, positive workplace relationships and optimism. And now I work with a lot of companies to do that.
So it’s been great. It’s been amazing. And all the experiences I had from the earlier companies really helped build that experience in that framework. There’s nothing anybody can tell me that’s going to shock me when I go on a plant floor nothing. And so I’m able to you know, you frame those decades of being in and around manufacturing with the science of human flourishing, and it’s just amazing what it unleashes.
Damon Pistulka 25:10
I got to imagine that anybody else in the program was like, oh, no, because you have so much life experience behind this, because of the manufacturing experience that when it came time to, you know, your thesis and everything that you just brought things together for you.
Kathy Miller 25:30
There were so many amazing people on this program, I can’t tell you from all walks of life and all wanting to make a positive difference in the world through, you know, the science of thriving. And so, you know, there was a prima ballerina in there, and lots of coaches and lawyers and psychologists, and it was just so amazing to get with people in different walks of life, because I worked in one, you know, pretty exactly Oh, genius. Yeah, type of environment.
Curt Anderson 26:02
Yeah, man, just just the energy and just the like, you know, like, you’re in the name of the degree, you know, the positive energy that was just coming in that class and just the folks I mean, it just must have been so contagious, and just challenging and it was everything we did. It sounds like that even exceeded your expectations.
Kathy Miller 26:20
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew it would be amazing. But I had no idea how amazing. Yeah.
Curt Anderson 26:31
Wow, this is awesome. We got a gal jumped another great comment. We’ve got Gary, Hey, Nicole Donnelly’s here. So Nicole says kudos to your coach for challenging you to stay focused on growth and pushing you to work that fills your bucket. That is so awesome. Nicole, you and Kathy absolutely no need to connect. Nicole is just a dynamo. Cathy, you guys would just totally hit it up. So let’s dive right into the book. Okay. Like, man, alright guys, you have to go out and get her book. So first off, Kathy, where did you come up with this awesome name where I know.
So you have a co author? Shannon, your partner in crime? Yes. Where did you guys come up with a name? And so I’m not supposed to do this. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions at once. How did you let me go back before you come into the name? Where did you and Shannon share with everybody I’m just kind of following you know, the both of you, but share with everybody how you guys became partners in crime and how this book came, you know, your career together, then let’s lead up to the name of the book.
Kathy Miller 27:28
Okay. So I had met Shannon, when I was in the global role. Yep. for Lean and quality for the $12 billion and diversified industrial. And I was going around and I went to her her division to do a review of the division, I did not know her. She was in supply chain, she was a supply chain leader at the time.
And again, I was always traveling with all men, you know, because I was the only female in those types of positions, and they were always, you know, giving me trouble about the size of suitcases that I would pack, you know, and I’m like, Look, I have to accessorize. You know, I can’t just like show up and you know, white shirts and black pants and whatnot. So they challenged me on this one trip to be able to pack and carry on. So I did which meant I could not bring my safety shoes.
So when I got to her division, you know, we go through the division review and we’re gonna go on the plant floor and I said I need to borrow some safety shoes. I didn’t pack them because of these these guys, you know, their challenge. So they take me out to their you know, cabinet full of gifts, safety issues, as you can imagine, they’re all men shoes, and then they had those like, plastic or I’m sure they’re steel clad Hopper things over your shoes, and I think are not as safe. You know what? Regulars use us for someone who’s a little bit clumsy.
So she was walking by and she said, Cathy, you can borrow my shoes. And fortuitously we both wore the exact same size. So steel toes is part of our origin story. And when I decided I needed to get off the road and not be in a different time zone, as I had been doing for five years, because I was getting super grumpy. And I went and ran the division. She applied to be my lean manager on my staff, and I thought, oh my gosh, anybody who is brave enough to apply to be the Lean manager from the former corporate vice president of lean, right?
She’s got the job, you know, so So steel toes and stilettos is the name of our book. So shoes are a big part of our origin story. And, and, you know, we just use a lot of analogies in that. So so we were she had left her corporate job. I had gone back to school and left my corporate job. We were together and we were really reflecting on the time we We’ve been together and the success of that transformation.
And you know, there could have been champagne involved. I don’t know. But we thought possibly, you know, we should write a book. Yeah. And I thought the next morning, you know, we would both wake up to the reality of, you know, we’re not going to write a book. That’s silly. And she called me and she said, I dreamt about it all night, and I have a name for our book, doesn’t stilettos and six months later, we had a manuscript.
Curt Anderson 30:26
Wow, that is absolutely awesome. Now, I’m going to Damon, I’m going to share a couple of comments about Kathy’s book if you don’t mind. So all right, inspiring, important story. Breakthrough publication is required reading if one is serious about building a diverse world class organization, speaks to the heart of business leaders. Incredible book, excellent boot blueprint.
Highly recommend. So good. Great read. I have one more that I’m going to share. I love this one. Okay, make sure I get it right. Don’t be fooled by the shoes. That’s how it starts. Don’t be fooled by the shoes. With an unapologetically female voice, Kathy and Sharon take you on the plant floor and show you what it really takes to execute a Lean transformation. Kathy? Well done, man you guys do?
Absolutely. I think we dropped it in the link in the chat box. You guys. Absolutely right. Grab this book on Amazon, I believe it’s on Kindle version, you can get the hard copy. It’s great. The holidays are right around the corner, throw it in people stockings, if you will send it out for gifts. But Kathy talked about what was it? So for people out there, and it’s a bucket list of there’s like, Hey, man, I know I’ve got a book inside of me, I would love to get a book out. Talk about the process of writing a book from your perspective.
Kathy Miller 31:45
Yes, so we didn’t know anything about it at the time. I also loved to write actually, and didn’t get to do too much of that during my career. Because of, you know, running plants, so it’s kind of busy.
So, so I loved I loved writing. And so we started talking about, you know how it’s a little non traditional, because you really get two books in one, you get the same transformation process from my perspective as a general manager, and hers as a Lean Transformation advisor. So we put it together. And then we went online, and sent book proposals to different companies. Nice. Yeah. And Mark de luzio, had published a number of books. So he was kind enough to introduce us to his publisher. So it was, you know, just really following a non traditional process and just trying to find our way.
Curt Anderson 32:40
Nice, what and what, you know, I’d say, you know, getting your master’s degree during COVID. And, you know, at Penn of all places, very transformational writing a book, writing in a book, to me, it’s like Daymond, talking about, like, you know, hitting those seven peaks without oxygen running that marathon. You know, what, what I share with folks like the sense of accomplishment of like, you know, you and, you know, you and Shannon of like getting that book on the market.
And just so, you know, again, these comments, I think, I’m not sure if I said this one, I’ve never said this before, this is a must read for business leaders. I mean, like, when you hear these comments like this, and you feel like you’re changing lives, like how do you how does that make you feel?
Kathy Miller 33:20
Well, it does feel good. I have to say, you know, if Shannon and I always said if just one person benefited from it, if one person it gave them the confidence, you know, to try to go into manufacturing and be a leader and be their authentic selves, then it’s worth it. But people were very kind with with their reviews. And, you know, we’re really grateful. We’re really grateful for people taking time to read it and get it in the hands of people who may not have a role model or a mentor that looks like that.
Curt Anderson 33:55
Right. Right. Absolutely. Okay, so let’s get right into you know, we’ve talked a lot about women in manufacturing, you know, going back to your career when you started, you know, viewing you as a as a pioneer. Let’s talk about today. You’re you know, women in manufacturing Hall of Famer, you are in at you know, an advocate for women in manufacturing. So let’s talk to you know, Dave and I both were girl dads, and you know, his daughter started out her career mind is still in school, but like speaking to these young women out there, talk a little bit about the incredible opportunities in manufacturing for women today.
Kathy Miller 34:27
Oh, there’s so many so many, no matter what you’re interested in, right? You can be interested in being an accountant and working or manufacturing. You can be in HR and work continue fracturing. If you have good problem solving skills, or you’re technically inclined, and you just like peoples and processes. I mean, there’s literally room for everybody in in manufacturing.
And if you get in an organization that has a great inclusive culture, the sky is the limit. It really is. I didn’t know anything about Mandy refactoring my dad was in sales. So for me, it was discovering a whole new world, you know how sometimes people follow, you know, in the footsteps. So I would definitely give people encourage them to go look at it take tours, the technology is amazing. And it’s moving so rapidly, and you are making tangible things that are making the world a better place. Right? It’s, there’s nothing,
Curt Anderson 35:29
there’s nothing like it. I mean,
Damon Pistulka 35:31
how many times did you just wear it? Because every time I’m in a manufacturing facility, and I see what’s coming out the back end, and I don’t care if it’s a little piece of something, or other or a big something final assembly? Did you just get a huge sense of pride to seeing that? Seeing that product?
Kathy Miller 35:50
Every time that product? Yeah, every time and, you know, some some things, you’re not making the end product, right? You’re making Yeah, opponents or that sort of thing. So I always found it was really important to invite our customers in and help the workforce understand what this little, you know, black round object did, and how it made the world a better place. It really helped people connect with how, you know, they’re making a difference in the world.
So I always recommend that as well. But yeah, you’re so proud. I mean, gas, you start with raw materials, and you come out with something that’s going to make somebody’s life better, you know, you’re going to go into a air conditioning unit that helps it Children’s Hospital. I mean, there’s just, it’s, it’s amazing the things that are happening. And yeah, you’re just so proud. You’re so proud of the people and their accomplishments and what they can contribute. It’s just, it’s just lovely. It really is.
Curt Anderson 36:47
I absolutely love that. And so just to kind of recap, Kathy, what you mentioned, you know, so like technology, we’re talking automation, robotics, you know, let alone you know, we’ve got a bunch of marketers here today, we got Nicole dineley drops. The title your book is super catchy. Whitney jobs a comment, you know, our friend Katie always talks about that the opportunities of manufacturing outside actually operate a machine. Karen’s here today, Karen, thank you for joining us.
You can even be a chef in manufacturing, there’s so much opportunity out there in manufacturing, you know, our marketers, you know, we talk ecommerce here on the show, there’s social media, you know, it’s it’s not grandma and grandpa’s manufacturing anymore. Is it? Kathy, there’s this, you know, a lot of new and exciting opportunities, you feel like, you know, you’re going out to trade shows you’re on a you know, you’re just a fierce advocate on LinkedIn here for manufacturing. As you’re out on the streets. Are you feeling a renaissance? Or like, what do you feel in with US manufacturing right now?
Kathy Miller 37:43
I really am. I really am. And I think that, you know, with supply chain challenges that came with the pandemic, I think people are looking to onshore things again, and so there’s just, you know, a great opportunity to start new businesses, we’ve been in a lot of conferences, where they’re helping startups and there’s just a great energy there right now. And the more diverse people that we get into manufacturing, the more competitive we can be.
Curt Anderson 38:15
Yep, absolutely. And Daymond that was a drop of the mic moment right there because I was is such a competitive advantage for us here in the United States, we have the melting pot that most other places don’t have, if we could just take advantage of this be half full and just keep you know, you know, firing on all cylinders to drive this. Now, I want to talk about your new company. Now first off before I get into your new company can’t for goodness gracious.
Do you sleep like overachievers on this program, and I’m like, I’m gonna get off the show and I’m gonna play Kurt, what have you done for the past 30 years in this gracious? Couple master’s degrees Ivy League writing a book, you know, Global Director of my goodness, Kathy, you know, thank you, God bless you for everything that you’re doing.
But you’re the president, co founder of ops sisters, you’ve had this amazing incredible like a who’s who corporate career, my goodness, gracious goodness, General Motors, Rolls Royce, everybody that we’ve talked about today, what inspired you to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship? And please share what is what what are your superpowers at ops sisters?
Kathy Miller 39:26
Wow, that’s such a fun question. So what took the leap of faith for me was the master’s degree. You know, it really did change my life in terms of perspective and really looking at my energy and where I was spending my all my energy. And I was so blessed to work for four really good companies, but I really felt like they have so many resources.
And I really wanted to make sure that other companies, smaller companies, medium sized companies, you You know, I had the benefit of learning about inclusive culture. So I wanted to spend my energy helping a lot of companies, not just one company. So that’s why I took that leap of faith. So and all my daughters are through college, so I financially could take the risk, I don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to lie, that was a piece of it. Yeah.
And just being able to work on passion projects, I’m working on a couple other books that I want to get out there. And just, you know, when you’re working for a corporation, it’s 40, to 60 hours of dedication. And it’s even more than that, right? constant connectivity. So I need to free up a little bit of energy to have a little bit wider, wider scope. And so I think there are superpowers that we have an ops sisters, I always said, I had two super powers in manufacturing, one was being able to see when people didn’t have their safety glasses on, I was the only person in multi million square foot facilities who could actually notice that.
But my second superpower, was seeing strengths and people that they didn’t see themselves and giving them an opportunity to unleash those. That’s awesome. And so now, you know that we work with companies we see in and I just, we just have a lot of experience. So we see a lot of things, we’ve been in a lot of places, so we can help those companies take things to the next level.
I work as a coach, I’ve got my certification pending on that from the international coaching Federation, to help people like my coach helped me, you know, to live to their full potential. And we’re really enjoying and getting a lot of energy at speaking engagements and sharing our stories and trying to inspire and motivate the next generation of manufacturing leaders regardless of gender. So that’s what I think our superpowers are now and I can still go into a plant and see if someone’s sneaking on their cell phone or what their safety glasses
Curt Anderson 41:57
is, I absolutely love. I want there’s two things I want to unpack right there. So first, I want to talk about that leap of faith of entrepreneurship. I want to hit that and then second, I want to come back to you I’m going to take a deeper dive on officers and like you know who you’re working with type of client like and again, like those superpowers that you’re unleashing on folks.
But I love what you said about that, that second superpower you had on helping people realize, you know, maybe their full potential great leaders develop what great leaders so hats off to you, Kathy and again, just I respect and admiration for you look at that. Seeing strengths and people they don’t see themselves. This is a massive superpower servant leadership at its finest. Drop the mic, Nicole right.
And that’s what we’re saying in that comment right there, Kathy. So again, I want to take I want to, I feel I’d be remiss if we didn’t take a deeper dive into your corporate into entrepreneurship. Somebody out there they’ve been you know, he had been corporate for decades. You know, longing dreaming someday to get out of this corporate umbrella and take that leap. Okay. And again, like, oh, take us there? Like, how did like that first day, that first week, like, you know, you know, you don’t have the corporate safety, if you will, what did that feel like? Like, truly throw, you know, flying your own flag for the first time?
Kathy Miller 43:10
Yeah, it’s a really vulnerable feeling. You know, you go to cocktail parties, and people are like, what do you do? And I’m like, I used to be the global director. All the defense plans for
Curt Anderson 43:28
when people say when people asked me daughter’s like, hey, what does mom do? Well, when she worked at General Motors, I was pretty clear when she was at Rose rice, she had a title right now, I have no idea what she does. Right? So you know, if you’re on that, yeah,
Kathy Miller 43:42
it’s you know, so I had to really get comfortable with my pitch, right of who I who I was now in this next phase. So it really started as having to have a place for the book. You know, and and what do we do with the book is, is how it started. But yeah, just being comfortable with I don’t have a big fancy title of a company or my own personal title. And so that was really you know, even that you’re talking about it I feel that little pit in my stomach because it’s really, you know, a total different identity. Yeah, I
Curt Anderson 44:20
don’t know. I can’t imagine like that’s why I’m hitting it hard because you know, like, I’ve you know, I’ve never had a corporate career myself Damon you work for another manufacturers, you know, but like to work for, you know, fortune 100 companies and a go down to like, you know, a team of you know, it’s you and Shannon and you know, spreading your superpowers out.
So again, alright, so thank you for sharing that. So again, if there’s anybody out there that wants to take that leap, or man is just super inspired by this conversation, please connect with Kathy on LinkedIn, you want to buy her book, Catholic side and I want to take a little deeper dive on ops sister’s life of main effect, like who’s the manufacturer that’s out there like who’s like boy, I really need to talk to Kathy, let’s take a deep let’s walk through that process of who you help, how you help them, what’s that look like?
Kathy Miller 45:05
Yeah, so a lot of individuals contact me to become coaching clients. So and I work with anyone from first line supervisors through senior leadership positions. And so just depends on their goal.
So So I do a lot of that we do a lot of speaking events, right corporate events, conferences, so any company of any size, but the ones that we’re working with an advising are small, I would say small to medium companies, or small divisions within large companies, you know, I’ve got a program that efficacious manufacturing program, where at one of my clients, I have a 12 session, group coaching class that I go through with their first line supervisors.
And we talk about optimism and character strengths and standard work and problem solving, and all those things that really helped develop the first line, you know, sometimes, like at a General Motors or Rolls Royce, the supervisors almost always come from some level of educational background, sometimes at smaller companies, people will start to work on the machines, and then, you know, they they’re dependable and smart and loyal, and they get promoted, but they don’t have the same level of development. So we love to work with those teams of people, because they influence so many direct employees.
So we want to make sure they’ve got the development and the strengths to help them succeed, whether it be through the Lean principles of Lean Manufacturing, manufacturing principles, leadership principles, principles of just how to help them succeed and be resilient in what can be a challenging environment. So you know, and then we’ve got companies who asked us to come in and talk, you know, just talk to their teens talk to their HR teams talk to their manufacturing teams talk to their women, and in manufacturing, I’ve got a keynote that I do on gratitude.
That involves a story of one of my daughters, that really helps people, you know, gratitude is really powerful, really powerful, really has nothing to do with Lean Manufacturing. Right? So it’s, you know, those two areas, the science of human flourishing, and good sound manufacturing principles. And like I said, if you don’t have a corporate program, you know, that’s where we can help with training and observations and teaching teams. Wow,
Damon Pistulka 47:47
connecting those two things together is incredible.
Curt Anderson 47:50
Okay, Kathy? So on our program we have what we call the moment of silence Yeah. Yes, this drops like this massive bombshell and we just need to take a moment to just kind of like savor it for a second we just we can’t fly by it. We can’t go past that. So we talk frequently we use the phrase radical gratitude. How can you live a life and radical gratitude like anything? Like even like your mistakes?
Negativity, boy had a little fender bender today? You know, how can you find those positive and via, you know, positive response to even you know, tough situation. So that word gratitude. Thank you. That was our moment of silence. Damon, that was just phenomenal. Okay, Kathy? I, oh, my God, this is so I knew this was going to be great.
Kathy, I didn’t know it was gonna be this good. But I should have known. So, okay, you shared a lot and what a gift what a blessing for a small manufacturer, maybe I’m a mom and pop, I have 50 employees, 100 employees, and I’m not sure the size that you target, you know, maybe even you know, four or 500 but to have the wealth of information, that knowledge, the expertise, the passion of the your self understanding coming into a smaller manufacturer, that you can bring, like that corporate expertise and I mean, your or your clients just like hugging you loving you or what we really throught or what’s going on there.
Kathy Miller 49:11
We have some really amazing clients. We do. We do and and we’re starting to gather other people so we can take on more clients, you know, besides just Shannon and myself. So, yeah, those partnerships are they’re starting to come along as well. But I love are grateful for our clients and their willingness to let us come in and help
Curt Anderson 49:35
and it’s you know, and we just just you have such a radiant smile we just kind of just feel your passion coming right through the screen of working with your clients what an inspiration you are to go from major corporate into entrepreneurship and again like your you know, your mission is about serving. You know, you’re living in gratitude and you’re serving and you’re out there helping manufacturers.
We’re talking Made in USA. I want to be mindful your time I’ve I’ve totally lost track of time. am Damon wherever you like, like we just had 15 minutes on your LinkedIn profile is a thing called sons of the flag. And I would love can you share it like this? This sounds powerful is what I’m reading, can you share what is sons of the flag?
Kathy Miller 50:15
Yeah, it’s a not for profit that helps people. It started as helping veterans, but it’s helping burn victims, and helping raise funds to get more scholarships for doctors to go in and help people who suffer from physically being burned
Curt Anderson 50:34
it so if I can go there? Is there is there? What inspired you to like, there’s a lot of different missions on the planet, you chose this one? Is there a particular reason that you chose sons of the flag?
Kathy Miller 50:45
They chose me, they chose you. Okay, that’s me, my, and quite honestly, my brother is associated with it. Okay. And they were wanting to diversify the board. And, and so Key said she’s got a lot of corporate experience and, you know, a lot of other things. So that’s how I got, you know, it’s all about relationships, right? Who you know, and how you can help make the world a better place through the people that you’re lucky enough to bump into, on this spinning ball through space.
Curt Anderson 51:16
That’s right. So let’s just recap that and then we’ll wind down Kathy. So we have someone that just crushed it in corporate when it was a pioneer went into a dude’s industry, if you will, you know, under dad’s wishes, you wanted to go one path, you listen to Dad, you took another path. And I think it all worked out. You just took a little detour to get that psychology degree, just a little one, right?
You brought your passion, your superpowers to the automotive world. And the automotive world is better because of it. guys did an amazing job. You write a book, you go get your master’s degree at an Ivy League school, you’ve done such amazing things. And now on top of it, you’re helping you know I just this, that that nonprofit just really sung to me I just really admire respect what you’re doing there. So Kathy, my last question for you. First off, I want to thank you, I want to thank you for just being such so amazing. Such an inspiration.
I know everybody guys in the chat box, if you know drop a hello jumper, thank you for this quality time that we just got to spend and just learn from Kathy this past hour. But Kathy, my last question for you is everything that you have going on, you’re such an inspiration, who inspires you? And then I’m going to I’m going to piggyback that with what’s next. Who inspires you and what’s next for OB sisters? What’s next for Kathy Miller? So who inspires you today? And what’s next for you?
Kathy Miller 52:39
So I look to my daughters. I have two daughters and the three stepdaughters are bonus stutters is going to talk about and I’m just, I’m so inspired by how they have all chosen their unique paths, and are making the world a better place. And just, you know, that next generation that’s coming up, they have, there’s just so many good things in the world. I know, there’s a lot of challenges right now. But I know with their education and their passion, the world is going to continue to be a wonderful place. So I’m inspired by all of them. And what’s next is, you know, continuing on the path we’re on and writing another book,
Curt Anderson 53:24
writing another book, can you give us a sneak peek?
Kathy Miller 53:27
Yeah, I’m actually working on a book. That’s about transcendence. And yeah, it’s a little bit, there’s two, there’s one, I want to take my thesis about efficacious manufacturing, and turn that into a book and all the interventions that manufacturers can use to create inclusive environments. But I also have a really neat story about my daughter and just just some transcendent experiences she had through some challenges and trials that I think could help a lot of people so those are my two projects right now.
Curt Anderson 54:07
Awesome. Awesome. Great. So man, you have to please come back when you have that second book. We’re gonna have you on the program we’re gonna be promoting that that next round for you so hey, we’ve got some great comments here. We’ve got Diane buyer says how can you make a world a better place? Yes, she says that’s it. What else we got? We’ve got Nicole, girls rule girl power gay for girl moms.
And so all sorts of great positive comments here in the chat box. Today’s Kathy so everybody out there, please do me a favor. Let’s stand rise. Let’s give a huge round of applause for Kathy Miller for being a star being a Hall of Famer today. So Kathy, thank you, thank you, we salute you we applaud you we appreciate you keep firing on all cylinders be that role model for all of us with girls with girls out there and get everybody other cool kids are going to manufacture in Canada you know that right?
Of course. Arce Absolutely. So I Daymond Let’s wind it down and I want to give a shout out to everybody that spent time with us today. Whitney, Diane Nicole, everybody of us here today. Thank you. We appreciate you. And alas Damon our parting thought is just like Kathy here today. Be someone’s inspiration. Just go out there be someone’s inspiration. Just do good. Be good, be great. Daymond Take it away, brother.
Damon Pistulka 55:26
Thank you, Kathy. They’re just gonna say that this is so awesome to get to talk to you and really get to meet you like this and listen to you share your stories. And just really excited to see that the next books where you’re tying this together and some other things, just thank you so much on that. Thanks, everyone for being here. I know I missed a couple names. They got Karen and Gary and others.
And Samuel, I’m so thankful for you guys showing up dropping comments, showing our guests that we’re here and we’re listening and we care about what they’ve got to talk about. You know, we we heard an incredible example of manufacturing leadership here, someone who’s lived it, who’s gone through it, and really come out the other side and done a lot of great things. And just thanks so much for everyone for Kathy being here today. We’ll be back again next week. Kurt is going to be where are you going to be Kurt?
Curt Anderson 56:22
It’s a surprise man. I’m well, you know, I might I might be going to Alaska next week. So we might be live from Alaska next week working with manufacturers in the great state of Alaska. So there’s a surprise a great guests coming up on Monday, but unite we might be we might be hitting a couple of lives from Alaska next week. So there’s some really cool manufacturing going on up there. So but guys, you have to come back to check it out. So we got a little surprise for you. So how’s that?
Damon Pistulka 56:49
Yep, everyone. Thanks for being here. Have a great weekend. We’ll be back again next week.