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Damon Pistulka, Steve Rice
Damon Pistulka 00:06
All right, everyone. Welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And with me today, I’ve got none other than Steve rise. from.com Jungle. Steve, welcome.
Steve Rice 00:20
Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here. I like to none other, it makes me maybe sound like I was the centerfielder for the Red Sox or something.
Damon Pistulka 00:29
Maybe you were, we haven’t let people know yet. Maybe you were right.
Steve Rice 00:33
I wanted to be, but it would have been the angels. That’s where I grew up.
Damon Pistulka 00:37
So there you go. Well, if you Yeah, yeah. Good West Coast team. For sure. So Steve, it’s awesome to have you on today. Because man, we work work in similar eco spheres, you’re in the you’re in the CPG space, helping them figure out their tech technology and how that interfaces with people. And really, what we want to talk about today, and I was excited about talking about is how you’re helping people and prove technology effectiveness in their businesses, and how you talk about management by walking around and applying that to getting them using their technology better.
Steve Rice 01:20
Yeah, I, you know, I guess, for me, life has always been about the human experience. And, you know, you grew up in America, you work at places, whether it’s Taco Bell, spaghetti, factory, Rei, whatever, you’re gonna run into good bosses and bad bosses. And, you know, we take that with us wherever we go.
And I remember, you know, as a youth, experiencing, you know, the horrible owner, so to speak, who seemed to be a great person until he was inside the building. And I always promised myself that I want I didn’t want to work for people like that. And too, I wanted to have businesses that I would want to be employed by, and proud to be employed by and then I wanted to help other businesses do the same. So, you know, my adult life has been in pursuit of those things in business, and in my personal life.
Damon Pistulka 02:19
That’s cool. That’s cool, man. Well, I cannot overlook your background. How you, you know, growing up, the way you did is it’s not like the typical, you know, kid down the street. So why don’t we back up always. And tell us a little bit about your childhood and growing up the way you did with the outdoors? And I mean, you got outdoors. Just throughout you it’s it’s in you in You can’t escape you. So this is cool tool to hear this?
Steve Rice 02:52
Yeah, it’s it’s definitely a DNA thing. You know, going back to birth, I was I was fortunate enough to my father was one of the people who was around in the 60s and helped invent the sport of bass fishing as we know it. You know, he’s actually in the freshwater Hall of Fame, he’ll, he will someday be inducted into the bass fishing Hall of Fame. It’s kind of silly that he’s not already, but we’ll get to that.
Yeah. And so I grew up fishing everywhere, and helping him as a little kid, you know, count the money at the tournaments. And, you know, weigh the fish. And you know, there are other people there. I’m not saying I was in a position of responsibility. But I was there and I traveled all over the US. And as I got older, when I was a teenager, I actually was the alternate at the tournament’s for when they had an odd number of folks. And oh, really? Yeah. So you got to have two people vote me out of the reasons is to make sure someone’s not cheating.
Yeah. So with that, and in addition to my dad being efficient and knowing everybody, I have fished with the most of the famous people from the 70s or 80s. And and in doing so, became a really good fisherman. Just sort of naturally Right. Yeah. The downside of that is until I became an adult and moved away from home and stopped fishing with my dad and his friends. I got out fished every day of my life. It didn’t it didn’t matter how good I was because the guy in the front of the boat or my dad were way better. Right? Yeah. So so that was cool.
And and the other cool thing is, I’m not sure I ever told you this, but my dad ended up becoming friends with a bunch of the Los Angeles Rams in the 70s because they like to fish and they they tracked him down and he took them down to Mexico and San Diego to the big bass lake. Yeah, yeah. And I sat on the couch and watched a couple of Super Bowls with you know, jack Youngblood and rich Saul and Larry Brooks and you know, the all pro for the Rams but all this outdoor stuff you My parents, business models and things they were involved in also change and at some point they got into a TV show production around fishing.
And they had a video production company with the the number one rated fishing show in the United States from like 83 to 89 or 84 to 89, something like that. And so I also traveled with them as a grip. You know, managing waterproof camera equipment and, and also fishing and, and then eventually ended up in Alaska as a fishing guide. So I have I have a bunch of I have a bunch of different lives, right? Yeah, I was a fishing guide in Alaska for a couple years. That was exciting. I also was a rock climbing and mountaineering instructor in Oregon, you know, assistant manager, manager of an outdoor store and a travel store.
Damon Pistulka 05:53
Well, let’s, we’ll get we’ll get back I want to talk to you about the climate and the fishing because, hey, I grew up in I grew up in South Dakota, right on the Missouri River, and we fished a lot there and it would be you know, fishing, hunting outdoors. So we got some questions about that. But we got we got some people we know that are watching here today. So anger. Hey, if you’re saying hello, and we’ve got Gail saying hello. I haven’t haven’t suffered and listening in you know, three hours ahead of us. They, they get to do that about now. And then I can’t see who this is. But I’m thinking somebody would know, but I’d have to look on for some reason stream air does
Steve Rice 06:31
clearly a person of refined taste.
Damon Pistulka 06:33
Yes. There you go. There you go. So when would you are I Okay, so first of all back up, because you you know, you were you were fishing about the time that you know in the in the 80s that’s when I was just getting into college you know and and, and then when I moved to Tennessee, I gone from South Dakota we fish for bass a little bit but it was more walleye fishing on the the Missouri River. But man, when I moved to Tennessee, I got a lesson in bass fishing man that the local Lake lake or I was out there.
I was waterskiing and wakeboarding every every day could. And every Tuesday night they had a bass fishing tournament on this lake every night. Oh, yeah. And there’s like in the south. Yeah. It’s like it was like a religion. There’s like 30 boats out there. they line up just like a regular tournament. They come in and they weigh them all up. And you know, I’ll catch and release when they’re done. Oh, it’s great stuff and the size of fish too. Because as you get farther south again, nice, nice big ones. So
Steve Rice 07:35
Oh, yeah, it goes. small mouth to Northern large mouth to southern Florida large mouth. Yeah, those are the big ones. Yeah, I’ve fished on a lot of those lakes. I’ve gone into the lake and Alabama, Stockton lake and Missouri Table Rock Lake of the Ozarks. Those ones back there and Texas, Lake Livingston, and certainly every every major bass Lake on the west coast, in the state of California and Nevada and Arizona. I don’t think there’s a single one I haven’t fished.
But you know, and then. So, in the end, you know, I grew up a bass fisherman. I’m now a fly fisherman, but I’m really agnostic. What I have is like sort of intimate knowledge of fish and I can read, I can read rivers, I can read lakes. And if you put a stick in my hand with a string and something on the end, I could do as well as the next guy. Yeah. So that’s, that’s been like the legacy. I think that’s pretty fun.
Damon Pistulka 08:31
That’s no doubt no doubt. And that was anger said that was Chuck. So thanks, Chuck for the comment. So he would be he would know he would know. So that’s really cool. That is actually incredible. It’s I just think about so incredible that you’re able to do this. So if you had to pick one place that you just said it is the place if you can just go there to fish whether you catch a fish or not. You’re just going to sit there and ah Where’s that?
Steve Rice 09:02
Oh gosh, probably I’m gonna pick the largest state that RFI and country and say Alaska if you had to pick a specific spot Gosh, anywhere around you know although you know the the Kenai is amazing. Yeah, any anywhere. Here’s the cool thing about the Kenai is like you fly into Anchorage. And you get in a fan, unassuming van and you drive out to the Kenai and all of a sudden you’re passing these amazing glaciers and carved fjords. If you look at to your left, and there’s grizzly bears and you look to your right, and and there’s narwhals, or what are the ones with the unicorn? Yep, yep. belugas something Lucas.
Now I’m forgetting but maybe it is. But it’s just in orcas everywhere. You know? Yeah. It’s as a fishing guide. in Southeast Alaska. I was on Admiralty Island, which is south West of Juneau and directly east of Sitka, as you can imagine, the panhandle sort of at the top of the panhandle has the largest density of grizzly bears in the world per square mile. And my job was to stand between the guests and the bears with a shotgun.
So I have I’m not again that but I have a really big with an extended chamber 12 gauge that I still have today. But it’s just it’s just spectacular to to take a skiff up into a river and and see six bears the behinds that leaves Yeah, you know, waddle into the the trees, and then wait, they’re snorting and panting and making all sorts of scary noises and leave behind fishies bellies are missing, but they’re still flopping around because they’re alive because yeah, they go for the belly fat and the AIDS and, and then you look around you and it’s just trees everywhere and fish everywhere. It’s It’s spectacular.
Damon Pistulka 10:54
Oh, yeah. I shouldn’t know. And I’ve only been to Alaska a few times. And and I just about cried when you get outside there. It’s so beautiful.
Steve Rice 11:05
Yeah. And I you know, if people really want to go to the plate, the most unspoiled place that we haven’t decimated yet. You got to get up to Bristol, Bristol Bay. Oh, yeah. If you see the stickers on people’s car that says no Pebble Mine, that’s the place you want to go the Copper River area. It’s the Bristol Bay might be the most pristine and the best managed fishery in the planet. And, you know, we don’t always give the fisheries biologists and the government credit for what they do. But that’s, that’s as good as it gets of what’s left in the world. You know?
Damon Pistulka 11:46
Yeah. That’s incredible. It’s incredible. Because that, like you said, the experiences that you had from that, you know, from starting out with your, your father, and then and then how that led into being a guide in Alaska. And then some of those experiences just being in the the natural beauty.
Steve Rice 12:06
Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Right? I would make this connection, like, let’s connect all this, this fun stuff to like where I’m at today? Yeah, we can fill in the middle. But I think the thing that that my parents gave me, that has suited me well, that I hope that I give my children is a sense of adventure and fearlessness. And in my, in my own business experiences, and in the advisory capacities that that I’ve been in with businesses, that’s the thing that I think I bring that brings a lot of value, because it touches so many things.
Yeah. And in business, sometimes the worst thing you can do is do nothing. Yep. You know, in fact, a lot of people who are way smarter than me say if you’re if you’re not doing something, you’re standing still, right.
And I think that’s true, you know, and I’m not necessarily even a proponent of constant growth all the time, either existing came to look at your industry and see what you want from it from the human perspective, like, What do you want, you know, as I was actually advising a client of mine earlier today, and it was yesterday, I talked to him and I said, like, the, the KPI for me, the key performance indicator for me, is if you and your wife have a better relationship, because your business was performing better, you’re going to sleep better, yeah, you’re going to be less grumpy, you know, in the afternoon, or you’ve already been working 10 hours or whatever.
Yeah, that’s, that’s what we’re looking for. And, and so, so that, to me, that sense of adventure. And I’ve been across the United States nine times in a car, I’ve got over 100,000 Road miles i the only state I haven’t been to is Michigan, I’ve been around the world I didn’t to to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Ireland, France, Spain, Chile, Peru, you know, I’ve been some of those countries multiple times, now climbed in almost all of those countries.
And, but, you know, when it comes down to business, the that that fearlessness is the willing to try. And the there’s aspects of being efficient Guide to Being a rock climbing instructor and mountaineering instructor where the safety and the humanity of the people that are with you is foremost to the, the getting to the peak, right. And, and I think the those are things that to me are more important than getting the peak of a particular business to like you, we’re not just here to, to kick our, our competitors, A’s. You know, we’re here to be the best that we can be in our business, and the best that we can be for our employees and the community that we’re in
Damon Pistulka 15:05
Sorry, that little interruption that I thought I would have I did have it. So we got to,
Steve Rice 15:10
I thought about filling it in with words. And I thought, well, there’s
Damon Pistulka 15:12
sorry. I apologize. That the the remains you’re
Steve Rice 15:18
a human today.
Damon Pistulka 15:20
Yeah, yeah, it’s funny how that works. But anyway, this because you’re right it’s it it is about the the bringing the bringing this back together and showing the the human interaction between what they’re doing. And a lot of times in the businesses, the people owners will run their business at the cost of their personal health, their family’s relationship, their everything.
And that’s, that’s what I really appreciate about your approach is that you you’re talking to them about the overall. And, and I like that too. I in fact, I speak to some similar things as well, because it doesn’t do you any good if you if you if you work your butt off, and you end up two years down the road with no family, when you come home at night, or you are you’re in the hospital, which is even worse. Exactly.
Steve Rice 16:19
Yeah. And I, you know, I do speak from experience, because I’ve made those mistakes. You know, I’m fortunate, I just celebrated my 30th first kiss for 30th anniversary, my first kiss with my wife and our 25th wedding anniversary, she’s still with me put up with me. But I had moments where I was running businesses where I was, I was driving myself into the ground. Yeah. And I I eventually sought out peers and advisors who helped me work through that helped me change my own working style, and made, you know, made me a better business person and made me a better person.
Yeah. So So when I’m when I’m consulting and advising, you know, an owner of Consumer Products Company, I very often have a personal story, or like, I could say, yeah, you know, I understand it. Even, you know, I just talked to one of my guys, who’s got two very important people on the production floor who have somehow upset each other a couple times over the years, and they have a few grudges. And I’ve worked with that. I’ve Yeah, I’ve I’ve had to be the HR guy in a company. And they have two people that are integral to the function of the company that I adore, individually, who just can’t get along.
And I have mechanisms that I was taught by somebody else, or that, you know, Everything I have is stolen from somebody else. When I was a college professor or a mentor or an advisor of my own, that I bring those to the table for them. And so it’s an exciting thing to do to help a company in that way. And it’s also exciting to have somebody man say, like, Man, that’s something I’ve been dreading forever. And when I went and did it in this particular way, I felt like a human being talking to them, and they felt like human beings talking to me. And, you know, our company’s better for it.
Damon Pistulka 18:11
Yeah, yeah, that’s, you bring up one of I think the key elements in someone that really can can help in a business. And that is teaching those people that you don’t necessarily need to love that person standing beside you. But if you can somehow at least respect what they’re doing, and that they’ve got good intentions, and you’ve got good intentions, that if you can get them to do that, and get a working relationship built around that. That’s a huge thing. Yeah. So many people let it fester too long, rather than just saying, look, we’re gonna stop and take care of this. Because it’s, it’s not good for either one of you, or the business as a whole.
Steve Rice 18:55
Yeah. Well, if, if you don’t mind, I’m going to tout somebody else. And then tell a story of this, do it?
Damon Pistulka 19:02
Steve Rice 19:03
there’s a guy named Steven Sloan. And he’s written a book called humane leadership. And he’s the founder of the Canadian humane Leadership Institute. And I’m going to recommend to anyone who hears this, just go buy that book. And he’s a big proponent of what’s what he calls a performance mocha, which is a modified version of something that’s been proposed by lots of other people. And I use this as a framework. And it’s been kind of revolutionary for me in my businesses, and for the people that I helped implement it as well. And mocha basically stands for motivation, opportunity, clarity, and ability.
And literally, I actually have a 10 year old iMac that I’m selling on Craigslist, and I had to remove a piece of paper that I taped to the foot stand that said, mocha and told me what those things were as a daily reminder. And it’s it’s just a framework to have a conversation with people. And one of the one of the companies that I only ran for a while was an outdoor store. And you know, we had 20 employees and not everybody’s gonna get along. But we implemented mocha as a conversational framework so that so that we could actually have better performance reviews. because, frankly, everybody mostly dreads performance reviews.
And when when you when you start talking about motivation, opportunity, clarity and ability, and you tell everybody else that this is how they should have the conversation, the stuff like, well, she did this, and she did that, or they did this or he did that kind of drops away. And you open up the door for a conversation where the employee gets to assess themselves on what their motivation is to do. Even whether it’s their job as a whole or a specific task. They get to talk about the opportunity that they’ve been given or not, because it’s not uncommon for a boss to say, I want you to do this stuff.
We’re going to add this to your workload, but not actually give them time to do it. Right. And then the clarity, does my boss give me 30? And do I have the ability, and I’ve yet to have a conversation around mocha, or using the mocha framework with somebody where we didn’t cover all the bases of the human experience with those four topics? And, and so like, I even had an employee once company, where I had given him a task, and I just checked it, and I said, How are you doing?
And he said, You know what, I woke up this morning, and I look at myself and I said, Oh, Jeff, that do tell what what do you mean? He said, Well, I realized, like, you were really clear about what I’m doing here. You know, I have this job or in the social media sphere around outdoor products. It’s pretty exciting. You’re really clear about what you want me to do. And I clearly have the ability because I did this in my last job for the nonprofit. And you’ve given me the opportunity. So every every day between eight and 10. That’s my job before the store opens.
So I woke up this morning realizing I am completely unmotivated to do this. Because at my last job of the nonprofit, I was micromanaged and needled and demeaned in ways that are kind of weird. And in it, it affected me emotionally, he says, so I look at myself while I was eating cereal this morning. And I want to tell you that I’m going to renew my commitment to my motivation around this. And I’ll check in with you in two weeks and see how I’m doing with myself. I was like, How awesome is that? My management job was done over a bowl of cereal and I didn’t even have to do anything.
Damon Pistulka 22:28
Yeah. That’s awesome.
Steve Rice 22:31
That’s awesome. The best story around that, David, if it were one quick one, I had two people who couldn’t, who were great people getting back to that two people get along and or don’t get along, both in technical to the stability of the sales floor, well loved by customers, everybody knew their name and walked in the door, and they knew everybody else’s name.
But for some reason, they were just not getting along. I gave them 20 bucks one day, and I said, there’s a brewpub across the street, I want you to go across the street, in by beer, take as long as you want. And even though the mocha framework wasn’t designed for this, I want you guys to talk to each other using the mocha framework about how you get along, and how you’re going to work this out. Because it’s your relationship is really important to the success of this company.
And right now your relationship is affecting all of us, because we’re all worried about you. And I said, We need both of you here. So so you need to work something out. And they went and they were actually gone for two hours had two beers. And they came back and we’re past. You know it you know, five years later, they still even though they don’t work at the same place. They still connect and talk regularly. Oh, wow. But it was, you know, it’s another one of the things my job was done. It cost me 20 bucks.
Damon Pistulka 23:50
Yeah. Yeah, that’s so awesome. Because it’s it is is sometimes it is that simple. It’s just giving people the right framework an opportunity to to do it. Because, honestly, when and I’m glad he’s mentioned the book because I’m gonna get it. It’s we we’re expected to know things that we don’t know. Yeah. And I think that the more I, the more I the ag or this simply be blown with it. The older I get, the more you realize that there’s all this stuff that we think we are some for some reason people think we should know and we have no freaking idea. I mean,
Steve Rice 24:26
yep. make mistakes. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 24:30
Yeah. Or do we get to tell you Oh, okay. Well, there is a better way to do this. So it’s great that you do that. And then that framework Sounds Sounds awesome as well. So Gail said, got a question for you. So we better answer Gail’s question here quick before we move on. She’s what is phishing taught you about business, your greatest life lesson?
Steve Rice 24:49
Page patience. You will, you will not catch fish every day. And I’m not even talking about fishing now where this is the metaphor right? You You will not be successful every day at what you do. And you will not make the right decisions every day. And but you will be will catch fish. If you will have great days, you’ll have bad days. And it’s the other piece. And I relate this to fly fishing.
It’s really important to be standing in the river and have your line in the water. Yeah. So you can’t catch a fish if you’re sitting on your couch. Yeah, for sure. Brian Regan, were to paraphrase by Reagan, don’t take fishing to watch again later. You need to go out, go out and do it. You need God do it. Yeah. Thanks, Gail for the prompt.
Damon Pistulka 25:40
Yeah, that was awesome. That was awesome question. So now, you are a climber too.
Steve Rice 25:47
Yeah, I still enjoy climbing. And yeah, and I was never an amazing climber. You know, the the Yosemite decimal system, they’re up to like 516 by 15 B or something. Maybe the hardest climb ever climbed was 511. A. But I have climbed in some of the most beautiful places in the world, including Yosemite and Thailand and Spain. You know, cliffs over the water kind of thing. All over Oregon, and California. Tequila. So Idlewild area, Joshua Tree, is, it’s been a great experience. And so it’s something that I still enjoy. I have three boys who all rock climb. And we’ve done a lot of that we’ve actually traveled all around the West Coast with them to different climbing areas.
And, and they all they all still climb today. And mostly my my job now is to be the belayer for them. And they all fail climb pretty hard. So you know, one of the great, so all my kids are in college and they all came back COVID. And at some point I said to them, we’re sitting on kitchen table, I was thinking, you know, when COVID is over, and we’re all back together at some point, you know, between school or after school, I’d really love to do another big trip with you guys.
And I’m thinking like, you know, we’ve been to go on a hunt to Mexico on a really cool little league baseball trip. That was fun. We’ve been to France and Hawaii, and we’ve been to all over British Columbia. And I’m thinking they’re gonna say yeah, let’s get a flight in all three of them at once that city of rocks, which is a climbing area at the very bottom of Idaho. And my wife kind of rolled her eyes.
She said no, no, no, he was thinking, you know, Paris, yeah, Paris, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Pamplona, Madrid. And I, she was kind of laughing in it. I said, Yeah, but I’m really happy with city rocks, because that’s a place where I can go and I can climb a five, five traditional route, which means there’s cracks for me to put my fingers in. And which I really like. And I can get to the top and sidle over to the left, and put up some top reps for my kids in the you know, 510 to 512 range. And then they can try hard things because they get bored at the five five so
Damon Pistulka 28:11
yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s incredible. It’s great to do you got something to do with your kids. And it’s a similar experience for me. Our kids came home, you know, the first round of COVID and it’s a special time because you just don’t get that you don’t get that time with your kids. Do you guys have Did you enjoy that when they?
Steve Rice 28:32
Yeah, you know, it was one of those waterfalls of activity flowing towards our house. You know, at the time, I think my oldest son was a sophomore. He’s going into his senior year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. And my I have twin boys who are they were seniors at the time heading into university Lewis and Clark of Portland. Oh, yeah, yeah.
And so just as the in the these are incredible kids and the changes were supposed to go to the they went to nationals are supposed to go to Nationals for debate. They were in this thing called brain bull. And all these events that got cancelled because of COVID. And so they’re the last two months of their senior year essentially disappeared. They didn’t get to they didn’t get to walk. They didn’t get to win any awards.
They didn’t get to hang out with their friends they didn’t get the schools basically said okay, well we have some homework but everybody’s pretty much getting in a Yeah. And in when my son came home from college for spring break, they had said oh, well, we’re just gonna extend for spring break and we can see what happens so by the time he between the time he left in the nine hour drive back to our house they already announced that they were going to wait another month before people came back and three days later they said we’re going completely online.
So my wife and I were went from preparing to be empty nesters to now having three boys and and my oldest son’s girlfriend whose family lives way out the woods. It doesn’t have Wi Fi so now she yes In our house, because she’s going to Northwestern and needs a place that actually has Wi Fi that’s quiet, which turned out to be our kitchen table. So, you know, did we have fun, we had a blast. And I remember looking at my wife and I said, you just need to look at this, like, this is an extended Christmas treat.
It’s Yeah, it’s gonna last for nine months. And it did. And so I’m fortunate that my children like me, and we get along and they like each other. And we all enjoy doing things together. So yeah, I, I’m at a tech. Yeah, I’ve got to tell you that I’m the luckiest dad in the world. Because I play music. I’ve been a multi instrumentalist. Since I was a teenager, I taught myself guitar and bass and mandolin and banjo. And, and I’m not very good at any of them. But I’m good enough.
But I’m, I’m, I don’t know how many parents that said this. But my children have texted me when I had an office away from her saying, Can you come home early so we can play rock and roll? Because I haven’t have a drummer and two guitarists in the house to go with. Yeah. And so like, I have actually come home from work and got to play Pixies and the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and let’s say, you know, all sorts of classic rock and alternative rock and, and stuff. So nice.
Damon Pistulka 31:23
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I love hearing that. Because you know that as as crappy as COVID was, for a lot of people. I mean, I this those experiences with family that we had, because that are precious. I mean, especially with kids that are your age or my age that are in that college age are right around there. We just will never have that chance again.
Steve Rice 31:46
Yeah. And I made I made some conscious decisions as a business person to change my what was going on in my business life so that I could have that. Because, you know, as I mentioned, you know, I do advise people like they got to remember their life and their wife and their husbands. let’s not pretend that it’s just men running the businesses. Yeah, you got to remember your spouse.
Yeah. There was a point where I had one too many businesses. And one of them was an outdoor store. And I was working 5060 hours a week, and I was not that pleasant to be around. And it was hard work. But also, I couldn’t say yes. If my children said, you know, can you come home because I could or felt like it couldn’t.
And so I made a decision to get rid of one of those businesses so that I could have a better life. You know, in the end, getting rid of the outdoor store allowed me to go outdoors with my family. Yeah. Now I you know, I’m actually this Saturday, I’m going to be whitewater inflatable kayaking, a section of the Klamath River, class two and three whitewater with my sons and best friends. And we’re gonna make laps in this section. That’s really fun. Nice. And, yeah, two weekends ago, I was rock climbing in a Bishop’s peak in San Luis Obispo with my wife and kids. It’s awesome.
Damon Pistulka 33:09
Good stuff, good stuff,
Steve Rice 33:11
and never really talked about business much.
Damon Pistulka 33:13
Oh, yeah, time. That’s the thing. And the thing I like about this, because I mean, it is there’s a lot to business and people think about it. Far, often, too many times. It’s one dimensionally. And really, it’s, it’s when when you’re in business at the level you are or, or other owners and advisors are, you really get the whole person you need to understand that person and what they’re doing and what they believe. Because, like you said, what you believe you help your clients live that life that has some balance that has some, you know, different pieces to it, so that they can a have a healthy and happy life. And it takes that. So
Steve Rice 34:03
in a business, you know, you what you have are 10 to 100 people who are all connected. Yeah, that business is like a person to Yeah, it has a culture and a personality. And it needs to be maintained. You know, and, you know, sometimes the businesses need therapists, right?
Yes. And they need different types. And those people are usually called consultants. And sometimes they work on culture, sometimes they work on systems. Sometimes they actually, like I worked with a company that’s frequently listed in Oregon as one of the top five companies in the state to work for. And they really work hard on that personal communications communication style. I think they have rules that they follow that allow give people the power to communicate with each other. If to make it so that you know the man We don’t want things to blow up.
But you also have a responsibility to make sure things don’t blow up yourself before you come to your superiors and say, I’m having a problem with somebody. Right? And, and so they have, they have people who are in charge of the culture, who come in, on a regular basis. And, and sometimes, you know, they might actually talk to somebody about their own personal life, you know, like, there are a lot of executive, but we put it this way, it’s really lovely to be an executive, it is because you can’t necessarily can’t really talk to your employees about the stuff that that that worries you in a way that won’t worry them.
And, and your spouse might not understand what you do. Because, you know, you’re maybe busy being a doctor or a bus driver, or something. Yeah. They don’t understand what you’re going through. You can’t necessarily go to the owner of the company and say, I’m worried about all this stuff. You know, maybe you should, but maybe, maybe the owner is not receptive. So, yeah, having somebody that you can talk to, you know, I, as an example, I’ve had somebody say, like, I totally feel like an imposter.
I feel like, I don’t know what I’m doing. You know, and, and my job is to say, well, what’s true is that there are things you don’t know, but you’re doing about, like, like, let’s be honest about what your weaknesses are. And let’s be, let’s find out what your what you’re really what your strengths are. Yeah, and maybe let’s figure out if what other people think your strengths and weaknesses are, which is where MOCA comes in. Yeah. And in, you know, the other thing is, don’t be afraid to be honest with the people around you.
You know, like, I’ve sat in a room with people who looked at me and said, You’re the expert. And I’ve, I’ve literally, the inverse of the fearlessness is like, I really don’t know. Yeah, you know, if I, if I have a superpower, one of them is an AI, I will not tell you, I know something if I don’t know it. And I will, even if I if I have the fear that it’s going to make me maybe not be as have as much influence in the room, which never actually ends up being true. They always had more influence when you admit that you don’t know something that I I’m constitutionally incapable of like, Why are faking it? Yeah. So
Damon Pistulka 37:25
yeah, it’s funny, you said that because I was on, I was on a call last week with with, with some people that were really getting their opinion. And I said, I don’t know. It’s up to like that. They thought, Well, what your was, I said, I don’t know everything. This is a special situation. I said, like, I know who to talk to that probably will know and we’ll figure that out that way. But that being able to do that at that way I think is very is telling it and it shows that that you’re willing to work with with others to get a better the best solution.
You can. Yeah, a lot of terms too. So let’s talk a little bit more about so we we we got off on the kids and all that good stuff. I’m talking about kids forever but and and outdoors. Those are the you know, that you know this mix baseball, and they’re my day shot. So we have so now you move forward. You’ve been you’ve been helping you’ve had your own businesses helping businesses and now explain a little bit about.com jungle and how you’re helping people now and their businesses and that the MB WA that you use.
Steve Rice 38:34
Yeah, well, so Dr. Jungle from the outside kind of looks like a you know, we build websites, right. But what we really do is help companies make and implement wise technology decisions. And you can’t do that from the outside with a product and just say everybody needs this, but not everybody needs sage, not everybody needs. CSI not only need Salesforce, or HubSpot. And in order to, in order to help them actually show them how to make these decisions, they don’t just make the decisions for them.
We show them how to go through the process of learning how to get the information they need to make the decision. And surprisingly, I think that’s one of the most important skill sets that a leadership group can have. And upper management and it’s it’s also one of the things that sort of easiest to fall away. And, and not in a bad way because someone’s you know, people are bad or not smart or something.
But if if management team or the managing says to upper management, we want some information about you know, what, what are the challenges people are having? The natural thing for that manager to do is turn around and say, Okay, I’ve got eight people working for me, What challenges do you guys face and they might get some feedback. Well, what’s actually happening is that you’re getting feedback about stuff that maybe is top of mind right now.
But there’s also opportunities at every space for all of those employees to circumvent all the systems or any of the systems that you’ve put in place so that they can do their job better. And they don’t look at that, like it’s a challenge. They look at that as a success. Because in there, right, right, and I’ll give you an example is, is that we were working with a company where we have streamlined all of their shipping processes. This was maybe 14 years ago. And, you know, they’re the we we built them a website, we had a connected to the ESOP, we ended up circumventing eirp in order to get to the shipping department to send them the files, and they needed to drop onto the server.
So they can click a button for worldship. And some of the other tools for USPS. And it would print out all the labels they needed. Right. And in one click, well, they had implemented a the marketing team had come up with a an infomercial. And as part of the infomercial, they had hired a phone company to answer the phones and take the orders, and then send that information off. And through a series of quirks, you know, we were involved in the mapping of that file, so that it could be imported into the DRP.
Well, somewhere along the line, the head of shipping, was having trouble once again with the eirp. Because they didn’t map it the way that we mapped everything else. And they didn’t ask us about that. And we weren’t we weren’t aware of what happened on the other end of this right. At least initially. But so he wasn’t getting what he needed. And he so he found out that there was a spreadsheet on the server somewhere, he found where that spreadsheet was opened up and said, Oh, if I make a couple changes to this, then I can import this, I can use it for my ups file.
So he started doing that. Second, he did that the folks in finance, who were supposed to import this file into their eirp and then match all the invoices. They’re supposed to automatically match match. Yeah, from the phone, cat service. They everything broke. And so they sent an email to the IT person who said, Well, let me check the format. So then they got a sample format from the phone people and it matched. They sent us a sample format and said, Is this the right thing?
And we said, yeah, that matches. And then the IT person said, well, everything’s fine. And the finance people said, well, it’s not fine, but I don’t have time to deal with you. So we’re just going to the CFO put like four people every day, there are matching 200 plus orders by hand in the system for the last hour of every day, no job done. Meanwhile, the other guy’s spending an hour every day, massaging the spreadsheet to get his job done. He succeeded because he went click the button and hit print out 269 labels and bam, bam, bam, bam, in what an hour later, all those boxes.
Were sitting on a pallet Ready to go? Yes. He didn’t know he was affecting them. And he had also, you know, sent a note to the IP person saying what’s wrong with this. But she didn’t make the connections and not because she’s not a smart person. But what she didn’t do is walk over to him and say, What are you doing, and that’s this is the management by walking around. I knew something was wrong, because I sat with the marketing department in in this particular instance, and I could sort of see the operations for the rest of the company. And I was in touch with the shipping people. And I was in touch with finance.
So I knew through sales, the sales team and finances, something was off. And I just talked to the owner, I said, let me come down and walk around for a little bit. And and I went over to the shipping guy, and I said, Hey, so you know, what are you doing? He said, Well, I’m working on the spreadsheet. Okay, but why are you doing that? Well, because, you know, I can’t get stuff out of VRP.
And I have to do this thing. And I said, Okay, well, let me show me what you’re doing. And you know, when he did it, he clicked the button. And I said, was that what you expected to happen? Like, well, what I expected to happen is for me not to have to work on the spreadsheet, you know, and I already knew what where the spreadsheet was. So we ended up having a meeting, and with about six different C suite executives and upper management. And believe it or not, the story is coming to a close soon. It’s been a lot long one. But the CFO walked in and she said, Look, I’m really busy.
I don’t know why I’m here in my business partner, Steven looks. He said, you know, give us about 20 minutes. And I think you will know why you’re here. And it’s really important. Like every we asked everybody in this meeting for a reason. Yeah. So we started talking to them and asking questions, and letting them unfold what was going on and and so the team could see what the shipping manager needed. And they could see what the IT person needed and where the disconnect was. At some point the CFO exists and she said, Oh, this is why I have three or four people can match invoices at the end of every day. I said yes.
This is why. And then she said, Well, what’s the solution? And we said well, we now we Know what the shipping guy needs. And we can take that file from these other people will write a script that will rewrite in the format he needs. So he doesn’t open it. Yeah. And then when you go to import it, it won’t break. Yeah. You know, for basically a one hour meeting and maybe three to four hours of work. We fixed a problem that was, you know, costing them. I don’t know, $600 a day. Yeah. Yeah, total labor hours. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, maybe 400, which doesn’t sound like much, but certainly adds up. When you have
Damon Pistulka 45:32
every single day.
Steve Rice 45:34
That’s a day that doesn’t take into account the opportunity cost of three of the smartest financial people in the dance, we’re spending an hour a day or more. And the most important operations person in the entire company, at the nexus of every single logistics piece of the company. was spending an hour a day, massaging a spreadsheet. Yeah, yeah. So management by walking around is, if anyone else had walked into that business, and did what I did, which I like to ask three questions. What are you doing? Why did you do it? And what did you expect to happen?
So but you want it and I uncover all sorts of things. I did a similar thing in a shipping with a shipping team, where I, they pushed a button just like, once again, world ship. And they had something like 250 labels pop up. And about 200 of them had a big black stop sign on them, because there was something wrong. And because of my, you know, 30 years of experience integrating this stuff. The second I saw that I knew exactly what was going on.
And I I said, you know, give me about, give me about an hour. And I’ll come back. And I went over to the sales team, who were phone order folks. And I said, Hey, just does anybody here, open a spreadsheet every day to check it for something? Oh, no, we do. We do all our stuff through the web, then it goes into the the AARP through that.
Okay, great. And I went over to finance and I said, see anybody here you guys open a spreadsheet to check anything? And she said, You know, I don’t? I don’t think so. But Janice over here, you know, not her real name. She She does something like that. I think you know, but so I went over and this is somebody that I had actually known for a number of years and and I said, Hey, what do you do instead of checking the spreadsheet? I said, Craig, where is that spreadsheet, by the way, said oh, well, it’s on the D drive inside the UPS folder inside the key folder, which is the key file for the UPS shipping team. And they said, Oh, well, what are you doing?
Like? Well, I go through this list every day, and I’m looking for fraudulent orders. And I double check it with the, you know, PayPal and the bank statements. And I said, Okay, well, let me let me show you how to use it. Since this is an integral part of what you do. You have that information, but you’re actually opening a file and breaking the shipping integration tool. And they’re having to manually update somewhere between 150 and 200 orders a day, in the ups on the UPS will ship machine.
And she of course, she was like a gas. And I said, Yeah, don’t worry about it. It’s an honest, honest thing. Let me show you how to open that up without messing with the formatting, save it to another folder. So you can have a history of that. And then you can look at that file. And, and so we did that in the next day. When you know, Jose and gang in the shipping room, click the Print button. They got about three of those black stop signs. You know, yeah. Which was a little bit normal, because we’ll ups address checking is all that was going on? Yeah. to double check. Yeah. So
Damon Pistulka 48:45
a great example. I mean, it’s a great example of just taking the time to look through what’s going on rather than fixing the problem right there. And then going on, and no one, you’re going to have to fix that problem again, and again, and again and again. And in business, those little problems like that add up to hundreds and 1000s and millions of hours every year. If you’re No, they
Steve Rice 49:06
are not taken. And they really do. And you know, in the thread of conversation on LinkedIn about this topic that you started, you know, last week in support of this event, has a conversation going on about this that I’ve weighed in on because entropy and chaos, enter systems all the time, whether you like it or not. And this is exactly how it enters is you have really good employees who have a job to get done.
And they feel something happens that tweaks what’s happening that day. And they figure out a way around it. And it’s it’s good for them. And it’s not necessarily good for the company. And it doesn’t matter how good your setup is, how, how recent it is, how good your support team is, that’s going to be happening every day.
And so if you’re not out there, asking these questions in maintaining the systems, it doesn’t matter if it’s an easy RP, your website, the integrations, you know, the shipping team, the buying team, procurement and, and logistics. It’s good it’s going to happen. It’s the nature, it’s human nature, its business nature. And our job as leaders is to help people deal with the chaos in a business, minimize it. And also the chaos Personally, I’m a big fan, not just leading companies, but of leading individuals and teaching them to be leaders. You know, being better people. I hope I wake up every day and get better. Yeah, but like, some days, sometimes, like, catch better and some days.
Damon Pistulka 50:44
Yeah, it’s some days you wonder why you’re fishing?
Steve Rice 50:47
Yeah, why am I I don’t even know why I’m standing in this river. Yeah, there’s no eagles. There’s people.
Damon Pistulka 50:57
But that’s, that’s a great example, though, I think about what I was what I was hoping, part of hope. And what we would cover is, is really about how you take technology, and and take the time to really make sure that human interface and that human design is working. So you really get the efficiency and the effectiveness from that technology, because we spend, you know, lots of times hundreds of 1000s and millions of dollars in these in companies for the technology and all the way from the devices to the software to run them to the how they work together.
And then and then now when you look at how your website interfaces with a CRM, which interfaces with your eirp, which interfaces with the all your customers, and their ordering systems, or if you’re on e commerce, the third party platforms and you know, sometimes you’ve got the automating an automated data flow between those, and quite honestly, some of them, they break, you can’t manually keep up anymore.
Steve Rice 51:58
Oh, you can’t. Okay, and you know, the world, the world has definitely changed because of COVID. And a lot of habits are changing. And a lot of what we do right now have been doing is actually, in a certain sense, the way people’s habits have changed for COVID has brought to light the things we’ve been saying for 20 years. Yes. And, you know, trade shows were a significant way for a wholesale manufacturer of almost anything, to get their, their products into the hands of retailers anywhere in the world.
And, you know, with COVID, we’re not having trade shows. But what’s true, is that we I’m gonna use Amazon example, we all know how to place an order on Amazon. And ipso facto, we know how to place an order on every well made website in the world, everyone else, we could place an order on a Russian website in Cyrillic, and probably succeed if it had the picture of the thing we wanted, even though we couldn’t read the language, right?
So So it’s, it’s like walking. And so if you if you have systems that introduce obstacles that aren’t like walking, you’re building systems that aren’t really going to be used much. And what I mean by that, like, so contrary to that, if you’re building systems that are like walking, like a website, they’re going to get used, and the information that I bring from my consumer products, good background, and especially outdoor industry, which for those of you who wonder what that is, that’s the place where Patagonia and hydroflask northface live.
And it’s an exciting place to be. Because it’s it’s progressive in terms of its relationship to environmentalism, and globally conscious thinking and circular economy stuff, and hopefully the stuff that will help businesses save the world instead of destroying it. But what I what I bring from that is I’ve been on both sides. And there are a lot of systems out there that, you know, Bob from Bob’s Bait and Tackle in eufaula.
Alabama, he can’t use it. Because it’s a fancy system that was built by people who built something that doesn’t look like a website, it can only be used in certain conditions. Like, you know, one of which is it can’t be used at a trade show, unless that company maybe spent $10,000 on a fancy industrial strength iPad with a special app and paid for an extra seat in the AARP, which might be five or $6,000 a year. Yeah. And and so what what I tell people, the thing that we’ve built for manufacturers and retailers, and especially the food food manufacturer works well for two is your website’s already there.
It’s it is an input tool for your DRP Nothing more, nothing less, you know, well, maybe more because it’s a marketing tool, too, right. But why why would you have your sales outside sales reps work in some other platform when they could just as easily place that order on your website? And why would you have your customer in eufaula Alabama. place an order through some platform that’s hard to use when you could just have to place the order on your website. And, you know, why not, you’re inside sales reps to.
And in a lot of what we built are literally because the manufacturers we work with are saying to us, hey, how we can’t place orders on our anywhere, right now when we go to trade shows, the Wi Fi is not very good, you know, and these tablets they gave us are nuts. It’s expensive. And essentially, when COVID hit and our companies are working with us stop going to trade shows, they already had the platform, we built it for them. And there’s their their sales reps are already tied to their retailers in their specific regions, the in house sales reps were already connected to those outside sales reps, sales managers were already connected to the system and understood how it worked.
And so to actually ask the sales reps, instead of go to the trade show, let’s talk to you about using the website. We didn’t have people coming to us saying I don’t understand how this works. Yeah, because they’ve done it before, right. So that’s, if I could, you know, pitch what we’ve done. The tool we built using open source software can be connected to any IR P and you can use it for that you like if you make if your Cisco and you deliver food all over the United States, you can use our tool to put it in the hands of the people who are buying from every, every location, you know.
Damon Pistulka 56:31
And every level, that’s a little
Steve Rice 56:32
Mexican, yeah, at every level, that’s a restaurant needs cancer, tomatoes and whatnot, he got on his phone to place an order doesn’t need a Wi Fi to do it. Yeah. So and that’s
Damon Pistulka 56:42
taken that human design into into account when you’re doing that, so that they it makes it easy. And then on the backside, adding the technology to it that understands that when Damon orders This is who Damon is Damon is, you know, he’s a customer, he’s a distributor, he’s a inside salesperson, he’s a support person, he’s a, whatever. And, and, and giving them the right experience for that. And, and also, the thing that I think is really cool about it is, if you’re any commerce, and everybody is using your site, but you’re able to change those kinds of things, you have to be able to you you find problems a lot faster.
Because I’ve seen in a lot of times, if you launch something on your ecommerce site, if you’ve got your own website and your do it, you can have things that don’t work, and you don’t realize it. But when you got all these other people that you know that are integral to your business that that they’ll they’ll be telling you that you’ll get a call, the customer is just gonna go it doesn’t work.
They jet You don’t even know. Yeah, they don’t they’re taking the time to tell you that you know, your best product isn’t loading the price or the says you got no inventory there. They’re not going to take that time. And I think that’s some just really cool too is you get that that instant feedback on on things that you’re working for.
Steve Rice 58:05
Oh, yeah. And those dealers are your best partners. And when you listen to them, you’re gonna make a better experience, and they’re gonna buy from you more regularly.
Damon Pistulka 58:13
Steve Rice 58:14
Yeah, I’ve seen it happen. Yeah, over and over.
Damon Pistulka 58:17
And you’re, that’s another great point is when you’re engaging people at all levels, if you’re getting the feedback and how it makes it better for them, and look at the common avenues across that you can make the biggest impact for your that interface and the efficiency and the effectiveness of it across a wider range of people. That’s really cool. That’s really cool.
That’s, I’m just fascinated by it. Because I think it’s, it’s something that, you know, you literally go out and even years ago, I was in companies where you spent more than a million dollars on DRP systems. And now it’s in the multiple millions and some of these places and 10s of millions of some. And the interface seems like that’s always the clunkiest part.
Steve Rice 59:02
Yeah, you got the challenge with the earpiece is that even the people who build the earpiece, or Yeah, I’m gonna say that build them, not the ones who did the coding on the background. But the sales people in the implementers often don’t understand the eirp thinking in the structure that Europeans are trying to implement. And, and they’re often sold and implemented by people who are very smart, who have a very linear way of thinking and earpiece aren’t linear. They’re, they’re, in a certain way.
They’re a little bit closer to non relational databases, which is getting a little nutty. But yeah, but if you’re, if you’re a linear thinker, like you’re an accountant and you go set up an AARP, you’re going to create mayhem for everyone around you. Because it businesses don’t work in a linear fashion. Yeah. Just like if you’re in manufacturing and you run a so cutting surface ility and you understand some of the better Operational ways to run a cut and sew line, oftentimes people will take what’s called One Piece flow, which is a very good way to run that business or run that line. And they’ll think the word line and they just run it in a line.
Well, it turns out, one of the best, fastest ways to sew stuff in a line is to have it in a U shape, or what they’re calling an infinity. So it reduces the distance between the people who are working, they can communicate faster, you don’t have to reach this far. It’s a interesting thing. But once again, linear linear thinking can be a tragedy, when you get into implementation of systems like earpiece and websites for that matter, too.
Damon Pistulka 1:00:43
Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. It’s, it’s, it’s great to get to talk to you, because I can tell from talking to you that the deep technological expertise, but the and I’ll say and the the cool part is, is you don’t find many people that have thought about the human factor as much as you have. And I can, I can see how when you be working with clients, how that’s very, very advantageous and beneficial, because that, that that last bit of interface is where you really make your money on these things and are get the benefit from them. Yep. So well, Steve, it’s been awesome having you on today.
And we’ll, we’ll have you back again, every station, you know, because we’re sitting here talking about improving effectiveness in technology, or improving technology, effectiveness and business. And I think people might have thought, well, we’re gonna talk about technology, and what platforms use and all that kind of stuff. But really talking about the human interface, I think is is the place where we really need to start because there’s so many companies that have probably decent technology in their companies now. But they haven’t taken the time to check that and make sure that it’s working right at that, that the human level.
Steve Rice 1:02:00
Yep. Yep. And it’s got to start there. And there’s a lot of technologies out there, and I don’t pretend to understand them all. And I try and be platform agnostic myself. Because it’s not about any one particular tool. Yeah. So yeah, yeah, that’s
Damon Pistulka 1:02:16
what I enjoy. So I enjoy about talking with us. Because you know, there’s there’s a lot of people that are specialists in a certain thing. But then there’s then there’s people that are specializing and moving businesses forward. Yeah. And that’s, that’s what I think you guys do. So it’s great having you here today. Thanks so much, everyone, for listening to us today. Thanks, Steve, for being here.
Steve Rice 1:02:39
How Thank you. Pleasure to well, you can connect with me on on LinkedIn, you can go to either of my websites. There’s dot com, jungle calm. And the globally conscious leader.com is a leadership training and mentoring program that I’m working with with a friend named john Laney, that’s really exciting, actually integrating a bunch of thought leaders in the especially outdoor retail world to actually mentor and train the leaders of tomorrow. And then I’ve got my SLR consulting dot VIP, because you’re very important people. Nice. There’s contact forms on all of those and then get in touch with me there tonight. Say hi on LinkedIn.
Damon Pistulka 1:03:23
Yep. And sorry, I cut you off there. I’m just getting getting excited. Man, I get excited. I talk to you because we have a good time. And I just really appreciate you stopping by and sharing, sharing the knowledge in and sharing the great fishing stories and the growing up stuff. Incredible. So thank you.
Steve Rice 1:03:42
Thank you for having me on. And maybe we’ll have an entire fishing episode next time.
Damon Pistulka 1:03:47
Steve Rice 1:03:49
talk about the time I almost killed some people.
Damon Pistulka 1:03:53
All right. Well, everyone, thanks so much. Hey, I didn’t say this. Thanks, Chris. You’re you’re on you put this up a while ago. I didn’t put it up yet. But thanks a lot for being on. We will be back again on Thursday. Talking with more people in business. Thanks so much, Steve. Thanks, everyone, for listening. We’re out for now. Have a good day. Thank you.