Let’s Talk Supply Chain

Are you passionate about revolutionizing the supply chain? If yes, join us for this MFG eCommerce Success show episode with Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, the trailblazing force behind “Let’s Talk Supply Chain” and Shipz.com.

Are you passionate about revolutionizing the supply chain?

If yes, join us for this MFG eCommerce Success show episode with Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, the trailblazing force behind “Let’s Talk Supply Chain” and Shipz.com.

Sarah has gained acclaim for reaching millions with her insightful supply chain content and has graced live TV alongside celebrities like Denise Richards. As the first podcaster to franchise in this space, she has created a digital media brand that resonates with supply chain professionals everywhere. Her interviews with industry legends and leaders from Airbnb, Starbucks, and Amazon have added depth and diversity to supply chain discourse.

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Sarah is not just a dynamic content creator but a visionary leader who has transformed the supply chain conversation globally.

Get ready to dive into Sarah’s journey, discussing the integration of diversity and inclusion in supply chain practices and the impact of her innovative digital content.

Curt and Gail are excited to host Sarah on their show. After exchanging preliminary pleasantries, Curt asks Sarah about her childhood hero as a little girl growing up. “Wonder Woman,” exclaims Sarah since she grew up in 1980s.

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Praising her answer, Curt invites Sarah to comment on her journey into logistics and supply chain.
As a second-generation logistics company owner, Sarah believes supply chain is in her blood, with childhood dinner table discussions about the industry. At 16, she aspired to take over the family business. Initially uncertain about her career path after high school, she considered following her grandfather’s footsteps into the Scotland Yard but realized it wasn’t the right fit. She ultimately decided to join the family business. Today, as a supply chain expert, she runs a LinkedIn learning course called “Fundamentals of Sustainable Supply Chains.”

Gail requests Sarah to discuss how the supply chain has changed in the last couple of years. For the unversed, Sarah explains supply chain involves sourcing raw materials, purchasing products, manufacturing, moving materials and products, distribution, warehousing, and product delivery. Reflecting on the industry’s evolution since her start in 1998, she notes the increased awareness brought about by the pandemic, particularly evident during shortages like the famous toilet paper scarcity. There is a growing recognition of the supply chain as a competitive advantage and an integral component for driving sales.

Curt encourages Sarah to delve deeper into this topic, asking for specific, actionable items to help individuals or businesses become more competitive.

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Sarah believes businesses can gain competitive edge in supply chain by understanding customer preferences, for instance proximity, sustainability, and customization. Effective communication with customers is crucial.

Therefore, she recommends automation for quicker responses and addressing challenges.

Moreover, Sarah’s podcast content highlight solutions to diverse supply chain challenges. In her discussions, she touches on key topics like supply chain design, optimization technology, inventory efficiency, and the growing importance of cybersecurity.

Curt, piqued by Sarah’s podcast journey, shifts the conversation from supply chain and inquires about the inspiration behind starting the podcasting journey, leading up to the significant date of April 16, 2018, when “Let’s Talk Supply Chain” began.

Sarah reveals that as the Director of Sales and Marketing for her family’s business, she felt the need to tell their brand story uniquely, especially with supply chain marketing in 2016. Inspired by Lewis House and his programs, she became a podcaster.

Purchasing a podcasting starter kit on Amazon, she collaborated with a colleague from the customs department, humorously naming it “Two Babes Talk Supply Chain” to push industry boundaries. Although the initial episodes were deemed embarrassing, Sarah persisted, experimenting with guests and topics. Now, she has many followers who listen to her regularly.

In 2017, the family business closed, leading her to self-learn social media, graphic design, and website design. By January 2018, she launched the “Women in Supply Chain” series, eventually rebranding to “Let’s Talk Supply Chain” in April 2018 after facing challenges with the original title.

Sarah advises aspiring content creators to be authentic to themselves. In her view, trying to emulate others can be exhausting. She advocates consistency and recommends picking a schedule that can realistically be maintained.

At Curt’s request, Gail reflects on Sarah’s suggestions. She discusses a recent cybersecurity incident where hospitals faced a big hack in her area. Gail agrees with Sarah’s emphasis on consistency. Gail encourages regular check-ins and mentions her advocacy for using VPNs when on public Wi-Fi.

Curt responds with the seriousness of cybersecurity issues, whether for solopreneurs or big companies and asks Sarah if this is a hot topic on her podcast.

Sarah considers cybersecurity a top risk in the supply chain for 2023 and 2024. She shares insights from a recent cybersecurity conference with the National Motor Freight Association. She advises implementing measures like two-factor authentication, even for small businesses.

Curt inquires about the current state of the supply chain, acknowledging that it became a crucial topic during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In response, Sarah discusses the challenges in the trucking industry, noting an oversupply of capacity, resulting in companies like Yellow Freight and Convoy going out of business. She attributes this to the influx of 100,000 brokerages and trucking companies during the pandemic, leading to increased demand. From a broader supply chain perspective, she questions manufacturing locations, transit times, and overall logistics strategies. Sarah notes that the industry is using this time, amidst ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, to reassess and plan for the future.

Similarly, Sarah discusses the challenges of excess inventory retailers face this year. There are positive signs, such as the Port of Long Beach having one of its busiest months in September, indicating a return in consumer demand. Additionally, she mentions a trend of reducing stock-keeping units (SKUs) to focus on best-selling items, leading to streamlined inventory management.

Gail raises a question about digital chaos, referencing a topic discussed in one of Sarah’s shows.

Sarah talks about the fragmented nature of technology in the supply chain and the integration challenge. Large companies have lengthy onboarding processes, and smaller companies use no-code or low-code solutions for quicker implementation. Sarah notes that many supply chain professionals still rely on Excel, causing information chaos.

Sarah suggests using simple language and intentional communication within the supply chain to tackle confusion. However, using numerous acronyms is acceptable because the ultimate purpose is to foster collaboration by ensuring clear and accessible communication. Sarah encourages teams to sit in the uncomfortable and have difficult conversations to drive innovation effectively.

Curt inquires about any “silver linings” that Sarah has observed in the supply chain industry emerging from the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Sarah says that the post-pandemic era in the supply chain is marked by increased dynamism, with people entering the industry excited about innovative aspects such as warehouse design. She sees it as an exciting time for the industry to approach challenges differently, considering disruption a natural part of business flow. Additionally, she views automation as a tool enabling humans to take on more strategic and creative roles in supply chain management.

At Curt’s request, Sarah discusses her various ongoing projects, including the “Blended” podcast focused on diversity and inclusion, the “Blended Pledge” nonprofit providing grants for diverse voices in speaking engagements, and the “Secret Society of Supply Chain” with virtual meetups for women in supply chain and marketing professionals.

Curt inquires about Sarah’s initial vision or if the journey unfolded organically over time.

Sarah responds with gratitude for the supportive community that has grown around the platform, including the opportunity to be on platforms like today’s interview. She has hit a milestone with 20,000 followers.

The show ends with Curt and Gail appreciating Sarah’s remarkable achievements in recent years. They applaud her as a fierce advocate for the supply chain, women in supply chain, and diversity.

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Gail Robertson, Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, Curt Anderson

Curt Anderson 00:01
Hey, Happy Friday everybody gal. Where’s Damon at today? What is going on here? Are you hiding a murder? He I pushed him out of the way. I don’t blame you. You know, it’s about time somebody moved him out of the way. So hey Damon, we Misha, dude, happy Friday. We’re thinking of you as you. You’re doing your little business today. So Gail now is in house the curiosity expert, the guru. Gail, how are you?

Gail Robertson 00:27
I am great. I was just on a show with Inger. So I did talk a bit about this show. And definitely this show today is all about how to use curiosity when we’re talking about something like supply chain and logistics. So I’m, I’m excited because I think we have a lot to learn from Sarah. So Canadian,

Curt Anderson 00:49
fellow Canadian, the great white north. So hey, let’s just dive right in. And so big intro, guys, you’re out there. drop us a note. Let us know that you’re there. We strongly encourage you, we invite you I welcome you to connect with our wonderful our amazing, our incredible guests today. So Sarah Barnes Humphrey. Happy Friday. Thank you for joining us today. How are you?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 01:08
Happy Friday. Thanks so much for having me. I mean, it’s it’s cool, right? I’m glad to be here with you. It’s like Friday around lunchtime. People are eating their lunch. You know? We’re gonna have some fun today. Thanks for having me.

Curt Anderson 01:21
We’re gonna have some fun. So boy, you will you have a deep, deep resume. And so I won’t read the entire thing. But I think you do. Man. You are so humble. I can’t I can’t take it your humility. Let’s go here. So let’s talk supply chain. How on earth did you come up with let’s but you know what, before we go there, that gal Are you sitting down? Are you sit down for this? Let me rattle off a few things about our fruit our friend Sarah. So the founder of Let’s Talk supply chain, your award winning podcaster. You’re the host and founder of the black blended podcast, you have a LinkedIn learning course called fundamentals of sustainable supply chains. You’re the founder of ship Z, my sandwich that

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 02:00
you know, we might need to drop that.

Curt Anderson 02:05
But you are doing also you’ve got the blended pledge. We’ve got all sorts of things that we’re going to talk about today. You’ve built a dynamic, incredible, wonderful community. As we dig into these things. Here’s my first question for you today. Sarah, are you sitting down? Are you ready? Looks like

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 02:17
I am. And you know what? After you said all of that, I was like, wow, I’ve been busy.

Curt Anderson 02:21
You have been busy. So that’s it’s very impressive, very inspiring what you’ve accomplished at such a young age. Let’s go here. Sarah, thank you. When you were a little girl growing up? Yeah, you were a little girl growing up? Who was your hero? Who was your hero as a little girl growing up, develop this amazing, incredible rock star that you are.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 02:48
I have no idea. I never really thought about that. Um, I don’t even remember what happened. You know, a month ago, like March this year seems like it was five years ago. So and that was a very long time ago when I was a little girl. Maybe like Wonder Woman because like I grew up in the 80s. Nice.

Curt Anderson 03:09
Wonder Woman Great answer. You know what? I had a guest one time and the answer was that lovely lady that’s over your shoulder. Audrey Hepburn. Oh, Audrey Hepburn. You hear all sorts of different answers. So I wonder woman is a great answer gal. We’ve got some wonderful guests here. Hey, we’ve got Clyde coming in from the UK. We’ve got some folks across the pond. We’ve got Paul from Dublin. I Rhenus. Here today from from DC. We’ve got somebody visiting from Houston. And we’ve got Peter all the way from Nigeria. So again, guys, drop a note in the chat. Let us know that you’re here. Give a big hello to Sara. Connect with my friend Gail connect with Sarah on LinkedIn. Sarah, let’s go here supply chain. I know you have a long career and logistics, as you were a little girl and Wonder Woman was your superhero who you looked up to. And you are certainly wonder woman today doing amazing things. What attracted you to logistics? What brought your passion, your interest, your expertise into the world of supply chain? Would you please share that with folks.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 04:06
So I kind of say that supply chain is in my blood because I remember being at the dinner table because my parents owned a logistics company. And they would talk about it. And so I learned about it at a very young age. And I think even at the age of 16, I was like I want to take over that company one day. Like that was my aspiration at 16. And to be honest with you, at the end of high school, I was like I don’t really want to know I don’t really know what I want to do. My grandfather was in the Scotland Yard. He was a detective awesome. And I’ve always loved true crime. And I was like, You know what, maybe I’ll go and do that. And then I was like, I’m not very good with blood and there’s a whole thing that you need to go through to be a detective. I was like, that’s probably not me. And then I was like maybe private investigators. So I looked into some of those courses. But really at the end of the day, I didn’t really know what I wanted to go to school for. So I went into the Family business instead. And did all of my courses diplomas by correspondence while I worked? So I had hands on, and then also had a little bit of the schooling experience.

Curt Anderson 05:11
Well, sounds like a couple more heroes might be there. So mom and dad were just fierce entrepreneurs, you had grandkids, Scotland yards. I absolutely love that. Couple of more friends who are popping in John is coming in from Utah. Happy Friday, John, we’ve got Patrick dropping a note here from from abroad. So thank you guys, again, let us know that you’re out there. Get Let’s go here. You are a recovering journalist. If I have that correct. I know you are burning up with let’s hear, let’s hear, let’s get that journalism flare going. What do you got for us? Well,

Gail Robertson 05:42
I want to start with I did a post today because I said, you know, basically, to the tune of something like, you know, who thought supply chain was all that important. And I said, you know, I didn’t really understand it until I started working in manufacturing, and then realize everything we touch field E, you know, see here comes via some sort of supply chain, I used to hear to some like, oh, yeah, supply chain and blew it off. Can you talk about that, and maybe what’s changed? Now I came in to kind of I sort of came in manufacturing and a little bit before COVID. But I, when COVID hit, it really seemed to blow up. Can you maybe talk about how the topic of supply chain has changed in the last couple of years?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 06:25
Yeah, so I think for anybody watching, if they don’t really understand what supply chain is, maybe we kind of start there, right? It’s the sourcing of raw materials or product, it’s the buying of the product, the making, or the manufacturing of the product, the movement of the raw materials and product, you know, distribution, warehousing, and then delivery of the product, right. And I think we’ve gone through a lot of changes. I mean, listen, when I started in the industry in 1998, yes, everybody. I even started kind of before that, because I spent summers in the office. But anyways, things have changed a lot. Right? I think you’re right, people didn’t even really know what supply chain was until we went through the pandemic. And we saw empty shelves of those toilet paper. And then, you know, even for me, like on my live show, I had somebody show up on YouTube. And they were like, Listen, I have a small business. And I’m trying to figure out what is happening in supply chain right now. And so I’m coming to you, and I’m watching your show, because I just want to learn about what I don’t know, and what I need to know, for my business. And so people are becoming aware of it. They’re also, you know, aware that it’s a competitive advantage. They’re aware that it’s a really important component of their organization and their companies to really drive sales, right, collaborate internally with marketing and sales. And all of that is really important for us to be able to drive. You know everything forward.

Gail Robertson 07:56
I love that you said collaborate with marketing and sales.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 08:00
Talking about it all the time. I don’t know how many of them are doing it? Well,

Gail Robertson 08:03
that’s a good point. I think that is an issue of maybe, maybe not enough people are doing that. You mentioned that, you know, it’s a competitive advantage. Let’s draw, let’s delve into that a bit more about how it can be maybe give some actionable items like how can anybody listening now if they’re going, Hey, if I do this, and this, how can it help me be more competitive? Yeah, I

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 08:28
think one of the things would be the listen to our podcast. The other because I’m not necessarily you know, the expert on this, but I do talk to a lot of people about it. I think it’s really on how you design your supply chain and what it actually means to your customers. What do your customers want from you? Do they want the products closer to them so that they get delivery right away? Do they want you to have more sustainable materials, and therefore they’ll wait for it a little bit longer? Because they understand that that process might take a little bit longer to maybe manufacture? Do they want custom? Well, if they want custom, then they also understand that the pricing is different. And also the supply chain logistics of that particular piece is going to be different as well. So it’s really about communicating with your customer. I think also from a marketing perspective, I mean, if you’re gonna put sales out, and or you’re really gonna push a product, you know, we need to make sure as I say, a supply chain team, that we have the product in stock or available for us to order excetera, etc, etc. And so I think there are a variety of things that we need to think about as business owners, right? Even small business owners that maybe don’t have a supply chain team, but supply chain professionals in general, I think there’s also technology that really can help automate some of the processes and really change the game on how quickly you get back to the customer about a delivery. Or maybe there’s a challenge in your supply chain. You want to Let your client know because communication is key for them to come back and buy from you as well.

Gail Robertson 10:06
I love that you talked about the importance of the customer, because I think that often gets overlooked and heard that we know this the topic of the week, people focus so much on what they’re doing as a company and not what the customer wants. So that’s, that’s a really good approach. It’s simple. But maybe we need to tackle that more as well. Yeah.

Curt Anderson 10:30
And I also I love that you mentioned the technology. Sir. Is there any getting for friends, family pets out there that are listening? Do you want it was? Are there any? Is there any technology that that you would recommend suggest for folks, that’s hot topics that you’re interviewing on your podcast. So

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 10:46
I would suggest to go and listen or go at least go to the website, use the search bar, put in a keyword and all of that content will come up so you can listen to because everybody’s supply chain challenges are different. And there is a solution out there for every single one of those challenges for the most part, right? A lot of people are talking about supply chain design. How are we designing our supply chain? Where are we buying? From? How close is it to our customer? Does it need to be close to our customer? Like there’s a lot of questions that supply chain teams and businesses and business owners are asking themselves as far as what their supply chain can do. And so there is some technology out there as far as supply chain design and optimization. There’s technology around inventory and warehousing and how do we make that more efficient for not only putting the putting the packages together for delivery, but also for the team members who are having to walk around the warehouse and maybe the products are in two different places, and they need to walk really far. How do we automate that? How do we make that a little bit better for them? I think cybersecurity is also a really, really big topic right now as far as it being a supply chain risk. Lots of people getting hit with cyber attacks right now. It’s kind of a matter of when that’s going to happen. And how organized. Are you like when do you bring in the FBI? What does your board need to do when you get hit with an attack? You know, what tribal knowledge do you have available? So that when you do have to go manual, somebody knows how to go manual so that you can keep the business moving? Yeah,

Curt Anderson 12:30
that could be a whole episode in itself. Right. Pretty. That is a scary scary topic about So Sarah Zubin, I want to dig into your podcast. I certainly encourage everybody to connect with Sarah on LinkedIn. Follow her podcasts. You’re you know, you’re here today passionate about supply chain boy, she brings in high level experts week in week out. I saw you’ve done 377 episodes. Am I close on that? I saw DC did your last one. Right. Is that my Yeah.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 12:56
So that’s really funny, because I think in season one, I think I did 80. So I’m at about 450. Are you at 450? Okay, yeah. But then I’ve also done because I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve done another weekly episode of thoughts and coffee, right. So you know, yeah. A lot of episodes.

Curt Anderson 13:21
So before we went live for the self admitted introvert, right? Did you use the word introvert? I think she did yell? Did she use her an introvert, I

Gail Robertson 13:29
think she is leaning more that way.

Curt Anderson 13:34
So let’s go here for a second, let’s step away from supply chain for a second. I am just pique. You’ve piqued my curiosity. 20 years of logistics with family business. And then you’ve gone all in and really just branded yourself as an authority of like bringing in other subject matter experts around supply chain. What inspired you to start your podcasting journey? Starting this whole like content? You’re just a content machine, my friend? How did you start that? And then let’s lead up to the big date. I have it down right, April 16 of 2018. What inspired you to first start podcasting? And then let’s talk about when you started the let’s start the let’s talk supply chain. Yeah.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 14:11
So I was Director of Sales and Marketing for the family business. And I was like, how do we tell our brand story I was looking at what was out there marketing back in 2016 was, you know, in supply chain was okay. Some people didn’t know whether they needed a website or not still at that point. And so I was like, how do we do something different? And I sat down with my team and I was like, Well, wait a second. If Lewis house can have a podcast, I don’t know if anybody knows Lewis house, but he’s got the School of Greatness. Okay. I was like if Lewis house can have a podcast, why can’t Sarah Barnes Humphrey and so I bought the like, package off Amazon the like starter kit for podcasters and I asked a guy from my customs department to be my co host, and tongue in cheek, we called it to babes talks. Supply Chain because we wanted to see how far we could push the industry. And let me tell you those first couple of episodes, those are embarrassing, but you can still find them on YouTube. And then we just kept going, like I just sort of experimented with people who are coming on the show what we were talking to them about. We ended up going into a studio company started to pay to come on the show. And then in the fall of 2017, the family business closed its doors, I was out on my butt with no, no team, no co host. I was like, I need to learn social media and graphic design and website design. Let’s, let’s get this going. And then in January 2018, I started the woman in supply chain series. And by April 2018, no one would come on the show called to babes talk supply chain. And so April 16 of 2018 was literally a week after I came to that realization and I rebranded it to Let’s Talk supply chain.

Curt Anderson 15:59
Nice. Awesome. We’re in great name, love it catchy. And again, since you were a logistics person, why supply chain? Where did you get the name? Can you share that?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 16:11
Um, honestly, we just brainstormed as a team to come up with the two babes. Yeah. And then because I was rebranding within a week, I honestly didn’t think too much about it. I was just like, let’s talk supply chain, let’s just do it. Brilliant. There was not a lot of thought that went into that. I’ll tell you that. So

Curt Anderson 16:31
for anybody out there that’s say manufacturers gal, like you are such a proponent for like your clients and folks that you work with have you know, stopped being the best kept secret and get themselves out there? Sir. Any any friendly advice, suggestions for people that have been like hemming and hawing about it thinking about it? Or you know, like, Man, I’m gonna take my I want to put my toe in the water of creating content, podcasting, live streaming, any thoughts, suggestions that you would have for people that are considering that?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 16:58
Just do it, I think you need to be authentically you. Don’t try to be anybody else. Because that will get exhausting and you won’t want to do it. And I think you need to pick a schedule that you can be realistically consistent in. You need to show up consistently. And so if you start weekly, and you’re like, I can’t maintain this after three months, that doesn’t, that really doesn’t work for anybody, right? If you start off once a month, then you can go to weekly. But it’s that consistency is that consistent pattern where people see you and you show up, you do the things that you say you’re going to do. I think really and just get started. I mean, some of my best listened to episodes, like the most downloads are the ones that don’t even have the best audio. Nice. Like, let’s not be perfectionist here people. Right, right.

Curt Anderson 17:51
Absolutely. Hey, we’ve got a couple more comments here. So hey, we got friends from Dubai, we’ve got friends from Pakistan. And then we’ve got this comment here from Paul haven’t read this yet. There are only two types of companies. So those that have been hacked, and those that will be hacked. Well, isn’t that interesting. As soon as this was quoted, it was out of two types of companies, ones that have been hacked and will be hacked. So any any so we’re coming back to that any comments there for Paul, Sarah gal? Anything? Any thoughts that you guys have for that comment?

Gail Robertson 18:20
Well, I’ll jump in and say this because I agree with that we just had a major thing happened in our area in the Windsor Chatham Sarnia area, they hospitals got hacked. It did. It’s a big, big and they decided not to pay the ransom. So now people’s medical information is out staff information is out. And yeah, I think that comment is so true that you have to keep on top of cybersecurity. Like it’s not something one and done. It’s maybe you can comment on Sarah and I think you’ve had people on talked about this. But yeah, it’s it’s something I think that you have to do regularly. Again, that consistency checking in. I have someone that helps me with my tech stuff. And believe me, some people roll their eyes but like, I’m now a big advocate for don’t go on public Wi Fi unless you have VPN,

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 19:13
right? Yeah, well, and also you need to test your team members. So you need to send them links to see if they’ll click on them, because that is one of the easiest way for people to get through. I think the one thing that was really scary that I heard of was voice recognition. So for example, one of the examples that’s been shared with me is that the CFO gets a call from the CEO and says, I want to transfer $200,000 to this bank account. So the CFO goes ahead and does that. And then the CEO comes back to him the real CEO, and he’s like, why did you do that? Well, you told me to do that. No, I didn’t. And it was actually somebody else who had impersonated the CEO. And the CFO had said that money

Curt Anderson 19:59
Wow, that is scary. I’d say there’s, there’s I’m hearing scary situations with that more and more, where people are even like imitating their children’s voices. And like, you know, I won’t go there, but there’s some really scary things going on. Hey, we got comments from Damon Damon. Dude, if you’re there join us, man. Hello everyone a little family thing. He’s like he loves the comment about audio. Sarah, I’ve always felt good conversations and content overcome the barrier. If you’ve had a multibillion dollar supplier that got hacked, and one of my clients this year, put them down for over a week. So yeah, nothing, not something to take lightly. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur, like myself, or if you’re at a big company, big team, this, these are becoming more serious, serious problems. Yeah. Are you is this? Is this a really hot topic on your podcast? Sir? Like, are you talking about on a regular basis? Or what’s that look like from a cyber standpoint? So

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 20:54
I’ve had it, we’ve been talking about it a little bit, what I have been talking about is really the fact that it’s one of the top risks in supply chain for 2023, and also for 2024. But I recently had the opportunity to go to a cybersecurity conference with the National motor freight Association. And that was eye opening. You had all sorts of cybersecurity experts that were there that were outside of the industry, but really sharing what is possible, what is happening, and the solutions to really what companies and organizations should be doing. And so I learned a ton of stuff from them. I’m in touch with one of them, actually, for my even my business, you know, talking about two factor authentication, you know, we’re a small or small business, I’ve got a team of 12, everybody’s freelancers. So it’s like, how do you keep it secure, even at that level? And then with the two factor, you know, so you’re not spending 24 hours giving people codes all the time? So it’s very important for me as a business owner as well. Right?

Curt Anderson 22:00
Okay, so let’s leave here. Gail, let’s go back into supply chain. Obviously, as you mentioned, Sarah, you know, like, supply chain was just kind of like a buzzword that didn’t pay attention to until COVID hit. You went into the grocery store and on the shelves, and they were empty for certain products that you’re longing for? How would What do you hear in boots in the street as far as supply chain now? Like, I can only imagine what your love to go back to your podcast episodes, like in March of 2020 and September of 20, like very, you know, detrimental, and we’re not out of it yet. But what are you hearing now, compared to what you were hearing, say two years ago?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 22:36
Um, well, it depends on what part of the industry that you’re working in. I think when it comes to the trucking environment, there’s not enough there’s like, there’s too much capacity right now. So we have seen a couple of companies actually go out of business recently. Yellow freight was one of them. convoy is another and they were a technology platform. But what happened was during the pandemic is that you added 100,000, brokerages and trucking companies. And because of all the demand, because we had so many products moving through, and there wasn’t enough capacity, and now we’re kind of the opposite. We’re actually and so that’s what we’re seeing on the trucking side. I think from a supply chain perspective, there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered. Right, you know, are we sticking to manufacturing in China? Are we looking elsewhere? Are we moving it to Mexico? Right, and Mexico has been a place that a lot of people are looking to manufacture, you know, what are our transit time? So there’s lots of questions I think being asked, and I think this year has given people enough of a breathing room because the pandemic, you know, was full on, and we’re still seeing disruptions, right? They’re still having to deal with disruptions. But I think they’ve gotten a little bit of breathing room where they can say, Hey, what is it that we want to do now? What do we want that to look like? Let’s figure this out.

Curt Anderson 24:03
Yeah, that’s fascinating about the trucking industry being hit so hard, and I’m here in different industries that you know, you think about like when when you couldn’t travel all the money that shifted into like, I’m going to repair my home I’m going to go buy a bike I’m going to get a gym membership. I’m going to join peloton I’m going to like all the other funds that left like cruises and flights and everything that we could sporting events, all those funds that we couldn’t spend money on went somewhere else. Now that the world is back open back up. I’m here like you know bike like the bike industry is a mess. It’s an absolute disaster because like as you’re seeing demand was so high. They were trying to keep up with it grilling, like weber grill and some of these other home type companies. What Are there any other industries that you’re hearing that are having facing like post COVID Hiccups hangovers?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 24:48
Well, I think this year also we had a ton of excess inventory, like as retailers that we that they needed to get through. And I think we’ve gotten through that as far as what I’m reading. So just recently, I saw that the Port of Long Beach had one of their busiest months on record in September, which means that consumer demand is coming back. And I think retailers are starting to feel more comfortable in forecasting and buying products. I think what we also saw is that skews got reduced, right? So we had like, every color under the sun before the pandemic, and now they’re like, no, no, we’re just gonna keep to the ones that really sell the best. And we’re gonna reduce our SKU count. So we’re not keeping as much inventory as well.

Curt Anderson 25:38
Great answer, Gail, let’s get back to you, my friend. Let’s get your journalists hat back on.

Gail Robertson 25:43
That is fast. That’s really interesting about you know, now there’s an opportunity for customization, I’m sure to right. If you want that unusual thing. Now, there’s probably people might be willing to pay to get that specialize. So I always think that’s important to look at. Where’s their opportunity when something? Yeah, I know, I’m one of your shows, you talked about digital chaos. So can you maybe talk about that? And what’s happening in terms of the digital side of things and the chaotic side of that world? As it relates to supply chain? Yeah,

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 26:16
so there’s a lot of really great technology out there in supply chain. And supply chain has been very siloed. Right? There’s so many moving parts, there’s so many people involved. And so now it’s kind of like, how do we bring them together? But which platform or we’re going to use to do that? And how do we do that, right. And so that’s what the landscape looks like, right? Now, you’ve got large companies that have systems that take a while to get on boarded. But now you’ve also got companies that have got no code, low code, that you can plug and play kind of tomorrow, get started and make things more efficient. I think, you know, there was a stat that I used, I think 63% of supply chain, professionals are still using Excel. And for I wrote that. Well, and one of the things in those conversations is like you’re uploading, you’re downloading, you’re uploading or downloading, literally what we’re doing with Excel right now, or we’re on like version 53, somebody else’s on version 34. I’m on version 53. And you know, it’s kind of information chaos, maybe it’s not digital, but information chaos. I think part of the challenge as well is overwhelming fear. Organizations talk about fostering a culture of innovation. And but in order to do that, we have to be able to allow the Supply Chain Leaders, the supply chain teams to be able to have a testing environment for new technology. And not let them feel like they’re going to get fired if they don’t bring in a larger, more well known technology. Right. And so that’s kind of the landscape of digital adoption right now. And I really think the solution to that is a testing environment. Like let’s look at what technology is out there. Let’s bring them in and stress test them against the problem that we’re actually trying to solve and figure out which one is right for us. And then it’s also the priority of dollars, right? So you’re given a certain amount of budget. And it’s like, okay, well, which one’s the priority, because I only have a budget to bring on one for q1, q2, maybe. And then I got budget for q3 to q4. And the challenge is you probably need at least two or three of them, right to really automate and understand. And so I think when we talk about digital chaos, there are so many things to think about so many questions to be answered, you know, so many discussions that need to be had and kind of not enough time.

Gail Robertson 29:06
I like what you said about priorities and budget. And I often someone once said, it’s, you know what time management is really not time management, it’s priority management. So yes, that’s also a big need for discussion around what are the priorities? And that leads me into I did have a question I wanted to tie into about the idea of collaboration, even within companies, because sometimes what seems to happen is that there’s territorialism. So can you maybe different from any interviews that you’ve done that, that companies that have managed to find ways to bring more people to the table and not where they can be more open and comfortable? Yeah,

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 29:45
I think it’s been really about simplifying the language and being intentional about the communication. So I mean, if you think about it, like supply chain, I have a supply chain In dictionary, there’s 107 pages full of acronyms. So if you go into a meeting with marketing, even procurement, maybe, and you’re using all these acronyms, and you’ve lost everybody in the first two seconds, does that really foster collaboration? Absolutely not. Right? Because nobody’s gonna lift their hand and be like, what does that mean? Right? Not entirely sure what you’re talking about, can you just like, roll it back a little like that is just not, that’s just not reality. So in our respective teams, and in our respective environments, going into an environment where we want to be able to collaborate with each other, we really need to be able to simplify the language and be intentional about curating that conversation. I think it’s also about sitting in the uncomfortable. So when it comes to fostering innovation, when it comes to talking about technology, we have to be able to have really hard conversations in safe environments and sit in the uncomfortable to get to the solution. And I don’t think we sit in the uncomfortable enough to be able to do that properly. And then I also think the other solution to that is really lending somebody from your team, to the other team, like marketing, procurement sales, go and live with them for a week and see what their world is all about. And then have somebody come and live with the supply chain team for a week so that you can really understand what goes on because then you’re then you can foster empathy and compassion. Because there’s understanding

Curt Anderson 31:42
Well, I love that gal. Let’s grab a few comments here. So I Rena says yes, absolutely. We’ve got a Whitney Houston is in the house here. Whitney Happy Friday, Damon says I’ve made the mistake of testing technology in the library environment too soon, in the past, not fun. John has a comment here and see what John says, bringing digital into supply chain requires a long term roadmap due to the integrated nature. But this is really challenging when technologies are changing. So fast. Great point, my friend John and Damon has another one. Here’s one for you, Sarah, what do you think of this question?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 32:16
I don’t think I’ve used a supply chain acronym in a very long there’s like 107 pages that I’m like scrolling through mentally.

Gail Robertson 32:28
I’m still at 107 pages. Wow.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 32:33
Like one of the ones that is used the most, I guess is three pl You know, some people don’t know that. That means third party. Third party logistics, which is

Gail Robertson 32:42
I heard that on one of your shows. I’m so glad now I know what it means. Because yeah.

Curt Anderson 32:47
I’m curious how many people know what ERP stands for Right? So it’s, you know, listen,

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 32:52
there are some social like, you’re on social media. I think I only just understood the if you know, you know, acronym. I mean, I’m just gonna put it out there. It’s shameful.

Gail Robertson 33:06
But what about FA fo

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 33:10
have no idea.

They off camera? That one? Yeah. Family Show gal, right.

Curt Anderson 33:20
Just don’t tell anybody. All right. Hey, we’ve got another comment here coming in from Paul, while I agree there are too many acronyms. You should try s AP. I like to be the idiot and room and say what is exactly because acronyms crossed lines of business and industry. It’s, you know, and that’s the thing is like, who wants to look like the fool? Right, sir? Like, you know, I don’t know.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 33:43
Okay, but Let’s rephrase that, because I don’t think that you do necessarily look like a fool because I think everybody else or most people in that room are probably thinking the same thing that you are. So I think we need to change that mindset around who is brave enough.

Curt Anderson 34:01
Right? Right. And hey, Paul has a great acronym right there, right? Our T.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 34:07
Hey, can we get that for social posts? I feel like people just breeze through social posts and then make a comment. So we need one for social posts. Read the post read post. So RT F p. Read

Curt Anderson 34:21
the darn post. Yeah, let’s keep it going. What other questions do we

Gail Robertson 34:27
maybe what do you see as what’s coming up for the future when it comes to supply chain and what what do you see is I guess, maybe a positive and a negative changes or something that you can so

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 34:40
I’m laughing because this is the question that I usually ask. Well, I guess I preface it with I preface it with can you get your crystal ball and just you know

Curt Anderson 34:55
an injured as you’re digging into that, Sarah when we’re there, we’re there. Pause There are silver linings that you saw through COVID As you so I don’t want to distract from Gail’s question. But were there Silver Linings or positives that you’ve seen in supply chain coming out of COVID?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 35:11
Um, yeah, cuz I think supply chains were comfortable before the pandemic. And now they’re much more dynamic. Like it’s an amazing time to be in supply chain. Yeah, you know, let’s just put it out there. It’s cool. You got people graduating from supply chain, you know, courses, diploma, whatever that looks like. And they’re coming into the industry. And they’re like, warehouse design is like interior design for me, like that is my jam. Yeah. And I was like, wow. Like, who would have thought somebody would come out of school and be like, right? I want to be in the warehouse, especially a woman, and that that comment came from a woman, which was cool. So I think it’s a really exciting time to be in the industry, I think it’s an exciting time for us to think about things differently, for us to be able to design it on an individual organization basis, rather than doing what everybody else is doing. Understanding that disruption is really just the natural flow of business and supply chain now. And so it’s a matter of how do we be proactive rather than reactive, playing around with these technologies to figure out which ones who are going to empower and enable your teams to be able to do what they want to do? And, you know, for teams seems people want to come into an organization, they want to make an impact, right? That’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for flexibility. They’re looking for impact. And I think there’s a lot of dialogue around retention, how do we keep people are engaged, right with each other with the business with the innovative side, the creativity, and I think that that’s what automation is going to allow us to do a lot more, especially in supply chain, is that we’re going to as humans be able to be more strategic and more creative, rather than just doing the dues.

Curt Anderson 37:11
Right? So what you’re what I’m hearing is COVID brought the sexy back to supply chain. Is that what you’re saying?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 37:18
I think to babes talk supply chain brought the sexy and good boy chain. And then the pandemic just was like we’re here for it.

Curt Anderson 37:28
Right? Well, that’s in you do an amazing job of women in supply chain. You’ve talked a lot about diversity and supply chain. So if you want to put it out there, why should or why are all the cool kids in you know, considering supply chain now as a career.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 37:42
Because there’s so much opportunity you can design it like if you listen to my woman and supply chain series. So we feature one woman a month on the podcast, and one on the blog, and we talk only about their journeys. What does it look like? What have they been able to do? What can a career path look like in supply chain? There’s so many different ways that you can go and it can look so many different ways as well, right? There’s lots of travel right? Supply chain is global. Right? You need to go and see your suppliers, your manufacturers, a lot of people in supply chain get to travel a lot. So if you like to travel supply chain is a great career path for that as well. I it’s just an exciting time to be in the industry.

Curt Anderson 38:24
What’s next? What are some hot topics that you have coming up on your podcast

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 38:29
so much. We’re already I’ve already filmed some for 2024 already. And so we’ve got lots of things going on right now we’ve got some really good episodes for blended. So I have a second podcast called blended. It’s where I bring five people from different walks of life together to talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We just put one out about microaggressions. We’ve got some really, really good topics coming up on that one. In 2020 For our nonprofit, the blended pledge where we give away grants to cover travel expenses so that diverse voices can say yes to speaking engagements. We’re hoping to give out way more grants in 2024. So if you know somebody send them over to blender pledge.org Because we are looking for applicants because we’ve got some money to give away. And yeah, we’ve launched the secret society of supply chain as well. So those are three membership groups. We’ve got a virtual monthly meetup for women in supply chain, and marketing professionals in supply chain. And so we’ve got groups for everybody. So that’s what’s kind of on the horizon. That’s what we’re working on. That’s what we’re really excited about. But we’ve got lots of different topics coming up to do with the hottest topics in supply chain to do with specific technology in the industry. So stay tuned. Well,

Curt Anderson 39:51
I love this gal I want to start want to be mindful of everybody’s time and because guys, if you just join us, we’re here with Sarah Barnes Humphrey and so we’re talking supply chain, you want to connect with Sarah, you want to connect my friend Gail on LinkedIn, they are both doing amazing things. Gal we I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about community about, you know, Sarah is just absolutely crushing it with community, do you have any questions that you want to start into,

Gail Robertson 40:15
I have to say, for anybody that’s in supply chain, this would be a great Christmas gift, because I can’t get that song out of it. Like to move it, move it, I like to move look at that, that is a great brand, you know, and encouraging people to do creative things like that. So I think that would make a great Christmas gift to for someone to do that’s supply chain, or

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 40:36
let’s talk supply chain.com Just lots of swag.

Curt Anderson 40:40
Right. Let’s talk a little bit about community before we before we wrap up, Sara, you have done an amazing job. And so you know, for you had you got hit with a little new news or little transition in 2017 2018. And instead of like, you know, pity party or just kind of like wallowing in grief, you roll up your sleeves, it is so inspiring what you’ve done in such a short period of time, I know, like five years, but I mean, five years goes by like that. What would you say? Did you did you have any idea that these can meet that you would? Did you have a vision? Or was it just like a day to day thing? What did that

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 41:17
look like? It was just I’m gonna do something every single day? Yeah. I mean, supply chain media, when I started in 2016 wasn’t even really a word. Yeah. Now it’s a word. And honestly, I’m just so grateful. I’m so grateful to the community that surrounds us that supports us, community folks like you to, you know, that continue to support what we’re doing and have us on the show, to talk about it and to reach more professionals to let them know what is available, right community groups, you know, polls every Wednesday morning on our LinkedIn, like get active, get involved be part of this amazing community. But no, I had no idea. I mean, I was working as a receptionist in a tennis club in the fall of 2018. So that I had some income coming in while I was doing this, because like, I didn’t pay myself for a very long time to get this going. So

Curt Anderson 42:17
was there was there a moment where you’re like, this is working? Right? I’m like, was there a tipping point? Or was it just like the daily grind of like, see, like, like, man, like, like, how many followers you have 10s of 1000s of followers on your lifestyle? Let’s talk supply chain page, right?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 42:34
Yeah, I think we’re just a little bit over 66,000. Yeah. Like,

Curt Anderson 42:37
I mean, like, were you astonished when, like, you know, you hit like a G, we just hit 5000. Like, that’s awesome. Oh, my goodness, like red tent that like, what was that climb? Like, like, like, what was going through your mind where you’re hitting those numbers? Yeah,

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 42:49
you know, I just sort of, you know, keep in my own lane. I sort of just do the day to day and yeah, what I need to do and talking to clients, and, you know, figuring out what kind of content that we’re going to put out there. What does that need to look like strategizing on that? What do what does the community want, right, and just really trying things, I’ve tried a whole bunch of things, some things have worked, some things have not worked. And just basically trying to break some of those glass ceilings and figure out where we can go with it, and what we can do and how we can bring everybody together. And those milestones are amazing. I have been blessed because, you know, I’ve been featured in magazines, and I’ve been featured on BBC, and you know, we’ve had those milestones of 10,000 followers, 20,000 followers, 35,000 followers. And I’m just humbled every single time at the support that we get from the community. So I just want to say thank you to everybody, including you guys for having me on today. Well,

Curt Anderson 43:51
how about this gal real quick. So Patrick says I like to move it move it nice hoodie.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 43:57
Let’s talk supply chain knockout.

Curt Anderson 43:59
Says I just read your sweatshirt. Sara love it. So guys. Yeah, go to let’s let’s let’s talk supply chain. Right, let’s supply chain, you have all sorts of swag. Yeah, what were you going to chime in?

Gail Robertson 44:09
I was just gonna say, you know, this show and everything you do is about stopping the best kept secret. And I just Sarah’s talking one of the things that stands out, you know, in the work I do around public relations and strategies that people know exactly what your podcast is, let’s talk supply chain and you have a niche. And you as you said, you know, you kind of focus on that. And you’re bringing in experts. So kudos to you and I think anybody watching too, you know, you want to do that you want to get your story out. And if you’re not telling your stories, tell other people’s stories. That’s what we have in common. Sarah, thank you. Yeah, I show two nights. I’m interested in people that are curious that are and you know, telling stories that maybe aren’t heard enough.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 44:50
Well, and it’s funny because I tell everybody this all the time. You asked me about my vision Kurt, and my vision was to create a platform Um, to empower voices within the supply chain community, the only reason why I used myself was because I was the only person that would work for free at the time. You know, like, this is not about me, this is about the community. And actually, one other thing that I’ll put out there because it is best kept secret thing is, is that I’m the first pot podcaster to ever franchise. And I don’t think anybody quite realizes that or maybe knows that, that about me, but I’ve had an AsiaPac franchise for about 18 months. And I continually look to get franchises in other regions as well to be able to teach what I do and help you know, them have their own community for themselves as well. Well, I

Curt Anderson 45:43
have to I mean, I get on about you, I got goosebumps, man, Sarah, you’re very modest, very humble. So you can plug your ears you like my admiration for what you’ve done in the past five years is just nothing short of Off The Charts. You’re You’re a fierce advocate for supply chain, fierce advocate for women in supply chain for diversity in supply chain, in you know how you took, you know, you turn I call it like you turn those nothings in the blessings. You took a really difficult time and you know, maybe we’ll have you back on we’ll dig a little deeper if you want. But you know, you went through a really difficult time with a family business and look at the lives that you’re impacting, like like you have a nonprofit that you’re helping people to send to speak at events. So we applaud you We salute you we commend you keep you know I’m a proud girl Dad and I just you know I’m telling my daughter, my teenage daughter all about you tonight at dinner you know what an inspiration that you are to 1000s of followers on your your LinkedIn page our community here on LinkedIn and just you know just being a fierce leader for supply chain and you’ve definitely brought sexy back to supply chain fighting.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 46:57
Got another song for

Curt Anderson 47:00
Damon, we got another sign for you bringing sexy back to supply chain. And so sir, that will be your next sweatshirts. All right, let’s start winding down. I want to I want to get everybody I want to be mindful of everybody’s time today. Gail, takeaways thoughts, words of wisdom? What was your thought for you?

Gail Robertson 47:15
This is just confirmed for me, you know that we need to have more talk about how supply chain connects the dots I talk a lot about that, that we really need to connect more dots. In terms of you know, we talked about community, we’ve talked about how supply chain touches everything. And I work a lot in the world of moldmaking. So, you know, I spend time in with one of my clients. And now what I do is I usually go in at least once a week, and I just you know, I sit in on meetings and believe me supply chain, and looking at future planning is so crucial. So I used those I said I used to think supply chain was like an unknown. And so it’s now crucial to everything we see here in touch. So that was my biggest takeaway is confirming and that also issues like cybersecurity, you know, connecting that audit into this. It’s everything is now global and connected. And you can’t, you know, tap out of any of this because it’s going to impact you. So great insights. Yeah,

Curt Anderson 48:15
that was the cybersecurity that was I was I didn’t plan on going there today. So that was a fantastic topic, Sarah parting words of wisdom, thoughts that you want to share with everybody as we part ways today.

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 48:26
Um, just go for it. And for the two of you, thank you so much for the amazing questions and for having me on the show. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m so glad that we did that. So thank you.

Curt Anderson 48:38
Well, thank you. I know I shot you know, we have a bunch of mutual friends in DC and Snia and Sarah and so this was really an honor for us to have you on and everybody that caught this today. But if you miss any of it, I encourage you I invite you to catch the replay hit that rewind button. If you’re up for a walk hanging out with a dog or whatever you’re doing this weekend and catch Sarah in you definitely want to catch she’s doing a live a live stream on Tuesday at 10 o’clock. So connect with her on LinkedIn. Catch her live stream. She has podcasts. What do you do two a week? How many podcasts you do?

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 49:10
So I do. I do about nine podcasts and live shows a month

Curt Anderson 49:16
a month. Okay, she is everywhere. You can’t miss her. So, Sarah, I’m going to ask you hang out with us for one second, guys. Thank you for joining us today, Damon, we missed your brother. I wish you’re on stage with us because this was a great interview. And so we just wish everybody an amazing, incredible weekend. God bless you and just what we’d love to say is man go out there and just be someone’s inspiration just like our friend Sarah was our inspiration today just be someone’s inspiration. And

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey 49:44
I had to do it. I was like yes, my team’s gonna kill me.

Gail Robertson 49:49
I needed I learned that you don’t drink COVID I was just telling someone I said during COVID i That’s how I’d say oh, look at me. I’m at a meeting. Alright,

Curt Anderson 49:57
hey, I’m gonna I’m gonna close it out, guys. Hey, we’ll see you on Monday. We’ve got a great we got a great guests on Monday so the weekend

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