Episode 189

Communicate + Collaborate

August 14, 2018

Especially after writing our book, Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work + Live Life on Your Own Terms, we’ve gotten lots of questions about how we collaborate so strongly and maintain strong communication despite being in separate locations and also having separate businesses of our own. Today we’re sharing our tips and tactics for collaboration, having hard conversations, and getting on the same page with your ideas.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"No matter what, if you're in it for the same reasons, you should both want the same thing."
- Emily Thompson

Discussed in this Episode

  • Laying out your strengths and weaknesses and finding a partner that balances them
  • Breaking up responsibilities vs. collaborating in real time on a single task
  • Dealing with power struggles in collaboration
  • Delegating and sharing tasks
  • Having hard conversations
  • Saying "yes" and saying "no" to your partner's ideas
  • Understanding your values
  • Tools and tactics for communication in collaboration

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In this episode, the Your Ideal Day worksheet was mentioned. Download your copy here!


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:00
Hey Emily, guess what I'm looking forward to

Emily Thompson 0:04
if I had to guess I'd say your next meal all through that.

Kathleen Shannon 0:08
But even more than that I'm looking forward to our annual being boss vacation in New Orleans.

Emily Thompson 0:13
Same. We still have a handful of tickets left. So if you've been wanting to join us on our annual being boss vacation in New Orleans and consider this you're signed to join us for a live podcast recording, masterclasses and workshops, and an epic Abbas celebration and more with me, Kathleen and your creative peers from all over the world

Kathleen Shannon 0:35
in the most magical city in the world, right? Yes. All right. The being boss vacation is happening September 26. To the 28th in New Orleans. Go to being boss club slash Nola. For all the details.

Emily Thompson 0:50
We hope to see you there.

Kathleen Shannon 0:55
Hello, and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:57
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

What's up bosses. Today it is just me and Emily and we are talking all about communication and collaboration. As always, you can find all the tools books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss club. Hey, their bosses, we know you're getting a lot of stuff done, you're checking off those two dues and wearing a lot of hats in your creative business. But just because you can do it all doesn't mean you should take accounting. You know it's an essential part of your business. But becoming a self taught accountant is only going to distract you from what you really want to be doing all day. Fresh books cloud accounting will allow you to save your time and energy on administrative tasks by making keeping track of your books ridiculously easy. freshbooks keeps your money organized with easy to use features like invoicing, time tracking, creating estimates, tracking expenses, late payment reminders, project collaboration, online payments, and so much more. So whether your creative career is still a side hustle or you're fully supporting yourself with your entrepreneurial endeavors freshbooks makes being boss a whole lot easier. Get a free 30 day trial of fresh books right now. Go to freshbooks comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section.

Cavalier, I'm

Emily Thompson 2:29
super excited to talk about this with you today. And me too. I

Kathleen Shannon 2:33
think that so many people are impressed by our partnership. And especially after writing the book, we've been getting so many questions about how it is that we work together and how we collaborate. And I'm also feeling that it's kind of rare, like we've got a good thing going. And it's so routine for us by now that it can really be hard to even pinpoint why and how we work so well together. So today, I want to spend some time with you unpacking it all by talking about communication and collaboration.

Emily Thompson 3:06
Yeah, we have definitely been doing this for a couple of years. Now. I guess at the time of recording this, we have been official business slash podcast partners for three and a half years.

Kathleen Shannon 3:18
Yeah, mentions Kathleen,

Emily Thompson 3:22
right. So this will be using our experience here to talk about all of this. But this can absolutely also apply to all kinds of relationships from your friendships, or romantic relationships, your business partners or just collaborators, the team you work with, or anyone else that you want to make stuff with.

Kathleen Shannon 3:42
So let's dive in. Yes, I've used so much of what we've learned even to you know, collaborate with my friends over a shop good if we're working on a project together or anyone you know, even like planning out our book tour the way that we communicate expectations with the people who are helping us host it. These are tools that you can use with anyone that are going to make you a better communicator and a better collaborators. So starting from the beginning, I remember one of the first conversations that we had, I mean, whenever it came to partnering up on a podcast was our strengths and our weaknesses. But this has been an ongoing conversation that we've had as business besties running our own businesses. And it's a conversation I've been having with my sister since I started working with her even before braid creative like whenever I was working at an advertising agency as a senior art director. So this is an ongoing conversation and it's all about your strengths and weaknesses. So one of my favorite ways to frame up what your strengths and weaknesses are, is to think about what it is that you want to be doing all day. I think that this is so important, especially for people who might even be side hustling right now and are a little vague because all they want to do is just get out of their day. A job. And they're like, I just want to be creative. Okay? But what does that mean? Because the idea of being creative all day, versus literally, whenever you imagine opening up your laptop or working with your hands, what is it that you are typing? What is it that you are making? Who is it that you're talking to? Maybe you're dreaming about having coffee conversations at a coffee shop? What coffee shop? Is it? Who are you talking to? What are you talking about, I think the more specific that you can get about what it is that you want to be doing all day, the more you're going to be able to pinpoint your strengths and what you want to be doing. And your weaknesses, like what you don't want to be doing,

Emily Thompson 5:41
right and your weaknesses, also being the kinds of things that you need someone to fulfill for you, which is why this is so important. I can only imagine what it would have been like if you and I had showed up to do a podcast together. And we both shared all the same strengths and weaknesses, like not a whole lot would have gotten done only about half of it probably and there probably would have been a lot of butting heads along the way. So as both being clear on what it is that we were good at. And what it is that we weren't so great at allowed us to see if a partnership was even possible.

Kathleen Shannon 6:13
Yeah, and specifically thinking about our podcasts. It's so funny, because at the beginning of it, and it's a non issue now, but at the beginning of our episodes, I remember a lot of people saying that, maybe I was asking more questions to our guests and doing kind of more of the talking. And on the flip side of that people being like, Well, what does Emily do? And I was like, Oh, she's, she's at the front of the boat driving it. And I'm at the back of the boat party look like a fun time. Right. But Emily is making sure we're getting where we need to go. For sure. I

Emily Thompson 6:48
appreciate that. And but like that's also totally just how we work. And so that's one of those really interesting ways where where we sort of evolved, I remember very early on feeling like I needed to be as vocal in interviews, as you were, and it made for an awkward conversation, I think for everyone. I had to learn that my strength is in summing up what's being said, or as your strength isn't asking really engaging questions. We don't share the same strings and my weaknesses definitely like listening and trying to formulate questions at the same time. Like, guys, when I do that I stress out I start not listening and it just goes to shit real fast. You just start sweating a lot I do I do. And then I'm thinking about sweating, and not even paying attention to anything. So it's one of those things. That's one of those things in particular, where, you know, we didn't know where our strengths and weaknesses lie there. We had to start doing the work to figure it out, but continued to have conversations along the way. Kathleen and I have talked lots of times about how it is that we actually show up for these podcasts. And we know how it works. And sometimes listeners get it sometimes they don't. Either way, the feedback hits where it needs to because Kathleen and I know where we both stand.

Kathleen Shannon 8:07
Yeah. And I think confidence in strengths and weaknesses makes you a better boss, it makes you a better leader within your business. And it makes you a better partner. And so I think a big part of it, I really felt like I leveled up whenever I was no longer ashamed of my weaknesses. And I think some of this comes with being a people pleaser, and being the kind of boss who wants to be good at all of the things. So I went into my career just wanting to be the best graphic designer, right? Like that's really what I wanted to do. But I was working under my big sister who before we own braid together was my creative director. And she was really good at copywriting. She was good at writing for our clients. And I was good at designing for them. But I remember that she wanted to raise me to be a triple threat. Like she wanted me to be a writer, a designer, and a presenter all of the things and I know that I have it in me. I mean, come on. We wrote a book. We present all the time. We talk all the time. And I think I'm good at a lot of different things. But this even extensive people asking me to do things like design websites or the earliest back I can remember this is I was working at Hancock fabrics. And this woman came in and she was like, could you all also interior decorate my entire house? And we were like, yeah, sure and didn't get paid for it. But like I was just such a yes person for so long, saying yes to everything, that I was really ashamed whenever I didn't like doing something, or whenever I just wasn't good at it. But what I've learned with maturity in my career and age is that I don't have to be good at everything. And whenever I can really identify what my weaknesses are and stop doing those things. I can double down on what my strengths are.

Emily Thompson 9:54
right and i think that i think that you started to hit on something there. Then super Important with this confidence piece, whenever you have confidence that usually comes from your strings, and that sort of thing just snowballs into so much more awesomeness. And so if you're focusing on those strengths that bring you confidence, you're able to create more, you're able to feel better about what it is that you're creating all of these things. Whereas if you're consistently stepping back into those weaknesses, for whatever reason, whether it's a unwillingness to delegate, or this feeling like you have to be doing it or that you need to figure it out, or whatever it may be, you're not playing to your fullest potential, I think,

Kathleen Shannon 10:35
you know, at the same time, I really do appreciate someone who is willing to figure it out as they go. And I feel like you and I are both good at trying a lot of different things to see what our strengths and weaknesses are. So for example, just to like really break this down the other day, I was offering my kiddo some dried seaweed snacks, which are still delicious. Have you ever had them?

Emily Thompson 10:57
Yeah, literally request them often I have to buy them from the grocery store for her. She loves them.

Kathleen Shannon 11:02
Okay, so dried seaweed is one of the best things ever. It's so tasty. So I was like, hey, try this. And he goes, I don't like salad. And I was like one, this isn't salad. Two, you've never had salad before. Like, I don't know that I've ever fed him lettuce with ranch on it. That's not a thing. And so there is this thing to like, I don't want to raise a kid that doesn't like vegetables when he grows up. And he doesn't like something Yeah, or like, immediately thinks that he's and I see this even with some of my older nephews, like they imagine that they won't be good at something. So they don't try it. And they aren't willing to take the practice to get better at something and none of us were good. I wasn't good. Whenever I first started graphic design. I haven't listened to our earliest podcast episodes, but I probably wasn't good, then a podcasting. I mean, we still all have room to grow and evolve. So don't don't assume that something is a weakness just because you're not good at it.

Emily Thompson 12:03
True that true that true that?

Kathleen Shannon 12:10
Well, so I guess what I want to say is that sometimes things that you might not be good at. So like, for example, right now, I want to start a YouTube channel. I know I keep talking about it. But this is how

Emily Thompson 12:20
this is how Kathleen does things she starts about starts with talking about it for a year.

Kathleen Shannon 12:24
I through that. So I start talking about things for a year, but like I'm thinking about this YouTube channel, and part of what's holding me back is that I Well, I'm not good at it yet. Well, I don't have to be good at it yet. But what it does is I'm still curious about it, and I want to get better. So if you're not good at something yet, and it might be a weakness, but you still have that drive to get better, it's probably one day going to be a strength. So I think that that enthusiasm and that willingness to try. And if you enjoy the process of getting better, then it's probably something that's going to go from a weakness to a strength. But coming back around to a partnership. I knew like going into the podcast, for example, that I did not want to spend any amount of time editing the podcast, even though I could probably figure it out. Because I'm good at figuring things out. I didn't want to do that. That's a weakness. I can't record

Emily Thompson 13:17
too far separation free record genius, for sure. Right. And that was a place where I was able to come in. But before we go there, I need to like share something that we say in our house all the time, it may help Fox with his seaweed snacks. But I think also helps any you know, entrepreneur, business owner creative who you know, is looking at the world in front of you and thinking, Oh, I gotta try new shit. We always say here, especially in regards to food is you don't have to like it, but you have to try it. That is like my hardcore role. And I've even had some, like other kids come into my house, who won't listen to my role and those kids are not invited back. Because what kind of person is that? legit? Who is unwilling to try anything? You don't have to like it. But you have to try it.

Kathleen Shannon 14:03
The thing I always say is just smell it first. It does not work. I'm not sure about email marketing, just steal it. Actually, it does work. Because once he smells something he can smell how delicious it is because it isn't like a certain amount of taste actual smelling and not tasting probably so I'll say smell it. He'll smell it. And then he'll be like, I do want to try that.

Emily Thompson 14:29
There you go. There you go. Well, there goes. Everyone just

Kathleen Shannon 14:33
don't have to like it. But you have to try it right, smell it first. So

Emily Thompson 14:37
let's go back to this partnership piece though. Because there is a lot to be said about finding someone who can who can be the strings to your weakness. So whenever we started the podcast, you didn't want to do tech but that was one of those things where I do like tech tech is a strength of mine and though I had never done it before, I was willing to try editing It and ended up doing it enjoyed it well enough was excited to hand it off whenever it came time to do so. But I did it and I was able to gain some knowledge that made me a better at the thing that we were doing together for sure. So finding partners who can be the strings to your weakness, and then also just giving things ago, if you're going to try to make an I don't know, into a strength is a good way to, you know, put your best into any new partnership.

Kathleen Shannon 15:29
So I spoke about this a little bit, a couple of podcasts episodes ago, whenever we were going through the different types of CEOs of feeling guilty whenever you're not good at what your partner is good at. So for a long time, I was almost really embarrassed that my strengths weren't the same as your strengths. So if you were really good at organization, and I'm not, I almost felt like that made me a bad boss, because I admire the kind of boss that you are. So I think that really whenever it comes to partnerships and collaborations is don't feel too don't spend any amount of time or energy feeling bad that you're not good at what the other person is good at, instead, acknowledge them. So say like, hey, you're so bomb ass at getting our systems organized and processes in order and delegating that stuff. High five, and then also, you know, then double down on what you're really good at. And I feel like for the most part, we really work, and we work with our team, and we work with, you know, all the different other people that we collaborate with, because we're always constantly just doing what we do best in a way that makes everyone else's lives a little bit easier.

Emily Thompson 16:41
Yes, absolutely. I mean, it's funny, we've been working with a lot of people sort of outside of our core team, you know, for book launch, and those sorts of things. And what we get most often is that our team is so easy to work with, like we pay our invoices on time, like we know when and where things are going to get done, we deliver as needed. And all of that comes from everyone knowing what their strength is and then doing their job. Because I think, oftentimes in partnerships or even like you hire a contractor, or whatever it is, you feel like you should be doing the same thing they're doing because they're they're doing it and you want to match them, you want to like show up just as much as they are. But doing the same things is a waste of time. Because the whole idea of having two people working on a project is that you can do twice as much. And so if you know if I had sat down, I would never do graphic design for you Kathleen, even though like I know, I do occasionally. But if I had sat down those first couple of months of being boss and like, tried to do quote, graphics for episode like you probably would have quit. I can only imagine what it would be like to step on those. That's not true, you

Kathleen Shannon 17:51
are a great designer,

Emily Thompson 17:52
thank you, they but still and regardless, I simply know what your strengths are. So it may be even because I can design and thank you good designer. It even speaks more to the fact that like, I'm not going to touch design. I know that that is yours, even though I can. And I don't feel bad that I'm not doing it.

Kathleen Shannon 18:15
You know, that said, I think that we get a lot done because we can divide and conquer. And I feel that way with our team. But lately and this comes into that collaboration piece, which we'll be getting into. But I do feel like sometimes whenever we work on something together, we are able to finish it in half the amount of time. And with like kind of doubling both of our laser focus beams on one project makes it better. So I have experienced the seeing or dividing and conquering gets us more done in more time or in less time. But I've also experienced the flip side where whenever we can really collaborate and do something together at the same time that it also gets done better. Even though it's taking up maybe a little more time in the long run. I think it's less time because we're not having to redo it.

Emily Thompson 19:03
Yes. It's almost like one of those like the some of the whatever it is, is greater than they are separate. There's some sort of saying there,

Kathleen Shannon 19:18
insert wise saying about efficiency here. Right?

Emily Thompson 19:23
Wait, no, no, wait, wait, wait, the sum of the whole is greater than its parts?

Kathleen Shannon 19:30

Emily Thompson 19:31
I think like that, something like that. I feel like that's what happens sometimes when you and I get together and collaborate together. And this has been one of those things that it's taken us a couple of years to really get into that flow. And very honestly, it was writing the book together that really like sparked our ability to do this. So Kathleen and I showing up several times a week for three months to write the being boss book got us into a place where we can make magic together whenever we're collaborating. in the same space, meaning Google Doc, at the same time, look at each other, talking things out writing things together editing in real time, those sorts of things. And we've done this with writing. We also occasionally do this with design. We recently, you know, did some website, stuff together some website design stuff together, we'll get on share screens and just sort of work through things together. And it's so much fun to collaborate in that way to see what comes out of it. And that way, because, again, that like finished product is better than it would be, if we had separated it and said, Kathleen, you do content, I'll do design, we'll put it together. Sometimes it ends up looking like a bit of a Frankenstein project. However, when we're both able to dive in there together, it all comes together in a beautiful way.

Kathleen Shannon 20:46
Yeah, because not only is it clarifying, like, you're like, Oh, well, I was imagining this for design. And I'm like, Oh, yeah. Okay, let me knock that out. And then what if this, you know, moved around the website like this. I mean, I think that what happens whenever we brainstorm together move we're collaborating in real time together, is that separately, I would have my ideas separately, you would have your ideas. and at worst, there's a disconnect, like there's a disconnect between my ideas and your ideas. And we're working so fast that we're not on the same page. And that has definitely happened before. And this has happened with our team as well. Whereas together, we're able to one, get on the same page. And then to like, I've got my ideas, you've got your ideas, we start riffing on them. And then this like magical third idea comes up like this energy between the two of us that we would have never come to on our own, is able to be born out of us just simply getting on zoom and chatting it out together, right. So it's as simple as that, like, I'm talking about it being magical, and it kind of is, but at the same time, it's just very practically talking it through like processing it.

Emily Thompson 21:52
Yes. And I want to talk a little bit about that act of talking it through because again, it took us a while to get there. And I want to talk about what that sort of feels and looks like in that one. No idea is stupid, unless there's a stupid idea. And then you laugh about it together, which totally happens. But like us simply speak the ideas, I think neither of us come to the table feeling timid or embarrassed, or like an idea isn't good enough to be shared, we share all the ideas good and bad, and ridiculous and everywhere in between. So I think there is this, like openness, and therefore trust that has to be there in order to really share ideas in that way. I also think we're both really good at questioning ideas. So let's say you know, I come to the table with an idea you don't quite see where I'm coming from. And instead of shooting it down, you'll ask for further clarification. And then we go down that road and see if it works or if it doesn't, and there's no fear and asking those questions either on either side. So you're not fearing asking them and I don't fear the fact that you're asking questions, which I feel is something a lot of people, a lot of people worry about.

Kathleen Shannon 23:02
Yeah, you know, sometimes I get really defensive whenever I'm questioned. And this like even comes to in real life. Yeah, but I think that we've had some tough conversations lately around some big projects. So like, for example, we had the idea of doing a being boss conference that's separate from the vacation. And we love the idea of it. And listeners it is maybe, or maybe not in the works, we're trying to figure it out. But it's the kind of thing where I'm just using this as a really practical example. Emily was like, Hey, I think we should have a conference. And I was like, I don't know, like, here are my concerns. And then we kind of sat on it for a couple of weeks. And I was like, Well, what about this alternate idea? Like, what if we had really small high end retreats that were kind of seasonal? And like one is in the mountains? And one is on the beach? Like, wouldn't that be fun? And even like, it's so funny, even like voicing out these ideas, right now, I feel almost secret of like, Oh, I should be keeping all this a secret. But for me, I also think about my relationship with the people who listened to the podcast or like for the people who used to read my blog, as also helping create that energy to make something happen. So I have learned, if anything, that that's a collaboration all on its own. And it comes with being open and vulnerable and saying, This is what I'm thinking about. And if someone steals my idea, I can still do it too. Like it's fine. Anyway. So all this to say like I came back to you. And I was like, what about this idea? And you're like, well, I don't like that because this, this and this. And so like we were kind of almost like, what is the sports analogy like maybe ping ponging different ideas back and forth. And we were kind of in like a little bit of a chess terminology checkmate a little bit with like, how we wanted to go with this thing, right? But then we both like came back around. And this is even happened with our ideas for book number two, like what's the second book that we want to write and we've gone back and forth on that. And I think that is Something I've learned recently is like we are really good at riffing in the moment and coming to quick decisions. I think what we're learning right now is how to let different ideas simmer, and how to sit with different ideas and then come back around to them. So that's been like a really interesting, collaborative style that I think we've both been learning in real time,

Emily Thompson 25:20
for sure. And I love that because I think that really speaks to what like long term collaborations are, I mean, you're two people, and you're gonna have two ideas. And the idea of a collaboration is to take those two and let them find a middle ground that makes you happy, that doesn't mean that it's directly in the middle, it doesn't mean that one's going to win over the other. Like, I think it's different for absolutely everything, but it is a process. And I think that's one of the things that you and I have, have been perfecting perhaps over the past couple of years, this idea of, of having ideas and then letting them find their own middle ground. But that comes from having consistent conversations and asking questions and, and opposing alternatives. And all of those things. It's all like, it's just a dance of ideas.

Kathleen Shannon 26:08
So I want to come back, though, to you driving the ship and me partying in the best. Yes, please, around to this, because actually, there are times where I'm driving the ship. And I found this in my partnership with my sister over at braid creative as well. And I think that that's the coolest thing about having a partner is that you can kind of take turns wearing the pants, and you can kind of take turns making the decisions. And I feel like we're really good at kind of intuitively, taking the lead on different things and making the decisions around different things and then pulling in the other person whenever we need help making a decision. I think that that makes us really successful together. It's just our ability to make decisions, even if it's not the right decision to be able to take a decision, see all the way through, break it down, pull in help whenever we need it. And then with that, if we are having a hard time making a decision, because it's so rare, being able to say like, hey, Emily, I'm having a really hard time like figuring this out. Can we like hop on zoom and talk it through? So I think that that's like a really cool thing, whenever it comes to partnership is taking turns making decisions. But I'm curious about like, I haven't necessarily experienced this. And I wonder if it's because I'm only business partners with oldest siblings, and I'm the youngest sibling. Yeah. Like, I feel like there's

Emily Thompson 27:30
Kathleen's favorite topics of conversation too.

Kathleen Shannon 27:35
There's that at play. But I think that, um, what if there's like a power struggle, and I've only felt it with you maybe like, a couple of times, and not even really not in a bad way. But like, what do you do whenever there's a power struggle, and you're butting heads? And like, maybe you're not accepting of someone's strength, or you're not accepting of their weakness? Or you really don't like their idea. And they really like their idea? Like how, how does like the compromise happen?

Emily Thompson 28:07
Right? I think space is always something you need to give situations like that. For sure. I think, you know, rash decisions are saying things that you don't mean to say and not that I'm even like, talking about a situation with Kathleen and I, because we're both both adults, regardless of Kathleen parting in the back, both adults. And I think it's because of our ability to just sort of let things sit like we're not these sort of like immediate action takers. We're like, we can't take a moment when needed. But I think I think that's important piece of the puzzle is to just take all things into consideration and just let it simmer for a minute for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 28:44
And I think also like thinking about what do I need in order to make this idea makes sense to me. So for example, Emily, if you're like, I want to have a conference. And my gut reaction is like, I don't know about that. Then I'm like, Okay, what do I need to do to get on board with this?

Emily Thompson 29:01
Like, what is it that I need, and this is where having strings and weaknesses and knowing your partner's strengths and weaknesses come into play, because one of the things that I super learned in this situation is that Kathleen has a really hard time seeing big things further than the all the small tasks that have to be made to get there. So for Kathleen, it was about seeing the bigger vision of like really seeing what something could look like, without being bogged down by all the things that have to be done to get there. So totally, you moodboard it out.

Kathleen Shannon 29:34
Yeah, I moved, boarded it out. And I started to theme the conference. And I started to think about programming. And I really had to just get to the end result and not think about breaking it down. Because also I'm really good at breaking down a big project. But then that can be exhausting, right, I can think about all the teachings for sure. And so if you aren't fueled by the big vision of what it is that you're wanting to create, and what it is that you're wanting to create together. Then Yeah, all the little tasks are going to be really daunting and overwhelming. And you're not going to know why you're doing what you're doing. But once I had that vision of the why, which was this beautiful, cool conference that has the coolest theme, like even now I'm like, Okay, we've got to do that. Because it's going to be so amazing and thinking about who's going to be speaking at it, and what it's going to feel like, like, that's the stuff and this is probably why I'm a branding professional, because I like to package things up and make them look and feel and just be really great.

Emily Thompson 30:34
Yeah. And that also brings into if anyone wants to come to a big boss conference, she does an email Hello, Big Boss club, we'd love to know if you'd like to be there. We're just sort of gauging interest at the moment. Might as well.

Kathleen Shannon 30:46
I want to come back to strengths and weaknesses. Because if you haven't listened to our episode, a couple episodes back, we have a CEO quiz that will help you embrace your own strengths and weaknesses, and have the confidence to talk about your style and what you're good at and what you're not good at and really see where you might need some help and where you can get aligned and how you might be behaving if you are out of alignment with your own style. So you can check that out at being boss club slash quiz. This being boss episode is brought to you by 2020, where creative minds get authentic real world stock photos. If you're looking to positively inspire your audience on social media or on your blog, you'll want to use engaging fresh photos that are unique. 2020 has crowdsource millions of exclusive photos from a community of over 350,000 photographers, all available under a simple royalty free license. Today, they're offering listeners of being boss a five photo free trial to start yours right now go to 20 twenty.com slash being boss, that's the word 20, then to zero.com slash being boss to get five free photos.

Emily Thompson 32:05
So let's talk a little bit more about this, this process of partnering and collaborating and all the communications that go into it. Because there is so much that goes into it. And I think, you know, we were just talking about how we were able to sort of solve the problem of the conference, like at least put it on the back burner for a minute because guys, we're literally not at this moment of recording doing a conference, though, obviously, it's something that we want to do. But we were able to come to a mutual agreement about it by understanding and acting on the strengths and weaknesses of each other. So like, if I know that your weaknesses it is in, you know, seeing that big vision, then I'm going to make I'm going to make you mood board out everything for the rest of forever or like every idea I ever have. I'm going to ask you the mood boarding then you'll get on board,

Kathleen Shannon 33:00
or you know, come to me with a mood board. So I remember at my old agency, the guys wanted to be able to wear shorts in the summer. And it wasn't like quite there wasn't a super strict dress code but it wasn't so chill and relaxed that you could just wear whatever you wanted. And in order to make a good case for wearing shorts. My sister had some of the designers mood board out like what it would look like for them to wear shorts in the summer to then present to the CEO so like if you want to make a case for something make it visual get specific and make it real and that's everything no everything

Emily Thompson 33:38
Kathleen just gave me ammunition

Unknown Speaker 33:42
getting shit done.

Kathleen Shannon 33:44
I like even better than making me mood board out your idea mood board our own idea.

Emily Thompson 33:48
gotcha gotcha cast

Kathleen Shannon 33:51
box you in like sometimes it is good to bring a partner in like I think about this with probably more like spouse kinds of relationships or romantic relationships for whenever someone is a creative entrepreneur and the other one is all about having a day job and benefits. One of the best ways that you can get someone on your page and supporting your vision is to bring them in along for the ride. So for example, the way that this would work in my relationship it might be Hey, I want to work for myself. I want to try this idea. Could you help me build out to my husband? Could you help me build out a spreadsheet? So I can organize my numbers and he be like okay, yeah, and then one he has a task so he's feeling a part of the vision and then to I'm creating a spreadsheet which is his love language, which will then like get him on board right with like what I want to do.

Emily Thompson 34:43
Yeah, I love that. Then again, it's just about knowing your partner's which all comes down to talking. So let's talk a little bit about like actually working together and what that can look like because you and I have found that we work best when we are like brainstorming together when we are in the same space doing this doing the thing But not everyone is going to be like that. That came from you and I trying it both ways not doing things together and doing things together and being completely fine when things don't go well.

Kathleen Shannon 35:14
I mean, we still definitely have our divide and conquer moments. And I have this in all of my working relationships where I love getting on zoom. And I love even just being able to shoot you a quick line and saying, like, hey, I've hit a wall, can you hop on zoom real quick? Like, that's kind of a newer thing, because we use the schedule everything out, we would have our set meetings, and we weren't really meeting outside of those. But we also have slack. So for our team, we have Slack, so we're hopping on slack. And everyone can see kind of what everyone else is working on. We have project management software. So we're using Asana over at braid creative, we're using a Google Doc, eventually, I'm trying to bring them over to the Asana. Right, that's fine. But like, I think that we've developed enough structure around our systems like Google Calendar, setting meetings, having scheduled regular meetings. So we have a standing meeting every Monday where we're going to get together and talk about things that need to be talked about. We're keeping track of the things that need to be talked about in a management meeting task on Asana, so like, I'm really just breaking this down. And then we'll hop on zoom, and we'll talk about it but then throughout the week, I might be working on a task or have an idea and say, Hey, Emily, can you hop on and so I love having that kind of spontaneity. And that's my free spirited, creative style coming in, that wants to like be able to have a conversation on the fly. And I think that we work best that way. But we also, you know, I think about my sister, she has her writing shed in her backyard, and we even have like an office for Bri creative. But we will still retreat to our separate spaces to work on something whenever we really just need to focus and hammer out a design or hammer out some copy, or you know, write a book.

Emily Thompson 36:59
Right. And I think we're both really good about sort of honoring the other person's need to do thing i'm saying is you I don't mind hopping on zoom and having a goal and talking about an important thing whenever. But I do know there are people who like that, who don't like that immediate connection quite as much as just knowing like, how it is that how it is that the other one likes to work. And I think that comes from trying things out a time like Kathleen and I have tried out so many things, to figure out what works for us and what doesn't, also talking about them, once we do try them what's working, what's kind of working, what's not working, in terms of the things that we're doing and the results that it gets. But also asking questions and answering them and just listening to all things and really soaking it in. Because one of the things I've definitely found that I found about partner or found about partnering, yes, is that it's it is all about that communication piece, like period is not even like talking, it's listening just as much as it is talking. And it's also about going deeper than just work but really being interested in what's going on each other's lives. Kathleen, and I will always start in the meaning our conversation with like, how is your weekend? How's Fox doing? You know, here's what Lily is up to? Here's this crazy thing that David did, or whatever it may be like, we are friends. And then we go into business and that like really open communication that goes you know, that even crosses the barrier. And not that like all partnerships, or all selects successful collaborations need to cross that barrier. I think the ones that you really want to like, take deep and super seriously kind of have to.

Kathleen Shannon 38:45
Yeah, that's a really good point. I have a couple of thoughts here is one like us being able to just hop on and communicate whenever on zoom specifically, I think comes with the fact that we also both have really strong boundaries and we wouldn't be afraid to say like, Hey, I can't right now. Yes, and no one would get butthurt about that. Not

Emily Thompson 39:02
even a little bit. I mean, that's something that that we have done many times there's been tons of time well hey, let's talk about this thing. You're like having a meeting right now. And I'm like, okay, fine, just hit me up later. Like we have that's probably one of the keys to all of this is like Kathleen and I are not precious about much. Like about much at all. We're like you know, if you don't like that word that I'm using Fine, let's change it after I challenge you just a little bit and even that won't offend you. Like there's so so little places where we're actually going to take offense or you know, really stand our ground and like not take the other person's thoughts or opinions or not be scared to say no, not right now because sometimes No, not right now.

Kathleen Shannon 39:48
I feel like this is also where the fact that like for example in our CEO day kit, which is our one day kit that helps people do a year's worth of planning for their business. in a single day, we start with values and intentions. And it's not because we want you to like feel all fluffy about your business, it's because that is going to drive the decisions around your boundaries around your communication and around your partnership. And so for me, I know that my intentions are just to be as authentic as possible to be who we are 100% of the time. So if I don't like a word, is because it's not entirely authentic. And then I'm going to come to you in a really authentic way and say, like, Hey, here's why I'm having a problem with this word, is there a better way that we can say it, and we have shared goals, like our goal is the same, we are on the same team. So whenever we're challenging each other, it's almost more like a scrimmage, right? Like, we are still on the same team making each other better, we are not fighting against each other. And I see this happening a lot in especially like in marriages, were like all of a sudden, the other person becomes the enemy. And I think that it's so easy for that to happen. Whenever you're stressed out about money. or whenever a launch fails, like you want to find a place to blame something or someone and that's going to be your business partner, or it's going to be someone on your team. And you've got to check your values and check your intentions and make sure that you're not I don't know, like placing blame or displacing some anger or whatever it is that you're dealing with. And if you can come at all of your conversations from like good intentions, then it's going to be easier to have harder conversations. Absolutely. I

Emily Thompson 41:34
think and I think you just said something that's absolutely key to like, no matter what if you're in this for the same reasons, you both should always want the same thing. Like the path is always going down the same road. I mean, one of you may need to walk backwards or whatever. But you should be going the same place. And I think that's something that's something you and I have said many times and even like in not even like me against you. But even us like with other contractors or people that we've hired on is like we all have to remember that we all want the same thing. And once you like get back into that place, this place of absolute truth, then all the like petty nonsense sort of falls away, and you can get back to work, which I think is why we're all here. Amen. Right. So let's talk about these hard conversations, though. Because Jeez, Louise, this is the fun part of doing what we do. It's so funny even when was it? I guess yesterday recently, we're having having a hard conversation about some business decisions. And it came up that I may have some like stubborn money blocks, or wasn't money blocks, it was something. What was it?

Kathleen Shannon 42:48
Some stubborn stuff against the man?

Emily Thompson 42:50
Oh, yep, stubborn stuff against the man, for sure. And Kathleen has no problem calling me out. By any well, taking it, that's also not entirely true.

Kathleen Shannon 43:03
It was, so I called you out. I was like, Hey, I also feel like maybe you're being a little bit stubborn here. But I had kind of like been sitting on this thought for a couple of weeks. And it wasn't the first time that we had had this hard conversation about the man, right. And so. So I was coming at it like because we've had harder conversations about this same topic before, that didn't feel good or productive at all. And so then coming around to the conversation, again, it's one of those things like where if you're having the same fight over and over again, like you have to figure out a different way to approach it in order to have a different result. And so that it doesn't come up again. And so it was really just like saying like, Hey, here's this thing, I'm noticing Bernie Brown has a really great tool in I think it's rising strong, or I might be daring greatly. Anyway, I think it's rising strong. were one of the things that you can say as you start a conversation is the story I'm telling myself is, I think it would have been like a little ridiculous to be like the story I'm telling myself about you is that you're being stubborn.

Emily Thompson 44:10
You could have though you could have and after that conversation, though, it really sort of hit home for me that like a partnerships like this aren't something that you do and it's flippant, and easy and fun and you're done. Like at this point, Kathleen and I are making each other better people like consistently and that doesn't, that's not all fun at all. Like we've certainly had lots of hard conversations. It's also made me more respectful of relationships that I'm in where I can have hard conversations and less happy and excited and like okay with, with relationships in which I can't have hard conversations, because relationships in which you can't have hard conversations. For me at this point in my life aren't really worth my time.

Kathleen Shannon 44:59
I think I use To be terrified of hard conversations, and I would not have partnered some with someone had I known the kinds of hard conversations that I would be having with you. Or even with my sister, which we talked about a little bit in the episode that she was on, like, growth is messy. And that comes with hard conversations. And Had I known, like, it probably would have scared me. And whenever I first started working for myself, but I feel like the kind of boss now that not only can I have a hard conversation,

Emily Thompson 45:28
I welcome a hard conversation. Because again, it is what makes your business grow. And it's what makes it proves that you're like really considering all the different angles, right and right, because they will happen if you are in a partnership or in by again, partnership, any kind of relationship at all, that you want to last any amount of time and take you to any kind of place, hard conversations are going to be a part of it. And just to be super clear, hard conversations are not fights. I don't think that fights are conversations, like they're not going to get you to any great place. They're a place where you have to get vulnerable, or you have to dig in, like, ask and answer questions of yourself just as much as other people. And you have to do those with someone else.

Kathleen Shannon 46:22
Okay, this is going to be a hard conversation. I'll freeze it up for me for sure. But like, I've never gotten in a fight with Jeremy, and like this is going to blow people's minds. But we have had plenty of hard conversations. Like I've always been jealous before. Like whenever I watch TV shows, or I hear about people getting in these like blown up fights where it's super heated, and they're cussing at each other. Like there has never been curse words exchanged, like calling each other names. Never. And I feel like if that happened, I would be out the door because that is a five. And it's usually disrespectful, I would say fights are Yeah. And they can get dirty, hard conversations, I think are rooted in mutual respect, and wanting to solve the problem. But also you think that hard conversations can be rooted in just speaking up about your boundaries or expressing what it is that you need. And so especially in relationships, you sometimes expect the other person to read your mind or to know what you want, or to, you know, know that you don't want to be asked what to have for dinner or whatever, right? When in fact, you just need to say I cannot make a decision about dinner. And whenever you ask me what's for dinner, it triggers me. Like, that's a hard conversation, rather than like blowing up and crying and calling each other names

Emily Thompson 47:46
for sure. And I also even want to point out here the idea of like avoiding hard conversation, because I think like the opposite of fighting is not talking. And that's also just a fucking scary place to be like, granted, there's not something casually that I've ever worried about. I don't think I think we are pretty open about talking about absolutely everything. Unless you have something you need to tell me Can't believe.

Kathleen Shannon 48:10
Oh, man, no, but the not talking at all. Like, I think that's definitely Jeremy's style is he just goes radio silence. And I'm like, Listen, the more you don't talk to me about like, what's up, the more I start making stuff up in my head about what's wrong, right? It

Emily Thompson 48:24
just starts festering. Like, that's definitely not going to get you to a good place, either. So I think, you know, it's not about fighting. And it's not about not fighting or not, you know, speaking or pretending it's going to resolve itself because it never will. It's having the hard conversations and you're completely right. I believe it's totally mutual respect. Absolutely. Where you're willing to show up, you know, with a calm demeanor, to ask hard questions, to answer hard questions, and to, you know, explore all the possibilities. And the thing I've also learned about hard conversations, is that not all of them end in resolve. Like, I feel like a lot of hard conversations are the kinds of things that you're going to be talking about for a while, so get used to them. Absolutely get used to them.

Kathleen Shannon 49:09
Yeah, we recently ended a hard conversation saying, okay, here's where we stand on this right now. And we're going to be open to having this conversation again in the future. So I think that we crave resolutions so much, that we just want the problem to be solved and to be done with it. That's definitely our style, like for sure, that's what we want. But I feel like we did a really good job recently on a hard conversation just saying like, okay, here's what we've agreed on together. Here's where we might be in disagreements a little bit. And here's where we're going to be open to talking about this later.

Emily Thompson 49:43
Yeah, sometimes a hard conversation will only move the needle a little bit.

Kathleen Shannon 49:47
Okay, I want to talk to us a little bit about like saying yes, and saying no to your partner's ideas. So I feel like a lot of the hard conversations that we've had, like whenever there is pushback, We are so supportive of each other, like, all of the time, but you know, like, right off the bat saying yes to an idea like, hey, I want to move email from this to this cool, cool. No problem. Yeah, like we trust each other so much and like, what we're good at and what we're strong at and what we have opinions on that, for the most part, like, it's all good, that whenever we do have a disagreement, I feel like we take it really seriously, because we're not all constantly challenging each other on what it is that we want. So like, I've even had exes before, where it's like, every idea I had was a bad idea. And then we broke up. Yeah, so.

Emily Thompson 50:38
Right. Yeah, I mean, and not that. Not that every idea that someone has is a bad idea. It has to be a conversation like, and I think that's what you're saying is like, we're good with yeses like we love and easy. Yes, one to the other. But noes are usually a conversation because of mutual respect to like, no, it's no, because no. And here are the reasons why do you agree? And if not, like further support your reasoning so that we can move to a yes, if possible. I think I think there's so much so much more like maturity and respect. Look at us being mature Kathleen,

Kathleen Shannon 51:17
I know or like even instead of saying no ask a question. Like, even as simple as, could you help me understand why this is a good idea?

Emily Thompson 51:27
Yeah, like, show me what you're looking at here? Because I'm not seeing it just yet.

Kathleen Shannon 51:34
Right. And I mean, I even have that on like a task. I say that because I had that on a task recently, where I was like, I have no idea what this is saying. And I don't know if it's me, or if it's the person assigning this to me, but like, I don't know what this is, I need it to be more visual and more specific. So I just replied back, like, could you help me understand what you're needing? That's also like a good question to ask when we're someone sending you a request, that doesn't end in a question. So we both like really clear call to actions. Yes. And whenever we get vague emails that don't have a clear call to action, but we know it warrants response will say Can Can you help me understand what you're asking here? Right? What

Emily Thompson 52:14
do you what do you need from me? Because sometimes, I don't know. You can't.

Kathleen Shannon 52:18
Even my, my lawyers team sent me an email recently about just a trademark thing. And I was like, okay, so just to confirm, I think what you're saying here is that the ball is in your court, do I need to take action on anything? right? Correct. The ball is in our court, you don't need to take action. So even just stuff like that is like a good example of like clarifying and right.

Emily Thompson 52:40
And this is even where I mean to get to a place where I've been getting a lot of pushback from other people lately. And pushback, maybe isn't the right word, maybe I'm being negative about it, but like just observance, from other people, is you and I have gotten so good at collaborate at communicating with each other. And that has obviously bled into so many other relationships that I have, whether that's, you know, with the team, and our ability to just like get shut down or with David, and the closest relationships that I have, is that a lot of people have been telling me lately that I have really high standards. But here's the fact guys, I do I've been in this game long enough to understand what is possible from people when you give it a moment, and you try. And it's definitely, it's definitely raised my standards, and whether that's getting an email that doesn't have a call to action, like what do you want me to do? Or if it's, you know, how I show up for friends, or how it is that, you know, I'm going to plan something, whatever it may be. Having a very successful partnership that has taught me to communicate so clearly and openly and you know, with all considerations, has given me some pretty high standards, which I think just makes me a better person. Yeah, more of a pain in the ass. Everyone I know.

Kathleen Shannon 54:07
Some high standards. I mean, I would think that most of our listeners have incredibly high standards and impeccable communication. But we're all learning as we go right?

Emily Thompson 54:20
If we must toot our own horn here. Right. So another thing that, you know, we mentioned that I want to bring up again, is this like, understanding your values? I know, I know what it is that you value, I know what it is that I value. You and I are setting intentions together consistently. And that I think is really at the core of how it is that you and I are able to show up for each other and our team and our community in the capacity with the high standards that we have because we know who we are what we hold important to us. So if anyone listening to this is sort of curious as to what your values are. We do work on with you guys. The being boss book is a place where we talk extensively about values, you can also go to being boss dot club slash values to find some cool graphics to express your values if you'd like. And then we also share really in depth about our intention setting and value practices in the CEO day kit. So

Kathleen Shannon 55:22
yeah, and also in the cod kit, I think that another thing that I should mention this because there's so much planning that goes into business, and so we're able to use that kit to really figure out what our business model is. So like, what are kind of even thinking about, like, if you could just do one thing all day, if you could just sell one thing? What would that be? It helps us clarify how we're sharing content, it helps us figure out our revenue and our marketing, without really feeling like we're coming out of the blue with like, irrational boundaries, or new ideas that we've never seen before we can say like, okay, but how does that fit into the business model that we planned out together at the beginning of the year, and that we're touching base on every single quarter. So we are basically going through our own CEO day kit, which is a bunch of different worksheets, and we've packed it up for you all, but we are using this tool for ourselves in order to stay on the same page so that our collaboration and our communication is working toward the bigger vision, the bigger goal, and we know how to break it down step by step. So we know why we're doing what we're doing and how it's going to get us where we're going. So you can find that at courses that being bought club if you just want to check it out. But in the meantime, we have a ton of resources for you. So go check them out on our website, Emily just mentioned a bunch of them. We've got them all listed in our show notes

Emily Thompson 56:45
through that. And so let's talk about some other tools and tactics that people can use to make better connections, maybe improve their communication and if they are working with a collaborator or just like, want to make their love life a little more fantastic if that's why you guys are here.

Kathleen Shannon 57:01
Okay, connecting in person. And offline is been a huge motivation and driver for us with our own being boss community. So every year we have our vacation in New Orleans. And we have seen that magic happens when you get face to face with other creatives. So it's kind of crazy, because I remember it was probably within the last few months, we were chatting with our friend Jason zubik. And he was astonished because we had not made the time to hang out with each other just me and you Emily, in person at that time to like, really chart out something that wasn't like, fully we

Emily Thompson 57:40
travel all the time for business. We're like, we're going to speak at a thing or we have a vacation or whatever. But we even still think to this day have not ever I giving a one time we ever got together outside of business purposes to hang out once

Kathleen Shannon 57:57
once. It's that whenever you were traveling for Indy goes West. No, I was actually the

Emily Thompson 58:01
one went to Salem together.

Kathleen Shannon 58:03
Oh, okay. So all the time twice. But you know, it is easy, because we are traveling a lot together. And even that though like if we do have stuff on the books like that feels really good. Because we have so much fun, like even beyond the kinds of ideas that we're able to think of whenever we're together in person, like we just have a good time we laugh and we remember why we like each other and why we're business partners whenever we are in person together. And so I think that if you have a business partner that you're working remote with, or a team that you're working remote with, really making an effort to get together in person offline is huge.

Emily Thompson 58:41
For sure. I mean, another one, you know, if you can't super easily get offline or during all the times in which you're between offline Hangouts. But we love getting on zoom and there's something to be or Skype or whatever sort of gives that face to face. I think Kathleen and I both enjoy the face to face significantly more than if it was just our voices like looking at Kathleen tear. She's like, making fun of my faces, whatever it may be. We have a good time like sitting face to face. I feel like we're in the same room. It's just I can't see anything under your shoulders.

Kathleen Shannon 59:18
I could not be wearing pants right now. I

Emily Thompson 59:20
could not be wearing pants right now. And I wouldn't even know I could not be wearing pants right now.

Kathleen Shannon 59:26
But you know, I have another business bestie friend who we like to chat on the phone like she gets really distracted by zoom and video conferencing. And there's something about being on the phone that really allows I'm fine with face to face but on the phone like you can almost just focus on what the other person is saying. And earlier you were talking about how it's not just communicating with your partner. It's a listening to them. And I feel like it helps her listen better whenever it's just over the phone. So whatever style works for you, but we love some video conferencing over here.

Emily Thompson 59:58
For sure. And then last denalis we love slack when it comes to communicating with our team to leave and say, you know, David's on our slack. So even David and I are occasionally communicating via slack for sure. Some sort of tool that allows you to stay easily in touch with people. I like slack and we put Jeremy on my slack on our slack.

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:18
Could you imagine? Yes,

Emily Thompson 1:00:20
he would never speak he would just sit and listen.

Kathleen Shannon 1:00:24
Or maybe that's where you'd really hear him. Right? I

Emily Thompson 1:00:27
would love for him just occasionally interject with a good Jeff. You know, like, a funny image or little video or just something weird. I feel like that's what happened. And I think that would add, I think, I think it would add to for sure.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:40
He's welcome. He's

Emily Thompson 1:00:41
welcome here. Um, right, we enjoy slack a lot allows us to, you know, stay focused on work with all the different channels that also allows us to have just ridiculous conversation and like the random channels or in our, like, private messages, or whatever, that really helps us stay connected to our super remote team that's in all corners of the country, basically. Yeah,

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:05
so there we go. And that's even like those are more for those conversations. But I do think that all of the systems and processes that we use to stay organized and our business really opens up and allows us to have the more creative or collaborative conversations over things like slack or zoom or in person,

Emily Thompson 1:01:25
for sure. All right, Kathleen, I enjoy hanging out with you and making things same.

Kathleen Shannon 1:01:35
Hey, bosses, I want to tell you about the CEO day kit. The CEO day kit is 12 months of focus planning for your business in just one day. So Emily and I have packaged up the exact tools that we've been consistently using for years that have helped us grow from baby bosses to the CEOs of our own businesses. gain clarity, find focus, get momentum, prioritize your time, make better decisions, and become more self reliant with the CEO day kit. Go to courses that being boss club to learn more and see if it's a fit for you and your business.

Emily Thompson 1:02:11
Thank you for listening to being boss. If you're looking for more help and being boss of your work in life accom check out our website where you can find Episode shownotes. browse our archives and access free resources like worksheets, trainings, quizzes and more. It's all at WWW dot being boss dot club. Do the work be boss