In this week’s episode, CEO of Bama Companies Paula Marshall joins host Lynn Vartan to talk about leadership and bringing “soul" into big business. The two discuss the influence of William Edwards Deming on Paula and her company, as well as how to connect, build and foster powerful and sustainable culture in business. Enjoy!
Dr. Lynn Vartan 00:00
Hey everyone, this is Lynn Vartan and you're listening to the apex hour on K SUU thunder 91.1. In this show, you get more personal time with the guests who visit Southern Utah University from all over, learning more about their stories and opinions beyond their presentations on stage. We will also give you some new music to listen to, and hope to turn you on to some new sounds and new genres. You can find this here every Thursday at 3pm or on the web at sau.edu/apex. But for now, welcome to this week's show. Here on thunder 91.10. Right. Well, welcome in everyone. This is Lynn Vartan, you are listening to the apex hour for those of you listening live, we are on a special day, it's Wednesday instead of Thursday. And the only reason we change days is for really special things that happen at SUU today is our campus wide festival of excellence. It is a day where we celebrate scholarship. And we close down campus so that there are no classes held. But what is instead happening are there hundreds and hundreds of exhibitions and poster sessions and students and faculty presenting their work and their scholarship that they've been doing throughout the year, it's a great opportunity to just celebrate all the knowledge that's being shared on our campus. In addition to that, we have the keynote of the whole day, which happens right in the middle of the day. And then that is also our last Apex event of the season. So today we are having our special Apex hour, with our keynote speaker for the festival of excellence who was our apex guest today. Paula Marshall. Welcome into the studio, Paula.
Paula Marshall 01:51
Thank you very much. I'm so happy to be here.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 01:54
Well, I'm gonna sing your praises. I mean, the awards that you have won currently you are the chief executive officer of Bama corporations, which you've been there quite some time.
Paula Marshall 02:04
Yes, my my parents were the owners of the business that I worked for, and my grandparents before that my parents worked for. So it's been family generational passed down.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 02:16
And you have been running this corporation and the the way that you run it, which is the way we're going to what we're going to talk about has been garnering so much attention and the List of awards that you have won, and and the way you have been recognized for your leadership is just astounding. I wondered if there are any particular recognitions that have been particularly meaningful to you?
Paula Marshall 02:40
Well, you know, I don't seek out recognition. It's, I think, I'm an oddity, for one thing, because being a female CEO, I'm probably one of the top two or three in the state of Oklahoma, at least, maybe even in the top 50 of women, business owners in the whole country. So we're a different breed. We're not very, it's very unusual. Yeah, a lot of times when I would, would go places people would look around for Where's your husband? Where's this? Right? You know, he must be the one running the business. So and, and actually, my dad kind of fostered that, that girls don't run businesses. It's too hard, you know, this and that the other. But, you know, thank goodness at that time that he was sort of transitioning or beginning to transition out because he had a major illness. My mom was was my biggest champion, and he was a big champion. And she said, you know, this is women's lib. And my dad never even knew she even thought about that kind of stuff. He's like, What are you talking about? And she's like, Well, women are doing all kinds of things now. So I think we need to give her a chance. And so I took a servant leadership mindset into my leadership style. And I think that has also been different. Yeah. So I think when the people come with the newspapers or the, you know, the magazines, they want to do a story. They find so many unique things, not only from being a woman, CEO of a large, large company, private company, but also my management style. The customers we do business with are global corporates, you know, food companies, and the rigor of which you have to approach doing business with companies like that is very unusual also. So I think I have a bit of a unique this that kind of draws these things. But to answer your question, I was probably the most honored when one of my very good friends in the state and her name's Kathy Keating, her husband was governor about two terms ago, and we've just been friends. We've grown up in high school and all kinds of stuff and she called one day and she said, I don't want you to get all excited about this. But I'm going to nominate you for the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and she's starts reading me all the people that have won and all these different I'm like, No, you're not going to do that. She's like, Yes, I'm going to do it. But she goes, the downside is hardly ever anyone wins the first time that their name gets put in. So she said, I'm going to work on this process. I'm going to do it with your assistant. And and I'll let you know how it goes. So about a month and a half later, my sister is looking all over for me. And of course, where am I? It's Friday afternoon. It's five o'clock, I'm playing tennis, right? He's like, get her on the phone. So they come and get me and I'm like, What is going on? So he puts Kathy on, and then the president of this organization in Oklahoma, and they're like, You've been chosen? And I was like, what? They're like you've been chosen. You're in the Hall of Fame. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, that's probably one of the more shocked and surprised. So that probably makes it special.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 05:58
Oh, my gosh, congratulations. That's amazing. Well, it wasn't the original plan for you to take over this company. And that's the how the story goes. So I want to know, when when it became clear that you would take over the company, what were some of your feelings? What were some of your anticipations? I mean, were you were you just super excited? Were you super scared? Like, what were some of those early feelings and impressions?
Paula Marshall 06:25
Well, my dad was forced to work another 15 years, and I was just actually getting out of college, and he had this debilitating heart attack. So our family was faced with a decision. And then about a month later, my brother, my oldest brother was also having heart problems at at like 45 years old. So both of them went out for protracted periods. And it was kind of my mother and I kind of holding the ship together. And then the guys that McDonald's finally found out and that was our largest customer at the time. And they said, What is going on down there? Where is everybody? Yeah, you know, that was at the time when you that kind of felt like you could keep keep things under the rug? And I guess we probably kept things under the rug for too long. And so they finally came down and said that we want to know what's going on all this. So they brought a few people in to actually look at the company because they were like, What are we this is not what is yeah, we've got the guy that's been around the longest is sick, you've got, you know, another brother that's not capable. You've got me, too young and a girl. So they kind of just dismiss me, right? And so after that happened, and they started bringing people in to sort of look at the company, and my dad started getting upset about it. Because he's like, Well, how can you just dismiss her like that? You know, like, that's not right. And so He then turned his whole opinion around and started fighting for me. So the last time he had an a meeting with them, and they were bringing in someone else, and they were kind of getting more and more upset with my dad saying, you've got to pick one of these people. He finally looked at the the head of McDonald's and said, you know, we were eating three squares before you guys came along. And I'm sure we'll be eating three squares when you leave. And he said, I don't want to sell my company. And my daughter's gonna run it.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 08:20
Oh, my gosh, that's awesome. That's great. That is great.
Paula Marshall 08:24
And it was about the time in the early 90s, when affirmative action was starting to kind of come around. Yeah. And there were a lot of like title nine things going on in colleges and things. And McDonald's hired a Chief Diversity Officer. And they came down. And we worked on a plan where we I could buy my dad out to, you know, the percentage that was needed. And I could take over the operating capacity at the company. So while all this was going on, I was kind of caught up with all that I really didn't have a lot of time to think about it. But once he was actually gone, because he physically took all of his stuff out of the office, my mom everything, and they moved to Florida. Then I was like, Oh my gosh. So I kind of adopted this crazy management style, because my dad was like the All Knowing kind of the being around and knew everything and about everything that was going on and all the answers. So everyone always came into his office and just looked at him like he was demigod, you know. And so they started doing that to me, and I'm like, Why are you all looking at me? Yeah, like we're talking about doing whatever we're talking about. And they're like, Well, you're the boss now you're supposed to know. And I'm like, I don't know. I'm like, I we've got to figure this out together. So I started asking questions of people when they would come into me like and we'd sit down and talk about things. I go around a table. What do you think we should do? Well, what do you think we should do? And you know, we kind of get consensus that way. And I'd say, Okay, that sounds good to me, because I didn't know any better right? So it started, like blossoming, this style of managing and Bama and it was like so quickly taken out by our team members and the transformation was so people were so excited about actually contributing, and not just being told what to do. So I realized I had kind of stumped stupidly stumbled onto something. I'm not trying to like, really, I wasn't trying to game anybody or do anything like that. I was just, I just said, you know, we all are better together if we think collectively together, and not one person singled out to have all the answers. So that's how, how I kind of start doing it. And I never really had a whole lot of time to be afraid.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 08:46
Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Well, that's so cool. Now for any of our listeners who maybe don't aren't familiar with the corporation. Can you give us a little snapshot about, you know what Bama is? And what it does.
Paula Marshall 10:54
Of course, well, my grandmother was the founder of the company. And she was born in Dallas, right outside Dallas in a town called Winnsboro, Texas. My grandfather and her Matt in Texas. And her family were like, they were farmers also. But they farmed cotton. My grandfather decided he wanted to take my grandmother away from the all the relatives that were in Winnsboro. And he moved her to Dallas, and said, We're going to start growing sweet potatoes. And she's like, What are you talking about? Sweet potatoes are not going to grow here like this is not and he stayed, he wouldn't give up. And they keep having more kids and more kids and more kids. And finally, she's like, I'm gonna go get a job, because we can't survive like this. So she was went down the road to this Woolworths drugstore down the road, and Woolworths I don't think exists anymore. But at that time, they were like Target or Walgreens or something. Except they had soda fountains inside of them with little chairs. And you could get a milkshake or a malt or sandwich or the short order cooks cooking, the burgers and all that stuff. Well, they hired my grandmother. And she knew a lot about baking. And she was a baker. So she started baking the pies. She said, You know, we don't have any pies here. So the owner was like, Sure, just whatever you want to do, Bama, started calling her Bama. And so she was making these pies. And then one day, my grandfather came down to the store and he saw these lines that went around and around the building like two or three deep. And he followed it all out. And he's looking at these like asking people along the way, like, what are you doing here? Why would you wait in line so long? They're like, Oh, have you not had one of those pies that that lady makes in there and we think her name is Bama. So as he's going around talking to people, he gets this idea that when she comes home that night, he's gonna ask her if she'll make him some pies. And so he's gonna take him around. So he made this while she got home and he had made this little picnic basket. And he said, I've got this great idea Bama, he says, if you just make me six pies every day, I'll put them in this little basket. She's looking at this thing going oh my gosh, okay. Shouldn't be too too big of a deal. Make six pies for him. No big deal. He comes she comes back the next day. He's like, I need 12 pies. Today I've, I've run out of pies. And it went on like that. And then finally, my dad who was eighth grader at the time, he dropped out of school to help make pies. Oh, my God, all the kids were back. So they had to get a store. They had to get a bakery. And then they got trucks. And then they just and then in 1958 My father, who had moved to Tulsa to bring his the business to Tulsa met this gentleman by the name of Ray Kroc, who was the founder of McDonald's Corporation. So he and my dad started talking about desserts. And Ray didn't have a dessert at that time. So he said, Look, I want a certain kind of product. And if you'll make it for me, I'll give you all the business you'll always have it all the business you'll never have to worry about anything else in your life. And my dad's like, Okay, sounds good to me. At that time, there was only one McDonald's though. Right? Right. So he he believed in Ray Kroc and Ray Kroc believe in my dad, and to this day, you won't go into McDonald's anywhere in the world without a an apple pie in it.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 14:24
Wow. That's amazing. And you have factories or shops everywhere, all around the world right?
Paula Marshall 14:35
We have four facilities in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We have four facilities in China, from Beijing down to cuando in in Wuhan. And then we have a facility in broad swath Poland. And two facilities in the UK once in Belfast and ones in Wales.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 14:54
Wow. That's fascinating. So you're managing all of those. Well thank you for that snapshot, I'm gonna play a song now. And then when we get back, I really want to get into some of the specifics of your leadership style and all those kinds of things. I'm so excited to learn more. So I have been listening while you guys know who listened to the show that I love world music. Okay, that's true. I also love Eurovision, that's also true. And one of the bands that I got really into last year was is Go_A, which is g o underscore and then a capital A, and they are a Ukrainian band. So I as one might expect with everything that's going on right now I've been really cluing into, you know, how they are doing where they are and all of that and I have a couple of songs, I have Ukrainian pop for you. The first one is by Goa and it's actually a recent release of theirs and I wanted to just do a special plug because if you purchase this song online on they will make sure all the proceeds go to the war efforts. So the song is called Kalina K L Y N A, and the band is Go_A G O underscore a so check them out you're listening to KSUU thunder 91.1. All right, well welcome back everyone. That song was Kalina KLY na the band is Go_A g o with an underscore and then the capital letter A. Please go try to think about buying that tune. All the proceeds go to the war efforts in the Ukraine and that is one of the Ukrainian bands that kind of made a breakthrough last year on Eurovision. Back in the studio with me is Paula Marshall, the CEO of Bama corporations, and we are talking about leadership and service based leadership. So welcome back, Paula. So let's talk a little bit about the principles of you know what it really means to to be a servant leader. And I wonder if you might, the way I'd like to ask it is okay, so let's say you're training someone to go into a company and and start to put some of these in place. What are some of the key principles for a leader to take a look at?
Paula Marshall 20:10
Well, I was just talking to some of the students after the talk. And they were asking me about, you know, internships and coming into a company being the low man on the totem pole. And, you know, how do you make an impact? And how do you get seen and this and that, and I said, what so many, what so many young people miss is just the fact of if you get hired to do something, come in, and and serve the leadership serve the company and and just do what you're asked. And I would say 99% of the reason I'm here right now is because my father told me what he wanted done. I asked a few questions. And then I went, did it? And then I reported back. And he was so impressed by that. And to me, it was like, this is kind of basic, but nobody ever does it. So they people ask people to do stuff all the time. And then unless the owner or someone comes and follows back up, no one ever comes back. So I said, If you will do those simple things, you know, listen, learn what they want you to do. Just do it. Don't ask questions, don't try to come in with all these. I've got a better way or this. Because a lot of times people get ingrained in what they want. So to break that down, you have to show them and demonstrate that you're willing to do what they want. First, even if you have a better idea. So I recommend you go in and do what they want. And then when you're falling back and circling back up, they you say we I noticed it was a little easier if I carried the bucket over here rather than here. If the bucket had this rubber hose on it, it seems like it'd be easier. Maybe we wouldn't have so many accidents. And all of a sudden that leaders going oh my God, nobody ever told me that's what was causing all the accidents. Yes, let's go put rubber hoses on every bucket. Yeah. Next thing you know, you're the rubber has rubber bucket guy. You made the world so much easier for everyone else had ever had to do that job, right. And they will love you for it. So you'll get little assignments like that, that you won't even realize you're getting pushed up the pole. But until you kind of give up that ego and, and sort of put your own personal interests behind and say, I'm coming in here to learn and have fun, and, and be a great servant to the organization. That's my only purpose here as an intern.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 22:36
Well you also talk about this component of fun. And and so do you subscribe to this idea that if you are doing something you love you never work a day in your life? Does that ring true for you? Or is it a different version of that?
Paula Marshall 22:50
Absolutely. I mean, people always ask me, you know, when are you going to stop working? When are you going to slow down when you can do this? And I'm like, never. Because every day that I do what I do, and I'm able to interact with people and help others and learn with what's going on in society in the world. I, it's joyfilled for me, so I don't, I don't look at this as a burden, I look at it as a way to help people. And that's truly our mission statement. And Bama has people helping people be successful? Yeah, that's what we do every single day, whether it's a customer, a supplier, a team member, our, you know, our community, our resources, whatever it is, we're making that particular things successful. So that's why a lot of these things fit together. But people don't have that string necessarily, that they're talking about for people to make sure they know and understand. This is all part of being a great, you know, part of the planet. You know, because we're all here. And we got to be good stewards of that.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 23:57
You mentioned that mission statement. And I've been particularly impressed that I absolutely love your concept of both personal mission statements. And and the way you view a corporate mission statement. I think sometimes we hear people talk about particular corporate mission statements. And, you know, there there are a lot of words and a lot of expectations and a lot of things and, and yours is got this just very profound simplicity. And so I wonder if you might talk about both personal and corporate mission statements and what your philosophy for those?
Paula Marshall 24:32
Well, one of the books I wrote was, was about the ego driven Corporation, and how to turn corporate America into human beings, that, that this place that we all come to, and we all, you know, lay down on the altar of corporate America that we turn it into a feeder of the soul, because if we're feeding the soul of people that work for us, if we're feeding the souls of our customers, if we're feeding souls, we don't necessarily have to worry about putting up there on this big mission statement that we want to be environmentally friendly. I mean, to me, it's like nobody cares about I mean, you can, you can tell a team member that all day long. And you know what the team members care about? What shift am I going to be working? What are my hours? When am I going to get out of here? How much you're going to pay me? You really care about. Now, once you get them for a while, and they you show them you care about their health, you care about their safety, we you would like for them to care about each other safety, because we can't all be there at a time when the forklifts going by 500 miles an hour. So we we teach and train every one of our team members in the whole company. You're all we're all accountable for safety. Every single one of us, it's my fault. If something happens to somebody, it's our fault. It's our supervisors fault. It's it's something we said something we did. And it didn't have to happen. So we I have my I have I used to have people that would come to me and say, Well, don't worry, Paula, we fired that person that gotten to that accident. And I'm like, You did what I mean? Like, okay, so let's start. Let's go. Let's start and go backwards. Yeah. So you fired someone who got into an accident, which was our fault. And we never brought the corrective action back end. So instead of taking that person and saying, let's use this person, they got hurt, as a way of building in our corrective action systems, so that we don't do this again, instead of firing them, and you firing someone is the easiest thing. I always tell my supervisors, I mean, I run a class two times a year called supervisor boot camp. No. And it's boot camp with Paula and it goes on for the whole, and I just go, Oh, my, and they ask questions, and we talk and so they'll ask me, they'll be like, Well, so do you want us just to you know, never have any discipline you never want. And I'm like, you know, guys firing someone is the you have that choice, the minute you get up in the world, because you have supervisor over your name, right? Right, you can fire anybody you want to. But let me tell you, the person coming in behind them might not be that good. They are, then you've lost two years of work with whatever it was you were trying to do with this person. And you didn't have to do any improving in the process. So the supervisors never had to get better. They never had to work on themselves. That's all they're always too busy telling one everyone else what they did wrong. So the first thing I do in my boot camps is start asking the question, what are we? What did we do wrong? What did we do wrong? Okay, guys, let's talk about this. What did we do wrong? So we would take an accident, in that supervisor bootcamp class, and we would all go around the room. Nobody gets away, there might be 25 supervisors in the class, I'm like, what did we do wrong? What did we do wrong? Every single one of those people has to say something that we did wrong. So by the time you get around, everybody's got this kind of a humility factor, right? Because the the arrows inside of us for protective reasons that God gave us are all pointed at defensiveness. Right, right, and pointing out someone else's flaws. So once I can teach that to somebody in that kind of an environment when something happens, what do we do? Like we go around in our, in our troubleshooting, and all of our training materials, we're all going to fix these things together, but we can't fix them. If we don't do it together. We just keep constantly firing people. Nothing improves, right? Nothing. The culture stays toxic.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 28:42
Well, that's absolutely true. And and so I'd love to go even further with things about, you know, building culture, in what other ways can we execute cultural change? Or how else can we make cultural change happen in an organization?
Paula Marshall 29:00
Well, there are a number of ways to do it. Some companies, they bring in big speakers, and they have like a big auditorium ran and they bring in somebody, you know, like some big star somebody and they, you know, big flash, and I have, I have to admit, I've done those things. The problem is and what my mentor Dr. Deming used to tell me, he said, What are you going to do in the person that performer leaves? So if you're, if your top management isn't trained, and I mean, it's grueling because it's slow. But if your top management isn't trained, your little middle level management isn't going to be trained your next levels aren't we trained? So when all this stuff starts hitting the fan, they're going to react to their old ways of doing it. They're going to start shooting from the hip, yelling at everybody, tell them go do this, go do that. So nothing really changes except you spent the money on having a big flash in the pan thing event. So we we put all of our emphasis and all of our training on all of our management at all times, anyone new into management at Bama is immediately set up for bootcamp. And the reason why I do it that way is because their ego has to get knocked down. And I hate to say it, but there is some, there is some pain in that, yes, right. But we come to sessions where sometimes people cry, and sometimes and I'm right there with them. And I'm like, I understand, you know, like you didn't survive to this moment in time in your life by accepting blame, like, you defended it, because it was either your dad was gonna SWAT you or your mom, or you're running out of the house, or one of your brothers or sisters or, you know, going to get you in trouble. And it's everyone's scared all the time. So I get it. But here, we can't do that. Everyone has to internalize their role in what goes wrong.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 30:53
So do you define what you want in a leader? Or do you or in your supervisors and your management? Do you do define that very specifically, or do you in, invite them to, to, to find that and then adapt that to what you want it to be?
Paula Marshall 31:09
We used to do more of the adaption, but it's so painful, you know, to watch people break down after they've messed up. Because what I found is people in Bama, the worst thing for them is to disappoint me or to have me, you know, come and talk to them. So we've now defined through like, using our Deming knowledge, we've defined like seven characteristics we call them. And within that, each one of them has an operational operational definition. Now within that, there can be variability within that. But certain things we want to tight, you know, like, I don't want one supervisor walking by someone, let's say chewing gum on a line, and not having the proper work attire and all that. And then the next supervisor comes by and tells that same person, what do you do chewing gum over there? And they're saying, but Joe was here, right till about two hours ago and never said he's like that, see that? That variation? In management styles and in the abilities will just crush a person? And it takes them all the breath out of them. So what we're trying to do in our, in our supervisory classes and our manuals, is talk about these characteristics, talk about the operational different definitions, and talk about how we need to reduce variation between our supervisors. Because people want to see what they expect. They get used to a certain kind of management style. And that's what they come to expect. So we want to try to stay, you know, just because you're new Joe Blow on the block doesn't mean, you've got to come in on your horse and right, start riding around making sure everyone knows you're there. Right, right. That's the worst thing you could do. The best thing is to slide in, walk around, talk to people learn what's going on, you know, sit in on people's meetings, sit in on on their offices, talk to them learn, see what you can understand, and then start trying to deploy that what we call the leadership manual.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 33:19
Can you think of it one of the characteristics and given examples, maybe one of them?
Paula Marshall 33:24
Yeah, one of them was the one I just gave you. So we're a food food facility. Right? Human safety and food safety are complete priorities. So every single one of our supervisors has to have the same approach to handling a food safety incident. Or a safety incident with a person, right? Everyone has to be trained in all those procedures. Now, is everyone going to react? Exactly say no, maybe this one's a little more scurrying around or, but when the you know, what hits the fan? They're deploying the same six steps every time. So what another one might be these courageous conversations I was talking about at lunch. So people avoid those, like the plauge. They don't want to have them. It's like, oh, you know, I think I'll just like, well, when you get tired of working and trying to make sense, you know, you've got to sit down and have this and you got to document it, and sign and everything goes on. So we have one of our people systems, people sitting there in the room when those conversations are going on. And afterwards they give both people feedback. So it's almost like going to a counselor. You know, it's like our people systems folks are they all have psychology degrees. I have no one in my people Systems Department that comes out of a traditional HR background because I don't want them to view the legal ramifications of, I don't want any I want you guys to go in there and sit down. Too many times in these companies, the people systems or the human resource departments are looked at with terro, like the keepers of the jail are just coming in, and now they're gonna beat us. I'm like, this cannot be right. Like, we're supposed to be the keepers of the culture here. So they all have psychology degrees, they all have, you know, they all know how to sit with people and get the both sides of everything, and then share back. And so it creates this great like, Well, nobody's in trouble. Because we both brought our issues to the table. And now I understand it. And I know I'm coming back next month, and I'm going to sit back in this room with that person. I'm going to talk about it again. And I want to work on an in between so that it gets better so I don't have to do that hard thing anymore. So it's kind of a law. It's inter it's a lot built around human behavior.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 35:53
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, fascinating. Well, it's time for another song and then we come back I'd like to, you know, we've been talking about Deming and the teaching of, of Dr. Deming, and I'd love to sort of circle back to that and get more detail from you. But in the meantime, we're going to hear another Ukrainian band the span is Odyn E, or Odyn V, Odyn and Kanoe, k a n o e. And Odyn is o d e yn. The name of the song is is in Cyrillic, I can't, can't read it, but everything that I've heard from this band is amazing. So check it out. You're listening to KSUU thunder 91.1. All right, welcome back. So that song was again the title of it I can't quite read but this the artist is Odyn o d y n and then a space and then V and then canoe K A N O E. And as always, if you're interested in the music that you hear here on the apex our there is an open playlist that you can find on our website, which is su.edu/apex. And then you go to the podcast tab and the Spotify playlists played on the apex our is there. And you can check out all the songs that we have played on the show over the years. We are back in the studio with Paula Marshall welcome back. And I we've gotten into talking about you had mentioned your work with Dr. Deming and you worked actually with Dr. Deming the great the great mind and leadership and management, whose trainings I think are fantastic and and it's just wonderful to learn about, I wonder if you might share a few of the teachings that are of particular value to you that really stand out to you as as Pentacles for you.
Paula Marshall 40:17
I get asked that question quite a bit by a lot of times, our team members at Bama, you know, they'll they'll get confused. And they'll say, Well, which one? Do I which one do I do first? And what do I how do I do this? And how do I do that? And I always tell people that the reason why the profound knowledge is in the four points than it is, is because he meant for you to start with number one. So let's start with number one. Now might I think that we could rearrange them, and they could be a whole lot easier and simpler and better to use. I think I could make some improvements, but it's not my work. I'm teaching his work. So we're going to start with number one. And number one, is called appreciation of a system. And why I love that and people look and go, What are you talking about? So I have a simple thing that I take people through in my classes, which is his weight. Now, everybody looks at me goes, Oh, no, you know, all the lawyers are like, Oh, no, here we go. And I'm like, listen, it's it's a constant with all of us. It's something that we all know, something that we all sort of think we understand, like, if we do a lot, we don't eat so much, we're gonna have a nice weight or whatever. But it's also a regulatory part, it's a metric that comes out of our system or body. So I like to teach people that every single thing on this planet is set up by God, I believe, as a system. So let's take weight, weight is a byproduct of how your body's functioning, all the hormones, all the different, you know, glands and the different parts of the body in the heart that is and that and one thing could be cut out, and it doesn't work the same. One thing could be cut out over here, and it doesn't work the same. So one of the things that I find, and especially with students and new people coming into Bama, they don't understand how to work as a system. Like if I put if I plugged them into a human body or something, they would be like looking around like, Well, what do I do with all this stuff? Things will be rolling by and, and flying by and you don't know what's what? Well, that's because if you think about it, from the time we were little, the only way our parents knew how to raise us was to it was kind of like, Good kid doesn't get a SWAT. Bad Kid gets a SWAT some good kid, maybe get some money, some good kids maybe gets more swats and gets good stuff. Take this away from this one. So we kind of learned this binary. Yeah. And we almost learned that we're in this seat by ourselves, right? Right now there's inputs coming into it, right? Like the parents and the different discipline techniques and things. But you almost begin to think that you're, you're only by yourself ever. So you get into school. You get the little kids you get now we get this the grade card starting right? Now we get mommy and daddy give us money. If we come home with this A, we get swats if we come home with that. And maybe we're confused. Maybe we're just, you know, we don't learn like that. Nobody offered to bother to ask us if we liked this school, or if we like that teacher, if we like that kid next to us is always poking us with something. Maybe there's something wrong with my hearing, maybe I can't see as well. So nobody bothers to ask us, you know what's going on in this little process here, except I get good reward or bad. So now I go up and I start working in high school. Everything is by myself. I study by myself, I do this by myself, I have these grades by myself. And I might go out and maybe work a part time job. And there, I might get told what to do. I might not get the luxury of working somewhere that says hey, why don't you go out and work with this team of people and see what you can learn from doing it this way. So we never learn the skills. We get to college now in college was where I started getting put together in groups of people. And then I realized why I never had worked with groups of people, because half the people didn't do the work. And I was doing all the work for them. Or this one's doing the work and this one's not and they're going to get the same grade as me. And so you start all this yet. So you almost think this team thing is a terrible thing. I'd rather just work by myself. So then you get hired into a company and all of a sudden, you have to depend on other people, they have to do something, right, you have to do something, right and pass it on to somebody else. And no one is familiar, you know, with that concept. So, thinking like a system, for me in the Deming world, it's the most important thing. It is one of the most important things. Because if you can learn that, as a manager, in you're going to try to make a change on a system. You cannot do it independently. The world is full of these companies that have had independent people going in and fixing stuff. And then everything else breaks. So Dr. Dubey, used to have the story about a hotel. And he's like, Okay, before the people are in there, checking in, people are rude, whatever, the hotel burns down, they go and they build it back. Bring the same people in, they're all rude still. So he's like, well, so was the firefighting, the firefighting, we did put the fire out and bring all the people back. Do any good, right? It didn't. It didn't change anything, because we didn't change the hearts of the people. And we didn't change the management system. We never taught the people the front desk that they have to be concerned about if the rooms are clean, or how are The Maids feeling today? Or did the maid show up? Or did they get the towels cleaned in the laundry? Or, you know, it's like, what's sitting on that mates card is a system? Somebody made that for that person to go into that room and be able to quickly write and all this stuff is right there. Well, who designed that? That's smart, you know. So that's what we try to do in business, we try to put the people who need to get the efficiency, clean the rooms get, we try to, we have all kinds of systems and carts and stuff called vivus, that the parts are hanging on the wall. And everyone knows where every part is at every second. And if someone takes something off the wall, they have to put it back. The engineers do this, the, you know, the operations guys do that. And everyone works. Not to get cases out the door, but to get the quality and human safe cases out the door. So if we've got a problem, we want everybody on the line to stop. Just stop, right? It's better if you just stop and they can do it themselves. So people start feeling. So that's part of being a system. It's like, they're not afraid. They're not separate from management. They're kind of all part of it.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 47:39
I love that I love systems I love. That's one of the things that I was really drawn to with the Deming leadership model as well. What's number two?
Paula Marshall 47:48
Number two, my favorite thing because I have a minor in psychology, which is the human psychology part of Dr. Demmings work. So almost all of his the first seven points or eight points deal with all the technical stuff, the SPC charts, the things you hear people talk about the data, the operational definitions, those are all for seven, the back half of the seven that to the get to the 14 points is all about people. It's all writing and ranking. It's hanging up a banner to tell somebody something when you need to just go talk to him by themselves. I remember when he first was doing a talk on this fear and fear in the workplace. He said, How many of y'all have banners hanging up that tell people to work safe? And I was like, Oh, I've gone and done it now. It's like, Okay. Everyone in here is guilty. He said, Why do you have that? And we're all sitting there. And he's like, because you're lazy. We're like, Well, we thought it was a good idea at the time. He's like, it's a terrible idea. And stop doing it. Go back and take all those signs down. And instead, engage, talk. Yeah, look around, right. See what you can do to make the work areas safer. Talk to the people. Teach them what's an unsafe practice, talk to them, talk to them. Help them out. It makes so much sense. But how much? How many times are you in a factory or you're in a place and you walk around, you see all these dumb signs hanging out? Every time I see one, I'm like, oh, gosh, I wish I could go talk to the management of this organization.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 49:30
Do you think there's one question that every leader should ask themselves regularly?
Paula Marshall 49:40
Every day I asked myself that my Am I being humble? Am I being compassionate? And am I finding joy in my work? And I and I met making sure that everyone else is joy in their work. And it's an everyday grounding that I do because the life that we live and I you know, my company's 400 million but it's it's so it's like a peanut compared to a lot of places. And these guys have, you know, they have mansions everywhere they fly everywhere in private jets, they have people that drive their cars, people that make their food people that do their laundry people to do everything. So it's not the life, you know, it's not like a real life. It's a nice life. It's great, sure. But if you don't notice that person that comes in and does your wash and cleans your clothes and makes your bed, and if you don't ask them how they're doing, and how's the family, you don't know their kids names? You don't know. It's just like, I want to smack you. You know, like, you need to know these things. And people are like, why? What do I care and I'm like, character, that's the character putting you in your mansions and your private jets and your, you know, and then these are the same guys that won't spend a million dollars on training or trying to improve the health benefits of their team members, or trying to sit and listen to the complaints or whatever, they just don't want to deal with it.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 51:07
So you do that personal check in every day. And then you have a personal philosophy or personal vision that that is a touchstone for you throughout every day as well, which I'm a huge believer in. Um, what do you do when days get hard? Because there's got to be those days where, you know, you you get five problems across your desk or five, negative phone calls. Um, you know, like, how, then what, what do you do then?
Paula Marshall 51:36
Well, I have a really neat place that in my at my house, and I'm, I call all my, my managers and I call maybe, like, 10 people, and I'm like, Hey, we've, we've got some bad news today, we've had some terrible things happen. Everybody, I want you guys to be out here at 3:30 or for whatever, well, then I go buy a whole bunch of wine. And I put some chips out on the table and some nuts and all kinds of stuff. And people come everyone's down. I said, Okay, we're gonna pick ourselves up, we're gonna make a plan. And we're gonna do better tomorrow. But for now, we're gonna party. I mean, the first time my boyfriend came to Tulsa, it was so funny. He came in, we've been seeing each other for several months. And, and I, you know, I don't talk a lot about what I do and all that. So he comes to the house. He's like, Hey, sweetie, what's going on? Why don't I go, Oh, we're having a thing here at for like, what? What are we doing? I say, Oh, you're gonna get to meet all the managers in Bama. They're all coming. He's like, what before? What happened? What's going on? You just get a new big contract. I said, No, we just had a crappy day. Oh, my God, we're gonna we're gonna celebrate the crappy days, just like we celebrate the good ones. I never quit talking. I'm sorry. I'm keep bumping this. He's like, I love that story. I'm never going to not tell everybody I know about that. He's like a guardian. And they're all drinking wine and partying and playing pool and darts. And you know, it's just, you got to have joy. Have to have joy from the bad things. What do I learn? What do I learn?
Dr. Lynn Vartan 53:23
That was that is hugely inspiring. Oh, my gosh. Well, we are already to our my last question. And that's the question that I asked everyone. And it's basically it's, you know, what's, you know, like, what's turning you on this week. And it can be anything. It can be a song, it can be a book, it can be a magazine TV show, it could be we've had someone even say their favorite lipstick. It can be a food, it can be anything. It's super casual. But we ask everyone that and it's just kind of a little personal weigh in. So Paula Marshall, what's turning you on this week?
Paula Marshall 53:56
Well, I'll tell you flying in here, the scenery in this gorgeous place. Seeing all this, this beautiful mountains and this gorgeous places, is kind of takes your breath away.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 54:10
Thank you. We are so lucky with all that beautiful red rock around us. It's amazing. Well, this has been just so awesome. You are so inspiring to me as a leader, as a woman with strength. And just so fun, and your energy is just infectious. So thank you so much for being here. And thank you for spending the time.
Paula Marshall 54:32
Thank you. I love it. Awesome.
Dr. Lynn Vartan 54:34
We'll see you next time everyone. Thanks so much for listening to the apex hour here on KSUU thunder 91.1. Come find us again next Thursday at 3pm for more conversations with the visiting guests at Southern Utah University, and new music to discover for your next playlist. And in the meantime, we would love to see you at our events on campus. To find out more, check out suu.edu/apex. Until next week, this is Lynn Vartan saying goodbye from the apex hour here on thunder 91.1