May 25, 2023
Feelings are information. What happens when you find yourself feeling burned out and not enjoying your job? It takes self-awareness and courage to know when you might need a break.
In this episode, Tiffany has an enlightening conversation with entrepreneur and investor, Jeb Banner, about his experience of taking a sabbatical. Jeb candidly shares his process of how he knows when it’s time to step away, what his version of a sabbatical entails, what type of person would benefit from taking one, and how it helps him rediscover his genius (and, may help you do the same).
Jeb is currently the CEO of Opendate, a venue management software company. Previously, he was co-founder and CEO of SmallBox and Boardable. Over the years he has founded or co-founded several nonprofits including Musical Family Tree, the Speak Easy, and the Indiana Independent Venue Alliance. Jeb is happily married to his wife Jenny, and they have three daughters. He spends his free time making music, collecting records, foraging, cooking, reading, and traveling.
Tiffany Sauder: This week we have a conversation with Jeb Banner. Jeb and I have been adjacent in the Indianapolis business community for years, um, but have actually been in the same room very few times, the characteristics of Jeb for me that are the most discerning are that he's such an independent, He is so intentional and He strikes me as one of those people that doesn't do what he doesn't want to do very often. he's really good at finding what he loves and staying close to that. He posted recently on LinkedIn that he had just gotten back from a sabbatical, and this has been a topic that's been a bit of a mystery to me.
Breaks have only looked like maternity leave for me, and so I wanted to understand How did he do his sabbatical? What is the purpose and why would or wouldn't I think about taking one?
Listen into our conversation.
Tiffany Sauder: well thanks for coming in, Jeb. been a very long time we've been in the same location.
Jeb Banner: That's true.
Tiffany Sauder: and I, uh, have been keeping track of you, your journey on LinkedIn a little bit, seeing your, like starting new things, old projects, I knew you when you started Small box, a web agency, which probably feels like a couple lifetimes ago to you.
Um, so maybe just like leapfrog real quickly what you've been doing and then I'd love to just hear from your words like in those professional pursuits?
What have you kind of found as your superpower, as you've across your career and the things that you've been a part of?
Jeb Banner: Yeah, so small box. We met, I think we did some development work early on Element three. Gosh, sure.
I was always itching to do something of, on the product side when I was at Small Box, we built about a dozen different tools that were kind of products, both our own content management system, but different solutions that never got over the threshold to the product.
They were always tools and, it was frustrating to me because I felt a little stuck in the agency world, which is gets my superpower question a little bit. and so I spent a lot of time and money going down a lot of rabbit holes that didn't pay off. But eventually we found one that did, and that was portable.
So that was about 2016. And it was because we had a partner with United Way, um, who was a client and they said, Hey, can you build us something? And we specked it out and we mutually realized it needed to be a product, not a tool. And fortunately at that point, I'd done a couple nonprofits and been a board chair. And so I knew the pain points of running a board, without having, you know, purpose-built tools. I call it digital duct tape is how most boards are run, which is Google Calendar spreadsheets, doodle polls, etc.
So really that was the, the jumping off point for portable. And that was a game changer for me because finally we had a product where the alchemy was all there.
We had the right customer, zero, which is super important in building a product. we had the right team, the right people around the problem. and we had the right timing in the market in terms of what was available and what we were looking to do. And then we also were in a, friendly funding environment during thattime.
And so very quickly that business took off. And then by the end of 17 it was sucking me in to the point where I had to leave and go full-time and willingly and gladly. I was pretty burned out after, for 12 years of running the agency. And the agency had suffered a lot at small box under my leadership because I wasn't engaged.
I was doing the bare minimum and so we'd lost a lot of talent, which was fine. It needed to happen but it got to the point where it was sort of like, do we keep doing this or not? When my energy has shifted so much to, to portable over the year and a half or so before I left, my wife came in, uh, Jenny and she really just kind of turned that business around and got it back up on its feet as a ceo. Spent two years in that. Decided it wasn't for her. And then we handed it off to Mag Lithic, who runs it now, is doing a fantastic job and has kept it small, kept it under 10 people and, and, uh, that's been a, that's been a good formula for that business business.
Tiffany Sauder: And you're still an owner today, right?
Jeb Banner: Yep. I'm still, still an owner I'm kind of like the board of directors, you know, an advisor, a little bit of a consultant and I love working with that team. It's a great team and they're doing great work it's an honor to be in involved with it. I'm just not in the day to day at this
Tiffany Sauder: so I think it's really courageous for you to say I was doing the bare minimum. I know I asked you a different question and we'll get to that one, but I wanna stop on that for a sec. In that season of life, would you have been able to say that in that way?
Jeb Banner: Yeah, to some degree I was aware of that and I was checking out pretty actively and my heart wasn't in it. And you know how that is, if your heart's not in something, everything suffers.
As a leadership is critical. I was moderately conscious of it. I had started meditating in 2016 right around all this started. And so my overall awareness of my, talk track and stories was increase. and I was able to have a little more objectivity, though it was still the beginning days for that.
So I was coming into consciousness around some of that, coming into consciousness in general around my behaviors and thinking. but I would say with perspective, it's become a lot clearer to me that I was burned out. I was not in my zone of genius. was doing things that were not fun and enjoyable, and I needed to be in a different position doing something different.
Tiffany Sauder: different Mm-hmm. , I think one of the, sometimes wrong stereotypes is that if you're an owner, ceo, president, founder, you must love it.
Always. And I have found, I'm almost 20 years into Element three and at different stages in my life, my. My family's life. You have to go through a process of recommitting to what it is today and what you are today. And I don't think that's broadcast enough. . Because it can feel very unsettling when you're going you're going through it.
Jeb Banner: Totally and how much do you share that journey with your team? and what part of your team do you share it with?
It can be very lonely, I think, yeah, for me, I really thought I had to kind of sacrifice myself for a long time for the business, and yet I wasn't preaching that
to my employee. I was telling them like, Hey, if you're not happy in your work, let's figure it out. Let's change this. If you need to go start your own business, I'll support you doing that. You know, I was doing all those things, but I myself was thrashing about, and I struggled with that a lot because I felt guilty for not being excited about the business.
You know, I felt resentment. A lot of that, I felt stuck, and now the word I've really come to understand is I felt claustraphobic. I felt like the walls were closing in. I didn't have room to move and breathe, and I'm more of a wide open space kind of guy. and that also, I'm not really a structure process guy.
I'm about building those things. I'm not about living in those things. And that gets back to where I feel like I have genius as I'm very good at building. I have this vision now of, where I thrive, it's an open piece of land and I come in, I put the roads in, I put in the utilities, I put in the, the houses. I get everything up and running the governance. I'm the first mayor I love that phase of a business, but there's a point where the business needs a different leader and with small box. And then with portable, I came to those points. I came to it faster with portable because I'd had the experience of small box and the company grew more quickly and it needed a different leader and that was a less traumatic change because of my experience, A small.
and also wish we could talk about having a board of directors that was engaged and supportive of me and my own journey and said, Hey, we're here for you. Was super helpful because I didn't feel threatened, uh, to go run and hide when I was feeling Mm-hmm.
Tiffany Sauder: Has it gotten easier for you to be clear with yourself and those around you about what it is that you do want out of life? sure. Can you talk a little bit about that journey? Because I think that's, when you say like, I was really in service to the people. I was in service to the business, I was in service to the clients.
I think in a service business, it starts to be like, well, whatever they want, I should become. And I think it's really easy as you know, this is my first real professional pursuit and in a service. When you don't have your own identity, it starts to really take hold of you. Mm-hmm. , and it's a noble thing to say that you're in service to people and to clients and to all of that. But it was a very alarming question when people started asking me what I wanted out of the business, I was like, I don't know. So it sounds like you dealt with something similar.
Jeb Banner: Oh yeah, totally. where I've come to, and I can backtrack a little bit. come to believing really strongly. that the interests of, the employee or the leader and the interests of of the business, have this great synchronization. And if it falls out with one or the other, it's, like, if I'm not the right fit because of what's doing to me personally, then I'm not the right fit for the business.like they're connected, like when I'm not showing up as the right .leader ,then I'm not the right leader. .
And, and you can make adjustments there and you can do delegation and you can, you know, kind of reset things, but it gets to the point where you fall out of fit you fall out of fit. In my experience, you first have that happen to you, and then you see it in the business where you see that your energy's not flowing into it and the business is being drained of that vital resource because, not to make too much of it, but if a leader is not pushing their energy into the business, that businesses starved nutrients that it needs to, to grow and thrive.and boy, it has a, has a ripple effect and it takes a long time to sometimes see it.
It's like a train slowing down, you know? But when it starts to happen, you're like, oh, we gotta make a change here. So what's right for me and what's right for the business are the same thing. And it took me a long time to see and be courageous enough to say, Hey, this isn't right. I'm not feeling it. And, let's, let's fix it, or let's make a change. in the case, ab affordable. It was, it's time to make a change. And, thank God we did, you know, for the business and for me and for Jeff who took over a ceo, was the right thing all around.
Tiffany Sauder: around. knowing this a little bit more about you in the second opportunity, abort. Were you more intentional about grooming him into that role, knowing that this, the end of the road was gonna come for you not knowing totally. When, how did that transition look? What, what will you do differently even the
Jeb Banner: next that's an interesting question. So, when the transition was announced, I talked to one of our leaders and she said, yeah, I thought that was gonna happen right after you brought him into the business. I was like, I didn't see that I didn't see that. But, you know, a startup like. I mean, every month is like a, a hero's journey, , you know, and, and we had a lot of heroes journeys.
Tiffany Sauder: Uh, how many years did you did you run it?
Jeb Banner: Uh, five Uh, in 21 and 22. I was full-time, like four and a half years, but you know, like five years. And, and um, and it got to the point where I was really, I was talking to the board in the middle of 2021. I said, you know, hey, I can do this another 12 to 18 months.
And the board was like, well, how can we make it a better situation for you? And I was like, well, I need to let go of more of the business. and so we started shifting more to Jeff and by the end of that year he was really running a lot of strategy sessions.
And then the beginning of 2022, he was in the president role. Um, and that was a good transition for both of us.because this was not like a throw the guy out, put the other guy in situation. was, okay, let's test this. Let's feel this out. Both sides and the fit just got better and better for me and for him, and I think for the business.
The business was ready for somebody that was frankly, more structured and in my opinion, more disciplined than I am. I'm more artistic in nature. I tend to work more on inspiration and idea. and he's more of an engineer by nature. He's got a lot of those things too, you know, so I'm not trying to say you, it's just one or the other.Sure. that gear shift that happens when product business gets to a couple thousand customers and you've got all kinds of scale and complexity in the business. Not my sweet spot.
Tiffany Sauder: So if, if there's an entrepreneur listening to this and they're saying, how do I know the difference between a bad week and it's time for me to step aside? how do you start to see the signs and if you were to to give somebody else that looking glass? glass.
Jeb Banner: I think there's a few things. I'm not a journaler, I think journaling can help cuz then you start to go back and see some trend lines.I think meditation helps cuz in a lot of ways it's like sort of journaling in a place of quiet, you know, you're, listening to your mind on spool and and taking an observer's stance. So that helps cuz you kinda hear your mind, you go, okay. My mind keeps on going through these loops.uh, working with a coach. Super important. I had a fantastic coach. I actually disconnected with him again this morning. and he was instrument. in helping me through that process and journey. Just, really transformational experience. Having peers, people in my life that I could, talk to.My wife, who at that point had been through a CEO journey. those were super important to me one of the things I talk to my leaders about, I. . I don't want to have the same conversation about the same person three times.The third time we have it, there's a change that's gonna happen.And the same thing. I need the same thing is like, we're having that same conversation. you know, it's time for you to make a change. so those are some of the things that helped with me and then having a supportive board, where I could go and, and talk with them one-on-one how I was doing it was helpful too,
Tiffany Sauder: Was everybody. supportive?
Jeb Banner: They were, they were. Um, and that is that is not a common situation for a, for a venture funded business. Mm-hmm. , they, to, to the, to the person was like, we are here to support you and what you're building and what your team is building. We want you to be happy.and that was, you know, emotionally for me, really powerful.because I was scared to bring that to them to say.falling out of fit. I'm not having the fun, I'm not feeling energized. Mm-hmm.I don't think I'm the right leader necessarily for this next phase of the business. And I'd seen friends of mine who had gone past that point, and I'd seen the damage it did to them.
And, and I was, uh, you know, I turned 50 in 2021. It was part of that. I was like, at 50 years old, I was like, I don't have the rest of my life. Burn myself out to make money. You know ,it's like ,and it's not actually gonna make me more money, you know, if you think about it, in terms of my equity and things like that, having a better leader will actually make more money for me.this heroic mindset vs. and I gotta let it go.
Tiffany Sauder: Well I think there's also a weird juxtaposition cuz as you were talking about your conversations with the board, it was about how you felt, felt. Yeah. your energy, And I think there can be this big monster of like, if I’m gonna go to the board or I'm gonna go to owners, or I'm gonna go to investors and talk.The need to leave that it has to be an empirical, quantitative discussion, Oh but it's wildly emotional. Actually. It's only emotional. emotional.
Jeb Banner: Tiffany. This is, this is like the biggest aha I've taken from my sabbatical. It like, it hit me in the face when I was away from away from things for a while, was how important feelings are and how much they matter to it.
They really do. I post something on LinkedIn, a friend of mine who I admire. she, she posted a comment on it. She said ,it. feelings are information. And every business wants to understand and process and leverage the information they have. And the way I think about it is if you don't honor the feelings that you're having and a team is having, , then then you're not honoring the energy of the business cuz feelings and energy are directly tied together.And if you try to suppress those feelings or ignore them, it's extremely draining and you don't have that energy to put into the business. So You gotta talk about how you're feeling. Cuz if you're not feeling something that has a direct effect on how you're showing up and the performance you have as a leader and as a.So feelings matter but we think about business more as trying to, to control and, and mitigate and de-risk and everything else.
And I'm like, no, there's this big, huge part of it. If you get a team of people that feel strongly about something and they want to have it done, feelings is how we bring things into this world. Like if you really want something, it generally happens one way or another. In my experience. You get a bunch of people that really want something to happen, they really feel it. That's
Tiffany Sauder: so you mentioned sabbatical. That's actually the kind of word and reason I originally wanted you to come on. because again, from a distance I've observed that this idea of creating space,
For something other than everyday life to take place is something you've been practicing in lots of different ways. and I've never done that before and I have lots of thoughts and feelings about it that I just, I was like, I wanna talk to somebody who's done this as
a practice. Um, here are your experience. And then also just like, ask all my stuff . So let's dig into it. it. Um, yeah. Yeah. So when you say sabbatical, what does that even mean? Let's like level set a. on that
Jeb Banner: Yeah, I've done a week in the woods every summer since 2015, where I go alone, buy myself to a cabin Northern Michigan, and I spend that week with no internet, no connectivity, no people.I bring a guitar, typewriter, you know, some, some recording equipment, stuff like. books and I'm in nature. I, I buy a bunch of groceries and I just, I cook over fire and I, I live like that for a week and it is one of the most nourishing things I do all year. Like it's sacred to me and my wife understands that and everybody that works with me understands this.
Like, this is sacred piece of time. That's not really a sabbatical to me. It's sort of a mini maybe, but it's more of a just, from earning income, and, uh, not that there weren't times where I was involved, the things at Portable or small box or other businesses I have equity or involvement in, because, you know, life goes on, but I, I didn't have a calendar running my and that's the big difference. is I'm back into that world now and, and now it's kind of fun to wake up in the morning and see what's on my calendar. But as a CEO, I think you know this, there's a point where 10 to 12 appointments on your calendar is just, it's defeating to even look at sometimes. And I was definitely in that place, uh, before I took a sabbatical.and I just needed to recharge. I've been pushing myself hard for a long, long.time.
I'd never had any downtime between things. Usually they were overlapped, like with portable and small box where I was doing both things at the same time.
And I didn't realize how drained I was until I, it took about two to three months where I finally felt my sort sort of like, you know, energy settled down.
And then when I did my week in the woods this past summer, I had been at that lower pace for a few months and it was profound. Like I went into that and I experienced such a state of.flow.
I was writing, I was making music, I was reading, I was doing spoken word essays. I was just like on fire with all of this stuff that had been kind of like germinating.
And I compare that to the week in the woods. I did the year before, which was exactly after the week. We had our team week. We had the entire company in town during a covid lull, and we had this wonderful week, and then I immediately, the next day went and spent a week alone and I crash. , I was super drained, more socializing than I'd done in like two years. And so, you know, I learned a lot this past year. It was like, Hey, you don't just jump off the cliff. You kind of get ready for it. And when you get ready for it, you show up really refreshed and charged up to do something. And to me that, that week in the woods is a very creative time. It's where I fully embrace my artistic nature, you know?
Tiffany Sauder: Do you think sabbaticals are more for introverts than extroverts?
Jeb Banner: extra interesting.
Tiffany Sauder: Are you an introvert?
Jeb Banner: Well, that's a great question. So I used to test as a a strong introvert on Myers Briggs. My, my wife she's, got a background. She's trained in that and disk and She's got all these great tools. So I'm always the Guinea pig I love to be. And, um, and so I tested very strongly on the introvert scale and now I'm right in the middle.
So, you know, change over time. I think that, and the funny thing is,is she came out of the pandemic much more introverted.
I came out much more extroverted. Yeah. I don't entirely understand it , so The answer is I'm right in between, introvert or extrovert for sabbatical. I have a friend of mine who was a crazy extrovert
And we had this funny idea for reality TV show called Extrovert on an Island where you'd like take these extroverts and put them on islands by themselves
Tiffany Sauder: them just eat themselves alive for something to do.how long until they go crazy.Yeah.Well, that's one of my stereotypes is like, I don't know. I'm an extrovert. I'm pretty sure I would just walk around in a circle and Yeah. somebody to join me. I, I don't know. that's a stereotype head is like, sabbaticals are for introverts. I'm an extrovert, therefore sabbaticals are not for
Jeb Banner: respect. Yeah. I don't think that's necessarily true. I think it's, always a little challenging the first couple days to acclimate to the aloneness.
Tiffany Sauder: even though though you've done it a few times.
Jeb Banner: Oh, yeah. I'll tell you, Tiffany, even though I've done it, eight, nine times, I still go into it with a little fear and trembling
Jeb Banner: it's still a little bit frightening to be alone by. For, for six, seven days as much as I'm looking forward to it.
I also know that I've gotten to some places during those weeks that have been dark at times where I've confronted my fears and, and gotten into, you know, my childhood and you know, there's emotional places I've gone to that I've been uncomfortable for me. it's not necessarily a safe space, you know, just to be clear cuz you are confronting stuff within you, you know? but boy, it's. a great experience if you get through it.uh, that's just the week in the woods stuff. The sabbatical's different cuz you're not like island for not everybody may be built for. for, going up and being alone for a week by themselves. that's a little different. I would say that, everyone should at least try a good weekend just to meet themselves, you know, like, kind of get to know yourself again.I don't know. Like, you you know, Hey, you doing?
Tiffany Sauder: yeah, I think it would be fascinating. I also think that my achiever self would be frustrated if I spent three days alone. , like I'm supposed to have a huge revelation.
Like where is it? Like I think I would put, pressure on get there. Yes. Like get there and that's a failure. If I don't, again, I'm just kind of practicing the thing. Yeah, I
Jeb Banner: Can I speak to that a little bit? Yeah. So what I found having done this a a number of times is that there are ahas that come to you sometimes.
I had one one year around my family, around my extended family, and I was like, I need to get these people together. I've not seen them in a long time, and a very powerful experience, and I ended up organizing them for a reunion.
It was just a beautiful experience. So that was an aha. That's pretty rare. Most of the time it's the what comes after I come back.It's, it's how I come back into the world.
And what I see then is where the ahas come not while you're there.Interesting. and that's an important thing to, to think about. You're like, no, no, you're not actually supposed to get 'em right now. It's like, it's when you see with new eyes, ,when you come back into your business or into your relationships, your life, whatever, and you're like, oh, you, you become more.
Mm-hmm. oh, I have a habit around this. Or, you know, I had never noticed that about that person before. I think I'm gonna talk to em about this. Or, or, wow, they're really good at this. I hadn't noticed this. Or thesetwo dots equal this thing. You know, like, I'm okay. I can't believe this service and this service equal this service.
You know, we could, we could go to market this way, whatever it is, you know? Mm-hmm. , it's more that, so going into it thinking you're gonna come out with a big revelation, or you may, but most likely you'll get to something on other.side.
Tiffany Sauder: So do you encourage or create the, like space for the leaders of the companies that you're really involved with to do something like this?
Jeb Banner: yeah. At Small Box, they have a, a f five years, you get a, a one month sabbatical. so there's been a number of people take advantage of that and could travel, uh, one person went to England and worked with one of their favorite music producers.
Tiffany Sauder: That's cool.
Jeb Banner: you know, we always encourage people to to do any sort of, what we thought as self-care , you know, around their own lives. And, um, that's super important. But, with portable, it was such a fast-paced environment. I mean, that's like getting on a wild horse and, and just trying to stay on , you know, for a while.and it's so chaotic in that environment. um, the business maybe now can get to some of that stuff, but when I was there,
Tiffany Sauder: yeah. There's seasons where it's, not in the cards.
Jeb Banner: It's tough. It's tough. and um, even maternity leaves are tough. You know, we had to lead her do two maternity leaves.I know it was stressful for her and I didn't want her to be, but, you know, she was so in the business, she was so committed and you've been through that, challenging.
Tiffany Sauder: there's seasons where it's just not practical. Mm-hmm. . So you said the first couple. , it took you a while to kind of find your bottom and refine your energy and then you went on your week in the woods. did you plan on it being six months you just sort of felt like this was the end?
Jeb Banner: I worked it out with the board, you know, to basically have the, the rest of the year to not have to worry about, income, which I appreciated. and so did the week in the woods, um, in the end of August, and then did a trip with my wife for our 20th anniversary to England and Paris for, uh, the last two weeks of September.Then after that, I actually started thinking about, okay, I need make some money next year. so I started just having conversations, taking walks, coffees, lunches with, with people that I really admire and enjoy. And then, um, open date kind of landed in my lap. I would say it was probably right about before Thanksgiving and I was a little nervous because, you know, it, it wasn't clear.
I thought I'd get into coaching. I've always felt like that was, um, a strength of mine when I worked with employees just to coach them. But I also didn't see a clear path there. so, you know, I just kept trusting life universe, God, whatever you wanna think of it is, I, I kept putting my intention out there and just saying, here's what I'd like to have happen. You know, I'd like to be in a place where I'm, I'm getting up every day energized and excited.I'd like to be compensated like this. I had numbers in my head. I'd like to work with these kinds of people. And I realized that the thing that mattered to me most was the who and the. Who I was working with and how I was working. You know, the way we were communicating, you know, the way we valued each other, the what I saw as being secondary.
And then when, open date happened, I was like, oh, this is the what as well. It's music and technology, two areas of my life that I really love and with people I really admire and care about. a great team. And so it was like, well, the universe really delivered this one up. Nice. , who knows how long the road is with anything. But, uh, what I'm doing right now, I really enjoy and, I'm glad to be doing it.
Tiffany Sauder: And how is this funded? Is it venture funded, what you're doing now?
Jeb Banner: No, it's it's not.
Tiffany Sauder: Because I was curious cuz I feel like, you got to live firmly in both of those camps where, we've been a self-funded.For-profit. If you make it, you get to invest it. If you don't, then sorry for your luck. You know, if you lose money, you actually lose it kind of thing. Um, and then there's the universe of the venture backed and the expectations around that. The board is not totally there just to help you, like it's to manage their investment and all this kind of stuff. Yeah. So what did you learn from those two environments? Maybe let's start there because. One can idealize the other. Um, and you got, there's not a lot of people who have spent spent significant stretches of their career in both.
Jeb Banner: you understand you've been through the pain, hopefully not currently, but of just meeting payroll.you know, of just the struggle that Sian struggle of just every month and every quarter getting back up that hill service business. and that was no small part of of my small box journey in part because every single extra dollar I had, I thrown into some project. I just was so frisky, you know, I just wanted to frisky.I don't know else call I was just like,
Hey, let's go do the nice grants in the community. Let's go build out this, employee engagement solution. It's just like at one point I think half the team was just doing fun little.how sustainable is that? You know, not very. Um, but I've learned a ton. So service business in that environment, you know, you're cash flowing.All your ideation and your exploration in, in play. Uh, what I've learned since then, if you don't do that, you can have a very profitable business. .
Tiffany Sauder: It doesn't always always have to feel that way. way.
Jeb Banner: I did not enjoy the stress of payroll.
I did not enjoy the stress of, billable hours and the control that comes with that feeling like I'm trying to control my employees and trying to control budgets, and you're always trying to de-risk things and, and maximize outcomes. I found that fatiguing. I don't know if I'm meant to run a large service business that has a lot of that complexity.it's like playing, you know, uh, Tet. Oh yeah. With Project management. But um, then going to portable from that, it's like, uh, I don't have to worry about payroll for like two years, Like we have enough money in the bank to do what we're.doing. and it was all about growth. So it was such a relief to go from an environment where payroll was always on my shoulder to now the only thing that was on my shoulder was growth, which is much more to my dna cuz I'm a builder. I want to build things. I want to go fast, as fast as possible. With an agency, you're actually somewhat disincentivized to innovate at. because innovation, uh, creates inefficiency. And so the inefficiency then creates drag on your profit. And that's not the case in a tech, business. You're, incentivized to innovate because you're constantly focused on building a better building gene to deliver the service. You cannot, cannot some degree, commoditize human beings in the business. Mm-hmm. just doesn't not work. .Mm-hmm. .
Tiffany Sauder: Yeah. I named a president last summer, um, and had the same realization. I, I joke, I know how to build a company, I know how to grow a company. I dunno how to run one. Yeah. it’s a little extreme, but mostly trueYeah, yeah. That's a goodBut yeah, it's like I know how to grow one, I know how to revenue. I know how to, do those kinds of things. But like you say, learning your strengths in that is a really critical piece to it. And knowing when to step them in so that the culture can stay intact and totally. those kinds of things.
Jeb Banner: protecting culture with those hires, particularly those, those senior hires, is really, really challenging and
Tiffany Sauder: I have a couple more things on the sabbatical thing.I think one of my concerns in my environment as a two career home and we have four kids, is that if I took a sabbatical,I think my time would just be so eaten up with the tactical aspect of my family. that the space, and maybe this is back to like my own achiever expectations what needs to happen in a, in a sabbatical. Maybe it is just about disconnecting and getting into the like routine of things, I think it would just like who?
Mm-hmm. be a vacuum for my,
Jeb Banner: I think it's important for you to think about sabbatical as something you're defining. not being defined for you.
Tiffany Sauder: Oh, that's fair.Yeah.
Jeb Banner: So to me, it's a gear shift. It's like you're going into a different gear because you need to recharge in some way. And what that means is specific to you and your family and everything.It's like I'm walking away for a while or taking a break from this thing I've been doing, And now gonna go, I'm spend time over here with something else that matters to me.it's not like you just down and stare at a wall. I mean, I just put out a, an album of music, a week or two ago of music. I recorded, you know, up in a cabin, you know, so like, it's not like I stop being productive when I go do these things.It's not like I stopped being productive when I was on a sabbatical. My energy shifted from one thing to another. I spent more time with my. It's great because I've got a kid that just graduated from college, a kid that's going to college, another kid that's about to go to college. So I got three girls that are all, leaving the nest and it's like, oh geez, I want to be with these people, you know, ,I love them.and just be around the house and be available. And it was beautiful. Um, be with my friends, go on weekends, and also just wake up in the morning and not have to worry about my ,just the psychological lift of that was really good for me. You can like not know. Oh yeah.Not even really sure what day it is. Sometimes you're just like, weekends and weekdays sort of blur together and you're just like, oh yeah, I'm just gonna go do this. I feel like taking a walk. I didn't to take a nap. That's what I, I, experience.
Tiffany Sauder: That was actually very profound. You said you can define it how you want to. That's very helpful. So the other thing is that, um, I would say in the last 18 to 24 months, as I've really committed to to this scared, confident journey, stared down my own fear and began the process of committing to content creation It's, it's like auditory journaling, right? And I've just feel like I've just my life differently, having to talk about it and export and explore, and I'm a verbal processor, ,so that helps me. I see this too, you, you've kind of casually mentioned you've seen some of your friends get past the point where they weren't uniquely qualified to run that organization.It starts to eat them alive. And I'm at the age, I'm 42, or some of my friends. have. jobs that are insane, the amount of money they make is The exits that have happened. You start to see these like things that mm-hmm. , 25 year old self says. When that happens, all will be good with life, I'm sure of it.But you start to see people are a vapor of what they once were because of the pressures. And as I am in an environment where I own the company and can control a lot of things, I've started to say I think the ultimate. Certainly success, but it's still live a life that is sustainable to not be in these extremes all the time, where you do have to say, I'm so trashed out that you have to pause every five years I'm open to being challenged in this but, I I feel like I look at people in my stereotype as like, high growth venture back companies where it's like, yeah, you went to your exit and then you, you needed to push pause because of what required from you was not balanced, you weren't with your family, weren't investing in your marriage, you weren't able to invest in the community, your friends the way that you wanted to, and now you have to do a total reset and then is the next option, engage in the game again, Mm-hmm. and then total reset.
So what's your reaction to that? Maybe just people get to pick what they want to do.
Jeb Banner: Yeah, I think, it's very hard to, not get trapped into the cultural, mindset of what success is and, the comparative mindset. And one of the favorite quotes in our house is comparisons to thief of joy.
,And that's just something we, we tell ourselves and tell our kids all the because it sure as hell is. And and the more that you get stuck into that comparative mindset I've had.very close friends who've had really really powerful, great exits. Has it their lives a little bit. are we still friends? And same stuff, you know, it's like, yeah, You know, are they 10 x happier? No, ,no. You know,
I've talked to 'em about that. I talked to my coach about this today when we talked, what is abundance? abundance to me is, it's, it's having enough and then having love in my life and having friendships in my life and family, in my life, um, that is abundance.
Money is a piece of that, but is not nearly as important as I thought it was even two years ago when it was very much a part of my psyche just equating wealth with some kind of happiness. , you can be very happy without it. And I'm sure you've traveled and been to, into places in the world where you've seen people that have materially very little but incredible joy and happiness in their lives.
Much more than many wealthy Americans, you know, sitting in large houses isolated from everyone around them. I don't wanna live that kind of life. So to me, abundance has more to do with the love in my life and, and the, the joy I experience and the friendships I have than it does to do with the material things.And I get a lot of. lot of joy out of building companies, and you know what? Some of those companies are gonna sell at some point, and I'll probably make a whole lot of money, and that'll be fun.That's great. But when it happens, I hope that it comes into my life in a way that does not deform me, and that I'm not already a vapor, as you said. Mm-hmm. from the journey I took to get Mm-hmm. , I
Tiffany Sauder: I think one of the things I've learned about values too is figuring out what you won't trade in whatever the thing is, to get more abundance.
And I think that comes with age too. You're starting to get clear on that. Like, these are things I'm not gonna trade in. For along the journey of a mass something experience.
Jeb Banner: Yeah I think there's a difference between wealth and abundance.Mm-hmm. , you can be very wealthy and have no abundance. Mm-hmm.
Tiffany Sauder: that's true.
Jeb Banner: you know, abundance is more of an energy, a mindset, you know, a way of seeing the world. wealth is something. Look at as in the bank, know, a little bit more. more. I mean, true wealth is abundance. would think that way. .Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. But, um, in terms of how the world thinks about Uhhuh wealth is dollars and stocks and ownership and stuff like that.
Tiffany Sauder: Can I transition transition to your personal life quick? So I have four girls. You have three girls, you're a life stage ahead of me. My oldest is in eighth grade. So what's it, feel like? Parenting? I've got 14 to two year. old. So you're, you know, high school to through college. What's it like?What's it feel like? Yeah. What are the things that you're thinking about as a in this stage parent?
Jeb Banner: First off, I love having girls. I wouldn't know what to do with boys. I'm sure I'd figure it out.But I love having three girls. Um, they're, they're loving, they're emotional. They, they can talk about their feelings, you they're, they're caring and kind.Um, much fun to see them go out into the world and have success, have challenges, make their mark, find the things love, have relationships, boyfriends, buy cars, travel, get a broken bone skiing Christmas ,know what I'm saying? Like Yeah. All the All those things. Um, and just to see them and just to just feel this sense of.
You know how to have kids. It's just like this Wow. This profound sense of connectedness and distance I feel like there's so much a part of me, but at the same time I feel like they're this separate whole universe of person, Um, and then as with Jenny and I journeying on that together to see ourselves reflected in, in those amazing humans, the, the greatest joy I get like a a little bit of pride too, is to see my kids interact with my adult friends. And just to see how they show up in their lives and, and how, they just show up as a human being and not as a child.,You know, looking them in the eye, talking to them, joking with them, building their own relationships, with our friends.we have a lot of aunts and uncles, beyond our normal aunts and uncles. that's a great source of of of pride for me.
Tiffany Sauder: has the process of letting go been pretty natural for you and Jenny,Um, and the way you speak about it it seems like, Hey, you've always known this is gonna happen. when You have kids, they're gonna leave. Yeah. They
Jeb Banner: get their own lives and not, Yeah. not
Tiffany Sauder: a. from your own,
Jeb Banner: there's moments where it's challenging. I, I think that the teen years have been great. The, the pre-teens were where we had some turbulence. not a ton, where you could tell, like they were really looking to define themselves outside of, you know, Jenny and I have strong personalities, you know, and together as a household, as a family, we have like a strong identity, and this is desire to, like, to be separate from ,I totally get that. I went through it. for the most part, I think they've all found a way to, to be their own identities and still appreciate the, the shared identity that we have. I feel blessed in how good of an experience we've had and knock on wood, but, you know, it's been a really good experience.And, um, there's definitely been bumps. there's been possible visits and there's been tears and there's been, you know, trauma and, being a parent any minute your phone could ring. Your world could be upside down, you know? And I think learning to live a peaceful, joyful life, while that's a reality mm-hmm. is it's, it's, Mm-hmm. , you know ,a
Tiffany Sauder: a of, um, who I speak to as two career homes. Mm-hmm. Um, which I know you and Jenny have Yeah. Yeah the girls' entire lives. Is that right? Jenny's outside the home. she's done a lot of really cool things her
Jeb Banner: she, yeah, she did her masters when they were young and then, uh, she was working during that time. at times, she was the main breadwinner when was starting box you know, some other you know, so, yeah. more recently she's pulled back and, gone to more of like a, a little bit of a lighter mm-hmm. doing her consulting work,But that's a big deal.
Tiffany Sauder: what would you say are, were the things that allowed you guys to do that Well, and I mean, still stay married,
Jeb Banner: I say there's a lot of, yeah, yeah, it’s hard. Staying married is always a not, no.yeah. you have a bunch, you know, you got a bunch of kids, Yeah. you've got big stressful jobs.You're both growing in different ways. Sometimes towards, Sometimes a way life brings you didn't plan on. Gosh Okay. Yeah.
I mean, growing together as a couple is so critical. I think you're not always gonna grow together and part of growing together is growing apart. Like, you know, like, you gotta go off and kind of find new things to bring back to the marriage.You know, you gotta be like, Hey, come check out this thing I'm really into, you know? And then you bring it back to the marriage and you find joy in discovering it it together. So there's like this interesting cycle of, of sort of going away and coming together, this sort of up and flow. I think, um, me being self-employed was helpful and then I just gotta give a shout out to my in-laws . I don't know how people, Oh my gosh. I don't know how people raise kids without family, like two miles away, cuz that's all I've known. And without her, her parents. in our lives. I don't, I don't know where we'd be rightI think the stress levels have been so much higher. The experience of the kids would've been much different.different. Mm-hmm. ,The overall network love and support in our life would've been much different. I I think we'd still be married, but it would, it would've been a more challenging run mm-hmm.
Tiffany Sauder: Well, I think you've gotta find somebody to share the load with you. It. Yeah.amazing. If it's family or I tell people the time that are like trying the two career, home thing. I'm like, you have to believe people when they say they want to help you. You, you, you have to you. You will not make it.Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. without help. Whether it's paid or it's neighbors or it's people from church or it's people from your CrossFit gym or it's your in-laws. You have to have a web of.people. Because kids are gonna get sick. Oh yeah. They're gonna happen. Kids are gonna have to be in two different places in the exact same time, one spouse is gonna be out of town.You have to have a web lot.
Jeb Banner: You have to, we could not have done a done. Do, um, you know, career household without our uh, don't think done is an
Tiffany Sauder: only or does she you guys?
Jeb Banner: She's an well she has a half sister who lives Okay. Out That's kind of the mother law is there. Yeah, I know. in-laws very, the only . her My mother the heart of a servant. you she, you know, her love language is, you know, acts as service. It's a delight to be with the girls.Still is. Yeah. And the girls love, love, you know, the grandparents um, my mother who's in South Bend helped out as well, especially on, you know, like grandma, camps and things like that. ..But, um, no, day to day, uh, that was huge. Now that the kids can drive and stuff I mean, good luck. It's very different. Yeah. wait till that happens. Tiffany. That is like, did you have one that can babysit
Tiffany Sauder: Yes,
Jeb Banner: Uh huh. I mean, .that's a game changer there, so you know. totally is.More freedom's coming your way.
Tiffany Sauder: That's great. Well Jeff, thanks for sharing your experiences. I really
Jeb Banner: Oh thank you. Appreciate it. Oh, I love talking to you. This is great.
Tiffany Sauder: Awesome. Awesome.
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