In this special crossover episode LYV host, Mike "Bagel", joins Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom on the Do Good, Be Good podcast.
Mike opens up about the impact of the economic crisis on his current role as a Small Business Counselor, and the two share some success stories of how some local businesses have adapted to stay afloat. Bagel also reflects on his career to-date and how it led him to launching the Live Your Values podcast. The episode rounds out with some practical advice to those who need some guidance in the next step of their career.
Host Bio: The Do Good, Be Good podcast is about helpful people, and the challenges they face in trying to do good. The host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom is a career do-gooder, who also enjoys craft beer, and a good, hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good, and what it means to be good. You can find the Do Good, Be Good Podcast here, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Guest Bio: Mike Barugel, or "Bagel", is the Founder of the Live Your Values podcast, and Free Your Time Virtual Assistants. His primary role is as a Business Counselor with the NC Small Business & Technology Development Center, where he advises existing business on growing, scaling, and working through challenges. Bagel lives for connection, harmony, and making everything around him just a little more efficient.
Social Accounts (Host):
Do Good Be Good, Facebook
Social Accounts (Guest):
Live Your Values (FB)
Bagel: [00:00:00] Welcome back. And thanks for checking out this episode of the Live Your Values podcast. In this special crossover episode, we actually turn the tables as yours truly joined Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom on the Do Good, Be Good podcast. In this conversation, I open up about the impact of the economic crisis on my current role as a small business counselor, and we share some success stories of how some local businesses have adapted to stay afloat.
I also reflect on my career to date and how it led me to launch the Live Your Values podcast. That's right. This one you're listening to right now, the episode rounds out with some practical advice to those who may need some guidance in the next step of their career. With Sharon's permission, we were able to publish this episode in our feed to bring it straight to you.
We've delivered the episode as is so you'll hear her intro shortly after the cold open. I highly encourage you to check out more stories from do gooders on the Do Good, Be Good podcast, which you can find at dogoodbegoodshow.com or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find all the links in our show notes as well.
Here it is. Episode 12.
To get on the phone with a small business owner right now and them ask you, what can I do? And you say, here's the best I got. Knowing full well that that money might run out. As of today, a lot of the money has run out until the next legislation gets passed. It's just really tough. It's hard. And it's almost depressing to be like, There's not much help right now. Hopefully there's more coming, but here are some strategies we can help you with in the meantime. And here's the best, you know, here's the best plan of action. So it's just, it's been tough.
Voiceover (Male): [00:01:50] This is Do Good, Be Good to show about helpful people in the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom a career do gooder who also loves craft beer and a good, hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:02:11] Hello, I'm your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. And the other voice that you heard at the top of the episode is our guest for today, Mike Barugel. Mike was on our show in episode 27, which I rereleased last week. And I've known Mike for a few years now. He is actually my online business manager and the owner of Free Your Time Virtual Assistants. I love working with him because in addition to being great at what he does, he is also someone who cares about meaningful work and living by his values. Recently he launched his own podcast called, strangely enough, Live Your Values. Which we will link to in the show notes. I actually recorded this with Mike over the summer.
So at times we will reference businesses being closed, which have since reopened. However, of course this being 2020, it's possible that they have closed again by the time you're listening to this, who knows. In today's conversation, we talk about his new job and how he was able to get back to his passion for helping people find purpose in work.
Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. Here is my conversation with Mike Barugel. Since we talked last, you have really changed your working life. What are you doing now?
Bagel: [00:03:26] I definitely have. So I still do have my business Free Your Time Virtual Assistants. We still have a few core clients that we're working with, but I've managed to delegate a lot of the day to day to my teammate, Becca.
In the meantime, just over a year ago, I actually started a full time job with our local SBTDC here in North Carolina. Which stands for, it's very long acronym even and the name is even longer, but it stands for the Small Business and Technology Development Center. We are essentially a taxpayer funded organization. We get funding from the SBA in part, and then the state of North Carolina. And we essentially are a resource for small businesses. It was a really fun first year, I actually started in the role of a launch specialist, which was a new role they created. I got to help maybe 70 or 75 people start their businesses last year, mainly doing that through a four week cohort program that we are organization designed called Taking the Leap.
And so that was a lot of fun. I ran, I think, a total of five of those programs throughout the first year that was in the job. And learned a lot, you know, just from my own journey of becoming an entrepreneur in like learning how to launch my own business combined with my background in career counseling. Which I know I talked a little bit about last time I was on, it just felt like a really nice fit to take the job. And then I just feel like it propelled a bit more and I really learned a whole lot about helping other people launch. So it was a really great experience. And then I just transitioned into a new role within the same organization. As a general business counselor. And so instead of helping people launch businesses, I'm more focused on helping existing businesses in our community work through challenges, scaling, growing, whatever particular needs they might have.
And as you might imagine, in the last month or so, it's been heavy on helping our businesses navigate the loans and programs that are available.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:05:25] Was that transition from the launch position to the business counselor position. I might've gotten those tails wrong. Um, but was that transition already planned before this crisis or is that partly in result of the crisis?
Bagel: [00:05:40] It happened just before actually. Like officially started the role, I think it was like the beginning of March. It might've been at end of February, beginning of March is when I officially transitioned. And then of course, very shortly after that is when the pandemic really hit here in the US so we're, we're learning how to react and just provide the best support we can when lots of people are very confused and scared and kind of don't know what to do right now.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:06:09] Yeah. What's the volume you've seen in terms of the amount of business owners and you are reaching out to you all for assistance?
Bagel: [00:06:19] Statewide, I think the last month we've seen the most number of clients we've ever seen. I can't remember the numbers off the top of my head, but it's like shattering records essentially. And so all of our, our staff has been working over time to say the least and just. It's a funny balance. It's like, you know, we're kind of having the same conversation over and over again, at least, you know, that's what it feels like. But it's, everyone's circumstances are a little bit different. So it's kind of this balance of trying to understand. The unique situation, the client feels like they're in which they may be depending on their industry and their size and the funding they have available. But the end result or the end suggestion is really the same. And that's essentially for most of these businesses, it's like, understand what your options are, what cash do you have access to right now? And if that's not enough, then we can talk about what loans and grants and whatever's available and apply for those just to see what you have available.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:07:21] Wow. Have you had any contact with any of those 70 ish businesses that you worked through that program with as launching as new businesses?
Bagel: [00:07:31] There's a select few. Usually the ones that were more engaged in the class. Would be the ones that I have continued relationships with. You know, a few have reached out, asking for advice, what loans to apply for what they might qualify for, some sound more panicked than others, others seem okay. And maybe because they have an online business or primarily online business, they're just kind of figuring out how to pivot on their own and they don't really need much help and they're just sort of checking in. So it's just been a mix.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:07:59] Yeah, I really see it split among new business owners. Like either you're new enough that you don't have a lot of staff and you don't have a lot of things that you've already invested in. So maybe you have a smaller overhead and a little bit more nimbleness to be able to pivot or be able to take a break or whatever you haven't really made it so that you're completely dependent on it and have all these people depending on it.
Um, so that's, you know, some people's situation that I know of. But then you've got the other where like, especially if you're more of a capital intensive business, like you just. Like, I know of some local businesses here in Flagstaff that maybe just opened a restaurant or just opened, you know, a retail location that's got a lot of inventory. And in those cases, yeah, they're, they're even more at risk than. Other businesses who are more established and have all those customer relationships.
Bagel: [00:08:53] For sure. It's both depressing in some ways. And also in other ways, inspiring to see what some of the businesses are doing to pivot. Just a couple of really quick examples that have been noticeable. There was a brewery, my girlfriend and was really good about staying on top of what's going on in Charlotte and all that. And she just mentioned to me that there is a brewery that literally just opened their doors within the last month and in a local suburb here of Charlotte. And your first reaction is like, Oh man, that sounds terrible. Like, I feel bad. Apparently they're sold out of their beer. Because they just have like, they're pouring themselves out and being vulnerable on social media saying like, you know, we're so excited, but here's what happened. Obviously we, this is the only way we're able to reach our customers.
And while we were so excited to be there and have you in person, like, here's what we can do for you right now. And I think they maybe even delivering some beer or whatever. And apparently they're, they're sold out of their, their first, you know, stock in the first week. There's also, there's a basically like a skill sharing service that started here in, in Charlotte called skill pop.
And as soon as this happened, it was all in person workshops where anyone with a skill or some knowledge could, could offer to teach a class and charge a certain price per head, usually $20 to $30 per head is the range. And there's all these stories now about how they pivoted in 14 days to move everything online.
And just like that. I mean, they dug into it and they asked people to test it out. Both on the customer side and those teaching the classes and they're thriving. And now they're able to offer their classes globally because it's online. And so there's definitely a lot of like really tough stories.
And you're, there's so many businesses going through such tough challenges. But you see these little glimmers of hope and you're, you're sort of, as a business counselor, I'm trying to point people to those examples and say, look how these businesses are adapting and pivoting. And you may not be able to do that exact formula, but what can you do? Like what does this make possible for you right now, as opposed to what are you limited to?
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:10:55] It'll be fascinating once we're back to some sense of normalcy to see who did make it out the other side and what they look like on the other side. You were talking about business moving online. Our local bookshop has moved everything to online ordering in just a week. I mean, just a week of trying to move from being an imperson, classic style, independent bookshop to now allowing people to order everything online.
Bagel: [00:11:22] Yeah. That's amazing.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:11:24] Yeah. And then I called them because they're still working out like, cause they have a great local rewards program. For people who buy locally that you get like a little bit back and you earn basically cash that you can buy more books with. When they shifted to the online ordering, the system wasn't recognizing those rewards, the rewards program.
So they had to let people know, okay. If you want to make sure you get the rewards, you can still just call us and put in your order directly while we're working out the kinks. I went ahead and did a phone call order. And it was funny cause I was working with a local bookseller, Corey, who has a podcast called Books and Tea who's my favorite local bookseller, who always gives me great recommendations.
So it was awesome that I could get her on the phone. And she was able to pull some books from the shelves and talk me through what books were available and recommend a book for me. And during this time I've been trying to reach out more and send more greeting cards to family and friends. So I was like, Hey, my stock's kind of getting low. I know that pretty much all your cards are great. So could you please pick out some greeting cards for me? And you know, it was totally random. I was like, can you just get three birthday cards and two general like thinking of you cards. And she, she was like, Oh, I can like text you pictures of the fronts.
And I was like, no, no, no, no, no. It's like, I trust you, just pick out five cards and we'll give it a try. And if it's a total loss and I don't like them, then maybe I won't do it again. But for now, like we'll just try it. And they're great. Like, she just picked out five cards for me. And they were in the bag when I went to do my no contact pickup and it was kind of fun. It was like a treat. Cause I got basically a secret shopper almost. And to just like, get surprised by five fun cards.
Bagel: [00:13:17] Yeah. That's cool. And it's just like a, like you said, an opportunity for business to do something different and for there to be almost like another way to add value. It's like, that probably never happened before. Maybe rarely like they had to do that. But maybe that becomes a thing now. And I bet the person who did it for you was probably excited. Be like, Ooh, I better pick out the right ones so that the customer is happy. Especially since you were like, yeah, no hands off. Like, you do it. That's kind of a fun thing for them to do. And a pretty cool service that they'd be willing to do that, to keep a loyal customer. I mean, I think that's smart. I think we need to hear examples like that, of how businesses are trying as much as they can right now.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:14:00] And I think they may have actually even given up on greeting cards. Like I didn't see them promoting greeting cards at all before that, for the last four weeks, they just been focusing on books. Cause it was like, people kind of know what they want to read or they can get that figured out greeting cards. Like everyone loves to touch the greeting cards. But after that, I noticed the very next day on Instagram, they had strung ribbons across their front window at their shop and had hung greeting cards.
And that was their new promotion, was do a walk by our shop, look at the greeting cards and call in your order for what greeting card you want.
Bagel: [00:14:36] Yeah. You maybe did them a favor, it sounds like.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:14:43] I’m pausing for just a moment to remind you that a transcript of today's episode is available in the show notes at dogoodbegoodshow.com as well as links to anything we mentioned. If you're interested in podcasting, blogging or starting an online business, check out fizzle. That's where I get the support that I need to produce this show.
In fact, Mike and I are both fizzle members. You can find my referral link in the show notes. With that link, you will get a month of courses, coaching and community for just $1. Using the link will also support the show. Now back to my conversation with Mike.
So on a personal level, how do you feel about still, not just still working during this time, but even being more busy. Having your job be more in the forefront and more critical at this time.
Bagel: [00:15:36] You know, it's, to be really transparent. It's been kind of strange just because I just started this new role on have this new client list that I haven't really fully been able to reach out to yet in the way that I was planning on. Just because we're fielding so many requests for help on the loans and that's become a priority. But at the same time, I think the SBDC's across the country are sort of listed as a first responder for disasters for small businesses.
So when there's a disaster declared, which has happened for all 50 States and all territories right now because of the pandemic, obviously. You know, that usually kind of is what triggers the funding to start to come down and all that kind of stuff. And then they SBDC's are basically a first responder to help our small businesses navigate through that disaster. Whether it's applying for the loans or what resources are available, or how to, what do you need to do to communicate with your team and your employees and all that kind of stuff. So we've started to, we've built a website specifically for the coronavirus and we're sharing all these resources and trying to keep it as up to date as possible with all of the programs that are available. Even though most of them are running out of money, you know, in a heartbeat.
So to answer your question, I mean, I think one of my top strengths, I've taken the StrengthsFinder and my number five, I think is responsibility. So I think there's this sense of responsibility that, you know, we need to help. Like, that's what we're here for. These small businesses are depending on us. And I sort of feel like it's my duty and this role to make sure that we're helping these businesses.
And I do feel like, at least I can speak for our staff in Charlotte, I mean, we're all doing it. And we're all putting in the time and we're working as hard as we can to help. On the other side of that coin, personally, I feel like I don't have all the answers and that's really hard. I mean, I probably even haven't even had as high of a volume as some others. Like maybe my director has, but to get on the phone with a small business owner right now and them ask you, what can I do?
And you say, here's the best I got. Knowing full well that that money might run out. As of today, a lot of the money has run out until the next legislation gets passed. It's just really. It's tough. It's hard. And it's almost depressing to be like, There's not much help right now. Hopefully there's more coming, but here are some strategies we can help you with in the meantime.
And here's the best, you know, here's the best plan of action. So it's just, it's been tough. I'm a high empathy person. So I'm constantly putting myself in these client's shoes and yes, I have my own business too. But luckily that's not my sole source of income right now. And I keep being thankful for that.
I mean, because who knows what would be happening if I were solely dependent on that right now. I may be in the same situation as everyone else that I'm trying to help. So definitely thankful for having a job, just, you know, first and foremost. And trying to do the best we can to help people.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:18:44] Is there anything that you've started doing or continue doing that helps you just disconnect and have a little moment of Zen or joy? When you're not working.
Bagel: [00:18:58] A few things, I've started to incorporate some more self care activities into my daily routine. Not just when this happened, probably within the last year. Like meditation and playing my keyboard or a guitar. And I was playing racquetball every week. All that hasn't been happening. So there's been stuff like that that I've been trying to do. Now that we've got a dog I've been taking Layla for walks a couple of times a day. And honestly like something I never really did much before, but has been really nice, nice and helpful. It's just literally take a 10 minute break and be outside and not be looking at the computer and just having that time to let the brain wander and process and maybe, or maybe even not think about anything and just. Just be, and that's been great. Yeah. But aside from all of that, I've been working on a little side project, which is my own podcast, which is going to be called Live Your Values podcast.
So in my downtime I've actually just been working on building that idea from the ground up. It's been a nice distraction. And it's something that I've been thinking about wanting to do for a while. And I think as soon as this stay at home order went into place for us here in North Carolina, I was like this is the time to work on this.
I mean, it's just a no brainer.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:20:12] Nice. So I feel like, I was going to give you a hard time. And then I'm like, I'm totally similar. In the way that I like the balance of both going back to some of the simple basics, like cooking or being in nature. But then also I need that creative project that keeps my brain going on stuff that feels like something I have the ability to have some control over. Or have the ability to get, to make progress on at a time when so much else is uncertain. So. Yeah.
Bagel: [00:20:42] You can still give me a hard time and it's crazy. I don't know why I'm spending so much time working on stuff, but
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:20:49] I know you were like in my downtime, I'm working.
Bagel: [00:20:54] Yeah.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:20:55] Yeah, no, I'm definitely similar. Are there any things that you had wanted to bring up or thought would make sense for us to talk about that I didn't yet ask you about?
Bagel: [00:21:05] Just to cap off with the, the side projects. Um, I've been really excited to work on something that I'm passionate about. And I mean, I have lots of passions. I'm still running my business. I'm working a job that I really enjoy, but this truly feels like my true passion project. You know, I talked all about my career trajectory the last time I was on and sort of that transition into career counseling after a couple of years in the corporate world.
And I think I really enjoyed helping people launched their careers and kind of work through some of the practical stuff. But more so I think I just helped, I enjoyed helping people figure out what was important to them. And so I feel like every iteration is leading to the next thing. Like, I feel like, okay, I did all of those things I mentioned. I started this role as a business counselor. Now I feel like this next phase of what I'm working on on the side, this passion project of helping people discover and align and connect with their values. Is just a combination of everything else I've done. It's like, feels like the logical next step, where okay. I've got some experience like how to run a business. So this podcast could potentially turn into something more, not really even going that far down that rabbit hole yet. But I think the idea that I can help people connect with what's important to them. And help them maybe be more authentic with their lives, their career or whatever it is that they're navigating through. And really help them align their values with which hopefully it would be a more fulfilling, more meaningful life, I think is really my goal. That's all just really excited about it. And I'm really excited to see where it goes. And of course, you know, as I shared last time, my whole organization brain is kicking in. I'm having a lot of fun putting the content calendar together and all that. But I know that there's this part of me that just needs to do it. Within the last week or two I've really kicked myself into gear and started scheduling these first two recording. So I'm excited to see what that brings.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:23:07] Nice. Just you bringing that up made me also think that. I know I personally know a lot of people who have lost their jobs during this time, and I'm sure you do too. So I'm sure we've got some listeners who are in that situation where they've lost their job. They're now going into a very tough job market. Maybe they're thinking about trying to also make a career pivot while they look for a new job. As a former career counselor and as someone working on this living your values show, is there any advice you would offer or any things maybe people might want to think about as they go through this?
Bagel: [00:23:45] I mean, I probably won't be able to help anyone solve their crisis if they just got laid off. And they're trying to figure out that next move. You know, in a one minute piece of advice. But I would say a good place to start is just honestly, take it, take a breather. Even if it's just a couple of days, let your mind you know, clear out a little bit. Journaling is a great practice, even if you're not a huge fan of it. I think just kind of getting your thoughts out on paper. About what an ideal life and an ideal job it looks like for you and starting there. And don't put any restrictions on that, you know. Just brain dump, what an ideal work situation looks like for you in terms of the work, in terms of the people, in terms of the hours, the commute, all of it. Just get that ideal scenario on paper. And once you do that, start to connect some dots and see, okay, what are some of the things here that are really important to me? What are, what are the top things I'm really needing out of all these things that I wrote down? What are our deal breakers versus nice to have things?
And I think if you can start to prioritize those work values a bit, you can really get a sense of what it is that you're looking for. Of course, like my heart goes out to anybody who's lost a job or is being furloughed right now. And I know it's happening to so many people and it's really tough. The silver lining to that, maybe, you know, what is, again, what does this allow you to do?
You know, what, not that you want to get let go from your job. But if it did happen, you know, start to think about are there things that you could do next that you're actually really excited about? Does this open up some opportunities for you?
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:25:26] Yeah, I think the other thing I would just add to that is particularly people who are thinking about making a big transition. Or I've heard people talking about maybe it's time to get more education or other steps.
So I think that one thing I love about volunteer work is that if there's something you think you want to be doing, there's always often a way that you could start doing it right now in a small way as a volunteer or as a creative side project. You know, I even remember I had a friend who was talking about going to graduate school.
I said, okay, well, what would you study in graduate school? And she said, well, I'm really interested in why, you know, why this happens to young men in this situation. And I was like, okay, great. So what's stopping you right now from learning more about that topic. And she was like, well, I really am interested in what this professor at this university is doing and I'd love to work with them.
I was like, okay, great. What's stopping you from reaching out to that professor and just saying, Hey, can I just have, you know, a 30 minute call with you to talk about your research? Like what professor doesn't want someone being like, I'm fascinated by your research. And I want to talk to you for 30 minutes.
So I said, before you go and change your entire life and invest thousands of dollars in getting a master's degree. Just spend two weeks carving out a little bit of time every day to just investigate this topic and just dive into it in a way that you would, if you actually had gone and started a master's program. Yeah. And see if you really are interested after two weeks.
Bagel: [00:27:19] Yeah, I would agree.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:27:22] But I think the same could be done in a job too. Like, Oh, I think I want to pivot to this industry. Okay, great. Like spend, and I know people have kids at home. They have lots of reasons why they can't just like start doing that job, but even just 30 minutes a day spending learning about that industry or, or practicing something you would be doing in that industry.
Bagel: [00:27:42] Yeah, totally agreed. I would echo all of what you said. I think manageable chunks, for sure. Like set a realistic goal. If it's a half hour, a day or two hours a week or whatever it might be that, you know, you can actually dedicate to it and informational interviewing is your best friend when you're thinking about the next thing for you career wise or anything else. There's so many different ways to learn about a field or a job or an industry. LinkedIn is also a great resource to see if you could find people who are in a role that you're interested in and just even just reading their profile, getting understanding of their experience and their career trajectory and seeing how they came along and what they're working on.
And then of course, like you said, like you suggested if you can reach out to some people in that field and just have a quick 15, 30 minute chat with them. Most people, if you frame it in a way that it's like, Hey, I really want to learn from your expertise. Right. And you want to make it a little bit about them and less about you.
A lot of people, I won't say everybody. But most people I think are willing to help in some way, especially if you have any connection to them whatsoever. And that's why LinkedIn is so great because if you went to the same university, share an Alma Mater, if you have a connection in common, maybe you're in a similar group any way that you can find a connection with someone is a great way to start a conversation.
And usually a nice way to get someone to agree to chat with you. And I think the more informational interviewing and little bits of research you can do for what that next thing is that you're thinking about the better. Uh, so you can be better equipped to figure out, can you get a job in that field when things stabilize? Or do you need a graduate degree or certification certification to get in that field?
So just acquiring that knowledge and as much information as you can.
Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: [00:29:31] Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. Thank you, Mike, for all of your support and for being a guest and sharing your story. For show notes on all of our episodes visit, DoGoodBeGoodshow.com to subscribe to this podcast for free so that you get each episode as soon as it is released. Just search for do good, be good in your podcast app of choice, whether that's Spotify, Stitcher, Google music, Apple podcasts, whatever you want to listen through. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me. Music in this episode is bathed in fine dust by Andy G Cohen released under a creative commons, attribution, international license, and discovered in their free music archive. Until next week.
This is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom signing off.
Bagel: [00:30:24] I hope you enjoyed this special crossover episode of the Live Your Values podcast. With me, Bagel, being interviewed on the Do Good. Be good podcast.
If you like what you heard, please hit subscribe in your podcast app so you get notified about all new episodes of the Live Your Values podcast with me, Bagel. Special, thanks to Emma Peck for logo design, Danielle Gelber for marketing strategy, and Rebecca Kittel and my team at Free Your Time Virtual Assistants for operation support.
Until next time, get out there and LYV!