Business as a Spiritual Path – Tami Simon – HPP 69
The world today is such an interesting place and living our lives in it brings forth very unique experiences that may be challenging, difficult and traumatic at times. Figuring out what our place is and what we should do in this vast world might be a question that lingers deep within our thoughts.
Having these profound, transformative and deeply spiritual life experiences will ultimately define us and shape our very decisions. It might even bring out the desire in us to take action. With this in mind, do you see yourself as someone who might consider taking risks that could potentially change your life? Then why not start a business?
In today’s inspiring episode, we are delighted to be joined by a celebrated entrepreneur, author and the CEO and founder of Sounds True, Tami Simon. Join us and together we delve deep into conversation around the spiritual journey through learning and meditation, and how to start a business by having the right mindset.
Sounds True: Early years and How It Came About – 02:51
“I felt a sense of landing, landing here as a human. And I made a commitment at that point in my life that I would bring practices like meditation practices, like contemplation and prayer, I would bring those practices to as many people as possible, and that really became the seed”
Heading Into Business – 06:56
“My self concept was that I was doing something that had to do with art and social change, using spiritual wisdom, like disseminate spiritual wisdom. So, and it’s just an interesting story about five years after starting Sounds True”
Business Startups: Tami’s Insightful Advice – 16:59
“I think you got to work with your fear. You have to resolve your fear. Because if you’re coming from fear, like will I make enough money? And is this going to work? And am I going to be okay, and that energy is there, people can feel it. And it’s not that attractive, to be honest with you. It’s not that attractive to other people”
Realizing Your Potential: Sorting Out What Works For You – 22:23
“What’s first is our mission. That’s what’s first. And that is not negotiable. That’s why I’m here. That’s what we’re doing. The more money we make, the bigger our mission gets to become. The more people we can reach”
Understanding Your Purpose and Goals in Doing Business – 26:09
“in terms of inspiring a staff of people, whatever, what I noticed at Sounds True is when we all talk about our purpose, when we talk about the benefits of various programs, people are turned on, they’re motivated. They want to go extra, that’s what they want to work for. That’s what motivates people”
Leadership and Critical Decision Making – 31:28
“Now we have a 13 person leadership team, which is kind of big. However, I meet with this team once a week, for anywhere between 90 minutes and three hours. And the way that it works, I mean, maybe is more detailed than you want. But anybody can bring forward a proposal to make an important change at the company that will affect the business. And we talk about it as a team”
A Seed Of Wisdom: Taking The Leap And Starting a Business – 35:15
“Well, the first thing I’d say is how turned on are you by Really? So, are you really not 100% turned on, but are you 150% turned on? And if you’re not maybe wait for something that you are, because it’s going to take a lot out of you? And then secondly, how can you structure it?”
Full Episode Transcript
Keith Kurlander, Dr. Will Van Derveer, Tami Simon
Tami Simon 00:00
I think we’re only as human beings responsible for the minority part of our business’ success and I think the majority partner is that we’re always working with forces that are bigger than us universal flows. And the way to align with those universal flows, in my opinion is through benevolence. It’s through service. It’s through really wanting to give your gifts.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 00:31
Thank you for joining the higher practice podcast. I’m Dr. Will Van Derveer, with Keith Kurlander, and this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Today’s episode is on the topic of consciousness and business. And we’re delighted to introduce you today to our guest Tami Simon, who’s a dear friend. I think I’ve known Tami for almost 20 years now. And Tammy is a fellow traveler on the path of spiritual growth and someone who has created a massive impact on the accessibility of spiritual teachings over the past 35 years and she’s just a gem of a human being. Tami Simon is the founder of Sounds True, which is a multi media publisher dedicated to disseminating spiritual wisdom. Over just 35 year history, they have produced over 600 titles, been nominated twice for the Inc 500 List of fastest growing companies and is North America’s leading publisher of spoken word, spiritual teachings. In 1985, Tami Simon started Sounds True. With a dream, a tape recorder and a $50,000 inheritance she received Upon the death of her father, we get into that a little bit in this episode. Although she had no business experience, she had a strong guiding principle in place to disseminate spiritual wisdom. And my goodness, she certainly has done that. In this episode, we get into some of the fun areas of considering business as a spiritual path, how to effectively run organizations where people get to feel very included and very important in the outcomes of decisions. And really what it means to consider the fact that as a business owner, one is not in charge of the outcomes of all the things that one faces in business. So hope you enjoy this podcast episode with Tami Simon.
Keith Kurlander 02:43
Hi, Tammy. Welcome to the show.
Tami Simon 02:45
Great to be with you.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 02:46
Tami Simon 02:47
Keith Kurlander 02:48
Good to have you.
Tami Simon 02:49
Friends. Nice to be you.
Keith Kurlander 02:51
Friends. Yeah, really good to be with you. So we’re going to talk a little bit about conscious entrepreneurship or business and wisdom or all these different terms. But we’ve talked a little bit about it. So maybe a good jumping off point is just a lot of the people who listen to this know about Sounds True and all the different wisdom holders, you’ve brought through that publication and, you know, really worked with I’m wondering just as a starting off point, maybe just telling a little bit about your story there with Sounds True and some gems you’ve gotten over the years about?
Tami Simon 03:24
Sure. Well, I’m happy to share the origin story of Sounds True, which now dates back 35 years ago. So it’s a long time since I’ve been at this same mission for a long time, because believe it or not, it still blows my skirt up, actually, which I think is a little bit of a miracle. But back when I was 21, I had dropped out of Swarthmore College, from the Religious Studies Department, went to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal for a year, and discovered meditation. And when I first discovered the practice of meditation, I knew it was a kind of homecoming. And it was a homecoming to my soul, to the essence of being a sense that I could be here on the earth as a human being that was really big for me as a young person who always felt in dramatic language like an alien, but somehow just sitting on a cushion breathing, being with that space between thoughts. I felt a sense of landing, landing here as a human. And I made a commitment at that point in my life that I would bring practices like meditation practices, like contemplation and prayer, I would bring those practices to as many people as possible, and that really became the seed of Sounds True. And then some interesting events happened. But really, and I mean, I could go on and on and talk about those interesting synchronicities and things. But I think it was the purity of that inspiration. Inside of me, and the sincerity of it and the totality of it, I remember being in India at various Buddhist temples and lying face planted into the earth, and stretched out above me and a full prostration just giving my life to this, and saying, that’s what I’m here for. I give my life to disseminating spiritual wisdom. So I think that was really the seed at that young age.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 05:28
Has me wondering about the durability of 35 years, and the purity must be related to the durability there in terms of funding your mission.
Tami Simon 05:39
Yeah, and also, you know, I think people are built differently, like some people are, maybe, for whatever reason, that image that’s occurring to me as a pocket knife. And they’re one of those pocket knives that have like 35 different things that come out, and you know, a corkscrew, God knows what they can do with that pocket knife, you know, and others are just like one sharp blade. And I think for me as a person, that’s just kind of the kind of pocket knife I am, is that I know what gives me energy. And it does give me energy, is when I’m able to contribute and give my gifts, use language, bring forth ideas that communicate this essence of an opening to something that is vast and timeless, and help people touch that. And in touching the field, the absolute fullness of it. The satiation, that contentment, the rest, the sense of rightness that comes from that. So when I can somehow give my energy to that I’m turned on. And you know, when I’m doing other things, I’m kind of relatively useless. But in that one way, that one part of the pocket knife, that’s my strike zone.
Keith Kurlander 06:56
Yeah. Yeah, it just sounds like you’re so on purpose. And why did it take the form of a business? That’s obviously a publishing company? Like how did that happen? That it was a business versus something else? Was that some part of you as a kid growing up or?
Tami Simon 07:12
Sure, well first of all, I never really even knew I was in business or thought about being in business for quite a while, even after I’d started. Sounds True. My self concept was that I was doing something that had to do with art and social change, using spiritual wisdom, like disseminate spiritual wisdom. So And it’s just an interesting story about five years after starting Sounds True. The Boulder Daily Camera, and here we are all of us in Boulder. So you know, our local newspaper did a story on me and I went in, they said, it’s going to be on the cover. And I was like, where is it, and I’m looking through the newspaper, I’m looking in the lively art section. And I’m like, it’s not there. It’s not in the lively art section. Oh, maybe it was in the business section. Now, it’s like, oh, they put the article in the business section. So I didn’t identify as a business person for quite some time. I mean, of course, that’s changed. Now, 35 years later, I think what I knew was that I wanted to take a small sum of money that I received when my father passed away through an inheritance. And, you know, it shows you the power of seed capital, and having even just a small amount of money, you know, it was $50,000. But for someone who at the time then was 21 22, that was a lot of money to me. And if you take inflation, that would be like, $200,000 today. So there’s a lot of money for an unemployed college dropout. And I knew that I wanted to use that amount of money, it’s a really simple concept to make more money. Because if I just spent it, it would be gone. And I also knew that I was unemployable. There weren’t that many options, like how do I take that money, put it in myself, to make more money. So that’s really how it became a business. And also, I knew I wanted to be independent. And I think that’s partially why I wanted to be an independent because I wasn’t employable. You know? I was like, I’m gonna have to figure this out.
Keith Kurlander 09:05
Yeah, you know, you created an amazing company that’s helped so many people right on this planet, with all these books and all the other things you’ve put out there. I’m curious what it’s been like for you to meet all these world wisdom holders over the years. And what does that been? Like? Any stories or takeaways there?
Tami Simon 09:24
Sure, well, there’s a lot there. You know, I mean, I want to just share because it sounds like oh, you know, so on purpose. So whatever. But you know, a lot of it came, even early on leaving college came from a lot of desperation, and not fitting in. I mean, it was a pretty serious disappointment to my family. That here I was on a path of academia that I would leave, you know, Swarthmore College to do what? So I just want to emphasize that it came out of a sense of feeling Really strong need to use everything I had been given to give something back. And I’m bringing that up here, Keith, in response to your question about meeting spiritual teachers, because part of what was motivating me, was also a kind of lifelong loneliness. I felt so lonely, the kinds of things I wanted to talk about, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I really didn’t, I didn’t have a, you know, when I would try to bring things up at the dinner table, you know, at our family, I would get a response like, Can we please not talk about that at the dinner table? And I was like, well, when are we going to talk about it? When do we talk about it? And as a teenager, I was reading books by Herman Hesse, you know, by Alan Watts, I wanted to talk about these ideas. So I think part of the big, personal need I had that was underneath Sounds True. Yes, there was this desire to give to other people to share what I was learning. But I also really needed to connect with some spiritual teachers with gravitas so that I could feel not so alone, so that I could be met, and that there could be meaningful dialogue about the kinds of questions that I was asking. So I remember at one point, just as an example, this was maybe about 10 years into Sounds True. I was talking to Ken Wilber. And I said, Ken, you know, I’m so interested to know, the question that’s really motivating my spiritual journey underneath it all is what happens when we die. You’ve read all these books, because I’d gone to his house, and I’d been in his library, and there were thousands and thousands of books. And I thought, if anybody can answer this question for me, Ken can and he said to me, nobody knows. If anybody tells you they know, they don’t know, even people had near death experiences. They came back, nobody knows. And I was like, Okay, great. Even that completely satisfied me. Because I thought, Okay, I’m going to look inside, for the answer to that question. Because looking outside, there is no answer outside. So if I’m going to have a level of deep peace, at the time of my death, it’s not going to come from a spiritual teacher sharing something with me, that is just there inside experience, I have to find that for myself. And, you know, I mean, I could go on and on about the powerful experiences I’ve had with people, I think the most powerful experiences happened through something that is called transmission, not through the words, but through the energy exchange. And early on, I decided that I would open myself to the energetic field of the people I was talking with, where I would literally I feel all my pores being open and like breathe in, what I could feel from people and see if I could catch it, at that level, catch their expansiveness catch their light, if you will. So that’s been the most powerful thing about sitting and interviewing and speaking with a very deeply spiritually realized people is catching their wavelength. Feeling it?
Keith Kurlander 13:16
Catching it right now. You actually reminded me of my first experience with that transmission, my first teacher was Yogi Ombre Tosigh. I’m guessing you know who that is?
Tami Simon 13:28
I do. Yeah, yeah.
Keith Kurlander 13:30
And I was 21. I met him on a mountain top in this house, me, him and two other people. That first time where I experienced that transmission and recognized Wait a second, there’s a whole nother way of learning and being and becoming that I was like, I never even knew this existed before this moment in time. So it just reminded me of that transmission quality that you’re talking about.
Tami Simon 13:59
Yeah. And it can be even just observing somebody. If you’re very open, and you’re watching them. I remember once this is another person who’s a local hero, Richard Freeman, a yoga teacher and I went to some yoga conference. And I watched Richard very carefully walk through the lunch line as he was getting his lunch, and it was almost like he was floating. And I was like, how is he breathing? Right now? What’s happening in him? How is it that his feet seemed to be different than the other people in the lunch line as he’s walking? Can I feel how that feels inside my body? And you know, we’re incredibly contagious. As people, we’re always catching each other. And I mean, you guys, you’re professionals in this mental health world. You know how our nervous systems are attuning to each other. I mean, it’s incredible how resonant We are with each other, whether we’re conscious of it or not. And I think that’s the most powerful way we can receive from people. And that’s what we have the power to give all the time as well, we are giving our presence to people.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 15:18
Yeah, it’s happening on so many different levels. I mean, the heart, the human heart has a magnetic field that is felt from feet or yards away. And the regulation in that system or dysregulation is felt just even on that level of physics. And I’m sure there are so many other levels. Absolutely. Yeah.
Tami Simon 15:42
And there’s a lot I mean, I think, right now, a lot of the fear and anxiety that’s in the culture that’s contagious. But our courage is also contagious. Our confidence is also contagious. Our sense of deep peace that is there and unshakable, that’s contagious. And so I think we can focus on those things as well.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 16:11
Yeah, yeah. And the care and compassion as well. It’s interesting that even through zoom that can somehow be transmitted, at least in some form.
Tami Simon 16:23
Oh, Yeah. Through zoom, and through the human voice. I mean, I remember at times, this was even before the zoom revolution, when I would be just editing audio programs, and how much I would receive and be impacted. Just by having those headphones on and deeply listening and receiving different teachings that I was editing to the point where I would find teachers living up over my head. It’s like, Wait a second, I just edited your tape, you know, but it was right there. They get right into you.
Keith Kurlander 16:59
Yeah, yeah, totally. I’m curious what you would say to people about growing, whether it’s a small or medium sized business, whatever size it is, but growing a business and the spiritual journey around that, what can be learned there? What about oneself, and maybe just some things that you’ve gathered over the years about that path? People talk about relationships as a path, I think of business as a path to. It’s a pretty rigorous path. So I’m curious what you would say about it.
Tami Simon 17:29
Yeah, a couple things, I’ll share two things that immediately come to mind. One is that I think we’re only as human beings responsible for the minority part of our businesses success. And I think the majority partner is that we’re always working with forces that are bigger than us universal flows. And the way to align with those universal flows, in my opinion, is through benevolence. It’s through service, it’s through really wanting to give your gifts. And I think when you really want to give your gifts, you really want to help other people, and you find that part of you that’s sincere, there is an incredible amount of support that will come and partner with you to do that. And if you Always remember, like, the number I use, because I like numbers is 30%. It’s only 30% up to me. That’s interesting. That’s a low number. I mean, 70% of it is going to be because other people are calling me. Other people are responding. Strange synchronicities are occurring, because I’m aligning with a certain amount of support that’s there. And I’m continuing to align through it by focusing on the service component of what I’m doing, because I think that’s what attracts the support. So that’s one thing. The other thing is, I think you got to work with your fear. You have to resolve your fear. Because if you’re coming from fear, like will I make enough money? And is this going to work? And am I going to be okay, and that energy is there, people can feel it. And it’s not that attractive, to be honest with you. It’s not that attractive to other people. It’s not that attractive to customers. It’s not that attractive to authors. And it’s yours to work out because we are in such an overflowing state of possibility just because we’re alive. And this is really what I feel. I think this is part of what the spiritual journey is, is contacting that sense of overflow. Do you know what I mean? Just overflow of life. Just look at each one of your rooms right now. Look at my room. Okay, look at this. This color. Is it plain? Or is it so rich, is it’s so deep, is it’s so vast that it never ends. Look at the plant behind you Will. I mean it is so alive. And fascinating. You got a bike in your room Keith. Okay, so what I’m getting at is we are living in a world that is overflowing with awe, and wonder, and possibility. And love and humans. Here we are the three of us that we get to be together like this and talk about stuff we care about, that I have this chance to share from my heart and to connect with you guys, and to connect with your audience. I mean, what a privilege, what so if we can actually feel that, and know that we know that we can pivot, we can change, we can come up with a new idea. If this thing doesn’t work out. There’s another thing, there’s another person, there’s another possibility. So it’s like really feeling that potential, the pure potential of life, and it’s over givingness to us all the time. The excessiveness in us, then you become fearless. And that becomes tremendously attractive, attractive to business partners, attractive to investors, attractive in all kinds of ways you become like a fountain.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 21:14
What you’re talking about, Tami reminds me of something that my wife Krista talks about a lot, which is taking a stand for seeing possibilities. And for me, that means really being onto myself, when I get lost in the deflation or the claps about the experiment that didn’t work or the project that’s not going the way I thought it would go, imagining that I have 70% or 90% responsibility rather than your 30%. No, it’s Yeah. And that course correction of Wait, okay, there’s more to this situation, there’s more opportunity and what I’m allowing into my consciousness, it’s very psychological.
Tami Simon 21:55
Yeah. And I think, as you said, returning to that idea of being the minority partner in the equation, it’s liberating. It’s like, Oh, I’m gonna have to wait and hear what the majority partner has to say about my next move. It’s not up to me, I’m more the receiver of the next set of instructions. It’s a different place to be in.
Keith Kurlander 22:23
Yeah, really different places. And I mean, you spoke to this, but I’m also just so in awe of how I think when we’re doing what you’re talking about, which is really receiving the abundance of the universe wants us to give that service and that gift to the world. That’s what the universe wants. And when we’re able to do that, it’s amazing how people show up to support that coming into the world with all their gifts. And that’s kind of how it just builds off of each other with people and team members come and they show up that it’s not about one person. It’s way more about this grouping of people that come and customers come and all these people are coming together around an idea. Right?
Tami Simon 23:09
Yeah. And I think also, you know, and I feel I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve also made certain choices, but I don’t have a family to support. So I’m not under the kind of financial pressure that other people are under, and I refuse to create financial goals for myself, that puts me under too much pressure, I won’t do it, I’ll bring my lifestyle down. Before I’ll do that, I won’t do it. Because I don’t want to live with some kind of gun to my head, like you have to make, so I never borrowed money at Sounds True ever, over the whole trajectory of the business. I was never willing to go into debt to make something happen because I didn’t want to live with that kind of pressure. And as a result, the company has grown very organically, little bit at a time. And I’m not saying look at other people, maybe they function fine under dad or something like that. But what I’m getting at is I was never willing to put the finances of the business first. It’s not first, it’s second. I believe me, I like making money. So I’m 100% in on that. But it’s second, what’s first is our mission. That’s what’s first. And that is not negotiable. That’s why I’m here. That’s what we’re doing. The more money we make, the bigger our mission gets to become. The more people we can reach, the more we can invest back into the business. Some years we’ve made good money, other years we haven’t made as much. Okay? That’s okay. I’m okay. You know, because that abundance and I’m talking about, I pointed to this color, because what color is that? It’s like a dark eggplant, almost black. What I’m getting at is that fullness could be your breathing. It’s not a bank account, it’s not a house that’s a certain size or something like that. And when you really feel that, and that’s what’s not negotiable, is your enjoyment of that. So for us, it sounds true, since our mission is spiritual awakening, that has to be first, and then the money is further back. The other thing that’s not negotiable, in addition to our mission, is our experience with each other, how we treat each other. So we’re not willing to become so revved up and future focused, that we step on top of each other in our relationships, that we lose our cool with each other, that we have negotiations that are unfair to the people we’re negotiating with, we’re not willing to do any of those things. Because if we did any of those things, we would be sacrificing our integrity. For something else, like money, which comes later back there, it’s back. Back. So I think that’s really important. It’s important to know, to put first what comes first.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 26:09
Yeah, it sounds like the values and the mission are first in your business, which makes a lot of sense. It seems to me that if the motivation is money, then it’s not. There’s obviously a lot of problems with that. But one of them is, to me is the lack of sustainability, and the desire to keep going. Because the bigger and deeper spiritual reasons for delivering the gifts, at least so far, in my experience, is well that has no into it that I can draw back into. Yeah. And so yeah, and obviously, quality of life is also deeply a mindset more than I mean, we know that happiness plateaus at a certain level of financial well being, let’s say, yeah, I mean, according to the studies, right?
Tami Simon 26:59
Yeah. Yeah. Well, also in terms of inspiring a staff of people, whatever, what I noticed that sounds true is when we all talk about our purpose, when we talk about the benefits of various programs, people are turned on, they’re motivated. They want to go extra, that’s what they want to work for. That’s what motivates people.
Keith Kurlander 27:25
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, their values. I mean, it sounds like, you attract a lot of team members, if I’m hearing you, right, that are aligned with Sounds True’s values, is that right?
Tami Simon 27:37
Well, yeah, it’s a requisite for working at Sounds True is that people are a quote unquote, cultural fit, which doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily a spiritual practitioner in one way or another. It does mean that of our six core values that include being of service, a commitment to grow and transform, while you’re at work, authentic connection, being direct, and kind, exceptional teamwork, and honoring inclusivity and diversity and individual difference, that people can speak to each of those core values, why they also value them, and how they’re going to make a contribution to the further evolution of our culture. So people have to be able to speak to that as part of the job interview. And those are the kind of people we want to have come work with us and join our team.
Keith Kurlander 28:33
Tami Simon 28:34
Now, you know, it’s interesting, because the second core value, the one I mentioned, a commitment to grow and transform. That’s to your point, Keith, about business being a spiritual path. And you mentioned our relationship is a spiritual path. And it is, it’s a crucible, it’s a crucible, when you have your relationship with one person is very deep, it’s very intimate. And as we all know, a lot of growth. And there’s a depth to that. And it’s one person, now you got a bunch of people, you may not be at the same depth with those people. But you’ve got a lot of complexity. Because these people really are all looking at the world differently from a different lens. Some people are more task oriented, some people are more relationship oriented. Some people are interested in the kind of present time some people are out there in the future. How do you bring all of those cognitive differences together with a lot of understanding and room for that multiplicity and recognize that your team is stronger? Because of it? That takes a lot of self awareness to welcome all those different viewpoints. Use any like communication, like I don’t know, modalities are so within the team of how you handle team communication and conflict and is that evolved over the years of failure looks? Yeah, there’s a lot of different things. I mean, we’ve worked with some outside coaches. As well, and one of the core techniques we use is simply, what are you feeling? And what do you need? And then ask the other person, what do you need? And that’s it. You know, first of all, just even in a conflict, as you know, and in a personal conflict, if you can get to that, answer that question, what do I need right now? What am I needing? That’s a big moment. Because you’re not just flailing about, and everything you’re saying, like what I need is, you know, for you, if you say, you’re going to turn something in, you know, at a certain time, or whatever, and I’m feeling frustrated, this is what I need, what do you need? And they’re like, well, I need you to have asked me to have done that project longer than 24 hours ago, because that’s not enough time for me, whatever. And so I mean, that’s just a very simple example. But you know, a long, long time ago, maybe 20 years ago, and that was first introduced, at Sounds True. The person who was our Chief Operating Officer at the time said to me, Look, my wife’s been asking me to talk about my feelings, you know, during our whole relationship. And why would I do that here at work if I don’t even want to do that with my wife? And I said, and I was like, well, I wonder if maybe you don’t fit at Sounds True any longer, because I really need you. I need the people who work on our leadership team, to be willing to want to do the work of discovering what their feelings are, and give voice to their feelings we need. And he ended up leaving. And that’s okay.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 31:28
Yeah, I mean, the second value you mentioned of acknowledging that work is going to be a growth play place of growth. I mean, you’re not up for that you’re not for that. Yep. I’m wondering about how you relate to the hierarchy of leadership at Sounds True? I mean, you’re obviously the founder and CEO, and you’ve got a substantial team, right? You have a leadership team. And I’m sure that you take counsel with them and hear their input and their opinions. But how do you ultimately make decisions? Are you the final decision maker? Or how do you structure that?
Tami Simon 32:02
Yeah. So I embrace hierarchy as a functional expression of business and the purpose of a structure. So we have 125 employees, to push authority down as much as possible. So how much can that authority be distributed to the people who are doing the work and making those decisions. So that’s our goal, push authority down as much as possible distributive leadership. Now we have a 13 person leadership team, which is kind of big. However, I meet with this team once a week, for anywhere between 90 minutes and three hours. And the way that it works, I mean, maybe is more detailed than you want. But anybody can bring forward a proposal to make an important change at the company that will affect the business. And we talk about it as a team, the goal is to create shared consciousness around it. And at the end, the person who brought the proposal forward has the opportunity to accept as the implementer, to accept what they proposed, and implement it in the business. The question, I could veto it, if I wanted to, on the only person, I could veto it, I have veto power. That’s pretty strong. It’s pretty strong. Since we started this process two years ago, there have probably been 20 T one, these proposals, that’s what we call them type one proposals like this, that have gone through the business. And only once and I didn’t veto it, I said, I wanted the person to come back with some changes, because I thought it wasn’t fully baked enough for us to be able to approve it. So it was like a semi veto. But then they came back. Otherwise, the person themselves went out. And they worked with all 13 members of the team to get input to make their proposal better. So it had everybody’s contribution. before it came to that point where the person was asked, Do you accept your proposal? So anyway, what I’m getting at is we structured our business a couple of years ago into this 13 person team, I worked with an outside consultant, a very brilliant guy named Lex Sisney, who created a company called Organizational Physics. And the idea is that the person in my role does what they’re best at, but pushes decision making down into all of these different people who then push it down even further. So that’s the way I see it.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 34:37
Keith Kurlander 34:38
Yeah. That’s great. It’s really interesting, too. Everybody does this differently. And but I really love this concept of empowering and basically moving authority down the hierarchy structure. I really like that concept.
Tami Simon 34:54
Well, there was something about the C suite. You know, we used to have like just a C, COO, and neither CEO And here we are in the C suit, something that didn’t feel right to me. I think right now I feel more like a sports team. It’s like we’re all there. We’re talking about it. That’s our whole team. That feels good to me. Different. Yeah. Yeah.
Keith Kurlander 35:15
Nice here pitching and captures waving you off. Like, let’s not do the fastball right now. Yeah. Nice. What would you tell people who want to start a new project in their life, they want to do something that maybe is a little wider for them, a bigger business project, and they’re scared like we were talking about before, there’s these fears that get in the way, right? And what might be something you would say to them about the fears that are stopping them from actually going and doing that next bigger project?
Tami Simon 35:45
Well, the first thing I’d say is how turned on are you by Really? So? Are you really not 100% turned on, but 150 are you 150% turned on? And if you’re not maybe wait for something that you are, because it’s going to take a lot out of you? And then secondly, how can you structure it? So the risk is so low, that even if it doesn’t work, you’re fine. And I think you know, I don’t think I said this clearly enough before, but that’s really that what I was trying to say about not going into debt, personally, for me and other things, as I always take risks, where it’s like, you know, if this doesn’t work out, I didn’t bet the farm. I’m alright. Okay. It’s that way I can be experimental with it. You know, I can live with what the results are. So if somebody has a great new idea, and they want to start it, and they’re like, I’m gonna quit my day job, but maybe don’t quit your day job. Maybe make your day job, a 32 hour week day job or halftime day job, maybe don’t quit yet. Start this other thing and see, as it starts getting tracked, don’t scare yourself. You know what I mean? It’s scary enough anyway. And we have to find our strength in those situations where there’s so much on the line, be willing to be kind of humble and small about it, take a small step, okay. Things get energy, and then they grow and they grow and they grow.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 37:07
I want to share an experience from a long time ago with you Tami, because I would just add to what you were saying is find a friend to talk to about what could go wrong, and what could go well, and brainstorm. And if you can find a friend who’s as creative as Tammy Simon, you’re in good shape. One time, I remember we were sitting at a lunch table at a meditation retreat, meditating with the body. This was 2005. So 15 years ago, we were talking about my psychiatric practice. And you said, Well, I think you need someone to answer the phones for you. It’s really easy. Get somebody part time. And it was so far off the map of anything I’d ever thought of before. And that’s why I think this dialog idea is so important to have somebody give you ideas that you never know that are just so far off the map. But it’s so easy and simple. And as soon as I heard that person, my time on the phone, screening people returning phone calls, dealing with prescription refills, went from two hours a day to about 10 minutes a day. And you were the one who said, Look, you could use those two hours a day to see two more people. Right? And not be on the phone tearing your hair out. Right. So thank you.
Tami Simon 38:22
Sure. While we’re telling stories, I’m going to tell one about you because you really improved my life, which is I remember going out to a sushi restaurant with you for lunch. And I shared with you a story that I won’t tell the details of that I was with a very famous person and said some things that afterwards, I thought really, I really said that like oh my god, I can’t believe I said that. you know, and you said something that I’ll never forget. You said you know, Tammy, it’s not what you do. It’s what you do next. It’s not what you’ve done. It’s what you do next. And I ended up writing a card to this person into a couple other people who had been in the room. And I thought, okay, it’s what I do next. And it was so empowering to me. And I think as somebody who sometimes says things and then later wishes I could go. I always remember what you said.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 39:14
Well, you know, friends help each other see possibilities. It’s such a beautiful experience and resource to have you in my life. Thank you. Thank you likewise.
Keith Kurlander 39:23
Yeah, but Tammy, as we wrap up here, we ask every guest the same question. If you had a billboard that every human would see once in their lifetime had a paragraph on it. What would you want that person to see?
Tami Simon 39:35
Had a paragraph?
Keith Kurlander 39:37
Yeah, just like five sentences. Well, if everybody could hear five sentences from you, what would you tell them?
Tami Simon 39:43
Oh, my. That’s a really hard question. Huh? Well, the sentence that occurred to me wasn’t five sentences. It was just a few words, which is you have the magic in you. There you go. Just that. That’s great. So Tammy, thanks. It’s really sweet and simple. And a lot of people need that right now. So thanks so much for coming on here and chatting with us again. Thank you guys. Thank you. Such great work. Thank you.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 40:20
Thanks, Tammy. Great to be with you as always.
Tami Simon 40:23
Dr. Will Van Derveer 40:24
I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Tammy Simon as much as Keith and I did. And we look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the higher practice podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.