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Ep 058 – Inside the World of Innovative Workspaces with Amber Jones

Ep 058 – Inside the World of Innovative Workspaces with Amber Jones

Inside the World of Innovative Workspaces with Amber Jones

In this episode, you will meet Amber Jones, vice President of Sales at Tangram Interiors. Amber shares how Tangram uses innovative designs to create amazing places for people to work, learn, and heal.


Transcripts are generated by machine learning, so typos may be present.

BTB (00:00):

Welcome to the Building Texas Business Podcast, interviews with thought leaders and organizational visionaries from across industry. Join us as we talk about the latest trends, challenges, and growth opportunities to take your business to the next level. The Building Texas Business Podcast is brought to you by Boyer Miller, providing counsel beyond expectations. Find out how we can make a meaningful difference to your and by your podcast team where having your own podcast is as easy as being a guest on ours. Discover Now. Here’s your host, Chris Hanslik.

Chris (00:42):

In this episode, you will meet Amber Jones, vice President of Sales at Tangram Interiors. Amber shares how tangram uses innovative designs to create amazing places for people to work, learn, and heal. So Amber, I wanna welcome you to the podcast. Thanks for agreeing to join us.

Amber (01:00):

Thanks for having me.

Chris (01:02):

So let’s talk about Tangram Interiors. I want you to at least start by telling the audience what is the company known for and what do you do? Yeah,

Amber (01:11):

So tangram is a commercial interiors organization. Basically, we create amazing spaces where people learn, work and heal. So all of the interiors, from the flooring to the walls, to the furniture, I’m just really creating spaces where people can, you know, go to work or go to learn in classrooms or education or like I said, heal in hospitals in those types of environments. That’s

Chris (01:31):

Great. What, how, how old’s the company? When did it start? Yeah, what was the inspiration for it?

Amber (01:36):

So, Steelcase, we are a Steelcase dealership, which is a major mainline manufacturer. And so they’ve been around for a hundred years. And the Steelcase dealership that Tangram purchased was in, uh, 2000 w in California. And so what brings us to Texas is that in 2021, we acquired a dealership here in the Dallas Metroplex. And so that is what’s brought me to Texas via Tanger Interiors.

Chris (02:01):

Okay. So you’re a, uh, transplant Californian now Texan?

Amber (02:05):

I’m one of those, yes. But, you know, I’m really enjoying this place and I, you know, it’s not something that I would’ve like raised my hand and volunteered for, but honestly, I, I feel so at home here and I, I just know that the business world that we found ourselves in over the last two years is exactly where our business is supposed to be.

Chris (02:21):

That’s great. Let’s talk a little bit about that process of the move. What has it been like from your perspective? You know, moving a basically a California business. I know it was by acquisition, but moving that California business to Texas. Yeah. What’s that been like?

Amber (02:36):

Interesting. You know, it’s really, it’s, I wanna say it was a challenge, but it wasn’t. I think that the Metroplex is confusing in some ways in that it’s large, but there’s a lot of really close knit relationships here. And so we were able to, um, bring on some really great people that had some really existing, really good, strong standing existing relationships in the market, which helped us to position ourselves in, in the right way, in the right place. But I definitely, part of the reason for it, and part of what made it so helpful and and necessary is that the majority of our customers were looking at moving to Texas. And so when you start thinking about how can we do business in both states with you, it made sense for us to be able to send them away from California and then receive them as they arrived in Texas. Yeah. So it was really, it was an obvious next step for us. And when the position, you know, when the dealership position opened itself up, it, it made sense for us to acquire them. For sure.

Chris (03:27):

That makes sense. I can tell you, at least from the legal perspective, I’ve lost count of how many California companies we have represented in, in since say, you know, late 2000, early 2001, helping them set up shop in Texas.

Amber (03:40):

Well, it’s interesting in that regard, you know, it’s like, where do you home them from, right? Like, are you running your business as a California business that has an extension in Texas or do you have a Texas business that has a, an extension in California or two separate independent companies? So yes, some struggles as we like, learn to adjust about, you know, where do we write the laws from as far as like, you know, labor laws, et cetera. So lots

Chris (04:02):

Of, we go to, I can tell you most of our experience has been the, uh, we are doing Texas based entities, the ca basically converting the California entity into a Texas entity. There’s

Amber (04:12):

A bajillion reasons why that makes the most sense. So yeah, it’s definitely the direction that we’re heading in.

Chris (04:18):

So you’ve got this company, you create amazing spaces for your clients. What about for your people? I mean, I guess your showroom has to showcase your talent. So how do you go about designing your showroom and, and fostering, I guess that creativity in the workplace for your employees?

Amber (04:37):

Yeah, so it’s very important that we have spaces that reflect what we do. So we work in our showrooms. So working showrooms are a little bit more interesting than just a regular like office place would be. Everything is pristine and there’s lots of choice and control about how and where you work throughout the day. So maybe I’m coming in for a quiet day and so I would locate on the floor plan on the digital map as to where it’s most quiet for the day in the space. And then maybe that’s where I wanna work so that I have access to the resources. Whereas other days, maybe I came into the office to have more of a social day. So I’m gonna look on the kind of noise map for the space and decide where it’s loudest and maybe that’s where I’m gonna go set up shop so that I can get that like extroverted, you know, full feel that I needed in coming into the office. So it’s really exciting. I really, it’s almost like working in a zoo some days ’cause there’s just tours happening so regularly that it’s, but it’s cool because it gives us the opportunity to really use and show the product that we sell.

Chris (05:32):

So you, you’ve mentioned two things that, uh, I’ve never heard of before. That was a noise map and a, ah, I forget the other one. A digital map, I guess. So yeah, tell, tell me a little bit about that. I’m just intrigued. So is that something that I guess, that you offer your clients where you can and you use it there in the office to figure out what’s going on?

Amber (05:49):

Yeah, you’re, you’re dead on. So, um, we have a technology arm of what we sell, so furniture, technology walls. And we really feel like if you can plan a space that integrates the technology and the furniture together versus an afterthought, you’re gonna have a much better experience for your users. And so for us, we want, we want anyone to come in all day and be able to work wherever they want. So part of that is that we are a view sonic mood. So showroom, and that means that we have different zone maps throughout our space. So when you walk in, there’s like literally a floor plan on a big digital screen and it shows you where it’s loudest throughout the, the showroom and then where it’s quietest and then what the noise does and the little iPads is it allows for you to adjust the soundscapes that pump into that area of the showroom to adjust to how much noise is happening there.

Amber (06:35):

I personally am a very loud human being. So we joke that, you know, color follows me throughout the showroom as I get louder and walk. But also that means that the white noise that’s pumping into the space follows me so that you can see that I’m talking, but you can’t make out what I’m saying while you’re on a video call across the room, the room. So we really feel as we get back, especially post covid to how many video calls that we’re all having in our workplace, no matter what we do for a living, there must be something in your workplace that allows for you to have that hybrid experience and not have it be choppy. There has to be a reason for you to leave your house,

Chris (07:11):


Amber (07:12):

And it has to be an office that works for you. And what the office that we like left pre Covid that we didn’t do a lot of these video calls, didn’t have to have the same things that the office today have. And we really feel like a lot of that is the addition of technology because of the communication that happens on screen so much now.

Chris (07:29):

It’s so true. I mean, I think anyone, I know I, I can speak for myself, but anyone that’s been back in the office and we really came back to the office in May of 2020 pretty quickly.

Amber (07:38):


Chris (07:38):

Very smartly. Very carefully. And most people have their own private office here, different experience, but the nu the number of doors that are shut throughout the day for the reasons you just said to control the noise. ’cause we’re on zooms or team calls can get frustrating because we are very open door policy, very great culture, but it’s somewhat counterintuitive. So what you’re talking about makes total sense to me.

Amber (08:01):

It’s hard because it’s like why am I leaving my home office where I have everything set up and I don’t have to drive so that I can go sit in another private office in a conference, you know, in a big building where I had to drive and park just to shut the door again. Like what am I getting from one or the other? What’s the benefit to leaving the house? And so really the challenge is what’s the pull? So we say, you know what’s be, you have to return to something better than you left, it can’t be the same office. Yeah,

Chris (08:27):

That’s, that’s great. So kind of on that topic. Yeah. And just thinking about, you know, your company, the downturn, I mean, you’re clearly in a business that requires personal interaction and connection. How did y’all manage through keeping the business going when your employees and probably your customers or potential customers did not want to be in person?

Amber (08:50):

Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting. I would say that the vertical markets that we cover is one of, of the benefits of our organization because when things got bad, hospitals still had a huge need, right? There were still healthcare requirements that were happening around Covid. Schools still needed to pivot and make changes. So there were still things that were happening in some of those other sections. But certainly furniture is something that people don’t buy when they don’t have to. Right. And certainly not when there’s not people in the office. And so it was a weird time for sure, but I think that what happens in, in this industry specifically with furniture is it’s very cyclical. You know, you can look back at like the 2007, 2008, you then, you know, you can look into like there was like this 2016, I mean there’s like times and moments in time where things like took a little bit of a, a dip, not as much purchasing was happening. I think those are moments in time where we can be strategic and really align ourselves with where do we see those next verticals growing. Um, right now bioscience is huge. That’s where we need to be focusing as we move forward. You know, some of the more opportunities to track the industries versus, you know, just waking up and expecting the same type of business to be there every day, you know?

Chris (09:56):

Makes sense. So innovation’s gotta be a very important aspect for the wellbeing and growth of your company. What are some of the things that y’all do to instill or encourage inno innovative things to be fostered throughout the company and encourage your people to think and act innovatively?

Amber (10:13):

Yeah, so I guess two pieces. Obviously it’s very important that what we’re selling is innovative. I think a lot of that is based out of absolute research, uh, 100% research based organizations in Steelcase. And so they spend a lot of time trying to figure out what people need and why. And so when it hits the market when we’re selling it, we’ve got so much history and so much research to back why we’re bringing another chair or another table or another thing to the market. Otherwise it’s just that, right? Another table and another chair and who needs those things. But I think internally with intent, I trust I, we really are a super authentic organization. I, anyone can walk up to my desk at any point in time. I don’t work in a private office. None of us do. None of the executive leadership ever work in private offices.

Amber (10:54):

And in all of our six offices, the only one that has a private offices is the, um, human resource team so that they can have the privacy of lockability past that. I mean really there’s no one within the organization that can’t have an idea that could be implemented today. I think that’s kind of the greatness of any organization is when you have that open door policy. ’cause there’s not a door, there never was one, right? It’s like if you have an idea and it’s something that help is helpful to the progress of the organization by all means. And I think those are things that we reward throughout the year. I mean, we, we have different focuses and different um, events, but we have a fact award. So we really want people to be focused accountable. We want them to be strong culture advocates that show show strong teamwork and strong trust. And those are things that we are pillars of our success on a regular daily basis. And when we talk about them and we look for those in employees, it is that we expect them to come up with ideas in their team meetings and we expect them to have the trust within themselves and the trust within us to bring those new ideas to us for implementation. So honestly, I think this whole industry and this whole world is about change and choice and honesty. Like have an idea. Let’s chat.

Chris (12:01):

Yeah, let’s talk about it. So, okay, so you’re touching on culture. One of my favorite topics, mind you. So let’s you know a couple, I have, you know, at least a couple questions on that for you. You know, one is I always ask all guests kind of how would you define your culture? And I think for you, a corollary to that is how has it migrated east from California to Texas? You know, have you maintained the culture that was built in the roots in California to the Texas office? Or have has there been some adaption to this new office in a in a new state? In a new city?

Amber (12:36):

Such a good question. Cultures is one of my favorite topics as well. So in California, one of my roles there was on onboarding all of the new hires. And I think for me that was an opportunity to instill in them the culture that I found at Tangram. And I really found it important that as they kind of graduated out of 1 0 1 training with me, that they moved into the next portion of their organ, of their role in the organization. Really understanding the culture was the ba, the basis of it all, the foundation of who we were as a company. And so I think for me it was really hard to leave behind the culture that I feel like I was such a huge part of building in California. In fact, I remember standing in front of everyone here in Texas holding this piece of paper as we were about to like tell them that we just acquired their company.

Amber (13:18):

And I was so nervous and I think back now and it’s like so funny to think that I was nervous in front of those people, but I, because I didn’t know what kind of culture I was walking into. And I think it matters so much. Sure. So the longest way possible of answering that question is that I brought that culture with me and I spent the last two years trying to foster it here. And I would tell you that we absolutely are the same company in Texas, that we are in California because of those kind of cross pollinations and making sure that we’ve got people flying back and forth from both locations and you know, executive leadership as well as like marketing and different salespeople. And I think that we all have a lot to learn from one another that if we treat each other as like a bench for both cities as opposed to Dallas Tangram and California Tangram, just tangram continue to have that culture be, you know, exemplified in all of our offices.

Chris (14:11):

You really, once you branch, I guess it could happen in one office for sure.

Amber (14:14):

That’s the thing. Yeah. But

Chris (14:16):

City, yeah, but once you branch out to more than one office, you really can’t have the US versus them or you have a culture, it’s just not a healthy one, right? I mean <laugh>

Amber (14:25):

Yeah. So it’s actually, it’s interesting, we just did a, a company survey and we just got the results back and read ’em off to the whole organization verbatim for the way that they answered the questions with all of the comments and, and uh, feedback. And it was such a delight to be able to read the results back to the organization that have results be in like the high eighties for how they felt about our culture and the way that we run our company and how they feel comfortable talking to us. Those are astronomically high percentages. I mean they

Chris (14:53):


Amber (14:54):

What a, it felt like we should all collab, you know, clap because genuinely that’s not me or any of the other leadership that is every single human being that wakes up and says they are a part of Tanger interiors every day. We all make

Chris (15:07):

Very impressive, I mean, because are right to

Amber (15:09):

Be proud of

Chris (15:10):

Unusual. Yeah. Okay. So we talked about this a little bit before we, we started recording, but I’m gonna ask you now so you can tell the story behind you are words that say start right to finish, right? Is that some type of pillar within the company or, you know, how is that, um, it’s not there by accident, right? No,

Amber (15:27):

It’s not. And I mean, I think with anything good goes planning goes research, you know, I think we, we have a really great network in the people that we work with and with every opportunity that hits the street, there’s a way to go about doing it. That’s the strong way, the smart way that is starts with strategy. And so for us it’s like, you know, you can send off six emails while you’re sitting in a a meeting talking about a possible opportunity, or you can spend 10 minutes doing some research and figuring out who might be the warmest opportunity or person to connect you to that, right? There’s ways to go about things. So I think from an organizational standpoint, we look at it like, take the time to your, to do your research, to be prepared to show up, um, and make sure that you earned the opportunity to win the business versus just showing up, which is sometimes easier to do. Well

Chris (16:16):

You mean <laugh> it’s always easier or seems easier to take the shortcut, but you’re right, being thorough and and and showing up prepared, there’s no substitute for that.

Amber (16:25):

It sounds easier until they ask you a question and you’re like, I don’t even know what this company does. Yeah, I don’t. And then you feel silly for an hour and a half in front of that person. In person. Like I would rather do the research, find a computer to be prepared to not sound silly.

Chris (16:38):

So do you do some training around that? How do, how do you instill that into your new hires?

Amber (16:43):

Yeah, so I mean I think like the true answer is that we’re really good at using our AI and our tools that we have. There may be a little bit big brothery, but I think that there’s a mentor that we have within our organization that always says that our network is equal to our net worth or sorry, our net worth is equal to our network. And it’s true. We know so many people within the 400 people that work at Tangram that there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to have a warm introduction to people that are chasing business in our markets. Whether that’s our partners, whether those are GCs or those are like, you know, architecture and design firms that we work with. There’s gotta be somebody that can make a warm introduction rather than you just like going and knocking on someone’s door. Nobody likes that. Yeah. And so I think just be smart. Use the tools that we have and use the resources that we have and be thoughtful and it, you know, we all get cold calls every day. What do you do with most of them, right? Ignore. Yeah. You can help with the differences. So like do you wanna be the one that gets ignored or how do you go about doing it a little bit differently? And it’s generally because someone sent you an email that said, you know, Chris, you should meet Amber and now

Chris (17:45):

<crosstalk>, that’s actually how this happened, right? Sent an email and said, right

Amber (17:48):

<laugh>. So there’s

Chris (17:50):

No, um, so you know that you touch on a topic that I do like to talk about ’cause there’s or there’s always learning. So what do y’all do at Tangram to try to, you know, build and maintain these important relationships with customers, with your partners, with your stakeholders? I mean they’re also important. So what are some of the things that y’all can maybe talk about and try to put into practice to make sure you’re building and maintaining those relationships?

Amber (18:15):

Yeah, good. I mean I think there’s kind of, there’s a million different ways, but I think there’s three kind of pillars. If you were to boil it down. One, it’s the social touch, right? Let’s have a drink, let’s go to dinner, let’s, let’s just get to know each other as people. Because truthfully everybody wants to hang out and do business with people that they know. Right. People they know and they like that they like and

Chris (18:34):

Then ultimately they’ve learned to trust. Right?

Amber (18:36):

Exactly. Right. So, but the flip of that, and it’s a double-edged sword, is that nobody likes to do business with someone that goes out and has a bunch of drinks and doesn’t wake up the next day. <laugh> like no one wants to do business with the party animal either, right? So Right. We say that when you’re doing your social touches and you’re entertaining and you’re getting to know someone as a human being, then you also need to follow that up with, you know, research information. Like what are you doing to add value to what they’re doing in their life or their job. And so for us, the ability to bring what other organizations are doing to the table for other companies that are in like situations is a huge benefit for us. So maybe you’re a, I don’t know, a science or I don’t know, let me think of something good.

Amber (19:15):

Maybe you’re in the industry, entertaining industry and you are trying to figure out what to do with your new space. Well we’ve got five other companies that are in the same industry. So we’ll pull together a round table and you guys can talk amongst yourselves about how what you’re doing to bring people back or what you’re doing that’s a little bit different. So I think it’s utilizing our resources, it also helps to be able to prove that we’ve got some customers in that market or that industry, right. That vertical and we know what we’re doing in that vertical, let’s bring those people together. So it’s again, it’s utilizing our network to really help teach each other. And in doing that you become a trusted advisor. I think that’s it. And consistency, right? Yeah. Just showing up over and over again and not when there’s work. Yeah. Like just to say happy birthday or I thought about you, how, how’s your Tuesday going? Yeah.

Chris (20:03):

You know, being genuine.

Amber (20:05):

The thing that we all want, right? That they say no one checks in on the strong people. Like sometimes it’s nice to just get a message that says, hope you have a great day. So I mean I think that’s the simplest way of just being human and authentic, but it is so underplayed in this world.

Chris (20:19):

S sad but true. Yeah. So let’s go back to maybe the office space. You know, I think there’s obviously so much that that’s been discussed from the, you know, the work remote hybrid. Now you start seeing companies are mandating back in the office. So maybe you can talk some about what are some of the trends that you’re seeing in, you know, in office space design concept, et cetera, that companies are asking for or coming to you with to try to create that environment, as you said earlier, that will make it compelling for someone to leave home to be back in the office.

Amber (20:54):

Yeah, I mean I would say number one there, there’s a lot less private offices that there used to be if there are private offices there on the interior core of the building so that the light can be exposing to all of the stations and the other employees throughout the office space. We’re seeing a lot of greenery being added to spaces. Um, lots of areas that should make you feel like you have choice around where you work. So lots, lot of maybe two employees to one desk type of environments. Less dedicated desks so that you can walk in and say, you know, today I wanna work over in this corner in this little nook or today I wanna work at this desk. Those are the kinds of things that we’re seeing a lot of. I think every single area has so much technology that we might’ve also started forgetting about the analog, just whiteboard, right?

Amber (21:43):

The ability to just pick up a marker and just brainstorm versus having to create a flow chart on a PowerPoint, right? So one doesn’t cancel, cancel out the other, the need for both is still there. And so I think when you’re talking about these kinds of different spaces when you get to the office, it’s like are there team breakout rooms that maybe I have whiteboards and monitors and desks that move around and I can set it up for my team for the week and then set it up for another team the next week. So just lots of things that are mobile and allow for the most amount of spaces to work harder than just with one purpose.

Chris (22:20):

Okay. Yeah. So just kind of the, the flexibility

Amber (22:23):

Massive right Now flexibility and technology that’s on casters, so it’s also mobile, right? Okay. So everything is moving and I think part of that is realizing that dur like that when covid hit and everything was fixed, it was like how are we gonna rearrange well when things then automatically went to casters and it was like we could move around wherever so that you really can allow yourself to set up for the day the best that works for your goal for the day at work.

Chris (22:49):

I like that. So let, I’m going to, you know, kind of change subjects a little bit. Would

Amber (22:52):

You like that though? Like would you, like if you didn’t have to go into your office, like w would you feel comfortable working out into the open floor plan? ’cause you just said you guys all go into your private offices when you get there and, but you like having the doors open. Yep. If you found yourself in an open environment, do you think it would change the way that you work? I don’t know.

Chris (23:12):

Uh, it’s a great day. I like, well I say this one, I like coming into the office. I like the flexibility of, you know, working remote when it makes sense or when I can, and like to your point, there are some days when at least given what I do, I get lots of interruptions throughout the day and, and, and if I need to not be interrupted, you know, I may not come to the office to so I can focus for four or five hours or or whatnot. Um,

Amber (23:36):

Isn’t that interesting? And, and it’s so funny because I don’t know that I would’ve said that five years ago, like, if I have a focus day, I’m gonna stay home. Yeah. And also to think about that, like what it works for you might not work for the 30 year old mom, right? No. Like they need five hours to focus. They can’t do that at home. They’re going straight to the office. Right.

Chris (23:56):

And I, and I have, we have some young mothers here that will tell you they come to the office and please don’t make me go home to get work done. <laugh>. The other thing that I’ll say as an aside that it is part of the younger generation, which unfortunately I guess I’m not, but earbuds while they work, listening not just to music, but they’ll be listening to crime podcasts or things and I’m like, how are you doing that? And still focusing on what you’re doing. I, you know, I don’t know. It’s

Amber (24:21):

Out wild. Yeah. So I think that’s funny. We learned that, um, while we were all in the same storm, we were all in very different boats, right? What your boat was and the size of your boat at home was very different than other people’s with kids and toddlers and kindergarten. And yeah, I got to the office and was like, oh, I wanna drink hot coffee here in silence. This is heaven. But yeah, the micro or the multitasking and getting a lot of stuff done, it’s interesting when we used to see the head, the earbuds that were more like, Hey, this is my queue to say that I’m doing heads down quiet work, so don’t interrupt me. Now we’ve got some furniture pieces that allow for you to like kind of pull out and it’s a storage piece, but it basically, when it’s out, it’s the equivalent of earbuds in like, don’t, I’m working, I’m in heads down mode right now. Interesting. For those of us that don’t have the, the private office ability to shut the door. But

Chris (25:10):

Yeah, I think, you know too, you’re asking about our space. It, it’s hard because when we’re, I mean, not that you mean everyone up here is kind of in a cone of confidentiality with our client’s business, but to be in a, you know, in a private closed space to be able to have a conversation without a bunch of other people in open space is, you know, kind of what works in our environment and in our industry.

Amber (25:29):

Certainly related to law. Yeah. Yeah.

Chris (25:32):

And the, and I, you know, I would work remote even before covid hit, you know, because it’s just the nature of, of what I do and, and, and the, the demands. But you know, I, I do believe that flexibility is a good thing. We also think we work in what we do. And it may be true for you when we can collaborate together and like you said, get on a whiteboard and actually brainstorm something together. You just can’t do that on video. And, and the other thing that I know you, you’re aware of that there’s lots have been written, you lose that social, there’s a social piece that happens kind of before or after in between meetings that when you’re on scheduled zoom and you’re going to the next and next you lose. And that’s to me, really where culture gets built is in the

Amber (26:14):

End 1%. Yes. It’s the how was your weekend, which sometimes is grading ’cause it’s small talk, but then it’s like then learning that they like X and oh me too. And right. And it, it creates a whole nother conversation which then leads to brainstorming and Right. I mean like the Googles of the world created a 15 minute line on purpose in their cafeteria so that people from different buildings across the campus would pro crosspollinate intentionally while they waited for their food. It’s exactly the same idea. It’s like how do I get these people to stop and talk to other people within the office if they’re never here? How do they create a relationship? There is no culture created on a web camera.

Chris (26:54):

Right. There’s

Amber (26:55):

Not just a bunch of people looking at themselves in the camera. That’s

Chris (26:58):

Right. Either you’re distracted by backgrounds and or cats dog barking

Amber (27:03):

And Yes.

Chris (27:03):

Yes. I, I was literally conducting an interview, uh, earlier this week via video and the person that was interviewing for the position had a dog barking and finally it was like, it has to be everyone else is on mute, right? And, but they didn’t finally like 20 minutes in they finally said, you know, I’m sorry my dog. But I was like, oh my gosh,

Amber (27:26):

I would be so mortified. I had a very awkward one early on where there was a naked moment. We’ll leave it at that. Oh my god. Yeah. It’s been a wild ride. These zoom backgrounds. And so anyway, blurring is best if nothing else is the lesson.

Chris (27:41):

Yes. So lemme talk a little bit, uh, about you and what the question is kind of you as a leader, how would you describe your leadership style? Let’s say this as of you know today, but how has that evolved? Because I know you know, where you are today is probably not where you were five plus years ago. ’cause we all evolve as we go.

Amber (27:59):

Yeah, I try to be super authentic. I try to be the boss I always wanted to be. Um, which I think if you do it like that then it kind of keeps you human. I never try to ask anyone to do something that I wouldn’t be willing to stay and do with them. And I think that comes with the history of starting in this business and working my way through it so that there’s not really any job here that I don’t know how to help with. But I think the ability to know that I’m not just kind of hollering down from the mountaintop. I’m willing to like roll up my sleeves and do it with you. Gosh, how have I changed? I think that before I would’ve had things I would’ve wanted to say and I would’ve thought long and hard about how to say ’em.

Amber (28:37):

And I think over the years I’ve learned that rapid radical honesty is the play. So rather than spending a week and a half trying to come up with the exact way that I might say something that wouldn’t offend someone and then dredge it all back up again, I’d rather just address it, talk about it, Hey, this didn’t feel right. A better way to do that might’ve been this had this, you know, effect. And you might not have realized that when you were doing it. Here’s a different way. I think if you can address those things instantaneously, even though it might be a little raw in the moment, I think that for me that has really allowed for there to be a lot of growth and honesty in my relationships for people that work with me. I like that. Right. And that, that statement right there, people that work’s that with me, that’s the other piece. The people that work with me. I think something happens when you get into a certain leadership place where you’re like, the people that work for me and I will never be that leader, the people that work with me.

Chris (29:33):

It’s a team mentality.

Amber (29:35):

Hundred percent.

Chris (29:36):

I think that’s a very, it may sound subtle to some, but I think it’s very big distinction and, and and how your mindset is if you, because if you approach it with the we versus the I and actually in a genuine way that will, you’re the people you work with will feel that and sense that. And I think the way they respond to you is exponentially better.

Amber (29:58):

Yeah. You know, it’s funny because I had a conversation with a colleague recently that said, you know, you might be too close to some of the people on your team. And it was funny because the, in the same way that I’ll take the ra, I’ll give the radical instant criticism, you have to be able to receive it as well. And I think I took it the other way. I swung the pendulum so hard and I cut all of these really strong relationships that I had made in a business way and kind of turned them into friends and started to try to draw this line. And it took me about six months to realize that I was very sad without those people in my world and I’d wanted to open back up again and be the person that I had been before. So back to the leadership piece, I think it’s important for me to say that while I’m also willing to receive feedback, I’m also not willing to accept it all as fact.

Chris (30:48):

Good. That’s

Amber (30:49):

Healthy. Some of it’s stuff that you have to be able to process through and realize what you wanna keep and what you wanna discard and then what you wanna implement. Right. And so for me, I tried it and it didn’t work and it was like, nope, I’m gonna go back to this other way. And I think that is what growth is, is the willingness to change and change back

Chris (31:06):

Over and over. Sure. I think being self-aware, right? Absolutely. And I think that’s, there’s, that can apply in so many ways. I think to, to the willingness to try something different. The willingness to be honest about it, whether it’s working or not and be it’s okay. And, and as an example it’s okay, well that decision ended up not being right so let’s go back

Amber (31:25):

For me. Right. It didn’t work for me and it’s good that it works for others. I think I appreciate that boundary for other people. It’s that kind of work-life balance is a funny, it’s a funny conversation for me. I think that it’s a joke frankly. Like some days we spend 90% of our effort and energy in the office and we only have 10% left at home. Mm-hmm <affirmative> sometimes it’s like I can give 50 feet and you know, it’s not an issue. Some days I have got to deal with my familial obligations and it’s gonna maybe only be a 25 day for the work life and the business life’s gonna get the rest of it. And I think that when you work yourself into an organization that you’re happy and comfortable with, that it allows for me as a leader to have that type of balance. But it also allows for me to provide and allow that type of balance to the people that work with us.

Chris (32:12):

Yes. But we can do a whole episode on work. The, the myth of work-life balance, you know, it’s, to me the word balance is probably the the worst word you could use for that. I think it’s work, work-life integration. Exactly.

Amber (32:27):

Um, yeah, it’s a way

Chris (32:28):

So, you know, there’s no, you know, and, and that it all changes depending on your stage of life as well. We used to have work-life balance in our core values. We change that because what we realize is that’s not really a corporate culture, it’s more of a personal value or culture. Right. Because it depends on life. If you’re in your late twenties versus your late forties, your world is different and the way you balance things is gonna be very different.

Amber (32:56):

Greatly different. It’s so ironic that you say that We have, we used to have some meetings with new hires where we would tell them, you know, this is kind of what’s been working for their lives. Some of the upper leadership and management and early on those 20 somethings we’re hearing, if you just make all of your work friends, your own friends, then you’ll be fine. Which they heard lose your friends ’cause we’re gonna take over your life. Right. And it’s like, that’s not what we’re saying. What we actually mean is that you’ll, you will find a balance there where you do genuinely enjoy hanging out with people that you work with or people that you do business with and you will find a balance in that. And that’s a little bit of the integration but also that you’ll be able to give and take where and when you need throughout the day and week. So yeah, it’s a, the word balance I just think in general is hilarious. It’s a funny word but I do think it’s great that we all keep trying.

Chris (33:46):

Well that’s the point right? Is is, and you said every day’s a little different. You find the way to make it work and integrate both and so yeah, some days are 90 work, 10 families, some are 90 family, 10 work and everything in between.

Amber (33:59):

Yeah. It’s funny, Brene Brown talks about like in marriage it’s not 50 50. Like she walks in at home and is like, I got 70 today. And he is like, cool, I got your other 30. And it, it looks like that. And I feel like that very much in the office. And I think if, if we could all just be honest and stop calling these workplaces families, right? Like this is not our family, these are our, the company that we work for and we enjoy very much the people that we work with, but we all have families at home and you know, it’s important that they feel as much love as the people that we enjoy working with on a regular basis. And you know, it’s gonna wave and it’s gonna ebb and flow. But I think that’s part of what life is.

Chris (34:35):

That’s so true. Okay, this has been really great conversation. I love the hearing what y’all are doing to help companies, you know, move forward, be innovative in their space. I want to turn now the last minute or so, just some fun stuff to know about you. So tell us what was your first job?

Amber (34:52):

I ditched school at 14 to go get lunch at Subway and I left with a job.

Chris (34:57):

So wait, instead of ordering a sandwich, you, you got behind the counter?

Amber (35:01):

I ate my sandwich and then the on car. So offered me a job and I left at 14 as a subway sandwich artist. My mom was not very pleased that she had to drive me to and from the subway on multiple times a week. But it was a great first job. I loved it.

Chris (35:17):

Okay. Did you stay with school?

Amber (35:18):

Yeah. Oh, of course. Yes, yes, yes. Okay. No, it was just after school job. I

Chris (35:22):

Got you. I got you. All right, so you’re new to Texas but I ask all my guests, do you prefer Tex-Mex or barbecue?

Amber (35:29):

Oh my gosh, I can’t even say Tex-Mex. Like I feel like I need there to be Mexican food here. So we’re just gonna default to barbecue for sure. Absolutely.

Chris (35:38):

Okay, so you have not adjusted to Tex-Mex.

Amber (35:41):

You know what, I’m 40 years a Californian and I don’t know that I ever will. I was laughing ’cause they were doing the best tacos in Texas, a little blurb the other day on the news and I was like, they’re in the wrong state for the best taco competition. This is not where they live, but I’m sorry, I do love your guys’ barbecue <laugh>.

Chris (35:59):

That’s okay. That’s okay. We’ll forgive you. We’ll agree to disagree on that.

Amber (36:03):

Okay. Alright. You have bomb queso though. I’ll give you that. Okay, we’ll meet in the

Chris (36:08):

Middle. Y’all don’t have queso in California?

Amber (36:10):

Not like you guys do you have it at like every Mexican restaurant? It’s not a thing there really.

Chris (36:14):

Oh sure. I mean I think the first real food both of my daughters had like at, at a week old was queso. We started early. Yeah. So, okay. If you could take a 30 day sabbatical, what would you, where would you go? What would you do?

Amber (36:29):

Ooh, that’s an excellent question. I feel like I would probably go just get an Airbnb in France and just spend a couple of weeks just living life there, cruising around on the bike, traveling with my family, working, painting, just being, I think we spend so much time following a calendar. I would love to just kind of float and see what happens when we’re creative without a schedule. Love that. That’s where I come from and we don’t do enough of it.

Chris (36:57):

Yeah, sadly. You’re right. Amber, this has been awesome. It’s been a pleasure, you know, hearing your story and tantrums story. Thank you for all the insights you’ve provided and just wish y’all the best of luck as you grow your business here in Texas. Thank

Amber (37:09):

You so much, Chris, we appreciate it.

Chris (37:11):

All right, take care.

Speaker 4 (37:14):

And there we have it. Another great episode. Don’t forget to check out the show notes at boyer and you can find out more about all the ways our firm can help That’s it for this episode. Have a great week and we’ll talk to you next time.

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