Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
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What Challenges Social Entrepreneurs Face

Featuring Guest -

Tony Loyd

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
August 4, 2020

Tony Loyd is a leadership development expert, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and executive producer & podcast host for not one… but three podcasts including Social Entrepreneur which has shared the stories of over 250 impactful entrepreneurs and has been downloaded more than half a million times in over 180 countries. He also produces the Thrive Connect Contribute & Anti Racist Voter podcasts.

He is also a former Fortune 500 executive with companies such as John Deere, Medtronic, and Buffalo Wild Wings where he was responsible for launching some the most impactful talent & leadership programs these companies have ever had including a global training of 120,000 personnel in 60 countries across 4 strategic business units.

Fed up with a focus on shareholders & feeling that he was put on earth to accomplish something more he quit his 16 year corporate career. He set out to answer two questions “To meet the needs of shareholders, do we have to sacrifice other stakeholders such as employees, the communities in which we work, and the planet on which we depend? And is this truly a sustainable business model?” These questions led him on a journey to connect with hundreds of founders who collectively have impacted millions of people around the globe. Through coaching, mentoring, workshops, seminars, retreats, keynote speaking and robust media, he started helping purpose-driven business leaders to thrive in life so that they could connect deeply and contribute more.

If that was not enough of a herculean accomplishment, he’s been personally trained in the science of climate change by former Vice President Al Gore, shared his inspiring talks for purposeful business and finding passion in your work for noteworthy stages including Tedx, been featured in Fast Company, NPR, & dozens of podcasts. He is also a multiple category, best selling author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs.

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what you'll learn in this episode

  • Did Tony always want to work up the corporate ladder?
  • The cold truth Tony learned about being a Fortune 500 Exec and why he quit his job to start a blog
  • How to bring meaning to your work
  • How mentoring social entrepreneurs led him to write a book, start a radio show, and then a podcast.
  • How Tony creates revenue from his podcast
  • Why you must have a big why as a social entrepreneur
  • What challenges social entrepreneurs face that others dont
  • How to use design thinking to identify a social problem that needs solved
  • How to use empathy to understand the core of an issue
  • Why Tony decided to focus on himself and address his depression.
  • Why self care builds resiliency as an entrepreneur
  • What Tony believes is the meaning of life and why it does not have to stay the same forever.
  • How Tony is channeling his purpose to dismantle systematic racism
  • What responsibility do media producers have in social issues

How Tony Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

I think we have to evolve. Right. I have to be willing to evolve that if, if I'm still thinking the same things I was thinking 10 years ago, then what good am I? Right. Part of the world evolving is us evolving. And then I think that if you want to shift a culture, you have to think about what are the expectations, what are the rewards and, and, how do you reinforce that? So, if you want to shift a company, you say, "okay, what are the expectations that I'm setting? How am I reinforcing those expectations? And are the rewards aligned with those expectations?" The same thing comes from a community or any group that we can influence. So setting clear expectations, reinforcing those expectations, rewarding and recognizing those expectations.

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Tony Loyd Interview

Brandon Stover: [00:00:00] Hey, everyone. Welcome to evolve. Today's guest is a leadership development expert, bestselling author, keynote speaker, and executive producer and podcast host, for not one, but three podcasts, including social entrepreneur, which has shared the stories of over 250 impactful entrepreneurs has been downloaded more than half a million times in over 180 countries.

He's also a former fortune 500 executive with companies such as John Deere, Medtronic and Buffalo wild wings, where he was responsible for launching some of the most impactful talent and leadership programs these companies have ever seen, including a global training of 120,000 personnel in 60 countries across four strategic business units.

Fed up with a focus on shareholders though, and feeling that he was put on this earth to accomplish something more, he quit his 16 year corporate career. He set out to answer two questions.  To meet the needs of shareholders, do we have to sacrifice other stakeholders such as employees, the communities in which we work, & the planet which we depend on? And is this truly a sustainable business model? These questions led him on a journey to connect with hundreds of founders who collectively have impact millions of people around the globe through coaching, mentoring, workshops, seminars, retreats, keynote speaking, and robust media, he started helping purpose driven business leaders to thrive in life so that they could connect deeply and contribute more. If that was not enough of a Herculean accomplishment, he's been personally trained in the science of climate change by former vice president Al Gore shared his inspiring talks for purposeful business and finding passion in your work for noteworthy stages, including TEDx.

And featured in fast company NPR and dozens of podcasts and is a multiple category bestselling author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 lessons learned from 150 leading social entrepreneurs.

I'm honored to welcome executive producer of social entrepreneur thrive, connect, contribute, and anti-racist voter and a man who self-described himself as the Forrest Gump of business, because he just keeps going, Tony Loyd.

Tony Loyd: [00:02:01] Well, Brandon, I have to say that is the best introduction I've ever heard. I'm going to have to capture all that from my bio now.

The Untold Story Of Being A Fortune 500 Exec

Brandon Stover: [00:02:09] Absolutely. Well, you have quite an amazing story and I'd actually like to start back in the beginning of your journey when you were an instructional designer and then a fortune 500 exec. Was working your way up the corporate ladder or something you had your eyes set on when you were younger?

Tony Loyd: [00:02:25] Absolutely not. You know, I think for me, I was a little bit of a reluctant leader. I honestly had no ambition when it came to climbing the corporate ladder. you know, I always said that if they would've paid me at the same level as a janitor, as they did as a vice president, I don't mind pushing a mop around.

I mean, I did that. I did that work. So I really had no ambition when it came to climbing the corporate ladder. but you know, along the way people liked me, they were kind to me and they just helped me up to that next position. so it just sort of, it just sort of happened.

Brandon Stover: [00:03:04] Well, where were you hoping that that path kind of led for you? I mean, for your generation, you're an older generation than I that kind of seems to be the path that was laid out for that generation.

Tony Loyd: [00:03:14] When I first started working, the idea of finding a company that had a pension plan. And so at the end of the career, when you're 65 years old, you know, somebody shakes your hand, they give you the gold watch, and then you go off and you collect money for the rest of your life.

But along the line, you know, 401k's came along. Companies got rid of pensions and, that really wasn't the way that things worked. And then also I think the idea of going along a steady career path that went away a long time ago too. And so now it's more of a portfolio life. Right? So I, I create a set of skills, those skills value, and then I add value somewhere, somebody pays for that value, whether it's directly from a customer or it's in a company or wherever somebody pays for that value. When that skill and that, that competence is it's no longer valuable. Well, then you need to retool and refit yourself and start adding value in a new way.

So I think that's the, the newer way of thinking about things. But, you know, when I was a kid, it was like ah, sure. Yeah. I'd love to get into some big corporation that, you know, you cruise along and then you hit age 65 and you pop out the other side and somebody gives you a check. So that's who wouldn't want to do something like that.

Brandon Stover: [00:04:30] Right. Yeah. I think it's been a long time though, since, you know, we've had the promise of the golden ticket actually reaching that.

In 2014, you started to kind of get this feeling that something wasn't right in your life, in the focus of pure shareholder value of business was wrong. Could you kind of share what was going on for you and what kind of feelings were coming up?

Tony Loyd: [00:04:49] As you go through, corporations, the higher up in the corporation, you go, the more, you sort of see how the sausage is made, right? You get to sit in on those executive leadership meetings and you get to sit in on board meetings and you hear what people are talking about and you, get a more crystallized idea about what we're doing here.

I always kind of thought of it as we serve our customers. We create lots of value for the customers. The customers appreciate that value, so they give us money and then we share some of that money with our shareholders. But then we also have to take care of our employees. We have to take care of the communities in which we work. We have to take care of the planet.

So this sort of multi-stakeholder perspective, but yeah, what I found within those many, not all, but within many fortune 500 executive teams, there is this tremendous amount of pressure from. shareholders to constantly boost that top line and the bottom line, I guess, and to create more profit that is shed off then to the, to the shareholders.

And sometimes in order to do that, you really have to sacrifice, you know, your suppliers or, or the community or some other stakeholder. So I was, I was in, on some of those meetings and even at one point I was having a conversation with one of the other executives and he said, "you know, we're, we're going to go to Washington DC, and we're going to lobby for some laws that are beneficial to us." And so I'm thinking it's probably tax laws is something along the line. And so I said, "well, what are we going to work on?" And he said, "well, we're going to go in and we're going to ask them that there seemed to be a lot of minimum wage raise bills coming through. And so we want to go oppose that."

And it just sort of stuff to me in my tracks. And, and I said, well, actually I bat for the other team. You know, I think that if you don't pay your employees, a living wage, then employees can't be good citizens. They can't spend their money. It doesn't stimulate the economy. And what ends up happening is that we as society and taxpayers, you and I, we end up paying to make up the difference between what somebody is making from their corporation and what they need. I I'm of the opposite mind and it really helped to solidify in my mind this idea that. You know, we have to be about multi stakeholders and we can't just be about shareholders alone.

So I started this blog. I was still a corporate executive. I was a vice president at the time and I started this blog and this a series of blog posts. I wrote, I called it my Jerry McGuire moment. And if you remember the movie, Jerry Maguire, he writes this manifesto where he talks about, you know, the way that we can do business.

I wrote this series of six long blog posts, where I just sort of laid out these two questions that you talked about earlier, you know, in order to, to help our, our shareholders, do we really have to abandon all of our stakeholders? And if we do so, is that sustainable because in corporate boardrooms, we talk about sustainable profitable growth.

If a company is growing, but it's not sustainable that doesn't work. If you are sustainable and growing, but you're not profitable, that doesn't work. So it's like these three legs to a stool, sustainable profitable growth. So my question was if we are growing and we are profitable, but we are ignoring all these other stakeholders, is that really sustainable?

And so with that in mind, I really began to wrestle soul about what am I doing here? You know, I'm, I am working 60, 70, 80 hours a week. I'm traveling around the world and I'm exhausted all the time. And I just, I don't know. And so my wife and I had a conversation and fortunately, We are very frugal people. We don't spend much money. One of the little known secrets about being an executive in a corporation is as you move up through the layers of the corporation, the number of zeros at the end of those bonus checks, they get more and more and more. We had taken some fairly significant bonuses over time and we made some salaries. She's an executive, I'm an executive. And so we made this decision. We've got enough. Let's just, let's just stop. And, you know, we can't stop bringing in income altogether, but do we really have to be involved in this kind of work and can we do something else?

So, we felt financially secure enough that we could take a risk. And so we stepped away from that. We formed our own corporation and so the rest is history and I'm sure we'll talk about it.

How To Bring Meaning To Your Work

Brandon Stover: [00:09:47] Yeah, definitely looking for that meaning in your life, looking for the things that aligned with your value. You talked about in your Ted talk, how two thirds of our weekdays are spent either asleep or at work. And if we want to live a meaningful life, like we have to find something meaningful in our work.

How does one start to bring meaning to their work?

Tony Loyd: [00:10:07] Yeah, well, there are a few ways. So one is to just in your own mind to just find the meaning, right? So, let's say I'm a customer service representative for a it company. Well, you can find within that, a meaning. Now, if you are one of those people in the call center and your boss is threatening to cut your hours next week, because you didn't turn these things fast enough. And you're worried about your income because you may not get enough shifts next week. And all that. It's hard to find meaning and peace within the middle of that kind of a horrible chaos. So within a lot of kinds within companies, within positions, you can find the place where you are serving the world.

but in the end it has to come from your set of values. What's the thing that you feel like you're here on earth to do.  last year I spent a year sort of working on a personal best mission. but one of the things that came out of that is this idea that, I believe that we are here on the earth to connect.

And that means connect with other people, connect with nature, connect with the higher power. And so humans are built to connect and we're here to contribute to the world. So put our ding in the corner of the universe and what you're doing in my ding look like it could be completely different. But in order to connect and in order to contribute first, we have to practice self care.

You can't pour from an empty vessel. So last year I spent a whole year really working on this whole project about thrive, then connect and contribute. And so for every person they have to, I figure out what's my ding to put in the corner of the universe. And, by the way, feel free to let that change from moment to moment or time to time.

Right? I mean, you know, a few years ago, if you would have tapped me on the shoulder and said, what's the most important thing you're working on right now? I would have said ending malaria. You know, I was all involved in malaria. No more. I raised a bunch of funds. I ran the New York city marathon trying to raise money for malaria no more. I did all these things and I was all about malaria.

Well, last year, if you would've asked me, I would've said climate change. Right. And, and so that's, you know, it's an excess existential threat and it's really about, and I haven't forgotten about that. We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

So in the meantime, right now, I'm very passionate about dismantling systemic racism. Well, so does that mean that I don't really know what I'm all about here on the earth? No, it just means that the moment comes and, the time is right and the need is now. And we just apply that skills that we have to make that thing in the corner of the universe.

From Fortune 500 Exec To Podcaster

Brandon Stover: [00:12:44] Well, when you left your corporate career, part of that deem that you were trying to make was connecting with these other social entrepreneurs and you actually started up a podcast, you know, interviewing these people, got a radio show by the same name. Can you kind of share how that story came about?

Tony Loyd: [00:12:59] I was mentoring social entrepreneurs through a program at the University of Minnesota and the name of the program is a Cora. And so they, grow the student, social entrepreneurs, people who both have a profit and a purpose. And so, I got to know these social entrepreneurs through the University of Minnesota. I started mentoring some of them.

And then I started interviewing more and more of these social entrepreneurs, like, okay. I, I think you're doing the thing that I want to be able to do. So how did you do that? and the more of them, I talked to, the more of them, I began to realize these are great stories.

And so I was recording the stories. And then finally, I just said, Do you mind if I just share these stories on a podcast and people were like, Oh, that's great. So in November of 2015, we launched the podcast, social entrepreneur. And, over the next three years or so, we grew it significantly. It kind of surprised me the way that it took off.

One night, my wife and I were out to see a play and she introduced herself to the lady standing behind us, at the play. And one of the ladies said, Oh, by the way, I have a radio program. And so we exchanged business cards and I didn't think anything more about it. she listened to the podcast and then she shared it with the president of the radio company and they called me up and they go, Hey, we have an open slot on the morning show. How would you like to do that?

Well I said yes. And so, yes. I will do that. and what I need is I need some help. I've never done a radio program. I have no idea how to do this. So then I thought, well, I need to do way crowdfunding campaign. So I talked to a friend of mine, who's an ex verdict crowdfunding.

And he said, look, you, your friends are going to contribute to your campaign because they're your friends, right? That's what friends do. But their friends will contribute because of some spiff or something they're going to get out of it. So what do you have that you could give away that is unique to you? Nobody else has it.

Well, at the time I had interviewed about 150, leading social entrepreneurs and I had been gathering these lessons learned and it turned out that in the first 150 episodes, that every entrepreneur gave one of 10 pieces of advice. And it was like, I saw this pattern. Wow. There are these 10 pieces of advice.

So my friend, Tom, who was an expert in crowdfunding, he said, well, you know, what could you do with that? And I said, well, I think I could write a book. And he said, Oh yeah, that's great. That's great. I'd buy that book. That's great. So now in order to go on the radio, which I've never done, I needed to do a crowdfunding camp, which I've never done. And in order to do that, I have to write a book which I've never done. Right. So, that's what we did. I mean, my wife helped lay it out. She edited, she illustrated it. And I did a lot of the bulk of the writing. Well, I did the bulk of the writing. She fixed the writing. That's really the way it works.

and so we published this book and, and we gave it away as a spiff and a crowdfunding campaign. At the end of the crowdfunding campaign, you know, you've got a book, so what do you do with that? Well, let's put it up on Amazon and then we put it up on Amazon. And like you mentioned, it hit number one in multiple categories across Amazon, which sort of blows my mind.

and because of that, that. ended up with a lot of people inviting me to speak. And so I started yeah. Are more public speaking, kind of hard to do public speaking in COVID times right now. But, so, so anyway, one thing leads to another, you know, that's why I say I'm like the forest Gump of business.

I just sort of stumbled forward again and again, and good things happen to me. So.

Brandon Stover: [00:16:49] Were you making a profit from the podcast before this?

Tony Loyd: [00:16:52] No, no. Even today I lose money on the podcast, but then it's the ancillary things. So, some affiliate links, some, you know, Consulting work that I do. And then some of it is literally web development.

People connect with me and they're talking to me about, you know, how I do things and I'm working with them, then my wife and I, we do web development. Yeah. And so, you know, we use WordPress and element or in some other tools and we can help people to knock up websites pretty quickly and make them look great.

And so that's a revenue stream. you know, if you ask me what. Did I want to be a web developer? It wasn't really the thing I wanted to do, but it's a, it's a revenue stream that supports all these other crazy things that I want to be able to do.

The Challenges Of Being A Social Entrepreneur

Brandon Stover: [00:17:37] Well, some of the things from your book I enjoyed was, the quote that  if you're going to go through the craziness of being an entrepreneur, you might as well do something that makes a big impact.

Why is it so crucial to have that big why in the beginning?

Tony Loyd: [00:17:51] Purpose drives, passion and passion will get you through. just today I released an episode with a guy named depo. depender sing. And he has a company called 75 F they, they're a, sort of, HVAC, environmental, kind of companies building controls if you will.

so they help companies to, help their employees to be comfortable. And the building, right? So to have smart, internet of things and AI and all this to adjust temperatures and sensor controls and all that within in lighting and all that within the building. So they save their employees 48 or 41.8% scent on their electrical consumption on an average. And that means less greenhouse gas, et cetera, et cetera.

But he and I were talking and he said, you know, there's this tenacity you have to have, and you have to have optimism. And so it's like this combination of these two things, this tenacity and optimism and the place where that comes from for a lot of people, having a big enough why of, of like I'm driving towards something that I care passionate passionately enough about that I'm willing to put in the work and do the thing that I have to do.

Brandon Stover: [00:19:04] What are some of the challenges that like a socially impactful startup may have that a regular one might not face?

Tony Loyd: [00:19:11] Well, I think there is this balance between talking about your mission and talking about the money. And so when you are pitching to investors, some investors are going to say, look, we, we care deeply about reducing greenhouse gas about feeding, hungry kids about cleaned water, about what are those things are. And therefore lead with that.

Others will say, will you please shut up about your mission? Tell us how much money we're going to make. Right? Yeah. And so, knowing the right investor for you and then being able to tweak your presentation in a way that appeals to them.

Now having a, a strong mission though. It attracts employees. It attracts the right investors. and it attracts the right customers. So, you know, if you think about people who say I'd like to get a new pair of sunglasses or glasses, I could go to Ray ban or I could go to Warby Parker and, you know, all these different choices that people make.

There's the, the Anna Leigh pay quote and I won't get this right. Every day when you spend money, you vote for the kind of world you live in. It's something like that. and I think that there are more and more conscious consumers who are just saying, I want to make a choice about the kind of impact that my dollars make.

And so if I could. Spend it at a, or spend it at B, let me spend it at a, because it makes a difference. So, so there are some advantages, but I think you're right. I think trying to serve a mission and money at the same time, you can get out of balance with one or the other.

Brandon Stover: [00:20:50] Right. Right. And I think, you know, you offered good advice when using, kind of that mission as a filter for yourself, especially like when you're going to investors, you know, maybe you don't want to be working with the one that is like, you know, just tell me how much money we're going to make. And. I actually want to be in working.

I'm the one that's like, Hey, we'll be with your, your, why. I think it was the founder of Airbnb. He, every time he interviewed, you know, we were talking about attracting employees and whatnot time. He, every time he interviewed, he would basically say, you know, if you were going to die in a year, would you still take this job?

And so he's really trying to sess out, like, is this person going to align with our culture, with, you know, our why, and going to be fully behind that?

Tony Loyd: [00:21:29] that's a profound question. Isn't it?

Brandon Stover: [00:21:31] Yeah. Yeah, it was definitely the first time I heard that I was like, that's, that's very intense, but I think it gets right to the point.

Using Design Thinking To Identify A Social Problem

Could you describe and walk us through the process of design thinking in order to truly identify a problem that you know, you're trying to solve, when it's in large social impact?

Tony Loyd: [00:21:48] You know, in the design phase that I love working with entrepreneurs who are in the design phase. So, you know, one of the th one of the first questions you have to say is who do I serve? Right.  Am I serving, I don't know, left-handed nuns out of Australia, or am I, you know, who, who is that target audiences?

So who is it that you have a passion for serving and then what are their problems? And you, you cannot come in from the outside and make any assumptions around that, that, right. You know, that's, that's that great white savior kind of mentality. Right. So, so I think that one of the first things to do is that empathy work it's really about getting present with the problem, getting present with the people and just letting, sitting with the problem in the space and letting the people and the problem speak to you. and so the first thing you really have to do, right, because you really have to understand who am I serving and what is their problem.

And then begin to prototype some things. So, you know, people get confused between the difference between a prototype. And a minimum viable product. And so let me just get the difference in that. So a prototype, you could take PowerPoint and you could create a look of screens of an app and you could print those out and then you could sit down with people and you can get a reaction. You don't have to build an app in order to do that. So a prototype is something that allows people to give you feedback to say, yes, you heard my need, and yes, this, this solution is getting at that point or to say no, or here's what else I would need or here, how it would be different. And you really don't have to spend money to do that. It's really about just giving people something to react to.

And then a minimum viable product. And then is when you build that first iteration. And like Reed Hoffman said, the, the founder of LinkedIn, he said, you know, if you're not embarrassed by your first iteration, you waited too long to show it.

And so, so build that first iteration of something so that you can show it to somebody. But the primary question you're asking now in the minimum viable product is will you pay me for this. And so now you're trying to sell it. And really what you're doing is you're test selling into the market. You're not just showing something and asking somebody, how do you feel about that?

You're showing them something saying, will you give me money? And if the answer is no, then you either have the wrong customers, wrong problem, or the wrong solution. And so, so you have to continue to iterate on that until. You begin to generate revenue. Now, once, once you're generating revenue, I mean, revenue covers the multitude of sense.

People approach me a lot because they want investments. And so that, you know, I'm willing to invest in the right opportunity. But the most of them, here's what I want to know. Number one, have you sold anything? And then if you have sold anything, how many have you sold and to whom, and is it to your mom and your sister? You know, how many of these have you sold? And then number three is what have you learned? Are you, are you getting feedback from the marketplace? And then that, that revenue the new can be used to build iterations back into the product as you continue to iterate. Now, if you're trying to build some technical solution and you don't have the technical knowhow, you're probably going to need co-founders so that you can work on these things together so that you bring a set of skills and, or he brings a set of skills and you can, you can get to these solutions.

So. Yeah, then things get interesting with, do I have the right cofounder? How do we split equity? you know, all those kinds of things. I'd say the two things that kill companies more than anything else. Number one is they run out of cash. and the way they run out of cash is they spend faster than they're bringing it in.

And number two is they don't have a solid relationship with their cofounder that will last through the startup because it is a stress test or thrown in together. And heaven knows what you're going to go into or what you're going to run into. But that, that's the basic idea about design thinking. You know, you want to, you want to empathize, you want to iterate and you want to create these prototypes and then just.

You know, create more and more iterations of that until you get something that has a product market fit, that the, the market is giving you feedback that your product has met their need. And the way they give you feedback is with dollars. So we're pounds or euros or whatever the case may be.

Brandon Stover: [00:26:16] Yeah. I'd like to go back to this part about empathizing and, you know, truly understanding who you're serving, and getting to the core of the problem through that way, because I think what happens is when we see a large problem, we see climate change happening and we're like, how am I ever supposed to tackle this?

But if you understand who you're serving and start to get to that core problem. you have those steps laid in front of you. So could you share maybe some examples of how this has done?

Tony Loyd: [00:26:42] Hmm. Good question. Here's an interesting fact number one way, I think that people are able to solve problems is they solve their own problem first. Right. And, you know, the, the gentleman I mentioned earlier, 75 F he has this, he, he did a series a round and he raised. $18 million in just a short period of time.

and the way that he got to that series a round. So I was in 2019. He actually started in 2012 trying to solve the problem of his daughter was too cold in her bedroom, in their house. And because he's not a, HVAC engineer, he's a. systems, network, engineer. He approached it with that set of skills and solved it in his home and then went, wait a minute. Other people need that problem solved too. Right.

you know, you did mention, earth enable, is somebody who went to Rwanda. she spent, you know, she and her team, they spent, I think. Three months at 30 days, at least anyway, they said, okay, we're we're in a class.

I think she was at, Stanford. they were in the design for, for, A design for extreme affordability class. They went to Rwanda. They said, the problem is that, you know, there's diarrhea and death and disease and all this in Rwanda. So how do we, how do we fix that? but instead of staying in the lab, they went to Rwanda.

And they, and they lived a day in the life. Right. And they didn't just have one day, but they lived at least 30 days. her particular story, Gaiatria is her name. And Gaiatria lived in a house. It was a one room house, with a dirt floor. and there was a man, a woman and their nine children. And so, you know, when you are cooking, And something falls off the stove onto that dirt floor. You do not pick that up with a five second rule in your mouth. Right. And, and children, right. Running around doing what children do, including urinating and, you know, I mean, they're so all that is floor and it becomes a source of pathogens.

and so in their particular case, okay. They said, look, we see these dirt floors as a source of parasites pathogens is causing this diarrhea. So they went back to Stanford. They found a study in Mexico that had used concrete floors to solve the problem and had cut diarrhea by 49% by adding concrete floors.

So they thought about that, but then they thought, well, that's not a Rwanda is not Mexico. And concrete is expensive and concrete, by the way, is a. A big contributor to greenhouse gases. So what's another solution. And so they came upon this really old technology called earthen floors. With earth and floors, you, you put down gravel, you put on aggregate, you put on clay and sand, and then you seal all that. And traditionally, what you do is you seal that with a limp seed oil. well, unfortunately that's an expensive oil, so they came up with a synthetic oil that was less toxic and they use that. and so by doing this, now they have like, you know, over 800,000 square feet of a concrete floor, they have 60 employees, they have all these things going for them.

And, and all that really started with that empathy work. It really started with walking a day in the shoe of that particular, customer, if you will.

Dealing With Depression

Brandon Stover: [00:30:02] Well, I'd like to, kind of shift roles here and talk about some of the pieces of advice that you talk about, which is, putting on your oxygen mask first. And you've been on this journey of finding something meaningful for you and surrounding yourself with all these impactful people yet near the end of 2018, as you mentioned before, like you were starting to become pretty depressed. What was going on for you during this time?

Tony Loyd: [00:30:24] One of the key phrases that I've landed on in the last year is, is you can't pour from an empty vessel. And, you know, there is this myth that, because you're doing meaningful work. The meaningful work will continuously prop you up and fill you up. And you'll be filled with joy, joy, joy all the time.

And, and I'm here to tell you, it just doesn't work that way. I was not really taking great care of my health and I was not, looking at my, physical health. And I was looking, you know, I was looking at some financial help health and business health, but what about my relationships? And so there are like, All these different ways in which one can and should be healthy.

And so I had to step back and 2019 now keep in mind 2020 is much different than 2019. you know, somebody, so we talked about, the, you know, the, Cloud of choking Sahara and dust that's coming in. It's like, who would have saw that coming? You know, what's, what's August got for us a alien invasion or something, you know, but you know, in a, in 2019, I just had to step back and say, how do I practice self care?

because, like I said earlier, I, I'm pretty clear in my mind that I am here on earth to connect and that's connecting with others in nature and higher power and all that. I'm here to contribute, but before I can contribute and before I can connect, I have to practice self care. And I really had not been doing that.

So I spent 2019 really on this journey of, I call it my year of personal best. And so how do you live your best life in all the areas of your life? And so I developed a self assessment and I measured myself in and 10 domains across three's three categories of thrive, connect and contribute. And then at the end of the year, I measured myself again.

I so measured everything that is measurable. You know, we live in an era where, you know, the ultimate measurable human being, right? So, so I have my Garmin watch on here and I sleep in it. It can tell me how many hours I slept and how deep the sleep was and whether I get enough sleep and. So I had to make a lot of adjustments in my life.

I, you know, I started sleeping more, was a big thing. I had this bad habit. You know, it's, it's funny Brandon, because when we are in our corporate lives and we're working all these hours and we have all these things that. We're rewarded for, then you bring that into your personal life or into your startup life. Those things can kill you.

And so, you know, I was really used to this idea that I really didn't need more than four hours of sleep a night, and I'm just going to push on through and I'll just drink more coffee and I'll sleep when I'm dead and all that kind of stuff. Well, I. Felt like I was getting there. I'll sleep when I'm dead. So I had to sleep more.

I in 2019, I averaged seven hours and 20 minutes of sleep, which is much more I ever had in my life. I, switched to a plant based diet. I reduce my cholesterol. I reduce my LDL. I reduced, you know, my weight by 16 and a half pounds. you know, so I had a lot of breakthroughs in that way and I ran a lot more. So in 2019, I ran 1,790 miles, which is. Basically the distance from Minneapolis to Miami.

And so I, I spent last year really recharging myself. Now what's interesting is just this morning. I was speaking with someone. He has a company called civic Eagle and, and I told him about this thing that I had gone through last year.

And I feel like. You know, I came into 2020 ready for this. I came into 2020. It's like, dude, I wish I would have done that. You know? Cause I think I'd been burned then the candle at both ends for the last couple of years, you know? and so, you know, sometimes just, I don't know if it was intuition. I don't know if it was just frustration or if I was just at the end of myself, but for whatever reason and last year, I spent that time in self care and I'm really glad I did because now with everything from, you know, the Corona virus to the death of George Floyd, to, you know, all the other, you know, murder Hornets or whatever else is coming our way, I feel like I'm better prepared and my vessel is full and I'm able to give more.

Brandon Stover: [00:34:45] Could you describe how like self care builds resiliency for us as entrepreneurs?

Tony Loyd: [00:34:51] It's like recharging your batteries. It's, you know, if I, if I take my phone and I walk around all day and I'm using it constantly, eventually it discharges and I have to go plug it back in.

And at some point the red lights blinking and it's shutting itself off and it's just not going to go any further. but I think that. You know the word resilience. It's interesting word resilience. A lot of people take the definition. Yeah. Bounce back. Right. So we go back to where we were, but I, I disagree with it that definition, I think true resilience.

What we have to do, especially in a time like this is we have to bounce forward. We can't just bounce back to where we were, because you know, in the middle of this pandemic, if we just said, okay, control alt delete, forget the pandemic. It's over. Let's all go back to what we were doing. Well, we were destroying the planet.

you know, we are, pumping, CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at such a rate as. unsustainable, you know, the, Siberia is experiencing over 100 degree Fahrenheit days right now, you know, the permit frost is, is melting. I mean, there just so many things happening still, but of course, you know, with the, with the chaos in the news and the craziness that we get out of Washington and everything that's happening is kind of hard to see all those headlines and to see all this stuff.

But, but the truth is we cannot bounce back. To where we were. We have to bounce forward to where we need to be as a species, as a society, you know, to a, just an equitable green future. And also we have to bounce forward to something new

Brandon Stover: [00:36:26] Yeah, I think, when you get those signals of burnout and those things coming up, they're they're, they are signals. They're showing you that, Hey, something's wrong. And you need to, you know, go through these self care practices to start to change that for your own life. But then also in the same way, you're looking out, you know, the Corona and everything going on, what we were doing in the past got us to this point, that's the reason we're in this situation. And so we need to change and do other things to move forward as a society.

Tony Loyd: [00:36:54] That's it exactly Brandon.

What The Meaning Of Life Is

Brandon Stover: [00:36:56] I know you're a father and a grandfather. If your children or grandchildren were to come to you and ask, you know, what the meaning of life was, or what's the point of all this, what would you tell them?

Tony Loyd: [00:37:08] I think I've said a few times, you know, we have to connect and we have to contribute and before we can connect and contribute, we have to practice self care. But I think, you know, for every person it's something different, right? So, the way that I contribute, you know, my meaning in life, right now I have a couple of passion projects that I'm working on and that is, that's the thing that I feel the greatest meaning for. The way that I show up in my meaning, doesn't have to be the way that you show up in your meaning. So you just have to pick, and yeah, and that picked doesn't it. You have to last forever.

You know, if, my wife is, my wife is my greatest friend and partner and all that. But if she walked in today with a shirt that I had never worn anything that looked like that and said, Hey, here's something I bought for you. Will you wear this? I don't know that I would just throw it on and go running out the front door or, and go, you know, Hey world, look at me in this crazy looking shirt. My first time, I just slip it on and like walk around the house with it a little bit and see how I felt about it. Catch my reflection mirror a few times and see how I felt about it. And then sort of maybe see if this is for me or if it's not, and it's the same thing with work or with purpose or meaning or all these things.

The thing that I was passionate about what I was 20, you know, today I'm 61 and the passions that I have, they're just as bright, just as burning. I'm just as passionate. I'm just as driven, but it's about something completely different today. And, you know, next year it could be about something even more different than that.

So, you know, I would just say, find that thing, find that thing that drives you, that thing that you feel like you are uniquely positioned to do. So, you know, what are your competence? What's the thing that you bring to the table? what does the world need and then what is your passion and then how do those things intersect to create social good?

And so if you could find something at that intersection of your competence, the something the world needs, something you're passionate about and something that makes us social impact. You're good to go.

Helping To Dismantle Systematic Racism

Brandon Stover: [00:39:10] Well, you just launched a third podcasts aimed at dismantling systematic racism. How are you channeling your purpose into this?

Tony Loyd: [00:39:18] I live in the twin cities, you know, in the Minneapolis Saint Paul area. and when I w I moved here in 2011, And, when I came here, the recruiter that recruited me up here had a look, I'll tell you two things about recruiting and Minneapolis, Minnesota said, she said, one is the hardest place on earth to get there people to come to because you know, people are like, Oh no, I'm not going to the frozen North.

I'm not going to that. Are you kidding? I've seen the video of the winters, what it looks like. I'm not going up there, but once people. Well get here. The second truth is it's the hardest place to recruit people from because once you get here, see this lifestyle. And right now, you know, the front of my house, the back of my house, there's woods on either side of this, even though we're in a suburb, there's a nature reserve right behind my house.

And I will guarantee you if I get up out of this chair and I walk around at the window that faces the back of my house. There's either a deer or a Turkey or a Fox or a something back there. And it's just amazing. I'm 15 minutes from downtown st. Paul I'm 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and, and there's this nature all around us.

In fact, there was a picture of a bear walking down the street and st. Pauli of the day. And so, you know, it's like, we're surrounded by nature is really amazing. There's a running path about a quarter of a mile from my house. Right. Run out of my driveway and take a right about a quarter mile later, I catch a running path and that running pack goes and intersects with other paths and I can run easily 50 miles or bike 50 miles from my house along a paved trails with trees overhanging it.

And it's just, it's amazing. great restaurants. Great. Are great, blah, blah, blah, blah. and we're often ranked number one, right? Number one in education, number one in healthcare, number one. And you know, you named the category, we're often in the, at least the top five, but you know, often number one, unless you happen to be a person of color.

And so when it comes to quality of life for black Americans, Minnesota ranks 49th. And the first time I heard that statistic, I was stunned because I thought, how could that be? I mean, we're, we're in a progressive liberal kind of state. People seem to care deeply. you know, we have a fairly robust kind of educational system and healthcare system and all these things.

How can that be? And so. Over time. As I have been, running my first podcast, social entrepreneur, I've been interviewing a lot of people who are black indigenous people of color. And I've been talking to them about that, that, opportunity gap between people of color of black indigenous people of color and white, people in Minnesota.

And so, you know, I'm, I've been learning a lot of that time and I've been looking at solutions and who's working on this and how's that happening? Its been, you know, a little bit arms distance, because it's interesting and I'm passionate about it, but Oh, by the way, I'm also passionate about climate change.

I'm also passionate about these other things, right? So it was just one more thing that I was thinking about. But with the death of George Floyd, it's like, it dropped the hammer on me. It was like, I just, I, you know, there's a, German philosopher and I can't think of his name right now, but he said that, being neutral only helps the oppressor. It never helps the oppressed. And so that phrase kind of came back to me. In fact, a friend I popped off on Facebook and just, you know, I try to keep my Facebook just to my friends and family. And I try not to be too open with that. and I also, I'm, I've been trying to stay out of politics as much as I can because I want to appeal to as broad of an audience as I can.

And I know that there are people who disagree with me politically, and that I respect that that's great and you know, more power to them. But this whole thing with George Floyd and then, you know, the there's good people on both sides thing at Charlottesville, with the president and all these other things that are happening, I just had had enough.

And so I popped off on a Facebook and said something about it. And a friend of mine from high school said, well, it's about time. You said something. And by the way, you've got a platform. What are you going to do about that? I was like, man, it just convicted. My heart just really convicted my heart. And so, my wife, Lynn and I had a conversation that Sunday night, it was just a couple of weeks ago.

And she said, you know what I, I need said, you know, lots of people talking about, it's not enough to just not be a racist, but you know, the only people who say I am not a racist are usually racist. Right. And so, so it's, that's not enough. So how do you become an anti racist and that's, you know, Abraham X Kendi and his work around anti-racism.

And so we've been thinking about that, talking about it and what are we going to do? And so we said, well, what does somebody need an order this November to vote? as an antiracist, if I were an anti racist voter, What do I need? And so there are some barriers to voting. So let's just start with, you know, are you registered to vote?

can you confirm that you registered to vote? Being no word about, can you vote absentee? Are the Mail in ballots availabile? You know, so there are some strategic kind of a tactical things to get out of the way, but then we started thinking about if I want to be an anti-racist voter, let's just say, what are the positions within my, on the ballot that are going to have an impact?

So until this happened, we really didn't have a lot of thought about the city alderman position, but the city alderman position gets to pick who's. You know what the. what the, contract is with the police department and they get to negotiate with the union, the police union, and you know, so, so many things in criminal justice and housing and healthcare and all these different areas, they're all related to that older alderman position.

Well, we had not thought about that and half the time you're going down the list and you go president. Yeah. you know, governor and, whatever. These people are wearing a blue shirt, a red shirt I'll probably vote for them. Right. and so know people vote, at the top of the ticket, but we don't really vote the way all the way down the ticket.

And we don't really know what the policies are that are anti racist policies. And so, we, we have set about to educate ourselves. How do we vote as anti-racist, and as we educate ourselves, we want to bring it other people along on that journey. And so the question is, you know, if I want to, if I want to dismantle systemic racism, who do I vote for?

How do I vote? And, and, and what are the positions? And then what are the policies that I'm looking for people to support? and so that's the project we're working on now. We're still kind of in that. Prototype stage right now. I, you know, I mentioned a few people that I've talked to in the last few days, I am doing that sort of showing them the concept and getting the reaction. And these are women and LGBTQ straight, you know, multi races, black indigenous people of color white, you know, so we're trying to get a lot of perspectives on this to say.

Because here's what I know, Brandon. I know that. White people talking to white people about black people, isn't going to get it right. So, and it will be very easy for me to do or say something extremely stupid. I mean, nobody wants to cancel culture where people go, well, he said one dumb thing and he's out. Right. and so. I'm being very cautious at how I do this, but I'm also being open to feedback on the way when people give me fees back in the say, you're getting it wrong.

I just listen, I just settle in. And I say, thank you. And now let me see what I can do to do better because when I know better, I do better. so, so I'm sort of walking around in this mine field where people are raw and they are like ignited right now. And they're just like, ah, just, I, you know, I'm so upset about what's happening.

and I, and I want to make sure that I'm not being stupid offensive ham-handed but at the same time, I can't. Not do something. So I have to do something about what I'm feeling passionate about.

Brandon Stover: [00:47:54] Absolutely. And I think, you know, a big step towards that. Okay. As you were mentioning is educating people, you know, what are the policies, how to do some of these people lower down the ticket actually make moves and which people are we a lot to align with? And, you know, we're looking at our own values.

What responsibility do you think like independently producers, such as ourselves? Have an, you know, sharing perspectives on things like racism and climate change, like you've shared perspectives on a whole variety of challenges. What do you think our responsibility is as media producers?

Tony Loyd: [00:48:27] well, first of all, we have to trust the voices that are already speaking and amplify those voices. Right? So if you, if you went to Tonyloyd.com  you would see a list of more than 80 black indigenous people of color that we have had as guests, guests on the podcast. And honestly, I feel like that's not enough.

So it's first and foremost, it's not about my voice. First, my voice should be amplifying and pushing those folks out front. I also make sure that I have a, a good balance of, female founders versus male founders or, or as people who don't, identify with any gender.

I try to make sure that we have a few queer voices in there, you know, a lot of, a lot of different categories. So. So I think that first and foremost, we have to amplify the voices that are already speaking, because I mean, look at me, I'm a 61 year old white male. I've had all the sunshine in the room world. The entire spotlight of the universe has been pointed at me my entire life.

So my role is to take a mirror and to reflect that light. To where it hasn't been shining all this time and does shine it on people who need the spotlight. So that's my first and foremost role. The second thing is that I have to be honest and vulnerable, and there are people that I will reach that other people will never reach.

And so Brandon, you have an audience, right? You have people that follow you, and you have a particular voice that you will reach people that I will never reach. And so, you know, each of us has a responsibility to have that adult conversation and our own ignorance. Right.

you, you mentioned, you know, our role to educate well, it's my. First role is to educate myself. Right. And, you know, one of the things that I'm very clear of is I'm, I'm not asking black people to explain racism to me, right. That's that's not their job. Right. It's my job to understand systemic racism and what's happening. And so, so I have a duty and a responsibility to educate myself first, and then I can bring other people along on the path as I'm learning things.

Because there are a lot of other people who are struggling with the same things I am, you know, what does systemic racism look like? How do I use my voice for good? You know, what, what could I do with my vote, with my voice, with my choice, with other things that I'm doing, you know, with my dollars I spend, you know, with small, minority owned businesses, for example.

So, so. I I'd say that, you know, first and foremost, it's not about me. Right? It has to be about the people who are already in the community doing the work. And they've been doing that work for a long time. Second of all, I should then add my voice, but not be the center of it all. And then third of all, I just have to make sure that I'm educating myself being vulnerable.

You know, you asked me one point about values and stuff, and that's one of my key values is about authenticity and vulnerability. So I really have to be authentic and vulnerable and, and just go on that journey. And I think other people will relate to that. And then I can't be thin-skinned about it when I get it wrong and somebody slaps me back, I just have to go, you know what, you're right.

I got it wrong. And it's a, you know, I'll get it right next time.

Brandon Stover: [00:51:53] Well, for those that want to follow you on that journey, where can they best do that?

Tony Loyd: [00:51:58] You know, I think probably the best place to connect with me is just start tonyloyd.com. But the tricky bit is it's T O N Y L O Y D with one L, T O N Y L O Y d.com. And if you connect with me tonyloyd.com, you can find me at all the other places where I've reside.

How Tony Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

Brandon Stover: [00:52:18] Wonderful. Well, our last question is how can we push the world to evolve?

Tony Loyd: [00:52:24] I think we have to evolve. Right. I have to be willing to evolve that if, if I'm still thinking the same things I was thinking 10 years ago, then what good am I? Right. Part of the world evolving is us evolving.

And then I think that if you want to shift a culture, you have to think about what are the expectations, what are the rewards and, and, how do you reinforce that?

So, if you want to shift a company, you say, okay, what are the expectations that I'm setting? How am I reinforcing those expectations? And are the rewards aligned with those expectations?

The same thing comes from a community that, or, or any group that we can influence. So setting clear expectations, reinforcing those expectations, rewarding and recognizing those expectations.

That's how we shift the world.

Brandon Stover: [00:53:12] Well, that was a wonderful answer. And Tony, I thank you for coming on the show today and sharing everything that you have.

Tony Loyd: [00:53:18] thanks for having me, Brandon.