Rebel Human Resources Podcast

Episode 16: Innovative Pivoting with Paul Farmer, Entrepreneur

November 03, 2020 Kyle Roed, The HR Guy Season 1 Episode 16
Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 16: Innovative Pivoting with Paul Farmer, Entrepreneur
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Rebel Human Resources Podcast
Episode 16: Innovative Pivoting with Paul Farmer, Entrepreneur
Nov 03, 2020 Season 1 Episode 16
Kyle Roed, The HR Guy

Join Kyle Roed  and Molly Burdess as they speak with Paul Farmer, Founder of Squad Ready, an innovative team building software.  Paul speaks to his journey as an innovator and entrepreneur and gives tips and tactics to drive change and PIVOT! 

About Paul: Challenging the status quo, and finding a simpler way of doing something is what brings me energy! As the Director of Continuous Improvement, I spend each day doing just that.

In addition to my work in Continuous Improvement, I am excited about pursuing a new venture in the world of technology startups. Giraffe Revolution, Inc. leverages a unique funding model to work with individuals that have valuable ideas but aren't in a position to turn that idea into a reality. Our current projects range from technology solutions for educators to a garage sale checkout app.

Perhaps more importantly, we at Giraffe Revolution want to help change the culture of today's workplace. Many organizations tout the value of innovation, and few are equipped to create an environment that supports creativity and risk taking. We believe we can make a difference. More about that to come... 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-farmer-5364b757/
https://squad-ready.com/

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

Rebel ON, HR Rebels!  

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Show Notes Transcript

Join Kyle Roed  and Molly Burdess as they speak with Paul Farmer, Founder of Squad Ready, an innovative team building software.  Paul speaks to his journey as an innovator and entrepreneur and gives tips and tactics to drive change and PIVOT! 

About Paul: Challenging the status quo, and finding a simpler way of doing something is what brings me energy! As the Director of Continuous Improvement, I spend each day doing just that.

In addition to my work in Continuous Improvement, I am excited about pursuing a new venture in the world of technology startups. Giraffe Revolution, Inc. leverages a unique funding model to work with individuals that have valuable ideas but aren't in a position to turn that idea into a reality. Our current projects range from technology solutions for educators to a garage sale checkout app.

Perhaps more importantly, we at Giraffe Revolution want to help change the culture of today's workplace. Many organizations tout the value of innovation, and few are equipped to create an environment that supports creativity and risk taking. We believe we can make a difference. More about that to come... 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-farmer-5364b757/
https://squad-ready.com/

Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work.

We'll be discussing topics that are disruptive to the world of work and talk about new and different ways to approach solving those problems.

Follow Rebel HR Podcast at:

www.rebelhumanresources.com
https://twitter.com/rebelhrguy
https://www.facebook.com/rebelhrpodcast
www.kyleroed.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-roed/

Rebel ON, HR Rebels!  

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/rebelhumanresources)

Kyle Roed:

I'm Kyle Roed and this is the rebel HR podcast. Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work. Follow us online on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, rebel, human resources.com. or follow me on twitter at rebel HR guy. All right, listeners. Thank you so much for joining us. Super excited for our guests this week. His name is Paul Farmer. He is a innovator and entrepreneur in our local community. Here, we are joined, as always by our wonderful talented co host, Molly varidesk. Paul, welcome to the show. Hey, thanks for having me. So Paul, I'd like to start with you giving us a little bit of an overview into your background. You're not a traditional HR practitioner. So I think it'd be great to hear a little bit about your story.

Paul Farmer:

That's, that's a true story. They have not led me into HR as of yet my background, actually, I started in high school, working for a financial institution, and decided that I kind of liked that. And so I've been in banking for the last 20 some odd years. But I also had this parallel where I you know, I dreamed as a child to be a Disney Imagineer. And about 10 years or so ago, my two worlds kind of came together and the credit union that I worked for, I was able to lead some of the innovation and continuous improvement work. And then alongside that, I've always just had a passion for solving problems. And usually that came in the form of you know, starting up little businesses here in there and, and have been doing that as well along along the way. So it's been pretty fun, crazy ride. Not a lot of free time.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah. So in your in your free time. What do you do for fun?

Paul Farmer:

Great question. Usually. I mean, outdoors, person, but I loved camping, hiking, fish and just be outside. So

Kyle Roed:

yeah, that's been that's been one of the positive things in COVID. Living in the middle of nowhere. And I was we've been socially distancing since the 1800s. So we can cut out fresh air and stay six hour for, for everybody we see.

Paul Farmer:

No, no, no, no.

Kyle Roed:

So Paul, what would you consider to be your calling? How did you get into some of the endeavors that you found yourself going into?

Paul Farmer:

You know, I, I see myself definitely as an opportunist, but also someone who am a problem solver by nature. And so when I see something that doesn't just fit right, now, I'm always looking for a way to solve it. Whether that be starting a business or creating a new app, or, or what that may be.

Kyle Roed:

I'm just always looking for easier ways to get things done. What do you wish that you would have known when you were starting out?

Paul Farmer:

Oh, gosh, well, there's some things you wish you would have known. And then there's some things you're glad you didn't know. You know, some of those things have. It's, it's, there's a reason why not everybody's in business, right? Because it's hard. And if we all knew that, then nobody would probably be in business. So I'm kind of glad I didn't know that it was as hard as it was gonna be both things that I wish I would have known that it's okay to share your idea. I think that's one of the biggest learnings early on, as everyone wants to keep those ideas really close to their best, you know, because if I share it, then you might steal it, right. And as you start to figure things out, as you start to do this more and more, you realize, the idea is extremely cheap. There's nothing special about the idea it's executing on the idea that actually is worth something. And so now, you know, I'm an open book and sharing ideas all the time. Because if you can do it faster and better well knock yourself out. Because it's it's never as easy as you think it's gonna be

Molly Burdess:

my personal issue with that is I don't share my ideas now because I'm afraid somebody's gonna steal them but because I'm afraid I'm gonna look like an idiot.

Paul Farmer:

One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein has and I'm gonna probably slaughter but something to do with if at first it doesn't seem absurd, then there's no value to it. And so I, I have that in my office and kind of I look at that often, especially when I get that person shaking their head at me thinking what what are we doing here? So

Molly Burdess:

yeah, that's something I've learned and had to play. Practice for sure part of it, I think is what I found is who I surround myself with and the culture that I have, if it's a business, like, you know, if I have a team that's negative, negative, negative, or it's going to tear down, you're gonna you're not fostering that. Right? So surrounding yourself with those positive people, I think is insanely important when it comes to innovation and also risk taking. That's what I'm finding anyway. That I am not a risk taker by nature. So it's this takes a little practice.

Paul Farmer:

Yeah, it does. It does. risk taking is definitely one of those things that you have to overcome.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, I think that's a I just think that's an inherent trait and a lot of HR people. We're, we're relatively risk averse. A lot of us like a lot of rules. You know, we got we get the rap as being the policy police. I don't know about you, Molly. But and then you you wonder why people don't follow the policy in a, and then you realize, Oh, the handbooks like 100 pages long. Nobody's gonna remember any of this, right?

Paul Farmer:

Yes, I get that.

Molly Burdess:

But I think to be strategic, actually no, to be strategic HR leader in any role, you have to be innovative, like, how do we overcome that? If it's not natural to you? How do people overcome it?

Paul Farmer:

Yeah, well, great question. I mean, gosh, this this year is a is a, an example of how we've all been forced to do that, right? With COVID, and everything else. Like it or not, maybe kicking and screaming out the door, but we had to overcome that and, and embrace the fact that things weren't going to be the same as they've always been. And we have to be okay with change. You know, I joke a lot of times that I need a chase lounge in my office, because of the psyche out, you know, I put my psychiatry hat on, when working with people around innovation and continuous improvement. Because it is, there's a psychological element there of letting go and being okay with change, and I've had people with tears, and then later look back and go, Why on earth was I so emotional about, you know, letting go of this or that or, or embracing whatever that that new thing is, and, you know, taking the time to just step back and get out of your own way and practice that practice. Standing in a place different than you're used to, and trying to look at things through a different lens, you know, I think it's a good start to getting out of your own way to embracing change, and embracing the fact that it's not about you, and nine times out of time. You know, they make it about them. And it's really not about them.

Molly Burdess:

That's just gonna ask, it's just thinking, like, what part of innovation is people? And what part of it is processes?

Paul Farmer:

Yeah, good question. Those two, definitely, you know, go hand in hand, I don't think you have one without the other. I think it's both, you know, the innovation is really people with the ability to look at something differently. It's incremental to disruptive but ultimately, it starts with someone who solving a problem in a different way. The innovation that's going to stick if it's truly solving a problem and the right problem. That's often often the hardest part is making sure you're solving the right one.

Kyle Roed:

So take me through an example of a time where you did have you had an employee or you had an individual that you were consulting, through a change or developing an innovation? How did you work them through the process? And how did you ultimately get the desired result? Give me an example of one of those. I think the tools that I use most often come from, actually from a lot of the continuous improvement work or lean work that typically you find in manufacturing, but a lot of

Paul Farmer:

organizations are embracing, even in service organizations like the one I work for. Really, it's about getting people to see the path themselves. I typically go in to a situation where we're trying to solve a problem with an idea of where the solution probably lives, but by helping the team actually get there on their own. And then you have inherently the buy in that you need to make that change because the They're owning the change versus you placing the change upon them. You know, we look at, you know how things are running today, then we then we talk about how we want things to be, and kind of lay out that utopia, and then how we're going to get there. And we take that cross functional team, and we talk about how we're going to get there. And then as the team, you know, we decide what that solution is going to be. And then that team, you know, goes out and shares that with all their co workers. And then it's not coming from a manager, it's not coming from me, or any other leader in the organization, it's coming from the team itself that's in and around the process where the change is happening.

Kyle Roed:

So I'm curious, so is your perspective that the, there's already an idea of what the right thing to do is in mind? Or does the team truly develop that?

Paul Farmer:

I think it's a little bit of both. Typically, there's a general direction that you're going to head. Oftentimes, it gets polished and better than, you know, we truly believe that the group is going to come up with a solution better than any one person could write. However, you typically have a direction you think it's going to go. And a lot of times you do go in that direction. But there's shifts and changes and things that you uncover, that you wouldn't have had you not included the people in, that are in and around the process in the in the conversation itself?

Kyle Roed:

Sure. I think that's one of the potential pitfalls, especially for an HR person, whether when you're rolling out change, and we're doing that all the time, especially in 2020. Right. Right is, you know, we we can assume that we think we know what the right solution is. And we go about it, and we just roll something out. And sure, you know, Hey, everybody here get behind this and sign on the dotted line that we review this? Yeah, that's kind of that's a lot of times, that's the approach because it's easy. So what advice would you give to somebody in our role, or a leader of people who's who's got what they think is a pretty clear idea of the direction we need to go? How do they bring the team along for the ride, when they've already essentially defined where they're going?

Paul Farmer:

Well, I think you have to be open to the fact that you might be wrong. So if you're not, then I would just stick with the original plan. So you go in with an idea of the direction it's probably going to go. But you still have to be open to the fact that it might not go that way. So if it truly is, this is the way we have to go, then, you know, I think we go back to the, you know, the typical, you know, helping people see why or this or that. But if you're truly open to the idea of the individuals in and around that process, and it could be an Indian level of the organization, right? It could be, it could be frontline, all the way to C suite individuals, who then come together and look at that, whatever it is that you're trying to accomplish, and, you know, with with some constraints to solve the problem at hand, a clear problem statement is ideal. You need a clear cut, this is the problem we're trying to solve, then you need clear constraints, here are the rules that we have to abide by when solving that problem. Because if you just tell people to think outside the box outside the boxes, infant didn't write it, it goes forever. But if you reframe the box outside the box and say, This is the sandbox we get to play in to solve this problem, then that helps you focus in and come up with a solution or whatever it is, whatever problem you're trying to overcome, and come up with solutions. And maybe together we go the direction you thought we're gonna go. And maybe it's a little bit different. But you got to be open to that.

Molly Burdess:

Some things that I've done in my career to foster innovation within our organization is of course surveys, right? I think everybody, that's probably the most common thing. But we've offered an award or an incentive for people to be innovative. So submit an idea how to improve a process or improve our organization. If that idea gets implemented, you get X dollars as a bonus. What are some other ways you have seen organizations for leaders foster innovation within their workplace?

Paul Farmer:

Yeah, I think those are some popular ones. I think those can be challenging, right? Especially if you don't have a specific problem to solve. I've seen people that do some sort of idea. Just iteration tools, there's several of them out there where you post a problem to solve. And then everyone is submitting solutions to that problem to solve. And then you, you start to naturally See, leaders of those solutions come for it. Because a lot of these tools are using some sort of, you know, almost Facebook, social media style platform where you're, you have a conversation thread going there. So that's one way that I've, that I've seen people do it using lean methodology, where you're going in and you're talking about walkabouts where you're, you know, walking through the processes and looking at, you know, different things. And then,

Kyle Roed:

you know, just identifying those little incremental shifts that add up to innovation is another way of doing that would be the almost the two different spectrums there. You know, we've talked a lot about innovation. And I know, in past conversations with you, we talked about the word pivot, which is, I think, going to be the theme for 2020. I just think about the that friends episode where they're on the stairwell with the couch, just yelling pivot at each other, that's pretty much Yes. 2020 at this point in HR, or I call it like, the 2020. Whack a mole. It's like, which crisis are you dealing with today? And where are you dealing with that? And department? Which, which city, whatever. So tell me what what you have done within your organization's to pivot into 2020s new reality?

Paul Farmer:

Well, most recently, my business partner and I are this the spring? You know, with every problem like this fosters opportunity? You know, we're thinking about, okay, how are we going to do this? How, how are people going to shift and to use your word pivot, which I use, I love that I use pivot all the time. And then the friends episode instantly comes up in the group, you know, how are we going to pivot on this and think of ways to help people in different areas, and the one area we're talking about is team building, I am a social creature I love to and I think, one level or not everyone is, you know, we need that interaction with with each other. And so how do you foster that interaction? How do you do that team building in this virtual world that we're living in right now. And my business partner, and I also like to do talk about escape rooms, I, he, he actually builds escape rooms. And we we like to do them. And so we said, okay, well, how do we take that same concept, and we put make it virtual. And so we looked at a way we talked about, well, what's important about team building, you know, when you go and do that with your team, you know, what's important about that? And how do we recreate that? In this environment? We talked about problem solving and getting people engaged and making sure that that one person isn't kind of floating in the background? Or how do you do an element of trust that I'm in a trust that you're going to do what you need to do those types of things. And so we came up with this virtual escape room as our first go, and we're calling our this business squad ready. And squad ready his first virtual escape room as has a pirate theme. It's kind of fun. You're using an avatar to to navigate around this island. As the storyline goes that you know, your ship has crashed on here and Navy is after you and you've got an hour to get out of there. Every good escape rooms got a nice storyline. So we've got a, you know the story and you're walking your pirate around and as a team, in this game setting, you're figuring out how you're going to get off this island. So it's been pretty fun.

Kyle Roed:

Our pirate noises obligatory

Paul Farmer:

I yeah, you know, you do have to, you have to work on your pirate voice as you because you, you know you talk to each other and should have some sort of coaching ahead of time as to, you know, proper pirate etiquette in terms of and other things. But be fantastic.

Kyle Roed:

interesting approach. You know, for me, it's extremely competitive. And I just, I just want to win doesn't necessarily always work the best in an escape room environment. So So how do you how do you foster the interaction between the people doing the escape room versus somebody who's just like a gamer and is like, Oh, I'm just gonna go, I'm gonna go find all these elements. I'm sure this is the next thing and just doing it by themselves. How do you foster The teamwork aspect,

Paul Farmer:

the teamwork aspect, we've got puzzles in there where it takes three people to actually solve the puzzle and you have to work together, all three of you have to, there's a couple different ones that do that, we plant a couple of the, I don't want to give away too many secrets here, but we plan to a couple of the things that you need to get out of there in individuals inventory, but what you have is different from what I have. So we you know, we you plant a couple of things like that, so that one person can't just be running ahead. And, you know, gathering that I think they're naturally some leaders are going to emerge. And you know, that's good conversation, I think that happens in your traditional teamwork type environments where a leader is going to emerge and kind of take charge and having some conversation about that is really good. But what we're able to do in a virtual environment is we're able to force interaction that you can't do outside of virtual environment where you say, Okay, this, if you want to get out of here, this person is going to have to participate because they've got a piece of the puzzle that nobody else has. So we've we've planted some different elements in there like that to just, you know, make sure everybody's engaged and in a way to get out of there.

Kyle Roed:

Cool. Molly, have you ever done an escape room?

Molly Burdess:

I sure have. I'm awful at it. They're really fun, though, but I'm not great at it. I was missed a little hints. But I'm more I am very, you know, inclusion is one of my core values. So I am happy and content to go into those escape rooms. And I look at it as my job just to make sure that everybody's participating and it works. Right.

Kyle Roed:

So you're the connector. I'm the one that like, I just want to finish as fast as possible. So I start to maybe not foster that sense of camaraderie as much. Are you bulldozer, uh, I can neither confirm nor deny that that label?

Molly Burdess:

Yeah. You know, it's interesting, you keep saying pivot, I've been talking with my team a lot this week, specifically, about pivoting from survival mode to thriving, like, we have to get out of this, we're just trying to get through the year, we're just trying to get through 2020. Because it's not going to do our business any good, it's not going to do ourselves any good. Like, we have to pivot from surviving to thriving,

Paul Farmer:

I think it's a really good point, though. And, and one that we're hanging on to as well, because you can look at this year and and kind of, you can do that same thing with as little of something as team building, right, you can say, oh, we're just gonna do that next year, because we're gonna, we're gonna plow our way through the rest of this year. And then next year, we'll go back to that normal stuff. And what we're saying is, don't wait till next year, because for a lot of good reasons, and, you know, do some of the things, these things. And we've tried to figure out another way to do that, with this new concept. And there's lots of other ways to do that two, people have figured out how to, you know, have have a drink together at four, and everybody's on the screen and this and that. But what I will say about this, that's different is the interaction is different, it feels a little more real, as crazy as that sounds. Because you're working on solving a problem together, and you're, you know, you're playing a game together. versus when you try to have a drink over the screen, it still doesn't feel like you're next to me, that just doesn't feel right. We're in this case, you know, we've created this virtual world that isn't like anything else. So you're not, you don't have that something to compare it to that then feels off, if that makes sense.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, that's an interesting perspective. And I would agree with that I've done some of the, you know, there's been some virtual happy hours, and there's Sure, some, like happy hour podcasts and that kind of thing. And for me, it's just like, you know, by the end, by the end of my day in HR, I just want to sit and not stare at a screen. You know, I'm like, zoomed out, I've got this zoom fatigue. And even if I'm just you know, staring at nothing, I'd rather I'd rather not watch a screen. But it Yeah, that's an interesting psychological principle that because you don't expect it to be any certain way, besides on a screen and in a game environment. You're perfectly comfortable with it. Right? It's interesting. So it's like, so it's like, Call of Duty, but work appropriate and fosters teamwork. Yeah, so call of duty did not sponsor this podcast, by the way unless they

Paul Farmer:

want to. I'd be happy I was gonna say we'll take them if They want to, yes, it's that first person without the shooter apart. So that first person character, yes, work appropriate and a lot of fun.

Kyle Roed:

That's awesome. You know, I find it so fascinating. I think 2020 is gonna go down, we're gonna look back at it, and we're all gonna, you know, we're all gonna think, Wow, what a what a wild year. But I also look at, you know, the silver lining and everything. And if you look at all of the advancements that have been accelerated in the world of technology, training, workplace communication, you know, communication in my company is better than it's ever been. Yeah, because we're all talking face to face and, and not in the same room. But we're face to face, you know, via technological means. You know, I think this is a this is a really interesting approach to some of the face to face trainings that we've tried to do or team building events that HR has tried to do, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Right? I don't know how you do, how can you do virtual trust falls? Does anybody figured that one out yet?

Paul Farmer:

We actually had that conversation very early on, because that's like the, the poster child of team building events is, you know, how do you recreate that trust? And we haven't figured out the trust file just yet.

Molly Burdess:

Here's what I'm thinking. In my mind. I don't know if it makes sense. But have you seen those videos where somebody actually stands up? And then they're in their underwear? What am I gonna? How am I gonna trust my team to tell me and then Am I gonna trust my team to do something with that information?

Paul Farmer:

I'm glad the HR person is saying that example and not be but yes, that that's an option for you.

Kyle Roed:

Don't I don't I don't encourage our listeners to wear their underwear. If people say anything, but volley that's a that's a really progressive company. Yeah. My favorite awkward, like zoom moment is the it happened? I think it happens at every meeting. It's the you're muted. Oh, and it's like, okay, who's the person? Who's the first one? It's gonna tell them? So Paul, where's this? Where is this app at in the development stage? Is it? Have you gone live? Are you still doing some testing? Or how do we find out more about this?

Paul Farmer:

Yeah, no, thanks for asking. So squad ready, calm, and it's squad s qu, ad hyphen, ready our ad y.com. It is just about to launch. So we're hoping here in this first part of October. To have it ready to go. We're doing our last set of tests. Right now.

Kyle Roed:

It's, it's, it's gonna be fun. So we are getting ready to roll it out here real shortly. So we are going to do a new segment for podcasts. I'm going to call it the the rebel HR flash round. So first question is what are you reading right now?

Molly Burdess:

You didn't ask me. But I want to play because I am reading. JOHN did Julius the customer service revolution, and I'm getting so many great ideas from this book. And then I'm reading the next one that is called What's the secret but the same guy all about customer experience. And it's amazing, highly recommend it.

Paul Farmer:

So I will say I am more of an article guy. That's usually my attention span. But the book I'm reading right now is called scaling lean. And a really cool book, using Lean principles for entrepreneurs. So talking about, you know, how to take that idea, and the different tools to use to get that, that idea off the ground that that business off the ground. It's pretty cool book.

Kyle Roed:

Alright, second question. Who should we be listening to?

Paul Farmer:

I'm a big Simon Sinek fan myself. I am a TED talk junkie. I you know, there again, my my attention span 17 minutes. That's perfect. That's about all you're going to get and then I'm off to the next squirrel running across to Simon Sinek. He just, I really believe in purpose behind whatever it is that you're doing and, and you know, that problem solving. And he just, I really enjoy listening to him. Molly, do you want to play along?

Kyle Roed:

I don't want to leave you out.

Molly Burdess:

I'm gonna take that same path. Dax Shepard. I've been listening to him a lot. And just his humility and his honesty. I think it just grounds me.

Kyle Roed:

Yeah, great podcasts. My wife listens to the armchair expert all the time. Yep. All right. And last question, how can our listeners connect with you?

Paul Farmer:

Oh, absolutely. Well, I've got an email address here for squad ready right now is pirates at squad dash radio. dot com. So if you want to reach out and learn more about that, I would love to connect with you and pick your brain and see how we can help your team with some team building.

Kyle Roed:

That's great. That's great. He's the lead pirate in squad. Right, right.

Paul Farmer:

That's right. You can refer to me as Captain Paul or Paul. Either one is fine.

Molly Burdess:

I hope I'm not cool to get a cool title like that one day.

Kyle Roed:

All right, well, well, sincerely appreciate the time here today. And, and I'm sure that our listeners took something away from this. I really appreciate all the work you're doing to keep us all connected and build teams through COVID. So thank you, Captain Paul Farmer.

Paul Farmer:

That's right. It's a new age pirate.

Kyle Roed:

That's right. That's right. A professional pirate. That's right. Yeah, stay polished. Exactly. You so much.

Paul Farmer:

Yep. Thank you.

Kyle Roed:

All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy. See our website at rebel human resources.com. views and opinions expressed by our podcast Are those the author's position during this podcast

Jude Roed:

maybe