In the face of a challenge, Natasha Miller knows it’s not enough to be resilient. You have to be relentless.
But don’t let that intense word scare you. Natasha explains how relentlessness leads to stronger people, thriving organizations, and deeper fulfillment.
In this episode, she shares her hard-earned insights on building yourself, your business, and your people, and leaves you with tips to put into practice.
On this episode, you’ll hear:
- [04:30 – 08:15] What it means to be relentless
- [08:15 – 11:30] Reframing putting your people first
- [11:30 – 16:45] How Natasha coaches her early-career employees
- [16:45 – 21:45] Practical ways to improve your business with positive relentlessness
After you listen:
- Order your copy of our book People Operations: Zenefits.com/pops-book
- Follow the podcast
- Order Relentless: https://therelentlessbook.com/
POPS Star Bio
Natasha isn’t your average CEO. She’s also an accomplished musician, Inc. 5000 Entrepreneur, speaker, and author of Relentless.
Natasha learned the importance of relentlessness the hard way, transforming herself from a homeless teen to achieving the entrepreneur dream. Now, she loves to help entrepreneurs scale, grow, and optimize their businesses.
Didi: On this episode of PIVOT, a POPS show by Zenefits,
Natasha: nobody is going to come and do it for you. No, one’s going to save you. You are completely. Capable of doing it yourself or saving yourself. And so if you’ve been waiting for someone to take notice, take notice of yourself, you know, create your own stage, make it happen for yourself.
And then people will really wanna be on board
Didi: POPS. The people ops podcast from Zenefits the only show dedicated to small businesses, sharing stories of pivotal people, moments. I’m your host Didi D’Errico. In a world that is starting to prioritize wellbeing and flexibility. Is there room for relentlessness for author and award-winning entrepreneur Natasha Miller.
The answer is an absolute yes. The first you need to change how you define and apply the term Natasha’s new book appropriately titled relentless homeless teen to achieving the entrepreneur dream. Is a memoir of her journey and the hard earned insights she’s learned along
Natasha: the way. I am a good down to earth Midwestern girl from Iowa who grew up in the seventies and eighties in the middle of the country, where there wasn’t the kind of support that we have now for family communications and mental health.
What we did have though, was music. In the schools in Des Moines, there is an orchestra, a symphony, a band choir in every school. And there’s an opportunity to take free lessons on various instruments, which is how I landed on the violin, which got me a full ride to three colleges, which then, you know, I just kept mounting on top of those opportunities.
And it’s how I started entire productions in the middle of a performing career. As a jazz vocalist, which I know is a little bit of a skip, but I’ve had entire for 20 years and I’ve built it to be a profitable multimillion dollar business, which I’m very proud of. I understand that about 2% of businesses that are female owned, do a million dollars or, or more in revenue.
So I know I I’m a, you know, special specimen.
Didi: For Natasha being relentless doesn’t mean a 24 7 grind as she shares her story, you’ll learn the secrets to building yourself. Your business and your people with relentless creativity, vulnerability, and honesty, take
Natasha: a listen.
Didi: So let’s start with your definition of relentless, which feels a little exciting and scary and, and kind of like, oh wait, do we still want, wanna be re Alen in the new world order?
So talk a little bit about that. Would you.
Natasha: Yes, absolutely. You need to be relentless in this new world and it doesn’t need to be a hard word. If you are relentless in pursuing what you want, your dreams, success, comfort, safety, whatever it is, then you’re advocating for yourself. I was resilient. Yes, but it wasn’t enough to be resilient.
Do you have to be relentless? And it’s now become everything. I am.
Didi: So here’s a good application of relentless. In the first month of the pandemic, we saw a 20 year old business, nearly evaporate overnight. And since then, you’ve built, I would say almost an alarming amount of things. A book, a podcast. Two, I think if I’ve got it right, two learning programs and, uh, a new business line and you snagged your third consecutive Inc magazine, fastest growing business award.
Let’s talk about a recent story that helped you reframe and reinforce your approach to building the people and the skills to make am in your business. More nimble.
Natasha: It took the pandemic for me to really, really, really understand and appreciate what it meant to put your people first. I can’t explain why it just that’s.
That was my path. That was my journey. Now that I understand it implicitly so much of what I do as I work on entire productions and not in it day to day is to develop and support my people. Now I have that group of people, but you just mentioned these other things. And I have a team of people from all over the world, and I’m really proud of, of that because they’re so thankful for the work and they’re incredibly sharp.
that combination of being thankful and giving them meaningful work, that makes ’em feel good, but also stretches their talent and their ability. I mean, again, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s quite amazing. But now I can really say pour into your people. Ask them what they wanna do, what they wanna become, what they’re stuck on, what they love to do, what they don’t wanna do anymore, even though they might have to still do it for a while, but you have to get in there and ask the questions.
Natasha: Because as you know, I made a couple of assumptions that after sending a survey out to my team, I’m like, oh, goodness gracious. I was giving you all these certain things because I thought you love them. And you just wrote to me and said, I don’t really love those. So the attitude was great. The team playing was great, but the communication was a little distorted.
Didi: One of the things that struck me when I first met you, Natasha, you were telling me the story about how you coach your staff and your expectations for them are kind of in building themselves, assuming the mantle, if you will, of kind of entrepreneurs of their own careers. And I’d love for you to kind of share that story, that relentless level of attention that you give them, but you make them focus on themselves too, which I think is incredibly powerful.
So if you could maybe talk a little bit about that and how that might have deepened your coaching since the pandemic.
Natasha: I give all of my employees a structure and a framework to work in their job right with, but then I also tell them, I am not a micromanager. You’re on your own. I’m here to answer questions.
Everyone on the team is going to answer questions, but it’s now up to you to mold and sculpt your own position here. Of course, you have to do the job that you’re hired for, but as you gain more skills or more interest and you figure out because right outta college, you don’t know for sure necessarily that you wanna be an event planner or a designer or a producer.
You might wanna do something in the industry, but you might find that you thought you were gonna be amazing at sales, but really you don’t wanna talk to clients. So you wanna be on the backside. So within that, I also tell them that if you have an idea for this company, that’s going to propel it forward, going to make it better for the vendors, for the clients, for us internally, don’t not tell me, I have to know, even if there is a price tag attached to it that might be.
Up there, like adjusting our Salesforce environment or something like that. And that’s really how our, our business is, is moving forward is a lot of course my ideas and creativity ideation, but theirs as well. So they can see themselves in this company as it’s growing. And then lastly, I ask them to keep a milestone sheet of all of their contributions above and beyond what their job duties are.
And the reason why I do this is so that, of course I can know what they’re doing if I’m not seeing it on slack or on the Monday morning meetings, but also so that they can remember the contributions that they’ve put for a word. Remember what people are saying about them, like clients and vendors, and then also be able to come to me on one-on-ones or meetings reviews and say, this is what I did.
This is what you hired me to do. I’ve been here this long and I’ve contributed these things. And therefore I’m asking for, for a raise of. Whatever it is that they’re asking for and a title change, if that’s what they’re looking for. And so they come to this discussion then prepared and yes, I could be like shooting myself on the foot by arming them with things to demand, but really.
I am giving them what they deserve and what I deserve. I wanna see them flourish and grow and I would like them to stay with me. So another thing I say is I know that it’s typical. You’ve heard that to make more money and to get a better position. You typically have to move around. I don’t want that. So what can I do to give you the tools, the training, the experience here to keep you here.
And one of the things I did this year was I paid for one of my employees to work on another big event, planners, big event.so that she had the, on the ground experience.
Didi: So now let’s turn into those who are listening today. Let’s maybe if you could help, you’ve shared a lot here, but maybe three practical ideas that small business leaders that are listening to this podcast could do to improve their work, their business, and their people with a little bit of positive
Well, if you’re not taught to your employees, ask them the questions that you may not be comfortable with. The answers coming back. That’s the challenge right there, because one of the questions I asked is what have you been doing in the last year that you’re good at? That you don’t really like doing anymore.
And in parenthesis, I’m able to say it doesn’t mean you won’t have to continue doing that for a while. Cuz it might take me some time to spend that back. So ask the questions verbally, have your management, ask them whoever it is. However you need to do it via email. It really doesn’t matter. And then. Take the information that you get and sit with it for a bit.
You don’t need to make quick rash decisions and you need to honor those people’s answers with feedback. I heard you, I’m going to do this for you. I heard you. We can’t do that quite yet. I heard you. You’re not really there yet. Let’s get you there. How are we gonna get you there? And then really help them.
Number two, make it easy for your team to do their job by having not only your systems and processes down in a way that are convenient, make sense. Aren’t creating a bottleneck, but then having it written down and. Better yet also on video because people learn differently, right. With some graphics and have that make sense to people so that when they’re training, they can feel confident that they’re getting the same information as everyone.
They can go back to it and, you know, a year down the line. That one thing you learned early on in training, you might finally need to know what that is. And then being able to circle back and knowing exactly where to find that information, I think is key. Number three, is to celebrate everybody and do things that are outside of the office or outside of work and celebrate them and, and listen to them and ask them about what’s going on in their life.
And not just be one dimensional, like it’s all about the business or it’s all about the client. And that’s really, I think another way to help develop that relationship, to make everything sticky so that they support you. This is your entrepreneurial dream, right? As, as a business owner, nobody is going to come and do it for you.
No, one’s going to save you. You are completely. Capable of doing it yourself or saving yourself. And so if you’re listening and you’ve been waiting for someone to take notice, take notice of yourself, you know, create your own stage, make it happen for yourself. And then people will really wanna be on board
Didi: I’m Didi
And this was pivot a pop show by benefits. If you wanna hear more unconventional thinking like Natasha’s. On how to build up the people behind your small business. Check out zes.com/pops-podcast, where you’ll find bonus resources, profiles, and links to order both her new book, relentless and our book people operations.
Also, if you have questions you want us to answer on our show, check out the link and our show notes below will get you covered.
About The People Ops Podcast
Every week, we share the decisions, struggles, and successes for keeping up with an evolving workforce and a changing workplace. No matter if you’ve been in HR or are just getting started, this combination of transformational stories with actionable ideas, as well as context on hot issues, keeps you up-to-date while answering the questions you didn’t even know you had.
Oh, and you know what they say about all work and no play? We tossed in a little levity to keep it real. Lessons, answers, and humor: everywhere you listen to podcasts.
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