Bullying is killing your business with Susan Blanchet | WLTB Podcast #34

Listen or watch on your favorite platforms

Guest

Susan Blanchet

Founder & CEO
Origen Air
Origen Air produces genetically mastered air purification solutions.

Sean has founded multiple companies and done multiple 8 figures worth of business.

He’s currently advising, consulting, and investing in business just like yours.

He knows where you’ve been, and he knows where you’re going.

Book a call with him today to see how he can help you get there smarter, faster, and in a way that aligns with your life goals.

Timestamps

00:00 – Guest Introduction
02:50 – Get to know Susan
05:07 – Her challenges being a lawyer
14:31 – Being a single mom with multiple jobs
18:31 – Building her company and overcoming past traumas
22:40 – Gender discrimination in the workplace
26:53 – Standing up for yourself
31:49 – Follow your dreams
36:22 – Follow up with Susan

Transcript

Read the transcript
Sean Weisbrot:
Welcome back to another episode of the We Live to Build podcast. While it’s unfortunate women on women, bullying and violence is common around the world, people don’t normally talk about it because of fear of retribution, but we must talk about it. Women already have a tough time in the workplace and are constantly passed over for promotions or investment because of their gender. So instead of women treating each other badly to cement their own position, they should be helping each other. Interestingly enough, in my experience, while this happens within the confines of a company, I have yet to see it occur between two companies owned by women. I have seen a lot of female entrepreneurs helping other female entrepreneurs and female investors investing specifically in female founders, which I love to see.

Our guest today is Susan Blanchet, the CEO and founder of Origin Air. And her focus is on developing products which help to clean the air using genetically modified plants. And we’re really lucky that today she’s decided to share her story with us. So, in this frank talk, you’ll hear about being a single mom with three kids, working two jobs, and having to choose which one to quit, coming back to her main job and being bullied, getting fired without cause by her female boss, how this led her to become an entrepreneur, what she’s learned through this entire process, and why bullying is really not acceptable and something we must stop. So, let’s give Susan a warm welcome and let’s get on to the show.

Sean Weisbrot:
Welcome to We Live to Build. My name is Sean Weisbrot, and I’m an entrepreneur, investor and advisor based in Asia for over 12 years. Join us every week to fast track your personal growth so you can meet the ever increasing demands of the company or companies you are passionately building. Time waits for no one. So, let’s get started now.

Welcome to the show. Thank you very much. This is a very important topic for me personally, because I believe women are in general disadvantage because men run a lot of things in societies around the world, and women just don’t get enough opportunity and they don’t get treated the way that I think they should. So, it’s really important to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us, and hopefully it inspires other women listening to this episode to have the confidence to do what they need to do in order to take care of themselves.

Susan Blanchet:
I’m happy to be here. I hope it does too.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, before we get into your backstory, why don’t you tell everyone real fast what it is that you’re doing right now?

Susan Blanchet:
I started two companies with my co-founder two years ago. One is Origen Air, and we clean air with genetically modified plants and UVC light sterilization. We like to say we’re bringing nature back indoors and empowering it. This is part of an air purifier, which can actually kill covid in under four seconds and take out carcinogens from the air. So that’s our main company. It’s pre-commercial. Our pandemic pivot is origin clean. Think Ghostbusters backpacks and we fog probiotics, which is a organic, natural mist to clean areas. As an add on to your normal cleaning practice.

Sean Weisbrot:
Let’s get to your backstory. You were a lawyer. Talk about what it was like becoming a lawyer and starting as a lawyer, and kind of what got you towards being an entrepreneur, because I know you were a lawyer for a long time.

Susan Blanchet:
Yeah, it’s funny, I had to do a startup story about becoming an entrepreneur a few months ago, and it was the first time I realized that I’d actually always been an entrepreneur. I think it started with about five years old, when I would just collect the neighborhood dogs and cats and tell my parents that they actually needed to be taken care of by me at my, like, dog shelter, even though it was probably just stealing people’s animals. Um, but like many people, I was kind of told from a young age to go to university and marry a lawyer or a doctor.

So, I decided to become a lawyer instead of marry one. And well, actually I did both. I met my husband at law school. I had my first son in first year law school, two other sons along the way, and started my articles when I was pregnant with my third son. So I, um, have always kind of taken on more than I could chew, which I think is a sign of an entrepreneur. Six months into my articles, I took a year off, raised my sons for another year, and then went back full time as a lawyer, where I worked with the Ministry of Attorney General in Canada in BC.

Sean Weisbrot:
You told me before we started the recording that during your tenure as a lawyer, you got the entrepreneurial bug again and you decided to go into real estate. And that’s kind of where your career as a lawyer started to fall apart.

Susan Blanchet:
Yeah, so I was a lawyer for about almost 15 years, 14 years with the ministry. I articled there. The first nine years or ten years I spent there were incredible, amazing mentors, really senior counsel that taught me the ropes. I was a trial lawyer, so I learned so much about civil litigation, negotiation, mediating, had an incredible team that I worked with. One thing I don’t think I did mention to you before, the call is during this time my father was also diagnosed with dementia. So, the biggest part about that was a big realization that life is short.

Do what you want to do now, do what you love. So as time went on and the environmental law cases, which were kind of my passion, were kind of not, um, coming around as much as they had been. And I was getting some of the cases that I didn’t love so much. I ended up taking some time off. My father was very sick. I took a few months off with him to spend his last days, and when I came back, I challenged the real estate exam just because I wanted to try something else. Him dying so young made me say, okay, I’m not fully fulfilled here, how can I fulfill myself? And I thought, trying real estate because I found it very interesting, might do that. And I did that for two years while I was a lawyer. So, I was working part time as a lawyer for the Ministry of Attorney General and part time as a realtor with a full-time assistant.

This culminated in a few people being a little bit upset as a public servant. The imagery of somebody also having another job. I did have full approval of my supervisor, who had been my supervisor for 13 years, and I had, like I said, a full-time assistant who did all of my extra social media work. Um, what did happen was someone sent an email, anonymous email to my boss and seven other lawyers, and I was called in to a meeting and asked, you know, why were you on social media while you were at work, which I wasn’t.

I had a full-time assistant that did that and was very forward about never crossing that line like, I, I would never even open up Facebook while I, while I was at work. And I know maybe a little tongue in cheek, I, I said, well, the person who looked at it was the one looking at it during work hours, not me, because they obviously saw it during that time. Of course, I’ve always been very stand up about being an honest and honest person and having a lot of integrity. I got that from my dad. So immediately to save my legal career, I quit my real estate career. So, after two years of building a very great real estate practice, I walked away from it in a matter of days.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, what was the response when you decided to do that? How did your law firm, how did the ministry take it when you decided to come back full time?

Susan Blanchet:
At first it was great. I was diving into my files full time. My colleagues at the time were on the surface, supportive, but when I got deeper into it a few months later, probably six months later, my boss retired. So, my supportive boss, who was the one who had approved everything, retired and in an instant was gone. So, at this time I’m just working, minding my own business, trying to restart up a full-time practice from the part time one I had been doing and working long hours. My hours were good, my files were great, and I just.

When I had a new female boss come on found. She was constantly checking up on me and reviewing my hours and sending me memos, and I would respond and say, hey, maybe we got off on the wrong foot. Like those rumors you heard were not true. I had approval and I’ve been here for 14 years. Like she didn’t know me. She was just hearing things from these emails, which I forgot to mention when I asked for them to be investigated. They did not follow up on it. So, at the time it was just kind of left and no one was really defending me. So, I decided rather than make a big deal of it, sweep it under the rug, put my nose down to the grindstone and get back to work like I had always done.

The next 8 or 9 months were what I could describe as only as a bullying atmosphere. I was very good friends with all of the legal assistants and legal secretaries, but it seemed like a lot of my colleagues were not happy. And it’s almost like a schoolyard once there’s kind of or maybe like the piranhas, once there’s a little blood in the water, everyone kind of jumps on. I’m a very strong woman. I was a single mom at the time. I was single mom for ten years with my three sons who at this time were in their mid-teenage years. And so, I just kind of like took it with as much gumption as I could and just worked harder, worked longer hours. I’m like, I’m going to convince them.

I joined the leadership committees. I signed up to be like the interim boss because I had the seniority. My boss was going on maternity leave, and while she was gone. I signed up with the other council at my level to cover her time when she wasn’t there. But the writing was on the wall and there was no way to avoid it. I just could feel two females in particular checking up on me, going through my files. In the end, I got confronted. They had gone through for hundreds of hours my files, my hours, and could not find anything wrong. And it culminated in about nine months later getting called into office and being let go without cause. So, they tried for eight months to find cause to fire me, and they couldn’t. And I was let go or fired without cause. In April of 2019, after 14 years of service with three teenage boys. As a single mom, kind of hard to take.

Sean Weisbrot:
I’m sorry you had to go through that. Some people thrive in a competitive environment. Some people thrive in a cooperative environment. My personal opinion is that no matter what your personality is, a cooperative environment is more mentally healthy for people. So, do you think there was anything in that competitive environment that was harder for you, maybe as a female?

Susan Blanchet:
Interestingly, when I did take the first leave, my supportive boss walked into my office and asked me if I was taking the leave because I felt discriminated against. And at the time I said no. Like in my mind, I was clearly going to take care of my dad. But after reflecting on him, actually realizing that and saying it, and after the struggle that is grief and losing a parent, I realized there was some truth to what he was saying. One reason, other than my father’s sickness, that I took the leave of absence was I had been put on to a very serious case that another colleague had had given to me.

That was very difficult, to say the least. It was involving a slip and fall at a jail, and the injuries were quite bad. And there was obviously the province was sued because there was potential foul play. When I was on that case, I was the only counsel, and from day one when I read the facts, I asked for support. I told him I needed another legal counsel assigned. I needed more than one legal assistant. And in the two years prior to my leave, I lost my legal assistant on two occasions who knew the case inside out and backwards and had to train someone new. Finally, got one legal assistant that was amazing and continues to be one of my best friends to this day. And her and I worked our tails off on that case.

When I was wanting to take the leave to take care of my dad, I pulled another counsel on and then the trial got adjourned. So, I felt comfortable that I could take a little bit of time off because I thought I was going to be too busy and I had that obligation first. When I came back ten months later, there were four lawyers, three legal assistance and two legal secretaries on the same file, the one I did by myself for two years.

So that always kind of struck me as like, hmm. I asked and asked and asked for support. My father was dying and it was the case. More than that, I was working 18 hours a day for the year up to the time I took the leave. So, I think there were definitely hardships from being a female. And that is when you expect other women especially, to stand up and support you. And then when I came back and I was trying to do something even more and seeing if I liked another career, I would have expected support from my colleagues rather than what I felt was the opposite, because I was maybe trying to climb a different mountain than them.

Sean Weisbrot:
Through this all, you’ve mentioned multiple times that you were a single mother with three kids that were all teenagers. How do you manage not only a full-time job, but three kids and then have a part time job with the full-time job and three kids? How do you do that without falling apart?

Susan Blanchet:
It was hard. Yeah. This is why I know I was born to be an entrepreneur, because every entrepreneur I’ve met is capable of doing things that other people think are impossible. I’ve done that my whole life. Like first year law school, I had a full-time job. I worked 40 hours a week. No one in my class had a job. I had a son in second year law school. I had a third son when I was doing my articles. One of the reasons I did the second real estate was just to earn enough to have a place to take care of my children. I had I had some tenants I’d rented out. I’d renovated my whole house on my own, like I ripped out all the walls. I’m just kind of one of those odd people that like to achieve, I guess I’m an achiever. But I believe in bad events, following bad events or good following good.

And when my father died, it just was a series of bad events. One was for tenants that I’d had downstairs destroying my suite. And so as soon as I took on the real estate career with the law career, when I went back, I had to renovate my entire downstairs. So, my kids have just kind of always rolled with it and helped me and been there. I coached them all soccer, so I have my provincial coaching license, found every way to spend every second of time with them that I could. Like, they helped me with real estate. I remember one year on Halloween, my son and his friends went around handing out my cards while they trick or treated. So, we’re just kind of a team. Yeah, it was pretty cute. They had my slogan was Sue cells, and they had like hashtag Sue cells written on their biceps. It’s not easy, but you do what you have to do, as any single mum will tell you, sometimes you have to have pizza in the car.

Sean Weisbrot:
Was there any part of you that said forget law, I should just be in real estate. Like at any point when you were, you felt this pressure to get rid of the real estate firm in order to go back to law.

Susan Blanchet:
100%. So, I worked really hard the first year. I did well, the second year I did very well. And real estate is not easy. People think it’s easy and realtors are making tons of money. There’s maybe 10% that are making good money and the rest are struggling. A couple reasons why I didn’t. I’d say the main reason is fear. I had a job with the province with a six-figure salary, with benefits, with holidays like so. We like to refer to that as the golden handcuffs. And it’s very much a real thing. And anyone who’s ever had a job like that agrees that they make the wrong decision, and they choose comfort over freedom might be the best word. I was scared like that. That is for sure the number one reason. The second reason is real estate. It’s hard work and as a lawyer, I was used to walking into a room telling people what I thought of the case and people respecting my time and not taking advantage of it.

Real estate. After two years, I just felt I went into it to help people, to help people with my legal knowledge, to make sure they got the correct property, that they didn’t buy something they shouldn’t. And that just wasn’t exactly what I expected. Like, I could have done it, but I found it was too superficial and too materialistic, and it was more just about money and not about the goodness or giving back. I have a degree in environmental studies. Like deep down, I always just wanted to do something to give back. I tried real estate. I thought I could do it and I was completely wrong. It wasn’t. It wasn’t as much about giving as I wanted it to be.

Sean Weisbrot:
You basically get persecuted by your coworkers and your bosses. You end up leaving the practice, the law practice. What happens next? What do you do and what brings you to the idea of starting a company, especially in environmental science?

Susan Blanchet:
Like I said, I had a degree in environmental studies, and just prior to this I had met, um, my partner and which is more than I can say, a blessing. Like, I think if I hadn’t had this, it might have crumbled me for a little while because I had gone and I tried. All I’d been doing was like working so hard for so many years, and then to have someone just pull you into an office and pull the tablecloth out from underneath you. If I hadn’t had a supportive partner, it would have been difficult, and I had asked my new boss on one day when she’d come in and been like red in the face yelling at me, I said, can we just start this again? Let me take you for lunch. And so, I’d had this time where I’d taken her for lunch. This is a couple months before the end. During it, I remember her pointedly asking me about being a single mother, which I was at the time, I hadn’t met him yet, and asking me if I had a boyfriend, and just being very judgmental about the fact that maybe I didn’t deserve a boyfriend, or maybe I couldn’t be in a partnership. And it was a very odd lunch, let me put it that way. I just remember leaving feeling like, wow, I’m being judged for being a single mom and basically being told I’m not good enough.

So, meeting him, he had, uh, Living Wall Company and had recently figured out that plants actually don’t clean the air. We think they do, but they don’t. So, he had found these genetically modified plants at the University of Washington that had been proven in a double-blind study and published in an environmental science and technology journal, to clean air. So, he wanted to negotiate to get a contract or a license to the IP, but didn’t really know where to begin. So very early on, after I met him, I said, well, I don’t mind helping you on the weekends like I’m a lawyer. Like, let me help you draft the proposal to get the rights to these plants.

So that’s how it started. I was just helping him on the weekend to draft a proposal. And two months later, this, this day of reckoning occurred at my work. And it was just a natural progression. The one beauty of being fired without cause or terminated without causes. You do get a payout. They have to pay you to get rid of you. So, I took all of that money and put it all into the company and just went for broke. And truthfully, other than my close friends and family, I didn’t tell people what happened to me for the first year. I would just say, oh, I just decided to start a new company, like I, I didn’t say I’d been terminated because it leaves you feeling shameful. Like these women made me feel bad for what they did to me. So, it took sick. I think it was 16 months before I kind of decided I need to tell my story, and I posted publicly on social media and I just said, you know, to overcome the past, I need to share what happened to me, because I had finally found my tribe in the clean tech and women supporting women in the clean tech world.

And it made me realize that the trauma I had gone through in my last few months was not okay, and I needed to share it to help other women who had been through something similar and were feeling the same way. Because I’m a really strong woman, like, I’ve done this on myself. I’m like, I am woman, hear me roar. I can rip my house apart and redo my kitchen and pull up my basement and build a deck like I have a motorbike, I sail singlehanded, I race swifter, like a strong woman like me is feeling shame because of what someone else is doing. What are other women feeling? It’s it wasn’t okay. So I, I decided to share it and I was quite amazed at how many people reached out to me. How many? Men sent me private messages saying that happened to me. Thank you for sharing you, mate. If this could happen to you, this could happen to anyone.

Sean Weisbrot:
I imagine that probably a high number of women experience psychological abuse in the workplace. I know my wife experienced it and it nearly cracked her up. She kept going and going because for her it was the best job she was ever going to have. She just finished university, you know, she was making ten times what the average person who she went to college with was earning at the time, and it took me four months to convince her that she was being hurt and abused. Not only that, she was being sexually harassed by her clients and her coworkers and body shame all sorts of crap that were unnecessary. I mean, she was working in a gym, so obviously emphasis on body and all that was extremely important there, but none of it was necessary. She didn’t have to go through any of it. And even several months after having left that company, finally she’s still dealing with the negative, you know, psychology of it all. And if I hadn’t really forced her to quit, she probably would still be there right now, enduring something that is completely unnecessary for anyone to go through. So, you know, again, I’m sorry you had to go through it and it I think it’s great that you were able to tell that story.

Susan Blanchet:
The whole circle of influence that made it. Okay. Like once 1 or 2 people started the bullying, it was okay for everyone. She didn’t feel it was okay to treat me poorly until the other people were. When this first happened, I was shocked. So, in true lawyer fashion, I went straight to the law cases and went hunting because I was going to find a case that supported me. And the sad thing, I could not find one case. And I looked for weeks and hours every day of a female on female discrimination in the legal in the law world, there is not a case. Well, I found one actually, I found one not in Canada, in the United States. And this woman was a dental assistant and she got hired three weeks later. The boss’s wife comes in, doesn’t like the way she looks because she was too pretty. The next day, she’s fired. And the courts upheld the decision because they said a man had the right to have a workplace free of temptation. That’s the only case I could find. So, it just doesn’t happen. Because as a woman, for you to say I was discriminated against, you can’t.

Sean Weisbrot:
I have to say the whole idea that a man is legally allowed to have a workplace free of temptation is ridiculous, because in America, you have the right to not be judged or fired based on your gender. And if a man has the right to a workplace that’s free of temptation, that’s going against the right to protect someone based on their gender. So how the hell could any court uphold that? They’re basically saying that the Constitution is not true. They’re they have no right to say that-that is constitutional.

Susan Blanchet:
Hopefully she would have won if she appealed. But. A lot of times this happens in our lower courts just because it’s a loss. That doesn’t mean it’s always just. And that’s why I’ve loved my jump from law to clean tech, because as a lawyer, I was always bound by a judge’s decision or my client choosing to go ahead with the case or settle it or make a different decision. As a clean tech entrepreneur, I can finally say that I’m a woman that’s living each day to make a difference. And I’m proud of myself, and I’m happy.

And I’m creating a movement like I found my people, the ones who help each other, the ones who hold each other up with love, with kindness, with support. Like last night, I pitched to Silicon Valley with five other incredible female CEOs. Everyone there is incredible. Just being part of this community is what made me feel the confidence to come forward and speak about what happened, because I want the woman that this has happened to and the men that this has happened to, to know that sometimes when things like this happen, they happen for a reason and they’re pushing you towards doing something better or more great, and you just have to be brave. It was like the universe kicking me in the ass and saying, stop being scared, go do what you need to do.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, I read a book probably a year ago by Michael Crichton called “disclosure”. Have you heard of it?

Susan Blanchet:
I’ve heard of it. I haven’t read it.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, it it’s based on a man in the 1990s who his ex-girlfriend ends up joining his company as his manager. And basically sexually harasses him and abuses him. And then he’s married. So, he’s he doesn’t want any part of it. He’s trying to avoid her at all costs. And inevitably, she files a complaint against him to their bosses, saying that he was sexually harassing her. Then the book basically talks about, you know, how what it’s like as a man being discriminated against by a woman in the workplace. So, it’s kind of like this interesting play on what happens in the world, but also to say that men can also encounter this, this hatred and violence by women in the workplace.

So, it’s not just woman on woman or man on woman. It can be man on man as well. It could also be woman on man, sexual harassment and bullying. And I guess the whole point for me in, in tying this all together in a pretty little bow is just try to understand the people you’re working with and understand how you cannot hurt them. Because when you’re hurting them, you’re making the workplace a crappy place to be. Or if you have people that you’re that you’re working with that are hurting your other team members or your employees, it can affect not only their psychology, it can affect so many different parts of your business. It can destroy your reputation. So, there’s a lot of negatives to hurting people, and it’s just not necessary.

So hopefully. I mean, I assume everyone listening to this is already of the mindset that it’s not okay to hurt people. But hopefully after hearing your story, they’re capable of speaking up and stopping others, hurting other people, or if other people are hurting them to step up and protect themselves and say something about it. And don’t worry about this other person. If they lose their job or whatever happens, screw it. Whatever comes to them should come to them because they started it, right? It’s their fault, not yours. You should not get the brunt of their problems right? In school, right? The schoolyard. But a lot of these people that are bullies are probably either seeing their families be physically violent or that, you know, their parents might be abusive to them or their parents might be ignoring them. So, there’s a lot of underlying reasons why people end up this way, why they think it’s okay to hurt people. It’s because normally they see it or they want attention. And so, we have to help them to understand that that’s not the right way.

Susan Blanchet:
And that’s the reason I spoke up about this. Like, I’ve recently just been part of this amazing group of like, CEOs of female led companies, 31 women in Victoria, British Columbia, where I’m from. And that was what really gave me the courage because I finally felt, wow, like I spent 14 years with very intelligent legal counsel. But there was always this feeling that I wasn’t part of their group. Whereas now every conference I go to, every pitch I do, every group I’m part of, it’s woman supporting women, men supporting men because we’re all working to give back. Like all the clean tech, biotech, entrepreneurial companies that I’ve been meeting in this ecosystem are giving. They’re givers.

We’re all trying to save the world or reduce climate change or do something good. So, what I said it in my post on social media about this, I just said, I dream of a world when this is all we see, with women and men holding each other up, like celebrating our successes, encouraging each other, including each other. More and more gratitude. And I said, you know, to my fierce supporters, because I have many, I thank you. And to the ones who have tried to bring me down, I welcome and support you because they know not what they do. No one knows what someone else is going through like at this time.

When I first came back, when I was receiving this hate mail, I was still grieving my father, but all they saw was my strong face. I think sometimes people forget that the strongest of us are maybe the ones that are suffering the most and we just don’t share it, like all of us are built differently. You said like, how did you do this with your three sons and your two jobs? Because I kind of was brought up like that old school stoic. I do care and share, but at the same time, I’m not one who’s going to post about my problems. I’m going to keep those locked up. And that’s why when you say, like, we just need to be kind, like that’s what it comes down to, especially in this time right now of this pandemic, like kindness is this is in a shortage like all. Less are hurting. That’s really the biggest thing. You never know what the person next to you is, just who knows what they’ve just gone through. My best friend just lost her sister two days ago. You never know what someone’s going through, so just be kind. It’s really that. And gratitude is what it’s all about.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, what’s something I haven’t asked you yet that you wish I would ask?

Susan Blanchet:
Well, just to tie everything, like you said in a bow, is bringing it back to following kind of your dreams. We all are born and as children have all these grandiose ideas. And if I look back, I know my, my first thing that I was doing was being an entrepreneur. I maybe stole people’s animals and took care of them in my garage, but I did eventually give them back. But after that, you know, I remember one day, um, getting in a little bit of trouble because I had gotten all the neighborhood kids together to go on bottle drives, and we were honest about the fact that we were going to buy candy with the money that we raised. But sticking to what your gut tells you and following your passion.

Because for the first 8 or 9 years of my law career, I loved it. I was learning, I was excelling, I had amazing mentors. But as soon as your passion starts like calling to you, you have to just go into the fear. I was so scared. I was like, I have three sons, how am I going to pay my mortgage or put food on the table, take care of them. When I had a six-figure job and even then I was still scared. And now, after two years of running a startup company that I am loving, I’m still not making any money. But I’m happy every day and I wake up and do what I love, and I know it’s all going to turn out right because I’m following my passion and I’m giving. I’m giving while I live. So, I think that’s the biggest thing. Whatever you’re passionate about, if you’re scared at first, do it in the evenings and on the weekends, but follow your dreams.

Sean Weisbrot:
What’s something you’ve learned recently that you’re putting into practice?

Susan Blanchet:
Well, when I first started these two companies, I hired a CEO because I was like, okay, I’m a lawyer, I’m not a CEO. And then after a few months, I realized, I can do that. I can do what the CEO does, like, this is what I was born to do. This is what I’ve done as a lawyer. I’ve been in charge of large legal teams negotiating, mediating. So, I started to read. I started to read a lot of, well, listen to a lot of audiobooks. That’s how I use my time efficiently. I’m brushing my teeth, I’m listening to a book, I’m driving my car, I’m listening to a book, riding my bike, listening. And the first thing that kind of really struck me in what I’ve put into my practice as, uh, as I’ve got 13 or 14 employees now, is I read a leadership book. I can’t remember which one it was.

Now it became abundantly clear to me that I was not even close to being in the wrong with what happened to me, because the book said, like, good leaders should never have to fire someone. If you have to fire someone, you’re the one who has done something wrong. Like, as a leader, it’s my responsibility to make sure that my staff are performing. And if they aren’t, I’m the only one responsible. So that is what I’ve taken with me to be a leader of Origen Air.

For instance, I have an amazing staff member who from the beginning just wanted to be a leader, and when I would put him in roles where he wasn’t leading, he wasn’t performing as well. So, you have to like figure that out. And it’s like he is a leader, like he has to be put into that role. And you constantly just have to be changing and realizing that your team is only going to be as good as you. So that also made me be able to share my story because it was like, hey, if they’d been good leaders, it would never would have come to that. We would have sat and had a good discussion and figured out our differences and moved on. Like you said earlier, collaboration always brings out the best in people, so I think that’s what I would say. I put into practice a collaborative team.

Sean Weisbrot:
Make sense. And yeah, as you’re saying, putting people into different roles as per what their strengths are. I am in the process of building a web team for my company because we’ve been doing mobile and desktop. Essentially, we’ve got a guy who’s in the back end who’s better in the front end for web, and one of the guys he recommended for us to be a front end for web is actually better in backend, and has been his backend developer in past teams.

And so, my goal is to put that guy in the back end and put the guy we already have in the front end, and then hire two more people to work with him that already know it so that they can teach him because he needs some help. You know, in order for us to maintain the speed of development that we already have, we need to shift people around in their roles as developers in order to get the best out of them. Totally understand. So how can people follow up with you?

Susan Blanchet:
Well, you can check out our website https://www.origenair.com which is Origin Air com or my name is Susan Blanchet. Find me on LinkedIn, drop me a line. Let me know how you like this. Let me know if it made you feel confident to talk about a trauma that has happened to you, because that has been one of the biggest bonuses of me telling this story is I was out for dinner two nights ago, and a woman came up to me and told me how much she loved my post about what had happened to me. I had countless women email me and say, this happened to me, I was broken. Thank you. So, if it struck a chord, drop me an email. I’d be happy to chat.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, if you like this episode, definitely reach out to Susan. Definitely leave us a review on iTunes or anywhere that you can subscribe to anyone that you may know who’ve gone through trauma, because this can maybe help them. And entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. So, take care of yourself every day. Thank you, Susan.

Susan Blanchet:
Thank you, Sean.