What does hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and leadership have to do with one another? A lot actually. Joel Swanson joined us on our podcast recently to chat about what the hike taught him and how his story inspires his clients daily. Not only did he teach us some valuable things like how to trust your people and get through the hard things, but also gives insights on how he teaches this to his clients daily.
Where to find Joel?
Full Transcription below (may contain typo's...):
[00:00:00] Joel: [00:00:00] And so I kept going and there was a big trail sign that I came up on the back of and stole anybody parking lot with a trail sign. And I came to the other side of the sign and looked at it and the sign said, and a fuller Ridge. and at that point, when I saw that sign, I realized I'd gone all the way across for Ridge without even realizing it because I was expecting something so much scarier than actually was real.
And I, I remember dropping my pack and kicking a pine cone. I was pretty frustrated with myself and frustrated with the situation, but the, that whole idea of going to gemba and going to see for yourself, Played out a lot throughout that hike.
Keerstyn: [00:00:46] welcome to the podcast, Joel. I'm really excited that you're here today. Can you just give us a brief intro and bio of who you are, what you do and how you got involved in your work?
Joel: [00:00:55] Sure. My name is Joel Swanson and I am in Minneapolis.
[00:01:00] I am married, I've got three kids and I am a certified EOS implementer of doing I've been doing that for about six years and I got into it originally. when a client asked me to implement for them and I didn't know anything about EOS at the time. And so I did some learning and. Did an implementation and it didn't go very well, honestly, but I was really impressed with the system.
And so I decided that was the direction I wanted to go with my career. So I've been consulting for, and working with running small, mid sized businesses for my whole career and, with EOS. That's what I do now. And I love it. Awesome.
Keerstyn: [00:01:40] That's really interesting that a client came to you just randomly and asked you to do that, regardless of if you knew.
I didn't think about it. I'm sure that you had an implementer type personality and that just really helped, boost their ideas of you and, felt comfortable doing that. That's really fast.
Joel: [00:01:55] It was fun. And it was a compliment. Certainly they've
Keerstyn: [00:01:59] been
Joel: [00:01:59] a client for [00:02:00] about 10 years and a few different derivations.
So it was a pretty natural extension for me to do that.
Keerstyn: [00:02:06] Awesome. That's really sweet. I love that. So for listeners, obviously we, me and Joel had a conversation prior to this and we basically are going to be talking about a fight that he did from Mexico to Canada.
That was five months long. And basically how, he now incorporates leadership concepts with his stories from that. so Joel, do you want to just give us a brief. Background and, the why of why you wanted to do this. What made you do this? And then some of the things that have come out of it, because of that.
Joel: [00:02:35] Sure. So the, I hiked a trail called the Pacific crest trail in 2009, and this is a literal hiking trail that goes all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, through Oregon, California, Oregon, and Washington. And. I had been an outdoors person my whole life, but I'd never done it. A lot of backpacking.
And then I [00:03:00] was probably 23 and somebody, I just heard of it and I went okay. And Googled it. And my eyes got really big and I'd heard of the Appalachian trail, which is another long distance hiking trail. The Appalachian trail is some long trail that's out East, somewhere. when I saw that the PCT went all the way from Mexico to Canada, that was something that really captured me.
And so I started looking into it and, had never done backpacking a lot of other outdoor things and camping and stuff, but I've never actually done backpacking. And so I started doing that and learning about that. And, probably seven years later, I guess it would have been, I. I quit my job and went and did that height.
And it took five months from Mexico to Canada. And whenever anybody hears about this, they always ask her a couple questions. And I'll just answer those quick, because these are the ones that you're.
Keerstyn: [00:03:57] Thank
Joel: [00:03:57] you. Yeah. So one, did I carry a [00:04:00] gun? No, guns are heavy. I was, I ever like I did. I said any wild animals.
Yes. but not in a dangerous sense. It wasn't like I got. I scared off grizzly bears or something like that. animals tend to want to stay away from you if you're in the wilderness rather than come to you. Did I go alone? Whether it's the next question everybody asks and the answer is sorta, I started, my dad actually was kinda my backpacking partner and he started with me.
And so we did the first two weeks together, and then he had a, I think it's called a job that he had to go back to. Yeah. And then beyond that, there was a couple of places where there was some things that were legitimately dangerous. And so there's a couple of guys and I, that said, we're going to stick together for this one or two week section.
But after that, other than that, no, I didn't explicitly stay with anybody.
Keerstyn: [00:04:58] That's awesome. Thanks for [00:05:00] answering those because I probably would have asked about those. Absolutely. So what were some of those things that kind of resonated with you after the fact, when you think about leadership and this hike, obviously I'm sure it was the hardest thing.
You've. All I've ever done probably, or one of the hardest things that you've ever done. So what are some of those things that you first think of when you think of leadership, but also this hike and some comparisons between the
Joel: [00:05:26] two? pretty much everything I learned comes from a story that makes me look bad.
so we'll just throw that out right out there. So the thing that amazed me even very early on in that journey was that so much of. The things I was experiencing and learning had direct ties back to business. And for me, I've learned a lot of things in business and most of them have common.
I won't say most I've learned a lot of things in business and many of them have come from my experience in business, [00:06:00] but some of the most important ones haven't come through actually being in business it's came through the experiences that I had hiking that I've really transformed. Who I am as a person.
So there's a few that I like to share, especially the first is really about a concept called goat, gemba and gemba. for those of you who may not know is a Japanese word, that means like a place where the value is created and it's part of lean manufacturing and the Toyota practical problem solving system.
The idea of saying, we're not going to solve this problem by sitting in a conference room, we're going to solve this problem by going and actually looking and seeing what's happening out there. And so go to wherever things manufactured, sit next to the rep who's on the phone, go see for yourself.
And the thing, and pretty early on, this was probably three weeks into the hike. it started in April. And [00:07:00] most of Southern California is desert, but in April, there's a lot of snow and some of the Southern mountains and some going through snow in April, which is weird in a desert going through snow, but there was one place where I got into a town to resupply.
And it was a bunch of hikers who are freaking out about the next section, which is, which was something called fuller Ridge. And. It's going to be dicey and it's going to be scary and you need crampons. And somebody died there last year. and I was pretty terrified. and the people were taking a bus around that section and just skipping it altogether.
Yeah. And I finally convinced this myself to just do this. And so this is one of the sections where I stuck with somebody because I honestly thought this was going to be. Are really scary situation. Yeah.
Keerstyn: [00:07:53] Yeah.
Joel: [00:07:55] And there are, somebody did die on it the year before. so there's legitimate reasons to be [00:08:00] concerned.
And we got to the section and I'm looking at my map and the next three miles are this part, where is the really scary part where on forage, where everything is, this is where you're going to have problems type of thing. And I'd call them twice ahead of time. And I called my mom and then I called my wife again, kind of thing.
And we were hiking and kept going and I kept expecting like anytime now, the really gnarly, scary part is going to be here. The dangerous part is going to is gonna be here shortly. And at that point I didn't really understand my hiking speed. So I hadn't really no concept of how long it would take to go to three or four miles.
And at some point in the middle of that, I looked ahead and. Kind of way out on the edge of my vision. I saw a straight line and those of you who have spent time in nature know that they're the only straight lines that there are in nature is flat water that's not moving at all other than that [00:09:00] I'm straight line.
So if you're out in the wilderness and you see a straight line and it's not water, it's something man made. And and I was so frustrated and so scared. And I said, how the heck did I get lost way out here? And, so I'm looking at my map. I can't figure it out. And I said, I gotta keep, I gotta keep going.
I know that the minimum, I have to see where this is. And so I kept going and there was a big trail sign that I came up on the back of and stole anybody parking lot with a trail sign. And I came to the other side of the sign and looked at it and the sign said, and a fuller Ridge. and at that point, when I saw that sign, I realized I'd gone all the way across for Ridge without even realizing it because I was expecting something so much scarier than actually was real.
And I, I remember dropping my pack and kicking a pine cone. I was pretty frustrated with myself and frustrated with the situation, [00:10:00] but the, that whole idea of going to gemba and going to see for yourself, Played out a lot throughout that hike. And I, there are other situations where I would hear, Oh, the bridge is out and you're never going to make it.
Or there's no place to resupply in that town. And what I learned was just go see lots of really well intentioned people who are trying to help, who don't have all the right information. And that's the same way in business with go to gemba. That's why they say go to Jamba is yeah, there's lots and lots of information out there and people trying to help, but almost all of it is second hand.
And so in business, not relying on secondhand reports and things, but actually going and seeing for yourself, is a really important thing for a business owner and a leader to understand you've got to have great people, but they're also, there's no substitute for going to see for yourself what's happening and what it is.
And yeah, for me, the biggest [00:11:00] reminder of that, isn't something I learned in lean office training. It's about thinking about fuller Ridge and how I completely missed it because I thought that. There was something scary coming and it wasn't.
Keerstyn: [00:11:14] Yeah, that's fascinating. And I think that's so important to remember what are some of those things that people come to you with in the business world that they are just like, absolutely terrified to do?
like whether that's going to your floor and like actually seeing what's happening or whether that's diving into a specific thing in EOS, what are some of those leadership things that people just. Second hand they're hearing. It's absolutely awful. They're dreading it. They're not looking forward to it, but in reality, it's not walk in the park, no doubt.
but there's ways to have your handheld and make sure to get through it successfully.
Joel: [00:11:52] The biggest thing is dealing with people issues without a doubt, it's scary sometimes to go and look at metrics or [00:12:00] those kinds of things. But the biggest thing is. An underperforming person or a person who is performing well, but doesn't fit the culture and really being afraid to deal with that.
And sometimes the listening to other people comes in the form of other people saying, we can't get rid of Bob because Bob has all this tribal knowledge and we, there's no way we're going to be able to do this without Bob. And so the owner or the leader. The first that person and says, okay, I guess we have to put up with Bob because there's no way we can function without Bob and the leader.
doesn't go look for him or herself to see what's really going on and what this person's actually doing. And yeah, that's by far the biggest thing that I've seen in my business career and especially with my clients is people who are terrified to get rid of somebody. Because of what that'll mean for the company.
And then, we talk about the [00:13:00] 36 hours of paint where you get rid of someone or are you okay? You escort them out the door with your blessing. And do you think that it's going to be terrible and you're in pain for about 36 hours and then it's over, and I had one situation with a client.
Where they had with every single time we were together, they talked about this one employee and all these people issues, and I couldn't get them to do anything about it. And I finally yelled at them and I told them I was going to fire him if they didn't, if they didn't fire, this guy does it. By the time, next time we would get together, either this guy is going to be, he has his act together or he's going to be fired.
And that's what I think that's the only time I've yelled at a client, but it, it's one of those things where it's like, they need to hear this. Yeah. And they were terrified about what it was going to mean. And of course they got rid of him. And what do you know? He really wasn't doing anything and they didn't miss him really at all.
despite all the kind of [00:14:00] posturing he'd done about this role, that he hadn't planned and all the important things he was doing, he really wasn't doing anything substantial and he was doing way more damage than good, but they didn't know that because they didn't go see. And so going to see for yourself, especially with people, issues is really
Keerstyn: [00:14:18] important.
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for sharing that story. That's incredible, honestly, that you were able to find those hidden secrets or hidden ideas from this hike. What are some other things that you learned while doing the hike?
Joel: [00:14:34] the biggest one that's really had the greatest impact on me is. Is the idea of embracing risk with the adventure.
And prior to this hike, I didn't realize this, but I was a very risk averse person. And I tried to portray the image of a risk taker. So in my younger Wilder days, I had dreadlocks and I was snowboarding and, and all that, [00:15:00] just trying to be that and rebel kind of a personality. Yeah. when in reality, what I was doing was working extremely hard to manage all the risks out of my life as much as possible.
And I had no idea that I was truly like that until another situation hiking, where there was the central mountains in California, the high Sierras and the high Sierra is the one place where it can there's some dangerous things because you're going through. Through snowfields. So you're hiking mostly on snow for a couple of weeks, and it's really easy to get lost and it's, you're forwarding frozen rivers and things like that.
So that was a place where I intentionally stayed with a couple of people. But in one part before I hooked up with those other people, I got to the last rail head that where you can possibly get out before going through the, the scary part, which would take a week or two, probably.
[00:16:00] And, somebody, he posted a weather report on the sign there and the weather report essentially said, if you go here, you're, everybody's going to die. And it was a really terrible, scary weather report. And at that exact point, some day hikers came out of the, came out of the forest behind me and walked with a car.
And I said, Can I take her, can I get a ride with you? And they said, yes, I went down out of the mountains and do this. And he'd been in a little town and found a hostel and there was probably a dozen other through hikers there. everybody's sitting around saying, and what are you going to do? Or what are you going to do?
I don't know what you're going to do. And after about a day or two of everybody just asking this question and looking at the weather report every hour, I decided this is ridiculous. And I wanted to go. And so I rallied a group of people and I said, you know what, if we stick together, this could be, there's no doubt that this is going to be scary and there might be some danger, but as long as we commit to stick sticking together on this, [00:17:00] everything will be okay.
And we got to, and I arranged for a ride back up the mountain, which was not easy to do. And so myself and these other three or four people were all sitting outside the hospital, fully packed, fully ready to go about. Five or 10 minutes before a ride was supposed to be there. And another hiker came out and Vince, the other four people to join him on a bus going around the entire high Sierra section.
And I was so pissed, and so scared. And I called my wife to complain. and she listened to me and then very. Very gently said, honey, you tend to want all of the adventure with none of the risks. And yeah, you hear sometimes about people saying they heard something and it was like a punch in the gut.
And that was as close to a punch in the gut from words that I've ever gotten. And she, and I realized, Oh my gosh, my wife is absolutely right. this is who I [00:18:00] am is I want all the adventure. I don't want any of the risks. And that's the way my life has been. Yeah. And, So she encouraged me to go for it by myself.
And I ended up going back up the mountain. And, I remember crying as I was going up because I was terrified and, the guy dropped me off and I started down the scary trail where the weather was supposed to be terrible. And after about a quarter mile, I caught up with a couple of guys that I met.
Earlier in the trip that I really liked. And, I'll never forget it because we were in the mountains, hiking on sand with the snow falling and the sunshine, just crazy things like that happen in the high Sierras. and those are the guys that we decided to stick together for the next couple of weeks and there was risk and there was a couple of times.
Where we did something. And then we of, we said, we're going to pinky swear that we're not going to tell our wives about this one, a couple of things that were like, that [00:19:00] was a little dicey, but there, so there was risk, but there's also, there's no such thing as an adventure without risk and business.
The really the same principle applies as you cannot have. You cannot have a success in business without. Embracing risk, not just putting up with risk, but embracing risk and the best entrepreneurs know that inherently, I did not, but it was something that I learned at that point. And so definitely since then in my career, very much be intentional about not just saying, where is the risk, but how can I embrace the risk?
Along this journey and yeah, you gotta make good decisions and you don't want to be rash and you don't want to be stupid, but the really cool stories don't happen until you step out in faith and embrace the risk. And [00:20:00] a lot of people, I think a lot of people in not a lot of people in business have had to make really risky business decisions.
And so it's harder for people to understand that. And so I think that part of what I really love or have loved about having this experience with this hiking is being able to tell stories in a way that resonates with people that they wouldn't necessarily be able to learn and have it resonate with, if somebody was telling a story about a merger and acquisition that they weren't a part of, because everybody can think about a time when.
They were trying to do something and it was scary and the situation changed under their feet a thing. And so I believe that very strongly that embracing the risk with the adventure is a huge part of success in life. And it's a huge part of success in business and the market rewards, the risk, and [00:21:00] lots of times we are not going to get to our goals.
Without really joining with the risk and accepting it and embracing it as part of what we're doing, knowing that most of the time we'll win, but sometimes we won't and that's okay.
Keerstyn: [00:21:15] Yeah. Have you, what do you do with clients to help them try to embrace this risk? Whether it's a small thing that they need to just start moving that direction, or it's a huge acquisition or merger that they're contemplating and it's.
There's terrifying for them. What are some of those small things that
Joel: [00:21:33] you do to help them? most of the time in what I do with my clients, they don't need to be taught that because the visionary of the company who is typically the entrepreneurial founder, the visionary, somebody that was born understanding this concept.
And so the visionary is the person who is saying, why didn't we do this yesterday? And we should do that acquisition. We should do it. And pushing the team to do more in different and [00:22:00] bigger and better. And so really all I have to do is let off a little bit and let the visionary sell this to the company.
Sometimes I have to pull people along mostly when the, there isn't a really strong, most of the people are a little bit more conservative, more, a little bit more like I was risk averse. And then just pushing them to make a decision and not letting them and talk forever and saying, like making a decision and moving forward is going to be better than making no decision and where people are watching you.
And if you make a decision and you make it the wrong decision and you raise your hand and say, whoops, we screwed up and now we have to change. That will actually increase. Your reputation and your esteem in the eyes of your people. most people, as long as they're open and honest and vulnerable are totally fine with leaders making [00:23:00] mistakes.
What they're not fine with is not having or being what they're not fine with is trying to follow a leader who does not have a plan or is unwilling to make a decision. So a lot of times, that's all I'm doing. If the visionary, if there's not a visionary to push people toward that, I'm pushing them towards saying, you got to just make a decision here.
This isn't just about this decision. This is about what your people are seeing around you. Absolutely.
Keerstyn: [00:23:26] I think one of the things that came to mind when you said that too, is failing, is. Actually extremely positive thing in the end, although failing during a hike, it might not be the most positive thing. I'm failing in business and learning from it and growing from it is so incredibly vital and so necessary, especially for an employee to a manager, and understanding that and also supporting it people like you said, when you're more vulnerable and more willing to raise your hand and say, Hey, I messed up, but here's our steps.
To take in the future. So we [00:24:00] don't do this again or make better choices in the future. I think that's so important. And so it makes everyone human too, and people want human. Now. They don't want some fake smile. That's going to somewhat lasts until there's failure and no one owns up to it. And I think you're right on with that.
That's totally right. And I love how you talked about that with your hiking too. That's awesome. And. Extremely important to make sure that you're somewhat taking risks.
Joel: [00:24:30] For sure. Yeah. there are risks everywhere and we've got embracing and we fail and sometimes things go wrong, but usually the consequences of the failure aren't as big as people think they're going to be.
And, but what they learn from it is greater than they think it's going to be. And so I had situations like that hiking as well, where there actually was a failure, or I ran out of food or I got [00:25:00] lost or whatever it was. And it sounds scary if you think about it too much, but if you need to look at well, what's really the worst case scenario here.
The worst case scenario is not that bad. Yeah. And a lot of times in business the same way there are certainly times where you've got to make people have to make a hundred million dollar decisions that are going to change the course of the company or that all affect 500 people and things like that.
But most of the decisions that business leaders need to make the consequences are not that huge. Yeah. Yeah. Way better to embrace the risk and potentially make a mistake and admit that you were wrong and learn from it and increase people's confidence in you. In the meantime. Then try to avoid those things.
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Keerstyn: [00:25:45] I am. Thank you for sharing that. That's so important. I think we all need that reminder in whatever we're doing in life, whether it's your job or your personal life. Absolutely. What was the funnest part about this hike? I will, I want to got to dig into that a little bit. Why?
[00:26:00] Yeah. it was the funnest part or the best moment of it.
Joel: [00:26:07] there was. It was really hard.
Keerstyn: [00:26:12] Yeah. I was. I had no doubt about that.
Joel: [00:26:15] I think about backpacking and they think about, Oh, going and looking at mountain views and having campfires and through hiking is different because you're fighting, your enemy is the clock. And if you don't get through the high Sierras in time, or you don't get through the sinus windows in time, or you don't get through the cascades in time, then it snows you out and then you're stuck.
So most of what I did was waking up in the morning, packing up my stuff as fast as I could hiking until I ran out of daylight and then laying down and going to sleep again. the very last night on the trail, I made a campfire just cause I had never done it and I wanted to, so yeah, there's a romantic view of through hiking, to people that have never done it, but it's generally a lot of work and there's not a lot of.
[00:27:00] Those really wonderful experiences. the mountain top experiences are relatively few and far between a couple of the being in the high Sierras and going up and over Mount Whitney, which is 14,000 feet. And yeah, in the middle of the snow is, was really cool. And the people that I was with going up and over Mount Whitney, us in our shorts and our trail runners, some people who had crampons and ice axes.
no, we're just gonna do this. that really fun. The other part that I just loved was, just camping outside. I, in Minnesota where I live, there's usually do, on the ground in the morning. And so if you lay outside to sleep without a shelter, you wake up all wet. when I was hiking, that was very rarely the case.
And so most of the time I didn't even set up a shelter. I just pulled out my sleeping bag and laid down and went to sleep, not with the [00:28:00] stars because there was most of the time there was no clouds or very few clouds. So you could fall asleep, looking at the stars out without any light pollution in a way that you can't do in Minneapolis.
So that was, it's probably the biggest kind of. Overall a repeating, recurring joy that I got out of it was doing that.
Keerstyn: [00:28:23] Absolutely. And what was the hardest thing do you think
Joel: [00:28:29] you can edit out silence. And so I'm going to think a second.
the hardest thing was not giving up when I want to do, I told you that it was, there's a fair amount of through writing. That's kind of drudgery and there's times that it sucks. Like I've lived in Minnesota my whole life and I thought. [00:29:00] I'd seen bad mosquitoes and the sense that it didn't hold a candle to some of the mosquito issues that I found in a few different places or, just being in the extreme heat for day after day.
some of that stuff was really hard and I'd hitchhike into town to resupply and. Eat a whole bunch of food and break a couple of years and then call my wife and say, okay, I'm ready to come home. And she'd be like, no, you are not allowed to quit.
Not quitting when there's a glorious end in sight is a romantic thing, not quitting when there is no glorious end in sight. And it's just more drudgery is really hard and really scary. And that's. That was probably the hardest aspect, but honestly, is the aspect. I think that served me the best in what I do professionally is that grit.
And just being able to say, [00:30:00] I show up every day and I make the same. I make the same difficult, correct decisions over and over and over and over and over and over. And ultimately that one step at a time is what's going to get me to the top of the mountain, not some kind of a radical transformational experience.
Keerstyn: [00:30:16] Absolutely. And I think you stated something that I is really important that you need those people that keep you going and like your wife was that for you. And to say, no, keep on going. You are close and there might not be glorious things at the end of whatever hardships we will face. But to have those people by your side to say, Hey, you got it.
Keep going. You're going to get there. That's so important. Especially in business to have mentors and. Coaches and consultants like yourself. that's so important. Absolutely.
Joel: [00:30:48] Our society is very individualistic and there's this idea that if you're going to be truly successful, you've got to stand on your own, facing the wind and the glory and [00:31:00] dealing with all of the chaos.
And that certainly happens sometimes, but I don't believe that's the way we were created to live. And I don't believe that ultimately that's the way to find joy. I think that the way to find the joy is in working with other people. And so the same, yeah. The same way, like you said, that my wife was at that foundation for me, and there's no way that I could have made it without her, in businesses, a lot of the same way, whether it's a CEO peer group or it's a, an EOS implementer like myself, or it's an executive coach, not trying to do it all on your own.
is really important. Yeah,
Keerstyn: [00:31:37] absolutely. It's hard to do it on your own. You don't even want to try to do it on your own for sure. And sometimes you have to though, of fight you learn and you grow and you keep on getting support from your people,
Joel: [00:31:48] for sure. Absolutely. Awesome
Keerstyn: [00:31:50] Joel. I'm really glad we had this conversation.
I love learning a little bit about your hike, although I'm sure there are thousands of other stories that you could share. what are [00:32:00] some ways that people could get in contact with you to either talk about your hike or talk to about your us implementation company? Or just to get to know you a little bit better?
Joel: [00:32:09] I am on LinkedIn, Joel Swanson and. My company is mile one. Am I L E O N E. And incidentally, that comes from, from an experience hiking. So if people want to read that story, it's on my website. my website is mile one teams.com and I love to talk about business and I love to talk about hiking and I love to talk about growth and adventures and whatever that looks like.
So I would welcome people to reach out to me, regardless of whether or not they want to talk about. How to embrace the risk with the adventure in their business, or they just want to talk about how to do the cool things outside. Like I love connecting with cool people.
Keerstyn: [00:32:49] Yeah,
Joel: [00:32:50] absolutely. File one and teams.com.
We will put
Keerstyn: [00:32:53] it in the show notes so that people have easy access to that. So any listeners who want to continue to talk to Joel? [00:33:00] Absolutely. thanks for chatting today. I have so many more questions that I want to ask you, but we'll cut it here so that people can reach out to you to do
Joel: [00:33:06] Sounds great.
Thanks for having me on the show. Yeah,
Keerstyn: [00:33:08] absolutely.
Teams also need to get away and have time to think together and reflect together. Be able to spend just an hour to be curious about each other. -Denise Van Eck, Owner of Thought Design