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Karen Loftus
Karen Lou Creates
Work From Where
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Helping highly successful yet exhausted business owners grow their leadership coaching skills with new tools, techniques, and strategies so they and their engaged team members can focus strategically on growing their business. ​ Karen is a recovering HR executive who’s been on the executive team with three companies, and in her 30-year career, she's worked with Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, and small businesses alike! Her expertise is as an internal and external consultant to the c-suite, where she focuses on employee engagement, change management, and leadership development. While their corporate careers have allowed Karen and her husband Peter to live in various states, they've been in Scottsdale, Arizona, for 20 years now. Karen has an MBA and was double certified as an HR professional. And in her free time, Karen is an oil painter and loves to spoil their granddaughter, Lilah.

In this episode

Karen Loftus of KarenLou Creates shares that one of the primary reason employees like to work remotely is that many have picked up side hustles. Everyone talks about the benefits of cutting down the commute, flexibility, no one looking over your shoulder, and even flexibility in dress, but no one, particularly management, wants to acknowledge the second job. Karen tells us that a big reason why many professionals are taking up a second job is they don't find their primary job fulfilling. Karen is adamant is the last thing management should do is put out a formal policy outlawing second jobs. You need to figure out how to engage your employees which will mitigate the desire of staff to turn to other opportunities to feel fulfilled. Listen to the end for the details of Karen's gift for our listeners.

Work From WhereKaren Loftus
00:00 / 33:25

A glimpse of what you'll hear

05:16 The big reason many employees don't want to return to the office.

06:12 The side hustle is a real thing.

07:45 Why employees start side hustles.

09:16 How executives should respond.

11:58 Drive more revenues by acting like a media company in your marketing.

13:19 Work-work balance.

15:58 How you benefit from high levels of employee engagement.

21:25 Three steps to create an environment that will engage your employees.

24:23 Learn about Karen. Email Karen at

Episode Transcript
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)

Centricity Introduction 0:04

Welcome to the Best Kept Secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.

Jay Kingley 0:43

I'm Jay Kingley, the Co founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to our show, where our guests share their provocative perspective of what their target market is missing out on. I'm happy to welcome to the show, Karen Loftus, founder of Karen Lou Creates, Karen provides leadership coaching to successful but exhausted business owners. Karen is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, welcome to the show, Karen,

Karen Loftus 1:11

Thank you so much for having me.

Jay Kingley 1:14

We live in interesting times. And I have long observed in my career, that there are changes in how people work and how businesses run their operations. But these changes typically take place over long stretches of time, you know, slowly unfolding over 10 to 20 year periods. But we had something interesting happened, you know, two, two plus years ago called a pandemic. And the pandemic, among many impacts on our society really impacted work. It took a very gradually occurring change, of doing more work via video, of being able to be more remote, not always been the office, a trend that was probably going to take 10 to 15 years in my view, and it accelerated it to like one week. And if you remember back in the very beginning, how disconcerting it was how people had to struggle to adapt. But when you don't have a choice, humans are pretty remarkable at being able to adapt and adjust quickly. I think to a lot of people surprise, very quickly, on the worker side, they realized how much better working remotely not having to go into the offices things like, "Hey, I don't have to commute. Maybe that's our two hours of time savings a day." "I am better able to balance my personal life and my business life, because I am working from home." Not to mention the dogs. This has been a bonanza for everybody who has a dog no more separation, anxiety. And then we have the people that are running the businesses. And they weren't very pleased. But much to their surprise, here's I think what they found that their workers were actually more productive. They were working longer hours, not shorter hours, it's almost like this unwritten deal, Hey, I've saved two hours on a commute. Why don't we split it 50/50, I'll give you an extra hour, you give me an extra hour, we both are ahead. Because people's office is you know, within seconds of where they are off work. If a thought came into their mind, if they need to do something quickly, bingo, they could just shoot right over to the desk, do that type of work. The other big thing that I think that people running businesses realized was that how much money they spend on office space. And now I think smaller businesses are saying, ditch the office altogether, that's an enormous cost savings. Even larger companies are cutting the square footage of office space 25 30 40, even 50% millions of dollars a year going straight to their bottom line. So it seems like a win win. But the people running these businesses, you know, it's like in their DNA, once you become a manager is this idea of command and control and feeling like they don't have as much control over the workforce, that there's been this shift in the balance of power, and they're worried about it. So there's so a lot of companies are saying, Maybe I need you to come back into the office and go back to the way it was. So Karen I got to ask you as someone who deals with leadership in organizations, Have I missed anything in terms of pluses and minuses of this remote distributed workforce? And let's talk about what the right way forward and how do you balance sort of this need of executives who want to get everybody back together? Workforce may be not as enthusiastic. Tell me what you think?

Karen Loftus 5:28

Well, certainly from a worker perspective, I think there's one other thing to mention. And that is the, the idea that they like sitting into their comfy clothes, sitting here working. And so you know, you got to give them that right. It's so and I certainly agree with the idea of big brother watching that the workers don't want that. But I think that they're really missing one big piece. And you want to hear what it is?

Jay Kingley 5:59

Lay it on me.

Karen Loftus 6:01

Okay. All right. I think that there, people don't want to come back into the office, because they have a side gig.

Jay Kingley 6:09

Ah, the old side hustle that you read about all the time, and therefore, they can't have big brother watching them while they manage that. How big of an issue do you think that is Karen?

Karen Loftus 6:25

It is a large issue with the clients I have been working with and the people I have been talking to, it's really a value proposition. Certainly people want to work and they want to be gainfully employed, but they also want to feel valued in what they're doing. And oftentimes, that second gig is giving them that sense of value.

Jay Kingley 6:51

So let me let me just ask you, because when you say value, two things popped into my mind, and I'm curious to get your take on what you see is more often the driving force. So I think the first thing that comes to mind is, you know, I'm not paid appropriately. So I have no choice, I have to do a side gig, because I got bills to pay. And I am driven purely by money. And the other thing, which which I think you've just alluded to is, I mean, of course, money is money, and we were all happy to get a little extra, but that doesn't isn't necessarily the driving force. So in that case, it could be I don't feel engaged, I don't feel a sense of ownership. I don't feel like I am proud to be part of the organization that is my employer during the day. So it's more like a fulfillment issue. So as you look at those two things, or maybe it's a third thing, I don't know, but those two things come to my mind. What do you see as more prevalent as a rationale for these side hustles?

Karen Loftus 8:00

There are some interesting data, that fact I've seen this morning that certainly pay and benefits is there, right? I mean, it's got to be there. from two different perspective, hourly employees, they literally need the money to survive for exempt professional employees. It is still the case. And it is percentage wise, my the data I've read, it's higher for men, the salary component for women a little higher on the scale, is the need for balance and finding value. But that finding value is always there. And that's that factor about I want to be here doing the stuff I'd love to do. And somebody values me for doing it.

Jay Kingley 8:46

So in addition to the usual suspects, that I think were clear to me, in terms of how each side sees it, you're bringing up as the old expression goes, the elephant in the room, that's going to put a lot of stress. If I put you under pressure to come back full time, in an environment that I control that I supervise, that's going to make your take away degrees of flexibility and freedom from you, which is going to have this knock on effect. So if I am the business owner, if I am the executive responsible for a chunk of the workforce, how do I balance this out? And what is in your view the right way forward?

Karen Loftus 9:35

You're right in saying that the leader is going to be stressed about it, because they have a lot to lose, right? It's their business. Sometimes they're financially they are so tied to this business that literally their livelihoods on the line. So the fact that they'd be stressed about that is a serious thing. But these are also people who have been looked up to for a year and have been looked at as having the answer. And when the world and the paradigm is changing for their employees, then what are they saying about me? What does that mean about me as a as a leader? Am I somehow less than what I was? And do they even want to be here? I mean, it makes it a very kind of paradigm shift kind of thing happen for a leader. And the question is, is there enough pain that they want to make a change?

Jay Kingley 10:32

Let me just dig a little bit deeper, and maybe put you on a bit of a hot seat, you know, from I guess, the wall from both sides, I mean, motivated differently, let's talk about a couple of outcomes and how you would look at the viability to the all parties of these different outcomes. So you know, on a continuum, I've got, you've got to come back full time, into office space that I control. And that is where work is to be done from. And then we have the, you know, I'll do a split, you know, three, two to three, wherever you land, where you come in office, a couple of days, you work on your own a couple of days, which does require the employees to be geo located, where the office space is. And then you go a little bit farther to the other end of the continuum, where you say, you can live in be anywhere you want to be, but maybe once a month, once a quarter, you're gonna have to come in for a day two or three, to bond with the team. And we'll pay for that out of our savings of the reduction in office space. Right? So you know, we'll allow that in, in the budget, to the other end of the complete extreme, where you just say, Look, we are 100%, remote organization, we really never get people together. And we're good at that extreme. So if you have that continuum, how do you evaluate the right way forward? Or how do you think about it? Maybe there's not one right answer, but how do you think about where you as an organization where I'm gonna take the executive point of view, what spot on that continuum do you take?

Karen Loftus 10:34

There are a lot of ways to cut that, right, you can cut it from the the company's values and where their mission and vision are, because perhaps that is so much a part of what they stand for the people that they have that that it's about the people, right? It could be about the age of the company, and where they are, and the progress, because it could be that they are such an entrenched company in their local community, for example, they need to have face they need to have people out there visible. But the leader really has to make some decisions that that, that are a little bit more skewed to understanding that the employee is making decisions themselves on a different level. They're making decisions that are value based for them. And it is more about work life balance than it is about the job.

Jay Kingley 13:34

Well, and let me get one more point before I move this forward. I love the work life balance. But I don't want to lose sight of what you put on the table, which I felt was really insightful. Let's call it the work, work balance, you know, between my day job and my side hustle. So now you're that executive, you are forced to confront the truth, which is that a chunk of your professional staff, I think most companies have have accepted that if they're not going to pay their hourly employees a livable wage, that they will they have no choice, but to get that second job. And that's really been a pretty open secret that that is going on, but certainly now among the professional staff. So what do you do about that? What do you do about the the idea there's a site? So do you just accept it and embrace it? Or do you say, I really don't want that going on? So what do I need to do to make that option much less attractive?

Karen Loftus 14:42

Let me tell you what you don't do first of all, and that is put a policy out there against second gigs. Because really, it's just a band aid, right? It's not solving a problem. And the problem is the way you're treating your employees. They want to be treated with the respect of their subject matter expertise and what they're bringing to the table. So if you're looking for a band aid, that's that's one thing. But if you're looking to solve the problem, it's to try to find out how to engage your workforce.

Jay Kingley 15:19

So Karen, let's move on a bit in our discussion. Let's talk about if executives think about this along the lines that you say, and clearly, there is no one answer fits all. And you talked about mission and vision, you talked about the relationship that you have with your employees, and you want to have with your employees, the age of your workforce, and the nature of your business, so on and so forth. And also dealing with this underlying issue of how do you have higher levels of employee engagement. And as I like to say, think what comes with that is a sense where the employees are proud to identify with their employer, because they're really your ambassadors to so much of the world around them that they actually play a pretty key role in your sales and marketing, which I think a lot of companies overlook. So if they take this approach, that your advocate in terms of how you think it through, and how you come to the right decision for you, let's talk about how this approach can benefit the business itself.

Karen Loftus 16:35

That term employee engagement, right? It's it's the concept that the employee wants to be there, they're feeling valued, they are involved, and they want they're making a difference. So what does that actually do for the company? Well, the drivers, I mean, there are so many drivers, but it when you think about it, it totally makes sense, right? improved employee engagement is going to increase your profitability, it's going to improve your productivity, it's going to decrease, for example, safety issues, right? It's going to or theft, it's going to improve customer ratings, all those things affect the company bottom line. And we're talking about companies that are highly engaged employees, work units, they are in the upper quartile of companies that are getting a return on their investment, compared to these companies where the term we'd use is disengaged, right? The opposite of that the disengaged employee, and who doesn't want to have absenteeism go down, who doesn't want to have a more productive workforce, who doesn't want to have better metrics that are going to prove your company bottom line?

Jay Kingley 17:57

I think the things that you're talking about me and the positive impact on the business, certainly speak to the importance of the approach that you are advocating. And as I like to tell our clients all the time, that when something is important, you will get engagement. But engagement does not imply action does not imply moving forward. I think to get the action component, there has to be a feeling of urgency in the decision maker, and the biggest driver of urgency is emotion. So talk to me a little bit about, you know, I'm the decision maker. I'm the business owner, I'm not executive who has to come up with the way forward using a lot of the thinking and frameworks that you're talking about. What is it that's going to happen to me emotionally from where I'm starting from to where I would end up?

Karen Loftus 18:51

Well, an urgency is the key right there, right? Because that's the driver for action. And if there isn't a tipping point in how they're feeling that urgency about it, they won't change, right. And so, you know, you think about yourself, we talked about maybe maybe they created the company, maybe they are the owner of that company that has been in the family for generations, and losing that business is tied to them personally and professionally. I mean, as I mentioned earlier could be about that their literal, financial, personal family. Security is tied up in the success of the company. And so when you look at things that are the drivers, it's about things about how are people viewing me? Oh, I must not be a good leader. Oh, my company is not succeeding. Maybe it's not succeeding, but it's certainly not scaling. Right. And what does that say about me as a leader? What does that say about me as a person? Why are all these people quitting? They're quitting me. they're quitting my company, right. And so if any of those things are happening

Jay Kingley 20:15

Karen, that so resonates with me, I grew up in a family run business started by my great grandfather, who I never knew, but then taken over by my grandfather, when I was a young boy, you know, I got to get exposure then. And then my father, and I, as actually starting at age eight, worked in the business through the time I went to college. And what I learned very, very quickly, is that the community, everybody in the community identified you, who was the owner operator, you know, on the business side with who you were, personally, and the community never made that distinction. So if you don't treat people well, if you don't create that sense of engagement, and that sense of pride, then the community is going to look at you personally, in a very unattractive fashion, as opposed to the alternative, where people view you, they respect you, they admire you. And it, again, flows through on the personal side. So what an insightful comment and wow, you know, I grew up in that type of world. And I have to tell you owning, you know, being the owner operator is not easy. And it's not really the business part, I always found that part that the inability of the public to separate the two parts, and really how they merge that together, and how they look at you the hardest part, or one of the hardest things about being an operator of a business. So that brings us to the next question I have for you. Alright, so you really put a pretty compelling case as to why you not only need to think about this, but you got to act on it. What are the key implementation steps that the business owner or executive needs to take to do what you are suggesting?

Karen Loftus 22:20

I think the one thing is that leaders need to kind of remove that and manage your boss hat and put on the coach hat. Because they, as a leader, by definition are managing people, right. And so we've been talking about these people wanting the second gig. And the reason they have to set what the second gig is because they're wanting to provide more value, and they're not feeling that, well, as a coach, you're gonna do that, right. And so that's inherently perhaps a set of skills that you weren't taught in business school, or you want shot when you join that company, or when you move up from being a frontline employee, to a supervisor, to a leader, your company, one thing, you could certainly check in often and authentically with your team. Just talk to him novel concept, you know, talk to them. And then I think that they also could be a learning organization, which values because that's a an organization that values, continuous improvement and learning. And that's at an organizational level, but also at a personal level.

Jay Kingley 23:32

Karen your insights on this issue, particularly shining a spotlight on the side hustle or the second gig and really understanding why people are doing it and having an the importance of the owners and executives, consciously addressing that issue in a fashion that consists that consistent with their mission and values so spot on and something I think we all need to take a step back on, and consider. So what we're going to do now, though, is we're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to learn a bit more about caring.

Centricity Introduction 24:14

Wondering how much longer you have to grind and chase after every lead conversation and client, Wondering how much longer you have to grind and chase after every lead conversation and client, would you like clients to knock on your door so you no longer have to pitch follow up and spam decision makers. Well Centricity's The Tipping Point program uses a proven five step process that will help you get in front of the decision makers you need by spending less time on doing all of the things you hate. It's not cold, calling cold email, cold outreach on LinkedIn or any other social media platform, or spending money on ads. But it has a 35 times higher ROI than any of those things, leveraging your expertise and insights that your prospects and network value. The best part even though you'll see results in 90 days, you get to work with the Centricity team for an entire year to make sure you have all the pieces in place and working. So you can start having freedom of time and a life outside of your business. So email to schedule an 18 minute call to learn more.

Jay Kingley 25:13

Welcome back, we're talking to Karen Loftus of Karen Lou Creates. Let's find out a bit more about Karen. Karen, let me start with tell us the pain points that you solve for your target market. And why do they need you to help them get rid of that pain?

Karen Loftus 25:32

Well, but I look at it from two perspectives one, employee turnover, that's a pretty big clue that something's not working in the company, right? So there's that and the inability to resource and rehire for those vacant positions. And while those two things are going to hurt any company, while those two things are going on, you have a workload that's left and potentially work that's either not being done, or needing to be done by you, the leader, or those people who are left who are already potentially burned out and overworked. So what I do is I work with leaders to improve their coaching skill to become a better leader. So I'm not using the word manager, here, I'm using the term leader and coach, because that's the aspect of the continuum that I feel like leaders find value in. And so really, I provide the tools, processes, strategies, to be more authentic collaborative leaders. And that's the type of coaching that I work with, with my clients.

Jay Kingley 26:47

When leaders bring in a coach to help them in their organization, one of the things that they want to be certain of is that they are working with the best, because you are the company you keep. So I'm going to put it to you directly. Karen, what makes you great at what you do?

Karen Loftus 27:07

Aside the fact that I've been around the block a few times, right, you know, I mean, I've worked for Fortune 100. It's I've worked for nonprofits, I've worked for small companies, and I've consulted for companies in in between. So you know that aside, first of all, I think you have to realize that like a lot of people, I didn't go to school to become a leader. I didn't go to school to become a manager. But my first job out of college as a Wall Street Journal was as a manager, and pretty much every job I've ever had, in my career has been as a manager, director or in the C suite. And with that comes a lot of experience in, in working with employees, because the side of the business I've always been in, after I got out of operations was that HR training, consulting od side of the world. And so my clients were always the C suite, and the leaders of the company. And so those are the kinds of people that I have worked with for a lot of years. And those are the ones that I think, make it make the business hum. But I also think that I'm good or great because I know when to say I don't know what I don't know. Because as a consultant, it's not about us coming in with all the answers. It's about us asking the questions and being authentic enough to think I don't have to have the answers on your business. I have to be able to ask the questions, so that you can fill in those blanks.

Jay Kingley 28:55

I encourage everybody to go to LinkedIn, check out Karen's LinkedIn profile, you'll get more of the facts and figures underlying her career that she's alluded to. And I'm sure he will come to the same conclusion as I did, which is pretty impressive. The Karen I want to asked you a slightly different question. I'd like to understand what happened in your life. That would most explain why you're doing what you're doing today.

Karen Loftus 29:27

You probably weren't looking to hear this. But I have a congenital hearing loss. I've had a couple of surgeries to quote make it better. I don't work right. So I live with I don't even like to use the word disability but I do I live with this thing. And I have tried for many many years in my career to not play up on it. Not mentioned it not address it it's just there. I've, I've come to the conclusion that it is me. And it's a part of me. And, and it also part of why I good at what I do. Because I listen, I listen really hard, because I have to, I have to be able to make sure that I'm not only present, but that I am literally hearing the words, because that's what I do for a living, right, I communicate with people. And so I have to do things that others don't. I have to position myself in a room where I can hear the right players. I have to sit at a table with the fan, not blowing in my hearing aids, I have to do things that work and make it work for me. And there are times that I just have to say I'm sorry, I can't do that. Because I know there's nothing I can do to change the situation to make it such that I can provide value at that moment. And so that was a really big aha in my life, not that I had the loss of that I deal with it in a way that makes me a better person makes me a better consultant and actually makes me more congruent with who I am.

Jay Kingley 31:33

Taking a challenge like that, or or, you know, as other people might say, a disability and turning it in to something that makes you better and more effective at what you do is truly inspiring. So thank you so much for sharing that. You've brought, you know, tremendous insight to the table today, I am quite confident that many of our listeners are going to want to reach out to you to continue the conversation on this topic. So Karen, what's the best way for people to reach you?

Karen Loftus 32:14

Well, certainly, as a professional connection, LinkedIn is certainly, you know, obviously a great choice. So I've got Karen Loftus, so no, no surprise there. The other side is my website Karen Lou Creates. And certainly if you want to email me reach out to hello@karenloucreates that simple

Jay Kingley 32:36

And we will put all of Karen's contact information into the show notes or insert into the video make it easy for our listeners to reach out. Alright, Karen, you know, you've been fantastic, tremendously insightful, very thought provoking. And this is normally where I think anybody in my shoes would say, let's call this a wrap. But that's not how I roll. I have got the back of my listeners, I tried to ring out every last ounce of value on their behalf. And I think I've got an idea for how to put the squeeze on you, Karen. Putting the squeeze on you, I'm looking for a gift that you can offer our listeners in return for them giving you their time and attention on the show. Karen, what can you do for them?

Karen Loftus 33:37

Oh, wow, I would love to offer a conversation. I mean, certainly, we're all at a different place in our career and our leadership and our company. And so I am happy to offer a 30 minute consultation whatever you want to call it to any of your folks who would love to chat with me I'd like to frame perhaps where their leadership team is and their company, what employee engagement might look like for them and chat about you know what, what their needs are and if there's anything I can do to help happy to help.

Jay Kingley 34:18

So please reach out to Karen take advantage of her generous offer do that via her email address or through a LinkedIn message for sure to mention you turret you heard her on the Best Kept Secret show so that she will give you that gift because if you say you're heard heron any other show, not happening.

Karen Loftus 34:37

Not happening

Jay Kingley 34:39

Guys, I want to thank you for being with us today to my audience. Let's continue to crush it out there. Until next time.

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