Abby Chan is a dietician and business owner in Flagstaff Arizona who believes that building community is core to what she is doing in her work. We discuss her inspiring grandparents and great-grandparents as well as her love of science and food and her vision for her company, Evolve Flagstaff.
- Evolve (Abby’s business)
- Evolve Eats
- Abby’s article about diet culture
- Abby’s article about fitness
- Jonathan Netzky’s company NexVeg
- The Importance of Non-Exceptional Female Role Models in STEM from Flagstaff Festival of Science
- The Power of a Positive No by William Ury
- Do Good, Be Good’s Facebook Page
- Do Good, Be Good Merch
- Want to start your own podcast or blog? Check out Fizzle
Full Transcript Below:
00:06 Speaker 1: This is Do Good Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good.
00:27 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Hello, I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. My guest for today is Abby Chan. Abby is a dietitian, and she is the co-owner with her partner, Brian, of a company called Evolve here in Flagstaff, Arizona. With Brian being a physical therapist and Abby being a dietitian and a chef, Evolve is perfectly suited to take a holistic approach to health, and they offer a range of services to help people, either addressing health issues or who are athletes trying to build strength, or just anyone who’s trying to get or stay healthy. Personally, I am currently taking advantage of their Evolve Eats Service, which is a meal service where I am getting four delicious meals every week so that I don’t have to cook myself and I can make sure to eat some yummy vegetables. In today’s conversation, we get to know Abby a bit, understand her back story and where her ethic of doing good for the community comes from.
01:25 ST: We’re also really building on the conversation from last week’s episode by talking about organizational values, starting a business, how to build a team that carries those values into their work, we don’t go as fully in-depth in Abby’s views on health promotion and being against diet culture, but she has some amazing resources, she’s written a lot about health on her website, as well as sharing tips and strategies on their Instagram. I have linked to those resources as well as everything else that we mentioned in the show notes. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Abby. One thing unique that I saw that you were doing, you were still teaching online, but then you were sharing any sales from that with another small business who also had to be closed.
02:16 Abby Chan: Yeah. So we are really lucky in the sense that our business is really diversified, we have a lot of different branches in it. So obviously, we have the gym, and then we also have our clinical services, and then we also have our Meal Prep company, so I think the fact that it is so diversified, it allowed us to be a lot more resilient. Granted, yes, it was really hard in the pandemic, and especially in the beginning, it’s so scary, but I think the hardest thing was that we had such a hard time just finding resources because obviously the leadership from top down is lacking, and I think there were just so many questions. It’s a novel virus, no one’s ever been through this before, so I think that that was a thing of how can we help our community and how can we help our community in the sense of other businesses who are closed who maybe can’t do any part of their business anymore, or that has significantly had to decrease and how can we at least from our classes or webinars or things that we’re doing, how can we at least maybe shift some burden even if it’s just like getting coffee for everyone.
03:25 AC: It may not be a lot of money, but at least it’s some sort of thing for morale, and I think it’s just a beautiful thing to bring the community together in saying that we actually are in this together and it’s up to us to support each other because no one else will.
03:38 ST: I mean, that motivated me to buy a class pack when it was my salon suite. I was feeling really bad for them and wondering how Kayla was doing and… Yeah, and luckily, they are back operating. I just thought that was so, so good. And I’m kind of curious how much of this goes into your business planning, but that more holistic approach to business of seeing that we are all in this together, and whether that’s on a downtown business level or community level, or collaborating with other people in your sector, how do you think about that?
04:18 AC: Yeah, I think what Brian and I do, and what we’ve always done personally, but then also business-wise, is that we have a core set of values that are kind of like our guiding light of to help make decisions, especially when things get super cloudy or we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s like, well, let’s go back to our values, so definitely at least, some of my values are community first, always, then that’s definitely Evolve and the Evolve Strong motto, is like what does it mean to evolve strong. And that means not only evolving strong in your body and what you put in your body and how you move your body, but it’s also how are you mentally strong and are you connected in a community and are you connected in that community in a way that’s also feeding you mentally and also physically? To me, it’s just that holistic approach, and that’s kind of where Evolve came from, is can we make our community stronger with these services that we have, so that they can show up better in doing everything that they do in their very specific integrated part of their community, whether it’s their family, their friend group, their job, whatever? So it just this ripple effect throughout everything.
05:26 ST: Okay, I’m gonna jump back for some context.
05:28 AC: Yeah, totally.
05:29 ST: I tend to jump around. I can’t say jump around without thinking of the song Jump Around.
05:35 AC: Yeah. I know.
05:36 ST: One question I often like to ask people, like when you were even a kid growing up, were you a helpful kid, did you find creative ways to be helpful?
05:48 AC: I think this goes back so far, it might even be in my DNA, both of my grandparents were immigrants from China, and they owned a Chinese-American restaurant. And even way back, like my great-grandpa owned a restaurant in Kingman, Arizona, so there’s this little town called Oatman, and miners would come down and be hungry and not have food, he would front them money, granted, oftentimes they didn’t pay him back, whatever, but I think it’s just so much so of that, and then even my grandparents, they worked so hard, they only took two weeks off out of the year, which is just nuts to me.
06:27 AC: Their motto was always, how do we help? Because we have so much… Even if it on the grand scheme, like isn’t that much, but we have access to food, we have a roof over our heads. I think they just had so much good will from the beginning, I know that their food distributor from the beginning they were like, “We can’t pay you,” ’cause I don’t know how much money it was for them to get their bulk order food, and so then their distributor was like, “It’s okay, I got it, I got you, pay me when you can.”
06:56 AC: And so I think it’s just this ripple effect of that kind of paying it forward idea that they always had, and how giving they were and then how that then impacted… My dad is also in business too, and how he also runs his business of how do we help all of our employees and how we help their families, and “Oh, so and so needs this, how do we help their kid’s soccer team?” Or things like that, that’s just… That it’s just not about you, and I think that’s where a lot of business gets a little caught up sometimes, ’cause you get caught up in your bottom line, ’cause yes, it’s important, but it’s not as important if you’re not also thinking about other people as well.
07:36 ST: It sounds like you have a lot of business owners in your lineage, so was that always a path that you saw yourself going on as well?
07:46 AC: So at first I was like, “I don’t know… Well I don’t know what I wanna do. I’m an 18-year-old kid.” And so what do you do when you don’t know what you wanna do? You go to business school. I started as an ASU business major.
08:00 ST: I thought when you said that, I was like, “Or you become a psychology major.” [chuckle]
08:04 AC: Or an English major.
08:05 ST: Or an English major. [laughter]
08:05 AC: Or a Fine Arts major. I knew I couldn’t. I was a dancer and I knew I couldn’t be a dance major ’cause I don’t know, my body’s gonna break at some point, so what’s the point of that?
08:17 ST: More practical.
08:17 AC: What was that?
08:17 ST: You were more practical.
08:18 AC: Yeah, a little more practical, and I was like, “Well, I guess I’ll do this.” I didn’t think about it a whole ton, ’cause granted obviously, now I’m a dietitian, so it took a huge different lineage in that sense, but I think that I also have… Not trouble with authority, but I like being my own boss a lot. I did work clinically at the hospital for a while, and it was great. I learned so much there from my fellow dieticians, but I just cannot be part of a huge corporation.
08:46 ST: I can almost see that even just from your Whiteboard Wednesdays like you’re so willing to just go against what the majority of people on Twitter or wherever are talking about. You’re like, “No. Actually, here’s how it really is.”
09:02 AC: Here’s here… Yeah, let’s get into some real talk here. Yeah, so yeah, so to me, it was always really important to do the work in the way that I wanted to. Clearly evidence-base, but also in the way that I wanted to and that I thought was actually the most helpful and well-rounded for most people.
09:19 ST: You sort of alluded to the fact that you were like, “Okay, went to school and I studied business, but then I became a dietitian, and so it really wasn’t a very linear path,” so I’m curious to dig in a little bit more as to where it wasn’t just a straight path.
09:33 AC: Oh yeah, it was definitely not a straight path. After my freshman year… Let me back up a little bit. So my dad owns a car dealership, and so that was always the thing, was that my brother was gonna take it over and he loved the car business, was selling cars when he was 14, that was what he did, and I worked there and kinda hated it, and so that was never my path. I went to school in my freshman year, and then the summer of my freshman year, my brother passed away very sudden from an overdose, and that was just a huge time to sit and reflect and be like, “Woah, who am I even really anyways?” And so that was granted, I would do anything for him to be here, but reflecting back, a really cool time that I was actually able to kind of get out of the grind of especially being in an Asian-American family that’s like, “You go to school, you do this, you do it in four years, and here’s your timeline, and if you don’t do it, you’re failure.”
10:33 AC: So granted, they’re really nice, but I think that’s a lot of the mentality. And so I think that that was a time that I could actually breathe and find some space to understand what I actually liked, and I was never really pushed that hard in school. My dad is a single dad. Basically, single dad raising two kids, did an amazing job, but didn’t have time to be like, “You should really try harder in science.”
10:57 AC: And so I knew I had to take science classes, so I was like, “I’m just gonna go to community college and knock those out and then I’ll figure out what I wanna do,” and I figured out that I loved them, and it was so cool understanding the how and the why and how things worked in the body was really the thing that really lit me up, and so then I realized I also really liked food. I didn’t even know a dietitian was a job, so I realized I could be a dietitian, I could talk about food all day. And it has to do with science and its bio-chemistry and that’s cool. And so that was basically that route of kind of falling into nutrition.
11:35 ST: I’m curious where the dance got weaved in here, when were you… Were you dancing while you were falling in love with science?
11:46 AC: So I was a dancer, I started dancing when I was really young, and then my ballet teacher had really bad breath and so I stopped dancing. For some reason, that’s still in my brain, and then I went back and started dancing, I think when I was like… Seriously, when I was eight. And then danced all the way through middle school, high school, I started teaching in high school, little munchkins and taught in college, so that’s where dance came in. I guess it’s always been a part of me.
12:10 ST: I was just kind of curious, as you were talking about realizing the connection between loving food and loving science and those connections, but then it also seems like if you’re doing something that you’re so in touch with your body or you have so much connection to your body, through dance, that that may also bring in that physiology.
12:30 AC: Yeah, I think bodies were always super interesting to me, I would say I definitely didn’t always have a great relationship to food when I was younger, probably because I was a dancer and because I was like, I don’t know, trying to fend for myself out in the world, and yet live in a culture that demonizes most female bodies in anyways as they look, so that was a struggle for me. But I did realize I had shin splints, I had all the things ’cause I didn’t fuel myself correctly, and so I knew that… I saw how much nutrition impacted, how much science basically, nutrition impacted the thing that I love to do my art form, my creative form, and realized that, “Oh, this is a big deal, and this is important,” and even now I like with a lot of my younger… If I have younger athletes, especially females, I’m like, “I know you don’t think this is a big deal, but this is a big deal. We’re trying to get you to do what you love. Forever.”
13:27 ST: Well, and part of why I ask about the dance and wanted to bring that back in is just because I was just listening in on Flagstaff Festival of Science lectures, and they were talking about female role models in STEM and how particularly cartoons in media that are supposed to be adding female STEM characters, they tend to make them very one-sided and it’s like, “Oh, this is the girl that’s the geeky girl that only does computers and doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t do anything other than computers, doesn’t do sports or anything else,” and I think so many people I know and that are in my life have… Are so much more complex than that, and you can be a dancer and love science and be connected.
14:14 AC: Yeah, and I think that people often miss that too, in the sciences of like every scientist that I know is hyper-creative, and I think that that’s often missed, they’re often thought of as very analytical, very cut and dry, but I think to actually be able to think about scientific processes and how a lot of things… I mean, even just the visualization of how a lot of these processes all intertwine with each other, you have to be creative.
14:48 ST: Pausing for a moment to remind you that a transcript of today’s episode is available at the show notes at dogoodbegoodshow.com, as well as links to anything we’ve mentioned. If you’re interested in podcasting, blogging or starting an online business, I recommend fizzle, that’s where I get the support that I need to produce this show. You can find my referral link in the show notes, and with that link, you will get a month of courses, coaching and community for just $1. Using the link will also support this show. Now, back to my conversation with Abby.
15:26 ST: In your world of trying to help people as a dietitian, what are the interesting problems that you are getting excited about? Or something that you’re like, “This system isn’t working for people, and I feel like there’s a way that you could break through and make it work for people better.”
15:47 AC: Yeah, so I think a lot of times, especially in the medical and health realm is that it is so complicated and most of the time providers or practitioners don’t have time, they may have 15… If they’re lucky, 15, maybe 20 minutes to sit down with the patient, go over their labs, do all of that. And so to me, my greatest thing is, can I simplify this so that it’s not so cut and dry. So for example, I had a patient recently who was told to go on this low-oxalate diet, which is basically for kidney stones. And so when oftentimes when providers or things like that, say, you have to go on this specific thing in their minds it says, “I can never have these things ever again, and now my life sucks or whatever,” and so my thing is, how do we put this in context? How do we make this fit for you? And how do we also bring joy in with food? And I think a lot of that too is breaking it down into systems, I think with health and wellness… Wellness if you wanna call it that, whatever it is. People know what they have to do, people know what they’re supposed to.
16:55 AC: People know they need to move, they should probably eat more vegetables, they should maybe drink more water, they should maybe drink less alcohol, they know what they need to do, but it’s the doing it that’s really difficult. And so to me, it’s breaking it down into these little itty-bitty chunks of not looking at all the fancy stuff of optimizing for sports performance, if you can’t even get dinner on the table every single night. So to me, it’s breaking it down, so it’s not like kind of like this very ADD mindset, I think that a lot of people have around it of like, “I have to do that and I have to exercise,” it’s like, how do we start really small and create systems in the sense of breaking this down into looking at just like, “Do you have the basics first?” And I think that’s really helpful in solving people’s problems in the sense of they just feel less overwhelmed and that they’re gonna be okay, and most of the time, I don’t ever deal with health emergencies anymore, ’cause I’m not in an acute hospital setting, so most of the time I’m like, “It’s okay, you’re not gonna die today, so that’s great.”
17:56 AC: So let’s look at that. So I think it’s more of just really listening, counseling, and then creating a system that works for that individual person. That really excites me, thinking about nutrition and wellness in a different way that… You’re familiar with a lot of my work that isn’t focused around these very deity type things, to me is really cool because that actually gives us more of a framework to work with if it’s not just weight and calories, can we look at your sleep patterns and how that’s impacting diabetes or whatever. How we’ve created every single branch in our business is solving a problem.
18:36 AC: So to me, with Meal Prep and with Evolve Eats that was just solving a problem. People would come into my office and say, “I don’t wanna cook, I don’t know how to cook, I don’t have time to cook, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t care, I’m too busy.” So to me, I was like, “Okay, well, you still have to eat some vegetables, so we have to figure this out in some way, shape or form.” It was also based off a specific patient who was super busy, had severe allergies, so that’s why most things are gluten-free and dairy-free, not from a health-ism standpoint, ’cause it’s not healthier to cut out major food groups, but can we make these things balanced and then also make it appropriate for a large variety of people as well.
19:17 ST: I was just surprised how similar it is to one of the things that gets me excited about my work, because a lot of times I might be brought in to an organization to help them with strategic planning, and so there’s a leadership team that has decided that it would be best for the organization to move in a certain direction, and so they’re maybe gonna start trying to measure sustainability, for example, they’re trying to lower their energy usage as an organization, and they want everybody on board with the idea of sustainability, but they also wanna be measuring these certain things, and they set targets and goals and blah, blah, blah, which is all great and I can geek out about that, but it often falls apart because it’s not actually a controllable technical system in which you can just flip a switch and say, “We’re now going to have everybody in the organization adopt this new behavior and turn off their lights when they leave, and all of these things that’s going to result in energy savings.”
20:20 ST: It’s like most of the problems that I work on are what we call in the business wicked problems, and so there are things that usually resolve around people’s behavior, and you can set a goal all you want, but it’s more interesting to me to say, “Okay, if you’re tackling this problem from the top with having clear vision, clear direction, clear targets, but then can you get behavioral change and momentum built on a more micro level with individuals or what will make the change?” Not only force it to happen, but what will actually pull people towards behaving a different way, and that I loved it when you said, “How can we find the joy in this?” You’ve been told you need to change your behavior, they probably actually will feel better, once they’ve made those changes, if there’s a good reason behind it, but in that transition, in making that shift, like where’s the joy in making that shift for someone?
21:26 AC: Right, and I think that’s actually where the counseling or even just more soft science type stuff and skills come in really well with business, and I think that’s where a lot of businesses fall apart, is in that top-down leadership, is where basically they’re like, “We want this to happen, here’s your metrics, here’s your goals.” And they’re not ever explaining or taking the time, because often times, especially in a leadership structure like that, where there’s not a lot of feedback and it’s maybe somewhat authoritative, it’s not A, taking the time to explain why, and then also like asking the individuals too, granted we have a smallish… We have a small company, it’s not smallish, it is small. So we get to have those conversations of what would really light you up, how do we make it so that you have buy-in to this other cause? It may not… This cause may not be 100% your cause, like totally fighting anti-diet may not be yours ’cause you’re a power lifter and you don’t really care, and that’s cool, but how can we start to get buy-in from all these different ways?
22:28 AC: And I think it’s so much so in the leadership of telling them, not telling, but educating on why you’re making this shift and making this change, and then also asking how would they wanna participate in it? I think that’s what often is missing, and especially when I used to work up in a more clinical role, I was just like, “Screw this, you don’t care about me, so it doesn’t matter.”
22:52 ST: But I’m curious to how you’ve also seen those structural supports, because like you mentioned creating the Evolve Eats program to solve a problem for people that… Because the buy-in was there, they were like, “Okay, I’m on board, I’ll eat more vegetables,” but they’re like… “But I don’t have anything to cook them with, I don’t know the recipes, I don’t have the knowledge, I don’t have the time.” so there are so many hurdles for them to overcome to make that shift. And so you were able to come in with a solution, which is one of the nice things about being in business sometimes, is because you can actually just prepare a solution for people, and if they have the means to purchase it, then problem-solved. And sometimes that’s harder leading an organization when there isn’t necessarily just…
23:35 AC: Like a product.
23:37 ST: Yeah, like a product that’ll fix it for them.
23:38 AC: Yeah.
23:41 ST: So as you’ve added complexity with hiring more people, I’m curious if you’ve run into any those challenges with operationalizing those values?
23:51 AC: Oh man, and so that’s also been a really beautiful thing about even just Covid, granted that there’s always some silver linings in things, and I think it actually gave us a lot of time and space that we had a big shift, we lost one of our key employees, and so then hired on a new team, and so with my partner and I, we are on the same page all the time, ’cause we live in the same house, we do all the same things, so we have that, and that’s beautiful and great. But the other seven to eight people are not in our heads all the time and are not in our houses, and so we have had to… And it’s been super fun to actually sit down and create these systems that are very simple and easy, and basically have done it in a workflow of what is everyone’s role, or what is your role in this business, here’s all of your resources to do it, and then I think through the… How do we… Not dictate it, how do we start to really structure that and bring that culture home, we luckily get to have bimonthly face-to-face time with everyone together, where we’re talking about a lot of those things.
25:00 AC: What needs to shift? What needs to change? How do we continue to create this very in-our-gym setting, like a non-diet, non-aesthetic-based thing, and where we actually start to focus on how… So we get a lot of face-to-face time, which is great, and I’m actually working right now on creating onboarding lectures and manual so that all of… So that people can start to look and be like, “I wanna learn more about nutrition from an employee standpoint. If I wanna learn more about nutrition and that process behind it.” Going through and creating curriculum for them to learn that eventually… Well, they won’t have to do as part of their onboarding. Do you have suggestions?
25:39 ST: Probably, I’m like, “Oh, I’m barking.” Well, my only suggestion would be to take all of the amazing knowledge you already have about helping people through behavior change and applying some of the same principles to helping employees adjust to your organization’s way of doing things.
26:01 AC: Yeah, that’s actually… That’s like a good way to put it. Yeah, and I think that’s actually been… Well, and I think part of it too is granted, you learn and you grow. In the beginning, we didn’t do some of these things, and then obviously ran into problems of like, “Why aren’t you doing this right?” And it’s like, “Well, ’cause we never told them or communicated it well, or did it in a way that was tangible and applicable to that person, and meeting them where they were at.” And so that’s another cool thing is that we do get to have just like we review constantly, we have one-on-ones with each coach and each person, so again, it’s a lot of that personal time, but it’s always going back to what do you need to be a better coach? And then, “Okay, let’s look at these values and are you actually living up to these?” ’cause have evolve five pillars of health, and so we don’t review them on what are your healthy behaviors, but it’s like, “Do you understand these, and how are these showing up for you? And are you balanced in yourself so that you can then show up in these other things too.”
27:04 ST: Yeah, one thing I think… I’m sure you know Jonathan Nitschke.
27:07 AC: Yeah.
27:09 ST: Yeah, so I’ve heard him speak before, and as an engineer, he really thinks about more from the sustainability being such a core value of his organization, he was thinking about how do we make it so that if day-to-day operations just happen in a very routine way, if it’s like, it’s just another day at the office, that if we just did that, we would be accomplishing these goals and living out our values.
27:40 AC: Yeah.
27:40 ST: How do you embed it all in the system so clearly that people don’t have to think about it, they don’t have to be like, “Am I making sure I’m doing this today?” It’s like, “Well, if you’re doing it the way it’s just a normal day, then by definition, you’re doing it.”
27:55 AC: “You’re doing it”. Yeah.
27:57 ST: So I just thought that was really interesting.
28:00 AC: I have to look at some of the stuff.
28:02 ST: I’m wondering if you have maybe just an example of a time where you felt like you really got to see EVOLVE working the way you had wanted it to work. I know that was a big moment for me as a business owner, I had this vision, I had these ideas of how I could help people, and then you actually see it the first time when it really works, and having that sense of like, “We’re doing something for people.”
28:30 AC: It’s working. Yeah, no, oh my gosh. I think that I luckily get to see this often, and get to reflect on this often because my office is attached to the gym and off the gym, which I would definitely re-structure if we rebuild. But I think it’s really cool ’cause I get to kind of be a fly on the wall, and I get to hear class is going, and I get to hear side conversations that are just so neat, of people cheering each other on, asking what they’re doing that weekend. These people that have never, ever probably crossed paths in their life, and them actually making friendships and finding community in this space, I think has been the most fulfilling thing. And that’s when it’s like, “Oh, we’re doing a thing.” Which is really cool.
29:19 ST: I’m going back to one thing you said and that I’ve heard you say, which is your emotional connection with food and the way that you connect with others through food, because this episode would probably come out before Thanksgiving. That was something that I loved when I heard you speak, it was about how… You were talking about how… One thing that’s terrible about these very prescriptive diet programs is, what if they take out all the food that connects you to family and connects you to culture, and you’re only doing the South Beach Diet or whatever, so now you can’t eat that famous family recipe at Thanksgiving that goes back generations and is always something that’s been part of your memories of that, so…
30:03 AC: Yeah, I think it’s important in all realms in, especially in relation to food, of how do we get out of this extremism, of this very type A Western American mentality of, “I’m grinding and I’m doing it all… ” and then… Or even like I… I like to think about self-care too, of like, “I’m doing all these things and then I’m gonna take a day and I have to totally check out.” And I think that that’s our unfortunate relationship to so many things in our culture of consuming things, of “I’m minding my budget and then I splurge.” And it’s the same thing with food, of if we do that, we end up in this weird binge purge cycle, and I think too, in the sense of around… If you think of the annual calendar, so we have the holidays, the holidays come, first it starts off with Halloween, and everyone’s like, “Oh gosh, it’s candy season.” And then they have this horrible feeling about it, I think as adults where it’s like, just remember when you were a kid and giggling and running down the street, and the smell of the leaves, remember these little bits that are related to these foods and holidays and very cultural traditions.
31:13 AC: And what does it feel like to taste your mom’s pie or your grandmother’s cookies, and how do we do this in a way that is not so restrictive that you have to white knuckle and keep saying no, ’cause decision fatigue is real, and eventually your brain won’t say no anymore. And then how do we then partake in these things in a joyful manner that isn’t in this binge kind of like even blackout manner to then feel guilty about it, where it’s like, you should never feel guilty about the things that connect you deeper into maybe these like totally familial recipes. Or even in my world, like white rice, people tell you if it’s South Beach or whatever, whatever low carb thing or health-ism thing, like “Don’t eat processed grains.” It’s like, “White rice is delicious, white rice is my family staple.” And so I think in that sense of, can we look at all of these things instead of this very Western mentality of, “I have to check these boxes of having a lot of flexibility, and I’m gonna do these things for myself today, and then I’m also gonna partake in this other way that makes me feel good.”
32:20 AC: Or even if it relates to exercise, how do we get away from this very number rep calorie metric thing of like, “I’m gonna go for a walk today, and I’m not gonna bring my Fitbit or watch or whatever, and I’m just gonna move ’cause it feels good, I’m gonna listen birds.” And know that that counts.
32:37 ST: I think I can see some similarities in even the organizational health. We have an annual retreat, and that’s where you go and pretend to care about each other and repair whatever damage we’ve done to our relationships with each other, and then set New Year’s resolutions or annual organizational goals for the next year, we can cut each other down in little ways day in, day out, or not show respect for people’s time, or not show appreciation or do things that put other priorities in front of our co-worker’s health, as long as we every so often give someone a pin for service or…
33:23 AC: Yeah, and I think it’s the little things to even just saying thank you, it’s so simple of, “Hey, that was a great class, thank you for that.” Or “Thanks for always showing up with the great attitude.” And I think also encouraging yourself to have boundaries as a leader in an organization, ’cause I think that also… And as long as you empower your employees and other people within the organization to also have boundaries, to say “No.” I always tell my employees, I’m like, You can say no to this. I’m asking you this as if you wanna do it, but you can say no, and if you need less that’s totally fine, we’ll figure it out.”
34:01 ST: Have you read the power of a positive no?
34:03 AC: No, I should though.
34:04 ST: Oh my god, yeah, that’s one of the best books, that’s by William Ury. It gives you guidance on how to say no, and so I often have done trainings for employees about how to say no in a way that you maintain a respectful relationship, particularly if it’s a power dynamic, so. Okay, well, I have talked for long enough, I will have to have you back on some time because I have lots more questions for you.
34:30 AC: Totally.
34:32 ST: Since it’s your first time on the show though, I should ask you my closing question, which is… The show is called Do Good, be good. What does it mean to you to be good?
34:42 AC: To be good to me means that I am being good to myself, and not from a selfish standpoint, but in the sense of I’m being good to myself in staying true to the things that I need to get myself grounded so that I can be good to everyone else around me, it just… To me, it means showing up, showing up for yourself, show up for other people, show up.
35:11 ST: Thank you for listening to do good, be good. Thank you, Abby, for being a guest and sharing your story. We’ll have to have you back sometime. I’d love to talk more. For show notes on all of our episodes, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com, to subscribe to the podcast for free, so that you get each episode as soon as it is released, just search for do good be good in your podcast app of choice. Also, if you’re looking for a nice snugly hoodie or a long sleeve or short sleeve shirt with the Do good, be good logo, I am selling merch, and you can find that as well in the show notes. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. Music in this episode is bathed in fine dust by Andy G. Cohen released under Creative Commons Attribution international license, and discovered in the free music archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, signing off. [music]