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Leading Through Crisis

Crisis has been all around us for over a year now... on a level that none of us were immediately prepared to deal with.

So what do we do as leaders when the sh*t hits the fan?

According to today's guest, you take your moment to feel your emotions, then jump into action - even if it's imperfect.

Paden is a passionate speaker, 7-8 figure business consultant, podcast host of Paden's Pep Talks, CEO of two businesses, and part of Forbes' Business Council.

Paden Hughes is a type A, highly sensitive empath who went from a burned-out employee to a seven-figure business owner married to her business partner and raising two children. At the height of the pandemic in 2020 both of her businesses were heavily impacted, one of which was shuttered. With two kids under 4, 10 employees counting on paychecks, over 450 clients to serve, and having just invested their last dollar into a start-up company.... 2020 was the year that tested her as a leader and gave her the perfect opportunity to put her mindset training and intuition to the test.

It was the year that brought her to her high performer knees.... once again in total burnout but this time with a serious health scare. It took a 5-day Soul Adventure in Sedona AZ and committing to spending 2 hours a day alone for her happiness to bring her back into balance.

I started out by asking Paden how she got to where she is today?

“I started my overachieving career, and by that, I mean always wanting to prove I was good enough when I was starting off in marketing, it was a start-up. I had then found my passion around consulting small businesses, helping them grow from about half a million to eight figures.

That was the fun spot because that typically means they have a management team and it's not just the owner trying to figure it all out. Then I was hit with a little imposter syndrome after a few years of that wondering why I was spending all this time growing other people's businesses for them when my husband has been working as a personal trainer and was talking about wanting to move that into its own standalone business, which I happen to know a thing or two about. I'm a big believer in synchronicity and paying attention to signs so for the first time in my career where all of my consulting clients, which were six to twelve-month engagements, literally ended the same week. That was around the time my husband was like you need to consider coming over, I need help. When does that ever happen, so I was like ‘okay I'm giving my two weeks, I've left no one stranded’ and moved into running our business. We were making barely six figures and it was a risky move in a way but we've been able to grow it to a seven-figure business and it's been a really crazy time to be a fitness owner in the world of the pandemic so I think that kind of brings us current.

During quarantine, you creating something called ‘Peyden's Couch Corner talks’ to keep your team feeling secure during this time of crisis. What did you talk about and how did you find the energy to do this every night?

“For the first week, I did a couch corner every night. This was beginning of quarantine so I looked Haggard you know, just so tired, in a bathrobe most of the time. Just really about to watch a Netflix show, so like picture yourself in that moment being like ‘okay let's tune the team in, what they need to know to feel confident, relieved, and equipped for the next twenty four hour cycle before we even know what is happening next. Then we realized how good it would be to get some live feedback because I always believe the answers in the room, but if I'm just talking at the team there's not a lot of engagement. So we actually pivoted into morning check-ins every day because it was it's very weird to go from being around each other in person to being in each other's homes workers are in every one in their own home and not feeling like a team. I have a lot of coaches that live alone and could feel really isolated and I didn't want that.

The content of the calls was a lot of just me using humor and motivation through the humor, that's kind of my schtick. I enjoy making fun of things that are rough because when you can crack a smile it kind of adds some relief. I've just embraced my corny self, I will say things that are like a brave heart moment, somehow I've collected all these little phrases from all the motivational speeches ever heard and I always dole them out like they’re one-dollar bills to little kids on Christmas. So I've just embraced that’s just the way I am, take it or leave it. It's coming from a pure place, I actually believe it so when I say it I will I hope it lands. Then we will talk about a lot of business high-level stuff like ‘Hey guys here's what we're hearing, here's what we're thinking about if this happens’. I have a lot of people on my team that are really strategic problem solvers, if you have strategic problem-solvers they're already thinking contingency plans and game planning. So I was like they're already making game plans, I needed to be honest about what I'm thinking too, with some options, without us planning to fail. You can never plan to fail in my opinion.

(Prefer to listen along? Tune in now to The Beyond Leadership Podcast)

Did these pep talks have the desired effect?

“I think so, it's funny because as a leader you can go ‘yeah it really worked’. What I will say is I've had almost all of them come up to me at some point in the last year and say I want to thank you because I never worried about my job, or I'm ridiculously loyal to this company because when everybody else is putting their teams out on unemployment I knew you guys were going to make it happen for us. I had their significant others thanking me for how much they didn't have to stress about their head of household income. So that was cool, I would say that those are the moments I would go that it did work then.

What were the things that you did that helped you shift from chaotic panic to seeing this as an opportunity, not just for you and for your family but for your business, clients, and employees to grow?

“I had just come out of postpartum depression from having my second child, I had at the start of the pandemic at a three-year-old and six month old, and I truly had a very rough time at postpartum with Jackson and so I had just penned. Part of it was I didn't take a maternity leave part of it was I was writing the course curriculum for and second business from eight PM till midnight every night for six months on top of it that might have been what caused the depression but I was really just in the weeds mentally I was not coming in with like a dialed morning routine I was coming into this whole pandemic with thanking god if I got three hours of parsed sleep. I say that because what the tips I want to share with your audience are things that you can do now and can still serve you even when you're in a very trying time, and they can still work.

The second thing was we had spent every dollar, literally wrote the last forty thousand dollar check, February eighth, right before the pandemic hit. So there was legitimately no room for error and as a female, I think a lot of us have a certain need for security financially and a lot of times our savings account represents that. When that's not there it can get emotionally reactive, and I would say as somebody that has had to do a lot of work around my beliefs around money that I was aware when I wrote that last check that I was going to be tested because I wouldn't have that safety net. I had to be okay with that. Quite honestly at that point it was Roth IRA liquidation or shut the business down, so that's the state I was in going into the pandemic.

So when it comes to mindset, I would say the most powerful shift has been recognizing when I'm in a victim mindset, when I feel like life is just being done to me, that I have no control, no ability to change it's just one crappy situation after horrible thing. For years I spent time picking up on that, even in postpartum depression. I would try to tell myself along the way like ‘Hey, you're choosing to spend these dollars on this business, that’s your choice, that’s not a victim thing, you chose that.’ Doesn't mean it's not stressful but the victim piece was huge. I let myself be a victim for twenty-four hours because I needed those feelings to move through me. I moved to those feelings out and then I said this could be the darker the backdrop the brighter the light if you want to shine like a role model for your team and for fitness this is literally perfect for you. I know that's so corny like I said but I was like yeah I'm here for that. It was time to step up.

I’ve heard you speak on intuitive leadership, what does that mean to you?

“I think part of the journey for me was recognizing my daughter is an intuitive empath. What I mean by that is she sees into people’s souls. I just knew she was deeply like an old soul she's an old soul in a little child's body. She'll just look at me and say ‘mom I'm just a child it's my job to practice and I'm not going to get it all perfect but I'm doing my job, mom’. She's like that. So when I say intuitive leadership I'm talking a child-like innocence that can Pierce through all the chaos, distractions, and noise and call it what it is, or know the deep truths behind it. We lose that because so often as women we’re not taught that that can be trusted because it often comes up in emotions or an inner knowing that you can't logically explain. Women have been venerated for our instincts, it's a survival thing for us. To me, intuitive leadership is really allowing yourself to have your instincts play, and nothing was a better breeding ground for me to test that than the pandemic. I would just we have an uneasy feeling and instead of having to logically reassess it and create a full argument around it or a case for it I would just go with it and it served me really well in crisis.

What are one or two things that someone going through a crisis, whether at work, at home, or in some other high-stress situation, can do to see an immediate change?

“Readers will probably have resistance to this thing I'm gonna say because it's going to sound really hard. But it has changed my life. Take two hours a day to be alone... and in a pandemic with your kids in the house and running a business and probably being an over achieving female that literally sounds like the worst prescription known to man. I really believe in it, I believe that as leaders you need space. Not space to sit there and create to-do lists and the little things, literally physically removing yourself, putting yourself in a tranquil nurturing environment and allowing you to just be... because that's when your best ideas, inner guidance, your direction comes when you give yourself a minute to step out of the for chaos and the freight and be with yourself to think. Free yourself from all expectations and just be by yourself and watch magic happen. You will have guidance, you have insight, you will have the best brainstorming creative ideas you've ever had because you gave yourself the very thing nobody's giving themselves right now is the ability to step out of the chaos and just be at peace and it's huge.

Even if it's just half an hour and just going on a walk. Start with what is successful and see if you can find more time. For me turning on music and dancing in the kitchen, is the stuff that relieves stress and allows you to get back into your body, into being fluid, being light-hearted. You can't dance and feel heavy. These are the things that when I look back and I'm like those might be as valuable as any kind of inner child work or deep therapy or reading a book that gives me seventeen new things I have to do for my morning routine. so like for me it was just simplicity but commitment and any amounts and I did do the two hours a day cold Turkey but I think a lot of that came from me really hitting a rock bottom. I believe people could babysit themselves into a place where they could find that two hours.

You can find her on Instagram @padenhughes or listen to her podcast "Paden's Pep Talks" on any podcasting platform!



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