Cultural Balance Sheet: Measuring Success Beyond Financials in the Workplace

Christy Pretzinger, President & CEO, WriterGirl

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Christy Pretzinger is a dynamic, visionary innovator who has transformed the landscape of healthcare content creation. She and her team originated an entirely new category in digital content — and now many other firms are duplicating her model. As the owner and CEO of WriterGirl, Christy has built an industry-leading organization that delivers top-notch content and strategy to the healthcare industry nationwide.

Along with her drive to strengthen healthcare communications, Christy is passionate about creating an environment where people can truly thrive.

As she transitioned from freelancing to owning a business, Christy intentionally focused on building a business based on kindness. This unusual approach has proven to be not only good for people, but also great for the bottom line. Over time, Christy discovered her true calling: to create a workplace that nurtures personal and professional growth. A profound belief in lifelong learning fuels her understanding that personal development is the key to unlocking professional success.

Christy Pretzinger, President & CEO of WriterGirl, shares her insights on creating a workplace where people can thrive. She emphasizes the importance of measuring cultural balance and turnover rates as indicators of a thriving environment. Christy discusses the benefits and challenges of implementing policies such as unlimited PTO and two weeks off at the end of the year. She also highlights the significance of self-awareness, vulnerability, and listening to feedback in leadership. Additionally, Christy addresses the impact of artificial intelligence on content creation and the need for human connection in a digital age.

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03:53 Creating a Space for People to Thrive

08:05 Unlimited PTO and Managing Employee Responsibility

11:02 Hiring and Developing People

13:14 Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

19:06 Navigating Change and Challenging Beliefs

21:59 The Importance of Vulnerability and Self-Reflection

24:13 The Power of Self-Awareness in Leadership

27:46 The Role of Trust in an Organization

30:46 The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Content Creation

36:23 The Importance of Human Connection in a Digital Age

Tom Finn (00:01.705)

Welcome to the talent empowerment podcast my friends today. We are learning from my good friend Christy Pretzinger. Christy, welcome to the show.

Christy (00:10.242)

Thank you for having me, Tom.

Tom Finn (00:12.421)

Well, for those of you that have not met Christy, you are going to love hearing from her today. She is the strategic and visionary leader of an awesome company called WG Content. Now since 2005, she's been growing her own company, WG Content from a modest freelance writing business into a multimillion-dollar nationally recognized content control consultancy. And she is passionate about creating a workplace where people can thrive.

And her purpose is to encourage the reinvention of the way we all look at the world of work. And we are thrilled to have you on the show today. Let's start right there. You're passionate about creating a space where people can thrive. Help us understand what thriving looks like at WG content and how do you measure it.

Christy (01:00.834)

Well, that's an interesting question, Tom, because I think sometimes, especially as leaders in an organization, whether you are an entrepreneur owning it or a CEO or COO, whatever your role might be, our inclination is to always want to have a KPI, a way of actually quantifying something. And when it comes to the more softer skills, things like thriving or things like empathy or vulnerability or openness, those things are harder to quantify and to measure in such a way. However, I will say an environment where people can thrive, starts with really looking at something that I call your cultural balance sheet, as opposed to just your financial balance sheet. Because as most people know, your financial balance sheet, we all look at those, but there are hidden costs on there. And a big one is turnover. So one of the ways that we look at, is this an environment where people can thrive, is what's our turnover? And since 2005, I can count on less than one hand, how many people have actually left the organization.

As they come, they stay, they want to retire. And that is a direct benefit to your bottom line, both culturally and, of course, on your balance sheet, although you may not see that as a line item. So that's one way we look at it. Another way is that we look. I know this sounds, I kind of don't like it because I feel like it sounds just too simple. But looking at the whole person, when we talk about, people talk about work-life balance, we deliberately say life-work balance. Because we work to live, we don't live to work. And that is the way our culture is set up. We have people that, you know, I want people to feel like if they wanna go work in their kid's lunchroom if they need to pick up a kid after school or take somebody to a doctor's appointment or go to one themselves, this is not something where they have to clear it or take PTO time, anything like that. Because if a person is happier personally, they bring that better person to the workplace. So that's another way we look at thriving. And another way is that we look at how are the values of our organization lived out and demonstrated. And those values are we are empowered, curious, kind, and fun. And one of the things that we do to avoid those being words on the wall somewhere is that in every single monthly team meeting, all hands meeting that we have, we elicit from people. We say, OK, this month's value is empowered. How have you seen? Your coworkers demonstrate empowerment. And it's a fine tune, but I am a wordsmith. So instead of saying, how have you felt empowered or been empowered, how have you demonstrated empowerment? Which does a mind shift in people's brain where it's like, oh, what have I done to demonstrate empowerment? And so by doing that, you fully engage the people, which is another mark of an environment where people can thrive, and also get them to think about living out these positive values that also impact their personal lives, as well as their professional lives.

Tom Finn (03:53.085)

Yeah, that's a really interesting way to look at it. And every behavioral health expert would tell you that to actually make your values come alive, you have to use them in group or individual settings. And you have to get people to understand how they have demonstrated what that work looks like. So I think that's a brilliant way to sort of start off the discussion today because it's really, really important.

So let me ask you this. What is the downside for having such great policies with your employees? Is there any negative that you have seen by letting people come and go with doctor's appointments, take their kids to school, drop them off, be really looking at things from a life-work balance perspective, any negatives?

Christy (05:40.438)

Honestly, I have not seen any negatives. I tell you that one of the things we do at the end of the year is I give everybody the last two weeks of the year off, so we close down, which is a definite impact to our financial balance sheet. But what happens over that time is that people spend time with their families, they enjoy the holidays, they feel refreshed, they come back and are rejuvenated and excited to start the year. So while that is a negative on my financial balance sheet, the immeasurable benefit on the cultural balance sheet is what shows over time. What I frequently say about things like that is that trust is a long game. If you only look at your financial balance sheet, you'd be out of your mind to close down for two weeks. But if you look at your cultural balance sheet, you go, you know what? That's actually the cost benefit analysis on that. I'm going to go with doing that. So while that is a negative, as I said financially, it's a positive culturally. I will say as we get larger, we also have unlimited PTO.

And we just have to keep an eye on that to make sure that people understand, yes, we have that. You can go to Peru and work for three months if you want to, but you have to make sure you clear that with your manager before you do it. You know, it just, it's all based on what do we have going on? Is that gonna be reasonable? But that has not presented a problem to this point.

Tom Finn (06:58.485)

So let's go back to the two weeks at the end of the year, because I want to give you a challenger question here. How does that actually affect your balance sheet? So I get the two weeks off is great for the employee morale. It's wonderful for their families. It's great really to get everybody's mindset ready for the next year. I'm totally on board with you. I'm just not sure how that negatively impacts your financial balance sheet by giving everybody two weeks off.

Christy (07:23.682)

Well, we work, the way our business works is we tend to collect a lot of cash upfront and then we work it off. And so what happens is that if the business is closed for two weeks, no one is working. And so since we're on an accrual basis in accounting, meaning that you're holding all of that money over here until it's realized on your financial balance sheet, we have a very significant six-figure amount that is not realized and recognized. So in terms of our net income.

Now, on the other hand, as any business owner knows, if your net income is lower, your tax liability goes down. So that's not bad. It's always good to have a lot of cash and low revenue numbers when you're on an accrual basis.

Tom Finn (08:05.753)

I am so glad you went there. I was hoping you would. Well said. I think that's the gift and the curse. Let's talk about this sort of unlimited paytime off or vacation time, depending on how you wanna look at this. So lots of companies are doing this. It sort of puts the control back in the hands of the employee to say, be a high-performing, responsible human being and deliver for the company.

Christy (08:07.542)

That's it.

Tom Finn (08:34.865)

and then take the time you need for yourself and your family and travel the world and live your life. How do you actually manage it? How do you make sure people aren't taking advantage of you?

Christy (08:45.37)

Interestingly, one of the things I want to address about that is we did this a really long time ago, I mean, in the life of our business. I'm trying to think it was like, let me think back, it was probably 10 years ago now, I think. And it was because I had read something in Fast Company about some company, I don't remember who it was. I think it was somebody like LinkedIn or Salesforce or something like that, that did this. And I was like, oh, I want to do this. So I went to my… accountant at the time and I thought he was going to think I was crazy and he was like, I actually think that's a really good idea. So we implemented it and we have not had any problem with it. But I'll tell you that in my experience, the reason that we don't have a problem with people taking advantage of this is because of the culture that again, I cast the vision for the culture, but all of the employees live it out every day and they protect this culture because they want it to survive and thrive because they want to keep working at a place that recognizes the value of their personal life and their family and their wellbeing and all of that. So we don't have people take advantage of those kinds of things. One time we had one person we did let go and she sort of took advantage. It was really more that her work just became sloppy. It really wasn't so much about the PTO situation. And that again has been a rarity, a very, very rare occurrence. So we have not, we honestly, and I'm not just saying this, we have not had someone take advantage of unlimited PTO. And in fact, what we also encourage is when people go on PTO, we say, please leave your devices at home. I mean, we give you a phone. Obviously, you're taking your phone. But don't feel, I mean, if you want to check your email because you don't want to come back to so much of it, that's certainly up to you, but we recommend that you do it like once a day. If you want to do it in the morning, get it over with and you never look at it again, or whatever works for you, but don't keep it on and don't keep checking it and don't… pull yourself back into the world of work because the point of being away is to come back rejuvenated and refreshed.

Tom Finn (10:38.857)

Thank you for saying that. This is like a step-by-step masterclass on how to actually deliver on a culture that works for a modern workforce. Um, these are all key components to building the right culture in an organization. Do you, do you hire well, or do you hire and then develop people the way you want them to think about the world?

Christy (11:02.374)

I'm going to answer that question, but I want to address building this environment because I think it's very funny. I am not a millennial. I am right on the edge of Gen X and Boomer, but I built this business as a millennial practically because we laugh about it because I was always like, if you want to go have a craft shop on Etsy and also work here, I don't care. That's fine with me. As long as you get your work done, you're available when you need to be available, then live your life, have at it. And so that we've found has been really, really successful in to get to your point of hiring people. What happens is that we've been really lucky. We don't do a lot of recruiting. We do some, and most of our recruiting is for contractors as opposed for employees because we have right now, we have 30 employees and upwards of 100 contractors that we keep busy pretty much all the time. But what happens is that the employees, they're like, my friend really wants to work here. I know a really good strategist who could come join us. Or what about this marketing person? She would be terrific.

So what happens is like one of my longest term employee has been here 13 years and she is a business development. And then she brought someone that used to work with her and then together they brought somebody else and she's now our EVP of business development and marketing. So those people all worked at a company together. And then we hired a strategist and she was like, oh, I worked with this other really good strategist. And so she brought her.

And then they both together said, hey, we know the marketing director from our old company. So now we have her. So we have three more people who all worked at the same organization who now work here. And that tends to happen a lot. That people are like, well, I knew somebody that worked here. And I think they would be a fit. We had somebody that the second longest term employee is 12 years, that when she was like, oh, I worked with this person in a previous job, I think she'd be really good at, I can't remember what she was, admin or lead gen or something.

And it wasn't really going that well. And then we were like, wait a minute, I think she'd be a better project manager. She moved into that role and she is thriving. That's like putting the people in the right seat on the bus, right? We get the people on the bus and then go, this seat might be a better fit for you. And she is thriving and is probably one of our best project managers. And also who knew an excellent editor.

Tom Finn (13:14.761)

Oh, fantastic. So I've heard you say she and she and she and she and we hired her and her and her. And when I look at your website, and I look at about us, and I look at the team, I see all women. So is this a singular gender organization? Are we only allowed to be women at your organization? No men.

Christy (13:39.15)

Absolutely not. But what I think is interesting about that, and what I do say is that nobody ever asks why a law firm has all male partners or like mostly male associates. That's been going on for longer than either one of us have been around, right? But that was not the intention. I think what happened is it's like-minded people. And also, if you look at what we do, we tend to be liberal arts people. We studied liberal arts at university, and that tends to have more women in it to begin with. So our pool tends to be that. And also, by the way, in our contractors that we work with, we do have men and lots a lot more what you could call diversity of one type, because one of the things that I tend to say is that gender is one kind of diversity, but there is, you know, we have wide diversity in terms of our backgrounds, the way we were raised, the way that we live our lives, certainly our education, where we grew up. So I think about that a lot in terms of the world we live in now is trying to divide everything as diversity is by gender and orientation and skin tone. And it's like, that is not, that's certainly those are important, but there are many ways of recognizing diversity.

Tom Finn (14:55.453)

Yeah, I love to think about diversity as diversity of thought and the way that you view the world and your experiences and even as simple as how you were raised, who your parents are and what part of the world you were raised. And some of those things can be of equal or greater importance than some of the metrics that we tend to use from a business or societal standpoint. And I love the way that you're considering that and thinking about that because I think it's so important we think about the mix of minds within a business, you've got to have that diversity of thought.

Christy (15:04.504)

Yes. Yes. Well, you know, one of the things that we find too is that for a while there, we were all closer to the same age. I'm like, we're gonna have one big retirement party. We need to get some younger people. We have actively done that. And I'm telling you why, it's the best thing ever. They're like, they've got more energy than I do. They've got lots of ideas. They have very different exposure to the world, certainly than I do. And so that's another way that we're diverse that helps keep us fresh and new and looking at new things not a problem with that.

Tom Finn (15:59.933)

Yeah, so that's an easy way to call out how you're modeling the future of the business, how you're modeling the future of work as you bring in young people and you bring in new minds and new energy and new ideas, and then you have to listen and you have to actively listen to these folks. Was there a hard part for you and your learning as a leader to… to say I don't have all the answers and I've gotta listen to some of these great people that I've hired?

Christy (16:31.91)

That's a great question. One of the things I talk about when I go out and speak about culture is the importance of what you just said about listening and making sure you know, you have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly. And that's, I'm speaking to myself when I say that too, that I really need to keep that in mind. But I think that one of the things that I find, that I did find challenging, we recently went through a rebrand. The business began as Writer Girl. It was a small, freelance writing one-person kind of thing. Then when I started building it, I had to make sure I was, when I was the one selling, because as most people know, as an entrepreneur, you wear all the hats to start. And so I would always make sure that it's not just me, there's a whole group of people smarter than me, more qualified than I am, who are gonna be doing this work. So when we hired on some of the younger people, and this would be probably in the last, I don't know, three to four years, they're like, well, we gotta change the name. And as a leader who… you know, owned the business was like, well, go find your own business then, which I never ever said to anyone, but that's my first response, you know, in your own mind, this defensiveness. And then the next thing, because I am self-aware and I've done a lot of work on myself, was you need to check yourself here. That's probably a good point. We hadn't, we had looked years earlier and we had done some client surveys about changing the name and many of them said, well, it's not reflective of everything that you do. Everybody knows that name. It has so much legacy value, we don't think you should change it. And so that was the case, but we hadn't looked at it in a while. And so when people said this, we're like, you know, this is definitely something we're going to have to look at as we broaden our offerings from just strictly creating content to doing content strategy, creating content of all kinds. So we do animation, we do podcasts, we do video scripting, we do all sorts of content. So it really did need to be broadened.

And so that's why we changed it to WG content, to hold onto the WG, the legacy of that, which a lot of people referred to us to, and then adding content strategy and development to fix that. But that was, as a leader of any type, when you have some kind of belief that you've been holding onto, and someone kind of challenges that, it's real easy to get defensive and get your back up. And one of the things I noticed for me is if I get that way, which I call it like that little self-righteousness in yourself,

That's when I know, uh-oh, you're getting defensive here. You need to like peel back the onion a little bit and look and see what's really happening there. And does it really matter? Is it just a little block that you have? I think that's a vastly important skill set for a leader to have.

Tom Finn (19:06.565)

I couldn't agree with you more. I think it's hard for most leaders to take that pause and actually self-reflect, um, onto sort of what their dynamics are that have changed. So how do you, how do you actually put that in play? Um, so somebody gives you some feedback like, Hey, Christy, it's time to change the name of the company because writer girl doesn't represent the future of this business and we're big now and we've got all these great people and we've got all these amazing clients. And then you go, hold on a second, but I came up with Writer Girl and this is my baby since 2005. And it means a lot to me and my family and my friends and my community. How do you stop yourself? Like what actually happens in your brain?

Christy (19:55.458)

Well, I'll give you a tool that I share with people frequently. And it's really about any kind of feedback that you get. When you, as a leader, first of all, if somebody has the actual guts to give you feedback, which I actively work to get that feedback. And I still know people are reluctant to give it to me because ultimately I can fire them, even though I don't want to ever fire anybody and I want them to stay forever. But it doesn't matter. There still is that inequality there.

So one of the things that I teach people to do is when that conversation starts, is in your own mind to imagine a bowl in front of you. Even if someone starts talking to you going, can I have just a moment? Let me have a moment. And you imagine a bowl in front of you that is pleasing to you. I always picture this beautiful copper bowl. I don't know why. And then take the words that the person is speaking to you and imagine them going into the bowl.

And what that allows you to do is set some distance between you and the feedback. Because what we as people do, and I know I'm not alone in this, is that when someone starts saying something to you, instead of engaging your ears, you start thinking about a response to justify whatever it is, the behavior that the person is giving you feedback about. And then that happens. And for me, I don't know if this happens for everyone, but when that happens, I start getting activated in my body. And then I am no longer calm and responsive, I'm reactive. And that can shut down people faster than you can blink. And since trust is a long game, and it only takes one little thing to do and then you've blown the trust. So you have to be so cautious about that. So that's why that bowl is so helpful because then the words are going in there and you can kind of objectively look at them and take that pause, as you mentioned, to think about it. And then to say, I understand your point, that's valid that's valid and I'll consider that, and making sure that you really listen and appreciate the feedback. Did that answer your question?

Tom Finn (21:59.197)

I love this idea. Yes, I love the idea of having the bowl in front of you. And of course, now we're all gonna think of copper bowl because you gave us that answer. So when I look at my copper bowl, the big difference is most of us take that feedback and we almost use it as sticky notes that attach to us. And that feedback is us. It's somebody's opinion of a particular environment, scenario, what have you.

But we take that as humans and we attach it to our body and our mind and our soul. And we say, that is us, that they must be right. And I think what you're saying is, no, take those sticky notes and let's put them in the bowl in front of us, and then let's look at it objectively and say, yeah, does some of that make sense? Of course. Is there a different way to look at this? Can we turn the bowl? Can we, can we add some different ideas and flavors and then can we come up with something that's maybe a little different than we had originally anticipated.

Christy (22:58.526)

Yeah, I find that incredibly helpful because it's so easy to take those things personally. And one of the things that I think all of us as leaders really need to hold ourselves to account to is moderating our own behavior. So we're grownups and I don't think it's ever appropriate to say, well, that's just the way I am. And if you say that, you shouldn't be a leader because you need to modify your behavior because you're grownup. And if someone is brave enough to give you feedback that is about behavior of yours, then you need to moderate that. I mean, I can tell you, I know that I can be very driven and I can talk really fast and I can process ideas quickly that can be really, really off-putting to people. And I have to really watch that. I was just in a meeting this morning and I had way too much caffeine. And I was at the end of it and I said, okay, I know I'm talking really fast and I've had way too much caffeine. I'm just apologizing in advance because I need to drink some water. And I was just talking, but there are two people I work with very closely, but at least I could acknowledge this and go, I may be driving you crazy, so feel free to raise your hand and go, you need to slow down here.

Tom Finn (24:13.141)

So you brought up probably my favorite leadership characteristic in anybody I've ever worked with, whether that was somebody significantly higher than me in an organization or my peer or somebody that reported me, self-awareness. Self-awareness is the absolute number one space that works for everybody. I don't care where you are, where you are in the organization, where you are in the world, what language you speak, what background is, leadership… that is self-aware and totally owns it and says, hey, I'm over caffeinated today. I'm moving fast and quickly, is literally the way to people's hearts. Do you feel the same way?

Christy (24:59.11)

Oh, 1,000%. I think, you know, I take a page out of Brene Brown's book that you gotta lead with vulnerability and the only way to courage is through vulnerability. And so, you know, acknowledging to people like, I am totally not perfect. I may not have the right answer here. Frequently when I'm talking to people who are more in the weeds than I am, I say, this is a question that may not even be appropriate. I'm so far away from what you're talking about, but this is kind of what I see happening here. Is that the case or am I just off base? And frequently I'm off base because I'm not in the weeds on that. But one of the things I'll say about how to cultivate self-awareness, the thing that we use in our organization, there are many ways of doing this, but we actually use something called the Enneagram. You may be familiar with the Enneagram.

For those of your listeners who aren't, I won't go deeply into it, but it's a personality profiling system. There's a million of them out there. The thing that I particularly find helpful about the Enneagram as opposed to like, Discrimares Briggs is that the Enneagram is all about motivation for your behavior as opposed to just your behavior. So while there are nine types in this, and while there are nine types, several of them might look the same in terms of their behavior, but why they do that is very different.

And if you have an understanding of that about yourself, and then also we do it as a whole company so people know about other types and can think about that when they're communicating with other types, then it just makes you not only more self-aware, but also more empathetic for why someone else might be behaving that way.

Tom Finn (26:33.393)

Yeah, lovely the way that you put that. I think understanding our own self-awareness and being vulnerable. I love the work of Brene Brown. I think she's so important in this time in history in terms of taking a generation of keeping everything close to your chest, you know, being tough, no exceptions to the rules, World War II kind of mentality to, hey, we're all human, let's be a little vulnerable.

That actually breeds empathy for others. It breeds trust, which Michael Bush, CEO of great place to work would tell you. It is trust is the number one component to a thriving organization. If you, if you break trust with your employees, you are headed down a bad and dark road. Um, but Brene Brown really, I think, crystallized all of, for all of us, you know, really how we should be communicating with each other.

Christy (27:31.85)

Yes, I would agree.

Tom Finn (27:34.045)

So let's go to this idea of trust, because you touched on it. I hit the nail on the head there with Michael's reference. So how does trust show up in your organization, Christy?

Christy (27:46.038)

Well, I love what you said. And of course, I agree with all of that. I also, of course, I'm sure you like Simon Sinek, who doesn't. And he talks about, I think it's in his book, I don't think it's in Start With Why, I think it's in Leaders Eat Last, I don't know, one of his books. He talks about the circle of trust. And he talks about what I always picture is a bunch of people with their backs to each other looking out because they're protecting that circle of trust.

And that's a lot about, I mean, not to get too deep, but that's a lot about team EQ, right? As opposed to individual EQ, which is different than team EQ, but understanding that, cultivating that among teams, and making sure that you cultivate that circle of trust. Because if everyone is looking outward to protect that circle, then you all are stronger and you feel safe. It's very important that people feel safe. You can't be vulnerable without feeling safe. You can't be open and empathetic without feeling safe. So that circle of trust is paramount.

If you think about it the opposite way, about everybody in and their backs are vulnerable, then people are like looking around all the time and they can't possibly protect the circle because they feel unsafe and they have to protect themselves and then the whole thing can fall apart. So we talk about that a lot. I mean, it comes with all of the things that I believe the leaders have to demonstrate that vulnerability. They absolutely have to demonstrate trust and that is a long game.

In my experience what has happened like for example with my first employee and then she brought on the next She could say to that person she really means what she says. This is a place that is based on kindness This is a place that allows you the flexibility that you want and in fact that employee that she brought on She actually was lead gen for fifteen dollars an hour for like 20 hours a week because she didn't think she could work full-time Because she had younger kids she now is the COO running the whole show and that happened pretty quickly by the way. And she was working full time before, you know, because we've always been virtual and because we had that flexibility of if you wanna go, you know, she worked at the time in the, like the spirit shop at her kid's school and just go do it, it's fine. Nobody's, you know, you don't, when nobody's making you chain to a desk. And so what happened is she saw that trust and then they could bring on their other previous coworker and she was very hesitant. She had been burned by other companies that said they were good, especially smaller businesses. And they were like, no, this is the bomb and she's been here nine years now. And is another one that when we bring on new people, they want to interview employees and employees like, this is the real deal. This is not just talk. This is the way we actually conduct our lives on a daily basis. And that's that long game of trust.

Tom Finn (30:27.581)

What do you say to other CEOs that don't get this, that aren't on the same playing field as you or your teams? How do we, how do we help them turn the corner into sort of this, this new way of thinking and treating people?

Christy (30:46.25)

Well, I think you need to recognize whether people are sincere in wanting to do that or whether they're just paying it lip service. I had someone once ask me about how I handled a situation. And I said, it takes time. And it was kind of, as a leader, frequently you know the answer to the question. And you know what needs to be done. But you have to allow the people that you're working with to process that and come to it in their own time, as opposed to constantly directing them. Or nobody will ever grow, and you'll keep having a job. So it's really understanding that and it takes time. So I was telling this person about this and she was like, well, I don't have time to do that. And I said, well, that's fine, you don't have to, but don't pretend like you care about culture then. And that is your prerogative as a leader, you do not have to, and you're being very successful without doing that. Other times I see other business owners and CEOs get in their own way by thinking that they're the best at something.

And my goal always when I was building this business was to, you know, again, you're wearing all the hats and you're doing them. You can't possibly be the best at all of them, but you have the ability to do these different things until you can hire someone else to do them. And my goal is always to hire someone smarter than me who could do it better than me. And that way I'm raising them up and helping them develop their skills and get better and also raising the organization at the same time.

Tom Finn (32:11.877)

So do you see your role, you said it earlier, but do you see your role as working on the business, not in the business?

Christy (32:18.814)

Yes, absolutely. And that was really, I really fortunately, probably about 12 years ago, had a coach who first introduced that idea to me. I wasn't even familiar with it at the time. And I was like, oh, that's pretty interesting. And so I have been able to do that through a lot of it is hiring people smarter than me, making sure they're a cultural fit first and then making sure we have them in the right seat on the bus and helping them really hone their skills and find their zone of genius and be able to work in that zone of genius, because I mean, I can say that I'm the only person in the organization who's done every job, but trust me, I couldn't probably do any of them now, because they're so many, they're so much more complicated, we're so much bigger, and they're all better at it than I am. And so it's been a team effort of building these roles and making them into what they are now. And I've had very little to do with it other than creating the environment and encouraging the creativity and the talent to apply that to this environment.

Tom Finn (33:22.705)

Yeah. And the environment is shifting sort of under our feet, certainly in marketing and content and consultancy. All of it is moving. And I I'd love to get your thoughts on how artificial intelligence or, or generative AI is going to impact your business because 20 years ago, uh, likely a very different business than you're going to be pushing in the next 20 years.

Christy (33:46.702)

Absolutely. Well, absolutely. That is a topic that we've been talking about, as you can imagine, as a content company. One of the things right now that we do is we create highly custom content. And at this point in time for what we currently do, although we're looking at other things, it's got a lot of arms and legs. It's not a platform because it's so highly custom. And we have to interview people like brain surgeons, literally. And then we have to do the alchemy of turning that information into content that is palatable to anything from fifth to eighth grade reading level. And the interviewing part, as you know, just by what you're doing on a podcast, is a very human part, being able to kind of, you know, follow the trail to find those nuggets that are gonna make something a differentiator. So that is for right now. Now, on the other hand, we have some of our clients who absolutely say, and let's be clear, many of us have been using AI for years. We have a lot of tools checking for plagiarism, grammarly, all sorts of things that are already AI, but I think we as humans tend to like simple solutions to complex problems. So when chat GPT came out, all of a sudden it was like, oh, AI is content. Well, I mean, maybe it's one piece of it is definitely creating content, but it's not the only piece.

So what we're looking at, we have a whole task force working on this internally, so that we can be at the front end of it and advise our clients and our industry in this, is figuring out what is appropriate, how is it evolving, what are the best applications for this in a way that can advance your business, maybe increase profitability, what's it gonna do, what's gonna be the best way? I currently don't have the answer to that and anyone who says they do doesn't know what they're talking about because it is changing as we're speaking right now. I mean, it's like, it's something you just have to, I mean, somebody could tell you right now, who's much more expert in this than I, right now what it is, but by next week, they might be like, well, I got to kind of change what I said last week because now, so that it's a challenging one to stay on top of, honestly, very honestly. And we're working on that to figure it out, figure out how to use it in an effective way. We would never use any AI without asking our clients and clarifying, even if we said we're gonna just create an outline from it, are you okay with that? We are always very transparent with our clients and to this, we would never just generate content using AI. That would not be acceptable at this point.

Tom Finn (36:23.633)

Yeah, I think, I think the risk, I think the risk is that AI creates more generic content and I think the gift of content creators is the ingenuity and those bright minds that are creating differentiation in content, not same, because the reality is if I start putting things into an engine and you start putting those exact same prompts into an engine, we're going to get very like responses from that engine which creates, you know, my content and your content being exactly the same, which doesn't do anybody any good. So I think there's, there's a place for content creators in the future. I think maybe some automation can help. Um, certainly it can help a stuck mind. If you're trying to come up with ideas, that could certainly give you a few ideas. Um, but I think there's still a place for, for content creation that has. Expertise in particular markets, regions, industries, like you said brain surgeons that we're working with to help ensure that their message is digestible.

Christy (37:29.078)

Well, you know, I want to build on that just a little bit, is that one of the things that we tend to say as part of our little mantra is we excel at being human. And being human by definition means no two of us are the same. So we're not, none of us are machines. And the thing that we, you know, I think I mentioned to you, our mission is building relationships one word at a time. And relationships by their very definition are human and they're emotional.

And that is something at this point that AI can't really mimic effectively yet. Now, I don't know if we're gonna make ourselves extinct. I'm not a futurist. I'm not in that world, I'm not sure. But at this point, the smiling and nodding and us looking at one another as we're talking here is the human part of that. And I personally, for one, I would miss that. We are… built to live in community with one another, not in community with machines. And I think that we see some of the aberrant behavior from humans hiding behind screens tells you that that's a breakdown. That's not real. That's not a real relationship. That's not human.

Tom Finn (38:43.869)

Oh, you're taking us down a major pathway here. I mean, you're, you're a hundred percent right. And if you look at all the data on some of the young people that are struggling with, uh, anxiety, depression, um, fear, fear of basic conversation in public. Um, you look at just in its simplest form, the lack of people that want to work in the restaurant business, because quite frankly, it's not just the pay it's that they just don't know how to talk to people. Because they've been behind screens their whole lives. I mean, all of that is not necessarily a positive. We want, as you said, to live in communities as human beings and to be respected and seen and heard. And all of those things are super important.

Christy (39:28.722)

Yeah, yeah. I said many, many years ago when, before Facebook was even a thing, that I had some younger friends in chat rooms were kind of a thing. And I said that I felt like the whole point, I don't even think it was called social media then, I have no idea what it was called. But I said, I always looked at that as the purpose of those things was to get to the smiling and nodding and the interpersonal, all the nonverbal communication, right, to get to that. And you would have thought I had told them I wanted to sacrifice their firstborn. They're like, no.

That's not true. Well, fast forward 15, 20 years. I think it's proven to be true. We yearn. We yearn for connection. And I feel like in this world right now, and this is not in terms of gender, this is in terms of energy, we require a feminine energy, the feminine energy that nurtures and reaches for relationship and is vulnerable and open because that's who we are as people. We need both sides. We need, I mean, you need masculine energy, that moving forward energy, and then you need the nurturing energy, whatever you wanna call them. It doesn't need to be masculine. If I'm a yin-yang, it doesn't matter, but you need both. But right now I feel like we as a species are yearning for that softer connection to one another.

Tom Finn (40:47.153)

Yeah. And that softer connection doesn't come through a phone, uh, unless you're actually talking on it. Uh, it doesn't come through a text, unless you're turning that into a, uh, FaceTime or a video call. Um, and those, those are wonderful contributions to relationships, but they are just that contributions to relationships, not the entire relationship itself.

Christy (40:52.718)

Right. Yes, well said.

Tom Finn (41:13.277)

Well, Christie, I think we've just about knocked this one out of the park, um, in terms of culture and understanding what's going on in your organization. Um, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It's lovely to talk to somebody who really understands what culture looks like in an organization and isn't just talking about it, but has been putting it in play for 20 years.

Christy (41:34.126)

Well, thank you for having me. I absolutely love talking about this. It was a great conversation. I love talking to someone who's like-minded. So thank you very much.

Tom Finn (41:42.281)

Well, Christie, where can we find you? If somebody wants to track you down, um, I imagine that people listening are now going to want to go work for WG content. They're going to track you down, start applying, calling everybody on your website to build a relationship and get in there, where do they find you?

Christy (41:58.83)

Well, you can go to and you can also find me on LinkedIn, just Christy Pretzinger on LinkedIn. And that, those are probably the two best places because then when you're on our website, you can find our blogs, you can find ways to contact us. There's all sorts of things that you can find out about WG content right there.

Tom Finn (42:17.397)

For sure and we will put all of that in the show notes for you. Christie, thank you for being a part of the show and thank you for empowering not only your organization, but for those listening around the world. Thank you for being here.

Christy (42:29.006)

Thank you.

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