Episode 393 – Kace Phillips

Kace is a Co-Founder & Music Lover

Kace Phillips, the co-founder of RBA, talks about his passion for music and live concerts and how this passion has given him many unintentional networking opportunities! He also talks about the importance of great company culture and how that affects the quality of work and client experience!

Episode Highlights

• Getting into music
• Some of his favorite artists
• Some of his notable concerts
• Getting into The Grateful Dead
• Networking with clients through music
• How RBA promotes their employee’s hobbies
• Gaining expertise from your And
• Why culture in the workplace is important
• Why the tone at the top is important

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Kace’s Photos

(click to enlarge)


Kace with friends at Widespread Panic at Red Rocks in 2017

Kace with friends at Widespread Panic at Red Rocks in 2018

Kace with friends at Dead and Co, Dallas in 2019

Kace camping at Mighty High Mountain Fest

Kace at Mile 0 Fest with William Clark Green

Kace at Dead and Co, Dallas in 2018

Kace’s Links


  • Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close

    Welcome to Episode 393 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. And to put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and” — those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.

    If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audiobooks. The book goes more in depth on the research behind why these outside of work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such nice reviews on Amazon, and more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.

    Please don’t forget to hit Subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And this week is no different with my guest, Kace Phillips. He’s a partner and co-founder of RBA, a full service branding and advertising agency in Dallas, Texas. And now he’s with me here today.

    Kase, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?

    Kace: Yeah, John, thanks for having me and really happy to be on and talk about my “and” and learn a little bit more about you as well.

    John: Totally, man. No, this is going to be awesome, and what you guys are doing at RBA, I love as well. But before we get into that, let’s get to know Kace on a new level here, 17 rapid-fire questions. So I hope you brought your seatbelt. Buckle up, man.

    Kace: I’m ready. I’m ready.

    John: All right. I’ll go with an easy one. Well, maybe not for an advertising guy. A favorite color?

    Kace: Blue.

    John: Blue? Okay, all right. How about a least favorite color?

    Kace: Color? Like orange maybe. I don’t wear a lot of orange. I don’t like orange-flavored candy. Orange juice is okay.

    John: Right, right. But outside of that.

    Kace: Yeah. Burnt orange though, I can deal with burnt orange.

    John: Oh, yeah, I was going to say, in Texas, you’re going to lose half your population of friends.

    Kace: I love burnt orange.

    John: Right. But I mean, not so much. I also like maroon and purple. How about a suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?

    Kace: Jeans and a polo.

    John: Jeans and a polo? Okay, down the middle there. I like that. All right. How about cats or dogs?

    Kace: Dogs.

    John: Dogs, yeah, yeah. Me too. How about puzzles? Sudoku or crossword?

    Kace: Crossword.

    John: Crossword, all right. How about do you have a favorite actor or an actress?

    Kace: Reese Witherspoon would be my favorite actress. My wife and I play a little like celebrity three game, and Reese Witherspoon is number one on my celebrity three. I love her. Favorite actor probably of all time would be Robert De Niro.

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Kace: But maybe more contemporary I think would be maybe Seth Rogen or James Franco. I love those guys.

    John: Oh, no, hilarious. Yeah, yeah. How about more of a Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Kace: Neither.

    John: Neither, all right.

    Kace: I have zero interest in those.

    John: If Reese Witherspoon is in it, then I’ll watch. But other than that…

    Kace: Right. I like to tell people, I don’t like glip -glops and and flukey doos and stuff like that. It’s just not —

    John: Right.

    Kace: Yeah. I like science fiction, but not like fantasy because there’s more in the fantasy realm.

    John: Yeah, I got you. I got you. How about your computer? More of a PC or a Mac?

    Kace: I’m a Mac guy through and through.

    John: Yeah, I figured. I thought that was a silly question. How about, oh, do you have a favorite word?

    Kace: Favorite word? My daughter has been going through some medical stuff and so been getting a lot of blood. I really love the word phlebotomist.

    John: Phlebotomist? Yeah, there you go.

    Kace: It’s not a word a lot of people come across lately often, but I’ve been hearing a lot lately. So I love phlebotomy, phlebotomist. It’s just PHL sound is an interesting sound.

    John: Right. Okay, no, no, I dig it. I dig it. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?

    Kace: Cookies and cream from Blue Bell or a local spot here in Dallas called the Baldo’s by far are my two favorite ice creams.

    John: Yeah, very cool. Very cool. How about favorite seasons? Spring, summer, fall or winter?

    Kace: I got to go with spring. I’m a May birthday and springs, you know, I like warm weather for sure, but not in Texas. It gets so hot here in the summer, so spring for sure.

    John: Yeah, you don’t want to self-combust. How about more print or digital advertising?

    Kace: As far as what we do or what I prefer?

    John: What you prefer.

    Kace: I think there’s so much more beauty in a well done print ad. But we got to go where the eyes are, and obviously all the eyes are shifting to digital or onto people. This is why it’s digital.

    John: Yeah, yeah, there you go. All right, all right, with burnt orange.

    Kace: Yeah.

    John: There you go. How about a favorite cereal? Even from when you were a kid or an adult.

    Kace: I probably have to go with Fruity Pebbles.

    John: Oh, okay, all right.

    Kace: I’m a Fruity Pebbles guy because I love the Flintstones when I was younger, but I love Fruity Pebbles this day. My son George likes to eat them too. So it’s like, yeah, we’ll buy boxes. It’s not for me. The milk after a bowl of Fruity Pebbles is delicious as well.

    John: Yeah, that’s the magic right there. Yeah, exactly. How about when it comes to books? Kindle, a real book, or audio version?

    Kace: I am a real book guy. I love being able to write in a book, make notes, underline, highlight stuff like that. I feel like I get more out of a book than when I’m listening to it or — I’ve never even used the Kindle, so I guess I wouldn’t know there. But I’m definitely a real book guy.

    John: Real book. Yeah, yeah. How about a favorite number?

    Kace: 19, everything. So 19 is always my favorite number.

    John: Done and done. All right. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Kace: I’m definitely more of a night owl, but I have been making a conscious effort to wake up earlier just because, yeah, I got two young kids and I got to have —

    John: That’s what I was going to say.

    Kace: I got to have time to at least go for a walk in the morning. I journal every day. So like doing that in the morning, it’s nice to get up early and have like 45 minutes to myself.

    John: Yeah. That’s impressive. All right. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?

    Kace: Favorite thing I have, so I probably I have to say I have a home plate, baseball home plate, not like a dinner plate that I have in my house. It was my dad’s, and I got it when he passed away. He won it in like an auction like early ’90s, but it’s signed by Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron.

    John: What?

    Kace: Rogers Hornsby, I think.

    John: That is amazing!

    Kace: I’m blanking on who else is on there. But I think there’s nine or 10 Hall of Famers on there.

    John: That is awesome.

    Kace: Yeah, I’m a big baseball guy, so I love that. And, yeah, the fact that it was my dad’s has always shown, he always had it on display in his office. So that’s probably my favorite thing that I have.

    John: That’s super cool, man. That is super cool. So let’s transition to talking — I mean, live concerts and live music and all that. Did you grow up, go into that as well, or was it more of a later in life, like now I have adult money and I can do what I want?

    Kace: Well, certainly it makes it easier now that I have adult money. But, yeah, I mean, as a kid and then my teenage years, music has always been something that was the passion burning inside me. My mom likes to credit the fact that she says, “You know, when I was pregnant with you, all I did was watch MTV.” She thinks that’s why I’m, you know, musically inclined.

    John: That’s hilarious. That’s awesome. That was back when they actually showed music videos.

    Kace: Right. Now if someone watched MTV with a pregnant child, they would just be like cussing and throwing bottles of champagne at each other and whatever else you do on those reality shows.

    John: Right, exactly. That’s cool, man. Did you have like a favorite band growing up, oOr like a first cassette? For me, it was a cassette but maybe for you it’s a CD.

    Kace: So no, my first cassette that I can remember, I think it was like Bobby Brown or something.

    John: Yes, My Prerogative. Absolutely, man.

    Kace: Yeah, I think that’s what it was. But then I know my first two CDs, I remember — I want to say, it’s like ’94, ’95, somewhere around there. My mom or my parents bought me my first boombox and CD player, and they gave me two albums. The first album was Taylor Dayne, a female country artist, and then the second one was the Aerosmith Get A Grip album.

    John: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Kace: A phenomenal album.

    John: Right. Oh, totally.

    Kace: So yeah, I mean, I was looking to Aerosmith as a kid, I guess. One of my best friends, his mom was a huge Eagles fan, and so I really got into the Eagles as a kid. I don’t know, a few years I was really into hip-hop and gangsta rap, and so I was like a big huge Tupac, DMX, Biggie, of course, kind of those mid to late ’90s, hip-hop guys. And then I remember going to see the Up in Smoke Tour, and my parents let me and a few friends go with like a guy who was like 18 at the time. I think that was Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Method Man, Redman. We were offered — I don’t know if I want to say this. We were offered acid as we were walking.

    John: That’s incredible.

    Kace: It’s like, dude, we’re 12 years old. What the hell? I didn’t even know what that was.

    John: That’s not smoke.

    Kace: Yeah. I think that was like my first big concert that I went to, and then I started getting into a genre music called Texas country or Red Deer country. So it’s not like the stuff, like shitty country music, frankly, that you hear on the radio like Florida Georgia Line, you know, that kind of crap, but it’s more kind of in the mold of the Willies and the Waylands of the world. So I got really into that and really dove head first and spent most of my high school years trying to figure out how I can get to concerts as often as possible, what venues, you know, because they’re playing in a lot of the small bars and clubs and so —

    John: Oh, yeah.

    Kace: It was like, all right, which venues let in under 18 people, right? So that was always kind of a difficult thing to find. But I saw a lot of music in high school and one of my biggest claims of fame is I saw Miranda Lambert open for a guy named Owen Temple, who you’ve probably never heard Owen Temple, but I’m sure you’ve heard of Miranda Lambert.

    John: Right.

    Kace: And he was at this little bar called the Gypsy Tea Room and he fell into Dallas, and we hung out after she played and talked and whatever. And we heard my friends because she’s right around my same age. And little did I know like, you know, eight years later, she’d be this huge megastar. But it was pretty cool.

    John: That’s super cool. And little did you know eight years later, you’d be on the What’s Your “And”? podcast.

    Kace: Right.

    John: Like, I mean, you know what? You were even. We’re even. That’s super awesome. I remember when I was in college, we went to go see Live, the band Live.

    Kace: Oh, I love Live. Yeah.

    John: And No Doubt opened for Live and no one knew who No Doubt was. And we were all like, “Who is this Gwen Stefani? What is happening?” Like this band is amazing, and she’s amazing, and all this and no one knew who they were. And then now like, I’m not sure if anybody even remembers Live, but they were great. They were so good.

    Kace: It’s a big run of like, in the ’90s of like ’90s alternative bands like Live and like The Nixons and Blink 22.

    John: Oh, The Nixons. Yeah, The Nixons, absolutely. I saw them live as well at Summerfest in Milwaukee. That’s so cool. And so do you have like a favorite concert you went to or maybe a favorite venue?

    Kace: You know, before the podcast started, we were talking about Red Rocks. I mean, that’s definitely right up there my favorite venue. But I would say, so my favorite concert probably that I’ve ever been to was May 8, 2010 in Orange Beach, Alabama, which the wharf there is one of my very favorite venues. And I saw a band called Widespread Panic there and I’ve seen Panic probably 120 times. That’s definitely kind of became my band in early 2000s.

    So Panic is really known for much like the Grateful Dead, which I’m sure we’ll talk about. But they oftentimes will seamlessly transition from one song to the next, and they’ll do what we call song sandwiches. So they’ll start and they’ll play half of one song and then play like three or four songs in between and then go back into the end of the first song.

    Well, Chilly Water is a song that Panic does and they did a Chilly sandwich, and it was like nine songs in between. And when I went back into Chilly, everybody just went nuts. It was just an amazing show. I mean, it was a great — the venue was awesome. The weather was perfect, May in southern Alabama. And then they closed the show in the encore with a BloodKin song that they play called End of the Show, which is just a great song and it’s got a great mandolin in it. That was the first — and I think the first time that music really ever brought me to tears. I mean, I literally was sitting there. It was just like, it was almost like an out-of-body experience. And yeah, it was just, you know, I’ve seen a lot of really good shows, a lot of great Panic shows, but that, to me, was almost like the seminal moment of my live music career. It was just everything kind of came together perfectly that night.

    John: That’s awesome, man. You didn’t even need the acid from the Up in Smoke Tour.

    Kace: That’s right.

    John: That’s so cool. Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing is like, concerts are — they’re an experience, you know. I mean, it really is. It’s a shared experience with everyone else as well. Yeah, I mean, you’re singing along. You’re all in it. Yeah, it’s really cool. I mean, sports are great and I love sports, but I’m not playing along with it. And then the concert, it feels like you’re definitely a part of it.

    Kace: Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. You know, as I’ve gotten older, I think, almost cliché to say, but it’s like I’d much rather pay for experiences than things at this age. I’m a huge sports guy as well, but I feel like you can get a similar experience watching, the Cowboys on Sunday as going to the game, right? I mean, it’s not the same experience, but you’re still getting what you can out of it. But during the pandemic, I’ve watched a lot of streaming concerts. And it’s been nice to be able to watch that, but it’s so far from the actual experience of being there and being in the crowd and everything that goes along with it, whether it’s, you know, hey, look, I try to get up closer, or, oh, all right, I’m going to time it this way because I know this song is ending, and I got to run and grab another jack on the rocks real quick and like try to get back. All those kind of things is like little nuance things about the live music experience and being able to really watch the guys play their instruments and just kind of marvel at like, how did they produce these sounds? It’s just incredible. So I think you’re spot on there.

    John: No, that’s awesome. And you hinted at the Grateful Dead. Is that also a band that you had gotten into or followed?

    Kace: Yes. Unfortunately, I never really got the opportunity to really follow the real actual Grateful Dead. Jerry died in ’95 when I was nine years old, so he’s not a deadhead at that point. But I would say when I first really became conscious of the Grateful Dead, a guy named Cory Morrow, who is in the Texas country scene that I talked about earlier, on his album Outside the Lines, he covered the song Friend of the Devil. And I was like, that song is amazing and I loved it. And I thought it was Cory’s song for like three months until one of my friends was like, “No, that’s actually a Grateful Dead song.”

    So I kind of started getting into them that way. And then through whatever, I started getting into Panic, and then through really getting into Panic really understood, obviously, the Dead were a huge influence on them. So really, I would say, like in the mid-2000s really started getting into the Dead. And I think it really clicked and 2007 I got an opportunity to see Bob Weir and RatDog, which was one of his post-Grateful Dead bands. I actually saw them at Red Rocks.

    John: Oh, nice.

    Kace: Yeah, it was really fun. The song Brown Eyed Women was really kind of like a song I was like, this is a song like you listen to over and over and over and over again. And that was kind of when I kind of went down that path. And so with the Grateful Dead I’ve seen just about every iteration there is. Phil and Friends, of course, there’s Dead and company that’s touring right now with — not right now right now, but with John Mayer and Oteil Burbridge. And then there’s a number of Grateful Dead tribute and cover bands in Dallas and in Texas in general. And we’re really lucky in Dallas to have a band called Forgotten Space that takes their name from the song Franklin’s Tower, and they’re just awesome. They play, I don’t know, maybe every six weeks or so.

    John: Oh, nice.

    Kace: Yeah, and somewhere around town. And so I’ve seen them a ton and they are unbelievably talented. Yeah, I think they’re almost as close to the real thing as you can get. So they’ve been awesome.

    Another cover band, which is like weird to call them a cover band because I feel like it does them a disservice, but Joe Russo, who’s a drummer, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is kind of the cover band is sure for Grateful Dead fans. That concert actually is up there in the top three is best I’ve ever seen. They play the Dead like they are on meth and cocaine all the time. It’s fast. It’s loud. It’s just like — and that’s one where I look at — I was watching Joe Russo play the drums, and I could have sworn, he was an octopus with eight arms and like, how the hell is this guy producing these sounds? I left that concert, I was just like — I’d almost never been more blown away by just sheer musicianship. It was incredible. So if you’d all like the Dead, you should go on Spotify or whatever and check out some of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. It was awesome.

    John: That’s very cool, man. Does any of this translate to work at all? Do you share stories from going to concerts at work or talk music with clients or co-workers?

    Kace: Absolutely. So I mean, I talk about music all the time with clients and co-workers. And when we were all in the office together, a lot of folks would bemoan when I had control of the Bluetooth speakers because a lot of our people are into like top 40 or like, I don’t know, whatever’s hip with young kids. I’m throwing on Grateful Dead or as one of my co-workers calls it like slow country, stuff like that. So I mean, that’s definitely a conversation. But, yeah, I mean, with clients, I mean, it’s when you kind of find out like, oh, you’re a deadhead, oh, you’re a deadhead? It’s kind of like, oh, we’re in this club together and immediately forms that bond. You mentioned that you had scrolled over my picture on the website.

    John: Yeah, I love seeing that.

    Kace: I’ve had clients would be like, “You’re a deadhead? That’s awesome. That’s why I wanted to talk to you guys,” or things like that. I’ve met plenty of people at shows, concerts that I’ve ended up doing business with. So I think it’s a really great networking opportunity. That’s definitely not why I go to concerts. But when you’re at like a networking event, I’m a very — if you can’t tell — very outgoing and social person, but like at a networking event, to walk in a group of four people talking to them and be like, “Hey, I’m Kase Phillips,” that’s not who I am.

    John: Oh, yeah, I hate that so much too.

    Kace: Yeah, but at a concert, I have no problem talking to somebody. Oh, that Sugar Ray was awesome. I love the way Hunter was jamming on the guitar or whatever, like on Forgotten Space show. So to me, that’s such a more natural way of talking to somebody and then, oh, what do you do for a living, whatever, and then things happen.

    I would say, yeah, it definitely intermingles. I think that music is a big part of my workday, just I like to listen to music while I work if I’m not on meetings. It just helps me concentrate, and I think it just kind of puts me in a better place.

    Kace: Yeah, you touched on a couple of things there that are definitely I want to circle back on. But like the conversation, now you said like going into a networking event and, you know, “Hi, I’m Kase and this is my job” versus you’re at a concert, and then you have a conversation and then it turns to the work later. It’s so much easier to have that and a conversation first, establish that rapport with somebody and then turn to business. If you start with business, it’s pretty hard, if not impossible.

    So anyway, what do you like to do when you’re not doing this? You know, like that’s weird.

    Kace: Yeah, no, I couldn’t agree more because a lot of what I do at RBA is business development. I don’t ever like to feel like I’m selling somebody something. At a networking event, if I’m like, “Hey, I’m Kase. I’m with RBA. We’re a branding and advertising agency, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” it kind of feels like I’m selling something.

    John: Really glass over. Like, all right, I don’t remember what he said. Whatever.

    Kace: Yeah. Yeah, I’m a relationship guy, and so to me, that’s much more important. And if there’s business involved, then great. But to me, I’d much rather form a connection with somebody and talk, hey, this is a person I genuinely like. We have shared interests. Hey, they may have a company or work for a company that we can help or vice versa. Maybe they do something that we need. So to me, it’s always about the relationship first and then if there’s a business opportunity, then awesome, but that’s never my first and foremost goal.

    John: I love that. And then you touched on your website, which is so cool, like you said. I went to it, and you have like a somewhat standard headshot block for everybody. But then when you mouse over it, the picture turns to their “and.” There’s one woman at a college football game. You had Jerry Garcia. Somebody is on top of a mountain. Somebody’s doing DJ, like good stuff. How did that come about? Because, I mean, I love that so much.

    Kace: I mean, the exact origins of that I can’t remember, but I think just generally as a philosophy, we put a ton of emphasis on company culture. And we’ve been fortunate enough to win Ad Age Best Places to Work two years in a row. We were the number three best place to work in the country this year.

    John: Congratulations, man. That’s huge.

    Kace: That’s a huge honor for us. And I think that part of, you know, there’s a lot that goes into our culture, but I think part of it is recognizing that people are people. It sounds so simple, but they’re much more than who they are at work or the job title that they have. And I think just celebrating that embracing that is just a very small part of just having a fun place to work where, you know, you mentioned like DJ, like Anna, our art director, she does DJ stuff on the weekends, I guess. Again, with COVID, it probably hasn’t been as often, but that’s super cool.

    I remember when we were interviewing her, learning that about her was a huge part of really understanding who she is, what kind of person she is and really, I think, understanding her level of creativity. For an art director, we don’t want somebody who’s just creative from nine to five. We need people who want to be creative all the time, and that’s just something that inherently can’t turn off. And so with her, that was a signal to us that she needs not just what she does for work to express her creativity, but she has other outlets as well. It’s something that she craves and just can’t turn off. Or if somebody is a hiker, a climber or something like that, this person can take on a challenge and finish something that’s really difficult.

    So I think that’s why when I heard about your podcast, I was so drawn to it because I think What’s Your “And”? is super important in the business world, and really understanding who people are and letting them be that person is really, really important.

    John: Yeah, no, thank you so much, man. I mean, vice versa. I mean, when you reached out and then I went to your website, I’m like, yeah, absolutely. In my book, I talk about there’s expertise from those ends. I mean, as you just mentioned, somebody that’s a climber, they have that skill set. Somebody that’s a DJ, we need them to be super, like creativity is oozing out of them that they have to use it more than just during the day. And so I love that, how those things matter for RBA. That’s what we do. And I love it, man. Business is better in the end as well. It’s not just like a fun thing where we paint the walls blue and have scooters. No, no, at the end of the day, the bottom line is better. We do better work for better clients, and you’re winning awards. So it’s legit.

    Kace: 100%. Yeah, I mean, people think, oh, you got a cool culture. I mean, do you have a ping pong table? We do have a ping pong table, but it’s about so much more than that. When you’re talking about culture from a bottom line perspective, yeah, I mean, it costs a lot of money to fire people, to hire people, whatever. So if we can create a great environment that people enjoy what they’re doing, they enjoy the people they’re doing it with, enjoy the clients that we work with, that to us is so much more important because that means that person’s probably going to stick, you know, we don’t expect everybody to stay here their entire careers, but if somebody sticks around 5, 6, 7 years, I mean, that’s a real thing. Certainly, we’d love for them to stick around longer. But the more you have to hire and fire people, it’s expensive. Again, for pure bottom line perspective, that’s a great reason why culture is important. And then I think also, Ross, one of my partners and our CEO, likes to say that happy cows make the best milk. And then we tell our clients all the time when we’re, you know, why does that matter to our clients? We feel like if people are happy and feeling good about what they’re doing, they’re going to do better work for our clients, which is great for our clients’ business, great for our business. It’s a virtuous circle.

    John: I love it, man. I love it so much. And yeah, I mean, it’s something that’s so simple but not easy. The investment in your people just a little bit goes tenfold, if not more, on the other side. So that’s so cool, man. So do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has a hobby or a passion that they feel like, well, this has nothing to do with my job, or no one’s going to care?

    Kace: Yeah, I think I could. I do want to go back to something you said, if you don’t mind.

    John: Yeah, totally. Whose show is this anyway?

    Kace: I’m on my show now.

    John: You probably should, man.

    Kace: You said culture is not — it’s simple, but it’s not easy. And I think that is like, I love that. I’ve never used that line before, but that really verbalizes how I’ve always felt internally. It’s simple, like these things that we do, they’re not difficult in theory.

    John: It’s not rocket science here.

    Kace: Right. It’s not rocket science, but, yeah, it does take work and whatever. So I like that, that it’s simple, but it’s not easy. I really like that.

    John: Cool. I’m glad we circled back on something that you agree with. I was like, oh, man, now we got a fight. Like this is terrible because I’m going to lose big time. I just love what you guys are doing there. I mean, just the tone that you’ve set. I guess maybe how much does it matter on the tone at the top versus somebody in a small circle can start sharing from the bottom or whatever level they’re at that’s not the top top?

    Kace: Yeah, I think the tone at the top is extremely important. We like to say that our culture kind of comes bottom up, but at the same time that if me as a partner or Ross or Sarah, our other partner, if we’re having a bad day or we’re not positive about something that’s going on or we’re super negative about a client, which is something we always try never to be, that’s going to affect the whole team. And I think a really good example of that is like kind of, so in the early days of COVID when we went remote, we decided to do these 8:45 meetings every morning. So it’s like a video chat. Originally, it was just like, hey, this is a way for people to actually see each other. Everybody’s on a call at once right before the big workday starts. And so we did that. And it kind of like got really dull and boring as time went along. I think the person who found it the most dull and boring was Ross, our CEO. He was kind of letting that show on the meetings. And Ross kind of really thought about it and was like, “I’m going to change up what we’re doing here. I think that’ll change my attitude.” It changed everyone’s attitude and just, again, starting the day off on a good note.

    So what Ross did, which I think was great, is basically now instead of it just being kind of this roundtable discussion is we bring one campaign or an ad or something in our business to discuss. So it’s kind of starting the day with a creative energy. Ross leads the discussion, and then saying something as simple as like, good morning. What can we help you with today? to every person on the call. Honestly, it’s such a small thing, but it has been huge as far as people’s outlook on the day. It’s like, all right, Ross is ready to kick off the day. Ross is our fearless leader. So it’s like Ross is ready to kick off the day. Ross is ready to get into it. So now I am too. So just that positivity that he’s shown I think has been a huge difference in everybody’s attitudes and just kind of the way that they’re going about their workday. So again, just like a really small thing, but I think it’s really good demonstration of why attitude at the top, I think, really, really matters and affects morale and everything.

    John: Yeah. And even at a large organization, even if you’re just like a middle manager, well, you’re the top of that group. So just because the top top that maybe doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t type of thing. But, yeah, I totally agree. I mean, the fact that on your website you have what’s your and is clearly baked in. Before you heard about me and I knew about you, it’s you’re living and breathing that philosophy. And so anyone that applies there or comes to work there, they know that having an outside passion or interest is a thing, and you have to share it. I mean, you can’t not.

    Kace: Yeah, yeah, I want people to be like — I remember, and not to disparage where I worked at before. This was a really great experience. But I do remember that I would always have my work personality and then my out of work personality, and I didn’t like that. One of the things when we started RBA is like, I never wanted people to feel that way. I’m the exact same as I am in the office as I am with my three-year-old son George. I want everybody to be that way, everybody to be themselves, just who they are to talk about what’s going on in their personal life. They don’t have to share anything —

    John: Not drama.

    Kace: Right. They don’t have to share their medical history or anything. That to me is, again, it’s just really important for people to be who they are. If you’re a DJ, be a DJ. If you’re a rock climber, be a rock climber. If you like college football, then talk about college football. I think it just makes the work experience better and just makes you more authentic to who you are. That’s important in a creative field for sure.

    John: Yeah. I love it, man. I love it. And that’s such great advice for everyone to take with them. So it’s only fair that before we wrap this up that I turn the tables. We’ve already once had you be the head of the podcast. But for a second time, the Kace Phillips Podcast, everybody. I’m your first guest, I guess. I don’t know. Thanks for having me on. Here we go.

    Kace: Thanks, John. So I do have a couple of questions for you. So you’ve been at the podcasting game for a long time. I’m curious to know like, what do you think is the most challenging thing about hosting a podcast?

    John: The most challenging thing for me, I guess, is convincing people to come on the show. Like, if you’re listening and you have an outside of work, hobby, or passion, please reach out because I love sharing those stories with everybody. And so it’s just keeping that consistency that there’s an episode every Wednesday, and now with the Monday musings that I do on my own or like a Follow-Up Friday once a month, it’s just keeping that consistency going. And so when you do an interview show, you have to have people to interview. So it certainly is that. I meet people when I speak at conferences or when I’m out and about doing the consulting work. And I’m like, “Oh, you should totally be on the show.” And then I’ll follow up three or four times over a year and they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, all right, I’ll be on.” I’m like, “You’re awesome. Why didn’t you do this a year ago?” type of thing. So that’s probably the hardest part.

    Kace: Yeah, I think, as I told you, we’re starting up our own podcast here at RBA. And I think that’s definitely the most challenging is people are like, “Oh, yeah, I’m totally into the idea.” And then it’s like trying to find time that works on the schedule and stuff like that. And I think there’s hesitancy maybe for people who’ve never been on a podcast and are kind of nervous about it. I certainly was the first time that I jumped on. Okay, that’s good information.

    John: Yeah, yeah. Just making them feel — I mean, for me, it’s apparently not difficult, but just making them feel comfortable. Every time people, they’re like, “I’m really nervous.” And we talked before, and then at the end, they’re like, “That was so fun.”

    Kace: Time flies when you’re doing it.

    John: Yeah, exactly. And so like, you know, I guess I am good at making people feel comfortable and having that natural conversation. So for me, that’s not hard. But I’ve been on podcasts where somehow they made me feel uncomfortable and I’m like, this is weird. I’m your guest.

    Kace: Open the door for me, dude.

    John: Right, something. Didn’t you read my writer? Like I don’t touch handles.

    Kace: Blue M&M’s.

    John: Right. Exactly. Exactly. That’s a good question, though.

    Kace: And then my second question, a little bit more pointed, would you be interested in being on the RBA podcast?

    John: Oh, yeah, absolutely, man. I totally would.

    Kace: Awesome.

    John: You better not be joking because I will definitely be on.

    Kace: No. I’m dead serious. Our podcasts called Challenge Accepted. It’s not out yet.

    John: Challenge accepted. There you go.

    Kace: But it’s all about challenger brands and talking to creatives, entrepreneurs, and brand marketers about just kind of the challenges of growing a challenger brand. I think you fit right into that, and I love what you’re doing. I think it’s super cool. So I would love to have you on. Not a joke.

    John: Absolutely. I’m honored.

    Kace: So we really will get to turn the tables and I’ll be able to ask questions.

    John: Halfway through I’m going to be like, wait, I want to go — but wait, hold on.

    Kace: Rewind the tape. Rewind the tape.

    John: No one will get the joke. Oh, you got to go back and listen to that. It’ll be like a podcast sandwich, going back years later.

    Kace: Exactly. We’ll be sure to put it in the liner notes.

    John: Exactly.

    Kace: He’s referenced this podcast with Episode 393 of What’s Your “And”? We’ll do the link there, and then we’ll make people have to understand what the hell’s going on.

    John: Exactly. No, man, this has been so much fun and I look forward to be on yours. But thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This has been fun, Kase.

    Kace: Yeah, I really appreciate you having me on. Very fun. And like I said, the time flies when you’re having fun. So great conversation. John, I really appreciate it.

    John: Awesome. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kace out at concerts and out in the real world or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there as well as the link to his podcast, Challenge Accepted with RBA. While you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. And also don’t forget to check out the book.

    So thanks again for subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.


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