Adam Torres and Kelly Loudermilk discuss emotional intelligence and what it takes to be a great leader.
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Emotional intelligence is a key skill that should be developed in order to be a great leader. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Kelly Loudermilk, M.S., SHRM-SCP, Talent Innovator at BuildHR. Explore emotional intelligence and Kelly’s recent book release, Mission Matters: World’s Leading Entrepreneurs Reveal Their Top Tips To Success (Business Leaders Vol. 8).
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About Kelly Loudermilk
Imaginative and strategic HR Leader would be the best words to describe me. Kelly has 12 years of experience dealing with tasks in Recruiting, Operations Planning, People Operations, HR Law and Compliance, HR Strategy, Management, Employee Relations, Organizational Development, and Training.
BuildHR is the ultimate HR and Organizational Development resource for start-ups and small businesses alike! They help companies build their foundations or help strengthen their current ones in order for them to grow successfully.
HR and Company Development takes time and money – they take the stress and expense out of the complexity of people management. They also offer a variety of products and services from simple templates for companies that just need a few policies all the way to full blown HR support and organizational development.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to mission matters.com and click on Be Our Guest to Apply. All right, so today is us. Special episode, we’re bringing back Kelly Louder Milk, who I’m proud to announce is our most recent author and on, and we, we’ve been working on this book, collaboration.
We’ve been working on putting this book out for, I don’t know, going on a year. And Kelly, I’m so happy to welcome you back to this show and say, congrats. You’re now an author with Mission Matters. I’m very excited and I’m very honored to be an author officially with Mission Matters. So it’s an awesome moment for.
Yeah. So I I’m excited to get into your content today and and you, you wrote about leadership and the, the subject matter was size matters, why big companies have managers, but small ones have leaders. So we are going to dig into that topic today and also learn more about build HR your company.
But before we do that we will start this episode. You already know the drill as a return guest, we’ll start this episode the way that we start them all. With our mission matters minute. So Kelly, we at Mission Matters. We amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives, and experts. That’s our mission.
Kelly, what mission matters to you? . My mission is truly reinventing how we view people in the workplace. It is the one of the largest portions of our lives, and it is no longer where it needs to be with how we are as a society, and my mission is to facilitate the success of how organizations work with their people and how they view their people in the everyday day to.
Yeah, it’s it’s great to have you back on. And love bringing mission-based entrepreneurs and executives to share why they do what they do, how they’re doing it, and really what we can all learn from that so that we grow together. So before we get into the book, I wanna maybe take a, a step or two back and and really just like, how did you get started on this path in business and, and into hr?
Like, like, where did it all begin? . What’s so funny is you’ll often hear from very tenured HR folks, we fell into it by accident. Newer folks are actually choosing that path, which is exciting to see. I fell in it through an opportunity around consulting and facilitating the operational buildout for an organization that led into people, and I fell in love with the science behind everything there is to do with people the neuro.
The neurolinguistics, the psychology, the physiology. And I love bringing those types of practices and things that I do when it comes around people, operations and people’s success in the workplace. Mm-hmm. And from there I have just worked with clients and employers alike scaling their organizations primarily for small businesses under 50 into that, you know, 200 plus count and facilitating their infrastructure to do so.
And now I am. Working more in a coaching environment for a lot of those organizations that do have internal HR or people to help them understand that transition of how to be thinking differently on approaching the people operations. . That’s great. And I, and I will circle back to that cause I wanna talk about build hr, but before we do, let, let’s get into the book.
So I think, but this, this, you set the table wonderfully or the stage wonderfully because your, your topic overall size matters. Why big companies have managers, but small ones have leaders. So you’ve worked with. Small companies, you’ve worked with, large companies, you’ve worked with companies that were going, were small in turning into large organizations, as you’ve mentioned, you know, going from, you know, under 50 employees to hundreds of employees.
Lot of different things and topics that you could have written about as it relates to HR with your tenure and with your experience. Why and how’d you choose this one? I think this one is the most. , large identifiable trend that can impact several different things. And so for me it was more identifying the root cause versus tackling one issue.
Mm-hmm. . And that was the main reason why I was able to bring this topic, cuz I thought it was a larger root cause. In why management kind of 1 0 1 is different in different types of organizations, but then as a larger overarching industry or topic mm-hmm. and I felt, I felt that this was one way to address the issue on a much more macro scale is the best way to put it.
Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that, and I want to pull out a couple things from the book and for everybody watching this. Just so you know, we’re not going to cover all of the content that Kelly wrote about. Why? Because I want you to buy the book still. All right? Like, we’re, we’re still publishers. We still sell books, so there’ll be a link in the show notes.
But I, I’ll, I’ll pull, we’re gonna pull out some, some content from there. And obviously Kelly’s gonna provide a lot of value with this. But so some, some of the things she wrote about willingness to let go, emotional awareness. Be an active listener. Be present, don’t judge, show empathy. And I want to start off with this idea of willingness to let go.
Can you elaborate on that and maybe some of the importance of why that’s so important for organizations? The reason why leaders only. when they’re willing to delegate and let go so that they can facilitate their growth. And if you are holding onto every little thing out of a fear or ownership, you will never expand your own ability.
And I’ve seen this in a lot of different size of organizations. Like you’ve mentioned, I’ve spanned that whole spectrum. Small as three as large as 15,000. I’ve hit it all. And that is a very. big blocker. Mm-hmm. For a lot of leadership success because you will not let go and let others take over and succeed.
And so you end up hindering your own growth and you end up hindering the growth of those around you and it ends up amplifying back on you in a negative way. And it facil, it doesn’t facilitate growth in general for the organization or your team or yourself. Mm-hmm. . And so that’s what like the biggest trend you’ll see in small organizations for them to be successful for their leaders.
They have to let go. They have no choice. And so that’s one reason why they’re able to facilitate their individual growth. And in larger organizations it’s very siloed about ownership and it’s just the way that they’re structured and there’s nothing wrong with that. But having the ability to delegate more or to open up to new opportunities is important to still be able to facilitate growth in some way, shape, or.
Yeah. And that’s, it’s so interesting you say that, and I think, I think part of me hosting this show is just therapy for me as an entrepreneur, Kelly , because as, as you’re saying these things, I’m remembering maybe some of the early days when we brought on our first editor or our first person that was helping with the show, like the early days.
In the very beginning, I did everything. So every, like as a leader and as somebody that wanted to grow an organization in a media outlet, like I had to slowly let go and let people make mistakes, but also let people succeed, right? Like that’s the, that’s the highlight there. And now as I look back, like to those early days, like, you know, from when it was like two or three people now, Then it was 10 people then, you know, over 20 now that, that are with us.
And, and I see every like, like area and every, with every level of growth or every rung, like having to let more and more go to let others succeed. So I think it’s it’s, it’s relevant. I, I’ll pick on myself in here that that’s not always an easy thing to do, especially in the early days when. When you’re assigning things and everybody’s learning new processes, or even if you’re building new departments, like that stuff is hard.
Any, any tips on like how a leader that’s maybe having a little bit of trouble letting go can kind of, cause I know you, you also work on the coaching side of things as well can kind of start down that path of letting go so that they’re not holding back growth. Any tips or things that you’ve seen in your, in your, you know, coaching and work that have maybe worked with some, with some.
There’s a book that I really like. I don’t have the title off the top of my head. It’s a extremely small book under a hundred pages, and it talks about delegation and it’s through a story line of how to delegate, but essentially it’s really being open. to that feedback and being okay with failure. That’s the biggest step you have to take.
And that is so difficult. But having the ability to be emotionally vulnerable, you know, bene Brown talks about that as a key, you know, leadership skillset and if you’re able to do that and. Let people know it is hard for me to let go. Yeah. What do you need from me so that I can make it clear for you what my expectations are.
Mm-hmm. so that we can facilitate this transition. Don’t be afraid to admit that it’s hard to let go cuz it is. It’s your baby and you have an expectation that you are assuming they know. and they don’t know what your expectation is. And so if you can have a real conversation around that when you’re starting to train someone on something or even just talking through, like, I wanna hand this off to you, but this is my feeling about it.
It can at least help minimize your. Fear of letting go in that regard. And so that, that what I just mentioned, that is one side of the, the issue that you mentioned, and that’s maybe for the smaller organizations that are getting larger and larger. So as the company gets larger or your, your organization may already be larger and you have these departments or these areas that are siloed and don’t necessarily talk as much or work the way you want, like, like how do you approach that one as it relates to, to your example?
That’s a lot of trickiness because in larger organizations, those types of systems are set up as semi ecosystems or communities. Yeah. Very similar to like a city operating in a town, right? Mm-hmm. . And so there’s a lot of nuances that are dependent on the type of culture that that has been created in that environment, and it’s really understanding how to navigate.
Find the right partners or amplifiers to facilitate change. Mm-hmm. , so knowing who the key stakeholders are. Starting conversations, not being afraid to connect with people outside of your particular department. Mm-hmm. is what would be key in understanding kind of the larger why and being able to start conversations around, oh, you handle this side of this project or this process.
Yeah, we handled this side. There’s some gaps here. Let’s talk about what we can do to help each other out so that we’re. Successful, but having that larger why or that mission, so to speak, that can tie everything together, it really helps from the higher ups that are kind of more stringent on what they can and cannot do.
You have to start speaking their language. And the only way you can do that is understanding what they’re thinking, and that’s kind of that, you know, the why behind certain things or why things are the way they are and break it down from there. So it is a lot more difficult to navigate because of the silos that are put in place, but you have to kind of facilitate your own ship in that sea and start navigating those different areas as much as you can to.
Start picking away at the areas that you can win and the areas that you understand are off limits and you know not to worry about moving forward. Cuz you can only control what you can control. And unfortunately it is a broken system and a lot of org larger organizations because of that. But you have to understand what you are comfortable with in your own mental health and your own kind of growth as well.
And not risk your own mental health for the sake of just one type of project that. wanting to work on. So understanding your own boundaries is gonna be, I. . Hmm. And I, I feel like and again, using Mission Matters as an example here, so we’re, I, I think it’s also kind of tricky for organizations that have always been virtual or have that virtual culture, because I remember I’m, I mean, I was, I was thinking about this the other day.
I’m like, when I was younger, when I was just starting my career, like how did the. Kind of do things and, and, and make these departments. Cause I worked for really large companies for most of my career, other than being an entrepreneur. And how did the leaders, like, what were they able to do? And I was like, oh, A lot of it was centered around like team building.
And we had like, in-person events or even retreats or these like moments of even like, that I kind of took for granted of, of like a happy hour or like breaking bread with people in person. But now that we don’t all, and. relationships were built and that made, in my opinion, us as a organization, more willing to break down those silos and work together.
Didn’t make it everything, everything is smooth. But I feel like it was a little bit of speed of trust for some of that when you had the luxury of in-person. Now that, you know, for many organizations part or maybe all of their day-to-day operations can be virtual. Am I the only one experiencing this in this or is it a little tricky?
It is tricky. It’s a topic of trends since the pandemic, especially in HR and people operations because they are the facilitator of culture and what you’re talking about often gets tied to the notion of culture. Mm-hmm. . And what becomes tricky is you have to meet people where they are. We’re in an environment where, Employers and employees are going through a constant transition of power, of who is more in power, who can stand that line, who can cross that line more often.
And we’ve seen that in the pandemic. We’ve seen it with the macroeconomic changes in 2022. And we’re gonna continue to see it move forward as we find our be.
I always feel like when it comes to people, meeting people where they’re at in a way that makes sense for them is going to make you more successful. So having multiple opportunities, you’re gonna have people across the spectrum that just wanna clock in, clock out, and do their job. Yeah. And you’re gonna have people who love every little aspect, every little event that you hold and they wanna be present.
And you have to give the opportunity of range for everyone in that regard. Because it’s okay if you have someone who doesn’t like those events. They are just as valuable to the organization as those who do, and you don’t want to discriminate based on that, cuz you could lose really good talent just because they didn’t attend a happy hour.
And it was actually a legal case that won in New York. based on that alone, because they didn’t want to go to a happy hour. Mm-hmm. . So you have to be really careful about those types of things. But the idea is to facilitate meeting people where they’re at in multiple different ways, whether those are onsite and hub oriented relationships, whether there’s multiple virtual events that are open to any and everyone that, that the key, regardless of how you host it, is the intention behind.
If you don’t have a clear intention or purpose behind that meeting, kind of going back to that mission, right? Yeah. Then there’s no point in. So people have to understand why they’re visiting these hours or these places. Is it for planning purposes? Is it truly just to break bread and get to know one another?
Is it for strategizing a new opportunity? Having the intention is going to set up everything else in regards to meeting each other, whether it’s virtually or in person, but the main message, meet people where they’re at so that you can facilitate the best success for everyone. Yeah, and I think that idea of meeting people where they’re at not just emotionally or, you know, intelligence wiser, but like also, you know, o there’s other layers to that, right?
Like emotional intelligence is one of the things that you, that you write about also. So and one of the other things is just thinking about like different cultures and, and things and how, how we’re perceived, like, so as we’re, you know, we’re a pretty international organization. We’re, we’re from Philippines to India, to Latin America, to United States.
I mean, we’re all over the place here. So like all of those things they, they, they play in, they’re all ingredients into this recipe of trying to ultimately, you know, grow the business and be true to your mission, right. . Absolutely. It, it all is a piece of the puzzle. It’s the best way to put it. Yeah.
Every piece plays a part in making your puzzle and your vision and your picture come to life. . So a important piece of that puzzle. And one that you do write about is emotional intelligence. So I wanna, I wanna spend some time on, on maybe this concept and how it, how it plays a part in this, in this ecosystem.
So how should leaders today really be appro approaching that topic in relation to really growing their organiz? . I think one of the things that I, you know, fell in love with Brene Brown’s, you know, vulnerability pieces, but the reason why I like that so much is because we are all human. Mm-hmm. , we have, you know, science that is embedded in us that dictates a lot of what we do and how we res.
Bond and emotional intelligence is being able to understand what those triggers are, what’s occurring in those who are around us, and being able to essentially read the room and navigate it accordingly. That’s like a synopsis of it, right? Mm-hmm. and I think emotional intelligence ex. Especially given the pandemic and the macroeconomic changes of 2022 are more important than ever because anxiety ist an all-time high, regardless of the generation of what is this going to do to me and my family and my ability to provide?
And some people don’t have that anxiety. They are well. Set up for success, and that’s phenomenal. Mm-hmm. . But for the average person in the workplace, we’re not set up for success. Yeah. And it’s really difficult to come to your job every day, worried about what can happen, especially with layoffs in the news or anything along those lines.
And so being mindful of that, Is extremely important, especially today. So for example, when I have team meetings, I’m not afraid to say like, I’m gonna spend a minute and be vulnerable. I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m having issues navigating X, Y, and Z. And I say this not to cause any concern on your end because I’m, I’m navigating it as I see fit, but, , it’s causing issues for me, and I wanna be open and transparent about what I’m dealing with in my life right now.
Mm-hmm. according to like, what’s happening in the workplace, because that helps me make it safe for you to do so. Mm-hmm. and I don’t make it, you don’t have to bring anything up for you, but I want you to realize that I’m showing this. Because I’m human and I know you’re human too, and let’s like be able to facilitate success for both of us.
Cuz at the end of the day, and this is something I might put in trouble for from like larger organizations, , end of the day, your job is truly a contract of expectations set for a certain price. Mm-hmm. and there are certain parameters that aren’t worth, that you’re getting paid for. And so you wanna meet those expectations and you wanna do them well because that’s you as a brand.
That’s you as your own business in a way, in that organization. Mm-hmm. . But there is no means should you feel as though you have to do so much more when you’re not compensated as such, or the expectation is not there. And. that facilitates a lot of pressure and a lot of anxiety for those who are trying just to make sure they’re okay from a psychological safety standpoint, and that leads to burnout.
And so it’s a really cyclical catch 22 that occurs, especially in younger generations when they’re navigating the workplace for the first time. But it’s a, it’s just a contract of expectation in regards to money. That’s what it is. People need to realize that because from a small business perspective, that’s really hard for an owner to understand that they’re not gonna care as much as you do.
It’s not their baby. , and that’s okay too. And you have to be okay with that being okay, because if you’re not, you’re gonna burn everyone out. Mm-hmm. and you’re gonna have a lot of turnover, and that’s not gonna lead to success for anyone. So it’s really just being mindful of those types of things and being okay with a little bit of balance versus one extreme or the.
Okay. Yeah. And, and, and I’ll say for all of all the Mission Matters employees that are watching don’t, don’t listen to what Kelly just said. No , no serious except for our organization. No, seriously. I, I understand and I agree. What you’re. Thing. And that is a, a tricky thing and it’s o but what I’ve found is on the other side of that, like kind of almost in tandem to the letting go part, is that when people have the ability to kind of step away, cuz the leader or the, you know, the, the co-founders or whatever it is, they don’t ever get to step away.
It’s always on their mind. They always, you know, they’re always headed in a certain direction. But for the, you know, for everybody, That is the supporting, you know, to make whatever that vision or mission like a reality. If they have the ability to unplug and to not always be on, then I found like a lot, that’s when a lot of the creativity, the new ideas come and the other things that are not going to necessarily come from somebody that’s focusing on it 24 7.
That like, that’s been my experie. . That’s actually proven science. I mean, if you look at any of the leading neuroscientists or those who are in IO psychology, like Adam Grant, they all talk about that you get your best ideas when you’re taking a shower or taking a walk. Mm-hmm. , it is proven in like legitimate science, not just from like, you know, voodoo talk right of culture.
That that is actually a proven productivity boost as well as creativity boost, and you have to be able to understand to bring that in to your day-to-day. Mm-hmm. , and that is going to lead to retention, success, scaling, and similar to Gravity Payments with Dan Price, they’re well known now in regards to how they approach certain things when it comes to their people.
Quite honestly, his approaches have worked time and time again across different. And macroeconomic changes and even a downturn in the economy. And quite honestly, he approaches it that way. It’s like, what be, what is best for the employee and myself is best for my clients. And they have grown tremendously with that kind of mentality.
And I’m paraphrasing based on just what I’ve seen on the news. Mm-hmm. about him. But that’s kind of where I. think he approaches is around just treating people like people cuz he’s a human being too. And we don’t really have that balance right now, especially as a society when it comes to the work-life place.
But we’re trying to slowly get there and that’s what a lot of people operations pieces are doing. That’s what a lot of human resources departments are trying to target. Mm-hmm. , it’s a very slow process, but you see a lot of trends in the people area. trending more towards like, Hey, can we at least try to be more humane with some of these things?
And that’s the minimum requirement. And we’re getting pats in the backs for like severances for layoffs, but that’s the minimum requirement. Mm-hmm. That’s not going above. And Amon, that’s. Bare minimum to treat somebody humanely. And that’s kind of one of those things where we’re trying to shift that conversation of like, we’ve been doing under the minimum, it’s time to start doing at least the minimum of respect that a fellow human being deserves
I want to I wanna shift here slightly. I wanna spend some time talking about build HR in the work that you’re doing there. So for, maybe it’s for some of those that aren’t familiar with it, like maybe tell us a little bit more about the company just to start. Yeah. So build HR. Simplest. A form is truly an outsourced HR department or consultant agency.
And so primarily we work with small businesses under 50, sometimes as large as a hundred, but ideally under 50 that either don’t have an HR department or have a department of one, or they’re using HR ad hoc kind of as needed. And we really help to facilitate everything that they need from a payroll, compliance, benefits, anything along those lines.
Now we are not a benefit provider, but we partner with different vendors that we think. going to help you as your success. So that’s the primary goal of BUILD hr. We are transitioning to more coaching for larger companies where they’re needing more. Guidance around strategy or people management and what does that look like?
That’s been kind of a StepStone since the publishing of the book, which has been exciting. And so we’re launching different things in the future that will be successful for more people-oriented items. But right now, the primary definition is truly just simply an outsourced agency when it comes to HR departments for smaller organiz.
Yeah. And, and I’m a big fan of using outsourced agencies, whether it’s hr, whether it’s like outsourced hr, whether it’s outsourced like CFO services and there’s a number of others. And the reason why I found them very useful, and we also use outsourced services like for example, an outsource C F O, is because we find that, I found that we get we get a lot of value out of working with somebody that’s.
Extremely tenured, number one. But they have the vantage point of working with different industries and different trends. Not saying that having internal HR is not good or internal, like is not good, but typically when you do, just in general, like you, your, your ideas and everything that you’re doing are pretty on trend for what’s going on in your organization.
So I can see why like larger companies would be now. Working with you on the consulting side, because you’re in many organizations, you’re doing many different things, so you’re keeping up on trends and a lot of other things that their, their internal staff, like they’re already busy doing their day-to-day and what they have to do to keep the, keep the wheels of the company working.
And in regards to hr as it relates to their day-to-day function. Am I off on this? , I would say it’s not so much a a but statement, but an and statement. Mm-hmm. , unfortunately the way the HR industry was created is out of the idea of getting the most out of people possible. That’s that kind of, that that taylorism back in the 1950s, but is the foundation of a lot of things that have occurred in HR and people management, and it’s progressed tremendously.
Then we see more people going more towards this idea of people operations, and I think the next evolution is going to be people success, really facilitating a successful relationship between somebody in the workplace. So I work with a lot of smaller organizations because they just don’t have the budget.
Larger organizations, they may be in their day-to-day, but they also don’t have the. Perspective of their leadership team, understanding the importance of their role and the role they can play and facilitating their own growth and success, even in a revenue standpoint. And so my job in those roles is really transitioning them to view people as more than just a day-to-day function.
When it comes to certain checklist items. Pushing them more towards like they’re a coach, they’re an advocate, they’re an advisor that can push you to actually get more for less out of the organization, the culture, the people, so on and so forth. So, . I really try to facilitate as much as I can from the futuristic approach of how to deal with people, because I think that will set more companies up for success and become an employer of choice.
But at the same time, there are smaller organizations that do just need help from the day-to-day, and they don’t have time to hire a full-time hire. So it’s not so much a but statement, but an and statement when it comes to the smaller organizations versus the larger organization. So Kelly I just have to say it has been great having you back on the show.
I’m thrilled to continue to promote this book with you. I will have a link in the show notes so that our audience can just, can pick up a copy and, and, and dive deeper into your writing. But for today I just have to ask what’s next? I mean, what’s next for you? What’s next for build? . Yeah, so BUILD HR is currently going through an expansion of ability to service different needs, and so I’m looking to launch a People Success Academy around what does it mean to be a real people manager in a way that can navigate both small and large businesses alike Taking.
Staples from science, neuroscience, neurolinguistics, psychology, biology. All of those things play a piece in how to we operate and how we know people on the other end of a call will operate. And being able to take those and put them into your actual management strategy helps tremendously. So it’s very small things, but the amplification of that is tremendous and retention and also just growth.
And so I’m launching that academy. 20, 23 year just to facilitate that success. You kind of opened a Pandora’s box with the book where I want to write more, and so I’m hoping to facilitate another book at some way, shape or form, hopefully within the next calendar year or so. But it’s. , one of those things where their opportunities are endless right now for build hr.
Mm-hmm. . And we’re taking one step at a time navigating those opportunities outside of just what we do at the core, which is that HR outsourcing partner. Ah, that, that, that makes me feel so good. I, I’m glad that I opened the the writing and publishing Pandora’s box for you . That makes me happy and I’m excited to see the new works and the new books and the new things that you, you choose to continue to producing, to produce.
That being said, if somebody’s listening to this Kelly and they want to learn more or connect with you and your team over at build hr what’s the best way for them to. The best way right now is just to simply email me. We are going through so much internally and we wanna facilitate as much as we can without breaking systems.
So my email is my first name, Kelly, at your hr source.com. That is my website as well. But also LinkedIn. I have a pretty. Last name as you can see in the in the title. And so it’s pretty simple to find me on LinkedIn and be able to facilitate a connection there as well. So those are the three main ways to get ahold of me is truly through that email or LinkedIn.
And then in the future when we get things a little bit more Betterly structured in our website as of the spring of 2023 that would be the other pace. Wonderful, and we’ll put that information in the show notes so that our audience can connect. And speaking of the audience, if this is the first time you’ve listened to a Mission Matters episode or engaged with our platform, we’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs and executives, and having them share their mission, the reason behind their mission.
Really what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and what we can learn from that. So we all grow together. If that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or engaging to you, hit that subscribe button because we have many more mission-based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing.
And Kelly, really, it has been a pleasure. I look forward to continuing to promote this book with you. So thanks again for coming on the show. Thank you for having me.