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The Gwinnett Podcast

Hey Gwinnett People!

Today we reboot our podcast in response to COVID-19 and we’re changing up our format.

You guys know that every year the publishers of Gwinnett Magazine celebrate the people, places, and things that make Gwinnett such an awesome and vibrant community. 2020 is shaping up to be a really different kinda year with the COVID-19 crisis and so we thought we would pivot our podcast to encourage everyone to “Be Positive, Buy Local, and Help Others!”

We want to help encourage our community as much as possible during this unprecedented season in our small business community and hopefully offer up some encouragement and inspiration as you navigate 2020.

Today we hear from Publisher, David Greer and co-host Nate McGill as they discuss a new perspective for 2020. Maybe this entire crisis is exactly how 2020 will become your year for clarity of vision! Lets turn this lemon in to some good ol’ fashion lemonade!

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This Podcast Was Recorded at Story Road Studios.

Transcript of today’s episode

Nathan McGill:
This morning, I’m here having coffee with David Greer in the studio. And we’re safe distance people, we are practicing the guidelines set before us.
David Greer:
Yeah. Who knew we were such visionaries when we bought the six foot round table. It’s COVID safe. It is virus safe table unless they change the standard to 10 feet. At that point, we’re going to have to slide the chairs back.
Nathan McGill:
I think we’re all just trying to keep our safe distance these days. That’s even changed the format of this podcast where we’re going to be having our guests call in over the next several weeks.
David Greer:
Yeah. I mean, one of the things that I want to do is just reach out to my fellow business people. I mean, I’ve made a great living in our community, and I know that our small business network, they’re kindred souls, and I just want to do what we can during this time to reach out to them and encourage them. So we’re going to spend some time on this podcast and in the coming days just talking about things that
help uplift us and inform us about how to cope and how to focus on the good and the rebound that we know is coming down the pipe.
Nathan McGill:
This morning, just wanted to get your thoughts on everything that’s been going on from a leadership perspective, from a business owner perspective, for this whole COVID-19 thing.
David Greer:
I’m waking up to business like most Gwinnett businesses and trying to figure out where the stable ground is. When I look back over the last couple of weeks… Well, I mean, look back a couple of months ago, I mean, 2020 was slated to be the best year ever. And I’m telling you that the pulse and the pace of business in Gwinnette was better than I have seen it in at least a decade, maybe ever. It felt like 2020 was definitely the most optimistic year and the most promising year of small midsize business in
Gwinnett that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I was really, really, really excited about the year, not just for us, but just because we’re in the business of telling life stories of local companies and people. It was just exciting to see the enthusiasm coming back towards us. I think that… I don’t know, I think I was just more excited about the future than any other time.
David Greer:
So when this news first broke, I did what I always do and try to tune down negative news. By nature, I’m an optimist, and I think that I’m listening to it, but I’m thinking, “All right, we’re going to stay the course, everything’s going to be cool.” Then I think probably the thing that hits you real is when the schools get canceled, because then you notice some serious business up. I mean, this is like, remember when you
were a kid in Gwinnett and it would snow and it didn’t take like three flakes and you could call out school?

Nathan McGill:
Oh, yeah. That’s it. Yes.
David Greer:
Well, Gwinnett was always seemed like the last school system in the universe to call it. So you knew that if Gwinnett called it, it was real, that was something. As a quick aside, I later came to respect that so
much in the leadership of Gwinnett County public schools because I came to depend on them as level- headed, calm, intellectual decision makers and I respected the heck out of that. So this time when schools got canceled and then all of a sudden you got kids in the house who were bored on day one, I knew that this was serious. So through the first little social distancing thing, I was thinking, “Okay, yeah,
we can do that. A couple of weeks, 15 days, and no big deal.” The type of work that we do is such that I didn’t really see it slowing down much, but then as the news kind of evolved and you started seeing reports, I think the levity of the situation started to kind of settle in.
David Greer:
But I can tell you that at this juncture, and we’re right on the beginning of April, and it looks like the economy for the most part is going to be shut down here and there, most part, I don’t even know the extent, but through April. Trying to reset your mind for a month that is going to be paused is just hard to wrap your brain around. It’s like flies in the face of what you’ve lived your whole life to do as a business person. I mean, you’re the one that gets back up when you get knocked down. You’re the one who
comes in feeling like hell on a Monday, but knowing that you’ve got a team to lead, and speed of the leaders be the team, so you’re like, you get all your gumption and you lead, lead, lead, lead. Now all of a sudden you know you’re looking at things, things beyond your control, things that you can’t do anything about, and we’re having to face that music. So I think for entrepreneurs and leaders, that’s just a hard place to be. We don’t sit idle very well.
Nathan McGill:
So the other day in a blog, let me pull it up here, here we go, you said… I really like this too by the way. You said, “You have to stay proactive. I’ve trained myself in business to be even keeled and to stay calm in a crisis. But right now you also need to take action towards a rebound.”
David Greer:
Yeah. I think that a business owner just in their DNA is this drive to keep working and working and working. So you get so busy working on your business every day that you don’t get the time you need to stop and pause and take a step back and try to evaluate where you’re trying to go in the first place. We all have this idea of where we want to go when we first start our business, but then you get into the daily grind of it all and pretty soon you don’t have time to think. I think that you come in every day, you
just do the next thing, next thing. I think it’s important to be able to step away from your business and look at the big picture. But that is so hard for a frontline entrepreneur to do because they’re going in every day just working at it. I think when you have a pattern interrupt like this, it just stops you in your tracks and you take a quick look and start questioning everything.
David Greer:
I think that can be beneficial, because I think if left to our own devices, we may not stop. We may just let a decade go by and not ever stop and say, “Well, wait a minute, was I going in the right direction in the first place?” So that’s what I mean by a pattern interrupt sometimes being the very thing that you needed just to reevaluate, reevaluate your values, and you reevaluate how you’re spending your time, and you just take an inventory over, “Am I doing the things in business that I wanted to do in the first place?” So I think that if we all look at this the right way, it’s like a mental vacation. I know it doesn’t really feel like that because we’re all stressed on the what ifs, but if you can find the discipline to compartmentalize your thoughts, this is an opportunity like no other opportunity that I’ve ever seen.
David Greer:
It’s like, “When in your life has most business paused at the same time.” It’s so rare. So you have this opportunity to take a step back in your business and think, “Okay, how are things going?” We have just pressed the pause button. So it’s a good time just to take inventory of the direction you are headed. I think that for many people, if you fast forward three years into the future and you look back on 2020, it
is going to be a time where great clarity came. It’s going to be fitting that it was 2020 because it’s going to be the year that people got clarity of vision.
Nathan McGill:
Wow!
David Greer:
And it took this event to snap people into this clarity. It’s like, “Wait a minute. I’m running crazy, I’m running my business, I’m doing this, I’m doing that.” Now you’ve got this forced sabbatical on you-
… that you would not have ordinarily taken. I think if you use the time right, you can get clarity of purpose in this time.
Nathan McGill:
That is awesome.
David Greer:
You know what I’m saying?
Nathan McGill:
Yeah, no, I get it. Totally. You have a natural reaction to go the defense and to lock it all up and everything, but if you really use the opportunity that we’ve been given to not go in the offense maybe, but at least just do the things that you’d never had a chance to do.
David Greer:
Yes, but you do go on the offense. This is the hard part. You go on the offense for your life, right? Because what is the hard part right now is compartmentalizing, because when we talk about a pattern interrupt, our pattern has been blown out of water all together. So we’ve got to refund our center a little bit, but it feels so on the surface, it can be depressing, it can be so scary. But if you can just breathe a little bit and just channel all the faith you can and use that faith to compartmentalize your thoughtsand think about your life in a bigger span, think about it like, “This has never happened in our life. This
has never happened in your mama’s life or your grandpa’s life.” It’s not the same as wartime. It is a war time of sorts, but it’s not the same. So this is a unique time.
I know that I’m optimistic to a fault sometimes, but I believe that in two years, in three years, in five years, that we’re going to look back on this time and thing like, “Holy cow! What a blessing that was for everybody?” Look at the clarity that came and think about it. I’ll tell you blessings, it’s like teachers. Men, do I appreciate teachers? A lot, more now. I mean, I always appreciate teachers, but our schools
and education and all that was interrupted. I think at times like this, let you appreciate the value of these routines that we have, these patterns that we have. And what I hope is on the other side is an all new appreciation for the institutions that kind of hold the fabric of our life together. And unless a big pattern interrupt happens to you, you just go on taking that for granted.
David Greer:
Well, now, it’s like we all have a lot of time on our hands and we all got to get reflecting on our values, what’s important, and want to keep telling the kids at home, it’s like, “Man, hey, I’m waking up every day. I feel healthy, my family is healthy.” That perspective we need to hold on to. So let’s not worry about that we’re missing our friends at school and that we’re getting a little bored. Let’s be thankful that
we are healthy and let’s be thankful that we live in this society that we do. I mean, if you looked at what the private sector is doing, all the companies making mask and speeding up testing and distilleries starting to make hand sanitizer. I mean, this is like a shining moment in American history. It’s hard to see it, because you’re turning on the news looking at life and death all around the world. And there’s no
escaping the tragedy of that.
David Greer:
I mean, that is like awful to comprehend. But the flip side of that is, what a proud nation to come from and what a proud capital system to be a part of, to see what business does in the heart of business. That’s something that I’ve always seen. I mean, we’ve always seen this. Not everybody sees this, but when you’re part of a business community and there’s a natural disaster somewhere in the country, you
watch Americans work during that time and it is like all inspiring, volunteerism and businesses contributing and donating to food banks and building houses, all the things. I mean, that is the kind of stuff that we need to think about and be proud of.
Nathan McGill:
So this is why I came, just sitting here, and loving all this and listening to you talk from experience and these years of experience because a couple of things that you said in here, I think, are a lot of value, which is why it’s important just to talk this stuff out, because for those that don’t have the experience and been in business this long, to take this advice now as an opportunity is, I think, key. So to turn our
natural default of negativity maybe to positivity, that’s something that we can do but also requires work. I think there’s some good Bible lessons in there too about renewing your mind, remembering that the default of your grass in your front yard is a jungle and that we have to constantly cut it to keep it under maintenance.
Nathan McGill: But at this point in time, optimism, it’s not the default, but if we use it and turn it that direction, that’s what I hear you saying and that I really, really love. I love that so much because it gives somebody like
me and gives people out there something that they can do, which is, take the emotions that I’m feeling and let’s figure out a way to respond to them that makes us better as people and as a community.
David Greer:
Yeah. I mean, I think, you do have to work at optimism and I think that I can empathize, sympathize with what it’s like to feel down and out. You know that old Japanese proverb? It’s like fall down seven times, get up eight. I mean, that is the spirit that I see in entrepreneurs.
Nathan McGill:
Love it.
David Greer:
It’s not that you don’t fall down as much as other people, matter of fact, you probably fall down more, it’s just that you got to get yourself back up. I think that optimism is something that you get better at the more you practice it. And I think the head of all successful companies, you’re going to find an optimist, because you get beat up every day of your life as a business person. I mean, if you can’t turn that around and look for the good, you’re just not going to survive. So I think for all of us right now, practicing optimism and leading optimism… I had this thought this morning, that as a father, about how important it was for me to lead optimism in my own household right now. I think that that’s true of businesses too. You’ve got a lead optimism and you’ve got a champion it. You got to be the evangelist for optimism every day because there’s too much stimulus out there that will lead us the other way. And I think that we’ve got to lead that, you can’t just check out of that. You have to have the intent to stay active, to be positive. So you can’t just sit around and get irritated that your kids are bored and they don’t know what to do, you’re going to have to lead them to an optimistic
place. It’s not going to just go away by itself. You’ve got to take a proactive position to lead them out of that. Sometimes, in order to do that, you’ve got to lead yourself out of the dark spot.
Nathan McGill:
I think there’s a hunter-gatherer in all of us, in men and women, just in our nature, where that something to do, it becomes like super important. I think the best way that I stay positive is to hunt for something during my day that keeps me in a positive mindset. So if that means that I’m looking for something to encourage in my kids, then when it happens I’m like, “Oh, there it is for the day,” and then I encourage them. “Hey, you know why you were so patient in that situation, you were so kind in that
situation?” But those things that we can do make all of the difference. I think for the entrepreneur, when you’re bombarded with things every single day and things are coming at you sideways, keeping that positive attitude is very difficult, right?
David Greer:
I don’t know if you’ve been at Dave and Buster’s, but if you get in there, there’s just like this whack-a-mole game-
Nathan McGill: Oh, yeah. That’s true.
David Greer: … and you put the thing in there and they’re little moles poke their head up and you take this rubber hammer, you smack the crap out of their head and knock them back down. To me, that’s what it feels
like to be an entrepreneur. Every day, you’ve got to play whack-a-mole, and anytime something negative or pessimistic pops up, you got to smack the heck out of that and beat it down and find the positive vein. I think that’s something that we all got to do right now, is look for the vein. And just like the virus, optimism is contagious too.
Nathan McGill:
That’s true.
David Greer:
So you got to do your part, you got to uplift people. You know that old adage that says, “Fake it until you make it.” Like I said, I’ve had a blessed life, I cannot complain about any of it, but I’ve had dark times.
Nathan McGill:
Sure. We all have.
David Greer:
Somebody will say, “Well, fake it until you make it.” And it’s like, “Well, I don’t feel like faking it. I don’t feel like making it. I don’t feel like anything, leave me alone.” But really, you got a smile and you got to talk positive and you’ve got to look for positivity, and everybody needs that. I mean, your fellow business people need that. We need that kind of leadership right now. I think that we get a lot of stuff from our president, but we get some doses of optimism, we get some hope in there. I don’t like to go political because like I said, all parties in our political system can kind of irritate me, but I do look for positive information and confidence building information. And if there’s a void in the world for that, then that’s when I and you are supposed to step up and fill it with positive stuff, right? Does that make sense?
Nathan McGill:
Yeah. I love it. Be positive.
David Greer:
It’s like, you can find the blessing every day. I hate the fact that a virus can wreak so much havoc on the world. And I’ve thought this many times as I’ve aged. Let me tell you this, if you’ve ever had to have some kind of surgery or you’ve had a health scare and you make a promise to God, right? Then you say, “Lord, if you get me through this, I promise I’m not going to eat so many Twinkies, I’m going to cook this,
and-
Nathan McGill:
I’m never doing it again.
David Greer:

… I’m never going to do it again.” Then slowly but surely you suck back into your old ways. I think that as I’ve get older and I look at life and I realize how precious time is, I try to make myself be mindful of like, “Wow, this was a good week. I’m not sick. I’m not ailing from anything. My health is pretty good. I need to really enjoy this,” because nobody get out alive, right? I mean, ultimately my time on earth is going to be limited, so I need to make the most of all the good times. I don’t know if that’s too morbid for me to talk about, but it’s true. When you’re 30, odds are you’ve got a lot of life ahead of you. Well, when you’re 60, you got less. It’s inevitable. So I just think, the older I’ve gotten, the more appreciative I am of the good days and the more perspective I gain on the good days.
David Greer:
I think that’s my point right here, is the perspective, you need to work on your perspective. That’s something that you can actively work on. So when school got out and the kids are at home, it was cool the first week, second week’s not so fun anymore, they missed their friends, they missed a structure. But perspective is like for the previous 10 years of their school career, they got out in the summertime and we looked forward to it and they enjoyed it. Right now it should be no different. They need that perspective that, I’ve got free time now, or perspective that, my family is relatively healthy. That’s a great perspective to latch on to. So there’s always a silver lining even in a crisis like this. I think we just have to be evangelists for it basically and I think we’ve got to encourage people.
David Greer:
One of the things that worries me about my fellow business people is that when crisis hits like this that they got a retreat and go like, “Oh man.” It’s like they cover up and they shield themselves, go on the defense, protect themselves. But I want to encourage them to look ahead to tomorrow because there will be a rebound and there will be things to happen. So if you’re in the restaurant business and you’re having to close your doors temporarily, then there’s going to be a day when you have the opportunity to do it again. There’s going to be a day when you need to reopen. Now how are you going to want to do that different? What troubled you on the routine that you were in before that now you have opportunity to change when you go forth in the future? If you’re a realist, I mean, yes, some restaurants may close and not reopen.
I mean, the statistics of businesses who close during a crisis and are not open a year from now are kind of startling. But to that, I would say that’s based on history in business statistics. Right now is the unprecedented time. We haven’t had a stimulus package like we have now ever before. So the conditions are different than ever before. So you have to look at it with that new perspective. You have to realize that this is new, people. I mean, yes, our CPAs and advisors will and can advise us, and I look to lean on them heavily, but remember that none of them have been through this, like this before, ever. So if there’s a seed for your optimism, is just realize this is truly unprecedented, the stimulus is unprecedented, the rebound will be unprecedented.
David Greer:
The opportunity for you to stop and take inventory of your life and sort of reshuffle the deck a little bit and get better posture for even more productive, more lucrative future, has never seen this landscape like this in the history. So it’s a once in a lifetime thing. You just got to get your brain right to take advantage of that.

Nathan McGill:
And that is where we’ll end it for today’s podcast. Thanks for joining us and please subscribe so you never miss an episode.