How to Lead with Confident Vulnerability
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Hosted By Lauren Conaway

InnovateHER KC

See All Episodes With Lauren Conaway

Sarah Lehman

Today's Guest: Sarah Lehman

CEO - Zartico Inc

Ep. #833 - How (and Why) to Lead with Confident Vulnerability

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway and Sarah Lehman, CEO of Zartico, talk about how to lead with confident vulnerability.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you might think that you will get used to failures and all the more, successes. The reality is that you are putting yourself on a serious rollercoaster of emotions where you become vulnerable.

Covered in this Episode

Being a lifelong learner has to involve a bit of curiosity and also vulnerability. That drive to learn has to come from a deep desire to experience failure and make it out successfully. In Sarah’s case, she not only embodies the traits of a lifelong learner but also wants her teenage kids to learn from example.

Get Started with Full Scale

Find out what Lauren Conaway and Sarah Lehman have to say about embracing imperfection, failure, and being vulnerable leaders of change.

Startup Podcast for Entrepreneurs

Audio Notes

  • Sarah’s entrepreneurial journey (01:57)
  • On being a lifelong student (03:58)
  • Putting yourself in unfamiliar situations (08:30)
  • Having the drive to learn and try new things (10:15)
  • Recommendations on how to be authentically vulnerable (11:57)
  • Sharing failures and successes (14:28)
  • How has the world changed in their interactions with you (16:13)
  • Being part of a societal shift of embracing imperfection, vulnerability, and authenticity. (20:17)
  • What Zartico is and what it is capable of (24:18)
  • About starting a company during a pandemic (27:21)
  • Tours and destination marketing in the next five years (31:06)
  • What does the future look like for Sarah (33:43)
  • Advice on implementing authentic vulnerability in their lives (36:37)

Key Quotes

If you’re the smartest person in the room, get out of the room. That is not a room you need to be in.

Lauren Conaway

I wanted my kids to see that at the age of 50, momma can do new things, mom could go to a new company, in a new industry. startover effectively and take those chances and be a little afraid.

Sarah Lehman

I say the words, “I don’t know,” a lot more and lead out often with my failures.

Sarah Lehman

I have to be comfortable in sharing my failures, but I also have to be comfortable in sharing my successes.

Lauren Conaway

Sponsor Highlight

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Also, take time to meet all of Startup Hustle’s partners, each dedicated to supporting the growth of your scaling company.

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

00:00.30

Lauren Conaway

And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast wait I’m doing that over at okay, try it again and we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast I’m your host Lauren Conaway founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC and I do have to tell you I’m super excited for this episode’s sponsor today’s episode of startup hustle is sponsored by Canva it’s where you go to collaborate and create amazing graphic designs for free. Whether it’s a presentation to share an idea a video to launch your business a social post to start a conversation with Canva you can design anything discover the magic of visual communication and how Canva can help you create a lasting impact at http://Canva.com and I do like little side note. We’re actually doing a video series right now and it is so easy to use Canvas tools to put together a professional-looking video I am not a video person and they look great. So I just highly recommend Canva even if you are not great at design. You have no confidence. Have so many templates and so many opportunities to create really slick-looking materials. Definitely check them out so today we have them with us and I love it. I love our top startup episodes because you know Matt and I record a lot of those. This next startup is a leading Salt Lake City startup so congratulate them and send them all the love in the world we are gonna be talking to Sarah Lehman of Ceo of Zarddio and Sarah’s gonna be joining us she’s touching on travel and technology. But what we’re really really gonna be talking about is. How to lead and how Sarah Leads so Sarah thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for popping on to share your story with us absent. Yeah well, I am so glad to hear that and I cannot wait to hear so I’m going to get right into it I’m going to ask you Sarah tell us.

01:59.60

Sarah Lehman

Thank you, Lauren. It’s great to be here.

02:09.93

Lauren Conaway

About your journey.

02:10.69

Sarah Lehman

My journey I guess I would I think I would characterize my journey as one of being the road less traveled. Um, I grew up in Green Bay Wisconsin it was a wonderful place to have a childhood. But I was one of the few individuals from my high school that actually left the state to go to college and I went as far as I could out to Boston without sight unseen having seen the school that I went to and that really launched into what I would call a career that was. Look more like um, a Eurorail pass versus a b b to c from ah from early days I tried all sorts of different things. My first job out of college was for a startup which absolutely blew my mind with the opportunities.

02:45.30

Lauren Conaway

Okay.

03:02.60

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

03:02.68

Sarah Lehman

To create something from nothing from there I went to business school Followed my husband made career choices for the family went and ran a turnaround in the bike industry and now I’ve joined a technology startup in Tourism. All of which was interesting to me and a challenge and really in some cases unconventional like who goes from the outdoor industry and jumps into technology in tourism at 50 But that’s what I did so.

03:27.22

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

03:38.91

Lauren Conaway

That’s incredible and so so I have to ask you, you have a very varied experience and in career history and so so one of the things that I’ve noticed is that people who avail themselves of like multiple industries and verticals and experience. They’re fundamental. Mentally curious and so I have to ask you because I find it so interesting that you made the hop from you know Wisconsin to Massachusetts and you know it seems and, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you’re just trying to experience. As many different kinds of things as possible, is that an accurate statement?

04:14.19

Sarah Lehman

Yeah, I feel like I’m a lifelong student like learning is you know one of my core values. But I’m also a lifelong changer in that I love to adopt and learn about different places and cultures and things that I don’t know about.

04:21.70

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

04:33.83

Sarah Lehman

And then I love to apply you know there are learnings to my current situation right? I’m running a technology company and yet my experience from my manufacturing business is really relevant but I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t made that jump I could live outside of the new industry but pull forward those experiences.

04:36.51

Lauren Conaway

Now.

04:45.26

Lauren Conaway

Try it.

04:51.36

Lauren Conaway

I love that. Well so so I’m going to ask you to delve a little bit more deeply into that you know is is someone who I’m going to ask about your process I think you know you’re in a new environment. You are. You’re learning.

04:51.49

Sarah Lehman

Those connections.

05:08.86

Lauren Conaway

How have you been able to take those learnings tactically and apply them in your day-to-day? Is it just kind of being open and aware? Um, is it an intentional thing like do you sit down and kind of vision board it out. What does that process look like because I am I love lifelong learners? Um, you know some of the best people I know are people who are constantly you know asking why and how and what? Um, but what I find really interesting about you. Sarah is is your ability to take that information and that input and turn it outward. For change and so I’m just curious to hear about your process. There.

05:44.20

Sarah Lehman

Well, what I learned at my last business was you know, let me give you some context I joined Composites when I was on the brink of bankruptcy um I had absolutely 0 manufacturing experience. Absolutely 0 engineering experience and I wasn’t a cyclist.

05:48.73

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

06:02.86

Sarah Lehman

Like I know how to ride a bike but not at the standards of which you know the design I wasn’t a professional cyclist and so I walked into this business knowing that it was a turnaround and you know the fear of financial failure is a fantastic motivator. So I walked in and I said Okay, what do I need to do to turn this business around.

06:04.16

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, I wasn’t like a professional callman or anything. Yeah.

06:22.62

Sarah Lehman

I had no choice but to ask questions and that’s all I led with and that has been my fundamental I guess the guiding principle in any new situation is I just ask a gazillion questions I don’t need to walk in and be the smartest person in the room. In fact, I just need to ask the best questions. Um, and so i.

06:23.55

Lauren Conaway

Or.

06:38.33

Lauren Conaway

So yeah, so.

06:42.50

Sarah Lehman

Continue to apply that in this industry and so I walk in and I say well. Why do you guys? Do it this way. How do you think about it then from there I can start to pull in Oh I’ve seen this before and this is how we applied this lesson in that situation. Oh, we need to create a supplier risk mitigation strategy. Okay, I’ve done that.

06:50.71

Lauren Conaway

You know.

07:01.68

Sarah Lehman

Albeit for a factory which is fundamentally different than for a data supplier right? But still the same process and so I lead out with questions and again that probably stems back to my desire to really learn. I’m very curious.

07:04.57

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

07:12.53

Lauren Conaway

Um, yeah I love that so one of my internal foundational values is curiosity like every single day on this planet. We’re going to learn something and sometimes it’s something inconsequential and sometimes it’s something dumb. But more often than not. It’s something really interesting and so so I love that. That’s the lens through which you view things now I have to ask you as someone who has consistently tried new things and even adopted you know positions and careers and. You’ve put yourself into situations where you are not the smartest person in the room and actually, really quickly I want to say this is gonna be a little bit of a personal soapbox so please forgive me Sarah but I actually think that there are very few situations where you should be the smartest person in the room like because that’s where growth happens.

07:56.35

Sarah Lehman

Okay.

08:06.92

Lauren Conaway

And that’s where knowledge transfer happens and that’s where evolution your personal evolution happens and so if you are the smartest person in the room folks get out of that room. That’s not the room you need to be in so I just wanted to say that really quickly. But as someone who has consistently. Put themselves into places that see are seemingly unfamiliar. Even though there are clearly you know commonalities and threads that you can Tug on have you received pushback.

08:34.53

Sarah Lehman

Um, a pushback I would guess I would characterize it as a kind of wonder like why are you here I mean certainly when I joined the bike industry I would say I’ve been underestimated.

08:41.98

Lauren Conaway

Okay, like why? Why are you here? yeah.

08:52.26

Sarah Lehman

Absolutely I would say not pushback but underestimated which to me is of great secret weapon you want to underestimate me go for it because 2 or 3 times later you will not and so I have gotten that I’ve certainly gotten.

08:59.58

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

09:08.34

Sarah Lehman

Ah, you know early on and in my career I went to sit down at a table that was filled with men and they’re like hey this is the boys table and I was like hey not anymore I’m sitting down I’m sitting down so I don’t think it’s been pushback more so taking a little bit of time for me to you know, earn the credibility.

09:14.87

Lauren Conaway

Right? right.

09:27.94

Sarah Lehman

Earn the trust that. Yes, even though I’m new to something um I listen intently and am and deeply curious to how things work in a new place.

09:37.72

Lauren Conaway

Yeah I love that Well so it almost sounds like in again like I’m taking some like leaps of logic here. So so feel free to like slow me down if if I’m getting it wrong, but it almost.

09:46.97

Sarah Lehman

Um, yeah.

09:53.44

Lauren Conaway

Seems like you take that underestimation as a challenge like it’s galvanized. Your resolve is that accurate.

09:59.70

Sarah Lehman

Yes, and I’ve done one of those personality profiles that says that I like the underdog um, you know my favorite movie of all time is Rudy which is about this wonderful football player. Yes I mean my dog is named Rudy. Ah.

10:09.80

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, ah oh my gosh I Love it Well and I mean there are so many powerful moments in that movie like we’re not, We’re gonna not gonna like turn the podcast topic to that but I will tell you that I probably could I love that movie myself.

10:22.31

Sarah Lehman

Yeah, so I do like that you know that that drive to prove to myself that I can do something um, prove to myself I can learn something new and even joining this company right? I really wanted my I have 3 teenage kids ranging 14 to 18

10:38.15

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

10:42.10

Sarah Lehman

I wanted my kids to see that at the age of 50 Mama could do new things right? Mom could go to a new company in a new industry and start over effectively and be successful at it and take those chances and be a little afraid and so.

10:46.31

Lauren Conaway

You know.

11:01.27

Sarah Lehman

Like I’m all in and I’m I’m really open about it with my kids and quite honestly I’m much more open about it with the company that I lead today than I ever have been in the past certainly when I joined my first company as a Ceo you know it was a turnaround so it was a little bit different like I had no room for.

11:19.76

Lauren Conaway

Right.

11:20.72

Sarah Lehman

Emotion I felt like I had to make hard choices every day and some of those were personnel choices and that’s just a really tough place to start off in and so I didn’t even have pictures of my kids on my desk for like the first two years and then enjoying this company I I was like you know what? I’m gonna I’m gonna lead all in and I’m gonna be authentically vulnerable.

11:26.47

Lauren Conaway

Stiff.

11:40.68

Sarah Lehman

With the people that I meet and still have maintained the intensity that’s required to lead an organization through hypergrowth. So that’s what I’m trying to accomplish in this chapter I guess.

11:47.23

Lauren Conaway

So yeah.

11:52.78

Lauren Conaway

Well I Love that So So I have I have a question and a Follow-up. So My question is how does authentic vulnerability manifest itself for you like what kind of actions. Do you take on a day-to-day basis with your team. You know outside of having like pictures of your kids on your desk and things like that. But when you’re interacting with people. What are some things that maybe even our listeners could do to be authentically vulnerable and to show up in that in that way and in that space. What would you recommend.

12:24.23

Sarah Lehman

Well I think there’s 2 things that I’ve done more proactively in this chapter and that is I say the words I don’t know a lot more like I don’t know like that’s a really great question I have no idea how to think about that. But it’s let’s let’s think about it together. Say that a lot more often and then I lead out often with my failures whether they be work related or stuff I’ve learned in my personal life and trying to manage being a mom and a Ceo and so on and so forth I lead out with that because I want others to know it’s safe.

12:46.45

Lauren Conaway

So yeah.

13:01.20

Lauren Conaway

So yeah.

13:01.26

Sarah Lehman

To be your full self at work and also let’s create a space such that you can you know be the things you need to be in your life and still be successful at your job. Um, so those are the 2 things that I really focus on intentionally. In fact.

13:10.97

Lauren Conaway

For sure.

13:19.84

Sarah Lehman

Our new company. We have something called roses and thorns and every Friday we get on an all hands meeting because we launched our product the week before the world shut down so we had no choice but to become virtual so yes was so so.

13:20.91

Lauren Conaway

Okay.

13:28.10

Lauren Conaway

Of course oh and we’re going to talk about that in a minute you you crazy thing but continue.

13:37.55

Sarah Lehman

Um, one of the outputs of that was we have a weekly call with every employee in the company and so now we’re up to fifty fifty people come on the call and we lead out with something called roses and thorns rose is something that was great from the week. You know a highlight and a thorn is ah you know a mess up an f up and.

13:48.37

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

13:55.96

Sarah Lehman

We encourage our people and I lead out that says I you know mess this up this week I had a big meeting I didn’t prepare or I botched this question Our senior leadership team is really engaged in putting themselves out there when they have dropping the ball to illustrate to others that it’s you know if we’re not. Failing at a software technology company like we’re not.. We’re not pushing hard enough.

14:15.81

Lauren Conaway

Right? Yeah, absolutely you know we we actually talk about this a lot around startup puzzletle because Startup husstle was actually founded to to tell the real stories of entrepreneurship. You know there’s this Hashtag hustle culture.

14:33.70

Sarah Lehman

Say hey.

14:35.93

Lauren Conaway

It’s related to startups where I feel like startup founders tend to be very hesitant to to show that that vulnerability because they’re like well what if investors don’t want to invest in me because they don’t have confidence if I share my failures and and I and I think that you do have. To be mindful of the balance like I Love roses and Thorns because there’s an automatic balance in that concept like I have to be comfortable sharing my failures but I also have to be comfortable in sharing my successes. You know the the fact is and I feel like this affects everybody but I know that it affects women a lot. You know we feel like if we share our wins. We’re bragging. But if we share our failures. We’re just being realist and so I feel like we kind of need to correct that paradigm and understand that as long as you have the actions and the the results. Back it up realistically sharing your successes is just you know it’s It’s due in Business. You know? Um, So so I do find that interesting in one of the things that we talk about around startup puzzle like perfection can be a goal. You should always be in pursuit of perfection.

15:29.87

Sarah Lehman

Right.

15:42.82

Lauren Conaway

But you should also realize that you are never ever ever going to get it and you have to get really comfortable with that. So so I love that I love you I love your attitude toward it and and and. I have to tell you like I give you major kudos for taking the steps First of all being self-aware enough to note that like hey maybe I’m not presenting my full self at work and in this position I now have an opportunity but I also want to ask you as you have changed the way that you. Present yourself to the world. How has the world changed in how they interact with you and how they how they percept perceptualize I don’t even think that’s word, but how they view you and how they interact with you.

16:28.48

Sarah Lehman

What I am finding and I don’t know if this is a coincidence but I’m going to say it’s karma what I am finding is right now. The universe is delivering to me and to our company unimaginably amazing things and you know. You could call it a coincidence or we could call it. We’re creating an amazing culture that encourages people to come to work as their full authentic self I mean don’t forget we have hustle and Hungary as 2 of our other values. So you know this isn’t a kumbaya company. We still have to deliver but we deliver it through real people.

17:05.25

Lauren Conaway

Right.

17:07.14

Sarah Lehman

Um, and through a collective and so I have felt a shift in energy and I’m not a wooo kind of individual but I do feel that the energy associated with this this culture that we’re building has been really positive and it’s it’s it’s um, attracting.

17:20.43

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

17:26.80

Sarah Lehman

It’s attracting to others So I’m gonna stick with it.

17:28.95

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, for sure. Well and I I wholeheartedly believe that people do business with people that they they like and trust so if you show up as your your full-on authentic self. You’re allowing people to get to know you and trust you and so I I can see where that makes sense. You know I also think and maybe tell us a little bit about your experience with this. But by you, you know you’re the leader of this company and and you know the Steward and so I’m sure that people are looking to you and when they see you being authentically vulnerable. That’s the phrase I’m going to keep using because you used it and I really like it. But you being authentic vulnerable gives them permission to be so as well. Are you finding that that.

18:12.90

Sarah Lehman

100 % 100% ah you know we just had our first all company meeting where we brought all all of our employees together. First time most of us met each other and much of. So we’ve created this culture online and now we finally saw it in person and many of the women women in particular have come up to me and said I cannot tell you how much I appreciate hearing about when I have 3 teenagers you know this the the concept of have it all and perfect balance I mean it’s just nonexistent. So.

18:44.10

Lauren Conaway

Thrives.

18:44.26

Sarah Lehman

These are good and some days are not so good and I talk about it and here’s my reality and here’s how we’ve managed it and here’s how we’ve you know we’ve figured it out over the years and I’m really open about what’s gone. Well and what’s not gone well and I’ve had just an enormous number of women from my team come up to me this past week and say how grateful they are. To hear that and to feel that they can also put on their calendar from this time to this time I’m picking my kid up or you know don’t you know I’m gonna do drop off great I mean we’re a twenty four seven kind of company regardless where a startupm so people work in crazy hours I don’t worry about people working too much I worry about people.

19:08.67

Lauren Conaway

Yeah. Yeah.

19:23.46

Sarah Lehman

Um, actually taking care of themselves and their loved ones. So it’s been great.

19:24.44

Lauren Conaway

Right? Well I mean there’s there’s that saying out there that you you know you put your mask on first like you cannot give if you have nothing to give if your reserves are empty and so I love that now now one of the things.

19:34.73

Sarah Lehman

Right.

19:40.53

Lauren Conaway

And I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this I don’t even necessarily have a question so much as a scenario that I’m inviting feedback on Um, but you know one of the things that I you know I came up through through male dominated industries and I know I know so many you know women who did as well and. I was talking about this just the other day like the fact is when you are one of the very very few females on an all or mostly male team. Um you you have to you have to prove yourself twice. You have to prove your credibility as a woman and then you have to prove your. Credibility as a team member or an expert in in what your offerings are and so you know are you finding or how do you feel about that in the face of women. Finally, you know we’re finally kind of making a societal shift to. Acceptance of imperfection and acceptance of of frailty and vulnerability and authenticity. Um, how how do you feel about that.

20:43.39

Sarah Lehman

I do feel like the the world is shifting away from us having to prove ourselves as women in more situations than you know I did ten years ago um our company is 50 Five percent female.

20:54.38

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

20:59.58

Sarah Lehman

And many of our senior leadership team members are also female. So ah, kudos. yeah yeah exactly so yeah I mean we’re a tech company and we’re 55% female so I don’t feel that on a day-to-day basis. Um.

21:01.57

Lauren Conaway

Oh my God that just made me so happy but I need you to know that like my insides just vibrated. Thank you.

21:17.97

Sarah Lehman

And you know certainly I’m faced with it in certain situations with you know, continent negotiations with certain partners and so on and so forth. But in general I feel like it’s it’s shifting now we are We have gone through the process of raising money I would say that that process was quite male dominated. Um.

21:34.52

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, for sure.

21:37.00

Sarah Lehman

Which yeah, which I I was curious about like an area for us to maybe make some inroads. Um, but that that was ah yeah, that was one one area that I’ve noticed recently. But again in my industry.

21:42.93

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

21:53.59

Sarah Lehman

What I have seen is a lot of my partners are there’s more and more women that are taking on these leadership roles which is just phenomenal.

22:00.63

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well and it’s almost as it like women in in certain roles where they have been historically underrepresented are are becoming more the norm they’re becoming more accepted. You’re just seeing it more and more which normalizes it Hashtag Representation matters. Um.

22:16.90

Sarah Lehman

This is.

22:19.95

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well so so so you’re talking about opportunities and I’m gonna break in here really quickly and just tell folks plan along at home about another opportunity just to remind you today’s episode of startup puzzlestle is sponsored by Canva with Canva you can design any idea you’ve got in your head and you can do it easily. They have templates 500000 which actually kind of like freaked me out when I found out but over 500000 free templates that you can use and they have a content library that has all kinds of pictures and audio and everything that you could imagine to create really really strong content for your brand. Storm branding helps you and your team achieve your goals. So definitely take the opportunity sign up start designing for free at http://Canva.com and I have to ask you so Sarah we were we were talking before we hit the record button and you’re using Canva right now.

23:11.56

Sarah Lehman

You know? yes we are and let me tell you it’s an amazing. It’s amazing tool So we have this mantra internally about playing bigger as in just because you’re small doesn’t mean you’re not mighty so let’s get ourselves some tools that allow us to be mighty and.

23:13.50

Lauren Conaway

Right is that right.

23:20.24

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

23:26.63

Lauren Conaway

Sure.

23:29.98

Sarah Lehman

Canva was one of those. Um, we just put our proposals are you know we have to do a lot of contract proposals. We just literally so drafted up our latest 2 proposals using Canva and they looked so much more professional so Hashtag play bigger right.

23:33.58

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah.

23:40.59

Lauren Conaway

Hope you first? Yeah I well and I’m not I am not a design person at all and like I often find myself in the position of creating content for innovator and I’m just like a template fantastic plug and play you know and it looks great. It looks like a professional did it. So. So yeah, they I mean thank you for sharing that with us. But definitely folks any tool that makes an entrepreneur journey and world easier. We’re gonna be 100 % behind and I am personally telling you that Canva has changed my life. Check it out. Http://Canva.com all right so so Sarah I’m going to get tactical with you here first things first tell us about Zardio we haven’t talked about that yet I’ve been fascinated by it like I wanted to unpeel the Sarah onion you know layers but tell us about zardardio now.

24:32.29

Sarah Lehman

So Zartico is a technology company that combines big data to help manage the visitor economy and so what do I mean by that that means helping destinations understand who’s in their destination where are they going. Where are they spending money. Why do they come to the destination and we harness all this these insights and provide them to airports cities ah entities called destination marketing organizations that are government entities that manage the the destinations. For and on behalf of their communities.

25:10.62

Lauren Conaway

So is it like the the visit tampas and the visit Kc is in the visit Salt Lake City okay all right? but.

25:16.50

Sarah Lehman

In fact, yes, and yes Visitingpa is one of our um clients as is visits a lake.

25:24.67

Lauren Conaway

Okay, and so so when these organizations are are accruing this data. The hope is that they’re going to use it to create more meaningful messaging and user experiences like when people come to our town like we have a better idea as To. Who’s coming and what they might want and what they might need is that is that kind of how that goes.

25:46.82

Sarah Lehman

Yes, it’s absolutely about creating better visitor experiences but it ultimately at the end of the day is about improving the community and the quality of life for the resident right? because right? the resident is kind of beneficiary.

25:57.86

Lauren Conaway

Oh oh unpack that a little for us. So so how does this data help make that happen.

26:05.87

Sarah Lehman

Well as an example, you could take and a destination that has overcrowding and so how do you level load that um those visitation that visitation such that you have year-round tourism in your destination versus peak. You know.

26:22.73

Lauren Conaway

Gradka.

26:25.13

Sarah Lehman

Peak visitation in your destination or when if you have under tourism and you need to drum up more So how do you? who do you target And how do you reach them because ultimately the value of tourism goes back to the community because it creates jobs and it creates tax revenue which can you know done? well.

26:39.90

Lauren Conaway

Just yeah.

26:44.10

Sarah Lehman

Create a better quality of life for the residents.

26:44.94

Lauren Conaway

Okay, well I love that I know so many people who are just late I am a brand advocate for Kansas City I love this city. It’s a great place to live work and play but being able to leverage data.

26:53.71

Sarah Lehman

Is there.

27:01.23

Lauren Conaway

And gather it responsibly use it effectively? Um, you know if we can make Kansas City better I am all for it. So so thank you and and thanks Artico for the work that you do to create those really really positive I hate you. The term user experience because that feels like such a tech term but that’s really what it is that that is that’s awesome now I got to ask this because I told you I would I forewarned you you can’t say I didn’t warn you but you started a company in a pandemic.

27:18.68

Sarah Lehman

And yes.

27:34.91

Sarah Lehman

Yes, and so the company was founded in 2019 by my 2 co-founders Darren and Jay Kinghorn and then I came on in January as the as the third partner and we this is January Twenty Twenty mind you so we launched our minimal viable product to the marketplace March Twenty twenty

27:42.77

Lauren Conaway

Okay.

27:52.22

Lauren Conaway

Oh perfect timing. Guess what happened in March Twenty twenty

27:54.13

Sarah Lehman

No joke. Yes, that’s right? So are you here a week before the world shut down. We launch our product and this is an industry that is primarily driven through trade chosen events and so you know I you know we had a call we’re on the Zoom and I’m like hey guys.

28:06.29

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

28:13.82

Sarah Lehman

Ah, we’re Goingnna run out of money in just a couple months so how are we going to sell this product if there’s no events and so god bless my co-founder Darren Dunn who and he and our chief revenue officer rented an rv and drove it from San Francisco to Ocean City Maryland and brought the trade show to the people and mind you this is when we were still lysoling your fruit because it was like so and they.

28:35.76

Lauren Conaway

Oh for sure I mean how how innovative though were people were people comfortable with that with that process and that like access point.

28:44.13

Sarah Lehman

So we did yes, we did 4 they did 42 in-person meetings in the parking lot. They set up. Ah you know a mock trade show booth. Everyone was massed up socially distant outside and that’s how we launched our company.

28:58.83

Lauren Conaway

Oh my gosh that is amazing I love that so much.

29:01.11

Sarah Lehman

Amidst a close pandemic. But yeah, and so that was in 2020 and we’ve grown to 50 people and now we have over 125 partners mostly domestic that. Um.

29:11.41

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

29:16.66

Sarah Lehman

You know are now using Dartico to help manage their destinations.

29:18.74

Lauren Conaway

That that’s incredible. Can you can you talk to us about a Zardico Success Story I know I’m making you pick just one. It’s it’s It’s a terrible question to ask. But I’m asking it anyway.

29:25.19

Sarah Lehman

Oh my goodness. Well.

29:32.70

Sarah Lehman

Well, that’s really fantastic. Let me, there’s so many. Okay I’ll I’ll give you an example, we’ve worked with a kind of um, a client who has a major sporting event in their destination. Their contract was up for renewal this sporting event was. Deciding whether or not they wanted to stay in that particular destination and as you can imagine this sporting event brought millions of dollars in both taxes and jobs into that destination and so we helped this partner pull together all the insights and evidence to the importance of this sporting event to help put forth.

30:05.61

Lauren Conaway

0

30:09.68

Sarah Lehman

Incentives just keep on um to keep this sporting event in the destination and they just resigned their contract to stay in the destination.

30:17.14

Lauren Conaway

That is awesome and how so so as as one of the leaders and visionaries of this company. How did that feel.

30:23.52

Sarah Lehman

It felt obviously really really inspiring Con kind kind confirmatory. You know that we’re in the right, but balpar. Yeah, yeah, we did something and it helps the residents and but it helps the visitors and the residents. So you know that’s one of many we’ve done. You know.

30:30.76

Lauren Conaway

I mean here we’re doing. We’re doing something good here. We did something.

30:43.12

Sarah Lehman

Hundreds and hundreds of you know 1 ne-off questions to answer these small these strategic questions that are facing our wonderful communities to help them make better decisions. So it is very gratifying to do the work that we do.

30:54.19

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well I love that and I’m I’m thrilled that you have landed in a place that is so is so meaningful I want to kind of ask. Ah I want to ask about the vision or the future and the first first I’m going to ask about. Tourism and destination marketing and you know what do you think will have the most significant impact on tourism and destination marketing. Let’s say in the next five years

31:23.58

Sarah Lehman

I think we’re going to move where we will realize a true digital transformation and so this is an industry that in many ways doesn’t have a direct point of sale right? No one’s tracking you as a visitor and yet the visitor economy accounts for 10% of the global gdp. But it’s.

31:32.95

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

31:40.49

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

31:43.34

Sarah Lehman

Still be managed off of spreadsheets and annual Surveys and so by using big data science and these high frequency granular data sets to really understand movement and spend and flow I think we can provide situational awareness to our destinations that make.

31:45.70

Lauren Conaway

Ah.

32:02.37

Sarah Lehman

To to give them the chance and opportunity to make better decisions for their communities and so I do believe fundamentally that we will see a digital transformation in this industry.

32:10.95

Lauren Conaway

Awesome, Yeah, anything that we can do to get away from the dreaded collection O spreadsheets that don’t talk to each other. They’re not dynamic and you’re just like oh ah, data entry all right. There has to be a better way and so so now.

32:22.23

Sarah Lehman

Exactly exactly.

32:28.41

Lauren Conaway

Right? I’m going to keep on winnowing down and just getting more specific that was like the ten Thousand foot view and now we’re going to go to the five Thousand foot view what do you see as as the future of zarddio.

32:37.43

Sarah Lehman

Well we hope to be the primary means that causes this digital transformation right? We call ourselves a destination operating system such that if we can create this ecosystem I mean the ecosystem exists right? So the ecosystem of.

32:44.90

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

32:51.56

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

32:55.72

Sarah Lehman

Hoteliers and attractions and airports and all these players that have the lens of the visitor economy if we can connect them through an operating system that talks to each other. Oh my goodness.

32:56.57

Lauren Conaway

For sure.

33:08.00

Sarah Lehman

Talk about the decision making that could be made if the airport understood what was happening at the theme park and the theme park understood what was happening at the local sports Arena So we’re looking at this as a ecosystem that that needs to be connected.

33:18.59

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, ah I love that like anytime you take like a holistic view of so I’m an ecosystem building evangelist and the like you said that word and I was like oh happy times. But no that that I mean the potential is huge I mean this is this represents.

33:30.45

Sarah Lehman

This with this.

33:38.50

Lauren Conaway

Billions and billions of dollars worth of economic drivers and and you know getting them all on the same page I can’t imagine how transformational that could be so now I mean this is my most specific question. What’s the future for Sarah.

33:46.74

Sarah Lehman

Yeah.

33:54.31

Sarah Lehman

Well, that’s a great question I certainly want to continue to grow this company. We have global aspirations you know I was inspired by the power of tourism throughout my global you know travels these last you know 20 years so I

34:02.65

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

34:14.12

Sarah Lehman

Want to see this company achieve its global aspirations. Um, and build a company that really reflects the culture that I believe is possible right? That’s hardworking that delivers results and thinks about its people and puts their full office self.

34:31.75

Lauren Conaway

Like your actual human beings. No way imagine that.

34:32.79

Sarah Lehman

Ah, you know at the forefront. So yeah, yeah, yeah, so I want to do that for as long as they let me.

34:43.19

Lauren Conaway

I Love that so much and and I you know I think it’s so important to acknowledge the fact that that the people often the people who set the culture are are the leaders. An organization and if if leaders are not intentional about setting a culture someone else will do it for them and it will probably not be the kind of culture that you want to see and so the fact that you’re you’re thinking this through at such a both both the macro and Micro levels.

35:08.19

Sarah Lehman

Correct.

35:17.38

Lauren Conaway

Is really impressive and I mean clearly like that’s really all it takes like you just have to be intentional about it. You have to marry your your thoughts and your feelings and your beliefs and your culture and your values to action and then boom about of being but boom there you go so and and you’re doing it. You’re doing the work and that’s it’s just so impressive.

35:31.75

Sarah Lehman

Yep.

35:35.90

Lauren Conaway

Um, and you don’t You don’t see that too often I think I think you’re right I think I think we’re starting to see it more. But um, you know we’ve still got some grace and space to to go and so the fact that you’re leading the charge is really impressive. So I thank you for that? Yeah, absolutely.

35:49.40

Sarah Lehman

Thank you! It’s been. It’s quite a journey.

35:55.48

Lauren Conaway

So one of my favorite favorite things to do and we’ve we’ve touched on this a little bit so I’m going to ask for just a little bit more I am aware that I’m kind of double dipping on a question I just think it’s important you know the the folks who listen to this show. We love to give them. Advice that they can implement in their businesses like these individuals you you know y’all might not work for a you know travel data aggregator like you know you? but you’re there’s transferable stuff in there and and one of the things that Sarah is clearly very gifted at. Is leading with that authentic vulnerability and so Sarah I’m going to ask you to double down and if talking to the the entrepreneurs who are listening around the globe. What is your advice to them about or even your encouragement about implementing. Authentic vulnerability in their lives and in their work.

36:49.38

Sarah Lehman

Um, um, ah well I would well it I would say that it gets easier that it’s like a muscle I mean it’s like an exercise at first. It’s really hard. It’s hard for a couple months. It’s.

36:55.00

Lauren Conaway

You’ve given us some I just want more.

37:02.24

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

37:08.37

Sarah Lehman

You know, but after a while it it just becomes natural like you wake up you exercise I Think that’s a lot about the kind of leadership I’m talking about is that you show up every day and you ask questions and you present your true self in the sense that nobody knows any everything.

37:09.20

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, this is.

37:25.27

Lauren Conaway

Can yeah.

37:27.27

Sarah Lehman

It’s just not possible and so again I would just say um, it’s hard at first but it gets easier and easier and I can remember a gazillion times when I was like oh I feel really vulnerable I feel really exposed because I admitted that I didn’t know something and I probably.

37:33.23

Lauren Conaway

You know.

37:46.75

Sarah Lehman

Probably saying to themselves when and she went to harvard. You know you don’t have any idea how many times someone has said that to me and you went to Harvard I’m like yeah I did ah but that doesn’t mean I’m a you know I didn’t go to wall street. It’s not my dad. Yeah.

37:49.97

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

37:57.42

Lauren Conaway

But it doesn’t mean that you’re infallible. It just means that that you are smart and you’re able to apply learning.

38:05.24

Sarah Lehman

That’s right? and so you know I say this is my day job is to grow and build companies that are filled with amazing people your day job is to do X Y and Z So I course I’m not an expert in your job like I know enough to you know, have a conversation with you but you know you are the expert. So My advice would be. Don’t get to don’t get discouraged by those few moments in your you know over the course of this that you might feel a little bit exposed because it really does come back at you.

38:28.78

Lauren Conaway

Sure, yeah well I I I’m actually deeply bummed about this because this has been a great conversation but I’m going to ask you the human question now Sarah and I’m going to ask you I your. Personality and like who you are. You’re a color. What color are you and get specific I don’t want to just hear blue I want to hear like Robin’s egg blue and why what color are you? okay.

38:54.70

Sarah Lehman

Oh I am definitely a like a forest screen. Um, and I’m a Forest Green because my my most favorite place in the world is to be outside in the woods um doing anything camping hiking running.

39:06.64

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

39:12.36

Sarah Lehman

Walking doesn’t matter and that’s probably why I live in Utah right? because I absolutely love love up. Love yes, just love the outdoors I grew up camping you know and so at it my color.

39:14.77

Lauren Conaway

Um, young, it’s a good place for that.

39:22.71

Lauren Conaway

So you’re kind of ah an earthy individual and for green is a very strong color as well and I feel like you you are a strong individual out of it I would say hey you know that that ain’t nothing.

39:31.82

Sarah Lehman

Yeah, and it’s happens to be the color of money.

39:38.26

Sarah Lehman

Yeah, yeah.

39:40.48

Lauren Conaway

Well I love that and I can definitely see it and I and I also love Sarah that you you have taken the time to sit and chat with us talk to us about Zardico talk to talk to us about. Your journey as a leader this has been absolutely lovely and I’d like to thank you for that? Yay all right? and and once again we have to say a big thank you to today’s episode sponsor Canva with Canva you can work. You can actually collaborate really easily and.

39:57.50

Sarah Lehman

Well thank you Lauren. It’s been great to be here I will appreciate it.

40:13.54

Lauren Conaway

Didn’t know this until relatively until relatively recently. But since I found this out. You can actually you can seamlessly collaborate in real time. So you just invite people to your Canva team and you’re able to to change things and update and you know talk through things in real time. Get on the same page as your team with seamless real-time collaboration it is it was a game changer for me because I didn’t actually know that you could do it until recently. So so we want to ask you folks plan at home. What will you? you design today. Well go to go to http://Canva.com and find out explore and start designing for free. Cannot recommend it highly enough. I would also you know we we mentioned at the top of the episode that isaro is a top Salt Lake City startup one of my favorite types of episodes to record are the top the stop top blank city startups with Matt Deorsi we always have a ton of fun but you can definitely check out the top startups. Salt Lake City it aired on 24 and you can find the link in the show notes and we are. We’re just hoping that you’ll give it a listen because there’s a lot of really cool stuff happening in Salt Lake city Sarah I’m sure you’re aware of it. Yeah absent. Yeah, you know what.

41:22.64

Sarah Lehman

You guys. It’s a great place to be come visit.

41:29.23

Lauren Conaway

And and as somebody I feel like you you have more insight than most as somebody who deals in so many destinations so we will definitely keep that in mind visit Slc folks we are extraordinarily grateful and I’m going to speak for myself and on behalf of all of the cohosts of startup Hustle. We’re extraordinarily grateful that you take the time week after week to give us a listen to learn with us to to hear stories to listen to me babble sometimes but we’re just very grateful for you So keep on doing it and we will catch you on the flip side.

42:04.94

Sarah Lehman

Great. Thank you.