The Truth About Work-Life Balance

The Truth About Work-Life Balance

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway unmasks the truth about work-life balance with Shani Tate Ross.

Our guest, the vice president of T-Mobile Center, talks about leveraging the power of community in creating more enjoyable experiences. Their interesting side talk also led to discussing music and how these hustlers manage to juggle the many hats they wear every day.

Covered In This Episode

The pandemic impacted our lives in more ways than home quarantine and social distancing. Schools and other public establishments temporarily closed, prompting many changes at home. Some businesses couldn’t handle the challenging times, so they walked out of their respective industries, never to open their doors again . . . maybe.

Get Started with Full Scale

Fortunately for Shani, her company has weathered the storms of COVID-19. That is why she’s sitting down with our host to discuss a few things:

  • How Shani Tate Ross arrived at where she is today
  • The secret of T-Mobile Center on how they conquered the COVID-19 market difficulties
  • Music and the power of community
  • Creating effective leaders
  • How to listen, learn, and pivot
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Highlights

  • How the T-Mobile Center team managed to survive the pandemic (9:18)
  • Life outside T-Mobile Center—how Shani juggles everything as a mother, wife, friend, and leader (13:35)
  • The power of community (16:30)
  • The power of music to unite people (17:06)
  • Creating a platform for people to enjoy the experience (20:29)
  • How T-Mobile Center improves guest experience (23:44)
  • The power of listening and constant improvement (28:10)
  • How to create effective and efficient leaders (33:48)

Key Quotes

It was a tumultuous time, like you said. But it was a great time to get centered. What I mean by that is it really heightened my awareness in terms of not only what my needs are as an individual. [But also] in my variety of roles, whether it’s wife, friend and mother, and certainly concerned community members.

– Shani Tate Ross

We want you to be empowered to do whatever you can to exceed expectations within your power. We’re not asking you to do anything outside of your lane. But we want you to do what is necessary to make that event special. Or that experience to be special for that individual guest and recognize that again.

– Shani Tate Ross

You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have an entrepreneurial mindset. You know the entrepreneurial mindset. It’s about a lot of things. It’s about creativity and resourcefulness.

– Lauren Conaway

Hear what Lauren and Shani have to say about work-life balance and other entrepreneurial things. Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode.

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Rough Transcript

The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:00.00

Lauren Conaway

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. I have to tell you about today’s episode sponsor. But the first thing I want to know is, are you thinking about starting a new business? Or expanding a current one? If you are, then you probably know by now it is crucially important that you get your business set up [and] maintained in compliance. Do all of those things properly. And that’s exactly what the folks at Universal Registered Agents do. LLCs, S-corp, C-corp, and nonprofits—no matter how you want to structure your business, it’s not a problem. Learn more by clicking the Universal Registered Agents link in the show notes. I can tell you from experience you want to do it right the first time. So let the experts get involved now, friends. Today, I’m going to be poetic for a second if you will allow me to do so. We have a guest today that I’m just so excited about, and I have fangirled all over her. It’s been a little awkward, and I’d like to apologize. But Shani Tate Ross is the vice president of sales and marketing at T-Mobile Center, and I have to tell you, I’ve seen her speak. She is a brilliant mind, a beautiful human being, and has a wonderful family. She is just an amazing individual, and I am so grateful that she has decided to take the time to chat with us. Shani, thank you so much for joining us today.

02:00.36

Shani Tate Ross

Lauren, it is a pleasure to join you today. Thank you so much for those very kind words. I appreciate it more than you know.

02:06.21

Lauren Conaway

Absolutely. Well, I had gotten awkward with you, like when we met. I’m well aware that I do it, but I just think you should know that you’re a hero or a shero. Let’s go ahead and get started because I want our listeners to understand why I think you’re so cool.

02:19.30

Shani Tate Ross

And here.

02:25.54

Lauren Conaway

But you know, tell us about your journey.

02:26.88

Shani Tate Ross

My journey is, certainly, I like to say it’s shorter than I think. But then, I’m reminded on a daily basis. When I think about twenty years ago, maybe it’s not as short as I’d like to think. I’m not exactly the young whippersnapper.

02:44.30

Lauren Conaway

Shh. We don’t have to tell anybody that. It’s okay; it was just yesterday. Yeah, but.

02:46.30

Shani Tate Ross

Okay, I appreciate that. We’ll keep it to ourselves. For sure, just between us. When I got the bug is what I would say my journey started. So I don’t know if I had really great parents. I’ll let you and the audience be the judge.

03:03.31

Lauren Conaway

Okay.

03:05.54

Shani Tate Ross

I went to my first show when I was four years old. It was Diana Ross; it was my first concert. We were living in Chicago at the time, and as a bonus, the opening act was The Jacksons.

03:10.20

Lauren Conaway

Wait, which show was it?

03:23.75

Lauren Conaway

Shut the front door. That’s a piece. You have amazing parents. That’s a piece of history right there.

03:25.31

Shani Tate Ross

I like to think so. Although my cousin and I may have been the only people in kindergarten and preschool who were at the show.

03:37.80

Lauren Conaway

Okay.

03:41.37

Shani Tate Ross

That’s when I can distinctly remember going back to that individual date and that show and everything about it. It was all six of the Jacksons, not just the Jackson 5. Really witnessing the spirit of community that only live entertainment and sports can bring.

03:47.60

Lauren Conaway

Sure.

03:54.73

Lauren Conaway

Um, yeah.

03:58.20

Shani Tate Ross

Fast forward to a Kansas City native. Went to high school at St. Teresa’s academy, then I went to college in Missouri; I had a wonderful experience. I went to UMKC for graduate school, and I started my very first job, which was in baseball for the Royals.

04:13.90

Lauren Conaway

Oh, well. Okay.

04:17.97

Shani Tate Ross

So a little known fact, I cut my teeth there prior to the World Series when I was there during the hundred lost seasons. So you know that’s where you really learn, right? So we always laugh nowadays, and we say you know there are certain artists who don’t need our help to sell tickets. We basically just throw them up and go.

04:22.93

Lauren Conaway

Oh, man. Ah.

04:33.87

Lauren Conaway

Right.

04:36.80

Shani Tate Ross

But it’s the people who need a little bit of extra help. That’s where I kind of cut my teeth, and I earn my stripes, you will during those hundred lost seasons. So I did that for seven seasons, and then when the T-Mobile Center opened in 2007, I came over here, and it has been a wonderful journey.

04:40.24

Lauren Conaway

Sure.

04:53.24

Lauren Conaway

Um, love it. Yeah.

04:53.82

Shani Tate Ross

And a wonderful ride at the time. It was a Sprint Center, and certainly, we’ve had a wonderful journey since then, now T-Mobile Center, and we are very much looking forward to reintroducing ourselves. Not only as a venue but really to Kansas City and the spirit of community. As people gather back together as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.

05:12.95

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well, and I have to tell you so, so I’m going to mention this. Please forgive me, folks, if I misname T-Mobile Center. I got used to calling it a Sprint center, but it has actually been kind of exhilarating seeing. Pink branding came up, and I do have to tell our listeners. I need to know how Shani is wearing T-Mobile pink right now, right? With your excitement.

05:37.16

Shani Tate Ross

I mean, I appreciate that it is what we like to call the magic of magenta. Um, so we are incredibly fortunate to make the transition following the merger.

05:45.25

Lauren Conaway

Yes, okay.

05:55.18

Shani Tate Ross

And we can talk about that story, Lauren too, if you would like, but certainly, T-Mobile has been a wonderful partner in terms of investing in Kansas City but also being very concerned and very deliberate about the guest entertainment experience.

05:55.24

Lauren Conaway

Yeah. Yeah.

06:09.35

Lauren Conaway

Yes.

06:11.78

Shani Tate Ross

So we’re looking forward to lots of new announcements during the end of 2022 that continue to be a benefit for T-Mobile customers. So lots to come.

06:18.43

Lauren Conaway

Awesome! Yeah, it’s been really interesting. You know so, so Sprint was one of Kansas City’s kind of anchor flagship large corporations. You know and so so being on the ground and watching T-Mobile come into this community. It’s been really. Impressive actually to see how community-focused they have been, particularly given the fact that you know we’re still kind of in a pandemic kind of coming out of it. But I mean, it had to have been challenging to be an institution and organization coming into a new community.

06:41.40

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

06:57.33

Lauren Conaway

And trying to make those really big footprints and really like to assert yourself as ah, a community partner and a part of the community. So I mean kudos to the T-Mobile team to you.

06:58.67

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

07:07.70

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

07:09.90

Lauren Conaway

And to everybody on your team who has been working to make that happen, that had to have been quite a journey.

07:13.86

Shani Tate Ross

We and I’ll tell you kind of how that started um so on March 12, 2020, we all know was the day that the world changed. So um, we all thought I meant understatement there, right? So we all thought we were going home for two weeks.

07:21.70

Lauren Conaway

Sure, oh, man. Yeah yeah, I remember that neat little unintended vacation that we were all planning.

07:31.16

Shani Tate Ross

A little extended spring break.

07:36.33

Shani Tate Ross

Right? So there have always been whispers about a merger or an ownership transfer as far as Sprint was concerned, but you know, so on the day that the world changed. You know we all went home for a two-week vacation to try to figure it out. Okay, what is this?

07:38.73

Lauren Conaway

Oh.

07:54.43

Lauren Conaway

So right? yeah.

07:54.83

Shani Tate Ross

The thing called Covid is a thing that you know which we all now know is a thing and then we learned that from a sports and entertainment perspective. The world was shutting down, and so.

08:08.89

Lauren Conaway

Oh yeah.

08:13.14

Shani Tate Ross

Every day there was a new announcement, then we went on lockdown as the entire country did, and um, we as an organization being the Arena, made some very difficult decisions in terms of Furloughs and others.

08:17.24

Lauren Conaway

Right.

08:30.26

Shani Tate Ross

Ah, layoffs and other efforts to cut costs because, effectively, our business went away. We were the first to go away, and we were the last to come back.

08:30.44

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

08:38.38

Lauren Conaway

Well, and I mean, when you think about it. So how many seats are actually in the T-Mobile Center. Yeah, that is exactly the opposite of proper pandemic protocol, like bringing 19000 people together. No, that’s right off the table.

08:46.60

Shani Tate Ross

Approximately 19000 Absolutely right.

08:55.28

Lauren Conaway

Ah, so I mean, yeah, you were definitely put between a rock and a hard place for sure. But I imagine I’m actually going to ask you this question but talk to us about how your team kind of because you had like you said, you had to make those difficult.

09:02.68

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

09:11.23

Lauren Conaway

You had to make those difficult decisions you had to. I mean, your livelihood was taken away for what turned out to be an indefinite period of time. Um, it’s so hard to talk to us about that. Yeah.

09:14.10

Shani Tate Ross

Um, so yeah, so you know we are going on our two-week vacation extended spring break. Um, and then this T-Mobile transition. Um, the announcement of the merger. And then, we navigated a process while we were trying to figure it out. Okay, what are we going to do? Who can homeschool? What do people talk about in kindergarten? What are we doing here, and you know, certainly being married to an entrepreneur from my personal lens. Everyone was. Basically trying to figure it out. We’re all swimming in the ocean in the dark. None of us had any idea what covid was or what the health implications were. We just knew that we had to stay home. We were trying to figure out what was next just like everybody else was, but both from a health perspective and a work perspective from it. How are our lives going to be different moving forward?

09:51.91

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

10:07.76

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

10:09.63

Shani Tate Ross

So this T-Mobile announcement was really the bright light for us because it gave us something that we could hold on to at the time, as you can imagine. We had 13 years of branding to uncover. We did a most excellent job of putting the Sprint logo absolutely everywhere.

10:17.89

Lauren Conaway

Right? Yeah.

10:27.55

Shani Tate Ross

Whether it was a photo or a painting, I know you’ve been to the Arena before you see the paintings that are on the walls throughout a variety of levels. There are 435 of those, and all 435 had a Sprint logo on them. That is just one example.

10:35.33

Lauren Conaway

Um, yeah.

10:41.70

Lauren Conaway

Oh god.

10:46.88

Shani Tate Ross

Of how much we had done, and we really went from a team of 80 full-time associates in March; and 8 on April 1, 2020.

10:52.58

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, first, oh my gosh, you poor things. Well, I asked that question. I had a sneaky reason for asking that question, just so you know.

11:01.50

Shani Tate Ross

E.

11:05.51

Lauren Conaway

And I wanted to give you the opportunity to brag on your team a little bit because you put in hercule amounts of effort to make several challenges. I mean, we’ll call them opportunities, you know so, but some of them are better than others. Certainly, you know, I feel like the merger is probably.

11:07.13

Shani Tate Ross

Yes.

11:17.80

Shani Tate Ross

Yes.

11:23.93

Lauren Conaway

Ah, a good opportunity. I think, as we all know, the pandemic was a pretty rough one? But, you know, I was hoping that you would brag on your team, and you did because that’s what good leaders do, and I knew you were going to do that. But you know, I would just echo from that community perspective. I would echo the sentiment that you know.

11:26.12

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

11:34.34

Shani Tate Ross

So.

11:43.70

Lauren Conaway

What you did and what your team pulled off and is continuing to pull off, I’m sure, was really, really difficult, and you did it. You did it in a way that was very community inclusive. You know, I just know that I’ve seen T-Mobile activating around Kansas City as you care about.

11:45.20

Shani Tate Ross

And he.

11:52.11

Shani Tate Ross

Who?

12:01.78

Lauren Conaway

About the city that we live in and that is pretty amazing. So thank you for that. I would applaud if I weren’t writing, but I am writing, and I want to ask you, You actually touched on something really, really interesting, folks. You’re probably familiar.

12:07.65

Shani Tate Ross

Um.

12:13.78

Shani Tate Ross

Who?

12:20.19

Lauren Conaway

With Shani’s husband, Davian Ross, this interview is going to be about Shani. However, it does bear mentioning that Shani’s husband is a very successful entrepreneur here in the Kansas City area and has also been. Featured on the Startup Hustle podcast. So definitely pull a search for Daian Ross and listen to that episode with Matt and Davian, you know, very, very cool, but you know, I know that you have some beautiful children. I’ve seen pictures there. Absolutely just.

12:39.19

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

12:45.62

Shani Tate Ross

Um, we do.

12:50.43

Lauren Conaway

Gorgeous kids, and knowing how intelligent their parents are, I can’t imagine the apples don’t fall far from the tree. So one of the questions that I have for you is, do you know you went through this very tumultuous time at work, and I’m sure that many positives came from it. But um.

13:09.34

Shani Tate Ross

The head.

13:10.20

Lauren Conaway

Admittedly, a difficult time. So I want to talk to you about your family and about your life outside of the T-Mobile Center. What was that kind of weathering so many storms on so many fronts and having to manage things like virtual school?

13:28.12

Lauren Conaway

Supporting your entrepreneur husband and supporting yourself, really. I think that’s a part of the conversation that we as women sometimes forget to talk about how we support ourselves when the shit is hitting the fan. My question to you is, you know, can you expand on that a little bit? Talk to us about it.

13:30.16

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

13:38.90

Shani Tate Ross

Right.

13:45.94

Shani Tate Ross

Yeah, I mean, it was. It was a tumultuous time like you said. But it was a great time to get centered. What I mean by that is it really heightened my awareness in terms of not only what my needs are as an individual. [But also] in my variety of roles, whether it’s wife, friend and mother, and certainly concerned community members.

13:46.86

Lauren Conaway

About life. Yeah.

13:56.72

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah.

14:05.37

Shani Tate Ross

And then also, you know Lauren, you and I have talked before about the ability to give grace and really just take a step back and say okay I need to evaluate where I am, and all of our resources are finite whether that’s time.

14:14.65

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

14:25.00

Shani Tate Ross

Money access and really it became an opportunity to be very intentional about what was not only important and really empowering my yes ah by being able to say no um and even though sometimes that no is a not right now. So what I realized, you know, in terms of trying to homeschool too.

14:35.88

Lauren Conaway

I do, right.

14:44.73

Shani Tate Ross

Kindergartners in a different class bless teachers. Um, that’s not my calling, but I’m very grateful for them and their spirit and their talents and skills in terms of support from an entrepreneurial perspective. Um, we’re not sure if we double count.

14:45.86

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, your chair.

15:02.69

Shani Tate Ross

Pandemic years or if we don’t count them at all or how it goes, but I think that, um, in that particular time frame, What I am most proud of is not only the relationships that we were able to sustain but also just having a little bit of perspective about really what is most important.

15:03.33

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah.

15:20.90

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

15:22.40

Shani Tate Ross

And that’s your legacy of friendship, your legacy of leadership. Um, and really instead of going through the motions and whatever emotions they may be for your role or wherever you are in your particular time and space, you can’t take that for granted because things that we thought were automatic were automatically taken away from us.

15:35.94

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

15:42.31

Shani Tate Ross

I’ll tell you, at our first event, which was Disney on Ice or we had people in masks, and we had to have a six-foot radius, and I can tell you all the horror stories of measuring a six-foot and making pods and all this the starts and then stops, but you get emotional when you think about what’s going on here.

15:49.80

Lauren Conaway

Oh God, I can’t even imagine.

15:58.67

Lauren Conaway

So yeah, right I mean, I disagree with that. But okay.

16:00.53

Shani Tate Ross

It’s like no one wants to come to the Arena to see me on a Tuesday afternoon. People will pay upwards of 50, but, you know, very few people will come to see me ah will pay to come to see me at the Arena but fair enough. But the spirit of community that you.

16:11.30

Lauren Conaway

Ah, all right, that’s fair.

16:18.85

Shani Tate Ross

When people gather together for live entertainment, it’s unmatched, and it can’t be duplicated. It cannot be replicated. It’s not a virtual experience. It really is an opportunity to see the best of what our country is um and what our community can be, so I get emotional when I go back, and I think about it.

16:18.99

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

16:31.43

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, so.

16:38.20

Shani Tate Ross

Because it was something that I had taken for granted, and I promise you I won’t do that anymore. It is every single time that people gather together regardless of genre or if I know all the songs or none of the songs it is. It’s just it’s incredibly special and what we see through the power of community.

16:39.60

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

16:56.97

Shani Tate Ross

Um, it is something that Kansas City is known for, but it’s something that I don’t take for granted at all.

16:59.53

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well, I mean, I think you’re absolutely right? Like I think about just music. You know, I mean, I’m not even talking about sports. I’m not talking about speakers. I’m not, you know, any of the things that T-Mobile Center does and does very well, I might add.

17:05.89

Shani Tate Ross

He.

17:12.75

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

17:16.54

Lauren Conaway

But you know, when you think about music, pretty much every society since the dawn of known history has connected over music. There’s this evolutionary very primal thing that you know music speaks to us. So when you convene, you know, 19,000 people around a shared love.

17:21.25

Shani Tate Ross

Um, absolutely.

17:32.75

Shani Tate Ross

You see.

17:36.47

Lauren Conaway

Because you don’t buy tickets and well some people might but most people don’t buy tickets to shows that they don’t have artists that they don’t love, you know. But I actually went to see it, and I was very lucky.

17:40.89

Shani Tate Ross

Right. Is it?

17:48.41

Lauren Conaway

They do that sweet and greet thing, and I gotta go see Elton John, and it was like a bucket list item for me. I freaked out while I was there, but I just remember looking around, and everybody in this giant sold-out Arena, and everybody is just so excited to be there, like being together.

17:52.57

Shani Tate Ross

Will hear me.

17:59.33

Shani Tate Ross

Um, yeah, yes.

18:08.10

Lauren Conaway

Enjoying these hits from you know our history like we’re all singing along and dancing. There were people in the other like sweet boxes. We were all just kind of looking at each other dancing around, and you know music has an incredible power to convene, and I and I would say the same that you know I’m not as much of a sports ball enthusiast.

18:09.39

Shani Tate Ross

Right.

18:17.97

Shani Tate Ross

Yep.

18:23.99

Shani Tate Ross

And here.

18:25.98

Lauren Conaway

Ah, but you know sports is the same as anytime you can bring together a shared interest and a shared love for that kind of community. It’s really hard to beat, and so being without it for two-ish three, you know, two-plus years.

18:30.17

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

18:37.39

Shani Tate Ross

Here and here.

18:42.00

Lauren Conaway

But it was really eye-opening, but I love that you’ve taken that knowledge and turned it into a positive instead of saying, hey, it really sucked that this happened. What you’re saying is, let’s never take it for granted again. Let’s remember how powerful this force is, so that’s ah, that’s a really lovely way.

18:55.52

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

19:00.44

Lauren Conaway

To look at it for sure. Um.

19:01.70

Shani Tate Ross

And it’s something that I have to do, Lauren, to be a hundred percent honest with you. It’s important for us to recognize the trauma, right because some of that trauma lingers, right? and so you know when people come to see us.

19:08.67

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah, there is a collective societal trauma that we all underwent.

19:18.84

Shani Tate Ross

It’s not that they’re not coming to see me. They’re coming to make memories with their family, their friends, their spouse with their partners. It is our job to get out of the way, right? So we win every night. So when people are like, oh well, what do you do? Well, the nuts and bolts of what I do are, you know. Certainly, I oversee a fantastic team.

19:21.45

Lauren Conaway

Yes. Yeah.

19:38.50

Shani Tate Ross

Who sells premium inventory partnerships marketing digital sales? Those are the disciplines that we have, but our job is to have an opportunity to connect with our guests and our patrons, our clients, and make memories we win every night. Our goal is to make sure.

19:42.72

Lauren Conaway

Do.

19:51.50

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

19:56.93

Shani Tate Ross

We maintain our winning streak.

19:57.67

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, well, so I’m going to call out one of your employees that you have a sweet attendant by the name of Teresa by the bye. She’s absolutely amazing. But Teresa is, you know, one piece.

20:04.36

Shani Tate Ross

Um, yes.

20:14.83

Lauren Conaway

Of the T-Mogle Center Experience team and I and I just have to say that y’all do an amazing job of, ah, just create like you.

20:15.95

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

20:26.28

Lauren Conaway

Said creating that experience is really interesting. You know, when people talk about innovators, one of the things that I always say is we don’t create the experience. We create the platform that’s what we do, and it sounds like that’s kind of what T-Mobile is hoping to do as well. We’re going to create all of these really interesting touch points and accents and bring in good shows.

20:29.23

Shani Tate Ross

Exactly.

20:46.12

Lauren Conaway

We’re gonna create a really good environment, but then we’re gonna, you know, let you take it away and make the experience what you want with your family with your friends. Is it a girl’s night? Is it the first concert with the Jackson 5 for four-year-old Shani? Like you’re creating these memories and you’re allowing space for your patrons and your guests.

20:53.23

Shani Tate Ross

Here. It is.

21:05.89

Lauren Conaway

To do that for themselves just by creating the platform and so that is fascinating, and I love that other thing that I love, and I do have to break in here for just a second, but you know what I love, I love compliance. I’m a process person.

21:08.52

Shani Tate Ross

Absolutely.

21:24.27

Lauren Conaway

And so I want to make sure that my eyes are dotted, and my ts are crossed, so I’m going to talk to you about Universal Registered Agents again. You know, if you are setting up a new business. It’s not easy. You know there are a lot of questions. You can always go to Google, but sometimes you get more confused.

21:25.89

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

21:41.81

Lauren Conaway

When you don’t have that kind of specialized help and attention and advice, stay in compliance. Making sure that you’re doing things the right way. It can be tough. That is why it is so important to have expert help along the way. That is exactly what you’re going to find when you visit http://universalregisteredagents.com. They’re going to help you with all of your business setup and maintenance needs. They can help you set up an LLC, corporation, and nonprofit; wherever you’re located, whatever you need. In addition to helping you create the right kind of entity, universalregisteredagents.com can also help with registered agent services. These are a wide variety of corporate services. And they can help you meet the needs of independent directors. So they do a really great job, and they make entrepreneurs’ jobs easier. Those are the kinds of organizations that we love to work with and love to partner with anything. We know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. So let the experts take it off your plate at http://universalregisteredagents.com. You can check the show notes for the link. Definitely check them out, all right? The first time it is always more of a headache and more expensive. So let’s avoid that.

22:38.97

Shani Tate Ross

Do it right. Or do it twice, right?

22:47.32

Shani Tate Ross

You said it.

22:52.16

Lauren Conaway

Friends, we are here with Shani Tate Ross with T-Mobile Center, and we’re actually this is another one of these is one of those situations that happens on occasion where we’re not really having the conversation that I intended, but we’re still having a great conversation. I’m going to go with it. But we’re actually kind of talking about creating experiences, which is what the T-Mobile Center specializes in. I mean, they have made a pretty fantastic run of building a business around experience and connection and shared love of, you know, music and sports and all those things and so on.

23:20.11

Shani Tate Ross

He. Absolutely.

23:29.50

Lauren Conaway

Ah, the questions that I wanted to ask you are, what are some of the ways that you know that T-Mobile Center kind of crafts and homes that guests experience.

23:40.33

Shani Tate Ross

Ah, the first thing I would say is that we treat ladies and gentlemen like their ladies and gentlemen, right? So we have to recognize that people have a choice when it comes to their discretionary income, whether it is coming here or going to a mall or going to a park, or doing nothing at all.

23:45.30

Lauren Conaway

All right.

23:51.45

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah.

23:59.98

Shani Tate Ross

Um, the fact that people choose to invest their money with you for a shared community experience. It really is a privilege and an honor, so you have to treat it as such. It’s not automatic, right? So you also have to meet people where they are. So you’ll see a variety of price points.

24:10.39

Lauren Conaway

So we go.

24:17.55

Shani Tate Ross

You’ll see a variety of experiences, whether it’s suites or premium seating or a VIP experience, or a family experience. What’s most important is that we continue to cultivate future lovers of live entertainment. So I was the first person who you know at my first experience at a concert. But I distinctly remember going to see the Harlem Globetrotters with my dad. Um, you know I don’t remember the score of the game. I’m going to guess whether the Globetrotters won. I guess I should say because they always do or they’ve never lost, I guess in the past fifty years or whatever. But you know we are curators of memories.

24:38.36

Lauren Conaway

Um, oh yeah.

24:45.69

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

24:54.82

Shani Tate Ross

And part of the memory is a great guest experience. So ah, regardless of where you are as part of ah you know whether it’s hospitality certainly getting to yes is important but you know also embracing the no or setting expectations, and I always go back to our job is not. Sara Lee is nice. Our job is to be kind; that means we need to be confident in being able to deliver whatever experience. We’re talking about whether it’s a premium experience or hospitality. But it’s also important for us to be truthful.

25:16.36

Lauren Conaway

Oh.

25:34.98

Shani Tate Ross

Expectations and not only live up to those expectations but exceed them, so those are distinguishing. You know, we just distinguish those two things because people think from a client service or hospitality perspective, I’m gonna call and complain and get whatever I want. I want everyone on our team to feel empowered.

25:36.58

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

25:54.11

Shani Tate Ross

That they are making a good decision because that’s why we hire people, right? It’s for their judgment. We want you to be empowered to do whatever you can to exceed expectations within your power. We’re not asking you to do anything outside of your lane. But we want you to do what is necessary to make that event special. Or that experience to be special for that individual guest and recognize that again. It’s a choice for people to spend their money with you, and it also invests their time. One thing emerging from the pandemic that we always remind ourselves to is that you never know. It may be my fourteen Hundredth event.

26:30.86

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

26:32.44

Shani Tate Ross

It may be my seventh show this week, but it’s somebody’s first time being here. We need to make sure that we try to make everybody’s experience the very first time to be just that special.

26:36.55

Lauren Conaway

All right, last.

26:42.32

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, no, I love that because you’re absolutely right? I mean, you operate within a very jam-packed space like there is any number of events and things that people can attend.

26:53.73

Shani Tate Ross

In there.

27:00.70

Lauren Conaway

You’re kind of in competition with, I mean, and I feel like you’ve definitely got some differentiators. You know, within the market, but you’re absolutely right? You know it’s an honor for people to spend their time with you, and I like the fact that you and your team give weight to that.

27:04.00

Shani Tate Ross

And

27:12.86

Shani Tate Ross

And hit.

27:18.73

Lauren Conaway

I think that that’s what makes it so special. One of the things that I love to do on this show. You know, not everybody that listens to this show is going to be in charge of a 19000-seat venue, but there are certain things that can be transferable, and so I’m going to ask you.

27:38.16

Lauren Conaway

Can you give some advice to us, like practical, applicable advice that our listeners at home could apply in their businesses? How do you create a great guest? Great customer experience. What does that process look like when you’re talking with your team, and you’re thinking about things that you can roll out to make them.

27:44.26

Shani Tate Ross

And here.

27:57.85

Lauren Conaway

Experience is just that more special to enhance it. What does that process look like?

27:58.11

Shani Tate Ross

Um, I’m going to start with a piece of advice that I got in my formative years from a former supervisor who said you should be listening twice as much as you speak?

28:07.63

Lauren Conaway

All right.

28:14.24

Lauren Conaway

Love it.

28:18.60

Shani Tate Ross

Think that we underestimate the value of listening in an effort to problem solve, so part of creating those experiences is to really pay attention and pick up cues right in terms of what we’re trying to deliver a lot of times, we think. Okay, this is what I want to say. This is what I need to do. Here are the things on my agenda.

28:29.20

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

28:37.84

Shani Tate Ross

And oftentimes, we underestimate how much people want a voice. They want to be heard. Um, it’s important for us as we look to either maintain a great experience or improve upon an experience. I always joke and say I want our clients to call us when they’ve had a challenge. I can’t promise that I’m gonna fix everything, but I also know.

28:41.80

Lauren Conaway

Solved. Yeah.

28:53.69

Lauren Conaway

Right.

28:57.61

Shani Tate Ross

There is nothing worse than you think, you’re the jam, and you are so not, and you’re the only person who does not know, but everybody else is talking about it. So the only way that you can improve is through being aware of what needs to change.

29:03.50

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah, so.

29:10.61

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, it needs to change.

29:13.96

Shani Tate Ross

And so you’re going to make those changes, but you can’t do that if you are only willing to hear the good news.

29:16.42

Lauren Conaway

Well, and that’s what I love because that’s so much a part of the entrepreneurial process. So one of the things that I like to say a lot like you. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to have an entrepreneurial mindset. You know the entrepreneurial mindset. It’s about a lot of things. It’s about creativity and resourcefulness.

29:21.68

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

29:35.36

Lauren Conaway

And all of that. But 1 of the things that is a deep endemic part of the entrepreneurial process is iteration. You know, there’s this concept I think I talked about in another previous show. There’s this concept in Japan called KaZen, and kaizen means continuous improvement.

29:40.30

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

29:50.26

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

29:51.10

Lauren Conaway

That’s all it means. You know you just apply kaizen in your life, and your goal is to continuously be better. Do better, whether that is when you’re like developing a product or whether you’re developing an experience for your guests. How do you consistently and constantly get better?

30:02.18

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

30:09.40

Lauren Conaway

And so to your point, and you’re absolutely right? You know the core of that is talking to your customers. The people that you are building the experience for, what do you need? What will make this better? So for our entrepreneurs, listen at home. You know, no matter how that looks to you, whether you’re just having conversations with your customers or you’re sending out. So.

30:16.62

Shani Tate Ross

You hear.

30:28.39

Lauren Conaway

Surveys Whether you are, I don’t know, creating user Personas and you know all of the focus groups. All of those things that you can do are create those touch points and those access points, and those listening opportunities. Um, just so key.

30:36.99

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

30:45.40

Lauren Conaway

The guest experience, and I love that that’s kind of the crux of your process. Yeah.

30:47.51

Shani Tate Ross

It has to be, and you know, Lauren, you talked about the entrepreneurial mindset when I interview folks for positions either here in Kansas City or across the globe. That’s the one thing I look for clearly. No one here is. There are other locations in the city where they are. Doing very difficult work in terms of cancer research or brain surgery. We are here to have fun. It is not all that complicated, I mean, but you know clearly, yes.

31:08.41

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

31:13.83

Lauren Conaway

You know we all need a little fun. It has been a rough couple of years. 

31:23.75

Shani Tate Ross

So it has been rough, but when we talk about the entrepreneurial mindset, that is what I look for regardless of location and job title because I need to hire folks who not only embrace innovation but who are natural problem solvers Regardless of what the problem is.

31:26.99

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

31:36.12

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, yeah.

31:42.85

Shani Tate Ross

I think in the world, we have enough problem staters in terms of people who just want to talk about exactly what the challenge is but how are we going to improve or solve a problem, and that’s the lens that I need you to bring regardless of whether or not you are on our security team or our guest services team or you’re selling premium inventory.

31:43.98

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

31:49.84

Lauren Conaway

Pray is.

31:59.57

Lauren Conaway

Yeah.

32:01.56

Shani Tate Ross

Or your marketing: you’re figuring out how you’re going to sell tickets. It is important for you to identify whatever challenge or obstacle. There may be, and what are the alternatives.

32:07.94

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, I say when I was much, much younger, somebody gave me an invaluable piece of advice, and that advice has never presented a problem without also presenting a solution and in fact, is like sometimes that solution it might.

32:21.45

Shani Tate Ross

Absolutely.

32:27.48

Lauren Conaway

Not be the one that you go with, but what I think the point is is that you know there are plenty. As you said, there are plenty of naysayers out there. There are people who are going to kind of pick apart as those people exist, and that’s fine, but you want to be proactively a part of trying to identify the path forward.

32:38.45

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

32:46.41

Lauren Conaway

Suppose you’re going to be if you’re going to. You know, be critical. That’s fine. Constructive criticism is always great, but constructive means you have to have a path you know. Otherwise, it’s just criticism. So I love that, and it touches on something that I really want to ask you because you mentioned this earlier. You talked about it.

32:54.69

Shani Tate Ross

Absolutely.

33:05.32

Lauren Conaway

Ah, you keep on coming back to your team like when you’re looking for team members, and you mentioned that you want your team to feel empowered. You want them to be problem solvers, and so I’m going to ask you.

33:17.16

Lauren Conaway

As a leader within your organization, and I know that you are fantastic, incredibly, I Just happen to know that you’re a very well thought leader within your organization. I’ve heard the feedback. But my question to you is, how do you create a culture.

33:24.87

Shani Tate Ross

Um, it is.

33:32.96

Lauren Conaway

That empowers your employees by allowing them the grace in space. One of my favorite little phrases that allow them the grace and space to become leaders in their own right is? Really because that’s what you’re asking when you’re asking for empowered problem solvers. You’re asking for leaders within an organization. So how are you?

33:36.78

Shani Tate Ross

It is.

33:44.18

Shani Tate Ross

Absolutely. I think the first thing you have to do is to resist your natural urge as a type of personality to be a fixer part of I think a lot of times as leaders, we try to go to. Okay, what’s the problem? I’ll solve it like vanilla, I said.

33:52.61

Lauren Conaway

Create that culture.

33:58.24

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, sure.

34:09.77

Lauren Conaway

I really thought that it wasn’t right if there was a problem and solved it, but all right? But of quarters.

34:11.87

Shani Tate Ross

But I just date myself to see it all come back to music, right? But you know it’s important you know as leaders we’re coaches and so if we talk about our legacy leadership. It’s important for us. Not only to be able to provide feedback and.

34:22.15

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, just.

34:30.61

Shani Tate Ross

Different perspectives and certainly a different lens on what a challenge or an issue is, but our job is to coach and to nurture, and some of those are really great conversations, and sometimes they’re really difficult conversations. But when we build them upon trust and with a shared vision.

34:44.58

Lauren Conaway

Death.

34:46.67

Shani Tate Ross

That’s what’s important. I think that we were all too, you know, only recently have people been very intentional about culture as a general you know for the first 400 years of the absolutely but I know that you know culture is not an accident I mean you can love everyone and be not.

34:51.38

Lauren Conaway

So yeah, yeah, I Definitely hear more people talking about it. Yeah. Right?

35:06.19

Shani Tate Ross

Productive at all. So you know, I think that you know in terms of what your values are. What is important? What are the things that are important to you and things that are important to your team? Certainly, having measurements for those things and having fun life is short?

35:20.19

Lauren Conaway

Yes.

35:23.58

Shani Tate Ross

It is way too short to waste it doing something. You don’t love people. You don’t love, so you know, be very intentional about creating a culture and nurture that culture, right? and the grass may be greener on the other side. Um, but work within what you have and recognize your role.

35:40.30

Lauren Conaway

Um, right? Yeah yeah, I Absolutely agree. You know it’s one of those situations when you’re creating a strong community, and communities can take any form, and I talk about this a lot. You know.

35:42.17

Shani Tate Ross

Because we all. It’s not the leader’s role to create the culture. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

35:53.37

Shani Tate Ross

Um, yep.

35:59.22

Lauren Conaway

We could be talking about the Kansas City community. We could be talking about the T-Mobile Center community, we could be talking about the family community like when you bring people together, and there is a culture, and there is a shared understanding of morals and values and principles. That’s a community, and so I’m speaking about the T-Mobile Community now.

36:18.52

Lauren Conaway

But you know, it sounds like you have created a culture of psychological safety. Um, you know psychological safety is where you create a team of people who are empowered to question and ideate to serve autonomously.

36:29.39

Shani Tate Ross

Who?

36:34.99

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

36:37.52

Lauren Conaway

Um, and that’s like all of those things are so crucial if you want your team to be satisfied within their workplace and and and I think we all know at this point that people don’t leave bad jobs, maybe leave bad managers. You know, if you give people the space to do so.

36:42.73

Shani Tate Ross

Absolutely.

36:48.40

Shani Tate Ross

Here.

36:57.90

Lauren Conaway

To own their own stuff, I don’t know that part. That’s just what I mean to phrase it. I’m sure I could have said them more eloquently, maybe but own their stuff. Ah, you know when you allow people to do that. You allow people to grow, and when you allow people to grow with an organization, you create empowered team members who are bought in.

36:58.55

Shani Tate Ross

And we all have stuff. We all have our stuff. Did you say it? Yes.

37:14.52

Shani Tate Ross

Um, absolutely.

37:16.36

Lauren Conaway

The collective success of the team. Yeah, so I love that, I’m going to ask a question, and I’m going to go a little bit off-book here because it’s tangentially related to our conversation, I think, but we have not talked about it yet.

37:27.90

Shani Tate Ross

Okay, I’m ready.

37:32.27

Lauren Conaway

Um, when we talk about psychological safety. One of the things that we talk about is failure. So how do you feel about failure, Shani, and this can be you personally, or this can be you as a leader within, you know, the T-Mobile TeamCenter team.

37:37.60

Shani Tate Ross

In here.

37:44.31

Shani Tate Ross

Before I get very eloquent, no one likes to fail, right? But from failure.

37:51.21

Lauren Conaway

A little bit about failure.

38:02.97

Shani Tate Ross

If we fail forward and we fail fast comes growth, and you know I think about, and you know I’ll call out you know Davion and 1 of his entities that he works with a Dd sports and shot tracker is the evolution watching him evolve um from what the product was initially to what it is today.

38:03.41

Lauren Conaway

Right.

38:15.75

Lauren Conaway

Yeah. Yeah.

38:22.67

Shani Tate Ross

That didn’t come because all the brilliant ideas just kept coming. It became where they are today, and the success that they’ve had internationally is because they were it. Unfortunately, failure sparks growth.

38:37.60

Lauren Conaway

Hang out.

38:42.37

Shani Tate Ross

Through the right lens, you have to be, you know, certainly intentional about failing fast, but you can’t be afraid to make a mistake, and that’s what’s most important is that it’s not about always doing what’s right, doing what’s safe.

38:58.48

Shani Tate Ross

It’s about figuring out what solution you’re trying to put forth, and some of it’s going to be right? Some of it. You’re going to need to pivot on but always keep moving because once you stop moving, you’re going to be passed by. So.

39:07.45

Lauren Conaway

Okay. I mean, that feels like an episode title, right? They always keep moving. That’s right. I love it. Well, and I have to tell you I’ve been thinking about this.

39:17.35

Shani Tate Ross

Keep moving forward. Absolutely maintain the momentum.

39:24.73

Lauren Conaway

Ah, through our time talking together, but Shani, I did you a disservice when we were prepping. I forgot to tell you about something that I do in these episodes. I’m going to tell you about it now, and our listeners are getting to get a little bit of insight into pre-show prep, but I’m about to ask you what we call the human question.

39:31.00

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

39:42.76

Lauren Conaway

And I ask the human question for a couple of reasons. This is actually straight for the prep spiel that I just totally forgot today. So my apologies, but the spiel is the human question is a dumb question that has nothing to do with anything.

39:43.82

Shani Tate Ross

And he’s okay.

39:53.92

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

39:55.95

Lauren Conaway

Not intended to break your brain. Some examples would be what kind of toppings. Do you like your pizza, or if you have a superpower? What would you want? The reason I ask is that I have a few reasons number one, I like it. It’s fun for me, and this is the one part in the show where you’re gonna be subject to my whims number 2

40:01.45

Shani Tate Ross

In there.

40:06.81

Shani Tate Ross

You know.

40:13.40

Lauren Conaway

It is fun for our listeners. It kind of humanizes you a little bit, and we get to have a fun conversation about something fun, but three that is probably the most important is that we are almost done. This is the last question I’m going to ask you and myself.

40:17.62

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

40:29.60

Lauren Conaway

Don’t really base the human question on the previous conversation. But I’m going to ask this because I’m just super curious. So knowing that your first concert ever was Diana Ross and the Jackson 5 freaks me out, by the way. Super jealous. I’m gonna ask you if you can see it.

40:33.24

Shani Tate Ross

Okay.

40:48.71

Lauren Conaway

Any show, any music show from history, I’m giving you all of human history. I mean, you could come at me like fifteenth-century visuals, and I’d be cool. Ah, but if you could see any show from history. What show would you want to be in the audience for?

40:54.50

Shani Tate Ross

Um, yeah.

41:03.52

Shani Tate Ross

And here’s what I’m gonna say, Lauren, I’ve never had this question before, and all of my I’ve never had this question I’ve heard I’ve had top 10 pop ten concerts top 10 events that you’ve ever seen. Can I give you?

41:08.89

Lauren Conaway

Are you serious? Ah okay.

41:20.58

Lauren Conaway

Yes.

41:22.62

Shani Tate Ross

One that didn’t occur and one that I wish I would have gone to. Okay, thank you? So I wish that I could rewrite history and go back to 2009 and see what was going to be this was a tour with Michael Jackson so

41:25.45

Lauren Conaway

I will allow it. Yes, okay.

41:33.69

Lauren Conaway

Is. Okay.

41:41.19

Shani Tate Ross

In July, that show was scheduled to go off. It was, and obviously, we know that it didn’t, but if I could rewrite history, that would be one that I would want to, and I would have loved to have been in Atlanta for Prince’s last show.

41:48.33

Lauren Conaway

Yeah, oh, you just said Prince, and that freaked me out. Because he’s like one of my top 5 of shows that I wished I had seen.

42:01.39

Shani Tate Ross

Yes, in.

42:03.49

Lauren Conaway

Like when the Elton John tickets came, like when we knew that Elton John was coming to town, I called mad. I was like, please, please, please, please, please. I didn’t want to miss another opportunity, like missing Prince. He does a rendition if you, folks, go to Youtube.

42:11.85

Shani Tate Ross

Absolutely.

42:19.35

Lauren Conaway

He does While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It’s during a tribute to George Harrison of The Beatles. There are all of them; Tom Petty is up on stage and all of these super well-known musicians. Prince just comes in and plays them all on the guitar like it’s crazy.

42:34.10

Shani Tate Ross

Yes, yes, here’s my little nugget again. Great amazing parents, Rose and Gene. 

42:38.81

Lauren Conaway

He is one of my favorite artists, and I love that you just said Prince. That makes me really happy. Yes.

42:50.23

Shani Tate Ross

I distinctly remember being incredibly annoyed that they would not allow me to stand out in the rain at Seventh Heaven on a truce. When I was in seventh grade to get my line placement for a Prince’s show. Can you believe it? I still saw the show. They just wouldn’t let me skip school to go do it.

42:57.44

Lauren Conaway

No, all right. They went down a little bit in my estimation, but clearly, they’re pretty amazing parents. I guess that’s okay. All right, well, you said Rose and Gene. Is that right?

43:08.55

Shani Tate Ross

So, yes, good stuff. Rose and Gene. Yes.

43:15.48

Lauren Conaway

Rose and Gene, well done. Rose and Gene, you raised a wonderful, empathetic human being. You instilled a love of music in her. So well done, and a round of applause. We’re gonna say thank you to them. 

43:25.42

Shani Tate Ross

Yes.

43:33.15

Lauren Conaway

We’re also going to say a big thank you to today’s episode sponsor, Universal Registered Agents. They can help you set up your new business. Most importantly, maintain all aspects of your business compliance. Their goal is to make your job easier, so you can focus on what you do best, which is running your business. Connect with them by visiting the link in our show notes. It’s universalregisteredagents.com. Shani, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. As I knew it would be, this has been a great conversation that I’ve very much been looking forward to. I’m so grateful that you took the time out to share a little bit of your story with our listeners.

44:09.54

Shani Tate Ross

Lauren, thank you so much. Invite me back; we can chat some more. It’ll be a very exciting time. We can talk about it again and look back and celebrate. Maybe have a toast to officially emerging from the pandemic.

44:12.72

Lauren Conaway

Heck, yeah.

44:22.94

Lauren Conaway

Absolutely, I would love to do that anytime. Friends, I hope . . . Actually, you know what, I’m going to say, in the comments, tell us what you would like Shani and I to talk about on our next episode. That would be super cool and interesting.

44:25.15

Shani Tate Ross

And are reflecting on our love of live entertainment this year.

44:42.86

Lauren Conaway

And then I am also going to tell you. I’m going to point you to our Facebook chat group. I don’t know if you all know this, but on Facebook, we have a Startup Hustle chat group. You can talk to the hosts, like me, Matt DeCoursey, and Matt Watson; we’re all pretty active in the group. Would like, oh, Andrew Morgans. We would love to see you. Just join the community and join the conversation, #JoinTheHustle. You know how it goes, but we would definitely love to see you do that. We also love the fact that you come back to us week after week, friends. You know, the fact that you listen to us with all of the other podcasts out there it’s an honor. We love telling the stories of entrepreneurs, founders, thought leaders, and influencers for you week after week. We want to keep on doing it. Please keep coming back, and thank you for listening. We will catch you on the flip side.

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