Voice of Supply Chain – Feb. 2021
Featuring: Sarah Barnes-Humphrey
Hello, welcome to the ISM New Jersey Voice of Supply Chain show. This is a new show that Kathy and the fabulous board and team decided to put together to tell stories of people doing really cool and innovative things in procurement and supply chain. I am honored to have Sarah Barnes-Humphrey as our guest today. Sarah is not only a visionary and has been doing some really incredible innovative things in the industry, she’s also become a very close friend as we’ve all been in lockdown for the last year and a half, and very excited to hopefully have the opportunity to meet with her in person next year.
A couple of housekeeping notes before we get started. At the very bottom of your screen, you will see a chat function and a raised hand. Feel free to engage with the chat throughout the conversation. Sarah and I like to keep things very fun and lighthearted, so feel free to put notes and comments. And then if you have questions for our guest Sarah today, go ahead and either put those in the chat or raise your hand, and I will be monitoring and asking those throughout the conversation today. So do not be shy. Sarah is an open book and she’s happy to answer most questions that you’ll throw at us today.
Again, thank you so much for being with us today, and we are going to dive in and get started and get to know Sarah a little bit. So Sarah, thank you again for being here today. We have some new roses joining us for the conversation, so those are beautiful. I’ll just got those for me last night. He knew we had the interview. I was going to try to set them up, but it didn’t work properly. So know that those are looking down on us today.
So Sarah, one of the things that I think is really interesting about your background is that you didn’t fall into supply chain or procurement. A lot of people I talked to, it’s something that they accidentally stumbled upon. They worked at a company and there was a position and they kind of just got put into that role. But you actually kind of grew up in the industry. So what was it like, first of all, growing up in an entrepreneurial household?
Well, hello, everyone, and I am super excited to be here. Sarah, you are a rock star, and I’m so excited that you’re hosting this today. So hello, everyone. Yeah, so growing up in an entrepreneurial household, I guess we should, and we’re going to dive into more of this in a little bit, but my dad owned a private 3PL just outside of Toronto. And a 3PL is a freight forwarding company, so we were like a travel agent for freight. And we did warehousing and customs and all of that kind of stuff. So growing up in an entrepreneurial household, you know, I heard logistics and supply chain, you know, ever since I could remember at the dinner table because that’s what my dad did. He was in logistics, and he would talk to my mom about it at the dinner table, and I didn’t really think anything of it. It was difficult in the fact that my dad wasn’t around as much as I would have liked when I was growing up. He was around a little bit more when my brother did, just because, you know, the demands of being an entrepreneur and in those days, it was very much about wining and dining and going out with people on a nightly basis. And so it was really into softball, and so it was hard because my mom was really the one at the games. My dad didn’t really participate in that because of all of the responsibilities he had as an entrepreneur and building a business.
Yeah, so Sarah, my dad is one of four siblings, and two of his siblings started companies, and I know my cousins always mentioned they never saw their dads growing up very much because there’s so much involved in starting and running a company, especially when it’s a small business and you don’t have a lot of staff and team to do things. And the sales process was very different back in the day, right? We didn’t have people doing research and doing a lot of things online. They were in-person meeting. And so you’re right, it took a lot of time outside of normal business hours. So I can relate since we have some entrepreneurs in our family as well.
So you mentioned your dad didn’t grow up as an entrepreneur and kind of started later in life when you moved to Canada. Where did he get the inspiration to start his company? It’s not every day that people think about going into freight and logistics.
Yeah, so he was in freight and logistics for his whole career. So I don’t know, like this is going to date me, and I don’t know if many people have heard of this name, but he worked for LEP, and LEP, I think now is Agility, Global Logistics. And so LEP, he was able to move around. He was branch manager. Like I said, they got to live in all sorts of different locations. And when he came here, he was working for LEP, and then Livingston Freight Division, I believe, came up for sale, and they decided, him and a business partner, to go in and buy the Livingston Freight Division and start the company. So while I don’t really know his inspiration behind it, and I don’t really know that whole story, and now you’ve prompted that, and I’m definitely going to go ask him, I do know that that was the foundation of how the company got started.
Okay, very interesting. So being the daughter of an entrepreneur definitely has its ups and downs. What was the most important lesson you learned from working at your dad’s company? Because not only did you grow up in the household, but you actually worked in the business as well.
Yeah, it was difficult being the boss’s daughter. I’m not gonna lie. You know, I thought I could trust people, and in the end, they were always working an angle to try to pull information out from me because they thought I knew more than I did. Like, he would confide in me like an advisor, which he didn’t, and then I would make friends in the company, and then two days later, maybe my dad would fire them, and you know, it was very, very difficult. People that you made relationships with wouldn’t talk to you again because of things like that or things that were totally out of your control. And so it was… it was a difficult environment.
Also, to the fact that I felt like I constantly had to prove myself on a regular day-to-day basis. You know, and so there were some days that I was working 12-hour days when I was in operations and I was actually the hardest. I, I had the most work out of anybody in the import department, uh, just because they knew that I would get it done. And so, you know, it was growing. I literally grew up in the industry because I went straight from high school into the family business, starting off as reception. And there was a lot to learn, you know? There was a lot of snide remarks, there was a lot of things said at a sales meeting like, ‘Oh, you can’t say any of that here because Sarah’s here and she’s going to run to daddy.’ You know, like not a lot of very fun things, but I learned a lot of incredible things, not only about other people but also about myself, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It was an experience that not everybody gets to enjoy or not enjoy, depending on how you look at it. But it also gave me an opportunity to try different things. So, you know, I was reception, I went into trucking, I went into ocean imports and air imports. I was able to do some customs, and I went into warehousing. And so it all afforded me a lot of opportunities, especially on the travel side as well. I got to travel a lot. So, you know, there was a lot of different lessons learned, and you have to grow up pretty quickly in that sort of environment and really learn to be able to have big shoulders.
Yeah, and Sarah, one of the things that I admire a lot about you is I think you have, you’re really good about having thick skin. And there are many people out there, and you do a good job of just rolling with it and not internalizing things. And maybe that some of that comes from working in your dad’s business and having that negative feedback and criticism and being able to just not take it too personally and separate that from, you know, life and keeping the business separate from personal comments and personal attacks. Well, thank you for that, but there are a lot of days that I am crying. I’m not gonna lie. I mean, thank you for that, and I’m so glad that it portrays that way, but I am, you know, I am sensitive to being an entrepreneur. I think we’ve all shed several tears. I’ve been an entrepreneur about two and a half years, and it is not easy, so I, I, I feel you.
So you worked in your dad’s business for a long time, and then you decided to go out on your own, which we’ll get into. But you have more than one business now, which is super exciting. So tell me about why you decided to launch ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain,’ and then maybe tell us a little bit about what that is. Sure, okay. So, I spent eight years in operations at my dad’s company, and then eight years in sales. And then I transitioned into Director of Sales and Marketing. And the year that I did that, two things happened. One thing was I realized that there was a lot of disconnect between freight forwarders and importers and exporters, and I knew tech could solve that. And on the other side of the coin, I also knew that as a 3PL, I had to get our brand story out there, and there wasn’t really a lot of places that I felt were fun enough for us to be able to do that or would give us the freedom to be able to do that. And I was listening to a lot of podcasts at the time, and I thought, ‘Well hey, if Lewis Howes can do this, why can’t Sarah Barnes-Humphrey?’ Well, at the time, I don’t think I was married, so Sarah Barnes can do it. And so, my co-host was a guy from my customs department, and I had a team at the time. The first episode was absolutely horrible from an audio and a video quality, and we called it ‘Two Babes Talk Supply Chain’ because everything at the time was really, really stuffy in supply chain as far as marketing was concerned. And I really just wanted to push the boundaries and see how far we could go with it. And everybody I talked to about it just laughed, right? It was just a funny thing, and people really, really liked that. And so, in the fall of 2017, and well, actually before that, I had already started making revenue on the podcast. And so, I had moved the podcast into my own personal company. And in the fall of 2017, my dad ended up closing the doors, and I was out on my butt after 20 years. I lost my team, I lost my co-host, and I had several people lined up for interviews that had paid to come on the podcast, and life had to go on. And so, it was the worst day of my life. I cried a lot that day, and actually, one of our VPs was telling everybody that I needed to go see a therapist because I was crying that day, which just goes to show you what kind of environment I kind of grew up in as far as work culture. And so, I had to learn graphic design, I had to learn website design, and in January 2018, I thought, ‘You know what? Well, nobody’s hiring me right now. I can’t even get an interview. So, I’m gonna run with this, and I’m gonna do it.’ And all this, all the while, I was also building my tech company, and I learned everything that I needed to learn. It was not pretty at the very beginning. I don’t know if anybody remembers my branding, but it was not pretty at all. And I started the ‘Woman in Supply Chain’ series on the podcast in January 2018, and by April 2018, I couldn’t get any women on my show because of my name, ‘The Two Babes Talk Supply Chain.’ So, I rebranded the whole company within a week, which I don’t suggest anybody to do because it was the craziest week of my life. But it’s kind of history now, right? You know, three years later. Three years later, yeah. It’ll be three years in April, and we’ve now turned it into a media business. So, ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain’ started as a podcast. We now have the ‘Woman in Supply Chain’ series as a part of that podcast. It’s also a blog series. We do blogs. I host events. We host live streams. We do weekly live streams. So, anything to do with digital content in supply chain, we do that through ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain.’
So, Sarah, you recently, one podcast was not enough. You launched a second podcast, which I loved following and listening to. So, what makes the two podcasts that you do unique, and why should somebody listen? So, there are so many podcasts. I feel like any celebrity or self-proclaimed guru has a podcast now. So, we have to be really careful with our time, and then we have Clubhouse that emerged, right? So, when we’re ever not in a meeting, most of us are on Clubhouse in rooms. So, tell us about why someone should listen to your podcast and maybe tell us a little bit about ‘Blended’ as well.
Sure, yeah. ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain’ podcast, I really didn’t lose sight of why I had started it. And why I started it was to be able to tell a brand story. And so, that’s what I do with the podcast. So, there’s the ‘Women in Supply Chain’ series, but for the rest of the month, I feature companies in supply chain because I also feel like there’s not really one place for you to go as a supply chain professional when you have a challenge to find out what solutions and innovations are out there to help you. And so, I feature companies for that specific reason on the podcast, and we dive into who they are, what exactly do you do? Like, don’t give me the fluff. Tell me exactly what you do so I can understand. And what’s the real-life example of how you have helped a customer so that our audience can really get an idea of why potentially they would want to work with you. And I did that for a reason. Like I said, there’s not really any resources out there that provide that. And so, that’s what sets us apart as a supply chain podcast. And then I started ‘Blended’ in October.
Now I can tell you that I started on the trajectory for the ‘Blended’ podcast in February. We’d been doing the ‘Women in Supply Chain’ series, and when we started, it was just a podcast episode. The following year, we expanded because I realized that there were a lot of women that we wanted to feature. So, we’ve expanded that into a blog. And then the following year, which was 2020, was, we really need to expand into diversity and inclusion as a whole. We need to expand that conversation. But it wasn’t just to start a podcast just to start a podcast. It was, what do people really want around diversity and inclusion? How can we make this different, and how can we make an impact? And I sat on it. I literally announced it in March. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m working on a diversity and inclusion podcast or series or whatever.’ And people kept asking me about it, and I was like, ‘Oh man, I gotta get… I gotta get on this, you know? I need to get on this. What am I doing?’ And it came to me. I don’t remember when. I think it was last August because I was afraid, right? I was like, ‘I really need to get this done.’ And I decided that we needed to do something different. So, we’re bringing five different people from different walks of life together on every single episode to talk about different diversity and inclusion topics. And the authenticity… I’m probably going to cry when I talk about this because this is such a passion project for me, and the feedback that we’ve gotten from these episodes has been absolutely incredible because everybody who’s come together… And you’ve got to realize, when we start these recording these episodes, none of them have met before. But they all come to record this interview because I’m providing a trusting place for them to be themselves and for them to be authentic and share genuinely their experiences, their perspectives, and their thoughts in diversity and inclusion. And that’s where the magic happens. Everybody comes together on every single episode and really shares so authentically that every time I hang up from recording that interview, I am completely touched personally that they would allow me that space for them to have those types of conversations. And so, the first episode was around ‘What’s in a Word?’ So, we talked about what words can we use, can’t we use. Can I ask you how you identify? The last episode that we just released, not last week, but the week before, I think, or maybe it was last week, was around the Black Lives Matter movement. And, you know, talking about the riots versus the peaceful protests and what did they actually mean and the commercialization of the movement, and etcetera, etcetera. So, we really get deep down into important topics that need to be talked about but with people from different walks of life that bring different perspectives.
Yeah, Sarah, I know several friends of mine have been on your show, and I really enjoyed… They’re very, very authentic, and I feel like they’re not made up. Like, some podcasts, you think, ‘Well, that person didn’t seem like really themselves.’ So, I appreciate that you provide that space for people to have those difficult conversations. And Kathy, if you could maybe in the chat function put the link to Sarah’s website and to the podcast, I think it’s letstalksupplychain.com. And both of her podcasts are available there in case anyone who’s with us wants to check out Sarah’s website and either of those podcasts. I would highly recommend both of those. I’m going to put the links as well to Apple and Spotify for ‘Blended,’ because it’s sometimes hard to find. I didn’t want to open something up on my computer and have really loud noise pop up during the interview. So, thank you. No problem.
So, Sarah, one of the things that that I get asked a fair amount from people is, well, one, should I start a podcast? Is the market too saturated? Because I mentioned there are just so many people doing podcasts now. And then you have these audio-only platforms like Clubhouse, which I think are really going to change the way that people interact and use social media. And then the second question is, how do I, if I do a podcast, how do I make money? So, how have you turned your podcast into revenue generators? You’re actually making money from it, which I think is wonderful, and people who are going to invest time and resources really need to have that as the end goal in mind.
Well, it really depends on what the goal is of what you’re trying to achieve with the podcast that you’re going to create. So, a lot of people or companies talk about getting into podcasting, but it’s a lot of work. You’ve got to understand from the very beginning that it is a lot of work, especially if you’re going to have guests. To find those guests and schedule those guests and, you know, if you don’t have a team from the get-go, it’s a lot of work for one person. And so, some people have a podcast because they want to engage with their customers, right? Some people have a podcast because they want to curate content and they want to get their brand out there on their own. So, those ones don’t necessarily need to be monetized because they’re being monetized in other ways, and they’re a vehicle to that monetization through maybe inbound marketing or something like that.
If you’re starting a podcast to be a business, you have to understand that it takes consistency and it does take a little bit of time. And so, you really have to stick with it, right? Like this didn’t happen overnight for me. I mean, I’ve been doing this podcast since 2016. Right, so in total, it’s been four years: three years as ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain’ and one year as ‘Two Babes Talk Supply Chain.’ And I started out really small. So, I started out, you know, asking people to pay a hundred dollars to come on the show. I mean, I don’t charge that now. I charge a lot more because we’ve been able to grow the following and we’ve been able to grow the downloads, and there’s a lot more that we’re putting into it. I now have a team that manages a lot of it. And so, yeah, it really just depends on the goal and what they’re looking to do. Funnily enough, I am working on a video course around how to monetize a podcast and turn your podcast into more of a media business and digital content. So, I don’t want to give away all the secrets because that’s something that I’m coming out with this year, later on this year. And you guys are the first to know because I haven’t really told a lot of people about it. Sarah Scudder, see what you do to me, VIP here today. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, so it’s really just about testing the market, figuring out what that looks for you, you know, what you want to be doing with it, what the end goal is. So, I hope that that helps. But stay tuned because I got more. Come on, and I think the important comment you made is that it doesn’t happen overnight. You’re not gonna, I mean, unless you’re a huge celebrity, you’re not gonna record an episode and get two million views and be able to start charging a bunch of money. It’s something you really have to build up a following, and you have to provide good content. I mean, there’s so much information out there. You can’t just throw something out there and expect it to do. It really needs to be authentic and meaningful to whoever you’re targeting, yeah, absolutely.
So, I mentioned Clubhouse a couple times. I know you’ve been on it a month or so before me, but I’m just a big fan. I was in a room before our conversation today, actually. Me too. What do you think is the future of podcasting given new platforms like Clubhouse? And then we’ve got Facebook and Twitter launching competing platforms as well. Again, I think it comes down to what your content is providing to the community. Right. I think what Clubhouse provides us is a live interactive environment, and you’re going to see some of the things that I’m going to be doing on Clubhouse later on in the year because obviously we’re all sort of testing this out and figuring out where it can go and what the market and what the people on Clubhouse are really looking for. But it’s definitely something that I want to incorporate into what we’re doing because it’s that podcast but with live interaction. And so, I definitely think that it’s going to change the networking game, you know? And you know, us going back into in-person conferences is great, but then you’re also going to have something like Clubhouse where you can network and instantly get access to people that you might not even get access to at an in-person conference. As far as podcasts, like I said, it depends what role your content plays, right?
So, for my podcast, the role that it plays is to be an actual resource for companies who have a challenge to take a look at what innovations are out there. You can’t necessarily get that on Clubhouse because you’re not really searching for that, right? And so, I think for me, I think the podcast is, you know, definitely something that’s still going to go strong even with something like Clubhouse. But I think for general content, I think Clubhouse is definitely going to change the game for sure.
Now, Sarah, you host two ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain’ rooms a week on Clubhouse. When are those rooms in case anyone who’s joining us is interested in joining Clubhouse for the first time or who’s already on Clubhouse and wants to become a part of that supply chain community? Yeah, and you co-moderate with me sometimes or you take over and moderate like you did last week, and I just want to give you a big shoutout because you really saved my butt last week. So thank you so much for showing up for me last week. So those are Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. Because the one thing about Clubhouse, if you’re not on it, it’s very addictive. And as somebody who has a lot to do, like us, you really have to find time and you really have to schedule that time and be consistent with that time. So there’s that consistency again, right? So I tested it out a little bit earlier, and it was Mondays and Wednesdays, and then we went to Wednesdays and Fridays, and I’m still kind of testing it out a little bit. But lunch hours are really easy for me to be able to run a Clubhouse room, and so for me, I am running those on a lunch break. It’s an hour. I let everybody know it’s an hour.
So, if you have questions, you need to come up and ask. And so yeah, I mean at the end of the day, you’ve got to figure out what works for you and how you can stay consistent with it, because a lot of times with a lot of these things is that you think it’s going to work for you long term, and then it doesn’t and then you fall off and then it’s hard to get back on, and then you lose the consistency and you lose the audience. So, again, for those who missed it, Sarah hosts ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain’ room on Clubhouse Wednesdays and Fridays, noon to one Eastern time. Myself, Madison Mobley Adebayo, and a couple others will join her on stage when we can, and it’s really fun natural conversation, talking about procurement and supply chain. I love the focus on that you have, Sarah, on helping people who are looking to get into the industry that maybe don’t have a supply chain background and are looking to pivot. And so, I think that’s really useful for people to come up on stage and be able to get some career advice.
Yeah, yeah, and it’s not just about that. It’s really about getting the experts together and having an opportunity for people to come up and ask questions. Right? Like how often are you able to do that? Not very often, you know? Even in a webinar format, you know, it’s not as easy. So, yeah, so Sarah, I want to pivot a little bit. We spent the first part of the conversation talking about ‘Let’s Talk Supply Chain.’ You’ve also recently launched a second business called SHIPS. So, tell us, what is SHIPS? I’m not sure how many of those have checked out the website or heard about it before.
Yeah, so if you’re an importer or an exporter, you know the struggles of working with a freight forwarder when it comes to your air and ocean freight shipments. And I’ll put it into perspective. So, to get from a quote to booking an air and ocean freight shipment, it takes 101 hours, 40 emails, and 20 phone calls the way that it’s being done right now. And each importer and exporter are going to the same three to five different freight forwarders to get the quotes on their air and ocean freight shipments. And so basically, what we’ve taken is we’ve taken that process of what’s happening right now, and we’ve moved it online into a bid and ship marketplace for air and ocean freight. So, it’s making it easier for both the freight forwarder to do business because they’ve had some challenges in the past, or they have challenges currently, and then it makes it easier for the importer and the exporter and just gives them more choice.
“Yeah, it sounds a lot like my space in print procurement where it’s super manual. You’ve got, you know, a massive amount of emails going back and forth, spreadsheets that then break. Yes, redone. And so, I think there’s a lot to be said for all of us who are so busy trying to automate a lot of the manual work that is being done right now in supply chain. So, Sarah, who is your target buyer? Who is somebody who would actually buy this tech product?
Yeah, so it’s a mid-market importer and exporter. So, not the enterprise like you’ve got the big companies that already have their shipping teams, you know, that are working on contracts with steamship lines directly. It’s the mid-market. I mean, let’s face it, mid-market are the ones driving the economy right now, and they’re the most underserved. And that’s who we’ve targeted as a customer, whether it’s a freight forwarder or whether it’s an importer or an exporter. And what types of companies are more likely to need your type of product? I’m assuming there’s industries that are more prone to be doing this type of transport?
Retail, consumer packaged goods. I’ll give you an example. We’ve got one in the beauty space, and they’re using our platform to quote out their air and ocean freight shipments. They’re two people on their shipping team, so something like this just makes things that much more efficient for them and a way to be able to find more choice. Yeah, so a lot of times, freight forwarders are quoting on everything because they don’t want to lose a customer, but they’re really only good at certain routes. And you want to be working with them in those routes. The only way that you can do that is to have access to choice, but when you’re that busy and you need to get shipments out, you tend to go with the same three to five forwarders that you’ve always used, right? And because there’s onboarding from a vendor perspective, which all of those things we solve for. So, how do you overcome an objection like that? Well, so if they’re working with three to five different freight forwarders, they have three to five different logins, whereas with SHIPS, you’ve got one login and you’ve got access to all of those freight forwarders and more. And so, that’s how we overcome that objection because right now they’re juggling all sorts of vendors and all sorts of logins, and with SHIPS, you just get one. You just have one login.
So, your solution is actually reducing the amount of tech solutions that they have to use while also freeing up resources and saving money. Yes, okay. So, your SHIPS is brand new. You guys are in growth mode. What is your growth strategy this year? I don’t like to predict too far out in the future because I think things just change so quickly, and with COVID and everything happening in the world, who knows? But what’s your growth strategy for 2021?
Yeah, it’s a great question. So, we are very focused on onboarding more shippers and freight forwarders to the platform, and that’s really our focus for 2021. However, in the last week, we’ve also decided to turn the product into a software for the freight forwarders as well because we solve so many challenges that the freight forwarders and importers are facing. We’re offering it as a white label solution to the freight forwarders to provide to their customers as well, which means that it’s not competing with our marketplace product, but it’s getting people used to using our product, which will make it easier for them to transition into the marketplace later on. And we’re solving those challenges for the freight forwarders immediately. So, that’s really our growth strategy, is to, you know, sell the white label option and get more shippers and freight forwarders using the platform for 2021.
Yeah, and Sarah, I have several friends that run tech companies, and they’ve looked at the white label option as well. And I think in some industries, it can absolutely make a lot of sense. When you have a super small team, unlimited resources, it can really help you get to market faster, but also get people to be more comfortable with your model because it is so new and innovative, right? It’s changed. People don’t like to change, and the thought of having to do something different can be scary. So, this can, I think, ease people into that change a little easier. Yep, absolutely. And I’m excited, so, so…”
“What’s the most exciting thing that you’re seeing happening in freight and logistics right now?”
“Most exciting thing? Um…”
“Man, it’s not really exciting; it’s a little bit scary because, uh, it’s not very stable at the moment. So, I don’t know if most of you know, but right now, the disruptions from 2020, right? So, you had disruptions at the manufacturing level, which trickled all the way down into shipping and logistics, and then last mile. The Q4 last year was crazy because everybody was just trying to get product in for the holidays, but also getting product out to be in people’s hands before actual Christmas. And that some of those disruptions have moved into 2021.”
“There’s also 1800 people at the port of LA and port of Long Beach affected by COVID right now, and there are 35 vessels in the port, waiting to dock to take containers off. And so, that’s really causing disruptions. Chinese New Year is happening at the moment, and so, and people are quarantining for 14 days on either side, which is elongating Chinese New Year, which we were hoping would alleviate the challenges that they’re having in LA and Long Beach. But it’s not because they still don’t have the personnel to help offload the vessels.”
“We’ve had six vessels in the last two months, which is completely unheard of, that have tipped containers overboard into the ocean. Which, I think, and don’t quote me, might have something to do with climate change because they’re all saying that it’s got to do with more storms. And my sister and her husband’s their life belongings were on one of those, right? Coming back from Singapore, and it’s been two months or so. I don’t know the name of which of the six hers were on, but she only has a one-third shot that they’ll get their stuff back. And so, they have this app, and they go on every day to try to get the status, and the boat stopped in Japan and it has to do a manual unload because everything got messed up. And so, I mean, this is real life. Oh yeah, yeah. And you’ve got Peloton, right? That’s just about to invest 100 million dollars in air freight to get their products here to be able to get through their back orders, right? And there’s people that are paying 11,000 to move a container right now, which is honestly, that’s almost that’s two and a half times what they were potentially spending previous to that. So, there’s a lot of instability right now. So exciting, yes. I guess depending on how you see it, stressful, absolutely, confusing, absolutely too because you’ve got a lot of people that don’t know a lot about shipping that are shipping products and not really understanding the reason behind the delays and what’s happening and what’s in a freight forwarder’s control versus what’s not.”
“And Sarah, one of the things I always like to look at is when there are big pauses or instabilities or disruptions, what innovations come from this? So, what are we going to see a year from now that you know is in the market that’s new and a direct result of all the challenges people are having and getting product delivered from overseas? So, I’m hopeful that we will see some positivity coming out of this. Oh yeah, no, I think I see things stabilizing hopefully in May, and I’ve talked to a lot of analysts that I have access to a lot of different data, and they’re saying like May, June. So, I’m really hopeful that we can stabilize by then. I know if there are people in the audience that are importers and exporters, they’re probably going, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s going to take that long,’ but it’s just gonna take time.”
“So Sarah, we have a couple of questions from the audience, so I wanna make sure we get to these, and then I wanna talk to you a little bit about some of the craziness that goes along with being an entrepreneur. And I think sometimes for those who haven’t started a company or run a company before or been a woman in the industry, it’s not always known how hard it is and some of the challenges and struggles that come with it. So, Eileen, thank you for being with us today. Sarah, her question is any advice on seminars, webinars, or training classes to take and learn more about supply chain and logistics, especially with a focus on international?”
“Yes, and that is a great question. So, I sit on the board of FIT with IT, which is the for-for international trade training. They are out of Ottawa, but they operate globally, and they have classes online, classes, online courses from micro-badging all the way up to designation in and around international trade. So, not necessarily just the logistics part, but they talk a lot about exporting and how to look at new markets and what does that look like from an international marketing perspective, international law. Like, you don’t have to be a lawyer to do it. I went through it. I mean, I failed the first time, but I passed the second time. Ethics, they’ve got a lot of really, really great courses. And they’ve got, Sarah, say the name one more time so Eileen can make sure she jots this down.”
“Yeah, so it’s FITT, so it’s Form for International Trade Training, and their website is fittfortrade.ca. And they have a Trade Ready Blog as well that you can tap into. That’s a really great resource. You know, if you want to get into logistics, I know in Canada we’ve got SIFA, which is the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, and they have some courses that actually go into the logistics. But that’s like really far into logistics of being a freight forwarder and how freight actually moves. So, it depends on what you want to get into, but I would assume that the international trade portion would be something that could definitely help you. And they don’t, yeah, it’s all online webinars. Eileen, the other thing you might want to check out is Sarah’s website. We put it in the chat above. Check out her podcast because she definitely has some guests on her show that are talking about international supply chain. LinkedIn is a great resource.
Following Sarah, myself. Some other people who are really active in the industry. You’ll learn about events in different online forums that you might find useful as well, yeah. And if you go to my website under podcasts, there’s a category filter, so you can actually filter a lot of our episodes by the category that you’re looking to learn more about as well.”
Eileen, thank you for that question, and feel free to connect with Sarah and me both on LinkedIn. We’re both very busy on social, so we’re happy to have more connections and help you offline as well. So, Eileen, thanks so much for that question. If anyone else who is with us today has any questions for Sarah, feel free to post them in the chat or the Q&A function. We’ve got about 15 minutes left, so if you do have questions, make sure you get those posted so we have plenty of time for us to get to those.
So, Sarah, being an entrepreneur is really, really hard, and I can say this as being an entrepreneur myself. What are some of the mistakes that you wish you could have avoided?
I don’t know if I want to avoid a lot of the mistakes that I made because at the end of the day, they’ve built my character. They’ve built me as an entrepreneur and as a person. There were some that I wish that I maybe wouldn’t have gone through, and don’t ask me which ones because I can’t remember right now. I knew you were gonna ask me, so I’m just gonna put that out there. But I think knowing my worth earlier, you know, and being confident… I mean, I do portray myself as confident, but sometimes when you’re in your head and you’re especially looking at how much to charge, right, and putting yourself out there and you know, ‘Do I do this? Do I not do this?’ Really having an idea of what you’re worth and what your goals and what your values are will really make a lot of a difference when you’re having those conversations and taking a look at those opportunities and figuring out whether they’re good for you or not. So, that I wish I would have done earlier. I settle, yes, a little bit too much, especially in 2020.
Yeah, I think you’ve gotten better at saying no because you understand the value of your time. So, I love to see more no’s coming from you, Sarah. All right, I’m working on it.
Another question I get from a lot of people in the industry that will reach out, and they’re thinking about, you know, launching a side hustle or potentially wanting to have their own company someday, is how did you know when you had the right idea?
I mean, do I have the right idea? I mean, nobody knows. Nobody has a crystal ball. But what I did was I kept pushing, I kept trying, I kept putting myself out there, I kept trying new things and failing. So, let’s be honest, I have had side hustles ever since I can remember. So, I’ve had side hustles since early 20s. You know, I worked for some people for free just to get some experience and figure out whether that was something that I wanted to do, whether it was a good industry to be in. And you know, eventually, something clicks and something works. But you know, I had two ideas last year that I had to shut down, right? So, it’s really that keep trying and trying and trying, and you’re gonna fail most of the time, but it’s about picking yourself up and trying something else because at the end of the day, it’s got to click, right? Like I had no idea when I was out on my butt, you know, and I had this podcast that I had no idea what I was doing with it…
…that it was going to turn out like this, and that I was going to have the opportunities that I had. And if I hadn’t tried and stuck with it, and there was… I think there’s also gut checks, right? That you know, things are happening, and maybe you’re pushing too hard on one thing that maybe you need to take a step back and try something else. It doesn’t mean that it’s not the right idea, it just means that you’ve got to be agile and you’ve got to be able to pivot to really figure out, you know, what that looks like and how it’s going to work.
Yeah, I think it would be an interesting clubhouse room to get a bunch of entrepreneurs to talk about all their failed endeavors. I’ve had a few myself, so I can absolutely relate. How do you handle adversity and doubt? This is something that I think happens to a lot of us entrepreneurs, especially when we get a lot of rejection all at once. And I get rejection all the time, like all the time.
It is a daily struggle, honestly. I don’t think it ever goes away, and if anybody’s telling you that it does, I think they’re feeding you a line. And I think it’s different for everyone depending on what they’ve been through in their life and what their triggers are, right? Your triggers are very different from my triggers. Like, I was bullied a lot growing up, and you know, that’s still a very real trigger for me. And if I feel like I’m being bullied, you know, I’m very much more aware of it now and how I can handle the situation, but it’s an instant… you know…
…right. And that’s because of the trauma and everything that I went through when I was younger. And so, but you might not have that, right? And so, I think we all struggle with this daily, and it’s really just about getting… I am a big advocate of therapists, I’m just gonna let everybody know. I think everybody should have a therapist. I’ve had a therapist for absolute years, like years and years and years, and I will never give one up, and I will never not have one. And they have helped me through so, so much. They’ve given me tools that I can use. I’ve got reminders on my computer. If you can see my computer, I’ve… I went and bought the Miami pack of the post-it notes, and so I have like Miami colors all at the bottom of my computer with like affirmations. And you know, sometimes I forget to read them, you know, and sometimes something triggers me and I… I go off on something that I knew I should have shut my mouth on, you know, and I think back and I’m like, ‘Why did you say that?’
Right, so I think I think we all have it. I think it’s a daily struggle, and it really just depends on what your triggers are and what toolbox tools you have in your toolkit to help you get through it. But I think it’s all about awareness, and as long as you’re aware and as long as you’re open and honest about that with yourself, nobody else, just with yourself, I think it’s a little bit easier to get through. But also being kind to yourself.
Sarah, I think we’ve got your priority list: number one, therapist; number two, housekeeper. All the way. I don’t know about you guys, those are both… those are both a close one and two.
One of the, one of the other things, um,
that can be really hard when you have a new company is building a team because you don’t have a lot of time; you don’t have a lot of resources. So, how did you build your team?
By chance? No.
One by one, I took chances on people.
So, you know, the person that runs my social media, he had a little bit of logistics background, he had some marketing in Asia, and I took a chance on him and we’ve worked through it. You know, I’ve supported him in, you know, really putting together what our social media strategy is going to be. I’ve pushed him; he’s pushed back; he’s pushed me, and that’s really what that looks like. And it’s just about getting to that point where you can’t do any more and you’re like, ‘I need somebody to take this on,’ and then taking that person on, working with them, you know, getting things right, and then you get to that point again, and then you bring somebody on. And so now I have, you know, a virtual assistant. I’ve got somebody. I’ve had two different people that are doing social media, two graphic designers, but they’re all freelancers, so I don’t have full-time employees; I have freelancers. And it’s been, it’s been amazing, and they’re global; they’re all over the globe, and I love it.
Yeah, you can flex and, and if you need more time one week or less time, it makes it really nice having, having that freedom. So, Sarah, we’ve got a few questions that have come from the audience. We’ve got 10 minutes left, so we’ll, we’ll try to get to all of them.
So, James is up first. His question is, ‘What information can shipment requesters provide to make exports and imports most efficient?’ Ah, you need to be on the Ship’s platform. That’s what I did. Uh, basically, I, I took all of the information that a freight forwarder needs to be able to quote you really quickly and I put it into a form so that it can be sent over to the freight forwarders. And that’s why we’re white-labeling the platform to them because it is, you know, importers and exporters are sending information about getting a quote to the freight forwarder, and then the freight forwarder needs, like, eight more things, and then you’re going back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth, and that’s what we’re trying to avoid with the platform that we’ve put together. So, there’s a lot there to go through. I mean, you need to know your Incoterms, shipment ready date, do you want customs included, insurance included? You need your origin address, destination address, pieces, weight, dimensions. So, there’s, there’s a lot there.
Sarah, if James wants to check out the Ship’s platform, what’s the website?
So ships, zed, or z for the Americans, dot com. And you can email me at sarah with an h, at ships dot com.
All right, James, thank you so much for that question. And feel free to check out Shipz. Thank you, connect with Sarah offline.
Audrey is with us. Hey, Audrey. So, Audrey’s question is, ‘What are some other tools you can use to stay organized, and are you a low-tech or a high-tech on tools?’ She’s doing this on purpose to me because she knows that I use an agenda. All right, I’m just gonna show you. I use a paper agenda. I also use a lot of notes, um, but I’m getting better at it. So, I am using an electronic calendar. And obviously, with my virtual assistant helping me with a lot of things, everything has to be more digital, so I’m getting better at it. But I do like to cross off things on my to-do list; that, you know, that, like, doing that makes me feel good. So, I probably won’t get past my lists. But what I do is I go Monday through Friday, and I put the top priorities of every day, what needs to be done. And then throughout the day, I’m adding to it when I’m having phone calls; this is, I have to send something to somebody. Um, and then I have a weekend to-do list, because, let’s face it, I’m an entrepreneur, and at this point, I work six to seven days a week.
And, oh, so tools. So, tech tools like Calendly, I use Calendly a lot. I use ClickUp for my team. I use Google and Google Drive, um, quite a bit as well. And just got onto HubSpot, so just… Can you use Slack? Oh, yes, I use Slack too. My team is a Slack team. We’ve eliminated about 99% of all internal emails by using Slack. So, I am a big, big Slack fan.”
All right, Audrey, thank you so much for joining us today and thank you for the question. And I loved seeing Sarah’s calendar. I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen it before.
All right, so we’ve got a question, Sarah, from Eileen. It’s kind of a long one, so…
Lavell Transportation recently acquired Rush Trucking, one of Michigan’s largest women-owned businesses, that was shuttered after 35 years in business. Given the current and future forecast, how does supply chain in the district’s industry offer a viable, sustainable business model for women entrepreneurs, and what are any looming opportunities and challenges?
Wow, that’s… there’s a lot in there. There’s a lot. So, I think that we have to be responsible for our own opportunities. I think we can make our own opportunities. I think women supporting women can also help in creating opportunities. I think we’re seeing more of that, right, Sarah? I think you would agree with me on that, that we are seeing more and more support from the industry around women. You know, we’ve got a long way to go, but I think we need to be responsible for our own opportunities. And that just goes to show, you know, Sarah, myself, you’ve got Christy Mitchell, you know, Shay Dixon went out on her own, there’s a lot of people that have gone out on their own on the entrepreneurship side and really brought what they’ve learned by working for somebody else and are really making an impact and making a change on the industry. I think there’s absolutely lots of opportunities for women entrepreneurs. The industry is changing and reshaping, and there’s a lot of different avenues that we can go, you know, sustainability, for one, and how we can help businesses from a supply chain perspective. So, yeah, I think there’s a lot of opportunity. I think that there’s a lot of things that we can do and that women are doing in the industry. And I think we also just need to take a moment and support each other.
Eileen, a couple of other things you just might want to think about: there are certifications that you can get if you are a women-owned business. And I’ve seen a big shift in the last six months for companies here in the United States really pushing to support and buy from diverse-owned companies. I mean, there are some major companies that are doing billion-dollar initiatives, and they’re hiring teams of people to specifically run those programs and put processes in place to make sure they’re reaching those targets and procurement foundry is hosting their Forge Supplier Diversity Conference tomorrow online. It’s a one-day conference, and they’re bringing in some of the biggest industry leaders around the world in supplier diversity and talking about what some of these companies are doing to support diverse suppliers, which includes women-owned businesses. So, Eileen, you might want to check out that event. Sarah and I will both be at that event tomorrow. Both of our companies are sponsoring that event. Eileen, feel free to reach out to Sarah or I offline if you want more information. But I think there’s a lot of really exciting things happening in supply chain where companies are really focused on supporting women and other diverse-owned businesses.
Sarah, I think we’re going to have to do this again because we’ve run out of time, and we haven’t even talked about my journey into my fear of public speaking and how I got a casting agent to help me do that, and I was on TV with Denise Richards because of it. So, we had all these fun things to talk to Sarah about, and now we’re at time. So, we will definitely have to do a reunion.
Sarah and Denise Richards are… I don’t know if I would say friends, but they’ve… they’ve been on TV together, and Sarah had a casting agent. So, very interesting.
So, we are at time. I want to thank all of you who joined us today to listen into Sarah’s life journey and the world of being an entrepreneur, having a media company, and now a technology in the supply chain space. And I want to give a big congratulations to Sarah. Una, which is a group purchasing organization in the supply chain space, just released their top 10 most influential women in procurement and supply chain, and Sarah Barnes-Humphrey is on that list. So, really, will you…
Yes, really. Amazing accomplishment, Sarah, for both of us to be on that list amongst so many of our peers and friends and women who are just doing incredible things in the industry. So, Sarah, with that, where can people connect with you? What do you prefer in regards to social media for those who want to follow you and get more info?
So, LinkedIn. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Sarah Barnes-Humphrey. Follow Let’s Talk Supply Chain LinkedIn page or the Shipz LinkedIn page. We do a lot on LinkedIn. We’re on the other social media platforms, but LinkedIn is kind of our go-to. And I just want to say, you know, to Kathy at ISM New Jersey and to you, Sarah. I mean, like I said at the beginning, you’re a rock star. So, thank you ladies both very, very much for giving me the opportunity and the platform to share my story with all of the amazing people that joined us today. Thank you.
Thank you, Sarah. And Kathy will be releasing a copy of this recording in the next day or so. She’s so fast. I swear she has an event and same day she has it posted. So, if you want to share this with colleagues or other people that weren’t able to attend today, Kathy will be posting that on social media. Sarah and I will be sharing that as well. So, you can get all of Sarah’s gems on demand at your convenience. So, Sarah and Kathy, thank you so much, and enjoy the rest of your day.