Hollis Carter is a serial entrepreneur from the digital space with an incredible background in internet marketing, sales, and strategy, with a modern-day philosopher’s outlook on life, and zest for living. Today, Hollis talks about the Baby Bathwater Institute, maintaining balance when working with a partner, transparency in leadership, the importance of quality over quantity, establishing a brand personality, and why we need to be physically present and truly connect with people.
For full show notes, scroll down.
On today’s podcast:
- What is the Baby Bathwater Institute?
- Maintaining balance when working with a partner
- Transparency in leadership
- Quality over quantity
- Establishing a brand personality
- The importance of connection and being truly present with others
The Value of Connection: Meet Hollis Carter
What is the Baby Bathwater Institute?
Baby Bathwater Institute’s co-founder Hollis Carter struggles to put it into words. “We’ve never wanted to write a mission statement or an ‘about us.’”
What started as a little gathering of entrepreneur friends has snowballed into something much greater, and one of the reasons it’s worked so well, according to Hollis, is the organic nature of it.
Hollis and his partner Michael Lovitch were entrepreneur buddies, going to conferences together over the years because they saw the value in having one on one conversations with people, regardless of what industry or business they were in.
For the two men, the ‘baby’ was the conversation in the lobby. The ‘bathwater’ was going to hotels in the middle of nowhere and having to endure unwanted sales pitches. They wanted to facilitate more of these conversations for entrepreneurs, but in a different atmosphere.
“At the end of the day it’s all about the people,” says Hollis. It’s networking with people, creating a community, and allowing people to find others they share values and experience with.
“We want to continue to tighten it rather than grow it,” he says. They have no intentions of growing it into a huge event. Rather, their goal is to have a sustainable membership. They’re most excited about the value that can be created within the group.
Maintaining balance when working with a partner
Hollis is passionate about creating with others, and he’s found his role is sitting in the strategy seat to work with people and to put them in the right place and support that. He loves seeing two folks or two businesses come together and have an exponential explosion from there.
Starting and running a business by yourself is difficult. “You just need a sounding board sometimes before you make a big decision,” he says. That’s why Hollis enjoys working with his friend and co-founder, Michael Lovitch, even though the two couldn’t be more different from each other.
It’s not always easy balancing the two personalities, and one of their favorite pastimes is to go to the bar and yell at each other about everything that’s bothering them. They have very different points of view, they were raised differently, and there’s a big age difference.
In their freetime, Michael is a member of the Skeptic’s Society and Hollis goes to meditation retreats, but that doesn’t stop the two from working well together; in fact, it’s part of what makes them such great partners. They can balance each other out. The two of them even go to marriage counseling together for their business partnership.
Transparency in leadership
At the Baby Bathwater Institute, their policy is transparency–bad news fastest (means?)–and they are quick to fall on their sword if they make a mistake or if something goes wrong. They have a lot of loyalty within the group because of this.
“People are human beings and they do create errors,” says Hollis. What bothers him the most when it comes to leadership and business and entrepreneur celebrities is that there’s this idea that everyone is always “crushing it,” they’re perfect, and always working all the time.
People really can get behind the fallibility and transparency when their leaders are clear about the fact that they’re just figuring it out too. No one has it figured out. We are all figuring it day by day.
People trust in transparency–when they see a leader doing what he or she is doing, making mistakes, but continuing and persevering, and not just telling people what they want to hear.
Quality over quantity
One thing Hollis is learning right now is the importance of quality over quantity. He’s living a great life with his girlfriend in their dream house–a life that “looks like what most people’s dream retirement could be.”
But he’s still figuring out the right path for himself, and he’s learning that he really loves being in the mix more and creating.
Over the last few years, he has established so many personal and business relationships, and the word he’s working on right now is ‘boundaries.’
His whole goal has always been to meet as many smart people as possible, because that’s how we learn and expand, he says. But now he’s working on the opposite. Long term, valuable relationships take a lot of time, and you have to choose where to direct your energy.
The change is difficult. He has always been an extremely open person who says yes to everything, but now he’s learning the value of boundaries and of saying no, focusing on priorities and avoiding distractions.
Establishing a brand personality
For consumer product companies, reaching customers and gaining brand loyalty means you need to be “omnichannel,” says Hollis. You want to be in boutiques and stores, but you also want to own your customers and have direct contact with them.
To do this, Hollis says you need to develop a culture that is felt through your brand, and your customers need to be a part of it. “Businesses are people now,” he says. And you have to relate with your customers in that way.
So what is the best way to do that? It depends on what you started with. Take a step back and see what you’re doing really well, and then look at the hundred other touch points out there and what you’re not doing.
It’s about looking for ways to give your brand a personality and defining who you are, making sure it’s authentic and comes across in everything you do.
The importance of connection and being truly present with others
Most people know what it’s like to be on social media overload, but it’s difficult to get away from it. Hollis believes it’s something we need to detox from, because it’s such a huge source of distraction.
“It’s really a double-edged sword,” he says. “It’s an amazing sales and marketing communication tool for your company, but on a personal side, if you’re following entrepreneurs who are just posting the best versions of themselves, it’s clinically causing depression, anxiety, and overwhelm.”
Hollis likes to take trips with others who have the same desire to detox and unplug. During the trip they all turn off their phones and are just present and connect with each other. He says he’s never felt better than when he turns his phone off and gets away from it for a little while.
What we miss the most is the interaction of physically being in the room with others, which is what Baby Bathwater Institute is providing for its members. It’s so important to be physically present and truly connect with people in all this digital space that we have around us.
“That’s why people have such a good time at these conferences,” says Hollis. “On this island, they don’t feel the need to be on social media, with these real conversations that are happening.”
If the talk resonates with you, we’d recommend you listen to this episode too: Tomas Björkman