BTG Episode 42
Lucas: Merry Christmas and welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas and our producer Sara Mitchell.
Sara: It is so good on set with you guys.
Josh: Finally, finally, getting you on this side of the camera.
Sara: No, now I feel the pressure of what you guys do every week.
Lucas: We want you to feel that. So, this is a very special episode for us. If you see tears in our eyes it’s because we’re reminiscing about the year. And what a great year it’s been and where we have been as a podcast which started in January of this year where we just sat down and we thought what is our why, what are we gonna do, what is this gonna look like and what is this gonna be and to come to the end and look back is a really awesome thing.
Josh: Yeah! It’s awesome and it’s really fun to think back and to just think what the heck are we gonna do and how do we do this? I remember we sat down and both of us when we thought of the idea neither one of us really knew how to do it and we both just jumped in and we had some great industry partners that made it happen. Sara made it happen, really you made it happen. I just kinda laughed and poked fun and tried to act like I was doing something like I normally do when we’re setting up all this and y’all tell me to leave everything alone.
Lucas: So, Sara. Take us back; help us corral this just a little bit. Maybe set the tone for where we wanna go.
Sara: Yeah, well, obviously you guys are typically the ones asking all the questions of the guests, so I’ll take on that role a little bit today. I wanna dig back into our deep memory bank of some favorite episodes, memorable episodes. We’ve traveled a lot, we’ve gone to some incredible destinations and covered a tone of topics that we’ve gotten a lot of feedback about that are positive, that are uplifting, and that are educational, informative and they’ve influenced a lot of people. What is some of the feedback that has stuck out to you guys from just this one year of episodes?
Lucas: Great question. This year probably one of the biggest things that I didn’t expect is the sometimes daily but definitely weekly messages that we get through LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and our social channels from people that we’ve never met where they are reaching out to us and saying ‘I really enjoy this episode because.’ And they’re going into detail about the things that they learned through a direct message to us online.
That has been to me really validating because for our why there’s a real tangible aspect to that. It’s not just something to hang up in the sky somewhere. We really want to educate, inform and influence and to get those messages back it’s been really validating.
Josh: Yeah it’s been extremely validating (and) very encouraging. Something really cool that seems to be happening more recently is that people are really saying that Bridge the Gap is beginning to have a lot of influence. So, I think this year we’ve done an awesome job because of the people- our guests- who have come on the show and educating and providing information and thought leadership. But now the audience is widening and we’re getting people that are not necessarily in the industry but they’re learning about the industry because now there’s a platform that hasn’t existed in the senior housing industry.
So, that’s really cool because particularly some of the challenges that our industry is facing in labor and things like that, we really have an opportunity ahead of us to kind of help shape the message that our industry portrays outside of our industry.
Sara: And I think a lot of people have heard the story about the why that you guys just mentioned but take us back to January 2018 where typing out notes or coming up with a mission statement, the vision for Bridge the Gap, the name Bridge the Gap and a lot of other things. Take me back to how this all sparked your relationship and then now here we are almost a year later.
Lucas: So, just under two years ago Josh and I met at Markentum in Nashville which was documented in the Executive magazine. That moment was captured and an amazing ad for the industry which is just surreal to look back on. That started a relationship that started a further conversation that lead to an even deeper conversation at NIC conference there in Chicago in the fall. Eventually we put enough things together with our team that we thought now it’s time to hit record but before we got to that point I got the opportunity to meet your righthand person Sara. I can’t believe that we just met this year if feels like so much longer.
Sara: I know, it seems like a lot longer than a year ago.
Lucas: And doing those things, it makes me even remember and think about Kaleb Lee, the former president of Markentum. For him to be involved and to look at us and say, ‘guys, you need to do this and I’ll help you’ was a really great thing.
Josh: Yeah, so, honestly him helping to take some of our ideas and with him organizing some of that creativity. But there was a whole lot of back of the napkin- just scratching through things and we wanted to make sure that we made it simple and clear for people to understand our mission.
We just kept coming back to those three words- inform, educate, influence.
When we started thinking about all the different gaps in our industry with communication, with generation whether it’s on the management side, whether it’s on the labor side. We thought, you know, how can we be the bridge and this whole bridging the gap phrase kept coming up and I think we were a little reluctant to it at first because it was just so obvious.
Bridge the Gap was in everything that we were saying and then finally we were like, why don’t we just name it Bridge the Gap. I think that’s kind of how it came up, right?
Lucas: Right. And it was your idea. That was your name.
Josh: Well, okay, I’ll take the credit for it then.
Lucas: We all put names on the board and there was probably at least 30 but I remember vividly that was your contribution and when we unpacked it a little bit more, it was clear. That’s the name.
Josh: Well, it’s been fun and so obviously that kind of developed into a brand and it’s been a really fun, cool brand to begin to develop and, you know, the fun thing is now is we’re starting to get our feet underneath us. I mean, we’ve done a lot of episodes and there’s so many really memorable episodes. But now- so excited reminiscing a little over the Christmas spirit and being thankful and grateful for things- it’s so exciting now what’s happening in 2019 that we’re planning, right.
Sara: It is super exciting and, you know, one thing that we just touched on is relationships. It all began with a relationship here but then it was a relationship with Markentum who got us up and off the ground and going and incredible YouTube channel and obviously your iTunes and all the digital players that you can listen to the podcast. But that also was a really easy way to spin up guests and the guests on every episode is positioned as the expert and you guys set them up as that. We bring on different guests to cover different topics.
Talk about some of the relationships that you guys have that have now become a special guest on different episodes.
Lucas: That was something I didn’t expect. When you have that moment of being a guest on our show and we go through that process of asking questions about their lives and their thought leadership. When you end there’s a special bond that takes place that transcends just we’re industry colleagues. Now we’re friends, right?
There’s a couple of standouts for me. The highest downloaded show that we have is Shamim Wu. For her to take time out at the Argentum conference was a really great thing. She’s an established leader, young leader, in the industry and somebody that as we try to inform, educate and influence, a by-product of that we want to also inspire. I think that she’s an inspiring leader.
Josh: Yeah and there’s been so many people. I think, obviously, Lucas and myself we have tried to leverage the relationships we’ve developed through the years in the industry and some of our friends have been so gracious to give up their time. But it’s been really an honor, really some of the thought leaders in the industry that have given us graciously of their time to sit down with us and you often wonder why some of these people are in such high demand and many of them get paid a lot of money for short speaking engagements.
For them to want to be on our show and be willing to take time, really getting nothing in return and just willing to give of themselves, it’s really honoring but I think it also affirms our mission. Because the people that are coming around us they applaud the mission and they want to be a part of that and these people with their good hearts and their good nature- the genuineness comes through and they’re also wanting to reinvest and to give back to the industry and that’s why we started. So, it’s been really cool.
Sara: I think a lot of people maybe wonder if you don’t know about the video portion of Bridge the Gap you wonder, man are these people just calling in? Are these guests skyping in or doing something else? But in reality, we’re meeting them and one of the really unique and cool factors of Bridge the Gap is a conference and we’ve gone to so many conferences this year. We’ve already got our 2019 schedule. Talk about that aspect of meeting so many people at different conferences and how that intertwines with Bridge the Gap.
Lucas: It’s added a complete new dynamic to the conference experience. I really feel like we’re a big part of the event. Interface was one of the first ones to bring us on and said we’d like for you to be here. Let’s collaborate; let’s do some cross-branding. And I think we’ve been able to add value back on both sides and they’ve been gracious enough to open up their rosters and we’ve been able to acquire a bunch of great though leaders through that platform.
Josh: Yeah and there’s been so many other great conferences. I mean, this year was my first year going to the Environments for Aging- we call it EFA conference. I got an invitation to go. I thought I’d check it out. It was in Savannah. It was amazing. It was a beautiful venue (and) it was a huge crowd. Excellent keynotes and we really just kind of tested the water. Lucas and the team we set up the podcast and we just started literally asking some of the keynote folks like, would you mind being our guest? And they were very gracious.
Some of them were authors and it actually gathered a lot of attention where people wanted to know what was going on- what were the microphones? What were the video cameras for? And, you know,
Environments for Aging was very gracious. They’re going to have us out to join them in Utah, right, in 2019 this upcoming year. Excited to be at Argentum this next year. So, it really has- it’s become a dynamic event where we already go to these events because we’re in the industry, we’re building and cultivating relationships, but this adds a whole new dynamic and I think creates a little bit of buzz for the conference. It’s been a lot of fun.
Sara: And before we go on and talk about what’s next for 2019 as we add on more conferences and talk to a pretty solid list of guests that we already have lined up for our 2019 shows. Take us back to your favorite memories- maybe favorite episodes, maybe something that happened off camera- that our viewers and our listeners want to know. Can you dig back and think about some of your favorite or most memorable episodes?
Lucas: Coming off of Josh’s comments. EFA there we met some really interesting people- Ashton Applewhite the activist for aging. That was a learning experience for me. Robert Soler- that’s a highly downloaded show- and then Lisa Cini with the robotic cat.
Sara: Oh! Let’s talk about the robotic cat. Fill us in on that one.
Josh: Yeah, I mean, people who know me personally- and we might lose followers over this- but I’m not a huge cat fan. I’m actually allergic to cats. They had this AI cat and I think I had heard of him before but I certainly never had one on my lap. So, I think Lucas that was your doing. You wanted to see my squirm because you know I don’t like cats. That was memorable because here we are, hundreds of people walking by wondering what’s going on here already and then they see me with this cat in my lap that’s not real but it moves and purrs like it’s real. This is all being caught on camera and so that was very memorable. I did squirm and I think we created a little funny spoof video off of that.
Lucas: We did. Big shout out to Matt Cho. He’s been a freelance editor of ours. He’s done an amazing job in the background. Thank you for him. And you guys can go onto our Facebook page and just look through our videos and you’ll see his talent.
Josh: Yeah, I think I was breaking out in hives almost. It was so real that I felt allergic to it.
Sara: Everyone else is laughing so we don’t remember that.
So, let’s talk about what’s next for Bridge the Gap 2019. We have some pretty exciting plans coming. We’ve talked about the website. We have a website that has launched. So, definitely check us out there. But there’s a lot of other things happening not only with you guys personally and your companies and your businesses and your journeys but also with Bridge the Gap. So, let’s tackle some of those topics.
Lucas: Yeah, a lot there. Josh, one of the things I’m fascinated about that you continue to take on projects that are so meaningful to a much larger audience. Your Pedal for Alzheimer’s is something that is not only just inspiring. It’s something that is really going for a huge cause and what you guys have done together is really just amazing.
Josh: Gosh, I didn’t know we were going to talk about Pedal for Alzheimer’s but yeah, it’s been an amazing year, you know, couple years. Bridge the Gap’s been a part of that and I haven’t really talked about Pedal for Alzheimer’s much on the show. It’s a passion project of mine. Being in the senior care industry, we all deal with Alzheimer’s and with different forms of dementias. So, I think anybody who’s an operator or has any stake in the senior housing industry, that disease and caring for those people and their families is near and dear to our hearts and finding a cure.
So, I wanted to do something special to be able to raise a lot of money but to also raise a lot of awareness and to kind of create a team atmosphere to where people were coming together to raise money and awareness and to surround the people that are suffering with the disease. So, we created a cycling event to raise money. The first one was Pedal for Pat. That’s actually where I met Sara and she came on as a volunteer as all the team members are to help us with media and promotion. And that resulted in extremely 1,098-mile bike ride successful event from Tennessee down to the Keys. We raised a lot of money (and) gave it away to the Pat Summit Foundation.
Because it was so popular, what I thought was going to be a one hit wonder and just live through it one time, it actually resulted in Pedal for Alzheimer’s Limited, which is a 501©3 approved by the IRS. So, now, we have a volunteer team that works year round that creates these large cycling events that go cross-country and it’s all to raise money to benefit Alzheimer’s. We just completed our second ride and we’ll be doing our third huge ride- 1,098-mile ride- again this fall. So you can find out more about that at pedalforalzheimers.org.
Lucas: Incredible. Incredible. And that’s all driven by the back of house Solinity team. Obviously that’s not a part of the brand, but what you guys have done in house with your new start-up. Bring us up-to-date. Both of you you’re just completing your year anniversary at Solinity.
Josh: Yeah, gosh. It’s been an exciting year. A lot of changes; A lot of exciting things going on. So, at our core, we’re a senior living operator. That’s what I’ve been. We were designed to be a next generation senior housing provider and we do and approach things a little bit out of the box. Sara’s been a huge part of that really helping to drive our brand and our marketing and our message.
One of the things that is unique about Solinity that we want to have a focus on is shaping the message (and) helping the communities and those that we help through consulting capacity to not only create love stories as we refer to them in our communities but to capture them. There’s so many awesome things that are going on in our industry and we just seldom here about those and we seldom know how to package those really well to where the public can really have an insight to what we get to see on a daily basis.
So, the Solinity platform has a heavy marketing and public relations emphasis that’s been driven by Sara and that team that Sara has created has really transitioned in helping to take Bridge the Gap to the next level. So, that’s been exciting to see how so many different things have become really all part of a central mission but they’re flushed out in very different ways, wouldn’t you say?
Sara: Yeah, absolutely. And even people as recent as today told me they listen to Bridge the Gap for that education piece. And I’m a walking, living testimony of that. I’ve learned so many different topics and themes and just knowledge about the industry because I’m not form the senior living industry. So, Bridge the Gap has helped me not only in this production and everything that I love and my passion for production but also my day job which is just learning more about the industry. It’s definitely helped both the Solinity side- Pedal for Alzheiemer’s obviously is connected with that- and Bridge the Gap.
Josh: Well and so that was part of our why when we were at NIC and we were thinking, gosh, me and Lucas and a lot of the executives that get to go to these conferences, we get this wealth of information and we’re like memory banks, right? But, so often it’s not translated to the people that really make the difference in the industry and that’s the hands and feet of the operations in these communities. And so now to have a platform that can breathe education and information into the communities no matter where they are is really cool.
But Lucas, don’t hold out on us. This has been a super exciting year for you. You’ve always been the networking guru. That’s how we met on LinkedIn. You know your audience and your influence that you have is incredible. You’ve worked for that to build relationships and it’s brought you so much success. You were recently on a business to business type podcast and educating people from that aspect. So, don’t hold out. Tell us what’s been going on in your life.
Lucas: Senior living is something that has really impacted my life so great. My passion for the business is as real as I breathe. It’s awesome the attention that we’ve gotten from the podcast and I love the confusion that might take place is we do have jobs. We have jobs that actually pay our bills. This is truly our passion project which is why it’s so easy to give our energy to this because we just have a fun time doing it and the impact is something that we really believe in.
I’m a general contractor. I’m a guy that loves senior living and the elements around that. I love what we’re doing on our podcast. In 2019, I want to be able to do more of that. I’m originally from Texas; it’s always been very close to my heart. So, next year in 2019, I’m going to be establishing a brand new start up construction company that is solely focused and dedicated to seniors housing, renovations and repositions in Texas and I couldn’t be more excited.
Josh: So exciting. I mean, you know, it’s amazing your history and it’s interesting to see- you know I’ve noticed this in my life and I’m sure you notice it in yours- but you’ve had this whole life history, this rich history that’s been given to you that’s prepared you and it’s so awesome that from the ground up you’re designing this whole company focused around senior living specifically. So, what a niche and what an opportunity.
Lucas: It’s something that I’m very excited about. And to the credit of our friendship and the impact that Bridge the Gap has had on me, I’m actually naming the construction company the Bridge Group Construction because the idea of being the bridge, the idea of connecting people to what their goals are, is very exciting to me.
Josh: It’s something that our industry needs. I mean, you and I talked about it as you’ve been in the business for a long time now is it’s such a special, delicate work when you go into a seniors’ home. It requires a lot of thought and attention and the teams all being on board with that mission so it’s not just bricks and sticks. A lot more than that so I couldn’t be more excited for you. What an awesome 2018 you’ve had and this huge gift as you start thinking about Christmas that in 2019 is gonna be birthed into the industry. That’s awesome man.
Sara: I am super excited to be working alongside both of you. I’ll tell everyone if you don’t know Josh and Lucas, they’re the two guys with the beards that everyone knows. Even if you guys don’t know them, everyone knows you and it’s amazing to me and it’s pretty incredible to hear people tell you guys that. That what you’re doing is impactful and it’s making a big difference. So, hopefully you both know that and can go to bed every night thinking that you are making an impact not only on the industry but on other people, on relationships and just on the world. It’s pretty incredible.
Lucas: It is an incredible feeling. I think that what we want to do with this platform is inspire people to have that same feeling that we have because you can do that right where you are. You don’t have to necessarily have a podcast platform. You can be a bridge. You can be a connector right where you are right in your community right in your day to day grind.
Josh: Yeah, it’s really awesome and none of it’s possible- it always takes a team and there’s so many people that have been working behind the scenes to make it possible as we have really bootstrapped this thing in the first year and now it’s kind of a legitimate running organization. It’s a lot of fun and there’s people honestly that have come beside NHI and Eric Mendelsohn that we couldn’t say credits enough to that team there that called us and they were fans. They were fans of the podcast and to have a multi-million dollar powerhouse like NHI contact us and be like we love what you’re doing, it’s just a real honor and Eric Mendelsohn the CEO there has been such a gentleman giving graciously of his time. He’s been on our show. And what a cool factor to get to know through the podcast kind of behind the curtain of the industry leaders and how genuine they are and how much they want to reinvest. So, big thanks. It’s a big honor.
Lucas: Big thanks and a big honor for NHI. Sara teed it up for us. So, let’s talk about what that’s going to mean in 2019.
Sara: Man, I think it’s going to change everything. You know, we’ve had such a great platform in 2018 but with the way that the web is moving, with the way that social media is moving, we just needed some dollars to go behind all of those really cool things. So, website, we’ve already mentioned that. We’ll be on social media. We’ll be at conferences. And we’ll even have an opportunity for people to join our team as an ambassador. So, we’ll be rolling out that information soon so that people can join you guys and this team of Bridge the Gap. But it really is going to change everything and we’re so thankful for people who are supporting and special thanks to our sponsors and our partners.
Josh: Yeah, it’s been so much fun. It’s been fun, you know, this year we took a couple dabbles at creating some swag, right. And it’s actually created a little bit of a buzz around the industry events, the Mastermind dinners. We had a couple of those this year- hugely popular- so I think we’ve got some more of those on tap with the conferences this year, right?
Lucas: Absolutely. Let’s not forget. So, we’ll be at ASHA. We will also be at all of the Argentum events. We’ll be at the Interface conferences, the NIC conferences, EFA and a number of other ones and these Mastermind dinners has really been an interesting add-on to what we’re doing to again educate, inform and influence.
Josh: Yeah, it’s been an honor to see who actually attended our dinners. You know, the first one we had I remember thinking, gosh, will anybody show up because we’re at this conference and RSVP’s go out from all of the biggest companies and there’s so many opportunities and things to be a part of. So, the first one when it filled up and you saw all the personalities and excitement in the room, I think it gave us even a lot more energy than we already had, as if we needed more energy. But, it’s been a lot of fun so 2019 is super exciting.
Sara: And some of the things that we’re looking for from viewers and listeners is feedback on topics. We want to know what the people want to here. What guests you people want to hear from. What topics can we cover, what information is missing that you just need to know and we have a lot of exciting topics already planned and a ton more that we’d love feedback on.
Lucas: Yeah, connecting with our audience I think is going to be one of our top priorities for 2019. We’re trying to learn more about who’s listening. As we’ve seen in the background on our hosting site that our numbers continue to climb and climb and climb on downloads, we’re still trying to figure out who exactly that is. We know from the feedback that we get face to face online that it’s a diverse group of people. But we want to create ways for you to connect more with us because really that’s why we’re doing this is for you and for you to give us your time while you’re traveling, exercising or doing whatever you’re doing on your commute to download and listen to our podcast, we just can’t do it without you.
Josh: Yeah, it’s gonna be super fun. So, a lot of different ways to connect. Obviously, we were born out of social media and so we’re doubling down on that this year. The website is a great platform and a way to connect but we so appreciate you Sara for bringing that up because the topics is what makes the show. It’s all driven around content and so if there’s questions, if there’s concerns, if there’s just big problems that you’re like how are we going to address this, what our job is is to find these thought leaders.
And interestingly, coming up in 2019 is going to become a little bit dynamic because we actually have some guests on tap that are very much influential people with a stake in our industry but they’re not your traditional industry thought-leaders. So, there’s actually some people who have very strong opinions or very personal experiences that can kind of breathe their experiences and their thoughts and their influence. Honestly, I think that’s what’s going to take to solve some of the big challenges is not just the senior industry but us opening our eyes and our hearts up and our minds up to opinions and ideas across industries so that’s exciting and look forward to those guests coming up in 2019.
Sara: We’ve got a big year planned. Any other news or exciting things that you want to share before we wind down on this year and wish everyone a Merry Christmas?
Lucas: No, I just personally I’m blessed. Our team- this is a dream team to be able to work with Sara and Josh. It is as exciting as you would imagine. These guys are hustlers. They’re hard workers. They’re professional and their hearts- they’re just in the right place and it’s very inspiring to me, very motivating and respect has grown there. I have grown through this entire process. This year has been amazing experience for me to travel with you guys. Our friendship has been built and we’ve been able to cultivate a platform that I really believe is valuable back to the audience.
Josh: Yeah, same for me. I echo all that to be able to work with you on a fiend level to be able to share a passion that we’re actually able to go out and work every day. We’re blessed to be up at work and have the health and energy that we do. So, just to be able to make the most of that. 2019 is just- I am excited because the team I get to work with.
Sara is such a big part of that. I couldn’t do anything at Bridge the Gap that we do without Sara organizing it. I think I was getting stuff off of my face before we even started this. She keeps us looking good or as good as we can, right? It’s a tough job and it keeps us going in the direction that we need to. So, thank you Sara for making all of this possible. And making everything at Solinity possible that helps to support the podcast and to support the message that we like to share.
Sara: Well, I appreciate that. It’s definitely an honor for me to work alongside both of you guys and I’m thrilled about the new year. I can’t believe that 2018 is almost over but I look forward to the new adventures, conferences, new people that we’ll meet and just an incredible year ahead.
Lucas: Awesome. So, with that excitement this conversation doesn’t end now. We’re going to take it online. There will be ways to connect with us in the show notes. We want to hear from you and we are so grateful. We love our audience and we are so thankful that you’re listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.