Playing Big in a Small Town with Rebecca Undem

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This transcript was created using AI. Please forgive any discrepencies.

[Intro] Welcome to Easy Style with Sami. I’m your host Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each episode, I invite a friend, family member or colleague or just someone I’ve met on this journey called life to come and share their personal style and approach to business, parenting, life and everything in between. You’ll hear motivational and inspirational stories that will help you refine and build your own personal style. Remember, style is easy when it comes from within.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of easy style with Sami. My guest today is Rebecca Undem. Rebecca, thank you so much for being here.

[Rebecca Undem] Well, thanks for having me, Sami. I’m excited to be here. Yeah.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And we met recently through the wonderful Patrick Kirby, who was also on this podcast a few weeks ago. And just connected I think pretty quickly just have. Well, I guess we’ve known each other more than a couple of weeks. But we reconnected again a couple of weeks ago, but I just love your energy and your approach to things. And so I’m so excited to have you here to share your story.

[Rebecca Undem] I’m excited. I am excited to talk about this. This is a near and dear to my heart topic, Sammy. Yeah. Yep,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] very much. So Well, before we kind of jump into that, Rebecca, why don’t you share a little bit about who you are?

[Rebecca Undem] Yeah, so it’s, this is a long arc, I’ll try to make it as short as possible. So I’m a I’m what the folks like to call a boomerang. I grew up in this community. I’m in a town in southeast North Dakota, it’s called oaks. And 1800 People live here. I graduated, you know, I was born and raised here graduated from high school here, I was gone about a decade before I returned. And now I’ve been back longer than I was away, which is an interesting thing. And really, the entire time I’ve been back here while simultaneously like raising my small young family, we have three children, the youngest of which is now going to be nine in September. So that that are coming the first handful of years back here, all I did was try to survive. That’s what early motherhood just kind of feels like. Other people were at far better than I did. That’s fine. There’s no judgement. It’s just what it is. Right? It was very, very hard. But I was really, I really struggled to like, how do I? How do I find my? How do I find a way for me and my achievement orientation to fit here. And so for me, it was never really about like, feeling like I was too big for this town, but just really feeling like I didn’t belong, right. And I didn’t know. And again, it’s partly my children just having that kind of overwhelming nature of of that my husband farms with my father, we could have a whole podcast about that alone, this navigating all of these things, right. And it was in 2018, that I founded a nonprofit organization called growing small towns. When we returned back here, I was just getting into the org development organizational development field. And so in 2019, I started this nonprofit, because I was having these rich and intense and amazing culture based conversations in C suites. Okay, so like, with executive teams of my corporate clients, and I was thinking to myself, How do I take what I’m hearing in a C suite, and bring it to a main street, when there’s where there’s people that need this just as much as anything, right. But then, of course, they’re never going to pay for it. I mean, at least not the prices that it commands. And so a nonprofit seemed like a really smart avenue to achieve that. And then along with that, at that same time, it was the renovation of the building. And I’m actually sitting in 1000 square feet, right in the heart of Main Street. And that was, you know, an enormous transformative process in and of itself. So, you know, to be just a few years under my belt with this organization, this discussion of not playing small and small town has never been more real and more present and more just right in my face, like I’m confronted with it every single day. I mean, it gives a bit of an idea, basically, growing small towns. So there’s three big pillars of programming, personal development is one of them. I just think like what better way to invest in an asset in a community than in the people that already call it home. That skill set, you know, you get better at communication, you get better at conflict management, you get better at any one particular skill, and that skill set goes with you. And in a small town, if you’re the type of person wired for that, anyway, you’re probably the kind of person involved in lots of stuff. And we need those people that are involved in lots of stuff to continue to be buoyed. I think that’s a really important thing for small towns. And then business business development, right if we’re helping small businesses start or scale that’s really critical for small towns and then we have a focus on art and culture as a means of growth for small community. So our programming is entirely people focused. Because I believe people are I really do believe that people are the way out of every we have a Um, so that’s as quick as I can make that there’s a lot to unpack there. But that’s where we’re at after, you know, handful of years of being open. We opened our doors to our facility in July of 2021. Just for free. Wow.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, so new new, um, I think like, small town people, and I don’t want to like pick on anybody, but I feel like there’s a couple different types of personalities, right? Like, there’s the people like you that grow up, leave and come back, there’s the people that are like, I’m getting the heck out of here, and I’m never coming back. And there’s the people that are like, I’m never gonna, never really this is just where I’m at. And so like, how do you kind of because, because it can be super frustrating to be in your situation coming in and knowing what you know, what you’ve experienced, really wanting to help, like, make things a little bit better, not better, but you know, help people grow and scale and live into what it is that that they their potential? Like, how did you start to navigate that and have those conversations with folks and like, what kind of challenges did you butt up against?

[Rebecca Undem] Well, okay, so let’s just, let’s just circle back for one second to those those kinds of three types of people. Here’s where I feel like it’s instructive. Here’s where I feel like it’s maybe disruptive, like, like to label us in this way. So So what’s interesting about it is that I think we’re really just talking about our affinity for open mindedness and maybe open heartedness. Those are the two, the two things that I put together, right, it’s not just having an open mind, it’s actually having an open heart. Yeah. And so that’s actually, by the way, when I think about how do I explain the work we’re trying to do, it’s literally to crack them both open just even a tiny bit, right. And so the challenge there is really not whether you left whether you came back whether you you know, whether you stayed and didn’t ever leave, it really is just where we bump bump up against this, I think is because we’re insular in the nature of like, if we don’t ever leave the four walls of our community, we really don’t know what we don’t know. So so it’s not as if I truly believe like, there are obviously some people that are more wired for change, more wired for kind of progressive, creative, innovative trains of thought. There’s also just the circumstances in which we we choose to operate, I still leave my community quite regularly, I’m constantly exposed to new things. So I of course, want to say, well, what if we did that? And then I kind of, I tried to bring it back here and I’m, I met the resistance. The challenges that I’m met with are often from the people that have never seen that thing. Yeah. Yeah. And then we you know, and it’s frustrating. And yet, like, it makes perfect sense. I mean, how would How would somebody envision something that they’ve actually never experienced? Like we need to? So I’ll tell you, we asked me how I navigated it horribly at first. I mean, it was very much like, but I went places, and I learned things like, What’s the matter, everybody? Right. And so part of it too, is like really getting a better handle on what exactly you’re, what kind of waters are you actually swimming in? You know, and again, like you, you it’s so funny that we all anybody that lives and works in a small town, you’ve caught yourself twice, I heard both of them. And I’m like, oh, it’s such a thing. We’re like, we don’t want to disparage anybody. So we have this, you know, and oh, like not better. But why can’t we say better? Sammy, right? Like, why can’t we just say everything, things could always be better? And that’s again, that’s an outlook. It is a total outlook that I absolutely have. And I also know that many people don’t

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] so because that goes back to the change management piece. Right? So we don’t need it to be better everything is just fine the way that it is.

[Rebecca Undem] Yeah, so like the whole the whole if it’s not broke, don’t fix it thing is so interesting, because I then I of course ask questions, which that by the way would be one of the most important things I think is is instead of coming at everything with a sense of judgment, which I absolutely did when I was younger and newer into this work. I was frustrated all the time. Like all the time, and I was you know judge judging it like you’re so close minded in your soul not open to change and you’re so resistant and you’re so whatever, you’re the naysayers, you’re the cave people like citizens against virtually everything that’s like, that’s like a community development phrase. And so it’s what I’ve what I’ve grown to learn just through the hard knocks of doing it, frankly, is that when we stand in judgment of the of the people we’re faced with like that, we are just I mean, we are just as bad as the people that are you know what I’m saying? It’s like we’re othering other humans just like baby other us and so it’s not productive, right. So the flip side of that is like instead of instead of assuming you know, or instead immediately labeling people’s behavior in whatever fashion feels good to you. Simply asking questions, you know, like asking more questions, trying to understand what their hesitations are, what don’t you know? What don’t you see? The whole? Like, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. What? Who decides if something’s broken? How are we determining as a group? Like, depending on the scale and scope of your thing? Right? How who’s deciding if it’s okay, the way it is? Because, you know, growth, for the sake of growth isn’t probably smart, either. And yet, I will always come from it come at it from that standpoint of like, Yeah, but it could always be better, it could always be improved. And I just want to say, especially for rural and small places, by deciding that something can be better, it doesn’t mean you don’t love it. And I think, you know, I’ve been confronted with that, like publicly where people think because I struggled to find my way back here. That oaks wasn’t good enough for me. And then that’s, and that’s, that was my, that’s what people took away from it. And I said, No, you know, because I want this community to be better, it actually shows how much I love it. Because we don’t invest in things that we don’t love, Sammy. If I didn’t give a rip about this town, I wouldn’t care. Apathy is the opposite of love. And I so so it’s some of it, too, is just really like, trying to reframe the approach to growth or the approach to change, right? Helping people see that when we care so much about something that we want the absolute best for it. That’s what real love looks like. And again, that’s, that’s a perspective, and it’s not shared by everybody. But it’s absolutely critical that I have a meet a way and a means to bring that forward, or I won’t

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] make it here. Right? Well, and I think there’s a few things that just kind of bring it all full circle to and like, this is just a great lesson in communication in general. Like, even if you’re not doing community building or or anything of that nature, even if you’re just on a nonprofit board, or, or like you know, talking with your spouse, like what, whatever. When we come in with an idea, we see the big picture, we know what it can be, but you said you know, other people haven’t experienced it, they don’t see how amazing it can be. So I love the hitting on Ask a ton of questions. And then really listen, but then also, we have to listen and trust then what the people are giving us and use that to kind of then show them well, this is how this can help with the motivation and the needs and the beliefs that you have, as opposed to making it about us, right. So like, I think that’s such a smart approach in allowing people to see how it’s going to personally affect them, as opposed to just, I have this great idea. I’m going to do something really awesome. I know everything like I can see how that can be more jarring to people or more like, I don’t know, like this isn’t my thing.

[Rebecca Undem] Right? Well, and I think the other thing too, in this kind of broader conversation, I think, if you have a big idea about something that you want to have done, it’s really it’s really critical to like take a beat and think about who do I need to tell about this idea right now, like in its infancy. We can’t run around telling everybody about it, and expecting that that’s going to go well for us. Right? Because there’s there’s a good a good part of the population that leads with constraints in their brains, right? Like, as soon as they hear something, they go, Yeah, but what about this, and you get enough of those early on. I wrote a blog post about this once, just like maybe we’re not getting burnt out. But we’re getting snuffed out, like you start you know, you start and it’s like a little flicker of a flame. And if you run around telling everybody it takes like, only one person with a wet blanket to completely extinguish that thing, right? And then you have to, you have to start and you have to reignite it within yourself again, before you go out to the world. And so you just really need to think about it. I think sometimes a couple filters for me have just been like, Who do I really need to help see this thing and like, Get behind this thing? It isn’t everybody, because the best things that some of the best things that could create it in a community, there’s not consensus for that. And if you if you think I think if any of us think that we’re going to somehow achieve consensus with like, excellent communication skills, you are fooling yourself like that’s not possible. I don’t even think a shared vision for a community is possible outside of we want everybody to love their life here. Like that’s something I think everybody could get behind. Right but like what that looks like how we achieved that we’re not gonna we’re not gonna get there. Right. So I think that’s another big piece of it is just when you’re earlier on in your process is is being strategic about who gets to hear those ideas. I wasn’t strategic about it. I was constantly re lighting my fire. It was an eye again, like I learned these things, just the hardest way possible just by doing it screwing up, trying to figure it out, you know? And then when you have a good interaction, asking yourself, okay, well, how why was this one different? What happened here? That didn’t happen before? And then trying to figure out that rep. Like, what’s the replicable stuff? Yeah, right. And this just lessons, but it’s really, it’s really hard work. But I think you know, when you have a really good idea, and you love it, you think everyone’s gonna love it. No one will ever love it as much as you love it. That’s the other piece, right? So, you know,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] we tell our clients that all the time, like nobody cares

[Rebecca Undem] about I know your project. That’s hard to do. Yeah, totally.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] He doesn’t. Nobody’s gonna champion it as much as you do. And so you have to figure out how to bring people to come alongside you as best as best as you can.

[Rebecca Undem] Yeah, well and maintain your own. You have to preserve yourself. Yeah, in that process, right and opening yourself up, like early on to just everybody, you know, use the analogy of like standing in the public square. There’s a time and a place where that’s what you’ll do. But it’s not at the beginning of an idea, right? It’s just too, there’s too much fragility. And it’s in it is really exhausting. You know what I mean, you hear? Again, every single one of us is going to hear way more nose than we ever hear. Yes. Isn’t our entire life if we’re asking anything at all, like if we’re asking if we’re out actually asking, you’re actually going to hear no way more. Right. So it’s being strategic about, you know, and also, you know, you guys talk about this with nonprofit fundraising even? What are you asking of them? Like? Are you asking for feedback? If if you’re not, then like, you know, so again, it’s just the all of those things like, think about what are you actually trying to achieve by sharing it at that moment, right, just so many little lessons along the way, but well, and when

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] it comes to sharing, also, if you’re not rock solid, in, this is what I want to accomplish. This is my idea. If you haven’t really flushed it out, then it can also be really easy to lose your way, right? Because then you go talk to Jane and Jane says, Oh, well, you should also do this. And then you talk to Bill and Bill’s like, well, that’s terrible. Don’t do this part of it. Everybody’s gonna have their own opinion about it. And usually, for sure, totally lose your vision and exactly kind of what the path that you’re trying to go down.

[Rebecca Undem] That’s, that’s gonna like, I’m like harkening back to my own content, which I apologize that sounds good. I wrote, I wrote a blog post about holding division, right, this. So I clearly if you can hear this in my voice, I’m, I’m a big picture. 30,000 foot view, pie in the sky. You know, big time dreamer. I mean, I really am. And, and the other piece of this is knowing that. So like, like on a Myers Briggs, for example, you’ve got intuitives versus sensors. I’m an intuitive, like, I’m constantly trying to make meaning and draw connections and see patterns and big picture stuff is where I live. Well, that’s fine. And well, except for your idea is eventually going to need step by step sequential details. So So there again, it’s just such a clear thing, if you’re sharing this big picture to a bunch like to even a person that only there the first time they go, what about this, and you go, yeah, but don’t don’t look way down there, you know, Hey, get up here, come up here. They can’t do it for one. And it just means that maybe you need either some refinement of the dream, or you need to be in a position where you can freely be vulnerable to where the where you might be exposed, like where things aren’t super tight. Because the most audacious of dreams probably don’t have like a step by step Strategic Plan accompanies them at the beginning, right. So I think that’s an internal thing. We all have to ask ourselves like, what do I really need at this moment? Do I need, you know, dream and vision casting, like refinement? Do I need input on this thing? Do I need money? Do I need champions? Do I need cheerleading? Do I need? Like, what what is it right? And then you can get a little more clear about what exactly it is that you’re that you’re asking for it when I was first starting growing small town skin were nonprofit. I literally just I was again, there was you know, I was working on stuff with a physical building. And so I told myself, the thing I can track every single day is how many people I share this thing with and I’m going to start with people that seem to make a lot of sense, right? And you know, and then we’ll just we’ll just see what happens. I’ll pay attention kind of have that little bit of a deep If after each conversation and ask myself those questions like, what went well, what didn’t go well? What might be the reasons for that I show up differently. Am I well rested? Like all those things that Yes. But then it was like, no, no, no, no, no no not interested or like, oh, good for you like Rubio pat on the head and then they move on, right? But the first big yes that I got the first big partner that I got, I mean it I can’t express how much it’ll buoy you like through through what’s to come. And then the eye to me the key question that you get, like when you get off of a, either a call or a visit like that, where you feel like you’ve made a new, like, Soul partner, and in the process of what you’re building, is just to say, who else is like you that I need to talk to? And that was that was 100%? How, just like, the momentum of partnership building coalition building, if you will, Gru for me. Again, like, not trying to hold grace, like, have grace for the people that don’t get your stuff. So, this, you may ask me this later, it’s fine. I’m going to tell you right now, the mantra, the mantra that I ended up just like adopting and I’ve carried all the way through this process is that I work with the willing and I love the rest. Like I am not going to drag people across any milestone, I’m not dragging people along this whole race like I don’t, there’s no way I can do that, right. So the people that are willing, the people that are open, the people that share my vision for what we want to see happen in this place, and in this community. And then as it expands out to other communities, I’ll find them, I’ll find them as long as I keep asking, and I keep sharing, and I keep inviting those people to the conversation. And if you don’t get it, I’m gonna love you right where you’re at.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And I think that’s fantastic, though. Because as things evolve and grow, like in a smaller community, you know, there’s less people to kind of hit up for some of these bigger projects are these bigger dreams are these bigger shows. So what I love about that mantra is that you might have a bunch of noes at the beginning, because for a variety of reasons, maybe it was poor timing, maybe they’re just really busy in that moment, maybe they don’t see the vision, they don’t understand how it’s going to work. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like it. And so at some point, because you have that feeling of I’m gonna love you where you’re at, it makes it so much easier to come back to them and just be like, Hey, I just wanted to update you on where we’re at and give you a status report or share with you kind of what we’ve done. Because you never know when that no can transition into something different. Oh, for sure.

[Rebecca Undem] That’s so true. And I think the other piece of it is like, so I built this building. I mean, I couldn’t hide, I couldn’t hide what was happening during this time. It was right on Main Street. It was significant, significant renovation, people really struggled to understand what I was doing. And that’s again, like, initially, I was like this, isn’t that weird? This happens everywhere, like what are you talking about? You know, but I got better at just really, you know, if you really try to empathetically put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re talking to, and they legitimately have never heard of co working, for example, the pandemic accelerated that learning curve for everybody, which, uh, you know, I guess there have to be, there have to be some valuable things that came out of that experience. Otherwise, it’s just two years of darkness basically. Right. So that was, that was a thing. But once I was open, and people would come into the space, it was like, then they were experiencing it. I wasn’t just talking about something anymore. I was like a physical thing. And I can’t tell you the number of people, honestly, that have said to me, I really had no idea what you were doing. But I’m so glad you didn’t give up. Like if that’s not an amazing thing to hear. You know, but then the truth is, Sammy, it is so lonely. When you’re in that and you’re getting those like I don’t get you I don’t get it. I don’t understand what you’re doing. To have that strength of conviction. You have to be really, really well supported by by people that you know, you can turn to because it is it is so taxing. I mean it financially taxing it was physically taxing and it was absolutely mentally and emotionally just taxing.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. And you have young kids.

[Rebecca Undem] And I had young kids at the time and you know, still have young kids. I mean, they’re, you know, they’re older than they were but they’re still they’re still kind of needy. I don’t know, they just keep needing me, whatever.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I am like, yeah, I am listening to Seth Godin book the dip right now. Have you listened to that one? I haven’t. I’m a huge Seth Godin fan, but it is exactly. It’s a short read. I definitely recommend anybody check it out. But it’s literally about the people like in order to be the best in the world. Whatever. Are your world is oaks right now? Right? You have to make it through the dip. The dip is where most people give up where they say that’s like where you hit kind of the bottom. And if you can make it through that dip, then that’s kind of the people that are successful. And so how to understand when to quit? Do you quit? Because the idea is bad at the beginning, do you, but if you make it all the way to the dip, and you quit, that’s when you’ve wasted all of your time, effort and energy. So it’s really interesting, like a lot of the things that you’re saying are just kind of resonating with that. So I would definitely check that out, too. But I love I agree with you, because it entrepreneurship, starting your own thing, it is lonely, you’re by yourself, and it’s extremely pressure filled. What do you think it is about your personality or the part personality of like some of these businesses that you’ve worked with that continue to thrive in these kinds of situations and move forward? Like, is there something that you think you did a little bit differently than maybe what some of these other businesses that are kind of just staying flat or, you know, um,

[Rebecca Undem] I think that’s my strength of conviction is something that probably sets me apart and not not in a way that I’m like, special, I just think, I just think I truly, I truly didn’t waver in what I believed we could build. And I think another piece of that was, I mean, and again, I didn’t realize this until I was in it, and like building it, but I was building what I needed. This, this building and this organization. It’s not for me, but it’s what I needed. And so I think I was so I was extremely tethered, extremely invested in making this thing happen. And so I think what’s cool about it is that I got to a point, Sammy, where I was like, well, and I’ll tell I’ll just tell you is a good takeaway. So I had one of my early on partners. He and I were on the phone, and I was having a particularly crappy day, and probably week. And I said, I just feel like nobody gets it. Like, I just feel like I am up against everybody this week is like, terrible idea. That’s dumb. And then again, like I got things happened during this process that were way harder than that, like, some of the things people said to me. Because again, if you this is where I am not sure people get how hard small towns can be for this reason, like you said, there’s less people. Therefore, if you do anything, anything, where you stand a little apart from kind of the the way that we’re all headed, everybody can see you. There’s not enough people to distract anybody from right. So you’re just you’re in you have to know that. And it’s like, I knew that I had no idea how it was gonna feel until I was in it, right. So there were people that were really critical of me publicly, they said things to me, it was so hard. So this was probably all the crap that had been happening when I was talking to Bernie, my partner. And he said, You know what, Rebecca, he said, I want you to remember that right? Now, you’re actively trying to find people that want to get on the boat with you, right? Like and grab an oar and help you roll it in this direction. And he said, All these people are in the water are standing on the sidelines, and you’re just beckoning them off, right? You’re just calling to all of them, like, Hey, we’re at work, this is what we’re doing on this boat, like, and this is where we’re headed. Do you want to join us? And he said, so many people are just going to, like, stay there. They’re just gonna stay there and be like, not, we’re good. He said, But the cool thing is our momentum, meaning his in mind, even at that time, because he’s on the boat, he’s got an oar. He said, we’re creating a current, we’re creating a current that’s moving this in a direction and all the people that are just hanging out in the water, they’re gonna get swept up in it anyway. I love that. And I did too. I was like, oh, and he goes, it’s so doesn’t matter. He’s like, it doesn’t matter. If they if they get it right now, if they never get it, you’re creating a current of change that’s happening. And everyone’s going to be impacted by it. And so that was again, I think, I think I was really well supported. Just my emotional and like, that support network of people that I had was was tight and strong. Very few of them lived here. Which was, again, like I think that I, I put myself in the way of development opportunities along the way that kept me connected to a broader world. Yeah, I think that’s something that maybe sets me apart. Because I think my my, you know, a myopic point of view is dangerous forever. Anybody right echo chambers are dangerous. My obvious danger, it’s dangerous. And so, again for me, so I intentionally curated a network of people around me. And it’s not like they all became supporters, but they all held me when I need to be held. And so I, I think that that’s, that’s maybe a couple of the things that set me apart. I’m also just extremely wired for development and growth. Like, I, I know that I can’t read my way into success. That’s what I know. I know that I can’t do that. I can’t, you know, I don’t I barely read personal development books anymore. Like I used to read them. And now how I how I activate growth in my life is twofold. One, I do something and then I actively seek out like, I go, Oh, that feels a little uncomfortable. Probably an indicator I should like, take a stab at it. And then I debrief with my therapist. Yeah. Like, I’m not kidding. Like, no, I love that. It’s like I use when people ask me these questions, I’m like, Well, I don’t nothing Lance lightly on my brain, Sammy, I experienced the world. And I immediately do this, what’s the meaning? What’s the connections? What’s the stuff? And I can’t do that all by myself. So I have a fantastic therapist. And she’s just like, so on. The Rebecca self journey with me, like, she’s just loves it. She loves that this is how I’m wired. You know? So that’s what growth looks like. To me. It’s a it’s a combination of trying stuff, and then debriefing it. You know, and honesty, self honesty is just a huge part of this, too.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I think that is critical. And I think that’s a great spot to kind of transition into the last five questions that I always ask every guest, even though you’ve kind of sort of somewhat answered some of them. But that’s okay. We’re gonna do it again, anyway. Because I just love, I think I love your message. And just that like, even like I said earlier, even if you’re not in community development, even if you’re not doing like, a huge project or whatever, like, I think anytime you’re just wanting to do something that’s a little bit maybe outside the norm of either your community or maybe even challenging yourself outside the norm of what you normally would do, and you’re trying to even just get your family to come on board with you. I think he gave some great insights and tips that can kind of help us kind of push through that mindset and just keep keep doing the things that we want to do so that we can live our best lives. Yeah, right. Yeah, for sure. For sure. I appreciate all of that. Okay. So you said you don’t really do a whole while you kind of already answered this question. But where do you go for personal development or growth?

[Rebecca Undem] The streets if there? Yep, the streets, and then I back that up with therapy. I go out and do things. And then I go to my therapist, and we talk about it. That’s what I do.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Do you when you’re out in the streets, the tough and rough and tumble streets of oaks normal? You ask people for like their brutal honesty, like do you frame questions in the way that people are? Like really honest with you? Or like, how do you kind of get the right answers? Not the right answers, but get people to actual true answers. Yeah.

[Rebecca Undem] So so let me tell you Sammy, how I do that here. I built and renovated an 8000 square foot building that literally is the place where if you want to talk about it, you can come in these doors, like I have, I have infused this space with that energy. And I repeat it to people when they come in here. So if if people are in this space, and they do that, like weird filtery, like where they go, like, oh, I mean, and then I stopped them, I stopped them immediately. And I say you don’t have to do that in here. Like so, because that’s what I wanted this to be a joke. And like, apparently I needed 8000 square feet. For me to feel safe to do that. I don’t know, I’m just kidding. But for real psychological safety is often what’s missing. People don’t feel safe to explore their ideas. And so I created a space and anybody can do that, Sammy, that doesn’t have to be a physical building, you can be that safe space for people, if this is the kind of way that you’re if you’re wired to want that. So then again, I watch a pay attention. And I immediately, like call him out and say you don’t have to do that in here. You can do that out there. But in here, you can say what you think you can speak freely. And we can explore things in here and it’s fine.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. Well, that goes back to your initial thing that you said, I’m gonna not say it exactly the same way but that we need to open up our minds and our hearts like that. That combination seems like is just what you live and breathe on a daily basis.

[Rebecca Undem] It is it’s what I want to cultivate in my community more than anything.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I love that. Okay, would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? I’m an extrovert,

[Rebecca Undem] like, all the way like all the way and again like for my my extroverted friends and for what for my introverted friends that are gonna listen to this too. It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever need downtime. Because 100% I do, but where I actually like my my battery gets recharged through other humans. Yep. 100%

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, well, that makes sense that you’re in the line of work that you’re in.

[Rebecca Undem] Yeah, it would be exact. I don’t know if an introvert would be very well suited to this, the way that I’m doing it, especially it’s and that’s okay. Right? We all have a role to play, but you definitely extroverted.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] What’s something that’s on your goal list for this year that you want to accomplish?

[Rebecca Undem] So I, when I read this question, I was like, huh, so I may seem like I’m super goal oriented, right? Like, I kind of I decide I want something and then I go after it. But right now, because I’m not taking on new projects, like I’ve just kind of tried to balance everything. My overarching goal is to continue to nurture myself as we go, and make sure that I continue to explore, be honest, be vulnerable with me. So I think if there were a way to put that into goal, it’s to continue my relation, my loving relationship with not just myself but my therapist. Okay, I’m not kidding. Like it because again, there’s going to be no shortage of challenges here. Like there’s just not I’m going to constantly be dealt, you know, dealt with things that without a good safety net of just support and kind of self reflection and all the things that come along with therapy for me, it would be dangerous for me, so as to not lose myself. Right, not only to not lose myself, but to continue to pursue the finding and discovery of myself to

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, well, it’s hard to be brutally honest with yourself, if you don’t have a support team, helping you do that, whether it’s a partner, a therapist, a best friend, whatever, you got to have somebody in your life that can be brutally honest, and help you kind of look at things from a different perspective. Right. So totally, yeah. What is a piece of advice you’ve gotten from someone that has stuck with you?

[Rebecca Undem] So work with the willing and love the rest? I heard that and honestly, I can’t remember who, who said that. But right when I needed it, it flowed back into my brain. And now it’s literally when I say it’s a mantra, like, I tell, I tell myself that I tell other people that like, because you’re not going to win, you’re not going to win them all over. Yeah. And it’ll be sad and lonely, if you think you should, or can.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, well, and we, I mean, this is like a weird example. But it’s almost like, you know, when we talk with clients all the time about their email list and unsubscribers it’s like, Don’t who cares? Let them go. Because they’re not your people simply

[Rebecca Undem] release them with love. Right? Yeah. And again, like you said, you don’t you don’t know when those because again, everybody’s, I think that’s the other thing. Okay, so I have a second I have a backup piece of advice. This is from this is actually from the Four Agreements. So, which is a really great book, that helps frame out four really simple ways to just show up and live a pretty solid life. It’s to not take anything personally, I’m very attached to my ideas. I’m very attached to how great I think things are going to be when I’m like, this is going to be awesome, right? But then then to really just recognize that like, when somebody unsubscribes from your email list that has nothing, it has nothing to do with you. It’s because of the stuff that they are dealing with living in and that’s not about us. So also partner conversations, fundraising asks, like, all of that stuff, if you can just go oh, my gosh, this isn’t about me. Holy, does that just like shift? My, my therapist, by the way, I often share my theory, I told her, I said, Do you realize that you’ve come up and like every conversation I have publicly and I share her advice. She laughs She loves it. She’s like, that’s great. I said, not everybody can pay for therapy, I would like people to benefit from my invest myself. So we talk about sides of the street, like so it’s keeping your side of the street clean. Record, you know, recognizing that, like you’re really only in control of your side of the street. And so when you can do that you keep a little bit of this distance or separation that makes it a little easier to accept crappy behavior, poor responses, what have you the big nose rejection, whatever it is, if you just go gosh, like, this isn’t about me, because our self worth isn’t something that’s negotiated by other people. And it you know, it feels like it, but that doesn’t make it true. Yep. So yeah, that would be my that would it’s really hard thing to get good at, especially if you’re a people pleaser. Yeah. You know what I mean? Then you just think like, well, if people don’t like it, then I’m something’s wrong with me. But that’s, that’s something that’s a story that we’re telling ourselves. Yeah. 100% you know, so that’s, that would be my second big thing. I’ve worked on it. I wouldn’t say that. I’m like, I haven’t nailed it. Sammy. I’m still working on that. Absolutely. Every day.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well Oh, that’s one of those things that like even when you’re rock solid forbid something creeps in at some point and

[Rebecca Undem] yep, yep, some healed something that you haven’t addressed. It’s crazy. It’s crazy how, and I’ll just say it because it’s kind of it fits here. My therapist also always says it’s because it’s tricky down here Rebecca, like, on planet Earth, like it’s super tricky. And I love that so much because it keeps it light but it absolutely addresses the fact that humans are humans are messy. It’s messy and chaotic, and it’s hard, but

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] yep. Okay, so last question. What would you say is a non negotiable in your life?

[Rebecca Undem] Having fun? Like laughing? Humor is my it’s the bone to my, to my soul. It soothes me every time I’m struggling. And so it has been here

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] funny because my kids don’t think I’m funny. I tell jokes all the time. And they’re just like,

[Rebecca Undem] I Well, so I have so I have two boys. I have two boys and a little girl. My little girl thinks I She practically thinks I walk on water right now. Which is such a fun. It’s such a fun little age. I make her belly laugh regularly. My older son is kind of stoic. So he doesn’t. He’s harder to make laugh my middle son to like key he laughs pretty hard. So yeah, they think I’m okay funny, but I find them delightful. You know, I think that’s something too is that I know how much humor and having fun like laughing how much it makes me feel better. And so I truly do. Again, cultivate that in my life. You know, I look for i That’s the confirmation bias. And it’s like something we also like, if I believe that there’s always something to laugh about. I will always find something to laugh about. And that helps me a ton. Right? Because it makes it sound like I don’t ever struggle. At the end of this. You people might be like, Oh God, she like never struggles. I super struggle. I struggle all the time. And I think all of us do. I really do. I don’t think that makes me special. I just have really tried to work hard to figure out. Okay, when I’m feeling like this, what do I really need what’s helpful and not destructive? Constructive and not disruptive? Because gosh, there’s any any variety of options of things that we that would maybe bandaid it, you know, bandaid, the pain, but it’s not actually constructive. It’s not actually restorative to suffering. Yeah, so humor is non absolute non negotiable. If I’m not laughing, then I need to, I need to call up Patrick, to be honest, like he’s a person. Like, he’s a person that every single time we talk like, I walk away feeling better about life. I think that’s he’s he’s one of those like, key people in my life. Right? And that’s just your listeners have to know that. Go back and listen to him.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] You have to go back and listen to him. Yeah. Well, because he talks about his struggles too, as an entrepreneur and a stay at home or not stay at home dad, but like, you know, the other primary involved dad? Yeah, during the day with? So? Yes, he’s definitely one depending on the amount of coffee he’s had. We’ll let you know how much laughter will be coming out. Yeah.

Rebecca Undem 43:04
And usually it’s a pretty solid baseline, the cafe. It’s not as if there’s ever a day where he’s like, not caffeinated. So correct. So it’s,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. Well, Rebecca, this has been fantastic. If people want to connect with you learn more about your organization or just lurk and all of your places, where can they

[Rebecca Undem] lurk at all places, I

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] love it. I was like,

Rebecca Undem 43:30
please come and creep on all of my places. Okay. Growing small is the best place to find out about kind of the nonprofit and the co working space and what we’re rolling with here and oaks. I’m again, I’m a speaker, I’m a consultant. So that’s just my name, my first name last So Rebecca And that’s, you’ll find me and all of those places on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, as well. So yeah, I mean, if people want to reach out and connect I, I’m always game for making new friends Big Shot QA, like people. I like people a lot. So yeah, be fun.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. And we will link up all of the stuff that Rebecca shared all the links everything in the shownotes at . Rebecca, thank you for being here.

[Rebecca Undem] Thanks for having me, Sami.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, if that didn’t motivate you to get out there and go after that thing that’s big for you, whatever it is a big project, a change in your life, something that you have been wanting to tackle but just haven’t yet. I know Rebecca is has inspired you to do something big or small, make a little change, do something to help get you to that. That thriving place where you’re having all the things that you want in your life because you deserve it. I want to thank Rebecca again so much for being a guest today and sharing all of her wisdom and insights. Again, everything will be linked up in the show notes at us. . For now, make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to these episodes so you don’t miss them. They come out on Thursdays and we have the video versions available for you on YouTube as well. Just search at easy style with Sami. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you and I really hope you have a fantastic week. We’ll talk to you soon


When you grow up in a small town it can feel like your options are limited. So many incredible things have come out of small towns, it just takes a bit more courage to keep pushing through! Rebecca Undem has a passion for helping small communities grow and thrive! She’s sharing her experiences that have gotten her to where she’s at now. The struggles, the pain, the wins and the passion!

In this episode we discuss

  • Rebecca’s passion for small towns!
  • Finding your supports and letting the rest go.
  • Working on yourself and building trust within yourself!
  • Leading with kindess instead of trying to “change” peoples’ minds.

Want to skip ahead?

[1:17] Who is Rebecca Undem?
[6:06] How to navigate different personalities in small towns.
[16:05] Creating the path for your new idea.
[26:07] How Rebecca is able to keep pushing forward.
[32:36] Where does Rebecca go for personal development?
[34:44] Is Rebecca an introvert or extrovert?
[35:27] One goal for the upcoming year.
[37:03] Piece of advice that has stuck with her
[40:39] What’s a non-negotiable?

Rebecca Undem

Rebecca Undem

Founder, Growing Small Towns