“What are the steps for developing or strengthening resilience?” With Tyler Gallagher & Martin Glenday

I always say that a new competitor usually makes you stronger. They may be trying to take market share, but that keeps you from resting on your laurels. Under pressure from another competitor, you are compelled to make sure you’re offering better services and working to be more innovative. In this interview series, we are […]

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I always say that a new competitor usually makes you stronger. They may be trying to take market share, but that keeps you from resting on your laurels. Under pressure from another competitor, you are compelled to make sure you’re offering better services and working to be more innovative.

In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Glenday, President of Moxie Media, a full-service media design and production company. Glenday received his Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Vermont in 1982. By 1984, he had also earned a Masters of Science in film production and business from Boston University. At just 25 years old, he started Moxie Media.

Founded by Glenday in 1985, Moxie Media began by creating custom, company-specific training videos and instructional manuals on VHS tapes. Glenday initially focused on offshore and land-based training programs for the oil and gas industry. As technology evolved, so too did Glenday and his company. Moxie went on to adopt more interactive training delivery methods, such as interactive CDs and DVDs, while also utilizing more adult learning concepts. Testing and learner remediation was added to Moxie’s training, along with written manuals and closed captioning to support hearing impaired audiences and foreign language versions.

Glenday also began offering a library of training courses for all types of business and industry employees and companies that could not afford or did not need training personalized for their organization. Moxie Media expanded its client base to the maritime industry next, and eventually grew to serve many other industries, from railroads to chemical plants, refineries, cruise ship lines, and more. With the invention of the Internet came Moxie’s online training courses and Learning Management System (LMS). Today, the company is still looking to the future of technology by exploring opportunities for training in virtual and augmented reality. Over the past 34 years, Glenday has grown his one-man operation to 20 employees, with over 500 training courses serving more than 50,000 learners.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I started my company, Moxie Media, by myself when I was just 25 years old. My background was in video, having worked for TV news, ad agencies, and even as a videographer for Entertainment Tonite. The idea for Moxie came from a visit to Walt Crory, my mother’s first cousin — though I call him my uncle — who owned a heavy equipment company in New Orleans. I went to the city to do some work for him, and I never left.

Walt asked me to stay and help with his company’s marketing. As I worked on their marketing and created videos for them, I saw an opportunity to create a product for the major oil companies that were my uncle’s clients. I developed relationships with the safety directors at these companies and started making custom crane safety programs.

In the beginning, it was just me. I made the training programs myself and even appeared in some of them. The kinds of venture capital opportunities that exist today weren’t available to me then, so I grew the company organically without any outside funding. To this day, Moxie Media has not accepted any outside funding, nor do we seek it.

Our team has grown to about 20 employees over the past 34 years. We have over 500 training courses and have served tens of thousands of learners. Not only that, but our business model and products have grown and changed as well, especially to remain relevant with the latest technology. Moxie Media has transitioned from making custom, company-specific training for the oil and gas industry to offering both universal and custom courses for a wide range of industries. We have also shifted from delivering training via VHS tapes to CDs and DVDs, then online training and learning management systems, and now we’re looking at VR and AR for the future.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

As anyone who was in New Orleans in 2005 will tell you, Hurricane Katrina was a defining moment for the city, as well as its residents and businesses. It was certainly a challenging time for Moxie Media. But I also believe our company was able to learn from it.

At that time, texting was still not the norm for everyone. But during Katrina, calls from cell phones weren’t working locally, so I lost touch with all of my employees. I was in New Hampshire, where I spend half the year, when the storm hit. Suddenly, I didn’t know where any of my employees were, if they were okay or not, what the conditions were like on the ground, how things looked at our building.

Although calls were failing, texts were able to go through. I learned how to text in order to find out where all my employees ended up, as many evacuated to different places. That experience underlined an idea that has pervaded Moxie Media’s history — the importance of evolving with technology.

Once I was able to get in touch with people again, I quickly made a plan to rent a few townhouses in Houston, where we have a strong client base, and rally the company there. As soon as I could, I flew to Houston and met up with one of my business partners. We loaded up a car with supplies and drove to New Orleans. There were no services or electricity, and we had no place to stay. There was a lot of uncertainty.

After dropping off food for some of our employees who were still in the area, we went to the business with some trailers and started loading up equipment to bring back with us to Houston. We were still receiving orders for training DVDs online, but we had no one to make the DVDs, package them, or ship them out. I ended up staying in New Orleans for about a month, and it ultimately took a few months to get our business running again.

Even when all seems lost, I learned you have to be resourceful. Do everything you can to keep going. And whenever you can, try to have cash available in a rainy day fund, because you never know what will happen. If I hadn’t had the assets and funds to go several months without income, Moxie Media easily could have gone out of business.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Even though our company revolves around technology, we place a high value on outstanding customer service. Poor customer service, especially the inability to get a live person on the phone, is a personal pet peeve of mine. When you call Moxie Media, every one of our phones rings.

Of course, there are certain people at Moxie who are tasked with answering the phones. But if a few rings go by and none of those people are available to pick up the phone, someone else will answer. Not only that, but they will take responsibility for getting an accurate message and delivering it to the right person.

Technology is our business, but support for that tech is vitally important. At Moxie Media, we pride ourselves on being able to provide excellent customer support at no additional cost. A big requirement for anyone on our customer support team is to have a lot of empathy.

If you’re a crewman who is supposed to be completing training on a deadline, it can be very stressful to have anything go wrong, especially if you’re on a vessel in the middle of nowhere. Many companies offer crewmen safety bonuses for meeting training on time, so there is money on the line for them. They are often very relieved and grateful to get a real person on the phone and ready to help when they call us.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Dick Gravenhorst, my uncle’s business partner, was a huge help and mentor to me. When I first started Moxie Media, each of the three of us owned one-third of the company. Although Dick wasn’t an active partner, he owned part of the business and always had my back. Even after he retired, he was a great supporter of me and the company.

I didn’t have the opportunity for feedback or mentorship from anyone in the industry when I was founding Moxie, so I really had to find my way on my own. But any time I wanted to talk through an idea or issue, Dick was there to lend me an ear. It’s important to have someone who cares and is willing to give you an honest opinion.

I remember how I used to prepare for presentations at conferences by practicing on Dick. I would deliver my speech, and he would tell me what did or didn’t work. In those cases, it was helpful to get feedback from a layperson to make sure I would be easily understood. Many times, Dick joined me when I would go to tradeshows, helping out wherever he could. I have very fond memories of the business trips we took together overseas, particularly in Argentina and Brazil. I always appreciated his company.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

To me, resilience is about actually getting the work done. Anyone can dream up an idea, but not everyone has the resiliency to actually follow through on bringing an idea to life and taking on the challenges that arise along the way.

Resilience can mean anything from getting a product out to the market to just following through with a customer. In our business, the timeline for acquiring customers is incredibly long. Many customers can take a year or two from the time we originally speak with them to when we actually get them signed up and on board. We need to convince them of the ROI and their ability to utilize Moxie Media’s products and services to their benefit. For salespeople who work on commission, it can be difficult to stick with a prospective customer for so long and continue to call on them. I always tell people that one of the best qualities of a salesperson is tenacity, which plays a role in resilience.

I believe resilient people are also innovative. They’re constantly looking at new ways to help themselves and their business advance forward. For me, that often means looking into the latest technology, such as VR and AR. A resilient person has the ability to spot opportunities that are not always readily apparent and make things work, even under difficult circumstances.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

When I think of resilience, my wife, Lucy, comes to mind first. After all, she’s stayed with me for over 30 years! But in all seriousness, she embodies the kind of adaptability that is a core part of being resilient. Not only did she stay by my side while I built Moxie Media, but she also was instrumental in making it happen. Her background was in journalism, but Moxie needed help with accounting and business affairs. She stepped up and taught herself what she needed to know to become our business manager. I have always been grateful to her for that.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

When I reflect on how my perspective as a businessman has changed over the years, I am reminded how most of us tend to become more cautious as we age. I think it’s only natural. In our younger years, we usually take more risks — sometimes simply because we don’t know any better. We don’t think that a person or company is going to say no to us, so we give it a try. As we get older, accumulating more and more experience, we internalize those rejections until we become the voice telling ourselves no. At Moxie, sometimes a younger salesperson will have an idea that I don’t think will work, but I don’t tell them that. I like to let them try it anyway. To my surprise, there are plenty of times when it does work.

In fact, one of the greatest connections I made for Moxie Media seemed like a longshot at the time. Kim Petersen, an expert in maritime security, was speaking at a conference I attended shortly after 9/11. I hadn’t met him or been introduced to him, but after his presentation, I took a chance and approached him about working with Moxie to create training. We ended up working with him and his company to create an 11-part training series to help maritime personnel meet the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) requirements. The series has sold quite well, and we continue collaborating with Kim on maritime security training projects today.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

Back in the day, video equipment was very expensive. As a newer and smaller media production company, equipment costs presented a significant financial investment to Moxie Media. But we were able to save money where we could — we would feature our own staff in videos rather than hiring out actors and extras, for instance — and diversified our offerings. While Moxie Media started out exclusively with custom video development, we branched out into general and industry training that could be applied to any company. This allowed us to gain clients who needed training but weren’t interested or did not have the funds to invest in custom training made specifically for their company.

Today, the cost of video equipment presents a different challenge for our company. As technology has improved and become more affordable, more and more people have been able to try their hand at video production. Now anyone can call themselves a production expert, so there is a lot more competition.

I always say that a new competitor usually makes you stronger. They may be trying to take market share, but that keeps you from resting on your laurels. Under pressure from another competitor, you are compelled to make sure you’re offering better services and working to be more innovative.

In our case, our team has really learned to cultivate our visual and storytelling abilities. Video production is more than just pointing a camera in the right direction. You need to tell a compelling story and make a lasting impression. Instead of investing in more equipment, Moxie Media invests in high-quality storytellers, editors, producers, and designers. This enables us to create lasting images and stories, which help with employees’ recall of our training.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

My dad was an executive for Westinghouse, which led us to relocate several times while I was growing up. The most impactful time was when we moved to Frankfurt, Germany. I was 15 then, and it was quite a major change in my life. I was going to a new school in a new place where I didn’t know anyone besides my family. But this time, I was also in an entirely new country, experiencing a different culture, and dealing with a language barrier, as I did not speak German.

Moving to Germany turned out to be a powerful change in my life. It opened me up to meeting different types of people and learning German. The entire experience helped widen my worldview and make me more resilient to change. To this day, I have friends I made in Germany who I can visit all over the world — not just in Germany, but in other European countries, as well as in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Spending my teenage years in Germany gave me confidence in talking to people from different countries and backgrounds, which has been enormously helpful in business. It also helped me to not feel intimidated by travel or dealing with new and unfamiliar situations. Any time you can expand your horizons like that, I believe it enhances your personality.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

Five steps for developing or strengthening resilience include:

  1. Turning off the TV. Television is an important technology for many reasons, but it can also become a huge time sink. It isn’t a replacement for real-world experiences. When you stop turning to TV, social media, or other forms of passive entertainment as your default way to spend free time, you open yourself up to a wider variety of activities. Two of my favorites are reading books and talking to people.
  2. Talking to someone new. My advice is to talk to someone new every day. No matter if it’s on the street corner, on the bus, or in business, you never know who you could meet. A chance conversation could spark a new business idea or connection, a new hobby, a new way of thinking. Sometimes it’s just a pleasant way to pass the time and connect with someone else. But it always has value.
  3. Having someone to listen. Everyone needs someone in their life who will truly listen to them. Even if they don’t fully understand the problem or have a solution, we all need to be able to vent. When you talk things through with someone else, it can help you think it through for yourself, leading you to ideas you hadn’t considered before. It is also a big comfort to know there is someone who always has your back, especially when you’re facing a new challenge or trying something outside your comfort zone.
  4. Sticking with an exercise routine. Just like with any other routine, having an exercise routine gives you discipline. It also teaches you to prioritize your health. If you want to be agile and resilient mentally, I’ve found it can help to keep yourself physically agile and resilient as well. Exercise becomes a habit, and you feel like you’re missing it if you don’t do it.
  5. Eating different foods. You can learn a lot about a culture through its food. Opening yourself up to different cuisine can help open you to different cultures and experiences as well. Try something different, learn about its history and culture, and talk to people about it. With the right attitude, many areas of your life that you don’t think twice about can become opportunities to learn and explore.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Especially considering my line of business, I’d like to inspire situational awareness and safety in people’s daily lives. Look around you as you go about your day. Take note of any potential dangers or hazards. If you see someone else is in harm’s way, help them out and say something. These are all practices we teach in Moxie Media’s training products, but I would love to see that way of thinking permeate our culture.

Staying safe on the job often comes down to being aware of your surroundings and circumstances. Identify what could go wrong, then take steps to prevent it from happening. Many accidents happen simply because someone isn’t aware of the existing hazards or they’re distracted, whether it’s a worker misusing equipment or someone crossing the street while buried in their phone. I would urge people to take the time to be aware.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I expect many people would give this answer, but if I’m being honest, it would have to be Warren Buffett. I am always amazed at how he can stay on top of so many industries, companies, and trends — and has done so for such a long period of time. That’s an area where I would love to grow. With a stronger understanding of the true value of assets and investments, as well as what is or is not likely to work financially, I could expand Moxie Media even more and accomplish more myself.

I am also interested in the role he has taken on as a major global philanthropist. Despite his immense wealth — which can be a very corrupting force — , he remains committed to making significant donations and bettering the rest of the world. Strong personal ethics and a sense of responsibility for the well-being of us all is a critical part of effective health and safety training like ours.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My LinkedIn:

Moxie Media YouTube:

Moxie Media Facebook:

Moxie Media LinkedIn:

Moxie Media Twitter:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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