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As the world shifts back to a new normal, businesses are coming out of the stupor of rapid change. Some handled it very well and the reason why comes from how they reacted. How are you trying to change how you react?

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Amanda Villarreal is the co-founder and managing member at PLEX Capital, an invoice factoring business that provides working capital for businesses, and in particular, cleaning businesses. We made the decision to bring Amanda on as one of our first guests because of her ability to talk about how we receive and cope with change, especially given the current climate and COVID-19.

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7 Stages of how to change how you react according to Amanda:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Experimentation
  • Decision-Making
  • Integration

Podcast Transcription

Halie Morris  0:00  

Hi, my name is Halie Morris. I am the podcast coordinator and host for the Business of Cleaning. And today with me is Amanda Villarreal. So Amanda, would you like to introduce yourself and just talk a bit about what you do?

Amanda Villarreal  0:13  

Absolutely. Well Halie, thank you so much for having me. I am really excited to be part of this episode and especially the topic that we will be covering.

Yes, my name is Amanda Villarreal. I am the managing member of PLEX Capital. We are a company based out of Kansas City. You might have heard that, before this craziness of COVID-19, the Kansas City Chiefs won. So everyone should know where we are. 

We are a finance company that has a specific focus on commercial cleaning companies, being able to go and finance those businesses. We have found that commercial cleaning companies struggled to get financing. And we saw an opportunity and therefore we are now offering our services to various industries with the main focus on commercial cleaning companies. 

A bit about me I’m originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, and came to the states at the age of five. I have lived in Kansas City since 2000. Went and earned my MBA from Baker University many, many years ago. 

I got really lucky to in 2007 actually find a new company that was venturing out into commercial financing, specifically for trucking companies. I was hired as one of the first members of that organization and that company grew significantly. I was with them for almost 12 years. Until last year, June 2019. 

That’s when my business partner and I decided to open up PLEX Capital and start looking at industries that need the support of financing. So here we are with over 20 years of combined experience in commercial finance, and now specifically focusing on financing commercial cleaning companies and a couple of other industries that we are really passionate about.

Halie  2:26  

All right, thank you, Amanda. It’s great to get a little insight into what you do and your experience. And so just for everybody listening, what we’re going to be talking about today, what we brought Amanda on for, is to talk about changing how you react because obviously, with today’s situation, it’s a little crazy. We’ve had to really see how we already do react and some people have reacted extremely well and some are kind of still getting their land shoes on so to speak. Would you like to lead off on what is this basis for how you react to change? Where does it kind of start? 

Amanda  3:07  

Absolutely. So let’s go ahead and think about life. Life is made up of events. When a child is born, there’s that main event of happiness… in most cases. You have all of these events that really make up the experiences in life. So you got to remember that 10% is what happens to you and 90% is what you make out of it. You have a decision to take all these events being positive or negative and make something out of it. Right? 

So let’s not forget that we all are in control of how we react, how we go about things. It’s not necessarily our parents’ fault or our employer’s fault or COVID-19. Everything is within us, we have that control. And so what I would ask those that are listening to us is to really evaluate the most recent experience that maybe hasn’t been the most positive one. And let’s put COVID-19 to the side, maybe it was the ending of a marriage, maybe the passing of a loved one. 

Really take a look at that and say, if I were to focus on all the positive things, all the experiences I had with that partner that I ended up divorcing, right? Because at some point, we were all in love, and we had those beautiful experiences. What if I just focus on that, and I take that and I learn from it, and I take it on to my next relationship. What about the passing of a loved one? Many of us have lost brothers or relatives or someone. What if we really focus on all the positive things, all those beautiful memories, and we just embrace that? And then we take that on to become better people. Right? 

So one of the number one things that I would ask people to consider is, again, 90% is going to be how you react. 

What is fascinating is, if you really think about it, there are about 7 stages, and this is not scientifically proven, but there are a lot of articles about this. There are really 7 stages of events. Okay. So if you think about it, it’s almost like a horizontal “S” and so those seven stages are shock, denial, frustration, depression– which that’s at the lowest- experiment, decision, and integration.

7 stages of reacting to change

What if we were to make that more of a horizontal line instead of an “S”? What if we were to remove the depression [stage] of things, which is just the low, low mood, lacking energy, kind of just wanting to throw in the towel and say forget about it, I’m just going to stick my head in the sand, and we’ll see what happens. Well, I think that we can all do that, Halie. 

I’m going to ask you to share maybe some of those not so good experiences that you’ve had. Maybe it’s still COVID-19, whatever topic you want to share with us or event. And if you think about those stages that I shared, from shock to all the way to integration, can you talk to us a bit about when you get into that depressing stage, how did you get out of it? What was that little thing that triggered the decision to actually say, “Okay, I have to move on from this!” and you made that decision, and went and executed on that decision?

Halie  6:54  

There’s been a couple of things but one that kind of really is a good example for this is actually I went through foster care, and I was adopted. There was a point where I was so eager for change. I was jumping straight into each new situation, but there was one point that I remember where when I picked my forever family. I said, based on a sheet of paper, these guys look interesting and can come visit them, and then they actually liked me back. 

And we made the decision to do the adoptive placement, start moving forward with that process. It was good for about a month, and then they wanted to parent and I wasn’t used to parents. I was used to kind of just doing whatever I wanted. And there was this moment of “I don’t want to be here.” So the shock maybe wasn’t as sharp as it is for somebody else because it wasn’t a quick change. It was a slow change. But there was just this moment of like, “I don’t want this” and “oh my gosh, like why am I here?” and then slowly it just declined and it got worse than we thought. 

And they took away my phone. I was like 15 at the time, and they’re like, “No, when you’re talking to people, you’re just it’s really toxic. You’re not doing things that you should. You’re just negative about it like, Oh, this is terrible, you’re making it sound like a worse situation. It’s actually a wonderful situation.” And then that stage of not liking it lasted a while. So I’d go to school and I’d enjoy school more because I wasn’t fighting with somebody there, most of the time. It was high school. 

But then, over time- I mean, you know, it’s parents, so you always have your ups and downs- but over time, I started to embrace the situation, be extremely grateful for it, and realizing what I had. Then it’s obviously kind of catapulted me into where I’m at today where, you know, I’m with a great company and doing something that I love and that is pushing me to continuously be better. I’m really close with my family now actually. We’ve gone through so many things over the years and I think it’s been about nine years that I’ve lived with my parents and I’ve been part of that family. 

So that I went through that. I went through that whole drop, “I don’t want this.” I resisted and then just was unhappy and moping. I really dragged my feet through high school. Then it took me a while to really like embrace it and be like, “oh, literally the only thing holding me back is me.” So I guess that’s my situation.

Amanda  9:36  

It’s fascinating because as you’re telling the story, you’re really following that “S” shape. So you know, the interesting part of it is when you were at the lowest was, let’s call it depression, right- that everything is negative, and then when you said “and then I started to embrace it.” So that’s when you’re just going through that experiment is saying “okay, now I can engage now with this situation, what are the good things? What are the positive things?” you kind of started to change your story a bit. 

From there, you just made that decision and now it became like an integrated thing where it just became the norm. And now you look, and you’re probably thinking “Silly me at that point, I thought the world was ending. I hated my life.” A simple example of- and it was not simple for you at that point, but a simple example of how we can if we truly understand those stages, and once again, I would make this clear that there might be more but I’m trying to simplify it. 

If we understand the stages and say, “okay,” instead of every single time that something happens- instead of that going like this where we’re at the bottom- what if we can just go straight? 

That takes me to the next point and that is to acknowledge that we are going to be facing challenges in life. If we understand ourselves and how we work, and who we are, it is going to help us have less of those depressing moments. Because really, life becomes a bit less enjoyable, or we’re always depressed if we’re low on energy or if we are angry at the world. What if we actually embrace every change? And so there’s a difference, and I think I mentioned this at the beginning, Halie, it’s truly a mindset. Everything in life is a mindset. Right? 

So you need to understand if you are someone with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. The difference is someone that says, “you know, this happened to me. I was adopted and my parents didn’t love me and my parents this or my parents that” and kind of just throw the towel and say, “No one is going to love me in life. Right? It’s not worth it.” 

But if you make that decision to have a growth mindset to actually say, “Well, you know what, I get to really have a bigger family, even if I don’t have any contact with my biological parents, I still have a bigger family at one point or another only. You know, time will tell. I may have a great relationship with my parents and my adoptive parents. Then that’s going to become a bigger family and, and there’s just going to be so much more that I’m going to learn from it, and so much more that I’m going to do for other kids in situations like the ones that I went through.” 

And so that is a growth mindset, someone that takes it on and says, well, it happened, but what are some of the good things that I can make out of this? I’m not gonna focus necessarily on what I didn’t have or I don’t have or how I would have liked it to be. I’m going to focus on what I have and how I can make it better.

Growth Mindset

And so what we’re hoping with this presentation is to make you realize that everything is within your power. There’s no government, no parents, no, nothing. No one is responsible for you, but yourself. Now, I do want to make sure that we understand that there are some difficult situations we’ll go through. I myself, am a single mom, and it’s not the easiest thing. I am the proud mother of a 17-year-old and an almost seven-year-old that acts like an eight-year-old. And so, you know, I could sit home and just say, “Well, my life is over. COVID-19 is happening. I’m a single mom, I have a senior now in high school. I have my almost seven-year-old son and I have all these things going on.” 

But no, I embrace it! And I say, “Okay, this is what I’m responsible for. How can I enjoy it more? How can I make it better? Better, how can I teach other single moms to grow and thrive in life?” And, so I’ve made a decision that regardless of what’s going on in my life, regardless of the events or the situations, or in this case- COVID-19, I am going to get up every morning and I’m going to go pave the way not only for myself and my children, so I can leave a legacy, but also for other women, or other minorities, or other entrepreneurs, whomever. To say, “I can go do it, if she can go do it, I can go do it.” We take those things on and I understand that I’m not going to be necessarily impacting the whole world, but if I can impact one person who then impacts another person, you start to see the compounding on that right? So then life becomes a lot more interesting. Then you start to check in with yourself on how you react to things and you become so much more aware of it. 

Halie, we all have those low moments we do. I mean, I do. It’s okay to have those moments where you get a bit down, but he is to have very few of those. And for a short period of time. We’re human.

So anyone that is listening, please know that it’s okay. That if you get to that moment, that day when you’re like, “Okay, I am going to throw the towel.” You might react like that for a bit, but the key is to be in that stage for as little time as you can and make sure that you don’t have that too often.

Halie  15:46  

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a video like this, but I saw a video a couple of years ago, and they talked about the internal locus of control versus the external. It comes back to that mindset as well. It’s the “do you believe that you’re responsible for what’s happening?” or that you can affect it, versus other people who tend to be the ones that say, “this happened to me” type of people. They’re kind of a hands-off like everything’s happening to them. 

Whereas the other people are like, “Oh, this happened, and here’s what I’m doing.” They talk about the internal locus of control type people having much higher levels of motivation because they’re very positive that what they’re going to do is going to have an impact as you said. You can impact one person, and they can impact a person so that you know you’re doing something with that, which is extraordinary. 

Amanda  16:37  

Oh, it is. And that is the difference between both types of people. In life, I really think that there are only two types, either the fixed or the growth mindset. And you can identify people very easily, and I don’t know if they can actually change overnight. I think it is more of becoming aware and making the decision that you don’t want to have that victimized lifestyle. I mean, that’s not enjoyable. You learn nothing, and you’re not helping the world move forward. And so you have to make that decision. 

I myself, I love my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I love it. I think that every experience that I have in life gives me the opportunity to become something bigger and greater. Someone that is actually moving the world forward. And it’s the most beautiful feeling because then you know that you’re not necessarily holding others back or you’re not just bringing people down. The most beautiful thing that I have every single day is when I’m able to elevate someone, someone that maybe was feeling a bit low, and I can come and say well look, you’re breathing. So if you’re breathing, keep fighting. You have beautiful children. See you have a roof over your head, so you live better than most of the world. 

So, you know, let’s embrace that and let’s acknowledge that maybe yes, you’re having some issues here, maybe with losing your job, but hey, it’s a great opportunity to go and learn something new. Because thank God, we have the technology, and we have so many resources where you can get so much information to become better and maybe develop a new set of skills.

Halie  18:24  

I agree. I think I’ve been in that mindset where it’s the fixed mindset where it was- like I said, high school was that period for me, where I just kind of coasted, let everything happen to me and just barely got by. Fortunately, I was academically smart or who knows where I would have been. But I was very much that way. And I started college that way. For a year and a half, I was on this pre-medical track, which is an intense track. I looked around and I said, “I’m not passionate. I don’t belong here.” And it wasn’t that I didn’t belong. It was that my mindset didn’t belong and once I changed my mindset, it was like, oh, there’s so much I can do. Then it was just trying to decide what to do.

Amanda  19:08  

But it became a lot more enjoyable once you made that decision.

Halie  19:12  

Extremely, so much more enjoyable and that is again, it’s part of that catalyst that eventually got me to where I am. Because I joined an academic organization that got me in touch with people, got me my first internship, got me my placement as a recruiter here that I did for a year before changing position. Recruitment didn’t have that kind of demand. We didn’t need two people doing it, and they’re like, “okay, Halie, where do we want you because we want you here, but what can we do?” And we saw the opportunity with podcasting and here I am.

Amanda  19:40  

That’s fantastic. I think you do a great job. You have the personality and everything. So, I’m sure you’re going to be extremely successful as you continue to develop all these podcasts and so the company’s very lucky to have you. 

So, just to recap on a few of the points that we have touched based on is, again, remember that 10% is what happens to us and 90% is how you react. And that’s kind of cliché, but it’s still true. I mean, once you start thinking about it, you’re like, “Okay, so if I lost my job, do I wait for unemployment? Do I just wait to see who’s going to come to rescue me? Or do I make the decision to get out and create and build something for myself, and maybe even something bigger and better and stronger for me?” 

And so, just remember, nothing that happens to you is going to determine the outcome or the quality of your life. We have a lot of people that have lost their legs, and they’ve been able to climb mountains. It’s a mindset. So, remember that. 

The other one is the choice that you make the choice to say, Okay, now that I know that they’re called seven stages to a situation like this, how do I eliminate going that low to a depressing stage? If I don’t like that feeling- if I don’t like to be a victim, how do I just go from the shock to the actual decision to integrate and to execute on it? And so understand who you are. Understand your goals. Understand what quality of life you want to have. 

I rather have an enjoyable life, a happy life, not necessarily a life where everything and everyone is sucking my energy. I’ll give a quick side note. Yesterday, I’m a Chipotle fan. That’s almost my dinner every week, right? I have got to have it. It’s somewhat healthy and makes me feel a bit better. 

So, we went to Chipotle. I met my two boys there after work and the orders got all mixed up, our order with another customer’s order. You could tell they were just crazy busy and you know, things happened, and I stood there, and I was calm. However, the other gentleman was not. And so, he kept making comments about it. I said It’s fine. It’s okay. I mean, like, what’s, what’s going on? 

So, you know, at that moment, you see a lot of people that do go through those reactions, even when little things like that happen. To me, that’s a little thing. That doesn’t mean anything. So if anything, I want to be supportive of the staff, because I know it’s a busy time, especially during dinner. There’s a lot of people that are there and, and they think it can get crazy, but I am aware of who I am.

I am aware of the life that I want to have. And so what’s not worth it for me to spend the next 10 minutes complaining and bickering about how they had our orders mixed up. How did that happen? You know, even little things like that, there’s no need to waste your energy on anything like that, they also impact others negatively. All the other people are trying to serve you. And so how many times when we see that at restaurants or places like that it is like, it doesn’t make any sense, you know?

So, little things like that I asked our listeners to think about it and to challenge themselves every time they have those little events like that. I challenge you to actually say, okay, is it really a big deal? What am I really gaining from this is sucking my energy? I’m getting my body all tense, for no reason. It’s just a simple coffee. It’s just a simple meal. It can be replaced- thank God it can be replaced, right? So start being aware of your reactions to things because if you react to little things like that, such as your coffee not having cream or sugar, how are you going to react to those bigger events in life, like losing a loved one? We all go through that stage. Or losing a job. Some people go through that, or whatever major event that for many people is devastating. 

And so start challenging yourself and being aware just with little things like that and see what triggers what, and then work on it. Start working on it, and say, you know what? Next time that my order gets that- I get my coffee wrong or my meal, I am not going to react. I’m just going to embrace the opportunity to challenge myself and think through that process and realize that it was not a big deal. I made that decision, and so I encourage you to do that.

The other thing is, let’s go ahead and talk a bit about COVID-19. What I can tell you is that we work with a lot of commercial cleaning companies. One of the first things that I did [when COVID-19 happened] was to start getting in touch with them, especially local companies here in Kansas City as they come and visit and just saying, Okay, what are you going to do to ensure that your business is thriving, and you’re not necessarily just kind of throwing the towel, especially if you were doing a lot of janitorial work for theaters and restaurants and all those places that were highly hit? 

So what we did, we contacted some of the associations and just started to get information about where to get certifications on disinfecting. Let’s go ahead and gain a new skill set. And many of our clients went through certifications for disinfecting, and they were able to add that to the menu of services that they have. Many of them also developed memberships for restaurants where they automatically go and say, “Okay, everyone often we’re just going to come and disinfect. If you get a membership, this is going to be the pricing. If it’s just a one-off, then this is the pricing,” being able to innovate and embrace that there’s change, but there’s also an opportunity to go and build something bigger and stronger. And more sustainable.

Halie  26:20  

Yeah, I think why we’ve seen so many businesses struggle is because they’re still in that stage where they’re like, “Oh my gosh, everything’s crashing and burning!” and kind of just acting like “this is happening to us.” They haven’t switched gears yet to okay, this has happened to us, but the world is different. There’s that idea of, there’s going to be a new normal once the smoke settles, and once things calm down, there’s going to be a new normal in which some things aren’t going to stop being media-based. Some things aren’t going to come back from the idea of quick delivery and accessibility to the way it is right now. 

In the cleaning industry, there’s going to be certain levels of things like sanitation, that even though COVID-19 passed, people are going to still expect that because now they see that there’s a benefit to maybe not sharing as many germs all the time and to be more conscious of the surfaces that we interact with. So it’s just you’ve seen those, you’ve seen that who responded? Who said, “okay, that happened. Now what? Let’s go!” and who said, “Oh my gosh,” and they’re still saying, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” There’s a huge difference.

Amanda  27:42  

There’s a huge difference. And if we look at history, everything that we have now has been made or built or created by those with a growth mindset, those that back in 2007-2008, when we had the financial crisis, yes, a lot of people lost a lot, but a lot of people became billionaires out of that situation. 

And so it just is one of those things where you have to make that decision and say, this is a great opportunity, how can I go in? And while everyone is sleeping, or everyone is thinking that the world will end? How can I go and just capitalize on this? And you would be surprised, even for our business, because we have that growth mindset. We’ve experienced growth of over 1,000% month over month. It’s fantastic, but I can tell you the results would have been different if we had said, “well, cleaning companies are not going to be working or staffing companies or the world is ending. So let’s just stay home and see what happens for a month … two months … three months. 

So that decision that we made to embrace the challenges that we were being faced with has led us to grow our business significantly. And not only that but also to impact so many businesses that impact our economy, those that are hiring people, from staffing companies to construction and commercial cleaning companies. So don’t let what happens in the world dictate the outcome of your life. The only one that can do that is you and it’s not easy. Absolutely not. Realize that but then work at it and, believe me, life will be so much better when you embrace it.

“Don’t let what in the world dictate the outcome of your life. The only one that can do that is you and it’s not easy. … Realize that but then work at it and, believe me, life will be so much better when you embrace it.”  

Amanda Villarreal

Halie  29:37  

Very much so. I would definitely agree. All right. Well, I think this is a really great place to wrap it up. What about you?

Amanda  29:45  

I think so too. You can keep me here all day long and you would just have to say “Amanda, enough is enough. I’ve had it! I think I get it, Amanda.”

Halie  29:56  

Yeah, well, you’re great. You’re great to talk to and you have a huge point with this mindset of reacting Where are we in this? This S curve? Where are we in one of these stages? And where- what steps do we have to take to get to that part where we’re acting appropriately where we’re moving on, and we’re moving in a positive direction? So I think this has been a great conversation.

Amanda  30:22  

It has been. Thank you so much for having me once again. If there’s anything that I can do, please follow me. I primarily use Facebook. It’s where we have a large community, but you’re more than welcome to follow me at Amanda Villarreal. So I invite all of you to follow me. I do a lot of presentations for local chambers and also business organizations as well here in Kansas City. And I’m pretty good about staying engaged through my social media. Thank you so much. Best of luck to everybody. And, Halie, thank you so much for having me again. Thank you!

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