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HR in the Car - Episode 22: "Find the Reason to Say Yes in a Good Way"

  • From start to finish, this week we learn from one of our areas brightest entrepreneurs. From working out of a non-airconditioned top floor space, to now working with clients all over the United States, Joe Bonilla talks about what’s like to value and have the presence of mind to remain balanced with work and personal life. Listen in as Joe shares many stories, including how authenticity helps create cultures of sustainability in todays business landscape.  

    Charitable causes Feed Albany, although they closed end of 2022.

    About Joe

    Joe Bonilla is a results-driven entrepreneur committed to providing tough, but decisive leadership in communications, startup business, and media. As the co-founder, managing partner, and senior media director of Relentless, an award-winning creative strategy firm headquartered in Albany with offices in Greenville, SC and Las Vegas, Joe has led Relentless to work with some of the most recognized brands (including but not limited to: Deloitte, Uber, Amtrak, Redburn Development, Waste Management, Bow Tie Cinemas, Nine Pin Cider, and many more), public figures (including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Assemblymember Pat Fahy, Albany County District Attorney David Soares, and several in- and out-of-office), and public entities (Clark County in Nevada, Albany County, City of Troy, and more) over the past decade-plus in business. Originally a two-person operation working out of "Class D" office space, Joe has built Relentless into a communications and creativity powerhouse - working with rising leaders at the local, state, and federal level, startup organizations to Fortune 500 companies all driven to be part of the "public conversation," no matter the terrain or the timezone. 

    Under Joe's continued leadership, Relentless is recognized for its media relations expertise, excellence in creative design and media production, and ingenuity in solving complex public challenges. 

    In addition to Joe's leadership with Relentless, Joe - alongside Relentless co-founder Rich Fazio and award-winning former journalist Liz Benjamin - co-founded Motor Oil Coffee, a startup craft coffee company based in the Capital Region, and CivMix, a news and commentary platform. Further, Joe has worked to develop and manage back office business operations for Jack Carpenter and Taylor Rao, the co-founders of Two Buttons Deep, to help build the brand into the fastest growing media outlet in Upstate New York. 

    Prior to Relentless, Bonilla handled media outreach for a leading enterprise technology public relations firm and was a communications director for a New York State Assemblywoman. Bonilla also served as the founding executive director of the Capital Craft Beverage Trail Association, a leading craft beverage trade association in New York State. Joe is a graduate of the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany (B.A. Public Policy, concentration in Community Relations). While attending UAlbany, Joe produced a series of events that featured former President Bill Clinton and the late legendary journalist Barbara Walters to campus as part of the World Within Reach Speaker Series that brought increased attention to the University community. 
    Bonilla previously served as chairman of the City of Albany’s Public, Educational, and Government Access Oversight Board, president of the board of directors for Capital CarShare Inc., and as vice chair of Troy Prep Charter School. Bonilla was also a regular panelist of WAMC Northeast Public Radio’s nationally-syndicated and award-winning news and discussion program The Roundtable, co-host of CivMix’s The Mix podcast with former journalist Liz Benjamin, and hosted “Behind The Buttons” on Two Buttons Deep. Bonilla is also a co-founder of Feed Albany, a non-profit charity focused on providing meals to in-need and at-risk individuals in the Capital Region in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    Active within the community, Bonilla serves on the following boards and commissions: 

    • Secretary and Governance Committee Chair, University at Albany Alumni Association 
    • Trustee, Maria College 
    • Board Member and Communications Committee Chair, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region 
    • Board Member, Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce 
    • Board Member, United Way of the Greater Capital Region 
    • Advisory Board Member, Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy 
    • Capital Region Board Member, New York League of Conservation Voters 
    • Board Member, New York Urban Orchards 

    Bonilla, a graduate of the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany (B.A., Public Policy), has recognized by:

    • City & State Magazine (Albany Rising Stars 2017, Upstate Power 100 2021, Political Consultants Power 75 2021, PR Power 50 2022, PR Power 50 2023)
    • Capital Region Hispanic Chamber (Business Person of the Year 2022)
    • Hispanic Coalition of New York (40 Under 40 Latino Rising Stars 2012)
    • Albany Business Review (40 Under Forty 2014)
    • University at Albany (Thirty Under 30 2014)
    • Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy (Young Alumnus in Political Science Award 2017)
    • Albany County Legislature (Beyond the Call Award 2020) 

    Joe Bonilla

    Managing Partner and Senior Media Director at Relentless Awareness LLC


  • Voiceover: Welcome to HR In the Car with Miriam Dushane and Tom Schin of Alaant Workforce Solutions, where exciting HR professionals and business leaders share laughter, insider stories, and maybe even a few tears about HR in today's world. Buckle up for the best half hour of your week.

    Tom Schin: Well, we have a fantastic guest up next. I think you folks are really going to enjoy meeting Joe Bonilla. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time, just in terms of just any direction that you could go. I don't know if you felt the same way.

    Miriam Dushane: I love talking to him because his energy is great, number one. He's into a lot of different things. I think of him as the Energizer Bunny that doesn't slow down, doing a lot of great stuff in the community, and just such a good guy. And of course, you know how much we love good guys around here.

    Tom Schin: Well, and to me what stood out was you saw that laundry list of things that he's involved with.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: His serial entrepreneurialism, I can't even say the word, serial entrepreneurialism in addition to the charitable interests. And he seemed so relaxed.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah, yeah.

    Tom Schin: Right. I know he mentioned he had a couple more meetings to go, but you guys are going to really enjoy this conversation, listening to him talk about one of his favorite charities and so much to tell. So listen in.

    Miriam Dushane: So welcome, Joe. I'm so glad that you were able to join us today.

    Joe Bonilla: I'm happy to be here.

    Miriam Dushane: So when you walked in today, I had just gotten done reading your bio that you were so graciously nice enough to send before we met. And we've met before.

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: We've talked, but I asked you how old you were because the list of things that you have done and accomplished in your career, frankly, in my opinion, is amazing. Stuff you should be extremely proud of.

    Joe Bonilla: I hope to be.

    Miriam Dushane: But I worry that you don't sleep.

    Joe Bonilla: I do sleep.

    Miriam Dushane: Okay.

    Joe Bonilla: I sleep a good solid six, seven hours.

    Miriam Dushane: Ooh. Eight or nine is supposed to be what you do.

    Joe Bonilla: No, I can't do eight. I really can't do eight. The six or seven is perfect. I get restless and I need to get up at that point.

    Tom Schin: Where does free time fit in?

    Joe Bonilla: It's really a lot of time management and making sure that I have time for myself. I tell it to friends of mine, staff of mine, to be able to balance out that life style from there.

    Miriam Dushane: So Joe, tell us a little bit more about you. Tell us about your business, Relentless, the other endeavors that you're involved with.

    Joe Bonilla: Sure.

    Miriam Dushane: Give us that quick 50,000-foot overview.

    Joe Bonilla: 50,000 feet, okay.

    Miriam Dushane: 50,000 feet.

    Joe Bonilla: I always say 30,000 feet for some reason.

    Miriam Dushane: Really?

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah, yeah.

    Tom Schin: 30's a good number.

    Miriam Dushane: I always say 50.

    Tom Schin: I like 50.

    Joe Bonilla: You're really way above.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. So you're seeing the real landscape, the curvature of the earth, if you will.

    Miriam Dushane: See? There you go. See, I've always said 50. Really, you guys say 30?

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah, yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: No way.

    Joe Bonilla: I say 30,000.

    Tom Schin: I have a chance to live at 30,000. I'm going to hit maximum velocity and smack.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So a bit about me, the Joe Bonilla, during the day I am managing partner, senior media director and co-founder of Relentless Awareness. We are a creative strategy firm based in Albany with two other offices in Greenville, South Carolina and Las Vegas. Work with a whole host of public and private entities solving complex communication challenges. But on top of which I'm also a, I guess they would call it a serial entrepreneur as well. So I have started a craft coffee company in the region, Motor Oil Coffee started two years ago this month with my best partner-

    Tom Schin: Congrats.

    Joe Bonilla: Thank you very much, from Relentless, Rich Fazio, and also am a partner at Two Buttons Deep. So if you're familiar with that on the social media, you'll find Two Buttons Deep doing a bunch of antics and a lot of fun influencer base infotainment for the masses.

    Tom Schin: I love the parking examples that show up.

    Joe Bonilla: Oh yeah. The worst park jobs.

    Tom Schin: Oh, it's fantastic.

    Joe Bonilla: Yep.

    Tom Schin: I'm going to sidetrack for a second.

    Joe Bonilla: Sure.

    Tom Schin: I was in Troy...

    Miriam Dushane: Go for it.

    Tom Schin: ...the other day, and I was driving past the Collar City bridge.

    Joe Bonilla: Yep.

    Tom Schin: Trying to get back to 787, and there's a beat up pickup truck in front of me, just beat to hell. The back bumper, no joke, was in a V shape.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: Duct taped to hold the two Vs together.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh yeah, of course.

    Tom Schin: And you could see they used spray foam like you would use for your door or window to hold the other pieces together. And they sawed off it to make it flat. I'm like, "That's a lot of effort to keep this ... "

    Miriam Dushane: Bumper.

    Tom Schin: "...bucket of bolts from falling apart." And the first time I'd seen spray foam duct tape. Of course, you expect to see some Bondo, but spray foam.

    Joe Bonilla: Spray foam.

    Tom Schin: But that's what made me think of that.

    Joe Bonilla: Now you almost ruined my train of thought almost.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh.

    Joe Bonilla: No. I can be back on track. I can be back on track. No. So again, in that sense of it, that's why I do in that top level. But let's talk about how I got there.

    Tom Schin: Yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: So my family's all from New York City, from Brooklyn, moved up here when I was a kid. Went to elementary school, middle school, in this neighborhood, in this building. And then two buildings next door to the studio. Went to Albany High, went to UAlbany, got really involved at UAlbany, brought President Clinton to campus, brought Barbara Walters to campus. Had the opportunity to interview President Clinton on stage at the SEFCU Arena. And so after graduating with my degree in communications and public policy, I had two different job offers. One was to become a deputy campaign manager for a state center race in Virginia, had done a lot of volunteer work in the political world, had a friend that was running a campaign down that way, or was to work as a media outreach manager for a firm in Saratoga Springs. And so I decided, "Well, if I do the campaign gig, I'll have to come back here." I had no intention of staying in that part of Virginia. And the other was to work for the firm in and Saratoga Springs, which had a lot of clients primarily in tech. I did that job. It quickly became the job from hell. I loved the work, didn't like the people. So after staying there for a little bit, I left. The day I left Saratoga Springs, drove down the Northway, said, "Yes, I'm out of that hell hole," got back to Albany. Didn't think of that through, didn't have another job lined up.

    Tom Schin: Oh no.

    Joe Bonilla: And ended up doing freelance work for a number of small businesses and folks that were looking to do work in their community. And then together with fellow UAlbany Alum Rich Fazio, we decided to start our own communications firm because I was applying for places, nobody was hiring me. And so we started January 3rd, 2012. We had to call it class D office space on top of the Washington Avenue Armory.

    Tom Schin: Oh boy.

    Joe Bonilla: A day like this we're recording this, it would've been even colder inside the building. And then certainly in the summer it would be hotter inside the building.

    Tom Schin: Right.

    Joe Bonilla: But we just grew from there. It was a two-person operation and over the last 11 years we progressively grew. But part of that has always been being involved and involved in a number of nonprofits, charitable endeavors. And it's always like that phrase, if you want something done, ask a busy person. And I feel like I want to be able to give everything I possibly can to whatever causes or initiatives that are near and dear to my heart. Part of that also is that work life balance. As we're talking about, when you've done so many things, what does that look like on the personal side? And I love to travel. I love the bike. I love to just be out and socialize with different friends. And I always tell folks, make the time for yourself in that way.

    Miriam Dushane: Absolutely.

    Joe Bonilla: So that is the 50,000-

    Miriam Dushane: Amen, amen.

    Tom Schin: Well, we joke about that notion that people think, "Well, I don't have time for this."

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Tom Schin: You do have time. You're choosing to do-

    Joe Bonilla: You make the choice.

    Miriam Dushane: You're choosing.

    Tom Schin: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: You're making choices.

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: Thank you.

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: But they don't want to be accountable for that. It's more of an excuse rather than to say, "I'm not making the time for that." I completely agree with that. 100%.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: I want to learn more about Feed Albany.

    Joe Bonilla: Sure.

    Miriam Dushane: Tell me about that.

    Joe Bonilla: So as we're learning about the beginning of the pandemic and the changes that we're facing, every single aspect of our world, one of the areas that we do a lot of work in is the service industry, hospitality. And so together with Dominic Purnomo from DP, Jason, and Kay Pierce from Savoy Taproom, and a few others, we just decided let's utilize their kitchen because they were closed down because of the mandates. Let's utilize your kitchens to be able to feed restaurant workers at first, restaurant workers, service industry workers. And then we looked at maybe also folks at risk and need. So as we reconfigure these commercial kitchens that were dining the elite of Albany, and to now serving the people that worked in these kitchens, we determined there was a significant need. So progressively we went from just having one or two days a week using the kitchens at DP primarily, and also Savoy Taproom to then it became an everyday operation, and we expanded obviously, the mission to also include healthcare workers and other workers that were on the front lines of addressing the pandemic. So at that point, we decided that, "Well, there's an ongoing need," and that's when we formed Feed Albany as a nonprofit. So over the last three years, they served, it's an incredible number to think about, one million meals.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh my God.

    Tom Schin: Wow.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. One million meals over that time.

    Miriam Dushane: And it's still an operation?

    Joe Bonilla: So because again, with everything we know, with the changes about just trying to be ... We're working on transiting that to another nonprofit that also addresses food insecurity. So therefore, the mission keeps on going in that way.

    Miriam Dushane: Gotcha.

    Tom Schin: That's perfect though. You hear about different nonprofits that can't collaborate together, can't work together because they're so tunnel visioned on I have to do it this way with this brand, this name.

    Joe Bonilla: Correct. Right. They're siloed and that's all they want to do. Right, right.

    Tom Schin: Versus we're doing this essentially the same thing, serving the same audience, reaching the same population. Let's find a way to bridge that. You can still do your specialty area, but share some ideas and resources.

    Joe Bonilla: Absolutely.

    Tom Schin: That's excellent. And what you're describing is, I'm sure it's common in a lot of cities, but here in Albany, that period is so fresh in all of our minds, even though it's three years ago now.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh, I can't believe it's three years ago.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. The one day it really stuck to me that it was such an impact is we did a meal pickup day at Shaker High School in Colonie, and the lines of just families coming in just to get the three meals was incredible. And so we saw the real impact that day.

    Tom Schin: I can remember back then, I would get the school updates because my kids, at least one of them was still in school at that point. And they were saying, "All right, meal food pickup for families was this day and this day you can come in between this window of time." And it just shows you the number of people that were really drastically... There's some of us who were very fortunate we were able to even work still part time or what have you. But all those families that were completely cut off everything. Yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: It's interesting for the pandemic, and we talk about folks working from home and remote work, and I feel my experience was so different because somebody had to pick up the mail in the office. So I went to the office every single day into an eviscerated downtown Albany where I was just seeing it. It was like the movie I Am Legend essentially every day. So my perspective is so different because we were working with clients on figuring solutions for their workforce or any sort of strategy we can help them to be able to survive. So I was always out, constantly, we were doing things with Feed Albany, we were helping to address different things with different clients workforces. And so my perspective is so different. At some point, I want to be able to write about it. But yeah, no, it definitely was a impactful time.

    Tom Schin: I always think about writing. It's like, "Where does that fit?"

    Joe Bonilla: I know, I know.

    Tom Schin: But you just have to start.

    Joe Bonilla: You have to start at one point.

    Miriam Dushane: I was just going to say, you have to make time for it.

    Joe Bonilla: That's it. See?

    Tom Schin: You put something else aside.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: I have so many questions that I'm trying to keep them in order.

    Joe Bonilla: Anything for you.

    Miriam Dushane: I know. Thank you. I want to know two things. I guess the first one will be, okay, tell me more about, you've got this successful communications PR, or what did you call it? I'm sorry.

    Joe Bonilla: We call it creative strategy.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: It's a simple way, and I was telling this to somebody earlier, it's like the phrase of the shoe cobbler's children will never have good shoes. And the same thing for us as a communications firm, it's also hard for us to describe what exactly we do.

    Miriam Dushane: Right.

    Joe Bonilla: And so sometimes a simpler way is described PR or is creative strategy at that point.

    Miriam Dushane: Of course, of course.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: But now you have a coffee company. What you thinking there, fella?

    Joe Bonilla: So I'll give you that.

    Miriam Dushane: It's left field in a way,

    Joe Bonilla: A little bit.

    Tom Schin: Not for nothing, when Jen Massey came to see us, she brought that big basket of goodies.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: Now you're branding your motor oil coffee in front of us.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. With tea inside of it.

    Tom Schin: I know.

    Miriam Dushane: Yes.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. I'll tell you how it started. So a number of years ago, and again, you have to own up to your failures or your learning lessons. And so at one point in about seven, eight years ago, I had co-owned a coffee shop in Albany. Learned a lot about the business of coffee, learned a lot about the roasting process, about the customer service process, learned a lot about having better business partners. And so fast-forward to two years ago, just a little bit over two years ago, and I think for anyone in our particular industry, it's a very much a personally oriented industry where there's such a level of intimate detail in terms of the attention to clients. It's an 24/7 type of job if you do it well. And so Rich is my business partner. I was telling him we got to figure out some other, not necessarily as active income source, passive income source. So we said maybe we can do something like, I don't know, maybe do a contract brewery or a contract distillery. We've done branding work for so many others in this area and we figured upon coffee. I said coffee, the threshold of getting into the industry is a lot lower. There's not as many rules and regs as there are in the craft beverage industry.

    Tom Schin: Fair.

    Joe Bonilla: And we had a client that would send me across the country to auto auctions, whether it was in Kissimmee, Pebble Beach, Stillwater, the full range. And no matter if somebody had overalls on or a monocle, no matter if the car sold for a thousand dollars or $10 million dollars, they all came to the car shows and they all said the same thing as they're holding their mug of coffee, "I'm drinking my motor oil right now this morning." And they will all laugh, no matter who they were, no matter where they were, their life disposition, they all would say the same thing. Some I thinking that's a great name for a coffee company, Motor Oil Coffee. Turns out nobody had to trademark for it.

    Tom Schin: That's great.

    Miriam Dushane: Amazing.

    Joe Bonilla: We immediately got the business, worked with a contract roaster to be able to help us in that way. And then for those of you who know me, I always do a pretty massive April Fools joke every single year. So we did the announcement about Motor Oil Coffee on April 1st, 2021. They all thought, "Oh, this is another joke, nothing happening," until the sample bags started to come out. And so we started doing farmer's markets and car shows and festivals. And this past year in 2022, we were a little crazier and we decided to open up retail locations. It's funny how this is all working out right now. We had announced the first location as Slip 12, the Huck Finn's redevelopment downtown opening. That'll be the fourth one to open, even though it's the first one announced. We opened up in Troy. We're operating in Schenectady. We have State Street in Albany opening up very, very soon, so it's been a whole other experience with that.

    Miriam Dushane: So curious.

    Joe Bonilla: Sure.

    Miriam Dushane: Can you make me a fancy coffee drink?

    Joe Bonilla: I can.

    Miriam Dushane: Can you make me a heart on the top of my coffee?

    Joe Bonilla: I most certainly can.

    Miriam Dushane: Would that be on the top of my latte?

    Joe Bonilla: I most certainly can.

    Miriam Dushane: A latte or a cappuccino?

    Joe Bonilla: I can do that.

    Miriam Dushane: Really?

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh wow.

    Joe Bonilla: I have to know how to be able to do it all. Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Right. Oh, I like that.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: If you're going to be in a business, I have a motto of I'm never going to ask my employees to do something that I'm not able to do or wouldn't do myself. And so I was really just busting on you a little bit there.

    Joe Bonilla: No, no. But I'll tell you, is the heart going to be a little crooked? Yeah, probably.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah, probably.

    Joe Bonilla: That's right. Right, right, right,

    Miriam Dushane: That's all right though.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: That's excellent.

    Tom Schin: I'm still stuck on the monocle thing. All I can think of is Mr. Peanut.

    Joe Bonilla: That's exactly who you would think of. Right.

    Tom Schin: Right.

    Joe Bonilla: And that's who it was, is Mr. Peanut with a mug of coffee. Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: I love it.

    Joe Bonilla: And overalls. Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: And overalls, yeah, yeah.

    Tom Schin: With the top hot.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. With top Hat. Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah, of course. Yeah. So in your business, in communications PR strategy, is there a common thread or maybe is there something that's trending right now that might be important for people to know about that it could impact their business? Anything from that perspective? You and I have had conversations about helping to address when a bad situation happens and how to get in front of it and what to do. And sometimes business owners don't like the strategy or the solution, but it ultimately ends up being the right thing for the business. But what would you say to somebody as just be careful of these things, regardless if they have a PR campaign or not, but just for their business as a whole, just to keep a good reputation and integrity in their marketplace?

    Tom Schin: And especially because one of our recent guests was talking about the percentage of small businesses, that's most of America.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: Right. Yeah. So how do we keep them in a good spot?

    Joe Bonilla: I would say this, and this goes for whether it says PR and media relations, crisis comm and risk mitigation, is to be authentic. There are companies and organizations when they're trying to address a crisis and they are doing things that would be antithetical to their own brand, I would recommend just staying authentic about who you are, understanding your company's core or organization's core values, and sticking to that and developing that and ensuring that your entire team understands that culture.
    What we're finding, what we're seeing is that as we've seen the social upheaval, especially over the last three years, that companies, organizations are trying to address many different audiences on a whole host of issues that affect their staff, that affect their audiences, their customers. And if historically, you've not done that, you have to figure a way, how can you marry that historic level of perhaps disinterest or whatever it may be, to being authentic to your brand? So I think that's the one thing that we work with clients about. How can you still stay true to your original mission while addressing societal changes and looking at ways of keeping authentic to your brand?

    Tom Schin: So important. We talk about in our recruitment world about that employer brand and even the employer value proposition that companies have to put out there to draw people in.

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Tom Schin: But that authenticity is such an important piece. And especially for the small business. They start with a widget or a service or whatever, and they're really good at that from that small level. But then they get to that scale point where they can't do it.

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Tom Schin: And they lose some of that.

    Joe Bonilla: Right. I'll give you an example. If you are an arts organization, and again, let's say historically your audiences are not as diverse, you should not be the one going immediately at the forefront and saying, "Oh, you're going to change this, that, and the other." Be authentic about that plan. Do what you can reasonably do within your lane. And that's what I'm trying to get at too with that.

    Tom Schin: Yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: That's a great point.

    Miriam Dushane: Definitely. Absolutely. So carrying on our HR in the Car theme, what is in your roadside assistance kit?

    Joe Bonilla: Oh, it's a hammer. It's a big old hammer.

    Miriam Dushane: Tell us more.

    Joe Bonilla: I might tell you why.

    Tom Schin: Are we thinking like hammer with zombies and whack them in the head?

    Joe Bonilla: I'm going to give you both sides.

    Tom Schin: All right.

    Joe Bonilla: It's a very specific hammer. It's the window hammer.

    Miriam Dushane: Okay.

    Joe Bonilla: And so a practical standpoint, if you drive off a bridge and you go underwater, certainly you can use the hammer. But I think in life, when you think you are out of options, there's always a way out. So I think that's why we look at it.

    Tom Schin: Right. And then you can whack the zombie in the head.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So you do both. Right, right, right.

    Miriam Dushane: He's still on our last guest that was talking about doomsday prepping and zombies way too much.

    Tom Schin: I'm a walking Dead fanatic. I have two more episodes to go. I'm seasons behind all that.

    Joe Bonilla: Okay. You'll get there. Okay.

    Tom Schin: Love zombie, post-apocalyptic type of shows.

    Joe Bonilla: I was surprised that they're wrapping up that show.

    Tom Schin: My wife keeps telling me, she's like, "There's spinoffs." I'm like, "It's not the same thing."

    Joe Bonilla: It's not the same.

    Tom Schin: I won't be able to complain about people dying every week.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Never seen an episode, never will.

    Joe Bonilla: I'm in the same camp as you.

    Miriam Dushane: Okay, good.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Perfect. Thank you.

    Tom Schin: That's a demerit.

    Joe Bonilla: You're like, "Mark it down."

    Tom Schin: Right.

    Joe Bonilla: "Mark it zero."

    Tom Schin: If you had one lesson you've learned in being, as you put it, that serial entrepreneur, if you could change one thing, what is it?

    Joe Bonilla: If I can change one thing.

    Tom Schin: One thing.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh, is there more?

    Joe Bonilla: Oh.

    Tom Schin: You only get one. No.

    Joe Bonilla: If I could change one thing.

    Tom Schin: Correct, just one thing.

    Joe Bonilla: I think with anything, I would've loved to have been more confident younger with different things. I think that's a one thing. And I wish I took more chances, which is crazy now.

    Tom Schin: We saw your bio coming in here.

    Joe Bonilla: Yes.

    Tom Schin: To say that, and we know what your age is. I'm thinking that ... No.

    Joe Bonilla: No. Don't do that.

    Tom Schin: You've already done that.

    Joe Bonilla: No, but I guess for me, in this certain situation, I wish I just took the chance instead. And I always try to tell, when I speak to classes or I speak to people who are younger than me or older than me, about things you can look at in your life. It's just like, "Find the reason to say yes in a good way."

    Tom Schin: Yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: That's not saying yes to everything.

    Miriam Dushane: Everything.

    Joe Bonilla: But find the yes to trying to volunteer at a nonprofit, trying to find the yes to saying, "You know what? I haven't seen my friends in a while. I'm going to say yes to hanging out with them." Find that yes. And I think that's the one lesson I've learned over the years is finding the right yes, and not saying yes to everything.

    Miriam Dushane: I like that you said about the confidence piece, because I do find that in the younger workforce right now, and we have a nice mix in our office, but oftentimes I feel like maybe my generation, gen-exers, me and Toms of the world, we were overconfident. The saying fake it till you make it.

    Joe Bonilla: Absolutely.

    Tom Schin: Just a little.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Was what you lived by and you did.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: I definitely faked it till I made it a couple of times.

    Tom Schin: Oh yeah.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah, absolutely.

    Miriam Dushane: But I figured it out. And that's where I worry, because I am shocked in how many times I will have a younger person say to me, "I don't understand that," or, "What is that?" And I'm like, "Use your Googly machine."

    Joe Bonilla: I understand that. Yeah.

    Tom Schin: We didn't even have that then.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah, yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: And we didn't have that back then, and it fascinates me. But I do find that there is a lack of confidence. Why, why, why? And how, how, how?

    Tom Schin: I think part of it is because their entire livelihood, their entire high school career, college career, they could Google everything. We didn't-

    Miriam Dushane: But they're not Googling it.

    Tom Schin: But they had other resources get that information where we just had to figure it out.

    Joe Bonilla: Right, right.

    Tom Schin: There was no alternative. There wasn't anybody to ask. There wasn't anybody to show us. There wasn't a video. There wasn't a TikTok to distract us.

    Miriam Dushane: Okay.

    Joe Bonilla: Fair.

    Tom Schin: So we had to figure it out. And now they're so used to, and we created it, this is our generation. We created the tools and tech that put them where they are today and they'll evolve from it. But I think that's an experience piece, that non- confidence point in your life, it's a learning moment. We talk about learning moments. You need that to realize, "Oh, I could have done that better." It's just getting over that hurdle.

    Miriam Dushane: How do we get them more confident sooner, Joe?

    Joe Bonilla: I think to your point, we definitely see that in our team. Our team age range is quite diverse in that sense. I always struggle with that, addressing that with my team is I've always had to develop the different systems, or I've had to look it up some other way. So I never asked that many questions. But I think this generation is used to asking more questions, which is good.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah, it's great.

    Joe Bonilla: But also finding the right questions to ask.

    Miriam Dushane: Yes.

    Tom Schin: In my team, we have one really wise crack recruiter, and we go through these moments where she asks, "What should I do?" And somebody else jumps in and says, "Wait, wait, wait. I want to answer that. I want to be Tom with hair." And so she jumps in, "I'm going to have my Tom with hair moments."

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: So we did this with a couple of the other ones, other recruiters recently, and we're like, "Okay, have your Tom with hair moment. Go." And so they started bantering back and forth with solutions, which was great to see them think.

    Joe Bonilla: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: Oh man. That's beautiful.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: Yeah. Absolutely.

    Tom Schin: We're going to get me a poster. A little on the wall.

    Joe Bonilla: There you go. You have to do that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

    Miriam Dushane: I love it. Well, Joe, thank you so much for joining us today.

    Joe Bonilla: My pleasure.

    Miriam Dushane: I could talk to you for another two hours, but we try to promise people that these are the best-

    Joe Bonilla: Best contained conversations.

    Miriam Dushane: Nice containing conversations. But will you come back?

    Joe Bonilla: Absolutely. Happy to do so.

    Miriam Dushane: I love that. We would love that. Thank you so much. Thank you for everything that you do in our community and keep on rocking the coffee and everything else.

    Joe Bonilla: I should have brought some.

    Miriam Dushane: We really appreciate it.

    Joe Bonilla: I'm a fool.

    Tom Schin: I was hinting, I was hinting.

    Miriam Dushane: I know.

    Joe Bonilla: I'm a fool for not doing that.

    Miriam Dushane: Aye.

    Joe Bonilla: Yeah.

    Tom Schin: That's what next time is fore.

    Miriam Dushane: Or a mug, even a coffee mug could've been nice too.

    Joe Bonilla: I could've brought that. Well, next time I come on.

    Miriam Dushane: I thought he was a strategy guy.

    Joe Bonilla: I know. But now you're left wanting-

    Tom Schin: Now he's in his own crisis.

    Joe Bonilla: Now you're left wanting more, so there you go.

    Miriam Dushane: Yes, we are. Definitely. Well, thanks so much.

    Tom Schin: Well, thanks for joining us.

    Joe Bonilla: You got it.

    Tom Schin: We appreciate you.

    Miriam Dushane: So what'd you think about authenticity?

    Tom Schin: I love it. I can't tell you the number of times where you've had conversations with folks and they're just so surface and you can tell.

    Miriam Dushane: Yep. Absolutely. I think what was really interesting about what he said about if your company has always done things a certain way and then all of a sudden you're changing because social pressures or other things that might be going on, it's not going to come across authentic.

    Tom Schin: No.

    Miriam Dushane: But if you have a true desire to change your ways and move in that direction, then you may need to work with a company like Joe's company to make sure you're coming across genuine and authentic.

    Tom Schin: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: And I think that's really important because I do think a lot of companies maybe woke up over the last couple of years on a lot of different issues.

    Tom Schin: I think everyone's scrambling to find new revenue streams, whether it's from a non-for-profit side of things or for-profit side of things, finding new avenues. But there is a bit of this let's stay in our lane, and we talk about it, and some of the things that we do. Could we do a bunch of other stuff? Yeah, but not great.

    Miriam Dushane: Right.

    Tom Schin: I'm sure we do it great, but you get what I'm saying is that follow your past, stay in your lane. You can collaborate with somebody to bring in the extra piece if you need to.

    Miriam Dushane: Absolutely. I loved how he talked about confidence a little bit too, because if you're meeting Joe in person and talking with him, and I'm sure even listening to him, you hear confidence coming right through.

    Tom Schin: Absolutely.

    Miriam Dushane: And I think it's important for especially young people who might be listening, or older folk who might be listening, who can give advice to the younger people they work with or live with, that it happens over time and it's okay. And you'll get there.

    Tom Schin: Right.

    Miriam Dushane: And don't be ashamed of it.

    Tom Schin: No, and I think the one thing I would ask him if we had another minute with him is separating that as we talk about generational differences in the young folks coming into the workforce now, is that difference between confidence and arrogance. Because sometimes they just haven't learned that balance yet. And if they had a mentor to guide them, this is what this looks like, this is what that looks like. But he's got it down. I can't imagine him not being confident.

    Miriam Dushane: Absolutely. So for more on Joe, you'll see the show notes with this podcast, a nice bio, and then more information about Feed Albany and other things that Mr. Bonilla was involved with. Thanks so much for listening. Check out alaant. com for more information about this podcast or any of our other episodes that have already aired. Thanks so much for listening.