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151. Team Leadership Lessons from a Climate Startup with Breene Murphy

As you know, at Strong Leaders Serve, we seek out and celebrate leaders who are making a positive impact through their work and leadership style. In today's episode, we have the honor of welcoming Breene Murphy, President of Carbon Collective, a climate-focused investment adviser. Breene shares invaluable insights on the importance of building relationship frameworks within teams, fostering clear direction and flexibility in a remote work environment.

Moreover, Breene shares his personal journey of transitioning from corporate roles to leadership in a startup. He discusses leaving behind her previous identity and harnessing his true strengths, allowing her to excel in building relationships, identifying strengths in others, and fostering successful partnerships and fundraising. Notably, Breene's leadership approach involves developing the whole person, recognizing and nurturing individual strengths within a team, and ultimately requiring less effort in the long run.


About Breene:

Breene Murphy headshot
Breene Murphy

Breene Murphy is the president of Carbon Collective Investing: they create sustainable investment portfolios that divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in climate solutions. They offer it for company and non-profit 401ks and 403bs. Prior to Carbon Collective Investing, Breene worked at EP Wealth Advisors, a Barron's Top 100 Investment Advisor. He lives in Southern California with his wife, two sons and dog.


While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Castmagic for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:00]:

Happy New Year, and welcome to our last episode of this season of Strong Leaders Serve. I'm excited today to bring you my conversation with Breene Murphy. He is the president of Carbon Collective Investing. It is a really interesting company, and I think what is most interesting is the leadership principles that are on display there every day. A little bit more about what they actually do, they create sustainable investment portfolios those that divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in climate solutions. We have a fascinating conversation, and make sure you listen to How he describes what was said to him when he joined the team. I find it fascinating and think that It can really impact the way that you look at bringing a new team member onto your team. So let's get right into it.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:51]:

I'm Teri Schmidt, your host and a leadership coach who is passionate about seeing you grow. And I believe that leadership is about courageously using your talents to make a way for others to courageously use theirs. And this as the Strong Leaders Serve podcast. Well, hi, Breene. Welcome to the Strong Leaders Serve podcast. I'm looking forward to our conversation today.

Breene Murphy [00:01:30]:

Thank you so much for having me. We've already had a deeply secretive, great conversation already, and maybe we can reveal some of the transformative insights from that now.

Teri Schmidt [00:01:43]:

Exactly. So I'd love to start. For people who don't know you, I'd love to learn just a little bit more about what Got you to where you are today and kind of how you lead in your life today.

Breene Murphy [00:01:56]:

Yeah. My name is Breene Murphy. I'm the president of Carbon Collective Investing. We are a climate focused investment adviser. And how I got to where I got right now, I have been very deeply influenced by my family. My parents had their own small business. They ran it for 25 years, And they had very complementary skill sets. My dad was sort of classic Irishman, gifted gab.

Breene Murphy [00:02:24]:

They owned ad agency So the man could tell a story, and he just, like, put it to great use. Really lovely, thoughtful guy, was crap with numbers. But my mom was amazing with numbers. So my mom was, like, the CFO, essentially, of that organization, did all the internal work, And was just really good at keeping things good on the internal side while my dad handled a lot of the client work. So I I had very good models for Running a business? I also saw how hard it was. Mhmm. And then I was really influenced by my grandmother, who was someone that Scared the crap out of me as a kid. She was just, like, incredibly fierce.

Breene Murphy [00:03:05]:

You wouldn't expect it, but, you know, the picture I give people is She was, like, 5 feet tall, a blonde bouffant, salmon colored lipstick, a baby blue jacket with, like, rhinestones on the jacket, In Southern California too because, like, Southern California is a little bit more muted

Teri Schmidt [00:03:21]:


Breene Murphy [00:03:22]:

Or, like, beachy, I would say, you know, and and relaxed.

Teri Schmidt [00:03:26]:


Breene Murphy [00:03:26]:

But when she passed away, I realized, like, how big of a, impact she'd had on her community. There are people attending from all over, and She was the mayor of her small town in, Whittier in Southern California, and she was on the city planning commission of LA. She dedicated a lot of her the end of her life to helping USC's Wrigley Institute For Environmental Studies. So I had these, like, very strong models growing up, And it also gave me access to people. Like, my dad was meeting with CEOs all the time, and so I had the ability to see these people. And one of the key things that I've always remembered is how afraid they are. I think it really struck me because I was like, like, corporations suck. You know? They're soulless.

Breene Murphy [00:04:11]:

And getting to see it firsthand, I have a much more nuanced perspective on it as, like, they're not the solution to everything. They have clear downsides, but they have clear upsides too. And also the people that work inside them, which is a lot of people, they, unfortunately, are not working in particularly positive environments, they haven't figured out a way to make it better. And while I love my parents, I didn't always like the way that the company was ran from, like, a leadership ship perspective. Just like I had my roles, and we didn't have all, like, the like, a lot of the creative processes were built around my dad, and I got to work with the creative director. And so it's like When I get to step back, our business was we we had 1 company go under, and we had 2 companies that were acquired. Like, our 2 big clients were acquired. And when you're acquired, like, you as an agency, you don't get to keep that business.

Breene Murphy [00:05:01]:

It goes away. And so I I went and left. It was really nice for me to go and I ran the marketing department for this, like, fantastic little wealth management company And called EP Wealth Advisors. It's now much bigger. Mhmm. And I got to work with people that I really admired and also in an environment where I thought They were doing things maybe a little better than what I had seen with my parents, but, like, I still didn't quite agree with it. Mhmm. And I kept following this passion around purpose.

Breene Murphy [00:05:29]:

Like, Climate was something that was really important for me. I was doing a bunch of volunteer work, with Citizens Climate Lobby. And that place was a really influential place for me Because he was so human, and I was tasked with a very hard thing, which was I was the congressional the volunteer congressional liaison in my district. My key insight was, like, when my grandmother died, she's like, I wanted to have a life of purpose too. And climate change was, like, the biggest problem that affected the most people. And so I was like, I'm I'm gonna get involved with that. Even though I sucked at everything, like, I'll I'll at least do that. And I did.

Breene Murphy [00:06:02]:

And I started doing volunteer work with as a congressional liaison. And in the area I live, even though it's in California, it was, at the time, very red. Mhmm. And my representative was a man named Dana Rohrabacher, Who is famous for making, like, the cow farts, you know, and climate change joke. When Kevin McCarthy was caught on Recording saying Donald or, like, Vladimir Putin paid 2 people and one was Trump. Well, the other one was my representative. But the organization I was with was, like, you need to build a relationship with these people Mhmm. And understand what matters to them, why climate change matters to them.

Breene Murphy [00:06:43]:

And I actually did build a relationship with, congressman Rohrabacher. I mean, it was a really informative lesson for me on Helping understand that people could agree on the same thing with different values and understanding how to bridge those values. That became, like, a really transformative experience for me because I wanted to be able to have an environment that I worked in. And I got to test some of this stuff when I was at EP Wealth Advisors.

Teri Schmidt [00:07:10]:


Breene Murphy [00:07:10]:

I had a small team that was running a marketing department. In that small team, I tried to do things that were built around People's strengths. Like, I'd ask people what they love doing. Mhmm. I'd ask people what they hated doing. So then when we did hire someone, we try to hire the gaps on, like, the Like, the craft that people didn't like doing.

Teri Schmidt [00:07:26]:


Breene Murphy [00:07:27]:

Find a person that really wanted to do that job. And then maybe they didn't wanna do that that job forever, but it was like AccorInsight was built around strength. It was also around, like, shared data, you know, being really transparent, and creating a lot of collaboration that was very strategic. Like, understanding our goals. Like Mhmm. Like, what is the purpose of our of our department? You know? Our department is to, like, grow. And so it's that, Like, help the growth, help spread the awareness. Yeah.

Breene Murphy [00:07:51]:

And so it was, like, very purposeful work. And people don't always like the purpose, but it's important to know that. And so I brought that when I I finally got introduced to to Zach Stein and James Regalinski, who were at had found had just founded Carbon Collective. I just finished a pre seed round. I got introduced through a good friend who invested with them, and they were like, we need to find somebody that knows marketing and Finance and and sales and climate. And, like, that's kind of a tough combo, but my buddy was like, oh, my friend knows all that. And I was really blown away at Their thinking in terms of having a fully aligned, like, investment portfolio approach to solving climate change And, also, like, the investment thesis behind it, that was really strong. But in terms of this podcast, I think some of the things that were more impactful were Some of the learnings that I had, you know, had hard earned, were vastly accelerated by coming to, to this company.

Breene Murphy [00:08:49]:

And Brooke, who's now on the team, have been really influential on how I think about leading.

Teri Schmidt [00:08:55]:

Tell me more about that. I mean, I I love your story, and there's so much we could dig into, but Tell me more about the bridges between your story coming into Carbon Collective and, you know, Your experience at Carbon Collective has taken what you learned beforehand Mhmm. And really solidified your views on leadership.

Breene Murphy [00:09:17]:

Yeah. I mean, I so the first thing I'll say, I'll caveat, is my views are not solidified. Right? Like, I've come to view them as much more fluid than they were before. But what I will say is the single most influential thing that happened to me, I was joining a team, and I and they really liked my My approach. Like, the way I was thinking. And before I even got started or maybe it was, like, a couple days into it. And The couple days before are important too, but this moment was probably the most important. James Regalinski, he's, like, He's just a really dynamic thinker, both, like, creatively, but also kind of like in an editor's perspective.

Breene Murphy [00:09:55]:

He's really good at, internally, we call it Tetris ing, Like, pulling things apart and putting them back together, he's incredible at it. And so he's got this, like, very rigorous framework. And one of the things that he said that is Most emblematic of that is when I I was like, I'm so excited to join the team. And he's like, you have not joined the team. This is a new team. Mhmm. The old team that we had, you're not a part of. Right.

Breene Murphy [00:10:17]:

That was a different team. When we're 3 people now, this is a new team. And just the idea of I don't have to blend into them, That we have to figure out how to work together as a group. And and James is insanely passionate. Right? Like and very, His opinions are very hard earned, and so to move him is is not always that easy. He he can be moved, but when he says these things, it is just like, Wow. That is it. And so I I would say that was the core of everything I learned was that with a different group of people, you are a different team.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:54]:

You know, that's I haven't heard that before. It's so interesting. And I've I've heard people talk about, you know, a culture ad as opposed to a culture fit.

Breene Murphy [00:11:03]:

Yeah. And, like, even that, like, James' framework when he was talking to me was, like, not it was like, no. This is a different culture.

Teri Schmidt [00:11:10]:


Breene Murphy [00:11:11]:

Now you get to have influence on, like, what that culture was before and what this person comes in and brings and what is this new place, But it was so transformative for me. And there there are some pillars of that that I thought were really interesting. And I'd say the core, and this goes back to my Citizens Climate Lobby Days is built around a relationship. Understanding who the people are, what their strengths are, making sure that you had shared information, Making sure that there's transparency on what the goals are, making sure there's purpose. So, like, all these things that I had had kinda hard learned, in my career, were accelerated and adopted. And so, like, a good example of this is when I first got there, They wrote out, like, a 15 page document for me on everything they've done. They wrote out tests that they had tried, why they'd worked or failed. They talked about, like, What they were gonna do and what their thinking was and why that thinking could be wrong or right.

Breene Murphy [00:12:09]:

For me, one of the big things is it helped me there's a moment where I'm digesting all this. I have, like, a set book, reading list of books that I had to read so that we have a shared set of information. That framework allowed me to have a moment that I don't know if I would have been able to have. I'd come out of cultures where when you have ideas, when you have roles, you have to, like, defend them. Like, I have to defend this idea. And if if if I'm wrong, I'm punished. And I come to think of myself as someone that's a very good strategic leader. Like so I was, like, hosting this strategy session in the retreat.

Breene Murphy [00:12:44]:

And in the strategy session, It became really clear that what was happening was that they were leading the strategy session. And then I was sort of, like, the contributor even though I started off eating. And I I remember a moment very clearly where in which I was scared Because I come in with this promise of this is what I was going to do. Mhmm. Very clearly was Unasked of me in this 1st session, and I was now supposed to be the one contributing. And if looking back on it, like, I get it because they wanted to understand my marketing knowledge about where we were and how we like, what was gonna be most capable for us to grow there. I don't know if I would have been able to relinquish and do that had they not set up with this framework of this is really around learning, And this is around building around your strengths, and this is really about, like, understanding what this new team works like. And that was that was really, for me, Like, influential.

Breene Murphy [00:13:45]:

And I think the second thing that was, like, really, really influential came around from, Zach. He's he's the other cofounder. So, like, we have all these processes, and I can go through the processes at some point because I think they are really helpful to create great teams. But his thought was, like, You know, when something bad goes wrong, it's almost always the system.

Teri Schmidt [00:14:06]:


Breene Murphy [00:14:07]:

It's almost never the individual.

Teri Schmidt [00:14:09]:


Breene Murphy [00:14:10]:

I've never had, I think someone that I work with at that level of responsibility think that way. It's always like, oh, you didn't write that well enough, you know, if you're writing copy, or that thing didn't that test didn't perform well enough. You're stupid. You know? It's like, Or even if that wasn't said, that was, like, the implication.

Teri Schmidt [00:14:29]:


Breene Murphy [00:14:29]:

This was much more, oh, let's unpack why that went wrong and, like, what were the inputs that were necessary to like, that that created the outcome. And so those 2 things were, For me, just like I don't know. Just like I gobbled him up. Like, I absolutely gotta gobble them up.

Teri Schmidt [00:14:51]:

I'm curious how that affected Your ability to work and your ability to use your strengths to contribute to the organization, those 2 having those 2 things in place as opposed to what you experienced in other environments.

Breene Murphy [00:15:06]:

Yeah. Well, I'd say at first, it's, like, a little scary because I was like, there's I had so much, like, corporate habit of, like, how do I work on teams in a business environment? You're supposed to do these things this this way. And I was telling myself enough stories that it made it almost an identity. Like, this is how I am in the workplace. Leaving that identity is hard, But what I found is it created more space for me to bring, like, what my, like, true strengths are the team Mhmm. And do things that might seem scary. Like and a good example of this is, like, I came in, you know, vice president of strategy and marketing. I'm now the president.

Breene Murphy [00:15:45]:

Mhmm. Right? And so one of the things that they saw early is, like, I'm, again, going back to this relationship thing. I'm good at relationships and understanding. I'm good at Seeing people. There's both like a tremendous amount of suffering that people go through that goes unseen because they don't wanna talk about it. Mhmm. And there's also, like, this shell of a patina in which people are trying to be good at things that they're not actually good at. Like, you need to be rich and fit and, you know, do these things and do all like, and financially wealthy.

Breene Murphy [00:16:16]:

Like, you know, like, There's all these things of, like and the but they're really what they really are goals and aspirations. Right? Mhmm. And they're not looking at the individual. It's like, what, like, what's that individual, like, actually good at? Yeah. You know? And so I I tend to be good at seeing what people are good at. And so it allowed me to do some things like so, I mean, I work at a start up, like, young company. Right? So I'm gonna use air quotes here for people who listen to podcast. One of the things that was really powerful for me was The job search was really hard, and I do this thing called Open Door Climate, where I just talk to people.

Breene Murphy [00:16:50]:

And I talk to probably 2 people a week Who wanna work in climate. They wanna have a more purposeful job. I time block that out. I do it twice a week, and I've been doing it for years. So I probably I probably talked to, like, 3 or 400 people. But in an old environment, I would have been, like, hidden that or not done it and maybe felt, like, kind of shamed about it. But in this environment, I'm doing it. I'm good at relationships and partnerships.

Breene Murphy [00:17:16]:

Like, feels a little weird Talk about being good at relationships and then give an example because sometimes that can feel commodifying. But at that expense, I had an opportunity to talk to people at Project Drawdown who were, like, my heroes Mhmm. Really early. Mary Hoff, She was a writer. She had read something I had written. She was like, you should talk to Jamie Alexander. And I got to talk to one of my heroes. I I told her.

Breene Murphy [00:17:41]:

Like, I I was like, You're like my Beyonce. You know? She's, like, giggling. I'm like, no. I'm actually serious. Like, I've looked up to you. I mean, there's, like, Project drawdown was, like, a central source source of hope for me. And you can't do all flattery because, otherwise, it's a bullshitty relationship. But it's like

Teri Schmidt [00:17:59]:


Breene Murphy [00:17:59]:

I got to be kind of friends with Jamie, And that led to, like, her better understanding what we were doing, me better understanding what she is doing, trying to help each other out. And now we have, like, a partnership, an implementation partnership.

Teri Schmidt [00:18:10]:


Breene Murphy [00:18:11]:

Which is really fun. And then that like, they kinda saw that, and that that led to good at learning. So now I'm in a sales role. Right. And so I've helped with fundraising. So all of a sudden that these things that I came in to do are not really what I'm doing anymore. This is a little bit of a long way to say That those 2 precepts of this is a new team and also we need to understand the systems. But the third thing is, like, we need to double down on people's strengths.

Breene Murphy [00:18:37]:

It allowed me to leave what I was doing before, and now I'm much more on the, Like, four zero one k, helping people with their businesses, doing partnerships, helping out fundraising. I'm still doing business strategy, but I'm not doing the day to day marketing anymore.

Teri Schmidt [00:18:53]:


Breene Murphy [00:18:54]:

I'm doing like, I'm building out my LinkedIn presence. I'm writing more. I have a creative writing degree. So it's like I know it's a weird thing to say, like, drop in all of a sudden, like, creative writing degree. But, like, all these things that I have in my past, I now feel like I'm able to build around what I wanna do with my strengths. Now there's, like, still gonna have to be, like, crappy little things that I have to do because we don't we're not big enough to be able to pay someone else to do that. But I'm able to make a transformation like that that I don't think would have been enabled otherwise, and I care about Providing other people that same opportunity. So that's something that I think I'm pretty good at, again, because I can see people's strengths sometimes when they can't see them.

Breene Murphy [00:19:35]:

And so, like, figuring out I mean, it's really easy with Brooke because, like, Brooke's so intentional. But, like, where does she go? Like, she's got this great voice about helping people live really intentional lives, which is great for money. Tavis is incredible at connecting with people and understanding systems Solving really hard problems. Mari is a great, like, thinker. I can't believe how smart Mari is. She's the youngest person on our team, But her ability to, like, pull apart problems is, like, very much in line with James, like, the ability to, like, take things apart and put them back together. And so it's, like, becomes really exciting to see, like, what does Mari do in 5 or 6 years? And so understanding how people are, I think, gives me a framework to Do the things that I'm really good at at my work and also unlock the openings for other people to do the things they're really good at.

Teri Schmidt [00:20:22]:

You know, those 2 things that you're We start off the conversation with, and and the systems that are around you have just really allowed you to flourish and then Afford others that you're leading that opportunity

Breene Murphy [00:20:33]:


Teri Schmidt [00:20:34]:

As well. You know, I've I had a past podcast guest on, Sarah Knowleson, and the saying that she said really stuck with me. It was develop the whole, not the role. Mhmm. And so really focusing on on the whole person and and figuring out what their contribution is. I do wanna think about it from the leader's perspective, though, because, you know, as I Think back to what you were saying about when you came on and they said, you know, this isn't you fitting or you isn't you joining the team? This is a new team. That takes more effort from a leadership perspective to say, okay. You know, we're not forcing this person to fit into something that's already Established a well oiled machine, if you wanna say that, but we're recreating in a sense.

Breene Murphy [00:21:21]:

I I don't think it takes more effort. Okay. Think that I I actually don't. I think it actually takes less effort. I think the time in which the effort is, deployed is at a different time. So it's it's the decision on upfront effort and a creative fluidity, versus dealing with all the problems later. So I saw what happens when you don't do this at past workplaces, and I think that's way more effort. Like, I used to have, like, the Sunday, like, the Sunday blues.

Breene Murphy [00:21:49]:

Right? Like, I go to work. I I had I had serious mental health issues. Right? Like, I couldn't turn off. Like, there'd be so many problems at work. Like, It would take me hours to slow down at the end of the day. Right? That's way more when I go to hang out with my children and tuck them into bed. I might come back to work for a little bit, but, like, I go to bed, and I'm fine. Mhmm.

Breene Murphy [00:22:09]:

It is way less work, but it is more intentional. It does take awareness. It does take focus. It does take planning and care and consideration. That is a different skill set that not a lot of people, like, have cultivated. I think they can, but they may not have done that, and they may have seen their role models do things differently, and so don't even know another way.

Teri Schmidt [00:22:32]:


Breene Murphy [00:22:33]:

But I actually think it's easier. That mindset of this is harder. It's A new skill someone has to learn, and that is hard. But hard things are good for, like, the plasticity of your brain and long long term health. Like, you're supposed to do hard things.

Teri Schmidt [00:22:48]:

Thank you for calling that out. I think that is so true. It isn't necessarily more work. It's just when the work happens. And, really, I think in some ways, it's almost a paradigm shift for people that they need to, you know, be aware of, that there is a different way. And I I thank you for bringing that out. And through your stories, how that has impacted your personal and professional life showing that There's value in shifting Yeah. To that paradigm.

Teri Schmidt [00:23:18]:


Breene Murphy [00:23:18]:

I mean, as a leader, as, like, an employee. Right? Like, I work in the business. You know? So it's like, I have to go home. Like, I my 36 year old are gonna be super pissed off at me if, like, if I'm on my phone thinking about work and, like, answering an email. Right? Like Mhmm. They wanna play Lagoonaopoly or build Legos or, like, go through their Pokemon cards or go for a serve or something like that. Like, They want my attention too, and they deserve it. Right? Like, I brought them into this world.

Breene Murphy [00:23:45]:

They didn't ask to be here. And so it's like many people have children. Not everyone does, But I think that goes into, like, the whole person idea that you have is, like, there's another quote that I that I like out of a book I read From Carol Sanford, and it's it's more around the idea of, like, don't use your people to grow your business. Use your business to grow your people. Now I think in doing that, these these ideas sound very soft. Mhmm. And in some ways, they can be. Like, I I think this is the danger of these ideas is they can Create something that that becomes more amorphous and and too touchy feely.

Breene Murphy [00:24:22]:

But teams have purposes. Right? Like, your purpose is to do this thing. Usually, like, there's a front end deliverable that creates you know, at a business, it's it's a profitability. Even at a nonprofit, it's like the ability Fundraise. Mhmm. So it's like you need to have these inputs to create the right outputs to get the results of that you want, whether that's like Let's call it financial sustainability. Right? Like, you need to be able to have that long term financial sustainability. You need to be able to continue to fundraise.

Breene Murphy [00:24:51]:

If you're a nonprofit, you need to be able to continue to grow your business Or at least manage your business. Right? It doesn't like, not all businesses necessarily need to grow. My parents' business was a good example of, like it was a great business for 25 years. It never got cute. Mhmm. You know? Mhmm. They got to a good size, and they ran it great. And, like, there's this place in the world for a lot of businesses like that.

Teri Schmidt [00:25:10]:

Very true. Very true. It's not all about growth Scalability all the time.

Breene Murphy [00:25:15]:

Some of them are. Right? Like, I look. I hope my business right now is, you know, because I'm trying to I mean, this sounds incredibly ambitious, but I'm like, I'm trying to help reshape an industry, you know, to align with the world in which we wanna live in. And I I think the place I also have to be is very humble, of, like, I'm here right now, and these are the problems I have to solve right now. Right? Mhmm. Maybe I'll get to this Bigger problem. I aspire to get to those bigger problems and solve the bigger problems, but I'm at, like, this level of problem right now.

Teri Schmidt [00:25:43]:

Yeah. Yeah. It's it's like keeping that, I don't know if the mountain top is a good analogy, but, you know, keeping that in view while you're also looking at the path that you're on and and the rocks that are in your Yeah.

Breene Murphy [00:25:55]:

Perfect analogy.

Teri Schmidt [00:25:56]:

Yeah. Definitely. Getting back to Carol Sanford's quote, and and she was a past podcast guest as well, and and talk about someone who got me thinking and, you know, shifting paradigms and figuring out, you know, what what I believe that do not use your people to grow your business, but your business to grow your people. I think it's just a great great quote to keep in mind. But like you said, it's not like we're forgetting about the business goals or Yeah. The, like you said, the purpose of the team. There is that stability. And even if we're talking about, you know, a team changing Every time a new person comes on, it's not like there's not stability.

Teri Schmidt [00:26:34]:

It's not like you don't have direction.

Breene Murphy [00:26:37]:

We set up relationships. Right. And I I think that is a really core place to build foundations of a team. Right? How do you relate? Mhmm. And what roles are needed, what skill sets are needing. You know? And so, like, I I think that ability for leaders to create Really good relationships and an organization that values relationships. Mhmm. You know, is like, will be more flexible and dynamic Incapable of handling, like, big challenges.

Breene Murphy [00:27:08]:

Because big challenges come in every business. I mean, this is very narrow to say, but it's like because it's way beyond business. It's that every government, every family like, challenges just happen. Right? Because we live in this fluid dynamic world, and sometimes we get, like, Something scary happening or something amazing, and we need to be ready for it. And even the amazing stuff can be scary. And, like, how do we Ride that wave. Yeah. But that relationship, I think, is a really key touchpoint.

Breene Murphy [00:27:35]:

You know, understanding who people are and what they're good at, what they care about, What they hate Mhmm. And how they relate with others, and what do they want out of life. You know? Just that ability to know them As much as you can, like, you can't know anybody perfectly. It's even harder to know your own self. But as much as you can and create that space and maybe it's, like, almost like a process less than a Like, a relationship is almost like a a third thing. Like, you you Teri are a person. Me, Breene, I'm a person, and now we have this third thing, which is like a relationship. And, like, Mhmm.

Breene Murphy [00:28:06]:

I don't know what that will be. It started out with, like, a good conversation that led to a podcast that I don't know what that ends up being. But do you know what I mean? Like, That thing can morph and changeably fluid and grow on its own as well.

Teri Schmidt [00:28:19]:

Yeah. I wonder, you know, as we're as we're talking about all this and the experiences that you've had at Carbon Collective of about some of the ideas that that we just talked about for really respecting the person, building those relationships around who they are, being willing to shape and shift your organization based on who's coming into it and what they can contribute. If you were a new leader, you know, just it's your 1st time in a people leadership position

Breene Murphy [00:28:49]:


Teri Schmidt [00:28:50]:

What do you think is most important for them to take from this conversation and from these ideas.

Breene Murphy [00:28:56]:

It's like 3 things, and they kinda add and they stack. Know your people, Know your goals and build systems to align your people with your goals.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:06]:


Breene Murphy [00:29:06]:

In its most simple form, That is it. Know your people, know your goals, build systems, connect your people to your goals.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:14]:

And those systems, I know you mentioned, you know, some of those that you have in place in Carbon Collective and and Digging into those a little bit. Can you give an example of a system that can help or has helped in your organization to align people with goals?

Breene Murphy [00:29:28]:

Yeah. Yeah. For sure. So I I guess one thing I'm really, passionate about is ability for remote work. So I'll give, like, a very rough structure of a system that we have to enable remote work to to function really well. We had an advance, a little while ago. We call them advances because we want to go forward and not retreat and go backward. So, just as like, we we're very intentional with language too, which makes us makes us Huge nerd, and I recognize that.

Breene Murphy [00:29:54]:

This is very much a James thing, and this is, like, one of the things I love about James.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:58]:

Retreat versus advance. So you call what other people would call retreat in advance.

Breene Murphy [00:30:03]:

We call it in

Teri Schmidt [00:30:03]:

advance. Nice.

Breene Murphy [00:30:04]:

I know we're dorks.

Teri Schmidt [00:30:06]:

No. That's that's cool. I haven't heard that before. I like that.

Breene Murphy [00:30:09]:

So In the remote workplace, it's a different set of circumstances that I think allows for people to have greater flexibility in their lives. I have a 36 year old. I'm a father. You know? I like to surf, you know, like that kind of stuff. Mhmm. It allows for that. But what we what we've done and we've built some of this off of, like, The Jeff Sutherland Scrum framework, but we've, like, amended it, like, I don't know how many times now at this point. Zach tends to be the person that goes like, hey.

Breene Murphy [00:30:36]:

This is not working for us. Or, sometimes it's James, but it's like some core concepts is we we have, like, annual planning setting milestones, OKRs. We we do use that framework Because that, again, is like a foundational system on an annual and then quarterly basis for you to achieve things in, like, bite sized chunks. And it allows you to set, like, good aspirational goals of, like, how this team could, like, really work altogether. So we do that. We try not to make too many OKRs. We try to make them simple and straightforward and actionable. And that sets the framework to start to work on a smaller basis.

Breene Murphy [00:31:10]:

So we have monthly sprints that we do. You know, it's like, what are we gonna try to accomplish this month? Gone from 2 weeks to a quarter, back to a month. At the end of it, we try to have these Retrospectives in which we talk about, like, everything that we did really well, everything that went wrong, and what we are going to do to improve, and then what we'll Commit to. I think one key that is really different from other places is what did you do well, and how can you double down on that is a big focus. It's it's not like how do we fix this problem. It's like, what's going well and how we get more of it.

Teri Schmidt [00:31:49]:


Breene Murphy [00:31:49]:

Right. Like, so I I'd say that. So I've gone on an annual framework. This is now getting in a monthly. On the weekly framework, we have a Monday morning milestone meeting that That sets up, like, our our goals and accomplish that we wanna accomplish over the course of the week. So it's, like, broken down from our month you know, our annual down to the month down to the weekly. We review metrics. So we start with metrics and where we're at, and then we review what we want to accomplish that week.

Breene Murphy [00:32:13]:

Mhmm. And then getting into the week on the daily side of it, We have a morning stand up, and we have, end of day. And the end of like, the stand up is, like, your most important task and what you're blocked. It's like a 15 minute meeting. We also do this, like, check-in with people, see how they're doing, play a game of cradle. I know. I know. We're nerds.

Breene Murphy [00:32:33]:

It's like, You have to, like, test the country based on its exports. It's super fun if you're nerdy like us. You know, so we like, we have a it's like a 3 minute game, then we do, like, our most important task and then our where we're blocked. We have some time set aside for the people who are blocked To, like, figure something out. And this could be, like, a software issue or I need someone to review something or, you know, something like that. And it gives you time. Or you're working on this project. I'm working on this project.

Breene Murphy [00:33:02]:

It's going to align soon. We need to chat about like that. Or you brought up a new opportunity. I need a download on what that is. And then the end of the day is just, like, one big thing from your day. It's just a way to create closure in a remote environment, which is really important people can, like Yeah. Finish their days, go work because you don't have a commute. You don't have those 10 minutes.

Breene Murphy [00:33:20]:

Commutes are an hour or an hour and a half or, like, How ungodly long some people's commutes are. I'm really sorry. I used to have one of those. It sucked. A couple things that I think we also do are we do 1 on ones. No agenda. Just talk about whatever you like. Mhmm.

Breene Murphy [00:33:34]:

I noticed on our team, I have different conversations with different people. I they have teams. So Zach and I are both dads, so we talk about dad stuff a lot. We're also big dreamers. So we like to talk about the future of the business just as for fun.

Teri Schmidt [00:33:48]:


Breene Murphy [00:33:49]:

Why talk with James? James is like like a total polymath. Like, he's he's an engineer that's, like, rebuilding his house. So and he's doing it in, like, a very sustainable way, and he's got a incredible design and aesthetic. And so I talk to James a lot about, like, stuff like that and, like, What we're doing, I try to coax him into coming and visit because he does every now and again. With Brooke, she's just incredibly intentional, and so I like hearing how she's She just moved. So she's made, like, you know, this move into South Carolina that she picked out of all these places and loves it. Tavis TV samples surf, so we, like, nerd out on surfing. You know? Marie and I, it's like a lot of times, it's like we talk about, like, psychology, you know, just, like, relationship psychology a lot.

Breene Murphy [00:34:28]:

Just Give, like, stuff on, like, how things work. I thought a lot about it going through my own stuff. So it's like there's these conversations that you just have, but that informs how you get to work with people.

Teri Schmidt [00:34:37]:


Breene Murphy [00:34:38]:

Right? If you no. You don't wanna do a lot. And on certain teams, like, you may not need to have 1 on ones with everybody, but it allows for this framework for, like, again, a relationship. And then the last thing I think is kind of important to share is when we're starting a project, something that I think we do Well and this is, like, a really accredited to Zach and James again. Again, we're dorks. So it's a design spike. Right. And in this design spike, like, the key component of this is you get downloads from everybody who's going to be in involved in the project up front.

Breene Murphy [00:35:13]:

So you're not trying to go pitch your idea and get buy in. You're getting everyone's ideas right away. Right? Like, Asking all the questions, what are the things, what are all the problems if you're dealing with different sides of the business? Like, you'll understand, and then you have to create options. The first option always has to be the default option is as we're doing it now because we may not wanna change. Like, as we're doing it now may be the best option. Right. Don't need change for change sake.

Teri Schmidt [00:35:40]:


Breene Murphy [00:35:40]:

And then you go into and then you start to, like, prioritize ideas based on, different values. Like, hey. If we do wanna do something, like, really cheap, this would be a really cheap way to do it. If we wanna do something really fast, this would be a really fast way to do it. If we wanna do something that, like, Really, helps our systems long term. This is a way to do it. If we wanted you know? So, like, you start to have, like, different frameworks, Then you go back to the team, and a lot of times people go like, these are the things I like. And and the person that's thought the most about this has a recommendation at the end.

Breene Murphy [00:36:09]:

This is this is After talking to all these people, this is my recommendation. Mhmm. And, usually, what you get back is like, yeah. And can we incorporate some of this and this? And you end up having a final product. And so all this to say is we have a structure that allows people to have flexibility in their lives, To have clear direction at work

Teri Schmidt [00:36:29]:


Breene Murphy [00:36:30]:

And to work together in a way that I feel closer than I have with my coworkers than I ever did When I was in in an office.

Teri Schmidt [00:36:39]:

Yeah. I think we could, I mean, pick that apart for an hour or so and, you know, kinda do a masterclass on on remote work and and looking at all the challenges and the objections to remote work that people have. Like, your day doesn't end, for example, but you have that process in place for that end of day.

Breene Murphy [00:36:59]:

Yeah. I think there's one other key thing that I forgot to mention on it, that I think is really important. This is like a great Jamesism. When we're doing the sprint planning Mhmm. This is very similar that they said, like, Is is an echo of his first thing of, like, this is a different team. Mhmm. When we do sprint planning, we and we line up all our tasks that we're gonna try to accomplish in the month, The key thing that he brings up again and again and, like, I love like, I love this about James is when he says it, because he says it almost every time. This is what the team has agreed to.

Breene Murphy [00:37:28]:

Your tasks are not just your tasks. They're the team's tasks too. Right? Mhmm. And so this is not just your work. And so if you are ever blocked, you can go to team, and the team knows that you are supposed to be there to support each other and unblock each other. It also means you have a good excuse not to take on new projects. Right? Because you're like, this is not what we agreed upon. And may there are times when you get, like I'm, like, maybe the worst offender.

Breene Murphy [00:37:55]:

Zack's pretty bad too. So I'll I'll say Zack and I are probably the worst offenders of this. A couple weeks into spring, I'm going like, hey. This thing too. And then you, like and then you don't achieve, like, some of your other tasks. But it like, At least it creates a framework for you to be intentional. And I could be like, I know I was gonna say that I was gonna do these other things, but this is more important. And if other people but because it's a team work team's work, I I I try to do my best to respect that process of it And bringing back, like, hey.

Breene Murphy [00:38:24]:

This is something that's come up, like a con conversation I've had. I think it's a new opportunity. I think this is something we should do. Zach's been, like, really crushing it on bringing new projects in the mid sprint. But, yeah, like, all of this allows for an environment that I think Creates, like, plasticity inside the company where we're able to, like, really be nimble and move. A lot of transparency around what our goals are allows for us to be ourselves if people have, like, need a break or whatever. Like, you know, we can be really clear and Communicative? It does require you to bring more of yourself than it does in other workplaces, though, which I think for some people would be a challenge. You know, if you're saying, like, I don't wanna do this because of this, and, like, maybe you needed to it's just like it creates, like, a higher degree of trust, which means you have to, like, Be more transparent.

Breene Murphy [00:39:15]:

That's hard for some people.

Teri Schmidt [00:39:17]:

Yeah. You have more skin in the game, and it takes more effort.

Breene Murphy [00:39:19]:

It's a different again, it's a different type of effort. It's a different win. Right? Because if you don't tell people why Mhmm. And you hide it, right, then They become suspicious. It it creates a distance in the connection of your relationship.

Teri Schmidt [00:39:34]:

Yeah. Well, I wish we could keep talking for for a lot longer. I'd Look forward to watching how Carbon Collective scales, and and maybe we can have a conversation, you know, in a year or so and see if these processes, you know, as you are growing, How they have, yeah, how they've changed, what is the core that has stayed the same. Curious to watch that and and see you grow. But for anyone who wants to reach out to you, learn more about you, or learn more about Carbon Collective, what is the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Breene Murphy [00:40:08]:

I mean, if they wanna find me on LinkedIn, Breene Murphy, like, that's the that's really is the easiest way. They wanna find about Carbon Collective, you know, CarbonCollective .c0, that's a great way to find out about, Uscenter and what we're working on. Yeah. I mean, I'm right now, I'm just trying to help people. Like, I'm really focused on 4 0 one k's and four zero three b's. So if people want more sustainable investments inside those Those investment would be, like, approaches, and I would really love to help him. But, also, I just love talking to anybody about, I don't know, creating a more human world.

Teri Schmidt [00:40:41]:

I love that. And and thank you for the work that you do on a daily basis, and thank you for the insights that you shared today because you definitely opened my eyes to Some ideas that I hadn't considered and also provided, you know, real life examples of how these can be put into place and help not only the the company, the organization, the business, the nonprofit flourish, but also help the individuals and the teams that are within it Flourish as well.

Breene Murphy [00:41:10]:


Teri Schmidt [00:41:10]:

So thank you for the conversation today.

Breene Murphy [00:41:13]:

I mean, I've learned so much from so many people, so this is definitely not all me on this Podcast. You know? But I I do think it's I like sharing what I learned, and I love people Tell me, like, some key things that they've learned. So feel free to reach out to me anytime.

Teri Schmidt [00:41:29]:

Excellent. Excellent. Well, thank you again, Breene. Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Breene, and we will be back in a couple of weeks with our next season of strong leaders serve. But until then, lead with this quote by Winston Churchill in mind: Diversity is the one true thing that we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.


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