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Tri-Cities Influencer Podcast with Paul Casey

Dec 27, 2019

Intro:                                     I've learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel, by Maya Angelou. I am Michelle Oates and I'm a Tri-Cities influencer.

Paul Casey:                         Keep reinforcing that everyone must place the common good of the team above their own agenda. If one area wins, the whole team wins.

Intro:                                     Raising the water level of leadership in the Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington, it's a Tri-Cities Influencer podcast. Welcome to the Tri-Cities Influencer podcast where Paul Casey interviews the local leaders like CEOs, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit executives to hear how they lead themselves and their teams so that we can all benefit from their experiences. Here's your host, Paul Casey of Growing Forward services, coaching and equipping individuals and teams to spark breakthrough success.

Paul Casey:                         Thanks for joining me for today's episode with Mark Brault. Mark is the volunteer CEO of Grace Clinic, and a fun fact about Mark is he met his wife at Farrell's ice cream parlor. I heard he manipulated the schedule to make sure they were working together. But how many years later, Mark?

Mark Brault:                       Well, it's got to be 45 years later. 43 we've been married but 45, 45 and a half.

Paul Casey:                         Still eat ice cream together?

Mark Brault:                       Yeah. Pretty regularly.

Paul Casey:                         Well, before we begin our interview, let's check in with our Tri-City Influencer sponsors.

Neal Taylor:                        Hello, my name is Neal Taylor. I am the managing attorney for Gravis Law's commercial transactions team. The CT team helps business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs accelerate and protect their business value. Today we're talking about employment law and alcohol and cannabis licensing. Josh Bam and Derek Johnson are both here with me now to describe those practice areas. Take it Derek.

Derek Johnson:                 Thanks Neal. I'm Derek Johnson, partner at Gravis Law. We find that many employers in Washington state simply don't have handbooks, employee policies, or any other written materials to protect themselves and their employees. Without having these types of policies in place, an employer can run into trouble by firing employees even if the employee isn't properly performing or are causing issues at work. Even if an employer fires someone for performance issues, for example, but fails to take the proper steps, they may run into trouble by inadvertently exposing themselves to a wrongful termination suit. We build strong, predictable and protective employee policies to protect our client's business.

Josh Bam:                            That's true. Thanks Derek. And having employment policies in place when you're dealing with cannabis or alcohol licensing is especially important. We know that clean employment policies, clean corporate structure, and having an attorney that can work with the Washington state liquor and cannabis board is critically important to protecting your business through licensing. The attorneys at Gravis Law have this experience. Visit us today,

Paul Casey:                         Thank you for your support of leadership development in the Tri-Cities. Well, welcome Mark. I was privileged to meet you probably around eight years ago maybe now. I was on staff at Central Church and we had a global impact celebration every year and we brought in many from many community organizations. Grace Clinic was one of those and I think you were their representative then and you still are now.

Mark Brault:                       You can't get rid of me.

Paul Casey:                         So tell us a little bit about your past positions, bring us forward to where you are now so our Tri-Cities influencers can get to know you.

Mark Brault:                       Well, a long way from where I got started, by training I'm a CPA.

Paul Casey:                         I didn't know that.

Mark Brault:                       I practiced public accounting, yeah I was a partner in a CPA firm many, many years ago. I spent about 13 years in a medical equipment business. Most recently up till about three and a half years ago I ran a couple of heavy truck dealerships. I've been involved in some startup companies, it's a pretty wide range of things.

Paul Casey:                         Wow. It is a wide range. And you've probably met a lot of influencers along the way. So who stands out in your mind as either bosses, supervisors, colleagues that have made an impact on you? Maybe they've been a mentor or an advisor in your life?

Mark Brault:                       There are lots of people and many of them who maybe I didn't work with directly or for, I remember, I mean this is a long time ago a local banker here who really had a lot of influence in my life. I mean that was back in the days when I was in public accounting but probably as many almost casual relationships or business relationships that influenced me as people that I had significant working relationships with. Certainly in my early days of public accounting there was a partner in our firm that had a lot of influence in the development of my public accounting career. But you can learn something from virtually anybody.

Paul Casey:                         Here, here.

Mark Brault:                       That's just the case and if you're looking for what you can learn, you can learn something from anybody.

Paul Casey:                         Would you agree that everybody probably needs a mentor, someone that's further down the road than them and a mentee, someone that they can pass the baton to?

Mark Brault:                       Absolutely. Absolutely. We need to learn from other people's experience. There's an old saying it's impossible to know what you don't know. And so learning from people who have more experience, who've been down that path before is enormously valuable. And sharing your knowledge with other people is critical as well. If you stay in your cocoon, it might work for butterflies but it probably doesn't work outside of that.

Paul Casey:                         I could picture a little image of a cocoon as the anti-influencer. We can put that on the website. So when you got into this position at Grace Clinic, what was your original vision? How has that morphed along the years that you've been on this leadership journey there?

Mark Brault:                       My participation in the clinic has changed a fair amount. I joined the board in early 2006. I got involved there originally because of my wife. My wife is a nurse practitioner who specialized in diabetes. She had been volunteering in the clinic. I tell the story this way, it didn't happen exactly this way, but she was volunteering in the clinic one day, and was having a conversation with one of the founders who said they were looking for a CPA to the board. And she said, here, take mine. She didn't really say here, take mine but it makes a better story. But she did, she said, my husband might be interested and I ended up having some conversations and joined the board. And a few years later we didn't really have an executive director. And so a few years later, there were four of us who played that role collectively. And that worked for a period of time, but it came to a place where we needed somebody. And that became me on a volunteer basis. And so I started strictly as a board member and grew from there. But the thing that was always the case for me and what got me involved initially is that people in my family have had health needs and have always been able to take care of it. Had good insurance, been able to afford or part of the cost. Our youngest son had type two diabetes since before he was two years old. I've had a couple of joints replaced. I've had arthritis for a long time and having been in a position where I was leading or involved in the senior leadership of other company I had a lot of connection around purchasing health insurance for employees and understand what's happening there and then having my wife with a medical practice have a number of points of perspective.

Mark Brault:                       And recognize that there are a whole lot of people that don't have the access that I had. And this is a way to give back and help meet those needs that are real significant. And there's probably a little bit that I've been around healthcare for a long time. As I said I spent some time in the medical equipment business when I was practicing public accounting, I had a substantial number of physicians as clients so I've been around elements of it for a long time.

Paul Casey:                         Grace Clinic has a super mission, just a super mission and that's great that you've been able to be on that board for 13 years, probably hitting you over the face right now, thinking 13 years. That's a long time. And over time then getting a executive director that replaced you in that volunteer role by now a paid person there. Right?

Mark Brault:                       Well we have a clinic director.

Paul Casey:                         Clinic director?

Mark Brault:                       My title is CEO, but effectively executive director.

Paul Casey:                         Got you.

Mark Brault:                       And yeah, the clinic director is a paid position and Avonte holds that position, is an outstanding resource for us and does a tremendous job. And to a very great extent that in the way things operate, her role is chief operating officer and she's focused on the...

Paul Casey:                         Day to day.

Mark Brault:              to day operations and I'm focused in great measure externally.

Paul Casey:                         Okay.

Mark Brault:                       But yeah my role probably isn't going to go away any time soon.

Paul Casey:                         Supreme Court justice. Yes. Well, what are you most passionate about? I mean obviously you keep stoking your fire so that you stay in this, you have no immediate plans of resigning from your volunteer position. So what are you most passionate about at Grace Clinic now?

Mark Brault:                       Two things. Well more than two things but the first is we do a really good job of taking care of people and we do that in a fashion that they really value. We have one of our patients who sometime back about a year ago spoke in one of our volunteer events. We have a video of her as well, who says very clearly that coming here was hard. And that's because she and her husband had always been self sufficient. Then he became disabled and they lost her insurance and said coming was hard, but the clinic made it really easy.

Mark Brault:                       They treated us like human beings. They didn't make us feel like we were asking for handouts. And so, we do a really good job and we do it in a fashion that is consistent with what I expect when I go to my doctor's office. And so that's one piece. But the other is that in the last couple of years we've been able to expand what we do really significantly. If you look at our medical visits in the first six months of 2019 compared to the first six months of 2017 we're up more than 90%.

Paul Casey:                         Wow.

Mark Brault:                       I mean, it's huge. And part of that, a big part of our ability to do that is because beginning in July of 2017 we launched a relationship with the residency program at Trios and Kadlec. And so now all of the third year residents out of those programs rotate through the clinic.

Paul Casey:                         Wow that's cool.

Mark Brault:                       They gave us a boost in capacity and it's also important from the standpoint of working with a broader community game. Having those two programs from hospitals that historically haven't done a whole lot of things together but are really actively doing this together with us. The more of those things, we can do the better off the community is.

Paul Casey:                         Here, here. So I heard the power of story keeps you going to see those lives that are being changed and the power of stats, seeing the increased numbers of the capacity expanding and then saying wow, look how many we'll be able to reach.

Mark Brault:                       There's a part of me that will always be a CPA.

Paul Casey:                         Love it. So in your all your leadership capacities over the years you have to build teams, you try to create a culture. What are you looking for when everything from hiring the clinic director years ago, Avonte, to the physicians that come in, they volunteer their time, other volunteers. How do you assess that everyone's on the right seat on the bus?

Mark Brault:                       That can be tough. I mean it really can. And for us, certainly at the beginning is the question of why is somebody interested? Do they get the mission or are they interested in participating in that? And in our case, there are multiple facets to that. We're a faith based organization, not all of our volunteers come from a faith tradition. Okay? And so there's some balance in there but it's why does somebody want to be involved? Is it consistent with what we're trying to do? Is probably the key thing is, understanding what we're about and wanting to come alongside because this organization and we have more than 300 active volunteers. Okay? It's completely a community endeavor, a whole lot of people that come together to make it happen.

Mark Brault:                       So first and foremost it's do they understand the mission and want to participate in that? And then the second is a question of people who have different skillsets. Now, in our case there's some very technical elements, you have a physician or a nurse well, they're principally going to function kind of in that arena. But we have a lot of volunteers who don't have some medical credential and so finding the right fit relative to their skillset. And there's another thing, one of the things that's not widely known about Peter Drucker is that he actually has a book on managing nonprofit organizations.

Mark Brault:                       One of the things that he talks about that book, which is a really important principle, is that volunteers really need to be considered as unpaid staff.

Paul Casey:                         I agree.

Mark Brault:                       That the role is no less important because they aren't getting paid. Then with paid staff that those jobs are every bit as important and consequently we have paid and unpaid staff. I'm part of the unpaid staff. But there are a number of those things that come into play.

Paul Casey:                         See yourself if you're volunteering right now, Tri-Cities influencers, see yourself as unpaid staff too. And maybe that even raises the water level of, Oh, I've got to stay connected on my board or I've got to show up and I've got to follow through because just like a paid person would, they're counting on you to get through that. And so alignment sounds really huge when you're trying to create a culture of both to the mission and also to the values. Let's stay on that personnel topic. So how do you keep those volunteers or those paid or unpaid staff inspired and affirmed?

Mark Brault:                       In our organization, a big part of the inspired comes from doing the work. It comes from seeing the impact that we're having. It comes from seeing volunteers who have their eyes opened. We've had countless cases where a relatively new volunteer will comment, I had no idea. I had no idea about the magnitude of this need because I didn't encounter the need directly in the rest of my life. I've often said that for many of us, we encounter one of our patients because they happened to be the clerk in a store where we're buying something, okay? And we don't know their story, so a lot of that inspiration comes from seeing the impact in the patients and seeing the growth in the unpaid staff that is incredibly rewarding.

Paul Casey:                         Yeah. I think it's important for all leaders, especially if you're in an organization with layers to connect your team through the constituents that you're actually helping. Even if you're making pizza or a widget, who are the people that you're actually benefiting from all the work that you're doing and that reconnects you to that mission over and over again. We also had a conference recently where they talked about your people, whether they're paid or unpaid staff need air and we were like, "yeah, of course we do to live." But AIR stands for affirmation, inspiration and recognition and I really like that AIR: affirmation, inspiration and recognition to keep going. Well, no one wants to get stale in leadership. You've been in the game awhile. How do you stay relevant? How do you stay on the cutting edge in your leadership position?

Mark Brault:                       For me and in this particular arena at Grace Clinic, the principle thing that I do is I'm looking for what other people are doing. There's a statewide organization of free clinics and so we share a lot of information back and forth. We have a relatively new organization in the Tri-Cities, the Columbia Basin Nonprofit Association that I was one of about seven or eight people that put that together where we want to share information and knowledge. And the reality is it doesn't matter how well you're doing something, there are things that you can learn to do it better.

Paul Casey:                         Absolutely.

Mark Brault:                       And so for me it's always being on the lookout for those things and I'll give you a crystal clear illustration of this. A year and a half ago, I had been invited to an event, it was like middle of November and I agreed to go. I'm driving there in the morning and the title of this event was increasing community connections. And I'm driving there and I'm asking myself the question, why am I going to this thing this morning? It's all morning and I've got other things to do. And I went. Turned out it was a really lousy title. It really didn't identify what was going to happen there at all. And a pair of presenters who were making a presentation together talked about something that they had done in their organization, in another medical operation that directly got involved in their medical clinic, mental health professionals.

Mark Brault:                       Now we have a substantial mental health program, but what these guys were doing is they had a mental health professional who was assigned to the medical clinic. And when one of their clinicians would encounter a need that the patient they were seeing had, they would often say, you know, excuse me man, there's another member of our team that I think could be helpful and they would bring that individual in. They don't identify him as a mental health professional. They just identify him as another member of the team and that person would take over the way that it was structured they just schedule a couple of followups in the medical clinic.

Mark Brault:                       so part of what's happening here is you get this warm hand-off, but also you're avoiding the stigma. The reaction, I don't need to see a counselor. It was enormously effective. And so we decided we were going to try that and it's been enormously effective for us. If I hadn't gone to that thing, when might I have learned about that. And so you have to always be on the lookout for things that can advance what you're doing, something you can learn from other people. And that's particularly in an environment like healthcare where things are changing all the time. That's why it's a survival skill.

Paul Casey:                         That's right. That's right. Again, the cocoon, the anti influencer principle. The associations are a big deal. So influencers, and you're listening to this podcast, your profession probably has an association in the nuclear society, the real estate association, the accountant's association. All of them here in the Tri-Cities have a branch, well maybe not all of them, but many of them do. Even this free clinic association you're referring to Mark, I got to speak at that a few years ago on strategic planning, big hearted people, and probably just being in the room with them was encouraging to all of them. So there's so many good things that can come out of being a part of your association. And I think innovation can spring from that. Well, before we head into our next question about what makes a good day for Mark, let us shout out to our sponsors.

Paul Casey:                         Jason Hogue, American Family Insurance. Jason, what is the biggest pushback you'd get about life insurance?

Jason Hogue:                     Hey Paul. Yeah. One of the biggest push backs I get on life insurance is from folks that are single. They usually ask me, why do I even need this? I don't have kids. I don't have any dependents or a spouse. Why do I need this? Ultimately whenever you pass on, there's going to be somebody there to pick up the pieces. There's going to be somebody to deal with your affairs. And I would say it's your responsibility to make sure that there is funds, that there's money there so that person can take the time needed to go through it properly and not make it their responsibility.

Paul Casey:                         Awesome, Jason. So tell us how can our listeners get in touch with you?

Jason Hogue:                     You can swing by our office on Road 68 in Pasco or give us a call at (509) 547-0540.

Paul Casey:                         So Mark, what makes it a good day for you personally? When you put your head on the pillow at night and look back and go, today was a really good day. What kind of things are going on that day to make it a good day?

Mark Brault:                       It's any one of a number of things. I mean certainly often it's we've been able to accomplish something we're working on. We've had some demonstration of why we do this. But for me also it could be something associated with my family. I mean, we're incredibly fortunate that all of our kids live here, which means all of our grandkids live here and for years we've done something where everybody comes to our place for dinner on Monday night.

Paul Casey:                         Oh really? That's great.

Mark Brault:                       That includes my parents and my wife's folks and if everybody's there we have, I think it's 30

Paul Casey:                         Whoa, a family reunion every Monday night?

Mark Brault:                       It's a lot but we have so many friends whose grandkids live 2000 miles way and so often it can be related to just the interaction with our kids or grandkids, especially grandkids. We've got five who actually live six houses away from us and it doesn't get much better than that.

Paul Casey:                         Well, you have a family of influencers. The Brault family here in town are movers and shakers for sure. But I love how you said it's living that way that makes it a good day. You look back in your day and did we live it out our way? And if you can say yes to that, it is a good day. Well, let's peel back one layer of the onion of your life here, Mark, what's your best habit and what's your worst habit?

Mark Brault:                       Well, I don't know what my best habit is. My worst habit is procrastination. I'm as guilty of that as anybody.

Paul Casey:                         We need a procrastination anonymous club here.

Mark Brault:                       There was a time when I wore a little button that said Procrastinate Later. But that's undoubtedly my worst habit. I'm not sure what my best habit is.

Paul Casey:                         Do you have more of like a routine that you're like, I've got to do this every day?

Mark Brault:                       I am virtually always up early. And so, I have some time in the morning when I'm reading, I'm catching up on the news. I mean, it's a whole host of things and that really works for me. I've always been a morning person and it doesn't work for my wife.

Paul Casey:                         Sure. Sure.

Mark Brault:                       But I'll have that time to organize my day and that works pretty well.

Paul Casey:                         Morning routine is huge. So much better than running to work or your first thing with your hair on fire. But to have that time to reflect, meditate. Some people pray, some people read, but to expand that morning a little bit more than just getting ready.

Mark Brault:                       Right.

Paul Casey:                         Well other than procrastinate later, do you have a favorite quote that or a mantra that you live by or like to repeat?

Mark Brault:                       That for me moves around. It'll be something that works for a period of time and then doesn't and more recently, the one which I mentioned before we get started is something I heard recently in a sermon, which is "God will not push you deeper into your comfort zone."

Paul Casey:                         I wrote that one down before we started because I love it. What does that mean to you?

Mark Brault:                       Well, it means that there are a lot of things that are hard. I mean some things are just hard work. And require you to push to stretch. It doesn't happen because you kick back and take it easy. And so, if you're going to accomplish things that you want to accomplish, you have to get out there and get after it. And I think what really resonated there with me in that statement is it is the reality that you have to get out of your comfort zone.

Mark Brault:                       And I mean, there are any number of things in my role in the clinic that take me out of my comfort zone. I spend a fair amount of time asking people for money. It's not the most comfortable thing I do. But I had a recognition and a number of years ago, and this was somebody I was listening to who made this comment, which is in the worst case, if you ask, the answer is going to be no. If you don't ask, the answer is always no.

Paul Casey:                         Still, no.

Mark Brault:                       Okay. So, if you don't give somebody the opportunity to say yes, the answer is no. Right? And so, you've got to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone if you're going to accomplish anything. And if you'll continue to do that, you can grow and develop. And if you don't, you're in that cocoon.

Paul Casey:                         That's right. Growth is the enemy of comfort or comfort is the enemy of growth. I like that quote too. That's the same one I just turned to. I don't know if you've seen this guy. I think his name is JiaJiang. It's J-I-A and then J-I-A-N-G, the rejection therapy guy. So he went out to try to beat rejection. This feeling of hating rejection to get a hundred no's. So he came up with a hundred unique things like, can I play soccer in your backyard just knocking on a door, or can I get a burger refill? Just that we'd hear no, he'd be like, check, got another one. He was trying to get a hundred no's. You have to look it up on YouTube. But it is very funny. Some people actually said yes so for some, he was hoping for a no to walk away and they made it happen for him. But he overcame the no rejection, his fear of that because of it. So all that happened outside of his comfort zone. How about a book, Mark, that every leader should read in your opinion?

Mark Brault:                       In the non-profit space, Peter Drucker's book is really excellent. He's generally not thought of in the non-profit arena. That's not where the bulk of his work was, but it's really well done and I think worth reading. I think the other thing, I recently shared a book in a clinic that was recommended to me that I think an awful lot of people ought to read. It's called Nickel and Dimed. And it's written by a woman who is a writer who decided that she was going to try and figure out what it's like to live on minimum wage. And so she went to three different communities each for a month and had to find a job and a place to live.

Mark Brault:                       And she's very clear that her experience is not reflective of people who are at that place all the time. In one of the communities she went to, she worked for a maid service and she commented that she was in a better place at the end of the day than most of the women that she worked for or worked with. But she said that's because I haven't been doing this for 20 years. That I'm in good health. I went to the gym, I'm starting from a place of not having abused my body with this physical work for 20 years. But understanding those things is important.

Paul Casey:                         Builds your empathy, builds your compassion. Yeah, for sure.

Mark Brault:                       Builds your knowledge.

Paul Casey:                         Yeah.

Mark Brault:                       Okay. We often don't understand some of those challenges.

Paul Casey:                         Yeah. Good old Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, I think he's called. He put out some really good stuff. How about an influencer in town that all Tri-Citians should meet? I know it's hard to narrow it down to one, but you got someone that everybody should meet?

Mark Brault:                       And I'm going to stay in the non-profit arena. The group of people who were instrumental along with me in starting the Columbia Basin Non-profit Association are folks who are worth meeting. Brian Ace who leads the Boys and Girls Club, Grant Bain leads Senior Life Resources. Steve Holland, the YMCA. I mean there are a whole group of people who are really active in non-profit leadership that they're having a big impact in the community and are worth knowing.

Paul Casey:                         Good people for sure. Well finally, Mark, what advice would you give to a new leader or anyone who wants to keep growing and gaining more influence?

Mark Brault:                       I think that influence comes out of getting things done and doing it in a fashion that is open, that's not arrogant. And so, I think the way that people gain influence is by doing the work and both in their career, in their volunteer work, those are the things that they're necessary. And I've been fortunate, I've been involved in a lot of organizations over a long time and those things are both rewarding, but they also create relationships and connections that have value and can have a lasting impact.

Paul Casey:                         Well, Tri-City influencers. You heard it here. Influence comes from getting things done. Thanks Mark. How can our listeners best connect with you?

Mark Brault:                       I'm pretty easy to find at the clinic. I respond pretty faithfully to email at I get a lot of email and I'm usually not too far behind on it.

Paul Casey:                         Way to go. Well thanks again for all you do to make the Tri-Cities a great place and keep leading well. Let me wrap up our podcast today with a leadership resource to recommend if you love quotes, found a great place to find them. It's called They have grouped quotes by famous leaders, both contemporary leaders and those that are no longer with us or by theme. So again, and you'll find some other great resources there as well.

Paul Casey:                         And don't forget to consider patronizing our sponsors of Tri-City Influencer : Gravis Law and Jason Hogue, American Family Insurance.

Paul Casey:                         Finally, one more leadership tidbit for the road to help you make a difference in your circle of influence. Kahlil Gibran said, "zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow." Keep growing forward.

Intro:                                     If you enjoyed this podcast or piqued your interest in learning more about leadership and self-leadership, you can continue to glean from Paul and his Growing Forward Services. Check out Paul's blog and the products, tips and tools on his website at and opt into his Target Practice inspirational email newsletter. You'll get his 33 top tips for becoming a time management rock star when you subscribe and consider buying one of his three books the most recent one being, Leading the Team You've Always Wanted.

Paul Casey: This podcast has been produced by Bonsai Audio at Fuse coworking space.