1st Lead U Podcast: Episode 28

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Episode 28

Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023

Mariann Carter Guest 00:00

The grit that it takes also has to come from a place of love and compassion and empathy, and that's not necessarily the words that most people use to describe leaders. 

Announcer Announcement 00:19

Welcome to 1st LEAD U, a podcast dedicated to building leaders, expanding their capacity, improving their self-awareness through emotional intelligence and developing deeper understanding of selfless leadership. 

John Ballinger Host 00:34

Hello America and welcome to 1st LEAD U, where we believe selfless leadership is essential. America is suffering a leadership crisis. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence is the key to developing selfless leaders. Now here is personal growth coach John Ballinger. 

Good afternoon, Mr. Ford. 

Douglas Ford Host 00:57

Mr. Ballinger, how are you this afternoon? 

John Ballinger Host 00:59

I am doing well and we are on podcast number 28. 28. Go ahead and ask me. Go ahead. 

Douglas Ford Host 01:12

Who’s the, who's the NASCAR driver? 

John Ballinger Host 01:16

Ladies and gentlemen, number 28 is Davie Allison. 

Douglas Ford Host 01:22

Davie Allison. Oh, that's a famous NASCAR name. 

John Ballinger Host 01:29

It’s a family, it’s a family thing. And I mentioned on a previous podcast we were talking about Davie Allison crashing, his death, his untimely death, crashing a helicopter down at Talladega and it sent kind of a rattle through NASCAR because NASCAR drivers generally, generally, will go get their pilot's license of some kind of flier aircraft and Davie was flying his aircraft at Talladega and wind caught him. He flipped his aircraft up and down. They think, they said both hands were still on the controls, so they think that he hit his head and that trauma, the head hit, is what caused it. But yeah, it sent a shudder through the industry because he was really, I would say the up and coming replacement for Dale Earnhardt. 

Douglas Ford Host 02:21

Oh, really. Okay.

John Ballinger Host 02:23

He was a young Dale Earnhardt and he was aggressive but mild mannered, kind of quiet and a “Rubbin is Racing” kind of guy. 

Douglas Ford Host 02:33

And he had a dad and an uncle also, right. 

John Ballinger Host 02:35

Yeah yeah, the Allison brothers, Allison family, I mean, it was a, it's really their heritage goes back to the founding of NASCAR, with some of the pioneers in NASCAR. 

Douglas Ford Host 02:49

So here is a fun fact I grew up not too far from Talladega. 

John Ballinger Host 02:52

Oh really?

Douglas Ford Host 02:53

Just a few miles from Talladega, yep.

John Ballinger Host 02:55

Were you close enough to hear the roar? 

Douglas Ford Host 02:57

No, I wasn't that close, but I don't think I was close enough for it to actually rub off on me. But I was close, I could get there in a, in a quick minute. 

John Ballinger Host 03:07

Fastest track in NASCAR. 

Douglas Ford Host 03:09

Yeah, it was the biggest one at the time. 

John Ballinger Host 03:14

It’s uh, it’s uh (indecipherable). And you know, as we're talking about this, you know NASCAR for years was a southern sport and then expanded and went to other parts of the northeast, southeast, out west and things like that. But you know it was a southern homegrown sport and when I grew up it was. You know it was a big deal to go to NASCAR race and the fanfare and you know hundreds and hundreds of people, thousands of tens of thousands in the stands cheering on their driver and I joke to people today. You know back then they would wear T-shirts that said I'd rather push a Ford than drive a Chevy. You know what wins on Sunday, sells on Monday and all those things. But that was a lot of marketing back then. 

Douglas Ford Host 03:57

Oh, absolutely yeah. It was, NASCAR is a great case study in marketing. Both its rise and it's declined, obviously some now since it's heyday, but certainly in the rise. The tactics they employ and the different things they did was very cutting edge for the time in terms of marketing. 

John Ballinger Host 04:17

Yeah, and I don't. I won't the labor this too much. But again, we were talking today before the podcast, on different organizations that had these rises and you know, things were going well and then poor leadership came in and just the organization took a nose dive and NASCAR is one of those where, you know it, this meteoric rise. And then leadership changed, and leadership without vision can cause an organization to start failing miserably, and it seemed like that the next level of leadership in NASCAR was just there and wanted to maintain what was built. Well, maintaining without thinking about what's the future look like. Technology changes, the fan base changes. Are we, are we now reaching the fan base that we want to reach? Because the older fan base is either dying off or can't make it to the track anymore, or whatever. So what are we doing to get the new fan base in? And talking about innovating and leadership and thinking vision, the guests we've got on today kind of embodies that. 

Douglas Ford Host 05:34

Oh absolutely, Absolutely. Oh, and we should not go too far without mentioning today is Halloween. The original air date of this episode is on October 31st. 

John Ballinger Host 05:47

Yeah and, Mariann Carter, who owns Carter Hears! she may chuckle at that a little bit. You know, but, you know, we met Mariann, and her, what I call her right and left arms, Kandice, and quickly there seemed to be kind of a kindred spirit with who we are, what we're doing and what they're doing from just a Deaf Ed, Deaf Education standpoint, cutting edge, thinking differently. And they're the ones that had us thinking about what about this information that you're putting out for people that can hear, what about the people that can’t hear but want this and need this information? And so they're the reasons we started doing some of this blog and printing the material that's on our website, absolutely. 

Douglas Ford Host 06:37

Absolutely yeah, it was a great interview. I think everyone's going to enjoy it, so we should get to it. 

John Ballinger Host 06:44

Yup. Today's interview is going to be with an organization that I'm personally excited to interview, and it's caused us as 1st LEAD U to think about how we deliver this podcast. 

Douglas Ford Host 07:00

Oh, absolutely. We met our guests at the HEaL conference, which we've talked a good bit about, and we've interviewed several people that we met there. And this is just another one of those great teams that we met at the HEaL conference, and absolutely so, it's Carter Hears! and they deal with Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and one of the things they mentioned to us shortly after we met them, they previewed the podcast and it's like, oh, we got some people who would like to read the, or hear the podcast, but they have this issue with hearing and so we were like, okay, is there a way we can fix that? And thanks to AI, which we've talked, not so positively- about. 

John Ballinger Host 07:49

That's not the authentic intelligence right. 

Douglas Ford Host 07:52

We were able to, we were able to do that, so we're happy to be doing that. We appreciate them bringing that to our attention. 

John Ballinger Host 07:57

Yeah. So our guest today are Mariann Carter, who is the owner and lead consultant for Carter Hears!, and her I would say I'm going to call her, her right arm Kandice Hunt, who we quickly saw at the conference that there needed to be a Mariann in an organization and there needs to be a Kandice in an organization. We've talked about that on a podcast that really compliment one another to be able to move the organization forward. So, Mariann, Kandice, thanks for being with us today. 

Mariann Carter Guest08:32

Well, John, this is Mariann. Thank you so much for having us as your guests today. I love how you introduced us because, it is true, it takes both of us to make the engine run. It is not a one-car show. We definitely need two people working the engine and taking care of everything that we do. Kandice and I are great partners. We are alike in some ways, but we also function very differently. And so learning how to lead ourselves so we can lead well with each other is an important part of what we do. 

John Ballinger Host 09:04

That was a shameless plug for 1st Lead U, just now. Now Mariann just did a great job saying first lead ourselves, which is what I mean. That's our passion, Douglas and I, when we started, this is how do we get leaders to learn to lead themselves so they lead others well? So that's great. Kandice, thanks for being on. 

Kandice Hunt Guest  09:24

Yeah, well, thank you. This is Kandice, and thanks so much for having us. I'm excited to be here, it’ll be my first podcast, so I'm just here for the experience and the ride. 

John Ballinger Host 09:34

Well, thank you very much. So, Mariann, would you start by telling us a little bit about Mariann and then we'll give it to Kandice to tell, before we get into the company and what you do. 

Mariann Carter Guest 09:45

Of course, John, I'd be happy to, Again, this is Mariann, and I'll tell you a little story about me. I was born into a family where both my mom and dad were Deaf, and that is considered in everyday language a Child Of a Deaf Adult, and we get called CODAs all the time. That's kind where my journey started. Little did I know that having two Deaf parents and watching them go through their experiences with communicating with the world and how they chose to show up for themselves mostly it really shaped my life. 

And long story short, I'm a teacher by trade. I have a degree in Special Education and I also have a degree in Deaf Education and I have a degree in Educational Leadership. It was – It's my desire as a third-generation deaf educator. 

My grandmother became a Deaf Educator because my mom was born Deaf. She discovered that my mother was Deaf and then my mom became a Deaf Educator and I did too. So we definitely have seen deaf education from different lenses and I think that those lenses give us a lot of perspective as a person in the education world. 

I've worked as a teacher, I've worked as a coordinator and at Carter Hears! I am a fortunate lead consultant with a wonderful team. So that gives you a little background about me. 

John Ballinger Host 11:07

Sure, I want to probably dig a little bit. Married? Children? 

Mariann Carter Guest 11:13

Oh, yes, that's the personal side. Thank you so much, John. This is Mariann again, and I just wanted to share that, yes, I'm married, I have three children and I have four grandchildren. And we really enjoy each other. We do fun things together, like go to the beach and get together on weekends, and they are the joy in my life and they certainly support me in getting, getting to do this too. 

John Ballinger Host 11:41

Great! Well, Kandice. How about a little bit about yourself? 

Kandice Hunt Guest 11:47

Sure, thank you. So I grew up with a Deaf brother older than me, two years older, and so I grew up around deafness and my brother, around fifth grade, went to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind. 

And me being this bright and young child, we would take him to the Deaf school at the beginning of every year and I always wanted to be a teacher, but I'd go with him and I'd see these teachers who could sign and they could talk at the same time and they could communicate, and it was just really bewildering to me and my young mind and I didn't really understand fully what that was all about, other than this is where my brother went to school and he's gone during the week, he came home on the weekend and that was kind of just  our life growing up.

Well, when I was in high school senior and exploring different careers, I was into music and I thought, well, maybe I want to do music therapy and maybe I'll work with Deaf. That would be pretty cool. There were only two universities in South Carolina that did music therapy and one of those universities also had a Deaf Education program and I thought, oh, wait a minute, that's a thing. Huh, I'm kind of curious about that. So I started with music therapy, quickly figured out that was not for me and audited one Deaf Ed class and thought this is it, fell in love and the rest is history. 

So I got my bachelor’s in Deaf Education and for about six years worked in the public school system and then transitioned over to Carter Hears!. 

I’ve been with the company for seven years now and it's been a thrill of a ride and during that time I got my Master's in Educational Leadership and kind of grew into the position of Head of Operation and so it's just been this incredible journey and growing opportunity for me and lots of things that have, never would have been an opportunity in the public school system.

So I get to serve kids still in public school but also really focused on making and creating change in a system that's stuck to the status quo. So that's been really fun and exciting. Personally, I am married and have both an adoptive, adopted children and biological children, so I kind of have some passion in the world of adoption and trauma and behaviors and things like that as well that I get to bring to my work and it really kind of compounds my passion there. 

John Ballinger Host 14:23

That's great, that is good. Thank you, ladies, for introducing yourselves. Carter Hears! is how old Mariann? 

Mariann Carter Guest 14:35

We are celebrating our 10th birthday this year. It’s 10 years old.

John BallingerHost14:42

Wow, that is a milestone. That is great. Did you think when you started it that you would be on a podcast talking to two guys in Tennessee about your 10th anniversary and what you're doing? 

Mariann CarterGuest14:57

I definitely did not think that when I started. 

There's no doubt about that, honestly, I'm blessed to be that person. What I will share is it's just the idea of getting going, just taking the first step forward, and for me personally, it's having God lead that path, because I feel like what I do with Carter Hears! is something that God wants me to be doing and that drives a lot of who we are, how we function together and the things that we choose to do, and so if we have made it to 10 years, that's because God wanted it to be that way. 

John Ballinger Host 15:36

Yeah, you bring up such a great point. When someone finds their purpose, man, I tell you what it's a life changer it really is. It's a life changer because I think a lot of people wonder around, W-O-N-D-E-R and then wander around trying to figure out what their purpose is. But for those of us and I was both I wondered and wandered around for a long time until I really found what I feel like is my purpose, and it is. It's a refreshing to get out of bed and know you're making a difference with your purpose. 

Mariann Carter Guest 16:18

John, that's so true and I wanna say that there's a reason. You said that. I don't know what the reason was, but Kandice knows this story. So as part of my journey with Carter Hears! and then the Quill Model, I discovered some writing that my grandmother did that I didn't know she had done, and my mom passed away 10 years ago. It's kind of what spurred me into doing Carter Hears! and I was going through some of her things and she had birthday cards. This is something that nowadays we don't have a good trail of these things we don't write as much on paper. And there's a birthday card I found from my grandmother to my mother for a birthday and it says in there I cannot thank you enough for bringing great purpose to my life. 

John Ballinger Host 17:11

Yeah, you've got that one secured somewhere in a good space, don't you? You mean, you don't wanna, you don’t wanna lose that and you wanna hand that down, because I think that is so important and I don't feel like it's talked about a lot today society, finding your purpose, embracing that purpose even in the midst of obstacles and challenges, and things like that. Find your purpose and then hold on to it and then grow in it. And you have definitely shown over the last 10 years of the importance of finding your purpose and then cultivating it to where Carter Hears!  is today. So congratulations. 

Mariann Carter Guest 17:53

Well, thank you. It's been a joy and it's definitely been a journey. It's grown in ways that we didn't necessarily plan for and it certainly has given us opportunity to be creative, be open to making mistakes and learning from them and also trying new things to see, is that successful or not? Ultimately, we just want the students that we serve, who we see as top, they are the priority at all times. The students are number one. That is what we want to do. We want to change their outcomes, we want to make it as successful as possible, and having that faith to do that is a big thing. 

John Ballinger Host 18:34

Right, so can you tell us what's the Carter Hears! difference? 

Kandice Hunt Guest 18:44

This is Kandice and John I would love to tell you about that. So, at Carter Hears!, Mariann, she created it right? I came in from a public school district and Mariann has her own story as far as why she created the Carter Hears! difference. From my perspective, coming in, I did not have another person in my district to challenge me. I started at Carter Hears! and at first, I'll be honest it was a bit overwhelming. I'd never had so much feedback in my life. I didn't know what to do with that. Sometimes I still don't know what to do with that. But Mariann, coming in and coaching me and taking me by the hand and walking with me every step of the way through working with our students, through creating our Carter Hears! brand, has been an incredible journey. 

And so at Carter Hears! we do things differently than a lot of other places, whether it's more of a state type system or even another company. Our culture makes the difference of who we are and what we do. We use a lot of work from Brené Brown and her work in courage and vulnerability and her work in her book Dare to Lead. We've done studies on that book. We have a Brené Brown Daring Way coach, certified coach that works with our team and we operationalize and put behaviors to an acronym called BRAVING. So B-R-A-V-I-N-G and the process of BRAVING is building trust within a team, and trust is a collection of behaviors. And so, within our team, if we can't trust each other, if we cannot build that kind of environment with each other so that we can be creative, so that we can innovate and make mistakes and grow and learn, then we're really not going to be able to challenge that status quo, we're not going to be able to make the change we want to make. 

And our children deserve to be able to have access to quality education. We know that our Deaf and Hard of Hearing kids. They can make great progress, they can be gainfully employed. We've seen it happen and we have seen those results with our own students through the way that we approach them as whole children. That's part of our mission statement. We're able to do that because we have a culture and a brand that builds trust with each other, and so, like Mariann said, we have our values and we really fight and live into our integrity with those values, and that creates the environment where we get to create. 

We're working on some really amazing, huge projects right now, and then things that we've created in the past seven years that have been part of the company, watching it grow in a way that it has. It's very different from any other place that I've ever seen, so it's. I really can't say enough about the difference. I'm sure that Mariann could probably sum up everything I said in one sentence. 

John Ballinger Host 22:02

Let me sum it up in one word for both of you, Passion. How about that? 

Mariann Carter Guest 22:10

John. I love that. This is Mariann. I love that because Kandice will know that I have said to her you can have people who are happy to work. You can have people who say I love kids, I love deaf kids, but if they don't have passion, you can't create that. I can't create passion in someone else. It has to be organic for them, and our environment definitely wants people who have passion to show up and share that, because to me, that goes back to some things. 

We are fans of your podcast, and so it goes back to something that you guys talk about, and it is AI. I know you guys brought that up earlier, but it's the authentic intelligence that comes through, and I think that is something that our team really does pride ourselves on, because we're willing to talk about the hard things and say, well, how do we address this and make this better? 

How do we show up and do these things differently and why is that needed, or do we need to take a step back and do and take a pause? So Kandice summed up our difference very well and she's very good at explaining all the parts and how she sees and experiences things, and I'm not good about talking about myself. So Kandice is great to have on board because she does that better than I do. 

Douglas Ford Host 23:31

Well, she did a great job talking about a couple of things that kind of piques our interest when we hear people talk about it. First of all, early on she said she was able to grow into a position, which is something that you don't really hear people talking a lot about these days and having the opportunity to do. They're just, a lot of times, thrust into a position. And we talked about people being placed in positions from a competence or a convenience standpoint, and a lot of times people are put in positions, leadership positions as a matter of convenience and they're not given the opportunity to grow and develop the competence that they may need to be in that position. 

And the other thing she talked about was building trust with the team. And, of course, as we all know, one of our favorite books is the Speed of Trust, which we talked with the organizations about all the time, and so the fact that she mentioned that several times. We appreciate hearing that from people because those are the things that we're passionate about and we talk about all the time. So we're glad that those things are certainly growing in your organization. Even though we just met you guys a while back, we're glad to hear that those things are already growing in your organization because it's awesome. 

Mariann Carter Guest 24:44

Douglas, that is very kind of you. I do want to say and Kandice can maybe speak to it a little bit more that growing people in their position is super important for us at Carter Hears!. Whether you stay with our company or not, I would want to make sure that if you left us, you left us more competent, more confident, and more knowledgeable about whatever you're doing. Ultimately, you know, it's great that we have this company and we do do a good job, but if there are people out there that are with us and they become better because they have, we have experienced each other, I think that brings about greater gifts for children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It extends that reach and the possibility even more when we have people like that on our team. 

Growth is important. It is probably our number one, which is why Kandice talks about overwhelming feedback, because you can't grow without feedback, and so that does happen to, sometimes to a fault, at our organization, but it really is done with good intent, and so that's a huge part of that. 

And, of course, you can't give feedback and learn from it if you don't trust the person that's giving it to you. All of that relates back to our Brené Brown coach, Kelly Snyder. She does a great job with our team because she helps grow us personally and as a whole, and we are very grateful for her involvement. 

John Ballinger Host 26:16

That's great. We're going to take a quick break and we're going to come back with Mariann and Kandice and talk about Carter Hears! some more. 

Douglas Ford Host 26:46

Welcome back. We're here today with the team from Carter Hears! and that's Mariann Carter and Kandice Hunt and we're, we met them at the HEaL Conference and we've been talking about what Carter Hears! does, which is work with deaf and hearing impaired students and people, and they have an amazing journey that they've shared with us and the things that they've done and the inspirations for which they do them, and so now we're going to talk a little bit more about some of the special things that they're developing related to that to help provide resources to that community. 

John Ballinger Host 27:17

Yeah. So Mariann tell us about, like, what's the Quill Model at Carter Hears!? 

Mariann Carter Guest 27:23

Yeah, that's such a great question, John. So at Carter Hears!, primarily our role at Carter Hears! is that we are a service provider to charter schools, traditional school districts, private schools, and then we even work with some home schooling parents, which is a whole new thing that we've discovered, and a lot of that is driven by services, coaching, support. But one of the things that we notice that is a challenge is that some of our children who really need intensive language development or that really need that extra support and need to be around other people who communicate in our learning, like they are, need a model that provides language at the forefront as opposed to a traditional school model. 

And so the Quill Model actually has a design that has children working on language 60% of the day, so it requires a concentrated group of children. It could be done at a school district, it could be done by a large homeschool, it could be done at Schools for the Deaf, it could be done at a charter school, but the design is completely different and that design is unique. It comes from my grandmother. Her name was Lenora Quill. She wrote a book in 1960 on how to educate Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, and when she did that, she really did it from her perspective, she worked in Champaign-Urbana and went to the University of Illinois as well as worked with other groups to help fund this classroom that she had this dream about to see if it created any difference. And when it did, she wrote about it and she documented it, and my mother was one of her students. So eventually my cousin found this book. 

My grandmother died when I was in high school and prior to that she wasn't able to communicate with me due to strokes that she had. So I didn't have this information and from my mom's perspective she knew about it, but maybe she didn't think it was that important. So my mom's cousin sent me. She said, hey, I found books written by your grandmother. Can I send them to you? So she did, and when she did that, I went through it and I thought, oh my gosh, these kids are now adults, like way later in life, and so I was able to contact them to see did these, did these skills, did this strategy work? And it did. 

Many of them are educated, were employed, retired. They were able to do all the things that life should encompass and live a full whole life experience. So in that regard, my grandmother was very focused on listening and spoken language. 

My mom was raised that way. She learned sign language as an adult and when she was in graduate school her teacher said when you have that baby, that would be me, make sure you sign and talk to her. And she did. And so now I have retaken my grandmother's book and my mother's experiences and mine and built the Quill Model so that we can honor different communication choices but also give that intention intensive language development for children who need it, who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. 

John Ballinger Host 30:39

I'm going to throw a curveball. Douglas doesn't like when I do this, but I'm going to throw a curveball. What if you had never uncovered those books? 

Mariann Carter Guest 30:51

That's a good question. So, honestly, this is a funny story. I have a very good friend of mine who visited me from high school and I told her I'm going to do this with my grandmother's book, and she said you know, Mariann, Carter Hears! is amazing, it's enough, you don't need to do anything more than that. And what I'm going to tell you is probably one of those things that make life hard, but it's something that you know in your gut as far as getting those books, I had no excuse to ignore them, and if I had never gotten them, I'm not sure that I would have moved in that direction. But I believe that it was brought to my attention for a reason, and so then I have a responsibility to do something with it for kids, whether it's while I'm alive or not, but I do think it's something I needed to put together. They came in my hands for a reason, but if they never had, I don't know that I would have moved in that direction. 

Douglas Ford Host 31:53

Yeah, that's amazing. I mean just the story of how that all came together. That's pretty awesome. And, yes, I'm sure there was some divine intervention in making sure those books got in your hand so. And I know that you guys are in the midst of celebrating your 10th anniversary, but you're also launching something new again to give a resource to the community to provide ways for people to engage in Deaf Ed. Could you tell us a little bit about that? 

Mariann Carter Guest 32:23


So as a team at Carter Hears!, we are blessed to be celebrating our 10th anniversary. 

But in a larger scale of things, we believe that other Deaf and Hard of Hearing teachers must crave the things that we crave, and a lot of times information is presented by communication mode. 

So if you're a listener and speaker or if you're a signer, there's resources that go both directions, but there's not a go-to resource just for Deaf Ed, and as a teacher who works with a variety of kids, I have to be prepared to address whatever it is. 

So, as part of our gift for celebrating our 10th anniversary, we've established Deaf Education Solutions and it's a green light to Deaf Ed, and the purpose of that nonprofit is to help review information and make sure that it is a quality product for us to be using and doing with our students. The second one is giving grants to teachers so that they can explore and find new things that maybe work with a different demographic or a language type, or they just want to know hey, if I do this with Fidelity, am I going to get the results that they say I will? And then the last one is a framework to make information easily accessible to teachers who work with children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Some categories that are very common and are needed for our kids who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. 

John Ballinger Host 33:49

And that is excellent, excellent. So you take a passion and turn it into a purpose that people that don't have resources and or do not know where to turn to turn to you now, and I mean that to me, is kind of a holy grail for a business owner, if you will.

Which leads me to this question, and I'm going to make it a two-part question. I'm going to make it a part of the question to Kandice and part of it to Mariann, and I'm going to start with Kandice. Kandice, what does it like to meet a business owner who has this passion and be able to this is a southern term hitch your wagon to her and help the organization grow with your talents. 

Kandice Hunt Guest  34:44

Well, I love that question, John, and I sometimes say you mean like a protege? 

John Ballinger Host 34:53

Yeah, exactly. 

Kandice Hunt Guest 34:55

I'm totally her protege. And I'll tell you, when I first came on board with Carter Hears! is when I left the school district, I was kind at a of crossroads. I knew I didn't want to be in the public school district anymore. I wanted to do more. I wanted to do something different. I didn't know what that was and I learned about Carter Hears! from a parent and I called Mariann on a January night at like 7pm, thinking I'm going to get an office and I'm going to leave a message and she answers the phone and I was like what? Surprise. So, she did the talking and I'm thinking I think I need to be part of this. So I send her my resume, I send her my cover letter and I don't hear anything for like two months. Then I find out Carter Hears! is doing a little conference. So I said, well, I'm going to go up there. 

Two months later I go up there and I meet Mariann Carter in person and so, through just kind of a series of events, I interviewed and I was also offered another job and I called Mariann and I said Mariann, I know you told me 10 days, but I was offered another job but I really want to work for Carter Hears!. Can you tell me if I got this or not? And so we have a conversation and she goes. Well, you can think about it. And I said think about what? I'm in, because everything that I learned about Carter Hears! is I thought I'm going and I'm going to work with the best of the best. These are the top notch. 

People in my state already thought that, and I tell you what it's really true. And now it's turned into being able to work with somebody that's renowned globally and learning from Mariann, who is always growing and learning. 

She isn't a business owner with a lot of ego. She is all about upping your game, and so working with somebody like her has been one of the biggest gifts in my life. And she knows and I say this all the time that this is my ride or die. 

So, whether it's with Carter Hears!, the  Quill Model or Deaf Education Solutions I'm not leaving. She’s stuck with me. But really I wouldn't have this opportunity in, you know, something like a district or a state agency. This is so further beyond anything I've ever imagined. You know that song “Oceans Take Me Further Than I Could Ever Wander” and that's definitely what God has done with this. 

John Ballinger Host 37:25

So that is, that's great. Thank you for that. And lastly, the question for Mariann. Mariann, in today's business climate what's it like being a business owner? 

Mariann Carter Guest 37:40

John, that is the $10 million question, isn't it? 

John Ballinger Host 37:43

It is. 

Mariann Carter Guest 37:45

I appreciate that. I will say you're going to get a candid answer from me. In this day and age, being a business owner has its challenges, it has its rewards, but all ultimately, it takes grit, I have learned. 

I have learned the hard way sometimes, I have learned through mistakes, and I have also learned that it's okay to say no and it's okay to be able to say you know what? We may not be a good fit for each other. That's not always a fun thing. But I also will say that this team that works with me every day, they are an amazing group of people. Carter Hears! would not be what it is without them. They are the ones that make it stronger, bigger, wider, more thoughtful. 

It takes, the grit that it takes also has to come from a place of love and compassion and empathy, and that's not necessarily the words that most people use to describe leaders. I wasn’t, I wasn't made a leader because I decided to start a company. I was, I don't mean I was forced into it because obviously I decided to do it, but what I will say is that you don't know that you're going to lead a large group of people. You don't know what the challenges are going to be that come and you have to be open to the experience of it, and that's not always an easy thing. And it's good to have other business owners as part of your, your world, because it helps you understand that you're not going through it alone. I don't even know if I answered that question. 

John Ballinger Host 39:41

No, you did. 

Mariann Carter Guest 39:42

That's really how I feel. 

John Ballinger Host 39:44

You touched on a lot of topics, like we could unpack a whole lot in your statement, but what I was thinking about when you were talking is there's a series of movies called “Mission Impossible”, and I was thinking about that because at the beginning of each one of those movies, they're given a mission if they choose to accept it. And what I heard from you is that there was this mission, this passion, and you chose to accept it and whatever went along with it. You had to deal with it, and that is so important because a lot of times, most business owners will wilt at the pressure of the things that are coming at them from that position, because they don't accept the good, the bad. And we had a podcast where we talked about intestinal fortitude and you have to grow a lot of that. 

Mariann Carter Guest 40:41

Yes, and I want to tell you that I listened to that podcast and I love your definition because I'm big on words and man did I love that because you're right and I don't want to make it sound shiny and exciting. We don't, we don’t do what we do for shiny and exciting moments. We do what we do for the small, disciplined, incremental improvement that is created by living through our values, and that does not mean that it's always easy. But you're right mission accepted. I definitely feel like that is exactly what God wants me to be doing and I don't regret it when it's hard. 

John Ballinger Host 41:22

Yeah, well, congratulations for doing that and, Kandice, congratulations for accepting your part of that mission to support Mariann and Carter Hears!. 

Kandice Hunt Guest 41:32

Thank you so much. 

John Ballinger Host 41:34

Well, it's been great having you ladies. Mr. Ford, anything else for the ladies at Carter Hears!? 

Douglas Ford Host 41:39

No, we appreciate you being with us today. We appreciate you sharing your story and your background, and it's something we'll look forward to getting together again in the near future to find out how the Deaf Ed Solutions, is going and the next adventure that you're on. 

Mariann Carter Guest 41:56

That sounds awesome. We will definitely want to continue our contact with you and I just want to express the first that we do, the appreciation that we have at Carter Hears will model and Deaf Ed Solutions for being a part of your podcast today. It is a blessing to us and we are very grateful, Kandice and I talk about it all the time, about how grateful we are for walking by you guys and then circling back so that we could become your friends and learn from you too. So we are blessed to have first-leaf view as well. 

John Ballinger Host 42:29

Yeah, we're definitely and just to put a little cherry on top of that, we are literally blessed that you all walked by that day and Kandice said what she said, which we're going to hold near and dear to our personal relationship with Carter Hears!. But that comment actually was the beginning of what we hope at 1st LEAD U and Carter Hears! is a great relationship. 

Douglas Ford Host 42:53


Mariann Carter Guest 42:55

100% grateful for it, there's no doubt, and it makes a great story. So, we can just cherish that for now. 

John Ballinger Host 43:02

It does make a good story. Very good. Well, you ladies, congratulations on the 10th anniversary and we look forward to hearing how the nonprofit does as well. Thank you very much. 

Mariann Carter Guest 43:14

Thank you, thank you. 

John Ballinger Host 43:17

Welcome back as we wrapped up the interview with Mariann Carter and Kandice Hunt with Carter Hears!. Man, what a powerful interview. 

Douglas Ford Host 43:31

Oh yeah, they're the dynamic duo, for sure.

John Ballinger Host 43:34

They are and it takes me back to Dr. Manny and Puzzle Box Academy and the CEO there. 

Douglas Ford Host 43:46

Pamela Furr. 

John Ballinger Host 43:46

Pamela Furr.

John Ballinger Host 43:47

At some point in both Pamela's life and Mariann's life, they were given a mission that they chose to accept and they're changing people's lives because they did actually accept that mission. And the people's lives that they're changing and this may not be the best choice of words, so I'm going to do my best but they are helping those that society doesn't necessarily put plans together to help. And so they're people like they're kind of like floating around waiting on somebody to help them do something, because they know there's value. They just don't know how to get that value into society and make forward progress with them and with both those organizations, they figured out how to do something very unique that's needed to a subset group of people that have had challenges that they were born with to help them integrate into society and be productive citizen. And I think, man, what a mission for both of them. 

Douglas Ford Host 44:50

Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's great to have organizations around that are helping people reach their potential and you know we love them a lot because that marries right into what we do and what we're trying to do. So we appreciate their missions and their hearts and all that. 

John Ballinger Host 45:08

Yeah, let me finish this podcast up with saying this the mission of helping a leader or someone in a leadership position be the best they can be for their people is tough. The obstacles we face as we peel back onions of people that were, are in leadership positions is tough and it is a mission, and it's a difficult mission and it's probably one of the most difficult missions that I personally have taken on, because the resistance that takes place when you start peeling back that onion but we're here at 1st LEAD U to do exactly that. We're not giving up on the mission. We're going to put one step forward every day, doing these podcasts, doing our leadership development training, given the assessments, talking through things with people that are in challenging situations as leaders so that they can be better for themselves and their teammates. And again, it's why we named the podcast 1st LEAD U. 

Douglas Ford Host 46:17

Absolutely, and we've got three more weeks left in this season. We've got three more episodes that are going to air for these this first season, and then we're going to take a break just to remind everyone that we'll take a break between Thanksgiving and the first of the year and then we'll come out with some new information, some new episodes, some new, exciting things that we're working on. 

So just to let you know, so, during our absence, and not publishing new content, please feel free to go back and listen to some of the old content, especially the first five episodes, if you haven't done that, but there may be other things in there that you can pick out that would be useful for you while we develop new content. 

John Ballinger Host 47:00

Right! All right, sounds good, Mr. Ford. Thank you very much. 

Douglas Ford Host 47:04

You guys have a great weekend.

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