Being a Different Company

Admitting My Biases


By Jason Radmacher, MBA – Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of TBD Solutions Inc

It is odd being the son of two different lineages. On one hand, I am two generations removed from German immigrants who came to this country just prior to World War II. Their name is the German surname I carry. In contrast, my mother’s side has a deep-rooted American family tree that goes back to our nation’s founding. The families of my great-grandparents migrated to the south where my grandparents were raised, met, and fell in love. After World War II, they moved to Michigan as one of the industrial states that was brimming with opportunity. Neither ever lost their Southern wit or accents and stood out like sore thumbs in this Yankee state.

While my paternal grandfather succumbed to cancer in his early 50s, my maternal grandmother “Grands” lived to be almost 90 and was healthy enough to cook my 41st birthday dinner in her own home. The joy of having a longer relationship with my grandmother was that, to this day, I can still recall things she used to repeatedly say. One of her famous southern colloquialisms was, “Every old crow thinks its chicks are the blackest,” acknowledging her own profound biases in favor of her grandbabies.

As one who highly values transparency, this heritage leaves me with little choice about how to lead into this blog article: to talk about what I believe makes TBD Solutions a different kind of consultancy.

And I am biased.

Why TBD Solutions is Different

With an undergraduate business degree injected with a high-level of organizational behavior thinking and a graduate degree that furthered the complex philosophies of purposeful business planning and analysis, my temptation is to wax into an academic examination of why TBD Solutions is the way it is.

While I do prize that kind of thinking, sometimes the best lenses are the most simple and direct. That is why it’s best explained through this lens:

Understanding where you were informs where you are
and is a great predictor of where you are headed.

TBD Solutions  launched on April 1st , 2011 – April Fools’ Day. Along with my friend and company co-founder, Laura Vredeveld, we were two people that were willing to be a bit foolish to make something new, leaving behind very good jobs and pensions.

This is not to say that we woke up on the morning of March 31st , 2011, and said, “Let’s go start a new company tomorrow!” It was a decision made after almost three years of research, planning, and purposeful engagement, but the start came well before that.

In my executive role at a county-based behavioral healthcare organization, I had achieved what I had set out to do at a young age. For over 10 years, I had built a premier team that was doing incredible work. It was my full intention to continue in that role, perhaps take on additional administrative leadership, and retire in my 50s with my pension in tow.

What spurred this shift in direction is that Laura was invited to work internationally with people who shared a passion for business as being a way to change communities. While I began with no interest in such thinking, Laura expressed a hope and joy that had relationships with others as its core premise.

She roped me in with a pull that sounded undeniably “better,” even at the risk of setting aside the “guarantee” of the position I had.

Laura believed we could begin a company that prioritized relationships, placing the needs of others on a higher footing– especially those that are both dependent on other systems and have precious little control over them. It made sense why Laura’s thinking as a limited-license psychologist and quality director, would coalesce around such aspirational values.

We began to confer about what we could do to build upon our value of prioritizing people. As we inventoried our knowledge, skills, and abilities, a picture began to form as budding consultants:

TBD Solutions will offer excellent consultative services at a reasonable price
so that all necessary resources can otherwise be used to meet the needs of
people served by our customers. To this end, we will “redeem capitalism” by
infusing a focus on people and reinvesting in communities instead of
a primary focus on higher profits for the owners.

All companies must be able to make money, or they cannot be viable. But capitalism, when left unchecked from greed and a paramount desire for high returns, can quickly turn into something exploitative. We pivoted the foundation of the business by altering what success would mean and by building in ways to keep “return on shareholder equity” from becoming a beast that devoured good intention.

Upon launching the company, we were incredibly nervous. While we had each received accolades for our professional efforts in the safety of our jobs with larger employers, we questioned whether anyone would want to pay us for private consultation. To our pleasant surprise, we quickly received our first contracts and had people reaching out to us with opportunities.

New discoveries continued to surprise us as we grew and learned. We found best practices in places we never expected it – from very small organizations where staff must wear many hats, to large companies that care deeply about those who rely on their services.

By 2013, we had added our first full-time employee, Josh Hagedorn, our current chief knowledge officer, then continued to grow with a dozen employees in the subsequent years. Each person who joined the team did so by leaving great jobs and engaging in new opportunities with our small band of professionals.

With each new person joining, we also began to ask a question of each new “TBDer” teammate. While acknowledging that we all had to take on assignments that may not be our ideal choice, we also asked this question:

As a TBDer, do you have a passionate dream of what you would like to pursue in
meeting the needs of others and allowing for continued growth?
If so, how can TBD Solutions sponsor it so that it can become a reality?

It was a more difficult and involved question than we could have imagined. But the investment in other people’s dreams has resulted in truly fantastic results from our people to create new service offerings and affect change.

Here are some examples:

  • Practicing Effective Management (PEM) training came from a dream to help up-and-coming supervisors have a bedrock of tools to be good leaders.
  • Our experienced and passionate team works with universities and other state leaders in analyzing and innovating transitions for justice-involved populations.
  • We’ve seen our Crisis and Clinical professionals, led by Travis Atkinson, rise to national prominence in developing world-class crisis systems and caring not only for those served, but for the staff in those high-stress positions.

This is what makes us different. We have a highly invested team that has the support of TBD Solutions to live balanced lives in pursuit of their passions. We have incredibly lofty standards and expectations, but both are about “performance” and not “you must spend endless time in meeting minimum standards.”

This brave and ridiculously smart team is invigorating to be around and requires that we each bring our best game daily. Our TBDers love being part of a company that never loses sight of people over profit.

How do Laura and I feel about being around such amazing people? Humbled. Honored. Blessed.

That is how we see our team at TBD Solutions. And it’s why we’re a different kind of company.

Burning Bright

Leadership Strategies for Addressing Employee Burnout


By, Heather Honaker, LPC, NCC

The impacts of the behavioral healthcare workforce shortage are being felt far and wide. From increased wait times for services, job boards overflowing with open positions, and negative impacts on the organizational bottom line from unrealized revenue, it is likely that leaders like you are feeling the burn of “so many to serve, so few resources.” With each new vacancy, additional job responsibilities stack higher and higher onto the plates of your existing employees, because fewer workers mean less people must do more. But even our best and brightest employees have limits on the volume of work they can sustain before sacrifices become apparent through quality of care, employee wellbeing, and job performance. Over time, the physical and emotional exhaustion of managing increasingly heavy workloads leads to burnout. You notice that some of your employees have become detached and disorganized. They come across irritable, anxious, or depressed. Deadlines are dismissed and the number of call-offs you receive is breaking company records. Before you know it, the employees that you may have considered “lifers” within your organization are handing in their resignation letters, resulting in a devastating blow to an already fragile workforce infrastructure.

While recruitment and hiring efforts are undeniably top priorities for addressing your organization’s workforce shortage, finding ways to support, encourage, and retain current employees should be an equally crucial initiative. In the 2021 Public Health Workforce Interest and Needs Survey, 41% of public health employees who reported that they were considering leaving their current jobs identified burnout as the reason for leaving. As managers and supervisors, you have an opportunity to make meaningful and lasting changes within your organization that impact organizational culture and systemic issues that contribute to employee burnout.

Here are four strategies that you can engage to help your employees burn bright and not burn out:

Get to Know Your Employees

Maybe it feels too embarrassing to embark upon a getting-to-know-you journey with your staff. But in reality, it’s better late than never. Pushing through the, “so you come here often?” or “is that your family in that picture?” banter can lead to more meaningful conversations. You may see them every day, and you likely already meet with them regularly for supervision, but how well do you actually know your employees? As a leader, you are more likely to engage with empathy when you invest in getting to know your employees for who they are and not just the jobs they perform. Additionally, when you know who you are working with, you can begin to understand how your employees like to be shown appreciation, what motivates them, and what their strengths are.

To get to know your employees, set aside time for regular check-ins that are focused on building connections rather than reviewing work tasks or performance. Communicate that you are invested in professionally connecting with your employee by engaging active and reflective listening skills. Consider asking thoughtful, open-ended questions, such as the ones listed below, to guide your conversation: 

  • How do you like to be shown appreciation? We misstep as leaders when we assume that all our employees like to be shown appreciation in the same way. For some, a few minutes of your time might send a stronger message of gratitude than a company mug or public praise, and you might learn that their preferences are different than yours. 
  • What are your passions or interests outside of work? What we do for work makes up just one part of who we are as individuals. Get to know the other aspects that make your employees who they are, including learning about what your employees enjoy doing for fun and who the important people are in their lives. 
  • What is your approach to work-life balance? Like displays of appreciation, your employees have individual preferences on how they like to spend and balance their time. Assuming they each share the same approach to work-life balance as you do communicates that you don’t understand or value each employee’s individual needs and may lead to frustration and resentment.

Review and Adjust Workloads

Whether a temporary adjustment, or permanent process change, assessing the distribution of tasks is an essential step when faced with vacant positions. As managers or supervisors, you risk losing sight of just how heavy your employees’ workloads are if you do not check in and review tasks that have been assigned to them. To put this into practice, seek employee feedback on ways to build efficiencies in their day-to-day existence that will improve workflow and ease the stress of their current workload. It can be helpful to list out each of your employee’s current duties and rank them in order of importance. Then, collaboratively assess which duties must be done, which can be effectively delegated to another team member, and which are not necessary to engage at this time. The key to this process is to look beyond the job description, as your employee is likely spending a significant amount of time engaging in additional work on top of what is listed in this description.

Cultivate Psychologically Safe Environments

Psychological safety in the workplace is the belief that employees can voice their opinions, contribute ideas, take risks, and admit mistakes without negative consequences. When employees feel like the environment is psychologically safe, they are much more likely to engage in their work, share ideas, collaborate with you and their teammates, and ask for help.

As a manager or supervisor, you get to set the tone of your organization’s culture and lead by example. To actively cultivate a psychologically safe work environment, engage these strategies:

  • Request and implement feedback from your employees. When employees see their ideas put into practice, you communicate to them that they are valued members of the team and that their contributions matter. 
  • Create space for employees to take risks and reframe mistakes as opportunities for learning. Employees who are given the freedom to “mess up” without being shamed are more likely to engage in creative problem solving and share innovative ideas. 
  • Encourage collaborative learning amongst teammates. Play on each member’s unique strengths to facilitate connection and cohesion amongst the team.

Promote Work-Life Alignment by Living It

Effectively promoting work-life alignment means taking an introspective approach to discover how your behavior as a manager or supervisor might be projecting unhelpful work expectations onto your employees. Do you send non-urgent work communication to your employees after-hours? Do you regularly work long hours and additional days to get work done? Do you put off using vacation time and regularly skip lunch because there is “too much” work to do?

Whether you intend to or not, engaging in these behaviors can communicate to your employees that this behavior is the expectation, rather than a managerial exception. Consider scheduling communication to be sent during normal business hours, or clearly communicate with your employees that a response is not expected outside of their work hours. Encourage your employees to take time off, and when possible, offer your employees choice and flexibility in their schedules so that they can align their work with the other priorities in their lives. Seek to understand what your employees need to facilitate alignment between their work and personal lives to promote employee wellbeing.


Baker, J. (2023, January 17).The Behavioral Health Workforce Crisis and its impact on families.Behavioral Health News.

Gallo, A. (2023, February 15).What is psychological safety? Harvard Business Review.

Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey. (2021). Demographics – de Beaumont Foundation.

Understanding and preventing burnout among public health workers. (2023, March 8). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Hidden Key to Great Leadership

By Jason Radmacher, MBA – Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of TBD Solutions Inc

We have an amazing Office Manager. She does a great job of herding cats, including me as the CEO, reminding me (by being “politely pushy”) that I’m up to write the next blog article.

Sitting at my desk, I debated the many possible topics I could write about that are dear to me. In our current milieu, there are so many that could spur me spilling words onto a virtual page: the health and safety of our nation, healthcare parity, services to the marginalized, leadership, transitions, economics, etc.

For decades now I’ve worked with Laura – who is my friend, colleague, fellow founder, and co-leader at TBD Solutions. In our younger years, we worked for a CEO in another firm that was also compelled to write a newsletter. He started every article with an observation of what he could see from his top-floor desk:

“As I sit here and look out my window, seeing the summer in full bloom…”

Asked to write the next blog, I found myself doing pretty much the same thing. How unoriginally ironic…

To our old CEO’s credit, the exercise was helpful! However, the similarities end here. A big difference always existed between the old guy and me: His perspective on people could be summarized as “we are all but worms”, truly adhering to a belief that each person was fully replaceable. To a limited extent, I understand his perspective.

But I am otherwise convinced that the opposite is far more correct: The uniqueness of each person makes them irreplaceable. And, if you actually find someone who is a true gem, then you do what you reasonably can to keep them!

So, if great people are like jewels, then TBD Solutions is blessed with abundance. Each “TBDer” is highly capable, intelligent, down-to-earth, and driven. They are so good they continually push our leadership team! (It’s hard just to keep up!)

Reflecting on this group of great people, I narrowed my focus a bit to consider how we lucked out to have this team. As I reflected on each person, it brought to mind an article I wrote years ago while in the military.

You see, I am an old Air Force guy – from the time of my enlistment at 17 years old until I hung up the uniform for good over 27 years later. Having passed the baton of command to a fantastic person, I stepped into the Inspector General (IG) role for my final year of service.

Before I retired from duty as our Wing1 IG, I summarized some of my own observations about great leadership. What resulted is not what one might presume.

Here is a re-print, edited a bit from what was originally published in the 110th Airlift Wing’s October 2012 “Jet Stream Journal”, Volume 18, Number 9, page 2.


While much has been written about leadership, I want to briefly touch on something just as crucial and too often ignored: Followership.

Before any leader steps into a position of authority, they were first a young airman or a budding “butter bar”2 that was fairly clueless about what military leadership looked like. And if our Air Force Doctrine3 is based on the amalgamation of People and Mission, those doing the work have even greater importance than those that lead – or else the mission would never get accomplished! Not everyone can be formal leaders. But all of us, no matter what our position – from Wing Commander to newest Airman – must be able to follow others well. It helps make great leaders. And make no mistake: Every one of us remains under the authority of someone else.

In my experience as both follower and leader, the traits that I see in the best followers are:

1) INTEGRITY. More than doing the right thing when no one is looking, it’s being honest with yourself and others at all times, and in all ways. You cannot be honest with others if you first aren’t honest with yourself.

2) POSITIVE ATTITUDE. It’s the resolve that doesn’t fold under pressure nor let the negative stop them in their tracks. Those that are both realistic and positive continue to strive for the best.4

3) HUMILITY. The line between confidence and arrogance is lined with knowing yourself and your limitations. Being humble allows you to hear critical feedback and make adjustments. Too often, a lack of knowing your weaknesses and being humble keeps you from having a positive attitude and actualizing your potential.

4) SELFLESSNESS. The cousin of “humility”, selflessness looks to the needs of others before the needs of self. In my opinion, every great leader first possessed this trait as a follower.

5) DISCRETION. Good followers hold themselves responsible for their own actions at all times. But great followers also hold their peers and their leaders accountable. Knowing when and how to do that to the utmost effectiveness is to understand the importance of sound judgment and situational awareness. Such is the very core of discretion.

6) COURAGE. Rather than the absence of fear, courage is what allows a selfless person of integrity to engage difficulty and conflict even at grave risk to themselves. While all of us fear peril, those that are able to control it take appropriate action without fail. And think about it: Far too often, we fear losing control of what we have or want. Ask yourself, would it matter in a month, a year, or a decade? If not, consider reducing its importance and quit fearing it.

7) INDUSTRIOUSNESS. A great follower that can be counted on to get the job done is invaluable. If you have every other trait here, you’re just a good person. To set the example in your actions makes you the most valuable of followers – and is the type of person this Wing’s successes have been founded on.

8) FORGIVENESS. This may seem a very odd way to conclude the list. My temptation is to put “trust” here, which you find at the core of synergistic effectiveness. Instead, I believe that the inability to forgive can bind you to negative past experiences and disable your ability to achieve excellence, both personally and as a team. Where plausible, releasing the past does something surprising: It frees you! And that’s better than letting hurts and disruptions become a barrier to team cohesiveness.

Any surprises? Notice I didn’t say “being really smart”, “obeys authority without question”, or “is the best in their field”.


Awesome followers are forged in the fires of great character. I would bet on any cohesive unit of superb followers before the “best and brightest” any day. Here’s to all of us and our continued trek towards followership excellence!


This is what I see in our TBD Solutions team. Yes, they are “really smart”. But more importantly, they are cohesive, and each bringing their amazing character to the table daily.

By their great Followership, each “TBDer” is also a leader, not only to our company, but also our valued friends/clients. They continue to teach me daily — even though now I’m the old CEO who deserves being teased…

#humbled #thankful

1 A “Wing” is a unit of command that is usually located at one base, comprised of other smaller units (groups, squadrons) to make it self-sustaining in the fulfillment of its mission. It is usually lead by a Colonel or Brigadier General.
2 TBD Solutions readers: A butter bar is a 2nd Lieutenant – the lowest officer rank that most start at.
3 Each branch of the armed forces has a “doctrine” – or guiding principles about how it conducts operations in the protection of our nation, and in harmony with the other branches of the service. Those branches are (in order of age), Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force.
4 Brené Brown has written extensively about the connections between joy and gratitude. Having a positive attitude likewise has its deep roots in purposeful appreciation.