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Christina Harbridge is the MisChief Executive Officer at Allegory, Inc, a workplace behavior consultancy that teaches companies how to increase performance and results through people development and system design. She is the author of Swayed: How to Communicate for Impact, where Christina explains a detailed set of actions that teaches us to communicate, so people really hear us. She has experience as a Founder and CEO of a debt collection agency, Bridgeport Financial Inc, which reinvigorated the industry. Her team focused on their interactions on filling a person’s need by using emotionally literate tactics — resulting in collections that were three times higher than the industry average.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Christina Harbridge reshaped the debt collection industry
  • Christina explains why she focused her attention on learning and development tools for employers
  • How Christina found a community of entrepreneurs helping people live a purpose-driven life
  • Christina describes why she is looking forward to the Global Leadership Conference (GLC)

In this episode…

Are you looking to reach clients and establish lasting connections based on humanity and effective communication? What if there was a way to use a values-based tactic to improve lives?

Christina Harbridge’s experience as a worker in a call center opened her eyes to a radical idea — using emotionally-based tactics. She established an organization with the purpose of helping others because she knows what it feels like to be undervalued and underappreciated. Christina found a way to connect with clients on a deeper level and improve the quality of the lives around her.

On this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, John Corcoran is joined by Christina Harbridge, MisChief Executive Officer at Allegory Inc., to talk about strategies to connect emotionally with clients to create a healthier environment. Christina talks about building her debt collection agency on the foundation of compassion, fostering emotional literacy in the workplace, and how the Entrepreneurs’ Organization helped her achieve her potential.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran  0:13  

Alright, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the co host of this show, you know, check out some of our past interviews. We’ve got all kinds of great episodes with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies and organizations like Netflix, Kinkos, YPO, EO, Activision, Blizzard, and many more. I’m also the co founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And this episode is part of our global leadership conference series, the Global Leadership Conference, or GLC is a conference for emerging business leaders. It’s put on by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, each year known as EO, I’m a member of EO our guest is a member at EO, I’ll be attending this year’s event. And we created this series to highlight this great conference this year. It’s both in person and virtual in person in Washington, DC, April 23-26 2022. And also in Barcelona, Spain, and it’s also virtual as well. So there’s a virtual option as well, it’s open to all EO members worldwide, go to EOnetwork.org. To learn more about it. And our guest is Christina Harbridge. She’s the Founder of Allegory, Inc, is a company that helps with learning and development and trains companies with design and systems. And she’ll talk a little bit about that she also helped launch a political training organization in 2002, which I was aware of and had some connections to many years ago. So it’s really cool for us to cross paths now over that they’re now in 27. States chained multi 1000s for 5000 different candidates, which is really cool. Christina, so excited to have you here today. And let’s start with this call center. This is crazy. So you in your early 20s, you decide that the call center industry is kind of evil, because they do all kinds of tricks in order to try try sorry, not the call center industry, but debt collector, collector industry, you all kinds of tricks in order to get people to pay money, and you have a better way better idea of doing it. So tell us about it.

Christina Harbridge  2:10  

Okay, can we just acknowledge the elephant in the room, John, you have an amazing voice, you sound like a trained radio person. So I’m getting lulled into that voice. So yes, the I went to work at a collection agency. Because I had to make money, my dad was sick. And my first day, I heard the nicest people in the break room be absolutely toxic and evil on the phone. So I just had this idea at that moment, I was 19. At the time, that I have to start a collection agency that collects debt by being nice, because all this is out in the world. It’s ruining the world. And so that’s what I did. So in my early 20s help try to software for the collection industry. And we started one by collect, we sent get well cards we help people find jobs. We like tried to change the whole thing. And this was not by design. I was not that smart. We collected three times more. I mean, because people were treated well, they if they owed the money, you know, if they didn’t know the money, we got them to cancel the debt.

John Corcoran  3:15  

Wow, amazing. It’s cool. Um, and you end up founding the training company is called Emerge, which has trained 1000s of different candidates for for office. There was a young candidate who is now well known the vice president united states who was one of the impetus behind how you got into that to tell that story.

Christina Harbridge  3:39  

Yeah, you know, so Andrea Dew Steele is the founder of Emerge was her idea. She wrote a bunch of us in it. I was on the founding board for Emerge America. And she started it because a woman running for district attorney was looking for, you know, how do you run as a woman, there’s just different techniques you want to do to get to that 51% of voters. And so when Andrea realized there wasn’t any kind of training for women candidates, she started this organization and roped us all in. And so now we’re in 27 states. And we’ve got I think the last cycle 68% I think of the Emerge candidates won, wow, really, it’s really working. And it’s pretty powerful. So I’m not on the board anymore. I still teach a few other states because I love it. But it’s pretty incredible impact.

John Corcoran  4:34  

And if someone hadn’t, if no one had done it before. How did you come up with the curriculum? How did you decide this is what we need to teach? This is what we need to train them on how on what to do.

Christina Harbridge  4:44  

So I had been doing a lot of behavioral system design work in my company. I had become a NASA test subject to study how your physiology is driving your behavior as a human. And so I’ve been teaching candidates already storytelling which No one was doing everyone. The Democratic Party ridiculed me for this soft storytelling thing I was teaching because no one was doing it 30 years ago, but I knew I could see that it was working my godfather use storytelling to shift people. And I watched him do it my whole life. And so the curriculum came from me, of me seeing watching audiences, like getting out of our head and watching what audiences responded to. And so that’s why my company’s called Allegory because we defiantly taught storytelling when it was not a thing.

John Corcoran  5:34  

And you founded that in 2006. And did that come the company come out of your work with Emerge?

Christina Harbridge  5:43  

Now we I have been doing training all along, and my other company and my call center companies would we would get invited to weddings, by the way, we collected money. And so our clients are like, how are you getting invited to weddings? And we’re not like, what are you doing? So I started training companies how to create a movement around people like how people feel about themselves. So when my son was born, I just thought, you know what, I don’t want to do the call center stuff anymore. I sold that. I’m just going to do this learning and development stuff. Because it’s super fun to see a company. Everyone feel connected to behaviorally to the company and happy. We were able we just started. I’ve always been training people.

John Corcoran  6:28  

Yeah, probably when did you get involved with EO Entrepreneurs’ Organization? What drew you to join the

Christina Harbridge  6:35  

while I had the call center, I was invited. I don’t want to be offensive. But I was invited to a YPO event. And when I walked into this event, I’m like, I do not belong here. I don’t dress nice enough. Like I you know, I don’t have any comments after my name. And I walked out being like, I just I’m not, I’m just gritty. Like, I was raised in a studio apartment, like, I am not this smart. And I met a guy outside the thing that said, Are you feeling like you don’t belong in there? And I go, yeah, it goes, you need to come to me this thing called EO. It’s all founders were all gritty. We’re all figuring it out. And I walked in that room. I’m like, this is the land of the misfit toys. This is where I belong. And I just loved it. I loved it was the room where everyone was admitting what we didn’t know. Like, we were all so open to talking about that Johari Window, like what we do not know. And I was just I was hooked.

John Corcoran  7:27  

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Because we’re all in different communities. I was one in another community I’m a part of. And I was just reflecting to my business partner this week about how it’s so different. And people kind of have this facade. And they’re not willing to let that guard down and admit to what they don’t know what what do you credit that to?

Christina Harbridge  7:50  

You know, I one of the things that our global chair said the other day was that the EO has figured out how to scale trust. And I think the way that we do that is being real, that that Inforum in events, we go to level five with each other, we talk about what’s really going on, because we want to learn. I don’t know, it’s almost like we’re okay with being wrong. And if you’re okay with being wrong, it means you’re only going to make the future better because you learned something. And so I think it’s the learning and development in my view that gets us stuck with each other. Hmm.

John Corcoran  8:28  

And then let’s talk about GLC Global Leadership Conference. Now, you actually chaired one of the GLCs. Back in 2007, when it was in San Francisco, tell us about that experience.

Christina Harbridge  8:40  

That was with Adam Glickman, we, we had 600, folks, and it was just incredible. It was such a fun event. And we decided that we wanted to really do something different. Physical, we wanted to not just do wall turrets and whatever. We wanted to have these dynamic moments. Do you want to hear about one of them? Yeah. So we have the President’s all came. And there’s usually the strategy session that you do or whatever. I got up at, like 5am. I had my toddler son with me. And then we were running through the halls racing and like throwing things at each other. And so I went down to the President’s Room, and I’m like, wait a minute, we’re not gonna have tables and chairs. I got all the banquet folks to help. We cleared out the whole room brand in my office. We had all these volleyball, soccer balls, all this beach balls that we used for the training stuff we did, filled the room with a bunch of those. And when the President showed up, we had them play dodgeball, sudden death dodgeball, and I will never forget the look on their faces coming out of that room like sweaty, but like, I mean, just competitive. High larious it was like the energy in the room was so incredible. I got in a little bit of trouble for it, but it was, like crazy, and I’ll never forget They’re faces. And so here’s what’s great about GLC. That’s what I love about this organization. Ask what makes EO like, there’s the small moments we have with each other that you just can’t get anywhere else. So I had kind of forgotten about the dodgeball thing. A couple people we were laughing telling the story. I recently went to the Reno chapter because I, I’m in San Francisco, but I live closer to Reno. They invited me to an event, I’m sitting at a table and a man comes up to me and says, Hey, you charge GLC years ago. And I just want to tell you the way it was so touching your son was there, you cried on the stage, the way you talk to us? Really? It’s always stayed with me, and I really appreciate it. Yeah, I got a little Trump a little bit of trouble at that event for some of the stuff we did. And so he said, which one and I told him how dodge ball. This is for real. This actually happened. This is so EO, he grabs my hands and he said, I was in that room. And I broke a rib. And unlike like, this is horrifying, that I’m about to say I’m sorry. He’s holding my hand. This is just two weeks ago. And he said, I went to urgent care and they’re like, there’s no way you broke a rib playing dodgeball, something is going on. Turned out he had an undiagnosed medical condition that if he would have he goes, I was a skier. If I would have fallen, I could have broken my back. Because of that dodgeball, I got the treatment that I needed. And it completely improved my life. Wow. And this is what GLC does, y’all or any EO of it like we are one story away from our dearest friends. Like all this time, I had no idea that that had happened. It’s like there’s something powerful about GLC, in particular when we all get together, our lives are improved.

John Corcoran  11:46  

Such great story and 15 years later, you hear that? That’s amazing that you

Christina Harbridge  11:51  

unbelievable. Yeah, I could I stood there. And I’m just like, whoa, you know, you just never know. And I think I just encourage all of us, even if we are like if we even if we can’t be in person, we can create that virtually like you and I are doing it right now. In our chat before we started with just when when EOs get together, we just create magic and impact.

John Corcoran  12:16  

Yeah, what are you most excited? So for this year’s event that’s in Washington, DC in Barcelona, we’re most excited about.

Christina Harbridge  12:23  

I think what I’m most excited about is what happens in the chat during the speaker. And so the speakers are always incredible, and those are great. But there’s always these insight when we interact with each other in the chat. If we go virtual, there’s always some insight that happens that we wouldn’t get in person or in a foreign person, we get it talking to someone one on one. So I’m looking forward to those small moments between members that are tangible and nuanced.

John Corcoran  12:54  

That’s great. Christina, this has been great talking to you. Where can people go to learn more about you or connect with you learn about what you do?

Christina Harbridge  13:00  

Oh, I guess you can just look me up on LinkedIn or, you know, if you’re on Facebook, you know, connect with me there. I’m pretty easy to find. Christina Harbridge is a weird name. So it’s kind of you can find me on all the things

John Corcoran  13:15  

perfect. Alright, Christina, thanks so much. Thank you.

Outro  13:19  

Thanks for listening to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast. This episode is powered by Rise25. Please subscribe and check out future episodes.