Deb Prior Interview for “30 Days – 30 Voices – Stories from America’s LGBT Business Leaders” [Podcast] Skip to the content

Deb Prior Interview for “30 Days – 30 Voices – Stories from America’s LGBT Business Leaders” [Podcast]

Deb-Prior-30gayvoices-300x3001Expert Interview with Deb Prior of Liberty Tax

Hartford, Connecticut

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AUDIO TITLE:  30 Days, 30 Voices – Deb Prior

Jenn T Grace:

Welcome to 30 Days, 30 Voices: Stories from America’s LGBT business leaders.

Intro:

You are listening to a special edition of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. Tune in for the next thirty days as we interview one business leader per day, each day in June to celebrate LGBT Pride Month. That’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride month. You’ll learn insights around business and marketing from those who know it best. And now your host. She’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T Grace.

Jenn T Grace:

Hello and welcome. Thank you for tuning into this special Pride Month episode of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. Information about today’s guest and links mentioned in the show will be available on the website at www.JennTGrace.com/30days30voices. If you like what you hear in this interview, please be sure to tell a friend. And now, without further ado, let’s dive into the interview.

I am excited to be talking today with Deb Prior. Deb has more than thirty years’ experience in both the insurance and financial industries. In 2005 she left the corporate environment and set out on her own path as a business owner, who currently owns a Liberty Tax franchise and Prior Enterprises, which has two divisions; a bookkeeping service division and a landscape design division. Deb, I have given the listeners a really high level overview of your past, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what your path looked like that led you to where you are today?

Deb Prior:

Well, I started out as a child; so I won’t go that far back because that was a long time ago and I’ve been alive for a long time.

Jenn T Grace:

That will be our secret.

Deb Prior:

Yes, okay. Well you know as you mentioned I went through the corporate world and I had a great career at New York Life primarily, where I was a financial advisor representative. And I’d gotten the entrepreneurial bug back then because as you know a number of financial advisors, that they are- it’s like running your own business. And so I really, really enjoyed that. Different things in life caused my career to take several turns. But I’d never had a position or a job that I didn’t like, and that I didn’t find valuable, and that added- you know helped me become who I am. And the only job that I really hated was the last one. And that’s when it was time for me to strike out on my own. So I actually started in the landscaping business because I really love plants. I got into the master gardener program, became a certified master gardener, and started out doing landscape designs and installations, and I bought a little red truck, and that was very fun. And then I was looking for something to do in the winter. And so I decided that I would do taxes, and was looking around for tax classes and I stumbled upon Liberty Tax. And the owner of that- Liberty Tax is a franchise, and I worked for a franchise owner and he said, “Well you’re an entrepreneur, you should probably own one yourself.” And I thought, “Yes, I probably should but let me see if I like this.” What I liked about it was- I mean taxes or taxes, that can be very dry but they’re very important and very personal. What I liked about it was the people, and I loved the Liberty culture, the philosophy of doing your job well but having a good time. You know having a good time while you’re doing it, and also the focus on customer service. And I found myself utilizing a lot of what I had learned in the past as a financial advisor when I was working with folks. And so I could give more than just tax advice per say, but I could talk to them about tax strategies. So I decided to buy my own franchise which is what I did. And so I’ve kind of been wearing two hats half the year which is good because I have a short attention span. I’m still a plant geek, that’s never going to change, and I work with master gardeners all the time. I no longer do installations, occasionally I might do some but usually I sub that out; I love working with do-it-yourselfers because I can give them a design, I can coach them and train them on the proper way to plant certain things and how to take care of them. And I also sell them the plants, because I have relationships with wholesalers, et cetera. So that’s sort of the season I’m in now. That’s where- you know that’s kind of where I am. I’ve been doing taxes now for seven years, the bookkeeping is just a tiny, little sideline of that- of business. We do some bookkeeping for some people. If we’re not a match I know- I do a lot of networking so I know other bookkeepers who are very, very good, and I refer that business out.

Jenn T Grace:

That makes sense.

Deb Prior:

So I’m still a good resource.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes, stick with what you know and source out everything else.

Deb Prior:

That’s right.

Jenn T Grace:

And I want to throw out just a funny little tidbit that you were the person that taught me the difference between an annual and a perennial. And I think it sounds so ridiculous, but as when we had lunch not too long ago I was saying how devastated I was when my flowers weren’t coming up this spring and it’s because obviously I didn’t plant the right ones. So you’re a good resource.

Deb Prior:

Well you probably planted the right ones, you just didn’t know they weren’t going to come back.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, they looked gorgeous but now they’re gone.

Deb Prior:

Yes.

Jenn T Grace:

So that’s this weekend’s project, is replanting things.

Deb Prior:

Okay well if you need any advice, I’m here.

Jenn T Grace:

I very well may be calling you later.

Deb Prior:

Okay.

Jenn T Grace:

So before we get into some of the more serious questions, I really like to start off the interviews with some sort of fun fact or an interesting tidbit about yourself that very few people know or would expect from you.

Deb Prior:

Just one, huh?

Jenn T Grace:

Well you can give twelve if you have twelve tidbits; go for it.

Deb Prior:

Okay. Well one thing that I’m just kind of that I’m proud of is that I’ve run several full marathons, and in fact I ran the Disney marathon in Florida for my 50th birthday. That was my last one, now I’m a marathoner gone bad. But I guess one thing that hardly anybody knows really about me is that I just love, love, love all the Rocky films.

Jenn T Grace:

Interesting.

Deb Prior:

I just did, and I used to sneak out- in fact a girlfriend I had a long, long time ago, I asked her what she was doing one afternoon, this was I think when Rocky IV was out; and she said, “Oh I’m just- I’ve got plans,” and I said, “Well what are you doing?” “Well I’m going to the movies.” “What are you going to see?” She was just, “Oh, I don’t know-” and I was like, “Come on.” And she said, “Okay, but you can’t tell anybody. I’m going to see Rocky IV.” I went, “Yes!” So that was the only Rocky movie that I actually saw with somebody.

Jenn T Grace:

That is hilarious- I would never have guessed that. That is funny.

Deb Prior:

I know, but it’s true.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s why I love starting them off like this because you have no idea what somebody is going to say, that’s awesome. Now the world knows about your Rocky.

Deb Prior:

Yeah, thanks Jenn.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s what I’m here for. So getting into ‘ah-ha’ moments, and when you realized what you’re doing right now is what you should be doing. Did you have a particular moment in time where you just said, “Ah-ha, this is it,” or maybe it was a series of those moments adding up?

Deb Prior:

It is a series of those moments and I’ll just go to the taxes, the tax business. And sometimes it can be a tough business because it’s a retail tax business, you know? It’s not an accounting firm. So I deal with people of all complexities, all income levels. But when I’ve helped somebody out of a tough situation, and taken the monkey off their back or opened a door for them, or helped them in some way that goes beyond what they ever expected before they came into my office; that is- that just makes me feel ten feet off the ground, that I’ve helped somebody. And I surprised them.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s really good.

Deb Prior:

So every time I have that experience, it’s- I know this is what I should be doing. And on the landscaping side, when I get the feedback- especially when I was doing installations, when I’ll get a phone call from a client and this one older woman said, “I drove into my driveway and it was just like Christmas.” That’s what she felt like, you know a little kid coming home on Christmas. Or the phone call I got actually last week from a client who said, “Everything in the garden is happening just like you said it would. You know, those little blue flowers are there.” And I just- you know that makes me feel so great.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome, that’s really good. And I’m sure that it’s probably along these same lines, but what is your inspiration and keeps you motivated to continue doing this?

Deb Prior:

It’s really being able to create an experience for another person. And it’s- I’ve always felt that if I can’t be making a difference doing what I’m doing, then there’s no point in doing it.

Jenn T Grace:

I’m right there with you.

Deb Prior:

And that’s really what keeps me going. And it’s just so funny because you think of- you know landscaping and gardening an all that stuff is really fun. But when you think about taxes you think, “Oh my God, it’s so dry, it’s so boring.” And honestly when you get right down to the nitty gritty, it is. But when you think about the impact on people’s lives as a result of whatever their tax situation may be, it’s really important and I do my best and I train my staff to create a different experience for somebody- a different experience than they expected before they walked in the door. So when people talk about our competitors and say, “Well are you less expensive? Are you-” and my answer generally is, “No, we’re about the same. But your experience I guarantee will be totally different.” Taxes are taxes, it’s the same tax law; for me it’s all about the experience.

Jenn T Grace:

And I think that you go a step further in terms of creating that experience because you are based here in Connecticut, in the greater Hartford area, and you offer the two-for-one same sex married couples tax return. And I think that that’s so admirable and I wish other people- or I suppose that’s an advantage for you, so maybe other’s shouldn’t be doing this, but I feel like it’s so valuable for you to do that for your fellow LGBT people who don’t have that luxury of getting their tax returns done at the same time as their spouse because of the federal law.

Deb Prior:

And I’ll tell you, it’s a hassle to do that. You know because in Connecticut you can- the software is not set up for that, for the state tax return to be married filing joint. And so there’s a lot of finagling and it is time-consuming and you know if it’s my time it’s one thing, if it’s somebody that I’m paying it’s another thing. But I mean everybody in my office is on board. But it is time-consuming, and actually when you look at the- we charge by the form. When you look at the two tax returns where one person may be a business owner, the other person owns a house. Well on a married filing joint tax return, both those forms would be in the same tax return. But I don’t add that cost. I- obviously I charge by the highest tax return, but because that’s what they would be paying anyway, but they’re actually paying- still paying a little less. I just think it’s more comfortable and it’s fair. They shouldn’t have to pay for two separate tax returns.

Jenn T Grace:

And hopefully when the- when DOMA gets overturned we won’t have this many problems; although I’m sure it will take quite some time for the tax system to catch up.

Deb Prior:

Well actually it won’t, because if couples can file married filing jointly, then it’s- the software is already set up for that.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh. I didn’t know that.

Deb Prior:

So the software doesn’t know who the two people are.

Jenn T Grace:

Good point.

Deb Prior:

So for me then, I guess it would take- I would no longer have that marketing advantage if you will. But by the same token it is more fair, and so again we get back to what’s the experience like? Is it- are people going to be- they need to be comfortable as same sex couples, to go someplace where they know they’re going to be welcome.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely. And even- because I don’t even say when- I mean I don’t even say ‘if’ DOMA gets overturned, it’s ‘when’ DOMA gets overturned. You’ll still be seen as pioneer for having done that prior to anybody else, so I think that’s really exciting. So onto business for a moment. What is the best piece of advice for your business that you’ve ever been given?

Deb Prior:

I’ve been given so much advice that actually has been very helpful. From a practical standpoint, somebody once told me take a bookkeeping class so you can learn the accounting aspect of your business. Not so that you could do your own bookkeeping, because I don’t. But it’s not a good- I have other gifts. But to understand it, and understand the accounting aspect of your business is so critical and I believe- I truly believe it is a reason why so many new businesses fail. But from another sense, the advice I received was learn to listen. And I learned that from sales, you know that the best salespeople are excellent listeners. So that you’re listening for where you might be able to solve a problem, help with an  issue, meeting somebody’s goals, or what have you. So it’s listening.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s interesting. I find that most people are doing exactly the opposite, they just want to talk about themselves and they’re not really listening to what the problems at hand are.

Deb Prior:

Yeah. Yeah, and I find that a lot too, and you know you and I both do a lot of networking Jenn, and when we have our- you know your one-on-one coffee dates or lunch dates, it’s- I just don’t understand why some people- they say, “Oh I’d like to find out more about your business,” and then that’s the last time they ever ask you because they’re so busy talking about themselves.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, and you know what I actually think about. So part of the reason why I started this podcast was from having conversations with people and hearing their stories, and just hearing what type of rich histories and backgrounds people have that you never get to hear because no one every asks. And when we think about- like we had lunch a couple of weeks ago, and when we sat down I got to hear so much about your history and I thought there was just so many awesome things that I wanted to have you on as a guest. And we say that we should be listening, but if you think about it in a setting- you know what is that comfortable ratio of people listening versus people talking? Because if both parties are thinking, “I want to be the listener,” how exactly- like I don’t know why but I always think about the logistics in my head. Like what is that ratio? What is that even balance of like the talker versus the listener? And you know I’m sure it’s different in every conversation but I don’t know why but that always comes to my head when I’m thinking about these things.

Deb Prior:

Well one of the things I had heard a long time ago too, is if you really want to be interesting, be interested. So it really is about being interested in- because people will talk, and I’ve noticed even at- you know I set a little alarm in my head for a bell to go off. Because I do like to talk, so I have to train myself when to stop. And back in sales I really trained myself to say, “Stop, ask a question.” And you know because I was talking because I was nervous. So just more like- it’s much better to just ask questions. Open-ended obviously, not the- and really, really listen because that will lead to other questions.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, and then you find out all sorts of great information about people.

Deb Prior:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, I love talking to people in general and I just love hearing people’s stories so I’m all about listening.

Deb Prior:

Yeah, and I’m obviously- I love people too, and all different kinds of people.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s good stuff.

Deb Prior:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

And so there are people listening to this interview now, and I want to switch over to marketing for a minute to ask what your thoughts are on- for people who are listening to this podcast, they’re primarily either LGBT business owners or they are professionals who may be allies to the community, who are just looking for tips and tricks on how to better position themselves to the LGBT community. So for someone trying to accomplish that, what advice would you give them that you think would help make them successful?

Deb Prior:

Well being authentic, obviously is number one. And then this is true for anybody, but certainly in the LGBT community. If you are not authentic and you want to be involved with this community- not just for the money, but because we have money. But because you genuinely care, hopefully you’re somebody who has LGBT people in their life already. Then- you know if you’re not authentic it’s going to show. And I would say do business with LGBT businesses. You know gay-owned businesses, and learn as much as you can about them, and help to promote their businesses. You know we try to do a lot with each other and to promote each other, but by the same token if you are a gay business owner, don’t assume that you don’t have to prove yourself, and you have to be credible. That’s it’s just not going to be an open door.

Jenn T Grace:

I guess, yeah-

Deb Prior:

Just because we’re all in the same group, you know what I mean?

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah absolutely, and you really need to know- you need to know something about the community to get into the community to start speaking our language.

Deb Prior:

Yes. And you have to learn as much as you can. And you know Jenn, this could be a different show but there’s such differences in- generational differences in the community, and the struggles, and that sort of thing. But that’s very different.

Jenn T Grace:

You are so-

Deb Prior:

And there’s also the difference between men and women. You know I was at an event about a month ago, and I was sitting next to a gentleman who was a dentist and I thought, “Oh, this is great! I mean I don’t have a dentist, I can do some business with somebody in our community, this will be great.” And so I asked him about- I think I asked him about what insurance plans he took. And he said, “You know I really don’t know, but you could just call the girls in the front office.” And that just- him referring to his office staff as girls- it may be my generation, but that just turned me off immediately because it told me what his level of respect was for his staff.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, that’s interesting.

Deb Prior:

And I thought- and I was like, “Whoa. That’s it, never mind I don’t even need your number.”

Jenn T Grace:

Wow. And you know a common theme that’s come up in a couple of these interviews, is that from the outside perspective, people view the LGBT community as just like this big monolith that everybody has the same thoughts, the same opinions, the same politics, the same views on everything.

Deb Prior:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

And that could not be any further from the truth, and you just demonstrated that because I think the generational thing- and that’s probably something that I should probably talk about more on the podcast and my blog; is that I find that the generational divide is absolutely enormous, and nobody is really talking about that.

Deb Prior:

It is enormous. I was just talking with a friend the other day- my friend Jill, who is twenty years younger than I am, and she has a daughter that’s twenty years younger than she is, and her daughter is also gay. So we thought, “Boy, that would be a cool interview.”

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah it would.

Deb Prior:

The three of us. Because we’ve all faced different things.

Jenn T Grace:

Absolutely, that’s such a great idea. That seems like it would be really interesting, and I feel like I am kind of stuck in between two generations. Because you have the millennials who have such a different perspective on so many things, and you have the Baby Boomers who also have a really different perspective. And then there’s everybody else in between, which I fall right in there. And it’s like I can totally see the- I can totally see where a lot of Baby Boomer generation LGBT people are coming from, because it was totally a different time. And then I can also see the millennials’’ perspective, but I sometimes can’t understand how come they can’t respect the older generations for having paved the way for the equality that they’re now embracing and getting and taking advantage of.

Deb Prior:

We see that in the woman’s movement as well.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, absolutely. And I’m sure that that’s probably the same with any type of civil rights type of movement.

Deb Prior:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s really interesting. I’m sure we could go on and on about this. So let’s see, why don’t we hop over to you being a part of the LGBT community and have you found that you’ve been able to actually leverage that in business in any way, being an LGBT person?

Deb Prior:

You mean within the community?

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, or within the business community. So as an LGBT person, have you been able to utilize that to your advantage? Maybe leverage isn’t the right word.

Deb Prior:

Just to in terms of marketing to the LGBT community, I have to a certain extent. Certainly the- having same sex married couples only pay for one tax return rather than paying for two like they’ve been for years. That gave me you know- I was able to be successful that way. But I’ll go back to what I said before. You still have to prove yourself. I think that for me being part of the community, I’ll give somebody another look, and I’ll go to them first. I’ll try them out first if they’re a member of the LGBT community. But for me- and I would love people to think that way and do that with me. But I do feel very much so that I still have to do a good job. So yeah, I’ve been able to leverage it a little bit.

Jenn T Grace:

So let me go rogue off of our questions, and I do this in every interview. I don’t think there’s one that I haven’t gone rogue on.

Deb Prior:

Oh, okay.

Jenn T Grace:

So you say that you always try to find an LGBT person first if possible. What are the sources that you look to, to help find those fellow LGBT business owners?

Deb Prior:

Well certainly CABO has been huge. You know I- usually when I ask people, you know word of mouth is incredibly valuable. And when I sort of get a sense when just meeting somebody that they might be a member of the community, and then we sort of come out to each other. And you know look for referrals. But CABO and the CABO directory is the first place I go now. And I hand it out to lots and lots of people.

Jenn T Grace:

I was hoping that you would say that because I know how active you are. And for those listening who- maybe this is the very first episode you’ve ever heard of this podcast, CABO is the LGBT Chamber of Commerce located in Connecticut and it’s one of 36 others across the United States and then an additional 16 or 18 internationally. So if you’re listening to this and you’re not in Connecticut, there very well may be one in your area. But I find- and of course I’m totally biased because I was the Executive Director for three and a half years; but you know- and that’s how of course you and I met. But I find that the LGBT Chambers are absolutely the glue in the conduit that just really brings all the people together. And I’ve talked about in the past how using the directory really should be your local buying guide, so I’m so thrilled that you said exactly what I was hoping.

Deb Prior:

Absolutely, absolutely, that’s where I go first.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s excellent.

Deb Prior:

And I’ve been found that way. You know I have a wonderful client- first name is Tony from New Haven. And we had a blast together.

Jenn T Grace:

And it’s because he found you through the CABO directory.

Deb Prior:

Yes. Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

Which is fabulous and exactly what I’ve been telling other business owners to get involved in their local chambers, and it’s for these exact reasons. I feel like there’s a level of comradery too, when you’re a fellow member of an organization.

Deb Prior:

Yeah well and I don’t know about the other chambers but I know that we have so much fun at our meetings.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes, and you actually have been able to develop a relationship with a regional credit union here.

Deb Prior:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

And I feel like that is one of those success stories of, ‘Oh wow you can get this franchise owner and the CEO of this regional credit union to partner together to help bring more opportunities to both sets of customers and clients,’ which I think is awesome.

Deb Prior:

Absolutely. That’s been a wonderful, wonderful relationship.

Jenn T Grace:

And that relationship occurred due to your relationship with that chamber.

Deb Prior:

Yup, absolutely.

Jenn T Grace:

Awesome, that’s what I love to hear. So let me ask you what is one business book, or maybe it’s a couple of things, or a program, or a tool that’s just really helped you transform or streamline the way that you’re going about business?

Deb Prior:

Well one of the things- one of the first books that I read- I mean I was still in the corporate world at the time, was called the ‘Age Wave,’ by Ken Dychtwald. And that- just from a marketing perspective made me, actually even for my life, made me look at the whole generational issues and generational diversity. And it was funny because I remember reading it and he was focusing on the Baby Boomers. And talking about how many careers a person would have, and I got all excited because I was really happy doing what I was doing but I was like, “Boy, I’ve got to get ready for my next one. I don’t know what it is, but-” You know it was just- it just got me thinking very differently about life stages, and I do think of that now in terms of what stage of my life am I in. But from a practical aspect, I read The EMyth- The EMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber. And that was really, very good. And that was about being very clear on what your strengths are and what you do best, and outsourcing the rest. As soon as you can, you know because obviously when you’re first starting, your resources are pretty limited. But you know that’s why I said one of the things is you really need to get a handle on the accounting, and it’s probably the one thing that people- and it was true for me too, it’s like I just want to kind of be out there and doing my thing, and doing what I love to do. But the accounting- you just really have to- you have to learn it. And then outsource it as soon as you can.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah. And so for my Masters I had to take a handful of accounting related classes. And I don’t remember enjoying them in any way, shape or form. But at the same time I don’t feel like they had any focus towards business. So you actually recommending that in the beginning of the interview, and then bringing it up again, I know that that is a huge weakness of mine is anything related to bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, you name it. So it makes me want to go out and actually find some sort of class where I could learn it just enough to know that when I’m outsourcing that everything’s going as it should.

Deb Prior:

Right, and it’s just you could- you know the local community colleges have that. You know and I had talked to somebody, a friend of mine, who does have a degree in Accounting and she said to me, “You don’t need to take an accounting class,” because I was saying, “Do you have a textbook I could borrow,” because I knew this was such a weakness of mine. And she just said, “You don’t need to take accounting. Learn bookkeeping. That’s the accounting piece you really need to know.” So just taking a bookkeeping class and then- and it’s more than taking a QuickBooks class because again, like I say to my tax preparers, you have to be smarter than the software. You know the software helps you but it doesn’t- you know in calculating and all that, but you know garbage in, garbage out. So you’ve got to know what you’re doing. What goes where. So you know, and I found that to be very helpful, I just took a class- and learning how to read the reports, you know the financial reports so that you really understand. Like you look at a Profit & Loss and it’s like, “Wow I really made some money, where is it?”

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah.

Deb Prior:

You know? Well if you look at your balance sheet, you’ll find out where it went.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, I really need to get on that. And I’ve just recently- so I launched a book in April and I’m releasing an audio book, and by the time this airs it will actually be available as well. And that alone I already feel the bookkeeping problems coming down the pipe at me. Because now I have a lot of individual transactions versus larger contract transactions.

Deb Prior:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

So yeah, I’m going to take that advice to heart and we are done probably go search out a course. Because it’s usually you that I’m asking really random questions to when I see you.

Deb Prior:

Which is fine.

Jenn T Grace:

So hopefully that will alleviate the burden for you. So what is one thing right now in your business that is just really exciting for you?

Deb Prior:

Let’s see. This is going to sound so geeky, I mean I just finished reading this book called, ‘Bringing Nature Home,’ because now I’m in the gardening- you know I’ve got the gardening hat on. And I guess I have the tax hat on all year anyway, but- we are open all year. But I’m thinking of gardening, and ‘Bringing Nature Home’ is about how important our native plants are to our own survival and our wildlife. And since Colonial times we’ve been bringing in plants from other countries; which is fine except when they turn invasive. But you know if you love plants, you’re going to love all kinds of plants. But we are sometimes it’s at the expense of our native plants, and what that means is that the bugs that we have that are so important, the insects, they don’t feed on all those plants. You know that’s great for a landscaper because- but what happens is our birds are disappearing, and they are declining. And you know it really affects every level of our survival. So I mean I thought that was really important and there’s- actually Master Gardeners got involved with our companions animal sanctuary out in Ashford and it’s part of our community outreach that we do. And when they were building their little animal rescue cottages and stuff, the construction just stripped the land and they had to. But- so I proposed, having Master Gardeners and myself replant and bring back a lot of the nature, the natural native plants. It’s a limited budget so it’s going to be in stages, it’s going to take many years. But one of the Master Gardeners, my partner is a Master Gardener coordinator, said that she was there the other day and heard a few birds and saw them- she’s a birder too like me, and she hadn’t seen them in years. And she lives down the road from the sanctuary, and she said, “You know what, it’s working. We’re already making a difference and we just got started.”

Jenn T Grace:

That’s awesome.

Deb Prior:

Yeah, it was pretty cool. So that kind of stuff is- I think it’s exciting.

Jenn T Grace:

I am right there with you. I’m such a bird fanatic and I have a birdhouse that hangs out where I can see it out of the corner of my eye from my desk in my office, and I have a whole nest of babies that are just living kind of in the soffit of the house. Which my wife can’t stand it because they are loud so they- I don’t know when exactly they just hatched, but it had to have been like in the last like week or two, because they are chirping out of control out there. And in a couple of my podcasts that I’ve done in recent weeks I’ve had to put the disclaimer in the beginning saying, “If you hear chirping, it’s on my end, not yours.” And I feel like they’re my babies, though.

Deb Prior:

Yes, yes.

Jenn T Grace:

And I would be so sad if because of us in our human nature for tearing down their environment that they would disappear; I feel like that’s not cool.

Deb Prior:

Yeah, it’s- yeah it’s not.

Jenn T Grace:

Not cool at all. And this is going to be the most random question I think I have asked yet on the podcast.

Deb Prior:

Okay.

Jenn T Grace:

What is up with the- are they cicadas, is that what they’re called? Those bugs that are coming up from Georgia or something?

Deb Prior:

Oh, no they’re actually here.

Jenn T Grace:

So what the heck- what is that all about?

Deb Prior:

It’s an insect that actually lays its eggs way deep down- the larvae. And it takes them, I can’t remember the number of years, I have to- I had a piece on it the other day. They’re there for like sixteen years before they emerge.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh good Lord.

Deb Prior:

And they come out and they start rubbing their wings together. I don’t think we will get to experience them here.

Jenn T Grace:

I hope not.

Deb Prior:

We’re too far north. But there will be other parts of Connecticut like Fairfield County. New Haven County. They’ll see them, the experience.

Jenn T Grace:

That is music to my ears, I keep seeing it on the news and I’m like, “These things are creepy, and they’re scary and I don’t want them near me.”

Deb Prior:

They’re not that-

Jenn T Grace:

Who knew that being so far north?

Deb Prior:

They won’t hurt you.

Jenn T Grace:

Well I’m glad to know that I’m north enough that I don’t have to worry about this, that’s funny.

Deb Prior:

For this sixteen years.

Jenn T Grace:

Oh man, what a mess, they’re creepy.

Deb Prior:

Yeah, it’s really strange.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s funny. Well I told you that was going to be the random one. That’s probably going to take the cake. So I appreciate you taking your time to talk with me today. I think that you’ve given some awesome advice. And for anyone that wants to get in touch with you, how would you recommend that they go about doing that?

Deb Prior:

I have- I set up a Liberty Tax Facebook page; it’s Liberty Tax of Manchester, Connecticut. And I made it that long because there’s a Manchester, Vermont and there’s another Liberty Tax up there. And then I also have a Facebook page for Inspired Gardens and Landscapes, where I’ve been adding little gardening tips and that sort of thing.

Jenn T Grace:

Very cool. Every one of these interviews that I do, I have a blog post that goes with it, so I will include the links to both of those Facebook pages on there.

Deb Prior:

Oh thank you.

Jenn T Grace:

You’re welcome. Well thank you again, I appreciate it, and we will talk soon.

Deb Prior:

Okay Jenn, have a great day and a great weekend.

Jenn T Grace:

Thanks, you too.

Deb Prior:

Thanks.

Jenn T Grace:

Thank you again for listening to this special Pride Month episode of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. To see a full lineup of the thirty guests featured throughout this series, visit www.JennTGrace.com/30days30voices. And if you liked what you heard here, consider leaving a review in iTunes or telling a friend or colleague. You can do both of these easily by visiting www.JennTGrace.com/iTunes.

Thanks again, and stay tuned for the next interview by another amazing LGBT business leader.

Want to see who else is being interviewed for this Pride month project? Check it out here – 30 days – 30 voices – Stories from America’s LGBT Business Leaders

 

About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

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