Podcast: Meeting Supply Chain Professionals Where They Are with Sarah Barnes-Humphrey

In this episode, Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, founder of Let’s Talk Supply Chain, joins Host Brian Glick, CEO of Chain.io, to discuss the rise of supply chain media, the changes the industry is facing, and what 2023 holds for supply chain pros. Listen now!

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Meeting Supply Chain Professionals Where They Are with Sarah Barnes-Humphrey

In this episode, Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, founder of Let’s Talk Supply Chain, joins Host Brian Glick, CEO of Chain.io, to discuss:

  • Sarah's start in Supply Chain Media
  • The right social media channels for B2B orgs
  • Why collaboration is the future of business
  • The value of connected data
  • Themes from 2023 industry events
  • The rise of B2B influencers in supply chain
  • How the supply chain has progressed and where it’s headed

Sarah is a logistics and supply chain expert, as seen on BBC World News, Inc Magazine, The New Yorker and Huffington Post. Sarah has reached over 50 million supply chain professionals through the Let’s Talk Supply Chain podcast, her weekly live stream show “Thoughts and Coffee”, The Blended podcast and now The Blended Pledge.

Sarah boasts recognition as one of the Top Women in Supply Chain, 10 Most Admired Women in Business to Follow and Most Influential Leader in Supply Chain 2022.

Listen Now!


Episode Transcript

Brian Glick 00:05
Are you seeing a different maturity in the way that they're approaching the market? Or How's it different than, say, three or four years ago?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 00:12
They're certainly thinking about how they want to be represented in the industry a lot more. And that comes in a variety of different forms that comes in video that comes in audio that comes in on the stage. How do they want to be represented in a panel? Who do they want on that panel? And what do they want that panel to talk about? There's certainly more conversation about that. So it's a variety of different ways.

Brian Glick 00:44
Hello, and welcome to supply chain connections. I'm Brian Glick, Chain.io's, founder and CEO. Today we have Sarah Barnes-Humphrey with us. Sarah is a big celebrity in the industry, and a good friend of mine. She runs let's talk supply chain as well as the blended pledge and we'll be getting into all of that. But Sarah, so without further ado, here's the episode.

Brian Glick 01:11
Hey, Sarah, welcome to the show.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 01:13
Hey, Brian, I'm so excited that you're back with your podcast. I mean, what made you do it?

Brian Glick 01:19
See, you're gonna try to start interviewing me right out of the gate. I see what we're doing here. Now. We're turning the mic around today, Sarah, you're gonna answer questions. But let's give everyone a little bit of context. Why don't you tell us a little bit about let's talk supply chain and blended and all the stuff that you do.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 01:36
All the things well, Sarah Barnes Humphrey, founder and host of Let's Talk Supply Chain. And we have been around as a podcast since 2016. We started off called "Two babes talk supply chain", because I had a male co host. And I wanted to see how far I could push the envelope in the industry. But Let's Talk Supply Chain creates digital content for brands in the industry. And we also do a lot of diversity and inclusion work with our woman in supply chain series. And then with the blended podcast, where I bring five different people from different walks of life together to talk about diversity inclusion in the workplace. And then we took it even further with the blender pledge. And that is where we give away grants to cover travel expenses. So we can see diverse voices on industry stages.

Brian Glick 02:19
So I'm just going to put this out there that doing digital content, and podcasting and video and all the various places that people see you in the supply chain business is little bit of a weird career choice. So how do you end up where you are?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 02:38
I'm not sure. A lot of luck, and rolling the dice a lot of risk. You know, so I was in logistics and supply chain for over 20 years, my parents owned a freight forwarding company. And I did operations for eight years sales for eight years. And then I was Director of Sales and Marketing. And Brian, you will remember this marketing in supply chain logistics was pretty much non existent back in 2016.

Brian Glick 03:06
That is certainly true.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 03:08
I was listening to a lot of podcasts at the time and I thought, Well, hey, if they can do it, why can't I. And that's where the podcast started, I asked a colleague from my customs department to join me as a co host. And my team and I just started putting together podcasts is to bave sock supply chain. And if you go on YouTube, and you Google that, you will see our first episode, which was horrible.

Brian Glick 03:32
I can vouch for 2016 Being a heck of a different time in place when it came to this type of stuff. I remember getting budget denied to bring in a supply chain specific marketing firm, I think it was less than 50 grand at the forwarder and broker. And we just couldn't justify it internally. So yeah.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 03:52
Well, I remember getting the question, "why do we need a website?" And I was like, we need to spend money on the website, because our website is so 9099.

Brian Glick 04:04
Now that's just called retro.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 04:07
Now it is back then it was just like, Please don't go to our website.

Brian Glick 04:13
So why do this for a living? What gets you excited about this?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 04:18
Everything? I mean, I'm very passionate about supply chain. And to be honest with you. I'm very excited about how far we've come actually, if you think about it 2016 wasn't that long ago, really. I mean, seven years. And we've come really far in seven years. And I think we've got a long way to go and I'm excited to see where it goes. But I think just being able to talk to different people being able to elevate different voices in the industry. I mean, if you think about it, even back in 2016 We didn't have a variety of a lot of voices representing supply chain. And now we've got a lot of diversity. We've got a lot of people or who are speaking about the different aspects, and there's so many incredible things that supply chain brings to the world.

Brian Glick 05:08
So, sum it up for me, then since you have all this content, you get to talk to all of these people across the industry, you also have guest hosts, posting shows, and they're talking to people, and I'm sure you watch every second and take notes on every bit of content that you guys produce. So what are the big themes? What are people talking about through your different channels?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 05:31
Well, the podcast specifically is about companies, right? It's about who's out there who is out there as a vendor. And you know, as well as I do, there's a lot of new companies and a lot of new vendors in the space that are trying to make ways and trying to make a name for themselves. And so how do supply chain professionals even figure out who that is. So that for us is number one, because we want to try to, you know, break down that noise into what you really care about. I think the other thing is digital transformation. And it's funny that we're still talking about this, Brian, still talking about data. Like I understand why we're talking about digital transformation, it's important. I think we still have a long ways to go. I think there's a variety of different things that we can implement in our business. And we've got to figure out what to do first. So yes, the conversation is still important. And that's where we're going, right?

Brian Glick 06:23
I was on your show got it's got to be close to five years ago now. Yeah, pre pandemic, definitely.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 06:29
But you've been on many times since let's

Brian Glick 06:31
have been on many times. The first time I was on, you know, we were talking about, it seems like the same thing. Right. And, you know, certainly there's been a lot of acceptance, I think, in the intervening time, but the change is really just starting to happen. Yeah, as Bezos says the day zero, right, like, we're always at the beginning of the next change. But yeah, I think the themes certainly haven't really changed all that much. In the time you've been doing that, or the time that training has been around. We just had our sixth birthday. So congratulations. Thank you very much. Yeah. It's pretty interesting that now, when you're talking to these companies, and the companies that are reaching out to you, I know the certainly as your brand's gotten bigger, the company's reaching out maybe a little bit larger than they were before. But are you seeing a different maturity in the way that they're approaching the market? Or How's it different than, say, three or four years ago,

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 07:24
there's certainly thinking about how they want to be represented in the industry a lot more. And that comes in a variety of different forms that comes in video that comes in audio that comes in on the stage. How do they want to be represented in a panel? Who do they want on that panel? And what do they want that panel to talk about? There's certainly more conversation about that. So it's a variety of different ways. And I think they're getting innovative. I think they're understanding the fact that they can educate the market, but also have a lot of fun. I think they're also starting to trust us to be able to bring some of that fun. I have a client right now, who is a very large client. And they're like, We want you to create the graphics because we don't want anything like what our team would put together.

Brian Glick 08:18
I won't ask you to name names, they're a little long list in my head that that could be kind of to that end. Do you think this is a generational shift? Do you think it's just impact to social media? What do you think's loosening people up?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 08:33
I think so. I mean, at the end of the day, if you think about the b2c consumer market on Instagram, and what we've seen and the explosion, and how influential those influencers have been on brands and on products, I think we're starting to see that in b2b. And then really getting a good understanding of what it's like to partner with an influencer, or partner with somebody who has influence in the industry. I'm not sure if I really liked that word, let's be honest. But a lot of people resonate with that word, and that's why I use it. And so I think it's slowly creeping into the b2b, because we're seeing what we can do in the b2c market and how we can turn that into the b2b Plus, I think we're getting people from outside of supply chain coming into supply chain with innovative ideas, and saying, Hey, we did this in the finance industry. We did this in the healthcare industry. Why can't we do this in supply chain?

Brian Glick 09:30
So I think that any job that didn't exist when you were born sounds weird. Right? So, you know, in 1940, 1955, if you told your parents you were going to be a rock star, like that's not a job,

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 09:44
Right? Supply chain media didn't even exist in 2016.

Brian Glick 09:48
So there you go. Does this mean I have to be on Tiktok?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 09:52
Ah, see, that's a hard one because I just heard about the privacy issues on Tik Tok, like, you do not want that app on your phone.

Brian Glick 10:00
That is a fair point. So do I need to be on Instagram? I'm not gonna go through the whole list by the way.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 10:04
So Instagram, I like Instagram from the fact that it's very visual. And if you have a business, let's say like robotics, I think it's a really good place for you to be from a visual standpoint. And I think stories more than posts, I mean, you have to post, but I really like Instagram stories.

Brian Glick 10:22
So does that I know the answer to this, but I'm gonna ask it anyway. So I mean, this isn't a one size fits all answer.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 10:31
Yes, well actually, it depends on what part of the industry you're in. It depends on your bandwidth, and who you have on your team. Because if you have to pick one, I would pick LinkedIn. Why? Because that's where everybody is. That's where the majority of your clients are gonna be. That's where people are spending a lot more time people are engaging. People are looking for vendors on LinkedIn, I had a bunch of people come to me and say, Listen, when I'm looking for a new vendor, I go to LinkedIn and check out their company page. And then I go to let's talk supply chain, see if they've been on your show?

Brian Glick 11:04
Well, there you go, I guess I got both of those covered.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 11:07
No, seriously, like having a company page on LinkedIn. That's where people are going. They're not even going to your website yet.

Brian Glick 11:14
You know, that's funny. That's true. When people reach out to me, I will generally put their name in to Google find their LinkedIn, and then click on the company logo and then get through from there. So absolutely, hadn't really thought about that. What about the kinds of categories of companies that you're working with? They'll tell you my theory, and you tell me whether this is right or not. Pre pandemic, and through the pandemic, there was a lot of activity of extremely experimental startups going on. Yep. And that now, in the last year or two, what I'm starting to see is, some of those startups are now really more established companies. But there isn't a backfill of like this massive amount of companies experimented with new tech so much as companies trying to kind of use the tech that exists to deliver things more concretely. So less wacky ideas and more like, Hey, we're here to do business. Does that resonate with you?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 12:15
Yeah, it does, in some respects. I mean, listen, there are company names out there that I haven't even heard of, like, I get pitched guests to be on the podcast at least four times a day. And I'll open these emails, and it'll say what company they work for. And I'm like, I haven't even heard of them yet.

Brian Glick 12:33
I guess that's why you're here, isn't it?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 12:36
It is why I'm here. But to your point, I think that yes, people are starting to realize that they have to meet supply chain professionals where they are, instead of where they want them to be, or where they think they should be. And that is a really big deal. Because too often if we're not meeting them with the tools that they actually need to do their job, you're having a hard sell, selling that future tool.

Brian Glick 13:04
So anyone who watches you on video knows that there's a sign behind over your shoulder, I can see it right. On our video, Shane says, collaboration is the future of business. And it's your favorite thing in the world to say, I have a question about it. But before why don't you explain what that means to you?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 13:22
Yeah, so and I'm glad that I changed this because I think it fell down while I was away. And it didn't say collaboration this morning. So I had to change that quickly. Collaboration to me means that we're all sort of coming together to make the biggest impact that we possibly can. Listen, I understand that there's competition. But I also think that there's ways for us to have synergies. And for us to figure it out. And I think that the future of business is really reliant on sharing data, and getting out of the silos and out of the competitiveness, to figure out how we make this best for everyone. That's what that means to me. I am still hopeful that it can be done. But I understand from a data perspective, that it's really quite difficult.

Brian Glick 14:14
Yeah. Finally, somebody knew how to make all that data work together. It's kind of chain

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 14:21
Like Chain.io, you guys have really, really helped the industry in coming together in that respect. But when I think about exchanging data for the better good and the future of supply chain or the future of business, I almost think of and I'm not an expert on blockchain. But it's one of the reasons why I think that's not gonna work is because we're just not willing to come to the table.

Brian Glick 14:45
I think that's a very reasonable argument in the sense that not to go too far down the blockchain path. But you know, there is this underlying principle that has come up time and time again, over the 25 years I've been doing this long Long before blockchain around collaboration networks or shared databases, or, you know, whatever tech you want to use, and there's this distinction between my data and your data, and sometimes for very valid reasons, right? Yeah, Walmart and Amazon certainly don't want to share advanced sales data with each other, or what POS they're issuing for next quarter, at what price. So then you get into permissions. And as soon as you get into permissions, you're not really sharing anymore, right? You're just creating one big database that's caught up into a bunch of little ones. So I think there's a lot of value to thinking that through. But the collaboration question I wanted to ask you, that fascinates me is, you know, I know you collaborate a lot with others in the industry, you know, I'm thinking of, you know, work you do with, you know, the blended pledge collaborative with a lot of companies or having guest hosts like Eric Johnson, who's, you know, day job ad journal commerce, right is a different media outlet. When you're looking at people to collaborate with who are not, let's say, direct paying customers kind of what are the attributes that you're looking at, in a good collaborator?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 16:09
I mean, look at Eric.

Brian Glick 16:12
Sorry, like bald guys.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 16:14
No, I mean, really, I'm looking for somebody who is passionate about what they do. They're knowledgeable about what they do, and they want to show up and they want to make an impact. Right? I mean, Eric, for example, he's got his newsletter. He's very ingrained in log tech, which I think is really important. And look at DC and hope. I mean, hope white, is full on trucking. And you know, her show is called no bullshitting. And she is her authentic self. And I think that's probably one of the biggest attributes DC the same? You know?

Brian Glick 16:53
Tell me who DC is. I've been there. So I can't say that. I don't know who she is.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 16:58
So she has a show with us called "Action Items." She does digital transformation. She's an entrepreneur in the space, just like hope White is just like I am. And yeah, I think those two ladies are really passionate about what they do. And they're here to educate. They really just want to come on once a month and talk about different topics, bring in some guests that you might not see and speak authentically. And I think authenticity, and being yourself are probably the two biggest attributes.

Brian Glick 17:25
So we're recording this before TPM, but I'm fairly certain if I'm looking at the schedule, right, it's gonna air afterwards. But you and I just also got back from manifest. And there's kind of in the height of conferences and for logistics. What do you think is different in the tone, maybe this year from last year? Or pre pandemic? And kind of what's the vibe out there for people who can't get out to these events?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 17:49
Yeah, I think it's great. I mean, people are wanting to get together. Right? I think they're understanding the need to get together in person. At manifests, a lot of the conversations that I was having was around collaboration and partnerships, and how tech companies are being given the opportunity at a conference like that, to have conversations about synergies. So it's no longer just about everybody trying to pull in a shipper. It's about the guy next door or the booth next door to you could be your potential customer. You know, I think for TPM, I mean, the networking and the education component that comes out of TPM for anybody in logistics space, like the international logistics space. I mean, that is the conference to be at now they've added that tech component. And I think it just gives you so much value, not only as a shipper, but also as a vendor, and really just coming together and figuring out what people are doing in the industry and not doing it by zoom. You know, as well as I do. Everybody's feeling the Zoom fatigue, and they want to come together in person.

Brian Glick 19:05
So one of the many ways that you and I have worked together, we just had Shay on as the kind of kickoff guest awesome runs the D AI initiatives for Journal of Commerce, but you're also involved, not just with the JOC and the TPM di but also if you're blended, so just want to give you the microphones and talk a little bit about what blended does since it's so important.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 19:28
I really appreciate that. So I started the "Woman in Supply Chain" series in January 2018. And by January 2020, I think I told you this, I was like it's more than gender. Like I need to figure out how to expand the conversation. And I decided to do a read table talks like on Facebook, but for podcasts and about diversity and inclusion. And I launched it October 2020 and five people come together on different topics right and we talk about I've done one about transgender that you've been on. I've done one on inclusion or introvert versus extrovert ageism. And it's not experts. It's all regular people just coming together talking about personal experiences, or experiences that they have been a part of. Or maybe they're just coming on to learn about the topic and ask questions. And you know, even on that ageism episode, I had a white male in his 60s, and a woman of color in her 40s. And at the end of the episode, the woman turned to the male and said, Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. And so it really brings people together.

Brian Glick 20:41
Yeah, and I think that's a big thing with all the episodes that I've participated in, and the other things that we've done around the together that, you know, everyone takes something from it. Yeah, right. And, you know, there's kind of a joke, you know, that I'm the token white guy on some of these committees. But I'll tell you, it's exciting to also be able to bring my perspective to these things and be able to kind of share and be an ally, thank you for spearheading them, as well.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 21:07
Well, and we appreciate you, Brian.

Brian Glick 21:10
You are fishing for compliments, Sarah.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 21:13
Well, we appreciate you coming on and sharing. I mean, listen, you are sharing authentically, from your perspective. And everybody's perspective counts.

Brian Glick 21:23
Yeah, no, absolutely. Let's talk about somebody's perspective that maybe shouldn't count. That's a bigger lead on than me, but oh, what mistakes do you think we're making as an industry? What do you see out there? That's frustrating you?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 21:39
Well, I would like to see us a little bit more further on diversity at conferences than we are. And that's not just from a gender perspective. I think it's from a variety of different perspective. And it's one of the reasons why we started the blender pledge, right? I think a lot of times, we can't see diversity on stages. And it's not through any fault of anybody's right. The event organizer can only do so much. The people have to say yes, but they also have to have access to the funds to be able to pay for the travel expenses to get there once they've been given the opportunity to say yes. And so I think as a community, we each have to realize what we can do as an individual to make an impact in diversity and inclusion. And then how do we all sort of come together in collaboration and figure out the way forward? That's a big one. For me. That's a really, really big one. Listen, there's no industry that is perfect, especially not supply chain. But I also feel like supply chain makes mistakes. And then for the most part, they own it. And that's really the only way forward, right is to come forward and say, hey, yeah, I'm not perfect. I made a mistake. I know better now. And I can do something about it.

Brian Glick 22:54
Alright, so let's flip the coin, then what do you surprise that we're doing? Well, what are you excited about?

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 22:59
What am I excited about? I'm excited about all sorts of things. I'm coming out with a new brand. So I'm excited about that. But us as an industry, I think going back to what I said about partnerships and collaboration between tech companies, I've been talking about this for a while. But they've really only started coming together through the pandemic. How do you mean? Well, different tech companies are looking at exchanging data in different ways and being able to collaborate to service one customer. Because they bring different products to the market. And to be honest with you, in order for you to compete with an end to end supply chain platform, he kind of have to do that anyways, you can't just be one piece of the puzzle.

Brian Glick 23:42
Yeah, I think there's a big aspect to that around venture capital, and not just venture capital, but around this idea that in a world where you don't have to install software in your data center, and you have hosted software, yeah, companies can be really focused, right? Because if I'm going to sell you just something to read a bill of lading and turn that into data, but it's not going to actually be able to process the bill of lading. Or I'm going to sell you something that's going to apply a credit card on top of your invoice. If I have to go by you know, back in the old days, if I had to buy a server for every one of those and and and so on, whatever, I'm not going to do it right. But as I can do those in the cloud, I think it really does open up that idea of these much, much, much more specific companies that do one thing really well. Yeah. Which now I'm getting on a little bit of a rant. The interesting thing about that is that we always thought of, you know, buying one big ERP or buying this sort of best of breed solution as a rubber band that kind of went back and forth over the decades. Yeah. And from the 70s forward, and I think that rubber band may have snapped because the fundamentals of SAS software mean that all of the arguments for kind of not being able to cherry pick things where you need them. I have kind of broken down, which was that cost of ownership and the cost of maintenance of them.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 25:07
I think I've got two other things that surprised me the valuation of some companies. I think the second one was the fact that I found a meditation for sleep on logistics.

Brian Glick 25:18
And Sarah posted that on LinkedIn. But we'll have to drag that out for the show notes as well. So as we say, Sarah finds the fun stuff. If anyone's going to ever get me to dance on camera, it's going to be Sara. She hasn't done it yet, though. She's tried twice at events. So we are going to do it, it's going to happen. It's never ever going to happen.

Brian Glick 25:38
Cool, well, you may have just accidentally dropped something. But I'm gonna have an A follow up and ask, did I hear something about a new brand? Yes.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 25:45
So we are coming out with the secret society of supply chain. And you'll have to wait and see what it's all about. Because the website is going to be launched at the end of February, probably beginning of March.

Brian Glick 25:57
So right around when this will air so hopefully we'll leave the rewrite out ahead of it or right behind it. Yeah, if not on launch day, we'll make sure to reshare in the show notes. As soon as it's available. I'm excited to hear about it too. I feel like this might have been a scoop.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 26:11
I am so excited. It's a way for us to bring the community together. I'll tell you that. So they can collaborate so they can collaborate.

Brian Glick 26:18
There's a drinking game, you can play with all of Sara's content where you just take a shot every time she says the word collaboration.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 26:26
We probably should do that. Although my show would have to not be called thoughts and coffee have to be called shots and coffee.

Brian Glick 26:34
Thoughts for morning show. I think that's a very good idea.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 26:38
So let's say turn it into an evening show. But remember, we did do a game show that you can find on the let's talk supply chain YouTube called superstar game face. If you really want to take a shot every time I say collaboration.

Brian Glick 26:52

Well, there you go. So, anything else coming up? I know you've got a million things. What's the best way for people to keep up

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 26:58
Sarah Barnes-Humphrey on LinkedIn, Let's Talk Cupply chain on LinkedIn. Everything's there. And on Instagram, it's at be victorious. So victory us and I post a lot of stuff on my stories. So definitely follow me and check out the stories because way more things get posted there than they do on LinkedIn.

Brian Glick 27:18
All right, well, I guess LinkedIn is the safe version. Alright, well, with that. Thank you so much. Again, it's always a pleasure to have a good friend on and be able to chat like this. So thanks for being here.

Sarah Barnes Humphrey 27:30
Brian, thank you so much for bringing me back for the reboot.

Brian Glick 27:35
Thanks so much to Sarah for that wonderful conversation. We'll have links in the show notes to all of Sarah's various properties, and you can find her most often at let's talk supply chain. Also, if you check out the channel blog, on our website @Chain.io you can find an article that features Sarah, that we recently posted on notable women in supply chain history. It also has information on MIT's women in supply chain initiative, as well as awesome leaders. And awesome stands for achieving women's excellence in supply chain operations, management and education. So make sure to head over to the blog and check that out. And I'll talk to you next time. I'm Brian Glick founder and CEO of Chain.io.

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written on March 22, 2023
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