In episode 24 of the Rocket IT Business Podcast, audiences are greeted by two of metro-Atlanta’s most outgoing legal professionals, Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Blum and attorney Jody Campbell.
Beyond doing the important work of their professions, Kristina and Jody have formed a philanthropic partnership that brings incredible value – and huge helping of fun – to our community.
In this episode, you’ll hear more about:
- How Kristina Blum became Gwinnett County’s first female Chief Magistrate Judge
- The importance of personal relationships in business development
- The core components of a good team
- The impact of creativity in fundraising
- How to remain on the lookout for good partners
- The importance of being yourself
- How to find joy in your career
Kristina Blum | firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Hyatt (00:00:16):
Hello everyone. And welcome to episode number 24 of the rocket it business podcast. I’m your host, Matt Hyatt. And today we’re sitting down with two of the most outgoing legal professionals. I think I’ve met judge Kristina Blum and attorney Jody Campbell beyond doing the important work of their professions, Kristina and Jody have formed a philanthropic partnership that brings incredible value and a huge helping of fun to our community. And we’re in for a treat today. Jody, Kristina, welcome to the show.
Kristina Blum (00:00:43):
Thanks Matt. So great to be here and see you.
Jody Campbell (00:00:47):
Thanks for having us.
Matt Hyatt (00:00:48):
Absolutely. So I’m going to just dive right in here and start hitting with super tough questions. Kristina, you are Gwinnett county’s, first female, chief magistrate judge, and I’d love to know what was the path to get there.
Kristina Blum (00:01:05):
Well, I, I actually, for years I’ve been a lawyer. I graduated from law school in 1994, I think. So I started representing you get the, you always tell people, you should take the first job you’re offered. It’s always easier to find a job. And sometimes you need to figure out what you don’t like to do before you can find what you do love to do. So I started working at this law firm, downtown representing cities and counties, and through just a couple of different law firm moves. I ended up being a senior assistant county attorney here in Gwinnette county. And one of my clients was the Gwinnette county magistrate court. So people don’t know, you know, judges and, and, and courts need attorney advice too. There might be issues that come up about policy or changes in the law, or even peoples, you know, sometimes Sue judges for reasons that, you know, have some to no merit.
Kristina Blum (00:01:56):
And, and I worked with Warren Davis, who’s the chief who was the chief magistrate at the time. And ironically asking you that question, I’m sitting right here at this desk and I was his lawyer and he’s one of my favorite people. He and I were already talking this morning and, and I was sitting here and after being his lawyer for a few years, he said to me, he goes, Kristina, I think I know what you’re supposed to do with your life. And he called me from this desk and he said, you’re supposed to be a judge. And I go Warren you crazy. I said, you’re crazy. And, and he, he pushed me into applying to be a magistrate judge. And I, you know, I, I applied to be a full-time judge and I didn’t get it. And I’m super thankful the first time I didn’t.
Kristina Blum (00:02:34):
But then Warren brought me into the core as a part-time magistrate. And I did that for five years and I kinda got into it and loved it. I, my glamorous job in the magistrate court was the first five years. I worked every single Saturday at the jail handling first appearance hearings for people who were arrested and dealing with bond issues and things like that. Yeah. People think judging is really glamorous.
Matt Hyatt (00:02:59):
Sounds like it.
Kristina Blum (00:03:02):
I worked, but at the time I had a six month old and a two year old. So it was kind of nice to be out of the house. And my husband enjoyed the, the father, you know, child time that he had with just the kids. So after a while, then I became a full-time judge in 2009. And having had the experience of, you know, being in the trenches with magistrate Corp.
Kristina Blum (00:03:24):
And then my full-time judge is primarily provides judicial assistance to other courts. So when I became a full-time judge, heck I was, I did juvenile court, recorders courts, period court, state court, I’d done trials, I’d done everything. And I really decided that it was something that I enjoy doing. I enjoy trying to solve problems for people and, and try to be part of the solution. It’s a, it’s a burdensome job. And if anybody who wears a robe, does it feel that it’s a burden, then they’re not in the right role. But in 2013, the current chief at the time, George Hutchinson, was appointed by the governor to be a spear court judge. So that left the chief magistrate judge job open. And the local legislation provides that when there’s a midterm change, the spear court judges, there were 10 at the time get select the new chief magistrate.
Kristina Blum (00:04:16):
So at that time in January of 2013, the superior court judges selected me to fill the unexpired term of then chief magistrate, George Hutchinson. So I have now been I’m in my third term, I’ve had two elected terms and then one appointed term. And it’s a job I really love, but I always tell people, you never know the impact you can have in the course of somebody’s career or job or in life or Michonne. As I am, like I said, sitting in this desk right now where one phone call 16 years ago changed the course of everything for me.
Matt Hyatt (00:04:54):
Unbelievable. So is it it pardon me for asking, but is it unusual to have women judges in Gwinnett?
Kristina Blum (00:05:05):
No. I think, you know, people say, oh, of course, it’s, you know, I, I was the first female magistrate, but a lot of people don’t know that in 1983 magistrate courts were actually created by the Georgia general assembly. They were created to take the place of recorders courts and justice of the peace courts, which were combined. Fortunately, we still get to keep our recorder’s court because it does a valuable service to us and dealing with county ordinance violations and traffic. But magistrate court provides a lot of judicial support to the other branches of justice. You know, we do, gosh, I’ve been a juvenile court judge, a probate I’ve done every court, I’ve done every kind of calendar because some other judges go on vacation. Or if a judge is in a murder trial and they can’t get to any of their domestic cases, one of my judges or myself, sometimes we go up there and we handle those cases to keep things moving.
Kristina Blum (00:06:00):
You know, I would say justice delayed is in fact, justice denied. If you have to wait for a family court decision for a year, that’s a, that’s your life’s on hold. So we’re very grateful, not only for our original jurisdiction things we have to do, but also to provide that judicial support role. But there’s a ton of women we have. Yeah, we have,
Jody Campbell (00:06:21):
here’s a fun fact, I was sworn in by…
Kristina Blum (00:06:23):
Women are great judges.
Jody Campbell (00:06:25):
Kristina Blum (00:06:27):
Yeah. But, but what I was saying is that when, when the Georgia court, when the general assembly created magistrate courts in 1983, we’ve only had I’m the fourth chief magistrates. So there was judge Fred Bishop, judge Warren Davis, judge George Hutchinson, and then me. So I hope, I hope I have done a great service to my sisters out there by representing if the magistrate court well, and I will tell you a weird thing.
Kristina Blum (00:06:55):
When I became the chief shortly after all of the Metro chief magistrates were women and we formed a tight little group too. We talk all the time. I still talk to the chief magistrate of Fulton, Cassandra Kirk, all the time and to cab barrel Anderson. So we, we all know each other cob had a wonderful female, chief magistrate who moved on to become their da. But now, um, now there’s a guy and he always says, I hate breaking up the girl band, you know, be now the only guy, but, but I think women have, have a, an empathy and, and a patience that makes a woman not to say, I have plenty of male judges that are phenomenal, but I do think that women are good natural judges.
Matt Hyatt (00:07:45):
I would agree with that. So to make it perfectly clear for us lay folks, what exactly is the mission of the Magister court?
Kristina Blum (00:07:54):
Oh my gosh, it’s the best. Our court is the most accessible to anybody. I love what I do. I love what I do well, here’s the thing magistrate court handles and it’s, we handle things like all the search and arrest warrants. My court runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I got a text from one of my judges in the middle of the night, last night with an issue that came up. So we keep the community safe by being accessible. We also, you know, people have a right to have a judge determine whether there’s sufficient evidence on a probable cause standard before their Liberty interests can be compromised. So by the time somebody is in jail, even 36 hours, one magistrate judge may have looked at that case three times. So there’s a lot of due process and constitutional protections that my court provides in the criminal context.
Kristina Blum (00:08:45):
We also handle most of the landlord tenant cases for the county. And we, we had an amazing project or project reset. I hope people have seen it, but it was a little idea myself, Marlene Fausque and Matt Elder started last year. And we’ve now interceded in over a thousand evictions spending over $6 million in cares act funding, keep people in their homes. So we’ve got solution-based opportunities. We do a lot of debt collection, but we have to provide a lot of protections with that. We also have a lot of, you know, in addition to landlord tenant matters and, and debt collection, we do do that, but we have small claims court just like the people’s court. It’s not as exciting or sexy as judge Judy or some of those that, that instigate, I think the conflict in a case, but we do a lot of like small business owners. If you have a claim for less than $15,000, that’s our jurisdictional limit. Jurisdictionals means what we can and cannot do. If it’s less than $15,000, you can sue in our court and you don’t have to have a lawyer for your business. For RocketIt say, somebody owed you guys money. And it was $2,000. It’s a lot of money to me, or even $400 to hire a lawyer now, not, not any offense. I’m married to one. I sleep with a lawyer every night and I love him, but
Jody Campbell (00:10:07):
His employment matters to your home, your mortgage payment.
Kristina Blum (00:10:09):
It does, but you have
Kristina Blum (00:10:11):
To make a decision. Then you have to make a decision as to whether it’s worth it, to retain an attorney, to, to chase that now in state and superior court, the rules require you to have a lawyer. If you’re a business, but in my court, you don’t have to. And the other thing we offer is in small business court world, or just conflict world, or say your neighbor’s tree falls on your fence and they won’t fix it. And you want to sue, we can give you opportunities to resolve that conflict in usually now pre pandemic and post pandemic 60 days is our timeline. And we do it swiftly. And we also provide free mediation opportunities. And we also have court at night. So if you do have a business, you don’t have to close your business to come to court. So there’s a lot of things we do in our court that make justice accessible to people who, who need it, but can’t hire a $400 an hour lawyer.
Kristina Blum (00:11:07):
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. So, so we’re busy. We run about a hundred thousand matters through a year. Again, I’m talking pre pandemic and, and we, we try to be solution-based in what we offer. But most of our customers, as I call them, come in are self-represented. So we do a lot of work trying to break down the system and give people the tools they need through our legal process to solve their problems. We do it with multilanguage. We do it with interpreters. We do it in the best way. We know how, but I hope it shows that the mission of this court is to make sure that our third branch of government is accessible to people, all people. And that’s why I love magistrate court.
Matt Hyatt (00:11:51):
I love it.
Jody Campbell (00:11:54):
Let me jump in. Let
Jody Campbell (00:11:55):
Me just jump in and say, uh, because I, I feel like I have to defend my profession a little bit here.
Jody Campbell (00:12:02):
No, no, no. Hang on. Hang
Jody Campbell (00:12:02):
On. As a lawyer, I love it. When I get to use magistrate court, because well, for two reasons, one, because any lawyer that doesn’t accept the financial reality of their client’s situation is doing their client. A disservice hiring a lawyer is an investment, and you should expect a return on that investment. And so it’s my job to try to solve your problem in as cost efficient, a manner as possible. The magistrate court is built for speed and efficiency. So where if I file a lawsuit in state or superior court, I might not even see a courtroom for 10, 12 months in magistrate court. I file a lawsuit. I’m going to get in the courtroom in 60 days at the latest. And so time is money to my clients. And so trying to solve those problems, if I can go to a magistrate court, I’ll do it 10 out of 10 times
Kristina Blum (00:12:52):
And make no mistake. We have a lot of lawyers today. We have what’s called garnishment calendars going on, and we have attorneys trying to work out, you know, resolving judgements and things like that. And our attorneys in mag court do a great job. They are really collaborative and trying to figure out, you know, we can do unlike other courts, as part of our judgment, we can do payment plans, payment plans to keep people from using the processes of levy and execution and, and even garnishment. But our lawyers are great and mag core. And a lot of our lawyers like Jody recognize that if I have a client that has a small business it’s to my advantage, to work out a, a, you know, a retainer structure, a financial structure, because I know it’s not as big a commitment for me as an attorney, it’s not going to last three years. And so, so I’ll, I’ll have a different kind of payment structure with that client knowing we can do it in magistrate court and then renegotiate when we go up to if, if it goes to a different court later on. So, so we do love having lawyers in math Corps. And for the most part, you know, we have the same, you know, our landlord tenant lawyers are great. They’ve all been pretty amazing through the pandemic too. I got to give them huge,
Jody Campbell (00:14:05):
Huge props here. And here’s the real, here’s the sad reality of our job, Matt, because of the cost associated with hiring lawyers, the longer the case goes, the more you have to pay your lawyers, the harder it is to resolve a case. So my, my experiences, I have a significantly higher success rate, both reaching an agreement and making sure that agreement is fulfilled. If I’m in magistrate court, because of the structure, I’m able to keep costs and expenses down. It just, it’s a, it’s a no brainer. Really is
Matt Hyatt (00:14:36):
Great. I love it. I learned a lot this morning already.
Kristina Blum (00:14:41):
Come to court with me a day. I’ll give you the judge experience.
Jody Campbell (00:14:45):
Be careful what you wish for. She’ll take you out to the jail and you’ll see the, the very dark underbelly of, of judicial system.
Matt Hyatt (00:14:54):
I’ve done a police ride along. I’ve done principal for a day with our school system. I’ve done a fire department rival. I haven’t done anything in the court system.
Jody Campbell (00:15:02):
Be careful what you wish for my friend.
Matt Hyatt (00:15:03):
Yeah. Yeah. That’d be good. So Jody, let’s learn about you. My understanding is you also went to law school and fresh out of law
Matt Hyatt (00:15:11):
School landed a partner role.
Jody Campbell (00:15:13):
Matt Hyatt (00:15:15):
That’s wrong? So, correct me.
Matt Hyatt (00:15:18):
Thanks a lot, Chris.
Jody Campbell (00:15:19):
Yeah. Chris way to set that up. The checks in the mail, Chris. So I had, I had options coming out of law school. I could’ve gone to a downtown law firm, or I also received an offer from where I went to, which is the oldest law firm in Gwinnett county, web Tanner [Powell Roots? and ] Wilson, which is now Powell and Edwards. It was actually founded by Marvin. Alison who’s a former Gwinnett county judge was Mr. Alison, the judge Kristina. No, his, his partner Charles Pittard was.
Matt Hyatt (00:15:49):
Oh, I see. I see. So you said it’s the oldest firm in Gwinnette county. How old is it?
Jody Campbell (00:15:54):
Oh, God, I think it was founded in the 1950s.
Matt Hyatt (00:15:57):
Oh Wow. Okay. So that’s a long time. Yeah.
Jody Campbell (00:16:00):
Yeah, It has been in continual operation. The name has changed, but it’s the same kind of family core group, if you will. Right. So the, the option for me was to go downtown and work at a downtown law firm or come out to the suburbs and work in. And for me there was kind of two deciding factors. Well, three, I should say one. Sometimes the stereotypes are true. And with big downtown law firms, they grind their first year associates. And you know, sometimes you don’t see a courtroom or a deposition or anything for 3, 4, 5, 6 years at Web, Tanner, and Powell. I was sworn in on a Friday on Monday morning, I was sitting second chair of a jury trial on a multi-million dollar case.
Matt Hyatt (00:16:39):
Jody Campbell (00:16:41):
So I’m very ADD. And so if I’m doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, I can’t really, yeah. I mean, look at my walls.
Jody Campbell (00:16:51):
It’s very, it’s very kind of frenetic and chaos, keeping it excited, but if I’m doing the same thing over and over, I get bored quickly. And the second part of it is I’m a people person I need to be in a courtroom. If you put me in a library or in an office writing memos all day, uh, that’s, that’s, that’s a recipe for disaster and it’s a recipe for a very unhappy Jody. And then the third decision was, you know, if there’s one thing that matters most to me, it’s my family. And I made a promise to my wife that I would be able to come home and have dinner with her every single night. And when we started having kids, I was gonna, I was gonna be there. And so I didn’t want to commit to, there was a wonderful lawyer named Mike Terry.
Jody Campbell (00:17:36):
He’s a brilliant lawyer at a downtown law firm. He’s argued cases in front of the Supreme court of the United States. In fact, for a while, he had the record for the largest jury verdict in Georgia history, which actually came out of Gwinnett county, the six flags case, Kristina, it was a Warner brothers shareholder case that he tried it. But I remember I had, was having dinner with Mike. When I was in law school. He was like a mentor in this thing called the end of court that I was a part of. And I was a pupil of his. And he was telling me about how some days he would come home to give his kids a kiss, goodnight, and then drive back to the office and be at the office until midnight or one in the morning. And I was like, I’m sorry, you’re brilliant. That’s no life for me. So that’s how I decided to come to web Tanner, Pemberton Wilson.
Matt Hyatt (00:18:23):
And when did the partner thing happen?
Jody Campbell (00:18:26):
Four years. So most, most time just kind of generally speaking partnership comes along in like here, you know, six, seven, somewhere in there. I was fast tracked a bit,
Matt Hyatt (00:18:38):
Jody Campbell (00:18:39):
I became a partner right at the four year mark.
Jody Campbell (00:18:45):
And it was wonderful. It was, it was a blessing. I mean, obviously it was a validation. It was a endorsement by my colleagues and my partners that they believed in me and they believe what I was doing was good and that I had a bright future. But at the same time, I don’t know if I had necessarily the maturity to accept that role. I don’t know if I was necessarily ready for it. I was there for two years and then a friend of mine from law school who was managing a litigation group down in, at a law firm in Peachtree corners for a, a regional law firm that had offices in Mississippi, Alabama Tennessee said, Hey, I’ve got this great group of young lawyers who are litigators, but they have no courtroom experience. I needed a leader to come down here and groom this team, will you come and do it?
Jody Campbell (00:19:36):
And I jumped at the opportunity. Actually, I had a lunch with Kristina and I was telling her how worried I was and how I wasn’t sure what it was going to lead to five years down the road. And she said, who cares? About five years down, worry about, worry about, just get to Friday. And that’s that, that helped me make the leap. And eventually five years later, I opened up a law office with Kristina’s husband, Jim. So now my name’s on the door. So it all worked out well, but that was that’s my path to where we are today.
Matt Hyatt (00:20:16):
I love it.
Matt Hyatt (00:20:17):
So I want to get to the law firm, but beforehand I want to let’s let’s unpack. How did you two meet or you, were you a lawyer in Kristina’s court or it happened a different way?
Jody Campbell (00:20:29):
Well, Matt, Kristina, if you don’t mind,
Kristina Blum (00:20:32):
Jody Campbell (00:20:32):
You were there, Matt. Kristina was a member of the leadership Gwinnett retreat committee and Matt and I were in.
Kristina Blum (00:20:45):
Yep. Wow. Yeah, that was a decade ago. And
Jody Campbell (00:20:50):
That’s crazy. But you know, obviously as a young lawyer you’re taught and Kristina hates it. When I say this, I’m gonna say it anyways. A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge. Well, your knows what the judge, but, but it’s but Kristina,
Matt Hyatt (00:21:08):
Is it wrong?
Kristina Blum (00:21:11):
Yeah, it should be for sure.
Jody Campbell (00:21:15):
No. What, what that means is let me tell you what that means. What, what I, what that means to me,
Kristina Blum (00:21:20):
A great Lawyer reads the judge
Jody Campbell (00:21:22):
That I will agree with Kristina, but also a great lawyer knows the judge and the judge knows the lawyer and there’s a rapport and a trust that the lawyer is a good person is an honest person. And you can trust what they’re saying. So, but, but of course, you know, as a young lawyer, I’m trying to foster these relationships with people in my world, in my world includes, I mean, I was, I was literally in Kristina’s court. She wasn’t the chief magistrate at the time, but I was in the magistrate court four days a week, literally. So of course I’m like, I’ve got to get to know Kristina Blum. I’m gonna be in front of her.
Matt Hyatt (00:21:57):
So at leadership Gwinnett, you each know who the other, was, So you just didn’t have that friendship and bond yet. True.
Jody Campbell (00:22:05):
I knew who she was. I doubt she knew who I was.
Kristina Blum (00:22:08):
Uh, okay. I probably knew his name, but what he was saying is we were on the dance floor. That’s what he, yeah,
Matt Hyatt (00:22:22):
Where all good. Legal partnerships start.
Jody Campbell (00:22:26):
We started through song and dance.
Matt Hyatt (00:22:29):
I love it. So that was back in 2011. That’s been 10 years. Obviously you’ve become great friends over, over that period of time. So let’s, let’s unpack a little bit what happened next? You’re out there and hanging out on the dance floor, you gotten to know each other and then you got back to
Jody Campbell (00:22:48):
The business. It wasn’t, no, it was a fail. Let’s go ahead and proceed. I’ll let you pick up the story.
Kristina Blum (00:22:53):
Oh, you’re about to tell people my medical history. He’s like, he always loves the story and it’s just a yucky story.
Matt Hyatt (00:23:01):
Let me get my hipa-compliance officer in here.
Kristina Blum (00:23:04):
He was, we were dancing and I would do the YMCA and I threw my hands up and I, I, you know, I’m a pretty athletic person, not, I can’t throw a ball, catch a ball, kick a ball. But Jody and I just, well, Jody and I just finished an 11 and a half mile tough Mudder this past week. We’ve done our second or adventure race of the year. And we’re about to do our third. So that kind of stuff I do cross again, there you go, Jody, Jody probably wins. I got it in really early, but, but I, I have had, I had the shoulder pain. So I throw up to do the YMCA and my shoulder just popped. So right. As Jody’s trying to, I guess, make his friendship move. I was like, oh my God. And I went and long story short, it was, I had a tumor in my shoulder. Yes. That surfaced. And it was underneath my trapezius muscle back here. And when I lifted it up, it just kind of, it broke through the muscle. So I had to have orthopedic surgery.
Matt Hyatt (00:24:10):
So basically Jody saved your life.
Kristina Blum (00:24:10):
Please don’t tell him that.
Jody Campbell (00:24:14):
Jody Campbell (00:24:17):
Obviously I’m just meeting Kristina for the first time. We’re dancing.
Kristina Blum (00:24:20):
It was a benign tumor by the way.
Jody Campbell (00:24:22):
So, so we’re dancing and all of a sudden she starts doing this. I’m like, okay, either one or two or two, she’s faking it. Cause she’s annoyed by me.
Kristina Blum (00:24:36):
it was not,
Jody Campbell (00:24:38):
women have done both of those to me,
Kristina Blum (00:24:42):
But our friendship like AF I think Jody and I like the next year, I, you know, we both are incredibly passionate about leadership Gwinnett, for the, for the reason that I believe that to really affect change in a community, you have to mobilize, galvanize, and incentivize the people of influence. So, so leadership Gwinnett, of course, it pulls together people, you know, in different areas of the community. And I’ve always given so much time and effort to this organization. Not only has it brought me so much personal satisfaction and personal, just joy, but it also, I think really you, you, you lead from the top down. So if you can get people who are hospital pres you know, CEOs and all this excited about, you know, making a difference, that’s not just about dollars and cents, then you can really, you can really force multiply that.
Kristina Blum (00:25:36):
So I’ve been involved in leadership Gwinnett the whole time. So I had to the next year I graduated in 2009, I think so. So that was, I was on the retreat committee, our chief state court judge Pam South was the chair that year. Who’s one of my favorite people in the whole building. And she, the next year they made me the co-chair with doc Schoeller. Who’s the principal of an elementary school in the central cluster. And she was amazing. So we had to pick committee members and we remembered Jody from the retreat about being, you know, warm and the people we look for on a committee as somebody who’s going to be like a camp counselor, who’s going to be a host. Who’s going to make people feel comfortable. Who’s going to make people feel welcome. And so Jody was one of our committee selections, and that was, that was when it started.
Kristina Blum (00:26:28):
And over the years we started figuring out about each other that we have a lot of similar features to our personality and a lot of, um, super specific, mostly useless talent that somehow that’s why that’s phrase. I always say that we have kind of turned into a little bananas cottage industry for philanthropic organizations. And we were talking on the phone this morning, cause we actually talk every day. He is next to my husband. He’s, he’s my best friend. He’s my brother. We don’t, I introduced him to people as my brother now because our families are so intertwined and his kids call me at K. And, but, but we were talking this morning and you know, talking about that, I think he was kinda asking me some questions, like, what do you think? And I said, I don’t know. I think our friendships gotten to the point where, you know, we, we are deep enough in our relationship that he told me one day, a couple of weeks ago that made me cry.
Kristina Blum (00:27:26):
He said, even cause I was being a little jerk. He goes, even when you’re the jerky just jerk on the planet because you’re still my second favorite person. And I think when you achieve that sort of, adult friendships are hard. And I think when you sort of achieve that with someone, you know, he’s got my back, I’ve got his, and together we use our mostly useless, super specific talent to, to, I guess, get other people excited and help other people figure out what super-specific mostly useless talents they have. And that’s kind of one of our missions.
Jody Campbell (00:27:59):
Yeah. And to piggyback on that. So when I joined the retreat committee there, I won’t, I won’t go behind the curtain of Oz. I won’t tell everybody the secrets of, of, of leadership Gwinnett, but there are certain components where creativity, enthusiasm, showmanship, and mainly a complete lack of self-awareness are the single are the four most important factors. And it just so happens that Kristina and I, I think are, uh, about the same person on each of those levels. And so that enables us to do things and plan things and programming that is really designed to kind of remove the, the professional facade a little bit, peel back the onion and get to know people on a truly deep level, because to, again, piggyback on what Kay said. Another part, part of the reason why I love leadership Gwinnett so much is because it takes these insanely important established leaders in our community. And it really strips them down to just who they are, not what they are. And, and once everybody learns who you are and when you become friends with the who, not the, what, that’s when the relationship matters. So as Kay and I have being a perfect example, that’s when I stopped seeing her as judge Blum. And I started to see her as my best friend, Kristina. And that’s when that’s when the magic really starts to happen.
Matt Hyatt (00:29:36):
So you’ve, you’ve called Kristina, Kay, a couple of times to tell Jojo and Kay, where’d that come from?
Kristina Blum (00:29:43):
Here’s here’s the thing that I told you. We talk every morning. Let’s talk about that, Chris. No, there are only two people that call him, Jojo. That is me and Ms. Martha Campbell.
Matt Hyatt (00:29:57):
Oh really? Okay. All right. So it might be four now because you know, there’s me and, and our listener.
Kristina Blum (00:30:07):
Well, here’s a funny story about Kay. He started calling me Kay years ago and, and, and I don’t know this wasn’t all that long ago because hammer is, I’ve been married to Jim for 27 years. He’s amazing. And I, hammer when your last name grownup is hammer, that’s what people call you. They call you hammer. So when I got married, I was like, what do I want to do? I was like, I’m not, you know, I’m not really a hyphen. That’s a lot of work. It seems like I respect those women, but I wasn’t always going to write that my signature is terrible. So I said, hammer is going to be my middle name. So I changed it. You know, just now everything hammer is, is legally my middle name now. But one day we were sitting there and I don’t think he knows this about me.
Jody Campbell (00:30:55):
We should do this.
Kristina Blum (00:30:56):
What? We’ll wait, hold on. So I go, Hey, Jody, you call me Kay all the time. Did you know that’s actually my middle name? K A Y. I was born Kristina, Kay, Hammer; K A Y.
New Speaker (00:31:06):
I was convinced she was playing a prank on me.
New Speaker (00:31:09):
I said, so when you hear, when I hear him calling me Kay, in my head, I don’t think of as an abbreviation. I think it was just my middle name. And he looked like no idea. And I was like, yeah, that’s actually my name. So your middle name, my real middle name is Kay.
New Speaker (00:31:24):
Is Jojo your middle name, Jody.
Matt Hyatt (00:31:28):
That would be the crazy coincidence.
Jody Campbell (00:31:30):
No, it’s Jody, Charles Campbell. I’m named after my grandfather. Charles was his name, but yeah, no, my mom called me, Jo Jo. My wife calls me, Joe. Kay’s always just call me Jody or Joe. And then she started picking up Jo Jo, you know what it was? I think we were at a mutual Christmas party and my mom was there and Kristina heard my mom call me Jo, Jo and Kristina, just slipping Jojo in. And I think that’s where it picked up. And that’s what it’s been ever since.
Matt Hyatt (00:32:02):
So I don’t want to miss out. You said, are we going to do this or we’re going to do what?
Kristina Blum (00:32:06):
I don’t know. I don’t know what he was saying.
Jody Campbell (00:32:08):
W what, what are we doing? What
Matt Hyatt (00:32:11):
Are we going to do this Kristina? That’s what you said, Jody,
Kristina Blum (00:32:14):
About the name. I don’t know what you were talking about.
Matt Hyatt (00:32:17):
Maybe you were going to break into song. I was ready,
Kristina Blum (00:32:21):
Matt. It is bananas. How many people ask us that when they I’m at a meeting or something, you know, Jody talked
Matt Hyatt (00:32:28):
Kristina Blum (00:32:30):
I know, and it’s we, but here’s the thing we use that there’s an intentionality, the way we do things and how we do them. And in leadership Gwinnett, you know, Jody and I kind of formed this friendship, but I will tell you, our friendship is leaders put as part of our friendship. But, you know, we just did the tough Mudder this past weekend. We’ve got adventure races. We’re going camping together this weekend. There’s all these other little subsets of things that, that keep us entertained. But I think that, um, you know, the song and dance thing we started using that years ago, because when you walk into a room of all of these people who have fancy titles, and, and I’m never so entitled that I’m going to think I’m going to have this title. You know, my title doesn’t define me. If you answered the phone, I’m like, Hey, it’s Kristina, I’ve got the robot and I’m on the bench.
Kristina Blum (00:33:26):
Please call me judge Blum, because it’s about the ceremony and the solemnity of the process. But, but I think we use song and dance and stuff like that, just to remind people what they forget. And I think part of our charm is that we never stop trying to have fun. I mean, what is all of this for? So when we do the song and the dance, now we love throwing people off. Like, what is that? What are they doing? We know we’re not the greatest singers. Now we are really, really good dancers. We’re like super good dancers, but we know why we do it is it’s almost like we’re giving people permission to, to be ridiculous and to be comfortable with not being so buttoned up and put on all the time. And, and that, yeah, you might have a fancy title, but I want to know about Matt.
Kristina Blum (00:34:21):
I want to know, because at the, how will we get things done is about relationships. It’s not about titles. My title may be why you answered the phone call, but my relationship with you is why we’re going to have a conversation. That’s how we got project reset going is I was able to call commissioner [Fausque] and said, can you come to court with me today? I need to show you what’s going on. And we need to figure this out. And I was like, Marlene, come help me, Matt, come in. And it was at, it was through these conversations. It wasn’t about judge Blum, commissioner Fausque. It was about what, what tools do you have access to that? We can, we can fix it. So the songs and the dances and the ridiculousness are really two purposes. Number one, we want people to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Kristina Blum (00:35:07):
And we’re really good at that. We want people to remember that, you know, I go home at the end of the day and I, my job is part of the fabric of my being, because I love it. And I love my mission. But at the same time, I’m still about figuring out who I am and what I like to do and where my talents lie. And we unlock little keys to people. Sometimes unintentionally finding out they can do this or that, that is always such a joy to me to learn something or to watch somebody learn something about themselves or remember something they forgot they loved. And that’s such a, such a fun thing to be a part of. Yeah.
Jody Campbell (00:35:47):
And the old adage you can’t lead where you’re not willing to go yourself. If we’re, if we’re asking you to be your authentic self, if we weren’t authentic ourselves, w w we’re we’re just hollow. So that that’s the case, right? It’s, it’s, there’s an intentionality behind it. We’re not just doing it because we can, we’re doing it because that’s who we are. That’s what we love to do. And we asked you to share what you love to do and who you are with us.
Matt Hyatt (00:36:12):
That’s terrific. Let’s pause for just a second. I think that not all of our listeners know what leadership Gwinnett is. And so let’s, let’s just point out because also not all of our listeners may be from here in Gwinnett. A lot of communities have a leadership program, where they bring folks from the community together, teach them all about what’s going on in the community or district that they’re in. So everything from, like I said, earlier, police and fire to court systems, how the educational system works and really shining a light on what the opportunities in the community are to get involved. Right. And so for us in Gwinnette, that’s a one year long program. How many, how many classmates we have typically about 40? Does that sound?
Jody Campbell (00:36:59):
Now we now have 42. When we went to the classmate, it was 36.
Matt Hyatt (00:37:08):
Nice, so That’s what leadership Gwinnett is. And that’s, that’s a common thread for, for us on this call. So that’s, that’s terrific. So let’s talk about some of the projects that the two of you have gotten involved in, because I think what happens a lot is you’re, you’re, you’re a ton of fun. You’re fun to be around, but also you do things in sort of a big and funny way often. And so what are some of those things that you’ve gotten involved in, in the community?
Jody Campbell (00:37:35):
Where did we start?
Matt Hyatt (00:37:37):
I want to know about Gwinnette duck Derby. Let me just cut to the chase. I want to know what in the world is that.
Jody Campbell (00:37:43):
So the Gwinnette duck Derby is actually the primary fundraiser for mine and Kristina’s rotary club. We’re in rotary together. We’re members of the Sugarloaf rotary club or rotary club of Sugarloaf. And that’s a cute guy. Shocking. I know we’re kind of the, we’re not, we’re not your granddad’s rotary club. We’re the, we’re the fun crowd. But the Duck Derby is every single year we sell ducks, rubber ducks that we back before COVID we would literally put them at the top of a water slide, and then they’d float around the lazy river. And, you know, the winning duck would be bought by somebody and that person would win the cash prize or what have you. And so Kristina and I, our rotary club came to us and the people who were planning this particular was Ginger Powell and Jen Fennel, our dear friends and amazing women and leaders in our community. They said, Hey, would y’all kind of be our hype people, which all make promos and which y’all be the MCs of the actual, you know, duck Derby in the past. Kristina and I have both worn a mascot, duck, costume, and gone down the lazy rivers ourselves
Kristina Blum (00:38:54):
And wait, let me, let me just stop for a second because I am a legitimate superhero. If this is the qualification I was wearing the duck costume at one year when we did it and a toddler, we were watching all the ducks come down a toddler, nobody was watching this baby, walked into the deep end of the pool, just walked in, stepped down, stepped down, and I’m looking around going, is anybody going to get this baby? And all of a sudden, and I’ll never forget this. I see this toddler looking up at me from underneath the water nobody’s in. So I am wearing the duck costume. I jumped in and saved the baby. So I saved a baby wearing a costume; superhero.
Jody Campbell (00:39:38):
That’s how I met Kristina Blum. And we’ve been friends ever since
Kristina Blum (00:39:42):
If that was the criteria, if you saved somebody in a question in a duck costume, yes.
Matt Hyatt (00:39:48):
Does an adult in a duck costume jumping into a pool sink or float? What happens?
Kristina Blum (00:39:54):
Um, okay. I’m going to be honest with you. I only came up to here, you know, like my chest, like area. So I had to go shoulder deep to scoop the baby off. And then by the way, the parents weren’t super thankful. I’m like, cause I was a little indignant, like I was soaking wet and I’m like, who’s supposed to be, and I had clothes on underneath. Who’s supposed to be watching this baby. Where are the lifeguards? I think I go into,
Jody Campbell (00:40:23):
Well, Kristina, you have to understand. They also, they probably
Kristina Blum (00:40:26):
Indignant superhero. I was an indignant Superhero.
Jody Campbell (00:40:29):
Their ducks probably didn’t win the race either. So it was like a double loss.
Kristina Blum (00:40:32):
I was like, I just saved a baby. Okay. But anyway, the duck Derby. So they’re
Jody Campbell (00:40:38):
Like, let’s use Jody and Kristina’s powers of enthu to, to, to build enthusiasm, to build excitement for the event. So that’s that, that one, some other things.
Kristina Blum (00:40:47):
Well, we made up, well, what we did is one day I go, I got this idea and it always starts with one of us going. I got an idea and it, I, I said he was coming to my house with his family and you know, and Lindsay, by the way, my husband and Lindsey, Jody’s wife, have a tight bond because I think the two most thankful people in the world that Jody has me and I have Jody are our spouses because they don’t have to deal. Like Lindsay will call me and go. He needs some Kristina time, take him off my hands. So we were sitting around and they were coming over and I’m like, Jody, we got to do this. What are we going to do? So I don’t, I don’t even think I showered that day. We were coming over for a barbecue. So I said, bring the duck. And we made like a duck training video where all these different scenes where it was, it was like a weird Al song. And I trained him and then we, I do video editing. So I edited the video together and it was, it was actually pretty funny, but you know, we, we put it out there. And then I think how many views did that?
Jody Campbell (00:41:55):
It got, it got like 2,500 views and our duck sales, I think went up like 300%.
Kristina Blum (00:42:03):
Maybe I should’ve showered, but it was like a, it was like one of those eighties montages where at first the duck was terrible and I’m training the duck for the duck race,
Jody Campbell (00:42:12):
A hundred percent of Rocky montage. Okay. The start in Rocky struggling. And he’s struggling. He’s struggling by the end. He’s running up those stairs, dead sprint. That’s exactly what it was.
Matt Hyatt (00:42:20):
So I want to make sure it, did I hear correctly that we might be able to find this on YouTube tomorrow,
Kristina Blum (00:42:28):
For sure. Yeah. Um, I’ll, I’ll tell you the craziest project of recent times we were at rotary, speaking of rotary, we were standing there and Brooke Waters who’s in our clubs. She’s also, she’s an executive, she’s one of the, um, the glance Gwinnette, which is a shorter leadership program in Gwinnett county. She comes up to us and cause it kind of, at last year she goes, you know, we weren’t able to have our Christmas party this year. So people do this to us. They just drop stuff in our lap and they go, can you come up with something for us to celebrate the holidays? And I, for my first thought to her was, Hey, pretty lady it’s November. Like, are you mean for like next month? And she goes, yeah. And I said, well, and I looked at Jody because we have these ideas and we, I turned to him and I go, wouldn’t it be funny if you and I wrote 2020 as a musical.
Kristina Blum (00:43:21):
And Jody’s like, yeah. And Brooke goes, that sounds great. Do that. And then she walks away and he’s like, what did you do? So we had to come up with in six weeks, we wrote 2020 as a musical. And it was really funny. It was really, it was, and we, we corralled some of our friends to do it. And then when we got into the process of it, we didn’t think we were trying to give some people, you know, the chance to reflect and to, you know, 2020, I tell people all the time presented, not just obstacles and challenges, but it was a lot of opportunities there to really refocus re-imagined redirect. It was really, I mean, there were some experiences from 2020. I wish it wasn’t. No, it wasn’t fun, but you need to look for the chance to really downshift, take your foot off the gas and rethink. I mean, a lot of people had that. That was a gift. If you look at it the right way, if your perspective was calibrated properly, its a gift. So Jody and I used that tool of creating this musical and it wasn’t all just skewering, like social distancing. There were some moments in there. And, and then we brought in some friends to do it and doing a musical where we had to rehearse by zoom and then doing it at the Eagle theater we had. And just in that short timeframe, I think a hundred people, yeah.
Jody Campbell (00:44:40):
A hundred tickets got sold. We, and we turned it into a fundraiser for the leadership Gwinnett organization. We had, we had people watching digitally. So yeah, necessity was the mother of invention, as they say,
Matt Hyatt (00:44:52):
That’s awesome. So I, what I read here is that one of your fundraising ventures actually raised some pretty serious cash. It’s like a hundred thousand dollars. Right. Okay. How did that happen?
Kristina Blum (00:45:06):
That’s Shelly Shwarzler
Jody Campbell (00:45:06):
Where credit is due.
Matt Hyatt (00:45:09):
the library Gwinnett county library system, right?
Jody Campbell (00:45:11):
That’s Right. We MC’d their, their gala.
Kristina Blum (00:45:16):
She might have raised $200,000 if we weren’t there, Matt, again, it’s all about perspective.
Matt Hyatt (00:45:19):
I was positioning it as a win.
Jody Campbell (00:45:27):
Yeah. Here’s the thing. Uh, Kristina and I, we, what we don’t do is we don’t do any of this for credit. Okay. We’re not trying to, I mean, it’s about the mission. It’s not about us.
Kristina Blum (00:45:36):
And helping our friends.
Jody Campbell (00:45:38):
That’s right. And so when our friends need something like Shelly, who was a dear friend of both ours
Kristina Blum (00:45:41):
Oh. And an amazing woman, she’s just beautiful and brilliant and amazing. And she put together an amazing event.
Jody Campbell (00:45:48):
Yeah. She put together an event. She goes, I need somebody to keep the energy up during the gala. And would you all do it?
Kristina Blum (00:45:52):
I think she said, she goes, it’s a library thing.
Kristina Blum (00:45:59):
I said, do you want us to read from classics while we’re up there? And she’s like “no”
Jody Campbell (00:46:03):
oh, so it’s that? So instead we did like, you know, we did some song parody and we made, we, we literally scoured the internet for every literature book pun. You could find, because we were like, we need some humor, but you know, the whole school board is going to be right there. And my wife said, so I don’t want to get her fired.
Kristina Blum (00:46:20):
It was really stupid. What we did, we started off by singing 24 karat magic by Bruno Mars.
Jody Campbell (00:46:27):
Because why not?
Kristina Blum (00:46:29):
What was the, how did, what was the song? Barry? I remember Jody, if we’re here at magic. No, but it was what was something, something magic in me. I honestly,
Jody Campbell (00:46:37):
I honestly, I honestly do not. Remember
Kristina Blum (00:46:41):
A lot of what we do, Matt is honest to God. We just try real hard to crack each other up. He can make me laugh so hard. In fact, we talk every single day in the mornings and usually I have a routine like my, my husband and I get up and we have coffee together every single morning at 6:00 AM. I have coffee with my husband. So we sit there and sometimes we’re scrolling the news and whatever, and we’re chit-chating and on the couch. And, but almost every morning, Jody and I send each other, something stupid from the internet. Like I said to him yesterday, my, what I sent him was a picture of William Defoe. And it just said, I prefer to call him William da friend.
Kristina Blum (00:47:25):
It could be something stupid, but I think our whole goal and the weird thing is we were talking about this. We’re not competitive with one another. I’ve never had, you know, as an adult right now, my friendships that I have with, I don’t know, there’s like four or five people in my life right now that my husband tells me all the time. He’s like, you can’t live without. And I’m like, I can’t. And there are people that support you and make you better. It’s not about a competition. It’s about who’s, who’s gonna love me being me. And I think that’s really special when you can find those people in your life and you have to prioritize them and make time for them and all the great things. And, but, but back to the library gala, yeah. I don’t know if it was our best work.
Jody Campbell (00:48:15):
I don’t know. I had it. I enjoyed the heck out of myself. I got to rent a tux with tails. It was great. It was putting on the Ritz.
Matt Hyatt (00:48:26):
There you go. Man. We’re really dating ourselves now.
Jody Campbell (00:48:28):
Matt Hyatt (00:48:29):
Most of our listeners have never heard of that before. So I just, I just love the partnership and the friendship and the bond that the two of you have. I think it’s pretty rare. I don’t think it’s something we can go shop for. Do you agree?
Jody Campbell (00:48:45):
Absolutely. But, but, but again, I hate to sound like a broken record. It all comes back to being authentic. You know, the, the, if, if I, and I talked about this, but if I had continued to see Kristina as judge Blum, if I was married to this, if I had prioritized in my head that the professional personas matter more than the real personal connections, I would have missed out on easily, one of the two most important relationships I have in my life. And so I cannot stress this enough. And I even said this, you know, one of the things that we do in leadership Gwinnett is we, everybody gets to give a little graduation speech. And I vividly remember mine, Matt and I, I thanked my class, I thank you. And all of our classmates for letting me, I remember it for letting me be the real me and for accepting me as the real me and for, for realizing that I’m more than just my job. Yeah. And so, yeah, I think you’re right. What Kristina and I have is, is, is rare, but it doesn’t have to be, if you just give yourself permission to be the real, you, people will accept you people and you will find those kindred spirits and those kindred souls and y’all will find a way to utilize each other’s talents.
Kristina Blum (00:50:12):
But I don’t think it’s that simple because what’s interesting is, you know, I tell people all the time at this point in my life and my career, I’ve, I’ve gotten to the point where I am the same person sitting in a boardroom with, you know, uh, at th when I was on judicial council with the Supreme court justice and, you know, for Georgia Supreme court and all this, I’m the same person sitting in that room say, you’re gonna get the same Kristina that you would having a beer with me, you know? And I always say, I don’t want to worry about which version of myself I gave you.
Matt Hyatt (00:50:41):
I think that’s so important. I think that’s a super key thing. I don’t want people to miss it. It is so important to be the same person. It’s a lot of work. If you’ve had your professional persona and your personal persona, your persona with your spouse, right. So better to just one persona applies everywhere.
Kristina Blum (00:51:01):
Okay. So, so when you talk about it, you know, saying I’m the same person in this boardroom is that I am, if you have a beer with me, it’s not, it’s just not that simple and, and achieving these kinds of adult friendships. A lot of it is you every day, you should be figuring out who you are and what you like and what motivates you. And I had a, at somebody in my office the other day, and they’re like, I don’t like doing that. It’s not a job. I enjoyed. I go, well, then you need to take from that, the gift you were given, which is, I know what I don’t want to do. And, and I, and I, I say like having friends like Jody and things like that, and what we do is trying to figure out what I like to do and who I really am and what my purpose is.
Kristina Blum (00:51:43):
And I think the greatest saw sadness or sorrow that some adults in our, you know, middle when you hit middle age is that they get, so quagmired in a routine that they don’t know, they go to work, they go home, they watch, I don’t watch a lot of TV. And when I do, it’s really, really bad TV, I’ll play that. But, but, you know, I think people forget to learn and get to, forget to experience. And they’re like, I’m tired, I’m this and that. And, you know, trying new and different things is something that everybody should do. Like Jody and I made a goal this year to do three adventure races, the Spartan, the Savage, and the tough Mudder. We did the tough Mudder last Saturday. And we did it in the torrential pouring freezing rain.
Matt Hyatt (00:52:29):
Oh yeah. Crazy rain. Yes. Yes.
Kristina Blum (00:52:33):
I cannot exaggerate the amount of mud and it was 11 and a half miles. It was really bad. And there were times I wanted to quit. Like, I was like, why am I doing this? And then I’m like, you know what? Cause I can, and I will. And I willed myself through it and Jody and I were talking about it. And I said, you know, I’m ashamed to say, I felt like quitting. A couple of times, my knees were killing me because people were slipping right. And left. There were miles, seven to 10 were in what I called the torture forest, just running through mud. This thick people wiping out all over the place. My knees were killing me because the mud was just so punishing. We were freezing soaking wet. And there were a lot of obstacles that were really scary too. And I was like, I think in my head that quit, quit, quit kept coming up.
Kristina Blum (00:53:17):
And Jody was like, I would never have let you do that. He goes, and I go, and, and you know what? I kept going because I was like, he’s not going to let me quit and, and having those kinds of things and okay, so you don’t want to go out and do a tough Mudder, our bet, our other best friend, Molly McAuliffe who’s principal at Stripling elementary, she is, she’s doing her first adventure race this weekend up in ASCA doing it’s a bike canoe is eight hours, bike, mountain biking, canoeing, and trekking. So for sure, but it’s that experience. And well you know, we just came back from skiing, Lindsay. Campbell’s like, I’ve never skied and it’s that. And she tried it and did it and took the lessons. But it’s that constant. Like if you’re not every day is an experience. And that’s what I never, I hate missed opportunities.
Kristina Blum (00:54:07):
I hate missed opportunities. So w when I wake up in the morning, I’m like, what am I going to get to do today? And what problem am I going to get to solve? And, and I think people in a, in a weird way, people forget that. So my relationship with Jody, he never lets me forget that. And as much as I’m the big sister of the relationship, he’s taught me two very valuable things that I keep very close to me. And I usually, I don’t have it on today, but I usually have a bracelet. One time we were doing some stupid musical. I don’t know what we were doing. It was pretty stupid. It was a long time ago. And I was playing Maria and he was Captain Van Trap. And we’re about to perform this. And I always do this thing. I freak out before. We’re about to do this. I’m like so stupid because I’m like, I go, this even pushes my limits for stupidity. And I’m sitting there and I kept cracking up and messing up and messing up. And Jody looks at me and I’m not gonna swear on your podcast, but he goes, handle your stuff.
Kristina Blum (00:55:06):
Yeah. And I, and I thought about that phrase and I thought, that’s really just all you need to do every day, every day. I just need to end. So we all have bracelets that say, H Y S.
Matt Hyatt (00:55:20):
Kristina Blum (00:55:21):
That’s reminds you just handle it. And, and the other thing Jody taught me, the lesson that he taught me as a friend is, is he goes by whatever crisis. Number one.
Matt Hyatt (00:55:36):
Kristina Blum (00:55:37):
Don’t freak out. And I tell them, I use that in court all the time. I was like there’s because my job has a high level of emergency. My court is very emergency room. There are dramas and traumas every day. And I always say, I always tell people, we’re going to see good people on their worst day. So how are we gonna handle that? And, but, but when my staff or anybody gets like, oh my gosh, this is, I go rule number one, don’t freak out. And I’m so Jody, Jody has taught me those two things that have measured sort of, you know, how, how we integrate with one another. But having that ability, when you achieve these adult friendships to figure out what you like. And if I always say there’s three people in your life, there’s people, you tolerate, people you like, and people you need and, and, and prioritizing. Those are the people you have to find. Yeah.
Jody Campbell (00:56:34):
Th the only thing I’ll add to that, Matt is, and I agree with you, Kristina. We are always learning one thing. My father-in-law did this. I remember just being really weird. I started, I’ve been with my wife since we were 17. Okay. Yeah. We’ve been, we’ve been married for.
Matt Hyatt (00:56:52):
She’s a patient person.
Kristina Blum (00:56:52):
Jody Campbell (00:56:52):
the most patient woman ever. Yeah, no, we’ve, we’ve been, this is our 17th year of being married. We’ve been together for 23, but I went over to dinner at their house. And at every time I was over there, we’d sit down and my father-in-law would go around the table and go, what did you learn today? Because if you didn’t learn something today, you’re dead. Okay. You learn something every single day. And that’s part of the learning about yourself, learning what you like. My point about the authenticity and being your authentic self is simply in doing that. You’re going to find the companions that are going to help you in that self exploration. And here’s my example of that Kristina’s life partner, my law partner, Jim Kay, when we opened up Blum n’ Campbell, you know, Jim and I had, we knew each other, we respected each other. We practice law in the same area. So we
Kristina Blum (00:57:38):
Jody Campbell (00:57:41):
But on a professional level, we had interacted many a times. Right. But that’s, we, that’s how we knew each other first day, first day at Blum n’ Campbell, he comes in. And do you remember what he was wearing, Kristina? I do.
Kristina Blum (00:57:55):
I don’t know. Probably khakis and a golf shirt.
Jody Campbell (00:57:57):
That’s exactly right. He was wearing polo
Jody Campbell (00:57:59):
Tucked in with press khakis and loafers. I was wearing a pair of jeans, not jeans, but they were like, you know, like casual pants, flip flops and a t-shirt.
Matt Hyatt (00:58:10):
Jody Campbell (00:58:11):
Do you know what Jim is wearing today? A pair of jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops. And I don’t know if it’s for the better, but, but, but, but the point being the point being is that, you know, that’s, that’s one of those examples of does that define who you are or is there more to it than that? You know, everybody knows Jim Blum was one of the most well-respected real estate litigators in the state. I mean, people who are friends call Jim and say, I’ve got this case. What would you do, Jim? And guess what? They’re going to do that, regardless of where, whether he’s wearing a button-down shirt or t-shirt because Jim Blum is Jim Blum. Right? And so part of being that authentic self and finding what you like and what you’re comfortable with, and don’t get me wrong when we’re in court, we’re suit and tie. When we’re getting with clients wear suit and ties, that’s really more about their expectations than our expectations of our own. Right. But part of what Kristina is talking about is she’s so right. Life is a constant evolving process of, you know, finding what, who you are, what you like and finding those people that are going to help you in that journey.
Matt Hyatt (00:59:21):
So we’re going to jump into our lightning round and this. So this is the question that we ask each of our guests, we get to ask two people. So we have, I guess, six answers coming at this time. So, uh, let’s, let’s dive right into that. I want to know for each of you tell us one person that’s made a profound impact on your journey.
Jody Campbell (00:59:40):
Oh, are we not allowed to say each other?
Kristina Blum (00:59:42):
Jody, Of course.
Matt Hyatt (00:59:44):
Yeah, of course.
Jody Campbell (00:59:51):
Okay. So this is what I say that Kristina is the sister that God gave me 30 years too late. I have two brothers who I love dearly. I can’t wait for you to be ready, Jody. You had to wait for it to be ready. It’s overwhelming. Kay being your friend is sometimes a little bit overwhelming. I have two brothers who I love dearly, who I’m very, very close to, but, but you know, like I said, like Kristina is my sister. I mean, my kids call her aunt. Kay. There’s just,
Matt Hyatt (01:00:30):
Jody Campbell (01:00:31):
When I, when I’m booking a trip or I’m thinking of doing something immediately, I think. All right. So it’s going to be me, my family, Kristina, Jim, her son will come her daughter, Maya she’s college aged. So she doesn’t think we’re cool anymore. Oh, wait, no, this trip might be cool enough. She will come on this one. It, it just it’s, you know how there’s people in your life that you just can’t think about doing something without them, Kay’s, that person. For me, obviously with my wife being on top of the pyramid, I feel like that’s fairly important for us
Matt Hyatt (01:01:05):
Kristina Blum (01:01:08):
I mean, I only have one sister. So Jody is the brother I’ve never had. And he, he, yeah. I mean, he’s, I think our relationship, I think, you know, when people talk about, we laugh, nobody ever says Kristina or Jody, Kristina, it’s always Jody, Kristina, Jody Kristina. And, and we, you know, Jody, I think again, you know, as I, as I, my kids are now, I have a freshman at Georgia tech and then I have a sophomore in high school, my sophomore in high school, my son worships Lindsay Campbell. That is his person. But, but I I’m thankful because the things that I, I love my job, I love my mission. And I, of course, Warren Davis, the guy I told you about at the beginning, judge Davis, who called me changed the course of everything. Cause he saw something in me. I didn’t see in myself. And he, and he made me think, Hey, there’s something different for you that maybe your purpose hasn’t been fulfilled yet. And I still don’t think it has, but I’m happy doing what I’m doing right now. And that’s all that matters. But with, with Jody, as my friend, I think getting, getting to have that kind of relationship and friendship has made me a whole lot more comfortable being me and who I am. And, and we had an argument cause we do, we do pick at each other. Well,
Matt Hyatt (01:02:35):
Brother and sister, that’s pretty typical. Yeah.
Kristina Blum (01:02:39):
but I, I did have this conversation with my husband the other day because I said, you know, Jody and I got a TIFF and then we had lunch and we were staring at each other across the table and there’s no anger cause we can move past it. But, but it was like, here’s what I think I did that made you angry and I’m sorry, but here’s what you did. And we had this completely grown up conversation about it and then realized afterwards, I almost felt like, wow, that was pretty evolved of us. And, and, and when you have a comfort level with someone that you can really just say, what’s on your mind. And I, I think my life is enhanced because of the friendships I have. I, I have a fullness and a completeness that I don’t want to take for granted with the women and the men that I get to be part of their lives. And I certainly have integrated them into mind. So being thankful for that, that’s why I lay my head on the pillow at night with a smile.
Matt Hyatt (01:03:44):
Awesome. So tell us, what’s, what’s the single most important lesson you think you’ve learned in your professional career so far?
Kristina Blum (01:03:52):
For me, it’s always, always, always developing the next round of leaders. You should always be training your replacement. My, how I got to where I am and the success I have. I do not believe is any short measure from the investment I put in other people. I mean, people don’t follow you because you have a fancy title. People follow you because you’re worth being followed. And, and I think every day I come in, I was here late last night with one of my newer judges. Who’s just a doll and she’s such a gem and she’s got all the right goods and treats people the way they should be treated. And there was an issue. So we sat and worked through it. But I think, I don’t think we care for our community enough unless we’re worried about who’s coming behind us and make sure that we are sharing the knowledge and the lessons we’ve learned and make sure we’re investing in other people’s success. Because I take great pride when people I have helped or mentored or worked with, have a success. And I think that’s super important for anyone in a profession to make sure that we’re protecting the people in the future, by building up the leaders behind us,
Jody Campbell (01:05:07):
That’s spot on, for me there is the single greatest component to personal and professional success is honesty, honesty, in who you are and, and, and how you interact with people. Come, I keep sound like a broken record. People know? Yeah. The, the craziness, the lunacy, the Fernet facism, which is an actual word, Kristina and I had this conversation this morning about it. That’s who I am all the ridiculous shenanigans that Kristina and I do. That’s the authentic me, you know, in my profession, there’s a lot of people that have a very traditional sense of, or impression of what lawyers are. And, and that is that you can be yourself and still be respected and trusted as a legal advisor. People trust me with their lives, their businesses, their livelihoods, their families.
Kristina Blum (01:06:00):
He’s a really good lawyer,
Jody Campbell (01:06:01):
but, but you know, here’s, here’s what I I’ve, I’ve learned by being the true me by showing people the true me and by not being ashamed of that, they know that I’m authentic. They know that I’m honest. So when it’s serious Jody time, and I have to give you serious advice, you can take it to the bank. That it is my truly held belief, because if it’s not my truly held belief, I’d probably end with jazz hands or some other kind of, you know, pun or joke or something. So just being honest, be honest in, in who you are at all times, and people will accept you and trust you.
Matt Hyatt (01:06:42):
Any current books or a favorite podcast.
Kristina Blum (01:06:46):
Um, I’m reading a book right now. One of my, one of my other really, really best friends, his name is Steve Pereira. He went to key west last week. He and his wife, Alisa are two of my dearest friends. There are two of my dearest friends and we last year we went to key west. It was the one trip that survived the COVID and we went down there and I had this great idea. I thought, Hey, it’s going to be really fun. Let’s read Hemingway and discuss it in Key West.
Matt Hyatt (01:07:20):
That sounds actually kind of cerebral.
Kristina Blum (01:07:21):
So Steven, who I love goes, Kristina its great. I love it. And then his wife Alisa in who’s a brilliant lawyer. She goes maybe. And then, my husband’s like, I ain’t reading it. So the only two that read the book for me and Steve and we got down there and we discussed the book and key west, and it was really kind of an interesting thing.
Kristina Blum (01:07:42):
So we got, when we decided that we have our book club, which my son says, can’t be a book club. It’s just two of us. So we, we read, then we decided we were going to read some of the classic literature just to go back and discuss it as adults, rather than high school kids that they make you read. So we read as I lay dying by Faulkner and we had a book discussion about that. And then we read wise blood by from Flannery O’Connor and now we are reading right now. The heart is a lonely hunter by Carson McCullers.
Jody Campbell (01:08:11):
You note the very dark theme here. Yeah. Honestly, it’s more of like a therapy session for some really depressed people.
Kristina Blum (01:08:20):
I will say when we discussed, as I lay dying, we went to a coffee shop on a Friday afternoon and we, we discussed the book for two hours and then we took our guitars and we played guitars in the park for an hour afterwards. Wow. We met, we met our spouses for beer. It was great. Book club.
Jody Campbell (01:08:41):
So my book, uh, so I’m mostly a pleasure reader. So like, you know, I have, I have kids that are young teenagers, young adults. So a lot of Harry Potter, a lot of Percy Jackson, but one of the things that I do, my, my oldest daughter is a big swimmer and I’ve managed my neighborhood swim team. And so I’m, I’m managing, I’m literally running, swim meets, and you can only imagine, like I’m pumping music, I’m making it a party atmosphere and, um, you know, rooting on kids that aren’t mine, et cetera, et cetera. And a parent walked up to me. She goes, you remind me of Bob Golf. Oh. And I was like, I don’t know who Bob Goff is. I had no idea. I had no idea. And so she bought me, the book loved us. And so I just finished. Love does. And then during COVID during the quarantine in, in, in February, March, April, um, I don’t, Kristina has a job that, of course like it lends itself to crisis management.
Jody Campbell (01:09:39):
Okay. The, the courts have got to keep running. There are so many to work touches every day and it touches so many people. Kristina had to be on every single day and she was solving some of our community’s greatest problems during COVID. Well, I was sitting at home helping my daughters with math homework. Okay. And I did that because my wife is sitting at home teaching her kids. And so I had to stay home and kind of be the support system for my, my daughters. But every single day at five o’clock, I put on a costume of some kind like Gilligan or Mario or Centaur. And I would walk around the neighborhood with my dogs. And I literally, my neighbors would come to the end of their driveway with lawn chairs and sit and wait for me to walk by. What’s Jody, going to do today. And that was fine.
Kristina Blum (01:10:36):
Protecting the community, man. We all add
Matt Hyatt (01:10:39):
Value, right? Yeah.
Jody Campbell (01:10:41):
You know, some people, some people’s strengths are stronger than others, but again, I, if, even if I was able to give people five minutes of a distraction from the struggles of COVID, I was going to do it. And, and so a friend of mine, a friend from high school actually works for Bob golf’s publisher. He reached out to me and said, Hey, have you read Bob golf? I said, it’s funny. You mentioned that I’m in the middle of love. Does he goes, I’m going to send you his next book. Everybody always. Oh, so I’m now in the middle of that,
Kristina Blum (01:11:11):
Just on a total side note, this is another fun, weird random fact about us, Matt, whenever we go on vacation, we take a costume with us. We, our Amazon carts are constantly filled with them. I literally just bought a pound of banana Laffy taffy. It came this week,
Jody Campbell (01:11:31):
Kristina Blum (01:11:33):
Oh, Jody. And it’s our favorite candy? So, well, pixie sticks are mine, but banana laffy taffy. So the costumes like the centaur costume, he mentioned was a purchase that we were sitting in his office. And I was like, I think I know what I’m going to get you for your birthday. I’m going to get you or for your anniversary a centaur costume. Cause Lindsay teaches Latin and he bought it before I did. And it came to the office and he put it on and showed it like an inflatable centaur in the back. And we brought it to Spain and it was two o’clock in the morning. We were in Madrid and are the normals as we call them, went to bed. So Mia, Jody and Molly grab the centaur costume, which we had packed and taken to Spain, went to a national Monument, cross four lanes of traffic with this and did a photo shoot. Jody is, the centaur standing in front of this national monument.
Jody Campbell (01:12:23):
Its a triumphal art.
Kristina Blum (01:12:25):
had to fluff up the centaur
Matt Hyatt (01:12:31):
That seems sort sorta, seems dangerous to me. Like, I don’t know. I think I would be afraid that I was breaking some local ordinance.
Kristina Blum (01:12:37):
We weren’t sure. And I may not be able, I may not be welcome back in Spain. I don’t know
Jody Campbell (01:12:41):
I have confidence in my legal abilities to talk my way,
Kristina Blum (01:12:46):
But we did that with a Viking costume in Iceland. We brought a Viking costume to Iceland. We brought,
Jody Campbell (01:12:52):
We brought a Sasquatch costume to big sky.
Kristina Blum (01:12:54):
That was my birthday. Present to Jody was a full Sasquatch costume because Jody and I also have jackets and all the gear to hunt bigfoot
Jody Campbell (01:13:04):
Yeah. And if y’all want to, if anybody wants to see these photos, I’m not shy. I put them on my Facebook, just Jody Campbell on Facebook go to last year and you’ll see my costume parade every single day.
Matt Hyatt (01:13:14):
Well, I, as, as a casual internet observer, I certainly enjoyed pulling up Facebook every once in a while. I think I logged in just for that, just to see what Jody was up to. That’s pretty awesome. So that’s how social media, all right. So that actually leads me to my next question. When people want to learn more about the two of you and what you’re doing, what’s the best way to reach you or learn more about you
Jody Campbell (01:13:37):
For Kristina its to get arrested.
Kristina Blum (01:13:39):
Kristina Blum (01:13:44):
I’m always just excited to show people the, what the justice, you know, what you see in the news and what you see. I mean, the people I work with and the things that are getting done, there’s so much more good going on in bad. And the bad is what only gets focused on. I always say this, I go, there’s so much more good in the world, but the bad is just a lot louder, the bad, so much louder. So I always, if anybody’s really interested about coming to court, watching hearings or things like that, or they have an interest in it, they just email me. I mean, I don’t, I don’t have screeners or people, you know, or stuff like that, but just email me. It’s Kristina.Blum@Gwinnettcounty.com and it’s K R I S T I N A dot B L U M Gwinnettcounty.com. And if I’m not the right person, I’m happy to find the right person, always happy to share. And quite frankly, show off some of the amazing things our court system is doing for the community.
Matt Hyatt (01:14:38):
I love it. Jody?
Jody Campbell (01:14:39):
for me, for me, it’s, you know, I have a legal need. Give me a call. No, I’m easy way to find me is to go.
Matt Hyatt (01:14:48):
No, you’re not kidding.
Matt Hyatt (01:14:51):
Seriously. If you have a legal need, then we’re going to,
Jody Campbell (01:14:54):
Yeah. If you have a legal need, or if you just want to grab a cup of coffee or a beer. Give me a call. I don’t care if you’re
Kristina Blum (01:14:59):
Watching this Jody, how, how
Jody Campbell (01:15:03):
I was getting there, but I got interrupted. Go to Blum Campbell, B L U M, Campbell, like the soup, blumcampbell.com. Or you can email me at Jody, which is email@example.com. And watch this. I don’t even mind doing this. I’ll give you my cell phone number 770-712-0923. Give me a call. We’ll grab a beer.
Matt Hyatt (01:15:27): I love it. I love it. On that note. It’s time to wrap things up, Kristina and Jody from myself and our audience. Thank you for joining me today and to our listeners. Thank you for tuning in. Should you have any suggestions for future topics? You’d like to hear about email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And finally, before we sign off, I’d like to provide our security focus listeners. With a limited time offer throughout the remainder of 2021 rocket. It is providing audience members with access to its phishing testing and security training platform. Completely free of charge to see if you’re eligible for this offer, simply visit rocket it.com/phishing. That’s P H I S H I N G. Thank you. Thank you, Jody. Thank you, Kristina. Awesome job today.