How to Market Your Book Without Fear with Lindsey Hartz

Episode 42

Lindsey Hartz is a marketing consultant for Christian authors and publishers. She is also the the book marketing agency, Lindsey Hartz Creative. Lindsey has been a part of over 60 book launches and she was actually a big help with my own book launch a few years ago.

In this episode, Lindsey breaks down the four main struggles practically every single one of her clients have experienced, her tips for how authors can push past their fear and become comfortable with marketing their books, how to find your audience so you can begin marketing to them, why you should be collaborating with other authors instead of trying to compete with them, why you need to take your target audience on a “relational journey” as you communicate with them, and more!

Mentioned in this episode:


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Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! Today, I have with me, Lindsey Hartz from Lindsey Hartz Creative, which is a book marketing agency for Christian Authors and Publishers. I know that whether you relate to the word “Christian” or not, you will definitely benefit from this conversation that we’re going to have with Lindsey, this book marketing expert.


Andrea: So, Lindsey, it is so good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Lindsey Hartz: I am thrilled to be here. Thank you!

Andrea: Lindsey and I have kind of known each other for maybe a couple of years, I suppose, because I had a book coming out and I connected with Lindsey and she gave me some really great book marketing advice. Now, here we are, a couple of years later and it’s good to have you here.

Why don’t you tell people that are listening just a little bit more about what you do and how you got going, like why did you even get started with book marketing?

Lindsey Hartz: Great. Thank you! I am officially a marketing consultant for Christian Authors and Publishers. What that means in layman’s terms is I get to sit on my fabulous front porch and read amazing books. Then I get the privilege of connecting with authors and speakers to help teach them how to market that book well to the audience they have and to the audience they need based on what the book is about.

So it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty much my dream job because I’ve always loved to read.

How I got into it? My background is actually in corporate marketing and project management. So out of college until about 2007, I was on kind of a traditional career path. I was working my way up the corporate ladder then my family and I walked through a pretty difficult season that year which resulted in my leaving work and to come home to rebuild my family. It was kind of one of those moments where we were at a crossroads of staying in the life that we had or moving forward into the life that we were meant to be in.

During that time, I personally was taking stock of my life, kind of my gifts and my talents and the purpose and the passion and that I was not pursuing and really trying to figure out who I was meant to be outside of a career that was really based on success and on money and on being overwhelmed and overbooked, and all that sort of thing.

My leaving that job was kind of the trajectory of the next phase of my life. I was 31 years old, suddenly lost most of our income, most of our affluence, but what we gained was so much more.

In that 10 or l1 years since, my family and I had a complete 180 in our life. That season led to our faith, as mentioned. I worked with Christian authors. That’s a direct result of my faith transformation during this time.

My family’s faith, our focused changed from, again, that success mindset and money mindset to focusing on ministry and serving others.

This business really came about because I was trying to marry what I was really good at and what I loved to do which, in my case, has really helped peoples’ lives be transformed through the written word and really do it in a way where I felt like I could make positive impact.

Kind of the impetus for the business was my actually walking into a bookstore and finding a book and picking it up that identified me personally, like who I was and the struggles I was experiencing. Really, the tension I felt between the pull of success, the pull of possession and the pull of wanting to serve, it really helped me see that I wasn’t alone in that. So that book and those words literally gave me the courage to change my life.

It’s really amazing to me that so many years later I get to run a business that helps me provide resources to, hopefully, do the same for other readers.

Andrea: It’s always interesting to me in these conversations to hear people who are doing coaching and consulting like you. They seem to, a lot of times, end up feeling like they’re at these crossroads of some kind in their life and that’s the reason why they go ahead and try this.

It’s interesting to me that you were able kind of… it sounds like you really cared about books because their personal impact on you and then you were able to say, “Well, what do I have to bring to that, that passion, and bring those things together?” Like you, said marrying them. Gosh, what a powerful combination. What an exciting thing to be able to do to put those things together.

Lindsey Hartz: Yeah. And I won’t say that the journey was easy. Obviously, I’m giving a synopsis of what occurred. But when I think back to all the struggle and all the heartache and all the pain that you go through of trying to figure out what really matters to me in my life and what impact do I want to make in the world, and then how can I make that impact on the world without sacrificing my family, which was very important to me.

When I think of the people that listen to this podcast, I think all of us are really just trying to do the same thing. We’re trying to make a little bit of impact to the people that we care most about and the people that we can help most, but we also have lives. We have hopes. We have dreams. We have aspirations. So when it comes to that personal brand and communication strategy in developing that, it’s really first and foremost identifying that for yourself first. Why are you doing this, and then how are you going to get there and keep the things that are most important first in your life.

Andrea: Oh, yeah. So true. This can get out of whack in the pursuit of trying to figure out what you’re doing.

You said it was more messy than you indicated. Can you give us a glimpse into what that meant for you, the messiness?

Lindsey Hartz: I think honestly, from a personal perspective, I had a lot of fear that I had to deal with because when you’re in a corporate environment the expectations are pretty clear. You have a clear career path, you have people holding you accountable, you have deliverables, you have performance reviews that state literally whether you did your job well or not, and you’re compensated for it. So I think in the corporate world, there’s a lot of validation that you get all the time, which can be positive, or feedback which can be like an area of opportunity. So it’s a much different world.

Then suddenly leaving that behind and doing everything on your own in kind of an entrepreneurial world, which is what most coaches and consultants fall into, right? So I think the messy part for me really boiled down to, in the beginning, lack of confidence. It was very scary to leave behind what I knew and what I had my master’s degrees in. Everything I had been working for and training for for years.

Not to be too overdramatic but I did feel literally like I didn’t… it’s like who I was was gone and I was left trying to figure out, “OK, now that I’m not that career woman, who am I? How do I live this life? How do I be a wife and a mom and how do I create a career that allows me to stay present in their lives?”

So I had to deal with lack of confidence. I had to deal with financial fear, I mean going from a paycheck every two weeks to never really knowing exactly how much money is going to come and when.

And I think confidence, it takes, honestly, a lot of guts and a lot of courage and a lot of bravery to get up every day and go, “OK, I’m gonna do what I know I’m great at. I’m going to help as many people as I can.”

Again, because of my faith, there’s a whole element of trust that that provision will come as long as I’m being obedient to what I feel as the divine calling. So that’s what I mean by the “messy”.

And then you also take into account just life. We all have experiences that just shake us. I think one of the misconceptions I had of the Christian faith, because before this I was not of the faith and then after I was, I had this misconception that just because I believed in God everything would be easy. That’s not been true at all. I think what’s changed is my awareness of the fact that really bad things happen to really good people and it’s going to happen to everybody regardless of your faith background.

But what my faith has allowed me to do is have a different perception of what I do with it. So I can let those circumstances and that messiness break me down and prevent me from making an impact, from loving people well, from serving well, and I can let it immobilize me, or I can let it activate me and help me keep going.

So I think, like I said, just different situations that happen with children, with jobs, with moves, with family, with friends, anything. You name it. All of that happens at the same time that you’re trying to live out your calling, or live out your job or live out your role. And every one of us has to take stock of how do we keep pushing through and working through this and be effective and have impact.

Andrea: Well said. OK, I’m guessing that what you learned in your own stepping out into this new role has really impacted the way that you work with clients and serve people who work with your agency. I’m wondering what kind of internal roadblocks or struggles do authors go through when they’re thinking about actually the idea of promoting a book or promoting themselves.

It feels like, I know because I’ve written a book, I know that it feels so personal when you birth a baby and you’re putting it into the world – the baby being the book, of course – and then there’s all this fear and then there’s all these other things that are quite similar to what you just described. How do you help people through that?

Lindsey Hartz: That is a fantastic question and I’m sitting here thinking out of the five years I’ve had the business, I’ve probably run about 60 book launches, had about a hundred clients that may not have been book launches, maybe we’re focusing in marketing, but they’re all authors.

I think I can really boil down the answer to this question to four main struggles that all of them have had. It didn’t matter whether they were a brand new author or whether they were self-published or whether they were traditionally published, whether they had a lot of experience or not. Every single author at any stage of their journey or their experience struggled with these things:

The first is actually comparison. I think there’s this question that authors ask themselves of, “Does my message really matter in the sea of voices that is out there?” The answer, of course, is yes. Your message does matter.

I tell a lot of my clients, especially when I have clients that have books that are similar to other books that are out, I always tell them, “You know, the topic may be the same but you are not. Your life experiences, your personality, your writing style, your unique perspective on that topic matters. There’s going to be an audience for you.”

So the whole notion of comparison is to shift it from comparison to collaboration, which we’ll talk about later and in more detail.

I also would think fear. There’s a very common fear because you said writing is kind of like a book baby. It’s a very vulnerable time. A lot of times authors have material in the book that’s personally difficult for them, or it’s difficult for family or friends. Sometimes there’s fear of, “What if my words are misunderstood by strangers or people who love me, or what if my words are rejected?”

There’s a lot of divisiveness in the world right now in terms of beliefs, in terms of politics, in terms of just all sorts of topics that everybody has an opinion. So when you put your words out there, there’s always the possibility that someone is not going to like it, or someone is going to misunderstand, or someone is going to be hurt.

So my response to this fear aspect of this is you have to be confident in the message that you were given and there’s a reason that it’s important. And just delivering it as well as you can with as much as authenticity as you can with as much integrity as you can, like your work in your brand will stand for itself.

But also having that healthy balance of knowing someone will reject it, someone will misunderstand it, someone will be hurt. You can’t change that but you can change your response to be one of caring and one of respect for that person. Because two people can disagree completely but still be respectful towards one another in their engagement about it.

Andrea: Lindsey, I think that is a really important point that we can’t guarantee that… like you said, people will get hurt. It’s just going to happen. It’s kind of like I love movies and so I always think of mostly superhero movies, because they’re so grand and I love them. Like Wonder Woman or whatever, you go into battle and you’re fighting for a cause and sometimes it just happens. People get hurt whether you want them or not.

Lindsey Hartz: Yeah. I think it’s part of, like I said, that bravery and that courageousness of putting yourself out there. We can’t be afraid to be ourselves. We can’t be afraid to use our gifts because they’re given to us for a reason. So just not having those rose-colored glasses on and thinking everything is always going to be amazing but just understanding if you’re taking a risk to help people, you’re also going to have to understand that sometimes conflicts will come. Again, instead of letting it immobilize you, let it activate you.

Andrea: Love that!

Lindsey Hartz: The last two comments I had that relate to this actually have to do with a sense of overwhelm. I think a lot of my authors feel like, especially with marketing and self-promotion, it’s like what are the right steps and how do I find the time to do them well.

There’s a lot of information on the internet that’s free, and that’s amazing. And the challenges, you could become overwhelmed listening to too many voices. And you could be overwhelmed with understanding how to take those steps and tailoring it to apply to your specific message. I think visibility. You know, how can I get my work in front of the right audience at the right time and make the most impact to their lives.

So I think those four topics are really the biggest struggles authors encounter.

Andrea: Yeah, those were good. Do you have any additional things that you would suggest that people do to become more comfortable putting themselves out there or dealing with these? Or do you feel like you kind of covered that?

Lindsey Hartz: No, I actually have a whole lot to say about that.

Andrea: Alright. Please do.

Lindsey Hartz: Yeah, because I think, honestly, this is how I approach my own business. I am not immune to feeling these things even though I teach these all the time. So when I find myself kind of getting caught in one of those traps, I go through this process myself.

The first thing I always do is to adjust my mindset. I believe in the power of prayer but even if that’s not something that’s part of your world, like taking stock of how you’re feeling and really thinking through, “Is this something that is honoring that will move me for forward, or is this something that’s gonna just make me fall apart?” You can always take stock of how you’re feeling and identify how you can move forward.

Ultimately, when you adjust the mindset, you need to trust that your message can and will transform lives and be confident in that. Your job, once the writing is complete, is to steward that message well through the many tools we have available and just understanding that you as an author are obviously fantastic at creating stellar content. That’s what you do, right? Writing words really gives you the ability to convey hope and healing, transformation, change. That’s your gift.

So if you’re not reaching the audience you desire with your message, just don’t fall into the trap of creating more content. Instead, focus on the root cause of why you’re not reaching the audience and fix it. It’s usually lack of consistency and visibility when marketing your work. So, again, just taking stock of yourself personally, remembering that you were made to do this, and then focusing on what really matters and fixing it is really key.

How you do that is you start with evaluation, listing out your strengths and your areas of opportunity as a communicator and a marketer. Like what are you great at and what’s most natural to you and what stops you in your tracks. My husband and I love therapy because we’re a little strange.

Andrea: I think that’s great.

Lindsey Hartz: So we have a loving long-term relationship with our marriage therapist. One of the things that she described to us early on was this notion of accelerators and brakes in our relationship especially when communicating. So I thought that was a perfect example to use here.

So when you’re communicating or when you’re trying to pursue whatever it is you’re pursuing, launching a product or a book, etcetera, like really figuring out what causes you as a person to accelerate and move forward with drive and passion and what causes you to hit a hard brake, almost like you’re hitting a brick wall. So literally grabbing a piece of paper, putting accelerators on one side and brakes on the other and just jotting down what are those things.

Then once you have those outlined, you can also apply that same principle to just where you need to connect with people. So there are tons of online and offline platforms and it’s figuring out where your specific audience is and focusing there, not trying to be everywhere all at once.

Andrea: Oh, yeah, it’s such a good point because, kind of going back to what you said the last point too, I think we can get a little too spread out both with our message and with where we’re sending it. It’s easy to get spread out. I know I feel that way sometimes and it’s hard to decide how we’re going to narrow that in on both regards.

So you said to try to find where your audience is and then just focus there. But how do you know? And maybe this is something that people are supposed to do before they write their book, but some people are self-published and they don’t necessarily have anybody walking them through a process of how to make sure that they find their audience or know who they’re writing for. So do you have any thoughts on that?

Lindsey Hartz: I do. I think, honestly, this is kind of the phase that happens after that evaluation because before you do anything, you need to understand what’s going to be easy for you and what’s going to be really hard.

Then the next step is really preparing, like learn what you need to and delegate what you can’t. If you need to take a course, read a book or go to a conference, that’s awesome. You can learn what you need to and you can implement the steps well. And if you can’t handle whatever activity you need to do that’s where you start looking at people resources so you can do what you focus on the most or what you love the most, which is writing.

So people resources could be someone like me. I’m a marketing and book launch consultant. Or it could be a virtual assistant, graphic designer, website or tech support, whatever the case maybe. Like understanding that, yes, there may be an investment in those things but you have to weight your time, your strengths, your anxiety, and your ability to get things done across that investment. And then really taking all of that and putting it into a plan.

So when we work through teaching authors how to have a plan for their content, especially as it relates to the book, we always have a step-by-step plan that has due dates – those are very important – of how you’ll create content and communicate with your readers. So that can include things… well, the most important thing is I blocked time on my calendar to focus on these tasks weekly.

Andrea: Good point.

Lindsey Hartz: I do not move it unless someone is sick. Because if you don’t block the time, everything else would become more urgent.

Andrea: Definitely.

Lindsey Hartz: So blocking time to really map out your content monthly would be beneficial for most authors to do. So what I mean by that is taking time to really determine a monthly theme of what you’re going to write on.

You can determine that theme in one of two ways. You can come up with your own suggested topics based on like an upcoming book, for example, and then survey your readers and ask them, “Hey, here’s a poll of these topics. What resonates with you most? And then write on those topics based on what your readers are asking for because that will increase engagement and interaction.

Or do a survey and ask them, “What do you wanna hear about?” and incorporate it. This is really a key piece of building kind of that brand and that community because most readers don’t want to be talked at. They want to be heard and they want you to serve them and give them what they need.

Andrea: Definitely.

Lindsey Hartz: They’re coming to you for your voice of influence. They’re coming to you for your expertise and your wisdom, but they also want it to be personal. They want a relationship.

So constantly asking your readers, “Hey, how can I help you?” and then following through on that really, really helps you connect with readers and they’ll remember that down the road when they have a book that is available to them to purchase from you.

Then once you have your theme and developing your content from that, you know, what blog post or newsletter topics related to that theme are you going to publish that month? What social media copy do you need? What graphic needs do you have? And then create a posting schedule for yourself.

That helps with two things. We talked about consistency earlier. So if do you this every month, you’ll consistently create your content in advance. Don’t wait until the month of, so you won’t be behind and you can allow for life situations. And then it helps with visibility because your readers are going to know what to expect from you. They’re going to know they can trust that, every month, this material would be coming out and they can keep coming back to you for more.

Andrea: You know, Lindsey, as I was listening to your description of what we should be doing and how you structured that and everything, I was thinking about how perfect you are for this, first of all, and then also how well your particular voice fits with the methods that you’re suggesting. I know that you took the Fascinate Assessment, which I invite any of my guests to take, and you came out with Alert plus Power, which is actually the same as my daughter, first of all.

But alert is also all about preventing power with care, so that planning ahead and teaching people how to plan ahead and get all of that straight and figured out is a gift that you have that you’re offering people, which I’m sure is different than other book launch consultants. So they’re going to do something different, but your specific voice, the way that you handle this is I just love that.

Lindsey Hartz: And I actually loved the Fascinate Assessment. To be honest, I thought I would come out something different, usually around relationship building because usually my strength is that whole empathy, relationship building, building bridges, connecting people. That’s usually what my gift things fall into. Even though most people think I’m always going to come out as detail-oriented and organized, those things are true about me but it’s actually not my personality. You know what I’m saying?

And this assessment, the Alert and Power, one of the things that said is you’re respected because of your relentless pursuit of what you believe in, and I thought that is so perfect because it’s true. It’s the core of everything that I do in my business. Because my business is not just a business to me, it’s first and foremost a ministry to serve others.

I think if a lot of authors, coaches, and consultants would perceive their businesses that way, you’ll find that you naturally communicate in a way that highlights that and draws people in and almost makes them feel comforted by you but they can’t always explain it. Instead of being repelled by salesy, markety language, sometimes I do, in a great, kind of your typical sales emails and stuff like that and to my communication, but for the most part, it’s always overlaid with that care, with that purpose, with that mission. That’s really, really important for people to know and understand about you.

Andrea: What’s interesting, though, is, Lindsey, that that is what you believe, that that is what you’re pursuing. You’re pursuing that relationship, you’re pursuing that connection because that’s what you believe in. But you’re doing it in such a way that you come across as the ace, the person that has things organized and all that. So it’s an interesting blend of things. I love that.

Lindsey Hartz: Well, the last thing I’ll say about that is I pretty much thought I was weird until I started running my own business.

Andrea: Yes! Oh, I hear you.

Lindsey Hartz: I’m like, “Why am I like this?” Then as I kept learning more about the confidence in myself and my skill set and the way my mind works, it totally makes sense to me that I do the business that I do, that I run the business the way I do and that I’m not ashamed to do it.

I also teach my clients the same thing because, at the end of the day, again, marketing is more about building relationships with people and drawing their stories out of them so they understand they’re not alone. That really what marketing is.

You can go find tactics and checklists and sales formulas and all that sort of stuff and there’s very real, strategic reason behind that. I’m not dismissing it and I do use it, it’s just that that is the form and structure of what you’re doing, but the actual words have to be the “why”. Why are you doing this? Why do you want to help people? How do you want to change their lives? That needs to be more prominent in your work than all form and function.

Andrea: Yeah, good stuff. So is there anything else that you would recommend that authors, coaches, consultants who want to be authors, message-driven leaders who are thinking about sharing their message in this way, is there anything else that they should be clear on pretty much before marketing their books but maybe just things that they could be working on even now?

Lindsey Hartz: Absolutely. I have two main things. The first one is relational and the second one is strategic. I mentioned earlier that we would talk about collaboration later and that is now.

Andrea:   Sure. Great!

Lindsey Hartz: I want everybody to have in their head collaboration, not competition. So when you’re developing your marketing plan or you’re trying to figure out what to do with your book, you need to realize that you’re not meant to do this alone. You need to remember that you have a unique voice. You need to remember that there is a whole community of people out there that may have a similar topic or similar audience that you can connect with to increase the impact and influence of your work.

So take the whole comparison-competition piece out of the equation. Remember that there’s enough audience for everyone, and practice genuine outreach where you’re _____ with your peers to learn more about what they do and share more about what you do. Be generous, helpful, and authentic as you develop a relationship with your peers and build trust with one another. The big no-no is your first contact, second, third, fourth, or fifth should never be an ask. You’re building relationships with the people so don’t fall into that trap of reaching out to someone just to ask them for something and they don’t even know who you are.

Andrea: Yeah, don’t make it a transactional.

Lindsey Hartz: Right. It’s a relationship. So what’s important about this is I get questions all the time. “I just signed a book contract. What should I do for marketing?” And I’m like, “Build relationships with people,” because in the traditional publishing world that means they have 18 to 24 months usually before their book is going to come out. I’m like, “Start now building relationships.”

That doesn’t mean that everybody that you connect with in month one is going to turn into a collaboration, but you have to develop those relationships to see where it goes without expectation. And then also give people time to get to know you, to get to know your work, to get to know your heart before you ask for an endorsement or to be on your launch team or to promote your book.

I’m not telling you anything that I have a personally experienced so all of this information is stuff that I had to work through in building my business. I will tell you that my attitude towards collaboration and not competition is why I run a business of word-of-mouth referrals for five years. It’s because I genuinely care about people.

There are some people that we connected and it wasn’t really a right fit, we still talk because I’m interested in them as a person and I might know someone who needs their services.

So it’s really understanding you can’t look at every person you connect with this as someone to further you. You have to look at every person as someone that you can connect with, that you can give and receive from potentially. Sometimes, you’re just giving with no receipt and that’s OK.

Then when you do get to the point where there’s a natural relationship or collaboration that you guys can connect on, you always thank them personally. Send them a note, call them, send them a gift card, send them flowers, whatever. Don’t take for granted their time and their investment in you. So basically, don’t be a taker.

Honestly, I don’t think people do this on purpose. I think they just get so busy and so overwhelmed and they’re on so many deadlines that they forget the basics. I don’t know if you ever read those Ms. Manners columns?

Andrea : Sure!

Lindsey Hartz: I kind of grew up on that stuff because my parents were very much into etiquette. So I always think of those old lessons of “treat people the way you want to be treated” and “thank them even if they couldn’t help you”, like just be genuine.

The strategic part actually has to do with your email list. So we hear all the time about how people are overwhelmed with social media and algorithms change and they don’t know where to connect with their readers and they don’t know what to do. My philosophy is that if you’re focusing on building your email list first and foremost, that is your property. It’s permission-based marketing so you’re asking these people for permission. They’re giving it. That means they have signed up to hear from you and they want to hear what you have to say, so communicate with them.

The collaborations I was talking about earlier help you build that audience through word-of-mouth marketing and then social media is really just a way to amplify. So many authors get this a little bit backwards. They focus on the social media aspect first, which can be really like throwing tiny little pebbles in the sea hoping it gets seen.

To be honest, because of the social media platform is not being something we personally own, we’re subject to their changes. We don’t have any control if they change their algorithms or they change their policies. So when you have your email list you have a retain list of readers, potential customers that you have access to, that you can communicate with no matter what happens in the social media landscape.

Then once they’re on your list, make sure that you’re creating a journey for your reader once they join. So don’t have people sign up and then not communicate with them. Make sure you’re leading them through the resources you have, how you can help them transform their lives, gain their buy-in or ask for their feedback as you’re working on projects.

Ultimately, pique their interest with content related to your upcoming book, because that is what the email list is for, of course being generous and soft-hearted like we talked about earlier. But then the other thing is make sure that you’re not afraid to make, occasionally, a clear call to action or ask of your readers.

So if you focus most of your efforts on serving them and every once in a while you say, “Hey, I have a book. If you pre-order here, now, you’ll receive this.” That’s an ask. And, “I have a new product that’s coming out. If you wanna hear more about it, sign up here.” “I’m looking for people to interview on this book topic. Hit “Reply” and let me know when we can get scheduled.”

You have to learn how to integrate those kinds of asks into your email marketing from the very beginning because then your audience is used to you serving them and occasionally making asks of them. So it’s not so weird when you suddenly you have a book and you’re like, “Hey, I have a book.” So what you want to do is make sure you have a relational journey that isn’t full jarring to your audience. Make sense?

Andrea: Oh, yeah. Oh my goodness. So many, so many valuable things here, Lindsey. I can’t believe how much you’ve packed into this little interview. Love it!

So another thought that I do have is I know that not everybody feels like they’re prepared to do all the things that you’ve just suggested and so I just want to offer a little bit of comfort to the listener, too, that even if you’re not ready for everything, you can get started with something. And you can continue to build and make it a work in progress, basically. That you’re continuing to build this journey and you’re continuing to build the content and all those things.

So don’t be afraid of the big picture thing that might feel intimidating. Instead, use it as your vision for what you could do and what you’re headed towards because I don’t think I would be where I’m at right now if I had waited until I had it all figured it out. Because every few months, I’d be like, “Oh, this is this new thing that I can implement.” Or I have a better sense of what I’m doing, and things like that.

Gosh, Lindsey, thank you so much for all of those really helpful tips and that encouragement. I really appreciate that.

I know that you had something planned for our listeners, so why don’t you tell them about that right now?

Lindsey Hartz: Absolutely. What I’m going to do is I’m going to provide a download of the notes for this interview, because I know there’s a lot of great inspiration in what we talked about.

Andrea: It’s awesome!

Lindsey Hartz: I always love your insights and commentary, but also just kind of those step-by-step plans that we talked about.

So I’ll have the download for the notes for the interview and then I also have two free book launch project plan templates that actually start from the moment you know you want to write a book.

So planning for a book launch is not just about the time period around the release. It’s what you do before, to engage with the right audience and build the email list. It’s what you do during the launch to actually create your marketing campaign and get the message out. And it’s what you do after the release to continue ongoing promotion and to continue to connect with readers.

So at the link provided, you’ll be able to access the notes and those plans. I’m just looking forward to connecting with you.

Andrea: Awesome, Lindsey!

When she said “the link provided” that means they’re going to be in the show notes. So you can find the show notes at You can find that link with all that information that Lindsey is talking about in the show notes at So go to and that’s where you’re going to find the link that Lindsey was talking about with all these amazing stuff that she’s providing you.

Thank you so much, Lindsey, for your voice of influence with authors and to help get people’s message out into the world. Thank you so much for being here.

Lindsey Hartz: Thank you for having me. It was a true joy.

Andrea: Awesome!


How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Episode 41

What if no one cares about what you have to say? What if people will find out you’re not really the expert on your topic? What people think you’re a fraud?

In this solo episode, I dive into the dreaded Impostor Syndrome. It’s something almost every single coach, consultant, entrepreneur, and freelancer has experienced. We all have our doubts and fears; especially when we put ourselves out into the world in such a public way. Yes, even I have had experiences with Impostor Syndrome and that’s why I’m giving you my best tips and tactics for how to overcome those doubts and fears so you can feel confident in what you have to say.

Mentioned in this episode:


Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.




Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! So, have you ever felt like an imposter, or maybe you’ve heard of imposter syndrome? It’s that feeling that some high achieving people, experts, get when they don’t just really don’t think that they have what it takes. They think that they are going to be found out that they don’t really know what they’re talking about or that they don’t really have the ability to do what they are setting out to do.

I think that this problem is definitely an issue that we need to talk about, because if somebody who is a message-driven leader; you have expertise, you have skills, you have things that you really care about, it’s so important to get a sense of what you are actually able to do, so you’re not questioning yourself a lot and so that you’re not super concerned about this imposter syndrome kind of feeling that people can get.

Today, we’re going to talk about what to do when you feel like you are an imposter, like somebody is going to find you out and expose you for who you really are. I tried to use a lot of personal examples in my podcast, writing, and things like this. It’s just kind of my style and it’s part of what I do. I disclose things about myself. I let people in to see things that I struggle with and how I’ve overcome them or that sort of thing in order to develop a bond with my audience, with you; in order to kind of be relatable, I guess. But at the same time, I also want to share with you what I learned from these experiences.

I don’t like to use other people as examples very often unless it’s my family and it’s a situation that we’ve agreed to share just because it’s hard, it’s hard to share other people’s experiences. I feel like what I want is I want to relate to you directly, personally, rather than give you outside examples and talk about a problem as though it’s not something that I deal with because it definitely is.

I want you to know too that part of what it means for me, what I believe in being a message-driven leader and what voice of influence means, is that you figure out your own voice. You may not want to share or even mean to or it may not be your thing to personally disclose your issues, your problems, and things you struggle with; but it maybe something that you can sprinkle in to what you do.

So, today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my own experience of feeling like an imposter or feeling concern that I don’t have what it takes to be able to go out there and share my voice with the world.

A few years ago, I was struggling just internally, struggling relationally, just not feeling like I had a voice. I felt like I had expertise to share with the world, which seemed crazy that I would think that. Who says, “I have things that I need to share with the world.” Well, probably you. You’re probably somebody who feels that way, as well.

I didn’t want people to feel like I was being conceited in thinking that I knew more than they did, because there were plenty of times in my life, especially as a young child, where I had that attitude. And it was very clear that having that attitude does not actually help make change in other people.

When you think that you know everything and you just tell people what to do, it very rarely actually gets people to change. They might do what you want them to for a minute, but in the end, they don’t appreciate that. So I struggled. I was pulling back and forth with this “Should I share what I think that I know?”

I feel like I have this thing, it’s like this outward desire to move this outwardly and express it, but at the same time I was pulling back on admitting that maybe I had expertise. I know a number of reasons why and sometimes it had to do with feeling like an imposter but sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it had to do with really not having that expertise or it might have had to do with fearing what other people think and things like that as well.

So when you are looking at your own experience with feeling like an imposter, with trying to decide whether not you’re going to actually say and admit or share your voice with the world in a way that says “I am an expert in this.” When you’re looking at that and you’re feeling like an imposter or you’re feeling afraid to let it actually happen, to actually put it out there, there are few things that I want you to think about. So, I’m going to take you to those things right now and continue to share my voice with my experience with you along the way.

Number one, make sure that you are focused on serving others not on what others think of you. If you think that you have imposter syndrome or you think that you’re struggling with putting your voice out there because “What’s going on? What would people think?” It could be that you are more focused on what you’re going to get out of the equation than your audiences. That’s hard to admit because what you do when you say you have something to share with other people, you’re saying, “I’m going to share this with you whether or not it actually hurts me, whether or not you reject me, or whether or not you ignore me,” that sort of thing.

If you’re focused on making sure that you’re heard, you’re focused on making sure that you’re understood, or you’re focused on making sure that you get the reaction out of people that you want then you’re more focused on you and what other people think of you than you are on serving them.

I don’t want you to spend a lot of time dwelling on this idea that maybe you’re little too focused on yourself, but it’s something that you need to actually look at. You need to get really honest with yourself, with God, with others, and what is it that you’re really worried about right now. Because one of the definitions that I have for passion, my definition of passion that it’s not something that fulfills you, it’s something you’re willing to pour yourself out for, for others.

If you’re connected to a passion, you have this expertise and you have this passion to share your expertise, it’s not just about making yourself feel good for sharing it, it’s about being willing to put yourself on the line to share it. You may be somebody who had all A’s in high school and maybe you graduate top of your class in college or maybe you’re this entrepreneur who has been out there and making tons of money, I don’t know, you’ve done something amazing but you keep kind of pulling back and saying “Oh, but it’s not good enough,” or “Oh, but I’m not really that good.”

Number one, you ask yourself, is this something that you’re needing to fulfill you, or is it something that you’re willing to pour yourself out for? That’s number one.

The second thing to do when you’re feeling this way is to consider, “What do I need to learn? Is there an actual problem here? Is there an actual deficit in me?” If there is, if you feel like you actually do need to learn more about the subject, then go learn more.

You don’t have to feel like an imposter for saying that you really care about this subject or you do have expertise of some kind within the subject or a way to approach the subject. What you can do is you can go out and learn more. As Amy Porterfield says, “You can get down into this entrepreneurial rabbit holes,” and start just going so far and digging so far into it that you get lost.

You can do that with learning more, but I think that if you really do need to learn more about a subject, before you ever start moving in that direction, give yourself a chance to think about “What is my goal here? How much more do I need to learn about this?” Maybe you could talk to somebody else and ask them, “What do you think I need to learn about this?” Is this something that you need to learn information about, or do you need to grow in your skills? Because those are two different things but they’re both very important.

So if you are feeling this way and you know that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to pour yourself out for this thing, you’re willing to put yourself on the line to help others and serve others. But you’re not totally sure you have enough information or that your skills might need to be tweaked then you go do it. You don’t have to sit there and say “Oh, I’m experiencing imposter syndrome.” You don’t sit there and say, “I can never get there,” instead you say, “OK, well what is it gonna take to get there? What do I need to learn more about or what skills do I need to acquire?”

So you figure that out. Go to somebody else who’s doing what you’re doing; go to somebody else who has expertise in this area of some kind, somebody that you trust to give you really good advice and whether you just ask for the advice or pay for the advice, whichever way it goes. You can gain the skills that you need to get better. You can gain information that you need to move forward. If you care about this that much then you’re going to be willing to do it and you’re going to be able to put yourself in a position to grow in this area. So go ahead and go do that.

The third thing that you could do is to integrate your expertise. In episode 25 with Dorie Clark, it’s called How to Monetize your Expertise, episode 25 of this podcast, Dorie and I talked a little bit about concept that she talked about in a book called Stand Out. I really, really benefited from this little bit of knowledge. So I want to put you back to that episode if you want to go and listen to it. You can also buy her book Stand Out, which would be fabulous.

One of the things that she talks about in the book is if you want to stand out, one thing that you could do is to integrate your expertise. So you take two different concepts or two different ideas or two different genres or two different industries and you bring them together in a unique way. This is something that I did with Voice of Influence. I put together the concepts in my expertise in the area of voice (singing), singing and conducting and voice coaching (helping people to find their literal singing voice), and tweaking that and making it better and things like this.

I put that together with the idea of self expression and having a voice in the world and together that all became Voice of Influence. So this is something that you can do as well. Maybe like me, you’re not the best singer in the world. You have some experience and you’ve done some really cool things with this expertise that you have, but you’re not so stand out with this particular thing and at the same time, you really care about this other issue.

For me, it was self expression and authenticity and things like this, something else that I thought about a lot over the course of life. It’s something I really care about and I’ve studied, have a counseling ministries degree. So putting these two things together allowed me to be able to stand out in a different way than I would have if I was trying to do just one or the other.

I’m not an expert at counseling for example. I’m an expert or I’m not a standout star with singing, but when I put those two things together and come up with a way to talk about these subjects, all of a sudden it all make more sense. It’s about self expression and it’s about what you do and what you say. After a while, I realized that it was a personal brand strategy was this thing that I was talking about, “How do you figure out what you’re up to, what you want to do, how you express who you are in the world?” And that is personal brand strategy.

So when I put together those things then it becomes a unique offering that is mine. What you can do is you can do is you can do something similar to that. You can put things together to come with something that is uniquely yours and becomes your unique voice or your unique offering or way of talking about something or whatever. But it’s a way for you to stand out; it’s a way for you to combat this idea that you’re not good enough in one area, alright?

The next thing is to get real experience doing this thing that you’re doing, get really experience with real results. When you get experience, it makes more sense to your brain; it makes more sense to you that you actually do have something that backs you up. You know, you do have some expertise. You are helping people with this thing.

For me, when I was helping people before, not in the paid setting, I was doing it in ministry or I was doing it in my life as a friend, as a mom, as a wife helping people think strategically about their problems or think strategically about how they’re going to communicate with other people. I knew that I was pretty good at it but I didn’t know exactly what the results were.

I had to go back and when I got to this point, I had to really start trying to figure out, “OK, how does this work in the world when you’re putting yourself out there in this more public way when you’re wanting to be a coach or consultant or being known for a topic of some kind?” What I realized is that I really had to have conversations by kind of exploring my abilities around personal brand strategy.

So, I would talk to people or people would bring up problems that they’re experiencing and I’d like “That’s a problem I think can help with.” So I would just offer to help in some way, whether it’d be a conversation or over a course of time in helping somebody with a project or something like this. In doing that, that helped me to be able to see that there was something that I really did have to work with here like, OK, so I didn’t know a personal brand strategy was but now that I kind of knew what it was, I just needed to start exploring what that really look like for me to help people with it.”

That’s what I did. I did that for free. I would have these conversations and give people a chance to explore their personal brand strategy with me, or explore how are they’re going to write or talk or communicate concepts that sort of thing. This is something that I didn’t do right away and that I really wished I would have done more at the beginning when I was doing this.

When you are exploring options, when you are having conversations with people for free or to get testimonials and that sort of thing, you really need to try to make sure that you get a ‘before and after’ that you have a sense of the transformation that actually takes place in that person that they can articulate it and that you can articulate it in an authoritative way. If you’re going to do this, you could also do workshops, seminars, or teach a class or that sort of thing to explore this in person.

But what you do is you either do a survey and so you do a survey before and after asking people you know, “How comfortable are you with this topic,” or “What transformation are you really trying to get at,” because that’s how you’re going to structure your survey. But you find out their comfort level, their skill level ahead of time beforehand and then you do it again afterwards and you say “How much did this help? How much did you change because of us working together?”

When you do that then you have actual matrix and even if it’s subjective, it’s at least something that somebody outside of yourself has said “You know, you have made this much difference for me.” That makes a real difference when you’re trying to figure out whether or not you have what it takes and whether or not you’re feeling like an imposter today to go back and look at this matrix, to look at these testimonials that people give, and I will definitely ask for those if you can get them. Ask people “How did this help you? How did this change you?” That sort of thing.

Don’t ask them to say “Oh you’re such a good teacher,” you know that doesn’t help. You have to ask how this actually changed them and what was the transformation that took place inside of them. “I’m so much more confident about my ability to whatever, or I wasn’t able to work with this program and now I can do it masterfully.” Whatever the transformation is that you’re trying to accomplish that’s what you want to survey, that’s what you want to get matrix for.

So when you have that and you have this experience where you’ve worked with people, you’ve gotten the real results, you’ve tested out your content, and you’ve tested out your ability to help people with this area then you keep those. You don’t just throw a couple up on your website and then tuck them all away, instead if you need help remembering how much difference you make for people then maybe you need a board.

Maybe you’ve heard the idea of having a vision board where you put on there of things that you want to do or what you’re shooting for and that sort of thing. Well, this is a different kind of board; in fact I would call it a passion board poster.

At the beginning of this episode, we were talking about the very first thing that you want to do is to make sure that you are doing this in service to others instead of worrying about what others think of you.

Well, we’re talking about that same concept of passion, of being willing to put yourself on the line because of the results that you’re getting for people; you know that you’re helping people. How do you know that? Because you got pictures and testimonies from people up on your passion poster, your passion board or whatever you want to call it. It can serve for you as a reminder of those people in your life you have said to you “This matters to me. Your expertise has helped me.”

Then when you start to feel like it’s not worth it or that you’re afraid of standing out for this area of expertise, that you’re feeling like an imposter, you go back to that passion board and you say “You know what though, even if I do feel like a failure, even if I do feel like I’m going to get ignored or worry about being rejected or feel like I’m going to get found out, the truth is that I have seen results in the past and I’m going to keep going for them because there are more people out there like these people here on my passion poster. That changes things.

When you start to get really sure that you are helping people; that you have helped people then you need to be reminded of that. So when you get to this point where you’re feeling like an imposter, when you’re feeling like “I’m not sure that it’s worth standing out for this,” or that “I’m not sure if I really have what it takes, that people would respect me enough to listen to me,” that sort of thing. Then there are practical things that you can do to get rid of that.

Number one: Again, you want to make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons that you’re not here to get validated from other people but that you’re here to put yourself on the line for other people, you’re here to serve. When you do that, you have a real sense of your passion in that sacrificial kind of way, “I care about this so much, I’m willing to put myself on the line for it.”

Number two: You learn what you need to learn. Find out more if you need to find out more, the knowledge piece of it or learn the skills that you need. Get those skills, go ahead and get them. If you’re not sure how much of those things you need, go and ask somebody but make sure that it’s clear, “I’m going to get this. I’m going to learn this. I’m going to understand that. I’m going to be able to do this skill and then I’m going to move on and I’m going to keep moving toward putting myself out there.”

Then you say “Well, do I need to integrate my expertise? Is there a way to bring different things together, different areas of expertise or different industries, different things together to create a unique spin on what I have to say?” And then you got experience actually doing it. You get real results testing before and after, getting a testimonial, getting the matrix, like I said even if they are subjective. Maybe they’re not, maybe they’re objective. Either way, you’re getting people’s testimony. You’re getting people to say “This is the help that you’ve given me. This is how I have changed because of your help.”

You’re not asking for this just to be validated, you’re asking for this to be reminded that you’re voice matters. This is important. You’ve put those two things together, the idea of passion and the idea of validation, this passion board. We’re talking about getting this information so that you can say and tell your brain, “You know what, I am willing to put myself on the line for these people because I know it matters. I’ve seen the results. These people have seen the results of their lives and so I’m going to keep putting myself out there even if I feel nervous, even if I feel like an imposter. I’m going to keep going,” and when you get to that point that’s incredibly empowering for you.

I’ve had different people on the podcast over the past few months who have said things like “You know, I still feel fear but now I just kind of look at the fear and say ‘hi, I see you there but I’m gonna keep going.’” And that’s what I think we all need to get to that point where we can say, “You know what, maybe this fear is truly excitement and maybe I can just let this fear be with me even though I’m going to go for it and I’m going to go for it because I’m doing it for other people.

That makes it so much more clear. It makes this idea of the imposter syndrome or the idea of not wanting to share your expertise that just sort of diminishes when you think about the people that you could help. So the next time you feel like an imposter, go back and do these things. Look at your passion board if you’ve made one and remind yourself why you’re here because that’s going to change everything.

Now, I’m going to share with you just a little bit how this has worked for me, because it has to do with the podcast. I started a podcast a few months ago, it would be April 2017 and now we’re into February 2018, almost a year. Part of what I did when I started the Voice of Influence podcast was I did integrate those areas of expertise to find a unique spin but at the same time, I wasn’t totally confident of my own expertise and what exactly I was trying to share and had the sense of it and I did have some initial thoughts that really haven’t changed.

But since starting, I have learned a lot more. I’ve become more confident of what I’m doing and more confident about where we’re trying to head with this whole concept of the voice of influence and message-driven leadership. So what I did when I started it was I had an interview with somebody who I felt like did have a voice of influence and wanted to learn from people.

So there’s that conversation and learning from people and kind of testing out my ideas with them and then I also had the Voice Studio episodes where there will be short, maybe 5-minute episodes that would give me a chance to expand upon something that that person talked about in their interview. Those episodes came out out on Mondays and Thursdays.

Well, as things have gone and continued to move in this direction of me getting more clear and more confident, I’m realizing that I do have a lot more that I want to share for my own expertise around this area of message-driven leadership and voice of influence communication strategy and personal brand strategy. So what I’m going to do is, instead of having those long form interview and then a short episode with just me, I’m going to alternate probably half and half, maybe every other time or something like this where I’ll do an interview.

And then I’ll do a solo episode like this one today because I want to keep having this interview, I love them. I love doing them. I love sharing them with you. I love sharing these people and their voice, but at the same I also realized that there needs to be some additional equipping. I really want to help people who are wanting to be coaches consultants, other kinds of message-driven leaders, be able to do the things that I’m trying to promote around these areas of communication strategy, personal brand strategy, etc., etc.

That’s my plan. Instead of doing that shorter episode where I was just kind of exploring some different things and trying to share a little bit here and there, now I’m going to do some longer ones with me by myself that are really specific to equipping you in some kind of way and we still have the interviews as well.

So I just wanted to let you know that that is what I’m going to be doing but also because I really did start out by just going for it. But at the same time, I wasn’t totally confident of my own expertise. As time has gone on and I’ve gotten more clear, I’m feeling more confident in being able to do that. So that’s the kind of thing that I believe you can do as well.

If you are thinking about starting something or you have started something, but you’re not totally going for it or you know that you’re still holding back a little bit because you’re afraid of how people will perceive you or that sort of thing, I do encourage you to do these steps that I laid out today and take those bold steps where it’s actually getting your voice out there in a way that says “You know what, I’m an expert in this area.”

And for me, I’m not saying I’m an expert in leadership, I’m saying “I’m an expert” and gosh it’s even hard to say still. But I’m saying “I have something to share with you in regards to message-driven leadership.” And as I’ve gotten more clear on that, I can share it with you with more confidence. So dig yourself out of imposter syndrome with these steps and make your voice matter more!



Understanding the Value of Your Own Voice with Jolene Underwood

Episode 40

Jolene Underwood is a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. She draws upon her own personal journey toward emotional health, her psychology background, and her passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well lived, no matter the circumstance. Jolene also leads a community of Christian communicators called Rise Up Writers.

In this episode, Jolene and I discuss how to know if what you want to write belongs in a private journal or on a public blog, why you need to be conscious of the burdens you’re placing on your readers, why she made the decision to join the #MeToo Movement by sharing her own story of how she became pregnant after date rape and how that experience led to her realizing she valued the voice of others more than her own, the struggles of finding the balance between guiding your children and letting them have their own voice, and so much more!

Don’t forget! Jolene is offering a special $15 discount exclusively for the listeners of the Voice of Influence Podcast on her Unleashed Heart and Soul Care Sheets! Visit and enter the promo code “reclaimmyvoice” now through the end of March 2018.

Mentioned in this episode:


Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Hey, there! It’s Andrea Wenburg, host of the Voice of Influence podcast. In October of 2017, the hashtag #Metoo gathered a great deal of momentum as a symbol of solidarity amongst the survivors of sexual abuse and those who’ve experienced sexual harassment.

At the time of this interview, we’re just a few months down the road and a host of justice-seeking movements have begun to converge. From the times of initiative, started by women in the entertainment industry, to the fall of individual male celebrities who have been accused of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse to the sentencing today, the day of this recording of the USA Olympic and Michigan State University doctor, Larry Nassar, accused by over 150 women for child molestation and abuse.

As a woman who has not had to endure sexual harassment to the point of feeling like the #MeToo hashtag would apply to me, I can still relate to the trials and the confusion that comes from an imbalance of power in many spheres of the world, while recognizing the messy relational and emotional difficulties that this topic stores in both women and men.

As a human being who cares about others and believes in the value that every voice matters, I feel compelled to contribute what I can to this ongoing conversation. I wanted to let you know about the sensitive nature of the topic discussed in this conversation so that you can take whatever percussions you need to take. But I also want you to know that my guest and I speak mostly about the concept of voice and how it relates to the various movements I just mentioned, not so much of graphic description of any particular circumstances.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, harassment, or misconduct; I completely understand if you do not want to join us for a conversation and I’ll just share a summary with you right now:

Your voice matters!


Today, I have with me, Jolene Underwood, a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. She draws upon her own personal journey toward emotional health, her psychology background and her passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well lived no matter the circumstance.

She also leads a community of Christian communicators called Rise Up Warriors, and after years of serving in multiple capacities and healing from various trials and traumas, Jolene enjoys a new season of life in Texas.

Andrea: Jolene, thank you for being willing to offer your voice to our listeners on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Jolene Underwood: Hi. Thank you so much for having me, Andrea. I’m super excited to be here.

Andrea: So would you tell us a little bit about what this particular season of life looks like for you right now?

Jolene Underwood: Sure, it’s very different for me because we spent so many years of my adult life; I got pregnant at a young age and had several kids and home schooling and lots of ministry things. Then we moved to foster on a ranch in a very unique set up where we had up to 12 kids in the home. When we came back, we ended up with two kids left in the house.

So I’m a grandma now. I only have two kids in the home. We’re longer homeschool and I’m not doing those particular ministries. But as a result of being at that ranch, it was a really stressful time for me.

After we served at a ranch, I came home with just signs of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. It was an extreme, unique situation. At that time, I thought “Everything has changed.” I no longer have all these kids at home. I don’t have the energy to homeschool.

I loved writing and so I started going back into writing and considering blogging. It was mostly something that I enjoyed at the time and wanted to kind of keep my brain moving. So that started the season of really intentionally pursuing healing for myself, not only for all the things that had happened while we’re at the ranch but areas of fear in life that just became kind of thematic and the different experiences that I had.

I said “You know what; it is time to really deal with some of this stuff.” I don’t think I consciously thought of it that way but it was the path that I was going down and that I felt like I was suppose to take.

So the last four years have been really amazing. I mean, really hard in a lot of ways but also through those challenges there has been so much freedom, peace, and joy that has come out of it.

So for me this year, I feel like this is the year for adventure that we’ve been going out through this healing journey and now God is saying here’s a new season of things that I have re-explored. That’s part of what really matters to me as hearing from God’s voice and that’s why it felt like He had told me that it’s time to take the next steps and adventure.”

So the new season is full of writing. I write on my blog for the topics of emotional health and spiritual growth. The blog is still kind of shifting in tone of voice from over the years when I started writing. It was primarily, mostly me kind of figuring out my voice and what I wanted to write about and I was still processing a lot of the pain as well.

Now, I’m in a place where I’m writing content that I can identify with, that relates to other people kind of the struggles of anxiety or trying to live well but things keep not going well, and how do you keep persevering in hard circumstances. Some of the content there are becoming more practical but also sharing some of my story.

I serve a community called Rise Up Writers. It is Christian communicators. So writers, speakers, entrepreneurs, people who want to be effective at sharing the message that they feel that God has given them and wrestle with the intention of platform building or the value of their voice, which is something that I’m very familiar with and I find that it’s a common struggle. So I love having the opportunity to encourage them and help equip them and see what’s going to happen with their voices.

Andrea: Yes. And we have certainly connected over that shared desire to see that in people in that value of people’s voice.

So your emotional health, spiritual growth writing has shifted over the years, you said, in tone maybe. As you’ve been finding your voice, I’m curious what that looked like for you in your blog. When you started out writing, was it more to find and to be able to express what had happened or to be able to share your feelings and that sort of thing in a public way and now it has shifted? What’s the shift been for you?

Jolene Underwood: Andrea, I love that question because we’ve been talking in Rise Up Writers lately about several different things that have to do with platform. One of the things that I keep going back to is that we’re here to give value and not get value. When I first started blogging that’s where I was and I think a lot of people do that. It’s OK if you’re writing to just share your story and work through things. That’s fine. But I was writing kind of with dual intention. Part of it was because I enjoyed it but part of me also wanted validation for what I was putting out there even though my brain was not in a real healthy place to put out a great content and serve well.

So as I kind of would keep writing, it gave me an opportunity to test ideas. But then I could go back and look at it and say, “Wow, this is really just kind of depressing.”

I also realized that there was content that I needed to just write in journals and I was struggling to get some of it out. Like with the foster care situation, I carried a journal with me for a year or a year-and-a-half at least before I could even start writing any of the stories down because the trauma was impacting me. I thought I was going to write that on my blog. I thought I might encourage other people to engage in the foster care system, but it’s not what ended up coming out.

But over time, as I look back at some of the writing that I did, there was a consistent message that would come through as well. I started realizing that some of that was what was really inside of me was the passion to encourage people to see beyond the circumstances to pursue healing and growth.

So even though some of that writing had more less hope-filled content…and I’m not talking about tying a bow on every post. Some people would talk about where, “Oh, we just make it really lighthearted,” I’ve had a tendency to do that but it makes me cringe because we do go through really hard things.

So there’s I think a balance of sharing some of those challenging things but also not doing it in a way that puts this heavy burden on the reader. So that’s part of what has shifted as well that now I’m in a healthier place and I can write from a place that’s saying, “Here’s part of my story,” but not do it in a way that’s like, “Can you care for it?” Because it’s not the reader’s job to care for it. I get my care from my community, other people in my life, from me, or from my faith. So that has just been a huge shift.

I’m super, super excited about what’s ahead because, now, instead of thinking about whether or not people are going to click through and like what I read or whether or not they’re going to tell me that I put words together in a great way, I get to help people, and then hear their stories come back to me, the email or comments or whatever it is, and that gives me immense excitement.

Andrea: Wow! That is such an important point and so I’d like to dig into that just a little more, because I think you’ve got a lot of wisdom to share with us in this area. How does one know if what you want to write should belong in a journal or on a blog? Do you have any sort of advice for people who are trying to discern that?

Jolene Underwood: That is a really great question, too. I would say that if you’re starting to write something and the anxiety is starting to rise in you or emotion is feeling strong, consider that. That might be a signal that it’s not fully healed. It may not be. It maybe just a little bit of remnants after you’ve done a lot of healing work but it might be an indication that this is actually something I need to work out in a private journal because I think that’s really important and the healing process is to get the writing out and it can be really hard to let the brain release that. Your writing can get really like if you’re writing about it by hand, for example, you’re going to notice a shift in your manuscript, like whether it’s legible or not if you’re feeling a lot at the time that you’re trying to write it out.

So I think that’s a sign or an indicator. It’s not like “the sign” necessarily, but if it’s a fresh, current incident that you’re going through or have just recently been through, a lot of times we want to talk about it before we’ve processed it.

So sometimes I think we want to be helpful people. We want to encourage others. We want to be useful. We want our messages to matter. So when we learn something new, sometimes we want to just put it out there really quick for somebody else to listen to before we’ve taken time to actually process it, consider it, and let it penetrate our lives and change us in some way.

So that’s two things. I would say a third thing would be if you know that you’ve been kind of in some rough seasons and, you know, “Everybody knows I’m just kind of going through some rough times,” have a trusted friend or two read it and say, “What kind of tone do you hear from me? What kind of message are you hearing from me? What is the main point?”

For me, part of my writing not only was it focused more burdensome probably to other people but it wasn’t clear. So my brain wasn’t clear and I’m not getting the content out clear so even having somebody else look at it for clarity would have helped me.

So I would say that’s the three things.

Andrea: So what does that look like? You mentioned putting a heavy burden on the reader. How does one know? What is the burden that you think could be put on the reader?

Jolene Underwood: I think it’s tricky to know and I think that’s something that you kind of have to evaluate and ask yourself and then maybe go back a week or two later.

So if you’re not sure, this is the possibility that you could try. Try writing something; try even putting it into a blog post format or whatever, if you’re an entrepreneur, something that you’re using for other people. Let it sit for a day or two, come back and do some edits. Let it for two weeks; come back when you’re in a different season but make sure that you’re coming back when you’re feeling good at that time.

So maybe you’ve just exercised or you’re just having a good day whatever, come and re-read it and really think about the reader who’s reading it. What are they going to get out of this message? What benefit does it have for them to read what I’ve written rather than am I going to feel benefit because other people are reading it?

Andrea: I can relate, so relate to everything you’re talking about because when I first started writing and publishing on a blog… and this is maybe another good question, though, because when I first started, it was hard. There was such a tremble in my press of return, or whatever, to actually publish a post because it was personal. But at the same time, it felt like there was a duality going on there where there were two stories. There’s the story of I am pretty well healed from this but at the same time, this is very personal. So it does feel very emotional to share it because I don’t know what kind of feedback I will get.

So still I’m wondering, there’s still a desire for some kind of validation, just a nod even, from somebody in authority or somebody that I really respected to be able to say to me, “You know what, Andrea, this is good. It’s good that you’re doing this.” I really craved that.

So what’s the difference there and what kind of advice do you have for somebody else that’s kind of looking at that going, “You know, I am nervous about sharing but does that mean that I shouldn’t?”

Jolene Underwood: Oh man, you know what? I still struggle with that and I think it’s OK. I think that being nervous about sharing something and whether or not it’s going to be validated by somebody else is natural. I think it becomes more of an issue if it’s crippling you from putting the content out there or that you start thinking about it so much and you keep checking stats and you’re concern starts to shift over stewarding the gift of writing and the craft and the platform opportunities that we have in focusing more on what you’re getting out of, it if it keeps coming up.

It’s really important to have people in our lives that we can also go back to and say, “This is an area that I’ve recognized that I start to struggle with,” and just talk to them about what we’re going through.

If it’s really safe, close person then they could say, “You know, maybe it’s a time to step back,” or “Yeah, I understand.” And they just kind of comfort which helps bring that anxiety a level down so that you can keep going.

Andrea: OK, Jolene, are these the kind of conversations that you’re having in Rise Up Writers?

Jolene Underwood: I will say I don’t know that we’ve had these specific conversations but we… when Facebook announced another thing with algorithm than changes, honestly, I think some of those things have already been in place. And a lot of people started getting really concerned about what the changes were coming up and how that was going to impact pages. So many people in the writing community were facing building a platform and then also the writing and then you have to learn graphics and all these different pieces. So when something changes like Facebook Pages, it makes us little nervous that we have to learn something new.

So what I’ve been doing is I offer content that is both encouraging and equipping. So I alternate back and forth between I may do something that’s more spiritual in nature.

I might go, “Hey, it is time for us to do the work,” and really kind of kick our butts out there, or just really, “let’s get equipped in understanding something so we can make out choices.”

So with the Facebook Page discussion, I brought in another blogger and writer who’s had viral posts. We did a Facebook Like Video that was amazing and people ask questions. I had another guy come in and talk about SEO.

But then we took that Facebook page discussion and I did a separate blog post that I’m still working on. It’s pretty long, but it’s very scannable blog post with a YouTube video that will go out probably by the end of the week about Facebook Pages and Christian communicators to help people look at the practical aspect, “OK, what does this news actually mean? What are some things that we can do with it?”

But then they go into the aspect that encourages them and says, “This isn’t the end-all. This is not Facebook Zero. Here’s how we can learn and grow from it,” and encouraging people in that. So when I brought up the part about giving value and not seeking to get our value, that’s been repeated several times because I think a lot of the struggle with it. I’d still get out there and of course we all want some to read our stuff. We don’t want to do work where nobody could pay attention to it. That wouldn’t even make sense.

So there’s always going to be kind of that tension of is this starting to get a strangle on me? One of the questions that I ask is when we’re evaluating some of these things, is it something that’s stretching me? So maybe I can grow in it and take it some steps at a time.

Is it sapping me? Like this is not for this season. This is causing me too much tension, too much anxiety, I need to step back for a while.

Or is it sapping me and draining me completely of life and joy and, “I don’t even enjoy doing this anymore.”

So those are some of the conversations we’re having.

Andrea: That’s very helpful. I’m sure everybody probably feels like they’re getting fed on many different levels.

Jolene Underwood: In the community group of 350, it’s a very active community. And then I also offer a newsletter and the directions that were headed for Rise Up Writers is some collaborative content. So we’re doing monthly Zoom call and then sometimes we’ll do these Facebook Lives but this has been more spur-of-the-moment and I’m going to have some other people adding blog content. Because I really value the voices of the people that are part of the group and doing this as a collaborative collective work.

I have to balance how much time I have because it is free. Some people sometimes make donations to help me out. But I love seeing other people in our group step up.

And maybe they’re not going to develop a course, for example, on how to use Pinterest but last week we had a gal in our group lead a Zoom call on how to use Pinterest _____ and it was immensely helpful for people that were part of the community. It didn’t take a lot of time to do that. It wasn’t just me. It’s not just me sharing my opinion.

Andrea: Cool. That’s very cool!

So here’s something that came up in the last few months. This is currently, we’re in January 2018, and in October of 2017, the hashtag #MeToo became very popular. It kind of grew in momentum and started to kind of sweep over the nation and over the world. I noticed that you had posted a blog post with your own hesitancy to share and to actually use the hashtag, but you did. You used the hashtag #MeToo. Can you tell me and tell our listeners why you decided to post your article and your story and go ahead and say, “Me too?”

Jolene Underwood: Thank you for asking. It’s interesting to me that the one blog post that gets hits every single day is that blog post. So the story is about date rape and getting pregnant through date rape, and that blog post is titled, I Said No, He Said No Problem – A Date Rape Story.

Initially posting it, I hesitate some because calling it date rape was something that I have had to accept over the years because I know people who’ve been in situations where the rape was violent, and this situation wasn’t violent. But it’s important to use those words because a lot of other people have experienced it.

So after I’ve shared that story, I received emails every now and then from somebody telling me their story. I tear for them. My heart hurts for them. They’re just simply looking for someone to validate that they were violated.

So sharing the message and sharing with the hashtag #MeToo I felt was important to do. I think sometimes I wrestle with it because it’s not my main message but it is a part of my story and that’s something that happened to me and that there’s hope in the story too.

Andrea: And it is so tightly related to the idea of sharing your voice. Would you mind sharing with us about why you felt like… I mean, the title alone, “I said no, and he said, oh no problem,” that alone says, “I was trying to share my voice, was trying to use my voice, but it was disregarded.”

Jolene Underwood: Yeah. Well, I can share a little bit of the story if you want. Basically, I had been a new resident to Texas and I was struggling as a single mom already. I was trying to get work and I was a temp and I had moved down here for one guy. We broke up and then somebody else had asked me out. He had money and he seemed nice and I thought, “OK. Well, it would be great to be treated nice.”

So I agreed and then he invited me over to his house where he lived with several other people and asked me to bring my son with me. I actually really struggle with telling people “no” so I had to learn a lot in the areas of boundaries and confidence with my voice, and especially the value of it. But for some reason, I just had this feeling and I said, “Just so you know, I will come over but we’re not having sex.” And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I would never do that,” and he just tried to reassure me over and over again.

Well, that kept happening progressively throughout the night and, ultimately, I was in a position where I just didn’t have the strength to keep saying “Look, I don’t wanna have sex.” And I was too afraid of hurting his feelings so basically valuing his voice over valuing my own voice and how he was violating me and disrespecting me.

So I did what I knew to do at the time. I’d actually already experienced the date rape situation where I lost my virginity and it had happened very, very, very quickly. I didn’t say no at the time and so I felt a lot of guilt for that and so maybe that helped prompt me this time to say at least that much, but I was scared. I wanted him to simply honor what I said. Why can’t you just respect the fact that I said no?

He basically just keeps saying, “Yeah, no problem. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to,” and then I got pregnant.

Andrea: You said that you were afraid of hurting his feelings. I think that this happens a lot in so many different levels for people, and a lot of times it’s women who are afraid of hurting other people’s feelings. It feels like we’re here to make sure that that doesn’t happen or something. I don’t know.

But what was it for you, do you think? If you were to look back and say, well, what was nurtured in me or what was… and I’m not accusing anybody in particular, I’m just curious. What was it about your surroundings; your growing up inside of you that was just so concerned about hurting his feelings?

Jolene Underwood: I have evaluated that and looked at that for the last few years and there are several different things, I think, that came into play. One, I’m a sensitive person and I have come to accept that. I have a friend who has a group called Sensitive and Strong for highly sensitive people who are strong women, and I was like, “You know what? That kinda fits me,” because I am sensitive but I feel strong. But I didn’t feel strong then. But I did feel like it was inside of me just I didn’t know how to live that way.

Much of my life, I would just really notice the way that other people responded or didn’t respond. It became very personal to me and I became more fearful of trying. They were not major incidences. It was more like peers laughing at you when you bring up something or teachers who think that you can’t do something that you’re trying to do rather than encouraging you. Those types of things that weren’t major but they still formed belief systems inside of me.

And basically, after I kept evaluating this and I started working through some of my own healing part of that was understanding the destructive beliefs that I had and dismantling them. It didn’t happen overnight. But once I was able to recognize that that was a destructive belief then it has continued to unravel over time.

The biggest one that came out for me, or one of the biggest ones, first, was other people’s voice matter more than my own. So over and over and over again, if somebody was in authority or they had more confidence than I, if they spoke and I felt shut down, I would stay shut down. That kind of pattern in my life played out repeatedly.

Well, in high school, I was struggling and I couldn’t get my own emotions out. I ended up in a hospital for eating disorder and depression, self-harm. I remember at that point I recognized, “Oh, my goodness, this is happening because not coming out of what’s inside of me,” like I’m not getting it out, I’m not telling people, I don’t have safe people to talk to. I really did but I didn’t know how to do that.

So that summer just before I ended up in the hospital, I had been sexually harassed at my job. That was just mostly my boss was buying me lingerie and I didn’t know what to do with that. I was like, “Umm, OK. Thanks.” I knew it was inappropriate but now I know that it would be better if I spoke up. I don’t have guilt for not speaking up because I didn’t know how to do it at the time but I know that continued to impact me and then the first situation of date rape happened just before I went to the hospital. I forgot what the original question was.

Andrea: So you were in the hospital because it was hard for you to not get it out. You couldn’t get it out. So it sounds like your voice was stuck inside.

Jolene Underwood: Yes, yes. It definitely was. I would journal and, at a young age, I had a relationship with God where I was writing in my journals but I was also very melancholy. I’m more of that type of person. I would kind of just be sad or I would enjoy songs that kind of felt deeper in my soul. I would just kind of curve inward and stick with my voice there.

You know what’s really interesting is, just in the last few months; I had conversations with a friend in particular where we were talking about a couple of childhood incidences where I really felt threatened with my voice. There were things that came back to memory and then I started working through in healing. When I shared the incidences with her, in those moments, I actually spoke up for myself.

There was a time when I was told that I couldn’t be part of choir and I said, “Well, I just wanna sing for God,” and I spoke up, but I don’t remember that. My mom had to remind me.

And there was another incident where somebody told me I couldn’t do something and I said, “Well, I’m gonna do the best I can.” I was young and those things I didn’t remember. So it’s interesting to me because that voice was shutting down more and more but it was always there.

Andrea: You said that confidence and authority, when other people had confidence or they were in positions of authority that really shut you down. One of the conversations that’s been taking place lately has been around the idea of imbalance of power. I understand that some people are just naturally going to express themselves more confidently and so that could shut other people down, whether they intend to do that or not or whatever. But do you think that you experienced imbalance of power?

I was thinking about even as kids, and I apologize for going on, but the trial sentencing for the Olympic doctor, the gymnast doctor, Larry Nassar, is taking place today. The sentencing is taking place today and I’ve been listening to the children, the voices of these women who were children at that time and that imbalance of power, just a doctor-child relationship. And then I was thinking about my own kids in that how are we supposed to teach our children to have a voice when they’re supposed to be respectful and not question authority? That sort of thing.

So I guess what I’m coming back to in this is do you feel like, as a sensitive young girl, that you were hearing messages that you really shouldn’t ever question somebody who has power, somebody who is in authority?

Jolene Underwood: I think part of me is wired,. You know the StrengthsFinder? One of my top five is… what do they call it in there? It’s Responsibility or Duty. So I don’t really know which came first. What part is part of me? I wasn’t in a situation where there was like a dictatorship or something like that. My parents they have things that they wished they could have done differently. Let me speak to my own things that I’ve done to my own children.

Andrea: Oh, sure!

Jolene Underwood: Because when you are parenting your kids and they’re expressing a different opinion than you, it is easy to get frustrated and to assume that what they’re saying is almost like an attack on you if you haven’t done your own work.

Sometimes, as children, we can come across a lot of people in our lives that start to try to tell us how to think, what we should do. And you have to do that in the beginning, like what you need to do today. “I’m taking you to a potty,” those types of things when they’re little, right? But what we don’t end up doing is as they start expressing their independence, know how to help them shape that for themselves but also giving them the healthy boundaries around it and that safety. And it’s really challenging.

So for me, with my own children, my older boys, when they would do things that would defy me or would go against what I wished they would have done, I was getting angry. So I didn’t give them a voice because I basically told them that they needed to do things my way.

So I have regrets, and I’ve talked to my boys about this, that I didn’t give them a chance to share what was going on with them. Sometimes kids can do things and we still need to tell them like they cannot do that and this is how the rules work in our household, but we don’t have to do it in a way that shuts their voice down. We could still give them an opportunity to hear what they have to say so their hearts are heard.

So as a young girl, I think it was more of just a small Christian school and I felt the obligation to serve God and to do the right thing. I felt the pleasure of when I got it right. I felt the displeasure of when I got it wrong. That really shaped me feeling like I had to do it all right. If I didn’t, it was too scary to talk about. It was too scary to be messy, too scary to be just a broken mess at times. I think that when we can give our kids that opportunity, my younger kids are reaping the benefits of that now.

Fostering changed my parenting paradigm significantly. So I’m seeing the benefits for them where they feel like they can still express that they’re angry about something but then we can talk later. They’ll apologize. We can have a conversation when they’re ready, and those types of things.


Andrea: Yes, that is so good. Trying to find that balance as a parent is so hard. It is such a hard road and it so guilt ridden. You feel guilty if your kids screw up and you feel guilty if you shut them down. But it’s something that’s worthy of our time and our effort and our sacrifice to screw it up, to just keep trying and trying to find that balance, if that’s what you could call it.

But I really value what you’ve just said about parenting and trying to grapple with how to handle this idea of voice with our kids because this is such a big, big issue in general, and especially having come to the forefront now. I think, for both of us and our work with people who are wanting to share their voices this is a huge topic for us to even begin to allow other people a chance to start to think about and give them that safe space to be able to consider where they’ve been, why it’s hard.

So do you have any other thoughts that you’d like to share with us in closing on that particular topic?

Jolene Underwood: Yes. Let me put it this way. We have an opportunity to make a difference by considering any potential aspects within ourselves. So when these circumstances come to the surface, like the #ChurchToo, the #MeToo, the public media sexual harassment stories, these things it’s amazing to me that they’re all coming out at the same time pretty much in a short window, quite frankly. We can get hung up on focusing what other people doing wrong. We need to evaluate those things and especially if we’re in a leadership position, and those types of things.

But each of us can look to ourselves and say, “In what way am I, when I’m relating to another person, especially somebody who maybe reports to me or is younger than me or looks up to me in some way, is there some way that I am trying to get my value from them?” Kind of like I talked about before, because when we’re seeking value from our kids, from our spouse, from other people, we want them to do things our way to make us feel better.

If we have our own stuff going inside of us we refuse to deal with, so maybe it’s our own hurts, our own destructive belief patterns, our own unexpressed emotions I talk about too, like sometimes we go through grief situations or really painful losses or even small losses and we don’t let ourselves feel those emotions then we become kind of like this little ticking time bomb inside, or can be, I should say. So that ends up coming out to other people.

So this imbalance of power so many times I think these people that are harassing, they’re trying to get power because they don’t feel power or control inside of themselves. They don’t feel peace inside of themselves. So we can make a difference by working on ourselves and learning to become a more healthy person so that we’re offering more to other people and, in turn, when we’re in conversation…

I did an article for I Believe recently and the original title was Ten Ways You’re More Selfish Than You Think. They changed it to Being Selfish in Relationships. The first point of the article was that when we start to recognize areas of selfishness, we can live more free. So of the ten things, the first thing was being captain of the conversation. If we think of being captain of the conversation in relationship, even to our kids or to other people that may look up to us, if we’re in a position we’re constantly trying to tell them what to do, tell them what we think and make things happen, it’s unhealthy for us and it’s devaluing their voice.

Andrea: Yes. Yes. And I’ve shed many tears in the last… actually, it’s only been a very few hours I ended up staying up late into the night last night watching videos of these young girls and hearing their stories and thinking about our conversation. I just have been feeling like we really needed to talk about this. I’m just giving a hearty, hearty yes to what you just said. I feel like that is incredibly, incredibly important and I hope that we can keep spreading that message.

Jolene Underwood: Me too. When I see other people growing healthier and stronger as humans, it makes me so happy because we want to see changes in the world, we want to see good things, and we each have different ways that we get to impact the world.

But it’s such a beautiful picture and so valuable when we’re individually working on the things inside of us and it impact things exponentially. I think that we really need to see the value of the small work here, locally, in our own communities, in our own relationships.

When I wrote this piece, I was nervous about writing it because I wasn’t sure like, “Well, is anybody gonna read an article that tells you you’re selfish?”

But the feedback that I’m getting, hearing from other people, owning, “Yeah, a lot of these sound like me”, “a lot of these describe me”, “thank you for helping me more aware so that I can work on myself”. It’s not condemnation. It’s not like a heavy burden, but just awareness so we can grow.

Andrea: It’s awareness and yet, at the same time, to be aware of the pain that were causing other people is painful for us, and that’s OK. And that might actually lead us to some true repentance, some true change and forgiveness, the experience of true forgiveness which is so much more powerful than trying to empower our own voices.

So anyway, it’s so, so helpful. It’s so good. Thank you. Thank you, Jolene, for your work in the world empowering voices and for doing your own work of healing. I know that that’s not just been a solo process but thank you for engaging in it and being open to it so you can have a bigger impact with others and help others heal as well and so that will just ripple effect to the world. I just thank you for being here and, yeah, thank you.

Jolene Underwood: Thank you, Andrea. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about voice and the value. And I’m excited to see more people start valuing their voice and using it well.

I wanted to let you know that Jolene has a tool called Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets, and she is offering a voice of influence discount of $15 through the end of March 2018. So use the code reclaimmyvoice (all in lower case, altogether no spaces), reclaimmyvoice by going to

Friend, go reclaim your voice and make it matter even more!


Three Steps for Getting Your Team to Come to a Consensus

Episode 39

In this special solo episode, I use a recent experience with my two young children to explain the three steps, or tactics, you can take to get your team, group, family, etc. to walk away from a discussion having not only come to a consensus about what to do next but feeling energized and empowered about the solution.


Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.




Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! I’m consulting with teams and companies who are trying to move their companies forward with innovative initiatives and differentiating their voice in the market place and being able to communicate their ideas, their vision clearly.

One of the things that I found is that when people come to a table to have a conversation about a problem, about something that they need to solve or try to come to consensus, there are three things that truly help that group be able to come to a consensus and move an initiative forward with great energy.

So I like to use stories from our home life simply because it’s easy to tell those stories and I think they absolutely apply to teams and other kinds of relationships. But sometimes it’s easier to talk about kids and home life and most of us, you know, we all have a personal life. So I want to start there. I want to tell you about a situation that we had in our family where we had to sit down and had a pow-wow. We had a problem to solve.

Our son who is 8 years old have been working on his box sport out in the playhouse and he’ll just take boxes and he’ll come to us and ask us to cut them and he’ll measure it and figure out what he needs. He’ll come inside and will ask us to cut and then he’ll take his stuff back out there. We don’t really know what’s going on but he’s working on his box sport and it was winter time.

So right now, it’s pretty cool outside. We just don’t go out there very often. It’s kind of good to see him engaged, interacting, and wanting to do something like this. While at the same time, our daughter has been helping him a little bit but she’s also feeling a little bit like this box sport just kind of taking up all of the playhouse space and she doesn’t like that.

It all sort of came to our head the other day and I realized that our kids were not happy. One wanted to keep working – he was excited about the work that he was doing and he wanted to keep working and doing it however he wanted it to. I noticed that there were duct tapes in places that I didn’t want it to be and our daughter noticed that there were boxes in places that she was not really excited about them being.

So we said “OK, let’s all go back into the house and we’re going to have a pow-wow.” Emotions were running high and I can tell you that there was no true communications taking place between our kids.

This happens frequently in the world, in life. When one person feels disappointed or threatened and the other person feels frustrated, annoyed, or something and the two start going back and forth, it can easily turn into an ugly kind of a conversation, where people are saying things that they don’t really mean or maybe they really do mean them but they’re not thinking about the other person. They’re not thinking about “How can I get this person to see this point of view and how can we come to a resolution together that’s going to work?”

Most of the time when emotions are running high like that we’re not thinking about the other person in how we can make a good resolution. We’re feeling defensive, we’re feeling like we need to fight back and that’s the way that we come across, that’s the way that we can sort of show up in that moment. That was what’s going on with our kids. This is so typical for all kids, of course, for marriages, or for teams. It’s just the way things go when someone feels threatened and the other person feels frustrated or they both feel threatened in some kind of way.

So what we needed to do is we needed to pull away from the situation and have a meeting. What we did was I used this methodology, this trick that I know. It’s not really a trick but it’s what I know about people to help us be able to sit down and figure something out together. So the four of us got down…we sat down in the living room and I laid down some ground rules and this is something that I think we all need to do when we come to these moments where we’re trying to come to some sort of consensus or resolution on a problem. You have to make everybody feel safe.

This has to be a safe place. This living room, this table and people who are seated here at this table, meaning we’re not attacking each other. If we’re attacking each other then we don’t feel safe and what happens? Well, we feel threatened and we get closed up, some people close down and they make it go within themselves, other people kind of get offensive and sort of lash back out. That is not an environment that is going to produce real consensus because you can even have a real conversation in that kind of a situation.

So you want to start by laying the groundwork that we’re not taking sides here, that right now what we need to do is we’re not going to attack, we’re not going to do any blaming or accusing. That’s what we said at our meeting, in our family meeting “No blaming, no accusing. What we’re here to do is we’re here to solve a problem and this is the problem.” And this is the problem.

By laying this sort of foundation at the beginning of a conversation like this, you’re sort of setting the ground rules and letting everybody know what they are allows people to feel more at ease. They’re more open to discussion and they’re not so worried about what’s going to happen, “Do I need to be on the defensive?” It allows people to sort of let down their guard a little bit as long as _____ plays by the rules. But you have to say, “This is how we’re doing this, we’re not attacking and if we begin to do any attacking, if I starts to hear a blame then I’m gonna shut that down. I just want you to know that right now.” That allows everybody a chance to sort of just breathe and be like “OK, this is a safe a place.”

The second thing that you need to establish beside safety is a sense of celebration. People need to know that you value them, that you appreciate them, and that you understand them. If you can help people to feel first safe then you can give them a chance to feel celebrated. When people feel celebrated, they feel more willing to engage. They feel more willing who they are and the best of who they are to this problem solving conversation.

If they do not feel celebrated, if you stay at safe and you don’t go any further than safe then it’s likely that somebody could feel ignored or rejected. Even though they feel safe in this environment, “You’re not going to attack me; you also don’t really think that I have anything to say. You don’t really care what I have to say and what I have to offer.” That’s how people will feel if you don’t make sure that they feel celebrated.

Of course, when I say make them feel, I mean that you’re providing the opportunity for them to feel a certain way. You’re sort of laying the groundwork for that, you’re nurturing this emotion, and you can’t make people feel things. But that’s what I mean when I’m saying that. If people feel ignored or rejected instead of celebrated then they’re going to withhold the best of who they are, or they might get a little pushy and demanding “You’re not gonna listen to what I have to say then I’m gonna make sure that you listen to what I have to say and you better do it this way.” Or it might be, like I said, that person who goes inside instead of engaging more, they go inside more and that person is going to withhold some possibly groundbreaking insights that could help the group and could help solve the problem.

So what we did in this moment, the situation in our house was we said “OK.” So number one, no blaming each other about anything here. What we have is we have a problem. We’ve got to take that problem and put it outside of the context of ourselves. So this is an outside problem that we are going to team up and conquer. After doing that then we said “We are so impressed with your initiative to make this box sport.” We let our son know that we were so impressed with all the work that he has done because that was one of the things that he was feeling really crampy about. “Well, I might have to move things and I worked so hard and now it’s like a “It doesn’t matter,” that sort of thing.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like “Man, I worked so hard on this and now you want to change it?” That can feel really awfully crampy. So as a leader, as somebody who is wanting to gain consensus in your team, you want to make sure that that person that you actually do celebrate and appreciate what they have done so far. Even if it’s not all perfect, celebrate what they have done that’s good so that you can move towards a resolution.

But if you could just give them that opportunity to let them know that you recognize how hard they have been working “You know, son, you have been working so hard on this and I’m so proud of you. I love what you’ve done so far.” And to our daughter, we have to make sure that we understood that we celebrate her as well. We celebrate her desire to be able to play and engage with her friends in this space, “We understand that this is what you want.”

So by empathizing, by celebrating that other person and everybody in the group and making sure that everybody knows “Look, I see you. I see what you’ve done. I see your potential and I’m excited about this potential.” What have you done so far with this group? You have made them feel safe so that they open themselves up to this discussion and then you made them feel celebrated so that they feel willing to contribute the best of who they are to this conversation to this problem solving situation and then finally people need to feel challenged.

As parents, we could have just said “You know, we know the best solution for this. This is what we’re gonna do.” We could have handed down a declaration of a decision of what we’re going to do now because maybe we do see the best thing to do. Quite often that’s what happens; however, we’re not just looking for a problem solved, we’re also looking for consensus in our family.

We’re looking for everyone to be onboard and to do it willingly and that’s what you’re looking for in a team as well. You want everybody onboard. You could. I’m sure that you being the smart and intelligent and insightful person that you are, you might already feel like you know the answer and what should be done. But when you’re working with a team, there’s so much more going on than the need to find the perfect solution to this problem. So much of what you’re trying to accomplish is to draw out their innovative potential and to get everybody onboard so that everybody is rowing together in sync in the same direction so that whatever this initiative is that you’re trying to accomplish or move forward is that that it does.

So this third piece is to challenge the group. You don’t hand them down a declaration; you challenge them to rise to the occasion to help solve this problem. This is the messy way, not the shortcut. This is the more effective transformative way, not the compliance way. Sometimes you need compliance, sometimes you need to just hand down a directive and just make it happen. But when you’re wanting to gain consensus in a group and truly unlock the potential of the people inside of it, this is what you have to do. You want to make people feel safe, celebrated, and challenged.

This challenged piece is about presenting the problem as it is, presenting the problem by saying, for example with our situation in our own living room with our own family, we had to explain to them “Look, we see that these are the issues that we’re facing.” We’re not blaming anybody for these issues because if we blame people to the issues, what are they going to do? They’re going to close down, they’re going to get defensive, kids are going to start crying or yelling at each other and maybe adults do that as well. I’m not sure that I’ve seen that very often but sometimes the yelling could happen.

But we’re not blaming in this moment, we’re challenging them with the actual problem. These are the objective things that we’re facing. We are facing situation where we need to create more space in this environment and we need to take the tape off of the places where it shouldn’t be.

So we need to come up with a new idea. I believe, and as a leader of this meeting, because I was leading this meeting, I said “I believe that, we, together could come up with the solution that is not only going to make everybody happy. I think that it will be even better than it was before. By challenging them to this and casting this vision that maybe it could be even better than it was before that allows people to really start to think.

I think that when you give people this kind of environment, a table to sit at, they really feel like they do have a seat here at the table and that their voice really does matter. And even if you don’t use their ideas, you know, you can say “We’re talking about this in an objective way. We’re thinking about the good of the group. We’re thinking about whatever.” When you talk like that and you keep it objective and you stay away from blaming and you stay from rejecting or ignoring people and you make sure that you’re engaging them then they are going to get to that point where they feel challenged instead of feeling underwhelmed or overwhelmed.

If you hand down that directive without challenging them to be able to rise to the occasion themselves with their own innovative potential then it makes them feel drained. They are either overwhelmed by the fact that there are so much more to do now and I just don’t even know. There’s so much here to chop off like maybe the problem is too big and we can’t solve it. You’ve just given us the directive and I don’t even know what to do next and that sort of thing or they might feel underwhelmed like “Well, I have some ideas, but I guess we’re just going to do this and what I was thinking could have been better.” Whether they’re right or not, it doesn’t matter that that’s what could be going on in a person when they’re not allowed to give voice to their own ideas.

So overwhelmed and underwhelmed, what do these make people feel, ahhhh they’re just drained. But if you challenge them, they feel energized as a healthy amount of challenge. After they’re feeling opened and willing and now they’re feeling energized to meet these needs, to help contribute to the answer to the solution and then once everybody has developed a consensus even if not everybody is totally in agreement, most of the time you can come to a consensus where you can get agreement and people are pretty much onboard.

When you get to that point, people are more likely to truly be energized and move that initiative forward with their own energy instead of having to borrow energy from you. So rather than you having to come up with the solution and then give them the solution and then pull everybody together and try to motivate everyone to get this initiative to move forward that seems like a shortcut. In the end that’s going to take more energy from you.

As a leader of whatever group you’re with right now, whatever conversation you’re in right now, it could be a one-on-one conversation where these three elements come into play. Whatever you’re at in that discussion, it’s going to make a huge difference if you can lay the groundwork so that the person that you’re speaking to, your audience, your team, your family, your friend, or your spouse, whomever it is; if they feel safe and then celebrated then you can bring a challenge to them to opt their game, to get them, to dig into the best of who they are so that you can come up with this innovative solution and really make the difference that they want to make.

And then together, you have developed this energy behind your solution, behind this initiative that you’re going to move forward with less effort and pure bootstrap and kind of leadership. You are going to truly be inspiring your team and inspiring your family to move forward with their own internal motivation. Because if you do, they are going to be able to dig into the depths of who they are and give the best of who they are to the team and for the solution that you have together come up with.

So go make your team, feel safe, celebrated, and challenged and make your voice matter more!


How Technology Can Influence Your Personal Brand with Stephanie Humphrey

Episode 38

Stephanie Humphrey is the technology contributor to ‘The Harry Show’, hosted by Harry Connick, Jr., and she has also contributed her expertise to other media outlets including Good Morning America, QVC, Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, and NewsOne with Roland Martin. The other passion of this engineer-turned-media personality is helping students and parents understand how to be good digital citizens through her seminar ‘Til Death Do You Tweet.

In this episode, Stephanie shares her advice for people who feel intimidated by technology, how she went from being an engineer in the corporate world to being a tech guru who’s featured in television spots, her advice for using our smartphones in a balanced way, why you should always take a moment to think before you post anything on social media, the alarming statistics about teens and their internet usage, what parents can do to protect their children online, and much more!

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.





Hey, hey! It’s Andrea, and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! Today, I have tech-life expert, Stephanie Humphrey, here to show you…now, this is so great how technology makes your life easier. I’m not sure that everybody agrees with that but I’m looking forward to hearing what Steph has to say about that.

But Stephanie is the technology contributor to the ‘The Harry Show,’ hosted by Harry Connick, Jr. whom I love. She also has contributed her expertise to other media outlets including, Good Morning America, QVC, Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, and NewsOne with Roland Martin. The other passion of this engineer-turned-media personality is helping students and parents understand how to be good digital citizens through her seminar ‘Til Death Do You Tweet,’ which I’m so excited to hear more about.

Andrea: Steph, it is so good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast!

Stephanie Humphrey: It’s great to be here, great to be with you!

Andrea: So I’m fascinated that the fact that you were an engineer then you turned into this media personality. What kind of an engineer were you?

Stephanie Humphrey: My degrees are in electrical and telecommunications and networking engineering and I was doing systems engineering for Lockheed Martin for a number of years and just wasn’t happy. You know, cubicle life wasn’t for me and sitting in front of a computer screen 10 hours a day and that whole thing and just corporate structures in general with meetings and org charts and meetings to discuss the meeting. It was just not something that I felt was feeding my soul for lack of better words.

So before I left, I started getting into the “entertainment industry” while I was still there. So I had got an agent, a talent agent and I was acting, modeling, and hosting different things and thought that I could make a career out of that. So I figured I’d give it a shot, so I left my job and was focused on sort of entertainment reporting and red carpet stuff and that type of thing. I quickly realized that that’s a very, very challenging area of the business because there are tons of people trying to do the same thing and lot of actual journalist that do that same thing. So I was making some headway but not much and very, very slowly.

So then in 2011, a mentor of mine just basically broke it down and was like “Why don’t you use what you already have, you know, you’ve got this engineering degrees, you have all this technical expertise and experience, why aren’t you using that? That’s your more niche, you know. I don’t know anybody else that looks like you that could go on television and talk about technology.” And it was crazy because it hadn’t even occurred to me. It really just hadn’t occurred to me until then, but quite literally in that moment I said “Oh, I could be a tech-life expert!” And thus a tech-life expert was born.

Andrea: I love that! You totally didn’t see it, I’m guessing because it didn’t seem extraordinary to you while it’s extraordinary to everybody else.

Stephanie Humphrey: Well, I think that plus, because I spent that whole day after that meeting trying to figure out what the heck I had been doing all this time before this. What I came up with was I had married the idea of being an engineer so closely with what I had done in Corporate America that when I left that, I left it all behind. So I kind of throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak and had to realize that I was born an engineer. I was an engineer way before I ever stepped into a classroom and that’s what I do. So, you know, how do I make what I do what I was born to do work with this newfound passion that I have in the media industry and you put those two things together and you get a tech-life expert.

Andrea: So what was your process from there? One thing that I love about what you have going on is you say “I’m all over the web at tech-life…” What is it?

Stephanie Humphrey: The last line of my [crosstalk], “Follow me around the web at TechLifeSteph!

Andrea: Yeah! So did you go out and “OK, tech-life Steph, this is it and I’m gonna go get…every single account is gonna be that. Did you do that right away?

Stephanie Humphrey: Kind of. Actually, it was funny, I was already on social trying to make my way as this TV personality person but when I did change, I changed my Twitter name first. When I did change that to TechLifeSteph, I changed everything. It was funny because I couldn’t get a Gmail account as techlifesteph. I was like “Who else is a techlifesteph in the world?” Like “Come on, it’s so specific,” and I had to get techlifestephanie for my Gmail, but everything else, you know, once I made this switch, I switched everything else over to TechLifeSteph.

Andrea: It’s great obviously for branding and being able to follow you, but I’m kind of jealous. I wish I would have had something like that immediately that I could log on to. OK, so you kind of get started, did you immediately started doing videos or did you start pitching yourself as a tech-life expert to media outlets, or how did this go down?

Stephanie Humphrey: No! It was a process and it was a humbling process, I have to tell you, because I kind of wrongly assumed that because I had all of this “media experience” for that I had reported traffic for a new station, I was a model in QVC, I had hosted red carpets and _____ for movies and interviews, like I have done all these different things. I felt like I had kind of the media training that was required plus I had two engineering degrees. So I figured out the world would pop up at my door and it didn’t happen like that at all. It literally, people were like “So you know, what have you done lately?”

So I started a blog “A Matter of Life and Tech,” and I just wrote so that people could see that I could write and that I could explain technical concepts in a simple way that was relatable and fun and funny sometimes. I did that for a while and I used that as a platform to write for higher profile media platform. So from that I started writing for the _____. I actually originated a column there called “Tech To Go” then pivoted to

I wrote for them for a couple of years and I was able to do a few pieces for the print magazine as well. And only then was I able to grow to the media outlet, the television outlet and then say “Hey, I’m a writer for, the tech writer for I’d love to come on and talk about the new iPhone or whatever but it was definitely a process. It wasn’t just as _____ says “She has done these things on TV before plus she’s an engineer, so let’s make here our tech expert.” It didn’t happen that way right away.

Andrea: So what was sort of the timeline of that then?

Stephanie Humphrey: So I’d say, I decided to become a TechLifeSteph in January of 2011. I remember it very distinctly. By the time I got my first appearance on television, it was December of 2012, so it took two years.

Andrea: And were you doing other things at that time for income or how did that work out for you?

Stephanie Humphrey: Yeah, I was still doing traffic reporting. There was a traffic startup in the Philadelphia area called Tango Traffic and they were trying to become kind of like the weather channel for traffic. So it was like 24-hour traffic all day long and I was doing the afternoon drive there for 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. So I was reporting traffic on television and writing for my blog and writing for this other outlets and pitching media outlets and stuff like that in the meantime. So yeah, you got a keeper a hustle; you’ve got to get paid.

Andrea: Yeah! I know that you were driven to leave your job, your 9:00 to 5:00 job and all the constraints that you felt with that as being somebody who’s really creative, is there anything else that was kind of driving you in that? I mean, is there any sort of personal and it sounds like a personal ambition of some kind to be out there in the world and be in front of a camera.

Stephanie Humphrey:   That’s the thing, it wasn’t.

Andrea: Really?

Stephanie Humphrey: I was not that kid that was like “I wanna be on TV when I grow up,” or you know in my bedroom mirror with a hair brush as a microphone, I wasn’t that kid. I wasn’t that kid that, you know, was always performing at school or singing in the school plays or on a debate team like none of that and I wouldn’t call myself shy necessarily. I definitely wouldn’t say that I was a shy kid so I didn’t want to be in front or get that type of attention. It just wasn’t my thing. I was like “Hey, I’m gonna build computers and create video games and that’s what I’m gonna do.” I kind of…I don’t want to say sitcom but I guess I kind of was guided by the expectations for me.

You know, I was always a smart kid, good in math and science so it was kind of expected that I would go into a field like that and get a “good job,” and make some good money and just live my life basically like normal people do I suppose. I don’t think it wasn’t that I didn’t think I could do it, I just never considered it. I never even considered like TV was something…I think like a lot of us who watch TV and you think those people on TV you’re just light years away from the rest of us and you just don’t even think that that’s something you could do or inspired to do.

I say, it’s divine because I didn’t choose this. I’m a person of faith and clearly God had a plan for me that I didn’t know about at the time. But once it was revealed to me, I felt compelled to be obedient to it. So even in those moments when I was nervous and have an anxiety attacks thinking about the idea that I’m about to walk away from this six-figure job, you know, and all of that. Even through all of that and then just the ups and down of this business and freelance life and being broke most of the time, I’ve just really kept in the front of my mind the obedience to this vision that I was given and that’s kind of how I guided my career since then.

Andrea: Do you mind sharing what that vision look like or how you came to see it and feel that divine calling?

Stephanie Humphrey: At first when I was, you know, “I’m gonna be a tech-life expert,” I thought maybe I might write. I figured, you know, I could build something myself and I did with the blog and maybe kind of grow that. You know how people monetize blog and become fulltime bloggers and get advertisers and stuff like that. I thought maybe I might do that and then maybe I might get to write for Mashable or TechCrunch, those are really popular tech publications. Maybe I get to contribute to one of those outlets and become known as someone in the tech space as a writer and an expert.

I figured maybe that could lead to television every so often when the new iPhone came out or something somebody might say “Hey, you wanna come and talk about that.” I really had no idea it would lead me to Good Morning America, you what I mean like that. Eventually, I think as I kept kind of growing and getting higher profile things that became a goal. I’m sitting here and looking at my vision board right now and it’s on my vision board you know. At the time, I was a big fan of the Today Show and I was just like “Oh my God,” I didn’t know anybody but I was “I wanna be on with Matt and Kathie.” So that was kind of the thing, I felt like “If I could get on the Today Show that would be like the ultimate goal or whatever.”

So, once I kind of fixed my mind to that and this has only been in the last I’d say maybe two years, two and a half year, but once I kind of fixed my mind on that, that’s where I headed, that’s the direction I pointed myself. I know it wasn’t going to be just the direct from Fox 29 to Good Morning America, I knew there would need to be some steps in between and you take those steps and you do what you have to do but that was the goal. That has always been the goal.

Andrea: So now that you have achieved that particular goal, are they going to have you back, do you know? I assume that that’s possible.

Stephanie Humphrey: I am very hopeful. Well, this was like part one of that goal and the ultimate goal is to be under contract with Good Morning America. I want to be their technology and social media correspondent. I think they need someone there that is able to talk about tech on a daily basis because there’s always something that a hack or virus or a new device launch or something like that. So this is kind of part one of that goal. Well, I guess last year was part one because I had done two tape interviews with them that they incorporated into their segments.

So you saw me for like a couple of seconds and then the goal from that was to get in studio live, which I was able to do this month. So now, it’s to get more reps and get invited back and I think we’re on track with that because they actually reached out to me for the in studio piece. Once you’re on their radar that kind of changes the game a little bit too. So I do expect to be back sooner or later and be able to accumulate enough on air appearances to where I can then have a conversation with their talent department about a permanent position.

Andrea: OK, so that was going to be my other question “what’s on your vision’s next if you already got this GMA thing figured out.” So that is the next vision for your vision board ha?

Stephanie Humphrey: Absolutely, the contract! The contract, the contract.

Andrea: That sounds wonderful! OK, I know that you not only talk about tech being easy and help makes our life easier, let’s just talk about that for a second because I know that there’s a lot of people who feel like tech has not made their lives easier simply because they get overwhelmed by it, there’s too many options, and all that sort of things. So what’s your message to somebody like that who’s saying “Wait a second, I’m not sure if that’s much easier.”

Stephanie Humphrey: Well, I would say just, you know, take a breath. I get it. I do this every day and it’s overwhelming for me sometimes as well. But take a breath and think about those things you do every day, you know, whether it’s the grocery store or something with the kids or whatever you’re doing for work like those things that you do every day, think about how they could be easier and there’s probably a tech solution for that.

So just start small with what you’re doing every day like say for instance, I can remember the first thing I ever talk about with my first TV appearance. I used to carry around this separate wallet, like an entire separate wallet for all of my rewards cards like for Giant, Ulta, and Sephora like I had those little plastic rewards cards because I didn’t want to look like a janitor with them all on my keychain. I would carry them around in this little Chopard wallet, and whenever I was in the store and I need a reward card, I had to go into this wallet and dig through it and find the one for that store. You know, it was a pain on the butt.

When I found this app called Herring Rewards that lets you scan your rewards cards into the app and save them there and then you take your phone and the people in the store can scan it that was life-changing, honestly. It really was, because it was like “Oh my God!” Now, my purse is lighter because I don’t need a separate little wallet and I had at least like 20 or 30 of them. It was just like “Wow!” You know, this simple, simple thing has saved me time, has made me more efficient, and has saved me money because if there’s a coupon attached to the reward card at any given time that would pop up as well.

You may not know that, it would just have a little piece of plastic and they scan it, they may not tell you that. But when you scan it through your phone if there’s a coupon there that would show up as well, so you could save a couple of bucks, you know what I mean. That was when I kind of really solidify it in my head that this is a tool for us. This is a tool. It’s here for us. You don’t have to be the first person to have all the latest gadgets and do that, but you can start with wherever you are with whatever kind of phone you have and use it for the things that you need to make easier, you know, just start there.

Andrea: Yeah. I think cell phones were kind of a thing when I was in college but then early 2000s, cell phones were starting to come into play and I had noticed I didn’t have anything to do with it, nothing. I didn’t want to have anything to with it then until I went to another college that was kind of far away and I was going to be driving a lot and I thought “OK, I’m gonna go for this.” I went ahead and got a cell phone when I was like 27 years old and now, I live on it.

Stephanie Humphrey:   Exactly!

Andrea: I mean, I don’t live on it but I do work on it all of the time. I think that the key of course is somehow figuring out the boundaries of that and try not to let it over take my time when I shouldn’t be, my time and attention I guess. But do you have any thoughts about or suggestions that you want to share with us about our phones and how we can be more diligent about using those for good in our lives and not letting them turn into something that’s negative?

Stephanie Humphrey: Right! I would say if you are someone who can’t kind of regulate that whole thing, there are apps you can put on your phone to kind of make it so that you can’t use it for a little while. AppDetox app is one of them, OFFTIME app is one of them, and Moment app is one of them; so they will actually track your device usage because I think we probably all use our phone a lot more than we think we do. If you need to take a break, you can set the app so that it will allow you in the phone for a little while. So if it comes to that maybe that’s what you need to try to get yourself on a schedule and not be so attached to the device all the time.

I would just say also think before you post anything. It literally takes like 2 seconds to just read it again, “What do I need to post this for? Who was this for? What is my goal? What do I hope to achieve in posting this?” I do that. I mean, you and I have brands to protect I guess, so we have to do a little more mindful about it. I think most people do but even if I didn’t, I always take that extra beat before I post anything just to make sure that it’s going to be helpful and that I fact checked it.

Andrea: That’s a good point.

Stephanie Humphrey: Seriously, I refuse to post anything that I haven’t read thoroughly, you know, I’m not posting quickly based on just the title of an article. I won’t post anything I haven’t read and even if there’s something in there that looks a little sketchy to me, you know, I’ll check a couple of other websites. I’ll check notes or something like that to make sure that this is really what’s happening. I think that’s really, really important especially now just because of the amount of “fake news” that’s going around. It’s just like people, you know, they find stuff that falls in line with their own beliefs and then they just share it without worrying about it. You know, if nothing else, think before you post and fact check if necessary.

Andrea: That’s a really good point. Even though you and I have businesses built around our brands, you know our lives are truly built around that as well. I mean, like there’s an expression of who we are in some way, and so it’s still seems really important that whether you have a personal brand online and what not or just tied to a business or not, you still have a personal branding, you still have a reputation.

Stephanie Humphrey: Absolutely, and that’s what I try to get across to the young people that I speak to and it’s like “Listen, you know, whether you care or not, whether you choose to do anything about it or not, you have this brand and everything you’re posting becomes a part of that. So you have to make a decision on whether or not you want people to see this thing about you or this other thing about you. It’s really up to you, and it really does come down to the difference between a tweet or _____ posts.”

It’s really important for us all to be very mindful of that because even if you don’t have a business tied to a brand, you still maybe work for somebody and that employer could fire you as well if they find something objectionable on your social that doesn’t align with their company vision or something you say could be considered a threat and you could go to jail for it. As the laws of our country start to catch up like internet usage, you know, we’re going to see a lot more instances where people have to face real consequences with the stuff that they post. So it’s so important to think first before you hit submit or send.

Andrea: I noticed some statistics on your website about kids and their use of tech; could you share some of those with us because I think that’s really important for us to be aware of?

Stephanie Humphrey: It’s like 95% of all people own a cell phone and then of that, 71% on a smart phone, young people were a big part of that. You know, 95% of students go online daily.

Andrea: This is in the US?

Stephanie Humphrey: Yes. This was a from a few research studies. This was conducted on students in the United States and literally almost every young person in the country goes online at some point daily, you know, so that’s one thing. All of these teenagers are having access to the internet which is just information overload and then we’re looking at 43% of students have been bullied. So almost half, almost one in two students have been bullied online or have had something happened to them online where they felt threatened or unsafe.

You know, 70% of students feel that cyber bullying is a problem so that’s almost three quarters of everyone that’s online. They’re seeing this, watching it and whether their choosing to get engaged or not or come to somebody’s aid or assistance or not, a lot of students see this as a big problem. So, we as adults are the ones that or we’re trying to get these numbers back down because in what I found in speaking to young people is that they don’t really understand that part of it.

They’re very technically proficient and you know, we all say “Oh my God, she was born with a smart phone on their hand and she was swiping in stuff when she was 2.”   They know the ‘how,’ they’re very technically proficient, but they really don’t sort of extrapolate it beyond the how to start thinking about the why. You know, “Why am I posting this, what could happen if I post this? What effect might this post have on other people around me?” That just doesn’t occur to them.

Andrea: Right. It’s hard for them at a young age to be able to conceptualize that anyway let alone having a phone on their hand that could truly be weapon.

Stephanie Humphrey: Exactly!

Andrea: Well, I know that you have a program that helps parents and kids with this. I would love to hear a little bit about that. I know that I want to take this course that you have because our kids are just that age where they’re starting to want to get on social media. My daughter is almost 11 years old and “Friends are on social media, why can’t I be?” You know, “You can use my Snapchat account, dear, but don’t you dare add anybody,” because she accidentally added somebody that she didn’t mean to thinking it was a friend. So there’s all these things that I’m just like “Oh my gosh, we’re opening at these huge kind of rooms,” and so I’m sure that I’m not the only person listening to this podcast and that’s asking, OK, Steph, tell us what to do?

Stephanie Humphrey: Well, first of all for what is worth in my personal opinion, I think you’re doing the right thing. I think 10, or 11 is just too young. I just don’t think they’re equipped to handle the responsibility of accepting friend request or not, managing their privacy settings on their own, like the time spent on each network. I just don’t think 10 or 11 is old enough to handle that type of responsibility. It breaks my heart when I hear parents that say their 10 year old already has an Instagram or is already on Facebook. I’m like “No, it’s too young, they don’t need it yet. They’ll be fine, even if all their friends are doing it or whatever, they’ll be fine.”

Technically, the minimal age is 13 for all the net. They’re supposed to be at least 13 to have an account on any of the social network, but that’s a big problem. There’s no way really police that and so you have 10 year olds that are interacting in the same space as adults and it’s just not appropriate. It’s just not. So ‘Til Death Do You Tweet is my seminar, and it is for parents and students. The students version gets done live in schools, community centers, churches, or other organizations; and it starts out by helping young people understand the concept of their personal brand.

We have an entire conversation before they even get to Twitter whatever about your personal brand and how it gets represented in person, in writing online and what can happen if you don’t manage it in a positive way. And then we kind of get into the idea because when talking about personal brand, you may write something or send an email to somebody that you didn’t mean to and it has a damaging effect.

You might not make the best first impression on somebody when you met them in person but you got a chance to talk to them overtime and they get to know you and they can kind of change that attitude they had about you. But when we’re talking about online, it’s so immediate and can be so damaging _____ that that’s why we focus on social media because that’s the quickest, easiest, you know, most expeditious way to just completely destroy your brand is one tweet, one post. I mean, we have adults that haven’t recovered from that one tweet that got them fired five years ago.

So it’s really imperative to help them understand that you have this thing that you know, responsible for, this personal brand. It’s yours, it belongs to you, you can do whatever you want with it; however, this is what can happen. It goes beyond just not being able to get a job although we talk about that, or not getting into a college, we talk about that. But it also, you know, credits and sex thing that is a felony in some states and cyber bullying, and are you prepared to be OK with the responsibility of possibility having a hint in someone suicide.

I mean, that’s where at right now, “Are you OK with that, can you handle that? Do you even want to have that be a possibility, you know, what I mean? So you got to think before you post.” But then we give them tips on how to maintain a personal brand online, what should your profile picture look like, what should your bio look like, what type of pictures should you be posting, or what are your privacy settings look like; so it gives them I think enough information to now make an informed decision. Whereas before, they could say that they didn’t know and I’m telling you when I tell them these things, the eyes get big and mouths fell open and they’re like “Oh my God I never…”

I have a ton of inbox messages and tweets and things of students of like “I just didn’t even know. I didn’t even think about it. I had no idea.” So they really don’t know, and I think parents make a mistake of thinking that their kids are just being disrespectful or intentionally belligerent. They think they’re posting these stuffs on purpose I think to just get a rise out of people and you know “Why are you doing that? That was so stupid. What made you think you could…” You know what I mean? Their parents can’t understand why they do it. You know, why are kids chewing on iPads right now? Who knows? They’re kids and that’s what kids do. But what you add in the reach of the internet, now it becomes this phenomenon that everybody is like “Oh my God I can’t believe it.” I’m like “Come on, you probably chewed on something you didn’t have any business chewing on when you were younger too, just see what would happen.”

We all have those things that we didn’t have a spotlight on and it was shared with a million people but the internet and the behavior of the internet is what makes it seem like kids these days are crazier than us or just less thoughtful or whatever adults seemed to think about. But they’re not, they’re really not. They’re still kids. They just want to be popular. They want to get as many likes as possible. Some people are bullies; some people get bullied like all of that has been the same across time.

The tools are different now and you can’t send your kids out in the internet world without the understanding of how the tools are suppose to work. And that’s learned behavior, just like they had to learn how to add adult filter, to a photo in Snapchat. They have to also learn auto learn what responsibility means as it relates to the internet and social media as well. So it’s all learned behavior and what is obvious to me is that they’re not getting that because parents are afraid and they don’t know that much about it themselves. So how are they teaching their child about it? “It changes every day and it’s so different. I don’t know what to do and he’s on his phone like seven hours a day and he doesn’t want to talk to me.” I get it but you have to do it. This needs to be one more thing that becomes a part of childhood, the same as you teach your kids to share and be kind to others and you know, pay your taxes.

Andrea: Cross the street.

Stephanie Humphrey: Exactly! It becomes that next thing and that whole line up of stuff that you have to teach your kids. So for parents, we start by talking about why the internet is different, what about the internet makes it seem like kids these days are so different. There are four pillars that I get into and then we do social media rundown. So we talk about the more popular apps and networks that your kids are on right now.

Andrea:   Oh it’s so helpful.

Stephanie Humphrey: Yeah, it’s associated with those and then we get into a little bit of the consequences with parents as well, because I don’t think they know. You know, I’m like “Is sex thing a felony in your state, do you know if it is or not? Can your child be _____ as an adult?” If you have a son and a young lady sends him a picture and her parents decide that it’s not OK and they want to make an _____ of him you know. Are you prepared for what could happen, for the potential consequences that your 17 year old maybe on a sex offender registry for the rest of his life?” So it’s just that deep, you know.

And then we get parents resources, lots of resources on how to start that conversation, how to continue it, you know, if they feel like they need sort of restrictive apps or technology to sort of manage what their kids are doing right now until they can learn to be better digital citizens, so you leave with a ton of resources. That seminar actually, it gets down _____ and stuff like that but I’m launching my online course this month. I’m super excited about it because I did as much as I can to make it seem like you’re actually taking the seminar from me, because I think a lot of what is effective about it is that conversation, you know, what I mean?

So I wanted it to feel like I was actually talking to you and trying to kind of walk you through this and that I was there every step. So, I basically just deconstructed the seminar that I do in person for parents. I broke it down into nine modules and I got on camera and I delivered those modules as if I was talking to a parent. There will be information that comes up on the screen that you can follow along. But yeah, it just kind of walk you through the entire presentation and gives you all of that same information, but now you can do it in the comfort of your own home. You can always go back to it. You can take each module individually and take your time to get through all them and literally digest that information.

Andrea: I think that you said that it’s launching soon so whenever you’re listening to this broadcast, we’re publishing it on January 22nd, so does that mean that anybody could just go to your website and find it right away?

Stephanie Humphrey: Absolutely! Yeah, if you scroll down to services on the website, there’s a link to register. You can pre-enroll now. I think by the time this podcast airs, it should be live though, but yeah, there’s a link on the website.

Andrea: Awesome! OK and the website, why don’t you just tell us the website name again?

Stephanie Humphrey:

Andrea: and we’ll definitely have that in the show notes so that you can go click and buy right away, because if you’re like me, you’re going to want to. OK, Steph, I have one more question for you.

Stephanie Humphrey: OK

Andrea: Hopefully this isn’t proprietary information, but if you can create any tech device to solve a problem that you see in the world right now what would you create?

Stephanie Humphrey: Hmmm, that’s a great question. Man, let me think, let me think, and let me think. Well there’s a couple that I really like right now. There’s an app that collects spare change that helps people with bail. I don’t know the stat exactly but like half the people in prisons right now are only there because they couldn’t afford the bail to get out before the trial, you know what I mean? It might have been the cheapest 200 or 300 bucks, but they just didn’t have it.

So there’s an app created and the name of it escapes me, but there’s an app out right now that I believe you can round up your bank account to the next dollar whatever and it takes that spare change and then helps people with bail just something like that. A young lady named Tiffany, (I can’t think of her last name), but she created an app to help the resident in Detroit paid their water bills but I believe it’s now nationwide with anybody that needs help with their utilities called the Human Utility project. So I love when they use technology for the greater social good, because I think lately that’s where we need to be focusing our efforts.

We need that type of innovation as well but we also need to be using tech in a way that’s going to advance society as a whole. I love to see apps and technology like that. You know, there’s a little kid over in Africa, he made a soccer ball that you can kick around and then it will generate enough electricity to keep your lights on through the night.

Andrea: Ahhh that’s so cool!

Stephanie Humphrey: Exactly, just like little stuff like that. It’s just like “Man, if we’re only scratching the surface on what we’re able to do and how we would be able to help hundreds and thousands of people with something as simple as a soccer ball.” So if I was looking to invent something, it would be along those lines, something that was kind of socially relevant and something that would help the greater good.

Andrea: Love it! Thank you so much, Steph! Thank you for your voice of influence in the world, in helping us to harness the power of tech to do good.

Stephanie Humphrey: Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me.

Andrea: Alright! Awesome!



How to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur with April Beach

Episode 37

Almost every single entrepreneur starts a business because they want to live life on their own terms. They have an idea in their mind of what they want their lives to look like on a daily basis. For some that means time freedom, so they can be home with their families. For others it means location freedom, so they can travel as often as they like. For these entrepreneurs, their business isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s about being able to life their ideal lifestyle.

April Beach is a business strategist and coach for lifestyle entrepreneurs; who also happens to be a very dear friend of mine. April focuses on helping entrepreneurs who want to build a business around their dream lifestyle.

In this episode, April and I dive into why she loves incorporating social activism into her business, why it was so important for April to build a business that allowed her to focus on her family, the story of how April was born into an entrepreneurial family and was then left to raise herself when she was just 13 years old, and the five-step system April uses to help her clients start and grow a business that allows them to live their dream lifestyle.

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.


How to Actually Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions with Espen Klausen, Ph.D.

Episode 36

The start of the new year always brings about resolutions for change. Unfortunately, most of us give up our resolutions by the end of the first month. So, if you’re thinking about making changes and you want those changes to last, this episode is for you!

My guest today was actually my very first guest on this podcast and I knew I had to bring him back for this episode because he’s a Psychologist who has some incredibly helpful insights into how to turn our resolutions into our new habits and routines.

In this episode, Espen Klausen, Ph.D., talks about the biggest challenge people face when starting a new year’s resolution, why you need to understand your core values before you think about making changes, why you should focus on the process rather than the result of long-term goals, what to do when you start to feel discouraged, the importance of rewarding yourself, and much more!

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Andrea: Dr. Espen Klausen, it’s great to have you back on the Voice of Influence podcast!

Dr Espen Klausen: Thank you and thank you for having me back.

Andrea: Yes! Well, I have been thinking about this New Year’s Day edition for a while. I knew that I wanted to have you on because I know that New Year’s resolutions and this fresh start that we all have here in this New Year, it’s exciting and encouraging.

I love having a fresh start, but I know that a lot of people really struggle with actually making changes that last. And sometimes even just deciding that they want to make a change, it’s so easy to say in the status quo.

So let’s start with a question about what do you see when people are ready to make a change, when they want to do a New Year’s resolution or whatever? What are some of the big challenges that you see people facing with a New Year’s resolution?

Dr. Espen Klausen: The biggest challenges I find is that very often the things they want to change, they don’t necessarily want to change for the real reason, or they haven’t actually related what they want to change to who they are or what they want as a person. They tend to focus on things that there’s external pressures for or things that relate to things that they feel guilty about or shameful about.

They’re may be good things to change and in the end they’re maybe trying to change the right thing but, very often, they relate it back to the wrong things. We all have core values and, if we really going to change something, it’s only going to change if we can relate that change back to what’s actually us at the core.

Andrea: So how do people know what their core values are? I’m really aware that there are a lot of people who do not really realize what they most care about. They might kind of have an idea but they’re really more reacting in life rather than thinking about stuff and responding. But how do we really find out what those core values are and make that bridge back to that trigger I guess that is going to help us remember why we want to make this change in our life?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Sure! Here’s the simple version with which might give people a start. They go online and search term “core values” or list of core values and find lots of lists of core values that you can browse through and a lot of people find just from that. A few of these values listed just pop out and “Oh yeah, that’s totally me,” but actually, it’s beyond that too. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll put this on the spot here because, hey, I didn’t prepare you for this, Andrea. But Andrea, I know my wife knew you when you grew up but I didn’t so I don’t know this. When you were young, what toy do you remember most liked?

Andrea: Hmmm, I remember Raggedy Ann doll.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Uh-huh, what do you like about Raggedy Ann?

Andrea: I think she had a song associated with her. I don’t actually totally remember, but I think there was some sort of song associated. So I think I liked her because of that and yeah. I don’t know.

Dr. Espen Klausen. OK. It’s funny, you should say that though, because I don’t know how much you ended up talking about this new podcast, but music was very much been a big part of your life, hasn’t it?

Andrea: Right.

Dr. Espen Klausen: It’s pretty safe to say that music is one of your core values. You just wouldn’t be happy if music is cut out of your life. So we got one right there. For other people, it was building blocks and to find that “Oh one of my core values actually is building it.”

So going back even the childhood behaviors, favorite games, or childhood’s favorite toys you’ll find it there. Nobody hints up project at school or progress at work that we’ve had where we finished a project or we finished what we’re supposed to but in the next days, not in a worry anxious sense but kind of just interest sense or where our brain goes. Our brain just keeps gravitating back to it or studying more, learning more, or perfecting a project _____. We just naturally feel drawn to do it that usually means as our core values or too involved in there.

It’s just another kind of thing you can go through to define that kind of hint. Another thing too is also looking at things like what’s your favorite book, what’s your favorite movie, or what makes that your favorite? It usually boils down to core values in one way or another.

Andrea: Hmmm, I like that. I love looking for clues for stuff like that. I think that’s really fun. But I think that is kind of hard to do that if you’re not used to doing that. The idea of looking online just for list of core values, I hadn’t thought of that before but, I suppose you could just look at the list, at least you begin to identify what some of those things are for you.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yeah and it’s particularly useful if you combine those two strategies because when you think of a childhood toys or activities, you may not think about that “Oh what does that mean?” But if while thinking about that, you look through at list like that and that usually helps your brain connect the dots.

Andrea: OK, so we’ve got some sort of idea whatever our core values are, but you know what, Espen, I’m feeling like I wanted to make this change in my life for myself but it’s going to take time and it’s going to take energy. I feel like I shouldn’t take that time and energy away from my family. Or I feel like I shouldn’t take that time and energy away from the other people that I serve. What do you say to somebody like that who’s saying that that wants to make a change in their lives but they just don’t feel like they should take that extra energy away from other people?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yeah a lot of people have that battle and it’s a very understandable battle. One big key in dealing with that is making sure it’s not an ongoing battle. We have to make a decision about how much time or financial resources is it okay for you to set aside because if you’re going to commit to making a change, you have to make a decision of how much you’re also willing to set aside for it; otherwise, you’ll just kind of keep getting cut in this guilt of “Oh I can’t do it,” every time you do it then it’s not going to last.

So let’s say someone is deciding to “OK, I need to get fit. I need to be healthy. I’m gonna need to make these changes, but I’m busy with the young kids and then it’s hard to find the time where I feel guilty about it.” Then the need to split ups, set a number of hours they’re willing to spend each week and exercise and make a decision maybe even with the family, “OK, if I spend three hours a week exercising then that’s then, I don’t have to feel guilty about three hours of exercising.” If they don’t do that then every hour they spend exercising, they’ll feel guilty about it even if it’s just one hour. That decision has to be made.

Another thing that becomes important in all of this too is…I’ll use an analogy here. In a lot of different work I do, I use an analogy for bucket. In this case is a caring bucket or a giving bucket, and we only have so much in our bucket. Now, with rest, with time, or with activities; our bucket can filled back up again. But if we keep giving and giving and giving and giving, our bucket gets empty. We need to have activities in our life that helps fill our bucket and it helps fill our bucket then it’s a lot easier to give it to others.

A lot of clients I worked with, we’re all working on a _____ issue of taking time to themselves and those things that helps fill their bucket. A lot of mothers and fathers who have not been exercising, for example, because they have so much busyness with kids, but once they committed an exercise routine, they often find that they have more energy and get more things done and actually end up being better parents. And for a totally unselfish reason of being better parents still turned out to be the right thing.

The same thing can go for someone wanting to learn about a new topic and get out of their regular life. And very often, we find that when a person is pursuing some personal goals, it enriches and improves their caring and helping and investment motivation for everything else as well.

Andrea: Yes, definitely!

Dr. Espen Klausen: I’ll take it to the point where I work in county public mental health; I have an employer who is very conscientious of not allowing us to work overtime. You know, if you work too much without having the time to explore other interests and get rest prioritizing ourselves in our development and healing then we are not good clinicians. If we were working a lot of hours we’d become bad clinicians and are likely to dropout our profession altogether, which of course is not actually the caring thing for clients.

Andrea: Right. But don’t you have to then put aside…doesn’t it end up happening that the clients still get to see you as soon or somebody doesn’t get seen that day. As a leader yourself, how do you handle that knowing that you’re not meeting everybody’s needs on that day, but in a long term it’s better for everybody in the end? I don’t know, how do you handle that in a moment?

Dr. Espen Klausen: That does get difficult doesn’t it? Because I rationally know that that when there’s a need for client and sometimes my mind thinks “Oh you know, I could stay an extra hour and I can see this client who really needs to get in,” except, I’ve learned overtime that that leads to less quality work and it’s now not fair to the client I’m seeing the next day.

So it’s that awareness, but it’s hard, as human beings much like animals, we have a lot easier times seeing the need in front of us rather than the long term effects of things then it goes on reminding ourselves.

Andrea: Yes, yeah.

Dr. Espen Klausen: It helps if you can remind ourselves that our reason for doing it, our reason for setting those boundaries or setting aside time for ourselves is usually the most effective when we can relate it back to the temptation of not doing so. For example, if I have the urge to put in a client and work an extra hour, I could argue with myself that “Oh, I don’t wanna do that because now I’m taking away time from my daughter.” But you know I could do that, but it’s not likely to be as effective as if I relay it back to the very motivation for getting the client into my schedule to begin with.

Andrea: OK, so explain that.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Well, I want to help clients. I want to help clients that’s why I have the urge to squeeze these clients in, you know, this evening, yet it then helps that I can tell myself “If I keep doing that, I’m not gonna be very much help to my clients.” And should I do that, eventually I’m gonna burn out. I’m gonna have more sick leaves. There gonna be clients that are cancelled and in the long run I’m gonna work again what I’m trying to do by squeezing them in.”

I’ll give you an example that kind of goes beyond that too. At the moment my exercise regimen is early in the morning and it means I have to get up early than I do as I would. Sleep is important. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get enough sleep but I initially went into it thinking, “I don’t have time to exercise.” But of course that was the time I wasn’t exercising at all. What I didn’t realize is the fact that I’m exercising and I’m more fit and now healthy.

Actually, I don’t require nearly as much sleep as I used to. I’ve actually earned the time from exercising by needing less sleep. And very often, the very things that prevent us from setting aside the time, not always, but very often can have motivators in us to set aside that time. Like, “Let’s do parenting” or “I can’t take time to myself because I need to be there for our kids.” Most kids experience that when a parent has had time to themselves to explore a different interests or done something else and the mind of the parent comes back refreshed.

Kids usually experience that this parent is now more present and more available in more quality time and that’s what really what the kids usually tends to crave. They crave parents that are attentive and responsive. And if anytime away, you need to take hours, whether it’s in a weekend or whether you shut the door and go do a bible study and refresh their minds, it’s when they come out that they’re more responsive. It’s a huge, huge value of the parenting of that child.

Andrea: OK, so we’ve gotten through like maybe three or so things that kind of hold people back or cause problems when it comes to setting or falling through on making changes. I’m thinking of another one now that I hear a lot and things that people don’t even realize that they’re saying. But oftentimes, I think people look at someone else, who maybe ran a marathon, or somebody who is doing something that they admire but they think “I can’t do that.” They just automatically kind of that’s their response, “I can’t.” What do you say to that person?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Usually, I want to hear that and my first question is, is this something you actually want to. This brings back to the beginning of our discussion, our core values. Is this something that’s actually important to you? If someone else run a marathon, “OK, do you really want to run a marathon?” Because often, we try to set these goals for ourselves that are not actually based on what we want and never mind the comparison, “Well, they can do it, I should be able to do it.” Yeah, but do we actually want to? Do you have that value in your life? If it does, OK. If it what’s important to you then yeah you can. Not yet, not at this point.

It usually boils down to what’s one of the biggest issue with a lot of kind of New Year’s resolution anyway is we tend to focus on this overall goal or what I call a long-term goal is where you want to get to and those goals usually turn out to actually be quite unimportant. We should think of long-term goals importance as being motivators and not goals.

Andrea: OK

Dr. Espen Klausen: Our long-term goals tend to change, and if the long-term goals is what represent success for you and the point of the long-term goal is that goal that’s the only thing that’s going to make it worth it then you probably should reconsider, unless you find, which is going to be more important. Are the steps you take to get there valuable to you regardless?

Andrea: OK, so you’re saying that this long term goal, if it’s not just a motivation, if it’s truly the goal and that is what I’m seeking, I have to lose 30 pounds or whatever it is. You’re saying that’s not a good goal? You’re saying that you need to reconsider the actual goal because you don’t value the process of getting to the goal? Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Dr. Espen Klausen: I’m saying that goal is okay if it works as a motivator. If it doesn’t work as a motivator then you have to rethink it. Very often that also goes to the phrasing of the goal which we tend to be quiet for at. For example, very rarely have I met a person whose goal actually is to lose 30 pounds, because what’s the benefit of losing 30 pounds? There is no benefit to losing 30 pounds. Now, to lose body fat that has a lot of benefits. Losing 30 pounds does not.

Andrea: It might have a little benefit on your knees and your joints and that sort of thing but…

Dr. Espen Klausen: Aha, now you’re getting into it, isn’t it?

Andrea: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Espen Klausen: OK, so the long term goal is less back pain or less knee pain. Maybe, it’s about having more energy; maybe it’s about getting rid of the pain. What’s the real reason for losing those 30 pounds, because if losing those pounds actually now meant more pain, what was the point?

Andrea: Right.

Dr. Espen Klausen: So long-term goal should be a motivator. It should be something that makes you want to do it. But the real goals that really actually matter is your step-by-step process goals and the process goals are how you do it. So let’s say someone wants to lose 30 pounds. OK then they should not focus on the 30 pounds. That’s a long-term goal, that’s the motivator, and now they need to set process goals that are each week or it could be day-to-day, “What are the things I need to do? What are the goals I’m setting each week?” “OK, each week, I’m gonna run for an hour or twice and I’m going to do at least a thousand steps a part from the running.” OK, those are process goals. In those process goals that in the end actually end up _____.

Andrea: Sure! It sounds like those are really more like the actual tasks that you’re going to do.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yes. But the problem people that I run into is they try to do these things but then they tend to measure themselves based on the overall long-term goal. But they need to give themselves feedback every week based on the process goals.

Andrea: Yes sure.

Dr. Espen Klausen: So if they run for two times one hour and they did all those steps and then the step on the scale at the end of the week and they’re off 2 pounds, they have to tell themselves “Good job!”

Andrea: Sure!

Dr. Espen Klausen: Sure, they may not be heading in the direction of long-term goal according to the scale, but they were doing what they’re supposed to. They were meeting their process goals and those process goals that are already important ones.

Andrea: I think that’s such a really important piece of this puzzle. But I also know that sometimes when you get to that point and you do see the scale having gone up instead of going down and you see that for a couple of weeks, you start to get discouraged and think that you’re not on the right track and maybe you’re doing the wrong things or that you’re process is wrong somehow. What would you do in that case?

Dr. Espen Klausen: In that case, it now becomes very important and even more so important now that you take an attitude of telling yourself “Good job!” You’re talking exactly kind of situation where now people are getting down on themselves but you want to tell yourself good job because you’re actually meeting your goals as you need to give yourself a pat on the back for that. Because it’s not just important for what you’ve done, that’s important for what you now will do in the future.

If you found out that the process you’ve been doing or the way to get to the goal was wrong, if you’re now telling yourself bad job then you’re going to be less motivated for the new process you find. If you find that “OK, I used a bad process but I did well doing what I told myself to do. I did that process correctly, good job! It’s just the process was wrong, OK, now I’ll change the process. If I work as hard at it then I’ll make a progress.”

Andrea: Yeah, so at the point, really it’s not about whether or not you’re value and whether or not you put the effort in, it’s more about what the actual data is. Yeah, the process is a part from you basically. You get to look at that objectively instead of looking at as something that you’re measuring against your own. I don’t know what I’m saying. I can’t say it.

Dr. Espen Klausen: All I could say, the factor into that is very often our long-term goals are not totally under our control. We should phrase our process goals in such a way that they’re mostly under our control. You never know when you’re going to get a flu and you didn’t get out and run. But the process goals, you can usually phrase in such a way that it’s under your control. Sometimes, the long-term goal is harder to control.

Andrea: When you say the long-term goal is harder to control, you’re saying that actually achieving that goal is harder to control?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yes! Our long-term goals tend to depend on a lot of factors that may not have to be with us.

Andrea: OK

Dr. Espen Klausen: For example, let’s say someone has such a goal of “I want to have better relationships with my family.” You can set a process goals for that, like “I’m gonna make at least five positive statements to my spouse and each of my kids every day, and I’m going to spend at least two hours each day that I’ve set aside for my family, even if I have a busy day.” Any person can do that and can meet those goals and if they met those goals, they have to tell themselves, good job. But that doesn’t guarantee that the rest of the family will get along with you because they have emotions, experiences, busyness, and their own challenges going on.

Someone might have a long-term goal of adopting from a country and double this process goals to get in and this would be heartbreaking, which has happened to people I know, just as they’re ready to start the adoption that country closes down in terms of adoption and you can’t adopt in that country anymore. Now, that means that they should not be telling themselves “Oh I failed,” because they actually succeeded with the outside influences that did not lined up.

It’s also important because sometimes, it turns out that the long term goal is wrong. But the pursuit of goals usually put us in the right direction even if the long-term goal was wrong. For example, I worked hard through high school to get into medical school. Where I come from; you would go straight to the medical school out of high school. But I took a year off and then decided to take some college classes and in taking college classes, I discovered psychology. I found out that I didn’t want medical school. It would put me on a track that’s not who I am and my core values lined up much better with becoming a psychologist.

Now, a lot of the hard work I had done and all the process goals I’ve been working through in order to get into medical school, they were not wasted because that hard work is what got me good grades, maybe a good student, allowed me to get a scholarship. Now, later on, resulting in getting a good graduate school that paid me rather than me paying them and got me a great psychology education and here I am as a psychologist. It’s much better go through that process than if I had not pursued medical school.

So if a long term-goal is not correct, it doesn’t necessarily matter that much. It usually irons itself out in the process. As long as we focus on those process goals and we meet those process goals then we usually made progress towards the goal we eventually end up having as the correct one anyway.

Andrea: I love that. Yeah, I’ve set about a lot that before and a lot of times people really do, they get very, very upset. They feel like they were going down the wrong path because they switch goals. But in the end, I’m thinking “But you’re taking steps, you’re in movement. You’re making some sort of progress but you just change the direction.”

So I really appreciate that especially for these new year’s resolution that maybe they’re not about long-term calling and finding your job that you want to do and things like that and you just want to lose weight or you just want start take a course or create a course or whatever. But as you take steps toward it, you really get more clear about what that long-term goal really is. Yeah, you need that motivator at the beginning to say “Well, I have a vision for where I’m headed. That vision might change but at least I’m taking steps towards it.” I love that.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Now, that final goal gives us a reward, something that turns out to be very helpful. The very hard for people who tends to deny themselves things is when they have process goals and they meet those process goals, it benefits people to have self rewards in the process that they’ve planned for, “Oh once I’ve exercised three times a week for five weeks in a row, I’m gonna go out for Chinese.” Or “Hey, I want that new shirt.” A little bit more money than usually you want to spend but, “If I’ve gotten two pages written a day on my book for the next three weeks, I’ll buy that shirt.”

It makes it easy for the brain to keep that shorter term focus and getting things done each day and it’s not about that reward being worth the work. It’s a way of helping our brain understand that “Hey, I am appreciative of the work I am doing.” I might sound really weird, but as adults, we actually become our own parents. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with this is they earned their rewards and then they’re like “Yeah, but we shouldn’t spend the money,” or “I shouldn’t spend that time. I should spend on this other thing that someone else’s need or that might kids’ need,” and they end up denying themselves. What people don’t realize is our brains learn whether we can trust ourselves or not.

Andrea: That’s interesting.

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yes. When we don’t ourselves the things we promised ourselves as rewards, we start having a harder and harder time motivating ourselves because our brain actually doesn’t trust ourselves.

Andrea: Yeah, that’s really a valuable piece of information right there.

Dr. Espen Klausen: When I have kind of reward program when I work with kids, usually their rewards are not that big. The rewards are just a way of making something concrete, something they can touch and see that clues the words of good job or “Hey kid, keep going. You really got this,” or “I’m really proud of you.” It really helps sink in that my words are not empty. They’re not just the things I’m saying, I really mean it as proven by the sticker I gave you even though that sticker cost like 1 cent. It just makes it more powerful for the brain that “Hey, it’s really true.” The same thing goes when we reward ourselves even if it’s in a tiny way, even if it’s a tiny chocolate piece, it sends that signal to the brain that “Yes, I really do mean good job and it did make progress and I should keep this up.”

Andrea: Interesting! Yeah and it sounds like those rewards need to be appropriate and not go overboard, I guess. I think I’m going to go have Chinese and then have ice cream and then have some chocolates. Probably it isn’t the right idea but…

Dr. Espen Klausen: Yeah, because I skip a hundred calories this morning.

Andrea: Oh man that’s really, really good and helpful. OK, Espen, so in closing, I’d like to ask one more question about the choosing of that long-term goal, because most of us when we say New Year’s resolution, we do have a long-term goal in mind, and yet, we sometimes choose the wrong thing. So what do you recommend that we do to make sure that we are at least starting out on the right path with the right long-term goal, even if it kind of shifts in the process? Yeah, how do we choose the right one?

Dr. Espen Klausen: Dig down into those core values. Try to figure out what are your core values. Most people should be able to, with a liberal work, get together a list of between five or eight core values and then really look at those and ask yourself, “Which one is missing in my life? Which one at some point did I put aside? Which of these is not given the attention it needs?” That’s the one you’re most likely to be motivated by and it’s the one that’s most likely to have the biggest effect on you if you make progress towards it. That’s the one that’s going to be most likely to reduce depression and anxiety. It’s the one that most likely to make you less focused on any physical or emotional pain in your life. It’s the one that’s most likely rejuvenate you to make you more enthusiastic and receptive parent, employee, employer, writer, or artist; meeting the least matched core value is where you’re most valuable long-term goal is going to be.

Andrea: That’s great! Love it! Thank you so much, Espen, for sharing your wisdom with us. We’re ready to kick off this New Year with really great start on our resolutions and goals and process goals, we won’t forget those in rewarding ourselves with lots of good jobs!



3 Practices to Help You Get Ready for 2018

Episode 35

Do you put forethought into how you want to show up to a conversation or do you spend more time worrying about how the conversation went, afterwards? In my experience, it’s more common for people to regret the way we came across in the past than plan for how we will show up to the future. If you don’t want to have regrets about 2018, listen to this episode and integrate these three practices into the end of 2017 so you can show up to 2018 as the no-regrets YOU you want to be.

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Why Strong-Willed Kids Make Great Entrepreneurs with Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm

Episode 34

Kirk Martin is the founder of Celebrate Calm and he has taught over 600,000 parents and teachers around the world to stop defiance, yelling, and power struggles with strong-willed children. Now, I don’t know about you but when somebody wants to have an influence in the world as a leader, I think that a lot of leaders raised these strong-willed children. So we’re going to really benefit from his practical strategies. They are life-changing and laugh-out-loud funny.

Mentioned in this episode:

Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. And today, I have Kirk Martin on the line.

Andrea: So thank you so much for being with us today, Kirk!

Kirk Martin: I’m excited to be here, Andrea, thanks for having me.

Andrea: Well, Kirk, we have actually purchased a number of his CD’s where he gives really practical advice about raising strong-willed kids and those things were so hopeful to us and we ended up even having a phone call with him and consulting with him in our own parenting. So I can’t even begin to tell you how impactful Kirk is in the lives of parents and kids.

So, Kirk, I would love for you to share with the audience, like how did you get started with Celebrate Calm? What was the initiating factor, like what was the origin story?

Kirk Martin: You know, I wasn’t looking for this as probably most people find out in their second careers. I was a corporate business guy and my son, Casey, was struggling in school and he kept actually getting kicked out of schools. So I would go and I volunteer time in his classroom and what I discovered was, I was really good at working with the kids who were alternative learners, who kind of had different learning styles. So I started reading and reading and reading and all about different ways to help these kids and so there was a little bit of a professional transformation as far as learning.

Anyway, I was in his classroom and teachers kept saying “Hey, Mr. Martin, are you gonna come back tomorrow?” And I was like “I have a fulltime job; I can’t come to your class every day.” But I was finding that the little strategies I was coming up with my son were working with other kids. So that was one part of it and then there was personal transformation of realizing, because I always thought that my son was the problem because he was just difficult and obstinate and he just wouldn’t do what I wanted him to do.

I used to spend all of my time trying to change him until I finally realized, I was the one who needed to change, so there’s this whole transformation. And so I was still working a fulltime job and I had an idea that I wanted to work with these kids because these kinds of kids are often labeled…they’re very misunderstood and we often take them to therapy which is fine, but I wanted to have kids in my home.

We actually invited kids. We’d have 8, 10, to 15 kids in our house so I could teach them how to control their emotions and their impulses. Honestly, it started with a passion just for helping kids and I got fired from another job which was kind of my pattern. I remember calling my wife and saying “Hey, guess what, we could work fulltime with the kids now because I don’t have a job.” And I liked it because I was like “Sure, no adventure but wives for some reason really like stability.” She wasn’t a huge fan over the first but anyway it was really, as I guess most of your listeners will find, it was born out of passion more than kind of like a calculated “I’m going to set out to do this.”

Andrea: How did you let people know that you were doing it? Did you just spread it by word of mouth? How did people know?

Kirk Martin: When we started to do these camps, the idea was to have kids in my home where I could control the environment, right? So I want a place where kids felt comfortable so we’d have Legos all over the floor. Most of the kids would come in and right away they’re like “Oh there’s Legos, I feel at home.” It was almost like a version of play therapy in that sense where the kids didn’t know we were working on their behaviors. They were just coming to have fun; I call it a “venture camp, Lego camp.”

We lived in a little subdivision and they had a little community newspaper. I remember very distinctly, it cost me $6. I put a little ad and it said, ADHD Camps and it said “Build confidence and social skills,” and I had my phone number and email address. I told my wife, I was like “Nobody is gonna call. It’s not a big deal,” and we started getting calls and I was like “Oh man, what are we gonna do? Like I don’t really _____ now I have to do it?” So I went online and through a little internet website company, I built my own website one night for $9.99 and I just started replying calls from people and emails saying “Oh yeah, well here’s what we do with the camps.”

Honestly, I was just swinging it and people started showing up at my house and I was like “What am I gonna charge them?” I hate to sound like this but I didn’t have like a well thought out, I just know that if I jump in and started doing it, which is the way that I do things, it would work out and I would figure it out as I went along. I know there are some people who don’t work that way and they will over think it and wait and get like 18 different degrees and certification. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not just my thing. I wanted to jump in.

So one Saturday morning, we ended up having seven kids come to my house; I’m like “OK, so let’s start doing this.” So then after that, it was such a unique concept that no one else was doing that word of mouth spread of like “Oh my son is going on Saturday morning _____ house, he’s teaching him on impulse control and controlling his emotions and this week, we noticed a difference in him.” And the funny thing is in the second summer, because I would do this thing on Saturday morning and then I started doing on Tuesday evenings, so I said “Dinner camps bring your kids, I’m going to eat dinner with them and teach them all kinds of stuff while we’re eating dinner and playing afterwards,” and it was Thursday night.

In the summer, I would take my vacation from my regular job and do weeklong camps. And the second summer, we have kids flying in from Europe and I have kids flying in from all over the country. I didn’t have any qualifications to speak of except that I really get the kids and what I was doing was working so hopefully that doesn’t work by too many people.

Andrea: No, I think that’s really fascinating because you had a solution to a very real and practical problem and it was working. That is the heart of entrepreneurship I think.

Kirk Martin: Right. It’s finding a real need that people had and then a creative solution and part of it was being true to myself because in early days, I fought against “Oh, I don’t have my masters. I don’t have my PhD.” And people were like “Oh do you have masters in psychology or education?” I was like “Nope, international business,” there you go and so I used to be really defensive, you know, as you would expect. But what I found was, I just had to be true to myself and not do things the way everybody else did it because that never works for me.

If you ever come to one of our live events, you will find my speaking style, you would either love it or you’ll absolutely hate it. But I remember going to a Toastmasters to learn how to talk and speak publicly and what I found was it’s _____. Every single person in there spoke the same way and I do the wrong things. I speak really fast and I don’t give breaks for people to process information. And people try to change me for a long time and what I realized was, people like what we do because I’m very authentic even if sometimes it’s a little bit odd and weird.

Andrea: Yeah! I think that’s absolutely true for you and for probably for everybody. Did you know that about yourself? You said you were kind of defensive at first when people would question you, but did you just know that about yourself or did you just feel like “There’s no other way, I just have to be this way. It’s just the way it is.” How did you figure it out?

Kirk Martin: You know when you jump in, you just have to go for it and you just have to say, “OK, I know I can’t answer…” Some people you won’t satisfy because they want to know, you have those qualifications and it’s determining who you are and who you want to help and knowing you can’t please everyone and focusing on your strengths instead of trying _____ the weaknesses. One of my early decisions was, I could go back to school and I could go get my masters, but I kept thinking, I’m not sure I’m actually going to learn that much from books.

So what I decided was instead of spending that time in a college classroom just getting a degree to say I had a degree, I begin volunteering my time in different classrooms in schools literally all across the country. And I just contact them and say “You don’t have to pay me but I’d love to come and observe the classroom.” And I would give the teachers some written ideas when I leave about how she can help or he can help. So I always tell people instead of spending time in a classroom and getting masters degree, I spend time in literally hundreds of classrooms getting that very practical experience and stories.

Now, I can’t quantify this but I believe I trained more teachers across the country than anyone else and they’re all more qualified. I don’t have master’s degree or PhD and yet they love it because they can tell I’ve actually been in classrooms.

Andrea: That makes a huge difference knowing that someone has actual real life experience. I’m not against degrees by any means but whoever you are influencer listening, whoever you are and whatever you’re like, listen to this because this is really empowering I think for any of us. And it’s also really important I think your comments, Kirk, about getting into it and when you’re in it then you have to figure it out and taking action. It’s risky to do that but at the same time, if you really care about it, which it sounds like you really cared about it, you just go for it.

Kirk Martin: That’s my personal style, jump in, figuring out. Now, my wife is completely opposite. So she has gotten her master’s degree in social work and counseling but that’s who she is, right? So part of it is knowing who you are and what your risk tolerance is. I had back then a very high risk tolerance. Look, part of this is your personality. I like being different and I don’t want to do things the way other people do it. In fact, one of my weaknesses, and I’ll share this, people always tell me “Oh, you need to check out this guy’s stuff. You need to check out this lady’s stuff. They’re really good. They’re in the same field.”

A lot of times, I will not look at their stuff. Now, I do sometimes because I can learn and I’ll still some of their best ideas which is part of all of this just learning from other people. But what I get really afraid of is I’ll see someone else and think “Oh, I need to do what they’re doing.” And I’m really cautious about that because it has never worked for me when I try to do things the way other people do it. I have to be really authentic and I have to just do what’s right for my kind of learning and teaching style.

Andrea: I personally can really relate to that into your desire to be different and not even the desire, it’s almost like you can’t help it. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to go down the path that everybody else goes down. Yeah, I feel that way too and I think that I actually can relate too. I don’t know if it’s the same thing but I also feel like I can’t fill my mind with other voices because I wouldn’t be able to hear my own. Do you ever feel that way?

Kirk Martin: Yes and I’ve struggled with that honestly because I know I’m continually learning. I read a lot about brain science. I read a lot of brain psychology but I try not to work too much at other people in what they’re doing. I try to learn from them but I’m afraid of getting sucked in to that comparison thing of like “Oh, they do so much better. They’re doing this.” There’s some of it which I think which I think you identified is knowing what your voice is and what your unique message is.

I think we’ve been able to sustain this and grow this for a long time partly because I’ve stuck to what you’ve just said is. I know who I am, I know my voice, I know the people I want to help and I can help, and I do that really, really well but I try to keep things very simple. We fail a lot so we try a lot of ideas. And again, this is probably a different question but it plays to be an entrepreneur. We try things but if we notice right away it’s not working, we move out of it very quickly so that’s part of learning to be yourself and not try to do what other people are doing.

Andrea: That’s awesome! OK, I want to get in to what you teach a little bit too. But before that, I know you have talked so much about you and Casey (Casey is your son), you’ve both been so open about the struggles that you each faced. So my question for you is did you always include personal stories about Casey? And what did he initially think when you started doing that and how did that come about?

Kirk Martin: Hmmm, good question. I think I started with personal stories about myself and my own transformation. You know, part of it was my dad who was military. So I grew up with kind of like the “My way or the highway, who’s gonna do what I’m tell you to do?” So it began with me being vulnerable about my own issues and that continues to this day and I think again that’s one of the things that people like is I’m not a professional in a lab coat telling them what I read about theory. They’re relating to a real parent, not just a dad, but a parent who gets to really irritated when kids don’t do something, and who struggles with issues.

Again, that’s just me. I’m a pretty vulnerable person. I don’t know that I’m anymore secured than anyone else but it’s who I am and I found that people really like those stories. And you know, I would ask Casey in early days, I’m like “Are you OK, if I share this?” And he was like “Sure, dad. It’s fine.” He grew up with this so when we started having kids over to the house; he was a little kids still. You know, kids come over to the house on Saturday morning and he’d be sleeping and kids would run upstairs because they were in a house and it wasn’t a big house.

It’s a little townhouse. They would run up to his bedroom and wake him up and he’d be like “Dad, it’s Saturday. Come on, I’m a teenage, why these little kids? Why all these stupid kids in my room?” And I didn’t mean it like him calling them stupid but of course he thought that. But overtime, he actually started working in the camps partly because he was free labor, but also because it was a family mission, right? They were coming into our home and so he learned all of this firsthand from working with different kids.

When he started going out on the road speaking with me, I think he just followed my lead and started being open about his own struggles. It was just kind of a natural evolution of the way things worked but nothing was really calculated. Whenever I tried to calculate things or really try to like “OK, here’s an opportunity, we need to exploit.” It never really works when I do that. It only works if it’s kind of a natural evolution of who we are as people and our experience.

Andrea: I love that idea of following the experience and letting it play out but at the same time, it’s hard to do. And I think, again, this going to go back again just being able to listen to that inside of you and know when it’s time to do what. I think often we get very confused and we get, I don’t know, like our mind gets clouded. I love that.

Kirk Martin: No, I’ll add this. You know, you run down a little path and eventually find out “OK that’s not working, that’s not me.” So you don’t always have to have a clear answer. It makes a little bit of faith in this; I mean my relationship with God is really important to me. So I ask but I don’t really hear like “Hey, Kirk, here’s what you’re supposed to do tomorrow,” like I don’t hear audible voices. Sometimes, I just run with stuff and then I figure out pretty quickly “OK, there’s nothing there. It’s not resonating with people. It’s not resonating with me.”

I’ve been doing this a long time now so it’s easier to deal with the uncertainty of knowing. There’s still doubt within the past two years. I’ve had times where “Why isn’t anybody asking us to come speak?” I’m 51, like in your 50s it’s like your prime years of influence. I’m really good at what I do. I’m in the most confident I’ve ever been and yet sometimes you go through this dry spells and was like “Doesn’t anybody love me anymore, doesn’t anybody wants me to come speak?” You always have the self doubt and then you just keep plugging on, plugging on, you know going on and then all of a sudden now you get invited too much and you’re like “I’m tired of travelling.” So I think it just comes with the nature of being an entrepreneur.

Andrea: I know that you’ve mentioned before that entrepreneurship can be good for strong-willed kids. What is the connection that you see between being a strong-willed kid and the experience that you’ve had as an entrepreneur?

Kirk Martin: Uh, do you have all day? It’s funny because I think I came up with this idea in between you asked me to be on here. But we’re going to revive those camps again and start doing some entrepreneur camps for kids. It’s not wanting to follow the normal path, right? It’s a strong-willed child who is contrarian and kind of oppositional by nature. If you ask them to do something, their first question is “why?” Because they want to figure out a different way, they want to figure out context. They’re not afraid to break the rules a little bit. They are curious. I think they’re risk takers by nature a little bit because they kind of don’t mind not fitting in. They almost like being a little bit, I don’t know, weird.

I have an aversion to anything that’s really popular in pop culture. I will not participate in, even if it’s really cool. I just don’t like it. I don’t like it when everybody else is doing something. I intentionally would not see that movie and it’s because I’m a jerk, although I’m a jerk by nature, a little bit sarcastic, but I like my own path. They often don’t follow social conventions and this is really interesting because they often have an attitude of like “Well, who cares that you don’t do it that way?” And I think in my own experience “I’m not qualified.” I don’t think it’s arrogance, I hope not, because I try to be a humble person but there is a certain amount of like “OK, so I’m not qualified, so what? I think I can do.”

So it’s this borderline like arrogance, but also I found most of these kids also have a great deal of humility and they have big hearts, the ability to hyper focus. So these are kids who if they’re not interested in school work, something that should take 15 minutes, will drag out and take three hours. But if they’re interested in their video games or Legos, they can play for literally hours at a time.

I think in many ways, the way that their brains are wired and the way their personalities are formed just make some very uniquely position to become entrepreneurs. Honestly that’s one of the new big focuses that we’re going to have is instead of joining camps where I’m working on kids behavior and trying to fix the negatives, I wanted to switch and accentuate the gifts, accentuate the strengths that they have and then show them how to use it. All of these qualities make them very difficult to teach and it makes it difficult for them to succeed in school, but ironically it’s the very qualities that make them uniquely qualified or positions to do really well _____ dynamic.

Andrea: OK, so how are you going about this? I’m curious because I have a kid that I think would be a great fit for this kind of a thing. I’m curious, what’s your plan, is it your Saturday camps or is it a weeklong thing? Tell us about the structure of it?

Kirk Martin: Well, this is in the formation, so it’s a little bit odd to be sharing this. I’m not doing it to do like a little commercial for our thing but hopefully it’s interesting for people.

Andrea: I’m curious.

Kirk Martin: I’m curious too to see how it unfolds to be honest because I’ve wanted to do this. I recently read a newsletter that I wrote in 1999, and in it, I mentioned that one day I would like to have a school of entrepreneurship for the kids who don’t fit into the school system and who fall through the cracks. And so for years, everybody was like “When do you starting that school?” I’m not a great process kind of person, so there’s no way I would ever start like a charter school. I don’t do bureaucracy; I’m not doing all of that.

So I kind of let it go and I just read that and I was like “Now, it’s 18 years later and this is coming because in my own personal life where I live, I mentor kids.” I met a kid at a Chic-Fil-A once and I stopped in there to do a little bit of work before I had to do this speaking thing. I saw this kid and I watched them and I listened the way he was speaking to customers. So when there’s a break, I went up and I said “You’re gonna own your own business one day, aren’t you? He was only 17, and he was like “Yes sir, that’s my goal.”

And I said “Oh you’re gonna do it. If I could invest in you right now. Here’s what I see, you’re gonna start your own business. You’re gonna fail at the first one or two just because you’re young and that’s what you need to do. But eventually, you’re going to learn from your failure and you’re going to hit it big. So if I could invest in you like I invest in a stock, I would put a lot of money into you.” I got to meet his parents.

So I started mentoring kids because I’m not good at a lot of things but I’m really good at seeing inside of kids and what they’re capable of. So initial idea that we’re going to kick off is doing some boot camps during the school year with their weekends. So the kids come for Saturday and a Sunday. We’re not going to sit in a classroom. I already have locations scouted where we can do hiking trails and so we can get out and learn nature because these kids don’t like sitting at classrooms and we’re going to meet with local entrepreneurs.

So a lot of cool areas now where you can stay in a hotel that is near walking trails and also like in a little square where there are all these businesses. I want them to meet other entrepreneurs to get a sense of, to feel the passion and what drives them and to see how hard it is to do with. So it’s going to be very experiential and then we’re going to have some diagnostic to identify their gifts talents and passions.

And then honestly, I want kids around each other _____ kids to get together and I want to come up with an action plan. So each of these kids leaves each weekend with “Hey, I’ve got three or four ideas of ways to make money, to do service projects to internships. My son will be teaching them to qualities of successful people and a lot of great books. If you’ve ever read the Millionaire Next Door, it talks about the essential qualities of a millionaire. It’s not really about the money; it’s about the qualities that they have.

Initially, we’re going to do this little weekend boot camp in different parts of the country. And part of it will me training the parents, because when you have a child like this you have to make some really courageous decisions, whether you’re going to try to _____ him into the current school system or whether you’re going to say “Maybe we have to do this a different way because this child is so different.” And then eventually we’ll get into doing longer summer camps.

Honestly, I’m about to announce it probably within the next week or so. It’s kind of cool and it’s really exciting.

Andrea: It super exciting. I love it and I’m so excited for you. So one of the things that I’ve heard you talk about that really resonated with me is the idea of transferring our anxiety onto our kids that definitely resonated with me because a few years ago, I was really struggling with the anxiety and I saw how I was doing that. It just made so sense to me and I hated that. So would you share with us what that concepts means and I think it applies to any relationships whether it’s kids or spouses or people you work with or whatever. So what does it mean to transferring anxiety?

Kirk Martin: I’ll take it as a parent. You look at your child and for most of us especially who have strong-willed kids who aren’t living up to their potential, right? Because you look at this child and you think she’s so bright, she’s so capable, and yet she’s not applying yourself. She’s capable so much more. She’s not living up to her potential and so we get anxiety because we begin to think how will she be able to be successful in life? What’s going to happen? You know, you can take it deeper of like “What’s wrong with me as a parent? Am I doing something wrong? Why is it my child is working harder, what is wrong?

And so all of these anxieties about our child’s future, about our own job as a parent and now we begin to dump that on the child and start to lecture them and we begin to micromanage them. I think people identify with this, the more that you care about something as a parent, the less your kids do and the more they resist. I believe as a parent my number one enemy is my own anxiety over my child’s future because it causes me to literally micromanage their lives for them and get on them so much.

It is anxiety because I don’t know what to do with you and it fills all out of my control. I need you to step up and start caring more about your school because I care about your school and I need you to do well at school. So you’ll be successful so I’ll feel good as a parent like I’ve done a good job and you can feel that weight. And that weight is too cumbersome for me to bear as a parent, because I can’t be responsible for the happiness or success of another human being. I can’t carry that and then when you sense all of that weight of our expectations is now being born by a 7 year old, a 10 year old, or a 15 year old, it’s too much for them to bear and that’s what causes the power struggles. I don’t know if I explained that well.

Andrea: Yeah. I don’t know. I can see how what you’re saying is that they fight back on that. They push back on that especially the strong-willed kids.

Kirk Martin: Well, they need to own it. They want to own their choices and their decisions and they want to do it their way, which is a good thing, right? It’s a good thing; it’s just a very difficult thing. It’s a really hard process.

Andrea: I know you go into such great detail about this with the resources that you have available which will definitely make sure that influencer listening will be able to find this on the show notes. But yeah, they push back and I’ve seen it myself that I am more or less just sort of not worried so much that I let them be who they are, that I let them make their mistakes and let them sense and feel their failures that I don’t have to carry that weight for them either. That it’s OK for them to feel those things and then I can pull back a little bit more and they can make more of their own decisions on it. Definitely, it seems to be going generally better.


Kirk Martin: You know, one great _____, Andrea, for me is as a respect issue. So one of our phrases is when we step back as parents, it gives kids space to step up and be responsible for themselves. So the way I look as respect of “I’m going to step back because I respect you enough to believe you’re capable of handling this yourself.” It’s just a great phrase to tell anybody.

Andrea: Would you just say it again because that was so good.

Kirk Martin: I respect you enough to believe that you’re capable of handling this yourself and then you have to walk away from it and let them touch the hot stove and feel and figure it out. Because one of the beautiful parts of that is you’re respecting them as a person, you’re giving them some space to fail and to know it’s OK to struggle. To me there’s a dignity issue.

There are two different ways; “I’m going to ride you and remind you and lecture you and micromanage you because I’m going to make sure that you’re successful, but I’m going to make sure you do it my way because my way is always the right way,” and it never work to a strong-willed child, versus saying “You’re smart, you’re capable, you’re independent, and I know you can handle this on your own and I trust you to learn from the inevitable failures that you make and I’m giving you the dignity of learning this. The dignity of having that satisfaction of knowing I’ve overcome struggles, I’ve overcome challenges and I’ve been successful.”

When we micromanage our kids, we really rob them of that satisfaction because in essence what they’re saying is “Mom, you kind of made me successful. You did this for me.” It’s just really hard as a parent to watch your child struggle and fail but if they’re going to be entrepreneurs, it’s a key part. This business is only successful because I failed really badly, wildly at my previous business kind of self-employed business venture that I did. I owe the success of this to the previous failure and I think that’s how a lot of our kids and a lot of us learn best.

Andrea: OK, now we are in the midst of the holiday bliss, right? It can be the most stressful of the year with all of the pressure that we have to delight our kids, to delight other people, make the season magical, at least that’s how I feel; I definitely want that for my kids. But then there’s also the pressure that can come with all the family expectations and gatherings and if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got the end of the year stuff going on too. So what would you say, Kirk, to the influencer listening who really wants to stay calm over these holidays and actually enjoy it but they’re finding themselves caught up in this pressure? What kind of advice do you have for them as they relate to their kids, spouse or colleagues, or even an audience?

Kirk Martin: I just jotted down three things quickly. Taking care of yourself first and not worrying, because I’m like you, I love kind of like the whole magical thing and I want to be there’s snow in places even now I live on the coast of North Carolina and it’s never going to happen. You want that whole romantic idea of like “Oh, it’s gonna be a wonderful Christmas.” Probably this is for anytime of the year is taking care of myself first and not worrying about trying to make other people happy. I don’t mean that a selfish way, it just means I can’t carry that load.

So if I want people to be happy during the holiday season then I’m going to be happy and I live with joy and I notice the little things and I’m excited by the simplicity of it and the beauty of it and that tends to rob of on people. It’s when we try to get them to enjoy it. You just need to be grateful because you have so much, right? When they don’t react the way we want them to then we get upset at them. You know what, it’s like when you take your kids to Disney, “You guys are going to have a good time at Disney World whether you like it or not.” You know what I mean, all this expectation so much of what we talked about. It’s about controlling myself and not other people.

And so controlling about my own expectations, I’m simplifying. Choose what’s really important during the holidays to you and then you’re just going to have to really focus and say “We’re not going to every party, we’re not going to every single event.” Choose the ones that’s right for your family. Those of us who have strong-willed kids and very emotional kids and get overwhelmed very easily and they can’t do it all. It’s just way too much.

I’d set expectations even before the holidays as much as you can of like what are the three things that are most important for us to enjoy Christmas and the holidays? What are those things? Let’s make sure we do those three things really well and the other things we’ll just say no to. You know what just hit me, just think how great modeling that is for your kids to know you can’t do everything, you can’t please everyone else. You know, learning to be assertive and saying “Hey family member, hey friend I know you invited us to this Christmas party, we really appreciate that and your friendship is really important to us; however, what’s best for our family right now is we need a couple of nights at home.” That’s hard to do, right?

Andrea: Yeah.

Kirk Martin: But that’s being assertive and honest and otherwise “It’s OK kids, we got to go at your Aunt Marge, we have to show up.” And there’s certain amount of that, right that in life you have to do things you don’t want to do. But when you’re doing that continually and you’re exhausted, you end up being resentful at everyone. So I love being able to model being gracious in saying no to people, because I remember my son when he was little, he just couldn’t do it being around a lot of people. And you know how it is there’s always bad food, there’s always a lot of Christmas cookies and so you have a tired kid and he’s hopped up on all the sugar and it’s just didn’t work. And even to this day as an entrepreneur, you have to simplify “No, this is what we’re good at doing. This is what we’re not good at doing and so we’re gonna focus on the main thing.”

Andrea: Such a great information and advice that you have for us today. Thank you so much, Kirk, for your time and you’re doing really good work in the world. So I thank you for your voice of influence.

Kirk Martin: Oh well, thank you for doing what you’re doing in helping other people. I’m glad to help anytime I can.

Andrea: Awesome!



Will You Stay Stagnant or Rise Up? with Lia Valencia Key

Episode 33

Lia Valencia Key was in elementary school when an injury kept her mom from being able to work and she ended up in a homeless shelter in Philadelphia. Her mom became concerned when she saw her daughter acting like the culture around her, so she sat Lia down and gave her a plain and hard hitting choice: would Lia keep heading down the path of least resistance and be like everyone around her or would she choose to rise above and be the person she aspires to be.

Years later, Lia is honoring her mom’s legacy and the choice she made to follow her dreams. After graduating college and then getting an MA in Education, becoming a world class cosmetologist and styling on air talent at QVC and around the world, she’s now pursuing her passion to inspire others in a new way. This is Lia’s amazing story of her new inspirational brand of jewelry, Valencia Key.


Hey, hey! This is Andrea Wenburg, and I am so glad that you’re here with me today on the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Lia Key with me. And what’s really, really fun about Lia is that she and I met through a mutual friend who styled me. I went out to Philadelphia and I went shopping with Toi Sweeney and then Toi said, let’s do your hair and makeup and she brought in Lia.

I had a blast with Lia, so I’m so excited to get to introduce to you to her because her story and her passion, they really resonate with me and I think they’re going to resonate with you too. So I’m going to start by introducing her.

Lia Valencia Key has been a Dreamer, Believer and Achiever since her very humble beginnings growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia. Always following her inner voice to seek happiness and accomplishments, Lia rose above all inner city stereotypes and statistics by achieving her Masters degree in Education, becoming a Licensed Cosmetology Instructor, landing a styling position at QVC that opened the doors for her to become a personal lead stylist for Incredible Women Founders. CEO of major global beauty brands IT Cosmetics and TATCHA Skin Care. Lia has traveled the world following her heart and passion to marvelous countries such as Dubai, Egypt, China, Morocco, Thailand, Korea, Spain, Paris, Italy, Singapore, and Malaysia absorbing motivation, inspiration, love, light and happiness everywhere she lands. Lia’s next phase of her life journey is to share her empowering message to the world by creating an Inspirational Lifestyle Accessory Brand “VALENCIA KEY.”


Andrea: Lia, it is so good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast!

Lia Key: So happy and excited to have this opportunity. Thank you so much!

Andrea: Yeah, it was really, really fun to meet you. While you were doing my hair and makeup, I basically interviewed you.

Lia Key: Yes. I loved it.

Andrea: Because I love hearing people’s stories and the more we dug in, the more fun it was. So I’m excited to have you here. Let’s start with where you are right now and then we’re going to go back. So tell me about Valencia Key, what is it all about?

Lia Key: So Valencia Key is an inspirational lifestyle brand. And what it means for lifestyle brand is I’ll be bringing these amazing pieces that I’ve dreamed and created or have inspired me throughout my travels around the world. It can come in forms of jewelry, handbags, anything that really excites in the fashion of a physical, addition to your appearance. But the heart of the brand is going to inspire people globally to achieve and believe and follow your journey because that’s what this whole brand is from, me believing and dreaming all of my life and just going after my heart’s desires. This will be a byproduct of another dream and another achievement. I’m just going to produce great physically, eye-attractive pieces for the world but they have special and empowering messages behind them.

Andrea: I love that. I love the deep meaning behind something so beautiful. I enjoyed wearing them. I got to wear necklace and a couple of bracelets and they’re so beautiful. I would love to hear the back story on this, Lia. I heard a little bit when we talked before, but tell me what it was like for you. You mentioned in your bio growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia. So when you were growing up, what was it about your experience that inspired you to reach for your dreams and be an achiever? Tell me about that?

Lia Key: I was blessed to have a support system. My mother, my grandmother, and my aunt who was very clear that just because you live in an environment does not mean you are of the environment. So I was talked to every moment of my life going through this _____ that we had that just because we’re here doesn’t mean that you have to be here and that you have to settle in this. So paired with my innate desire and then these beautiful women who may have dealt a challenge in hand, but they were still encouraging me that you know, “Go for your heart’s desire and follow your dreams.”

I’m so grateful to actually have the opportunity to live in a very low-income environment where, most people only see the environment around them, most people don’t think that they can do anything better than what they see and that I am blessed to have that drive and that mentality that I can. If you can say, I can then you will so I’m so grateful for that.

Andrea: Yeah. I’m wondering what it was like for you? Can you give us a snapshot of your childhood?

Lia Key: Just in my childhood, what I mean of low income I mean sometimes you don’t have food on the table. My mother broke her leg, which caused her severe break to where they had to put plates on her leg, which caused her not to be able to work. When she’s not able to work, she had to get public assistance. I have older sister and an older brother so a single woman with three children and not able to work, not because that she didn’t want to work and I think those are two different types of people, but she couldn’t work given her unfortunate accident that she had.

We were forced on public assistance and public assistance doesn’t give you enough to live totally a healthy life at least back when I was growing up. So we had to live in public housing. There was not enough food. You get the money once a month so it doesn’t stretch long enough, so there’s a week or two at the end of the month where you have literally no food so much that your stomach is churning on itself. You have to go find this lunch where they’re giving out food and get the little rations that they’re able to give you and you walk a mile to get that to the next point of her leg never got better. We weren’t able to pay the rent that we were living in and a decent environment to where we actually went to a homeless shelter.

So four people, there was my mother and the three of us in a square box room. But before you end up to the square box room, there were these open shelters where you go and all the women were on cots with their children. So there’s this mess room of women and cots and just buddied up on top of each other and that’s how you sleep and that’s where you eat. People are coughing and there were germs everywhere in this room and then finally you may elevate to this one box room where it’s no bigger than a closet and that’s where you sleep.

So coming from that journey, the beauty was my mother always encourages us to go to school, always encourages us to do our best in school, and always encourages us to get good grades. That’s really a hard thing to be a young child and experience these visual things, these physical things and then not eating and seeing all these things around you and still have to go to school and be affected. Still I have to go to school and get these grades that the school deems as achievable.

So my mother would always encourage us “You have to do your homework. You have to do this. You have to go.” So the beauty is that motivation was my inspiration. Finally, we were able to get into public housing and so that’s where you get your little home if you will. So you have people like my mother who has this ailment where she literally can’t walk but then you have people that don’t know any better and they don’t want any better, so they are just _____ profanity. They’re _____ with indecent behaviors and that’s all around you. That’s where you go to school with.

I remember going to school and my mother was packing me lunch and I go into the lunch closet and my lunch was stolen and that happened for weeks because I never told her like “I can’t tell my mother my lunch is stolen.” She barely had enough. You know what I mean; I can’t tell her that this is happening to me. And my mother had a talk with me because when you’re young, you’re either go to the path of what you see around you or you’re going to go the path of what you aspire to be.

So I was kind of leaning to where the path of what I see you know starting that talk in class and grades are slipping and I think this was around fifth grade. That elementary, fifth grade or fourth grade is the pinnacle part of development for children because either you have the basics or you don’t, either you know about being successful or achieving or you don’t or you won’t because after that phase is just uphill battle trying to _____ our mind because you’re starting to get into this preadolescence phase, which is we all know as even horrible.

So my mother had this very real talk with me and it was very stern and very hard. But I remember to this day and what I took from that is she said “Either you’re gonna be a follower or you’re gonna be a leader, and either you’re going to sit here and let people pass you by and stay stagnant and look around and be where you are, or you gonna choose to excel and rise above what you’re seeing and whatever you’re going.” And she was like “You basically choose because what you’re choosing now is to be a loser.”

As a fifth grader, you’re still young but that resonated with me so well and from that moment on; I was consistently on honor roll. I was the class president of the school. I went to all of these after school activity programs. I didn’t understand it but it was those very real talks to say “Basically, you decide. You decide your journey, you decide your future and it’s in your hands. Even as a fifth grader, it’s in your hands.” It definitely was in my hands and so I’m grateful for that.

As I carry throughout my life that’s the journey I lived. I believe in Christ who strengthens me but in conjunction with that, I decide. So my brand has a message that “I’m gonna give you these very beautiful pieces, because I think your external infects your internal.” I do believe that how you look and how you feel they’re very correlated and that’s why the message. That’s why it’s so awesome that I do want to bring these really cool pieces for people to wear. Because just put that little nice bag on your shoulder or a great pair of shoes or an awesome necklace on that just sparks a little more confidence in you, but the meaning behind it to me is so much powerful that “Where do you decide in your life?”

Andrea: Oh gosh, Lia, that’s so gorgeous. I love the story. I love your passion.

Lia Key: Oh thank you.

Andrea:   So there’s couple of things that came to my mind while you were talking that I wanted to ask. So first of all when your mom sat you down and told you that, you have this choice, do you think that you knew that ahead of time, you knew that you had a choice or what was it about her offering you that choice? If she would have just said, “Lia, you have to do this,” or you’re going to end up like that or whatever? I mean, if she would have told you, what do you think your inner response would have been?

Lia Key: I don’t think I would have got it. I think those real moments of her really painting the picture of “Here’s the path you’re going, loser. The environment around you, this is where you’re going and you choose which way you want to be.” As a fifth grader, I wasn’t clear that I was getting it that way but I was clear that I didn’t want to be a loser. In that statement, you know, and that harshness if you will versus someone saying “You better get good grades, you better get good grades.” “But why?” I think it would have been about why if it would have just been a straight statement of what you need to do. But the fact that she compared it to a very clear visual image, as a fifth grader, I can understand “I don’t want that.”

Andrea: When you say very clear visual image, was she showing you something or pointing people out?

Lia Key: She was talking about our life, like “Look what you’re in, look what you’re around. You’re around people who haven’t seen anything. You’re around people that are on drugs. You’re around people that have alcohol issues, or you’re around people that have no education that they dropped out of school. This is what you see when you walk out that door.” In our house, it was a safe haven. But as soon as you walk out the door, this is what you’re immersed in, “Do you want to do this? This is what I call a loser.”

She was in that predicament but she was still saying “Unfortunately, you’re moving to the path of what we have to live in at this moment. Do you want to choose that? Is that your choice because I can tell you at this moment that’s where you’re going by your behavior and by your grades, that’s where you’re going? So you decide if you want to be a leader or a follower if you want to excel or either you want to lose.”

That was just so visual to me because I can look around and I maybe young but I knew that this wasn’t good living. I knew that this wasn’t happiness. Maybe, I didn’t know anything different but I knew that this didn’t feel good what I was seeing. You know, children in an environment like that have no discipline. They are just wild and unruly, so you’re sitting in a class with children just yelling above and beyond. “So do you wanna stay back and still be in this environment or do you wanna to push forward and get into a high school that you can kind of choose your environment? What high school do you wanna to get into? You’re not gonna get into a good one if you stay on the path that you’re on.”

So those are very visual for me, and I’m a visual person and I love creating beautiful things. You know, from my education background there’s pedagogies and there’s different ways of teaching and so everyone learns differently. And I think she hit me right in the area where I’m able to learn.

Andrea: Yeah. I think so many of us do too then also just the choice instead of the shame. She wasn’t shaming you, she was saying this is what you’re headed towards if you don’t…yeah, I love that.

Lia Key: Me too. I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. I think my mother had a very challenging life and you know she wasn’t able to get out of it if you will but you’re able, if possible, to try to break cycles and you’re able to try to tell people that are coming up under you differently. My gratefulness is that I was able to hear it and receive it. But just because someone’s telling you something does not mean you’re able to receive it so I am so grateful that I was hearing it and slowly receiving it.

Andrea: Oh man, this is so good. I think that for the person that’s listening right now, the influencer that’s listening; I mean do you hear all this, because this is about real communication. It’s about a message that actually pierces somebody’s heart, and even though it’s harsh, it ends up bringing out life and calling out life. I love this. So Lia, when you think about putting on something, you’ve been talking about putting on this jewelry and sort of making you feel confident and that sort of thing, what kind of things do you remember putting on as a kid after you made that decision “No, I’m gonna be a leader.” How did that become even more visual for you? How did you continue to put on things?

Lia Key: I’ve been creative. If you saw young pictures of me there, it’s quite interesting. I always love to express myself just purely. I never have the drive to follow in the norm and I think it was very pinnacle after fifth grade when I was like “Oh yeah, I’m gonna be me and me wants to succeed. But me just doesn’t wanna succeed, but me wanna do me in all forms of life and me wants to be happy in all forms of life and what that feels like to me.” So externally, me was orange-white shirt or me was neon something.

So I was very nontraditional but that’s how I felt. I felt bright inside. I felt expressive inside and so I would dress and express it. Me was not all black, you know. Me is not conforming to trends of everyone wearing the same sneakers if you will. Me was, oh my God, this _____ thick platform or something that’s very old school. I like that because me was very expressive and so that’s how visually I internalize who I was and just wear it on the outside as well as inside. So when you see me, you pretty much can probably get my energy before I open my mouth.

Andrea: I can attest to that even now.

Lia Key: So for my brand, you know, everyone has an expressive style. Everyone has a light in them. Everyone has some joy in them and so I want to position my pieces. Even if you’re a classy person and you’re not necessarily as visually expressive as I am but you always have a little light and you do always want to have some sort of expression. No want wants to be just bland and black, no one does. Everyone doesn’t know how to accomplish that effectively so they stay safe, right? I appreciate staying safe until you learn how to become effectively expressive.

So I want my pieces to provide that classic person or that safe person away to have just one little piece or two little pieces that in their safe visual moment they can pop on and say “Yeah, there’s my light that I’m putting to the world. Yeah there’s my expression. Yeah, there’s my passion. There’s my energy that I’m putting to the world.” And it’s comfortable enough to just be on a wrist, just lightly be on the neck, or just be over your shoulder, just enough. So you have your form of expression without outshining who you are truly which is a safe, more structured, more routine person. I never want someone to be outside of their box, but I also want someone to be able to tap into all their forms of who they are and that little light and energy is inside of everyone.

Andrea: Yes, I love it. I think that that is really, really wise statement, a wise vision for you to want to give people who like to play at safe a chance to do something small and put on something small that would still tap into who they are and that beauty, that light, and that joy that they have to offer. What do you think it does to somebody when they put it on? What do you think goes on inside of a person?

Lia Key: You know, it does a lot like you can have your favorite necklace on. Let’s say you’re going to an interview, everyone makes interviews a big deal, right? Because that’s when you need to be your strongest because you’re about to go in front of someone who’s going to critique you if you will, so you need all the energy support that you can get. You have your interview _____, right? It’s safe, I’m sure, but you need something because you need confidence in an interview. You need courage in an interview. So you grab your favorite necklace and that favorite necklace is that courage and support, that confidence, and that little piece that says “OK, I’m good” and it will sparkles to myself and to the person that’s looking at me.

So it’s a two-way street with these little visual traits because not only are you energizing yourself with whatever the piece looks like because you know what you put on “Yeah, let’s take that suit right to the next level.” And then by the way, it has a message to it “Yes, I am prosperous. Yes, it’s my divine right to be prosperous. So when I walk into this interview, it’s my divine right to nail it.” So that’s great for you but on the other side of the table, you walk into the interview and yeah you got to say _____ but you have this pretty little piece, very simple. The interviewer whether it’d be a man or woman says “She’s well-put together, and oh that little trinkets something about it, something about her whole construction is very into the theme of what our culture is but she grinds a little more to the table.”

So it’s this amazing two-way street that it’s confidence and assurance to both parties and their unconscious thoughts. No one is going to say that necklace did all of that. No one is going to make that bold statement but the truth is it does. Take the necklace off and have a bare neck and walk into the room bland and so then you have to work harder or you have to push a little more. But if you come in with just a little bit of interest, you’ve already elevated yourself from your personal vision because you looked in the mirror and say “Yes,” to yourself and then to the person at the opposite side that “Uh-huh she knows how to put it together, now let’s say what she has to say.”

A lot of people call it superficial. Visual is not superficial. Visual says that I care. Visual shows the world how I’m feeling today. Visual shows the world where my emotions lie because generally you’re wearing it as much outside as you’re wearing it inside. I think the real smart and strong and powerful people know how to visually make it right to let the world understand who you are even if you’re not feeling that way that day until you get to where you want to feel and that’s the only powerful way you can do that.

Do you ever sense when someone says “Oh you don’t look good today.” Well, that’s probably because you didn’t _____. Just because you don’t feel good inside, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to look good because visually ready externally until you push that internal side to get to the status of where you visually brought it to.

Andrea: This is so deep. I mean, it is so deep because I think that I know that in my story, I really want to keep it real. I got to this point where I was like, and even when I was a kid, I did not want to put on anything visually because I wanted people to respect me for who I was on the inside, not how I look on the outside. But as I have grown and matured and live life more, I’ve realized that actually it does matter what I put on, that what I put on can call out of me something very real.

Lia Key: Yes, exactly. You ever heard the statement; you have to hang around people you want to be. So that statement means, maybe I want to be a CEO of a company, do I hang with secretaries? So if I want to be a CEO, I’ll try to put myself that I’m not a CEO by any means so internally I’m not that but if you put yourself in a place to where you want to be by theory of life, you will get there or darn sure close.

So the same thing with visual is, if I want to be something whatever I want to be, I don’t know. I want to be hippie, I want to be in a corporate, I want to be artsy, or whatever you want to be internally or whatever you want to feel confident, if I’m wearing slouchy, sluggish external appearance clothes or if that’s how I’m coming out to the word, then I only can stay sluggish inside. But if I come out in a poppy little necklace on, a poppy little bracelet on, or a poppy little bag on, I put on a nice but not too extravagant outfit together, now I have to rise to that occasion.

It’s like looking at a fruit, you know how the inside is because of the outside layer, it looks rotten you know. So how about, we polish up the outside and even inside is rotten if my outside is polished, I have to start healing with them.

Andrea: Interesting.

Lia Key: I mean that’s my thing in life. I’ve never claimed to be an expert of anything. I’ve never been one thousand of the best at anything but I decide to be it. I decide to be a master’s graduate and a teacher of algebra. I decided to be that then I decided that I was going to follow passion because I’ve always been artistic and to go into this beauty industry. And I decided that I was going to be in an environment where I can self-taught leaders and game changers. I didn’t start that way but I decided that and so I started from the external deciding it and internally, I started to have to make moves to get to where I want to be.

And all along with journey, visually, I had to bring something out when I decided to put myself in these places even though I had no knowledge when I said “OK, I’m gonna walk into this door of MAC Cosmetics.” Bare Essentials is my first place of makeup and cosmetics, so these are all visual places. I was not a great makeup artist. I was not; probably I would say I was horrible. But visually, I put myself together and probably took three hours to do my make up to make sure that visually when I walk in the door, I look like where my internal wasn’t ready for.

But because I put it together externally, I had to rise to that occasion when I was accepted into that group and make it match and guess what happened, it started to match. So we have to stop creating visual as superficial because it’s not. It’s way more powerful than what we give way to, and my journey is to just add little pieces to help you out on your internal and external journey throughout life.

Andrea: Do you think that your mom, giving you that choice back when you were in fifth grade, it seems to me like it gave you permission to aspire to be more and aspire to do more. I’m going to say that for me with my journey, I think I always look for permission where it might have been expected of me but I was really looking for permission to stand out because I didn’t want to alienate myself, whereas you’re a somebody who really did standout and you did from the beginning and you were okay with doing that visually.

So I think that one of the things that you’re offering people is permission.

Lia Key: Yes, yes! Great! That’s it. My brand is offering you permission to be your best to seek your own happiness and to find what that looks like to you. In my brand, it’s cosigning that it’s OK and if you are already in that place, because some people are already are, to celebrate it and to then inspire others to be. So it can be just continuous journey or permission to be awesome in a very humble, pleasant, gracious, and grateful way.

Andrea: Yes, I love that so much. Goosebumps all over my arms right now. Tell me more about prosperous. You mentioned, one of the things that your brand is communicating is being prosperous. I know that that is really a deep concept for you, so can you tell the influencer listening what that means?

Lia Key: So there’s a lot of inspirational brands out there; accessory brands, jewelry brands. There’s a lot in the market and normally, we choose words like hope. We choose words like faith. You know these safe words that are very obvious, right? They’re very clear and I love those words because you need faith, you need hope. These are very good words but my heart is pushing me to grab these nontraditional words that have so much power to them but have been truly misconstrued in the society.

So my first collection is entitled Prosperity, and that’s a real risky title to give the collection, Prosperity, because most people think of prosperity as money. When you ask people of prosperity, 910 they would say “How much money do you have, how many money did you make? Oh that person is really rich but in money.” I am pushing the statement that prosperity is one of the most powerful words that we can have in use but it’s nothing about money. It’s nothing about finances; it’s all about being rich in fulfillment. It’s all about being rich in achievement. It’s all about finding what your heart desires and moving toward accomplishing it and then accomplishing it and everything in between that takes you want that journey.

Prosperity is a life of joy, a life of happiness. That’s what prosperity is and there’s not one person on this planet that doesn’t desire prosperity. They may think of it as money because we’ve been told that it’s money. But they’re not desiring money, they’re desiring happiness. They’re desiring fulfillness, and they’re desiring joy. So my collection is stating that you have a divine right to be prosperous, everyone. Prosperity is individualized. My prosperity doesn’t look like your prosperity, your prosperity doesn’t look like what your daughter’s prosperity is going to look like, and they all are valid and we all should seek them.

We should all get on the question of mission to be prosperous because when I’m prosperous then I can share the joy of prosperity to you and then we live in this life of fulfillment and happiness in whatever face that looks like. Maybe it looks like love of family to you, maybe it looks like a healthy lifestyle to me, or maybe it looks like abundance and money to another person but we should be sharing this joy and this quest of achieving divine of prosperity so that we can share light and love to everyone that we connect with and help them on their journey.

Andrea: Where all do you want to share your message? I mean, have you thought about going into the schools and talking to kids and that sort of thing?

Lia Key: Oh yes. The beauty is I feel like this brand is just like a jumpstart to a travelling message honestly. So you actually stated exactly my vision. My goal is to encourage and touch as many people as possible be it you were the brand or you don’t. I want the message to travel so I’m interested in talking into schools and doing speaking engagements in groups of people who are already there and want to go further or groups of people who have no clue where to go. Yes, no clue that it’s possible to go anywhere and that my message can push them along.

So hopefully, I can get enough support with the brand and the pieces so that I can take this message to actually speak to as many people as possible that we can encourage a life of growing and greatness.

Andrea: Yeah, I’m excited for those kids, those people who are going to get to hear you speak because you bring an authenticity and energy, a creative visual positive spirit that like I said you’re giving permission. You’re giving people a choice and you’re saying what your mom said to you. You’re saying “Do you want keep hiding behind bland clothing or whatever it might be, and do you want to keep going that direction or do you want to put on the kind of clothing that’s gonna call out who you really are.”

And you know, clothing, jewelry whatever it might be, I’m just really excited for your message and for how you’re going to continue to really make a big difference in the world with your voice of influence. So thank you so much for being here today!

Lia Key: I totally appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me, it was an absolute joy!