“Who’s Kathleen?” and other FAQs
Ideas-to-action consultant, coach, and as-needed butt kicker
What’s a nice kid like you doing in a job like this?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Oh, wait; wrong story. Here’s the one you’re asking about:
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of me at age five when I was the flower girl at the wedding of my godmother, Ruth. I felt beautiful and was really excited to be part of this big celebration. At the reception, the band started to play, and my godmother and her new husband began to dance. It was so wonderful that I went spinning out on the dance floor myself, twirling and smiling…
…and getting yanked off the floor.
My mom and my aunt (Ruth’s mom) were very unhappy with me. They explained that the “right” thing to do was let Ruth and John do that very first dance by themselves, and that I had somehow hurt/disappointed/insulted them by doing what I did. This resulted in a two-part Big Honkin’ Life Lesson:
A. There are rules – often unspoken – that you have to obey.
B. You’re not okay if you don’t follow the rules.
Fast forward six years to Mrs. Hickman’s sixth-grade classroom and an eye-opening assignment: Read an article in the middle-school “newspaper” and give a 10- to 15-minute report on it. While most kids struggled to force out a four-minute talk, mine ran twelve.
Talk about a mixed bag! The good news about this was that I discovered I love making it fun and easy for people to learn and apply new ideas—and I’m really good at it. But the bad news was that my “A” grade reinforced the belief that the only way to get approval is to follow the rules. I even got a bonus lesson: Accomplishments are the way to feel good about yourself.
As I launched my first business and began hanging out with other entrepreneurs, I slowly realized I had a lot of company. So many of these wonderful, talented people seemed to have learned lessons similar to mine: Pay attention to the rules, play by the rules, don’t go whining just because it feels like people value your accomplishments more than they do you. A lot of us felt like phonies, frauds, underachievers….losers.
Maybe you’ve felt the same kind of pain, as the lessons you learned as a kid strangle your attempts to be and become the person you want to be.
If you’re like the clients I’ve been drawn (or maybe pulled) to work with, you’ve lost confidence – not only in your abilities, but in yourself. You might find yourself continually looking for guidance about the right thing to do – “What are the rules I have to follow to be considered successful and valuable?” – while at the same time you devalue your own impressive achievements.
Sound familiar? It sure does to me.
Fortunately, I eventually got whapped upside the head with a lesson that was actually helpful: You can choose to ignore what you learned in the past and ditch the old habitual behaviors that are keeping you small.
This was an amazing realization for me. It’s the reason I’m driven to work with talented women who are afraid: Afraid of taking the wrong step, so they don’t take any steps – or try to take every step possible just so they don’t miss the “right” one. Afraid to be who they are. Afraid to claim their strengths. Afraid no matter how much they have or do, they’re not going to be enough.
I show these women how to forget the crap lessons they learned. I challenge them to be as kind to themselves as they would be to their best friend. I shove them out of their own way so that they can do work that matters to them, but I never let them get away with thinking or acting as if they’re nothing more than the sum of their accomplishments. I give them compassionate ass-kicking when they need it, and I make sure they celebrate every time they loosen those strangling old lessons and beliefs just a little more.
So, you ask, what’s a nice kid like me doing in a job like this?
Working toward the day when my clients are able to honestly declare, “Damn, I’m good!”
So, in other words…you’re a coach?
Primarily a consultant, then secondarily a coach.
One reason I don’t typically describe myself as a coach is that I’m more tactical than many coaches. So far I haven’t met any others who will provide, as I do, prioritized action plans that line up the individual steps you’ll take to get more clients, more revenue, more contacts…just more.
Another reason is that my focus is on implementation. Although we do certainly talk about what’s getting in your way, our immediate concern is figuring out how to deal with, as quickly as possible, obstacles to implementing your great ideas. Our focus is not on figuring out why they’re obstacles. However, that can be hugely important for you to know, and that’s why I often tell clients that what you get from me can be a great complement to the value you may already be getting from a more traditional business coach.
If you consider the key skills that my clients get greatest value from, they’d say they appreciate that I’m an inspiring, results-generating, problem-solving, cheerleading, butt-kicking implementation expert. (You can see why I often default to the labels “consultant” and “coach”.)
What do you mean by “stepping into big”?
That all depends on what you mean by it. If you and I choose to work together, I won’t come into the relationship with any pre-existing concept of what your “big” should look like. I figure it’s my job to help you clearly articulate what your big looks and feels like to you, and then help you develop and implement action plans to get you there as quickly as possible. For one client, big is creating a business income that allows her to pay cash for everything and go on a big honkin’ family vacation every year. For another client, big is cracking seven figures in her business. The clients’ goals may be different, but the quality of our work together is the same, no matter what important goals we’re working toward.
What’s this Take Action Now System™ you mention on your site?
It’s a way to figure out what’s really important to you (rather than what you think should be important) and how to cut through the crap that’s keeping you stuck in mediocrity. In short, it’s a five-step process that allows you to take control of your business. It’s simple, although not necessarily easy. Here are the five steps.
- Clear the decks. You can’t be at your most productive if you’re drowning in physical and/or mental clutter.
- Decide how to decide. You want to be crystal clear on the decision-making criteria that make sense for your business right now.
- Separate the wheat from the chaff. Of the zillion and one tasks you could take on, only a few are truly critical for your business success. And that success depends on your ability to distinguish between tasks that are mission critical and those that are simply nice ideas.
- Make sure your business wheel rolls smoothly. Success requires an appropriate mix of working on your business (i.e., business development activities) and working in it (i.e., the work you actually bill for). We’ll work out a plan to address the Four P’s of Business Development so that you avoid income peaks and valleys (also known as the Revenue Roller Coaster From Hell).
- Chunk down, down, down...Too many entrepreneurs get paralyzed because they’re faced with seemingly overwhelming projects. You’ll learn how to chunk these big honkers down into bite-sized activities through step-by-step action plans.
So how does Stepping Into Big relate to the Take Action Now System™?
Great question. You can’t Step Into Big just by talking and wishing; you need to act. While Stepping Into Big is the road you’ll travel down—as well as the feeling you’ll delight in—the Take Action Now System™ is the vehicle for doing so.
Speaking of implementation: How does this all work? What does the program entail?
The key to the success of the Take Action Now System™ is in our collaboration. Nobody knows your business better than you do, and yet that very familiarity is a drawback: You’re so close to the action that it’s sometimes next to impossible to focus clearly. That’s where I come in. I act as the objective observer who has the necessary distance to see the forest and the trees.
I work with each of my clients on the five steps of the Take Action Now System™, even if you’ve already gone through the do-it-yourself version of the system. This provides for:
- working together to go deeper into identifying what’s not working right, what is working right, what you could be doing, what you’ll benefit most from doing, and how to start doing those high-payoff activities
- “homework” you’ll have each week to keep you moving briskly through the five steps
- accountability for doing the work, even—or especially—when it’s tough, because we’ll talk via phone, Skype, or Google Hangout at least once each week
As we go through this process, you’ll be able to tap my:
- huge mental and hard-copy library of resource information, compiled over 30 years
- analytical skills, which enable me to suggest key action areas and work with you to create action plans to accomplish your goals
- ability to identify ways to present and adapt tools to your specific needs.
What results can I expect?
Your results will fall in two related yet distinct categories.
On an emotional level, you’ll experience through our collaboration:
- relief from the feeling of overwhelm
- renewed confidence that you can and will act on ideas you know will get you more clients and make you more money
- support for stepping into your particular “big”
- a strong commitment to doing the tough-but-productive tasks (since you know you’re going to be held accountable for them)
- gratitude to have had a collaborator who’s been there and done that
- excitement about working through the action steps that will build your business, your bank account, and your sense of personal power.
On a pragmatic level, you’ll have:
- a high-level action plan that serves as a touchstone for making intentional, outcome-focused business decisions
- a gut-level understanding of what unthinking, default decisions cost you in terms of money, time, and energy
- step-by-step action plans for building your business
- tools to manage your activities
- a compassionately ruthless accountability buddy who will act as your stern conscience, if needed, to ensure you do the uncomfortable-yet-important activities we’ll identify
- a system for capturing good ideas without being distracted from your current priorities
Do you specialize in a particular industry?
I haven’t been drawn to specialize yet. I find that, regardless of industry, most creative entrepreneurs face very similar challenges when it comes to implementing. The Take Action Now System™ is equally useful across industries and professions.
Have you worked with anyone in my industry before?
I’ve worked with clients ranging from drug abuse counselors to coffee shop owners to resume writers. If I haven’t worked with someone in your industry yet, that means you’ll be the first on your block to benefit from using the Take Action Now System™ to implement your business-building ideas.
What can I expect from you?
That’s pretty straightforward. You can count on me to:
- commit to being fully present every time we interact
- provide value during each interaction, whether we connect in person or via phone, e-mail, or Skype
- act as your guide and collaborator, not an obnoxious know-it-all
- acknowledge and build on your existing knowledge and accomplishments
- tailor resources to your needs and your style
- kick you in the butt if you need that to take uncomfortable-but-vital action steps
- create a winnable game for you to play
- celebrate your victories
What’s expected of me?
That’s also easy. I expect you to:
- be willing to play to your very highest ability
- do the “homework” in a timely manner
- be open to considering new ideas
- clearly state expectations and share feedback
- be willing to sacrifice comfort for results
Why are people willing to invest money working with you?
What I hear most often from clients is that my value comes from:
- my structured approach to developing your business, which puts a stop to you feeling like an insane billiard ball bouncing from one task to another
- the blueprint I provide for organizing and prioritizing your thoughts and activities so you’re not drowning in possibilities
- positive, can-do energy
- heart-centered way of challenging of counter-productive behaviors
- knack for knowing the right resource to present at the right time
How long have you been doing this?
Although I began working with my first clients in June of 2011, I officially launched Stepping Into Big, LLC, in September of that year. Since my experience as an owner of two other businesses, as well as my time teaching in the Minnesota college system, all developed and honed the skills I bring to my Stepping Into Big clients, you could say that the business has been gestating for about 30 years. (Good grief. That’s even worse than an elephant’s pregnancy.)
Is there some way I can “sample” your work to know if it’s right for me?
Absolutely. You can choose either of the following “samplers” to get a good idea of the pragmatic approach I take, my resources, and my style.
- Subscribe to my blog postings.
- Request your free copy of the Take Action Now System™. Just let me know where and to whom to send it to by filling in the blue box in the upper right corner of this page.
Okay, I know you’re the person who can save my sanity. How do we get started?
- I send you a PayPal invoice and you send me money. (Isn’t that a fun part of running a business?)
- Based on what I learned during our get-acquainted call, I send you some questions, answers to which will launch our action planning.
- We set the date for our first meeting.
- We celebrate the start of your Stepping Into Big! (Yes, this will involve chocolate.)