THE IMPOSTER

THE IMPOSTER

Words. Letters put to paper in the right order that can shape religions and change nations. Spoken words are powerful too, as we all can attest from a family dinner gone wrong or a voicemail left after one too many Margaritas. Words send me checks each month.Words — and some unbelievably unattractive facial expressions — allow me to make people laugh each week. Words in emails literally got me to where I am today.

Whether or not a word was in fact a word led my sister and I to the brink of fisticuffs during a holiday scrabble game. Fisticuffs. Great word.

Some words can be pesky jerks. Just is one of them.

I used to say “just” a lot, years ago. Early on in my advertising career, surrounded by executives and strategists, I’d find myself saying I was “just a designer.” Later in life I’d add that word to different things, “just getting started” “just trying it out” “just a freelancer” “just a consultant” … isn’t it gross?

It’s gross like the Sorry Phenomenon.

Why are we all saying sorry all the time? Sorry for sharing an opinion, sorry for coughing or for the fact that we have a food allergy. ‘Excuse me’ is not the same as ‘I’m sorry.’ The one I see most often is people saying sorry for being bumped into. You bumped into me in your crazed frenzy to beat that guy to the only open check out line, but my bad! It’s as if we’re saying “I apologize for being here and taking up space on Earth.”

For the love of all humanity, LET’S QUIT DOING THAT.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because successful people realize early on that words have power. They study communication and refine the way they speak and write to others. They carefully choose the words they write and say about themselves and their lives. They change I might to I will, they change if to when. Many of them say daily affirmations. Tony Robbins has his own version called incantations, which include standing and saying an affirmation with such passion and certainty that your physical body engaged in the activity. I have started this in my own life but I’ll be honest, I’m not great at it yet.

What I am getting better at, though, is removing “just” and its other variations. Even though I feel like an ant sitting to interview an elephant. Even though I am riddled with insecurities (as you saw in my last post.) Even though I feel that at any moment, bulky men with in black sunglasses sporting navy wind jackets with a big acronym on the back are going to bust into my life. Roger that, team leader we found her. — Uh uh, she’s in her tiny home office in sweat pants like we thought. — Yup, no makeup and hair in a bun, she looks terrifying, uh I mean terrified. — Sorry sir. Yes I know it just slipped out. — It’s just that these people always look so different from their profile pictures! You don’t und — Yes sir. Won’t happen again.

As if someone will soon tell me I’ve been found out. I’m an imposter, a little no one doing something big and amazing, I’ve cheated the system, and I cannot go on. Even this paragraph, I shouldn’t write stuff like this about myself.

If you’re fighting off imposter syndrome like prettymuch all of us are, watch your words. Even though I still struggle, I have stopped writing emails to potential guest that rattle on about how it would be a huge honor if they “could make time for us” and “just a digital-only show right now,” and “still just based out of Oklahoma.”

If you go back and watch episodes you’ll notice I was always saying “Thanks for squeezing us in” or “Thanks for making time for us today.” I have to force myself now not to say it. Why? Because I’m not a rookie interviewer barely getting started anymore. My words are read by thousands each week. My videos have been viewed over half a million times. My viewers tell me time and time again that they’d never heard of that guest before and have started following, reading, and purchasing from them. My words need to reflect thatfact, not my feelings. It’s a disservice to the gifs I’ve been given and the followers I’ve been entrusted with, to speak and write that way.

I’m going to repeat that: it’s a disservice to the gifts you’ve been given and the audience you’ve been entrusted with!

The more I hone my pitch emails and phone calls to reflect the opportunity my show offers, the better responses I get. And the more I start to forget about the men in jackets. The more I start to believe the truth about myself.

See, words can start to change us from the outside in, which is what the affirmations and incantations are all about.

Maybe you’re not ready to start giving yourself pep talks each morning on the way to work. That’s okay. (You can listen to mine on iTunes. Just FYI.) Simply make a vow to yourself to start watching your words. Best self and best work means no more justs. No more apologizing for taking up space. No more downplaying your gifts.

You may not believe your words yet, but you will, so choose them carefully!

This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book Success for the Rest of Us! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.

This post also appeared on Medium.com.

THE CONFIDENCE

THE CONFIDENCE

I love the pressure. The rush. The eyes in the room land on you, and it’s time to perform. Time be funny. Or insightful. Or to sing well or to ask the right questions or solve a client problem or whatever that particular performance requires.

People assume that because I thrive under this pressure — which may or may not make me an insane person, time will tell — that I must have awesome self-esteem. I am articulate and seem relaxed, so I must feel self-assured, right?

Let me tell you what goes through my head before I get on camera. Those close to me can testify that the following is 100% true.

___

Smile, here they come! Oh my gosh my teeth are SO yellow. Must get veneers the second I become famous because you know this famous person in front of me be chugging some coffee erry day and yet somehow their teeth are still Radioactive-Can-See-Them-From-Space White. I want that white teeth life.

Focus Kelsey. What is that one question about their third year of business? Dang I forgot.

[we sit down and I begin to fidget]

They are SO fit. Suck in! But look natural. Maybe I can suck in enough to convince potential agents I’m a size 6? Should have gotten smaller spanx. Must remember to reach out to Sara Blakely’s people again this week. Ugh, I have got to quit eating so much chocolate. My arm is the size of her waist. I wonder if I will ever be able to wear sleeveless stuff on camera. Speaking of, Man! I’m hungry. I forgot to eat again. LARDO! FOCUS!

[Go to look over questions one last time. Guest’s make up artist dabs guest’s nose, then turns to me…]

Oh dear God in heaven!

I did my own makeup at 6AM please don’t look at me! My nose is huge and I don’t know how to contour and these false eyelashes were a whopping $2 at CVS and one is about to pop off. Seriously. Stand back, fabulous make up man! The second I relax and start to laugh it’s going to fly off and somehow land in my guest’s mouth, and I’ll be excommunicated on every publicist blacklist there is, I just know it.

Whew! He approves. Sit up straight and lean forward a tiny bit. Shoulders back. Boobs out. Chin up! Wait, did I remember to change out of my set up shoes into my interview shoes? I did. Good. I hope no one looks at them, though, because they have been through the ringer and there are definitely no trademark red soles to be found down there. No one look.

KELSEY! GET A GRIP WOMAN. This is not about me. This is not about me. No one cares about my linebacker arms. They care about this chick’s amazing story and they want to know HOW she did it. They want to know how they can change their OWN life. I am a great interviewer, I just need to interview. I just need to be the conduit between this amazing guest and my amazing viewers.

Holy Crap she IS amazing. How did I even land this interview?! I am a nobody who was changing diapers in the burbs yesterday and I don’t even have 10,000 Facebook fans, what am I even doing here? HEY! I’ll tell you what you’re doing here, Kelsey. You’re doing your job being your badass self asking questions like you’ve done since you were a kid, that is what you’re doing here.

Right. This is MY HOUSE. Interviewing is what I do. Welcome to MY House, Celebrity Fancy Pants. Prepare to be interviewed like you’ve never been interviewed before! All eyes are on you, not me. No one is looking at my nose. Thank God.

God! Right! Lord, please help this guest be impressed and tell all their friends including their agent and manager and if this could actually be my big break that would be great. You know I had to at least ask.

Also, please help me to ask the questions my audience needs to hear answers to. Please help me perform well in this assignment I’ve been given. Please help me perform well in THIS current amazing assignment I have been given.

K. Remember that one thing about their childhood. Remember Sarah wrote in asking about the third product launch. Remember John from twitter’s question about creativity. Remember the staple questions: how did you survive the first three years? Big fat fail and how you recovered? Best part/worst part, biggest piece of advice? Remember to take a posed shot before they get up to leave. Remember to take a selfie. Remember to give them a mug.

Ok, time’s up. Let’s do this.

“Thank you for joining me for another episode of The Pursuit, I’m Kelsey Humphreys, here with…”

___

What can I say? My mind is a scary, sad little place.

Here is the lesson and reminder for us. It’s something that I hear in interview after interview, in different variation, from one influencer to the next. My variation is this.

Look Out, Look Up.

Every time, without fail, I turn the spotlight on myself and all my flaws, as if I’m standing on a stage in the circle of light completely naked. My teeth, my arms, my frizzy hair.

Then I look out. First, I turn the spotlight beyond my Self and instead to the gifts that were given to me. I am capable. I can do this, whether I feel ready right now or not.

Next, look out again. Shining the light on the guest stage left. Their story. This is about them.

Then I look out further, shining a spotlight into the metaphorical auditorium. The audience, the reader, the viewer. This is actually aboutthem. The whole reason in the first place! To serve with the gifts I’ve been given. To break down success for that person who wants to change their life.

Lastly, look up. Whether you believe in Jesus, the Universe or some sort of Divine Creativity, call out for help. Shine that light straight up like the Bat Signal.

To be a vessel in this world is to be used, right? To be filled, picked up, turned over, and poured out into the glasses of others. Thankfully, this requires someone else’s hands to do the heavy lifting.

This is where confidence comes from. We’ve heard confidence comes from within, but for me, really, it’s not from within at all.

Even if you’re doing what you’re meant to do, you’ll get sweaty palms and dry mouth. Many of my guests — celebrities, multimillionaires, influencers with thousands upon thousands of followers — have had serious dry mouth. It’s often the only tell that gives their nerves away.

The next time you’re feeling shaky, rattling on inside about all the ways you’re unqualified or unfit, look out and look up.

Also, playing Welcome To My House by Flo Rida on repeat beforehand helps too. Or so I’ve heard.

This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book Success for the Rest of Us! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.

This post also appeared on Medium.com.

THE PRICE TAG

THE PRICE TAG

I could feel myself getting smaller in the chair, and turning a distinct shade of purple. Be cool, Kelsey, I told myself, he doesn’t know. No one knows…

As I told myself to calm down and reclaim a normal skin color — it was a video interview after all — Grant Cardone continued his rant.

“I was bragging because I got upgraded to first class. Oh my God I got upgraded! Dude, if you’re bragging about getting upgraded?! you don’t have a business. You’re a slave to Delta.”

I was sitting there with a man estimated to be worth about 500 million, and I couldn’t even afford Delta. I flew Southwest. In fact, I drove almost four hours to Dallas in order to fly Southwest because they offer direct (cheaper AND faster) flights from Love field to almost anywhere.

Sometimes before an interview, my millionaire guests will make small talk with me and I think please Lord, don’t let them ask where I’m staying. Please oh please oh please. Because you know where I stay? The Holiday Inn.

Alright, if I’m coming clean here it’s usually a Holiday Inn Express.

Which to give you an accurate picture, express hotels in New York and LA are not anywhere near as nice as some of the pet hotels available, should Mr.Snuggles need a place to stay while you are off traveling through Paris. There are people drinking fine wine and eating baguettes with glee, knowing their pooch is getting a mani pedi, while I’m just trying to get the thermostat somewhere between You’re In Hell Now and So Cold You’ll Actually Die Here Alone.

Joe Berlinger did actually ask me, I guess God was helping refugees that day. The nerve. I kind of mumbled my answer under my breath. He said, “Oh, you’re a freelancer, huh?” with a distinct mixture of respect, pity and disgust that comes from having been there — the bottom of the industry totem pole.

Cardone meant well during our interview — he was trying to explain that people don’t think big enough. On that we agree completely.

But I felt a little sad for my viewers, who may watch the episode and get discouraged when he implied that a $35,000 speaking fee was laughable. I know many aspiring speakers who would give up their legs for that kind of gig. People with inspiring handicaps always crush it with the crowd. Who hasn’t been jealous of the articulate gal who happened to get hit by a bus and survive and then wrote a bestseller?!

As we wrapped up the interview, I prayed a special prayer for the desk clerk at The Holiday Inn Miami South Beach. That morning, as I put on my black lace shirt from Dillard’s, I went to remove the price tag. I left the tags on until the last minute because the shirt was $99.95. A hundred bucks for one shirt?! You better believe that was going back if the interview got cancelled.

But, with great fear and trembling, I realized that the price tag was attached with unbreakable string. I don’t know a lot about string but I assure you, that particular blend was the stuff used on the international space station and in the military and probably in the manufacturing of Spanx. There I was, right before go time with Wonder String on my tag and no scissors. I put the shirt on, pulled the tag out, and got ready, thinking I’d ask for scissors at the front desk on my way out. I then promptly forgot all about it. But, because God loves me, I had gone to the desk to check out, something I don’t often do because it’s not necessary, and as I turned to walk away, the attendant cried out with appropriate urgency. “Miss! Ma’am! Um, your tag is showing.”

Can you imagine if I’d skipped check out and met Grant’s people with a price tag still attached to my shirt — a shirt that only cost a hundred bucks!? The. horror. I bet his underwear costs more than a hundred bucks! I’m feeling squirmy at my desk right now just thinking about it. The embarrassment, not his underwear.

I know there are people reading who wouldn’t pay $100 bucks for a shirt, or couldn’t afford it. There could also people reading who would not give that kind of purchase a second thought, because they just returned from Paris with a new collar for Mr.Snuffles that cost three times that much. For me, it’s a splurge, but it’s not a bank-breaker. However, when you start to add up all the outfits I buy for these interviews, it gets a little crazy. This is why, yes, I repeat outfits. Please pretend not to notice.

On the way home from an interview, I sometimes sit there on the plane, even a Southwest plane, feeling like a badass. Please Oh Please let someone ask me why I’m traveling or what I do! I think. (Between this admission and the earlier hit by a bus comment I made, it’s a wonder I have any friends, I know. Thanks for reading.)

Flying home from Miami, however, I felt lame and defeated. Holiday Inn Express. What a loser.

But then, I remembered. At the beginning, Cardone was just trying to stay sober and sell cars. At the beginning, his goal was probably a $1000 speaking gig, or maybe even just a paid speaking gig. At the beginning he bragged about getting upgraded to first class. He’s just so far removed from his beginning, he’s forgotten.

I made a vow with myself that day. Anytime I start to throw a pity party for myself, I would add two words to the end of my whining. This has been a game changer for me, and it will be for you as well.

Those words are “right now.”

I can’t afford to fly first class right now.

I can’t get Tyler Perry’s people to take my phone call right now.

I can’t give up my evening wine-replacing-dark-chocolate habit right now.

Those two words remind us that this too shall pass. They imply that change is coming. They comfort me and inspire me and scare me and motivate me all at the same time.

I am still in the beginning of my journey. You probably are at the beginning of something too. The beginning stages of losing weight, launching your business, starting a writing habit, etc.

To become our best selves and give the world our best work, we have to stick with it and get past the beginning.

I encourage you to try adding those two words to your problems today! Let me know how it goes. Unless, of course, your problems have to do with Mr.Snuggles’ hired dogwalker or your jet or your private chef, in which case, please refrain from emailing me.

This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book Success for the Rest of Us! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.

This post also appeared on Medium.com.

THE KEYBOARD

THE KEYBOARD

“Do you remember anything that you do for fun?” he said.

Dang. This is a question I might expect and — let’s be real — enjoy from a wide-eyed fan who is in awe of my work ethic, wondering just how does Kelsey do it all?! … This is not a question you want your husband to ask you during a rant about how stressed you are.

Worse, not a question you want to struggle to answer!

I honestly couldn’t remember. For years, drinking was my fun. Once I finally woke up and climbed out of the den of smog, I think I realized just how much time I’d wasted. I realized there was so much work to do, so much to learn, so much to share.

Plus, I’m big — huge — on being intentional. It’s a key to success that I see over and over again in my interviews. These people aren’t messing around guys. If they chose to wear a blue shirt today it’s probably because blue makes them happier, or reads better on camera. Or is psychologically proven to make them work faster. Or it’s one of few shirts they have because they cleared out all the clutter from their life and now have a Steve-Jobs-inspired capsule wardrobe. Or it’s woven together by women who are making a living from salvaging fabric scraps and the $59.95 they spent on it changed 123 lives in a remote village somewhere. I digress.

In effort to make the most out of every second, have I become a serious, square, workaholic zombie shell of myself? Is this who I am now? Is this success? Is this fulfillment?

I told him I’d get back to him and ran out of the kitchen in a rush of awkward embarrassment. Who doesn’t know what they like to do for fun!? Certainly not the woman he married…. Ah. Let’s to go there.

Go back.

Back then, I was still planning on being the next Adele. I wrote songs. I sang every week at church in our non-denominational Jesus-loving alt-rock band. I sang everywhere, actually, the car, the shower. I sat and picked through chords, figuring out songs from the radio on my hand-me-down-piano. I played gigs at bars and coffee shops and corporate events. I sang the national anthem at NBA games. I auditioned for musicals and American Idol and all kinds of opportunities.

Then I gave up on that dream. Said Adios to a giant part of my identity. Got rid of the piano. There were many good reasons for giving that up. I think it was the right decision.

But good decisions can still really, deeply hurt.

To numb that hurt, I drank. In the numbness, I think I started to forget myself. When I finally quit drinking there were two giant chunks of my identity removed. What’s left? Who am I? What do I do for fun?
— — —
I want to be best friends with a lot of my guests, but especially with Glennon Doyle Melton, whose episode comes out this week.

She is hilarious and real and warm and kind and can speak the truth like few can. In her book Love Warrior, she wrote about an epiphany she had. Overwhelmed with life and pain, she decided to take a few days and go to the beach. She sat and watched the sunset and something clicked. She explained that the beach, that beauty, was something she needed, regularly, for her soul. We often think about our physical needs, mental needs, family needs, financial needs, maybe emotional needs — but what about the things our soul needs? Things that fuel us in the core of our being? The things that we were created to love?

When I read that portion I knew. I sent my husband a text “I know this is random. But we need to buy a piano. Soon.”
— — —
When you start listening — to life, to loved ones, and I believe to the Holy Spirit — plug in the Universe if that makes you squirmy — you’ll hear amazing answers.

Get this. About that same week, my church worship pastor asked me to join the worship team, and to start singing solos. We now attend a Church of Christ church, and solos are not a normal thing.

Get this.

I go to our first rehearsal and sitting in the sound booth at the back of the sanctuary is a full size weighted-key keyboard. Did I mention we go to a Church of Christ church, as in, no instruments?! I asked where they got it, they said, “Take it! We never use it and it’s taking up too much space!” It’s no baby grand, but since we have a tiny house, the lightweight design with the weighted keys made it a perfect fit. I looked down at the cheap Casio, sandwiched between desks and boxes, and I swear it was almost glowing. I was probably glowing too.

When it arrived I sat and sang for just a few minutes, my toddler was anxious to bang on it and it was nearing her bed time, so I didn’t even get through a whole song. But there at the keys I felt what Glennon wrote. “Hello soul. I am learning what you love. I will get more of this for us. I promise.”

Drinking was not truly fun, despite what I told myself, it was escapism. I see a lot of that in our society today, and not just in excessive drinking but in binge watching, overeating, excessive working, compulsive buying (I’m looking at you, my fellow suburbians) binge reading, obsessive exercising, the list goes on.

Even though I’m a rare case, I think many people lose touch with their soul, with fun. Some reasons? How about the consuming role of motherhood, the pressure of adult responsibilities, or oh, I don’t know, the ignored spirit-crushing depression you never dealt with after giving up on a dream? Just some ideas off the top of my head.

Somewhere along the way, most of these successful people I study identify and remove escapism. I’m not saying they never go to the movies — even Tony Robbins does that — but they quit trying to hide from the pain and beauty of life. Brutiful, Glennon calls it. They realize life is both brutal and beautiful. They face who they really are, head on. They find things they really enjoy and make time for them in their meticulously blocked off calendars. Michael Hyatt goes fishing. Gary Vaynerchuk attends every New York Jets game. Marie Forleo dances.

Dig deep — underneath your role as a mom, your life’s work, the mundane of the everyday — and uncover the fun again.

Figure out what fuels your soul and make time for it, because I’m pretty sure it’s a vital component to becoming your best self and give the world you best work, and remember, we need you!

This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.

This post also appeared on Medium.com.

The Itch

Alt Title: The Patience
Alt Alt Title: The Big Break

 

Guys. Oprah has a new cookbook coming out in January. Often, if an influencer has a new book coming out, I will use that opportunity to reach out to his or her publicist about booking the author, their client, as a guest on The Pursuit. I have met authors on book tours in New York, backstage at speaking gigs, and even in their hotel rooms. (My videographer and myself had to hoist and move a mattress to get the shot, it was totes glamorous.)

 

Today people want to know, why don’t I reach out to Oprah?! By people I mostly mean my dad. My dad taught me to hustle by example. He’s received five degrees, he’s written multiple books, he has thousands of students - he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s also one of the most optimistic people I know, and thinks that because I’ve had Tony Robbins on my show, the world is now my shining oyster. Which it is, in a way. (As always, thank you forever, Tony! ILYSM! BFFAEAE!)

 

Once you get some momentum towards your goal, you start to feel it. The itch. Oh, if I could just tweet to so-and-so one more time, if I could just write the perfect pitch email, if I could just make such-and-such happen, I’ll finally get my big break.

 

I admit, I want to scratch, y’all. I mean, some of the people I have interviewed are Oprah’s besties. They text each other. And she will do a round of publicity for her book. I am physically having to scratch the back of my neck right now.

 

But here’s what I’ve learned, about successful people, over and over again. They know how to be patient. Not weeks patient or months patient - we’re talking years, here. They know that there is no big break. That bears repeating.

 

There is no big break.

 

I know. It sucks. Honestly, I thought my first Tony Robbins interview was going to be my big break. He’d text all of his celebrity friends and tell them they just had to be on this new digital talk show with this fresh, talented, hilarious girl. Agents would come calling. Book deals would be made. Angels would sing.

 

While his stamp of approval did open major doors for me with other celebrity guests, and catapulted the Pursuit YouTube channel, my phone did not buzz. I went home from New York and got back to work at my little desk in suburbia, writing, editing video, writing, editing video. It’s been 6 months, and guess what I am doing? Writing. Editing video.

 

This is why it’s imperative that you must love the work itself, because you will spend your time - wait for it - working. Even if it’s your own business, work you love, your passion, your calling, it’s still work.

 

But the real lesson for the rest of us here is how Marie Forleo worked multiple odd jobs for over seven years before her business took off. How Glennon Doyle Melton wrote in a closet every morning for two years before her first post when viral. How Gary Vaynerchuk posted hundreds of WineLibraryTV episodes before becoming the “wine guy” in mainstream media.

 

If I someone told me all my dreams would come true if I could just keep my head down for two more years, or four more years, I’d say a more mature, less desperate version of TAKE MY MONEY, WHERE DO I SIGN?

 

So I tell me. Over and over and over again.

 

I made the mistake of scratching the itch in the early months of the show. Reaching out too far, too soon, and possibly cementing myself in the “rookie” category with those publicists forever. You only get one first impression. I only get one shot to reach out to Oprah’s team. I’m not even sure I could find the correct contact, because I have a feeling “you don’t reach out to Oprah, Oprah reaches out to you.” But I could try. But I’ve learned to ignore the itch. I’ve learned rushing is not worth it. Hopefully, I’ll catch her on her next book and daggum! it will have been worth it.

 

Ego will whisper that the itch is your big break calling. This is normal. Don’t listen. Don’t scratch.

The Writing

The Writing

Alt. Title: The Hiding

Alright, here I am, showing up. I actually got up at 5 after only one snooze, I have a steaming cup of coffee and a flickering hazelnut candle and, thank the Lord, somehow I convinced the dogs to go back to sleep. I’m nervous, which is silly. I’m a dark room, alone, typing thoughts - what’s there to be nervous about?

Writing.

That’s what I’m doing today, but it’s more than that.

I write everyday. My articles have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times now and people seem to love them. My last few pieces for Entrepreneur have gone to the Top 50 section of the site, and in total my articles have been shared over 100,000 times. Is this even my life?!

But today is different.

I’m over two years sober now - don’t worry, that’s not what this post is about - and I knew all along that the drinking was hiding, escapism at its finest. Which is insane because I have a hot husband, the world’s cutest daughter, a perfect little cookie cutter suburbia home, work I love, a great family, a pretty solid relationship with God...what was I hiding from!? Well, as therapeutic as it would be for me to sit and pound that out this morning, the hiding is the point.

Recently I had a pretty big epiphany. You have those a lot once you finally get sober.

I’ve been hiding again.

Behind my show. Behind my work, that I love so much, probably too much. Behind the story of a conservative suit type, with a warm laugh and floppy dad ears, that goes out on his own in his fifties and not only hangs with the youngins but actually leads the way, becoming a “social media influencer” when most his age are slowing into retirement. The story of a woman who worked odd jobs for seven years, slowly trying to become a life coach before that was a thing, who eventually became besties with Oprah and built one of the first multimillion dollar online empires. Or a woman who went from welfare to millionaire in two years. A man who has done over 60,000 interviews in his lifetime and has no plans to retire. Twin brothers who didn’t give up, knowing their real estate and construction skills could be combined with their dreams of acting if they just kept trying. Tony. Robbins.

These are inspiring stories. These are inspiring people.

But in only writing about others, I have found myself becoming a spectator again.

Some personalities thrive on the bleachers, but I am one who has to be down on the field. Though, not necessarily as a cheerleader, I should note, since I was almost kicked off the cheerleading squad in seventh grade. I just wanted to make people laugh. The girls were doing their best to overcome the all kinds of awkward that 13 year old girls have going on - carefully moving skinny limbs, short skirts, curled ponytails and red ribbons in perfect sync with the beat... and then there was me. I was at the end in the back, doing my best to channel a Spartan from SNL and get someone in the first row to bust a gut. Much to the relief of the co-captains, I did not try out the next year.

The reason I dislike the bleachers is the reason I’m clinging to the cold metal rod that stadiums call a seat.

The truth is, I love the spotlight. Are you shocked? I hope you were sitting down for that. It’s not cool to openly admit that you want to be a star, but I do. This scares me, because I’m now mature enough to know that meaningful, beautiful work that matters is about others. It’s about the readers, the viewers. I have worked hard to get over myself in a more literal sense of the term. I scaled my giant ego and stood on top and was actually able to see clearly, able to really serve people for a while. What if, by starting to actually share my story, my journey I fall back down into the valleys of Meville and get lost there?

That’s the thing. Hiding is easier.

I’m helping the world with my interviews and articles and quick pep talks and so I’ve used that as an excuse to put off the deepest, hardest work. Conquering my ego over and over again.  Writing the book I know I’m supposed to be writing - “a hilarious combination of memoir and how-to that beautifully breaks down how everyday people can start creating success in their lives” - See. I’ve spent way too much energy dreaming of celebrity book blurbs. I’m doomed.



Here’s the lesson. Hiding behind beautiful, important things is still hiding.



Losing yourself in parenting.

Using your calling as an excuse to work long and hard and hide from your relationships.

Making your art at the expense of making a life for yourself.

Chasing enlightenment as a means to just keep running.

Writing other people’s stories because you’re scared to tell your own.


I want you and I to become our best selves and give the world our best work. We can’t do one if we’re hiding behind the other. We can’t truly do either if we’re hiding at all.

So today, I actually woke up before 5, like I’ve planned on doing for, oh, a few months. The bleachers finally froze my butt off I guess. I am now officially blogging again and working on my next book. I hope you’ll come along with me and read the words and laugh at my jokes and channel your best Will Farrell as we do the hard work together.

Who’s that Spartan in my tee-pee?!

….for the love of all that is holy I hope one of you tweet or Facebook me with "It’s Me!" or this is going to be really sad.

 

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THE FIRE WALK

THE FIRE WALK

I lied to Tony Robbins.

 

I don’t know what came over me. I am not a liar. In fact, in my younger years this trait got me into trouble. Friends eventually learned not to ask if their skirt was flattering or if their boyfriend was nice unless they were sure they wanted an answer. And yet, there, pumping with adrenaline, nervous to interview someone I’ve admired, watched, listened to, and read for years, it just slipped out. I’ve been trying to write this piece for over a month now, and Tony’s recent coverage inspired me to get it finished.

 

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First, if you haven’t heard, forty out of seven thousand participants had minor burns after walking on hot coals at Tony’s Unleash the Power Within event in Dallas.

To be clear, that’s not even one percent of attendees.

In fact, some of those injured were doing their second, third or even fourth firewalk, and would do it again. They knew the risks going in, and chose to walk on burning embers anyway, just like two million others have done at Tony’s events over the last thirty-five years. This was a successful conference where thousands of people conquered their fears and started changing their lives, despite what the headlines imply.

 

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I can hear you asking, “but why walk on fire at all?”



Tony is a big believer in rewiring the neural pathways in your brain. You do this by practicing follow through; if you decide to do something, your brain and body must comply. For example, he plunges himself in cold pools every morning, to remind his brain and body that if he decides to do something, he’s doing it. Period. The fire walking is another, much warmer, rewiring exercise.

 

I’ve never walked on the coals, but I’ve had my own mind molding experience with him.


Which brings us back to the fibbing incident.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 9.29.21 PMImage Courtesy of Allison Mayer

I was setting my small audio recording device down next to us, and the formidable billionaire in his trademark husky voice asked “Is that your backup audio?” “Uh huh!” I said, smiling, and then started the introduction to the show. Well, it wasn’t the backup. It was all I had.

 

If you’ve been following my journey, that’s probably no surprise to you. You know that I went from “Zero to Tony Robbins” in less than 18 months. I started with a pilot episode shot on a GoPro in my hometown of Oklahoma City. A few weeks later I was borrowing my sister’s DSLR and interviewing New York Times bestselling authors in Nashville. Soon after, Success Magazine decided to start distributing some of my interviews and articles. Then Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post. Suddenly I was sitting down with people like the Property Brothers and Al Roker. But my show is not sponsored (yet.) There is no production company. For many interviews I “schlep my husband across the country,” as Gary Vaynerchuk accurately put it, to run the cameras for me.

 

So while waiting in the hallway of the Four Seasons next to Tony’s staff and security detail, I was beyond nervous. I was having doubts. I was afraid I’d forget questions, stumble all over myself and waste some of the sixty minutes I had available. I thought that I’d have more time before landing an interview with such an icon. More time to invest in better equipment, hire a regular crew, practice more interviews and get in “TV shape” before I experienced The Tony Robbins Effect. (Much like Oprah, if he shares your content, you literally receive thousands of new subscribers, views and shares overnight.)

But one does not say “I’m not ready” to Tony Robbins. So I stuffed those fears down and did it anyway, rewiring that myelin as I asked my questions to one of the richest, most recognizable and most influential men in America.  

During our interview, I had a realization.

 

HT_tony_robbins_jtm_150310_4x3_992Image via Harpo, Inc.

Tony recalled how early in his career, he challenged himself to cure a women of a seven year snake phobia live, on stage, in front of thousands. He explained the power of “deep practice” - to not just practice, but to push yourself to the edge, to put yourself in a do-or-die scenario, over and over again. 

Deep practice is a common tactic used by the massively successful, and the average person can use it as well. I’m not sure if I’ll be massively successful, but I’m sure that my show has been a do-or-die-right-now exercise for me. My own fire walk. Saying yes to every opportunity, before I was sure I was ready - walking across my own set of embers, over and over again.

When you decide to start taking action, rewiring your mind, and taking those bold steps, there will be consequences. There have been small blisters along the way, to be sure. I’ve had equipment failure, made mistakes, experienced tons of rejection and my share of snarky comments online. But I’ve had the most exciting, unbelievable year of my life!

I love how Arianna Huffington explained it to Marianne Schnall in 2012. She shared that the tiny blisters left from her fire walk with Tony were a reminder of  “the inner strength we have to create the lives we want, not the lives we settle for — an inner strength greater than we often give ourselves credit for.”

 

I haven’t had the chance to actually walk on the coals yet, but I am looking forward to attending one of Tony’s events in the future. Today, I hope as you read this, you think of your own life’s bed of coals, and decide to take those steps, whether or not your brain thinks you’re ready. There’s a chance you could end up with some small blisters, but trust me, it’s worth it.

KelseyTonyLaughingWatch the inspiring video interview with Tony Robbins at thepursuit.tv/tonyrobbins

If you enjoyed this piece I’d love for you hop on over to Medium and hit that heart button below the article so more people will see it.

 

THE GRANOLA.

THE GRANOLA.

Thoughts on my interview with Marie Forleo. *Women, please read.*

If you watch one of Marie Forleo’s videos, the word granola does not come to mind. I’m using it here as another word for earthy, hippie, free spirit, someone who may go au naturel. So why am I applying “Down to earth, no-nonsense, practical, pragmatic, sensible” to a glamorous online television host with impeccable hair, glowing skin, and a killer wardrobe?

Because in “real life” Marie is more the former than the latter. Our interview was scheduled at the last minute, on the launch day of her flagship program, B School. I was ecstatic about this one, as I’ve been a MarieTV fan for years. When we showed up to her California home, she had no hair and make up team, unusual for the women I interview. I expected her glamsquad to pop out and start making her over, but they did not. Like myself, she did her own hair, make up, and wardrobe for the interview.

Why does this matter?

Let me say it clearly: it doesn’t.

But you wouldn’t know that based on the comments and questions to Marie, and about Marie, from other women.

One of the most common question she’s asked is about the production quality of her videos. People often comment about her stylish dresses and amazing hair, some in praise, and some claiming she’s no longer “approachable.”

As Marie discussed this during the interview, she got fired up, and so did I.

If those are the kinds of questions other female entrepreneurs are asking, they clearly don’t “get it.”

Get what, you ask? 

Get that she can better focus on adding value and creating incredible content — you know, one of the driving forces to the growth of her business — when she’s not stressed about what to wear.

Get that doing 13 videos in a row is smarter than one video at a time, and for hair and make up to last for hours upon hours, assistance is required.

Get that the content itself clearly speaks louder than the brightest of bright wardrobe ensembles, because hundreds of thousands tune in to her each week.

Get that if a man had a team that helped pick his suits and powder his nose for a day of shooting, no one would comment.

Get that if a man decided to build a sweet set and start creating videos in batches everyone would talk about the keen business decision rather than his “approachability.”

Get that if Steve Jobs could save time each day by wearing the exact thing, to focus on changing the world with his work, so can a woman. And to do so is genius because decision fatigue is real. Plus, when the iPhone came out no one gave a crap about what Steve was wearing on stage that day, did they?

Women, please get this. We are more than how we look on screen, or what other women *say* about how we look on screen.

I want you at your best, putting your best work out into the world, and I want you to care less about what you look like when you’re doing it. I want you to minimize stress about this, whether through establishing a wardrobe, outsourcing shopping or hiring a team. Find something that works for you. The more I set a uniform for myself, the less stressed I am before shooting videos, the quicker and easier I can shop, the more time and energy I save for what matters. Do I still care what I look like? Of course! Do aesthetics matter in today’s culture? Yes. Do I pick myself apart on screen when I have to edit or preview my video content? You better believe it. The difference is I’ve stopped letting a bad hair day eternalized on film keep me from posting a video, which yes, I used to do. I’ve stopped letting upper arm fat keep me from waving my arms in excitement because I’m so passionate about the message I’m sharing. I’ve stopped giving that negative voice in my head so much space and time.

Successful people know that the higher they climb, the less weight they want on their backs.

Marie had so much other amazing information that she shared in her interview, this topic was only a few minutes, but I feel like it deserves a second glance. Marie not only had to let go of control of how she looked, she also had to let go of the commentary about it. Successful people let go of the small stuff, like bad hair days, wrinkles, and arm jiggle - and snarky comments about said small stuff on their videos. That’s a lesson for the rest of us, especially us women. Give yourself permission to focus on your work, your mission, your unique message. Because whatever it is, the world needs to hear it. ♥︎

If you enjoyed this piece I’d love for you hop on over to Medium and hit that heart button below the article so more people will see it.  You can check out my interviews at http://thepursuit.tv.

PANDERING TO RICH PEOPLE.

PANDERING TO RICH PEOPLE.

Thoughts on the Interview Industry (I just made that up).

I was reading an article recently from an exHuffPost employee. I can’t remember why I was interested in the piece, more of a rant than an article, but the anonymous author said something that stuck with me. He (she?) said that the publication was pandering to rich people, focused on making money, and making Arianna Huffington’s friends look good.

I was struck with a flood of thoughts at the sentence.

You see, you will find no exposes in my work. I research, and interview celebrities, entrepreneurs, and influencers for my show, The Pursuit. From each monthly episode, I create a video clip and article for Entrepreneur and Success. I also write listicles and articles based on those interviews for LifeHack and EliteDaily and hopefully more in 2016. All of it is positive. All of it flatters the guests. This is for a few obvious reasons. I want to grow my show. To grow my show, I need to interview other great guests and the celebrity circle is small, my friends. News travels fast. I want to make the publicists I work with, who have other celebrity guests on their roster, happy. If the articles are positive, then the guest may actually share them with their millions of fans. They often don’t, because it seems braggy, which I totally understand. But these amazing guests usually do end up giving back support to myself and my show in return for all of the positive coverage.


So I had to ask myself, am I just pandering to rich people? Or maybe, more accurately, will people think I’m just pandering to rich people? Are all podcasters and show hosts just forming one big circle...all patting each others backs over and over? Should I be unearthing deep dark truths about today’s leaders? Should I be asking more hardball questions?

Here are a few thoughts I have, after pondering this issue for quite some time: 

I am not called to be an investigative journalist. In fact, I coined a new phrase on my recently redesigned website, introducing myself as a “motivational journalist.” I aim to inspire & equip. I want to motivate my followers, make them laugh, and hopefully give them digestible, valuable insights. How does uncovering dirt on - or rehashing the mistakes of - today’s leaders accomplish that goal? It doesn’t.

Mad props to Arianna Huffington for building a giant platform from which she can make her friends look good if she so chooses. Now I realize they are a news outlet, so a more investigative approach is expected from them, but if she wants to use her influence to help out her friends’ businesses and causes, I really don’t have much beef with that. Podcasters have their friends as guests, heck even Ellen has her friends and favorite music artists on her show over and over. It’s her show! Furthermore, if Rant Writer wants a job, he or she better realize that yes, in fact, money makes the world go round. This is not news.

A synonym for pandering is brownnosing, which is now so totally obvious thanks to twitter. Just look at the mentions influencers get, with people pledging their love while pleading for an interview, a review, a blurb, an endorsement. It’s gross. The way for creators to stay genuine and not join the aforementioned circle is by preserving our own voice and our own mission. Which, by the way, is something that those who achieve lasting success always do well; stay true to themselves. 

Personally, I do this by carefully choosing whom I interview. If I don’t jive with someone’s values and mission, no matter how big their reach or how cool a selfie with them would be, I won’t interview them. If I have some negative vibes after an interview, which I’m sure will happen, I won’t promote that person as much and I won’t have them back. I also have to accept that some people will think I’m just playing the game, having the “same old” famous guests on, sucking up to the people at the top. I have to shrug it off and let them think what they want, which is easy if I’m staying true to my convictions.

kelseystaytrue


So I guess this post is a word of caution, a reminder to myself and to all of us who write, vlog, podcast, etc. We all want to grow, to reach more people, to achieve success and gain influence. But we have to fight the desire to grow at any cost.
The cost is high. Readers will sniff out the phoney. Viewers will not come back. People will unsubscribe. We have a mission and a message to deliver to the world, which we can’t do while pandering.

WATCH THE SHOW

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THE PRACTITIONER

THE PRACTITIONER

Thoughts from My Interview Gary Vaynerhcuk

It’s fitting that my first post back on my blog - to be distributed on Medium - highlights a lesson I’m learning from Gary Vaynerchuk, Medium investor and advocate. For one thing, he told me to market my show using Medium, and when Gary tells you to use a tactic in your marketing, you do it.

After all, this is the guy who built the brand of a brick and mortar wine business on YouTube, when youtube was still in his infancy. He was a Snapchat advocate before most of the world knew what Snapchat was. Take a look at his investment portfolio and it’s obvious the man has a gift.

When you sit down with someone and chat exegetically, it’s a real peek behind the curtain, in my opinion. 

I think that’s why I’ve always loved watching interviews and now conducting them. There is no editor to perfect the phrases, no scripts or teleprompters. I’ve been surprised a few times with my celebrity interviews, sometimes the person’s home or office is not what you’d think, sometimes they are warmer than you expected, or colder, funnier or more serious, different from their public persona. Even though you’ve read their work, even though you’ve watched their videos, there’s magic about being with them on their home turf, which is one of the things I love about my show.

Sitting down with Gary, three things are evident.

First, this man is a sort of genius. I say this as fact not flattery. I got the same impression when I interviewed Seth Godin. There are just things he sees that others can’t. There are things he has in his DNA that cannot be taught, as sad as that is for us aspirers.

Second, this man is a lover. Not what you expected me to say, right? This guy, once you get past the expletives he likes to lace his rants with, is one of the most caring people I’ve met at that level of success. He tells his employees “I love you” and makes facetime for all 600+ of them. He is also one of the most engaged and responsive celebrities online, often responding to fans personally, more than once. Sometimes his message is one of tough love, but that’s because he truly wants marketers, entrepreneurs and small business owners to “get it.” Again, something that’s not easily taught.

But lastly, and most importantly, this man is a practitioner. He is working 18-hour days, executing, trying, planning, meeting, grinding, creating, and yes, hustling. His talk is as big as his walk, as evidenced by DailyVee, his new docureality YouTube show. This trait, though, gets me excited because unlike his innovative genius, anyone can develop his habit of execution. If you’re a GaryVee fan, you’ve heard him say “Ideas are shit. Execution is the game.” I first heard that years ago and it was an eye-opener for me.

But hear me say what I think is the one thing you shouldn’t miss today.

Gary — though it may seem like it — is not preaching that everyone work 18 hour days. He’s passionate about working hard and long, yes, but in relation to the kind of goals he hears his audience talk about. If, like Mr.Vee, you want to buy a 2.6 Billion dollar organization, you better be putting in 18-hour days. If you want to run a million dollar business, you hustle different than someone who runs a 300,000 business. A mom who is hustling to get to work from home has a different level of work than a mom who wants to build an empire with hundreds of employees. A guy who wants to become the top salesman in the country is going to have a different level of the hustle than the guy who wants to be the best at his company. All of these endeavors are worthwhile.

No dream is too big or too small, as long as you’re wiling to put in the appropriate amount of work. 

Most of us either don’t fully know the work involved to achieve our dreams, or we have fooled ourselves into thinking we can somehow take a shortcut. Listen, I want you to achieve your amazing goals, and I belive Gary Vee does too. The only way that will happen is if your actions are as big as your dreams.

Ask yourself today, is your hustle as big as your end goal? Are your actions as massive as your dreams?

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I want to take my show to mainstream television within the next few years. It’s lofty, I know. So, as Gary said, I’m “schlepping my husband around the country” making this happen. I work long days and invest a lot of time, energy and money into this dream of mine. Still I’m haunted, am I hustling enough? Are my actions large enough for this towering dream?

Only time will tell, but I’m pumped today because unlike some traits and tactics these massively successful use, hard work is accessible to me. Hard work is something I can do. It’s something you can do. That’s what I call an inspiring and important reminder about success for the rest of us.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

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