It’s Gonna Work Out. You’ve made it here and you’ve got everything you need to figure it out and succeed. Just keep reminding yourself and have others around you who can remind you, too. Worry is a distraction you won’t have time for.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Duffy.
Kara is an accomplished strategic leader with 20 years of product, merchandising, operations, organizational, customer relations, project management, and business planning experience. She has helped produce successful results for both large global brands (Quicksilver, Reebok, Puma to name a few) and local start-ups servicing the sport, fashion, action sports, non-profit, beauty, marketing, and foodservice industries.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
While working in footwear and apparel for 20 years, I was always creating mini businesses and projects on the side. One of those businesses was a non-profit, Hello Possibility Inc. where we coached people with ideas for new nonprofits how to bring them to life. I was able to see how using my skills and experience gained while working at large international corporations was truly valuable to people just starting out in business. I could transform their experience as business owners and help them skip so many unnecessary steps on the path to success.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
It took me a while to figure out the right product and service mix for my own business. Like many service-based businesses I started out offering anything that I could help with. I found myself doing work I didn’t love at prices that were much too low. I learned to take the advice I give my clients — to focus and clarify where I could provide the biggest transformation and for whom and get totally clear on what that transformation was worth.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Having a business coach changes everything. When I pivoted to being a fulltime entrepreneur, it took months of searching and then I finally found the coach for me. We started working together in September of that year and sales for that Q4 equalled 75% of total sales for that year. It was a direct example of the coach to revenue impact and the changes I implemented were all just fine tuning what I was already doing.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Book Your Vacation Before You Start. Year one is always intense. Book a vacation in advance of starting so that it will happen no matter what comes up and if you’re an entrepreneur CEO before you get worried about personal cash flow. It will be a gift to future you.
- It’s Gonna Work Out. You’ve made it here and you’ve got everything you need to figure it out and succeed. Just keep reminding yourself and have others around you who can remind you, too. Worry is a distraction you won’t have time for.
- Get A Coach Before You Start. We so often think we only need an advisor or business coach after we have something to work with. False. A great business coach can not only accelerate the startup process but help you set up a great strategic foundation saving you so much headache.
- Schedule Networking Into Your Weekly Schedule. It’s so easy to get sucked into the management and doing of work that we’ll skip-networking and being social within the industry or potential customers. The social opportunities however are where you can find so many opportunities and they should be prioritized as a must-do.
- Automate Healthy Meals. As CEOs we have to take care of ourselves. Everyone is counting on us. One way to do that is have a system or routine around what we eat. This reduces the decisions we have to make in a day and ensures we’re eating right. It can be as simple as eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch Monday or Friday or having meal delivery kits brought to the office each week. The investment you make here will go ten fold.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Wellness needs to be part of your weekly agenda. Whatever that means for you — meditation, yoga, fitness, running — schedule it into your agenda before you book any meetings. One of my pro-tips is to take meetings, especially one on one meetings, on a walk. You and your colleague get fresh air, the benefit of thinking while moving, and you can chip away at your daily step goal. Great for phone calls, too.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are two people who have been total game changers for my businesses. The first is a private coaching client of mine, Kendra Eaton CEO of Sprinkled With Pink. Working with her is a dream. She came on board early, trusts me, she does the work and the results are there in black and white. Her appreciation for the work we do together has resulted in her recommending my services to so many in her network allowing me to connect with other incredible clients.
The second is my business coach, Angie Wisdom. Having a champion in your corner is so important when you’re a CEO and/or entrepreneur. Whatever’s in my way we’re able to discuss, strategize and create a solution together. Every time we wrap up a call together I’m left 10 times more powerful than before.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Professionally, I’m still building my empire! I expect 2021 to be focused on expanding the awareness for the great products and services available across Powerful Ladies and our incredible online community.
Personally, I’m still chasing my goal of having visited 100 countries by the age of 50 (currently at 46) and becoming a mom.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I want people to know that anything is truly possible and I want them to know that they can make all their dreams come true. Empowering people and giving them new solutions and possibilities to make their dreams happen is 100% what all of my businesses are built to achieve.
People who feel purposeful and abundant make great citizens. So I guess you could say changing the world by changing one person’s life at a time.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
It would be Powerful Ladies! Why create a business when you can create a movement? I’ve started this business with that in mind. It’s all bigger, it’s all connected and the solutions to get us from point A to Z are much simpler than we think. Let’s get excited and change the world together one person and business at a time.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Connect with me on Instagram @kara_duffy and @powerfulladies
You can also find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karawduffy/