Kathryn Cloward of Kandon Unlimited: “Don’t tell people what you are working on”

First and foremost, know your own rhythm and stay in harmony with yourself. I’m an early morning person. Most of my books and songs have been written before 8 a.m. I wake up and start firing on all cylinders and by early evening, I’m mush. I remember a time when I tried to get into […]

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First and foremost, know your own rhythm and stay in harmony with yourself. I’m an early morning person. Most of my books and songs have been written before 8 a.m. I wake up and start firing on all cylinders and by early evening, I’m mush. I remember a time when I tried to get into someone else’s late-night creative rhythm and it just couldn’t work for me. Now, I put this out there to anyone I collaborate with and it makes for more productive sessions.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathryn Cloward.

Kathryn Cloward is an award-winning book series author, multi-genre songwriter, music producer, and mom on a mission. She’s the founder of Kandon Unlimited, Inc., a heart-centered mindful media company focused on energizing high integrity projects with positive and empowering messages for people of all ages. Recognizing a need for media that focuses on mental health and self-care for children, she created her purposeful Kathryn the Grape® series of integrated songs, books, and videos to provide youth with positive social-emotional development tools to help them navigate life, understand and express their feelings, and be more loving and compassionate to themselves and others. Her recently released Kathryn the Grape “All Together” album has been recognized with receiving a 2021 NAPPA Award and Family Choice Award. A prolific storyteller of simplification, Kathryn enjoys crafting big topics into compelling stories and music for people of all ages to easily grasp and appreciate together. To date, she’s earned over 60 awards for her inspirational and mindful work, has written and published 30 books, has released over 100 songs, writes and produces for others, is a regular contributor of motivational content for a national magazine publication, and continues to be a mentor for women in business — drawing from her 23-year career as an entrepreneurial trailblazer. With a heart for service, Kathryn has consistently dedicated her time and resources to helping others have opportunities to thrive and has written impact songs for causes that support children braving cancer, rare disease awareness and refugee youth programs. Expanding beyond her own creative realm, Kathryn writes and produces for others, with notable 2021 releases including a music album for Michelle Hopkins, a teenager with a rare incurable disease, and a memoir on behalf of Father Joe, one of San Diego’s most impactful humble heroes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born and raised in San Diego, California. I grew up in a home with my parents and three older brothers. I was involved in sports and scouting. Volunteering and being of service to others was a constant thread woven into the tapestry of my life and demonstrated by my parents. I value that they instilled that in me — not as a badge to be worn and displayed but as a life compass navigation point of goodness that influences how I orient my choices. By way of daily and weekly childhood chores, I developed a solid work ethic. I learned from an early age that you get your chores done before going out to play. I paid my own way through college by working at restaurants and graduated without debt. I value working as a normal aspect of life and merely shifted the childhood chores/play model a bit to ensure my work is playful and enjoyable. I’ve always had a vibrant imagination and it was within the sanctuary of my own childhood room that I felt unencumbered to discover new realms and express myself freely. It took me many decades to manifest that vibrant inner landscape into my outer world: the books and songs I write. It’s been a process of rediscovery, a reawakening back to me and the things I was passionate about as a child. In blending it all, my creativity, imagination, and playful and focused work ethic bring to me this point on my journey.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“What you think about you bring about” is a phrase I resonate with deeply. I understand and align with The Law of Attraction and the fact that we’re energetic beings. Our thoughts have a frequency, and we magnetize to ourselves experiences that vibrate on that same frequency. By nature, I’m an optimistic and positive person. Even in my many hardships and struggles, I seek to glean the lesson and goodness from the experience. It isn’t a belief, but a way of being — a mindset, a frequency to tune into. To shift our lives at any given moment, we merely need to be mindful about what we’re thinking about and make sure we turn our dial to align with goodness and positivity. To be balanced — in alignment with ourselves — our thoughts, words, and actions must line up. This is what people are seeking through yoga and meditation, or any practice or ritual that nurtures personal well-being. I wasn’t taught any of this as a child; once I was introduced to it in my teens, it made a ton of sense and became central in my life. That’s why I teach children in my Kathryn the Grape books and songs about mindfully choosing the thoughts they think, the words they say, and the things they do. Nurturing the garden of our thoughts is by far the most powerful yet simple indicator of true happiness and contentment. Being happy has less to do with outer circumstances and everything to do with how we perceive what we’re experiencing, which comes down to our thoughts.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

I’ve experienced a lot over the past 23 years in my professional journey as an entrepreneur. I remained entrepreneurial-focused through the recession of 2008–2009 and recently with the pandemic. Anyone who’s been in business for a long time has stories of achieving peaks and digging themselves out of ditches. It’s not during the peaks of our success and glory that we discover what we’re made of; we discover that on the climb, along with how passionate we are about what we’re doing. For me, I’d say it comes down to three traits: resilience, readiness, and risk. To be resilient is to persevere through the ever-changing seasons of life and business. Change is the one thing you can count on. Readiness means being on the block ready at any time to jump in and get it done. I don’t need someone else to motivate me or talk me into doing something. I’m willing and able, and I’m accountable for my own decisions. Which leads to risk — which is everything to me. I learned a long time ago, I’d rather fall flat on my face trying than remain sitting on the sidelines of my own life wondering what could have been, carrying regret as a backpack. I’m more inspired and energized by what could be and I’ve been willing to risk big on every level — my heart, my time, my finances — for what I’m passionate about. That has helped me live a life with no regrets. Not everything has gone the way I originally envisioned it, but it always ends up the way it’s intended and I trust that unfolding.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

My first job out of college was at Club Med. I loved everything about working there. Then, I lived in New Zealand for a year before coming back to California to start my corporate career. I spent the next six years of working for other companies, as a headhunter then a food broker. I then started my first company in the food industry, trading and brokering. While the company was very successful, the recession of 2008–2009 created an avalanche of destruction for a lot of my clients, all in the non-profit sector, which ultimately impacted me and my company. I could have shifted my business model into another market, but it was at that time when I was just done with it all. I was tired of running on the corporate treadmill spending the majority of my time doing something I wasn’t passionate about. I no longer wanted to spend the bulk of my life chasing dollars to get the bigger and better house only to reach the final years of my life and be retired — realizing I never even tried to pursue my true passion. I was going through a reawakening on every level at that time, and the competitive corporate world didn’t fit me anymore; I didn’t like that other people’s business decisions impacted my livelihood so much. I wanted to feel like my life’s work was contributing to humanity and do it on my terms. That’s when I started writing Kathryn the Grape stories that led to launching my media publishing company to house them all.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

I just started walking down my path. When I started creating Kathryn the Grape, I didn’t have a big master plan. I didn’t have a step-by-step roadmap, but I had a vision and I knew I had the stamina to fulfill it. I trusted my intuitive guidance wholeheartedly. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and since I don’t spend time with naysayers, I just believed I’d be able to manifest what I saw in my mind. I spoke with a lot of people who were in the industry doing what I wanted to be doing. I asked a lot of questions. I did a lot of research. I took a lot of chances. In the past 11 years, I reinvented Kathryn the Grape three times because so many things changed in the industry. I never gave up. I now have written and published 30 books, with seven more publishing in the next 12 months. I’ve written and published over 100 songs and I write and produce for others. I completely reinvented myself.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

The absolute truth is my inner voice started getting louder. Inner me was tired of being what everyone else expected me to be, which had become who I thought I was. All I can say is that little girl Kathryn was trying to get grown woman Kathryn to remember who we were and get back to our unmasked vibrancy. At that time, I felt dim and dull. I was living “the life” many people seek — the American dream of achievement — but I was lonely within my own being. I felt honor and joy while ramping myself up to fulfilling those goals, but the material acquisition model didn’t sustain me. I had a deep inner desire to write songs and stories, and wasn’t doing anything in alignment with my true desires. It’s like the dial had been turned down and I was living a low hum. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve heard new lyrics and melodies streaming in my mind. Songs would just land into my awareness and simmer there until I either paid attention to them or dismissed them. I now know I’ve always been a conduit for songs and messages to channel through me ever since I was a little girl. But somewhere along the line, I turned off the flow. It took me decades to get back to me — to reawaken to this awareness and remember my desires matter and are within me for a reason. That’s when my reinvention started; it really was more like a rediscovery of what I had always authentically been.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I took a sledgehammer to my life and shattered the illusion. I had to massively crumble my old patterns, imprinted beliefs, and illusions of “success” to finally reach a point in my life when I was open to shifting my ways. I chose to do a lot of challenging personal work to heal my wounds and be fully accountable for my own choices — both the good and not so good. As I dredged the muck, I started transforming my entire life. I developed space for fully being open and receptive to accepting Divine guidance and trusting my intuition. With a deep desire to understand myself and my purpose for being on this planet, I explored various modalities of self-healing and compassionate self-acceptance. I surrendered to the process of transformation, which opened me up to a whole new way of being and provided me with courage to pursue living my dream. Now, there’s no separation between who I am and what I do. My work is the outward manifestation of my soul’s journey. I’m happy and fulfilled. I’m doing what I’m here to do.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

My reinvention has brought forth the development of my own media publishing company. Owning my own intellectual property has been important to me from day one. I’m aware you have no leverage unless you own it. Through my company, I house my own creative assets and I help other aligned artists do the same. Years ago, prior to writing a single word of a book or song, I told a friend I wasn’t creative. Alarmed, she said, “Are you kidding me? You’re so creative. You have an idea and then you make it happen as a company or fundraiser, anything.” I recall that conversation so clearly and I’m glad she pushed back at me and helped me see myself — which is what I always try to do for other people. So often we need someone to merely see us, encourage us, and believe in us to help us ignite our own fire of desire. While it took me a few years to really get my momentum, my portfolio of books and songs speaks for itself, and I write and produce for others, too. In 2021 alone, two huge projects have released, including an album for Michelle Hopkins, a teenager with a rare incurable disease. I also wrote and published a book for Father Joe, one of San Diego’s most humble heroes who has helped countless people experiencing homelessness have dignified housing and empowerment programs. I share this not with any ego attachment but rather as kindling for anyone who has a desire within. Take it from me, just start doing it whatever “it” is for you. The feeling of fulfillment and wholeness that comes from manifesting your inner desires is worth it.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are a number of people who I am grateful to for being unconditionally loving and compassionate with me. But for this interview I’d love to shine a light on my dad. He died in 2016, yet I feel his presence and encouragement every day. My dad cared about knowing people at the core. He demonstrated reinvention to me as he was a transformed man right in front of my eyes. Dad pushed me, encouraged me, and believed in me. When I was young teenager and we went camping, he refused to put my tent up for me or even help me. He made me do it so I’d know how to do it myself and be self-sufficient. It bugged me then but I know what he was doing. Dad and I were close in our own way, and in his last week I was with him most of that time; I was with him when he passed. He told me to “keep going” and that’s what I’m doing.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I had a really fun experience a few summers ago when I got to open for ’80s popstar Tiffany at the world-famous Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, California. While I love writing and creating, performing is a fun outward manifestation of all that work. I launched myself into the music industry when I was 41 and in the six years since then, I’ve released four Kathryn Cloward albums and three Kathryn the Grape albums. I had to learn a lot as a performer, but like everything else, I just started performing and learning as I went along. I marketed myself to clubs and booking agents, drawing from the fearless cold-calling experiences I had at the beginning of my career. I was eager to play in Los Angeles and the stars aligned for me to open for Tiffany at one of the most legendary venues on the West Coast. It was a rad experience for me on every level since I loved listening to her when I was growing up. To open for her at that venue performing songs I wrote, produced, and published was utterly amazing.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

My greatest struggles of belief in what I’m doing and my capacity to create have usually had nothing to do about my inner belief and everything to do with allowing the wrong people to be close to me. One of my greatest lessons of self-love has been to stop allowing people multiple chances to stay in my life when they have been dishonest and untrustworthy. I used to have a very generous bungy cord of tolerance with people who hurt me personally and professionally; my friend Jennie says I have amnesia with some people — wanting to see only the good when they’ve been horrible to me. I thought I was being forgiving and grace-giving, which I was, but I had to learn I can forgive while also reducing or removing access. My only real struggles have been with self-love and worthiness. Healing myself in those ways and loving myself wholeheartedly has been a natural repellent to people with shady intentions. This has created abundant space for me be untethered and elevated me into welcoming in wonderful high-vibrating people and soul-nourishing connections.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

Having a good support system is super important. For me, I have a few key people I seek advice from who truly know me. I respect their input and advice, and it’s symbiotic — a mutually beneficial energy exchange. To cultivate authentic long-term relationships with people who sustain through life’s changes, we need the “relate” part and that requires vulnerability. Since I live in a delicate balance of passion and vulnerability mixed with risk and strategy, I need to be met there and feel safe.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I actually experienced more discomfort in my life before I started down this path. The idea of never knowing what could be is more uncomfortable to me than risking the unknown. That’s actually a blanket statement for my life. I embrace possibilities and go all in. I’d rather trust, try, and risk falling than live with any “what ifs” in this life. I have a new song called “Surrender” and it’s all about this concept of risking and trusting, and how the choice is ours and ours alone.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

I don’t feel like there’s anything I wish I knew before. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to share five things I found to be most helpful on my journey that may provide tidbits of help to your readers.

  1. You are the only person who has to believe in what you’re doing because your belief will attract the right people (and repel the right people, too). If you don’t believe in your vision, you’ll never get others on board.
  2. Don’t tell people what you are working on. Keep your ideas private and insulated to only those who are involved. This has little to do with other people and more about nurturing the authenticity of creative energy.
  3. Embrace being underestimated. I actually love being underestimated because that’s when I fly under the radar. And remember, people only underestimate you because they’re sizing up your abilities against their own — and since you aren’t them, they have no idea what you’re capable of manifesting.
  4. ABC: Always Be Creating. Once I started writing my Kathryn the Grape books and a few years later when I started writing songs for youths and adults, I recognized the joy of being in the flow of creativity and I mindfully keep that valve open.
  5. First and foremost, know your own rhythm and stay in harmony with yourself. I’m an early morning person. Most of my books and songs have been written before 8 a.m. I wake up and start firing on all cylinders and by early evening, I’m mush. I remember a time when I tried to get into someone else’s late-night creative rhythm and it just couldn’t work for me. Now, I put this out there to anyone I collaborate with and it makes for more productive sessions.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I believe wholeheartedly the only way to create a ripple effect of change for all of humanity is to create ripples of goodness from within. You can’t give out what you don’t have inside of you. And the only way to inspire people to want to change from within is to help awaken them back into their natural state of unconditional love and goodness — through storytelling. My mission is to be a storyteller of humanity’s goodness. That’s what I’m here to do and I’m doing it to the best of my ability — sharing messages of love for people of all ages in the hope others will share humanity’s goodness, and together we create ripples of love and goodness.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

Kathryn the Grape is ready to be on television. I’d love to pitch to one of the streaming networks and welcome an introduction. Children’s entertainment is a growth market and I have a fully integrated brand of books, songs, videos, and characters ready to go without any red tape to cut through. As my teenage son would say, “Let’s gooooooo!”

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I welcome that, thank you. Readers can find me at KathrynCloward.com and connect on social media at @KathrynCloward.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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