Lift Your Legacy: Get out of the rat race and start enjoying your enjoying with Kristi Andrus and Rabbi Jacob Rupp

Leadership means committing to a vision, aligning stakeholders and embracing the future as if you’ve already achieved it. You’ve got to be so enthusiastic, so unwavering, that you embody what’s possible. You make it tangible. You make it inevitable. Aspart of my series about the strategies that extremely busy and successful leaders use to juggle, […]

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Leadership means committing to a vision, aligning stakeholders and embracing the future as if you’ve already achieved it. You’ve got to be so enthusiastic, so unwavering, that you embody what’s possible. You make it tangible. You make it inevitable.

Aspart of my series about the strategies that extremely busy and successful leaders use to juggle, balance and integrate their personal lives and business lives, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristi Andrus, CEO & Head Coach, Kristi inspires moms to savor motherhood, kick ass in their careers, anticipate an incredible future, and enjoy a happy full life. A former media executive, Kristi was the director of domestic network distribution at HBO where she oversaw client management, led a national sales team, and grew more than 10 million subscribers.

Now a Coach and CEO, she runs a website, a coaching practice, a blog, writes regularly for Medium and other publications, published a book on Amazon about exiting corporate America, and cares for her three children and 100-lb dog with her husband of 10 years.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I’m a small-town girl who has always been passionate about three things: happiness, seeing the world and learning. Early in my career, I was drawn to the dynamic industries of sports and media. They were great industries to grow up in because as I moved up, I got to learn a lot about brand-building, leadership, vision, culture, and of course, the basics: sales, marketing, operations and growth strategies.

A few years ago, I knew I wanted to try new media. I was excited about the pace and innovation of social platforms and the power of connection. I wanted to write — one of my great loves is writing — and I wanted to be in business for myself, not just for myself, but for my family. I wanted to build a legacy. The risks of entrepreneurship were offset by the promises of the lifestyle, the upside, and the timing. There’s never been a better time to launch. I was on a personal and professional journey and ready for something bigger. I didn’t know I wanted to be a coach for women, though, until I was already doing it.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

This isn’t funny (my kids say dad is the funny one) but it is interesting. I was surprised and still am by how quickly the entrepreneurial world embraces new entrepreneurs, and how willing to share, offer up best practices, and pass along great resources others are. It’s been motivating and exhilarating to feel how many people are rooting for me — people who genuinely want to see other entrepreneurs succeed. It’s way more collaborative than competitive, and there’s a sense that we are all in it together.

What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?

There are two. The first challenge was trusting myself to pivot so far from what I used to do and go in an entirely new direction, to walk away from what many thought was a dream job. This allowed me to stretch myself to learn and grow in a completely new arena. The only way to overcome that challenge was to do it, to take inspired action and see where it led. I’m still doing it.

The second challenge is ongoing, and probably the same struggle most business owners encounter — prioritizing my day and staying focused on high-return activities. Being a business owner and a mom means a daunting to-do list every day which includes survival basics for my family and important business decisions. It requires daily investments in both. I try to keep the long-term view in mind and let it unfold on both sides.

Growing a business is like watching my children grow in some ways. I can guide it, but some of the timing, luck, feedback, what resonates, what works, what happens next is organic and evolves. I can only do what I can do and adjust as it develops.

What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?

Leadership means committing to a vision, aligning stakeholders and embracing the future as if you’ve already achieved it. You’ve got to be so enthusiastic, so unwavering, that you embody what’s possible. You make it tangible. You make it inevitable.

Leadership is about the paradox of holding the vision and taking the days as they come, staying deeply rooted in the moment while keeping your eye on the future.

Leadership means consistency. Your team, your clients, your family want to trust you and feel like you are going to show up in a way that is reliable and consistent with your values and what you say. Trust-building never ends.

I inspire others to lead by leading by example, by going for it, by being vulnerable, putting myself out there, celebrating the journey, building trust, and sharing the wins along the way.

None of us can 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 at least a dozen people who helped me achieve what I’ve accomplished so far. I’ll share two. First, there was a senior leader at HBO who was breathtaking in her approach to leadership. She was fierce, funny and fearless. She had an uncanny ability to quickly assess a situation, including the subtext, take decisive action, and say exactly what everyone in the room was thinking. She blazed trails without fanfare. She kept bureaucracy from spoiling the perspective of her team. And she didn’t let any of it consume her. I think about her a lot when I’m feeling out of my depth or looking for a role model. She left media for politics, and I’m excited to see what’s next for her.

The other example is a friend and trusted advisor who also happens to be one of the smartest guys in any room. He has excellent instincts, can weigh in on any subject with credibility and depth, and strikes a beautiful balance of encouraging my goals, believing in me and letting me know when I’m out of line or off-course. That’s a valuable person to have in your corner, someone who knows you so well and believes in you unconditionally. I don’t take it for granted.

Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?

Early in my career, it was just me, and then my husband. Those were the glory days to some extent. My career was my life and business travel was the way I explored the world. My husband joined me on trips as often as possible, and we extended them for personal travel and squeezed in a little tourist time before and after meetings — even with clients. We took as many as four domestic trips per month for years, met with friends, and crossed a lot of cities and attractions off our list. I loved it.

When we had twins and then three under three, it was a different story. Navigating travel while pregnant, while breastfeeding, with infants, and toddlers was tough. Instead of bookending trips with fun stuff, I was taking red-eyes, virtual meetings, anything I could do to limit my time away from my family. Frankly, work didn’t have the same meaning anymore and instead of fighting or dismissing that notion, I started asking myself if there was another way that might better serve my family.

Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?

It was the opposite. As my success grew, it gave me the confidence to be bolder and hold myself to higher standards in other areas of my life, too. You know how when you paint or redecorate a room in your house and all the sudden it magnifies the flaws in the other rooms and everything feels like it needs a little refresh? I so enjoyed and so thrived on the feelings of accomplishment, engagement and fulfillment in my career that I wanted to level up across the board.

As I’ve matured, it is much easier for me to know what truly matters, the wellbeing of my family for example, and to cultivate that above everything else. I’m less distracted, have mostly outgrown FOMO, and don’t mind going against the grain. Commuting every day, being indoors all day, spending more time in the office than with my family, doing one job for life — those things are not for me. I like variety, flexibility, freedom and I can’t imagine waiting for retirement to have that.

Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?

  1. If you are healthy, have a solid relationship with your partner, are raising great kids, have a home that is a sanctuary, and a job that fuels your development, it’s enough. You don’t have to work so hard to keep these balls in the air. Stop striving and just feel good. Love what you love. Count your blessings. Journaling can keep it in perspective.
  2. Keep an eye on the future and make sure that you are investing in something every day that moves your life forward. Build a foundation — prep for a meeting, work out, put money into a college fund, take a class, write a book, spend time with your family — do anything that your future self will appreciate. It’s one of the easiest ways to preserve balance, by taking care of now and next.
  3. Savor and celebrate with your network. Any leader at any level has too much on his or her plate. That’s an aspect of what it means to lead today. Neutralize that connotation by doing what you can, when you can. When you can do more, do more. During all of it, savor what you have, reflect on how far you’ve come, and celebrate the victories, the milestones, the stamina. Success doesn’t always have to be a future state. Embracing it doesn’t mean you’re complacent or that you’ve arrived. Success is an opportunity to grow, to build something, to lift everyone higher.
  4. Go all in on what you are currently doing. Maybe it’s not exactly the job you want to do, maybe it’s a workout at 5 a.m. and you’re barely awake, maybe it’s a meeting that doesn’t seem valuable. No matter what it is, be fully present and give it your best. Will it make you feel more balanced? Maybe, maybe not. It will make you feel less torn, which is essential. Physically being in one place and mentally being in another is exhausting. Tomorrow, next month, next year, you’ll be in a new place with new priorities, new goals, a new to-do list. You’ll wish it was so simple, and you rarely get do-overs — today holds potential and power.
  5. Know that integrating work and life can be elusive if you are using any other metric than what matters to you. Your balance may look and feel wildly different than someone else’s and that is OK. Approach balance the same way you build your budget: Track your time and energy, identify patterns and opportunities for improvement, adapt to influence performance. Know your goals and integrate accordingly.

What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?

For me, the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride come from tangible output and making a difference. It took me a long time to learn that. For a while, I thought that income and advancement were enough. They weren’t. I like to see the fruit of my labor, to hit “publish,” to hear feedback from my clients when they say, “holy cow, that was a game changer, thanks for helping me see that/do that/get there.”

When I’m stuck, I do something physical — refinish an old armoire, bake something, spin class, play with my children — something to ground me, get out of my head and create energy. My instinct is to think, research and plan, but the good stuff — pride and accomplishment — comes from doing.

When I’m in the zone, it’s almost always because I am influencing positive change, creating happiness, joy or fulfillment, or inspiring someone to maximize their life. I love making a difference.

It also goes without saying that my children are hands-down the best thing that ever happened to me, my greatest joy, my deepest calling, my motivation to thrive.

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?

“Cheer for a Cause” would target the sports industry to raise money to aid in the protection of rights and advancement of opportunities for women, children, and families. Here’s how it would work: Sports teams from all over the world, amateur to pro, local to national, competitive to recreational, would be eligible to participate. Teams would commit to picking one game each year, adding $1 to the price of each ticket, and donating 100 percent of the extra dollar proceeds to an approved non-profit. Cheer for a Cause could scale very quickly with relatively little effort on behalf of the team or the fans and raise some significant money for important causes.

And, if I also had a magic wand, I’d waive it to start the clock on closing the gender pay gap. All American companies would get five years max to close their gender pay gap or face stiff recurring penalties. Let’s not delay solving something today that would have a massive positive impact.

What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media? is my business home. I love new clients and opportunities to collaborate, so please reach out! For more visibility to my professional and personal side, check out and

Finally, if you are planning an exit from corporate America and need a frame of reference or an optimistic friend by your side as you negotiate your severance package, my book is available on Amazon at

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