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Tessa Kampen: “Become aware of your strengths and limitations”

Become aware of your strengths and limitations. I wish someone sat me down and told me what I was good at and what I wasn’t good at and helped me focus on what I was good at. We need to focus on our strengths versus trying to improve the weaknesses. By doing that your weaknesses […]

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Become aware of your strengths and limitations. I wish someone sat me down and told me what I was good at and what I wasn’t good at and helped me focus on what I was good at. We need to focus on our strengths versus trying to improve the weaknesses. By doing that your weaknesses automatically improve.


As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tessa Kampen.

Tessa is a business strategist with years of experience in Personal Development, Leadership Training and Business Development. Her ability to connect and relate with her clients has allowed her to build strong relationships and trust, contributing to her success. Tessa is a certified Leadership Trainer, Speaker and Coach with the John Maxwell Team and a certified Behavioral Analysis Trainer using the DISC methodology.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in a small Northern Ontario town in Canada called Timmins. I am the middle child, I have an older and younger brother. My father was an entrepreneur, and my mother stayed home. Family was really important to us, and we had a lot of fun as a family. We were always around each other, and our extended family. Family values have remained really important to me! Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom and a teacher. I never imagined I would be doing what I am today.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Before I had my children, I worked as a dental assistant. After they were born, my gut told me I needed to find a career path that would be more meaningful for me. I started to work for a National Organization supporting women in business and I loved it. Through working with these women I discovered I had a passion for helping others and understanding what drives for leadership, personal growth, communication, and relationships. I spent 7.5 years with that organization.In the last two years of my time there, I worked on my own business and started to brand myself as a business strategist and leadership trainer. Investing in myself was the best investment I ever made. I focus on goal setting and attainment, personal growth and leadership. I became certified with the largest leadership team in the world, the John Maxwell team, and today I facilitate workshops on leadership, personal growth, and communication, coach, train and speak on the subjects as well.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Four years ago a friend told me she thought I should be a coach. Immediately I said no. My limiting beliefs could not see the potential I had and so I would not even entertain the idea, I thought she was crazy to be honest. At the time my awareness of what I was capable of and my belief of what I was capable of were so skewed, that I instantly rejected that idea. It is interesting because that is what I do now! We think we are not capable of doing all kinds of things based on the stories we tell ourselves, and once I understood that, I was able to let go of those beliefs and start exploring what was really possible for me. Interestingly enough, I now coach and train people on their beliefs and how to believe in themselves and their abilities and not reject ideas so quickly.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The biggest mistake I made at the beginning was not being authentic to who I was. I received a referral to help a potential client with conflict management. This was the first referral I received outside of my network, and it would have been my first big client. I tried to do things based on guidelines I thought I should follow, instead of making my own. I created a 5 page proposal and sent it out to this potential client. I did not close that client because he was overwhelmed and said “you are giving me way too much.”

Looking back, I could have just responded in an email and said “here are your needs, here is how I can help.” It was a learning opportunity for me to realize I just need to keep things simple. The KISS model (Keep It Simple Stupid) still applies. If something is difficult for you to write out, it is probably difficult for other people to take on. Less is more.

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 about that?

My friend Amanda Drexler was the first person who articulated what I was capable of and believed in me and my potential before I could even see it.. Having her encourage me along was so helpful. Angela Kafadar, Kathy Drennan, Michelle Watterson, Kathy Drenon, Paula Alblas, were all there right beside her echoing what she thought. These professional women have supported me ever since. Colin Sprake from Make Your Mark was a huge part in seeing my potential and what I can do as well. My mentors and team members at the John Maxwell Team continue to help me see that I have unlimited potential. I’m so grateful to have such incredible people in my life who help me see what I often cannot in myself.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

I think any career that we take on is going to be challenging. Anything new is going to be difficult. What I realized is that we actually have to embrace failure.

My mentor Paul Martinelli refers to the cycle of success in five stages:

First we test things, then we fail, then we learn from that failure, then we improve, and only then can we re- enter the game. We have to go through this cycle no matter what career path we choose and every time we try something new, we go through the cycle again.

Know that failure is going to be part of your journey, and embrace it. Take it as a learning opportunity because we all make mistakes. Shift your mindset from “failure is not an option” to “failure had better be an option as that means I am trying new things and taking risks.” Most of the inventions and advancements in our world today came about through failure — penicillin, silly putty, chocolate chip cookies — these are all products of failure and can you imagine a life without them? I say fail forward my friend, embrace failure as your friend.

What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

It may sound cheesy, but I do feel this is my calling. I get up every day and I do what I do because I want to add value to people. There is something in me that drives me to do this and help other people see their potential. I didn’t see my own for so long, so now that I see what I am capable of, I know it is possible for other people. My message is that you have potential that is untapped and you have to believe that you are capable of doing those things.

Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?

If you want to be an effective speaker, connect with people, don’t just communicate with them. You have to take responsibility for your listeners because here is what I know — there are no bad audiences, only bad speakers. So make it enjoyable for people to listen to you, create an experience for them, communicate in their world as they won’t remember what you think is important but they will remember what they think is. Make them a part of the conversation by asking questions, getting people to move and asking them to participate and interact with you. And finally, tell stories more than giving people facts. People connect with stories not statistics. For example, if you are speaking on a particular topic, quickly share your point and then illustrate that with either a personal story or hypothetical one. Make the story funny, animated or get the audience to participate in the story. This will allow them to connect with you and remember you.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

No one is good the first time they speak. It doesn’t matter if you wrote out what you are talking about, you will never be good the first time. Take comfort in that fact! If you are scared of speaking, the only thing that will help you overcome that fear is by practicing your skills. You can start by creating a private Facebook group and speak into the group. Watch yourself back and note what makes you uncomfortable and what you can improve on. You can invite a few friends you trust to watch you. The biggest thing however is that will get you over the fear, and just do it. Remember, it is not about you and the reason we are fearful is we are usually thinking about ourselves. How will I sound, how is MY hair, how do I look. But it is not about YOU! It is about your audience and if you have value to add to others, be real, authentic and go and share it!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Belief drives behavior. What you believe is what you achieve.

Become aware of your strengths and limitations. I wish someone sat me down and told me what I was good at and what I wasn’t good at and helped me focus on what I was good at. We need to focus on our strengths versus trying to improve the weaknesses. By doing that your weaknesses automatically improve.

I wish someone would have stressed the importance of investing in myself. Hire a mentor or business coach. The antidote to fear is coaching. Every time I was afraid of doing something I would sit in that fear for so long. If I had someone that I was able to talk to I would have been able to raise my level of awareness and make decisions quicker.

Failure has to be an option! In the beginning, I took my failures throughout my journey that I was a failure. You need to separate the being from the behaviour. Just because someone doesn’t want your product or service does not mean that your product or service doesn’t have value. I didn’t know this.

It’s going to be hard. When I started business, I thought I would have time off, money, and freedom. This was not the reality. People need to know building a business is hard. Every time you scale your business, it gets harder. You really need to know why you are doing this. If you know why, every time it gets harder, you get motivated because of that reason.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

In April I got certified as a behavioural analysis training using the DISC Model of Behaviour. (Dominant/Direct (D), Influential/Inspirational (I), Steadiness/Supportive (S), Calculating/Conscientiousness ©. We are all wired differently, but we are actually predictably different. I have been working with youth to help them understand their strengths and limitations, I work with adults, teams and organizations using DISC so they can improve their awareness of themselves and others. This tool is one of the most interesting things I have learned because it helps me become aware of myself and other people. Since we all have a preferred method of communication and a preferred way of communicating, this can help in so many areas of our lives. If we can improve communication, we can reduce conflict and conflict is responsible for breakdowns in marriages, friendships, workplaces and more.

In my leadership work, I have been using a tool called Leadership Game to help teams and organizations communicate better, improve their leadership intelligence and increase effectiveness. It is exclusive to John Maxwell Trainers and it is so fun!

I love understanding behaviour and how it impacts our communication and relationships.

I would like to do more work with schools and help students understand themselves better so they can make great decisions as they move on in life as they are our future

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I read. Reading allows me to slow down my mind and stay grounded. I make sure that I exercise and by that I mean get my body moving. It means walks with my family, playing catch with the kids or lifting weights. I also make sure I have an end to my day and I take weekends off. I make time for friends.

Our lives are not all about work, your life has to take the front seat and I have realized that too many people have this backwards. We see too many people work so hard just for a financial number and yet they miss out on living. To me that is not life.

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

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

There were so many points in my journey where I tried to be or do what others were doing or what others expected of me. We are all created for a purpose and we are all unique. When we spent time trying to be someone else, the world misses out on the amazing person YOU are. When I finally stepped into who I was created to be and living my most authentic life, my life and business changed. It is also easier to be yourself anyway and there is no one I’d rather be.

You are a person of huge 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 would jump on the movement the John Maxwell Team is starting, Change Your World. If we all focus on changing the world around us, inspire the people around us, and help change their world, they will go on to do the same for others, creating a huge ripple effect. If you see people as valuable, they will be treated that way. If everyone valued the people around them we would not have half the problems we have. There are incredible movements all around us, choose one that speaks to you and aligns with your values and I say help that movement become even greater!

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Robin Sharma. The first leadership book I ever read was the Leader Who Had No Title. That book changed my perspective on what a leader is, and what a leader is not and honestly changed my life. I used to think a leader was someone who sat in a fancy office and ran an organization. But now I know based on what John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. If you influence even one person then you are a leader. I guess I would also love to sit down with John Maxwell too! Both of these men have allowed me to think differently, so I would love to meet them both. (Although I have briefly met John and have the picture to prove it)

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram: @inspired_tessa

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheInspiredAcademy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tessa-kampen-42673263/

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://tessakampen.com/

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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