Tips From The Top: Conversation With Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik

I spoke to Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik, co-hosts of the popular podcast Almost 30, about their best advice

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Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Krista: A lot of people may not know that I grew up in a small town in Ohio! It was really different than the life I live now. Most people are conservative, Catholic, and very dedicated to keeping structure in their lives. I really struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my childhood and in high school, mostly because it was such an energetic challenge for me to try and fit in when I didn’t. I craved something different so after going to the college that my family had gone to for years and years, I was able to get out by moving to Chicago. After that I lived in New York City, and finally found myself in Los Angeles.

Lindsey: Most people wouldn’t know that I’m a singer!  Whether I’m on stage or in my bathrobe alone in my house, singing brings me so much joy.  You know when you need a good cry, and you cry, and then afterwards it’s as if the weight of the world has been lifted off of you?  Singing has that power for me, too. I feel like the vibration soothes me and sometimes heals me. I try not to put any pressure on my voice.  I try to be super playful with it–which ultimately gives way to some pretty cool sounds and songs. Maybe I’ll share them one day!

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Krista: I actually got here because of a big failure. Two of them to be honest! I was auditioning to become a SoulCycle instructor in Los Angeles, and when I didn’t get it the first time I was devastated. It sounds silly, but I was really, really set on it being my dream job and what I thought was going to be the start of my new life outside of the corporate world.

So after not getting the first audition, I knew that one of the biggest factors for the rejection was the fact that when I got into the SoulCycle classroom (they make you perform two songs on the bike in front of other people auditioning for the job) I was really uncomfortable and awkward on the microphone. I then took lessons with a vocal coach to be better on microphone, and practiced my voice for months. Little did I know this was preparing me to be on the microphone on a regular basis, just not while working out!

I also got connected with Lindsey Simcik (my podcast co-host) who was an Instructor at the time. We had our first call on FaceTime, where I asked her all the tips and tricks about the audition process with hopes I would get the job!

Although I didn’t get it during my second audition, our connection had been created. Our relationship felt very different, and given that I was heartbroken from the rejection, she was also going through her own transitions in her life. Our heartfelt, raw conversations during this time, our transition from our twenties to our thirties, set the stage for us to create Almost 30 Podcast a few months later.

Lindsey: Wow, so much to unpack.  But I have two major moments in my life that I think about often.  The first one was in 8th grade. I was at a small all-girls, private, Catholic school and was bullied on a daily basis.  I didn’t have any friends and was pretty much silent in school for that entire year. But during that time, I was cast as “Peter” in  Peter Pan.  I cut my hair for the role, which, as you can imagine, was prime fuel for the bully to feed on.  The role was my saving grace–I was able to express myself fully on stage, while in school I felt like a shell of a human.  Somehow, the stage helped me to see the situation from a new vantage point. I saw the bullies pain and how she was inflicting what she felt directly on me.  I learned a lot about compassion and how performing and expressing myself creatively will always be my lifeblood. Fast forward 14 years and I am living in New York City, having just quit my three bartending jobs to take on teaching at SoulCycle.  Three months into teaching, they asked me if I would move to LA? I didn’t hesitate for one second. “YES!”. I moved across the country three weeks later with two suitcases and only a few friends scattered on the west coast. I honestly believe that “yes” told the universe “I’M READY”.  From that point, so many incredible opportunities came my way–the most important was meeting Krista and starting the Almost 30 Podcast.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Krista: Leaders LISTEN before speaking: Running a business with 5 employees means that I need to do a lot more listening than speaking. Because I trust our team so much, and believe in their talent and abilities I need to always be asking questions of them to be sure I cover my blind spots, and allow for the business to grow in a way that is best for the business as a whole, not just my ego.

Leaders play to others strengths: It’s really important to figure out what the talents and abilities of your team are. We did this by testing them with the Enneagram test, so that we could understand their personality as well as through numerous check-ins to always be sure that the direction of their role was the direction they wanted it to go. Working in the corporate world I knew what it was like to be in positions where leaders and managers didn’t play to my strengths and it was a really big waste of time for everyone. If you aren’t working with the gifts and talents of the individual you will never get the result you want from them, and they will never feel as fully invested as they could be.

Leaders are unafraid to walk into the fire: This is something I work with everyday when pushing the boundaries with the podcast topics (White Privilege, anyone?) I need to be unafraid to push the limits, to be the first doing something and to determine what is best for our audience even when it may not be easy.

This also means that I need to be unafraid to have the hard conversations with our team, our partners, our vendors, and even with Lindsey. Although sometimes I don’t want to, I have to speak up, clear the air, clarify things, and ask the hard questions of everyone so that we can progress and move forward without feeling like someone wasn’t heard or there were things unsaid.

We had numerous tough conversations earlier last year when determining if we would stay independent or if we would join a network. We asked really frank and honest questions of each partner and got really real with ourselves and some really big names in the industry. Although we weren’t a huge name at the time, we had to be bold about what we wanted and the direction we knew we wanted to go. This eventually led us to choose being independent instead of working with a network because we wanted to do what was best for us and blaze our own trail.

LIndsey: I am learning this in real time, as our team is growing.  From leaders in my life and from what I’ve put into practice as a leader is that a great leader is compassionate, trusting, consistent, and is able to take care of themselves so that they are fully present and grounded for their team.  Compassion breeds compassion. I try to remember that we are all just humans trying our best to work together to create something that we hope will make a positive impact. There will be mistakes and learnings galore and so as I learn, I try to have as much compassion for myself as I can, which ultimately makes me more compassionate for those learning around me.  Trust. If I’m ever in an environment where I feel unsafe or like I can’t trust people, my stress levels are very high. Cortisol is not something I want to bring into the workplace if I can help it. It is this invisible poison that everyone can feel. Trust on a leaders part has the power to create unshakable confidence in the team member and lower stress levels in the “office” overall.  Consistency is foundational. I try to model what I expect from the team. Self-care is a newer, trendier habit. But I am 100% all in! I want to show up as my best self as often as possible. Not only does it give the team permission to take care of themselves but it also guarantees longevity. Burnout is REAL. If you’re in it for the long game, take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health every day

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Krista: Be so present that you clearly communicate always. One of the things I noticed when I first started the business was that I would agree with things and then later on really question why. Often times women are told to be agreeable, and in the past I really hadn’t been in a position to make decisions myself, so I would just nod and smile and say yes to things that weren’t always a good fit.

Now, I work on really listening and being present in every conversation we have, so that the decision I make in the moment, is the decision that I would make an hour, day or week later. It’s a pause so I can kindly say no, so that I can check in with my gut and my heart, and so that I can be more direct about the goals of our business so that it’s aligned to our mission and not someone else’s.

Think from a macro level in each situation rather than a micro level. This really speaks to having your mission, vision and values that you should determine for your business or even your life! If you are working from the higher macro level of trying to figure out how everything can help you towards your overall mission, you are much better at making the right decisions that will pay off in the end.

Additionally, for your team and for all correspondence inside and outside of the business, think about the bigger picture. Will this help or hurt my overall brand if I say or do this? Would this person tell someone else how I was to work with or interact with? By thinking big, rather than just on the small side, you can stay happier and make more progress on a daily basis.

Lindsey: 1) Don’t wait for everything to be perfect to start.  Learn by doing. 2) Ask for help. 9 out of 10 people are willing and want to help.  They might see themselves in you, so allow them to come full circle and help you begin your journey. 3) When it gets hard, lean in.  As challenges come up, take a breath, say thank you, and move towards the opportunity to learn. It’s FOR YOU, don’t miss it or run from it!

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Krista: Being a podcast host and speaking with experts in so many different fields I hear ground breaking pieces of advice almost everyday.

Not joking! It’s almost made it hard to listen and apply so much to my daily life, but there was one thing that really struck me during a conversation with Peta Kelly. Peta is an author, speaker and overall badass, and really has a heartfelt sense of how she views herself and her life.

She determines the success of her life each night before she goes to bed, by checking in with her Soul. During this check in she is able to move from her head to her heart, and to see if her Soul would give her a ‘fist bump’ of approval for her actions that day.

As a way to move out of the ‘doing’ and more into the ‘feeling’ and ‘being’ this piece of advice really stuck with me as a great way to get more into my heart space regularly.

As a firm believer that we are so much more than our to-do list, social media following, and material achievements, I now make sure to check in with my Soul on a daily basis to be sure that I am living in alignment to my heart.

Lindsey: Don’t spend too much time thinking about what you want to create, just CREATE!  I have a tendency to live in my head a lot. But my best ideas come from my heart and from my body.  It sounds crazy, but if I allow the idea to move through me, I can channel that idea and so many surprising, gratifying other ideas that would have never been able to birth themselves in my head.  So I’m spending a lot more time DOING, regardless of whether I’m “ready” or have all the resources to do it…If I feel it, I let it come through immediately.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Krista: It seems counter intuitive, but your own self love and self care, is a huge way that you pay it forward for yourself that provides a trickle down effect to others in the end. When you are meditating, being mindful, eating nourishing foods that help stabilize your blood sugar, it’s going to have an effect on all parts of your life and everyone who you engage with on a daily basis. When I started to take care of myself very seriously, as if I were taking care of someone I loved (a radical concept, I know) things really shifted for me and it allowed me to think from a global view rather than a myopic view of my life and experience.

Besides that, there are lots of other ways to pay it forward that need to feel personal enough to you so that it sticks. Therefore, doing soul searching to find that real connection to a cause that excites you enough to take action for the future is important. For me, I have a plant based diet, which helps me to feel as if I am making a daily impact on the causes that matter to me most: animal suffering, habit destruction and extinction, pollution, climate change…to name a few.

Lindsey: As a leader, I think it is so important to recognize and encourage passion.  If we have someone reach out, expressing their passion for an aspect of our business that they would love to be involved with, I believe them and want them to be able to fully immerse themselves in something that they love.  So I simply ask, what can we do to help? How can we support what you love to do? Imagine a world of passionate people doing the things they are passionate about!

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Krista: I don’t know if it was moving to Los Angeles, or starting a podcast in the wellness space, but I am really obsessed with healing through wellness. I love going to sound baths (to help balance the right and left hemispheres of my brain for optimal relaxation), meditating in groups, cryotherapy, trying any health trend or craze…it’s all really fun to explore how we adapt to different stimulus and environments. Plus, I love experiencing the health benefits of it all!

I also love to read, listen to podcasts, spend time playing with my partner, and I have to be honest that working on Almost 30 is one of my biggest hobbies even though it’s my full time gig :).

Lindsey: I love grounding myself with simple things like cooking, hiking, singing, improv classes, boxing, yoga.  Each one is an extension of me, just amplified. It’s fun and liberating to let different parts of yourself take center stage.  Having hobbies and passions outside of work helps me to be better for my team. It actually inspires so many of the ideas I have for the podcast and beyond.

Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Krista: Something that we are so passionate about and so proud of, is creating Your PodcastPro which helps bring podcasts into existence! When we started 2+ years ago, we didn’t find any resources to make your podcast your business let alone start a podcast! So, we created that with an online course, and all the resources needed to grow, monetize and brand your podcast. We are so passionate about the industry and about people doing it on their own, we wanted to share everything that we’ve learned that helped make us successful! You can find all those resources on Your PodcastPro.

Lindsey: If you or anyone you know wants to start a podcast, visit Your PodcastPro.  This is your hub for all things podcasting.  Podcasting has completely changed our lives and given us a greater purpose to serve women around the world.  What are you passionate about? Does the world need to hear more about it? Maybe a podcast is the next step.

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