“Take time to center your thoughts.” With Cassie Pipp & Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Just taking a few minutes to myself to sit in peace and quiet helps really center my mind before those high-pressure moments. If you go into a stressful situation already stressed out, it’s not going to get any better. I like to take time to center my thoughts, relax and then go into the situation […]

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Just taking a few minutes to myself to sit in peace and quiet helps really center my mind before those high-pressure moments. If you go into a stressful situation already stressed out, it’s not going to get any better. I like to take time to center my thoughts, relax and then go into the situation ready for anything.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High Pressure Moments”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cassie Pipp.

Cassie runs the family finance blog called Living Low Key. Cassie and her husband paid off over $33,000 in debt in just two years then went on to build their net worth to over $300,000 by the time they turned 30. Now she shares her money management and debt payoff tips with others to help them reach their financial goals. Her focus at Living Low Key is helping families take control of their finances so they can pay off debt, save more money and live the life of their dreams!!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thanks so much for having me! I’m super excited to be a part of this! I think it’s interesting that I ended up running a website that helps people with their finances. I grew up in a small town in Northern Minnesota. Finances was never really a topic in our house and that didn’t help me later in life. Shortly after my husband, David, and I got married in our early 20’s we had buried ourselves under $33,000 in debt. After a few months of being sick and tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not knowing if we could pay all the bills, we knew something had to change. We made the conscious decision to learn as much as we could about managing our money and paying off debt. It took us just 2 years to pay off that $33,000 in debt. We didn’t stop there though, in the 5 years after paying off our debt, we built up a six-figure retirement account! Now I share everything I learned about managing our money and paying off debt with my audience at Living Low Key.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

Honestly, the idea of owning my own business didn’t really cross my mind until early in 2017. I had been a stay-at-home-mom for a couple years with our first child and I just felt like I needed to do more. I wanted to provide financially for our family while still being able to be there for my daughter. I knew that I didn’t want to go to work for anyone else, so I started looking at ways to make money from home. That’s when I came across blogging as a business idea. I read an income report from a finance blogger that was making six-figures a month and I wanted to know how that was possible. It led me down the rabbit hole of blogging and 3 years later I can look back and confidently say it was the best decision I ever made. I went from being a stay at home mom with no income to be a stay-at-home mom that has made up to $22,000 in a single month! I couldn’t be happier!

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There’s something really unique about the blogging community and it’s that everyone is willing to help each other. We’ve never once asked for help related to growing our business and been turned away because they saw us as competition. Nor have we ever not helped someone that has asked. There’s one couple that has really helped us along the way and that’s Kelan and Brittany from The Savvy Couple. Whether it’s coaching calls, questions about blogging, or helping us get more exposure for our blog, they have always been there to help! We hopped on a facetime call with them about a year ago and just rattled off some questions about building our business. They answered them all and the advice helped us nearly double our income over the course of the next year. We’ve never actually met them person because we live on opposite sides of the country, but I’m hoping to change that sometime in the near future!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I think as an entrepreneur, you learn a lot of things the hard way on your journey. I’m no different than anyone else in that regard. When I was first getting started, I had created a welcome email sequence for new subscribers to my email list. I thought I had this perfect sequence with a great free product in it. I launched it and just let it go. No monitoring it, no checking in on it, not even wondering why nobody mentioned anything about the free product. I just set it and forget it. After about 3 months of that, I decided to finally go back and take a look. It turns out I didn’t have the product I was offering in the email sequence. I had just linked back to the landing page, so I was essentially leading all my subscribers in a circle. It was extremely embarrassing to send out that email with the product and apologizing for my mistake, but it was humbling. It taught me to always double check my work and ensure that I’m delivering valuable content to my readers every time.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

This has definitely been a challenging journey for me, and it’s been a long slow process, but it’s all been so rewarding. The biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone that’s interested in going down this path would be to never quit but also never stop learning along the way. It’s easy to keep heading down a path hoping to reach the end goal but if you’re doing it blindly, you’re going to stumble along the way. You need to continue to learn new things and expand your expertise. Be hungry for knowledge and constantly looking for ways to grow your business. The online business world is ever evolving and if you don’t know how to learn new things and adapt, you’ll quickly get left behind!

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Absolutely!! That book for me, and my husband, was Dave Ramsey’s book called The Total Money Makeover. That book changed the way we controlled our money for the rest of our lives. The principles it taught us were the foundation to our financial success. I read that book and immediately wanted to start budgeting our money. David read it after I basically forced him to, and he was just as hooked as I was. Once we were both on the same page with saving money and paying off debt, getting out from under that $33,000 in debt was a piece of cake!! We still live by those principles and now we have a net worth close to $450,000 in our early 30’s!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

There’s an old saying that good things come to those who wait. I’m sure that works for some people but I’m impatient so I once heard someone say that “Good things come to those who hustle” and that’s sort of become my life motto. I don’t want to spend my whole life waiting for the good times. I want to go work my butt off right now to go out there and make those good times happen right now. When I started my website, I worked on it every possible minute I had available for the first year. The second year I took a step back because the pace of that first year was unsustainable. That first year of hustling and sacrificing was critical to my success though. Having my online business has allowed me to reach financial goals I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve for at least another decade. I mean, I just paid for a full kitchen remodel in cash. I can promise you that wasn’t happening without this online business. If you have dreams of owning nice things in life or traveling to nice places, get out there and hustle until you can make those dreams become reality!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

We recently launched a series of money management tools on our website. These tools help people with things like budgeting, tracking debt, creating a plan to pay off debt, organizing every aspect of your finances and even tracking your net worth. There are a couple financial calculators in there to help people make educated decisions on their savings. We’re really excited about these products because we see them as a total money management package. We’re working to share them with our audience and anyone else that’s interested in taking control of their finances!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

Honestly, I love the high stakes situations of running a business. I think I thrive on them and they make me excited. It wasn’t always that way though. I used to get extremely nervous and almost sick thinking about those kinds of situations. I found a couple ways to help me through that stress though.

In my business, I’m fortunate to rarely get surprised by high pressure situations. I generally know when they are coming, so one of the things I really like to do is become an expert on the topic. If I know I have a big conference call with a company, I make sure I know everything about that company, and I dig deep into the questions they might ask. I become the expert on the subject. I want to go two or three levels deep on my work and questions they might ask so that I’m not caught off guard. When you go into a high-pressure situation with a deep understanding of the situation being the expert on the topic, that knowledge gives you power to be successful and will reduce the pressure on you.

Another method I’ve used to help deal with the stress of a high stakes call or meetings is to focus on body posture prior to the meeting. It sounds a little silly, but how you hold yourself before the meeting will influence your confidence during that meeting. There’s some psychology behind this method and my husband David taught me about it when he was applying for jobs after getting out of the military. If you strike a power pose or focus on having good posture and taking deep breaths instead of slouching before your meeting, it gives you a boost of confidence and reduces your stress.

As a business owner, there’s no way to completely avoid the stress of high stakes situations so you have to find ways to relieve that stress after the fact. I really like going for a long walk or finding a good workout to relieve the stress. The physical exertion is a great stress reliever.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

That’s a great question. Getting your mind in the right place to be a high performer in those tough situations can be really tough under the stress. I’m no different but I do have a couple tricks to help me get ready.

The first thing I like to do, and this is going to sound strange, is I like to visualize our family goals. David and I have goals for our business and those business goals will help us reach our goals as a family. Our family goals are the “why” behind everything we do in our business, it’s like they are linked. It’s what drives us to work hard every day to build our business and continue to help people! Visualizing those family goals gives me an instant boost of energy. It helps take away some of the stress of focusing solely on the business and reminds me that if I crush it with our work of helping people, it will get us closer to those family goals.

I’m a big believer in being healthy in mind and body and you can’t have one without the other. I think it’s important to stay physically active if you want your mind to be able to work at peak performance. Having a good workout routine is really important to me.

Last, just taking a few minutes to myself to sit in peace and quiet helps really center my mind before those high-pressure moments. If you go into a stressful situation already stressed out, it’s not going to get any better. I like to take time to center my thoughts, relax and then go into the situation ready for anything.

I’ve always found those three things to be helpful when I need to work at a high performance level.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

I kind of alluded to it in the last question but I do use visualization to help me perform better. Like I said before, we have business goals that we need to achieve in order to reach our goals as a family. Those family goals are really important to us because they amount to more family time, more memories made, and giving our children lifelong experiences they otherwise might not have. I would say it probably happens at least once per day where I visualize our life once we’ve reached those family goals. That little boost of energy and excitement helps me focus on the tasks for our business. It motivates me to continue to work hard an provide even more value to our readers.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

I love music!! If I need to focus and clear distractions, I love to play a couple of my favorite songs to clear my head. It always seems to get me in a mood where I just want to give 100% to whatever I’m working on.

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

I’d love to share with you my routine that I’ve found to work really well for me. I’ve got two little kids at home and they are home with me all day. I might own a business, but I’m always going to be a mother first so that doesn’t leave me a lot of time to work when they are awake.

I got into the habit of getting up early so that I can get work done before they wake up. Having a couple hours of time to myself was a game changer. Plus, it’s pretty relaxing being up early and watching the sun rise. I start my day around 4:30am with a cup of coffee and a list of tasks I need to complete for the day. Creating a list of tasks to complete helps me focus on what really needs to be done that day. It’s easy to get distracted with small tasks but my list has the big ticket, high return items that need to be completed to continue to grow the business.

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

Repetition. That’s the best way I’ve found to develop good habits. I believe that people are creatures of habit. We like to find something comfortable and just repeat that. Getting outside of our comfort zone is uncomfortable and we don’t like that. If you want to break a bad habit and form good habits, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone and put in the work to repeat that good habit until it becomes second nature. It’s like working out. When you exercise it probably doesn’t feel too good the first couple times, but the more you do it, the better it starts to feel and it becomes easier. Focus on repeating the good habits day after day and eventually you will start doing them without even thinking about it.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I think the easiest way to get into a good Flow is to pursue things you are really passionate about. Think about it this way. I love helping people figure out how to manage their money so it’s really easy for me to have conversations about budgeting, saving and making money. My brain automatically goes into a flow where I want to deep dive into the topic and help them solve their problems. Now if you asked me to write a report about sports, I’m probably going to get all glossy eyed and look a little lost. It’s not something I’m passionate about so it would be a really difficult task for me. I don’t want to waste time or energy on it. For anyone looking to start their own business, my advice would be work towards something your passionate about and the Flow will come naturally.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’ve often thought about this but never really knew how to get it started. I would love to inspire a movement of acquiring memories, not stuff!! I hate the idea of working our whole lives, nose to the grind for 30 years, just so we can afford the next new shiny toy. Having toys is great but working just to pay the excessive amount of bills is not fun. David and I realized early in our marriage that we didn’t want stuff, we wanted experiences and adventure. Plus, we wanted that for our kids. We’ve found that when you go new places and meet new people you get a feeling of fulfillment. It exposes you to so many different situations and cultures that give you a different perspective on life. I want the chance to make memories that someday will have me looking back on my life and being proud of what I have accomplished, and the memories made. My biggest fear is looking back when I’m 85 years old and thinking, I wish I would have done more in my life.I’d love to inspire more people to value life experiences more than materialistic items.

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

I know you asked about a person I’d like to have lunch with, but I’m going to go with two people that I’d really love to sit down and chat with. There’s one couple that’s really inspired us to take the leap into entrepreneurship and develop a life that’s not only fulfilling for us but also helps give back to others. We’re able to help thousands of people each month take control of their finances so they can get out of debt, save more money and start living the life of their dreams. The idea for building our business around being good humans and giving back to others came from Garrett and Jessica Gee from the Bucket List Family. We’ve been following their adventures around the world on YouTube for several years now. If you watch their channel, they clearly have a lot of love in their family and want to create memories of a lifetime with their children, but they always give back to the community they are in. Their generosity and just pure love for life and the planet is really inspiring. So, if I had the chance to sit down with anyone in the world, it would definitely be Jessica, Garrett and their kids. Our kids love watching their YouTube channel every week.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

If you would like to learn more about us or join our online community of money savvy families, head over to our website called Living Low Key. Make sure you sign up for our email list so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you so much for having me!! This was a ton of fun and I hope that some of what we talked about today inspires others to chase their dreams!

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