Is Lack of Authenticity Killing Your Success?

Is Your Lack of Authenticity Killing Your Chances for Success?

Kathleen Byars | November 5, 2016

Are you struggling with growth in your business? Or perhaps you’ve come to a crossroads in your own life?

One minute things are on the upswing and you’re riding the wave. The next minute, you’re back in the trenches wondering how the heck you slipped backwards at all?

Your company enjoyed steady growth during those start-up years, yet now five years in, sales has become a daily struggle. Rather than reveling in your company’s progress, you’re dragging your business uphill inch-by-painful inch.

Or maybe your career took off right out of college and today you’ve reached a high-level of success. Yet, as you look around, life isn’t as meaningful as you thought it would be and you long for the freedom to control your own destiny.

I totally get it. I’ve experienced both. It’s arduous and painful. And for successful, driven, talented people – it’s totally baffling.

How can you be successful and suffering? What is the missing piece to the puzzle that you cannot seem to figure out?

Authenticity

In my experience, I’ve seen a lot of folks get blown off course because they don’t really understand their core purpose.

It certainly happened to me. Let me show you what I mean…

When you started your career you had a vision for what you would build. Yet, most likely that vision was wrapped around the type of work you wanted to do and financial success. That’s fine. It’s hard to focus on your core purpose if you’re starving.

As you go about building a career or a business, you talk to people and they get to know you and like you. You work hard, take care of problems, take risks and the result is growth.

Nice!

Yet, now decisions start to become more complex. You are no longer running door to door with your briefcase full of wares…you’ve got to attract customers en masse. And you’re no longer jostling for a simple promotion. Now you’re running a department full of employees and having to coordinate your success across functional area lines. You run from meeting to meeting with rarely a moment’s rest.

And in the process our decisions become clouded by the demands of life. If we’re not in touch with our true destiny, then it’s hard to abide by any guidelines except the constant pressure for success.

So how does authenticity come into play? Simple. Stop trying to be what you THINK you need to be and start being who you ARE.

Huh?

You stand for something. There is a cause, a purpose, an absolute truth inside each and every one of us. It’s your gift that you should be sharing with the world.

And when you start sharing your vision – that rich, human belief that’s deep inside of you… people who believe what you believe will automatically show up to listen. And share. And connect.

I promise.

When businesses call on me to help them with marketing, they’re stuck. They’ve tried all the traditional avenues and nothing has worked, or at least not for very long. These companies have hired ad agencies, freelancers, SEO specialists, and marketing coordinators and they can’t seem to move the needle. What gives?

They’ve forgotten who they are. Or maybe they never realized who they were in the first place.

In any case, the very first thing I do is help them get in touch with their core purpose. Their mission and values that are truly authentic – not a copywriter’s best imitation of what they think they should be. And then we choose the best channels and processes to announce that authentic purpose to the world.

Once that occurs a magnet effect springs to action. Internal staff members become aligned and ignited around a common mission. Customers wake up and take notice and begin following you and referring you to others. Tough business decisions become easier when measured against your purpose. And growth magically reappears. Happens every time.

It’s the same for individuals who are no longer finding joy in their lives. They’re stuck, too. They’ve tried rearranging their schedule, hired extra help, changed jobs, and taken a leave of absence. Yet, the heavy, gray haze of disillusionment remains. What gives?

They’ve forgotten who they are. Or maybe they never realized who they were in the first place.

Sound familiar?

So I help these folks get in touch with their core purpose. Once we begin to live authentically by our core beliefs… we start to THRIVE. We make effective decisions that lead us to greater joy. We learn to put up barriers when confronted with situations that don’t align with who we are. We become empowered by a renewed sense of self. And we take charge of our destiny and finally feel free.

It’s life-altering.

So who are you? Who is your authentic self? What is the legacy you will leave the world?

If you don’t know, find out. If you’re stuck take a look at my What’s Your Story article or give me a call. When you discover who you are you will no longer be stuck.

You’ll be thriving!


I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? It’s my passion to help others create change. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.

If you think someone in your network could benefit from this article, please share!

 

 

How to Leave the Corporate World and Live Successfully

How to Leave the Corporate World and Live Successfully

Kathleen Byars | October 8, 2016

99% of the fears most people have about leaving the corporate world to create a more fulfilling life are flawed.

And if you follow that same thinking you’re likely to jump from the corporate frying pan into the entrepreneurial fire. Or worse, you’ll stay chained to the corporate desk until retirement. I’ve lost count of how many people who have told me “I’m going to leave the corporate world, but I can’t just yet…” And it’s (usually) because they’re clinging to a false sense of security.

Preparing to leave the perceived stability of a corporate career for a life built on your own terms isn’t about the trade off between financial security and happiness. Because you don’t have to sacrifice financial means at all. You can have your cake and eat it, too!

I didn’t understand this when I left my skyrocketing executive career at the age of thirty-four to go live on an island. And I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income and many years figuring it out.

Here’s the bottom line: forget about starting over and working for peanuts while you build your own business. That’s flawed thinking. While building a successful business may be fulfilling, if you start from scratch you lifestyle would take a bit hit. That sucks. You’ve come too far in life to scrap your success and start anew. And forget about taking a sabbatical with the understanding that someday you’ll have to return to the grind. Why? Life should never be a grind.

The good news is that living life on your own terms, contrary to popular belief, does not have to wait until the kids are grown.

Instead, you’ve got to THINK DIFFERENTLY about what is possible. No, I don’t mean that you just need to do some meditation and visioning (although that helps). You need to RECOGNIZE that you have the ability to leap without starting over. You need to have CLARITY about what exactly you are capable of creating for yourself and your family. The reality is that it is MUCH GREATER than you think. And you need to set yourself up for success NOW so when you pull the ripcord you’ve got a solid game plan already in motion.

  1. Understand why you are leaving. Do you want to be creative and build your own company? Or will that simply trade one stressful environment for another? Maybe you’ll find more fulfillment in becoming a sought-after public speaker or an exclusive, high-paid consultant.
  2. Clarify what else in your life may be missing. Are you tired of only seeing your family at night and on the weekends? I bet you have skills and talents that can be marketed at scale to free you up for more family time, while simultaneously providing a comfortable income.
  3. Clearly define your passion. Even if you’ll be your own boss, you don’t want just another job. In order to create a sustainable financial situation that supports a fulfilling life, you’ve got to make sure that you are totally passionate about what you’ll be doing and also ensure that your passion aligns with the rest of your life goals.
  4. Lay the groundwork now. Rather than jumping off the cliff in a few years time, share your passion with the world now. Become known for it. Write about it. Share articles about it. Become “that guy/girl” who is the definitive expert on “X” and you’ll have a tribe of raving fans waiting for you when you take the leap.

Do this and you won’t think twice about creating change in your life. You will have such clarity and confidence that you will wonder why you didn’t redefine your life sooner.

But if you cling to the notion that the corporate life is a safety net you’ll never get there. That two-year time horizon you’ve slated as your “future departure date” will morph into four-years. Then six, then eight. Before you know it you are facing retirement and still not sure what life is all about. Maybe you’ll play golf. Or travel. Visit the grand-kids. All very enjoyable indeed. Yet, what you’ll never experience is creating a life on your own terms.

Think about that. An exciting, limitless life where you and your family can revel in the world you create. Where you can live the life of your dreams now before old age, poor health, and time catch up with you.

It’s entirely possible. I did it. You can, too.

One of the most poignant emails I’ve ever received was from a businessman who wrote, “Kate, I don’t want to die in a cubicle!”

I totally get that. And you don’t have to.


If you want to make the transition from working behind a desk to redefining your life call me and we’ll sort out the steps you need to do just that.Click here to schedule a free callCheers!

If you think this article might resonate with someone in your network, please share!

Ever Feel Like You Just Need A Moment to Lie Down?

Ever Feel Like You Just Need A Moment to Lie Down?

Kathleen Byars | October 1, 2016

As an international business executive, I spent a lot time on airplanes. When you’re a frequent flier, you get a lot of perks. My favorite airline was always British Airways. When I arrived at DFW airport, a B.A. representative would greet me and my driver at the curb. My driver would hand over my bags and the BA rep would hand me my boarding pass. I walked straight to the executive lounge. No lines. No waiting. I had a lot of miles with B.A.

One year British Airways offered me a free trip anywhere in the world. The trip was part of an exclusive customer appreciation promotion for high volume, frequent fliers. I chose Maui. My business travel took me all over the world, but never to the beach. I wanted to go to the beach.

My trip was scheduled for Thanksgiving week. As the holidays loomed closer I needed to prepare. My dog would require boarding. The cat sitter notified. And I needed to buy beach wear. Yet, I delayed.

Weeks turned into days and I still avoided making the necessary trip arrangements. My flight to Maui was scheduled to depart on a Monday. I never boarded the plane.

British Airways had kindly offered me an all-inclusive, one-week trip to Maui and I skipped the trip.

As my flight departed that Monday morning, I was sitting in my pajamas on the living room floor petting my dog. I was too damn tired to even think of boarding a plane.

Years prior, I found myself driving around Sugarland, Texas with my boss, Loury. We worked at Tracy-Locke, an advertising agency in downtown Dallas and had traveled south for client meetings. As we drove from the airport to our client’s offices, Loury looked longingly out the car window at a passing funeral home. She sighed, “I really wish I could just lie down.” I totally understood what she meant. I felt the same way.

Two years after that, I was running through the hallways of another ad agency hoping to get to the bathroom before my next meeting. Sadly for me, the architect who designed the space had placed the bathrooms across the hall from the conference center. As I dashed toward the women’s room, my Group Account Director yelled out the conference room door “Kathleen, we are WAITING ON YOU!” I clenched my teeth and “held it” for another hour.

For anyone who has ever worked in advertising, you know what I mean.

Time is precious. And there will never be enough time to live as much as we want to live.

Tag Heuer Watch Face

Copyright Vercoquin, Flickr Creative Commons

Yet, we take time for granted, don’t we? I know I have.

How often do we tell our kiddos that we’ll play “later?” How often do we tell our parents that we will visit “next year?” How often do we tell our friends that we might get together “next weekend?” How often do we tell our dog that we’ll walk him “tomorrow?”

And most importantly, how often do we tell ourselves that we will go fishing, watch the sunset, take a bubble bath, workout, start eating right, write a book, see the world, [insert your own words here] tomorrow?

We think we have good reason. There isn’t quite enough money in our bank account. There is a very important project that we must finish. The new team member needs to get up to speed before we take a break.

We are such a lot of VIPs aren’t we? And when you are a very important person you certainly cannot dilly dally around the fishing pond each weekend. Skipping workouts are simply a part of the drill. Oh and our parents? They don’t mind the infrequent visits. They’re proud of the VIP we’ve become.

It took me a long time to break out of that mindset. Even after leaving the corporate world I had trouble reprioritizing my life. I thought the corporate world is what made my life manic. I thought my executive position is why I had so little time to enjoy the good life.

I was wrong. The reason I couldn’t enjoy the good life is that I didn’t know how. And I took time for granted.

What about you? If you created more time in your life what would you do to fill it? What passions or precious moments are you missing? If you have a moment (no pun intended!), leave a comment below. Maybe we can all learn from one another.


I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? It’s my passion to help others create change. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.

If you think someone in your network could benefit from this article, please share!

Change Your Words. Change Your World.

Change Your Words Change Your World

Kathleen Byars | September 24, 2016

This past week I was interviewed for a podcast and also for a blog. The interviewers asked excellent questions that made me think.

One of the interviewers asked, “What is one thing that no one ever says to you?”

It took me awhile to answer. And then it occurred to me. Rarely does anyone say,

“What can I do to help?”

We are all familiar with the generic “How can I help you?” or “If you ever need anything, just ask”.

Yet, rarely do we hear an offer for help backed by intent.

This rarity is not reserved for me. It’s my observation that in general, as a society, we miss out on offering genuine help to our fellow humans. For free. No strings attached. Absolutely gratis.

I see this phenomenon quite often on social media. Someone posts a sad event.

“I lost my job”

“I didn’t get the promotion”

“My spouse has cancer”

The comments are profound.

“Sorry”

“Feel better soon”

“Hugs and prayers”

Or God forbid. The emoji. Disappointed Face on Apple iOS 10.0

I don’t think we mean to be standoffish. Maybe we’re in a rush. Maybe we don’t want to feel sad feelings. Maybe we unintentionally brush these events under the rug in an attempt to avoid the pain of life.

Words are powerful. Take a moment and watch this beautiful video produced by Purple Feather. I first saw it during a presentation on Inbound Marketing by Square2Marketing’s Eric Keiles.

Words connect us. When the girl re-writes the blind man’s sign, she isn’t simply choosing better adjectives. She is connecting us to the man’s plight. We no longer see him as a blind man. We visualize ourselves in a world of darkness.

Words matter.

This past week, I also spoke with two prospective clients. When I talk about Blazers, I don’t talk about marketing or advertising or promotions. I talk about words. I talk about messaging. I talk about storytelling. The kind of storytelling that resonates with, and attracts, the right audience.

My clients are not simply business people. They’re game changers. They have a vision that is different than the rest of the pack. They want to make a difference for their customers; and for the world.

And the words they choose has a direct impact on their ability to do that.

Words close the gap. Choosing the right words is the first step to creating an iconic brand. By iconic, I don’t mean popular or globally recognized. I mean a brand that is connected with its audience. When we connect with our audience they readily buy from us. They eagerly recommend our brand to others. They are more forgiving when we fail. And they are far less expensive to acquire.

And growing a connected audience is so much more fun than chasing sales. Supporting a connected audience makes business enjoyable. Pushing business uphill is a grind.

Words make a difference. If you read my article “What’s Your Story?” you understand how to create words that matter. Often we mistakenly believe that we simply need a clever headline or creative copy. Yet, it’s not clever and creative that reverberates with the world. It’s authenticity; vulnerability; emotion. When we share who we are, not what we do, we begin to connect on a level that is meaningful to our lives – and our business.

This week I am going to commit to changing my words. I hope you’ll join me. If you like, share how you plan to change your words in the comments below. Maybe we can all learn from one another.


I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? I welcome you to subscribe to my Sunday morning email. Each week I share personal stories of blazing trails in business and in life.

It’s my passion to help others create change. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.

 

Got Flow?

Got Flow?

Kathleen Byars | September 27, 2016

This past week I enjoyed a road trip across Texas. It’s been twelve years since I moved away from Dallas. And it’s been seven years since I last visited the state I grew up in.

Business meetings lured me back. I don’t like to be away from my family so I took them with me. My husband and I decided a road trip was in order so that our boys could enjoy the beaches along the way and we could drive up and down Texas eating barbeque.

Which is exactly what we did. We ate our way through Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

Boy, I sure do love Texas brisket and ribs.

I decided to try to meet as many people as I could while in Texas. Although my meetings were the motivation for going, I wanted to network with like-minded folks who happen to live in the area.

So I sent an invite to everyone who subscribes to my Sunday newsletter asking them to meetup for coffee. To my delight, I received a few dozen responses. Many of the people who responded do not live in Texas, so we have agreed to meet for coffee the next time I am in their area. Now I can’t wait to travel to other places to meet new friends.

However, for the folks who do live in Texas, I scheduled the first coffee of my Texas road trip on Monday night. I met a successful artist, a talented claims adjuster, and a European airplane manufacturer who is launching beautiful and affordable aircraft here in the States.

Michal Magolien Airplane

Our coffee was scheduled at 7PM and I figured it would last an hour to ninety minutes. I was wrong. We hung out for three and a half hours.

Although none of us had every met or even corresponded before, we had instant rapport. Our lives are all vastly different, yet we found a common connection in our mutual zeal for creating extraordinary businesses and extraordinary lives.

For me, it was an effortless evening enjoying the company of newfound friends. My mind didn’t wander to think about my upcoming business meeting. I overlooked the time and my husband waiting patiently for me to arrive back at the hotel with his dinner. I completely forgot about my schedule, my tasks, and the workload that would be waiting for me upon my return.

I was in my flow.

If you are not familiar with the book Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I suggest you check it out. It’s brilliant. This book helped me understand that I could live a life of success and passion. The idea is that you can be so engrossed in what you do each day that work doesn’t feel like work and the concept of work and play become intertwined.

That’s a huge concept to wrap your mind around.

Fascinated by the character vignettes in the book, I found my former self curious to learn more. How is it that a successful business woman can juggle her demanding schedule and still jet to an opera without feeling fatigued or overwhelmed? How can Joe, a mere welder, be satisfied with so little?

In my life, I had certainly experienced moments of flow, yet they always seemed fleeting. I didn’t understand how to build a life centered around flow. I wasn’t foolish enough to think it would be easy, but I sure as heck didn’t know where to begin.

Here’s a tip. Flow is not lack of activity. It is not a mental state whereby we do nothing. Sitting on the beach staring at the ocean all day may sound appealing, yet long-term ocean-watching will likely become quite boring.

Flow is anything but boring.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow Diagram

As Csikszentmihalyi states: “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

In my corporate life I sure did feel like I was being stretched to my limits and felt like my work was definitely challenging and worthwhile. Yet, flow continued to escape me.

On the outside my life was a fairy tale. Yet on the inside, I was becoming more and more dissatisfied.

As I read about the characters in Csikszentmihalyi’s book, I figured there must be something wrong with me. They had figured it out, but I couldn’t quite get there.

So I worked harder and harder, but still found no answer.

Finally, I just quit my life and moved to an island. Yet, flow was still elusive. I invested six years and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars figuring it out.

And here is what I learned. There are three barriers that prevent us from finding the purpose and passion we crave:

  • You have to understand how you got to where you are; and what drives you to make the decisions you’ve made.
  • You have to break through our cultural paradigm of success and define your own concept of success.
  • You have to understand the difference between passion and escape so you avoid jumping from the frying pan into a newfangled fire.

These barriers are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are highly intertwined. However, once you remove the barriers, flow, well, just flows. You really don’t have to do much more after that other than continue to take the actions you’ve learned.

Living a life of flow is possible. I found it, and you can, too.

When do you experience flow? If you don’t mind, leave a comment below. Maybe we can all learn from each other.


I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? I welcome you to subscribe to my Sunday morning email. Each week I share personal stories of blazing trails in business and in life.

It’s my passion to help others create change in their lives. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.

What’s Your Story?

What's Your Story?

Kate Byars | September 11, 2016

In 2010, Simon Sinek published his first book, Start With Why. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so. What you’ll read can change your life and dramatically impact your business.

Start With Why seeks to understand how great leaders inspire others into action. In his research, Sinek discovers what he calls The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle visually demonstrates what great leaders intuitively understand.

Simon Sinek The Golden Circle

People buy who you are, not what you do. – Simon Sinek

Sinek uses Apple as a prime example. Apple is an iconic brand with strong customer loyalty. Apple doesn’t chase its customers. Instead, customers chase Apple. This is because Apple understands its “Why.” Although Apple has an amazing product, they could literally sell anything and people would buy it. Here is Apple’s “Why”:

“In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

If you’re like me, you are not trying to become the next Martin Luther King Jr. or Winston Churchill. However, when we understand our own personal “Why” we start to live more authentically and can deliberately craft a life based upon our passions. Rather than ping pong-ing from one moment to the next, we can make purposeful choices that lead us to the outcomes with the highest potential for well-being and personal satisfaction.

We start living according to our story.

Companies that understand their “Why” become brands with wildly loyal fans. Like Apple, their customers identify with the brand story because they share the same values. Rather than chase sales, these brands support their community.

That’s fun.

Companies that understand their “Why” also have incredibly loyal employees. Everyone operates harmoniously with one, unified voice. While objectives must be established and goals must be met, these Why-centric companies are fun to lead because everyone who works there believes in a common goal. That’s super fun.

So how do you define your story and discover your “Why”?

You start with the beginning: your childhood. At Blazers, we take every one of our client leadership teams down memory lane. It’s a bit awkward at first, but it works. The C-suite finds a renewed vigor and sharper company vision and once we instill the “Why” into company culture and brand messaging, this story becomes a magnet for like-minded employees and customers.

Here is an example of how to discover your “Why” so you can do this yourself:

Start by writing down childhood memories that are prominent for you. Here are a few of mine:

Age 3. My preschool teacher asks me to sit down to color. That doesn’t make sense to me. I am coloring successfully standing up. I continue to stand. Furious at my inability to fall in line, the teacher becomes angry and forces me into a chair.

Age 6. My entire family is sleeping in the basement during a violent storm. I am tucked inside my 1970’s pink and orange sleeping bag. The sleeping bag is covered with famous quotes. There is one quote that stands out poignantly and I have never forgotten it.

“I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.” – Emiliano Zapato

Age 11. Americans are held hostage in Iran. I feel terrible for the Americans. Yet I also wonder why the Iranians would do this. I figure that you don’t get out of bed one morning and decide to capture people. Something pretty awful must have happened to make someone resort to such desperate means. I voice my thoughts, but the rest of America isn’t listening. They say the Iranians are bad and I should learn to be quiet.

Age 15. I am supposed to become a member of my church. I refuse. For two years I attend confirmation classes, church camp, and Sunday School. I ask my pastors why the people of my faith are the only ones God lets into heaven. The pastors said we would find out soon, but shushed me every time I brought it up. Despite my family’s objections, I decide I need an answer before joining a church that cannot articulate a solid response.

In each of these memories there is a common thread. A girl who thinks differently. A girl who is willing to see things that others cannot see. A girl who is confident enough to make choices that go against the grain.

“In everything I do, I believe in trailblazing. I believe that boundaries do not apply and anything is possible.The way I make things possible is by taking risks, empowering others to do the same, and by helping others enjoy amazing human experience. I happen to be a marketing expert. Want to hire me?”

Is it any wonder that I thrived as a marketing executive freely traveling the world, yet wilted when I was tasked with reporting directly to the corporate office? It’s understandable that I took a huge leap of faith and quit that skyrocketing career to go live on an island. And it makes perfect sense that I am building a fresh breed of marketing consultancy to serve trailblazing companies and transform them into iconic brands.

Looking at all of these pieces in black and white, we can easily pull together my story. Yet, it’s never that easy. It’s taken me forty years to understand my “Why” with such clarity. And there are a whole lot of external pressures and other challenges that can easily pull us away from living authentic lives.

Yet it is possible.

Let’s look at one more example.

I recently helped a client figure out her “Why” and develop her company mission statement. Although she is a trailblazer and we share many of the same values, she has her own unique story.

My client is the oldest child in her family. She spent much of her childhood helping raise her siblings. In high school, she drove her brother and sister to their activities and volunteered every day after school at a therapeutic equine nonprofit. She emphasized to me that some of her greatest joys in life have come from volunteering to help others. Helping others is absolutely intrinsic to who she is.

Once I understood her “Why,” I was able to craft her cause into an authentic mission statement that now serves as a sounding board for every business decision and a beacon for like-minded customers and employees. The work we put into understand her “Why” resulted in a new company mission statement: “To provide care and delight to one of the most significant moments in a person’s life.”

Do you see the connection? When we dig deep and find our authentic story it resonates in everything we do.

So what’s your “Why”? If you don’t mind sharing, I would love to know in the comments below. Maybe we can all learn from each other.


I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? I welcome you to subscribe to my Sunday morning email. Each week I share personal stories of blazing trails in business and in life.

It’s my passion to create change. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.