I remember when Prince died, people called into a radio station telling stories about his generosity and how it was contingent upon keeping it a secret. He probably made them sign contracts, he was so stubborn. I believe those stories. As a Prince fan, I’m well aware of his enforcement of secrecy at shows and parties. NO CAMERAS ALLOWED, EVER! If you got caught with a camera (or phone), you got thrown out and he kept your camera (or phone).
The marketer in me thinks this is a missed opportunity. These are the stories that build loyalty because they are authentic to the brand. It makes me wonder how different the public perception of him would’ve been if we knew more about his good deeds. Would more people have cared enough about him to ensure he was in good health?
The contrarian in me admired his commitment to secrecy. Remaining anonymous keeps the giver focused on the deed and eliminates a temptation to become the story. There is something powerful in that.
Do good deeds. Don’t get caught. I like this phrase. It’s simple and reminds me of my intentions. It also feels cool to make moves in secret, but the events of the last month have me rethinking that.
As the shutdown of the economy was beginning, I saw a surge in posts about how people were donating and spending in their communities. I had my own “a-ha” moment about shopping at a local bookstore, instead of the chain store that I was used to. I felt like a dummy because I already prioritize my spending with small businesses, how did I miss the bookstore? l was influenced, and diverted my book purchases to the local store. Since I was influenced, I thought I would try influencing.
So, I posted about where I donated and how I spent with small businesses during that first week of the shutdown. Sharing my spending amplified a feeling of relief. A quick fix to the anxiety I had thinking about the unknown impact to my lovely city and her unique offerings. If I’m being honest, simply donating and spending made me feel just fine too. I’m unsure which had the biggest impact.
Do good deeds. Don’t get caught. It’s a good mantra, something I aspire to. As I reflect on it, I think it’s about finding a balance between sharing and not sharing and being clear about my intentions around the share. The true value of giving is in the act itself. Telling people about it, hopefully inspires them to lend a hand, but more importantly…it inspires them to act so they can experience how great it feels to help other people.
I’m curious, are you public about your kindness, or do you keep it to yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments.
With Amanda’s story, I’m reminded of the women who came before us and how different the pursuit of economic security once looked. Many of our mothers and grandmothers weren’t expected to work outside the home, nor were there many opportunities. They were raised to lead domestic lives by getting married as soon as possible. Amanda is the descendant of 2 women whose pursuits of domestic life were upended by situations they couldn’t control and turned them unexpectedly into career women.
For her mom, it was a divorce. She had to figure out how to get a job and financially support herself and Amanda. She made it happen though, Amanda never felt like she went without anything. She got her clarinet lessons and many of her clothes were sewn by her mom. Looking back on her mom’s experience, she has a deeper appreciation for how hard she worked. It was never her mom’s goal to work full time and be the bread winner. She wanted to be a mom.
A generation earlier, Grandma Shirley’s husband died so she too had to figure out the economics, during an even tougher era for women being accepted in the workplace. Her Grandma did just fine, by the way, and ultimately became the head of her division. Both women had to figure out how to get money without men during a time when society didn’t offer many opportunities for women to be financially independent.
These 2 women are very important role models to Amanda and it’s easy to see how she learned to be driven and independent by growing up with them.
Amanda grew up in Southwest Missouri and spent her childhood just wanting to get the hell out of Southwest Missouri. While in high school, she took her first journalism classes and thought she would ultimately write for Rolling Stone. She was the editor of her school newspaper and like every good GenX’er started a ‘zine after she graduated. Starting the ‘zine was the first time she realized that she liked organizing the thing more than she liked the actual writing.
She attended college at Missouri State University, majoring in English Literature. In college, she was also the Editor in Chief of her college newspaper. Because she was Editor in Chief, she was personally liable for any libel that may be printed in the newspaper. Mistakenly, a defamatory article was printed about a college football player and he indeed decided to sue her. From October to May of her Senior year, in addition to her schoolwork, she spent 40 hours per week working at the newspaper and 20 hours per week fighting the lawsuit, which was dropped that May. After that, she never wanted to see the inside of a newsroom again.
She took her talents to the world of advertising at an agency in Kansas City. She was intrigued when she interviewed because the people were young and cool, there was a dog in the office and people were wearing jeans. There were still cubes, it was the’90’s after all, but she was seeing the beginning of the more relaxed work culture.
They hired Amanda as a PR writer and she moved to KC, where her first gig was ghostwriting for a pest control magazine. She was super curious about the company and the work and was quickly recruited into Creative Copywriting. Again, hitting on the theme she discovered after high school, she was more interested in “why” they were doing things, rather than the actual writing.
She transferred into media for 6 months and learned as much as she could. Meanwhile, on her own time, she was writing a book about internet communities. The book was a result of primary research she and her co-author conducted to create one of the first (if not the first) published ethnography of an internet community. Her book was published in 2004 and then CurrentTV called and hired her to consult with their on-air talent about the digital community.
They ultimately offered her a full time Director role. She had a “WTF” moment when she realized that by accepting this job, she just leapt off the career ladder within agencies. It worked out ok, she worked up to VP of Product and left after 4 years.
She moved on to another start-up in San Francisco and had just met a man who was based in Minnesota. They dated long distance for 3 years, and Amanda knew she had to think about relocating to Minnesota if she was to continue being with him.
She took a meeting with Zeus Jones. It was scheduled for 30 minutes and turned into 2 hours. She didn’t interview anywhere else because she knew Zeus Jones was the perfect fit. She accepted an offer in 2013 and in 2018 became one of the first female partners. She also married the guy she moved here for.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Patti Smith because of a million reasons. I’ve idolized her since my young goth punk phase. She seems like the coolest woman in the world and has an incredible sense of her own style.
I was super into music as a kid. The Regency Showcase Club was where I saw shows when I was a kid living in Missouri. Then, in college, I worked for an alternative rock station. I have over 3,000 CDs from that era!
Would you like to be famous? In what way? Hmmm…I don’t think so. I’m pretty private and close to my friends. I don’t want all the things that come with fame. Sounds like a nightmare. I’m too much of an introvert. Reading books is how I relax.
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? I would never sing to someone else. I sang in choir and choir competitions. I sang opera. I was always part of a chorus, and not the person in front. I sing to Kelly Clarkson in the car like nobody is watching. When I moved here, my stepdaughter and I would have Taylor Swift dance parties in the kitchen.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? I have a fear about how I’ll die. My Grandma died of Alzheimer’s, so I have a fear of that disease. When I forget something I feel like: “Oh, this is it!” Watching someone suffer through that disease is horrible.
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. By appearance, it looks like Joel and I have a matching aesthetic and that we both like to dress up. Our house appears this way the most, but in reality we compromise a lot. He’s minimalist and I like patterns. When it comes to dressing up, I love it and he doesn’t. However, he’s very fastidious about his appearance. He’s not fancy, but he’s put together and will have 87 navy blue tee-shirts. We both work around marketing so people may think our jobs are close in common, but they couldn’t be more different. My job is broad, where Joel’s is specialized.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful? I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I met my stepdaughter. Spending time with her has unlocked something in me I didn’t know existed. It’s something I never thought I’d have because of my fertility issues. Claire’s mother is incredible. She calls me her “co-mom.”
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I never took school seriously. Now, I fully understand what I can accomplish when I apply myself. Looking back, I could have done more incredible things! I wish my mom had been more disciplined about applying myself in school, but it probably didn’t occur to her because she had totally different goals.
What do you value most in a friendship? Honesty. That was easy. I have enough people around me who blow smoke up my ass. I want people to tell me the truth. I over-index on truth telling, which is sometimes off-putting to people.
What is your most treasured memory? The night before my first wedding I spent at my Grandma Shirley’s house. She asked me: “Is the sex good? Cuz life is long and if it’s not good, don’t marry him.”
What is your most terrible memory? Right before my Grandma Shirley died, my mother and I took her to the eye doctor. It was the first time I realized what the Alzheimer’s had done to her — she sat there with her hair unkempt, in a ratty sweater, the rings on her fingers filthy from who-knows-what. All her life she was very well put together. Not stuffy, but she liked to get dressed, if that makes sense? But sitting in that doctor’s office it was clear she had been undone and wasn’t herself at all. People were looking at her and frowning, and it was all too much. I ran out and cried in the parking lot.
Rachel was nominated to be featured by one of her business partners. She was on my list, but her partner’s nomination bumped the timeline. As I was reading through his impassioned application, I was nodding in agreement and thinking: “Of course!” I was thrilled to receive a nomination from a professional man lifting up a professional woman who inspires him. More of that, would be amazing.
If you ever get the privilege to meet Rachel, one of the first things you’ll discover is her contagious laugh. As soon as I heard her laugh, I immediately started laughing. It reminds me of a girlfriend from my hometown who had what I always called a “trigger laugh.” She could be across the classroom, bust out laughing and instantly I would start laughing, having no idea what she was even laughing about. There was just something about her laughter that made me want to join in the fun and ask what we’re laughing about later. I had the same reaction to Rachel’s laugh.
She not only laughs a lot, she likes to make other people laugh. Her childhood dream was to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live. She earned her performing chops as the opening act for her dad’s gospel band. Always the performer, she thought she was destined for comedy television. Unfortunately, her parents crushed that dream. They didn’t think being on SNL was practical. They would always tell her to go to college, get a real job and make money. They also thought the big city of NYC would eat her up and spit her out. They thought she was too innocent and naive to make it in the big city. They were probably right, but they underestimated the warrior and survivor they raised.
Instead of comedy, she found the next best thing, advertising, which can be pretty comical. As a young person, she was consumed with ads and found herself constantly critiquing them. So, when she attended Moorhead State University, she majored in it.
Her first job out of college was at Blackdot Agency, working on the Herberger’s account. Herberger’s corporate headquarters is located in St. Cloud, Minnesota which at the time was a minor detail she didn’t pay much attention to. It wasn’t until she met her current husband that she started to connect the dots of their paths and how they almost crossed so many times.
She continued working up the professional ladder in advertising, making her way to executive leadership. In the mid-2000’s she started to look around and no longer recognized the appeal of that artificial world. “What am I doing?” she asked herself. Realizing that she was out of alignment with who she thought she was and who she was serving, she went on a journey of discovery. She was looking for something different and something that felt more in line with her values.
She moved around to different agencies, tried corporate and nothing really felt completely right, until she discovered technology. Finally, an industry that excited her again because of the ability to solve real problems that affected how people do their work.
Rachel worked in consulting for several years, still feeling that pull of something else. That “something else” was entrepreneurship. It makes sense that she has an entrepreneurial tendency because it ran in her family. In addition to full time jobs, her parents flipped houses by working evenings and weekends. They were doing this in the ‘80’s before this model for additional income became popular. Her grandfather, who was a preacher, started over 400 churches! So, you can see how Rachel could easily evaluate the risk of starting her own business.
Last year she took the leap and founded Covalent North, a business and technology consulting firm, with her two business partners “They complete me!”
What is your most treasured memory? November 2, 2017 is the day my husband adopted my kids, Charli and Cooper. It was the end of a period of heightened alert for me. It was the first time I was in front of a judge without the fear of the unknown. Prior to this day, my ex-husband continued to bring me to court in retaliation of my decision to leave him because of domestic violence. On November 2, 2017, I witnessed my current husband step up and expose his heart. It’s one of the gifts he’s given me that I will always anchor to.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? Besides being on SNL? It’s never going to die! I want to be on a stage motivating people to be their best selves. I haven’t done it yet because I needed to live through some of these experiences and get to a place where I can feel authentic on stage. I believe I’m closer to that place and am able to harness my stories for good. Being on stage isn’t the goal, it’s the part after when I get to connect with an audience one-on-one. Seeing hope in someones eyes is the most satisfying feeling you can be part of.
What do you value most in a friendship? Time
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Sharing the gift of seeing people for who they are, not what they are. I already know how to do this, I’m deeply intuitive. I wish I could show more people how. My son Cooper for example, he’s autistic, and he’s so awesome! I wish people could see beyond the autism label because it would open a lot of eyes.
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. We both grew up in rural Minnesota. We’re both total jokesters and very outgoing.
When did you last sing to yourself? This morning, alone in the car! It was some random song on the radio. I always sing in the car.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Alive or dead? I would want to have dinner with the founder of Fraser, Louise Whitbeck Fraser. She was a pioneer and could see the special.
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? Rachel and I debated this for a good 10 minutes. There’s no easy answer, but she finally committed to the mind.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Sometimes, but rarely. I’m an improvisational person, I go with my heart and gut. If I practice, it feels artificial.
Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share… Interesting because I’m an open book. So then I think, is it an activity? Nachos is honestly what popped into my head.
Have you ever found yourself in a state of perpetual hunger for the next thing? For me, it always centers on “achieving.” It’s the next promotion, next big-name client, next design award, next, next, next. Focusing on next, fools me into believing that I’m moving forward, improving, winning, achieving. The problem is, I keep moving the goal line, so I’m always on to the next. What I’ve noticed is that I’m never really present and few things ever live up to my expectations once I get there. Get “where” exactly?
This insatiable need for the next thing has served me well in my career because that is what people hire me to do. I think of the possibilities and then bring them to life. I get paid well, I work with impressive people on impressive projects. Check, check. However, this mindset, unmanaged, has not served me well in my personal life.
I recently found myself unable to see past “next.” All the “next’s” didn’t seem interesting, fun or worth it. It shut down my ability to be creative, which is debilitating and leads to all sorts of other problems. This wasn’t the first time I experienced this, it was just the most eye-opening. It forced me to ask different questions and find new methods for how I set my goals so I could enjoy the journey, rather than feel exhausted in a never-ending marathon. Instead of focusing so much on myself, I switched the questions I was asking. “How can I be of service?” instead of “How does this fulfill what I think is expected of me?”
That simple shift from self to service eliminated the creative block. Ideas started flowing again and I could see possibilities. Life didn’t seem hard, it felt easy. Opportunities presented themselves, I didn’t chase them.
One of those opportunities was a position on the board of directors with an organization serving women entrepreneurs in Minnesota, WeMN.org. It was serendipitous how it all fell into place so I wanted to record this moment because I know I’ll need a reminder, now and again, that my mindset and what I truly value is the key to finding my joy and discovering all the possibilities.
As a young girl, Amanda was always drawn to TV, design and advertising. Her mom would say that when the family was watching a TV show, Amanda would pay closer attention to the commercials than the show. Amanda thought that was charming until she had her own daughter and realized that all kids are captured by TV advertising.
In high school, while determining her career pursuit, she always felt an internal conflict between her calling to help people, based in her strong faith, and her desire to work in advertising. She entertained the idea of joing the Peace Corp to fulfill her goal of working in service of others. It wasn’t until she had a conversation with a teacher about her career goals and how she viewed advertising vs. helping people as an either/or decision. She was 17 and the teacher told her that “Good people need to be in marketing to make it better.”
The teacher helped her realize that we all have the ability to do good and we have to spread ourselves across industries to make it happen. We can’t put the responsibility solely on nonprofits.
So, off she went to pursue her degree in Mass Communications at Winona State University, where she was very active in peer ministry and worked 20 years per week. Graduating in 3 years and debt free is a source of pride for her because it shows what a hard worker she was and is.
After college, she worked at several ad agencies, Fallon being one of them, in various account roles rising to leadership very quickly. I first heard of her in 2009 when she was recognized on the 40 under 40 list in the Minneapolis Business Journal. At that time, she was the VP of Creative Services at UHG where she built their internal agency, Carrot. I remember reading about her work in that issue of the Journal and thinking that I wanted to know this woman.
Whether she knew it or not, she was building her path as a successful intrapreneur. An intrapreneur is someone with entrepreneurial spirit who is able to position themselves within large organizations to bring their ideas to life. It’s a unique funding strategy and quite smart really, if you can manage the constant push back on your ideas, as well as the politics in a large company.
Her most recent work of art, I’m sure you’re familiar with, is the Small Business Revolution. Amanda has brought this series to life on Hulu, Amazon Prime and .com, working as the Chief Brand Officer at Deluxe Corporation. From where I sit, this is where all the good stuff comes together.
Amanda leads by the principle of “doing well by doing good.” You’ll hear her say it all the time, in conversations, articles and speeches. It’s not just another pithy mission statement from an executive. She really lives it. She lives it so authentically that she often can’t describe it when asked about her leadership style. It’s so innate and comes from her core. It’s like asking Monet: “How did you paint the Water Lillies?” I doubt he’d be able to explain the detail people yearn for because sometimes things just come from inside a person. I see Amanda’s work in the same way.
If you haven’t watched Small Business Revolution, you’re missing out. Her team at Deluxe is revitalizing small businesses in small towns across the country. America gets a say on which town by voting on the submitted nominations. The winning town gets awarded a $500,000 boost to revitalize businesses and Deluxe documents the transformation by creating a touching series of small business stories for us to enjoy.
Let me take moment and tell you why this work is so truly aligned with Amanda’s mission to “do well by doing good.” Small business ownership ain’t sexy. Nobody has the same love affair with small businesses like they do with the “start-up” culture based in Silicon Valley. Especially not in small towns.
In a small business, you earn every single penny. When employees don’t show up for work, the owner will put on a uniform because someone has to cover the hours. When the small business owner can’t make payroll, she’ll forgo her salary to ensure that her employees are paid. Sexy, right?
Small business owners typically start their companies for altruistic reasons. They want to create a lifestyle for their families so one parent can stay home. Or, they see a problem they can solve to help people. It may simply be that they want to open a coffee shop on main street because even small towns should have good coffee and a place to meet with friends. The beginning of the idea is rarely about money, which is contrary to the start-up fantasies we read about today.
All of these wonderful stories and nobody was paying attention, at scale, until Amanda came along. Through her vision and commitment to helping others, she has shown a light on a community of people that rarely get the spotlight, even though they are a huge economic force in this country. Small businesses create about 50% of the non-farming gross domestic product (GDP), or roughly $6 trillion every year. Since the small business revolution program launched in 2015, it has achieved over 9 billion impressions in social and earned media. Nearly 4,000 articles have been written about it. It was named by Inc Magazine as one of the top show entrepreneurs should be watching. It is the #1 unscripted show on Hulu, outperforming network competitors by 5 times. And finally, it has been discussed on the floor of Congress, twice.
That is quite a spotlight.
What’s truly exciting, is that I believe Amanda is only getting started. We haven’t really seen anything yet. She shared with me that her experience with the Small Business Revolution has been incredibly fulfilling and has also exposed hints to her about her next mission to help people. Her experiences in these small towns across the country have opened her eyes to opportunities around the topics of diversity and inclusion. Being a woman of faith and her commitment to working in service of others, I’m confident she’ll find clarity around those topics and what’s she’s supposed to do next. Let’s just say that I’ll be waiting, watching and cheering her on.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Ellen or Oprah. They both use their platform for doing good. I don’t think they have fame for nice houses and cars. I think they have answered a higher calling.
Would you like to be famous? In what way? I would not mind being famous if there was a greater purpose for it. Any notoriety I may already have is because I’m destined to do something good. As I continue to earn more visibility because of my platform with Deluxe, I’m still discovering what I’m supposed to do and where I need to lend my voice. Through my work on the Small Business Revolution, diversity, inclusion and love are topics that are trending for me to have a voice around.
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you? Sleeping in only to get up and be active right away so it’s done for the day. Giving a speech and connecting with people afterward. Then, going out with my family to have good beer and good food.
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? This morning. I play Pandora when I’m getting ready. I sing in the car. I sing anywhere people aren’t listening.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? I’ll be hit by a bus because I always have my head down, on my phone, not paying attention to where I’m going.
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. We both love craft beer and traveling. We also appreciate our midwestern roots. Being raised in the midwest, we learned a good work ethic and how to be frugal. “Save before you spend,” is one of our mantras.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful? I know I’m supposed to say my daughter. Motherhood is an important part of my life, but I wasn’t put on earth solely to be a mother. I wouldn’t change it, I like being a mom, but I’m most grateful for my ability to look at life and appreciate the serendipity of it all. I rest in this space of believing that life is one part hustle and one part the universe doing it’s work. I can control the hustle by showing up everday and doing the work. The universe part, I can’t control, but I believe in it and that mindset gives me perspective.
What is your most terrible memory? One time I said something mean to someone in Sunday school and I replay it all the time in my head. I was trying to be funny and it didn’t land right. I didn’t realize the impact until the teacher told me how it came across. I was devastated because my love language is Words of Affirmation and if that is reversed, it’s painful. It was just a joke that went wrong, but I ruminate on it to this day.
What does friendship mean to you? It means encouragement. Being that support system when needed. I see my role in friendship as being a cheerleader for my friends.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? I’ve dreamed of taking a year off, traveling around the world and homeschooling my daughter. We haven’t done it for all the same reasons everyone else hasn’t. It’s expensive and I fear not being able to get a job when I return. I have the same worries as everyone else.
A spark of light and energy, this woman always put a smile on my face as I would pass her desk every morning on the way to mine. “Hey, pretty Nikki” was how I greeted her. While probably an inappropriate way to greet a co-worker, I didn’t care. When I saw her sitting there, usually in bright colors and a lovely smile on her face, it was the greeting she inspired me to make.
This rising star in the product world grew up in an entrepreneurial family whose business was food and wine. I always hold a special place in my heart for women who grew up with parents who made their own way. I feel an immediate kinship and we understand each other in a way not everyone can relate to.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Nikki’s family moved to Chanhassen, MN when she was 10 years old and has lived in Minnesota except for the brief time she worked at a company in Madison, WI.
Nikki was a musician in high school, where she joined an a cappella group with 7 other kids. She lettered in music and academics, illustrating her curiosity in right and left-brained activities.
After high school, Nikki attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth, majored in marketing and Spanish and graduated during the last Great Recession. Job hunting was tough during this time, because she wanted to work at an ad agency, but the downturn in the economy hit that industry especially hard. She ultimately landed at Epic, where she worked as a project manager in healthcare software implementation. It was at Epic where she learned to expand her influence to an audience of stakeholders in the medical field, learning to communicate to physicians how her technology solutions were actually going to improve their lives.
From Epic, she went to Thomson Reuters, where she discovered the Agile process and it solidified her interest in web and mobile development as the career path she wanted to be on.
She eventually got her Scrum Master certification and that is when Target came calling. Target recruited her as a Senior Scrum Master, but it didn’t take long until she was promoted to a Lead Product Owner. She grew fast during her time at Target and also completed her MBA program at Concordia University in St. Paul, MN.
Sadly, for me, she recently left Target to take the next step in her journey to world domination. This dynamic force took her talents to Best Buy. And while I miss seeing her everyday when I walk into the office, I’m excited to watch her have impact in whatever space she decides to enter next.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? There are 3 women I would like to have dinner with. The first is Queen Victoria. She was an austere, iron-fisted woman. She was England! The second woman is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. The compassionate leadership she exhibited after the mosque shootings in Christchurch was inspirational. The third would be my mom’s mom. I never met her, but she led a nursing department in the 60’s & 70’s and I’d like to know what that was like. I’d also love to hear stories about my mom when she was young.
Would you like to be famous? In what way? When I was little, yes. Now that I’m older, no. However, I am an avid consumer of Reality TV and would like to have the access that fame gets you, but wouldn’t want to have the public profile.
When was the last time you sang to yourself or someone else? I sing all the time! That’s how I express myself. I sing in the car. That’s just what I do.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Most of the movies I watch are horror, so I feel like I’ve thought about it, but now that you ask, I really haven’t. I hope I die peacefully with a million people around me.
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common. Nick and I have a lot in common. We’re both “type A” personalities. We’re very family-oriented and close to both of our families. We are adventurous and that can express itself in many ways like: Travel, new career challenges and home improvement projects. New experiences are very important to us.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful? My family. We moved away from our extended family in Pittsburgh when I was 10 years old. Back then, I had lots of family within a 5 mile radius. So, when we moved to Minnesota, it made our immediate family very close.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I wish I’d grown up physically close to more of our extended family. I missed out on running around and playing with cousins. I wouldn’t change how I grew up, but it would have been better with more family around.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Can it be a magical ability? I would choose teleportation. I love going to new places, but I don’t love the process of traveling. That, or doing math in my head.
What is your most treasured memory? My wedding day. We had family travel from all over the country to attend. Some had never even been to Minnesota! The night before the wedding, we were reflecting on how awesome it was that everyone was coming. My dad said: “Look at what you did Nik, you brought everyone together.”
Share an embarrassing moment in your life. I have, what others may think, are embarrassing moments daily, so I don’t think I embarrass easily. The only thing I can think of is that I totaled my car by hitting a deer. A one-car accident and had to call my dad to pick me up. That was kind of embarrassing.
Kristin’s energy is infectious. Spend 10 minutes with her and she’ll have you believing that anything is possible. What’s interesting to me, is how she’s designed a business, Fly Feet Running Studio based on that feeling. She’s developed a workout experience where you can get in shape, but more importantly, you feel like you can do anything.
Fly Feet is a boutique workout studio with two locations: One in downtown Minneapolis and the second in Wayzata. I’ve done this workout several times and every time I walk into the studio thinking: “Oh crap, I don’t know if I can do this.” That feeling actually endures throughout the workout because the stakes keep getting raised by the coach who guides you for the hour.
After I’ve completed the workout and days after when I tell my friends why I’m walking funny, that’s when the impact of the experience really hits you. Anything really is possible when you, as Kristin puts it: “Stare failure in the face, trust and accept yourself.” While the hour-long workout is tough and you push yourself through it. It’s looking back on that hour where you learn about yourself and what you’re capable of. That’s when you feel the results.
Kristin grew up in an entrepreneurial family. Her dad started and built a successful manufacturing company, so she saw firsthand what running a business looks like. She was the first kid in her family to graduate college and found fitness early in life. As soon as she got her driver’s license and could drive herself to a fitness class, she’s had a fitness practice.
Fitness is something that Kristin always held onto. Through graduate school, marriage, 3 kids and working as a corporate executive at Target, she’s always had a fitness routine. When she got her first job out of college at Accenture, she taught group fitness as her side hustle. She always felt like she would open a gym someday.
That day arrived when she left her corporate VP job to launch her fitness studio 3 years ago. Kristin is that perfect mix of analytical and visionary so the day she left her full time job, she had a fully baked business plan and was ready to launch the first class. People are often surprised that she made that leap, but she believes that you have nothing to lose in life. If something is speaking to you, you have to pay attention to it.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Oprah. For many reasons, but one that stands out is a 60 Minutes interview of her that I saw from the ‘80’s when she was about to launch her show. Mike Wallace asked her what happens if the show doesn’t do well. She responded that she will still do well because she is not defined by a show. She said that she is defined by how she treats herself and other people.
Would you like to be famous? In what way? I want to be honest about how I answer. I want to be famous for the right thing. I get energy from impacting people and believe in the “why” behind Fly Feet. I want Fly Feet to be big and if that brings fame, then I’d feel ok about it.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? No, but I used to. In past professional roles, I would get negative feedback about being direct. So, I would rehearse so I wouldn’t come across too direct.
What would constitute a perfect day for you? The weather would be warm and we’d be at a beach. I would wake up at 5:00 a.m., drink my coffee and catch up on news and emails. Go on a run or do a Fly Feet workout. Get home and everyone is still asleep so we can have breakfast as a family. Hang out on the beach and be active with my family.
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? My 6-year-old gets a personalized version of Hush Little Baby, so I probably did that some time in the last week.
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want? That’s a difficult choice because they feed each other, but I would choose to keep my mind.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? No, I’ve never thought about this! Have you? I’m a glass half full kind of person and have honestly never spent time thinking about it, but now I’m going to!
For what in your life do you feel most grateful? My health, family and the circumstances to which I was born.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? The way I was raised wasn’t perfect, but what is? I wouldn’t change anything because it made me who I am.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? I would love to be able to sing. I’m pretty terrible, but I love it. I am pretty good at rapping though. Teleportation for me and my family because we’d travel everywhere!