Quick take: When you are the single greatest asset in your business, how you show up makes a big difference. Discover how to find the confidence you need to elevate your brand.
Each week I sit down with incredible entrepreneurs and marketing minds to bring you inspiring and actionable lessons you can use to start and grow your coaching, consulting, or service-based business. Be sure to subscribe above so you don’t miss an episode.
Before we get to today’s episode, I want to invite you to our upcoming virtual summit for coaches, consultants, and service professionals on October 24th. It’s called Converted: Clients from Scratch. It’s 100% free, and you can attend all 9 sessions from the comfort of home. We’ve intentionally designed this event to focus your marketing energies on the core principles of digital marketing, without the overwhelm or complexity that could stop you in your tracks.
Check out the lineup of speakers and the strategies we’re sharing to boost your revenue and expand your impact.
Now, in this week’s marketing conversation, Kailei Carr and I talk about finding your inner confidence to serve as the foundation for the rest of your marketing. Kailei helps high-powered women “show up” in a way that is authentic to who they are, maximizes opportunities and allows them to experience a life and career they crave. Today, she shares how to lead with the best version of yourself, leverage digital marketing tools like video and podcasts, and what to do when you run into roadblocks.
Transcripts, resources, and top-takeaways are below. And for a full profile of Kailei Carr, check out her Leadpages customer story.
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If you’re short on time, here are a few golden nuggets from our conversation and the resources mentioned.
- Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, dedication, and confidence to get it right and then some.
- Understand your personal power. Center your marketing on your skills, talents, gifts, and passions instead of other people’s.
- Make better first impressions. Think about your image. 55% of first impressions are based off of appearance. How are you displaying yourself and your image? Is it consistent with who you are?
- Don’t keep things to yourself. Sharing and promoting your business on social media can make a huge impact. Don’t be surprised if one of your high school classmates from 10 years ago reaches out and hires you.
Get to know Kailei Carr
Bob: Kailei, it is so great to connect with you for today’s interview for The Lead Generation. Thanks so much for joining in.
Kailei: Thank you for having me.
Bob: I’m really looking forward to hearing some of your tips around digital presence and around people putting their best self forward. Before we get there though, I’d love to know just a short nugget on how the lives of your customers are transformed by what you do in the work with the Asbury Group and your speaking and so forth.
Kailei: Quickly. That’s a hard one. But I like to say that I help my clients truly connect, reconnect with themselves. And outwardly project who they really are. Because whether it’s a corporate environment or even when you’re working on your own and putting on a good face to your customers and your coworkers, we lose ourselves. So I help my clients reconnect with themselves and show up as the best version of themselves, whether it’s online or in person.
Bob: I love that. And that transformation obviously has dividends for people. Right? What are some of the results that your clients typically see, some of which may be quite quantitative, but I imagine it’s qualitative as well.
Kailei: Yes. I mean it’s interesting. Recently, I’ve heard three terms or three names that my clients gave me. Someone said that I am the miracle midwife, the destiny doula, and another colleague of mine after hearing me speak said, “You’re such a prophet.” And I’m like, what?
But I think what it is is as I continue to do this work and lean into what I believe is my calling and really leveraging my gifts each and every day, it helps other people recognize the gifts that they have inside of them. So I have seen my clients either completely change careers because they realize what they were doing was not what they were called to do. And instead, they were doing things because they felt like they should do them. I’ve also led leadership development programs where after going through the programs that I lead, not only do they become better leaders, but they also become … at least they’ve said they feel like they’ve become better women. And how that shows up in their lives is that they’re able to be there for their children, their partners more. And even from a quantitative perspective, 60% after going through some of my leadership development programs, 60% of them have been promoted.
So even on paper it’s like whoa, they’re getting tangible results in addition to some of these more qualitative things were just better quality relationships and showing up better in their lives.
Bob: That’s amazing. And just a quick little editor note for the audience. This conversation is going to be leaning into the skills that Kailei has developed in helping women. But I imagine if you’re a man on the call too, I think you’re going to really love some of these tips and you would be well served to make sure you’re taking notes as well.
Kailei: Thank you for that. And I do have male clients too. Even though my specialty area is with women and probably 80 to 85% of my clients are women. I often speak to men and I do have some male clients as well. So I’ll make sure that this is gender neutral for the most part.
Bob: I don’t mind it to be gender specific. I just wanted to make sure that that was noted because being in the coaching space for a long time, a lot of times the translation is easy. So I just want to make sure that that is the case for you listening.
The path from employee to being her own boss
Bob: So I want to also do a quick little tour around your entrepreneurial journey because you did start out in the corporate field. You did corporate ladder escalation, and then you decided at some point to jump ship, put on your entrepreneurial hat. Tell us a little bit about that journey. What was the impetus behind you becoming an entrepreneur instead of going through the corporate pathway for the rest of your life?
Kailei: Sure. I would say that 2013 for me was one of those years that had a lot of different shifts happening. At the time, I was leading a marketing department for a technology company. And I had worked my way up the corporate ladder. I started my career in human resources, went into management consulting, got my MBA, and shifted into marketing and digital media, and was doing really well in that space. And at the same time, I felt like I was losing myself because even though I was leveraging my skills, I wasn’t really leveraging my gifts and my talents. And how that showed up for me was that I was engaged. In 2013 I was planning my wedding. I was also taking care of my mom who’s dying of cancer, and she had stage four esophageal cancer. And obviously as you can imagine, I had a lot of my energy poured into these things out of work. And it helped me to reevaluate what’s going on?
And when things are happening at home and in life outside of work, those little things like corporate politics and spats with coworkers or questions from your employees that are like what are you asking? This has nothing to do with anything but your fear. Those started to escalate and I realized I needed to take a step back.
As fate would have it, my company had a new CEO. And as I was going to my boss to say, “You know what, I think I need to take a step back and focus on home right now.” She said, “Well, we wanted to relocate you to our corporate Headquarters.” I was living in Chicago, the headquarters were in Philadelphia . And she said, “We’ll wait until your mom gets better. We really want you to move and some other departments to move as well. Now if you don’t want to move, that’s a different conversation.” And I decided to have that conversation.
Long story short, my last day was on a Friday and on Monday my mom passed away. And on the following Wednesday, my husband left his job. He was already planning on leaving his job. And needless to say, everything shifted. Everything changed in a short period of time and it really helped me understand the fragility of life and helped me to tap into, okay, what is this next phase of work supposed to be for me? Yes, I can get another six figure job doing well and continue to climb that corporate ladder because that was relatively easy for me all considering. At the same time, everything within me said, “You know what Kailei, now it’s being out on your own and leveraging your gifts to help others.”
I did a lot of exploration and self-discovery and realize how many people were struggling in climbing that corporate ladder or achieving the goals that they have for themselves. And a lot of the times that they weren’t achieving them, it was not because of their skills, it was not because of what looked good on paper, it was their relationships. Those “soft skills” that seem to be easier for me. So I built my business initially around image consulting, and personal branding, and digital presence, which has now evolved to executive presence coaching as well as overall leadership development. And now because of the nature of the work that I do, I’m finding more of my clients saying, “Okay Kailei, you are following your heart and your gifts, and leveraging that in your vocation. Help me do that too.”
Bob: Excellent. And I imagine that your transformation as an entrepreneur was not Friday, Monday loss of your mom, and then Tuesday your business is successful. Right?
Kailei: Not at all. Yes.
Bob: Several steps along the way. Right. So I don’t want to go too far into that story, but can you just give us a timeframe of how long did it take for you to say to yourself, I am on the right path and the revenue means I don’t have to go back and look for another job? When was that confidence for you? What timeframe did that take for you?
Kailei: Sure. So to give you some frame of reference, that happened in August of 2013. It really wasn’t until April of 2014 that I officially launched my business. I was doing some consulting work and as many of us do, I was straddling. I knew what I was doing, but at the same time, my digital media and digital marketing folks were like, “Can you do work for me? Can you do work for me?” And it really wasn’t until April that I realized okay, I need to do this all in. Not even considering any other opportunities.
Not that I even interviewed. But in terms of gaining confidence Bob, I’m over five years into it. And there’s still times I’m like, “Maybe I should peruse LinkedIn. Let me see what’s posted.” But honestly I would say maybe two years into it, I realized no. There is absolutely no turning back. Now granted, if somebody were to pay me to do this and I get paid every other week to do this work, this exact work, then I would have the conversation. But I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
Bob: Yeah, that’s a beautiful process. And I will ask that question because there are members of The Lead Generation who are either in your situation or maybe they’re a little bit further down the road, or they’re starting now to contemplate this parachute so to speak. And we like to keep it real here. It’s not like it happens overnight, and anybody that tells you different usually has forgotten about five years of their story in the telling.
Kailei: Absolutely. And somebody told me that really takes three years for you to really feel like okay, I’m good here. Part of me wishes somebody would have told me that in the beginning. But even if they had, I probably would’ve still said but that’s not going to be me because I know business, I know what I’m good at. I’m going to be able to replace my income in a year or maybe two. And that just didn’t happen.
Bob: Yeah. So I’m glad that you were able to still see the progress and stick to it, and it does take a little bit more time, but persistence is obviously a good thing.
Tap into your “Power Presence”
Bob: Presence is also something that you talk about quite a bit. So I’d like to turn now to some of the tips that you have for people who want to get ahead. Mostly we’re speaking entrepreneurially, although this applies to the corporate folks that might be listening too. But a word that you use in your marketing is power presence. So I’d love just for you to talk for a minute about why having an awareness of our own power presence is so important.
Kailei: Absolutely. So power presence is really the ability to take up space and exude who you really are through all of those things, right? So it’s your voice, all the communication points. So your visual presence, your verbal presence, your vocal presence or vocal communication, your body language. How do you take up space and how are you communicating who you are and what you’re about through your presence?
So I believe that each of us are different than the over seven and a half billion people in this world. And if we have the right foundation of understanding what our personal power is first, what are our skills, what are our talents and gifts? What are the experiences that have shaped who we are? What are some of our passions? What are some of the things we want people to know us by or what do we want to be known for?
But also, what gives us joy? What gives us energy? All of those things. Having an awareness of all of those things is the foundation. And from there, we can show up in a way that’s consistent with that. So that’s how you communicate when you’re speaking to someone. When you’re speaking to a client or even how you’re communicating on your website. How your digital presence looks. So when someone comes to your LinkedIn profile or to your website, do they really get a sense of who you are and what you’re about before you open up your mouth?
In person, we get seven seconds to make a first impression. That’s it. And as leaders, we only get 250 milliseconds to communicate whether or not we’re trustworthy and competent, which are two of the most important factors when people want to follow us and to be seen as a leader. And the way that we communicate those are through warmth and confidence. So those are tremendously important, especially for women, especially for people of color who are maybe judged a little bit more harshly. We’re human beings. Even by each other, as human beings, that’s the reality of it. And online we only get 40 milliseconds. That’s it. 40 milliseconds to communicate who we are and what we’re about. So power presence is really making sure that you are authentically doing that effectively.
Bob: That’s great. And I wanted to talk about this authenticity because what I often see people do is they put forward a facade to exude confidence through their style or through a photo shoot. But when it comes to the reality, they might not match. So how can somebody make sure that they look good, they have the great appearance and all that stuff and exude the competence, but actually have it internally too? Where do you help people connect those strings together?
Kailei: Absolutely. And to be honest, we live in a time where Instagram culture is all around us, right? And we’ve all seen those posts and say, “Oh wow, this person looks so fantastic and they’re so polished,” and all these things. And you see them in person and you don’t even recognize them.
So at the same time, you do want a good headshot. You do want nice photos and images that are communicating who you are and what you’re about, and are polished and professional. That’s fine.
However, if they are not consistent with who you are and how you look on your best day, then there’s a problem. So the way that I work with clients is to help them uncover what those things are. So I ask every client I work with, “What are the three to five adjectives you want people to use to describe you?” That’s the starting point, so that everything you put out into the world is consistent with that.
Now I have had some clients in the past who are really into filters to their detriment. What I have to communicate to them or what I often communicate to them is the ability for people to connect with them. A lot of the people I work with are in people facing roles. And as much as we want to look like movie stars each and every day who’s stepped off of the front page of a fashion magazine, that doesn’t necessarily make people want to connect with you. Nice photos are great, but they really want to see themselves in you and be able to connect with you. And that’s more important than a glossy photo.
Tips to improve your Facebook Live videos and webinars
Bob: Excellent. So I want to ask you some questions about digital presence. So you already talked about the website concept and so forth, but I also want to talk about things like Facebook Live, and Zoom webinars, and things like that. How can someone who is going onto a Facebook live, you mentioned how fast we have to have the connection. What are some of the ways that they can do their own appearance through the sets that they might have in their recording area? What are some tips you have for people to just make that digital presence on a live stream to really pop?
Kailei: Absolutely. Some things to consider are to look at what your space looks like before you start the Live. So even before we started, even though this is not going to be, the video is not necessarily going to be shared in total, I saw that my door was open in the background. So I thought okay, let me close it so it’s not distracting.
Lighting is very important, so natural light is fantastic. If you’re doing a Facebook Live or a Zoom video during the day, try your best to have some natural light and be facing the light versus the light being behind you. You don’t want to be too dark because it will be distracting.
Second thing is to consider, or actually third thing because we talked about the environment. Second is lighting, and the third is to do a test run. Do a test run because oftentimes we don’t know what we look like. We don’t know how our expressions are. Especially if we’re not used to doing video. So you can always do a test video. Maybe doing a test Facebook Live is not really easy. But you can do a video on your phone. Or on Zoom, you can record a video without inviting anyone just to see what you look like.
Prepare. Have your notes, but don’t read off of your notes. And also realize that a Facebook Live, you’re having a conversation or a Zoom video, you’re having a conversation. I’ve seen people, even clients say, “Hello and this is Michelle Perkins,” and blah blah blah. And it’s like no, you’re having a conversation. You don’t say this is, you say I am. And pretend like you’re having a conversation with someone through the lens. Look through the lens, make sure that you’re looking, making eye contact with them. Even though you can’t see them, if you’re looking actually at the lens, they’ll feel like you’re talking to them. So those are a few tips that come off the top of my head when it comes to doing online video.
Bob: I like it. And I think that the point of looking at the camera is really important. It also means that where you position your camera related to your notes is really important, right?
Bob: It doesn’t seem so awkward if all of a sudden you turn your head 30 degrees to look at now let me look at what’s going on. And having a good Webcam is actually one of my tips to have. Don’t just use your laptop camera if you can avoid it. Logitech C920, still one of the best in the business. Super crystal clear, really, really nice.
How audio quality can make a better first impression
Bob: So let’s flip it to people who are doing podcasts like you and I are doing right now where the video isn’t so important, but the presence is still very important. Maybe even more so. What can we do with our voice, the words we choose, to make sure that people listening are just really sucked in and magnetized towards listening into the rest of the show?
Kailei: You know when it comes to audio, I found that practice does make maybe not perfect, but practice is important because we’re not used to listening to ourselves. And we don’t even know what our voices sound like. It’s impossible for us to hear our voice the way other people hear it if we don’t listen to a recording because of our brain, and our skull, and the muscles in our face and all of those things. Our voice is processed through those as we’re listening to our own voices. So making sure that you listen to the recording is important and understanding how you sound.
One tip that really helped me when I was getting into podcasting, I started my podcast almost five years ago actually. When I first started podcasting, I was like oh my gosh, I hate how I sound. Or sometimes I felt like I was too buttoned up. And the way that I got used to that was one with reps and over time that it got better.
But also to pretend like I was having a conversation, just like I was talking about with the Facebook Lives and the live videos. Having a conversation over audio is the best way to engage with your audience and not make it sound like you are doing a presentation that’s formal. Or sometimes it’s like the reporter voice. Hello and I am.
People want to relate to you. People want to hear you. What I found is over time, we’re getting away from what you’re supposed to sound like and what you’re supposed to look like and really getting into and be you. Be you first. And if you start from a place of authenticity, then that will be better.
Now some tactical things in terms of your vocal presence. One thing is to be aware of any vocal tics. And I just realized I did one of mine, which is uhhhhh. So all of us, most of us have some vocal tics or defaults that we will adhere to, especially if we are talking off the cuff or not practiced. So some things like um, uh, vocal inflections like the up talking and where you inflect your voice at the end of the sentences. That’s something that I hear very often. As well as being too quiet. Being too quiet.
So getting used to how your voice sounds in a microphone is good because you don’t know when you’re talking into the microphone until you hear the recording. So again, listening to the recording after you do a recording can help you understand what those things are for you.
Bob: Yeah, I love this idea of the verbal ticks that come in. They become crutches. A lot of times on podcasts, it’s the word so, right? You and I both have done it. We’re both guilty of it and I typically wind up having to cut it out as much as possible during a recording.
Kailei: Me too.
Bob: There’s no chance for the person on the other side to breathe. Their ears need to breathe. Whenever you continue a sentence with so, it just strings it all together. And dramatic pauses of silence can really emphasize the point that you’re trying to make, and I find that people often are trying to just fill the space, especially if they’re doing a solo podcast. Right
Don’t underestimate the value of the first impression
Bob: These have been some excellent tips about how to have better digital presence. I have another couple of questions I’d like to ask you, but is there anything else that comes to mind from your work with your clients over the years that you want to make sure gets into our conversation regarding presence and just making sure that confidence is such a key result of whatever actions that they’re taking?
Kailei: Absolutely. I said this to a certain extent, but I’ll reiterate this piece which is you want to make sure that everything you communicate is consistent and aligned with who you are. Not even how you want to show up. That’s a part of it. But really who you are. And 55% of first impressions are made by your appearance. And that’s the reality of it. So a lot of people say, “Well shouldn’t my work speak for itself? Why do I have to think about my image, for instance?”
But before people can see your work, they see you. And it’s not about being conventionally attractive or anything like that. It’s really about are you showing that you care about yourself? It doesn’t mean you have to wear fancy clothes or a lot of makeup. Although with women it does, women who wear makeup make more money than women who don’t. So there is something to be said about that. If that is on brand for you or aligned with who you are.
But at the end of the day, if you walk into a room, you’re meeting with that new client, that new customer, that new person who may be able to open up doors for you. Will you be able to communicate your value before you even open up your mouth? And that’s one last thing I want to make sure that people take in.
Bob: Yeah, that’s really good. I hear in your voice this awareness and acceptance of vanity culture that we have to deal with.
Kailei: I wish it were different. I wish it were different. I do.
Bob: But it is the reality in a lot of cases. Cool.
How to turn your podcast into a revenue generator
Bob: So I want to turn just for the last couple of questions towards some other tips that are more entrepreneurial and so forth. So you have Beyond the Business Suit podcast. You’ve also turned that into retreats and things like that. Tell us a little bit about how you’re using your podcast to drum up business and the difference between doing something like that and doing in-person retreats. What ways do they light you up? And for people who are considering those, any quick tips that you might have for them?
Kailei: Sure, absolutely. So like I mentioned, I’ve had the Beyond the Business Suit podcast for almost five years now. Last year I hosted my first live podcasts, so we went to both Atlanta and New York and had some live experiences. And that was fantastic to be able to meet people in person and share the experience and the energy in the room. It was fantastic. And that evolved into the Beyond the Business Suit retreat, which honestly it certainly is one of my proudest moments in terms of something that I’ve created. When I first started the Beyond the Business Suit podcast, I expected it to be a marketing tool. And to be honest, it took two years before I was able to drum up business from that. Because it takes time. It takes time, especially when your resources are low, when you first get started and all of that.
But by the time that I had the Beyond the Business Suit retreat, I was able to leverage the podcast to share the vision for what the retreat would be, and also share some of the voices of the women who were speaking at the retreat so that people could get a part of the experience from the podcast and be really excited about experiencing that more fully in person. And the transformation that the women who attended that podcast received in just a day and a half was remarkable, to the point that it was overwhelming for me afterwards because the responsibility of seeing transformation. Not only I feel better about my job or I can get a new job. It was like, no my life has changed by being here was overwhelming, but then I had to take myself out of it and realize okay, this just means that it’s a good idea. We need to do more of this.
Bob: It’s absolutely true. Mastermind retreats, and anytime you can get in person with people just has a remarkable effect. So I’m glad that you took that leap. Was there any hesitation from you when you decided to do that retreat or did you have enough knocking on the door from your audience that it was a pretty easy decision to make that kind of an offer?
Kailei: Well, it was interesting. I had been wanting to do more events for a long time. And with entrepreneurship comes fear. There’s that imposter syndrome that I help my clients with, but I’m human as well. And I experience it. So I’d say three years in, I was thinking I need to do more of my own conferences or experiences and events. I spoke a lot at other people’s conferences, at many companies and all of that. But when it came to doing my own, it felt overwhelming.
And then it came to the point where I was like I have a vision, I know what I’m supposed to create. And then I just started talking about it. Once I started talking about it and really verbalizing it, then I had several people. At the end we had 13 women who volunteered to plan it with me.
So once I spoke it, I was just speaking it into existence just to say, “Oh yeah, this is what I’m planning to do.” Next thing I knew people were saying, “Well, let me be a part of it. I want to help you.” And that was amazing. So once I was able to speak it and then plan it with other people, then I realized the magnitude of what this was supposed to be. And the fear was way behind me by then. Or at least for the moment.
Bob: Right. There’s a great line that my wife uses in her coaching business, which is from a guy named Fritz Perls. And it’s “Fear is excitement without the breath.” Whenever something like that comes up, just keep breathing through it. And I love that you are also able to, maybe you didn’t directly ask initially, but you were willing to receive help from a community of people.
Kailei: Absolutely. And that was so important. And it’s interesting that you even talk about the breath. The theme of our first retreat was pause, recharge, level up. Because I realized that my audience, they were being super women. They weren’t taking time to take a breathe, to be present, to access joy. And once you can do those things, then you can get into the leadership development and professional development. But you have to take that breath first.
Get on more stages
Bob: Yeah, absolutely. My last marketing tip question I’d like to ask is you do a lot of speaking in addition to the podcast and so forth. What tips might somebody have from you for their website to get booked? What ways are you getting on stages?
Kailei: Well, it’s interesting. I have found that most of my speaking engagements have come from people who know me or who have heard me speak, or have been referred by someone who has heard me speak or know me. At the same time, having video, which I’m working on getting more video on my website. The podcasts have helped to reinforce and provide more of an example of my speaking style. So that, and I would say for people who are interested in speaking, to be able to show what you speak about is very important. So on my website for instance, I have some of the talks that I give over and over again. I’m always open to a client who wants me to speak about something specific as long as it’s aligned with the work that I do. But showing examples, showing what topics you speak about. And when you do speaking engagements, talk about it.
One thing that I found when I first got started that was surprising to me was how many of my initial speaking engagements came from Facebook, from my friends. So you would think LinkedIn professionally. But I started talking about doing personal branding work and leadership development coaching and all of that on Facebook, just to share with my network what I’m up to and how that’s changed. And my first paid speaking engagement for a workshop came from someone I went to high school with was a partner at a law firm and I hadn’t seen in over 10 years. But she said, “I know your reputation and I think that this would be great for my female partners at my law firm.” And it was amazing how many opportunities like that came.
Bob: That’s great. If you keep it to yourself, you’re going to stay by yourself. If you share it, it’s going to work out. Kailei, this has really been a fantastic conversation. I’ve really had some great takeaways myself and I know our listeners have as well. What are some ways that people can connect with you to learn more about what you do and to engage in some of your services?
Kailei: Sure, so my business website is groupasbury.com. And there you can find some of my services, the workshops, the speaking engagements. In terms of the Beyond the Business Suit podcast, you can find that at beyondthebusinesssuit.com. And if you’re interested in the Beyond the Business Suit retreat, you can go to beyondthebusinesssuit.com/retreat. And on all socials, you can find me @KaileiCarr.
Bob: Awesome. And we’ll have all those in the show notes as well for you. Kailei, thanks so much for being here. It was a great treat.
Kailei: Thank you so much Bob for having me. This was great.
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