secrets to scale

Secrets To Scale Podcast
022 - How Having A Positive Mindset Makes You A Better Leader With Kate Strong-01

022 – How Having A Positive Mindset Makes You A Better Leader With Kate Strong

Secrets To Scale is a marketing and entrepreneurship podcast that revolves around hearing the stories of successful entrepreneurs and uncovering their secrets to scaling their businesses. Music for every episode of this podcast was written and produced by Treycen Clausse.

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Tanner:

This week on the show, I have Kate Strong, and she is the CEO of Nugent Magazine. Kate and I talk about why having a positive mindset as a leader and a business owner is super important to scaling your business. I truly believe that life is all about your mindset. So, if you’re lacking some positivity, this is the episode for you.

Welcome to the show, Kate. I’m really excited to have you. Go ahead and introduce yourself to the audience.

Kate:

Yeah. Hi, it’s a pleasure to be here. My name’s Kate Strong and I am the CEO of Nugent Magazine, a good news magazine.

Tanner:

Awesome. So how did your career get started and how did you end up as a CEO of Nugent Magazine?

It’s centered on sharing people’s stories and helping spread positivity.

Kate: 

Well, I graduated with a degree in business management and found myself quickly doing something that I loved in that arena. I started an event planning company called The Perfect Day, and I didn’t know much about business and was just getting my feet wet. That was a really great experience. My heart is really big and I found my passion in the nonprofit arena and helping. And so, I was in a space where I was home, and I was raising kids and watching Oprah one day. And she had gone to Africa for the first time, and I called my girlfriend and I said we have to do something. And so that sparked this desire to go and help. And it took about a year and I got pretty clear, just started asking a lot of questions and started my nonprofit and I found that I was really good at. 

And that nonprofit that came, you know, as a result of the event planning part of it was throwing these galas where we would do a silent auction and a live auction. And I was also able to establish relationships and fundraising, and it was really awesome. We ended up building a hospital in Western Kenya—a specialized hospital. And then I ended up in Belize drilling for water and still doing those things. But what I found is that the nonprofit arena didn’t work well for me to as far as income goes, I had a really hard time taking money from my friends and paying myself. It felt really good to be able to say a hundred percent of what you donate is going to go to this project or all of the money that you give is going to go directly toward this cause. 

And I, I found that I was pretty good at getting people to give me actually hundreds and thousands of dollars for a cause, but I could never, I could never make the step to write myself a check for what I was doing. So that’s really just been a passion project and something that I love. I learned a lot in the process and still doing that. But as I found myself getting into this space of, “Hey, I actually need a job that pays me, and I’d like to take what I’ve learned and do something that I really love.” Like I was saying earlier, I’m a mom and I have four kids and I felt like if I’m going to leave my home and not be with my kids all day, I have to do something that I really, really enjoy and love. 

Nugent Magazine was launching two and a half years ago, and one of the founders of Nugent Magazine knew that I was in this world of event planning and hosting. It’s part of my Southern background. They came in and said, “Hey, Kate, do you want to throw a launch party for Nugent Magazine?” And I was thrilled, I mean, thrilled and throw this launch party for Nugent Magazine. It was in the beginning stages; it was just launching. I had a lot of ideas, a lot of ideas about how things could happen or what, and again, it kind of felt like these two worlds collided in a way, because even though Nugent Magazine is not a nonprofit, it’s such a feel-good thing. It’s centered on sharing people’s stories and helping spread positivity. So, it was a natural fit. It was a natural fit and they were looking for someone to come in and run it. And so as it all came together, I found myself running and being part of Nugent Magazine. So here we are. 

Tanner: 

Wow. That’s amazing. That’s a really great story, especially all the nonprofit stuff. And I agree with you. I think it would be really hard to take all that donation money and then just pay yourself a massive salary. I mean, it just doesn’t match up, right? It would be doing the nonprofit and donor as a disservice by doing that. And so, I commend you for never paying yourself for that. I think that’s amazing. 

Kate: 

Well, thank you. I do believe that it’s important. And I realized this today, there came a point when I felt like, you know, if my nonprofit is going to thrive or survive, even I have to be able to compensate myself. And so, I wrestled with this a little bit and I’ve thought a lot about it. I really do believe it would be amazing if we could get to a place where people who were doing good in their business were compensated as equally as those who are out producing a product, but we really have to change our mindset around that. And we’ve got to get to a place where we can, you know? That transparency is there. And again, this is just something I’ve learned along the way. And with that, I still believe today there would be a different feeling behind it in fundraising if I knew that part of that was going to be coming directly back to me. So, I haven’t worked out all the kinks with that, but I do hope that there is a way that we can merge the two so that some of these really great organizations in the nonprofit arena actually have an opportunity to take off. 

Tanner: 

Yeah. And, you know, I think it’s important for a nonprofit to grow and it’s hard to really grow nonprofits and make sure the people running it are getting compensated. 

So, Kate, what would you attribute your success to over the years? 

People are the currency of life and how we treat people matters.

Kate: 

I’m a maximizer, which means I can see an idea, or I can see a concept and I’m able to bring in people to make it happen. Part of that is my strength of being a synergist. I love collaboration and positivity. I believe that we’re the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. And so, it’s been really critical to my success to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am. And people on my team, mentors, they’re all people who are in my world that know more than I do. They’re the experts at what they do. And so, me being able to do that and to create these teams or people around me has really helped. I also have a gift to truly be able to see people and relationships matter. 

They’re really important. I actually believe that people are the currency of life and how we treat people matters. And, you know, we hear that phrase sometimes, “Oh, it’s just business.” I haven’t quite figured out how to make it just business. And I actually believe that’s a good thing. My heart and soul are in everything that I do. I love the people who I get to create with. I trust them. I don’t micromanage people. I let them, you know, show who they are and be who they are and just trust that, you know, if I’ve hired someone or said, “Hey, come in and be on my team” and if I’m stifling them by micromanaging them and telling them everything to do that, I’ve really lost this great opportunity. So, it’s really served me and my success. 

Tanner: 

So, I really, I really love what you said about people being the currency of life. I really liked that. And I couldn’t agree more with you—we really do have to surround ourselves with people that are smarter than us, people that can help guide us, because if we are at the top of the totem with everyone else around us, we’re just going to become complacent. 

The reason that I was successful is because I created friendships and connections with people.

Kate: 

Absolutely. You know, I was talking to my dad today and he grew up in a sales world and we were talking about Nugent Magazine specifically, and I’m looking to hire someone to come in and to sell advertising and sponsorships. And as we were talking, it was so nice to hear because, you know, we have this different relationship now. He and I used to not really talk business the way we do now, but he was this great salesman, and he reiterated and said to me, “The reason that I was successful is because I created friendships and connections with people, and it was less about the product and more about my relationship with them, and that’s why they continue to stay loyal and wanted to be part of it.” And as we build and grow Nugent Magazine, these advertise myths and the sponsorships that we’re selling, if you will, it’s more of a partnership. It’s saying, “Hey, do you like what we’re doing? Well, how can we create a win-win in what we’re doing and how can we come together and have a relationship that feels symbiotic, where we’re both receiving something from it?“ It creates a much better feeling overall. We all know when we get that call when someone’s wanting to sell something to us. And I think we automatically, at least I do, I automatically shut down. I’m like, I know exactly where this is going. And it’s nice to have transparency and trust in advance. And then those things come, and all of the money ends up always working out, in my experience. 

Tanner: 

Yeah. I agree with you. Relationships are everything. When it comes to growing a business and speaking of growing, what are some obstacles that you guys have faced at Nugent Magazine with revenue and growing? 

Kate: 

When I became involved, like I said, two and a half years ago, it was this startup, and what we wanted to do was proof of concept. We wanted to find out if this was even something that people were interested in. We were passionate about it. We cared about the good news. We wanted to spread the positivity. But, how would that be received? It was at a time when magazines and print were kind of going out in ways and things were moving into a digital world. And so, we really had to find out if our idea is a good idea, or is this something that other people want to be involved in? And early on, actually up until recently, until about six months ago, it was pretty much a two-man team. 

We had an advisory board and there were people who would come in and help as far as higher level. But when it came to the day to day there were two of us for two years. And so, after two years, we saw that this is a great thing, and people are interested in it. And, actually, COVID was an obstacle, but also a great opportunity to pivot and to do something different. And what we learned is that we were doing live interviews before. So, when we feature someone in the magazine our board of directors gets together, and nominations come in and people are nominated to be featured in the magazine. And we all would vote on who we wanted to feature. And as those nominations come in and people are featured in the magazine, we would have them come in and do a live interview with Adam Nugent or with Adam Nugent, who is the founder and funder of Nugent magazine. 

And of course, COVID hit, and no one was going in for live interviews. We shifted, we pivoted, and we had talked about doing a podcast. We wanted to do a podcast and we felt like, okay, this is it. This is the time to shift. And so, we were able to do the podcast. We were all ready. And currently we were just primarily print. We had an auction to read the magazine digitally, but not in the way that we do today. And so, we focused more on the digital side of it. We launched a new website just recently. There were obstacles in that. You know, I hear people say, “Oh, well, when we can go back to normal.” Well, I actually would say if you’re in that space of waiting and feeling like it’s time to go back, it’s really not. And in order to continue to be successful and to thrive when things come our way, we have to be willing to say, okay, what can we do differently? Or how can we pivot in this situation? Or how can we reinvent ourselves? And it’s been fascinating to watch the businesses that have thrived in the last year and how they’ve been able to pivot. A perfect example is Carrabba’s in Utah County. I noticed that they put a drive-thru in, and I have never seen a Carraba’s with a drive-thru, but it was so innovative and smart, and they realized that they had to do this if they were going to stay in business. They had to shift their way of doing business. There was no longer an opportunity for everybody to come inside and sit down. So, I think obstacles are actually really great. They’re opportunities for us to look at what is working and what’s not working and say, what can we do differently? And how can we be innovative in this scenario? 

Tanner: 

Yeah. I love that. I agree with your obstacles, if anything, or just an opportunity to reinvest, to reinvent yourself. What better way to innovate or come up with a new idea for your business, when your back is pushed up against a wall and you don’t have any other options, it’s try this or fail, right? 

The more able we are to not get too comfortable or too complacent in something and be able to move and kind of go with the flow, the more it serves us all best to be in that space.

Kate: 

Absolutely. It’s that, and it’s that entrepreneur side that comes out or that startup side that comes out and says, okay how are we going to keep going or shift and change? And I believe in business, and in life in general, the more able we are to not get too comfortable or too complacent in something and be able to move and kind of go with the flow, the more it serves us all best to be in that space. 

Tanner: 

Yeah, no question. I mean, look at brick and mortar retail, right? They all became complacent. They didn’t come up with a new solution and now they’re gone. 

Kate: 

Right. I know. 

Tanner: 

So, I think this is what everyone loves about Nugent Magazine, but something I really love is that you guys only focus on positive news. And I think there’s a lot to be said about that. But what role do you think being positive has on your mindset as a leader? 

We might not have control of what’s happening, but we definitely have control of how we perceive it and the story that we’re telling ourselves.

Kate: 

That’s a great question. I always say what we focus on growth and what we think we become. And so, I believe for me, what’s really helped me with my positive mindset is how I start my day. So maybe about four years ago, I started with morning gratitude writing and I decided to wake up a half hour earlier than I was before, before anyone else in my house was awake and spend that 30 minutes preparing and getting my mind right is what I like to call it, and sitting and writing and focusing on the things that I’m grateful for. It literally changed my life. I’ll give you an example. So, I’m a single mom and I was in a situation where we had some different things happening that felt really challenging. And two weeks into spring my house flooded, my mom was actually there. She called me and she said, you’ve got to come home right now. And I came in the house and walked downstairs, and the ceilings were on the floor. There was probably a foot and a half of water that I’m walking through and looking around everything is just soggy and everything is wet and just dripping. And I walked upstairs, and my girlfriend came over  and we were sitting in the front yard and she said ”Oh, Kate. I’m so sorry. Like you can handle one more thing.” And in that moment, I was actually reading a book that I love, Gabrielle Bernstein wrote it, it’s called The Universe Has Your Back. And her whole concept is to look at things and say, “How is this happening for me, instead of to me?” And I’m going to repeat that because I think it’s really powerful. “How is this happening for me, instead of to me?” 

A lot of times we have a victim mentality of “Things are happening to me and I don’t have any control.” Well, we might not have control of what’s happening, but we definitely have control of how we perceive it and the story that we’re telling ourselves. So, in that moment I actually became aware that I wanted to move. I was living in the house that I had been married in, and I just was wanting a fresh start and something new, but it didn’t feel like the right timing. My kids had gone through a divorce. I was in the neighborhood really close to where their dad was. It still is. And our neighbors were friends and people that we had grown up with. 

And so, although I wanted that fresh start in that new newness, I didn’t feel like it was an opportunity for me to just to move. The timing felt bad. So, in that moment, I started thinking, “Oh, this is fascinating.” Well, it’s spring, which is new beginnings. It’s water, which is cleansing. And, insurance is going to cover to take care of my house, being redone in a way. And I started to shift that perspective and see that, “Oh, wow, maybe this is actually happening for me. I don’t have to move. I’m still in my neighborhood. It’s still convenient and close for my kids.” And I get to redo or remodel or update my house. And it was a huge blessing. So that lesson of gratitude and perspective and shifting perspective in that moment has really served me well, and it’s been really positive. 

Tanner: 

So, I really love your positive outlook on everything. And I think there’s a lot to be said about how we react to something negative that happens to us. And so many people miss this. I mean, like you said, it’s not in our control. However the way you react to it is, and you know, the grass is always greener on the other side. And in a lot of ways, every bad thing that happens to us could probably be linked to something great that’s happened to us, right? 

Kate: 

One hundred percent. That’s why I like to say, it’s never happening to us. It’s happening for us. And, you know, I’ve often heard and even remember feeling this way. When I was younger, you know, we get that same kind of lesson, if you will, or that same scenario, that replays and comes into our lives over and over. And I do believe that as I’ve been able to say, okay, this thing keeps coming up. What is it? There’s clearly something here for me to look at and to just get curious and say, “Okay, how is this happening for me?” And in the moment, that’s challenging, right? It can be because it can feel awful or it can feel scary, or it can feel like I don’t know how to get out of this, or I don’t have a solution for this. But what I do know is that the answers are inside of us. 

And even if there are things that we don’t know, the people that we surround ourselves with can be great resources to help us. My experience has been: when I get curious and I start to ask, the answers come, they always come, and what’s on the other side of that victim mentality of it’s happening to me. And I can start to see, “Okay, how is this happening for me?” It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that just because the awareness is there, then all of a sudden, I feel like, oh, okay, I just got it. Then there’s that practice or what I like to call integration where the awareness happens, the clarity is there. And then I get to go and practice it. And, you know, that can look smooth sometimes, but mostly it can look a little bit rocky or rough. But, in the end, I’m able to get to a place where I can look back and have gratitude for it. And that gratitude really is such a beautiful gift in life. And it, really creates a great life, in my opinion. 

Tanner: 

I completely agree with that. It’s really important for us to be grateful of what we have, where we are and our careers, all that stuff, not just business, but family as well. I always say life is all about your mindset. And I think having a positive mindset will really do wonders on everything. And, speaking of mindset, what impact do you think having a positive mindset as a leader has on your management and leadership style? 

Kate: 

You know, that’s a great question . Earlier, I was saying that I have this gift to be able to truly see that people and relationships matter. And because of that, I really do have an abundance mindset. And one of the greatest reasons why I am part of Nugent Magazine is because Adam Nugent, who’s the founder and funder of the magazine truly has an abundance mindset. I’ve actually heard people talk about it a lot, especially more recently than years before, and having that mindset of “The sky’s the limit we can have and do whatever we want.” The only thing getting in the way is us and the doubt or the fear. I’ll give you an example. So, I said earlier, we’ve had this two-man team for, for quite some time, and at the end of 2020, I was just completely burned out. I was burning at both ends. You know, we had all these great ideas. People are now reaching out to Nugent Magazine and saying, “We want more good news. We want positivity. We’re sick of hearing negativity and we want good news.” And so, with that came all of these opportunities to do all of these different things that I was talking about. And so, we would be sitting in a meeting and we would say, “Okay, so who’s going to do that?” And there was no one to do it, so I would go, “Okay, I’ll do it. Okay. I’ll do it. Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” Well, what happened is I got out of my flow and out of the space where I feel like I really thrive because I was doing all these things that I didn’t really enjoy, nd I called Adam and I said, “Hey, I really need to meet with you. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do it anymore. I’m not enjoying what I’m doing.” And he goes, “Okay, so what do we need?” And I said, “I need someone to come in and help me.” And his response was, “Okay, well, let’s hire someone now.” Remember, he’s funding this entire thing, and for the last two and a half years, my goal has been to at least bring some money in to get to a place where we could maybe cover something, you know, the cost of print, the magazine or something. And instead, I’m in a position with him where he’s saying, okay, I’m going to actually give you more money to hire a COO to come in and run this. And he just looked at me and he said, “Kate, if we’re going to get to the place that we want to be, we have to be in an abundance mindset and we have to put into it so that we’ll get out of it, what we want.” 

And I love that. I’m surrounded by that mindset and in the leadership and management style, it’s a ripple effect. It trickles out. So even bringing people onto our team and not having a scarcity mindset of “You’re just going to have to work for free. And until we get money, well, there’s not any opportunity to ever grow in that space.” And I’ve done it before, before I was with Nugent Magazine, I was working in a startup and I worked for a year and a half with no pay and lived off of savings. And it’s just not sustainable. It’s not something that we can do. And so, when we believe in having it all and that we can do it all, and we show up that way for our team as a leader, then they believe it too. And they start to say, “Okay, I want to be here. This feels creative. It feels like there’s enough to go around. I feel like I’m valued.” And it’s just a great environment to be in. Again, if I’m going to go to work every day and leave my kids, it’s going to be doing something that I absolutely love and enjoy. And that lights me up. I want to walk in my door every day, you know, just excited to talk to my kids about what I’ve done today and what we’ve been able to do, to create, or the great people that I’ve been able to talk to or interview. It’s just the momentum and the feeling around that feels like I’m actually living life and not just, again, “Life is happening to me.” 

Tanner: 

Kate, what would you say your secrets to scale are? 

Kate: 

So, I absolutely with confidence will say it is to keep everyone in their genius space. I talk about this a lot with my team. For example, when anyone comes on to our team and starts to work with new jet there are two things we do. One is the predictable success quiz. It’s extremely helpful as a leader to have, I am able to know where people’s strengths are. If I’m expecting someone who’s an operator, right? The operator is the person that you tell them what needs to be done, and they get it done. They see it to the finish line, but you have to tell them what to do, which is why it’s important to have the visionary person who can come in and say, okay, I’ve got the vision. And now I’m going to give the patient to the processor or the processor’s going to say, “This is how we’re going to do this.”

Luckily, we as humans, we all have different strengths. So, if it’s not inside of us, we can just go find that strength in someone else and have them join our team, and then we’re able to scale.

And then they give it to the operator and the operator can go and do it. And so, I love predictable success. It’s been extremely helpful for me and my organization and helping us scale, because again, people are doing what they’re good at instead of doing a thing that they aren’t good at and expecting them to perform in a certain way, again, setting everyone up to fail. The other thing we do here at Nugent is the strength finder quiz. And that is all about focusing on what you’re good at. And earlier you asked me, you know, what I would attribute to my success. And I said that I’m a maximizer, synergist, collaborator, and I am positive. Those are all things that came from my, from my Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. And I do want to share once I was this is when I got back into the world of business and entrepreneurial work. And I can remember that I decided I had an opportunity to go back to school and get my MBA, or to work alongside one of my mentors and shadow her and be with her. And I remember we would sit in these board rooms and these tables and everyone would go around and say who they were and introduced themselves. And I’m sitting with people who are like,” I took Walmart internationally.” Just all of these just lists, right? “I’ve done this, I’ve done this, I’ve done this.” And it’s coming around to me right now. I’m like, “Okay, it’s my turn, what am I going to say?” And in that moment, I decided to say, well, I’ll tell you what I’m really good at. And I talked about my strengths and it lit me up inside, in a way of I know what I’m good at. And knowing what I’m good at is really instrumental in the success of scaling. In the, in the book, the Clifton StrengthsFinder, the book is very, very short. Most of it is just describing what these different strengths are. But in the very beginning of the book, he talks about these two little boys who are both basketball players. There’s the one little boy who just wants to be the best player he can be. He’s not athletically gifted. He has to work really hard, but he is working hard. He is getting up, he’s doing the practices, he’s doing the weightlifting, the drills. He’s doing it. And then there’s this other kid who is a natural. You know, he’s just, as you look at him, he’s got the natural ability. He rarely has the practice, but this kid is just great. 

Well, how about, instead of focusing on that, the one kid who wants to be a basketball player so badly, I mean, if you’re only going to ever be five eight, you’re probably not going to be able to be what the kid who’s five seven without even trying. It’s just this natural strength. So, we really set ourselves up for success when we find out what we’re good at, and we focus on what we’re good at, instead of trying to be something that we’re not or trying to get good at something that’s just not our strength. And luckily, we as humans, we all have different strengths. So, if it’s not inside of us, we can just go find that strength in someone else and have them join our team, and then we’re able to scale.

Tanner: 

Awesome. So, what’s a good way for anyone listening to get in contact with you? 

Kate: 

Well, you can follow Nugent Magazine, which is everywhere, and it’s really easy because www.nugentmagazine.com is our website. You can also find Nugent’s Good News Podcast. And if you want to connect with me personally, please don’t email me, but you can find me on Instagram at @katestrongworld. And again, I’m just really happy to be on your podcast. I love what you’re doing, and I love you talking about mindset and mindfulness and how it really is everything. It really is. It’s the secret to our success. And I, again, I just love what you’re doing. 

Tanner: 

Well, thank you so much, Kate. 

Kate: 

You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. 

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