Ep 41 // Stop Giving Out Equity with Kirin Kalia of Growth Through Story

Ep 41- Kirin Kalia

In this episode, Akua welcomes startup veteran Kirin Kalia to talk about how startups can grow their revenue faster without giving up equity. If you are a startup founder looking to create meaningful relationships with investors and enterprise clients that ensure future growth, this episode is a must-listen. 

As a tech and business journalist in New York during the dot-com boom, Kirin gained a deep appreciation for the energy and drive she witnessed from startup founders as they struggled to bring products and services to market. Her experiences launching and growing online publications and working on corporate innovation programs ultimately led her to want to support even more founders. In 2021 she created Grow Through Story, in which she helps founders build the crucial skill of pitching so they always know how to tell their unique story and tailor their message to connect with others. 

Kirin is honored to work with founders all over the world as they build solutions for their home markets or regions and believes, “When startups succeed, the whole world benefits.” She specifically enjoys supporting female and underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Listen to this episode to learn how, by helping her clients develop a powerful pitch, Kirin fosters conviction and confidence and, with those, the capacity to increase visibility, gain investors, and excite corporate executives. 

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What's Covered in this Episode About Revenue Growth

  • Find out what startups need to gain early on in their journey in order to grow quickly. 
  • Kirin describes the process she takes clients through to successfully pitch products to investors and corporates and why personal stories are so powerful. 
  • Learn strategies to help you inspire people to support you.
  • Find out the difference between pitching to corporate and pitching to investors and the crucial piece you need to include when soliciting enterprise support. 
  • What champions are, why they should be a founder’s best friend, and how to find your own champion.
  • Akua reinforces why soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, relationships, and negotiating, are paramount in driving revenue and growing your startup. 
  • Kirin talks about how startups can learn to reframe their stories to connect with anyone.
  • Why founders cannot afford to waste time and why finding your tribe and getting the support you need is important. 
  • Discover the exact equation every founder needs in order to communicate their vision effectively.
  • Akua and Kirin discuss why asking for help is so important. 

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "The practice is so important. Having that feedback is so important. And having somebody there to guide you along the way, just be your support all the way through it is super important." - Kirin Kalia

  • "Find your tribe, folks. It is so important, wherever they are. Find them. You're not alone. A lot of these challenges aren't new, other people will lift you up." - Kirin Kalia

  • "If you are not addressing those two main things, you're not going to get an investor, right? And you have to be able to do that with confidence and conviction, you need that same confidence and conviction when you talk to a potential enterprise corporate client." - Kirin Kalia

Get to Know this Episode's Guest

Seasoned communications leader and startup veteran with extensive experience coaching startups, launching and growing online publications, and programming must-attend events in the United States and Europe. Cares deeply about supporting female and underrepresented entrepreneurs and is humbled to have prepared the 12 finalists for the 2019 Visa Everywhere Initiative: Women's Global Initiative, in addition to several other corporate innovation programs.

Consistently delivers top-quality content and conference programs on deadline and with limited resources, and quickly iterates on new formats. Exceptional ability to work with entrepreneurs, CEOs, venture capitalists, angel investors, academics, policy experts, freelance writers, and non-native English speakers. Experienced at booking top business and tech leaders for web TV show and events, and adept at managing staff plus paid and unpaid contributors.

Website: www.Gtsnow.co
Twitter: @KirinKalia
Linked: @KirinKalia

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 41 about Giving out Equity

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode. I am so excited about this conversation that I have with an amazing and amazing coach consultant who support startup founders with pitching to corporates. So whether you're a startup founder or someone who works within the sales space, having a story and being able to tell it is so very important. And that's exactly what I talked to my guests today all about. All right. So today, I am so excited because I am joined by Karen Kalia to talk about how startup founders can grow their revenue faster without giving up equity. Kiernan, welcome to the show. Speaker 1 2:10 Thank you so much. Akua is such an honour to be here and love the work that you are doing for startup founders leaders everywhere. Amazing. Akua Nyame-Mensah 2:19 Thank you. Thank you so much. Another reason why I'm super excited is because we actually went to the same college. So this is so cool to actually be interviewing someone from where I went to school. So yes, before we get into that, and a little bit more about your background, for people who are meeting you for the first time, could you just share a little bit about who you are and what you Speaker 1 2:39 do? Sure. So I have been in the startup technology space for a long time I go back to the.com days when I was a tech and business journalist in New York covering companies going public really fell in love with founders back then I don't think I really knew it, though. Just love their passion and their drive to make something exist in the world that didn't already exist. And I had thought I wanted to be a journalist in the magazine world and just fell in love with technology. And actually, it was a really good time to do that. Because the whole journalism world turned upside down, thanks to the internet. So put me in a really good place. And in a place of constant learning and growth, which I appreciate. Over the years, I've done a number of things, and just in the last year came back to kind of take all those experiences together, and realise that my purpose, my gift, back to this community, of startup founders who are so important to all of us, their products and services touch all of our lives every day, whether we stopped to think about it or not, is to help them get their products out to the world. And how can they do that by scaling their businesses? And how else can they do that is by making money. And there's so many pressures in the startup world to raise a lot of money, raise a lot of money, and that has its place? No question. I also lived in a startup myself where we were able to grow and figure things out based on revenue. And so when you can get clients and turn those into more clients and just keep that flywheel going, it's incredibly, incredibly powerful. And so I love helping founders figure out what that message is, and how to get it to the right person. And very much in that sort of corporate enterprise space, no matter what kind of startup you're building. So you could be in the SAS, you know, b2b SaaS, space, right business business software as a service, you could be making a new consumer product, you could be making something that's really important for healthcare, you can make something as important for the environment. I think any kind of product if there's this problem that it solves, if there's somebody who's got credible pain, and you can help get them out of it, whether it's a consumer or business, it deserves to exist in the world. It's good for people. So let's help you find the right customers and make sure that they want to work with you. And that first meeting, getting the first meeting and being able to nail that first meeting are so important for everything that happens downstream. So that's what I do. Akua Nyame-Mensah 4:58 I love that and I know that within like our initial conversation, we talk a little bit about how to sort of take the time right to to make sure that you're getting clients beyond just fundraising. And I'd love to hear sort of, what are your thoughts on supporting startup founders with pitching to corporates and getting these clients? What sort of process do you take them through? Speaker 1 5:18 It's a really good question. The first thing is to look inside, which maybe seem counterintuitive. And I think in the startup world, there's so much focus on growth, growth, growth, and getting big, big, big really fast, and you see everyone around you doing it, you think that's the only model. And if you don't remember why you're building what you're building it can get, you can get lost in the details. And that's not good for you or for anybody who you're working with, or building a team with. So I find that reconnecting to your purpose is really the first thing. And so okay, why did I start this and that story is something that interests everyone, any investor is going to ask you why you started this company, any potential client is probably going to be curious about it. And that's a great way to draw people in. In some cases, it's from a very real emotional, personal place. And in some cases, it's from just something that was just so big in the world that you knew somebody had to go solve it, like you couldn't imagine leaving it alone. And I've seen, I've seen those stories be really, really powerful, because they come from the real place. And whether you realise it or not a corporate person is a person, they're human. And humans love stories. And so you want to pull them in, and you want to get people excited and inspired. And that has to start with you. So that's the first place to start. And from there, it's starting to figure out what is the real problem that you solve. And you can talk a good game with all kinds of buzzwords and jargon. And I will be the first to tell you, I have no patience for that stuff. I am all about the plain English, like people talk to me, like I'm eight years old. To me, like I'm your grandparent, somebody who does not live in your day to day world, what do they need to know at a really, really high level, because if they don't get that they're not going to listen to anything else you've got to say. So we've got to get really, really clear on what it is that you do the value you provide. And then if you're looking at specific types of clients you want to work with, especially if they're the really big companies, you have to understand where they have that problem. So do your research, figure it out, there's not you know, some big black box, you can't, you know, figure it out. There's tonnes of information that's publicly available and out there. And you might think, Oh, I don't have time again, big picture. What are we trying to do here? Right? Don't waste anyone's time, including yours, spend that time at front, figure it out so that you can look really, really smart going in, you've already read the recent public filings, you've already seen their press release about how they've made this pledge to maybe be carbon neutral by 2030 years that big like that, and you have a clean tech solution. Well, how do we how do we make sure that you actually meet that goal, because somebody's probably going to hold you accountable to it, they might not forget, sometimes they do. So those are the things I want to get people started with in the beginning, and then you can hone it from there. But it's so so important to start with yourself, and just start that really basic cleaning journey. And that's going to serve you well, no matter who you're talking to, and then refine it from there. Yeah, I love that. Akua Nyame-Mensah 8:07 And thank you for sharing that. Because I think a lot of times, as you mentioned, you know, startup founders, business owners get so stuck in the day to day and when they're having conversations they forget their audience. Can you tell us a little bit more about what's really, is there a difference really pitching to corporates pitching to investors? And what should startups keep in mind in relation to those two different audiences? Speaker 1 8:28 Sure, that's a really, really great question. And something near and dear to my heart. The first thing, I will tell anyone who's pitching a corporate as these are not investors, so you've probably have some experience already, with a pitch to investors, you've probably been through some kind of demo day, you might have had already some warm intros and talk to some angels. Anybody who's on the investor side is looking for two main things. Is this the right person to build it? And can they build a team, right? Like, do I believe this person, maybe this idea will pivot a little bit here and there, though, they'll figure out Product Market Fit eventually, and there'll be the right person to build it. Right? That's, they really, really care about that. And then is this going to be worth 10 100x? My investment, right. And so if you are not addressing those two main things, you're not going to get an investor, right? And you have to be able to do that with confidence and conviction, you need that same confidence and conviction when you talk to a potential enterprise corporate client, but they're looking for something else, they want to know that you, as I said earlier, have a solution to their really, really painful problem, and that you have the goods to back it up. So it's not just you saying you have it, can you prove it? And so at that point, it is important that you have a product that works. Hopefully, you already have some case studies or at least some kind of testimonials, and you can show that you have the ability to scale it. I've seen startups start that conversation when it's a little too early. From the corporate point of view. It's at that point it's more of a wait and see. Because they're so big, they can't afford for you to not exist six months from now, if you run out of money, right, or something else goes drastically wrong, there has to be something there that they can work with him that they can trust in. And so the more experience you can come into that process with, the better. And it doesn't even have to be another big company, if you've proven it with a smaller, maybe midsize company, maybe it's even the one that you already had a relationship with. Nobody needs to know the backstory, you just need to impress them. They're like, wow, you worked with that company, like, Okay, now we're interested, we're gonna take this more seriously. And that's also where the competence and conviction come in. Because at that point, corporate person is gonna have to sell this app, it's probably not the only person who's going to make the decision. So you need that champion, if you have not found your champion in that first meeting, go fine. Because that is going to be so key to your success, enterprise sales, you know, corporate stuff is not the easiest way to go, I will be very, very frank about that. So you'll have to have some patience. And you'll have to have that runway to for that part, right. And lots of things can go wrong. So you've got to be in that for the long game. But once you start figuring out the growth, you can experience is amazing. And I love I love seeing that moment happen that clicked for a founder, when they figured out the right message, and I see the corporate person's eyes light up. Yes, we got it. That's not Akua Nyame-Mensah 11:14 can you share a little bit more about what a champion is? And how to like, yeah, your thoughts on maybe how to find one with an organisation? Speaker 1 11:21 Yeah, that's a really good question. A champion is going to be somebody who has a real maybe personal career interest in it, who is looking to really make a difference within their company, or that, you know, they, they know there's something there and they don't want to give it up, they have a little bit of that entrepreneurial, and they may even want to be an entrepreneur at some point themselves once, but when you're in a big company, there's other ways to kind of do it in a little bit safer, safer way safer space. So somebody who's just really forward thinking, and is not afraid to take a couple of risks. So that's going to be your best bet. years ago, read about, you know, and I'm not the first one to talk about the frozen middle middle managers can often be the ones who are the hardest, because they have incredible safety and security by keeping things going just the way they are, you know that incremental growth, that's what they're getting judged on, right, they have to keep the wheel spinning on the main business, they're not likely to be the ones who are super open and excited to new things. So you're gonna have to find that right person, you're going to have to find somebody who knows the right people internally can get that by and hopefully has the budget themselves to say yes. So that's, that's what you're looking for, you'll know them when you find them, because they just they just get it right, you see it in their eyes. And they're really excited. And they may know that it's a little early, they may be willing to go with you on a jury, I certainly was lucky enough to see that in the startup where I spent several years, there were people who saw the potential of what we were doing. And it was amazing, because they could pay us to learn. And that is an incredibly valuable part of this. So you know, they would give us a credible feedback. And so we could build a better product, because we knew it was coming from a very real place. This wasn't just us thinking they needed this, it was like, no, they're like, We need this, we have these different needs. And if you can build it this way, you'll have us as a customer for even longer got, right. So that was incredibly valuable. And then you're also as a startup, you're getting to see how these big companies work. And you're like, Ah, so that's, you know, the classic land and expand, like, if you can get your foot into one part of it, now you're sort of in and you're trusted, and you can start moving around. Because most of these companies, there's lots of different business units, and whatever you're doing might work for this one. But that doesn't necessarily mean that that one couldn't be your customer as well, in different regions of the world is all those kinds of things. So almost keeping in mind that you want to give credit your champion, don't want to don't want to make them feel that you're not grateful, or you're not sort of having them be the leader, or maybe the gate opener for you, where possibly never want to be sort of doing things that could be perceived as going behind our backs. So that's, that's been my experience. And like I said, it's not a short term game. But if you are in that right place, and you know, you have something like that your fortune five hundreds of the world need to have, you've got the stomach for it. It's totally, totally doable and amazing when you break through. Akua Nyame-Mensah 14:11 Amazing, this, thank you so much for sharing that. And I just feel like even just what you've shared right? There can just be incredibly helpful for so many startups that are looking to break into this space, and really just recognising that it's about relationships, right? So some of the things that you were talking about emotional intelligence, relationships, negotiating, right, so really recognising that all of these soft skills really do come in to being able to drive revenue, and really be able to take your startup to the next level. Speaker 1 14:38 Sure, for sure. And, you know, there's this sense sometimes that you don't have time for this stuff, right. And, and I know there are so many demands on a startup founders time and the time pressures are very, very real. You don't have a lot of time to figure stuff out. So you're going to have to decide making decisions is very important that this is important and you're going to put Your time and resources into it. And that's a very important decision, you may not be ready, I talked to a founder last fall, who was still in the testing phase at a health tech company. And so he knew that he needed that data in order to bring it to more potential customers in the healthcare space. Yes, fully recognise, also knows though, he needs to be able to sell to those people at some point, he said, and it's something I've not forgotten. I don't want to learn that the hard way too. I've learned so many things in this process the hard way, don't want to learn that the hard way too. So like anything, you know, the startup world is really, really good about sharing information and what they've learned. And so go find the people who can help you, there's tonnes of people who want to help them to see you succeed, go find them, don't do it on your own. Don't think you're the only one who's ever done this. And you have to like, figure it out and be like, some whatever, like, you know, like martyr on some, you know, pile of like, I figured out enterprise sales on my own, that is not the way to do it, you don't have time for that actually get the help that you need. And they can be from other founders, it can be from from experts. Just don't don't go it alone, find your people to go on a journey, that part of the journey with you. And just the larger founder journey in general, that's a different story. But you and I can talk about that if you like, Akua Nyame-Mensah 16:15 Oh, definitely. I mean, maybe yeah, maybe we'll get to a point about, you know, who else should be supporting founders on this journey. But before we get there, I actually would love to go maybe back in time a little bit, because one of the things that I actually have found so fascinating about you, and also I think really resonates with me is that you have such a unique and diverse background, and you have had the opportunity to support such unique and diverse startups, can you share a little bit more about your background and sort of how that's impacted? The types of you know, founders and the places they're from? Yeah, and who you've been able to support? Yes, very happy Speaker 1 16:49 to discuss. So I accidentally, you could say, found my love of coaching startups to give pitches, it started several years ago, I was on their very early founding team, I was the first editorial director of a company called launch. And the whole idea was to give startups a platform to launch on stage. And the idea was to make sure that they were ready for that moment, you know, nobody was going to get up on that stage unless they had a pitch down. And at that point, they also had to do a live demo of their product, it was Wow, very high stakes is definitely not something you know, that sort of classic, everything that can go wrong will go wrong, you have to be prepared for every, you had to have a backup demo all these things. So it's very complicated. But the main part that I got out of that was that the practice is so important. Having that feedback is so important. And having somebody there to guide you along the way, just be your support all the way through it is super important. So that was my first exposure to it. And I'm really glad I learned the basics and saw it and action there a lot. And then in my next role I had the opportunity to because nobody else knows typically, who else is gonna do this help startups with pitches for a large corporate and open innovation programme is what they call them. And they had said, Look, we're gonna put out a call, we want startups in these areas to apply. And then we'll pick the best ones and put them on a stage in front of our executives and our employees. And we'll pick a winner and they'll win some money, and hopefully, we'll get to work with them. And that was back in 2015. With visa, yes, the same visa that's on your debit credit card and is a payments network that works globally. We started in the US with a programme. We ended up with 15. founders, they have three challenges. And we have three winners. And one of those companies has since gone on to raise two strategic rounds of investment from visa actually pivoted its business model to be more in the payment space where had been more marketing tech before. Incredible story, so much success for both the founder and for visa, what they were able to do together. And that's what I love seeing that happen. So I so that's that was the beginning and then be scaled that programme globally. And so I've been so so honoured to work with founders literally all over the world building solutions for their home markets or regions, because they know them best. So often they've come back home from somewhere else. And that is to me, it's just the way it should be right like you, you you've learned so much you worked in the US or you worked in, in some cases in China, or in Europe, and you said you know what, I want to do something for my country now and take everything I've learned and I see what's possible and entrepreneurs in the US or Europe, you definitely have your barriers, but you go to some other parts of the world and the bears are much higher. There's fewer resources locally, there's there's not an ecosystem, there's no local investors who's going to support what you're doing, you're probably going to have higher regulatory hurdles with government stuff like oh my goodness, and you can build there you are the most amazing founders like you are just like I am in awe of those folks, and I love them. And I would love to see all of them succeed. So that's what I want to see happen in the world. And so really coaching these startups for the visa everywhere initiative has been a huge part of what's given me that, that love and joy around seeing the success because I just can't imagine a world where these companies don't get that opportunity or don't get to, to grow and succeed. So anything I can do to help them is what I want to do have coached also for Procter and Gamble ventures, their pitch competition has been in the US at this point, I'm hopeful that they will take it outside the US at some point. And, you know, the founders, they're also just as amazing and impressive. The formula is the same, you've got to explain what it is that you do, why they should care about it. And in the case of those, we talk about building a world together, what does that look like when me plus u equals what? And that's, that's your job. Also, as a founder, you're always the one setting the vision also, when you talk to an investor, right? So what is that vision for the world in the future that you're going to have? You are responsible for making it explicit, you cannot just sort of hope folks figure it out. Right? People are busy, they're not stupid, they're busy. Just make it super easy for them to see the whole thing. And they'll get so excited. And just that like, excitement, and like, Ah, I love it. Like that's like my Akua Nyame-Mensah 21:09 you can't see her. But she's really excited, everyone. Speaker 1 21:13 It's amazing what happened. So that's, that's where it's come from. And just taking all those experiences, all that global experience, all those different sectors, I mean, like I said, it doesn't have to be just one type of solution, any type of solution, there is a way to tell your story to somebody so that they will get inspired and excited and want to support you whether it's as an investor, because that is that, like I said, also important, but also to get those clients who can help you build even faster. And that's where you retain the equity, right? Because if you're growing based on revenue, nobody, nobody's having to give up ownership in that process. You were just making money and showing your value and growing that way. So that's what I love about that model. And I'd love to see more start to be able to do that earlier in their journeys have that part figured out, and their destinies in their hands. That's Akua Nyame-Mensah 21:55 amazing. I love that. And I think that's actually a great sort of segue to talk about your business and how you support founders to do that. Can you share a little bit more about that? Speaker 1 22:04 Sure. Sure. So I had my own realisation. Last year 2021, I said, you know, I really, really love this, I feel like I can help more people build a business around this. And I have a really unique set of skills and experience that I can bring. So I have so much respect for entrepreneurs, and that I was like, Okay, now I'm gonna be what, I'm gonna cross that bridge of fear, I'm gonna go do it. Because the world that awaits me on this side is so amazing. And I've been extremely fortunate already to work with some amazing startups that are having me help them with different pieces of their journeys. My ultimate goal is to have a programme for founders just to get them super, super good at the pitch, that skill, it's so important in everything you're going to do, so that you are always walking into a room with confidence. And you're able to deliver your pitch with conviction, whether it's an investor, whether it's a potential customer, whether it's somebody you just met at a party, like always knowing who your audience is, and knowing how to tailor the message so that you connect with another human and get them excited to join you on the journey that is ultimately my goal. And yes, in that process, you're gonna grow faster, and you're gonna retain more of your equity. So it's all good. That's my ultimate goal. But but I'm just loving my journey. So far every day is discomfort and growth. And that's where the learning happens. And so I'm really, really grateful for everything that I've learned so far. And everyone who supported me and helped me get to this point in my journey. As I mentioned earlier, you shouldn't do this stuff alone. I'm not doing alone, either. I have people who are supporting me and I would not have it any other way. Find your tribe, folks. It is so important, wherever they are. Find them. You're not alone. A lot of these challenges aren't new, other people will lift you up. And you know what, some people in your life probably aren't going to get where you're at. That's okay. So do find the people who get it so they can support you. Akua Nyame-Mensah 23:49 I love that. And I think for one of my last questions, I have so many more questions, I can ask you. One of my last questions, I'd love to know who are you outside of the work that you do like what gets you excited outside of the amazing work that you do with startups? Speaker 1 24:04 That's a really good question. This also speaks to having a life outside of just what you do and where you find your other sort of juice and joy and energy from I really love to be outdoors. I'm very blessed, fortunate to live in Southern California where the weather is pretty good most of the time. So I'm always outside. walking every day is so important to me. Going for bike rides. I'm really lucky that I live close enough to bike on the beach and just get so much joy out of it. Oh yeah. Beach bike rides are the best. My husband and I literally do. walks on the beach at sunset like the studio is super cheesy like walking, biking. We on the weekends, we'll try to get out for longer hikes in the in the local mountains just being out smelling nature like feeling the ground underneath your feet. Just it literally grounds you. Literally I am one of those people who stops to smell the roses. It's actually kind of funny like we're on a walk in my husband like you Ugh, that'd be like look at, it's like, I'm still back there smelling the rose, like the jasmine, or I'm smelling the lavender, or just, and I'm very blessed again to live in a place where flowers are blooming all year round. And so I'm constantly reminding myself to stop and look and observe and be present. Gosh, it's a constant, you know, that'll put the phone down people put the phone down, be with people, enjoy them connect, be out in the world and get joy from those things. Put your favourite music on dance. Like I love to do that. I actually haven't been doing it as much lately, but I like to take dance breaks during my work day. Just you should move. But if you sit for too long, it is not good for you. So just get yourself up and start moving. Like everyone has that music that gets them going and, you know, play that soundtrack. It's so important for you. So yes, so outdoors all the time. And then I love to cook. So that's my other zen place. I'm one of those people who likes to look in the fridge and in the pantry and live what can I make with what's left here? Not following a recipe just you know. experimenting. Most of the time it works out. Okay, I have to say I've been pretty, pretty lucky to have enough experience. I was one of those people who out of college had no cooking experience. Basically, my mother gave me a cookbook No joke, the title was help. My apartment has a kitchen. It was amazing. He told you literally like how to boil an egg and make rice. So I've come a long way since then. And again, blessed to live in a place where have amazing produce all year round, go to the farmers market as often as possible, always trying new ingredients and new things. So find your joy find find the stuff that makes you happy. Akua Nyame-Mensah 26:39 I love that. And I'm just curious, like, was it a journey to get to this point where you felt like you're being present? And you were making sure that you were taking breaks for yourself? Speaker 1 26:46 Yes, yes, yes. For a lot of folks, there's an emotional home, whether you realise it or not. It took me a little while to realise that mine was anxiety and fear, which is a terrible place to live. That is not a good neighbourhood. Nobody likes fear and anxiety. And I've been moving my way out, you know, I've always worried Am I am i Enough? Am I doing good enough? Am I Am I making the people who I care about my world happy. And just that constant worry and fear and anxiety is just not not a good place. So I still have that little knot, I'm sort of pointing at my stomach, it's still there. It's gotten smaller, I've gotten gotten better at letting things go. And so that has been journey. And that's that work never ends. Actually, I think that's something we like to think that there's like a destination and we'll get there, we'll know it when we get there. You're just always up levelling yourself. And so it needs to be something that you work on daily. And again, get support for and I think anyone who has started that journey, don't get frustrated, don't compare yourself to other people just first step is self awareness. Like, you know, you live in this place, you're like, I want it to be different. And if you're not taking care of yourself, you can't take another care of other people. So many others have said that, but it is so true. So I continue to do that work on myself. I know that when I'm doing it, I'm more joyful and more energetic and I want I want to live in that place more often. So it's it's really important. There's there's a reason, right? The why you're doing something really matters. I actually had a coach tell me it was one of the best things I've ever heard, which is like nobody likes it to do list. Really nobody does, right? Feels like a burden. So why are you doing things? And so literally you can write the why next to things that you're doing or why like you're scheduling your day, why are you doing all those things? Because sometimes we think busy is just the important thing to do. And it's like, no, why am I doing that? Why am I doing this first? Because this is the most important thing in my business. Great. Well, I'm doing it first because it's really uncomfortable. But once I've done it, then I'll feel really good. And I can go about the rest of my day. So all small things, but this stuff is constant constant work. So that's my my advice to any anybody out there. Just don't judge yourself. Keep the gavel for something else. It's not not not on yourself, you're not gonna get anywhere good by judging yourself all the time. Just work on it, man. Just work on it. Akua Nyame-Mensah 29:02 No, I love that. And I think it's it's a great sort of, I think this question is a great follow up. What's next? For you? What are you excited about next? Speaker 1 29:10 It's so good. I'm excited about being able to help more founders. Yes, that is just my joy. When they are successful, we are all in this world benefiting from their just their inventiveness, their way of seeing the world. I mean, when I think about, you know how I move through my life in every product that touches it, and it started with somebody's idea, they wanted something else to exist in the world. And I'm so grateful for that. And the best products don't always get the funding or the attention or whatever. And I really want that to change. And so that's what gets me up and going and the more founders I can help tell their stories so that they can get what they want out of this world, the more likely there are to succeed and we're all going to benefit like I said from those things. So like I really like you probably well Akua already knows this about me. I really just believe that great founders can come from anywhere they can look like anyone, like it should not matter at all. You have this idea you are driven, you are committed, let's get you successful because the world The world needs you. Akua Nyame-Mensah 30:12 Yes, this has been absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your perspective and even share about what you do personally. So you can show up and support more founders. Yeah. Where can people find out more about you and your work online? Speaker 1 30:27 Course? Of course. So I have a little webinar, you can go watch. GTS now.co. So my company's called growth through story GT S as in Sam, so GTS now.co. Go check that out. The other place, you'll find me I'm fairly active on Twitter just at Kieran Kalia K. I Rin like the Japanese beer, and Kalia is K L IA. So at Karen Kalia on Twitter. I really love to engage with founders and investors there anytime I can be helpful. That's where I want to jump in. And then I am a posting on LinkedIn as well. Just LinkedIn slash Karen Kalia. Well, whatever the little n is there, but you can find me. I love to connect with founders, anybody who's supporting this ecosystem, who wants founders to be successful, I want to connect with you. I love the idea of also more companies coming into for instance, the US market. This is my home market. I know it really well. But I know what it's like to be outside of it. And so if you are trying to come into the US, happy to help you also I you know, American business culture, a whole other world. Let's get you ready to talk to Americans, not just business. It's all good. Akua Nyame-Mensah 31:34 Amazing. And we'll make sure all of that is linked in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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