Oct 6, 2021
The Mass Business Podcast
Season 2, Episode 3 – Self-Awareness And Running An Effective Business, with Katie Johnson
This is Season 2, Episode 3 and I’ve got a great guest for you. It’s Katie Johnson. Katie is a life and business coach with Coaching To Inspire. She helps entrepreneurs tame the chaos so they can do more of what they love. She enjoys helping stay-at-home parents design the life they and their families love. Katie has over 20 years of business experience prior to becoming a coach. Her favorite part of coaching is seeing her clients move from being overwhelmed with the sheer number of decisions they have to make daily, to find the rhythms that allow them to live intentionally. In today’s episode, Katie and I talk a lot about self-awareness and intentionality. You don’t want to miss it. Are you ready? Let’s go!!
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Matt Ward 00:01
Welcome back to the Mass Business Podcast. My name is Matt Ward. This is season two, Episode Three. I got a great guest for you. It’s Katie Johnson. Katie is a life and business coach with Coaching To Inspire. She helps entrepreneurs tame the chaos so they can do more of what they love, and helping stay at home parents design the life they and their families love. Katie has over 20 years of business experience prior to becoming a coach. Her favorite part of coaching is seeing her clients move from overwhelmed with the sheer number of decisions they have to make daily, to find the rhythms that allow them to live intentionally. I met Katie through networking, you’re gonna love it. She loves networking. And if you decide to network with her, you’re going to have to ask her about her favorite homemade strawberry ice cream. Are you ready? Let’s go. Welcome to the Mass Business Podcast, where small business owners, also known as risk takers share their stories about the growth of their business and themselves. Our interviews, and our content is focused on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. I say it all the time. And I’ll say it again today. You never know for your next referral will come from. There it is. We are here with Katie Johnson. We’re high five-ing the world. How are you, Katie?
Katie Johnson 01:49
I’m doing well. Thanks so much for having me.
Matt Ward 01:52
Absolutely. Well, in a quick, short bit of 30 seconds or less, share with the listening audience on their favorite podcast app or those watching on YouTube, what exactly it is that you do at Coaching To Inspire.
Katie Johnson 02:06
Yeah, so I have the immense privilege of walking alongside people as they look to grow. And so I help them, really I help them make decisions, and to do so intentionally so that they’re moving to where they want to go and not just living in reaction to everything that’s happening around them.
Matt Ward 02:27
I like that, there’s so much there to unpack, right? Because I mean, I met you through networking, and there’s a massive value there around this decision making thing, one of the things I’ve always said for a very, very long time is that when business owners make quick decisions, they leave themselves enough time to pivot if they made the wrong decision. But if they wait, they run out of time in a lot of cases and don’t have time to pivot. Are you seeing that with a lot of small business owners as well?
Katie Johnson 02:59
I do very much. So when we get stuck in reaction mode, we stop thinking about the long term, and with the big picture in mind, it’s just this whatever’s in front of us and we react to that and react to the next thing. And then we get down the road. And we’re like, Wait, how did I end up here? Whereas when you’re able to kind of step back and be in that more intentional space and look at, what am I trying to do? Where am I trying to go? Keep those vision and values in front of you. You can make one quick decision. Because you know, you have that conviction of like, this is the direction that I think I need to go and I think this is going to get me there. But then you can also evaluate kind of as you go a lot faster. And so you can Yeah, you can make a decision, if it’s the wrong one you can just okay, that didn’t go where I thought it was gonna go. Where am I off base? How can I adjust this decision to get back on course?
Matt Ward 04:02
Sure. Yeah. And I think that that’s a big, you know, it’s a powerful thing to learn, right? And unfortunately, we need a lot of at-bats for these things. We need to have history behind our, our side to really push us in the right direction, I think so that we can learn the struggles and the challenges of making the wrong decisions or not making them quickly or things like that. Now, you’re fairly new in business, but not new to business, right? How long have you had your coaching practice or been in business?
Katie Johnson 04:36
So officially, I’ve been in business for just over a year. I launched in July of 2020. I did about two years of unofficial coaching before that, really officially launched my business.
Matt Ward 04:47
Look at that the pandemic burst. Yeah, business. So not every business closed during the pandemic Right. I mean, this is launching and thriving right now. That’s awesome. And so you’re really in these early stages of business. And I’ve always said that, you know, people leave the corporate world, starting to start a new business because they want three things. They want more money, more time, and more freedom. And oftentimes, in the early stages, we don’t get those three things. We just don’t because we’re, we’re running around, we’re chasing, putting out so many fires. Do you feel, you know, where are you at with your business? I guess this is the question I’m asking is, where are you at? Like, do you feel clear on where you’re going? And all the systems and processes you have in place? Are you still at that mode, where you just trying to optimize things and improve things and get things up and running and things like that?
Katie Johnson 05:49
Yeah, very much still in that mode. I think it’s funny, you started out talking about making wrong decisions and pivoting because I feel like that’s been kind of the story of my first year, you know, I kind of had a vision for what launching my business was going to look like, and it actually involved a lot of networking and going to networking events, and then I launched in the middle of COVID. And there were none. And I’m not as much of a fan of Zoom marketing. Sure, I just it’s not, it has a place it has value. But it’s, I wouldn’t say it’s where I thrive. So I was like, Okay, great. No one’s going anywhere. Social media must be where it’s at. And I really tried to do the social media thing. And it is not for me. It sucked the life out of me faster than I think anything else I’ve tried to do in business. And so really spent probably a good three to six months really trying to move in that direction. And it got to the point that I basically stopped working my business because I just didn’t want to, I just dreaded doing anything other than doing the coaching.
Matt Ward 06:56
And well, let me stop you there. So I think that’s a great realization, right? I don’t want to pounce on the quote-unquote, failure point. But failures in business are the way we grow. Right. And so understanding what is happening is how we make a shift change in going another direction. What was it that was really just driving at you that it wasn’t working?
Katie Johnson 07:26
It was really that realizing, I would sit down to do I had skipped blocks of time in my schedule to do my coaching business. And I just dread those blocks of time. Um, you know, unless I had a coaching appointment, and it was, I just realized that I was putting so much time and energy into trying to create content and putting myself out there on social media, and I just didn’t want to do it.
Matt Ward 07:55
Did you not want to do it because it’s not one of your strengths?
Katie Johnson 07:59
Yeah. And that’s really what I had to come to is just, it takes me, I think part of it for me is I actually have ADHD, and trying to sit down and put my thoughts into coherent sentences, just takes me a very long time. The words don’t come easily for me. And so I would put so much time into trying to put out content and I’d read it, and I’m like, it just doesn’t capture what I’m trying to say. And so I put it out there, but I just wasn’t proud of it. And so, and I’m very much a connector, I always have been I’m the person that’s, I meet someone, I’m like, Oh, you have this connection with this other person, I should introduce you like, let me get you connected to, you know, this community or that person. And that’s always how my brain is working. And so I just couldn’t create that in an online environment. Some people probably do. It just didn’t work for me.
Matt Ward 09:00
It’s super tough, I think for people and you’re right. I mean, there are certain ways that we’re comfortable. And it sounds like that’s not one of your strengths. So what would you say are your strengths?
Katie Johnson 09:11
Yeah. And so a big one is that connecting, I just love to connect people and I love to connect up. And it’s very, it’s not even people, it’s also ideas and things. And so that’s one of my strengths in coaching is I just see how things are connected. So someone shares to what to them feels very disparate thoughts. And I see, oh wait, those two things are connected. Let’s explore that. And then it just uncovers this awareness of what’s going on for them.
Matt Ward 09:48
So that’s interesting. So you’re able to not just connect people but Connect dots. How did you, do you have any idea where you discovered that?
Katie Johnson 10:01
So it is one of those strengths that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. And it’s just been over time. So I’m a big, one of my high values is understanding. I blame my mother for that one, because it’s one of hers as well. And so whether it’s understanding people or systems or myself, and so throughout my life, that value has just always been a part of what I did. And so understanding what I do and why I do it led me to asking, you know, in Scituate, like what am I good at any time I was kind of looking at a career shift just asking those questions. What are my strengths? What am I good at? Asking people in my life that have seen me, looking back through what I had done and what I felt like I was successful at, and seeing what those ironically, what those connection points were?
Matt Ward 10:57
So do you that’s interesting, because you’re asking yourself these questions, but you’re also asking these questions of other people. Do you ever find that you hesitate to ask other people what your strengths are? Or what they see of value in you?
Katie Johnson 11:16
Um, any more? No, because I’ve gotten very comfortable with it. But I do think there was, there was definitely a time when that was.
Matt Ward 11:26
So how do you recommend that somebody’s listening to the podcast right now on their favorite podcast app or watching us on YouTube? How do you recommend that they get started with the same process that you’re now good at? How do you recommend that they start asking others for that feedback?
Katie Johnson 11:41
I think you start with people you’re comfortable with, you know, don’t go to the person that intimidates you, you’ll never ask, you know, go to the people that, your good friend, your parents, your siblings, you know, whoever those people are that that are the cheerleaders in your life. But that you feel like know you well. You also don’t want to go to someone that you’re not sure know you because you’re going to question what they have to say. So I would start with those, those people that really know you, that you feel like, and know you today, I wouldn’t necessarily go to you know, your childhood best friend that you’re occasionally in touch with, but hasn’t talked to you in 20 years. You know, start with
Matt Ward 12:22
Yeah, a Facebook friend doesn’t necessarily make someone know you well, right? And so really, it’s just asking about them. Now, do you ask them very pointed questions, or you just maybe ask questions like, hey, yeah, I’m doing some self-discovery, I want to learn more about myself and I was just hoping to see if you wouldn’t mind giving me a few attributes about myself that you see? Is that just how you would do it?
Katie Johnson 12:49
I it kind of depends on context. I’ve done it so many times over the years. And sometimes I’ve done it formally, like as part of a, you know, personality assessment or something. And then other times more informally. And so if I’m wrestling through a specific like, hey, am I good at this, I’ll probably ask more pointed questions like, Hey, I’m feeling like, maybe I might be good at this. What’s been your experience with me? In this area? You know?
Matt Ward 13:16
I love that question. What’s been your experience with me in this area? So that’s a massive takeaway to our listeners right now, is the way you frame the question is, and you can lead them into the direction of the category you want. Or you don’t even have to, you can just say, what’s your experience with me? Yeah. But I like the way you framed it, is what’s your experience with me as it relates to this? That’s, that’s powerful. That’s not even something I’ve ever done. And I think that’s a you know, that’s the thing I’ve been asking the guests on, on this season’s podcast. You know, it’s interesting. How often do we sit still, almost like in a meditative state? How often do we sit still and think about what our strengths are?
Katie Johnson 14:07
Yeah. Not very often.
Matt Ward 14:11
No. And it makes you wonder, shouldn’t I do that more? And on the last episode, with Saraphina, we’re talking about how she’s like, Whoa, yeah, I don’t do that enough. And I’m like, No, David Virden in Episode One of season two said the same thing. I don’t do that. I should start to do that. And then I told Saraphina, I don’t do it either. And she’s like, Okay, so we’re all in the same boat. Let’s all just start doing it. And that’s the thing like, could you imagine how much better we could be as business owners if we just took a moment to sit still on the deck, on the patio, on the porch, wherever it might be? Just be still for a moment and think, what are we amazingly good at would help us dial in more about our strength. Mm hmm. And the more we know our strengths, the more we also know what our weaknesses are and or things to avoid, right? Yeah. Imagine this is part of the problem with the type of clients that you work with and helping them make decisions and get into a rhythm. The reason they’re stuck is that they don’t know what they’re good at. Right?
Katie Johnson 15:25
That is definitely a big, a big piece. I think we’ve just gotten to a point in our culture where there’s just a lack of awareness that I think does come from just this sheer buisiness. And not even necessarily, it can just be the reality of, we spend a ton of time on social media instead of you know, it can mean in conversation or in study or what, you know, it’s not, we just live at a very fast pace. But that’s contrary to stopping and being still. And I think, for me, actually, I’m a person of faith. And I think a lot of these practices that I now apply in business came out of growing up in that context because it was a place that encouraged stopping and being still and a certain level of self-reflection. And I think that has really helped me in this area. And it is very much what I see when I talk to my clients of just they’ve never stopped and step back. You know, a lot of people go into business because they love what they do. And they haven’t really thought about what it means to run a business while doing what they do. And so it, it takes, again, it takes that certain level of stopping and stepping back to be able to move forward. And that includes knowing what you’re good at, knowing what you’re not good at. I think the other two pieces that are big, are just knowing what your vision and values are.
Matt Ward 17:06
You know, you don’t compromise, right?
Katie Johnson 17:08
Yeah, if you don’t have those four pieces in, in your view, as you’re making decisions, you’re gonna go off the rails and you’re gonna end up like I did, running a business that you hate, because it’s not in alignment with who you are, and what you care about.
Matt Ward 17:28
Is it easy? I mean, you sound like you, you’ve practiced, you know, the sort of strength stuff before. And as I say, practice, I mean, you’re just more aware of it. You said the word self-awareness. Is it easy for you to recognize your strengths?
Katie Johnson 17:45
Again, I would say now it is I don’t think it has been. I’m someone who has always taken what other people said about me more loudly than myself. But it’s funny a big thing that people often say is that I’m highly organized. Which is actually not true at all. The whole ADHD thing does not lend itself to organization. However, because I make connections, systems come very easily to me. And so to the outside world, I look organized, but they don’t, it’s because they don’t see the internal chaos. But to the outside world, because I’m good at putting systems in place. It’s like, I know that about myself. And so, you know, I can remember people growing up would compliment me on my organization. And oh, you’re so good at this. And it was just this like, I thought they couldn’t come up with anything I was good at.
Matt Ward 18:48
So you’re self-aware now? Right? Yeah, you’re really in tune with self-awareness. It’s interesting, because I like to say is the 20 year overnight success. Katie. Right?. We always think that the other person’s got a great, and that they were an overnight success. And they don’t see how the sausage was made for the last 20 years. Right. Right. And so you worked on your own personal ability to be self-aware. And you brought this up earlier, where it’s like, we’re not nearly everything is so fast-paced, we’re not even self-aware of who we are and what we’re doing every day. And I think, to your point, the more self-aware we can be as business owners, the more likely and the more quickly, we’ll get to the point of knowing our strengths. As well as many, many, many other things in business, right. I mean, outsourcing, planning, and organizational stuff. I mean, I’m, it’s interesting. I’m 47 years old. Today, by the time this podcast airs, I’ll be 48 but Interestingly enough, I became more and more and more self-aware, after I turned 40. And I am hyper self-aware now about many, many things. But Funny enough, I’m learning areas in which I’m not self-aware because I observe other business owners and see how they run their business and work in their business. I have a good friend who I feel like is super hyper-focused during the day when he works, so zoned in that you can’t even have a conversation. It’s almost awkward, but he gets more work done than any business owner I’ve ever seen in my life. And he’s just one of those people that has the ability to zone in and he’s self-aware of blocking out the other stuff that pulls him away from the tasks that he needs to get done. And then he can, he’s so hyper-focused, he can get them done in a quicker timeframe because he doesn’t have those distractions that we all talk about as business owners. You can’t multitask, you can’t be on a networking call, looking at your phone, or on a zoom call looking at another screen people know you’re moving screens around, we see that right. And so, um, it’s so interesting. I’m way more self-aware now than I was eight years ago. And I know that I’m going to be even more self-aware, a year from now than I am now. Yeah, right. Yeah. And I just, I think self-awareness, is a strong attribute to running an effective business. So tell me a little bit about running your business? What are the struggles at year one? I mean, you talked a little bit about starts and stops in different ways you were going with things. What’s the biggest challenge for you as a small business owner these days, like today?
Katie Johnson 21:56
Yeah, I think, um, one of my biggest challenges is still just figuring out, getting myself in front of people. Um, you know, it’s nice now that there’s more networking to just be in front of people. But really, what are the I think somewhat figuring out where my clients hang out? It’s funny feels like I should know, because I’m, in my ideal client, actually, in both categories. I’m a, I’m a parent and an entrepreneur. Definitely a lot of like oh wait, where do we meet other parents? Where do I meet other entrepreneurs? And I think that’s definitely a big challenge. Just a personal challenge. I think that probably a lot of entrepreneurs face is just all the different hats you wear. And what hat do I need to be wearing when and even kind of what you were talking about of focusing on the hat that I’m wearing at this moment? You know, one of the big changes I’ve made this summer is really having some more defined blocks of time.
Matt Ward 23:08
So you do time blocking in your calendar?
Katie Johnson 23:10
Um, it’s not always in my calendar, but it’s time blocked. Sometimes it’s just in my head.
Matt Ward 23:16
How does that work? That doesn’t work, does it? Because if the time block for me was in my head, I would just ignore it like I it’s not. It’s not, how does your brain know that that time block is there?
Katie Johnson 23:34
I’m very visual. So I have mentally put it on my calendar if I don’t physically do so. So there is a mental picture calendar in my head.
Matt Ward 23:44
Very interesting. That’s so cool. Yeah, no, that’s awesome. I wonder, I wonder how many other business owners do a similar thing. So if you’re doing sort of, I’ll call it mental time blocking, then, um, you know, let us know in the comments here on Youtube, I want to know, like, how many people are doing that versus actually the physical calendar blocking. I, for me, seem to have the physical calendar blocking. But then the other problem that comes in with that, Katie, is that when I blocked the whole day off, now I get up in the morning, I’m like, Oh, yeah, no, that’s not the day I wanted. That’s not, that’s not the day I wanted today. I want more free time. I want the freedom that I wanted. I don’t want this whole thing blocked. That’s no fun. Yeah.
Katie Johnson 24:35
And so that’s actually a funny part of my story is I did used to block everything in my calendar. And so I actually was just diagnosed with ADHD this year. And so that has been a really big learning curve. But I realized in getting that diagnosis that I had tried to over organize and over schedule, to try to rein in the mental chaos. And it was like this unhelpful coping mechanism and, and so I had to learn to live in a certain level of freedom. And so that’s when I actually stopped using my physical calendar so much. Because it would, it would create too much structure and I feel trapped. And then I would rebel against that, my own schedule. And so it’s been learning this process this year of learning how my brain actually works and, and how to work with that instead of against it. And so it’s been a lot less this structure blocking but more, and especially as a mom and a business owner. You know, when I’m working from home, I have to have a higher level of flexibility because I have to be available to my kids. And I found myself just getting frustrated that they were interrupting me, and this was my work time and when it was on my calendar, and so I had to let go of some of that and really do, put focused work when I’m at the office, and then more just like responding to emails or things that didn’t take as much kind of diving down in when I’m home and have to have any around the kids. And yeah, and so that’s been, you know, I feel like I’ve found a good rhythm now. But challenges from the last year, that was a big challenge for me.
Matt Ward 26:20
Yeah. Talk a little bit about startup mode in your business. I always like to ask our guests, you know, this idea of software, right, what software they use in their business that if I walked in and took away, they’d be mad. What’s a game-changer software that you recommend that other small business owners take a look at? Tool, tip, whatever it might be?
Katie Johnson 26:44
Yeah. Um, so I actually don’t use a lot.
Matt Ward 26:49
Um, do you use a day planner? How do you do?
Katie Johnson 26:52
I do my calendar is just my outlook. Okay, well, actually, probably office 365 would be one. Yeah. Then, yeah, that is my calendar. It’s my email. It’s, you know, all my, I use a lot of Excel. Word. Yeah, probably everything. The only other one might be. I use Adobe InDesign.
Matt Ward 27:24
I’m not I’m not touching that. I’m not touching any design program. I’m not, I haven’t touched as I’m, the closest thing I’ll do to design program is Canva, or something like that?
Katie Johnson 27:35
I do use Canva a lot. Yeah.
Matt Ward 27:37
Um, are you a reader?
Katie Johnson 27:40
I am an avid reader,
Matt Ward 27:42
An avid reader? So I’m wondering what business book you’ve read. Whether it be over the course of the last year, or even prior to that, that you feel like other people listening need to pick up get their hands on, because it could be a game-changer for their business? What book would that be?
Katie Johnson 28:01
Um, so for people that have anyone working with them, Patrick Lencioni, his Five Dysfunctions of a team.
Matt Ward 28:10
Okay, well, you’re very strong about that.
Katie Johnson 28:13
Yeah. completely revolutionized my understanding of teams and how to have healthy team relationships. So I actually read it. About a year, year and a half before we had a challenging team situation, actually, at our church. I’m a volunteer. Yeah, and I can’t count the number of times I went to that book, walking through that season. But just his ability to articulate the foundations of relationship as it relates. I mean, it’s true across the board. Honestly, my husband and I use it in our marriage. I use it in friendships, but particularly in the business setting.
Matt Ward 29:01
That’s great. Yes, we’ll make sure we link to that in the show notes. Everybody, you can get the link right in the show notes on the website, massbusinesspodcast.com, and we’re definitely gonna be linking to that and to Office 365. For those of you I mean, obviously, you can Google it, but we’ll link to it just in case you’re on the show notes. And speaking of links, Katie this has been a great conversation. I’ve really enjoyed it. If any of the listeners on the favorite podcast app or watch it on YouTube want to get in touch with you, they want to talk about coaching, they want to talk about networking. I want to talk about being diagnosed with ADHD recently. Yeah, doesn’t matter what it is. How can they get in touch with you?
Katie Johnson 29:43
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so everything is on my website, which is coachingtoinspire.co and it’s co not missing the “m”. And then my email is just Katie@coachingtoinspire.co.
Matt Ward 29:57
Very cool, and so we’ll make sure we have all those links in the show notes as well. It’s been great talking to you, I’m so glad we were able to meet through networking and like to have the connections that we have and I appreciate you coming on the podcast sharing your knowledge, your understanding of your vulnerabilities, your authenticity with the audience, being in business a year, obviously around business for 20 years, but your own coaching business for the last year started during COVID, pivoted quite a few times. And up and running strong, ready, and raring to go headed out in the right direction. I think it’s fantastic. We’ve all been there. And I think there’s a lot of lessons that small business owners can gain from the pivots that you made in the middle of the pandemic, and I think it’s fantastic. So thank you so much for coming on the show.
Katie Johnson 30:47
Thanks. Thanks so much for having me.
Matt Ward 30:47
Absolutely. Yeah. And so for those of you listening again, we’d love for you to subscribe to your favorite podcast app. And if you’re watching on YouTube, you know, you got to do, you got to smash that subscribe button. We’re trying to get those likes up there and those subscribes up there so that everybody else in Massachusetts gets to see this podcast as well. As I always like to say and I end every video don’t forget to live happy. smile a lot, and high five everyone around you. Take care everybody. Thank you for listening to the Mass Business Podcast when we focus on growing a small business and understanding networking and referrals. Don’t forget to like on your favorite platform and share out this podcast. This show has been produced by Heather Grant, music by Cailte Kelley. All rights reserved. I’m your host, professional speaker, author and word of mouth referral consultant, Matt Ward. Don’t forget to live happy smile a lot, and hi-five everyone around you.