Katherine Mackenzie-Smith – Business + Visibility for Introverts.

Katherine Mackenzie-Smith is a business coach and strategist for introverts and highly sensitive souls, an ideas alchemist, energy and soul medicine practitioner, and host of the popular League of Extraordinary Introverts podcast.

Through her 1:1 mentoring, Emerge and Expand business membership, speaking and writing, Katherine supports quiet leaders to create successful, sustainable businesses through their own innate wisdom and strengths, without feeling like they have to change who they are. Katherine has been named a ‘self help guru’ by Elle Magazine, featured on the covers of Happiness and Wellbeing magazine and Inspired Coach magazine, as well as being featured in a number of publications, podcasts, and websites including Cleo Magazine, Collective Hub, The Introvert Entrepreneur, and Brainz Magazine.

Katherine is sharing what the word “empower” means to her with The Corporate Escapists.

Thank you for joining us here at The Corporate Escapists. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They would love to know about you, your passion, and how you came to find and follow your passion.

I remember being 15 at school and being told we had to choose our subjects that would determine what we studied at university and, ultimately, our future career. Even at the time, it felt like a huge responsibility that I wasn’t ready to take on. But as a movie geek, I decided I wanted to work in film and television. Talk about one of the most extroverted industries to dive head first into!

After a few years, I decided I needed to move to Sydney to make a real go of it and started blogging to keep my friends and family updated. This led to meeting other bloggers and discovering the very real possibility of turning my creative outlet into something so much more. I did some business courses and trained to become a coach and, over time, this evolved to supporting other introverted souls to create businesses and success on their terms. All the clients coming my way were trying to navigate the online world as quiet souls and it has been my mission ever since.

As a successful entrepreneur please share your viewpoint if you believe that entrepreneurs are born or made?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I personally don’t believe I was born entrepreneurial – I was more of a ‘sit in a dark room reading fantasy books’ kid than a ‘lemonade stand’ kid. But I do have innate strengths that suit the entrepreneurial lifestyle, like ideation and strategic thinking.

My unpredictable life (and income) working as a freelancer in television gave me skills that have really benefited me in business. And some key people in my life have supported and uplifted my entrepreneurial spirit over the years, as well, to the point now where I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. I do think certain things in my business would be easier if I was born with different skills and strengths. So I suppose my answer is, a bit of both.

Nelson Mandela once quoted – ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’  What has been one fear you have overcome?

What I’ve come to affectionately refer to over the years as ‘The Introvert Contradiction’. The fear of being seen met with the equal and opposite fear of NOT being seen. I don’t know if it’s an introvert-specific fear but I haven’t met an extrovert who has any idea what I’m talking about and my introvert community definitely understands it.
 
I’ve overcome my visibility fears by showing up for the bigger mission and vision of the work I’m here to do, regardless of the outcome. Fear is still there sometimes, but instead of being crippled by it, I remember that I’m here to speak for the work and support the people who resonate with my message. Nothing else is in my control except my responsibility to show up for that every day.

Tell us what the word “empower” means to you?

Out of interest, I just looked up the dictionary’s definition of empower and I’m not a huge fan of it: “To give someone power or authority” or to “make someone stronger and more confident”. Neither of those definitions feel empowering to me because they both imply that we are in control of someone else’s power to ‘give’ or ‘make’ them do anything.

‘Empower’, to me, means journeying with another person and holding space for them as they curiously explore and call back parts of themselves that they have given away to others. It is opening a door to invite another person to return to their own self leadership, sovereignty, and inner guidance.

What has been one of the biggest business ideas you have had and how did you have the courage to implement it?

My Emerge and Expand Membership is probably my biggest business idea. I kept noticing quiet, sensitive souls jumping from certification to certification, program to program, hoping that collecting more credentials and courses would lead to more confidence in getting their work out into the world. Emerge and Expand is a gentle community for accountability and momentum to always keep learning, but to actually implement and grow your business too.

It’s still in its early days but it’s a big idea that I’m excited to keep adventuring with it this year. Honestly, the courage came from just genuinely wanting to see these talented and wonderful people actually get their work out into the world! It would be out of integrity for me to hold back when I so deeply want to support others to come out of hiding.

Running your own business can be scary.  Success requires moments of courage to push through to the next level, please tell us one of the moments you have had to push through to take your business to the next level?

This is going to be the complete opposite of how this response should go. But one of the greatest moments for me to take my business to the next level was actually when I walked away from it. I quickly built what would look like a ‘successful’ business but because it wasn’t in alignment with my energy and what I wanted, I felt burnt out and frustrated.

I stepped right back and helped my partner for a few years with his business and, in this time, studied energy and soul mastery to better understand my energy and to go deeper with my clients. When I came back, everything had changed. I quickly expanded to the same income level I’d walked away from (and beyond) but with a new sustainable foundation that has just continued to blossom.

It took courage I didn’t even realise I had to step back and potentially give up the momentum I’d built. But it took me on a much deeper journey and has served me so well.

Tell us what attributes you feel make a good leader in business today?

As a champion of introverted leaders, the attributes I most value are a lot of the deep and meaningful ones that sometimes get overlooked in favour of more charismatic and action-oriented attributes. Things like integrity, empathy, deep listening, curiosity, accountability, and seeking to understand others before trying to be heard. When we step back and observe, it allows us to understand the bigger picture and make decisions with insight and empathy because we are taking time and getting more input than just our own thoughts.

What is your favourite quote about empowerment?

“Just because you’re quiet, doesn’t mean you’re not a force to be reckoned with.”

I don’t know where it’s from, it’s one of those ‘unknown’ quotes on the internet that I’ve never found a source for. But it’s been a guiding light for me for many years, a constant reminder that just because we might have different strengths, or show up differently to others, doesn’t mean that we can’t still create a ripple in the world.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?

I have so many tips and suggestions but here are three I think are really important:
 
1 – If you have an urge, do it. Not because you want to make lots of money but because you have a deep desire to create something out of nothing and put your heart and soul into it. Starting a business because it seems ‘cool’ or like a get rich quick solution does not create a strong enough foundation to go the distance. Do it for the creative journey and who you will become along the way.
 
2 – Be patient and persistent. Great things take time and whilst overnight successes are possible, they are like unicorns. Fall in love with the process and all the parts of yourself you’ll discover along the way, the skills you’ll learn, the people you’ll meet, and all the ups and downs of business. Keep showing up, even when it feels hard. And keep reminding yourself of how far you’ve come.
 
3 – Create! Share your thoughts, your journey, your framework, your stories. Build a community that is educated and inspired by what you have to say. Give value. Let your creations showcase your skills and what you’re about so that your clients or customers feel connected with you and excited to take the next step with you, so you don’t have to feel like you’re constantly hustling and trying to sell to people.

What would be one (1) question you would you ask the person who most inspires you?  Also, share with us about this person and why they inspire you?

How do you pull it together and step out there on the days you’d most like to just stay home, in your comfy clothes, reading a book and talking to no one?

I would ask this of my favourite famous introverts – Oprah, Brene Brown, Shonda Rhimes, Susan Cain. Because they are some incredibly inspiring and global names who have very visible lives. I feel like I know what they would all say but I think – regardless of which one of them it was – it would be a great conversation.

You can connect with Katherine right here on Instagram.

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