Name: Katie Christy
Company: Activate Your Talent, Founded in 2014
Military Affiliation: Army Wife
Home: Southern Pines, NC
The Empowered Women Empower series aims to connect, inspire and empower Military Spouses and the entire R.Riveter community. For our second interview, we were thrilled to speak with Katie Christy, Military Spouse, mother and entrepreneur!First, tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, Activate Your Talent
My journey has taken me from the coal mines of Wyoming to the land of the Pines in North Carolina. I quickly learned that as a Military Spouse, my professional plans would include less Wall Street (I majored in Finance) and more Main Street. Over the years, I was fortunate enough to gain experience in small business, leader development and personal finance. But it wasn’t until 2014, when I decided to make the leap into entrepreneurism, that I finally felt like I was utilizing my education, experience and natural talent to help those around me live their best life!
My company, Activate Your Talent, seeks to be a catalyst for positive change. We provide Strengths-based Solutions (interactive group sessions, dynamic 1:1 coaching sessions, and online programs) that help our clients discover, understand and leverage their natural talents to become more effective and efficient in their personal and professional lives. Translated, the motto “Fit Via Vi” means, “strength leads the way” and is exactly what Activate Your Talent believes.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship?
I chose entrepreneurship because I was tired of having to reinvent myself at each new duty station. Every time we moved I felt like I had to give up another part of my professional dream and take whatever was available (which usually meant taking a position that I was extremely overqualified for). While planning for an upcoming PCS, I realized that I could take control of my own professional destiny and design a career that would be not only fulfilling, but flexible. I am a mom of two very active boys and I didn't want to sacrifice the ability to attend their soccer games and classroom parties to maintain my professional identity. In short, I wanted my cake AND I wanted to eat it! I mean, why else would you have cake in the first place?!? Finally, I became an entrepreneur in order to leverage my wide variety of talents and experience to help others become better versions of themselves!
How has being a military spouse affected your journey and your business?
In every way possible! It may sound cheesy, but I honestly believe that if I were not a Military Spouse I would not be an entrepreneur. This journey has given me the opportunity stretch and grow in ways I never imagined possible, all the while providing me with the best tribe anyone could ask for.
As Military Spouses, we possess the creativity required to solve the daily problems of entrepreneurship and survive in today’s chaotic marketplace. Also, our chameleon-like ability to adapt (flexibility) to new environments translates well to entrepreneurism, were you must rapidly respond to changes in the marketplace. Deployments, and other periods of extended spouse absence, are crucible experiences that stretch us as out of our comfort zones to not only survive, but to thrive (thriveability). This willingness to go headfirst into the fire is a necessary trait for entrepreneurs. Finally, the nomadic Military lifestyle has many benefits- our networkability is unmatched. Our contacts stretch across the globe and we are able to quickly make new friends. Whether it is finding strategic partnerships or cultivating future clients, entrepreneurs need to be able to network in order to grow a successful business.
As we all know, starting a business takes a lot of time and dedication. What drives you to keep going?
No one just wakes up one day, rolls over, and becomes an entrepreneur. In order to be successful, you need to have a clear end goal and then work steadily to achieve that goal over a specific amount of time. I don’t turn down new clients because I am “too” busy or “too” tired. There were 100 excuses why I shouldn’t start new projects but only one reason why I should: because I wanted to help others live their best life by leveraging their unique strengths. I also try and take big, hairy audacious goals and break them down into smaller, accomplishable daily goals. This approach–a term described as a 20-mile march by Jim Collins–helps me when I run into the seemingly unending amount of roadblocks when running a business.
What are some pieces of advice you can share with other women entrepreneurs?
One of the first lessons I learned as a business owner was that even though entrepreneurship is scary, it is worth the risk. I like to equate my journey in entrepreneurship to my experience with long distance running. Both are events fraught with fear. Thoughts like, “Can I finish?” “What if I hurt myself?” and “What if it rains?’’ can run through your head incessantly as you prepare for and run the race. The difference between you and the rest of the world is that you acknowledge the risk, but keep going. I found that stepping out on the ledge in a physical challenge made it easier for me to step out when the time came to start my business from the ground up. The questions may be different, but the feeling of constant worry is the same for entrepreneurs. The ability to accept risk and manage your fears are necessary skills in both arenas!
Secondly, entrepreneurship is full of obstacles AND opportunities. You have to endure pain to earn the glory. Financial stress, rejections, and the guilty feelings that inevitably come with sacrificing time with family make the path of entrepreneurship a difficult one. On the other hand, the potential to create something enduring that positively impacts people’s lives can make it all worthwhile. For me, the knowledge that I am able to use my strengths to help others find and leverage theirs keeps me going on the early mornings and late nights. I truly believe that if you are operating in the intersection of your passion, values and strengths you will find an almost unlimited source of motivation and energy!
What is one of the most proud achievements of your career this far?
I would love to say that presenting at SXSW or keynoting at a national symposium for pastors (both of which were phenomenal experiences), but honestly it is when overhead one of my clients absolutely owning their strengths in a casual conversation with a friend. By “owning” I mean having the ability to recognize their strength, explain their strength to others and leverage their strength to their advantage. When I saw how my guidance/encouragement created a fundamental change in another’s personal and professional trajectory, I was absolutely humbled and awed. To me, there is nothing better than having the opportunity to bring more positivity and effectiveness to the world!
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who lived zestfully, encouraged greatly and loved mightily! (And encouraged others to do the same!!)