Fresh Blood Podcast Episode Guest - Kelly McNamara
Kelly talks about the definition of success, how she landed her job working for Harvard Business School and what she learned from taking an internship in her 40’s.
Kelly McNamara is a writer, researcher and editor. She has held a variety of writing and research roles through her career, having written non-fiction manuscripts, white papers and cases studies for Harvard Business School and Ernest & Young among others. Kelly was bold enough to enter into an entire new industry, taking an internship in her 40’s so she could follow her passion regarding animal rights and find work at the intersection between business and change.
[00:00:00] Jolie: [00:00:00] Thank you for joining us on fresh blood Kelly. I am so excited to learn more. Could you tell us about your story, your background, your industry.
[00:00:12] Kelly McNamara: [00:00:12] Sure. Thanks. And thank you so much for having me and happy to be here. So I have a bit of a varied background. Going back a little ways to my twenties. I'll share with your audience. I'm now 48. In my twenties, what I really wanted to be was a writer. And I wasn't sure what kind of writer though? I found out pretty quickly that I was not going to be a fiction writer.
[00:00:30] I studied philosophy in school, and I think that when I wanted to be was a good, critical thinker and a good non-fiction writer. And I studied writing in my twenties. And what I figured out by my early thirties, that I probably didn't have a blockbuster book in me. And I didn't have connections at a publishing house or where I could become a rockstar editor. I was going to have to figure out something else. And I went to work for a venture capital firm. I worked for a third-party marketing firm. I had a bit of finance, also in my background. And then my mother, who is an entrepreneur serial entrepreneur asked me to launch a home care business with her.
[00:01:07] So this is senior care, private duty care in Connecticut. My mother is also a nurse and it was a hospital administrator for a long time before she became a consultant. But in any case, she said, why don't you come do this with me? And I thought, okay, now I'm in my early thirties just to be, I learned to run a business of my own.
[00:01:23]Of course still want to be a writer in the longterm, but this could be a good learning experience and why not? That was an incredibly challenging period. I don't how many of your listeners have launched businesses especially with relatively resources.
[00:01:41] Jolie: [00:01:41] Yeah.
[00:01:41]Kelly McNamara: [00:01:41] It was very challenging. But also very rewarding. The field we were in and private duty, senior care can be very rewarding, both on the employee side and the client side. So that was, we can probably delve into that in more detail, but that was a huge learning experience for me.
[00:01:58] And a few years in. I decided to back off the business a little bit, I still am involved in the operations piece of it, but I really wanted to get back to writing and writing about business. And by a chance encounter him at a Harvard school business, Harvard business school professor, excuse me. And she said, I'm looking for an assistant.
[00:02:16] And I said, okay. Wouldn't be a good assistant, but I think I might be a good writer editor for you. And she said I've got this case study sitting at my desk. It's been there for about five years. If you can help me wrap it, then you're hired. So I did. Yeah, so I ended up working for her for a few years.
[00:02:31] I, after that, I ended up working for Ernst and young as a case study writer and I also got into ghost writing, mostly business oriented books. So I wrote one about short selling then about mergers and acquisitions and another about marketing strategies. And along the way, I became very interested in animal rights.
[00:02:51]Also share that I've not eaten meat since I was a child. When I decided that I didn't want to eat animals and I'd never look more closely at animal agriculture, but for some reason, in my early forties, I did.
[00:03:02]Jolie: [00:03:02] So really impressive that you knew at a young age and you stay, have stayed true to your beliefs since then.
[00:03:09] I'm really impressed with that.
[00:03:11] Kelly McNamara: [00:03:11] Oh thank you. And I thought it was frankly enough for or stands. And until I took a closer look at animal agriculture and just realized how much of a problem it is for the planet obviously for animals, but to some degree also for people. And so I wanted to get more involved and increase awareness about the benefits of plant-based eating again for people, animals, and the planet. And it found my way to a couple of animal rights organizations that work with business because here I keep coming back to this. This is really what can drive change. And I feel like I fit in that category. I'm a business writer.
[00:03:52] I was an entrepreneur. I see the potential for business to create change in society. There are lots of ways to do it. I'm just saying I, I fit in where business seems to be able to create this kind of change. And so I worked with a couple of animal rights organizations. I started as an intern alongside some college students, I reached out and
[00:04:11] Jolie: [00:04:11] I need to know what that was like. So you started as an intern. This is later on in life, right? This is you're in your forties.
[00:04:17] Kelly McNamara: [00:04:17] my mid forties.
[00:04:19] Jolie: [00:04:19] is fascinating and I love, okay. So I love that you went after your passionate. You knew that this is something that's always been interest to you and you're like, I want to go after this.
[00:04:27] Can you tell me a little bit about what it was like being an intern in your forties?
[00:04:31] Kelly McNamara: [00:04:31] Sure. Yeah. At first I thought that the organizations may just pass me by and no, I just wouldn't have been surprised if that didn't happen. So that was of my mindset. Let me see what they say. And there's one organization called the humane league where I interned first. They had a formal application process and it said, upload your university, any transcripts, no things that I didn't, I couldn't get, but I don't think I'm very relevant after all this time.
[00:04:57]So I just, I said, I, here's my resume and was very honest with them about how I had a certain view of eating animals. And then I read Jonathan Safran four's book also called eating animals and I had it was completely transformed by it. And I did immerse myself in education and I really wanted an opportunity to help their organization if I could.
[00:05:18] And they were very receptive. I have to give a lot of credit to Humane League they were absolutely lovely. It didn't matter that I was in my mid forties, that the other interns one was a college student, one was a recent college grad. It was, there was, seemed to be no no friction, nothing funny about it.
[00:05:36] They said, we're glad you're here. We'll, we're happy to use your skills and leverage them as much as we can. It's great that you have some couple of decades worth of work experience under your belt and can speak to the businesses that we engage with. And a lot of the work that they do involves talking to retailers, hospitality, groups, and food producers about improving animal welfare. And I could bring some of my writing skills to bear some of my communication skills to bear and some of my business knowledge to bear and they were happy to have me. And I just had to very quickly get over the fact that I was much older than my supervisors and my peers and show up on the zoom calls with these people who so much younger than I am.
[00:06:16] I just had to get over it. And I just kept my eyes in the prize of being involved in a cause I wanted to believe in and move forward.
[00:06:23] Jolie: [00:06:23] You're why you stayed with your purpose. Did you feel like you had to, as culture wise, did you feel like you have to be relevant? If you will, to the youth culture or did you not have to worry about that?
[00:06:35] Kelly McNamara: [00:06:35] Great question. And I interned both at the humane league and at another organization called the good food Institute before I moved on to pivot and all of these organizations are staffed mostly by much younger people, much they're, folks in their twenties. One thing in terms of culture that is that I have no ability with social media.
[00:06:58] I know a lot of people say that I really don't I to, and it on being born before 1975. And my, my, somehow there was this email was just coming out when I was graduating from college. And my brother is four years younger than I am. So email was coming out when he was just entering college. So I have this theory that 1975, this was like threshold moment.
[00:07:21] I was born in 72. So I was just very Frank with my peers and. Supervisors and said, I really just don't know how to write a good Facebook post. That's just not where I live. And they would be like, Oh, everybody knows social media. And it's so easy and it's just, click this, do that and profile this.
[00:07:38] And I had to just push back a little I'll help you in all kinds of ways, but I just gotta be clear with you that just doesn't click for me. And they were accommodating. Cause that was good. And, what kind of interesting thing about the culture is that it's, it seems like younger people these days in corporate environments talk so much about their feelings and their vulnerabilities and not just their strengths and weaknesses in terms of their skills or what they want to work on, but how engaging with their weaknesses in particular makes them feel.
[00:08:14] And I think in some ways I wasn't quite prepared for that because I, in both organizations, I did a new employee training, even though I was an intern, I went through it and I just thought. Wow, this is, this feels very it just feels very genuine, but it also feels like a foreign. foreign.
[00:08:33] Jolie: [00:08:33] Yeah, no, it's really a good point. And so true because there is a different feeling and you're right. It is there. The authenticity is really big and it's very open and there's there's this, it's a free flow of that authenticity. And for people born , a little bit earlier that wasn't there, we weren't, , it wasn't celebrated and we actually had to hide it a little bit more.
[00:08:58] That's what was expected of us. So the authenticity, if you will, that openness of just being. So open with the feelings and how you're feeling. That is something that has been celebrated, much more after we were born. And so it is an adjustment and I think that's really interesting that you brought that up because it's not as always as easily viewed if you will, like what that, that differences and you just nailed it very clearly. So I appreciate that.
[00:09:28] Kelly McNamara: [00:09:28] Yeah, absolutely. It took me a bit by surprise. And the one hand, if someone had told me before to be more prepared for it, I would have thought, Oh, that's great. I'm so glad that's the case. And of course I am glad that's the case, but there was certainly a little bit of discomfort and a little bit of, I'm going to use the word mistrust. Do they really want to have this conversation? Is this really okay. This is really safe because it was just so foreign to me. But it, but they did mean it. They were genuine about it and it was the end.
[00:09:56] Jolie: [00:09:56] Did you get more comfortable then? Yeah. So did that unfamiliar become familiar for you?
[00:10:00] Kelly McNamara: [00:10:00] Yes over time, especially after I got feedback from supervisors and it was positive and supportive. And also frankly, when I saw my peers in action, they're articulate, they're forthcoming. They were not afraid to share their thoughts and feelings in a way that again, would have seemed foreign to me in a different time.
[00:10:22]So w watching their example actually really helped, and I'm glad I'm glad I learned it because I think that it will serve me well, to the extent I'm dealing with younger people at any point because it's just, yeah, it's, I think it's a fundamental shift in the workplace that is here to stay.
[00:10:37] Jolie: [00:10:37] Yeah. Yeah. Now, is there any advice you would give someone who is working with a largely youth dominated culture to, to feel comfortable in that setting?
[00:10:50] Kelly McNamara: [00:10:50] That's a great question. One thing I would own your age. I never shied away from it and I wasn't. Necessarily always self-effacing about it. I was just very forward. This is a 48, this is what I bring to the table. And as I more comfortable I realized how much it mattered that I had lived as long as I had, and that I had worked as long as I had.
[00:11:15]Now one of my supervisors for example, was maybe three years out of school at college that is, and going into a graduate program and there is an opportunity for me there to say, I know you've been in school and then this organization, and you're very in this, I didn't use this word exactly, but this is when I would admit a bubble
[00:11:35]and I've got so much to tell you what the world can look like. And these different industries I've worked in these different places I've been. And she now had gone to school, close to home. It was still close to home. And I, it was an opportunity for me to mentor her and and she was grateful for it.
[00:11:49] And again, I wasn't shy about it. So at the beginning, at the first point of this was where my first point was. Don't be shy about your age and know what you bring to the table and that it can be valuable. That's one thing. And another thing is that. Not to be afraid of youth culture, things seem foreign, like the training did to me and all this openness did to me, just, try to be open to it and don't fear it. I guess I would just, I, someone had told me just how different it was going to be. I would have a warning would have been good, but I might've become more comfortable, more quickly.
[00:12:23] Jolie: [00:12:23] I love that. That's fantastic. And now, what do you feel has been your greatest success in life to date?
[00:12:29]Kelly McNamara: [00:12:29] I feel like I've had successes in the different things that I've done. I'm very proud of the business that I built with my mother. I'm proud of the five star Kirkus reviewed book that I ended up writing with that Harvard business school professor. I'm proud of the work that I'd done in the animal rights space and the work that I have done and I'm continuing it, pivot food investment that involves educating institutional asset managers on the risks of investments in animal agriculture. So it's a huge white space there and I've engaged with a lot of them and I'm proud of the work that we're doing to help eliminate that white space. So there's discrete things I'm proud of, but I think what I'm actually most proud of is, and this is by necessity in my case, that I've been pretty bold about reaching out and saying, I can do this for you, or give me a shot for lack of a better way of putting it. I really had no business saying to the Harvard business school professor that I thought I could be an editor for her, but I did anyway.
[00:13:30] And it worked out. And that's been the case in other scenarios as well, applying for an internship at 44 to an animal rights organization and telling them, I thought I could deliver value and it turned out extremely well into a several year now, several years worth of important work for me and is shaping my entire career future.
[00:13:48]That was because I took a risk and I was bold and I think that's hard sometimes, but, and the doors don't always open. Let me be clear that's not always the case. And so a couple of times I have to say, okay, that didn't work out, have to recover come back and do it again, but take risks that you think there's no way this door is gonna open.
[00:14:08]Just try. Yeah, just be bold.
[00:14:10]Jolie: [00:14:10] Yes. It's perfect. It's the only way I that's exactly what I thought when you were telling that story too. I love that she just went for it. They're talking about this. And she's you know what? This is what I think I should be doing for you. I applaud that. I applaud that, what about the flip side of it? Can you tell us about a time you failed or had a big challenge or obstacle and how you overcame it and what you learned from it?
[00:14:36] Kelly McNamara: [00:14:36] again. Great question. I think the greatest challenges in my life from a work perspective were probably when I was starting the small business, those were the most difficult. I'm not sure they were the most valuable, they were the most difficult and yeah. There were so many times when it just seemed impossible to keep going to keep money in the bank, to keep payroll going, to keep the department of labor and the department of revenue and the IRS.
[00:15:01] And everyone satisfied that we have all the forms and had we reported our wages properly. Have we done X, Y, Z, and all everything in between, because I was doing a lot of the back office work, which is to say nothing of. Are the clients happy? Are the employees happy? Are our referral sources happy? And I think that they have strategic planning about is this.
[00:15:19] Let's try for a joint venture with a large senior care provider, which we did eventually do. So there were so many times when I wanted to, when I wanted to quit, or I just thought this is impossible. And I'm trying to think of discrete examples or the big failures, but they're things like didn't keep my eye on the ball.
[00:15:42] Didn't, it didn't respond to that notice or didn't catch onto that. Client's dissatisfaction, which, thankfully rarely happened. Very good about the clients, but just miss things because I wasn't paying attention. And when I felt the most, like I couldn't go on, I realized it was because these things I hadn't been paying enough attention to hadn't been done the right way. Those were the reasons why I felt like giving up. And so I really had to say, take a step back, reprioritize. We got some extra help, helps get my head back in the game and have the volume of work be doable. Even if it took 24 hours a day, it didn't take 26. So that kind of thing, yeah.
[00:16:26] In the lesson there is just to not, I was also not that hard on myself when I really, okay. I missed that notice. I missed that sign. I there was the bank account was overdrawn because I wasn't. Didn't keep a close enough eye on him that one particular day, I let a lot of things go.
[00:16:42] I'm not letting them go from a logistic logistics perspective, but let them go from my hard on myself and just had to say, look, things happen. You've got to get back up. Give yourself a break again, put some health in place where it makes sense to and frees you up a little bit, to keep your mind a little bit clearer and and don't give up.
[00:17:03] Don't give, don't be so hard on yourself and don't give up. Those are the two things and it wasn't always easy. It was not always easy.
[00:17:09] Jolie: [00:17:09] No, it's not, we're so inclined to be mean to ourselves. It's so important to be reminded, to be kind to yourself, to know that things happen to let it go. Like you said it's great advice all around. It's a good, it's a good lesson to be learning. So what do you believe is key to continued success throughout life?
[00:17:31]Kelly McNamara: [00:17:31] Another fantastic question. And I love this question. I think that it's always keeping your eyes on the big prize. What do you, what does success really look like to you? I know when I was in my early twenties, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I just knew what kind of impact I dreamed I could have.
[00:17:58] I didn't even know in what sphere I might have an impact. I thought I'm 23 years old and I'm out of school and I'm going to live a little and find that out. I'm going to find my place where I'm supposed to be, what I'm supposed to do. I knew I wanted to be a writer. But I thought, I won't know what book I want to write until I find it and I won't find until I carry on just living and learning.
[00:18:19] And when I know that my book is in front of me, I will write it. And it unfortunately, or fortunately took me a long time to get here. I believe, I know that my book is my big book, not my ghost writing book, not my books for other people, but my book, I believe I know what it is now. But it has knowing that I wanted to have an impact that I want to be a good writer, even in my business, knowing that I've wanted to have a good business.
[00:18:43] I wanted people to be happy with our service and happy as employees and feel good about doing good in the world, that has sustained me through some pretty difficult times. Just knowing that look, what kind of person you want to be, what kind of impact do you want to have? That everything you do is intentional and goes toward being, becoming the kind of person that you want to be.
[00:19:05] And it's hard. Yes. But again, keep your eyes up, see where you're going. Know you're making decisions intentionally and And again, be bold about opportunities you think can help get you there. So keep your big purpose in mind. Keep your definition of success, your highest definition of success in mind.
[00:19:23] And everything will seem more worth it even on the bad days.
[00:19:27] Jolie: [00:19:27] Yes. Yes. And that was key. Make those decisions intentionally because you know your purpose and following that now you mentioned definition of success. What is your definition of success?
[00:19:38]Kelly McNamara: [00:19:38] . I have, I think that it's doing work that you believe in a work that gets at your head and your heart, both that work, that doing work that you can devote yourself to and work that involves doing good for the planets, for people around you, however you decide, however you describe your sphere that involves doing good work for other people.
[00:20:06] I think that there's tremendous amount of satisfaction you can drive from that, no matter what you do, it's not even about your particular job. It's just, are you doing good work for the people in your sphere or your surrounding environment? And do you feel good about what you're doing? Feel good as a person?
[00:20:23]So again, I think that can carry one through a lot of dark times and, the converse of that. I know a boss of mine once said to me, Kelly, you think too much about what you want to do with work. Work is just something you do so that you can do things you actually want to do.
[00:20:39]Not for me work is what I spend the majority of my waking hours doing and probably will for most of my life. So for me, work should be what I want to be doing. And the deep sense, not, I want to be taking a nap.
[00:20:51]Jolie: [00:20:51] It's filling that purpose inside of you. It, yes. It's fulfilling that, that strength as well that you carry so that you're living your purpose. I think that's really important.
[00:21:01] Kelly McNamara: [00:21:01] Yeah. And I think, when you are fully engaged in doing something, when you're actually bringing your head and heart and experience and feelings and everything else to bear, when you're really engaging your full self and something, we know what that feels like. And my definition of success is doing work where you can bring as much as possible as much of yourself as you possibly can, to, to what you're doing.
[00:21:22]Jolie: [00:21:22] What would you say to someone who is feeling that way? Like the other person mentioned , working 40 hours a week and something that they really don't enjoy doing, and don't really in their gut don't want to be there.
[00:21:34] Kelly McNamara: [00:21:34] Yeah, I really felt sorry for my boss when he said that. And as I thought about it in later years, I thought maybe his work is actually outside of work. Maybe it's more important that what, doing things that he actually wants to do, maybe that's what's more fulfilling for him.
[00:21:50]But what I wanted to tell him was, if you can just do something where you can bring your self to bear, then try to make the change. Think about what you'd like to be doing with your waking hours instead of this, with those 40 hours, what would it feel like if you were fully immersed in what you were doing and really believed in it.
[00:22:09] And I can tell you that he didn't believe in what he was doing. He was just, and it he was doing it. It's not to say he was shirking any responsibilities, but it was, eyes on the clock, wait till the end of the day work life. And I would say if you could be doing anything else, even if you can't picture exactly what it would be, what would it feel like.
[00:22:25] Just open your mind to that, and it would feel less like work. Imagine if you could be engaged in something feeling so much better and still do things you would like to do after work. Wouldn't that be better? And I say this, yeah, of course. I'm aware that it's not always easy to make a change.
[00:22:44] But to the extent that someone could just crack, open the door a little bit and consider, could I make a change? Not don't write it off. Like I've spent this number of years or this is my track and I can't get off it. And just ease up on perhaps some more restrictive thinking and just ponder and start with, what can I feel like at two o'clock on a Tuesday if I were doing something different and what would that feel like?
[00:23:07] And then just see if you can free up a little bit of creative space to contemplate what you might do instead. And if you get to a place, then I would suggest that as I did just searching out something that matters to you and seeing if there's a way you can get involved, even if it isn't your full-time job.
[00:23:25]If you could. Again, volunteer, like I did, or even read more or meet people on LinkedIn, have better conversations. You just don't know where it's going to go. And so I guess I'm trying to say a change may come incrementally, but it would begin with just cracking open that window of possibility, speculating about what it would be like to do something that you really loved doing.
[00:23:47] Jolie: [00:23:47] Really great answer. I love that. Is there any advice that you would give someone who might be struggling to find that right next opportunity right now
[00:23:55] Kelly McNamara: [00:23:55] Yeah I, again I recommend being bold about reaching out to people that you think are doing things you want to do in whatever capacity they're doing them. And LinkedIn is an amazing tool as for all that. I'm not good at social media. I love LinkedIn. I find that people are. They're really pretty receptive.
[00:24:16] And if you have to reach out to lots of people in order to get a couple of responses, that's okay. I think that LinkedIn is a very good resource for that. And reaching out and just saying, I'm really interested in what you do. I'd really like to learn more. And here's a little bit about me. And would you be open to a quick chat or reading about different organizations and reaching out to them?
[00:24:40] Like I did, even before I went to the humane league, I emailed different organizations just said, I'd really like to learn more. I'd like to get involved, even though there weren't formal opportunities for internships or anything else, the folks, they were very respectful. Know they were responsive. great.
[00:24:55] I'm glad to know you're interested. Some people want to talk about themselves. So I guess my advice is be brave about reaching out to people that are in spaces that you think you might want to be in and just knock on the door and see if they open it.
[00:25:08] Jolie: [00:25:08] Really great advice. They absolutely should do that. And LinkedIn is the perfect platform for that. If you're not on LinkedIn, you should get on LinkedIn and start using it now, it can definitely bring a lot of advancement and opportunity to your own career path. Are there any specific habits that you've adopted that you feel have helped make you more successful in life?
[00:25:29]Kelly McNamara: [00:25:29] I can, these are such great questions. I love them. I think my go to habits or one I'll use for this response is it about time management? It's really, there's a couple of pieces to that. One is coordinating off time. But even before COVID, as a writer, I've worked at home for many years or even as an entrepreneur at an office.
[00:25:49] But when you run a business, everywhere is your office. Your car is your office. You're your restaurant. You're having dinner. And is your office everywhere? Is your office? So exactly. So I had to do that to say, it's whatever time in the morning, I've decided it's eight o'clock, I've got this block of time.
[00:26:10] I'm going to do this with that. And just being very disciplined about workday. And then within the day, time work blocks, I love this technique. I have two hours to do this thing because when you impose a work block on yourself, I found anyway, let me speak for myself. When I post a work block on myself, I tend to be more productive.
[00:26:29]I think for a couple of reasons, one, I know I only have to spend two hours doing something. And two, I know I only have two hours to do something and sometimes of course there's spillover, but I find that the more structured I can be the more I accomplish and the better I feel and the more productive I feel, the more productive I am.
[00:26:45]I'm not sure if that's true for you, but for me.
[00:26:48] Jolie: [00:26:48] Yes. It's like you get on fire.
[00:26:52] Kelly McNamara: [00:26:52] And then. And don't get too bogged down in single tasks. Even when I'm in my ghost, writing life, I've written long manuscripts. I just finished one that was about 450 pages and that's just a lot of work and it's a slog.
[00:27:06] But even in that, I would divide up the tasks, mix it up three or brain up to do something else. I find that moving between tasks and my younger colleagues have also taught me this. Like multitasking, not multitasking at once, but within a day. So I'm not sure what this is, different tasking multiple tasks accomplished in one day.
[00:27:27]But this can keep your brain a little more agile, a little more engaged. And I found that has helped keep me productive productivity is the key. I feel much more sane when I'm more productive.
[00:27:37] Jolie: [00:27:37] Oh, I agree with that too. Very much. So what would you say is one change the listeners can make right now, what do you think that one changes that would get them a little bit closer to their own success?
[00:27:47]Kelly McNamara: [00:27:47] It depends on what they define as success or what they're looking for, but certainly if they are looking to do work that aligns with something in line with their values or within a certain desire again, I would encourage them to be open to the possibility that it could happen.
[00:28:07] I think that's really the first step to not feel like one is stuck anywhere. I think it's even more so now than when I was younger or the, I would say the world, if the internet hadn't happened, then things might be different, but the internet did happen. And I just think there's this amazing democratization of opportunity that sometimes people don't realize has actually occurred and I'm speaking for myself too. People have to, they want to do this kind of job. They have to go through X channel. It's just not so much the case anymore. And that's what I mean by this democratizing of opportunity. I think it certain tracks just there are certain tracks, but in other ways there aren't So I think that just being aware that the world of opportunity is flatter than it used to be keeping.
[00:28:55] Yeah, it really is. And again, opening your mind up to that and allowing yourself to think that why not me? Someone needs to do this. Why not me write that book, paint that picture. Go get your job in I don't know, in any kind of environment that you want to do. I'm not sure. I'd never thought I would be an investment management, but I'm working my way towards analyzing venture capital investments in plant-based and plant-based companies and it just happened. And why not? Why not me? So again,
[00:29:26]Jolie: [00:29:26] That's perfect. Really? We could finish it on that. Why not me? That's what everyone should be asking themselves. Cause that, that is the truth.
[00:29:34]Kelly McNamara: [00:29:34] Thank summarizing that, that way.
[00:29:35]Jolie: [00:29:35] Is there any, anything that you're looking forward to in life? Anything that you're excited about coming up or that you're wanting to tackle?
[00:29:43] Kelly McNamara: [00:29:43] . I'm looking forward to writing my big book that I've always thought since I was in my early twenties that one day I would write. And maybe this is a note for your listeners. I'm not actively working on it now. It is not even fully taken shape in my mind, which plenty of books have done because I've written many for other people.
[00:30:00]But I'm, I know it's coming and I'm looking forward to it. And the work that I do that is aligned with my values now it's the most aligned work I've ever done and I'm so happy about that. It's still not writing the book and that's okay. I'm looking forward to writing the book because I know that the work I'm doing now and the decisions I'm making about it are taking me closer to that goal.
[00:30:22] And one day I hope it's on your shelf.
[00:30:24] Jolie: [00:30:24] That's fantastic. I can't wait to that. Day one. When you write that book, I'm reading that book right now. You just let me know when it's finished and then I'll put out a little, so that's great, Kelly, thank you so much for joining me on fresh blood. This has been wonderful
[00:30:43] Kelly McNamara: [00:30:43] okay this has been absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:30:47] Jolie: [00:30:47] Perfect. Thank you, Kelly.
There was so much goodness in Kelly’s story. She started her career following her passion, she then took the opportunity to open a business with her mom, gaining much entrepreneurial knowledge but she wasn’t following her why, and I applaud Kelly for making the shift to go back after her writing and stay in touch with her purpose. This is what makes our soul sing.
I love Kelly’s story about her chance encounter with the Harvard Business School professor. This professor tells Kelly she’s looking for an assistant and Kelly is bold enough to say, I’m not a good assistant but I’d make a great writer/editor for you. Taking that chance, making that leap of possibility, opened up an amazing experience for Kelly.
How many times do we stop ourselves from really experiencing all life has to offer us because we hold ourself back? Can you think of all of those missed opportunities? I can. Kelly’s story makes me think of a great quote from the movie, We bought a zoo - “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally, twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
Next time you see an opportunity present itself, strap on that embarrassing bravery for just a short time, do a Kelly, and see what might be able to happen. After all, if it doesn’t work, you’re right where you started anyway.
Along the way in Kelly’s career she became passionate about animal’s rights. She knew she wanted to be at that intersection between business and change and she wasn’t scared to go after it. I love that Kelly got an internship in her 40’s to get herself into the industry she really wants to be working in. She gave herself the foundation that led to several years of important work. This is how you get to where you want to be, make concessions to do the things you really want to do and find out where it will lead. If you are doing work that aligns with your soul, you will end up where you want to be.
I found it insightful that Kelly talked about the younger generation being more open with their feelings and vulnerabilities – not just their strengths and weaknesses but in actually talking about how it makes them feel. This is an important distinction because the older generations were largely brought up in a different manner, told to hold their feelings in, to hide how you’re feeling so as to either not be made fun of or to bother others. It can be a hard adjustment for many but I would suggest that it’s healthier for us all to be more authentic and open with our feelings. The younger generation has something to teach us here – it’s ok to feel. It’s ok to be vulnerable. To make a mistake, to not be perfect. It’s ok. In fact, it’s expected.
Learning how to adapt to the authentic culture is a must. Business owners should take note, the talented younger generation is demanding that culture of authenticity and transparency.
When dealing with the younger generation, Kelly suggests owning your age. Get comfortable in it. Know that it matters how long you have been alive, your experience matters and you bring a great deal of knowledge to the table. Our life experiences bring a richness that can’t be bought or taught, they can only be lived. We all need to own what we have to share. We tend to devalue our own personal insight as if everyone knows what we know, but they don’t. You are a fully unique individual and your perspective matters.
I think many of us can take a lesson from Kelly in how she dealt with mistakes. She wasn’t hard on herself when she missed something. She knows that things happen, she knows that no-one is perfect and this includes herself, she knows that being hard on herself isn’t going to make any situation any better. When things happen, she’s kind to herself, picks herself back up, learns the lesson and then moves on.
Kelly shared that knowing the person she wanted to be and the kind of impact she wanted to make has helped sustain her during the difficult times. This is really important, Kelly has a clear vision of herself in terms of her wants and dreams. Do you have that same clarity of vision? What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of impact do you want to have? Do you feel good as a person? How are you bringing value?
Knowing that you are working towards being and becoming that person that you want to be will give you an internal satisfaction that can’t be taken away. These things carry us through the dark times. Keep your personal definition of success, your highest definition of that best self inside of you, keep that in mind and make intentional decisions moving forward while being bold with your opportunities.
Kelly’s personal definition of success is when you can bring as much of yourself as possible to what you are doing. Finding a work that fulfills you. If you are someone currently unhappy in your work, ask yourself – What if you didn’t dread going to work? What if instead, you thrived in what you did? What if each day was a joy to be a part of and figure out? There is something about finding that work that you can fully engage in, that fulfills your personal strengths, that feels just amazing, like pinging that tuning fork inside of you.
As Kelly suggested, even if you can’t picture exactly what that right things might be, can you think about what it would feel like to find it? Just open your mind to that. Start there. Start imagining that you could find work that you find engaging and see what happens. Free up that creative space so you can open your mind to imagining. Start searching things out that matter to you, volunteer, join a group, join meetups, connect with people on LinkedIn, check out free online summits, you never know where these connections or experiences will lead. Just crack open that window of possibility.
There are amazing opportunities everywhere, we live in a world full of opportunity that our ancestors couldn’t even begin to imagine. There are so many different avenues of experience that people can take. Knowing this, as Kelly advises, allow yourself to think, Why not? Why not me? Do that crazy thing sitting in the back of your head.
That is my wish for us all, when opportunity presents itself, that we will remember to Be Bold and ask, why not me?
Until next time