Ep 173 | Moving from Busy to Unleashing Creativity with Kevin Kepple

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How do you feel about your day and your business or organization? Are you running like mad trying to figure out what to do? Do you have time build in to really get creative so that you can continue to problem solve and grow? Then this episode is for you!

What you'll learn:

→ how to build trust for more creativity in your organization.
→ ways to bring creativity to your organization for growth.
→ how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[7:24] Influence Equation Trust-Connection-Vision. Stick to this order by first building trust with your staff or co-workers. Find ways to connect with not just them, but also yourself. Create a vision as a team rather than telling others what the vision is.
[11:43] Bring to Action Some people may be more creative with ideas while others are more concrete. Work together to use the entire brain to bring your ideas and vision to action.
[16:10] Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable Take the time to try new things or move in directions that may be outside of your comfort zone. Don’t allow possible outcomes to deter you from being creative and coming up with new ideas. Believe in yourself and don’t try to please everyone.

Resources

Unlock Your Freedom Podcast with Kevin Kepple
Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Kevin Kepple

Kevin Kepple

Kevin Kepple is a business coach and leadership educator who has the most fun (aside from being in the mountains) when he is teaching leaders how to become the heroes of their lives.

Kevin has built his own successful business through dynamic leadership, he leads a powerful and cohesive team, and has learned many of these lessons the hard way, so anything he can do to help you avoid the same pitfalls, he’d love to share. Learn more: https://www.kevinkepple.us/ 

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Feel like you're running on the hamster wheel and busy comes out of your mouth more than anything else? Then this episode is for you. I'm joined by Kevin Kepple today to talk through why we get stuck in this busy mindset and how we can kind of pull ourselves out into a leadership mode, and leadership no matter what level you're at, if you're just starting at your organization, if you're a fundraiser in a larger organization, if you're growing and scaling, if you're interacting with the board, doesn't matter where you are, we can think creatively and be the best versions of ourselves to show up and make a bigger impact in our organizations. And that's what Kevin is here to talk with us about today. Kevin Kepple is a business coach and leadership educator who has the most fun aside from being in the mountains. When he's teaching leaders how to become the heroes of their lives, Kevin has built his own successful business through dynamic leadership, he leads a powerful and cohesive team and has learned many of these lessons the hard way, so anything he can do to help you avoid the same pitfalls he'd love to share. And he does share just that, I think you'll really enjoy his perspective on how we don't just focus on our professional selves, but who we are as individuals and why we're doing the work that we're doing, and how we can make the biggest impact inside of our organizations. So I hope that you'll listen to this episode and really take it in and don't think it's too woo woo. Because it's really not. It's more just about listening to ourselves, and figuring out how we can have our best lives while doing great in this world. But before we get into this episode, it is brought to you by the online fundraising virtual Summit. We start on October 24. So it's just around the corner. So grab your free ticket at the onlinefundraisingsummit.com, where you can learn how to build your monthly donor giving program, have more sustainability in your fundraising and know what's coming in month after month. So again, onlinefundraisingsummit.com. It's a free five day summit with more than 20 speakers. It's going to be awesome. I hope to see you there. Let's get into the episode. 

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, please join me in welcoming Kevin Kepple to the podcast. Kevin, thanks for joining us today.

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, pumped to be here. Thanks for the invite.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, so um, why do you think that people just get stuck in busy, like busy is the buzzword, right? I'm so busy. And we hear this all the time. But why do you think that we just kind of get stuck in that mode?

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, that's a really great question. You know, I was actually just talking to an attorney a little bit earlier about busy is the badge of honor, you know, it's like, I'm the busiest person that's ever been busy before, watch this. And it's so hard when you're in that busy place, because you can, you know, work all day long, and really not create a lot, and it's, you're more like, compulsively reacting to the things in front of you. And, like, it's much more conducive to the goals that we have in the life we want to live to be productive as opposed to busy. And you know, I didn't create a business and, you know, build it to where I have it now just so I could be busy all the time. I did it so I could be productive and create more for myself, my family and the people and the clients I get to serve. And, you know, there's a big distinction between busy and productive, I don't think those are the same thing. And I think the reason that people, one of the reasons people get stuck in the busy is really not, you know, there's kind of like four pillars of genius that, working with my clients, and when they just don't have the four pillars kind of lined up. And it starts with connection, you know, being connected to ourselves first, and really, you know, using that connection to, you know, our most authentic self to create clarity of purpose on what we really want to do and how we really want to do that. And you know, when you have a connection that, you know, leads to clarity naturally, that kind of builds synergy together. And that is powerful, because it allows you to really be creative, and creative is the goal, because when I'm creating, I'm striving for uniqueness, and you know what, I've got the market cornered on me, there's only one me right, just like, you know, there's only one Sami, you know, and that's our genius. And if I'm not creating then I'm simply competing. And if I'm competing, I'm striving to be like someone else. And I can, you know, I can't ever win your way, creativity never copies itself, you know, it can rhyme for sure. But I think people would just get stuck in that trap. Because, you know, they have either models you know, of parents or teachers or friends that do things a certain way and then they think that busy is winning, and they get stuck on autopilot and like Well, I've always been this way, like awesome if, you don't like it, you know, it's changeable. Right?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. Well, and how much about busy do you think is kind of that combination of either, I don't think I'm a creative person, because I think when we hear creativity, we assume it has to be like writing or artistic or whatever. But really creative is just thinking outside the box and finding new solutions to something that solves a problem. Right? And like combining that with, so I don't think that I'm creative, but also, this is the way it's always been done. So that's how I'm taught, like, don't you think busy kind of plays into both of those things?

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think busy is like the call sign of that ego, that, you know, the self made me so to speak. Because, and you know, ego is not always malicious and narcissistic. But you know, it's really afraid of any change, the ego has to know, it has to know what's next. And creativity is always a little risky, right? To go into the unknown. You're literally creating something that's never existed, even if you're just creating the outfit you're wearing for the day, right? That's still creation, you know, like, everybody creates something. And, you know, people say that some of my clients have heard it, you know, frequently as I'm not creative, like, I have trouble believing that, like, you know, Who dressed you today, right? Like, let's start there. And, you know, like, like you said, doesn't mean painting, writing, whatever, like, you know, just what, what do you like to do, like, what brings you joy, and that's a big part of that connection and clarity, is like finding out like, hey, what does bring me joy, because joy is simply love expressed. And, you know, that's the truth of us. We were created in, you know, this infinite love. And when I'm operating from that place, not in like a, you know, not even like woowoo, or like, obviously not romantic love, but just like an unconditional love for myself, and I love her more. And it's powerful when you live in that place, because it allows you to really have grace, you know, grace for yourself and grace for other people. Because you know, what, we're all just figuring it out as we go along. And know, every single thing looks messy in the middle. And so, you know, grace for ourselves, and just, you know, creating and, you know, what, like, one of the things that used to trip me up and it trips, people up is lacking that ability to say, I don't know, you know, I don't know, I need help. And it took me 30 years to get there. I finally did. And you know what, it's so powerful, because I'm really good at you know, some certain things, like I'm really good at coaching experts and helping them get to world class. Like, that's my genius, right? I am terrible at fishing. I am terrible at cooking, right? But that's okay. I'm not a professional bass fisherman. I'm not a chef. And so, you know, saying I don't know, and having people support me. And that gives me more time to express my genius. I think that's how you really started that busy trap.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So what is the influence equation? And how does that kind of help us get through that? And, like really building on our leadership and zone of genius?

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, that's such a great question. And I love to really break it down, the influence equation, because it's such a simple idea to remember. And that's the genius of simple is simple, it is remembered simple, it is repeated, because complexity always leads us to confusion. And, you know, I work with lots of different types of leaders. And the ones who struggle all have this one thing in common is that they kind of work the influence equation backwards. And so really, the equation is three pieces. It’s trust, connection, and vision. And a lot of the leaders that are younger, especially I did when I was a younger leader, we started the back end, we start sharing the vision, like, here's what we want, here's where we're going, go get it, and just walk off, right. And, you know, people may do it, but not for long, if it gets harder, they're probably going to quit cause they're not connected to it. And you know, like, when you start with trust, though, it's really pretty profound, because trust lets people know that they're safe. And if I'm, again, going to be risky and go into creativity, I need to know I'm safe, safe to be vulnerable, and safe to say, I don't know. And, you know, that's one of the questions like, oh, people are asking to the leader internally, it's like, first is like, Do you like me? Because I feel like the leader doesn't like me, I definitely don't feel safe, right? And then it's like, Can I trust you? You know, can you help me get what I want? Is what's important to me important to you? And the more that you show up authentically, and exhibit all those really powerful leadership traits like empathy, selflessness, authenticity, decisiveness and accountability. They're really Fab Five there, you know, that really builds a connection. And you know, when people feel connected to you, and you show them that you know, what's important to them is important to you, and how you know, the company or organization or even like, whatever your vision is, how that supports their vision for their life. That's when people get really connected to the overall vision. And that's when the real power starts. Because when you have that influence equation satisfied, people you know, trust you, the leader, they trust themselves too, right? They feel connected to themselves, connected to you. That's when people start co creating on the vision. And it's so beautiful, because like, it doesn't matter if it's a little league team or a billion dollar company. The way that you win at a high level is when people grow as individuals, and they grow together as a team. And that's co-elevation. And that's the big result you get from the influence equation when it's worked properly.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And I mean, like, that could be something as simple as, like, when you have team meetings, people having like, even just building within your team, that opportunity to just throw out ideas and be creative together without fear of judgment or, you know, saying, Hey, I've got this great idea. I want to run with it. It might fail, but it could be awesome, like kind of all of those types of things, right, empowering your team to kind of show up because when they have all of those things that you just mentioned, then the passion and the sharing of the vision just comes naturally.

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, for sure. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, that's such a great point that you made and is letting people know that they're safe. You know, like improv, if you ever take an improv class pretty much day one is like you never say, no, you know, because you break the scene. But you always, no matter what people say, you can always say yes, and say yes and. And so even if it's maybe quite possibly the worst idea you've ever heard, you can still say Yes, right? It's like, I think we should give all our money away and burn the building down and start over. Yes, I love that you're being creative. And how can we make that idea better? Because maybe we shouldn't do some of those things, right. But I don't ever want to make people feel less than and, you know, like, sort of, it's not the best idea ever. There has been a lot of ideas, that if I was the first one to hear it, I probably would have shut it down. Like the idea of like, you know, Uber Eats or something like, Yeah, we're gonna have random strangers bring you food that you've never met, and they're gonna drop it off at your door, and, like, yeah right, that's never gonna happen, you know, but, I mean, I think they're doing okay, Uber, I guess they're gonna make it. But you know, just letting people use that great word empowering, right? It's really, that's the whole goal of the leader is to empower and inspire. Because, you know, if you inspire me, you're stimulating me to action, you empower me, you hope you mean, to know what to do with the stimulation, you know, you gave me and it's very empowering, to, you know, understand that you're safe and safe to make mistakes, safe to play, and even have fun. And, you know, yeah, we're doing business. But it doesn't mean it has to be like, super serious, right? Like, nobody's gonna die on the table, if we make a huge mistake, you know, in most companies.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So as we work through, because if we, you know, we get this creative mode, and the whole goal of kind of removing ourselves from busy and kind of building this team is to, like, open up that creativity in us to like further our business and kind of reach our goals. But how do we kind of move through just brainstorming, like, how do we then not have that creative part take over and make us feel more busy? Because now we have all of these ideas, like how do we kind of transform that into action?

[Kevin Kepple] Sure. We can't just sit around and talk philosophy all day long,

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That would be amazing if we could make money doing that, but I don't think that's the case right now.

[Kevin Kepple]  That would be a lot of fun. Like that we don't have to do anything, we just talk about ideas all day and bring us money, it's great. So if that's your company, please let me know, I'd be interested to learn more. But on the, you know, serious side, like naturally, people are more pragmatic, or more philosophical, you know, right brain left brain and my dad was a CPA, so definitely left brained and very pragmatic, and just great at the steps. And he's like, I don't really need the emotion, you know, and I kind of come from the other side. And it's really powerful when you can line up people's whole brain, so to speak, and really talk to the pragmatic side, and that philosophical side. And so, yeah, I need to understand, you know, the philosophy behind it. But I need to understand, what's the concrete steps here? And that's where that clarity comes in. Because when we have a clear purpose, it's like, you know, pretty easy, little litmus test, like, you know, does this step we're about to embark on, does it bring us closer to our goal, yes, or no? And if it's a no, then you need to pivot and figure out something else, or figure out why or whatever. And it's really important that, you know, if you're not a super pragmatic thinker, or really good at execution, or whatever like that, that you have people around you that are, that can support you, and fill in some of the gaps that you might have.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So let's say you're not a leader at your organization, but you're hearing all these things. And you're like, these are my frustrations, like I have all these ideas, I have all these things that I want to do. My leadership just has me kind of running the hamster wheel right now. Like, how could you maybe, because I do believe and I think you might, too, that we can be leaders in our jobs, regardless of our quote unquote, title, right? So how might we take some of these and start to use them to transform our job role? Or maybe even, you know, kind of broach these topics with leadership? Is that something that can happen? Or is that just kind of a losing battle? I know it’s different in every situation.

[Kevin Kepple] Sure, and that was going to be pretty much verbatim what I was going to say next, but yeah, that's great. I'm glad you said it. Because, you know, it's always different. But there's definitely some things that we can do to heighten the probability of success. And leadership is not a position like you know, John Maxwell, leadership expert, has written like 100 books on leadership. And one of my favorite books that he wrote is the Five Levels of Leadership. And level one is the lowest level and five the highest. And level one leadership is just leading by position like, I'm the manager, I'm in charge, do this because I said so. Like that is not leadership, that's telling people what to do. That's management, right? And so it's really important to understand like, it doesn't matter if you're the newest person in the company of 1000, right, like, leadership is a behavior. It's not really a position. And you know what, like, I don't get to call myself a leader. Right, that's like me showing up like, Hey, what's up, Sami? By the way, I'm pretty funny. And, you know, I don't get to call myself funny if you're not laughing at my jokes, then I'm not very funny, right? And if nobody's empowered or inspired, or, you know, following me or whatever, then I'm probably not a leader. And so, you know, first off, I think it's really important to understand that, you know, it's, it's how you show up and how, quote, unquote, you act when people aren't watching, right? People are always watching. But, you know, leadership can be as simple as picking up trash when nobody's around, you know, like, that's a big thing. Like there's a, there's a guy that lives down the street, walk my dog and I see him out there. He's an older guy, I think he's retired. And so he's out there picking up trash, and like, just really cool, and stops and helps us at times. And he's like, really nice. It's like, yeah, just like to help. Man, you're cool. So yeah, that's leadership right there, inspired me to help him. And, yeah, that's pretty powerful. And so I think, you know, getting really clear on your values, and how your values line up with the organization you're in. And you're going to know, whoever your leader may be. And you're just asking questions like, hey, what could I do to, you know, make a bigger impact here? I'd really like to, you know, lead from a position if possible, or, you know, whatever the case may be.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. And so I know, we talk a lot about kind of like bringing in the creative side. So if I'm somebody who's like, well, I like a formula, like your dad, who's a CPA, if I'm a more analytical person, I like the structure, but I'm kind of stagnant in my job, or my business isn't growing, and I know I need to be a little bit more creative in order to kind of go to the next step. Do you have any tools or tips for how we might kind of unleash the inner creative inside of us? Or kind of step into that if it feels very uncomfortable for us?

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, well, first off, being uncomfortable is great, because that probably means that you're about to grow, because you're about to do something you haven't done. And that's really, really powerful. And the more you go into that uncomfortable place outside your comfort zone, right, the more comfortable you'll be being uncomfortable. And you know, one of the tips is just start doing things you haven't done before, right? And teach yourself that you can learn new things whether you know, for me, like if I learned to cook, right, that would be something that’d be hard for me. Like, I went a couple of weeks ago with all my clients on Saturday, like, Hey, do you wanna go jump off an airplane like, sure, like, I knew that would be hard for me, I've done it once before, but doesn't make it any easier. It's a pretty odd thing when you're, you know, up at 15,000 feet, and you just want people to jump out the door, and they're gone, like they never existed. And then you're like, oh, cool, I'm gonna go next. And it's pretty wild. And you learn a lot about yourself when you do things like that. And, you know, like, it can be as simple as sitting down and journaling. And like, so we all hear that all the time journal journal journal, right? There's a reason. But how many people actually do it, every single time I do it, I feel better. And there's still resistance there. And so that's one of the cool things you can do is look for the resistance. Because resistance usually shows up in two spots, right? Resistance, that invisible wall that stops us from doing things, it's the things we need to do the least and the things that maybe we should do the most. That's kind of where resistance is, right? Like, if I was thinking about going to play in traffic at rush hour, right on the highway, a lot of resistance there, that's good resistance. But if I'm going to write a, or maybe do a video for social media, and I've never done that, there'd be a lot of resistance there. Right. But that's good, because you're gonna get massive growth. And, you know, really, I think the most important thing, when it comes to creativity, is learning to detach from the outcome. Because if I have these expectations of, you know, how people should be when they see this, or how I should be or whatever, then that's so dangerous. Because for one, I just gave myself one way to win. And how do I even know that's the way I want to win. And then if it doesn't line up exactly the way that you know, you perceived ahead of time, then you've failed, right? And then you make the story and identity about failure. That's not even true. And if you're not getting knocked down and failing on a regular basis, like then maybe you need to like set your bar a little higher. Because if everything's easy, then you're not going very big.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, we have this conversation in my Business Mastermind all the time, because we see, it's mostly, well it is, all female entrepreneurs. But you know, we see, they branched out and now they're pushing their boundaries, and they're doing more, they're doing more and they're doing more and their business is growing. And all of a sudden, they'll show up and they'll be like, I just had this person who was hating on me and telling me that like, you know, they've got their first kind of hater or troll on social media. And we all celebrate that. You did it, like, you know, you got to the point where people are paying attention to you and somebody is, you know, upset. Like you're not doing it right if somebody's not upset with something. It doesn't have to be major, but I mean, we need to continue to push that boundary to continue to grow.

[Kevin Kepple] I think that is a phenomenal point you just made Sami, you know, it's like, if you're not rubbing somebody the wrong way, then you're pandering to the middle and you're pandering to average. And if you want to be above average, you have to treat yourself above average. And what that means is you have to take a stand, you need to start moving towards one of the edges. Hey, like spoiler alert, you guys like you're not for everybody. I'm not for everybody. And that's okay. If I try to be for everybody, I end up spending a lot of time around people that maybe I don't build a lot of synergy with and that doesn't make them bad people or me wrong or right or whatever. But it's you know, it's really important that you understand what you do stand for, and own that.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well our audience is largely nonprofit. And I know, back in my fundraising days, like we would spend hours like with meetings with people that like somebody connected us to whatever, but they weren't the right fit. And so I think that's the fear for a lot of people is like, well, if I don't take all these donor meetings, if I don't try to get donations from everybody, my organization is going to fail. And so this relates to that, and kind of the same, same way right? Like, if we can really hone in on where we want to go, and who's an ideal donor, and who's going to be the right fit for our program, you'll probably make more money, with less effort, which goes back to your original point of we don't just have to be busy doing things, we can actually have a successful business and not work 24 hours a day.

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, absolutely. And that's why I like that, start with connection, right? Being connected to it ourselves. So we can really get clarity on what is important to us. And that really allows us to get that explosive creativity, and kind of that fourth pillar, I don't think I mentioned it earlier. But the fourth pillar of owning your genius, you know, the way we teach it, is once I have like a deep connection, and I'm really clear about what I want and why I want it right, the passion and the purpose. And I'm really maximizing my creativity. Now, that naturally breeds some of these peak states. And so we can find flow, and really find it on demand, you know, flow with a group or, you know, flow with one other person or flow when we're alone. And, you know, flow is, is so beautiful, you know, and in the book flow, right. Csikszentmihalyi, greatest name ever, talks about the happiest people in the world, and, you know, are the ones who find the most flow. And, you know, he had a lot of research that he based that on, and it's like, get this chemical cascade of good chemicals, like, you know, Oxycontin dopamine or endorphins, all this other stuff that, serotonin, that lasts for the well past the flow. And, you know, flow is phenomenal. That's how you get to really productive states too, because in flow, you know, the internet stat, and if I read it on the internet it has to be true, right? That's the rules, but pretty, pretty widely agreed on status that we get like a 500% increase of productivity in flow. If I'm getting five hours for every one hour at work, you know, that's a deal I'll take all day long. And so that's really one of the keys to being productive.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Well, so many, I think inspirational things and nuggets and words of wisdom that you shared in this episode. If you were going to share kind of one last, or your favorite kind of wisdom tip that you know, you work on with your clients and that you'd love to share with people, what would that be?

[Kevin Kepple] Yeah, so I'll give you two. I'm gonna give you a free one real quick. I would connect with Sami, if I was you guys, because she's really phenomenal at what she does, and how she does it. She's a really cool woman. In the green room, she is the same person, so she's authentic. So I would highly, highly advise you taking advantage of her services. Number two, I would really be intentional about something that I work on every day. And that's being kind more than I'm right. And, you know, I think that's such a great skill that we call a master. And, you know, a part of that is really just choosing love over fear as a matter of habit. And, you know, when you're kind that's really beautiful, and when you're right, someone else is wrong. And that is definitely not going to create connection. So you know, just find a way to be kind and kind of yourself too, you know, kind yourself kind to other people and you know, having grace, and just, you know, we're all in this thing together.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love what you're saying. Because it leads towards personal growth. Or I mean, it leads towards your work growth, like it leads towards who you are as a leader and as an employee, or whatever it is that you're trying to do in your professional life. But just saying that it starts with us as individuals so that we can be the best versions of ourselves, I think is so critical right now. Because I know so many people tend to separate the two as like, well, this is who I am in my work life, and this is who I am in my personal life. But really, if we can just make, like how much happier would we all be if we just kind of intermingled all of those and were true and authentic? I think it's such a beautiful message that you're sharing today. So I really appreciate that. Well, Kevin, if people want to learn more about you, find out more about you, follow along with all the things that you're doing. How do they do that?

[Kevin Kepple] You could come over to my house and hang out on my couch and watch me work. No, you could go to Kevin Kepple on Instagram, love to make new friends. So reach out and say hi, if I could help you. I love to know a lot of cool people and I love to connect with great people. And my podcast is Unlock Your Freedom with Kevin Kepple if you want something else to listen to.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. So you can check out all of the resources and information that were mentioned in this episode at thefirstclick.net/173. Kevin, thank you so much.

[Kevin Kepple] It was my pleasure. Thanks, Sami.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Kevin for joining me today. If you loved this episode as much as I did, make sure you check out the show notes for those additional mentions and resources that he said. For now, I hope that you'll subscribe wherever you listen so you don't miss out on a single episode. They all come out on Tuesdays and leave us a five star review if you don't mind. I appreciate you taking your time to listen to this episode, share it with a friend and I'll see you in the next one.

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