Empowering Entrepreneurs by Transforming Corporate Stagnation into Purpose with Karen Laos

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[00:00:00] Yvonne Heimann: And we're back with another episode of Boss Your Business Mindset. Yes, we are rebranding a little bit guys, because that's where the podcast has taken us. That's where my guests have taken me. And today I have Karin Laos on the podcast. And I'm happy because we already had a couple of really good laughs in the green room.

[00:00:27] So you guys are up for an episode. Now, Karen, introduce yourself to the audience. Who are you and tell them why I'm so excited to have you on the episode. That's one of the reasons guys, that's, that's exactly one of the reasons because that laugh is fucking amazing. I love that laugh.

[00:00:49] Karen Laos: I was, well, thank you.

[00:00:51] I was going to say, I don't know, I'll tell you why I'm excited. Maybe you can tell why you're excited, but I am on a mission to eradicate self [00:01:00] doubt in 10 million women in the next 10 years. And how I got there is starting from my childhood. We won't go through the whole thing, I promise, but I grew up with a dad who taught me how to negotiate.

[00:01:13] From the time I was six years old, he gave me a few dollars at a flea market and he said, go have fun, but never pay full price. And I didn't know that was an option. So I, That was so exciting and exhilarating to me. And I like to say that's when my love for the deal was born. And I am always asking for things that I want.

[00:01:33] So I've had a pretty successful life being the person that is not afraid to ask, but at the same time. I grew up in a very traditional home where my mom pretty much did whatever my dad said. She was very submissive, raised nine kids. And she taught me through modeling that my voice didn't matter and that you had to focus.

[00:01:58] Yep. You were going to say something. [00:02:00]

[00:02:02] Yvonne Heimann: I'm sitting over here and I'm like, guys, I already, I have an idea, right? I get the bios, you know, this, but I'm sitting here and I'm like, the duality of that situation where it's like just picking up on the, I didn't know that paying full price is even an option where I'm like, I didn't know that negotiating and asking for what I want is even an option.

[00:02:28] And then you have that duality of your mom's model. And I'm like, holy cannoli. You are just starting right in the middle of it. It's like, you're right in the deep, right in the deep, right in the beginning. I'm like, how that duality must be freaking confusing.

[00:02:47] Karen Laos: Yeah, it really was. I mean, obviously as a kid, you don't know any difference.

[00:02:52] You're just trying to figure stuff out. And I really had a time with it looking back now with all of the [00:03:00] therapy and personal growth work I've done, it's amazing to me that I have had, so I shouldn't say it's amazing, but I've had a really successful career from the perspective of what you would call traditional success.

[00:03:13] And yet, the internal part, even specifically remembering sitting in a board room in front of my peers, who I was generally comfortable with, but I was tongue tied in this moment because my boss had mentioned presenting something. And I took that as an order. Like I grew up that you listen to your boss and they are the authority figure.

[00:03:38] So you do what they say. I didn't even think about questioning her, but I had such an internal conflict because what she had asked me to present. I personally didn't think was the right forum for it. It didn't make sense to me. And I felt so strongly about it that in the moment I couldn't get the words out, but I should have said something much earlier, [00:04:00] but back to that moment, she had to shut down the meeting and I was mortified.

[00:04:06] She pulled me into her office and she goes, Karen, you didn't trust your gut. You could have just said, I don't remember why we even were talking about this in the first place. Let's table this and talk about it another time. And that was when I had this moment of holy crap. Like it never would have occurred to me.

[00:04:26] I felt like, I needed to ask for permission or I couldn't question her. And that's when I really would say I put the stake in the ground and set out to figure out the root of my problem and why that got in the way so much or what it was that was in the way. And then when I overcame that, It was so freeing that I said, I want to help all women do this because we get so tripped up by people pleasing.

[00:04:53] I'm not wanting to rock the boat, the fear of being judged and wanting to be perfect. And what if they don't like what I have to [00:05:00] say? I mean, at the end, it's all at the root of, you want people to accept you as you are. So that's a little bit about my story, but professionally that the, my, my whole thread throughout my career has been.

[00:05:15] Developing people, starting an HR, moved into corporate training. And I've been a keynote speaker for most of my career.

[00:05:24] Yvonne Heimann: Yeah. And I'm like, I love how it's like, you've done the corporate thing and then yeah, just made the decision. I want to do it. I want to inspire women. Just go. Sure. Why not? Nothing better to do.

[00:05:38] I am a funny one today. Gosh, that's great.

[00:05:45] Karen Laos: Well, that is important. That is, can I, can I interject?

[00:05:48] Yvonne Heimann: Yeah, go for it.

[00:05:49] Karen Laos: Because I, I'm chuckling because I realized probably the biggest part of my story, the culmination story is that I left my job at 52 years old [00:06:00] in 2020 to focus on this mission and help women. really access the innate power within them to be the powerhouses that they are and that we are.

[00:06:14] Yvonne Heimann: Now I didn't even realize because I'm like, I'm, I'm age blind. Like, I'm like, I, I, at 52.

[00:06:23] At 52, you say, yeah, you know what? Fuck, fuck retirement. Why, we don't need that. Let's just start something new. Let's just inspire the world. Holy cannoli girl, seriously.

[00:06:39] Karen Laos: See, it's so funny because so many, I don't think that's particularly interesting, but then I have people, a lot of people comment and say, that's actually really interesting.

[00:06:48] That you were in your fifties and left and started something else. But to me, I don't know. It's like,

[00:06:55] Yvonne Heimann: and I hear you. I hear you on that one. It's like everybody. I, I, [00:07:00] I have to literally calculate every single time when somebody asks me about my age. I don't know. I don't care. I literally have to do the math.

[00:07:08] What year is this now? I have times where I tell people I'm 43 when I'm 41, or I tell them I'm 37 when I'm, when I'm 40, I don't know. I literally have to do the math in my head in that moment because I don't care. But why it, why this popped out to me is, so often, especially women are in the situation where it's like, okay, we're in our forties, we're in our fifties, fifties, we are thinking about retirement.

[00:07:36] We are thinking about settling down. We are thinking about having enough money in the bank account to retire. And I think that's why it's such a big thing. Yeah, why not? Sure. Let's do it. And the, the potential perceived risk behind it of, of doing this, [00:08:00] not just the positive of, hey, we can do this. Hey, I am done of, of us self doubting ourself.

[00:08:07] I am done with women just following whatever they've been told, I'm done with this and making that decision, taking that risk, taking that risk as a, as an age where other people are thinking about retirement and, and I don't know, going in an RV and traveling the world, whatever it is. And you were like, yeah, no, let's do that.

[00:08:29] Sure. Why not? And then not only that within just a short amount of time, You've had a huge impact.

[00:08:41] Karen Laos: Well, thank you.

[00:08:43] Yvonne Heimann: It's like, you've been on TV. You've have reached. It's, it's not just been a, I want to do this. I want to get this message out there. I want to change things. No, you fucking done the thing.

[00:08:58] YouTube is not going to like me [00:09:00] for that F bomb.

[00:09:03] Karen Laos: I like it. I want to record, I want to take that moment and put it in my phone and play it regularly.

[00:09:09] Yvonne Heimann: You will get the recording so you can grab that snippet. It's like, so how has that journey been? You made that decision in 2019. You went for it. You want to eradicate self doubt in 11 million, million people, not just thousand, 11 million women in 10 years.

[00:09:30] You are now what? I think Three years in

[00:09:33] Karen Laos: so it's two. Yeah, it's technically 10 million in 10 years was the vision in 2020 and then we're about around 2 million right now with the different things that I've where I've spoken and the different TV appearances and things and I do think it's important to acknowledge that we're never gonna fully eradicate it.

[00:09:51] It's not It's kind of like, the company DuPont used to have a motto of no accidents. And I thought that was a really good analogy for what I'm trying to [00:10:00] go for. Because if you don't have a big vision and a big mission, then it's harder to get up every morning. You know, in the times when I might be challenged or think, oh, this is happening or whatever is happening.

[00:10:10] And I don't want to get out of bed or I want to just watch TV all day. The why gives me the motivation. And so to me, it's about getting to a place. This is my goal and this is where I, where I, where I reached the point where the people pleasing and the doubting, like all of that, it's still going to be lingering, but it's not paralyzing to the point where I don't say anything anymore.

[00:10:40] And I want to help women get to the point where they feel, I mean, and men too, frankly, all genders. Get to where we are not paralyzed, so much so that we hold our true selves back. And that's the part I say I was in a prison of my own making, because [00:11:00] my boss didn't even remember what she had asked to present.

[00:11:02] It was months prior. She threw it out there as an idea. And if I had pushed back and said, this doesn't seem like the right forum for this. This doesn't make sense. This is in the weeds that a different audience would value, not the leadership team of the company. I was so, so stuck around my fear and intimidation of her and as that boss.

[00:11:33] Yvonne Heimann: And I think it's also part of, I don't know how, how you were raised, but hearing just a little bit, even from your mom, this idea of we are here to serve.

[00:11:48] Karen Laos: Yes.

[00:11:49] Yvonne Heimann: So by the time somebody throws something out there, and I, I love this example with your boss, because it was literally just like throwing something out there, just an idea, and it's [00:12:00] like, we don't have to pick it up.

[00:12:04] We don't have to take it.

[00:12:05] Karen Laos: Totally.

[00:12:06] Yvonne Heimann: We don't have to serve it.

[00:12:07] Karen Laos: Totally. Yeah.

[00:12:10] Yvonne Heimann: So how did you get, how did you get here? I know that was kind of like that big pivotal moment, but it's like looking, looking at your store as, at your story as a whole with on one hand, your dad giving you that freedom of go, but don't pay, pay, pay full price, go play, go have fun, go ask for what you want.

[00:12:38] And then having, having a mom that models, don't ask for what you want. What, what was that journey from that to yeah, that 2019 of heck yeah, I'm doing this.

[00:12:55] Karen Laos: Yeah, the, I will say a clarifying point [00:13:00] is it was less about my mom saying, don't ask for what you want, but the priority was on what you said a minute ago is serving other people, everybody else comes first.

[00:13:10] And the other thing that I hear so many women say, and I heard this almost daily from my mom, because she was very involved as a volunteer at our church and she was always calling people. So I would hear her saying at the beginning of every call, as soon as the person would answer, she would say. I'm sorry to bother you, but, and I think that's such a, such a classic example of so many women that things like, I'm sorry, can I ask a question?

[00:13:43] I'm sorry, could I, as if we are basically what we're saying in those moments are, I'm sorry for taking up space, I really didn't mean to, I'm sorry if I got in your way. So I do think that that's an important thing to clarify, although it's [00:14:00] related to your question, but a little bit of a tangent. No,

[00:14:02] Yvonne Heimann: I, I love, I love that clarification.

[00:14:04] And yes, completely. It's like, I have it so often with friends where I'm like, why did you just say, I'm sorry? There is, there is, I, my video editor this morning, literally, I'm like, so can I, can I send you my invoice? I'm like, how is this even a question?

[00:14:25] Karen Laos: Exactly.

[00:14:26] Yvonne Heimann: I love him to pieces. Love him to pieces. It's the Brazilian thing.

[00:14:29] And it's like, he's going to learn in a couple of months, he's not going to do that anymore. But I was literally, I'm like. You've done the work, sent me the damn invoice, how is that in question? And he laughed with me, we're having fun with it, right? It's, it's not that, Yeah. that, oh my god, but I've, I've seen it so often and yeah, it, yes, thank you for making the point because it really is where it's like, Oh my God, I'm sorry. I'm taking up space. [00:15:00]

[00:15:00] Sorry, I'm bothering you. I'm like, how, why do we do that?

[00:15:04] Karen Laos: I know it's such a culturally conditioned thing. And so while there was that going on. What I have learned now looking back is that for whatever reason I am a high achiever. That has always been my thing. I don't know if it's because I was trying to be a compliant girl making my dad proud and always trying to get his affections and attention or if it was simply the way I'm wired.

[00:15:32] But what I will say is that one of the reasons why high achieving has worked so well for me is that it's rewarding. When I do something, so basically you think about it, it's a producing, I produce something, people value it. And then I want to do more of that because it feels so good. So the, what I've learned now looking back is that what I didn't value though, was myself just [00:16:00] as a human being.

[00:16:02] So that was what I've come to learn. And it was my now husband, when we were dating. Who gave me a massive revelation by simply mentioning something at the end of, I don't know, whatever time it was, we were both at the end of the day and going out and I was telling him all about what I had done that day at work.

[00:16:24] And he said, honey, I love that you love your job, but it's not why I love you. Do you know that? I love you just because of who you are. And that was so profound to me because I had attached for my entire life. So much of my value and worth. In what I could produce. So that's why the high achieving and the success has been there because it's natural.

[00:16:52] I, I know that that works, but if you stripped all of that away and now I am so much farther down the growth line, [00:17:00] but years ago, I, I don't know that I could have handled that imagining just being me. And taking away all of the things that people had paid for or whatever, you know, that I had produced for them.

[00:17:16] Yvonne Heimann: Yeah. That idea of you have value just because you are you, that's a difficult one. That's a difficult one to, to take in, to honor. Yeah. oh yeah. I feel that one. I feel that one. Ah, so how did you get, was, was it a, oh my god, yes. Or I'm assuming it probably has taken a little bit of work to be like, you know what I'm valuable, no matter what I'm valuable because I'm me and really [00:18:00] living it, really incorporating it.

[00:18:06] Is there something that you have done or is it literally just a practice of, Hey, I'm valuable no matter what that got you to a point of, I don't have to produce to be of value.

[00:18:20] Karen Laos: It was definitely a long journey. Combination of leadership development, but in a group called the Townsend Leadership Program that goes really deep into the character issues that we have, the strengths as well as the issues that help basically looking deep into your character to determine how we make decisions, like the linkage between the character development that we have had and how that ties back to our past.

[00:18:48] And then what that looks like in, Hey, this is why all of this happened. And this is why you're here now. And what if there was a different way? So really diving deep into [00:19:00] that. And certainly a lot of therapy has helped, but that Townsend Leadership Program was an immersive program.

[00:19:06] And I'm still in it. It's been, it's been over 10 years that I've been in it off and on. But I say that because it didn't happen overnight. There was a lot of work and a big part of just being able to even get to a point where I could receive. So one of the things I did in that group that I wanted to share.

[00:19:24] I think a lot of people listening could relate to on some level. I, a lot of people have a problem being seen just for who they are. Like we've already been talking about, but what we did as an exercise before my wedding day, I came to the group and stood in the middle of the circle. It was only 10, it's a group of 10 and they were all sitting around me.

[00:19:50] Just looking at me. And saying how beautiful I looked and it was the hardest thing, the hardest thing as also somebody, and I [00:20:00] think a lot of women also share this, the body image thing of never really feeling pretty or thin enough or whatever enough and then to be standing there, but the goal was to have the experience and just like any role play you do it because your brain subconsciously doesn't know the difference between what's real and what's not so when you practice it once that can help you in the real scenario And that exercise was so helpful for me because at first it felt really weird to have even these people that I knew well, but everybody coming to my wedding would be not, maybe they're not intimate, all of them, intimate friends, but generally speaking, I knew that they cared about me.

[00:20:44] So you could almost say, well, it's, it was a small microcosm of the same type of situation. And I think it helped me a lot. I truly do. Because after a few minutes, even though it was awkward, I started kind of feeling like shoulders back [00:21:00] a little bit, standing a little taller. Yeah, I do look pretty good in my wedding dress, don't I?

[00:21:04] I mean, I wasn't literally wearing the wedding dress, but the idea of what that might look like. So that's one example. A lot of, lot of really in like enacting things or acting as if, in that moment.

[00:21:19] Yvonne Heimann: Yeah. And just the, just the idea. And it's so weird looking at myself, just the idea of being in the middle of like 10, 15 people and knowing it's all good words you got, but just the idea of it.

[00:21:35] I'm like.

[00:21:43] It's this, yeah, I want it, but I don't want it, but I want it, but I don't want it. Oh,

[00:21:49] Karen Laos: that is a perfect representation of that.

[00:21:52] Yvonne Heimann: It's like, we should just celebrate that, right? We celebrate everybody else like that. Why can't we do it with ourselves?

[00:21:59] Karen Laos: [00:22:00] Really? I know. It's so true. It's so fascinating, isn't it?

[00:22:04] How easy it is to advocate for other people. To celebrate them, lift them up. But when it comes to ourselves, I mean,

[00:22:12] I remember I went to a retreat once and our exercise, step one of the exercise was to write down in about a minute, all of the negative self talk that we typically say to ourselves. As much as we could think of.

[00:22:27] Yvonne Heimann: Oh, you know how much I can get done in 30 seconds? I don't need a minute for that.

[00:22:33] Karen Laos: You're a high achiever.

[00:22:36] Yvonne Heimann: Let's be honest. Negative self talk, queen of it right over here. Queen of it. Well, not the queen I want to be. Not the queen I want to be. I know.

[00:22:49] Karen Laos: So step two was the thing that surprised me. We had to pair up with somebody.

[00:22:55] And then we came up to the front of the group, exchanged the lists. [00:23:00] So if you and I exchanged the list, I would be reading to you the words that you wrote. And man, that was, I think, if I think about it as a facilitator of retreats myself, I don't think that was the wisest thing to do in a group setting, but I will tell you, I've never forgotten it.

[00:23:24] And the whole point was. You would never say those things to someone else. Why do we say it to ourselves?

[00:23:38] Should we talk about how to overcome some of this?

[00:23:41] Yvonne Heimann: Ah, yes, please! I'm like, I'm over here, I'm like, Oh, this is hitting home. This is hitting home. Oh my God. Yes! Yes, please. Let's end, let's end this episode on a high note. What can, what can the [00:24:00] audience, because I'm, I'm, I can pretty much sign on the dotted line for this one.

[00:24:04] All of us has experienced this. All of us have done that. How can we stop doing that. How can we get into a better place?

[00:24:15] Karen Laos: Yeah. So I want to give a more mindset one, obviously that's important to your listeners. And also they're both practical, but the other one is more of a, here's an action I can take in the outside world.

[00:24:27] So the first one is called the Broadway musical technique in the spirit of what we were just talking about with the self talk.

[00:24:35] Yvonne Heimann: Mm hmm.

[00:24:36] Karen Laos: The goal is to start by coming up with the phrase that you typically say to yourself. So a standard one that a lot of people say is, I'm not good enough. And so let's use that for a moment.

[00:24:47] So what you do in the privacy of your own car, home, whatever, you sing it like a Broadway musical. So if I say, I'm not good enough, [00:25:00] suddenly that message of self doubt sounds pretty ridiculous. And what it's doing is it's actually changing up the neural pathways in your brain related to that message, such that it takes the power away.

[00:25:15] Now it's not like that's going to just be one and done, but if you notice yourself saying the same thing, just stop for a moment, break the pattern and sing it out loud. And you'll probably start laughing and that shifts the energy.

[00:25:30] Yvonne Heimann: I love that one.

[00:25:31] Karen Laos: So that's one idea. And then the other one. is, this is going to sound like nobody's going to want to do this, but it is so powerful.

[00:25:41] Record yourself and watch it back or listen back. And the reason is because a lot of times, you know, we see ourselves in casual videos and that kind of thing, but how many of us have seen ourselves professionally? When we're having a conversation where [00:26:00] it is something that might be higher stakes or even a business meeting and getting more awareness around how our voice sounds, how our facial expressions look, all of these things contribute to our confidence level.

[00:26:14] And we won't know what those are unless we see the actual reality. Those are a couple of tips that I would, that I would mention.

[00:26:25] Yvonne Heimann: And I can, I can definitely say on that whole self recording thing, because I pretty much record everything. And with the YouTube channel, I have watched myself talk to myself more often than I can count.

[00:26:38] But it's also interesting watching myself different from my YouTube videos, to when I'm actually working with a client, I, I record client calls because when I'm at it, I'm, I'm in it. I don't remember what I said five minutes ago when I'm in a coaching call, because I'm just in it. I'm [00:27:00] present. So I like to record everything to be able to pull out our action tasks and all the stuff.

[00:27:06] And when I'm watching myself back and I'm like, Huh, that's interesting. Especially with English being my second language and being a German, I'm like, sometimes I watch myself when I get passionate about a client thing and when they have a breakthrough and all the things. And I'm like, that didn't necessarily look fun and passionate.

[00:27:29] What is going on there? And just, you know, but also not, not really judging just as a looking back at it. What's happening, just asking question and, and just seeing myself and, and getting that outside perspective of that's interesting. Oh, do I want to do something about it? Do I not want to do something about it?

[00:27:53] Or just crack myself up about some stupid stuff I said, who knows? Like [00:28:00] I live,

[00:28:00] Karen Laos: I want to pause there because that is such a beautiful outlook and I hope everybody is hearing that because the ability to look at it objectively and decide, like you said, do I want to do something about this or not? And so often we criticize ourselves and I always tell people before you watch your own video, remember, watch it as if it's somebody else.

[00:28:25] And that can help to extract some of the personal feelings around it.

[00:28:30] Yvonne Heimann: Oh, some of the weird stuff I say cracks me up. It's like one of my favorite words still is swivel because no, it's swivel is way too much. No swivel is everybody uses swivel. Swivel is way much more fun. So yeah, guys. I, I really recommend doing that.

[00:28:47] Have fun with it. Don't use this to beat yourself up, but actually have fun with it. Karen, tell the audience, you have a whole bunch of resources. You do so many things. Where can [00:29:00] people find you? Where can people connect with you?

[00:29:02] Karen Laos: Karen Laos.com is the best place to find all the things and it's K A R E N L A O S.

[00:29:09] And what I would say, if anybody is interested in Nine Words To Avoid And What To Say Instead, that is my freebie on my website. And I do lots of videos on Instagram and I have got a podcast called Ignite Your Confidence, and I wrote a book called Trust Your Own Voice.

[00:29:28] Yvonne Heimann: And as always, links are going to be in the show description to make it really simple for you.

[00:29:34] Karen, thank you so much for all the laughs and joining me on the podcast today. I cannot wait to see you celebrate those 10 millions, because there's no doubt in my mind, you're actually going to reach those.

[00:29:47] Karen Laos: Thank you.

[00:29:49] Yvonne Heimann: Thanks. Bye, everybody.

[00:29:51] Karen Laos: Bye.

Empowering Entrepreneurs by Transforming Corporate Stagnation into Purpose with Karen Laos
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