Kathi Lipp and her friend and change agent, Michele Cushatt talk about being the communicator God created you to be. Sometimes, well a lot of times, we have to have a serious heart to heart with ourselves and make some changes in our business/ministries.
Kathi gets personal and shares with you some big changes she’s made in her business and the questions to ask yourself if you are needing to make some changes too.
In today’s episode, you will learn the process of making important shifts by asking yourself:
- What do I need to launch to grow my ministry?
- What do I need to leverage to maximize impact?
- What do I need to let go of because it’s not serving me or my audience?
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Transcript of this Episode
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Communicator Academy Podcast # 192
Being the Communicator God Created You to Be
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women become the communicators God has created them to be. With me today is my friend, change agent, Michele Cushatt.
Michele – Yes, we’re both change agents.
Kathi – Oh my, goodness. So, this is the raw and unplugged. It’s so funny, in our opening, we say it every week, so it does become trite after a while, ‘to become the communicators God has created them to be’. We’re talking about that today.
Michele – Yes, we are, and how that changes over seasons and time. Who I am as a communicator ten years ago, is not necessarily who I am today.
Kathi – I feel like, in 2019 more things changed for me personally, than, maybe, the entire ‘80s for me. Change happens more quickly now. I thought as you got older, that stuff slows down, and to me, it’s the exact opposite. Big sweeping changes in what’s going on in our lives, our businesses, our ministries. Do you call yours a business? A ministry? Do you go back and forth?
Michele – I think it’s both. I go back and forth. My belief…
Kathi – This will be interesting, ‘cause I call mine something, and I’ve committed to calling it that.
Michele – But this has changed since I was younger. Can we do a tiny bunny trail?
Kathi – Yes! Please!
Michele – So, when I was fifteen years old, I went to a church conference, a youth conference and I walked down the aisles and committed my life to fulltime Christian service. Right? The definition, this was the ‘80s, speaking of the ‘80s, fulltime Christian service means you had to be on the mission field or in a church office 40 hours a week. Nothing else counts. As a 48 year old woman who has studied Scripture and thought and processed it more, I think fulltime Christian service can look a variety of different ways.
Kathi – Absolutely.
Michele – You can work in a corporate office and it can be fulltime Christian service. I think you can work, fulltime, in a church, and still not be doing fulltime Christian service.
Kathi – Woo. Okay.
Michele – So, as I’ve changed my philosophy of that, business ministry, I think they’re one and the same. Ministry is just a mindset that you are walking out the gospel, wherever God has planted you.
Kathi – Yes. Okay, I’ll tell you why I call mine what I call mine. I call mine a business. Now, the reason is, because I have faulty thinking, from my upbringing, that ministry is different than business. When I was growing up, this is going to sound so awful, but people who couldn’t cut it in the business world went in to ministry.
Michele – I remember some of that mindset, that mentality.
Kathi – When I call it a ministry, I feel like I don’t have to watch my bottom line. I don’t have to make hard business decisions. I’m doing everything for ministry. But, here’s the difference, people in ministry get burnt out at three times the rate. Let’s be clear. I do not feel that way anymore. People who are doing excellence in business and excellence in ministry are excellent. I do not have that feeling anymore, but for me, personally, I can use ministry as a copout to not work hard, to not make hard decisions, to not get rid of the people I need to get rid of. “It’s a ministry! I want to love everybody!” Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is show somebody the door.
Michele – That’s actually true. Creating a new opportunity for them elsewhere.
Kathi – Right. And by the way, if you think I’m talking about you, I’m not. Let’s just be clear. If you’re concerned about that, call me, text me, whatever. We have both learned some hard lessons in 2019. We both got our butts kicked a little bit in 2019.
Michele – Yes we did.
Kathi – I’ll just say it, I had some huge disappointments in 2019.
Michele – I did too. Definitely.
Kathi – So, you know, if you have any delight in anybody else’s failings? This is the episode for you!
Michele – You should be ecstatic right now. It’s part of life.
Kathi – It really is. I don’t like that, though.
Michele – We want everything to be upward trajectory. It’s not going to be that way. In many ways, 2019 was a good year, so here’s where we say, “There’s so much to celebrate.” But not everything in 2019 happened the way we imagined or dreamed it would be. In some ways it was very difficult.
Kathi – So, here’s what I think I want to do. We didn’t talk about this beforehand. I think I want to do it in two parts. I want to talk about my huge failings, and everything that happened in 2019, then we’ll come back and do another episode, just because I think this is important. We want you guys to know that things change in our businesses and our ministries, and for you to have some freedom in that.
Michele – I think we should call it, “Lessons I Learned Last Year”. Part One, Kathi Lipp. Part Two, Michele Cushatt.
Kathi – There we go. So, let me just tell you one of the hardest things for me, last year? As you know, Leverage Speaker Conference, was my favorite thing that I did every year.
Michele – You came to life.
Kathi – So much good ministry and business happened there. But, conferences have changed. There are some big conferences that are doing really well. There are some medium conferences that are doing really well. Leverage did not have the attendance that we thought it would. Now, the interesting thing is, the alumni, the people who are coming back, filled up right away.
Michele – Yes. It had value.
Kathi – So, to me, that says, “This is a good conference.” But, what we learned, and I didn’t learn this until the first day of the conference. It was my suspicion, but I didn’t learn it until the first day of the conference, is that people were making the decision, “Do I go to The Red House or do I go to Leverage?”
Michele – Competing against yourself.
Kathi – Exactly. We were our own competition. The Red House retreats have done incredibly well, thank God, and we love doing them, but with Leverage, we had cannibalized our audience. So, we made the very hard decision, this year, we would not, for now (and probably never, but I don’t know what God has in store) do it as a large scale conference anymore. This is the first time I’m saying it publically. I said it at Leverage, we knew that decision was happening. I was sad for a day. I was really sad for a day. Then I was like, “Okay! This is what we’re doing.” Can I tell you what I was saddest about?
Michele – What were you sad about?
Kathi – It’s so ego. It was fun to be founder of a big conference that was doing well.
Michele – I love your self-awareness with that. I love that. It was your brain child. I remember when you came up with the whole Leverage content on the napkin. I remember all of that. I remember us sitting in an Airbnb on the east coast. Remember talking about that? We were talking about all your ideas for Leverage. I remember all of that. To be a founder of something brand new and so big, it’s hard to let go of.
Kathi – You know, I was like, “Okay, you’re the most shallow person on the planet.” But here’s what I learned: None of that content is disappearing.
Michele – No! It’s not going away.
Kathi – And we’re taking a lot of those things and we’re putting them in The Red House. What I’ve discovered about myself in 2019, that is radically different than what I thought before, is, I’m not a one-on-one person, and I’m not a large group person. I am a small group leader.
Michele – I like that. Again, I think that’s wisdom and self-awareness.
Kathi – And it’s so freeing, but it’s hard to get out of that mindset. You had sent me an email about coaching clients. You have so many clients that are waiting to be coached by you, that you are saying, “Hey, can I refer people to you?” and I’m like, “Oh my, gosh! I should absolutely do this. Of course!” Then, I realized, “No, that’s not what I do anymore.”
Michele – Oh, good!
Kathi – You want people to be with the right people, and right now, I would not be the right people. So, everything for me is shifting. We are doing twice as many Writing at The Red Houses this year as we did last year. Part of that is because we have groups coming back. That shows me that small groups are my jam. We have groups coming back, so that’s amazing. I’m doing a mastermind of six people. That’s my jam. When I know everybody’s name, but they’re not pouring out to me about their third child’s problems at school? I don’t want to get that deep with a person. I want to be in a group where we’re…
Michele – A unified purpose. Coming together for a purpose.
Kathi – Exactly. We’re speaking about marketing, we’re speaking about ‘How do we build your business?” That kind of stuff I love, but I have learned that I don’t want to do, for now at least, the large groups.
Michele – That’s its own kind of nightmare. It’s a lot of work to put on events.
Kathi – I would say that Leverage took four months out of our year. It was a third of our year that was committed to Leverage and it was worth it, but it’s not going forward. So, we’ll do Leverage here at The Red House. Instead of having six small groups, we’ll have one small group of six. We’re doing alumni here, so it’s exciting. How did I take me 52 years?
Michele – I don’t think it took 52 years. I think this is a normal part of us as humans. We like things to be predictable, but we also have to be adaptable. Trying new things is great, but also being able to adjust and course correct or reinvent something at all times. I think that part of the trick is, I’m going to ask you about this is, not viewing it as a failure.
Kathi – Nothing about Leverage is a failure.
Michele – Nothing at all.
Kathi – To me, I learned that so much of that material was golden.
Michele – And you refined it over and over again.
Kathi – It is excellent and it’ll continue to be refined. It’s so interesting. We’re here at The Red House, and our house elf, the person who cooks and takes care of us, Cheri Fletcher, said she looks back at pictures of herself as a child, and she always had a microphone in her hand. She’s a singer and she’s a speaker. I always said, “Oh, that’s so interesting. When I was a little kid, I was always putting on plays and performances.”
Michele – I always had a book in hand. A book and a coloring book. I would color, or I would read.
Kathi – Coloring stressed me out, but I loved the reading part. What was interesting, that I’d never thought about, ‘cause I really struggled with the title ‘leader’, but I realized I wasn’t putting on plays, I was getting all the kids in the neighborhood to put on a play. I remember all the kids’ names. Stephen and Liz and Gretchen and Cam. My brother was the only boy, so when there were marriage ceremonies, he had to marry everybody. Stephen did, too, but I was always organizing this small group of kids to do the thing. I’ve been a part of a mastermind almost my entire adult life. This is my jam, so understanding that. But, understanding that comes at a cost. That means, certain dreams die.
Michele – Which is part of the hard lesson you learned in 2019. Part of that lesson is, some dreams need to die to make the real dream thrive.
Kathi – Right. It’s hard to kill that, but it’s also good. I’m excited about the new things to come. 2019 was also a hard time for our family. We have a divorce going on in our family. Just some really hard things. What I’ve learned is, as much as I’ve loved to travel and do all the things, and I’ll always have a certain part of that, because that’s how I get to see people, I also need to be a little more settled for my family. There need to be seasons where I’m home and can linger with my family. That’s a good thing. That’s part of what I learned in 2019 as well.
Michele – I would love for you to walk through your process of coming to those conclusions, for those who are listening. I would imagine, the vast majority of people listening, have had had their own 2019 that they’re trying to process through, trying to pull lessons from. How did you process those 12 months, and come to the conclusions of what the lessons are? Then, what are you going to do differently in 2020?
Kathi – You asked me, before we go onto this, the questions I ask myself at the beginning of every year. “What do you want to launch? What do you want to leverage? and What do you want to let go?” It became very clear to me. I was being kept up at night because of Leverage.
Michele – That’s interesting to me. Anything that keeps you awake, over and over again. Momentary anxiety over a project happens. But when it happens repeatedly, for weeks or months. You have to pay attention. What is that saying?
Kathi – Right. So the thing is, I would not characterize myself as an anxious person. The only thing I get anxious over is weird medical stuff. I had a couple of weird medical things.
Michele – And friends with weird medical stuff.
Kathi – Exactly. I’m not an anxious person, so when I’m waking up in the middle of the night, I have to pay attention to that. The other thing is, when I find myself resisting people, not because of who they are, but because of the conversations we have to have?
Michele – Avoiding conversations, avoiding scenarios. Pay attention to that, too.
Kathi – Exactly. So, the other thing I think I’ve figured out, at least for now, unless something changes, things with high financial risk are not good for me.
Michele – That’s good. That’s really good insight. You have to identify your risk aversion. That’s what it’s called. We all have different levels of risk aversion. Some people love risk. They thrive on it. Other are like, it would actually paralyze them.
Kathi – Right. It is a little funny, hearing that come from me, who bought a house to hold business retreats.
Michele – For whatever reason, that’s a little safer to you.
Kathi – I had a Plan B and a Plan C with the Airbnb and things like that.
Michele – There were other benefits of having this place. Roger loves it, your family, all of that. So there were other positives. It wasn’t just all business, there were some personal.
Kathi – Me feeling like I’m risking my family’s money is very hard for me. So understanding what causes me anxiety. So many times we’re told, “Be brave! Pray through it!” But, I think that God’s created me in a certain way. When we’re doing a Red House retreat, and if it doesn’t sell out, I’m not worried about making a mortgage payment. When Leverage doesn’t sell out, I’m worried about making a mortgage payment.
Michele – Understanding the difference. Being able to look at both on paper and say, “I feel different about these.” Is so good. It’s so important.
Kathi – Also, part of what it takes to put on these big events, is a bigger team. A bigger team, as great as my team is, that causes anxiety as well.
Michele – That will keep you awake at night, ‘cause more people are at stake.
Kathi – Right. It’s not just about making the mortgage payment. It’s about not making payroll. That scares me, too. So, I have to pay attention to those things. I can take a medium risk and know that, sometimes, that will pay off really well. Sometimes it won’t, but it’s not life or death. I know not making a mortgage payment is not life and death.
Michele – But, for you, it feels like, “Why do that?” Why do that to yourself?
Kathi – Right. But I also know the one-on-one-on-one stuff can be draining for me. So to pay attention to what fills me up. When six or seven of us are getting together to talk about building our business, that’s my Christmas.
Michele – That’s life-giving. You feel like a new woman at the end.
Kathi – Right. When we get together to talk about writing or speaking and when I can be in a room or on a Zoom call and see a spark of ‘Ah!’ with people? It makes my heart sing. So, I need to pay attention to that.
Michele – Some of this, for those listening, is to spend enough time with yourself to know what fill you and what drains you. What fills your cup and what drains your cup? We all have to do things that drain our cup. Cleaning my bathroom drains my cup.
Kathi – Making the bed every single day. Why is that a thing?
Michele – So we have to do some of those things, but if we’re spending 80% of our time, or 50% of our time doing things that cause us to lose sleep and drains our energy, then we’re not going to have the resources for our family, for ourselves, for our faith, for our work that we need. So, trying to find out what those things are, and then minimizing the energy suckers, and pour more into the life givers.
Kathi – Yeah. So, this time we talked about ‘How do you pay attention to know what are the changes that you need to make?’ Next time, I want to talk about the big changed that you’re making in 2020, and how do we make those changes? That’s the takeaway.
Michele – How do we walk it out?
Kathi – So, for our listeners. Learn from my pain. If something is keeping you up at night, is there a way that you can change that? Do you need to scale up or scale down? Do you need to eliminate something, even momentarily, as you’re trying to figure out what you’re trying to do?
Michele – Remember those, “What do I need to launch?”
Kathi – ‘What do I need to launch?’ Launch is doing something entirely new. So, for me, this year, that’s a business building mastermind. For, ‘What do I want to leverage?’ I’m leveraging The Red House. We’re building on that. We’re doubling the number of Red Houses we’re doing. ‘What do I want to let go?’ The large conference. This, also, is a good filter, the anxiety filter, let’s just call it that, it’s a new tool. Available to everybody, The Anxiety Filter! We’ve been thinking about ‘Do we do a large online conference?’ We’ve been thinking about that. Right now? My anxiety level when I hear that, is too much. I’m like, “I can’t do that right now.” So, right now, it’s still on the board. It’s still something we’re thinking about.
Michele – It’s just not 2020. It maybe 2021 or 2025.
Kathi – Or maybe it requires a different partner. Maybe it requires something different, but right now, we don’t have what we need to do that, and that’s okay.
Michele – The symptoms, I guess, or the things to pay attention to, is anxiety level, sleep level, happiness level. Just your joy level.
Kathi – Right. Do I look forward to that Zoom call? Do I look forward to those people gathering together?
Michele – If I had to put a percentage on it, you want to stay in that place, Michael Hyatt calls it The Desire Zone. You want to stay there 80% of the time. You don’t want to be there only 20% of the time, and doing drudgery the rest of the time.
Kathi – We both have teams, but we share team members. What my team is always asking me is, “How does Kathi stay in her zone of excellence?” It’s like, “I’m good with the small groups, so how do we stay there?” It’s such a freeing question. So, have people around you that ask those good questions.
Michele – The other thing to pay attention to, and you kind of mentioned this, ‘cause you mentioned your personal family has had a hard year, too. So, also, as you weigh your anxiety level, your sleep level, your joy level, all of that, evaluate “What are my family needs right now?” Are they high? Does my family have high needs right now? Medium needs? Low needs? Then, some of your decisions need to be made based on the level of needs you have at home.
Kathi – Exactly. It’s just your reality.
Michele – There’s nothing wrong with it. It is what it is.
Kathi – And, do I want to get to the end of this life and have been a business success and a family failure?
Michele – It’s not a win.
Kathi – It’s not a win. My kids are adult kids. They’re making their own decisions, but I know my role is to not become entangled, but be an encourager and to love well. That’s what I want to do.
Michele – It requires you paying attention to your own anxiety and sleep and everything else, to be able to love well.
Kathi – Exactly.
Michele – This is so good. I love how completely transparent and honest you are. This is how it is. This is real life.
Kathi – Yeah. It’s hard stuff.
Michele – It is hard stuff. It’s not easy at all.
Kathi – There’s a lot of ego involved in all of this.
Michele – When these things happen, you have to face, head on, your own vanity, ego, where your sense of significance is wrapped up. I’ve had to do the same, and we’ll talk about that in the next episode.
Kathi – Okay!
Michele – Thank you, friends. We’re so glad that you hung out with us today. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Michele Cushatt.
Kathi – I’m Kathi Lipp.
Michele – You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items
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