Welcome to It’s A Magical Life. In this podcast I’m here today with the gorgeous Kenna Dean on Resilience.
This is Episode Four, and today we are talking about all things business. Kenna Dean is the consummate entrepreneur. She began her career as an actress. This is where she first learned to sell her self, appearing in numerous commercials, TV shows and films.
After 30 years as an actress Kenna decided to step behind the camera and open a business. Without a college degree and zero experience in business, she started a company and grew it into a seven figure a year business with 11 full time employees. As a result of the success of this business. She was able to retire early.
Kenna is regularly asked to speak at colleges, chambers of commerce, trade schools and business events. She’s the founder of KDean Consulting, which specializes in sales coaching, helping people to become more persuasive, have more presence, and make more of an impact in their career and in their life. In her free time, Kenna enjoys spending time with her family, trying out recipes and playing ping pong.
So Kenna, welcome! We have so much to talk about.
Well, I’m excited to be here. I think this is very exciting – I always enjoy speaking and telling my story and hopefully leaving the listeners with a little nugget that maybe they didn’t have before they tuned in. I have such a variety of topics and a lot of wisdom from all my years. So hopefully I can be of service and, and help out.
Terrific. So let’s get started. So you’ve had more than 30 years of executive business development sales leadership coaching experience under your belt. That is amazing. What got you started in this?
I was one of those kids that knew very early on what I wanted to be, which was an actress, and I was that one that invited the neighbors to come and I charged $1, so right there I was being an entrepreneur. I would write and I would do my little show and, you know one thing led to another and as you just stated, I did a lot of TV and a lot of commercials, etc.
I just found that I really enjoyed pitching myself, putting myself out there, selling myself, and I realized that something I was really good at and it was comfortable for me. That is something that I noticed a lot of people are not comfortable with it. They might have a great product or a great service, but the thought of actually putting themselves out there is scary.
That’s sort of where I come in. I like to work on self confidence and feeling comfortable with what you’re doing, figuring out what makes you special and different, and also how to deal with issues. You know, you and I’ve discussed before, resilience is such an important skill, not only in business, as you know, but in life because things happen, right?
Life happens, and how do you overcome those situations?
That’s such an important skill to learn, because that’s really what’s going to take you through the dark times, you know, kind of like the one we’re in right now, as a matter of fact.
If we look at resilience in your life as an actress doing the commercials, there must have been a few things or products that didn’t sit right with you. Were there any moments where you kind of thought, this is just a paycheck? Or did you seek out things that resonated with you more?
You know what, I think it goes back even further than that, because I didn’t have a lot of like financial backing, emotional backing, support, etc. So I think I sort of developed that skill, almost by default. You know, when you don’t have that around you, surrounding you, naturally you have one of two choices in my opinion: you either call up your big girl panties and learn how to sort of move forward, right? Or you go home, you stop, whatever that looks like. Whether that means you get into, you know, things that aren’t healthy for you or self sabotaging or just whatever.
So I chose the first one where I don’t know where it came from, but I’m just that person where if there’s a roadblock or a challenge in front of me, be it business or personal, I find a way to get around it rather than letting it beat me. I think that’s really something that we can all, we all need to learn because you know, life happens. You never know what’s what you’re going to come up against, right?
Exactly. That is such an important message. In my pilot episode actually titled “when life happens or when life gets in the way.”
There you go. Because it does. It really does and in business, I would constantly – kind of go to the business side. You know, being an entrepreneur. It’s not for the faint of heart, right? It’s for people that are willing to hang in there no matter what happens, and they’re willing to move forward because there is no plan B. It’s this or nothing.
It’s really easy to come up with excuses of life happened, my car broke down. Whatever it is, just like in life, you hear people kind of going right to the victim mentality. I would do it but this happened and, you know, you and I discussed before what are some tips that I put out there as a – as a business person in my career.
One of the first ones is no excuses because you have control, you have a choice and you may not like what you have to do to get where you need to go, whether that’s personally or in business, but you do have a choice. I think that, unfortunately, more often than not, people sort of go to the victim mentality of: it’s being done to me and therefore I can’t do X, whatever X is, right?
Exactly, and I think the victim mentality we all fall into that to some degree. But, it’s like a magnet that attracts even more of that. It tells people around you that it’s okay for you to be a victim so they can keep lumping things onto you. Right? It’s like that self fulfilling prophecy, right?
Then they can say, “See, I told you,” you know, I would have done that. But look what happened. So, my whole belief as I go through life and business and in my personal life is yes, things happen. Sometimes it feels not great. And like you said, sometimes I can go to that place of like, “why is this happening to me?” But fortunately, for whatever reason, I can then have that other voice go, “Wait a second. This is your story. This is your life. This is your business. If you’re not going to change it and fix it and make it work. Who is?” And since I didn’t have anybody that was going to, I guess that’s where I learned to sort of just figure it out myself.
Right. So you’ve done your commercials, your TV shows, your films, you founded KDean Consulting, and you’ve amazingly juggled all of this with motherhood. Tell me your tip there on juggling?
I was wondering if you’re gonna bring that in. It’s one of those things where what was my option. Right? So, my options were, either figure out how to make it happen. And I knew for me when I started my company, I think I mentioned to you before that one of the reasons was I wanted to bring my son to work.
I didn’t like the idea of me, and I’m not this is not judging other mothers because being a mother, it’s a full time job. But for me, I knew that I would not be happy working at a full time job while my son was somewhere else, and then I would see him only in the evening. So for me that wasn’t going to work.
So, when I started my company, I had a little setup where his crib was there and his toys were there and that’s what his life looked like, and then eventually he would be in school, and then he come there after work. So it was tricky. It was very juggling.
Time management is so important, because when you’ve got so many balls in the air, it’s really easy to sort of lose focus, and then some balls are going to hit the ground or things are going to slip through the cracks. I again, I think it’s a learned skill. You know, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Juggling things like that can be very stressful. Running a business alone can be stressful, let alone motherhood, which is another big stressor.Let me just say this. I’m not claiming that I did it perfectly.
We never do it perfectly, Kenna!
I just want to make that super clear so that the listeners are not saying like, “Oh, please!” She’s Superwoman, that’s okay for her. Oh, no, there were many nights of crying in the closet, you know, going to therapy. But you know, working out is important. An occasional glass of wine, you know, whatever it takes to, you know, sleep, self care. You got to put all that in there because you can’t put yourself at the bottom of the priority list. Because like you said, when we spoke earlier, if you don’t take care of yourself, something’s gotta give right? something’s gonna suffer.
Exactly, that’s where your health will slide. And you know, before you know it, you’ll get one of those nasty labels and you go, how did that happen?
Yeah, it’s really important. So I feel that, even though stress does get the best of me sometimes, or I also have suffered with anxiety in the past and, you know, sort of learning how to get a handle on that as I navigate through life, you know, with being a mother and having a business and just having a regular you know, just my personal life, it’s a – it’s challenging.
So we’ve got here your top three tips, we’ve covered two of them. First was no excuses. The second is self care being a priority for you and your third one is don’t believe the naysayers. Can you tell us a bit about that one?
I believe there are two kinds of people. I think that there are entrepreneurs, we sort of have a brain that’s, I think, wired in a different way. Because you have to be able to think out of the box, not follow the party line, beat your own drum, you know and all those things.
Then you have the other people that do better working in the regular nine to five jobs and this and that, again, no judgment – you have to have both in the world. But I think this skill of being able to think out of the box and really, when you see a problem, how do I get around this? Some people can’t do that. So they’ll often put their belief on you, “Oh, that’s not gonna work” or “what are you thinking” or “don’t be ridiculous” or, you know, that type of thing?
Yeah, you’re chasing a pipe dream, we say here. You know, it’s just something that’s out there and you’ll never achieve it. And it’s normally because they’ve had a passion or a dream, and either haven’t chased it, or they failed at it because they let someone else talk them out of it.
Right, then they want to put that thought on you and when you’re an entrepreneur or starting a business or even overcoming something in your life, I think it’s important to keep your truth, right? And focus on that and just keep going because not everybody’s cut out to be an entrepreneur and that’s okay. But if you feel you really have that in you, you just got to keep pushing and not listen to the poo-pooers, you know?
And I think the same goes for your health. If you want vitality and energy and a better level of health, don’t listen to the people that are gonna keep dragging you down.
Yes, a great example of that is I recently became almost a vegan. So I would say 95% a vegan. And I have a friend who kind of likes to tease me about it, right? And kind of puts me down about it. I just laugh it off and just remember why I’m doing it, why it’s working for me, and move on. I don’t really get into that with that person. Yeah. But you know, that’s a good example right there.
Exactly. Now, I want to take you back to a time in your 20s. You were dealing with anorexia. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yes. That was really before people really knew about anorexia and I actually didn’t even know that it was happening until I was reading about it in a magazine. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was reading this article, and somebody was talking about their situation and I was thinking, gosh, this sounds familiar.
What I was doing in my life was living on sodas and laxatives and weighing myself five times a day and fantasizing about food, but not really eating it. That was sort of my reality. So when I saw that article it was like, Oh my gosh, that’s me.
I’m very tall. Not very tall. I’m five, eight, and I was really thin. But of course, I thought I was fat because you have a distorted thought about what you look like. Once I realized what that was, I remember I was able to find a book about it and also get some professional help on it and just really made it a priority to change, because that was five years of my life.
It consumes you. I mean, I remember, it’s kind of embarrassing to say, but I’m sure if there’s anybody out there that can relate, but I remember going to people’s houses like for a party and sneaking into the kitchen to look in their pantry at the food. Not that I was going to eat any of the food, but just there was something about it, I became obsessive about it.
You know, it had control over me, rather than me having control over it, and was able to really, through some difficult work, a. figure out why it was happening, which became very clear. It had to do with my childhood and my dad, and then how to overcome that so that food became – it sounds corny but my friend, not my enemy sort of lurking behind the curtain.
One of the first things I did was toss out the scale. Because when you weigh yourself that much, there is that’s a great excuse to now beat yourself up because you’re never going to achieve when you’re in that sort of mind space. That sickness, you’re never going to get there wherever there is, you know? I stopped doing all the sodas and the laxatives and I started eating. Eating food.
What did your body think of that?
Well at first that’s really uncomfortable because – not physically uncomfortable, so much as emotionally uncomfortable because it’s scary, you know? Then finally, I was just able to sort of live like that and live through the discomfort to where I got to my natural body weight.
Rather than obsessing about eating, eating until I was full and, you know, to this day, I still don’t weigh myself. I can tell where I’m at based on my clothing and when I eat, it’s for pleasure and also energy and whatever. It’s not for emotional support- It’s not your therapist. I’m not emotionally eating, not eating my feelings.
So now I have a very healthy relationship with food and fortunately, I was able to pass that down to my son as well who now is in his 20s and eats really healthy, which is awesome to see. When he is full, he stops he’ll have a sweet or he won’t have a sweet, it’s not like this sort of obsessive thing that I lived in when I was his age, you know?
So you’ve mentioned facing adversity and challenges. And so what would you say the key is? Is it not giving up? Is it taking it head on?
You know how the Pitbull is a dog that when it bites on something locks on? That’s it, it locks on. Well you know that because you rescue animals and things like that, right?
I don’t know if you’re aware of Australian birds but we have cockatoos and galahs here and the cockatoos are the white ones with the sulfur crest and I think every time I have rescued one of them they have latched on to my finger. Thank goodness I wear gloves all the time, because they lock on and, and their beaks actually, in a lot of the parrot species, the beak hinges so that it locks on to the food. And you know, when they’re hanging off your finger and you’re thinking, “I’m trying to save your damn life, can you let go?” I totally get the locking on. Yes.
So that’s kind of me. I think one of my biggest challenges in my life I would say, aside from when I was anorexic was in the middle of having my business, and it was quite large at that point, my office building caught on fire and it was a massive fire with 145 firefighters. For three months, my employees were working out of my house because there was no office anymore. It was incredibly stressful.
I just remember, there were so many times during that time where I just thought, “I can’t do this. I’m not going to be able to make it through this,” because I was paying my employees’ salary out of a credit card and trying to keep it, you know everything, you know that vision of the little boy running and plugging up the dam as it’s starting to break? And that’s what I felt, you know, my business was in chaos.
So then inside I was in chaos and I just thought, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this.” Not only “I can’t do this business,” like I was just in not a good place in my life. It was very scary for me, but I thought, you know what? Again, many tears, therapy, you know, going to the self care, right? How can I – where, what are my resources I can pull on to help me through this time?
I think that’s the key. Don’t try to do it by yourself because nobody is a super hero, right? What are the resources you can pull on, whether it’s friends, therapist, maybe it’s medication that you need to be on at that time, or just sleeping or massages or whatever it is for you, that’s going to help push you through that difficult time. I say, do it.
I think this is where coaches really come into their own. Having someone that’s there to support you, keep you accountable, but isn’t going to do it for you. They just help you find the path. Because sometimes when you’re in that chaos and turmoil and scary situation, it’s really hard to see the path.
Right? We’ve been there. We’ve all been there. Oh, yeah and you look and you go, where’s the path? You can’t see the path. All I can see is the fire and brimstone that’s it.
That’s all I could see and sometimes it’s just that self care and people to listen, and I have no judgment on any of that, because I’ve done it, I’ve been through it, I’d be the first one to say you can’t do it by yourself, you know, find what works for you and use it.
I think when you’re starting a business or you know, following any sort of passion, it’s really just knowing where your end point, which direction it is, not exactly where it is, but which direction and just aiming yourself on the map and just get started with it. That’s a great way to put it, just get started. And, and also know that through it, you will fall on your face, learn what works and what doesn’t work, pick yourself up and try it again.
I had a session where I was coaching a young woman and she did something where it clearly didn’t work in her business. She’s starting out and I said, “this is when you’re learning what works and what doesn’t work. It’s a vital part of starting something.” It’s like a baby that takes the first steps. They’re going to fall down. It’s just the way it is. We don’t, unfortunately, get an instruction manual, right, that says, ‘This is how to be the perfect parent. This is how to be the perfect business owner.” We don’t, and the only way to know is try. If it doesn’t work. Try something else. You know?
I think those are some fantastic tips. Now, we have to touch on ping pong. What got you started on to ping pong?
You know, when I was a kid, there was a an older gentleman living next door, and he had a ping pong table in his yard. I was probably eight and I would go over there and he was probably 80. The two of us would play ping pong and he taught me how to play and I just, throughout the years, sometimes I’ve had a ping pong table, sometimes I haven’t.
Or you just find one, you know, different places if you’re staying in a hotel or wherever. And I just kept it up and I just, I just enjoy it. You know, just how you said you like, having a punching bag, right? Ping Pong for me is just something I have a lot of fun doing, and it’s good exercise. I taught my son how to play and now he can beat me so I’m not entirely happy about that. I did the same with chess, I thought that was a good idea and now I can’t ever win a game.
I guess that’s how it’s meant to be though. We pass the baton on to the younger ones. Now, people can find you www.KDeanconsulting.net. And Facebook at KDean consulting 4 you and on LinkedIn. So we love to give freebies to people here. So as far as a freebie goes, What are you offering the listeners?
You know, I’m a big believer in giving back. I think that just to quickly touch on that a little bit. I think in life. It’s so important to go in with the attitude of how can I help rather than what’s in it for me, which I find a lot of people have that thought, right? What am I going to get out of this? And I sort of try to go through life and how can I help other people?
You and I’ve discussed this before. I wish I had a mentor when I was starting out, because I think that would have been helpful. So, what I was going to say is I’m happy to, if any of your listeners find anything I said a value and feel like, Oh, that was a lot of value there. You know, this really resonates with me and I would be happy to give away a couple coaching sessions if people feel that, you know, what I touched on would be something that they could use in their life or in their business. Great. So there’s a 45 minute sessions on business development, leadership and much more.
I would really love people to take you up on that offer. Because, as you said, you wished you had a mentor when you started and I certainly did as well. It will really help you find that path on the map. Having a coach having a mentor, it’s something that will keep you accountable, give you more ideas and we were talking about thinking outside the box before. I think people keep thinking that box is sealed closed. What a coach or a mentor can do is give you the Stanley knife to cut the tape and open the lid.
It opens. And you can get out of that box quite easily. That is what a coach does. They just go look, here’s how you do it, there’s the direction, cut there and jump out. That’s a great way to put it. I don’t always tell my clients what they want to hear. It’s more about what they need to hear because you know, but I’m always nice and supportive, but I’m very honest as well because hopefully what I have to offer saves people some of the heartache, the falling on their face that I experienced to get where I am today, and to help expedite that a little bit so that they can continue to be successful in their business or in their personal life.
That is fantastic. Well, thank you again for your time. Kenna, I know we’ve had a time difference delay here. Now, some very valuable freebies there from Kenna. This episode has been so full of nuggets to write down any wisdom to take in. So thank you again.
We hope you enjoyed listening to Kenna Dean On Resilience. For people joining us for Episode Five, we have Sharee, who is the founder of The Wellness and Coaching Company joining us on our next episode of the podcast and she will have some more insight on facing fears and how to rewire your brain so stay tuned for that. But again, thank you, Kenna, for your time today. It’s been lovely.