Deborah Kirsten – best-selling author, journalist, artist, and wife of a famous sportsman talks about finding Your Strongest Story in your personal circumstances. That purpose that is unique to you, for the specific season you’re in.
Ever wondered what it must be like to find your own voice in the shadow of a famous sportsman?
In this show we interview Deborah Kirsten – author, journalist, artist and motivational speaker. We discuss:
- What it was like to live in India when Gary was coach of India’s World Cup winning team
- The process she went through to write her book, Chai Tea and Ginger Beer
- How she became brave enough to see herself in the role of heroine in her own story
- Why she and Jacqui Mol (wife of Michael Mol) developed their course Living Your Strongest Story
- Whether your purpose is discovered in a single day or is a process… and whether it’s lifelong or for a season
- Why we all have good intentions, and how we can shift that to Intentional Living
- How she and Gary partnered to allow her career to grow
- What her support system is, and which daily habits she’s implemented
- How she has grappled with setting a price point on her services
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- Deborah’s website
- Strongest Story Website
- If you want to get a copy of Deborah’s book, click on the link below.
Intro: 00:00 Welcome to Working Women’s Wealth where we discuss what it takes to build real wealth in a way normal humans can understand. Here’s your host, Lisa Linfield.
Lisa Linfield: 00:09 Morning, everybody. Today I am extremely blessed to be joined by Deborah Kirsten. For those of you that don’t know Deborah Kirsten or haven’t met her, she’s one of my closest friends and a genuine human being who I love and adore. She is also a journalist, a best-selling author. She is a teacher by training and motivational speaker and all around great talent that has added huge value to so many lives around South Africa. For those of you that also don’t know her, and usually it’s not part of something that one would introduce a person, she is married to Gary Kirsten, who, for our international guests, is probably one of the top batsman of all time and was the coach of the India cricket team when India won the world series. And she has partnered with Jacqui Mol who is also the wife of a TV producer, presenter, a trauma doctor, and also Mr. South Africa. So two phenomenal women who have partnered together on an adventure called Living Your Strongest Story. Living Your Strongest Story is their latest adventure. Debs, will you tell us a little more about it?
Deborah K.: 01:26 Thanks, Lis. It’s lovely to be able to chat with you today. And yes, I’d love to share with you what we’re doing. Jacqui is married to Michael Mol. And when we met, also, myself coming from a life being married to my husband, Gary, who’s also been in the sporting limelight for many years, I think Jacqus and I sort of felt we were quite a kindred spirit when we met each other and, really, immediately connected on the level of being two women who are very familiar with what it feels like to live in the shadow, I guess, of a very big story when I think it happens to many of us, especially many of us women. But I think these things are accentuated when you have a partner who is in the limelight and a celebrity.
So Jacqui and I connected, and interestingly enough, while our husbands are also friends, and they took on two — was it two years ago? — writing the Cape Epic. And this is a grueling mountain bike race. They call it The Mountain Bike Tour de France. So it’s about 8 days of over 100 Ks of climbing, mountain-biking, climbing ridiculous mountains, and up hill and dale. So Mike and Gary took this on together. And Jacqus and I were linked as the now mountain bike widows because the training for it is just something else for months leading up to it. Anyway, when the week arrived of the big event, we had to really, I think, master our enthusiasm to support our husbands because by now we were all over and out of mountain biking. But we though, “You know what? We’re going to go and support them.”
I’ll never forget the day, I think, that … And this is probably the day that Your Strongest Story was birthed. Jacque and I went out to support our husbands. And we were that at the finish line of one of the days. We were, actually, for those who are Capetonians will know Boschendal which is a beautiful wine farm here in Cape Town, and we cheered our husbands coming over the finish line, and then decided we were going to spend the afternoon and the evening with them. And yeah. They came in, as happens with this race, and their bikes get whisked away from them, and they then just sort of sit down and start eating mounds and mounds of meat and protein to refuel themselves. We sat there. Jacqus and I sat with our husbands and they started chatting to one another about their day on the mountain. And mike was saying, “Oh, [Gazin 00:04:43], you remember that switchback down that?” And Gary would go, “Mike, you were amazing up there too.”
They chatted to each other, and it was just this moment of Jacqus and I realizing the feeling of being on the sidelines of a great adventure. They were sharing something so real, a tough adventure, a tough, tough race, and they were so connected and so in this adventure together. And the more the afternoon progressed, and it didn’t go very much further, but the more we realized that we had really kind of, we were on the sidelines of this thing. I think we kind of wrecked their mojo by going out there even. They were looking at their watches after a little while, and we were like, “What’s going on?” They were like, “Well, we actually have got a massage booked.” And anyway.
So before we knew it, they were like, “Do you mind if we just go and get ourselves sorted out?” Anyways. We said, “You guys go. You guys do your thing. This is your adventure.” We just realized we weren’t part of it. And the guys went off and they did their thing for the afternoon of having their massages, and refueling, and fixing bikes. And Jacqus and I sat there. Thankfully, Boschendal sells wonderful and makes wonderful wine. Opened a bottle of wine, sat under a big old oak tree, and really hashed this thing out of what it means, I think, to be on the outside of great stories. What it feels like to be on the sidelines. I think it was indicative of something that we both experienced in our life, living in, really, the shadows of these very big stories that our husbands were living.
I think at that point, we also identified there are so many women who feel this in their lives. They’re living on the sidelines of stories of their husbands, of their children. Maybe it’s colleagues. Maybe it’s parents. But very often we don’t realize that we can and we should be the good story, not just be on the sidelines of it. And I think that’s really where we birthed Living Your Strongest Story and said, “Why don’t we share our own experiences of how this looks to get in the action of our own story, how it looks to become the heroine of your owns story? Let’s put something together that can really facilitate and help women to work towards this.” And, of course, it was our own personal journey and struggle out of which the cause was really birthed. So it’s come a long way since then, and we’re just hugely excited with, I suppose, the amazing, positive response, which is indicative of how many women actually do feel like they’re outside of their own stories.
So that’s, yeah, that’s where it all began.
Lisa Linfield: 07:49 You talk about many women being outside of their own stories. And part of the challenge of that is that our story is actually what we create inside our head. Sometimes it reflects the outside world, but more often than not, it’s what we think. The challenge, always, with what we think … Marcus Aurelius, he was the Roman emperor in the 2nd century, and he authored meditations of Stoic Philosophy. One of the things he was saying is you have the power of the mind, but not any outside events. So realizing this is where you’ll find your strength. And it’s a common theme through any of the great writers of philosophy. The Bible, Proverbs, is, “As a man thinketh, so he is.” It doesn’t matter. Marie Curie, you’ve got a quote in your book which says, “We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
Deborah K.: 08:39 [crosstalk 00:08:39].
Lisa Linfield: 08:39 So you talk about the fact that a story has a structure and there’s a heroine or hero that’s part of the start of the story. Our hero has context. How did you, personally, change the story in your own mind, in your own thinking, to be a hero or a heroine of your story?
Deborah K.: 09:00 Well, I think it’s interesting. I’ve studies so much of story and I’m fascinated by it. One of the basic formula for any good story is that there’s always got to be a character, and the character has to want something. And then the character has to overcome a certain amount of difficulty to get to what they want. So the definition is simple. It’s a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. It’s interesting when you take time to look at what the character of a good story looks like. And interesting when you study story and you realize that, actually, the heroine, and if you think, pretty much to most movies … You know Lis, you and I have watched many movies over the years together.
Lisa Linfield: 09:50 [crosstalk 00:09:50].
Deborah K.: 09:50 You think of Dirty Dancing and Baby. You think of Annie. You think of Pretty Woman. You can go through myriads of … Think of Notting Hill, even Julia Roberts, Notting Hill. Your heroine is always going to be flawed. Your heroine is always going to doubt herself. So there’re very distinct qualities of the heroine, which, actually, it kind of makes one feel better that, you know what, it’s okay if we doubt ourselves. It’s okay if we are flawed and we’re not perfect because this is what makes the heroine. Because in a good story, a good story will always track the progression and the change of the heroine. So it will move you from a point where the heroine was maybe at really doubted herself to a place of self belief. Maybe she was very selfish and then became very kind; very cowardly and then became brave. So a good story and the heroine will always change and grow. And that growth and that change comes through this process of overcoming some sort of hardship.
But I think in my own story … I think it does. I think, Lis, you’re right. It begins with us coming to a point of believing that our story actually is of value. Believing that we are value. And for me, I think that really hit home when I was approached by publishers to write our own story. And they said, “We’d love you to write an autobiography.” I was so excited. I’d been working as a freelance journalist. So it’s every writers dream to write your own story. And when I sat down to write, Lisa, I felt, “Well, what do they want?” And I knew that, in my heart, I was like, “Well, they want Gary.” I was married. Being married to this big sporting hero, and they wanted to find out, “What was it like being married to this man, living in this world of international sport?” So I sat down and I started writing, actually, my story starting from when I met Gary. Nothing about it was gelling. It just wasn’t coming together. And I was grappling with this for weeks trying to get the story going. And eventually, I closed my laptop. And I actually just got on my knees and I said, “God, you’ve given me this incredible opportunity to write my story. Why is it not coming together?” And for quite a few weeks, I really just, I spent some time in prayer and introspection, and just really reflecting on my own story. Then, it gradually started to come to me. And I just had a deep sense of, I guess, God just saying, “This is your story, and you need to own it. You need to own every part of it. And yes it falls within this bigger story of cricket and Gary’s big story, but I want you to own your story. I want you to find value in your story.”
So I think that that’s always the starting point for any of us, and certainly was for me. Was to say, “You know what? I have a story, and it’s a good story, and it’s of value, and it can add value.” And I think that’s the key thing, when we realize our story has got so much value to add to other people’s story.
Lisa Linfield: 13:33 It is truly difficult, as many of us women find, to be able to believe that our story has any value to it. Who would want to know my story? I think that’s a natural thing that each of us feel. And I think that that contrast must be extremely big for you in the sense that in your book, Chai tea & Ginger beer, you talk about a time when you were in a shopping center and there was just an absolute, almost stampede of people trying to get to Gary. And the security had to intervene. What did that feel like for you?
Deborah K.: 14:04 Well, that’s actually quite a funny story because the day that happened, and I’ve got sort of whisked away and pushed away from him. And I was with the kids, and they sort of gave security guards to myself and the kids. And then Gary disappeared in this crowd of people and the security. Eventually, when I had went to the other end of the shopping mall to sort of almost, I guess, protect the children because in India, they are cricket crazy. So once one person heard Gary was in the mall, before we knew it, there were about 150. When Gary eventually phoned me and he said, “Okay, well, you can come back and find me.” I said, “Well, I don’t know where you are.” He said, “No, don’t worry. You will find me.” He said, “Come to the first floor.” And we went up the escalator to the first floor, and it was this crowd of now about 150 people. And they had gathered ’round like a center in the center court of this mall. They had a children’s playpen surrounded by little white picket fence. And they had plunked Gary inside the playpen with the picket fence around so that he would be protected.
But anyhow. I’ll never forget that. And then everyone sat around the edges taking pictures of Gary with the seesaw and the [inaudible 00:15:23] fluffy toys next to him in the playpen. But yeah. Lisa, I think that certainly comes with the territory of being married to a celebrity. And it’s something I think I definitely came to terms with. But I don’t think I really realized, until probably I started writing my own book … I don’t think I realized how it had chipped away at my own sense of valuing my story. Wherever we go and went, it would always be about Gary. Everyone would want to talk about cricket, and speak to him, and want his autograph, and want his photograph. And I can take a photograph with every cell phone know to mankind because I’m always the photographer. And I think it’s … No one really ever wanted to say, “Well, hi, Debbie. You have a name.” I’m not just Gary Kirsten’s wife. “What did you study? What did you do?” People stopped talking to me because of course they wanted to speak to Gary.
So I think, gradually, it did chip away at my own sense of confidence, my own sense of self worth. And I slowly started to think, “Well, my story must just not be interesting enough. Maybe it’s not important enough. Maybe it’s just too boring.” But this happens to all of us on different levels. It was just accentuated for me. So I think we’ve all experienced that feeling of really devaluing our own story and saying, “It’s not as interesting as my friends, and it’s not as glamorous, and it’s not as pretty.” We, constantly, as women, are in this space of comparing ourselves and our stories to those around us.
Lisa Linfield: 17:18 When you people through your course, Stronger Story, how do you help them realize or understand? Because many people don’t know what their story is.
Deborah K.: 17:27 We actually go through a process which is quite tough for the ladies. It’s the very first section of the story. And we get them to actually plot their story almost on a graph. And you being a great mathematician, I remember that well, would probably love this little exercise. But we sort of have the graph line, and the highs go above, and the lows go below the line. And they sort of plot their story, sort of significant moments of highs, of lows, and then, join the dots, as it were. So you usually have a real mountain, valley looking graph at the end of it. And I think that this sort of helps people reflect on their story. A big part of it, for us, is really getting the women to look at those real valleys in their story.
We have a whole section where we try and get the women to create a new perspective on these painful parts of their story because I think that part of us not owning our story and valuing it is because all our stories come with so many lumps, and bumps, and mess, and unpretty things. And we don’t like to acknowledge these things. They make us think that our story is not good enough because there are so many of these low points and painful parts. So we take the women through a process and a journey of specifically looking at these hard parts of their story. Then, trying to extract something out of those hard parts that is actually meaningful, and is actually almost a mountain-top learning. So we even get the women to flip the graph at the end and try and see what is this incredible diamond that was found in the ashes there, in the stone of the hardest part of their story.
This process of owning story, this process of looking at the shape of our story, and then finding a new perspective, a new way of looking at these painful parts, I think it’s incredibly … The women find it liberating. They find it very empowering when we actually realize sometimes the hardest, messiest, most painful parts of our story have actually really equipped us with certain things to move forward in our story, and to strengthen our story going forward. We discovered this wonderful Japanese work of art called The [inaudible 00:20:28] art. But it’s actually when they take broken ceramics and what they do, it’s a work of art called [Kintsugi 00:20:38]. It’s wonderful to look it up and see it. I wish I could show you an example.
But it’s taking a broken plate or a broken piece of ceramic, and unlike what we would do … We would take the super glue and we would glue it together so you couldn’t see any of these cracks. But what this artwork does is they actually mix the glue with gold, actually pure gold, and they repair the bowl in such a way that the cracks are very evident. They almost bulge out. So you can imagine you sort of have this spider hand of gold cracks. The bowl, whatever it is, is repaired in such a way that these cracks become the most beautiful part of this object. And, really, what this work of art is saying is that the value lies in the cracks. It’s acknowledging the history — there’s that word story — the history of our stories and saying, “Therein lies the value of our stories.” That we can’t ignore those messy and those hard bits. We actually have to say, “You know what? Therein lies the gold of my story. And I can extract incredibly important and valuable and empowering tools with which to move forward in my story.
Lisa Linfield: 22:08 As you were saying, the heroine for most of us, we see the final outcome, the final triumph of the heroine. But for any good story, the heroine has to go through those trials. And it think for all of us, we are so busy seeing the face of the heroine on Facebook or TV or wherever that heroine is, that we don’t often see that that face is as a result of all those amazing gold cracks and gold fillings in their own ceramic story.
Deborah K.: 22:41 Absolutely. I think that’s resistance in conflict. I mean, we go as far to say it actually serves us. It’s not fun, and we don’t try and make a negative into a positive. A negative in our stories will always be a negative. But it serves us because it grows us and it changes us. And that’s the process of story that comes into it. In every story, you will see the character growing and changing. And that’s what life is about. That’s the way we want to push ourselves. Ultimately, to write a better story tomorrow than we did yesterday.
Lisa Linfield: 23:19 You quote, in your Stronger Story, William Barclay who says, “There are two great days in your life: the day you were born and the day you find out why.” Do you believe that this finding out why you were born, what your story is, what is your purpose and passion, is that a point in time or is that a [kiggledy piggledy 00:23:38] set of gold cracks?
Deborah K.: 23:40 Lisa, I completely believe this is a process. And more than that, I believe that it is greatly affected by the season we’re in, by the chapter of our story. So I think our purpose at certain stages is very … Our purpose … We’re now women in our 40s, and our kids are slowly growing up. Our purpose now is starting to look very different to what it was five years ago when we had very tiny, little babies. And we really just tapped into the purpose of nourishing and feeding and raising these very small babies. Now our children are schooled. For many women, their purposes do a massive shift when children enter high school, when children leave home. So I think this idea of purpose, people find so daunting because they think, “Well, I must put a peg in the sand and say, ‘That is my life purpose.'” But I think it’s so helpful for us to say that this is something that morphs and it changes depending on the season we find ourself in.
So I think yes. There are two great days: when we’re bor and when we find out why. But that day of finding out our why, we need to constantly be analyzing, and re-analyzing, and rediscovering. And it’s a difficult process. I mean, we walk each woman through this process in our course, but it’s a hard point to get to. And it takes a lot of introspection. And it takes a lot of … There are various different elements to it, so it’s not just something that we kind of arrive at, by any means.
Lisa Linfield: 25:29 The last year and a half, as I’ve been setting up my new business, I also think it’s not just something you can think about. I think part of it is that you actually have to start doing what you think you’re called to do or what you think your passion and purpose in life is. I know for me, I did have a kind of aha moment over two years, not one day. But part of that aha moment was just this fundamental belief that I needed to leave corporate and help people understand or work with people to help them understand their money. But what I set out to do a year and half, two years ago, is completely different in terms of what I now believe I’m called to do. I believed it was much more closer to a one-on-one financial advisor. And now I believe it’s much more around this passion to teach a million women about money that I’d always had an inkling of, but it had been side thought rather than the actual focus of it.
So for me, I think part of working out what your passion is is also starting to do it and starting to see it shape and form. I think when I started two years ago, it was a big lump of clay, and now it’s starting to form and shape. And I’m chipping off things that aren’t relevant to my story. And I’m getting a clearer sense of what I believe or the way I think the story’s going to turn out. And I know as I travel this road, the story will twist, and turn, and change. And I will only know that final chapter when it is the final chapter of my life. But I think that you have to actually start doing your story, and it has to start with the introspection and the thinking. But there’s a huge portion of the doing. I think one of the things I love about your tagline for Stronger Story is moving from good intentions to intentional living. So I wanted to ask you why do you think we all live with so many good intentions?
Deborah K.: 27:13 Lisa, I think you just say good intentions … And especially, we as busy women, we know that … We do. We have so many noble intentions, and we want to get this life thing right. We want to write a good story. But I think there’s so many reasons why we get tripped up and why we stay living in that good intentions space and can’t actually bring it to a space of intentional living. I love John Maxwell. He says, “While inaction cannot fail, it cannot succeed either.” We can wait and hope and wish, but if we do, we miss the stories our life could be. When we stay in that space of good intentions, that’s exactly what happens. But the process of moving ourselves is very hard because I think there are lot of … There can be emotional limitations on us. There can be physical limitations on us.
We all know we’re living in this world where we absolutely are bombarded from every side with busyness. We were talking earlier about technology. There’s so much going on that we have to sort of, in a sense, well, where we find ourself. Because we find our plates full and our cups empty. And we find ourself at a space where our plate is so overloaded and our cup is so empty that we’re almost paralyzed into a place of just thinking, “Well, I really want to do this, but I don’t even know where to begin.” So I think as women, we’re feeling completely overwhelmed, and we’re feeling stretched and pulled in so many directions, and we don’t know where to begin with sort of offloading things from our plate.
In the course, we introduce what women have found incredibly helpful tool, and we call it a decision filter. By this, we mean once we get women to a place of really understanding what do they think that their purpose looks like for this particular season of their life, once they have that … And we really make them nail it down. It’s hard, but we get them almost to be able to write it in one sentence. “This is what I think it looks like.” Then we say, “You know what? Take everything that bombards you every day, and we want you to put it through a decision filter.” And decision filter, I believe, is not so much about saying what we want in our stories, what we want on our plate. It’s about saying what needs to be lift off. If we’re going to move out of that space of good intentions, we’ve got to be incredibly intentional about saying what is going to be left out of my story.
Through this decision filter, we put everything. And we say, “Is working at the tax shop in this season of life, is this really what I want to be doing?” Or “Is this where my strength lies?” Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. For me, Lis, my math skills are limited. I’ve [inaudible 00:30:28] the tax shop, for example. But the things that we add in, which we know this is not my area of strength, it’s not really working towards that greater thing that I want to be on about in this stage of my life, so maybe I need to leave it out of my story. So the intentionality comes, I think, on many different levels. But one of the most practical is really … Well, you could say editing out of our story the stuff that doesn’t fit into the greater theme of our story.
That process that I went through of writing my own book, I think the hardest thing is deciding what needs to be left out. You know my dad’s also a writer, and he used to say to me, “You have to kill your little darlings.” By this, he meant that some things in our lives we are so attached to. But you know what? They don’t fit into the greater theme of what we want our story to be about. During my editing process, I had several friends who would read extracts, and they’d say, “You know what? This is beautifully written, and we can see you’re very attached to it. But it doesn’t actually fit into the theme of where you’re wanting to take this book, where you’re wanting to take the story.” Well, most of us, it’s a process of sending things out a little bit.
Lisa Linfield: 31:58 For me, I think it resonates strongly because … Actually, this morning I was talking to my trainer about there’s one of the things that I have strongly with money is that if you can understand diets and health and exercise, you can understand finances. And one of the things that we were talking about is you don’t wake up unfit because of some big decision to be unfit. You wake up unfit because of many, many daily decisions to press snooze on your alarm instead of … You have these great intentions the night before, but when that alarm goes off in the morning, you press snooze and go, “Oh, dear. I’ll go tomorrow.” And you wake up a couple of years later and you’re unfit and unhealthy.
In finances, people don’t wake up retirement and go, “Oh, I’ve decided not to have enough money for retirement.” It’s a combination of many, many different decisions of, “I’m just going to buy an extra this,” or, “I’m just going to have an extra cappuccino,” or, “I’m just going to spend money on this. It’s not one big decision that has a point of time. You know?
Deborah K.: 31:58 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lisa Linfield: 32:58 It’s often when I talk to women and they say, “I’m not in debt but I’m struggling to have extra money to start investing for a goal, a holiday, an education, or retirement.” They say, “But I don’t have enough time for creating a second income, business on the side.” And part of the thing and the challenge is, well, how much time do you spend sitting on the couch watching TV? How much time do you spend on social media? I was attending a webinar the other day, and the woman asked everybody to write in the Facebook comments page how much time do you spend on social media. And it ranged from 30 minutes being the lowest to 8 hours. I think that’s part of the challenge is that we have these great intentions of starting this new story in our life, but we say we don’t have the time. But yet we’re at the tax shop, or we are on our social media, or we’re watching television.
I know a couple of couples who are starting their second business, their second income stream. And part of the strategy is cancel your television subscription because in actual effect, there is a lot of time, but it’s just it’s in the evening when we kind of shut down and don’t have that time. So Deb, you write this amazing book, and now you are promoting it or on the road working in it, and out of it comes a number of speaking engagements, a number of things that now require your time. Sheryl Sandberg, talks of, in her book Lean In, is that it’s not just about women stepping up to the plate in their own right, in their own work. She talks about how you need your husband to step up to the plate and to support you, to enable you to live out the story that you need to live. What changes did you and Gary have to make in order to change the narration of you always being the wife taking the photographs? How did you and Gary change to enable you to go and do these motivational speak, and promote your book, and do the interviews and work that it took to create a successful book?
Deborah K.: 34:52 I think I’d have to say right up front that as couples, we need to realize that we’re on the same team. I think sometimes this is where we start to work against one another. I think that’s my first thing to say. The second thing to say is that life works in seasons. And, certainly, in my life, there have been seasons where I really had to kind of drop pretty much everything, my career, all … everything to support Gary in his career. Eventually, when he did retire, the season opened up for me. I am not saying I wasn’t impatient during some of those seasons when I was supporting him, to be wanting to really go out and be doing my think. But I think as a couple, we need to make peace with that. Where Gary retired from international coaching, the season opened up for me to do something for myself. We were at home a lot more then, and the kids were just that little bit more independent. Although, I started writing my book when Joanna was two years old, which was crazy.
Lisa Linfield: 36:10 Talk about people saying they don’t have enough time.
Deborah K.: 36:12 Yeah. So I think I don’t use it as an example as a good season for writing a book. Please, ladies, when you have children under five, don’t attempt a book. But I think the reason why I did take it on then was because, obviously, Gary was still fresh out of coaching and the sort of international scene. So I kind of felt we needed to strike while the iron was hot and while he was still well known and the story would still have a lot of interest. But during that time, I think he was amazing in how he did support me. So a lot of it did demand a huge amount of juggling, writing in little short spurts, waking up at 4:00 in the morning. But every now and then, I would go away for three or four days, and Gary would just take on the home. And I would just write, literally, for three days just nonstop. Gary was amazing. I think he relished, actually, the time with the children. I think he relished actually realizing he could do it. He had the capacity to help. I think we, as women, often doubt that our men are capable of this because we’re kind of control freaks, and we like to handle it all ourselves. But it’s beautiful when you see a husband and wife working as a team, and each taking different turns, different seasons to support one another in different initiatives. It’s key because I don’t think we can do these things unless we have our sort of supporting team around us.
Lisa Linfield: 37:59 Your point is so valid. This whole thing of we are actually on the same team. And teams are never only one person. It’s that give and take, that ability that as this season of life is his career, and in the next season, it’s yours. And there’s also that, as you said, that season of small young children. So I totally get it. But now you’re on the … Your book is starting to do well. Your speaking is starting to do well. Initially, you speak because you’re trying to promote the book. And now it’s become a part of your career. Your story is that of being a motivational speaker that’s very well sought after.
How did you go through the transition in your own heart and mind of actually saying, “This work I do provides value. And how do I set a price point for the talks that I do? How much should someone pay for me to be a speaker? How much should they pay to go on my course?” How did you go through that phase of changing from it just being your passion and your purpose in life to becoming almost your career, and as such, being a career, something that you get paid for?
Deborah K.: 39:05 Yeah, Lisa. I think this has probably been the hardest journey for me. And I wouldn’t say that I have quite mastered it at all. The reality is that for many women, we do need to be paid for what we do because often the income is needed. And I think many women, we find actually want to be paid for what they do. So to live in your sweet spot and to be paid for what you do is an incredible privilege. But for me, it was a long process of, I think, realizing that “Actually … You know what? Actually, I’m adding value here. People are wanting to listen to me. People are wanting to read what I’ve written.” That was also a process, I guess, of self belief, really realizing that you have something to offer. You have something that can change people, change their stories in a positive way.
Yeah. I’ve slowly got to the point where I’m like, “You know what? If people want this, why shouldn’t I be rewarded financially for it?” Because I got to a point where I was spending hours and hours a week preparing talks and then going, often a Saturday morning because most women’s conferences and breakfasts are on Saturday mornings, and not being paid for it. I had spent hours away from my kids, my husband, preparing talks. Then I was like, “You know what? I know this is my sweet spot. This is my passion. But this actually now has to become my work.” And it was a process of, firstly, recognizing that people wanted what I had to offer and that there was value in it. We’re always so shy. People say, “Well, what are you good at?” “Well, I don’t …” [inaudible 00:41:09]. We shy to say, “You know what? I’ve got something. I’ve got something of value,” and then attaching a value to it. And that, I have still struggled with, actually saying, “What is that monetary value going to look like?” Because when you want so badly to help people, you will do it for free. You know that space.
But it’s a beautiful thing when people can say, “You know what? I actually value this, so I’m prepared to pay for it.” I do need to get to, still, a point of really working out what that figure looks like. But I think as the more you do something and the more you see that there’s a demand for it, the more you realize, “Okay. This is where I need business help, really, to say, ‘What is the value attached to that?'” Certainly, a big help has been having someone manage my speaking engagements for me because she can then negotiate the speaker’s fee, and I don’t have to have anything to do with it. Because it’s very, it’s awkward thing and we’re shy about what we have to offer, often. So sometimes to have someone else handle, certainly for me, the money side of things, that’s been hugely helpful.
Lisa Linfield: 42:34 But I think it’s something that affects all of us everywhere. The basics of economics is it’s a trade of value. And that value can be a piece of software. But for many people, it’s either their time … And it’s not just their time. It’s their time and their asset, which is their knowledge or the thing, the value that they’re creating. So what one does is you trade. It’s an exchange of value. Money has value, and the value that you contribute is what you exchange for the money. I see it often it often in corporate women where they’re working so hard, but their salaries are fixed.
Part of the problem when the exchange is not fair is resentment builds up and resentment grows because, yes, it might be your passion and purpose in life. But if you’re spending your whole weekend, all your weekends, to serve other people and that exchange is not fair, then there is a resentment that grows up. And it doesn’t become as enjoyable as when you feel that that value is exchanged fairly. Because that’s what it is. And I guess what you’re saying is the hardest thing is to say, “What is the fair value of the skills and time that I give?” And that’s always a challenge. But you mentioned that you had the support of the person who helps you book your speaking engagements. What other support systems have you created in order to kind of really live out the story of yours?
Deborah K.: 43:53 Lisa, I think this is incredibly important because, I think, we have a section in our course where we actually really say to the woman, “We all want to be living our stronger story, but the practical things around us are often what stop us.” There’s a great quote by Oswald Chambers that says, “It is the dull, bald, dreary, commonplace day, with commonplace duties and people that kills the burning heart.” What we mean by this is that too often our stronger stories and our good intentions are actually hijacked by the daily grind. That we still are mothers. We still have to do shopping. We still have to have houses cleaned, washing done, children’s homework. If you’re not a mother, you’re still trying to balance a career. You still have a home. You still have bills to pay. So there is this daily grind that we have to deal with. So certainly for myself, I believe we need to create systems. And I’m not the most — this is not my strength — hugely organized person.
But for every minute that we spend organizing … And this was Benjamin Franklin actually said this. For every minute we spend organizing, an hour is earned. So I think it’s to try and create order in our stories. And this looks different for everyone, however, whatever systems work for you. Different systems work for different people. Find a system that works for you. Whether it’s the Google Calendar shared with your husband so you each know what the other one is committed to, taking time, planning to plan. It’s things like trying to plan the week’s meals ahead of time. It’s writing things down. It’s having that diary or that notepad, whatever works for you, writing things down, and not procrastinating. That’s where I fall short because I’m very quick to write long lists and then I procrastinate and procrastinate.
But I think we have to deal with the daily grind and deal with it effectively to move into a place of having enough breathing room to live our stronger story, to live that thing that we really want to be doing. Certainly in my own life, I could never have done it with the team around me … I would have to say, I have a wonderful Zimbabwean lady called Beauty [Bodara 00:46:38] who works with me. She lives on our property and she’s our housekeeper. I just feel so grateful to have her in my life, who helps me with meals, with the kids, with the house, for all the things that technology and cell phones have done that make us go stark raving mad. I think to have these WhatsUp? Groups where you have the lift club, where when someone is sick, the women can create a quick group and bring meals around.
I think to live in community and to put around you groups of key people and key friends, key different people in different areas that we know can support us; they have our best interest at heart. And Lisa, I would have to add into those daily rituals, I would have to add exercise. I think is key to keep ourselves physically healthy. I think when we don’t do this, we run out of energy. A lot of things happen. And without our health, we have nothing. So I think that this is rightly important. And I think our health is also our spiritual health, giving the day to God, and just say [inaudible 00:47:55], “Do with me what you will today.” Committing our day and our decisions to God, and taking time to just be quiet in that space every day is certainly very much part of our health and part of being able to live that stronger story that we all want to be living.
Lisa Linfield: 48:15 Deb, the season of your life that is kind of really living through your stronger story, how do you see … As we were saying, it kind of morphs, and changes, and grows and builds. What is the next chapter that you feel is coming up for Stronger Story?
Deborah K.: 48:30 Well, it’s interesting, Lis. Jacqui and I are very excited because we’ve realized just through, I think, all the women who have done our course, and we have had so many moms coming to us and saying, “Please, can you do this for teenage girls?” So in the immediate future, that is something that we are working on developing at the moment, where we really just tap into the needs that young teenage girls are experiencing. And get them to take the time to, I guess, really what it amounts to is create a really firm, strong sense of self worth for these girls because they are floundering. So we’re excited to develop the course, which, we’ll obviously tweak it slightly to make it age appropriate according to the different challenges that young teenage girls are facing.
But that’s the immediate future. And then we’re also looking to take it into the corporate space, women in corporate and the different challenges that they face. Also, just helping walk alongside women in business and in corporate, and the huge, huge, huge demands and challenges placed on them. And sort of helping women in that space make peace with themselves, and, really, also become very intentional about what they keep into their stories because their busy space of trying to juggle full-time working and full-time motherhood or home life or whatever it looks like. There’s a great need to sort of really become very intentional in that space. So those are the two fields, the corporate space and teenage girls, that we’re taking things at the moment. And we’re excited about it. We’re passionate about it. And yeah, there’s nothing better than racing along in your sweet spot. It’s a beautiful place to be living.
Lisa Linfield: 50:33 It’s a great place. It gives you so much energy and so much passion. And I guess that gives you the energy to keep morphing it, and changing it, and taking that story to other people. I think that you’re doing a fantastic job, Deb, and you really are creating a great foundation for people to find their own story and their own voice. And then, to start working the time to develop those stories and their passions. So for our listeners out there, how do people get to learn more about what it is that you’re doing and your story?
Deborah K.: 51:03 Well, Lis, that’s pretty easy. They can visit strongerstory.com or my own website as well, deborahkirsten.com. We’re also on Facebook under Living Your Stronger Story. Instagram, @strongerstory. Twitter, @strongerstory. I’m on Twitter, @kirstendeborah. So yeah. The easiest is probably strongerstory.com or deborahkirsten.com. And I’d love to, love to hear from you. We love having women share their stories with us as well. And yeah. It would be a privilege to connect with any women who are interested in exploring this further and interested in really writing a better story with their lives.
Lisa Linfield: 51:55 Debs, it’s been a privilege having you with us. And thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
Deborah K.: 52:01 Thank, Lis. I’ve so enjoyed the chat.
Lisa Linfield: 52:03 Wasn’t she amazing? We’ve got a great lineup of women in the next few weeks. So subscribe to our podcast or visit us on workingwomenswealth.com. Have a good week and a great day. Cheers.