Negotiating in the corporate world is a tricky game. It’s all about knowing what you want and being willing to get there. In this episode, we listen to Kimberly Spencer as she shares her perspective on how to negotiate in the corporate world. Kimberly is an award-winning, high-performance trauma-informed coach and trainer, Amazon best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and the founder of Crown Yourself. She discusses the real things that hold women back from negotiating in corporate and how to overcome them in a smart, confident way without crossing the line. Tune in now and learn how to negotiate what you deserve!
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Self-Limits To Self-Potentials: How To Negotiate What You Deserve With Kimberly Spencer
How To Negotiate In The Corporate World Podcast Series – Episode 6 Of 8
In this episode, we continue the conversation on our negotiating series. We’re talking about how to negotiate in the corporate world, and this is episode 6 of the 8th. Before I tell you about our guest, I do want to remind you that I have some gifts on my website. First, there is the Corporate Kickstart Quiz. It’s about a ten-minute quiz and it’ll give you a little bit of insight into where you are in your career.
I have the Corporate Kickstart Course. It’s a free course and it’ll get your creative juices going on what you need to do to create a plan for your career. Finally, if you are in the process of wanting to have a conversation, you can also book the Corporate Kickstart Consultation with me. You will be able to find all this information on my website at NoWomanLeftBehind.com.
In this episode, I am talking to Kimberly Spencer. She is an award-winning high-performance trauma-informed coach and trainer, Amazon Bestselling Author, TEDx speaker, and the Founder of Crown Yourself. She is helping visionary leaders transform their self-limiting stories, build their empires, stand out fearlessly, and make the income and the impact they deserve. Kimberly is proof that it’s better to make your own mold than to conform to someone else’s.
Her work has been featured on Netflix, the CW, ESPN, Chicken Soup for the Soul, NPR, Thrive Global, CNBC, and Forbes. Obviously, she has a tremendous amount of accomplishments. We’re going to talk about what holds women back from negotiating. She’s going to provide us with an interesting study on female lawyers and when they charge billable and non-billable hours. Overall, we’re going to talk about having those courageous conversations and why we get stuck in our heads.
Again, this is going to be a great conversation. The reason why I’m doing all of these negotiating episodes is because I want to bring to you different perspectives on negotiating. I think it’s so important that you have those different perspectives. With that, stay tuned for my conversation with Kimberly Spencer.
Before we get into this episode, I want to remind you that if you go on my website, NoWomanLeftBehind.com, there are some awesome resources on here. First of all, on the homepage, in the top right-hand corner, there is a Kickstart Your Career radio button and this is the corporate kickstart course. It’s about 45 minutes. If you don’t know where to start in your career, that’s a great course for you to start with.
Next, there is a radio button that says I’m Ready for My Corner Office. If you are at the point where you want to talk to somebody and want to have a consultation with me, you can click on this and it’ll take you to my calendar. You will be able to answer a short questionnaire. You and I can talk for about 30 minutes about where you are versus where you want to be in your career.
If you continue to scroll down on that same page, there is a section that says, Let’s Find Out Where You Are In Your Career and there’s another radio button that says Take The Quiz. This is the Corporate Kickstart Quiz. It’ll take you about 10 minutes to take that quiz, but it’ll give you some great information. If you scroll all the way down on that main page, you will see some additional freebies that you can download, which are the Believe in Yourself. There are the 3 Steps for Women in Corporate America to Stop Being Left Behind. If you click on that Learn More button, you can download that one.
There’s also the Conversation Starters Checklist and again, you can click on that Learn More button to get to download that one. Finally, the productivity strategies workbook that you can figure out how to be more productive and which can download that one by going to Learn More. Again, these are only some awesome resources that I wanted to make you aware and now we are going on to our episode.
Kimberly, thank you so much for being here on the show. I’m so excited to have you here and I’m going to start right away. I know that in your language as a high-performance coach, you use a very specific word which is visionary instead of leader. Why do you start with that language with your clients?
Before I dive in, I have to say thank you so much for having me on this show. I’m so honored. I am so excited to dive in. Why I used the word visionary instead of leader because we started doing market research for all the marketing. Over the years that I’ve had my business, I’ve looked at language very specifically. I’m a neuro-linguistic programming coach and a writer by trade.
That is my juicy bit. The thing that I get so revved up for is language. I was wondering like any good marketer, what language my client use, not me, because I would use the word leader. My name Kimberly means leader but I looked at the language of my clients and they weren’t using the word leader. They may use business owner but leader, they didn’t use that.
I worked with 90% of women and they were not using the word leader, but they did resonate and use the word vision a lot. They would say, “I have a vision for a better future, a vision for my job.” As I’ve gone through my own personal development work, developing myself as a leader and then realizing the role of a visionary of a company, which typically isn’t the role that women are playing when they first start a business.
It’s because you’re playing every role and then some. You’re the marketer. You’re the financier. You’re doing sales. You’re doing marketing and bookkeeping. You’re doing all the roles but ultimately, the reason why most entrepreneurs get into business is because they have a vision for a greater future. The faster they can move into that visionary role in their company, the faster their business is going to grow.
That is so insightful. I know you’re an NLP coach and that language has to do with how people react. It is so interesting that women don’t see themselves as leaders, but they do see themselves as visionaries. That’s such a key distinction. Sometimes it’s scary for women to say, “I’m a leader to acknowledge that.”
Claiming your role in anything of saying, “I’m owning it.” That’s why our company’s core value is ownership, which is a key piece in negotiation. When you claim your role as a leader and want to be able to travel the world like right now, I’m at Legoland with my family but that was part of my vision and I claim it. Some women may feel insecure or unsure or feel like they have to justify the vision that they’ve had for their life, especially when leading into a negotiation conversation.
Now that we’re talking about the negotiating and we’re doing a series on negotiating. I love having different women like yourself talk about negotiating because I want women in the corporate world to see that there are different ways to negotiate. I know you with all of your clients and your background, what’s one of the main things that you think holds women back in negotiating? I know I read a statistic that 20% of women never negotiate.
It’s so sad and yet I’m not surprised because to negotiate from a place of power requires you to be in a place of power. Being in a subservient or a state of people-pleasing, that isn’t going to serve you well in negotiating your price or your next pay raise with your boss. Typically, to negotiate from a place of power, you have to understand what you’re bringing to the table.
I’m not a big fan, especially in entrepreneurship, service-based industries, and the coaching world. There’s the saying, “Charge what you’re worth.” I’m like, “No. I’m not a prostitute. I am priceless.” You don’t charge what you are worth because you are priceless babe. You can’t put a dollar amount on a person but you can put a dollar amount on a process.
If you have in your company or in your business provided a certain process or system that has produced results, that is what you argue for. That is what you negotiate for. When you can show the system and the strategy that you put into place, it is where you remove your identification. It is because if we wrap up our identity with all of its insecurities, doubts, and Imposter syndromes into what it is that we’re selling whether the sale is our products and services or the sale is for a pay raise.
I use the word sell because selling is a negotiation conversation. When you’re in that conversation if you spell you and you’re wrapped up in all your insecurities and all your self-doubt, the sale isn’t going to go well. If you’re in a sales conversation and you’re selling the process, the system, the results, and the outcomes, that’s how you can separate your identity of you. We can work on the identity piece like doing some personal development, therapy, or trauma healing but sell the process. Negotiate for the process, the system, the results, and the strategies that you’ve provided.
I know we talked a little bit about courageous conversations. One of the things that women, whether they’re in business or the corporate world, if they don’t believe that they are capable of getting that pay raise or that deal or whatever, it’s probably not going to happen. It goes along with having courage within yourself, believing in yourself, and then taking action. That taking action is having that courageous conversation with whomever you’re going to have like your boss or another entrepreneur. What are some of the things that you recommend to your clients when they believe that they’re ready to have that conversation? What are some steps or processes that maybe you use with your clients to have those conversations?
The biggest thing that I lead with is that candor is kind. I use the example of when I first started dating my husband. He is nineteen years older than me. He wasn’t sure. He had been previously married. In his former marriage, they hadn’t wanted children. I said, “With me, kids are non-negotiable. You got to want to have children if you’re going to be with me.”
He was like, “With you, I could see having children.” Now we’re here at Legoland with our two beautiful children but beyond that, it was because I had respect for him and myself that I didn’t want to waste 2 to 3 years trying to convince him or implicitly imply that I want this thing rather than coming right out and saying this is what I want.
One of the hardest things that people struggle with, people in general and women specifically, is claiming what it is that you want. I was working with one of my clients who was in a corporate position and she liked her job but she hated her boss. Her boss was super toxic. She struggled in that relationship. She never got a raise and struggled to get permission to go to a doctor’s appointment. She had some challenges there.
It wasn’t until she started being candid with what it was she wanted not only for her but for the duration of her life that she was able to manifest people coming into her world that could provide solutions, a referral instead of a promotion or a crossing over to another department. She ended up getting a promotion and a pay raise but it wasn’t until she started claiming what it was that she truly wanted.
I see that so much with people and with women in business. In business, sometimes we think we want what we think we want because we’re told that, “When you start a business, you have to want a multimillion-dollar business,” and not everybody does. One of my very good friends who was a guest on my podcast The Princess and the B, Emma Veiga Malta, was very clear after she went through some health things. She’s like, “I did not want to have a multimillion-dollar business. I only wanted a nice sustainable six-figure business.” “Great,” but when you’re clear on what you want, that’s when you can go for what it is that you want.
You have to be candid with yourself about, “Is this something that I truly deeply want?” I’m not going to say they’re ready because so many people wait until they’re ready to start something. They wait until they’re ready to negotiate. You’re never ready. You do it right. What are you personally developed and responsible enough to handle the next level of responsibility? That is a question we need to have answered in the case of what we want.
With the people in your followership who follow you onto the socials saying something nasty, mean or taking your words out of context. It’s going to come with being able to have to implement a team and surrender some control. Do you want to handle the responsibility of having the team rely on you for their paycheck, getting some rejection here and there from some people not understanding how what you’re communicating, and getting customers to return your services?
That’s a huge piece to be able to understand. Are you personally developed enough to handle the rejection and the responsibilities of the negative that will come with it? Not that they may. The same is true in a relationship. The reason I used my example with my husband is in that relationship, would I be able to handle the responsibilities that come with being committed to my husband, being in a committed relationship and that comes with then having children? That’s a big commitment.
You got to be all in that. Would I be ready for those responsibilities? My gut said, “Yes, I am.” It’s not like I wasn’t at the moment. I was 24 at that time, but I knew that in time, I would be ready for the situation or that committed relationship. Understanding where you are personally development-wise with your level of personal responsibility. If you’re going for that raise, are you willing to handle it? It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to have more hours and more work, but you may have a different kind of work. A work that requires you to delegate more to an assistant to maybe do your scheduling, your booking, respond to some emails or train your sales assistant.
It may require you to put in a different kind of work. Are you ready to put in that level of new responsibility? Candor is kind and takes personal responsibility for where it is that you want to go and the responsibilities that are going to come with that. A great way to do that is to start talking to the people who are already doing that job and ask them what are their responsibilities. What new responsibilities surprised them when they first started going in that position or starting that business? What were those responsibilities that they had that they didn’t expect to take on so that you can be prepared for, “Is this something that I’m willing to take on with getting what I want?”
You said a lot of great information there. I want to go back to being prepared for what’s going to be. Let’s take a step back. If someone is in the process of going to negotiate something, whether it’s a raise or a promotion, as you said, you have to be ready emotionally. We had a different episode on emotions and how you need to be ready. You also need to be ready for the word no or, as you said, the rejection.
If they say, “No, you’re not ready for the promotion. No, you’re not ready for the raise. No, not at this time,” what are you going to come back with? What is the rebuttal or the question? “Can you explain to me why you think I’m not ready? Is it no never, no forever, or is it just no right now and can we revisit the conversation?” Do you do some of those follow-up questions with your clients?
Yeah. With any negotiation conversation, going in prepared is essential. First, a negotiation conversation is not about you. There’s a high-performance framework that is combining acknowledgment, ambition, not yours, but theirs, and being able to have the framework of their acknowledgment of their ambition and the aspect of what you’re bringing to the situation and conversation. What are the emotions that you’re bringing? What is the state that you are in to affect change? What is their ambition that they want to have?
When I get on a sales call, I am very clear on what it is that this person values, what is it that they want to achieve, what have they done so far that hasn’t worked and what are they working on doing that is working. I acknowledge both what hasn’t worked. That’s why having a coach is great to have in your back pocket because you can test and run through things a lot faster. I acknowledge those pieces of what hasn’t worked. I look at what is their ambition and what is it they want to achieve. Am I the one to do it?
I truly ask myself, “Am I the one to take them to that level of ambition?” Especially in a sales conversation and with coaching or consulting, you have to believe in your customer that they are able to achieve what it is that they want to achieve. If you don’t 100% believe that the sun is going to rise tomorrow and they can achieve whatever it is that they say that they want, refer them to somebody else.
If you strike some good deals with some other fellow coaches or people in your industry, you can get maybe a referral commission from that but refer them. Do them that favor. Secondly, if you’re looking at negotiation, the acknowledgment, the ambition and the effect of what it is that you’re bringing to the table energetically, it’s your state. If you’re going in meekly in a disempowered state rolling your shoulders forward, your physiology is a huge piece of this.
Roll your shoulders back and engage. You have a little muscle in your shoulder called the rhomboid. When you engage those, it sends signals to your brain that you have more confidence. I was like, “I wish I’d known that when I was sixteen.” When you roll your shoulders back, your chin is up, your body language and your posture, 55% of communication is physiological. Your energy and biology need to be in an energized state. Be prepared to receive the noes or the reasons why, you have to validate or justify what it is that you talk about.
In a sales negotiation, you’re going to want to have some price juxtaposition, have an understanding of why your cost is what it is, and what other people’s costs are because everyone can get something cheaper. That’s why Walmart exists. The question is what it is that they value and how can you tie how you serve in your specific way to what they value?
When you combine that framework of, “What acknowledgment can you give them, both of what they’ve done and of what they want to do?” It’s their ambition, and of what they haven’t yet been able to do, and how you can fit into that space. Also, their ambition. How do you fit into their ambition? How can you help them achieve their ambition faster or better or may improve it and then the affect? Looking at that affect of what energy are you bringing to the table. How are you carrying yourself physiologically?
I know that we talked about the fact that you coach 90% of women, but you do have a few good men that you coach as well.
I love the men that I could work with. They’re amazing.
We talked a little bit about a study that you referred to with female and male lawyers. Can you tell us about that study?
The study was that female lawyers charged for the billed time in front of their computers working on the case. It means you have your papers in front of you and your computer open. You’re working on the case. Men will charge for their time thinking about it in the shower. They’ll charge for their time sitting on the toilet thinking about it. They will bill more hours because they’re charging for their brain space and that energy.
This is not only in the legal realm. I’ve seen this across industries because I coach people from all over. More often than not, it is women that have the lower prices. It is women that don’t decide because it’s a choice. Decide that your thinking time is valuable. This was how I started substantially raising my prices for one-on-one private coaching. When I’m working with a client, they come to me in a meditation and I’m like, “I need to connect that client with this person. This is a strategy I need to send them,” and it’ll just come to me.
That’s because they’re personally in my awareness and in my scope of environment consistently. I’m seeing them week after week. They’re constantly in front of me and because of that, there’s a relationship that happened just like a lawyer with a case. If they’ve got a case, it’s constantly on their mind. If it’s coming up, they’re coming up with ideas in the shower. I get some of my best ideas in the shower and I’m not even a lawyer but I know many people who do. That time is valuable. Wherever you are in your career, the time and energy you’re putting into that which you are investing, are you charging appropriately?
That translates when you are trying to get a salary rate. You’re in the same position, not necessarily looking for a promotion, but you know you’re doing great work and you have a salary that you have in mind. A lot of that has to do with you knowing what you want. You need to go do your research. Go on Salary.com, Ladders, or Upscale, all those different websites so that you can do a little bit of research on what is the market paying. You’re going to have to marry your own skills and achievements and then come up with the Goldilocks ask, the pie in the sky what you would be really happy with, and then what is not acceptable. Do you have some equivalent to that?
I do. I say, “You either get what you want, what you need or what you settle for.” I do a lot of cross-pollination in different areas of life because sometimes we may not fully grasp something in business but we may grasp it in our relationships. Let’s take for example a romantic relationship. If you have a list of 50 things that you desire in your ideal partner and you’re like, “This person sings music. We have quality time on the couch. We go for trips and travel,” but then, you start dating someone who just has food in their fridge, have a steady paycheck and have a good pension plan. They’ve got 3 out of the 50 covered. I share this because I did that.
When you’re in that situation, you can either have what you want, you can have what you need or you can have what you settle for. You will always bar none get what you settle for. If you settle for anything less than what you want, you are teaching God, source, universe, collective consciousness, whatever that thing out there is, you are declaring to the universe, “This is what I want.” The universe responds accordingly. That’s where manifestation is. It can get a little woo-woo but that’s where I’ve seen it transpire in over many years of coaching.
Having coach leaders consistently for years that you either get what you want, you get what you need, or you get what you settle for. If you’re clear on what is the bare minimum of what you want, you’re going in for a salary negotiation and you want to get a $30,000 raise but you would accept $5,000, you get the raise. Typically, what I found with most of my clients when they do that, they get the raise and they get heaps of extra work and because they settled, they get resentful.
Resentment does not do anything pretty for your relationship in your business. It can lead to you doing shoddy work because you either don’t care or you get apathetic. It transpires into all of your relationships because you take that resentment with you, you take it home to your kids and family. It’s not a pretty thing. When you go in for a negotiation, know what your bare a** minimum is and not what you settle for but for what you want. When I go into a sales conversation with clients, I know my price point and my bare a** minimum is that my client shows up and does all the tasking to 100%.
We have our consult call. They get a few things to do. They have seven days to work out the payment plan or look at their finances to figure out how they can make it work but also have a qualifier. I say, “If you did not do tasking to 100%, I get to take that off the table because I don’t want to work with anybody who doesn’t put in 100%.” Time and time again, I’ll get an email, “I wrote the email but I didn’t send it.” Your commitment was to write and send the email. If you don’t write and send that email, then I will take the opportunity to work together off the table. It’s because that’s the bare a** minimum of how I will work with people. I want to make sure that the people that I work with are fully able to show up 100%.
What are those 50 qualifications? I’m big on list writing. Get clear and give yourself full permission to write what it is that you want in that negotiation. What it is that you want from that sales conversation? What it is that you want from that salary raise conversation? What is it that you need to come out of that beyond what you want? Do you need an extra $5,000? Do you really need that full $30,000? Is that non-negotiable, but you may do $28,000? To cover your bases of where you want to go and what you want to do, look at what is it that you need and then ask yourself, what is the bare minimum that you’re willing to settle for?
You can look at that bare minimum and you raise the floor instead of settling willy-nilly. What are those contingency plans? If you don’t get what it is that you want, do you need to have a deeper conversation of, “Is this the right fit for you?” Do you need to pivot your career? Do you need to pivot into a different company that will see and value what you bring to the table? Do you need to pivot your sales strategy or your marketing if you’re an entrepreneur? Are you not positioning yourself as a $ 10,000-a-month coach or a $ 5,000-a-month coach? If you’re not positioning yourself in that way with your sales and marketing, you’re not going to attract the quality leads that will allow you to have that negotiation conversation at the price point for what you say is your price point.
With that example, you said that if you’re looking for maybe $30,000 in salary but you’re getting $28,000 and to your point of what you need, you’ll get $28,000 but then they’ll give you another week’s vacation. Maybe vacation is something that you need because you’re trying to accommodate family like the kids. Kids are always sick, they have activities or things like that.
It’s not always about the money and the salary, but there could be some other things that you can negotiate. That’s what you were talking about. I pictured it almost as a mind mapping or brainstorming on putting everything that you could possibly think of down on paper. As you said, it’s helpful if you write it down because you say it. You visualize it and from there, you can start figuring out, “What is it that I absolutely need,” and then the want is almost like an extra nice to have.
If what you need is what you want and if what you want is what you’ll settle for, that’s when you have congruence and commitment. It takes a level of commitment and personal responsibility to say what I want is to have a multi-six-figure business. Opportunities will come along that will allow you to stay at a nice low six-figure or maybe a five-figure business. If you say yes to those opportunities, then you’re not committed to what it is that you say you want.
It is like entering into a relationship or a marriage. Make sure that what it is that you want is what it is that you want and then keep your commitments to yourself. If that is a commitment, then go for that because as soon as you make that commitment and goal, the universe will respond in a way that’s going to say, “Do you want it?” You’ll get these opportunities that’ll come along.
Maybe it’ll be like, “We’ll give you a $5,000 raise.” You have to know what your boundaries are. This is a negotiation conversation, especially on the part of somebody who wants something is ultimately a boundaries conversation. What are those boundaries for which you won’t figure outside of those lines? When you’re clear on that, that’s how you can get a straight trajectory to what it is that you want.
If you’re constantly going outside the boundaries and you’re not staying in your lane of the line that you say that you want to be drawn for the vision of your future, to tie it back to the vision that you want to create. If what you say you want is not what you want, and that’s why it’s incredibly key to be crystal clear. Do you want what you want? Are you wanting to want it? It’s a massive difference because wanting to want a $30,000 raise is wonderful.
Would it be nice to take your family on an extra vacation? Would it be nice to have some extra massages during the week or something like that? Whatever it is that you want to put that money toward but understand beyond that, are you only wanting to want that or is that truly something that you’re like, “These wants are non-negotiable.” It’s because the boundary lines of what is non-negotiable for you are key.
For me, my boundary line with my husband was non-negotiable are the kids. I want kids. That boundary line allowed us to have a candid conversation. It took heaps of courage because I already was falling in love with the man, yet I was willing to walk away. That is so essential. It’s the energy of I want you but I don’t need you because I can have what I want. What I want is going to show up for me.
You said something earlier about if a client doesn’t do everything that you ask them to do, then you reserve the right not to work with them. I think the way I equate that in the corporate world is I used to manage people and people would come into my office and say, “I want a promotion. I want to raise,” or whatever. We would come up with ideas like, “These are some things that you can work on. These are some projects that you can do.”
More often than not, nothing would come to fruition. From a negotiating perspective, and from a management perspective, you can guide your employees. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. It’s the same with you and your clients. You do have to want what you’re asking for, especially if you go and have the conversation, then you don’t follow through.
That’s like you saying you don’t deserve it or you’re not worthy or whatever because you’re not following through. You’re not putting in the work. It’s important for women to understand that when you’re trying to get a promotion or a salary or a new job, you have to take the time to invest in yourself and put the work in. Otherwise, the universe is going to respond and it’s going to give you what you want.
It’s going to give you exactly what you’re declaring and it’s by your actions that it knows what you want. If you go into a conversation for negotiation and for a higher salary and your manager comes back and says, “In order to do that we need to see this, this, and this improve in your performance,” and you don’t do that. You literally are making an actionable declaration to the universe that what you want is not really what you want. It’s like dealing with a child.
You’re only having that like, “I want it because,” and that’s our little ego speaking rather than somebody who is a mature adult to go back to that personal responsibility that says, “I want this and I am personally responsible enough to take on the additionnal responsibility that’s going to be required of me.” It’s because with great power, money, and influence comes great responsibility.
There might be some women that are reading to us and we talked about women getting stuck in their own heads with a story and sometimes they may not know how to do it. Now, this is where coaching comes in so this is fantastic that we’re having a conversation, but if they’re stuck in their heads, what do you recommend for them to do as the next best step?
Rosie, you said something great and it’s literally what you said. They may not know how and that’s the key. It’s not how, but it’s who. Who can you ask to support you? Who needs to step up in your realm, in your kingdom or queendom in order for you to take on more responsibility? Who is already doing what it is that you want to be doing? Are you getting mentorship? Are you getting guidance from them? Who is already operating at a level of greater fulfillment or has greater joy?
Tap into the who and you will find the how. All my clients know I do not ever, in any session, take the excuse, “I don’t know how.” I’m like, “Of course, you don’t know how because if you knew how you would be doing it.” It’s not the how, but it’s the who. Who is already doing what it is? How do they think about the problems that they’re facing? How do they think about how they show up in the world? How do they think about their job? How do they think about managing people in that next level of personal responsibility?
When you start asking the question, who do I know that’s doing what it is that I want to be doing? If it’s being a great parent and career woman, talk to those women who are doing it successfully. Have conversations. Many women don’t do that because they’re scared of, “They’re so influential. They have such a big following. They’re probably so busy.” You will be surprised. Many people are far more willing to give, serve, and share if you have the audacity and the courage to just ask. One of my favorite quotes is from Oprah. She says, “In life, you get what you have the courage to ask for.” Ask the whos of the world that are doing what it is that you want to be doing.
I was going to say that it goes back to those courageous conversations because you have to have the courage to ask. I know that you’ve done a lot in your career. You’ve been a TEDx speaker. I looked at your website and you have a gorgeous website. You have been a certified Pilates instructor. You’ve been a legal health activist. You’ve worked with Netflix, the CW and ESPN. How do you get all this energy? From all of the things that you’ve done, you are now a high-performance coach. Tell me a little bit about your story and how you got to be a high-performance coach because you’ve done a lot.
I’ve always been in the business of transforming people’s stories. I first started my career simultaneously writing screenplays and becoming a Pilates instructor because, in Hollywood, you need to bridge a job. I started teaching Pilates, which was something so foreign to me. If you had told me when I was sixteen years old that I’d be teaching fitness and loving body mechanics, I would’ve thought you were crazy.
Back then, I was bulimic. I was struggling with so many identity issues. I had massive Imposter syndrome but I found this process that allowed me to support myself financially, set my own schedule, and gave me a process of physical fitness that made me for the first time in my life feel good. That’s the first thing that led me to, “I need to lead with service and help more women feel this way.” As I started my career in teaching Pilates, I got the opportunity to write a screenplay that came out. It’s called Bro’. Most of my clients, when they see the trailer, they’re like, “I can’t believe you wrote this.”
They see me in personal development and the movie is very different but that movie did save two kids’ lives because stories transform people’s lives. We are transformed by stories whether that is what we watch on TV or what we see in a movie or the stories that we tell ourselves. As I was teaching hour after hour, I taught for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, 6 on Saturdays. Within a year, I learned leadership and authenticity. I led with the truth of, “I don’t have all the answers.”
I was bulimic but I found a process that worked for me. Within two years, I had completely healed from bulimia with no psychological or medical intervention. I had transformed hundreds of lives through Pilates and being able to get women in touch with their bodies. From that, I saw that it was never about whether somebody was technically fat or thin. It was never about whether they exercised once a week or five times a week.
It was always about how they thought the stories that they were telling themselves about what their body was capable of, what their body could do and the vision that they had for their body in the future. Where was the gap between where they were now, where they wanted to be, and the strategies to get there? After my film, which came out, which was like this dream. It was distributed by Lionsgate and put out on Netflix. I thought, “This was it,” and I got to the premiere and I was like, “I’m only 90% fulfilled.” I kept chasing that extra 10% of the fulfillment of, “What is it?”
Pilates was always meant to be a bridge job. Even when I started my own private studio, it was a bridge business because I only wanted to make more money, have my own space, and do my own thing. I had a great amount of clients on retainer. It was always never meant to be the main thing but I was always searching for that main thing.
When the thing that I thought was going to be my main thing wasn’t my main thing, it was when I started seeking out like, “What is it?” I got involved with an eCommerce company. I brought a fitness product to market. I was able to get it featured on the big billboards in Times Square. I got pitched into the first round of Shark Tank auditions. I learned heaps about business and building the subconscious structure of the business, which we didn’t do because I got in with a partner. My partner and I made decisions in very different ways.
I’m much more of a quick start on the Kolbe Index. I am a nine. I go and I make my mistakes and I learn along the way. My partner made decisions very differently and we ran into heaps of friction because of that. He liked having the title of CEO but he wasn’t out there making the sales. That was where there was some friction. We ended up parting ways two years in and I went through a buyout process that for me was very traumatizing.
This was my experience of it. Probably in the history of buyouts, this wasn’t the worst thing possible but I’d never dealt with lawyers. I was 28 at the time. Dealing with lawyers, they don’t always send you the nicest emails. I had so much fear and it hit all of my childhood trauma responses of things being taken away from me, rejection, and everything that I had thought I had solved.
I had figured out my body and relationships. I never had fear in my career. I was always the one to make those audacious asks and lean in with courage. My friends, when I was screenwriting, were like, “You go up to production houses and drop off a script?” I’m like, “Yes.” I would meet people. I never had fear when it came to my career or what I wanted to do. With Pilates, I was like, “I like Pilates. I’m going to start my own studio.”
People were like, “Are you going to start a business?” “Yeah.” I had the elwoods like, “Is this hard,” mentality until I went through that buyout process. After those three months, we signed the buyout agreement. Three weeks before I got married to my husband, we jetted off for our honeymoon for six weeks in Italy. I was like, “What do I do when I get back? I had no idea.”
We started brainstorming ideas and after way too many espressos, I leaped off the couch and I said, “Crown Yourself.” My husband’s like, “What’s that?” I said, “I don’t know. It’s the name of my company, but it combines entrepreneurship, health, holistic fulfillment, and success. It’s for women to be able to empower them. They can have it all and truly have an amazing relationship, an amazing body, and a thriving amazing business.” “Awesome. Great idea.”
I bought the domain, all the lights and the production equipment. I didn’t make a sale for a year and a half because I was so beleaguered with doubt, comparisonism, blame, and shame. Because of that, I wasn’t living the values that I was preaching. Crown Yourself was about ownership. I wasn’t taking ownership of my own financial state. I was deep in debt.
It was from that space that I realized when I found out I was pregnant that the person I had become in that year and a half of trying to start a business and putting myself out there on social media, but not really. I never made an offer or put myself out there in a way that would create rejection. I only posted nice, sweet, and kind quotes, which is great if you want to be vanilla, but it doesn’t get you clients.
When I found out that I was pregnant with my son, I took a very hard look at myself and said, “The person that I am now is not the person that I want to be the mother of my son.” I wasn’t taking ownership or being personally responsible. I was blaming, shaming, and complaining all day long every day. I was very negative. I looked at that and I said, “I got to change. I know I can change because this is a mindset piece and it’s a performance piece.”
I took a very deep assessment of all my beliefs that I had and some were in some deep subconscious, sad, and self-limiting beliefs. I took an assessment of all of the habits that I had and I wasn’t setting myself up for success with my energy. I wasn’t managing my thoughts and what I was saying. I was complaining a lot, which drains your energy. I said, “I need a process.” That’s when I found neuro-linguistic programming and Time Line Therapy Hypnosis. I immediately slapped down $5,000 to get certified on a credit card even though I was in debt knowing that it was going to help me transform because I had a nine-month deadline.
After getting certified, I got my first clients. I then started growing the business. I left my Pilates business teaching and I was able to grow from there. It’s been a super fun ride that took us all the way to live in Australia for the past years during the pandemic, which was always our dream. It was to have a fully remote business where we could work from wherever and provide our kids with an epic and amazing lifestyle. That’s what we’re doing now. I’m living into my values of leading the values of which and being that instead of only teaching that. There’s a big difference.
I think the one main takeaway that I got from your story is that you ultimately realized that you weren’t living into who you wanted to be and you were able to use two things, mindset, and habits. With anything, mindset and habits are the main thing that you have to focus on. Of NLP, I haven’t done it myself, but I know a lot of people that have, and it is transformative. I hope to do it at some point someday. NLP combines your mindset, your habits, and the language, all that information to be how you want to be or step into who you want to become. How long have you been doing neuro-linguistic programming?
Six years in 2022, and I received my Master’s certification in that as well. The thing about NLP is when you coach from an NLP perspective, the coach is listening for the context, not the color of the story. Typically, when we listen in a conversation with the chat with our girlfriends, we’re listening to the content, “Your boss did this,” but instead as an NLP coach, we’re listening to what are the linguistic cues of how this person is contextualizing and framing their experience.
When you can break that frame, the ink that doesn’t work gets to flow out to a different picture. You get to reframe what is working and when you can reframe perspective, perspective has power. If you see your boss in a negative light, you think that they’re only a horrible human being and they are always trying to keep you down, that’s your experience that you’re going to contextualize and repeat continuously day after day going into work.
If you can see that your boss is challenging you because she wants you to be better and get the raise. That’s why she’s been so hard on you. She maybe hasn’t framed it the right way but she’s been so hard on you because she wants you to succeed. That’s a completely different energy and the perspective shift of how you show up for the job in those two contexts is transformative.
Perspective is transformative. It’s so nuts because sometimes my husband and I will be having a conversation and I’ll be mad about something he said and he goes, “That’s not what I said at all. You made that whole thing up in your head.” When he tells me again what he said, I’m like, “I took it the wrong way.” That’s my perspective. People say, “My perspective is my reality,” but that’s not necessarily the truth.
It’s not a we reality, but it’s your reality.
Kimberly, you have given us so much amazing methods of changing your behavior and your mindset. There are a couple of things that I want to pick your brain on. At the end of our conversation, I’m going to ask you for your two tips. That’s one thing, but in the meantime, the other thing that I want to leave our readers with are some powerful phrases or some words that you constantly tell your clients that if you use these words, it’s going to be more powerful. A lot of times, we tell women, “You need to be able to articulate your worth,” but we don’t give them the language. Do you have a couple of power phrases that you use with your clients?
First, it’s candor as kind. How do I need to be more candid with myself, those that I love, and those that I’m in a relationship with? Not always do we love our boss but we are in a relationship with our boss. How can I be more candid? One of the statements that I love is from Tony Robbins. He says, “Your life will be dictated by the quality of the questions. If you don’t like your life, you are probably asking the wrong questions,” but what are the wrong questions? No one teaches us that, but I’m going to teach you that right now.
The question of why is very regularly used. It’s used a lot in therapy and when we experience anything good. Simon Sinek’s Start With Why is like, “What’s your why? What’s your purpose?” Why is a great question, but only when it’s focused in the direction of faith, purpose, and vision. Why is a sucky question when it’s faced in the direction of your own self-doubt. It’s because what why does subconsciously for us is it’s going to allow our subconscious mind to go on this journey of literally finding every single reason as to why that.
Why did I receive this raise? If you’re filtering that question through a filter of shame, guilt and negative emotions, you’re going to come up with some pretty crappy reasons and it’s going to not make you feel so great. If you focus on vision, why did I get this raise? It’s focused on joy and excitement and it’s filtered through those emotions, you’re going to get some different answers. It depends on the emotional context and the context in which the direction. Are you facing it toward faith and vision, or are you facing it toward fear and self-doubt?
However, a better question to ask is what or how. What or how will give you the strategies. I always tell my clients, “Think of your life. Imagine zooming out and seeing yourself in your body experiencing the situation and taking that omniscient perspective like an anthropologist.” If you were studying you, instead of it being a personal identification with, “This behavior is me. Why do I always get this wrong?” It turns into, “That’s interesting. I see Kimberly in this negotiation situation and every time she’s asked this question or faces rejection, she gets hit with a massive amount of self-doubt.”
It’s because when you take that omniscient perspective, you no longer are you identifying with the behavior that you currently are exhibiting. How can you be the anthropologist for your life and deep study it? The greatest study and journey that you can ever go on is the study of your own self-awareness and how you’re responding in every relationship and situation. Rosie, it’s like what you said in your conversation with your husband. Imagine taking that omniscient perspective and saying, “What Rosie’s response in that question was experiencing it through this emotion. I wonder what’s coming from that emotion or looking at it from a different perspective.”
Automatically, that omniscient anthropological perspective allows you to see things from a different perspective. Look at your life from the space of being an anthropologist. Look at your behavior as not you. You are not your behavior. You’re so much more than that. You’re so much more than this human form. You are so much more powerful. When you look at the context of your behavior, your physiology, your attitude, your words, or your language, how are you experiencing life?
When you can look at it from that anthropological perspective, “When Kimberly faces rejection, she immediately goes into the story of how bad she is at sales. Is that ultimately true?” “She closed this $15,000 sale over here or this $50,000 sale over here. No, it’s not ultimately true.” We can stop the story before it starts, but the key is self-awareness. You cannot change anything that you are not self-aware of.
This is the other phrase that I commonly tell my clients, “That which is conscious manifest happily. That which is unconscious manifests unhappily.” If it’s deeply unconscious and you’re noticing it in your environment, you’re like, “There’s this toxic boss. I keep getting these crappy dates and attracting these clients that never have the money to pay me.” What story are you telling yourself unconsciously?
That’s pretty powerful and that goes back to believing the story that you’re constantly saying. That’s exactly what you’re talking about right there as far as be aware of the movie that’s constantly playing in your head and questioning it. Is it true? Is it what the reality is? That was very key because a lot of times, people are stuck, “I’m never going to get the promotion. I’m never going to get the raise. I’m always going to be stuck in the sucky job. I’m never going to lose those last 10 pounds,” or whatever the scenario is.
What we’re saying is that you can change that with awareness, habits, and mindset. I think that’s pretty powerful. Kimberly, I know you’re at Legoland with your family and we’ve already taken a lot of your time, but if you can leave us with a couple of final tips that you could give to women in the corporate world to advance in their careers, what would those be?
Rosie, I want to say first, your example of what you said is going to be part of my tip of, “I’m never going to get the raise. People are getting promoted. Everyone else gets promoted but me.” Listen for language that is an absolute and run as far and as fast away from that as possible. It’s because those absolutes of, “I’m never, always, everyone else,” are boxing you into a paradigm in a reality that feels real but may not be real. It’s like, “Really? Everyone else is getting a raise. Have you asked the secretary, the assistant, or the janitor? Did he get a raise? Probably not.” That is our inner child coming out to play. I hear it all the time from my five-year-old like, “I’m never going to get it.” I’m like, “That’s the inner child needing a little nurturing.”
Whenever you hear yourself speaking in absolutes of, “I’m never, I am always going to be this way, or everyone else can do it so easily except for me,” give yourself the space, grace, and time to nurture that part of you that needs to be seen and validated. Give her some words and time. Allow yourself to be there and sit there. I do a visualization exercise of allowing myself to bring forth that inner child who needs to be seen.
She needs to be recognized and heard. Asking her like, “What is it that you need from me?” Also, being that gentle loving parent that sometimes we didn’t all have and gently, kindly, and compassionately parenting her because that’s who is coming to the table when we’re speaking in absolutes. That’s one piece.
The second piece is to listen to the language of how you’re framing your life. Especially if you are in a romantic relationship where you have a good girlfriend or a friend to reflect back to you like, “You’ve been complaining about your boss for a few weeks now.” In my house, we have the three-complaint rule. You can complain three times, and then after three you either better do something about it, figure something out or you stop complaining and you accept it.
If you have somebody that you can have that, it could be a coach, a partner, somebody that you trust or a friend who you are open and have a trusting relationship to say, “I’ve noticed, in the past three sessions, you’ve been complaining a lot or your language around your boss or your colleague has been very negative.” What could we do instead? How can we change this situation? Do we need to do something about this because this is a constantly reoccurring theme?”
In relationships, how do we need to change our perspective on the relationship that we’re in with this person? When you can change your perspective on that relationship because you’re in a relationship with everything. Whether it’s money, our businesses, our career, our boss, or colleagues, we’re in a relationship constantly with this universe that we’re in. Because of that, when we can look at what is the relationship that we are struggling with. that’s where the gold is and your own personal shifts and change and perspective.
Having somebody to reflect back that language, who can keep in accounting, I love coaches and masterminds, but it can be a trusted partner. My husband is great at this. It’s like, “You’ve been complaining about this a couple of times. Let’s look at what we need to do on this.” That will give you some guidance and perspective because as we said, Rosie, perspective is your power. You can change your perspective in a relationship. That is the magic. You change the dynamics of the relationship.
I love the three-time complaint rule. That’s it. Three times and you’re done. You either do something about it or you accept it and you quit complaining. The other thing too that comes to mind is when I hear people complain, it’s toxic to me because it’s like, “There’s that negativity again.” I don’t have any control over someone else complaining. I’ve heard you say this three times, “Can we talk about it? Let’s debrief on it. What can you do? What are some things that you can impact that behavior?”
I think that is so wise and so insightful. Kimberly, thank you so much for spending the time with us. Everything we talked about is so fitting for women in the corporate world or entrepreneurs. We also talked about some life situations. That are all such good methods for changing your mindset and your behavior. I hope that for anybody that’s reading out there, the biggest thing is to take action because without taking action, then you’re stuck in the same spot. Again, Kimberly, thank you so much. Any final words?
Have the courage to own what it is that you want and what you want, not what you want to want, but what you want now for this next evolution of where you’re going in your career or in your business. Own what it is that you want and be personally responsible and committed to only settling for what it is that you want.
Thank you so much, Kimberly, and have a great rest of your day at Legoland.
Thank you so much, Rosie. It’s been a pleasure.
I had such a great time talking to Kimberly and one of the things that stood out to me is that she stopped using the word leader and now is using the word visionary because women see themselves more as visionaries. Another thing that I thought was pretty incredible is the study that she talked about where men are billing hours while they’re in the shower and on the toilet, whereas women don’t do that. That’s just another difference in how men and women do things and how women need to be a little bit more aggressive and confident.
We also talked about the fact that awareness is the first step to changing your habits and your mindset. Without awareness, you’re not going to be able to change your habits and your mindset. I’m going to leave you with Kimberly’s two tips. Tip number one, she says to listen for language that is absolute and run away from the type of language as far as you can.
The examples are, everyone, always or I’m never going to. Those are all examples of absolute language. She says that when you hear yourself speaking in that absolute language, give yourself the space, grace, and time to nurture that part of you that needs to be seen and validated. I think that is so insightful. Tip number two is to listen to the language of how you are framing your life.
She talked about the three-time complaint rule in her household. If you’re complaining about something more than three times, then you have to change it, accept it and stop complaining. One of the things is if you’re complaining about something constantly and someone hears you complain about it, maybe they can say, “I’ve noticed that you’ve complained about X, Y, or Z. What can we do about it? How can you change that?” Those are two fantastic tips. You can reach out to Kimberly. Again, as a reminder, if you want to have a conversation with me, please go to my website. Go onto the contact page and shoot me an email, and we can certainly schedule a call for us. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action.
- Crown Yourself
- Kickstart Your Career
- I’m Ready for My Corner Office
- Take The Quiz
- Believe in Yourself
- Conversation Starters Checklist
- Emma Veiga Malta – previous episode The Princess and The B podcast
- Start With Why
About Kimberly Spencer
Kimberly Spencer is an award-winning high-performance, trauma-informed coach and trainer, Amazon best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and the founder of CrownYourself.com, helping visionary leaders transform their self-limiting stories, build their empire, stand out fearlessly, and make the income and the impact they deserve. From her entrepreneurial beginnings at five selling bags of glitter-water to her neighbors, to becoming an award-winning screenwriter, certified Pilates instructor, Miss Congeniality, and six-time WEGO Health Activist Award nominee, Kimberly is proof that it’s better to make your own mold than to conform to someone else’s. She’s also the former executive of a national e-commerce startup and was the owner of the private Pilates studio, Fitness with Kim in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been featured on Netflix, The CW, ESPN, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and NPR, and in Thrive Global, CNBC, and Forbes.