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    The tender-hearted guide to big big change // kristen kalp

    Sometimes big change comes upon you slowly, like one song fading into the air while another fades out, and sometimes it comes collapsing down on you like an ancient tower crumbling in a windstorm. Whether a slow unfolding or a sudden event, big change means big emotions, and big emotions often mean turmoil of some kind.

    This, then, is the tender-hearted guide to making big, big change. How do you deal with the turmoil of watching what you’ve loved/built/created/worked on/adored crumble? How do you sort through the pieces for the good/interesting/worthwhile bits without scrapping everything? How do you stop yourself from saying ALL OF IT WAS A WASTE and then taking up your vice of choice?

    First: grieve.

    This is the hardest and most essential element of the death of any project, life choice, or season: the grieving.

    You’ll naturally want to run into the next thing. You’ll naturally want to blink back the tears and push down the pain and ignore what feels like tiny elves bashing at your eyeballs from the inside out, demanding that you cry in all the everyday places you normally frequent. (See: pharmacy, diner, bank, sidewalk, car, bathroom, bed.)

    When a season ends, it’s okay to cry.

    That sounds so obvious and trite and even condescending until it’s actually happening to you — until you’re actually looking back at the landscape of your life’s choices and mourning all those pieces that no longer fit.

    Grieving hurts. By definition. There’s no avoiding it. The good news is, the less you fight it, the faster it will pass. When you let yourself fall apart over breakfast and in the car and in your partner’s arms and while eating bruschetta at the local Italian restaurant (SO NOT SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE HERE WHAT GIVES YOU THAT IDEA), you’re making space for the next thing.

    You’re acknowledging the charred ruins of what you thought could last forever, and you’re hunting the tiny, glowing embers that will carry you into the next phase of your existence.

    That’s brutally painful, because for every glowing ember, you’ll find something you didn’t think you could handle losing. (In non-metaphorical terms: you can spend seven years building a business one way, only to step away and stand still as you let the whole thing crumple. You built a whole skyscraper from your heart, and what remains is so small it clanks around in a carry-on-sized suitcase.)

    The suitcase will serve you. It’s best to travel lightly.

    When you’ve got your pieces…

    Focus on the next step.

    Just the one. You’ll want to make a 23-pronged plan and scale your ambitions or nudges of intuition with graphs and charts and scales and…no. Don’t.

    The one step in front of you is generally quite simple.

    You’ll take more breaks.
    You’ll ask for the sale more often.
    You’ll cut back on the products you offer.
    You’ll introduce a new service.
    You’ll enroll in a class.

    Naturally, though, you’ll scale up and make ‘cutting back on products’ equal creating three new products to celebrate the products that are going away, then add a giveaway and a sale and a hashtag and a social media plan and…it gets complicated.

    Try to resist the complicating and the scaling, focusing on the one simple thing you’re meant to do next. People will step in with all sorts of (ever more complicated) advice, but it’s your job to stick to the one thing.

    Finally, and most importantly: be kind to yourself.

    You know how we all teach what we need to learn? Yah, this is when I write directly to myself (but you can watch!). Patience is not only a virtue, but a necessity, as you choose kindness over and over again.

    When you flog yourself for not seeing what is now so obvious.
    When you shake your head at all the signs that mean you should have done this long ago.
    When you consider firebombing your old self because (s)he is so, so stupid.
    When you’re crying for the fifth time in three hours about what appears to be nothing,
    or hiding from the world unshowered for the second day (read: week) in a row,
    or scrolling through screens instead of doing anything that truly feeds you,
    or berating yourself for all the ways you just. Aren’t. Enough.

    Choose kindness.

    Let your shoulders stop eating your ears and breathe into your heart and practice the difficult art of forgiving yourself. (I know, right? I scoffed when a friend told me, too.) Forgiving yourself is one of the most powerful arts you can practice in everyday life, and it means you’ll survive this latest change with something like grace and aplomb.

    Seasons end, and what you thought was a sure thing turns out to be…not the surest thing anymore, and this is part of being human. You grow, you change, you shift, and you respond accordingly.

    May you be brave enough to make the changes as they come, and may you know the relief and joy on the other side of watching your own work fall to the ground.


    P.S. If you’re like, “I need big change but it’s scary but…YUP I STILL NEED IT,” get yourself on board with six months of Steer Your Ship. It would be my honor to help you do the hard, necessary, and gorgeous work of stepping into the next version of you, or letting your work take on its next iteration.

    I’d be happy to help you grow your business, or switch businesses, or dive deeply into your own inner workings to figure out why patterns keep repeating or why you hide from the world more often than not or what keeps you from being as free, as kind, as brave, or as joyful as you’d like to be. All without drama, while being held in deep love for both who you are in this moment and the person you’d like to become. Join me. ;)

    P.P.S. I totally read this to you in the latest episode of That’s What She Said.

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    When it all falls apart

    When it all falls apart,
    let it.

    Trying to save a brick here
    or a scrap of gold there
    during the act of tumbling to the ground
    doesn’t help and isn’t wise
    and probably means you break an arm or a leg
    during an acrobatic feat gone wrong.

    When it all falls apart,
    let it.

    And on that morning, long from now,
    when you find those three pieces
    that have survived,
    you’ll see the way they fit together
    into some new and necessary
    way of being.

    When it all falls apart,
    let it.

    P.S.  More of my poems here.

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    Failure and Success in Business // Brand Camp

    I was on Facebook for a second and saw the ad: ‘Failure-Proof Your Launch!’

    Then I laughed so loud that I startled the dog from her sunny little nap beside me.

    Failure isn’t something you can ‘proof’ against, like making sure your babies don’t eat those laundry packs or making sure your teens aren’t snorting cocaine in the bathroom while you’re in the next room making dinner.

    You can’t ‘failure-proof’ your business, period.

    Further, your biggest ‘failure’ might be the source of more goodness in your life than you could possibly imagine.

    My biggest success/failure (maybe the term is ‘life lesson?’) was revealed to me in a vision that arrived complete with a sunrise ferris wheel, large-scale paint twister, and a handful of speakers I’d move the world to see throw down their wisdom on stage.

    I assumed, since this vision came so clearly and with enough force to bring me to my knees weeping in the shower one morning, that the vision ALSO meant I’d gotten a pass.

    The pass went something like:

    This will be wildly successful, guaranteed!
    My best friend can quit her job to bring this into the world together and it will work out, guaranteed!
    This one event will pay the year’s bills if we just stay faithful enough to what I had seen, guaranteed!

    OH MAN.

    Wrong, wrong, and so so SO wrong. (You know where this is going, right?)

    We sold 20% of the available spaces.
    She returned to her job within the year.
    I lost more than forty grand in the final total. (Insert frowning accountant face here, yo.)


    Would I change it?
    Would I take all the struggle away and use my flux capacitor to go back and make that giant profit and trade in the lessons I’ve learned in the past two years?

    Oh hell no.

    The real risk would have been letting that magical knee-weakening vision go.
    It would have been giving up halfway through, when things got tough and I wanted to refund everyone’s money.
    It would have been underpaying my people, or calling in favors, or skimping out on my debts.
    It would have been staying in a relationship that was suffocating me .00005% a day — oh so imperceptibly — for the next few decades instead of leaving when my heart gave the signal.

    It’s only in the past few months that I’ve recovered enough sensibility and fortitude to take another big, true risk. This time, a book of poetry.

    All the Selves I Used to Be // Kristen KalpAll the Selves I Used to Be, my collection of 69 poems written from 1999 to the present, is available for pre-order right here, and ships on August 1st.

    It’s not meant to make millions or to be a New York Times bestseller —
    though of course those things would be lovely —
    it’s meant to show you who I used to be,
    because I’ll bet you’ve been a few of these selves, too.

    It’s meant to call from your heart to mine, often in life’s most tricky moments, and whisper that you’re not alone. (Also to make you laugh just enough to keep reading.)

    Forward your receipt to, and you’re automatically entered to win a custom poetry commission of your choosing. In the wake of all the world is facing, poetry is one of the ways to deliver oxygen to your soul.

    Here’s to taking risks, my friend.

    May you know the magic of seeing the vision,
    and may you find the courage to bring it to life,
    consequences be damned.

    Oh, and may you…buy the book.

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    For tragedies of all kinds // Kristen Kalp


    Peel open the layers of your heart
    and let it weep
    and have tantrums
    and (mostly) feel impotent
    in the face of all it can’t change.

    Don’t give in to the war drums
    beating against your ribcage,
    and don’t let your one puny heart
    cage you in the world’s limitless miseries.

    Stand open.

    The vast majority of people
    are like you — kind and brave,
    heartsick and healing —
    shattered but refusing
    to remain in pieces
    on the floor



    (My heart needs your heart,
    right now.)

    P.S. More of my poems here.

    P.P.S. Credit: Photo // street artist unknown

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    She pulled up to the Drive-Thru and asked for a Frappuccino.

    There was a long pause.

    “Ma’am, we don’t sell Frappuccinos here, that’s Starbucks.”
    “Oh well. I’d like a Frappuccino.”

    There was a longer pause.

    “We do make Frolattes, which are similar, so would you like to try one of those?”
    “Yah, whatever. Medium.”

    No more business frappuccinos // Brand Camp

    When it comes to bringing your gifts into the world through business, there’s a Frappuccino on offer.

    It’s been accepted as the standard by which all other frozen beverages are measured, and it’s consumed at alarming levels in certain circles. It seems that everyone is so busy consuming it that even those who want to offer something else are trying to justify their Frolatte options and getting “whatever”s back.

    Let’s talk about the Business Frappuccino.

    Currently, the Business Frappuccino includes modules and group coaching and killer marketing and endless testimonials and people who say that it changed their lives/beings/finances/income/hair color/all of the above. It costs two grand, give or take. (If you think I’m referring to one specific person or program, think again — this is the standard, not the singularity!)

    Worse, and more expensive, there’s the Mastermind Frappuccino.  Each one starts with the price tag. (If it costs less than $10k, no one will take you seriously, apparently?) Once it’s priced at $20,000 to $45,000 and the creator has thrown in at least nine months’ worth of activities, peeps will automatically assume it’s good. After all, who would pay that much money for something that isn’t good????

    For good measure, Mastermind Frappuccinos toss in a panel of 1-17 experts to speak to participants, throw in a few retreats in exotic locales and VOILA! Those who take the plunge assume they’ll find their ‘tribe’ and the money invested will come flowing back in no time at all.


    Both these Business Frappuccinos hurt humans.

    When there’s a program full of one to twenty-three THOUSAND people, it’s overwhelming and exhausting to join the conversation. So many people go quiet, opting out of the ‘community’ aspects of the offering. (Or at least, I do.)

    Worse, overwhelm also takes place at the curricular level. In a recent Business Frappuccino I fell for and purchased (DAMMIT THE SUGARY ENDLESS TESTIMONIALS MARKETING WON AGAIN), over 3 hours’ worth of videos were used TO INTRODUCE THE REST OF THE LESSONS. Yes, that means that over 180 minutes’ of video were devoted to getting me ready to watch the rest of the videos.

    In Business Frappuccinos, more is better. (Because more is MORE, and how could you not want More?)

    More bonuses, more extras unlocked after 30 days, more treasure troves and chests and vaults full of old materials that will eat up 5-12 hours a week with endless audios and videos and case studies. More exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More e-mails. More phone calls by staff members and follow-up e-mails to ask how I’d rate those ‘helpful’ phone calls. More scalability, more profit. More, more, MOOOOOORE.

    The Mastermind Frappuccino has been made scalable as well, so where 5-10 people would have fit nicely there are 20, 30, 50, or more humans vying for the attention of a guru, ‘thought leader,’ or expert in person.

    If I have to take one more call from a past or present client in tears because they’ve been duped into buying a Business Frappuccino, I may start kicking things.  Past and present clients report dropping ten grand here, two grand there, seven grand for that one…and they only tell me once the money is spent. Once they’re in debt and their partners don’t know. Once they’re so tired they’re daydreaming of working at (tell me you get the irony, here) Starbucks.

    It’s heartbreaking. It’s exhausting. It’s a sugary-sweet, fat-saturated blend that tastes SO good for the first few sips, but that doesn’t lead to long-term business health or sustainability.

    Please. Let’s stop with the Frappuccinos.

    If you can’t answer these 4 questions clearly and directly with a resounding “YES,” walk away from the buy button.

    1.) Would I follow the leader of this program to hell and back?

    If you’ve just stumbled across a webinar or series of articles or videos and you have no experience with the leader of the course or program, don’t buy (yet). Sit back and watch. Take in all the free content he or she has created for at least three months so you can take a true measure of their willingness to walk in the world as a model of whatever it is they’re teaching. (Also, if they’re subtly teaching workaholism via MASSIVE upsurges in PRODUCTIVITY and NEXT LEVEL shit like AUTHENTICITY and ALTERNATING ALL CAPS KEYWORDS, run away.)

    2.) Would I take this course or mastermind if it cost twice as much?

    Your willingness to pay double your money means that you’ll probably get tremendous value out of whatever it is you’ll be learning during the duration of the experience.

    3.) Do other people who’ve had experience with this person say great things when that leader is not around?

    The more in-person (note: not online, in large Facebook groups full of strangers) advice about buying you can get from people you trust, the easier it is to sign up.

    …and when you find threads of ‘OH GOD THE HORROR,’ ask more questions. Are peeps objecting to small things (the hotel where we stayed for the retreat wasn’t my favorite) or huge things (he/she was unavailable at the times stated)? Are they complaining about details (the graphics could use improvement) or major issues (there’s a lottery involved to be able to ask a question during the coaching time)?

    You can always find people who love and who hate a leader who’s been around for more than a year, so hone in on the specific objections your beloved and trusted peeps have to this person. Decide from there.

    4.) Does every fiber of my being want this course or mastermind/group thing?

    Take a class because it speaks to you deeply, not because you want others to go “OOOOH” when you tell them about it later. If your primary concern in taking a class is to make others jealous or to say you’ve spent $X,000 on it, walk away. You can do better.

    If every part of you wants to go for it AND you would pay double to take part AND your colleagues trust the shit out of it AND you can accept the negatives others have addressed, give that class or mastermind your money.

    If not, save it, ’cause it’s only a Frappuccino trying to seduce you into sucking it down.

    Even as I tell you to avoid the Frappuccinos, please know that we’ve all consumed them. We’ve all gone, “THIS IS GONNA BE AMAZING,” only to be disappointed at the absolute lack of content, of original ideas, or of actionable advice that was on the other side of hitting the ‘buy’ button. We’ve all gotten to the paid side of a thing and gone, “Shit. Whoops.”

    Try not to be bitter. It’s taken 7 years in business for me to even give this phenomenon a name, and sometimes I still want Frappuccinos. They’re simple and quick and that cash flow is such a nice hit for my ego and also they come in s’mores flavor.

    But lentils and vegetables and green smoothies and hydration and rest are what you need for long term health in your body. (Imagine trying to live solely on Caramel Waffle Cone beverages for the next week, let alone the rest of your life…)

    In business, you need people who get you, and questions that help you grow, and deep support when you’re in the thick of working through your hardest moments, which are all things Frappuccinos can’t give. You need trust, and time, and finding your way through tough bits, which is rarely as simple or straightforward as the bullet points outlining the AMAZING changes headed your way RIGHT NOW if you’ll only SIGN HERE would have you believe.

    Business health is hard work, but it’s worth it.

    Further: you might be in a season in which nothing is wrong or broken, in which business is flowing along and you’ve got no gnawing anxieties about your future. Treasure those moments, as they’re fleeting and your ambition or desire to learn more or need for _______ will flare up soon enough.

    If you’re enjoying your business, just enjoy it.

    And if you’re seeking…

    I hope you find what you’re looking for, and I hope that what you receive is deeply nourishing, fulfilling, and meaningful.

    With all my love —

    P.S. Since I’m not one to rail against shit without offering an alternative, Steer Your Ship is my answer to the Frappuccino Mastermind.
    Steer Your Ship is 6 months together for 6 business-owning humans. Steer Your Ship includes two retreats — one in Philly, one in San Diego — plus swimming with otters, whale-watching, one-on-one coaching calls, full access to the Brand Camp library of products and workshops, and a damn reasonable price tag at well under $5,000. It’s the most potent and transformative thing I offer, so if you’ve been following me for at least three months and you dig what I do, now’s the time to find the dollars and put down your deposit.

    If you’d like for me to hook you up with peeps who have taken Steer Your Ship so you can talk to ’em and ask about the good and the horrible bits (they’ll probably tell you about the crabs that were NOT advertised as part of the Costa Rican scenery), I’m happy to share contact details.

    If you want to talk to *me* about Steer Your Ship, kaboom! Schedule a 15-minute call with me right here. I’m really concerned with finding peeps who are an impeccable fit, so don’t worry about my trying to convince you of a damn thing. If it’s not for you, I’m happy to tell you. (And if it’s for you, then I’ll confirm your feelings without throwing any caramel-y sweet whipped topping at you.)

    We’ll talk about your concerns, your dreams, and what you’re trying to do, and I’ll let you know if I can help. Simple as that.

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