What comes to mind when you think “work-life balance”? It can mean different things to different people. For Kim Castle, trying to balance a successful business, plus helping others create and manage their businesses, drove her to her breaking point. Now, she’s passionate about helping other women avoid and recover from emotional, mental and physical stress overload that can lead to a breakdown. Read on to find out how she’s inspiring the change at this year’s National Women’s Business Conference hosted by NAWBO next week.
Q: Tell us a little bit about you.
I’m a former stand-up comedienne, TV host, writer and award-winning art director.
For more than a decade, I was the co-creator and spokesperson for BrandU®, a dynamic training enterprise devoted to empowering entrepreneurs around the world to get clear on their brand.
I’ve been featured on CNN Headline News, Fox Business News, Yahoo Small Business, and in Inc. magazine and countless books and magazines. I won a Webby for my groundbreaking work for General Motors’ breast cancer charity Concept:Cure, and I was nominated for the Los Angeles Women Making a Difference Award. Sadly, I lost out to the woman who rebranded the Chinese Gooseberry into the kiwi fruit. A typical hard-driving, perfectionist, Type A, I drove myself, my business, my body and anything else that needed me hard. I ran myself into the ground running my business and helping others create theirs. There was not an on off/switch for me. Go, go, go. Do, do, do. As a result, all the relationships in my life suffered most importantly, the one with myself.
After decades of ignoring the signs, coupled with the demands of aging, I dug a hole so deep—chronic fatigue, exhaustion, depression, hypothyroidism, dreaming about suicide—that I almost didn’t get out. The sad thing was, I was too busy making success that I didn’t even know it was happening. That I was making it happen.
Q: What’s next for you and your business, and how will you get there?
I’ve recently gone through a transition from being a brand consultant and speaker and helping others build their brand to creating one of my own. Having experienced what I did physically, I also watch thousands of other women fall into the same physical traps brought on by overdoing and putting their well-being last.
I’ve launched a media-based lifestyle consumer product platform that delivers lively, amusing and informative programming and products to help busy women 35-54 feel good and enjoy life again.
First and foremost, my business is led by entertainment. With so much information and consumer choice, it’s vital that media play a driving role in any new business today.
Most importantly, I’m not pushing myself to have everything figured out. When I first started it, I put pressure on myself to have everything about this brand figured out before I went to market. That’s the old-school thinking I learned in advertising. It’s a different time. The market wants a real relationship with a product or company. So if I don’t have everything figured out, I can’t cover it up. More important is to share the truth and let your audience/potential customers in on the process and get there together.
Also, I have a producing partner, and I’ve turned over the reins of steering to him so that I can focus on the piece I do really well with ease.
Q: What are some things you’d like to see changed for women entrepreneurs?
#1: Women entrepreneurs need to put their well-being first and foremost in their lives—even before their business and their family. Women, especially entrepreneurial ones, have such a high level of multitasking stress load tolerance that we don’t realize the potential damage we’re doing—even if the results of that damage are 10-15 years down the line.
We aren’t biologically designed to stay in male mode, which is what it takes to get things done in business. We’re wearing ourselves out, and as a result, we get to a certain age and we get hit with depression, illness and lost connection with ourselves.
#2: We, as women, need to wake up from the male-driven paradigm of the world that we’ve been shown and realize that our real power is not in what we do. Our happiness and sense of accomplishment should be tied up in how much we accomplish. Yes, reach for new goals, stretch for new horizons, but that needs to come from our overflow, so we’re able to do it without wearing ourselves out. Arianna Huffington’s Third Metric touches upon this need. We need to change the paradigm for ourselves, for our daughters and for the sake of the world.
Q: We live and work in an environment of constant change…how have you learned to embrace change?
As a recovering control freak, I was not very good with change. I derived a sense of security from things around me being steady. Like the tides of the ocean, for women, change is our native state. I’ve learned to embrace change by getting out in front of it by being the change. Not being the victim of it, but rather than being the originator of it, and allowing that to ripple through me and onto what I bring to the world through my business and all my associations. Change is now a constant source of momentum in my life. That, and a solid yoga practice for when the crap is hitting the fan.
Q: What’s one change you’ve recently made or been part of, and how have you been positively impacted by it?
After a decade in my own successful business, I walked away from it to create a business that I would do even if I never got paid from it. Even though it was my own business, in a sense I played a role, leaving parts of me off the table.
My new venture is not a hobby. It’s a creative expression of who I am today with very clear, distinct structures for a large-scale business—very much aligned with who I am at the core and who I’ve always been. I’m creating a business that leaves no part of me out of the equation.
Q: Why is a conference like this one for women entrepreneurs critical?
The NAWBO conference is critical for women business owners, not to get together and learn how to get stuff done like men, but to join together in community, to learn how other women are handling the same challenges, to learn more graceful and effective ways to grow and, more importantly, to realize that you are not alone—that here is a very successful community of women all struggling and growing through the same challenges. Whether it’s professional or personal, at a conference like NAWBO’s, another woman invariably has a key to a lock you want to open.
Q: If women walk away from your presentation with one thing, what do you want it to be?
The enjoyment of your life is far more important than anything you want to accomplish, and the way to accomplish anything is by taking care of you first. The women who attend my session will laugh, recognize themselves and realize they are not the only ones going through that exhausted loop in their head. They will walk away with a whole new understanding of their life and how to get more from it.
You won’t want to miss Kim and all the other amazing speakers who will be at the National Women’s Business Conference, September 27-29 (Leadership Boot Camp on the 27th and the Conference on the 28th-29th), in San Antonio, Texas.
View complete conference agenda here.