Kelly Campbell is an Agency Growth Consultant and Conscious Leadership Coach helping creative and technology leaders transform their lives and grow their agencies. She is the Co-founder of Consciousness Leaders, a global collective of experts helping organizations create positive, lasting change.
Kelly is also the host of the podcast, THRIVE: Your Agency Resource, and is currently authoring her first book on redefining leadership as a healing journey.
In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Kelly Campbell, the Co-founder of Consciousness Leaders, about how she started her businesses and her journey to becoming a consciousness coach. Kelly shares her reasons for selling her business, the lessons she learned about entrepreneurship and building an agency, and explains how she uses her experience to help fellow entrepreneurs build better businesses. Stay tuned.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Kelly Campbell’s experience podcasting in 2006
- What prompted Kelly’s desire to start a business at 22 years old and how she shaped her services
- The people that inspired Kelly as a young leader, how she attracted good employees, and how niching impacted her business
- Kelly explains why she sold her business after 14 years, talks about the holistic health and wellness company she started, and shares the lessons she learned from the experience
- Kelly’s advice to people thinking of starting a new business while running another
- What Kelly would do differently selling her business and how her life changed after the sale
- Kelly explains how she started Consciousness Leaders and talks about hosting competitors on her podcast
- The companies Kelly admires and what she does to avoid burnout in her current business
- The people Kelly appreciates and how to get in touch with her
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
- Consciousness Leaders
- Kelly Campbell’s website
- Kelly Campbell on LinkedIn
- THRIVE: Your Agency Resource
- Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program
- Gravity Payments
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Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.
John Corcoran 0:40
All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of the show. Every week I get to talk to interesting CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of ranging companies from Netflix to Kinko’s, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25 where we help connect b2b business owners with their ideal prospects. And my guest this week is Kelly Campbell. She is a conscious leadership coach helping creative and technology leaders transform their lives and grow their agencies. She’s the Co-founder of Consciousness Leaders, a global collective of experts helping organizations create positive, lasting change. She’s also the host of the podcast, THRIVE: Your Agency Resource, and she’s currently authoring her first book on redefining leadership as a healing journey. And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25 Media where we help connect b2b businesses with their clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with podcasts and content marketing. Kelly, you started podcasting back in 2006, four years before I started podcasting. I have to ask you, what was that experience like? What was podcasting like in 2006? Super early adopter.
Kelly Campbell 1:43
Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me on today John, I’m really excited to be here. Yeah, podcasting in 2006 was a very, very different landscape. If you were not tech savvy, if you were not podcasting in 2006, you know, you had to be super comfortable editing XML files and accessing servers, you know, route servers directly and all of that nice techie geek stuff. I did that as part of a company that I had started in 2006. Right around that time called the holistic option. That we’ll get into that probably later. But what it was like was really interesting, because I was able to, at that point, get guests that I would never have had access to before. So I mean, I was talking to Deepak Chopra’s daughter. I had my MBA Alec on because she was part of the holistic mom’s network. I had access to be able to have these incredible guests on the show that today, it would be like, Oh, you’re just another podcast. Now I’m gonna pass. But back then. It was such a new kind of trend and fad, that people were really willing to talk to me for an hour.
John Corcoran 2:49
And they knew what it was right? You explain what a podcast was, or they knew what a podcast
Kelly Campbell 2:53
was. They sort of knew what it was. Yeah, yeah. That’s good. Yeah. Really, the people that I was talking to? Yeah. So yeah, it was wild, but it was really great. And we ended up at, I think it was number one on iTunes in the health category for a solid year. Wow. Which I still am like, Oh my god, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I just showed up and talk to people through Skype and the E cam recorder,
John Corcoran 3:19
or whatever. You can call a recorder. Yeah, you can call a recorder. Yeah. Um, and that was it. That was like early zoom. Yeah. That’s very cool. All right, well, so to wrap that up, email us at [email protected], or check out Rise25 Media. If you want to learn more, Kelly is such a pleasure to talk to you. And I want to start with a piece of your journey. Which is that you were 22 years old. When you started your company. You ran it for 14 years. This is your cause marketing agency, but 22 years old, when you started a company, what was that experience? Like when I was trying to use her? I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea. It took me I think it was the early 30s when I finally became an entrepreneur, but you know, for a woman and everything, how was it running? Oh,
Kelly Campbell 4:07
okay, I’m gonna I’m gonna, I’m gonna pause my reaction to the for a woman comment?
John Corcoran 4:12
Well, I only meant that in the sense that it that I didn’t mean in a derogatory way at all. I just meant that there are fewer women that are entrepreneurs.
Kelly Campbell 4:23
I think that in totality is true. I think that that’s changing significantly, especially after the last year and a half.
John Corcoran 4:32
So absolutely, yeah. And I actually back that up because I participate in an entrepreneurs organization here in the San Francisco Bay Area. And our chapter actually has the highest female membership rate I think in the country. And it has been growing over the last few years.
Kelly Campbell 4:49
Yeah. For me, I didn’t necessarily set out to start my own company at 22. It was more or more of a situation Where I got a full time job right out of college, and I realized that there was so much inefficiency. And also I was on the receiving end of a lot of sort of toxic behavior that I didn’t recognize necessarily as toxic back then, because we didn’t really use that as a vocabulary even Yeah, but in retrospect, it was really egregious, right? And, you know, so there was certainly sexism, there was certainly ageism, because I was so young. I also had come out a few years before that. So there was definitely some homophobia that I was encountering, and lots of misogyny. And so I didn’t have those words, at the time at 22. I just thought, well, this is kind of what work life is like. And if this is what corporate America is, like, I hate it. And so I’m going to rail against that, and there’s got to be a better way, I thought that the work environment would be different. And so I thought, well, I don’t know, I mean, I have a ton of initiative and a ton of drive, I think I’m fairly intelligent, this can’t be that hard. And so I, on the side, built up a client base by literally calling companies in my county, out of the phonebook, and setting up meetings getting clients starting to do, it wasn’t called Digital Marketing at the time, but I was helping them with newsletters and websites, and you know, really basic basic things at that point. And I got that running up, up and running until the point where I was making the same salary that I was making in my two jobs. And then I gave notice, and that’s pretty much how it happened.
John Corcoran 6:38
Did you find it? And you know, for those who are listening to this, who haven’t founded a business, maybe they would think that it would be harder? Did you find that it was that you were able to avoid the misogyny and homophobia that you dealt with in the corporate world? By starting your own company?
Kelly Campbell 6:56
That’s a really good question, John. Avoid it. No, I don’t necessarily have to deal with it, or accept it as just part of my daily life. Yes, right. Like, as a business owner, especially in the early days, you take on whatever you can get. But for me, I had a pretty formative experience early on, where I said no to that, and was like, if there’s someone who doesn’t want to work with me, because of how young I am, or the fact that I have like an eyebrow ring, or if I appear as queer, if they don’t want to work with me because of that, then I don’t want to work with them, it’s never gonna be a good match. Right? So I feel like I was kind of onto something from a boundary standpoint, really early on. And I think that kind of set the trajectory for some of the work that we did as an agency, you know, over the course of those 14 years as a cause marketing agency, if you think about
John Corcoran 7:57
it, would you say that? Because you are good at drawing those boundaries around the personal types of clients that you wanted to have, that, you know, if they didn’t want to work with me, because of who I am, I don’t want to work with them. Did that help you on the business side as well, determining, like, these are the types of services that we don’t want to provide? Because we’ve, we’ve been able to draw a boundary here, we can draw a boundary over here as well, which is, which is, you know, a lot of times a lot of businesses struggle with that piece with, drawing a boundary around the types of services that they provide.
Kelly Campbell 8:30
Also a good question. I think the answer is yes, but not immediately. So it wasn’t until years later. where, you know, we were, I really detest the term full service digital agency, because it’s a misnomer. I don’t think any agency can do everything, you’re always going to need specialists and outsource, you know, folks who are really great in their particular areas, but we were offering a myriad of different services. And I think when we got to the point where I was able to look at, okay, the people that are working on social media marketing as an example, they’re spending so much time they’re burned out. We’re actually not profiting from that particular service, I was able to draw the boundary to say, okay, we’re going to remove that from our service offerings, and find a partner where anyone who comes in and, you know, is looking for other services that we provide, we’re going to provide those services, if they also want social media marketing, then we would refer them over to this other partner, a strategic partner, who would then remit some kind of, you know, commission to us, so it just added a new revenue stream. And I felt like, in some ways, I guess that was kind of setting a boundary or creating a boundary. Although, you know, I’ve never really thought about it that way. So it’s interesting.
John Corcoran 9:49
Yeah. And then how did you grow as a leader, you know, you’re going into your mid 20s. You know, did you have others that you could look up to or learn Learn from to learn all the different things you needed to know, as a CEO of your own company.
Kelly Campbell 10:05
You know, I didn’t, I really didn’t, the closest thing that I would say that I had is my father was an entrepreneur, he created his own. He’s like a master electrician, right? So he had his own electrical contracting company. So I knew what it was like to be in sort of a family of entrepreneurs, or at least a father who had his own company. But I saw what he went through. And I saw how he treated his employees extremely well. All of his guys were union, so he had a certain, you know, set of values and all of that, and that definitely trickled down. But I don’t know. I don’t know, I think it was. I think, as a leader, I think you just try to figure things out as best as you possibly can, or could. And to be honest, I think that because I didn’t necessarily have that one on one mentorship. So I saw my dad, right. But I didn’t necessarily talk to him about business. In that way. I think the gap in not having a mentor not having an advisor or a non equity partner. Not having those things also influenced my decision to become a consultant, and then a coach to other agency leaders, like I was when I was younger,
John Corcoran 11:30
right? What about peers? Are there other peers that were kind of that you could turn to at the time? Yeah, a few
Kelly Campbell 11:36
few. And, you know, they were both male and female. And I was also a part of different networking groups. And that was definitely what created some kind of peer support system. But at the end of the day, you just, you still feel really lonely? You know, you still feel like, you’re kind of questioning the decisions that you make, you’re still the one who’s getting up at, you know, three o’clock in the morning, worrying about payroll, and all those fun things that come with agency ownership. So yeah, it definitely felt a little lonely. And I guess my, I guess I would answer, like, my leadership style definitely changed over the course of time. But that also would just be a matter of evolution as a person, like as I was getting older over the course of 14 years, you change from 22 to 36.
John Corcoran 12:26
Right? Yeah, yeah. What about attracting good people to work for you? What were some of the secrets that you learned behind getting the right team members on the bus, so to speak.