Here was someone who had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro three times, authored two books, and become a highly sought-after corporate speaker. Then one day, she gets a call telling her that her book, Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds, was about to be made into a movie starring Chrissy Metz. The number of eyeballs on her website, on her brand, and frankly, on her was about to increase exponentially. Was she ready? Definitely.
But was her brand?
Kara Richardson Whitely knew she needed to up her game.
As is the case for most entrepreneurs, creatives, and just about anyone driven by a mission, she wanted to do everything. She had a big story to tell. She had a big purpose. There were a lot of people she wanted to reach and impact.
How could she not get pulled in a million directions?
Maybe you can relate.
One of the things she talks about in her books is overcoming obstacles and moving metaphorical mountains. Shouldn’t she be able to move this one too (especially since she has a marketing background)? And then she realized something: This is not her mountain to move. She wasn’t put on this planet to move it.
When she wrote her book, it was because she wanted to share the human experience of binge eating, body issues, and chronic dieting, among other things, with those who have struggled or are struggling with battles of their own. Kara’s calling is not to redesign her website or brand; it is to inspire individuals and audiences to overcome their fears. That is what she wants to put my energy toward.
This realization was an important one.
Kara was in a transition—not a transition from one career to the next, but a transition from where she was to where she wanted to go. It was time to level up. She and I met for coffee, and she explained how she was struggling to see the big picture that was enveloping her; she had a ton of ideas—but where to begin?
I told Kara what I think she secretly knew: Her website wasn’t good enough for where she wanted to be. In fact, it was sorely lacking. Sure, it provided basic information about her book and speaking engagements, but that was about it. It didn’t have what was needed to really set her apart. It was fine for when she was just starting out, but things were changing so fast. Kara needed something that was agile, expansive, and captured where she was headed.
After a series of brand strategy sessions over the next six weeks where we did a complete audit of her platform, Kara finally had the tools and understanding to clarify her core message and her target audience and refine the storytelling structures to support that message—well into the future.
This deep dive took an investment in time, energy and, frankly, money—but it saved Kara all three in the long run. It wasn’t always easy. As more and more opportunities came to her, she was sometimes afraid to limit her scope and turn anything away. Wasn’t it prudent to cast as wide a net as possible? But how do you do that without fragmenting yourself or your brand? Kara found out that this is a common transition point in the growth of a business and that she could trust herself and the work she was doing and follow what excited her.
She became crystal clear on what was truly important to her, and that allowed her to more confidently pave the way forward. No longer was Kara willing to waste resources on efforts that didn’t align with my purpose. She used to struggle with thoughts like, “Oh! I should try this, or maybe that, or maybe this and that!” Talk about exhausting. Now, she can look at her blueprint for guidance whenever she needs it.
She feels confident giving her business card to a new client because her website truly reflects who she is: a motivator and uplifter through and through. Her platform is broad and powerful enough to support her work as a speaker, coach, author, and influencer for companies like L.L. Bean.
We are all so much more capable than we think we are. Kara never thought a movie would be made about her life and her journey to becoming a plus-size adventurer and uplifter. Today, she gets to spend her time doing exactly what she wants: impacting other people’s lives so that they, too, can answer the call of their own personal adventure.
If you are in a transition, you don’t have to do it alone. Just as Kara needed a guide up Kilimanjaro, she needed a guide for her brand.
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