Kealah (KEY-la) Parkinson is Coach Kiki, a 15-plus-year veteran Communications Coach teaching business professionals, parents and kiddos in her Chicago-area homeland and all over the world how to think and speak with a confident focus. (Hint: The secret is accepting fight-or-flight to cycle out of it.).
As host of the podcast, Tune In: Radio for Your Mind, Body & Soul, she spotlights “mini-mindfulness” in unique forms and practices, making the concept accessible for everyone. She is the author or co-/contributing author of 3 international books and more in the works.
Test your own communications powers and learn more at her site with this link.
Here we sit down with coach Kiki, to know a bit more about her journey as a communications coach.
Q. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Coach Kiki: In the U.S. recession of 2008, I took advantage of the market volatility by jumping out of work that I was mostly doing for money to consciously invent a career I could 100% love. My philosophy was that if I failed, I could just blame the market, so the risk was minimal to both my already-at-risk bank account and my ego.
Q. How did you get started?
Coach Kiki: So many people I knew at the time were reading the tea leaves and asking me to help them refresh their resumés. I started saying, “Yes, I’ll help you—if you pay me $30 and let me coach you through the interview process.” It was such an easy yes for them; they were always really happy to let me know the outcomes of their interviews I got all kinds of really great feedback on the coaching process and results. I was also in a Toastmasters group at the time, and I began workshopping my content pitches to audiences as part of my speechmaking goals there. All of this real-world feedback helped me create a coaching practice that legitimately met people’s needs.
Q. What was your biggest startup challenge? What steps did you take to overcome it? What did you learn?
Coach Kiki: I literally had no idea how to go out and find clients. Networking saved me: Not only did my fellow Toastmasters and resumé friends sign up for my services and send their friends, but they also introduced me to professional groups like the Chicago chapter of the National Speakers Association (U.S.) and helped fill in the unknown gaps I had in entrepreneurship, which were many. I’m a fantastic Communications Coach, but still, a moderate business owner when I work without a team.
Q. What is the Most Memorable Thing You’ve Done Since you Started your Business?
Coach Kiki: My entire chosen career path is completely out of character for me, in many ways. As a natural introvert, it’s so easy for me to sit in a corner, quietly reading a book and not directly engaging with the world. From that perspective, nearly everything I do professionally is a little amazing to me: putting myself out in the world to represent my brand, working as an expert guide to the clients I coach, giving speeches and workshops to groups of all sizes, even hosting my podcast (which is also a community radio show)—it’s all a little like jumping out of an airplane for me! And, just like skydiving, it’s such a thrill that I keep coming back to it again and again because miraculously, it’s somehow just as natural to me as free-falling through the sky.
Q. What is one book you recommend, and why?
Coach Kiki: I genuinely love The Successful Body, edited by Erik Severson. Although I contributed the chapter on “The Inner Journey from Shame to Success,” the book is a compilation of writings from 33 world-class experts from all over the globe, and it’s part of a 3-book series on whole-being success. With so many amazing teachers, there’s something for everyone to learn from it!
Q. What are your top 3 favourite online apps, tools, or resources and what do you love about them?
Coach Kiki: I’m a very big fan of mindfulness apps, particularly The Tapping Solution and the Calm app. Each one is really comprehensive with tools for better sleep, diet, exercise, mental health, and education literally in the palm of your hand. Plus, they have pointers for grown-ups and kids. When I’m feeling like I need something more basic, I reach for Mood Meter.
Q. In terms of legacy, what is the mark you’d like to leave on the world?
Coach Kiki: Rather than leaving a mark, I’m really interested in helping individuals, families, and communities to erase the marks others have left on them. I deeply believe that healing is the real work, as esoteric as that sounds. After all, when we’re in our easiest flow, we’re most resourceful to create all kinds of powerful solutions the world truly needs.
Q. In one sentence, what’s the best advice you’d give to someone just starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
Coach Kiki: Don’t leave your own intuition out of the process. In fact, you’re much better off letting it lead your choices.