Karen On the Job

A Measure of Sacrifice is Required

There is no decision we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.    – Simon Sinek

What are you willing to give up in order to pursue what you really want? What are you willing to let go of for the sake of your dream? What might you have to leave behind because it’s not helping you get where you want to go?

A key ingredient to an entrepreneur’s success is to embrace those moments where your dream will require a measure of sacrifice.

True sacrifice is giving up something of current value to invest in something of greater value.

There are many areas of our lives that hinder us from chasing after our hopes because we don’t want to forfeit our comfort zone.

The most important decision about your goals is not what you are willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up. – Dave Ramsey

When we sincerely believe there’s a bigger picture awaiting us, sometimes we have to resign oneself to what is comfortably familiar because it no longer benefits the ultimate goal.

Q1:  What’s comfortable in your life but not beneficial to your ultimate goal?  

As Tony Robbins famously coined, “Anything you want that’s valuable requires you to break through short-term pain in order to gain long-term pleasure.

Are we willing to let go of our presuppositions that got us from where we were to where we are? They got us this far, but no farther. It served its purpose, and now it’s time to sacrifice them because what once nourished you is now hindering you from ultimate success. (A great book to read is Marshall Goldsmith’s, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.)

When I listen to inspiring leaders, I hear a recurring theme. They share stories in their professional journeys where it was required of them to give something up for the sake of pursuing something greater. They chose to make their sacrifices because they knew they had to let go of their normal in return for their extraordinary.

Q2:  What might you have to relinquish today for the sake of your bright exuberant future? 

He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly, must sacrifice greatly. – James Allen

A gentle reminder that sacrifice stems from a place of purpose, not self-gratification. Sacrifice comes with a cost, but always remember you’re choosing something of greater value.  You will know you’ve made a sacrifice because that choice will stretch you outside your comfort levels.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on

Inside My Head Karen

Hey, you – the leader! Know your guiding values!

I came across a document I wrote on January 1, 2008, expounding on my three guiding values. I was immediately curious to read it, wondering if it still resonated within me.

The answer? YES!!!

Isn’t it incredible that guiding values live inside us regardless of the changes of life, new chapters, same chapters, good times, hard times, in seasons of plenty and in seasons of need?

Business is exactly the same. In business, it’s referred to as the mission statement – why we do what we do. What do you want your company to be known for? And please do not say money!

Check out what a seasoned mission statement looks like:

NIKE: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

STARBUCKS: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”

WHOLE FOODS: “With great courage, integrity and love – we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities, and our planet can flourish. All the while, celebrating the sheer love and joy of food.”

Pay attention to this next phrase: A leader’s guiding values carry more influence than a company’s mission statement.

As a leader, as the decision-maker, as the company’s burden bearer – before you incorporate a mission statement for your business – please formulate your personal guiding values. The DNA of your company depends on it. The more you live out your guiding values, the healthier your mission statement will be.

A mission statement is the non-negotiable reputation, the first impression, and the legacy a company leaves behind. The mission statement is the connecting point where everyone who signs up to play on your team identifies, relates and resonates with the company’s declaration.

Before you ask anyone to sign up to a company’s mission statement, do you know your own guiding values?

Know why you do what you do; why you’re unwavering in core principles and why you won’t allow circumstances to compromise who you are. That’s powerful stuff!

After re-reading my guiding values, I found myself coming into alignment again in a fresh way. I also realized I need to be reading these guiding values on a consistent basis. It’s like giving myself my very own pep talk!

Here’s the bottom line: the reason I need guiding values to remain in the forefront of my life is because I know that when I walk these out great things happen…to those around me. Guiding values are principles you live that positively impact others.

Commit to your guiding values regularly, intentionally and confidently. Remain steadfast in how you live your life and impact the people around you.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on

Career Karen

The Winter of Business

“I write probably 80 percent of my stuff over the winter.” -Bob Seger

Using the metaphor of seasons, every business – no matter what type – goes through a winter season.

Spring is fresh and new.

Summer is vibrant and steady.

Fall is transition and change.

Winter… oh winter… winter is stillness.

In winter, the leaves aren’t flourishing on the trees. The ground is covered with snow. The wind is cold.The lakes are frozen over. The land is sleeping.

Business is similar. One of the important reality checks for any business is preparing and planning for winter seasons.

Before winter, pioneers would prepare for the barren months. They’d store up food, stack up firewood and winterize their homes. They prepared for winter.

Why would business be any different?

Don’t fret the winter season. Rather, prepare for it. Add it to your projections. Calculate it into your budgets. The ‘what if’ of business.  Some call it Risk Management.

After all, the winter of business isn’t so bad.

Ok, sales are down. Profits are waning. Payroll just got a little tougher. Spending is lean. And it’s part of running a business.

I’ve always believed that when times get tough, it’s our chance to re-create, re-think, re-strategize and re-maximize our opportunities.  

Winter is the preparation for new growth and your business is like a tree. It’s in those times when you strengthen your roots to handle more, not less.

What can you do to strengthen your roots? What new thinking can you activate? What areas have you not yet explored? Look for the new.

There’s always room for improvement.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Is the company running smoothly? Are there any areas internally that need adjusted?
  2. Have you done an outstanding job expressing value, recognition and reward for your staff’s contribution and do you have plans to improve your already impressive customer service?
  3. Are employees being re-trained to empower them to be a great winning team? Is your leadership unified and building the same vision, together?
  4. Is your message relevant and attracting new customers? Is your marketing campaign looking tired and ineffective?
  5. Is your product of superior standards? Are your procedures consistent across the boards?
  6. Are you setting and implementing new goals to keep you moving forward? Are you maximizing your resources and opportunities?

See what I mean?  Winter isn’t so bad. Strengthen your roots. You need strong roots to grow strong trees and produce a fruitful grove.

Embrace your winter.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on


Inside My Head Karen


Loss:  the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value. 

-New Oxford American Dictionary

The loss of a life. The loss of love. The loss of a job. The loss of health. The loss of money. The loss of friendship. The loss of a game.

Why is loss so painful?

It creates a grief in our hearts that can feel unbearable, overwhelming, deflating, disheartening, discouraging, or anxious.

We all deal with loss differently.

  • Some build walls as a shield of protection.
  • Some avoid the topic because it’s easier to not talk about it.
  • Some get angry to avoid breaking down in tears.
  • Some are overly sensitive because touching the wound is excruciating.
  • Some use dark humor to cover up the deep pain.
  • Some go quiet to silence the multitude of thoughts racing through their mind.
  • Some escape through substance to drown the grief.
  • Some flight because it’s easier to carry on than to deal with it.
  • Some meditate for relief from their anxiety.
  • Some choose retribution to avoid the feeling of rejection.

There is no perfect way to grieve loss. It’s impossible to perform flawlessly when we grieve.

Even in sports, I watch a team lose the championship and some are crying, some are throwing their towel down in frustration, some are sitting on the bench head in hands looking down at the ground, some head straight to the locker room and some are trying to remain composed and professional for the sake of the spectators.

It doesn’t matter how we deal with loss, the reality is we all identify with loss.

Here’s the kicker: and as much as you want to get over it, you don’t bounce back. Yes, time will heal, but not in a bouncy way!

Healing the experience of loss is more like filling a bucket of water with a syringe. Each drop is one step closer to restoring a full bucket inside you. We forget we need to replenish our souls! The expression “a cup of cold water to the soul” is about filling the bucket back up. And filling the bucket takes time.  It’s a process.  Replenishment takes time, and some buckets may take a little longer than others.

All that is required of us is this: simply say yes to the process. A willingness to allow ourselves to be replenished.  Time is patient.

– Karen Thrall

* also published on

Awesomeness in the World Karen

Innovators Spit on Worry and Carry On

What makes us shrink back or hold back?

When I’m hanging out with my wisest friends (who are 70 years and older), I notice a common occurrence: they are less affected by circumstances. They carry an acceptance about where they are, who they’re with and what they’re doing in that very moment. All that matters is now. And in that now moment, they are real, true to themselves, honest, present, sincere and worry-free.

Innovators are similar.

Innovators are such a gift to the human race.  If you’re an innovator, stand tall. You have a greater purpose than simply coming up with new and exciting ideas.

Innovators seem to have the least amount of struggle with falsity. In my opinion, they are uncompromising people. They seem to not invest a lot of their energy in what other people think. They are unapologetic for their opinions, actions and convictions. Okay sure, some innovators are difficult to work with and have peculiarities that might occasionally drive us crazy, but wouldn’t that simply be their unique style, not a flaw in their character?

I am a fortunate woman because my clients are primarily innovators. They are a gift to my journey. Though they may identify with my moments of worry, they have the boldness to spit on worry and carry on.

Let me speak to the heart of an innovator for a moment. If you’re one of them, this is what I think of you.

You teach the rest of us how:

  1. to be present
  2. to remain true to our unique self
  3. to be confident in our thoughts and actions
  4. to be unapologetic for the decisions we make
  5. to embrace the convictions we want to live out
  6. to have faith in what we are pursuing
  7. to not give up
  8. to bend but not break
  9. to be immersed in thought
  10. to radically believe

You remind us to stay the course.

If you’re an innovator, part of your purpose is to inspire us to walk in our true self, worry-free. Those are big shoes to fill, but you’re the people that can fill them.

When I’m with an innovator, it’s amazing how quickly nothing else matters. What worried me, no longer has power. The world is full of options. How can we possibly accomplish anything if we worry? Worry breeds falsity. Possibilities diffuse worry. Innovators understand this.

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.” – Benjamin Franklin


– Karen Thrall

*also published on


Inside My Head Karen

Know Your Stressors

Taking inventory of our internal well-being on a regular basis is fundamental to healthy living. When we go through a challenging time, a big change, an unexpected disruption (or a planned one), it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, “Heyyyyy youuuu inside there, how are you doing?

The most important part of stress is this:  
Are you handling it okay?  

When I did this quiz, my stress results were very high. I knew they would be. There’s been a lot of change over the past 12 months. Along with the change, stress. Of course! It comes with the territory.

How we handle stress is what we need to measure.

Ask your closest relationships: Do you think I handle stress well?

For me personally, I’m making life-changing decisions and carving a new path – a path I want to live. The impact these changes are having on me, the inner-person Karen, are monumental. The paradox of this stress and change is that I’ve chosen it. I want the change.

Regardless, change comes with risk, which inevitably induces greater levels of stress.

Although stress is a complex subject, I know what I have to do in order to stay healthy.  I don’t want stress to invoke physical ailments.

Since I’m in a season of high stress (note:  a season), I find myself much more diligent in making sure I’m doing okay. Here are a few of my go-to’s that I find highly valuable and helpful:

  • Find the calm in the chaos.  (I continually say, “All will be well. I’m on the right path.  Keep going.”)
  • Spend time outdoors reflecting and pondering your thoughts.
  • Enjoy solitude and find time to think so you can unpack the clutter in your mind.
  • Give yourself permission to feel your fear, worry or uncertainty. (I used to stuff my feelings. I don’t do that anymore.)
  • Choose gratitude and every day speak out that for which you’re truly thankful.
  • Remind yourself that love is greater than stress. Stay connected with the people that mean the most to you!
  • Every year have a medical check up and blood work done to make sure you’re healthy.
  • Choose to eat healthy and drink lots of water.
  • Love laughing. (I make sure my days are filled with joy.)

Stress is a normal part of life, but it’s not to dominate our lives and it must not be given any controlling power on our circumstances.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on


Karen On the Job

When Companies Begin to Crumble

So, you want to grow your business?  Great! Whatever you do, pay attention to the internal workings of your company!

Overlooking your infrastructure is like biting into a rotten apple. Looks juicy and delicious on the outside, but on the inside, it’s decaying. This mustn’t happen.

Yes, I agree that cash flow is of utmost importance and keeps the neon ‘open for business’ sign left on, but why is it that very few companies ask on a regular basis: “Are we healthy?”

It doesn’t matter how much cash flow you’re experiencing right now – if you’re not a healthy business, you’re just like the rotten apple. The company eventually will not be sustainable, which means a time is coming where things will start falling through the cracks, sales will drop, problems will increase and you’ll start to worry about your profitability.

Then what?

Then reaction sets in: work harder, drive the team harder and push sales harder. You start to cut back on advertising or rewarding your employees or you cut corners on your product. Performance begins to wane and careless decision-making begins. What once was a place of celebration and an unstoppable energy is now a burden and a heavy yoke around your neck.

Two of the biggest problems I see effecting how a company operates are:  (1) neglect; and (2) dismissiveness.

I don’t mean dismiss as in ‘fire someone’.  The dismissiveness I’m referring to parallels neglect.

The New Oxford American Dictionary


  • treat as unworthy of serious consideration
  • deliberately cease to think about


  • fail to care for properly
  • to disregard

The biggest reason neglect and dismiss show up is because you don’t have time. Since you don’t have time, you convince yourself that everything is going well; and taking inventory of your organization’s health is soon not a priority.

Here are a few negative influencers that provoke dismissiveness and neglectfulness:

  1. YOU’RE OVERLY BUSY: You can’t shut your brain off, you have too much on your plate and stress levels are higher than usual
  2. YOU’RE PRE-OCCUPIED: You’re pre-occupied with ‘more important matters’ and, because you’re limited for time, you’re looking at the internal part of your company with ‘it’s fine the way it is’
  3. YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT SALES: You’re worried about sales being down and trying to figure how to increase numbers and, not only that, there seems to be a lack of accountability on company spending
  4. YOU’RE FRUSTRATED: You’re frustrated with unnecessary errors and wonder why decisions aren’t being more thought through
  5. YOU’RE NOT STRATEGIZING: You’re spending less time on strategy; risk management is ignored and ‘duct tape’ solutions are being implemented
  6. YOU’RE DISAPPOINTED: You’re noticing a lack of enthusiasm within the team and people don’t seem to love coming to work like they used to

Can you see how these reasons are easily fixable? More importantly, can you see how these reasons could slowly erode your wonderful company? You worked hard for your accomplishments! You put in a lot of sweat hours to get it to where it is today.

Make sure you have a healthy ‘apple-core’ business. Be confident knowing that if anyone bit into your ‘apple’ they’ll think it’s delicious. If the insides of the company don’t match the brand you are conveying to the public, then you’ve got some serious problems awaiting you.

Take an infrastructural audit!

What does that look like? Here are a few examples:

  1. Is your company financially healthy and are you seeing profits increase every year?
  2. Payroll is your greatest cost. Are the right people doing the right job and executing your outcomes with excellent results and great success?
  3. Are your procedures and systems efficient and is follow through happening within your set timelines?
  4. Are you conducting 360 degree reviews to have full understanding of how the departments are functioning, and does your team love their job and love what they do?
  5. Is production and manufacturing performing at your desired caliber and above your expectations?
  6. Are you ensuring your brand has the premier exposure amidst your competitors and, not only that, are you in the lead?
  7. Are you maintaining a competitive advantage and do customers choose you not because they’re satisfied but because they love you?

Please find out!

– Karen Thrall

*also published on



Career Karen

I am a Guinea Pig

I can see why people choose not to make high-risk decisions: it’s unpredictable with no guarantees.

If I said to you (cyber invisible person), “Eat this roast beef dinner every day and you’ll lose 10 pounds.”

You would say, “How do you know?”

I would say, “I’m not 100% sure. Looks like all the ingredients for health might be there.  Let’s see if it works.”

Cyber invisible person says, “So in other words, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”  You then walk away and think I’m crazy.

Launching a business isn’t much different.

Do I know I’ll be successful?  No.

Do I want to find out?  Yes.

It’s not you that has to eat the roast beef dinner, it’s me that has to do it first, and find out if it works. Then I can say to you, “I can guarantee you, if you eat this roast beef dinner every day for 2 weeks you’ll lose 10 pounds.” Until I, myself, try it out, take the risk, enter into unpredictability and embrace the reality that there are no guarantees, I can’t offer you anything.

What people want are stories and testimonies of what works, what is successful, what is transformational, what is impactful, what is life-changing, what is guaranteed – they want to see results.

We are a skeptical bunch, us mammals. Even animals show skepticism. One will try it before the pack does. Once it’s tried and proven, then they start to fight over who gets to be next (except for lemmings…).

What do I conclude?

I’m a guinea pig.

I’m wired for experimentation.

I’m wired to risk. I’m wired to explore. I’m wired to try it first, and then decide if it’s a good idea.

I have a philosophy. “When I’m 96 years old, will I regret not doing this?” It is foundational in my decision-making. If I respond to the question with, “Yes. Absolutely, yes.” then I know I’m to proceed. If I say, “Mehhh, I can take it or leave it,” then I don’t proceed.

I am only interested in searching for the ‘absolutely yes’ residing in my heart.

I remember as a young girl spinning the globe, closing my eyes and stopping the spin with my finger. Wherever my finger landed I’d say, “I’m going here.” At a young age I already understood the concept of a “Bucket List.” I didn’t care where the globe stopped; it was the thrill of the unknown.

I remember my friends and I would roll a big tractor tire down knolls in the farm pasture.  You’d crawl inside and someone would launch you down the hill. One day we wanted to try a new, steeper hill. Who wants to be the guinea pig?  I raise my hand enthusiastically, “yes please!” Without question, I wanted to experiment the new hill. (Being our first attempt, I accidentally got significant airtime and was completely disoriented when they pulled me out of the tire.  I still smile with fondness, reminiscing about that moment.)

Why am I telling you this? Because it’s in my DNA. Since a little girl, I’ve had wide-eyed wonder when a new opportunity surfaced. If I knew I wouldn’t bore you with stories, I truly could write countless memories that repeat this conviction. Undoubtedly, it’s a conviction because it lives powerfully within me. It remains a current part of my lifestyle and stems all the way back to 4 years old.

It’s my normal.

What a profound realization I’m having this morning.

I am intricately designed to desire the unknown.

As I reflect and translate it into my professional world, I think that’s what separates entrepreneurs from other business leaders. We welcome those not-knowing moments.  We respect mystery.

Entrepreneurs believe the world is ours to explore. Behind every door is a wonder and a beautiful surprise. We believe we can overcome obstacles with determination and endurance. We can be seen as either relentlessly stubborn or unwaveringly committed. I choose the latter.

To all the entrepreneurs out there, wide-eyed wonder is your normal.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on




Career Karen

4 Pillars Of Wisdom For Start Up Companies

If you’re going to start a business, here are four areas to keep track of and be diligent with:

  1.  Keep your personal living expenses at an all time low. You’re on a tight-string budget. Accept it. What you used to do, you can’t do – FOR NOW.  It will pass. Only buy discounted deals, go bargain shopping, drive a car that’s cost efficient or ride your bike, eat frugal meals and keep your personal costs low, low, low.
  2. Consider a part-time job. A non-stress, easy, no pressure job to bring in a bit of cash flow.  Entrepreneurs take big financial risks.  Even if it’s minimum wage for 20 hours a week.  That’s still $800+ a month going into your bank account.  You can use that money to pour back into your business.
  3. Ask your friends and family for help. Right at the start.They believe in you and want the best for you. They will help however they can. Don’t be afraid to ask. They may not help financially, but they can help with other resources: time, talent, network connections, skills, volunteer work, etc.
  4. Always be networking. Meet new people every week. Every week tell yourself you’ll meet 5 new people that correlate with your business. When they meet you, they will like you and your passion for what you’re doing. They will remember you and one day, if not immediately, they will want what you offer.


– Karen Thrall

*also published on

Awesomeness in the World Karen

Confessions of a Woman: I like Aging

Hi my name is Karen and I like aging.

Why are we afraid to show our age? Why do we love to hear that we look 10 years younger? (I do, too!)

But does it really matter that much?

I have wrinkles. The crow’s feet around my eyes continue to increase every year. Perhaps it’s partly due to playing golf and being out in the sun for several hours at a time? Or is it?

I noticed something today as I stared into the mirror looking at the present Karen who stood before me. It was a reflective moment (no pun intended). What I noticed is the wrinkles only show when I’m smiling. If I stand still, they are somewhat invisible. But once I beam with joy, the wrinkles are front and center. Imagine how ridiculous I must have looked, staring at myself stoic and serious, then switching to a big bright smile. Smile. No smile. Smile. No Smile. Lines. No lines. Lines. No lines. And so on and so forth.

Here’s my conclusion: it’s not my golf games that caused these lines on my face – it’s joy.

If my wrinkles symbolize the joy journey of my life, then I welcome them. And, I love them.

I have joy lines. Not bitter, angry, jaded wrinkles. No, rather, I have happiness crinkles.


It’s taken me over 40 years to design this story that everyone can see. And I won’t cover it up.

Would you like to know who I am? I will smile for you and then tell me please, what do you see?


KT: “Yes?”

ICV: “It’s clear to me that you are a joyful woman. Am I correct?”

KT: “Well yes, how did you know?”

ICV: “The lines around your eyes present that you are a woman of joy.”

May the aging lines of joy not be hidden. There is no shame in aging. The only wrinkles that should concern us are the ones of the heart. Make sure your heart never ages.

“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent that is to triumph over old age.” – Amon Bronson Alcott

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” – Mark Twain

Here’s to joyful wrinkles and happy crinkles!

– Karen Thrall

*also published on