Weekday Wisdom Episode 82
Interview with Kathy Palokoff, Coauthor of Firestarters
Are you a firestarter? Would you like to be? Then check out today’s episode where I interview one of the coauthors of Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life, Kathy Palokoff.
My interview ran a little over 20 minutes, so, like past interviews, I’m breaking it up into chunks that are 10 minutes or less.
Kathy Polakoff is the founder and partner of GoFirestarter, a coaching and consulting company that helps individuals and organizations ignite, fuel, and accelerate their growth and fulfill their passion. She is also a founder and partner at Customericity, a creative agency that helps businesses increase revenue through customer centric marketing and branding.
Here are highlights from the section of the interview featured in the video below. The content has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Carma Spence: What inspired the title?
Kathy Palokoff: I’m a serial entrepreneur. I have a restaurant, a marketing company, and multiple other businesses, all of which didn’t mesh together.
I’m a member of Women Presidents’ Organization and the chair of the organization one day said, “You know, Kathy, just gotta get clear.”
So we talked and she looked at me and said, “You know what? You’re a firestarter.”
Cool. I could own that. I had no idea what that meant. And it set me on a journey to figure out what a firestarter was. I liked the term. It was exciting to me.
I hooked up with Raoul Davis, who’s one of my coauthors. And then we hooked up with Paul Eder, who is another one of my coauthors. We all have very different backgrounds and talents.
Then we went after — for two years — trying to get an answer to these questions
- What is a firestarter?
- Can anyone be a firestarter?
- What makes them different?
We did it in a couple of ways. We looked at the research, because Paul is an organizational researcher. Then I had one of the coolest jobs: I got to interview tons of people from all over and all different kinds of businesses.
We figured out pretty much what a firestarter was, and then we took a metaphor and took it all away. We have extinguishers, and we have igniters, and we have fuels and accelerants. It’s known as a good idea gone wild.
CS: What is a Firestar? What did you finally come up with your definition of a firestarter?
KP: We went into this project from an entrepreneurial mindset. But we realized that firestarters are way bigger than entrepreneurs.
You can have a mom who takes on the school district advocating for her kids. And she’s a first starter, right? She doesn’t just follow something, she starts something.
You can have someone who is an artist or musician who just goes and makes things bigger.
The way I think of it is that there are people who hold jobs and there are people who start companies. There are people who join a movement, and there are people who start a movement. Those are the firestarters. We all have, I think, some degree of that in ourselves.
We also found out that there were three kinds of firestarters:
Innovators, which I think most of us are most familiar with, create things. And instigators are the troublemakers. And initiators are people who begin things.
The other really important thing about firestarters is firestarters do. They put things in action.
Lots of us sit at home and we think about things that we want to do. A firestarter takes the next step and they actually act on it. And I think that’s really, really important, particularly I think with women. Because women have just so many amazing ideas, but they have really complex lives often, with everything they need to handle. So, for them to really put action into what’s important to them, that’s really critical, I think, it is really really important.
Coming up in the next video, the answer to this question: Are there key characteristics that all firestarters have?
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Don’t box yourself in.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because you — yes you right there — are capable of more than you know.