Weekday Wisdom Episode 85
An Interview with Kathy Palokoff, coauthor of Firestarters
What challenges might you face if you’re a firestarter? And, if you still choose to be one, what are the steps you can take to become a firestarter?
Today is the last video in my series with Kathy Palokoff, co-author of Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life. Below are highlights from the video, which you can watch or listen to below. The transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. We start off answering the question that we ended up with the last video which was:
Carma Spence: Are there unique challenges that firestarters face that other people don’t?
Kathy Palokoff: That’s a great question. I think they face challenge of jealousy. One of the women, who I really liked, that we interviewed was Dr. Angela Marshall, who started Comprehensive Women’s Health. At this point in her career, she’s seeing probably 25,000 women as a general doctor, because she felt that women’s health wasn’t being addressed correctly.
Angela started out literally being fearful that she was going to be homeless. She was raised by a single mom. She ended up doing really well academically and got a scholarship through the CIA to become an engineer. She becomes an engineer and then she goes to med school. But when she took that engineering scholarship from the CIA, she had a lot of naysayers saying, “What are you doing? You are tying in your life to the CIA!” And she’s going, “This is my step to freedom.” You know?
I think sometimes firestarters have the extinguishers. I think we all have extinguishers in our life whether, or not we’re a firestarter or not. But I think those extinguishers can impact a firestarter more, because they do want to go ahead and have a dream and move forward.
One of the other things that really can hurt a firestarter the most is a firestarter … themselves. I think you’ve heard many stories of the head of a company who just won’t let go. Right? A CEO who wants to hold on so tightly to their idea. So their inability to be expansive, their inability to let go gets in the way. They can be very strong personalities, so they can alienate people.
But these challenges don’t limit you because you’re smart enough to figure out strategies to get around them.
CS: Are there things that someone can do to ignite their firestarter-ness? If they feel they want to be a firestarter, but don’t feel like they re one now, are there steps someone can take to nurture that inner fire starter?
KP: It starts with understanding what your strenth is. Are you an innovator? Are you an instigator? Are you an initiator? This is really important. If you’re someone who is an initiator, but maybe you don’t have the innovation streak with you, you might want to partner with an innovator. Right? You might want to find other people who get those qualities.
But in terms of igniting, what we saw was that people were often ignited by a situation. For example, they were working a job and they just hated the job and they wanted to quit.
The way to become a firestarter is to be a firestarter. I know that sounds really simplistic, but until you take that first step, until you do the action, and until you’re willing to fail and pick yourself off the ground, its not going to happen. The stories in the book, they represent incredible failures and obstacles. And these people just kept on going.
And they aren’t any different than you and me.
For example, Firestarters was my first book. And I have been trying to write books for years. I mean I write books for my clients. I’ve promoted and helped many people be really successful. And all of a sudden I needed to say, “OK. What about me? Where’s my passion? What am I going to do?”.
By the way, I started my first company when I was 48. So I was not an early bloomer. I worked for major corporations. I also was a single parent and needed to have money for my kids. But year after year, people said to me, “Why don’t you start your own company?”
The only thing that was holding me back was me.
When I started my own company, within three years, I made more than I had made in five years previously being an employee. I think part of that is just you have faith and you grow into it. And you don’t let people turn you down. And that’s if you are an entrepreneur.
If you’re someone who is a stay at home mom — and by the way I did that for a while. I was really bad at it. I was really horrible at it. But I did do it and it’s by far the hardest job I ever had. But if you see something you want to change, don’t wait for someone else in the organization to change it. Go after it!
Life is short. I think keeping that in front of you, that this is your time to go after it. And you can do it no matter what age. You can do it, when you’re eight. You can do it when you’re 80. You can do it if you have money, and if you don’t have money.
We have in the book, lots of ideas of how to get people ignited and then fuel it and accelerate it. But I can’t stress it enough: Just do it. I mean it really is that Nike slogan, Just Do It. And know that you have it in yourself. And if you fail, what’s the worst that could happen?
CS: Exactly. Exactly. So is there anything I haven’t asked you that you want to share?
KP: I just would really love to see all the people who are listening to your show know that they have it in them.
I am an instigator. I want people say, “Are you firestarter? What do you need to accelerate? What fuel can I help you with?” I want that to be common language.
I hope you enjoyed today’s video, as well as the whole series of videos featuring Kathy Paloakoff. If you did, please give it a like on YouTube and let me know in a comment below. And remember, if you have questions you’d like me to answer in a future episode of the Weekday Wisdom, put it in a comment below, as well. I want the Weekday Wisdom to be something that you value and look forward to watching.
Don’t box yourself in.
Spread your wings and fly.
Because you — yes you right there — are capable of more than you know.