The voice of entrepreneurship - Kim Kaupe [Interview]

About Kim Kaupe

Kim Kaupe is the co-founder and CEO at The Superfan Company. Kim has been named in the Forbes 30 Under 30, Advertising Age 40 Under 40, and Inc. 35 Under 35 lists. While the company was hailed as a Top 30 Startup to Watch by Entrepreneur and dubbed an “overnight success” by Inc. We are extremely honored and happy to have someone of her stature on our interview series today.

The voice of entrepreneurship - Kim Kaupe [Interview]

Sumitha Mariyam

We have the pleasure of welcoming Kim Kaupe today to our interview series. I am Sumitha Mariyam from the peopleHum team. Before we begin just a quick introduction of peopleHum. peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.

Sumitha

Welcome, Kim. We’re thrilled to have you.

Kim

Thank you for having me. Excited to be here. 

Sumitha

It’s absolutely our pleasure. And so Kim, moving on directly to our interview now, the first question I have for you, 

I came across a bio of yours, which said ‘Accidental Entrepreneur’. Can you tell us a little bit about it? 

Kim

Absolutely. I feel that so many times when we hear the word entrepreneur, it comes with a story of how somebody was very entrepreneurial from a young age. They started a lemonade stand or they started a food stand in a local market. Or they sold candy or they were very entrepreneurial from a young age. And that’s sort of the story that you get told. And then people grow up and become adults and they become entrepreneurs, and you’re sort of born with it, if you will. 

And that was not me. I did not sell candy as a young kid. I bought the candy from the kids who were selling the candy, and I did not start a lemonade stand or baby sit or any of these things. And yet I grew up to be an entrepreneur, it was never something that I had planned on doing. It was never something I did from a young age. It was sort of something that I fell into. 

I went and worked a corporate job, like many people do after university or after studying, they’ll move on and work at corporate jobs. And that’s what I did. I moved on. I worked at a corporate job, and then entrepreneurship sort of found me and hit me. But it was never something that I had planned on doing. So it was sort of a happy accident. 

Sumitha

That’s a wonderful answer and I really love how you framed it that way, the happy,  accident.

And when we talk about the current situation right now and we have a lot of employees working from home and as a leader yourself, how would you advise to maintain the right work-life balance as we’re just in the mix right now, we’re home, we’re working. We have all sorts of things to do. So what would be your advice?

Kim

Work-life balance is definitely hard. And it’s been made even harder because work and life happen all in the same place. So my best advice to sort of break up that time is to really, simply pick a time that you’re going to stop working. So if you say at six o’clock no matter or 7:00 pm or whatnot, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, that’s it. That’s it. It would be like me getting in my car, getting on the bus or getting on the train to go home is just wherever I am at that point, that’s the end. 

And setting those boundaries for yourself is really sometimes difficult. And I would say if you live with someone else, whether that’s a spouse or a partner or a roomie or a parent or a brother or a sister is, have someone else help you. Tell that other person, hey, I want to stop working at this time.

If you see that I’m kind of cheating and sending a few more emails and trying to do a few more things, gently come over and say, hey, remember, this was a goal you had. We’re going to stop working at this time, and so that accountability sometimes can be very helpful when you’re trying to do something all on your own. So I would say pick a time that you’re going to stop work as a really good way to kind of balance out personal life in this environment. 

“Pick a time that you’re going to stop work as a really good way to kind of balance out personal life in this environment.” 

Sumitha

Yeah, I think that is a really helpful point. And a lot of us need that right now. 

So, and, also, moving on. We have a lot of uncertainty now, and it’s established that everything is uncertain right now. So what is fundamentally different about the careers these days?

Kim

I think things are so uncertain, and they’re very uncertain. For me, what I try to do is pick my own things that I could do that are certain. So if I have a goal of, okay, I’m gonna redo my resume. I’m gonna redo my LinkedIn profile or I’m going to learn a new language or I’m going to learn a new skill. That’s something that’s in my control. 

There’s so much now that’s not in anyone’s control. So what I would encourage people to do in a situation like this is one, continue learning, because once you learn something that can never be taken away from you, so continue to learn and continue to learn on your own. So whether that’s listening to podcasts, whether it’s watching interviews like this, whether it’s reading books, whether it’s taking online courses, all of your learning, and all of that knowledge is within your control. 

So I would say that’s something that I’ve been doing a lot during the pandemic, is saying, what can I control? And how do I feel better about the knowledge that I’m able to gain during this time? 

Sumitha

Yeah, that’s wonderful. I think the learning and development part of it is very important at this time because you won’t get another, I think we should take this as a chance to learn and develop ourselves. So that’s a wonderful answer. 

And being an entrepreneur yourself, with all this experience, how would you advise the entrepreneurs of today to own their voice and get ahead in that race. It’s really difficult, right? 

Kim

Yeah, it’s really difficult, but I would also say really focus on yourself. I see a lot of young entrepreneurs or even just young people, comparing themselves a lot, comparing themselves to others, their peers, comparing themselves to other entrepreneurs. That’s also because of these, because of Instagram, and you’re constantly saying, oh she’s doing that or he’s doing that or he already got here. And so I would say, I know it’s very difficult, but as much as you can, don’t compare yourself. Everyone is running their own race. Everyone is going at their own speed,

“As much as you can, don’t compare yourself. Everyone is running their own race. Everyone is going at their own speed”

…and there are tons of success stories. The founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, wasn’t successful until he hit his fifties. 

So when I see these young people who are 20,25,30 panicked because they haven’t made it yet, that’s crazy because everyone’s running their own race. And don’t compare yourself to the person next door because you have no idea what type of journey they’re on. So I know it’s really difficult. But as much as you can try not to compare yourself. 

Sumitha

Yeah, so I actually had a question based on this belief of yours, which is, put yourself first. So what I had to ask you is, Do you really mean it for a particular individual? Or is it for the organizations also? 

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Kim

I mean on the individual level. I think what happens a lot of time, especially women, although this happens to men too, is you’re so used to putting other people first. You’re so used to saying, Well, you go ahead, or I’ll take on the project or I’ll pick up the drinks or I’ll get the cupcakes or, you are volunteering which is noble and so wonderful that you sort of take that on for yourself. But then you come last, the things that you won’t come last and I think especially in the workplace and with your career, if you want that promotion or you want that job or you want that title or you want that pay raise, you have to advocate for you.

“With your career, if you want that promotion or you want that job or you want that title or you want that pay raise, you have to advocate for you”.

You can’t sit around and wait and say, Well, maybe if I work really hard this month, my boss will notice me. Or maybe if I work really hard this whole year, the HR firm at my corporation will notice me.

And what I mean by put yourself first is to really say, you want something, you go to your boss and say, hey, what is it gonna take for me to get that promotion and your boss might say, I need you to do X. I need you to do Y, I need you to Z. And if you did X, Y, and Z, you will be eligible for a promotion, and you can take that sort of X, Y, Z piece of paper and go, okay, this is in my control. I can do this. If I follow these steps, I will get the promotion. 

But your boss is not a mind reader. They might not know you want the promotion. They might not, they think you’re just sort of happy how you are. And so really advocating for yourself and putting yourself first and saying, I’m going to step up and ask or I’m gonna step up and tell that person, hey, this is my goal.

My goal is to be a manager. My goal is to be Vice President, or, whatever it is. Can you help me understand how I can reach my goal? And so that really is what I mean by “put yourself first,” is to stop waiting for other people to choose you, or waiting for other people to notice you. Really put yourself out there and ask for help in getting what you want.

Sumitha

Yeah, that’s wonderful. 

And do you think that communication that we need to have with, whichever hierarchy we follow is very important because you have to ask them and get their clear expectations and understand what is expected of you and do you think that communication is the key for all of this? 

Kim

Absolutely. I think communication is extremely important. I think also communication with yourself, figuring out what’s going to make you happy, figuring out what you like, what you don’t like.

I would encourage everybody during this sort of big pause that we’re all in, during this pandemic to really sit down with a piece of paper and put a plus sign and a minus sign and say, Okay, when I go back to my regular life, what are some things I really love, that I really miss? And what are some things that I don’t miss? 

Now that I think back, I wasn’t that happy at work, or I don’t even really like that friend that I kept getting lunch with once a week. Why did I keep getting lunch with them? And so really think about what’s gonna make you happy and what’s gonna propel you forward.

Because once you know that, then you can start asking and communicating to others, here are my goals or here is something I want to accomplish. Or here’s something I want to do. And once you’re able to articulate that and communicate that, then you start getting other people around you that are able to help and have you reach those goals. 

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Sumitha

Yeah, that’s wonderful, and Kim just to kind of wrap up the interview process. 

If you have any important soundbites that you would like to leave our audience.

Kim

I would say just again as much as you can to continue to learn and continue to soak up as many free resources, I mean, there are so many free resources. Even for me, I do a ton of stuff on my website kimkaupe.com. I do a ton of stuff on LinkedIn and I do a ton of stuff on Instagram. There are loads of easy ways for you to be learning.

I would say the easiest is social media. Pick 3,4,5 people that you think, ok, this person is someone that I think I can learn from and tap ‘follow’, that takes 30 seconds to follow people, and then you know that you’re getting a steady stream of that knowledge. 

So even if it’s very small, as simple as following people on social media that are inspiring, do that because the more you can work and grow yourself, the farther you’ll get ahead in life.

Sumitha 

Wonderful. Thank you so much for that and it was such a pleasure talking to you Kim and I really appreciate your time and all of the energy you took to give us.

Kim

Thank you, this was so fun and lovely. I appreciate everybody listening in. 

Sumitha 

Thank you so much. It’s been such an enriching experience for me personally, and I think it is going to be for our audience also. Have a healthy and safe time ahead of you and have a great day.

Kim

Thank you. You too.