Today we are re-sharing an episode from last year with Stephanie Keller. We’re sharing why Stephanie, a CEO of a multi-million dollar brick and mortar construction business, joined the mastermind. Stephanie will be joining us again in 2021, for her third year in the Bold Money Mastermind.
One note, we do talk about our Tulum retreat from 2019, and because of COVID-19 we do not have any retreats planned for our 2021 mastermind, and I just wanted to make a little note of that.
If you’re listening to this episode and you’re excited to join us inside The Bold Money Mastermind in 2021, I want you to consider applying. This mastermind is for business owners who want to create significant income, so you can give yourself a generous raise, profit well, build wealth, and lead your business in a way that aligns with your ambition.
Tara Newman: Welcome, Stephanie. Thanks for being with us today.
Stephanie Keller: Thanks for having me, Tara.
Tara Newman: Now, Stephanie is a little different than some of my other clients in the sense that she’s a CEO of a brick and mortar business. So Stephanie, can you tell us a little bit about your business and about your role as CEO?
Stephanie Keller: Okay. Well, I work in the construction business. We’ve been in business a very long time, over 50 years. I took it over about 10 years ago. We have over 50 employees now, and we have been continuing growing for the last 10 years, which me and four other partners actually took it over. And my role as CEO is really to make sure it all works.
Tara Newman: You’re the choreographer.
Stephanie Keller: I am. I am. You know, I don’t always get into the nitty gritty of the day to day, but sometimes I do. But really my goal, I guess, as being the CEO of this company is to really make sure that we have core values, we have a good culture, and that people come to work. Sometimes it’s a stressful job because we’re in construction, we have to make things are complete, and we have deadlines. And to me, it’s really just looking strategically where we’re going to be, and also dealing with the 50 plus employees to make sure that in today’s world they’re happy and that they have a good culture to work in.
Tara Newman: Yeah, I would say. So I work with Stephanie. Primarily we have worked together one on one, and I have also supported her in her business. And they are really progressive in providing a quality employee culture that really ensures the well-being of everyone involved. We’ve done a lot of work on core values, operationalizing core values to help define the culture, as well as to bring coaching within the business to create a coaching culture to help people perform their best.
Would you say that’s true?
Stephanie Keller: Yes.
Tara Newman: Yes. Right?
Stephanie Keller: Absolutely. I mean, what I’m really trying to teach people, growing into being a leader myself, is that you really have to look to be vulnerable. And I did not learn to do that really before the mastermind, or you Tara, and to go out there and sometimes just say, you know what? I don’t have all the answers, but let’s work on it together. You know? And go back to our core values and really look at honest and open communication to have us grow.
Tara Newman: Yeah, we’ve definitely been doing a lot around communication, as well as really honing in and crafting your leadership capabilities to allow you to model that for others and to bring that into your workplace and to really feel confident standing as the role model for bold leadership, for vulnerable leadership.
Stephanie Keller: And it’s been pretty difficult. It’s been a difficult ride for me. Especially being a woman in a man’s business and trying to find my voice. And sometimes with going through the shame or the fear of failure or feeling like a failure or feeling smaller and smaller, it’s always tough.
Tara Newman: Yeah. Those challenges around confidence and courage really cause you to lean into your growth edge. And I think what I hear you saying is that having support in that has been really helpful.
Now what’s interesting about my work with Stephanie, and I just shared this with her, and we kind of had a chuckle, I didn’t actually invite Stephanie into the mastermind. So Stephanie and I do a lot of one on one work because the level in which she’s running an organization requires that level of operational and coaching support. And we were getting ready for our Tulum retreat, and I had opened the retreat up not just to my mastermind members in 2019, but two a few additional people as well. And I asked Stephanie if she wanted to join us because I knew what she was up to, she was a one-on-one client of mine, and I thought that this experience would be really great for her. So that was kind of how she started to step into the mastermind.
And the reason why I didn’t invite her is not that I didn’t think she was a great fit, but I thought maybe, you know, she travels. Right Steph? You travel a lot.
Stephanie Keller: Yes.
Tara Newman: And I thought with your schedule that this wouldn’t necessarily fit on your calendar as well. But you came to Tulum, and can you share your experience in Tulum? Because you then reached out to me and said, hey, can I join these group of women in their mastermind?
Stephanie Keller: Yes. Well, I didn’t know what to expect when I got down to Tulum. I didn’t really know anybody. I mean, maybe I spoke to one or two in passing in the past. But for those, I guess it was five days, I’ve never felt so supported in my whole entire 24 year career than I did in those five days.
Tara Newman: I just got chills.
Stephanie Keller: No seriously. And that’s both, honestly, professionally and personally. It’s great to be with a whole bunch of women that really go through the same things as I go through. I mean, my company may be larger than most of them, or all of them, but the fact is we really still struggle with the same issues. You know, even work-wise, dealing with other people, having difficult conversations. That has always been one of the largest things that I’ve had to work on obviously with you, Tara, is having these difficult conversations. Being uncomfortable in conversations and hearing it from other people’s perspective. Or even joining the mastermind after having them help me walk through or even role play a difficult conversation has been priceless to get other people’s perspectives on how to do it.
You know, it’s just amazing about seeing, I want to say, the courage of these other women. You know, I did buy into this business, as you know, and I’ve really worked hard at it. But the amount of, I want to say, courage that these women have to really take almost all that they have and put it into their business has really made me want to work harder and better in my business. But really it was the support. I mean, I can tell you that I walked in there not knowing anybody, and everybody was willing to listen to me no matter what I was talking about, again, work or personal. They were so supportive, nonjudgmental. I could 100% be myself.
And you know what, I got honest feedback. And I don’t always get that because I deal with a lot of people in my business and I think some people are sometimes scared to give me honest feedback. And then other times I’ve been on other kinds of boards, local boards, even my board of directors or local boards, where you don’t really have the time to connect. And I think that’s the beautiful thing about being women is that we really do truly find connections with each other if you’re open to it. So I never felt so supported in my life than I did in those five days, and it gave me a lot of courage. And it also just validated that it’s okay to share your story no matter what story it is, and it’s okay to be vulnerable, because everybody has a story to tell. It’s easier to face your fears and feelings when you have people who openly support you, and that’s how I felt when I was down there. And that’s why I asked to continue with them.
Tara Newman: Yeah. So I think you pulled on some really important pieces here that I just want to touch back on so we don’t blow over them and we give them the time that they deserve. So one, so I just want to talk about for a second, you are responsible for significantly more revenue than most of the women in this group. And I don’t want to say it’s absolutely nothing to do with you’re smarter than them or anything like that. Your business has been around for a really long time, and that’s a part of it. Your business is completely different than other people’s businesses. You have 50 employees that have allowed you to scale and grow. So you know, you do have a very different business. But yet at the same time we can all come together and stand on common ground as female leaders, as women small business owners. And the fact that the exact thing that you said around leveraging the courage of the group is why, for me, I love masterminds. There is nothing like being held accountable by a group of courageous women.
Stephanie Keller: Oh, I completely agree. And I think the word accountable is good. I mean, this group of people that we have, they seem to just know when you need to be supportive or if you need to cry and you kind of need to be held, they’re there for you. But also when you need to be accountable and get a little tough love, they are there for you too.
Tara Newman: Yes. So I’m very, very proud of this group. They are very astute as to when you need a kick in the ass versus when you need a hug.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. Yes, I agree 100%.
Tara Newman: Right?
Stephanie Keller: Agree. Yes.
Tara Newman: They all know. They all know when you need what. They’re incredibly astute.
So you have received great support. You feel like you have a team around you of kind of like these badass women business owners is kind of what I was hearing you say. You didn’t say that directly, but that’s kind of what I was interpreting from what you were saying.
Stephanie Keller: Yes, absolutely. And I admire them all. I mean for what they’ve all done, all from the ground up, it’s really incredible. And I’ve learned so much from them, because it’s a completely different perspective. And sometimes it’s really great to just have somebody who’s not in my business, right? Take a look at me as me, and just listen to me and what I’m talking about, and then to give advice on it. And then to come back maybe the week after the week after that and hold me accountable to what I said I was going to do.
Tara Newman: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And you know, I think it’s priceless to feel like you can be your whole self.
Stephanie Keller: Yes, absolutely. And again, especially how I feel sometimes in my business, obviously construction is very man related, I guess.
Tara Newman: Mm-hmm. Male oriented.
Stephanie Keller: And about 10% of the population are women, and sometimes it’s very difficult to get, I feel, again, to get my point across. And that could just be what I call my own head trash, or that maybe I just need to say it in a different kind of conversation. So when I do have to have these kinds of communication with some of my peers or some of my other shareholders, it’s sometimes interesting to get another perspective by somebody absolutely not in my business who is just a person, and they tell me how they would feel having that conversation on both ends. So that has been very beneficial to me.
Tara Newman: Yeah. So you also made the point that what we have going here, and the way I language it, is I say that it is both a strategic and an emotional container.
Stephanie Keller: Oh yeah. It’s a good place to take your armor off, you know?
Tara Newman: Take the armor off, yeah. I think that it’s a fallacy to think that we are going to run businesses and never have fear, or feelings, or healing that needs to be done, or self judgements that need to be faced. And to have the emotional support along with the strategic as support is really powerful.
Stephanie Keller: Yeah, I mean I truly feel that I’ve true connections to these other women. And just like what you’re talking about, it’s being able to talk to somebody and have somebody who really is not going to be judgmental. And you know that you can be yourself and you’re going to be 100% supported. And sometimes that’s just showing up. Sometimes that’s just getting on the call saying I’m having a bad day and these are the reason whys, and explain that, and you have just people there who are there to support you and to give you some advice, and it’s great.
Tara Newman: Yeah. And I love how you said, too, this has been perspective shifting for you, just from being in a room with people who aren’t like you. Right? Who are different. And that’s the beauty also of a mastermind, that you learn so much from the other person’s hot seat.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. You do.
Tara Newman: You can take their hot seat and apply it to you and see how that could impact what you’re looking to do. And it saves you time.
Stephanie Keller: Yes, it does save you time. Yes, it does. And you could also just look at things completely different. You could think that you’re going to be doing business or marketing or anything, even concrete podcast, which I’m learning about, one way. And then you listen to other people talk about it, and you’re like, wow, I never even thought about that. What a great idea to decide to do the marketing this way, or advertising. Anything like that, what I’ve learned.
Tara Newman: Yeah.
Stephanie Keller: If it’s different than maybe the one way that I was thinking about it. They gave me ideas to really change my perspective because I’m not looking at it fully. I’m just looking at it as my little niche.
Tara Newman: Yep. Now we actually got into this away before. I wanted to ask another question, so I’m going to back us up a little bit. Because I have a lot of experience with masterminds for decades and decades, and I know that this isn’t the first group that you belong to, but not everybody knows what a mastermind is. So in your words, because I know how I would describe it, but in your words, what is a mastermind? What is a mastermind to you?
Stephanie Keller: Oh, well, a mastermind to me is a group of people that, what I want to say is kind of have a common goal in mind. It’s to support and help one another and to get open and honest feedback. A mastermind also, a lot of these women are smarter than me, or have a lot more talent than me in a lot of different areas, so they help me to learn about what they do so that I can be better at what I do.
So to me, a mastermind is really just a group that’s supportive, holds you accountable, is nonjudgmental, and is there to help you grow in really all aspects of your life. I know that you’re probably talking mostly about business, but to me it’s been all aspects of my life they’ve been there to walk me through.
Tara Newman: Yes. So this mastermind in particular, like we said, is both a strategic and an emotional container. It is both a business container and a personal container, because that’s what leadership is. When you raise your hand and say I’m a leader, or I see myself as a leader, or I want to be a leader, your hand stays raised wherever you go. Whether it’s in your community, with your family, it’s hard to go, I’m going to lead here, but I’m not going to lead here. So it does. We really talk about a lot of things, and oftentimes it’s our personal lives that could be impacting our business in a way that blocks us or doesn’t make us feel as successful as we can be. So we need to talk about all those things, that’s for sure.
So before we started this conversation, I said, can we talk about how this mastermind is different than others that you participated in? And you said that you would consider those groups, but not necessarily a mastermind, after you’ve experienced this one. Can you share more about that?
Stephanie Keller: Well, I think it has a lot to do with the people involved in it. And I also feel like this is the first place that I truly feel I can be myself. I could share my fears and my feelings. I can be very vulnerable with them. You know, I feel like instead of somebody just listening because they have to listen, they truly choose to be there and to help and support me.
I think everybody takes their armor off. They’re all emotionally there for you. And I think that the difference between this one and the other ones that have been in the past is that, it’s hard to explain, but I know feelings are a big part of it, and how you feel as a big part of it. And I think before working with you, and also having this mastermind, I always believed that there was no place for feelings in a business. There just wasn’t. You know what I’m saying? There was no place for us to go. For some reason this mastermind has also opened me up to think completely different about that.
So why I think that it’s so different is that they’ve really made me see, and it’s completely changed the way I feel about myself and how I run my business, is that you need to have open communication, and that in order to have that you need to start from the beginning, which is to have the people that support you. And when you have open communication in your business as well as what I found in the mastermind, it really helps it to grow. You know? And that when you do take off that emotional armor, you find connections. You find connections both in the mastermind and business. And before there was no taking off that armor. It was just strictly this is how it is. It’s black and white, there’s no gray. And to me I found out that there’s a lot of gray in life, a lot of people have the same kind of stories as I do, and that it’s good to have that kind of open communication and honesty.
Tara Newman: Yeah, I can certainly identify with that coming out of a corporate environment. And I call that leading from the neck up, and that’s why I made the comment before about leading with your whole self, and that means your feelings and your emotions. And for somebody who’s listening to this and they’re like, I don’t do feelings. I hear you. I understand. None of the women in this mastermind, or very few of the women in this mastermind, walked in and was like super excited to talk about their feelings, and yet we all seem to navigate it together in a safe environment and when each of them is ready to discuss their feelings. But 100% it’s important, I like to say, that we need both facts and feelings.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. No, you definitely need facts. I’m playing on the feelings now because it’s just different. I mean I take a lot of these women’s talents that I do not have and really think about them and use them and ask them questions, both in the mastermind and sometimes outside of it. It’s really been a huge learning experience for me, even from my point of view. When I might have a marketing person in my office, but when somebody on the mastermind runs a a marketing or PR firm, to hear their perspective is completely different than what I sometimes get from my marketing person. And it just brings a whole nother world into my world, my construction world. And it’s really amazing to hear that and learn about that stuff that I know nothing about.
Tara Newman: Yeah, I think it’s interesting, too, because I think your past mastermind that you were in was a very traditional mastermind. So I just want to be clear around the differences. So if I’m correct, you met once a month, and it was like a four hour meeting in person. And you would show up and you would talk about your goals, and your actions, and what you achieved in the past month, and what you were going to be working on next, correct?
Stephanie Keller: Yeah, pretty much. Or if you had an issue you wanted to discuss with the other mastermind people in there. Yes. I mean, you basically have a time limit of 20 minutes or whatever, and then you could talk about what you wanted to talk about, where you think you’re going to go, you could ask for feedback. But it was very concrete, black and white. Some were very helpful, but they never thought out of the box, I guess, is also one of my issues with the old masterminds, is that nobody ever thought out of the box. And I see in this mastermind, it’s not always out of the box, I mean, you have some very concrete business ideas and helpfulness, but there’s also some things that you’re like, well, did you ever think about doing it this way? You know, that I would’ve never thought about. So it’s more like, you kind of just don’t grasp at the easiest thing, I feel like I’m getting feedback from people really thinking about something that’s just not right there on the table, an easy answer. They’re really out there trying to help me think of other things to make my business grow.
Tara Newman: Yeah. You mentioned that honest feedback piece, and your 100% correct in the sense that it’s a real testament to the women who are in this mastermind. Specifically with you, Stephanie, because I think it’s so great. So you’re sitting here and you’re like, these women are smarter than me, and of course they’re all looking at you thinking you are brilliant, right? And they could easily be intimidated by your level of success that you’ve achieved to this point, and yet they’re all willing to challenge the way you’re thinking and give you that honest feedback that is rare for anybody in your position, or my position.
When you’re running your own business, whether you have employees or not, it’s very isolating, it’s very alone. It’s very hard to get somebody to give you their perspective when they think you’re in charge. And even for you, Stephanie. Probably more so. You have all these employees, but again you’re sitting in that top seat and it is hard for you to get that honest feedback. And so it’s great to have it coming in from that objective third party where you’re not their boss, right? They don’t have a lot of skin in the game. They’re going to give it to you like it is. And that’s really what they all do for each other, which is what makes it really powerful.
Now the way this mastermind is a little different is we meet twice a month. We meet virtually. Right? So this is from the is comfies of your own office. Which was a change for you, right? From being with people in person to being on a web call?
Stephanie Keller: Yes.
Tara Newman: We also have the retreat to really foster that deep intimate connection.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. Which I loved. Which got me on this path. So I’m very thankful.
Tara Newman: Yeah. Yeah. And we have some extra calls. We do quarterly money calls where we talk all about money. Right? What’s money?
Stephanie Keller: Yes.
Tara Newman: Because women talking about money is still sort of taboo.
Stephanie Keller: It is. I know it’s kind of odd. It’s great to talk about money and about how we’ve been brought up with our concepts or our thoughts about money, and everybody’s a little bit different. It’s been excellent. It’s actually really been excellent.
Tara Newman: The best thing about these money calls for me is we now have had two women go and successfully, well, aside from you, two women go and successfully obtain lines of credit from the bank.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. And that was amazing. It was amazing even just that they went out there and did it.
Tara Newman: Applied for it, right?
Stephanie Keller: Yeah, exactly. A lot of fear gets involved. That’s a big rejection if it doesn’t happen.
Tara Newman: Yeah.
Stephanie Keller: You know? And that affects us all. But that was great.
Tara Newman: And you know how hard it is sometimes to get those lines of credit when you’re self employed.
Stephanie Keller: Oh yeah.
Tara Newman: Yeah.
Stephanie Keller: And trying to explain yourself?
Tara Newman: Yeah.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. It was amazing.
Tara Newman: It’s a big deal.
Stephanie Keller: That was a huge deal. Yes.
Tara Newman: So I’d like to ask you as we kind of wrap up, because you’ve shared a lot here, we’ve shared about like what a mastermind is, we talked about what’s been transformational for you with this mastermind, and how your leadership has changed due to being involved with these women. And the other thing that I love hearing you talk about is how they’re an extension of your team. So while you have a marketing person on your team, there’s also somebody in this group who does marketing, and it’s great to get that outside perspective. And so we bring together women with such different skill sets, unique strengths and gifts, and they form for you this ad hoc team, this board of advisors.
Stephanie Keller: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Tara Newman: And even as somebody who has this in their company, this is valuable.
Stephanie Keller: Absolutely. Because I think the people in your company think they know what you want. And then when you go outside, such as in this mastermind group, they just are thinking what might be best for my customers, what might be best for my employees. You know, they don’t know me, or they haven’t been working with me for 20 years, so they don’t think they know what’s best. They’re only trying to do their best to help me grow.
Tara Newman: Mm-hmm . I love that.
Stephanie Keller: And that has been an amazing thing. Yeah. It’s really been great. And again, I can’t say enough how much I’ve learned from these wonderful women in so many ways.
Tara Newman: So the interesting thing is is that we can sit here and tell everybody how amazing this experience has been, and the reality is is that women still opt out of experiences like this because they don’t feel good enough, they don’t feel smart enough, they don’t feel far enough along in their business. And I mean, we’ve obliterated that. Because we’ve said that you’re at a very different stage in your business than some of these other women and you all come together and support each other.
Stephanie Keller: Yes.
Tara Newman: But what advice do you have for someone looking for a mastermind experience, but is hesitant or unsure or maybe their head trash is getting in their way?
Stephanie Keller: Well, I mean all that I can tell you is from my experience, obviously, but it really has. I mean, I think when I first started to go to Tara and then a mastermind, I could tell you that I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and 10 as a CEO, there’s a lot of times that I felt like a failure, or that I didn’t deserve to be CEO, or I felt small. And this mastermind has really changed the way that I look at things. It really, really, really has. You know, really it’s changed the way that I not only look at my business, but my personal life. It’s just a place that you’re obviously supported, is what I’ve said, 100% of the time, but it’s also a place that you can be yourself, talk to people about your fears. And when I got my honest feedback, I can’t even tell you how much I’ve grown.
I mean, it’s been hard. One of my favorite things that I’ve actually learned in the mastermind is, I have a problem with difficult conversations, is it’s OK to be uncomfortable. It’s okay to be in this conversation and be so uncomfortable you want to get out of your skin. But every time I think about that, or every time I have to have this conversation or a difficult conversation, I think of the mastermind, and I think about what they say to me. They say it’s okay to be uncomfortable. Sit there, be in the conversation, and be uncomfortable. It’s okay to not know all the answers, even though I think I should know all the answers, and it’s okay to say that. So I always go back to me, how it’s really helped me, is that it’s really helped me to get over extreme large humps in my business, and making it grow by having these kinds of difficult conversations, or being vulnerable, or admitting that I don’t know sometimes. But they get in my head, the mastermind, to say it’s okay to do this. It’s okay. It’s okay.
Tara Newman: Yeah, they have your back.
Stephanie Keller: They have my back 100%. And you know, I don’t have all the answers. But they’ve really allowed me to learn to lead, obviously, with my head, with a whole heart. And still a lot of the stuff that we talk about makes me uncomfortable, to be honest, because I’m not used to doing it. But you know what I’ve realized is that I’m enough now. These people really helped me to understand truly that I’m enough, and that to be true to myself from my own values, my company’s core values. It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay. Sometimes you just have to surrender to the idea that it’s just going to be okay.
And again, going back to my issues, which is having difficult conversations or even boundaries, which we didn’t talk about, putting those in place. They’ve been very concrete in helping me get to the point that I’m at now, which I would’ve never gotten anywhere else. Seriously. Ever.
Tara Newman: Yeah.
Stephanie Keller: Ever!
Tara Newman: So I think what I’m hearing you say is even if you’re feeling fear, even if you’re feeling discomfort, even if you feel like you might not be good enough, even if you feel like you’re not worthy or at the same level as the other women who could potentially be in this mastermind, if you want to get over those extremely large hurdles, you best get yourself in a mastermind.
Stephanie Keller: Yes. Yes. Exactly. Exactly.
Tara Newman: I think that’s great. So what I want to do right now is I want to personally invite anybody who’s listening to this to apply. Wouldn’t you like that, Stephanie, to be in a mastermind with some new people next year?
Stephanie Keller: Absolutely.
Tara Newman: Because Stephanie will be with us in 2020 (and 2021).
Stephanie Keller: I will. You’re not getting rid of me this easily, Tara.
Tara Newman: I’m not getting rid of you at all, Steph.
So if you want to join me, who’s the facilitator and leader of this mastermind, and Stephanie for 2020, and become a part of Bold Money Mastermind 2021, I want you to submit your application today, and don’t hesitate.
Stephanie Keller: You won’t regret it.
Tara Newman: If you’re feeling fear, do it anyway. Right?
Stephanie Keller: Absolutely.
Tara Newman: All right. Thank you Stephanie. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day and coming in here and kind of really being that model for women to see themselves in you, and to see how this mastermind could help somebody like them, and to see that this may the best next step for them.
Stephanie Keller: Absolutely.
Tara Newman: Thank you so much.
Stephanie Keller: Thanks, Tara. Take care.
Tara Newman: Bye.
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