Welcome back to She Sells Radio with your host, Elyse Archer. If you’ve tuned in before, you’ve heard of clients who went from $2k to $20k months in 60 days by overcoming their fears of visibility. Today, you’re going to meet that woman. Our guest is Kristen Cullen, founder of Remarkable Resilience. Kristen has a strong background as a corporate sales powerhouse, and now as an entrepreneur, she helps others overcome life’s setbacks.
Kristen grew up in the hospitality industry. From a young age, she realized that focusing on her passions and allowing money to become a result would be a strategy that she’d carry with her. In fact, she didn’t know any other way. Her introduction to sales was working as a bartender and waitperson at her parent’s location. There, she learned humility, diplomacy, and other sales skills because you were selling for tips–that’s how you made money. Coming from a place of service to sell is how you take care of people. The catch was, either you’re in or you’re out. When she finished college, she decided to explore sales in residential real estate and eventually real estate investing at just 23. Not only that, she was the only woman and youngest by 22 years. Early on she learned being underestimated was her superpower. As a younger woman, she was fearless, but as age sets in, so does fear.
For so many women, we don’t feel safe showing up as our genuine selves. When Kristen left that firm to become her husband’s full-time caregiver, she had to reinvent. When he passed in 2011, Kristen understood that she had to be a mother and provider for three kids. That’s when she learned it’s okay to be a woman and embrace femininity while still producing at the highest level. She began branding for startups and realized she could serve fully as a female entrepreneur. For her, it was life or death–she had to embrace exactly who she was and love herself for who she is. Included in that is believing in herself was an x-factor. If something scares her, she knows she’s meant to do it.
Part of what makes Kristen such a remarkable woman is how she overcame fears as she grew. For a time, Kristen was in a funk–not feeling herself and constantly searching for flaws in her personal and professional life. And even though she was teaching it, she wasn’t practicing being visible. That was until her co-founder called her out and challenged her to become visible 3 times a week. So, she hired a coach (that’s Elyse!) and everything shifted. She then was faced with an obstacle that manifested in the form of being too self-promoting. In the end, it’s about communicating clearly and effectively to provide content and value to your audience. When she created a plan based on peace of mind, she saw incredible growth. When she started talking and placing herself in a place of abundance, it came. Now, she helps others do the same.
Kristen, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today. You’ve just been such an amazing friend and business partner and just beautiful woman and inspiration to me for the past few years. And it’s so exciting to have you on to share about your story and how you got into sales and also how you’ve just made incredible leaps in terms of how you’re showing up in your visibility and confidence in how it’s impacted your business as well. So I’m excited to get into all of that with you today and welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me I’m I already touched, Oh,
Well, it’s going to be, this is going to be a lot of fun. And there were so many things that I was thinking about prepping for this interview. Just so many angles we could take it, but I know you’ve got just a really incredible backstory in history in business, you know, in sales and corporate sales and then as an entrepreneur. So if you could share with us, like just some of your backstory and how you got to where you are today, I think that would be a great place to start off.
Sure. I’d love to. I actually grew up in the hospitality industry. My family was four generations, deep, 78 years in restaurants. And from a very young age, I learned that focusing on your passion, having money be result was always my modeling. My father was a creative. He was a renowned chef and am also an entrepreneur, a philanthropist. And he always said, don’t collect a paycheck, go after your passion, let money be a result. I promise you it’ll pay off and surrounding ourselves with traditional people. You know, none of my friends, even my husband wasn’t raised that way. It didn’t make sense. It’s like, well, what do you mean, follow your passion? What, how, how are you going to make money doing that? And I didn’t know any other way. And so my very first entry in a sales, believe it or not was being a w await person and a bartender in my family’s business.
People don’t understand those people. Don’t go to work to collect the paycheck. They, they make minimum wage. They go to work for their tips. And how are you going to make tips? That’s sales, you learn diplomacy, you learn humility, you learn sales skills because the higher, the, the average ticket or, you know, price for a client, a customer’s, you know, bill, the higher percentage, your tip would be not that that was the driver, but because really it came from a place of service. I was also in a unique position to learning that coming from a place of service to sell was really how you take care of people. So I don’t think many people think of sales and in restaurants and hospitality to be one in the same, but they, they are.
Yeah, it’s a great point. And one of the things I always think too, is everyone should spend some time in hospitality. And I remember I was only waitress when I was in college and it was just, it was some of the hardest work I ever did, but you learn so much, it’s like a crash course in how to relate to people and how to, like you said, like generate you, just build those relationships where you do get the higher tips, but coming from that attitude of service makes all the difference. So,
Yeah, that was the rule. I have a 24 year old, 22 year old and almost 17 year old. And I said, look, one summer minimum, you have to work in hospitality. And they really fought me on it. But my oldest who’s gotten the bug. He understands the value of it makes great cash income. And my daughter did it for one summer and said, she’d never do it again. And my middle one, my middle one, he was he himself is entrepreneurial, got his MBA and everything. He just looked at me. He goes, I don’t like people. And I said, this is what you got from us. This is so hard. But they all learned so many people skills from that experience. So I agree. I think everybody should do hospitality for a period of time. Yeah,
Totally agree. So then for you, how did you graduate from that into more corporate sales and kind of more of the entrepreneurial space you’re in today?
Well, the catch 22 with hospitality is either you’re in or you’re out. I, because I knew that was a foundation for me. I had that there for me once I was done finished college, I had decided to go explore as to what was out there. Even though I was really good at hospitality and it was part of my heart. I knew that if I did that, I couldn’t be a mom and a wife productively. I watched it happen in my family, you know, in order for me to spend time with my dad, I had to work. I was 12 years old when I started working because I wanted to spend time with my father. It is a 24 seven love, hate relationship. So I laughed. I got into real estate. I always had aspirations to learn about the real estate industry. I was in a residential real estate burly nine months. I was really, really good at it. And I got very, very bored. I wanted a bigger picture. And I knew that ultimately I wanted to get into real estate investing. So at a very young age, I was only 23. I got licensed and I became the first female broker in a well-established multi-generational commercial real estate development firm. I was the youngest by 22 years and the only female. So tell him when I left.
Yeah. Tell us about that because that’s why I can only imagine what that experience was like for you.
It was so here’s what was interesting, you know, the me too movement that goes on now and has been going on the last few years. I, a current client had said to me, I bet you had a lot of me too experiences, I’m little I’m blonde. I look young for my age
And gorgeous. She’s not saying, but Ann gorgeous.
I actually never had that experience because I was so focused on proving my ability, not so much as a woman, but that as an equal, of course, I never wore a dress. I never wore skirts. So I never embraced my femininity, which was my I always wore a pants suit, power SU and early on I learned being underestimated was my superpower. Being an environment of multimillion dollar contracts and deals, what we learned fairly early on with my principals. I had the best mentors in the business. They would send me into the boardroom because I love negotiating deals. In fact, I miss that very much. That’s it? It’s a game it’s strategy. And I would literally walk into boardrooms and I would have, you know, male brokers from the other company say, Hey, you know, can you get me a coffee?
And I would say, well, I’ll have my assistant get you a coffee. I love it. And so that was when I learned that it’s okay being who we are. It’s okay. Being a woman it’s okay. We can produce just like anybody else can produce male, female, whatever, ethnicity, whatever age. I was incredibly fearless at a very, very young age. And then as you know, as you grow old or fear sets in a little bit, which is an interesting dynamic, as you mature, you would think fear would go away, but fear sink in a little bit more because you start questioning more things. So I was in that industry 16 years.
So, so I want to find it. I want to ask you about something. So I do want to get into how, like kind of the way the fears have evolved and morphed over the years, but when you were there. So one of the things I’m really curious is how you learned, how you learned it was safe to be you, because you mentioned the way that you showed up there. It was like you almost, and this was so much of my experience, which is part of my I’m interested in it. You felt like you had to cut off your femininity to be safe and to be successful in wearing these. I went through that phase too, like wearing the power suits and I never felt, it was like, if I was too feminine, I was making myself a target. That’s right. How did you, so did you get past that? And if so, how? Because I think for so many women, we don’t feel safe showing up fully as ourselves in a business environment.
Yeah. My biggest fear was I didn’t want anyone to ever say or give them an opportunity to say, or be misinterpreted to say that I got a deal because of my packaging. I was so, so focused on that, that I actually, I denied wholly who I was how that change was actually after I left the real estate business. I sighed a sidebar in 2008, I left the firm to be my husband’s full time caregiver through cancer when after he passed. And may of 11, my firm was no longer in existence. We were at the height of the recession. My focus, my specialty was retail development all over the country, site selection, doing things like that. Very, very, very male dominated. And so I didn’t have the firm to go back to, so I had to reinvent. And once I stood in the space of what was I going to do next?
There was very minimal life insurance. I had three kids, 15, 12, and seven that I had to be their mom and their dad. And I had to be their sole provider. And I had nothing like what, what was that going to look like? That’s when I realized it’s okay to fully embrace exactly who I am and the space that I designed for myself not knowing what I was going to do, but really looking at what are the opportunities. And at the time when we had the major real estate crisis in this country I saw opportunities where in the automotive manufacturing industry in Detroit, I’m outside of Detroit and a lot of executives are taking early buyouts, which is kind of funny because, you know, as well as I do, you know, when you have someone coming from corporate who thinks it would be really fun and cool to be an entrepreneur, but have absolutely no idea how to do that.
I just have such a soft spot in my heart for startups. I just love that space so much. So I started consulting in the startup space. So I was being hired to do marketing and branding for the startups little did I know I was doing personal branding because we didn’t call it that back then. And I was branding and marketing entrepreneurs and their services and products and the startup space. That was when I realized I had full worth in the ability to serve fully as a woman, female entrepreneur, I realized that it was okay to show who I was all the way around. It had nothing to do with, like, I literally did not show my legs until I was 40 years old. You know? So
How did you come to that realization though? Because was it like little by little incrementally? You kind of let more of yourself out? Or was it, I mean, I can only imagine, you know, when you’re left as a widow and you’ve got these three kids and you’re suddenly everything is on you. Was that like a light bulb moment of life is short. I’ve got to like, I’m going to stop apologizing for who I am and show like, how did that, how did you come to actually become confident showing all of who you are?
Yeah. When you are in that position, it’s kind of like a life or death situations kind of like, look, if I’m going to do this, I have to really embrace exactly who I am and not be ashamed of who I am and not critique myself. I mean, look, we all look in the mirror, women are the worst self, you know, self critiques, right. We look at them like, Oh, look at that line on my Ford or look, you know, I could, I could lose a couple pounds or whatever the case may be. But realizing that if I was going to serve my kids, I had to give it my all, which meant that I had to be vulnerable and uncomfortable because I certainly comfortable in my skin. I, it was a whole new world for me in first of all, being alone and realizing that I had to embrace exactly who I was feminine and all in order to serve at the higher level.
So it was really a maturity component. It was about stepping into fear and doing it scared anyways. I’ve always had the experience and I don’t know if it’s a spiritual journey or not, but I do feel guided. And so when opportunities are in front of me or I’m able to identify an opportunity and I’m really scared that I do it because it’s like, I know I’m up to something bigger than myself. And I realize that the limiting belief or the story I made up in my head all those years earlier in my younger years, my immature years about I can’t show that I’m a woman because I would be judged and appropriately was really just a lie. We make this stuff up, but it’s also fear. It’s like a way to hide out. And, you know, the last 10 years have been quite the journey. And I mean, you know, the journey and we’ll talk about it. But I think that if you’re really going to do something, no matter what it is that you choose to do in life, we’ve got to own who we are all the way around. [inaudible]
Yes. Oh my gosh. I, my whole heart opens up when you talk about that, because I think for so many of us were trained from an early age that it’s not safe to be us and we’re too much or we’re too this or too that. And so you’ve learned to minimize you learn to suppress your instincts, how you look, your intuition, your, your voice, like all of these things. And it’s you know, I lived that way for probably, you know, 20 something years. And and didn’t even realize like that I was living with depression and anxiety. And because you’re literally like you’re cutting off your most powerful part of yourself to try to be safe.
Yeah, no, that’s true. And the other part of that was interesting the early years. I never, what sounds so silly here I am on a sales pot podcast, but I had, I had such a conversation in my head when I was in real estate about if I create a financial plan, meaning sales plan, then that would mean I’m shallow. Ah, that money would be my driver. Yeah. It’s like so counterproductive. I was such a unique being in that space because that industry is so money driven and so numbers driven. And I was like, if it’s not serving my client, I’m not, I’m going to walk away from the deal. And I walked away from a lot of big, big deals. And my, my, my mentors were like, what are you doing? I’m like, it’s not the right fit for the client. It’s just not.
So I had an ethics issue. I had an major ethics issue within the industry. And it’s, this is not a secret within that industry. It’s, it’s not uncommon for there to be a misinterpretation of reputation or integrity or work ethic. But I, so I distanced myself from that, which meant that I was really kind of standing alone in that space because I was so counter to what is typically known in that industry. So I probably made a lot less money than I could have because I was just standing what was right for the client. Yeah.
And that’s something I’m really passionate about. Just changing in the sales space in general is a shift from scarcity mindset. And you got to nail this, like even the language that’s used, rarely get to land this deal. You gotta nail this customer or else we’re not going to hit our quota. And it’s so it’s so self-centered and focused, but it’s, it’s easy to get caught up in that like I did for years. So I’m curious for you, so how you, and I know each other, as we worked together briefly at a sales coaching company, and then we are both founding team members of brand builders group now, and we’ve gotten to work together for a couple of years, and it’s so aligned with what you did previously in your branding and marketing consulting for these dealerships and for startups. So for you, one of the things I really wanted to, to hear about, cause we, you and I have talked about this a lot offline is overcoming fear of visibility because I think, you know, you talk about how our fears morph over time.
And especially as women, I think a lot of us can relate. Like, you know, you put yourself out there on social media and then you critique your picture and you feel, you know, like you said, we can be our own worst critics. And I know for you, you really have transformed, at least from my standpoint, you’ve transformed your mindset around that. And you do, you’re like such an amazing example of how to be visible and how to show up and how to, you know, promote what you’re doing, but in a way that’s so of service to other people. So tell us a little bit about, let’s start with, what were some of the old fears and hangups you used to have about being visible and then how the heck did you transform them? That’s a big area that a lot of people want to grow in
Well in our business and in personal branding, you know, we say you, people can’t do business with you unless they know who you are. And I was certainly preaching it, but I wasn’t practicing it. And I actually got called out from our, our co-founder from Aurora. And he said, why aren’t you visible? And I, so I don’t need to be visible. I’m helping everybody else be visible. And he said, aha. And what’s going on for you? And I said, the truth is I’m. And at the time in my personal life, I was in a space of not feeling great about myself physically, emotionally, mentally. I w I was in a, in a, in a funk, as they say, and I, you know, my weight was a little up, so there was always something I could find wrong with anything visible that I did and I needed to get over that.
And he challenged me and he said, I want to see you be visible a minimum of three times a week. And I said, gosh, but I’m so busy. You know, I don’t need more business right now. Like I, every, every thing I could have said to him, he had a rebuttal. So I hired this amazing visibility coach, her name’s Elise Archer, and you and I worked together and it was, you know, it was interesting. I say, you’re like the best visibility coach. Cause it was a 90 day program that we, that we got through in three days. And
He’s a good student, a little bit, a little bit to do with it. This is really what it came down to.
I really had a conversation in my head. What if, what if I misinterpreted? What if I put all this effort, I make this investment in getting photography done and I’m doing videos. And I write this content. What if I misinterpreted as self promoting? What if I’m misinterpreted as a noxious or like this, Oh, here’s that quote unquote influencer again, which I don’t consider myself an influencer. And there’s such a connotation with a lot of mega influencers in our world where there’s like a lack, this lack of substance and things like that. And it was interesting cause you and I were talking through affirmations and you know, the things that I was telling myself, the lies or the nitpicking of my, of my appearance, you know, you really said, you know, I want you to write down all the things you’re saying about yourself and let’s go over.
What’s true. And what’s not true so that we were clear, I was lying horribly to myself, but the other side was affirming. What’s great about myself affirming how I can serve. And so there is a misconception about personal branding, I think in general, where people do think it’s self promoting and really very simplistically defined personal branding is how can you clearly and effectively communicate to your identified audience, how you can help them and serve them. And in my content I’m very, very mindful on and you know, it’s all planned out now. I, I follow the exact same, you know, rules that we teach our clients and scheduling and what are the topics this week and that week. And here’s what happened. I actually tested it cause I didn’t believe the success of it. So of course I was devil’s advocate. So going in 90 days, so very transparently, I wasn’t killing it financially early on.
I was like, I think I was excited cause I made like $2,500, you know, one month. And I went from twenty-five hundred to over 20,000. And here’s why that happened. Two things were going on. I was manifesting, I did not create a financial plan based on money. I made a financial plan based on peace of mind. So what is the number that I need to bring in at a minimum every month where that I wake up every day and go to bed every day, feeling at peace. So if there’s emergencies with the kids, if I wanted to take a last minute weekend, get away. If I wanted to purchase something for myself, you have to remember being a single widowed mother. Kids came first. I never ever bought myself anything ever. I never indulged. Because there was so much guilt. And what if like that scarcity mindset was always there.
And $20,000 was my number. That was my peace of mind number. And I consistently broke 20 and then 22 and then 26 and then 28. And it consistently I was going, going, going, and then COVID hit. Oh yeah. So, so I went into a reposition of how I presented. So before I was focused on piecemealing our offerings, well, phase one is this and this is how much it is. I was afraid to talk about the whole picture. Then out of, again, going from life or death, I got to make this happen. I am not going to let COVID like squash what I worked so hard for. And I, and I still want to connect with people. So I decided to present what we do as a package. So I would give them a 12 month overview financially and the different options of how they could start.
So sometimes I’m talking in 25, $50,000 figures to clients rather than, Hey, you can do it for as little as $99. Right? What happened was when I started talking in the space of abundance, like luck, you’re going to be really investing in yourself. And this is, this is the whole picture I started selling more. So I certainly had a couple slow months, right? Everyone, everyone was at a stand still. There was a lot of uncertainty and fear. I also realized my own personal brand and resilience played such a huge role with my current clients. At that time, a lot of them are speakers and we were like, I’m out. You know, they just last, you know, six figures because of COVID and there was such fear. And so I offered myself to them for free over a weekend, right after COVID and the shutdown happened saying, all right, let’s talk about this.
Let’s reposition let’s pivot. And here’s what I realized the value of my own personal brand was such a huge asset to serving our business brand and brand builders that I started working on my own personal brand, realizing from a service standpoint and how I can help those. It was going to be a really big asset. And ironically, I’ve launched, I’m launching this month and remarkable resilience, but the goal is help people, you know, surface from loss, setback and failure, not from a negative, but from a positive, this is where we grow and then help them build their personal brands from there because there’s so much limiting mindset that comes from lack of self worth and guilt and shame and things like that.
Mm it’s such a powerful story. And I think it’s, it’s the mental game like that is with anything that’s 99% of it, but we think it’s just, Oh, you know, go post one more picture on social media, do this, but it’s like, you actually have to get yourself in the right mindset of feeling confident to be visible and realizing that it is about service. And I love that you shared thank you for sharing the numbers too, because I think for anyone who’s stuck dealing with fear of visibility to hear about that type of quantum leap, true quantum leap that you had in a really short amount of time. It was like you, you were the only thing, holding yourself back from achieving that financial peace number for you. And, you know, it’s, it’s just, we gotta pull our heads out of our is like that.
My conversation with myself so often is it’s hard when your head is up here. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So thank you for sharing that. And I’m so excited for your new brand as well. And I think especially with this year there, it’s like everyone needs help with becoming resilient and learning how to bounce back and reposition and pivot. So I want to ask you in a minute where people can connect with you about that and personal branding. But before we do that, I want to ask you if you were giving, you know, if you could give one piece of advice to your younger self on your way to breaking through your first six figures and starting off in sales, like what’s the one thing that you wish you knew that would’ve made your, the whole process easier, more enjoyable and more successful for you? Okay,
Great question. I would say probably I would, I would say probably don’t compare. And this is actually what I say to my adult children don’t compare because the minute you compare yourself to somebody else or whatever that looks like on social media, you, you stop yourself from really what’s truly possible. I think comparison is the death of uniqueness and creativity. I think that we can, our journey is our journey alone and no, no other person, no other person can ever, ever influence your outcome, but you, Hmm. So don’t compare
Male or female. I was comparing as a female to me, you know, man. Yeah. That was silly. They weren’t doing yet. I was doing it. Yeah, we, we all do it. And then we realized the only person we’re hurting is ourselves by doing that. Absolutely. And then, and then our clients,
Because then we’re keeping ours, our true selves from serving them. And it’s interesting. We were talking about the visibility thing and I took a week off. I’m like, I totally shut down. Disconnected did no posting. And I literally got messages on my social media platforms, LinkedIn and Facebook asking if I was okay because I hadn’t been posting. So I guess people notice,
Yes. That’s the other thing we think we’re like, Oh, nobody notices when I’m posting. But, but that’s the thing is most people and the people who will ultimately probably be your clients as well. They’re not necessarily the ones who are commenting on everything. That’s right. They are privately watching, enjoying, like, that’s how I consume a lot of content. I don’t know, man, on everything on most, everything that I watch, I’m like, Oh, that was really good. Thanks for the inspiration. And then I look for their stuff again the next day, but I’m not necessarily commenting on everything. So yeah. So-So tell us Kristen, if, if people want to find out about your remarkable resilience program or if they want to get connected with you about personal branding, what are the best, what are the best ways people can connect with you?
The easiest way to reach out to me is free brand call.com, backslash KC, which are my initials, obviously. And during that call, you know, we’ll, we’ll learn about all those people that are interested in building a personal brand. And if resiliency is an opening for them that they need support and then we can talk about it, then
I love it. I love it. Well, thank you for just your example of what it’s like to step up and be visible and get out of your own way and create just momentous results for your life and your family, as well as a result I know for myself and for every woman listening, like we want to make an impact. We want to serve. We want to show up bigger and better than we are right now. And it’s so energizing and exciting to see what happens when another woman decides to step up and do it. So thank you for being that model. You’re incredible. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. Lots of love you too.