An incubator of women leaders

Kathy Klotz-Guest


Founder, Keeping it Human

Kathy Klotz-Guest is on a mission to ensure that the future of work includes play, humor and laughter.   She believes that humor enables us to communicate big bold ideas and stories, to connect with others more profoundly, and allows us to lead through chaos. Kathy was a tech marketing executive for 15 years and, all the while doing that, she spent 6-7 nights each week on stand-up, improv and sketch comedy stages. In 2010, she left tech behind to focus on her current mission. She is the founder of  Keeping It Human, where she delivers interactive keynote talks and corporate events that focus on transformation and change for teams and leaders - with storytelling, humor and improv principles.

You don't have to be fearless; you just have to fear less. We can all do things that help lessen that fear. Feel that fear and do it anyway. - Kathy Klotz-Guest

1. What has inspired you to be fearless in your career? 

Knowing that I have a message and a purpose helps me, along with my values. Knowing my why, being patient with myself and having accountability friends who believe in me when I need it most. My comedy background grew my funny bone, my backbone and my wishbone. Comedy made me stronger and yes, while it also made me funnier, it really developed my risk-taking muscles, which is exactly what we need as entrepreneurs.

If I have doubt, I remind myself that I left a VP position in tech, I've often been the only woman in a room (it's changing thankfully), I've done stand-up comedy in clubs, and I teach and perform improv every week. All of that reminds me if I can do those things, I can do anything - except my taxes and haircuts! You do not want that! 

They say you are the sum total of the 5 people you surround yourself with most. Make sure at least 2 of them are comedians. Trust me - we need laughter, it helps. 

2. What has surprised you the most about the trajectory of your career?

It surprises me that I continue to be surprised. When we make a bold choice we can't see around all the corners. We have blind spots. That also means we can't see all the good and wonderful things that are in store when we choose ourselves and say 'yes and' - a central principle of improv - to ourselves and our growth. I love that. Surprise and joy are essential because being a business owner isn't always easy. 

3. What gives you your entrepreneurial spirit? What traits of yours have been most valuable in your career?

My ability to be alright with failing and growing, and seeing experimentation as learning, not failure in a 'final' sense. And of course, my humor and ability to connect, communicate and laugh at things.

The tools that I use in comedy and in my work also connect me to others, and they are the best human traits for being an entrepreneur. Comedy is a lab, and it's the entrepreneurial spirit at work and play. Humor and being willing to try, make "mistakes" and learn are everything. Mistakes are incredible learning opportunities.

4. What advice do you have for people afraid of the spotlight and/or public speaking? 

The best storytelling I know is in improv and comedy - and it's when you focus on your audience's needs and learning, it helps channel your nerves away from yourself. The more we focus on us - our appearances, how we sound, all of that (and I get it and yes, it matters to a point!) - the more nervous we become. When I focus on the audience, on having fun and letting go of forced expectations, it's so much easier, and so much more powerful. 

I understand the fear; but if you feel inclined to speak, that means YOU have a message to share. Focus on that message, on fun, on being yourself and being of service, and whew!, you will release so much fear and tension. The world needs your message and only you can deliver it as YOU. It's ok to be nervous. Don't let that stop you. Use fear as fuel. 

The way I channel that energy is by asking myself these questions:

  • How can I focus on my audience - what message, what truth can I say right now that will serve them best in this moment? 
  • How can I have their backs - how can I connect my story to theirs so they see themselves in it?
  • How can I show up as truly myself and have fun (rather than ruminating about how I show up)?
  • How can I get my energy up and start with a laugh that immediately connects me to myself and my purpose before I go onstage?

Hear more from Kathy on her website, and read her piece "Where are all the funny women at work?" in The Rosie Report. Her book Stop Boring Me! is available on Amazon

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