You Won’t Succeed Alone: With Denise Beers Kiepper

For some wild reason, we’ve been taught to do EVERYTHING ourselves. What ends up happening is that either something eventually falls through the cracks, or we get overwhelmed.

Denise Beers Kiepper, Founder and Chief Vision Officer at DBK Coaching and Consulting, hops on today’s show with this problem. As she keeps building her business, she has fallen into a position where she’s basically her whole business, instead of the business owner.

This role creates a lot of discomfort for Denise, as she feels like she has to do every single task by herself. Perhaps she could hire people to help her, which would ultimately allow her to have more time and become the business owner she wants to be.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Kim Ades: Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I'm the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching and the Co-founder of The Journal That Talks Back. You have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching Podcast, where we welcome guests from all over the world and they get coach live and in person, right on the show. Today, my guest is Denise Beers Kiepper. Denise, welcome.

[00:00:28] Denise Beers Kiepper: Hey, thank you so much, Kim. It's great to be here.

[00:00:31] Kim Ades: So where are you in the world?

[00:00:34] Denise Beers Kiepper: I'm actually in South Carolina, in the upstate of South Carolina, in a small town called Spartanburg.

[00:00:40] Kim Ades: A small town called what? Say that again?

[00:00:42] Denise Beers Kiepper: Spartanburg.

[00:00:44] Kim Ades: Spartanburg. I was in South Carolina a few months ago in a place called Pawleys Island.

[00:00:49] Denise Beers Kiepper: Oh yeah, it's lovely. It's really lovely.

[00:00:52] Kim Ades: Beautiful, stunning! Such a cute it's a peace place.

[00:00:55] Denise Beers Kiepper: It really is. So I've been here for three years, I moved here from Metro Detroit, so it was a big dynamic shift for me.

[00:01:03] Kim Ades: And what made you move?

[00:01:05] Denise Beers Kiepper: I came for my corporate job that I left to do this, and really what drove me is I've always loved South Carolina and I'm a sun girl, I need to see the sun every day. Even if it rains, the sun comes out. It's wonderful. [Chuckles]

[00:01:21] Kim Ades: I get that, I can relate to that. Every day I write a list of things that I'm grateful for, and every day on that list is the word 'sunshine'. Every single day.

[00:01:31] Denise Beers Kiepper: I believe it. When I lived in Detroit, right? Like, metro Detroit is gray so long and I kind of forgot about it, and then when I go back to visit, I remember why I don't live there anymore, because the grayness is just depressing, I need sunshine. [Laughs]

[00:01:47] Kim Ades: Depressing. So you left your corporate job, what were you doing?

[00:01:50] Denise Beers Kiepper: So I've been a C-suite corporate HR leader strategist for the last 20 plus years. I've always been a generalist and in a leadership role, the predominant amount of my career, focused on the higher level kind of artful work of people leadership. So engagement, the way people work together, organizational design, talent acquisition, and of course, coaching leaders and emerging talent.

And so it's always been something that's been a part of what I've done and a big passion of mine. Actually, I kind of found my sweet spot, it found me, honestly. I was never meant to [...] This work at all, but it found me and I stayed. And so, when the opportunity presented itself for me to make this sleep, I decided it was time to try it, and here I am.

[00:02:47] Kim Ades: Okay. So you are in South Carolina and you basically run a coaching company.

[00:02:52] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yes.

[00:02:53] Kim Ades: And you've been doing that for the past three years.

[00:02:56] Denise Beers Kiepper: No, I actually came here for a corporate role and before that, I did this as a side gig.

[00:03:06] Kim Ades: Oh! So you've been doing it for a while.

[00:03:08] Denise Beers Kiepper: I have, yeah. So, I did it part-time because it kind of just kept coming to me, and eventually somebody said, "oh, can I pay you for that?" And I said, "I don't know, I just do this for fun on my off time, because I love helping people", and my girlfriend shook me and said, "you're crazy! If people wanna pay you, let them pay you".

And I started then building out a little kind of side gig practice that I've had for quite some time, predominantly originally with leaders who used to work with me, and then maybe went to other organizations and wanted to stay connected with me being their partner and helping them kind of navigate different waters or being an advisor on people related elements of what they were doing.

And so when I came here, I was doing a corporate role, working in hospitality and real estate development. And COVID was, of course, greatly impactful to that. And so, as a result of that, I decided it was time to make a change, and I decided it was time to try this thing full-time. And so I've been doing it full-time since November.

[00:04:20] Kim Ades: Since November. Okay, great. So, how's it going?

[00:04:25] Denise Beers Kiepper: It's good actually!

[00:04:27] Kim Ades: It's good.

[00:04:28] Denise Beers Kiepper: I mean, it's a journey, as people would tell you, and I'm sure you experienced as well. Some surprises for sure, along the way, learning to be uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. And people have said that to me, like before I even jumped into it. And I can remember telling people that, as a coach professionally.

But it's definitely like, there are moments where I hear myself and I think, "yeah, you told people that, and now you're living it, my friend". And so, I do some HR consulting work still, so I have some HR related strategy projects, but predominantly I'm doing coaching and being accustomed to constantly building a pipeline and that outreach that's necessary and getting comfortable with the social media element, which has probably been way harder than I anticipated, actually. I didn't think that that would be so hard.

[00:05:33] Kim Ades: So let's jump in. Is that your greatest challenge? Like, when you look at-- You're on a coaching podcast and we're gonna provide you with some coaching, right?

[00:05:41] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah!

[00:05:41] Kim Ades: So what is your greatest challenge?

[00:05:45] Denise Beers Kiepper: So I think I have two great challenges. So one would be just that, getting comfortable recording and being seen, right? I'm really comfortable speaking publicly, but it's kind of different recording yourself and then saying, "yeah, that looks good enough to put out to the world". And so, I've gotten better at accepting less than absolutely perfect, and saying like, that's real and it's authentic and that's valuable.

And also just the cadence of it. It feels like it's an overwhelming sometimes full-time job, just to think about how I can navigate all the different elements of that. And then tied to that is the fact that in a lot of my career, I had an executive admin by my side, and I'm using my strengths doing this coaching work. My strengths are not in the administrative space. I am a juggler and so I'm always like plate spinning.

So that's been a really steep learning curve for me and just finding the ways to keep myself not so much on task, but ordered and organized. And I came from-- I'm not a real structured kind of person, but coming from corporate, there was still a structure in place in some way.

[00:07:02] Kim Ades: Right. Yeah.

[00:07:03] Denise Beers Kiepper: And so, just being in an environment now where I create this structure, which sounds wonderful.

[00:07:11] Kim Ades: It's a little abstract, isn't it?

[00:07:15] Denise Beers Kiepper: It is! It is. Yeah, definitely. Definitely. So I think those are my two big ones.

[00:07:19] Kim Ades: Yeah. So it's interesting to me, like, what you're describing is a bit of a reflection of like, you have an idea of how things are supposed to go, so you're doing them that way, and perhaps I can challenge that a little bit, with your permission.

[00:07:34] Denise Beers Kiepper: I love it. Let's do it.

[00:07:36] Kim Ades: So, I mean, for me, and I'll share with you my experience starting a coaching business, and I've been doing this for 18 years full-time. And so, I remember when I decided to start a coaching business, I, at the time, hired someone right off the bat, and the reason I hired someone off the bat is because not only to get the support I was looking for, but to get the structure.

So the minute I hired someone was the minute I was really actually in business. And so, you know, you're a solopreneur and in your mind you're like, "well, I can't hire anyone. It's kind of expensive. I can't really afford that". And I would suggest to you that that's not accurate, because the value of your time doesn't make sense for you to spend on these administrative roles.

And so, are there people out there in the VA world that can help you? A hundred percent. Are they affordable? Absolutely. There are people all over the world who can help you executively with those admin tasks, and I encourage you to tap into them. And the reason why is because now you're having conversations about what needs to be done. Now you have a list of things that you're looking to get done, and now you have someone to work with on those things.

And so you're checking off a lot more things off your list. You are showing up in an accountable manner because now you have to give someone some direction. And so it gives you structure and I encourage you not to go it alone. You won't succeed alone, because it's a tough road and you're not leveraging your strengths when you're taking on all those tasks on your own.

[00:09:13] Denise Beers Kiepper: No doubt.

[00:09:14] Kim Ades: You know, I encourage you. There could be co-op students that are willing to work for free, there are people all over the world in the virtual assistant world that work at a fraction of American rates. There are all kinds of, you know, maybe moms who are looking for jobs that are... They just are dying for something to do a few hours every day, but that gives you a little bit of a break and that gives you someone to talk to and bounce things off of, but mostly it gives you structure.

[00:09:47] Denise Beers Kiepper: It's great advice. And I just actually said out loud to someone last week that I thought that I might be at that place where I just really need to think about finding either a virtual assistant or maybe there's a college intern, somebody who would wanna jump in and have the experience alongside, but that also would kind of help me do those things that are not the highest and best use of my time.

[00:10:12] Kim Ades: Exactly. And it's funny 'cause in your mind, you're like, "I think I'm at the place where I think I'm ready for it", but I would encourage you to look at it the other way around, which is once you hire someone, you accelerate. Right? So it's not like you're ready for it, it's the other way around, if that makes any sense.

Once you put yourself in the shoes of "okay, I'm hiring someone, I'm in a business, I have people who work for me", your mindset changes and suddenly you're further ahead in the way that you orchestrate and think about what you do. And so I would encourage you to kind just take the leap, take a jump, do that.

[00:10:52] Denise Beers Kiepper: I love that. I love that.

[00:10:54] Kim Ades: It's a smart move.

[00:10:55] Denise Beers Kiepper: Great coaching. Yeah. And it's funny because I just literally have been thinking so much about this, and your suggestion of like maybe a student, I think is a good place for me to start, just because there are a lot of students in school that do HR, human capital related majors and can't get any experience. And so, this would be a way to, you know, maybe give somebody some opportunity. So, I love it. I'm doing it. I wrote it down, and when I write it down, I mean it. [Chuckles]

[00:11:26] Kim Ades: It could be a win-win and the thing for you is, even before you hire someone, just think "what are all the things that I would love to offload?" and now suddenly you're thinking at a higher level. You're not thinking like a doer, you're working on your business instead of in your business. And now you're a business owner.

[00:11:46] Denise Beers Kiepper: That's great.

[00:11:49] Kim Ades: A lot of coaches think of themselves as "I own a coaching practice". I never did, I never thought of it that way. Why? 'Cause I'm not practicing coaching, I'm in the business of coaching. I'm not practicing anything. Right?

[00:12:01] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah.

[00:12:01] Kim Ades: So I encourage you to think like a business owner as opposed to a coach.

[00:12:08] Denise Beers Kiepper: Love that. That is absolutely great advice. And it's a tiny modification and mindset, but I can see exactly what you're saying. I mean that whole concept of owning it in a way that you have somebody else that is engaged in it, it does change the dynamic. I missed that part, for sure. Yeah.

[00:12:29] Kim Ades: And then you also mentioned that you wanted to get comfortable being on screen and recording yourself and doing all the little kind of video bits. And so, I have two reactions to that. Reaction number one is, is it necessary? But if it is... Is it necessary? It might not be necessary. And so, when we think about what's the purpose, what's the goal, we think, "well, it's increased exposure, lead generation, and I don't know, perhaps there are better ways", right?

[00:12:59] Denise Beers Kiepper: It's fair.

[00:12:59] Kim Ades: It's a question... And if I look at my own business, I'm out there, I'm on a lot of podcasts, I'm on a lot of videos, I do a lot of that stuff, but what generates business? Like, really generates leads? It's not that stuff.

[00:13:14] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah.

[00:13:15] Kim Ades: So what generates business? We get a ton of referrals, that generates a lot more business. What generates business is speaking engagements, which are more privately focused. It's not social media. We do the social media because we need a presence, right?

[00:13:35] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah.

[00:13:36] Kim Ades: But it's not the be all and end all by any stretch of the imagination. So the first question I would say is, is that the best use of your time? And if it's not, if that's not the thing that's driving revenue or driving Legion, take the time you're allocating to video production and put it in the areas that really drive an ROI. So that's one idea.

But the other idea is if you are committed to social media, and if you're like, "no, I gotta do it. Everybody's doing it, I gotta do it too" and you say, "well, I'm kind of uncomfortable just like having a video camera in front of me", I encourage you to try different modalities.

So I used to be super uncomfortable in front of a video camera too, until I realized I'm really comfortable in conversation. So if somebody asks me questions, I can answer them all day and all night. I don't need any preparation, I don't need any thought, I just need a little makeup. That's it, right?

[00:14:36] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah. I'm the same way.

[00:14:37] Kim Ades: So change your modality. Instead of thinking that you need to talk into a camera, talk to someone else while you're capturing yourself. You're probably saying something smart in there.

[00:14:48] Denise Beers Kiepper: I like it.

[00:14:50] Kim Ades: The other thing is like, I do a podcast. I do a podcast 'cause I love meeting people, it's super interesting. I get to practice coaching-- not practice coaching, I get to demonstrate coaching. That's the right term.

[00:15:01] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah.

[00:15:01] Kim Ades: I get to demonstrate coaching and I get to expose what we do in the world. Right? And so, this is my kind of place where I get to share with the world what I'm up to. and it's easy for me! It's a no brainer. It's just so easy. And again, we're capturing a video. And so, do the things that come more easily to you.

[00:15:26] Denise Beers Kiepper: That's a good suggestion. I've thought about a podcast quite a bit, and I think that might be a more practical and comfortable kind of space for me, because the conversation element is really easy and it feels natural, I just always want it to feel authentic when I'm doing something like that.

[00:15:45] Kim Ades: So, the wrap up of all this is whenever you feel a sense of discomfort, like, "oh, this doesn't feel so well", ask yourself, "what do I believe to be true about this thing that's causing me to feel uncomfortable?" And oftentimes you'll find that we, as humans, we squeeze ourselves into believing it has to look a certain way. "It has to be like this".

And so the question is, does it have to be this way? Can I do it a different way? Can I play it out differently? Can I add something else? Can I come at it from a different angle to make it easier and more sustainable for me?

[00:16:25] Denise Beers Kiepper: I love that. Absolutely just reframing it, right? One of the people I've worked with around kind of honing more of my coaching in the process of getting my ICF certification, uses this term of putting something in a new container, and it's kind of like what you're talking about. It makes so much sense, right? Like just instead of like keeping it in this one little box.

[00:16:49] Kim Ades: Well, yeah, it's because we get stuck thinking, "this is the lane, this is the narrow lane I have to plan" and I always say, is it? Maybe there are other lanes, maybe it can look differently. Maybe you don't have to roll a bowling ball down the lane, maybe you can roll a wheel down the lane.

[00:17:06] Denise Beers Kiepper: [Laughs]

[00:17:06] Kim Ades: You know? Something like that. Does it have to be exactly the way every other person in the world is doing it? Can you do it differently?

[00:17:15] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah, for sure. That makes a lot of sense, actually. And I see the predominant amount of my business coming from referral based kind of places. And so, putting more energy into my existing network, that's solid... And maybe by doing some of this kind of work, maybe just reframing it, like that makes it more palatable for me, but also more practical.

[00:17:44] Kim Ades: Exactly. And when you do podcasts and things like that, you're getting sound bites as well that you can use. It's very easy to get onto the podcast circuit as a guest. I think I've been on probably over 500 podcasts at this point in my life.

[00:18:01] Denise Beers Kiepper: That's awesome.

[00:18:03] Kim Ades: All those things that's are easy to execute, right?

[00:18:06] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Just takes intent. Yes.

[00:18:10] Kim Ades: Exactly. So, at the end of the day for you, it's like, "what are my strengths? Let's leverage those. And I don't have to force myself to do something that isn't what I wanna be spending my time on".

[00:18:24] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah. I use strengths very heavily in my coaching. Especially when I'm working with emerging talent. And I'm a huge believer in it. You know, it's a drain and I feel it for myself right now, you know? Because I'm spending too much time in the space that's just way down on my strength zone that I just like, Ugh! It's exhausting.

[00:18:44] Kim Ades: Exactly that! Exactly that.

[00:18:47] Denise Beers Kiepper: Yeah. Yeah. Good stuff.

[00:18:48] Kim Ades: Denise, I hope you got something [chuckles] good out of this podcast.

[00:18:51] Denise Beers Kiepper: I did! I got lots of something. I even made notes, even though I could go back and watch it. Like, this is great! Thank you, Kim. This is wonderful.

[00:18:58] Kim Ades: Thank you for being on my podcast. It was a pleasure having you on the show. For those of you who are listening, if you have a challenge that you wanna discuss, on the podcast or privately, please reach out to me. I'd be delighted to talk with you. My email address is

And if there is a young professional in your world who could use some coaching, please, please, please, point them in the direction of the journal that talks back where we coach young professionals through the journaling process. So we'd love to see you there. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out. In the meantime, have a great week. We will see you next week.

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