April 21, 2022

The Secret Behind Impressive Leadership with Kerri Altom

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Are you striving for success, but not getting the results you've been hoping for? My special guest, Kerri Altom, has developed a great strategy and technique for getting to the root of what might be getting in your way. In this episode, you're going to hear how Kerri's work with leaders of all different varieties helped her realize that too often leaders skip the critical step of getting clear on their values, priorities and purpose. Our conversation covers the questions we need to ask ourselves to get really clear about what is important to us and what defines our sense of integrity. By the end of the episode, you will understand why integrity is something that can really anchor your work and lead you straight to the results that you want.

Kerri Altom is an award winning writer, educator and entrepreneur.  As an integrity instigator, Kerri shows you how to define your values and align your life.  With her signature framework, The RISE Way, she is transforming struggling entrepreneurs into impact-making profit-taking leaders of a brighter world. Kerri is also a business coach, leadership consultant and the founder and CEO of RISE Media Group

• [4:47] “After decades of doing that kind of work and working with a range of different kinds of leaders, I came to see these common patterns and these common struggles…” 
• [8:07] “Somebody who has identified who they are, what they believe in what their core values are. And they can convey that in a way that people can relate to. It builds trust, and it builds a sense of authority.” 
• [12:48] Kerri speaks of doing values exercises and visioning to go deeper into explaining who you are and what you believe in.  
• [19:52] Kerri gives us a great gardening analogy about perfectionism and the fear based stories we tell ourselves, then shares how to really get to the root of the problem… not just plucking at the surface level. 

For more information on the Make Time for Success podcast, visit: https://www.maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com

Connect with Us!

Dr. Christine Li -
Website: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/procrastinationcoach
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/procrastinationcoach/

To work with Dr. Li on a weekly basis in her coaching and accountability program, please register for The Success Lab here: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com/lab

Kerri Altom -
Website: https://www.theriseway.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kerri.altom.35
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kerri-altom-47563712a/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kerri_altom/

Download the exercise that will help you identify one of the stories that isn't serving you and go through the process of identifying the alternative value that you want to be aligned with and rewrite that story: https://www.theriseway.com/opt-in


Christine Li  0:01  
Welcome back to the Make Time for Success podcast. This is episode 71. Are you striving for success, but find that you're not getting the results that you've been hoping for? My guests in today's episode, Kerrie Altom has developed a great strategy and technique for getting to the root of what might be getting in your way. This is a great conversation about the questions we need to ask ourselves to get really clear about what is important to us what defines our sense of integrity. Before we take any big action towards our big goals. Kerrie Altom is a business coach and leadership consultant. She's the founder and CEO of Rise Media Group, and the creator of the rise way. In this episode, you're going to hear how Kerry's work with leaders of all different varieties from college campuses, to boardrooms to startups helped her to realize that too often leaders skip the critical step of getting clear on their values, priorities and purpose and then don't find the results that they are capable of. In listening to this episode, you're gonna find out why integrity is something that can really anchor your work and lead you straight to the results that you want. Let's go listen to the episode now.

Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li, and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they can begin working to their potential. In this podcast, you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together so that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. 

Welcome to the make time for success podcast. Hi, everyone. It is Dr. Christine Li and welcome to today's episode, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to my good friend and colleague, Kerrie Altom. Today, she is a business and leadership coach and strategist. And she is also a thought leader. And we're going to have a great conversation today all about integrity, and high performance and all the other things that Kerrie teaches. Welcome to the show, Kerrie.

Kerrie Altom  2:45  
Thank you, Christina. I'm happy to be here today.

Christine Li  2:48  
So Kerrie, could you start us off and just give us a sense of who you are? And how you got to be the business and leadership coach that you are?

Kerrie Altom  2:58  
Yes, absolutely. So as you said, I am a business and leadership consultant. And I'm founder of The Rise Way and Rise Media Group. The Rise Way is a curriculum framework for teaching, leadership and personal development that I've developed over my decades of working with leaders. And I'm also the mom of two teenage boys and wife and sister twos, tons of siblings, which you may be one we often joke that we feel like we are sisters. And I'm also a leader and activist in my own community.

Christine Li  3:39  
And what led you to this line of work?

Kerrie Altom  3:45  
Well, you know, I always been involved in leadership in one way or another all the way back to grade school, I was elected to Student Government. And then when I went to college I I minored in Outdoor Leadership and I got involved in political issues and a lot of environmental activism. So leadership had always been at the core of what I was doing. But then after college, I started working with leaders at a college and worked for almost 10 years there with young leaders who are just so excited and determined to change the world. But, you know, also they were young people with their own issues and struggles and, and I learned so much from that experience that I went from college campuses, to working with boards in boardrooms working with small businesses, and then even startup companies. And of course, after decades of doing that kind of work and and working with a range of different kinds of leaders. I came to see these common patterns and these common struggles and as I work towards this range of people, I came to realize that there was a single solitary issue at the root of most of their struggles as leaders. And similarly, the same kind of struggle in their own personal development. And at the root of that was integrity. And it was that's just, you know, simply knowing what they were doing and why they were doing it, and then executing according to what they decided they were achieving, or what they decide they believe in. So several years ago, I just stopped everything else. And I did a deep dive on the issue of integrity. I researched it, and I modified my coaching process to center on integrity practices, I reconfigured all my leadership curriculum around integrity, and that became the birth of the right way. And my integrity centered personal development programs and leadership curriculum now are the focus of the work that I do.

Christine Li  6:03  
Okay, beautiful. I love how it's a beautiful story of discovery for you that you noticed the pattern of difficulty that people are having, could you give us a couple of examples of what kind of trouble leaders were getting themselves into what kind of barriers they were facing?

Kerrie Altom  6:25  
Sure, well, you can imagine with college students, oftentimes they're facing the conflict between the stories of who they are, and what success means to them based on their family of origin. And they're finally getting out into the world and getting an opportunity to decide who they really are and what they really believe in. And they're having to reconcile with, which of those values they were raised with are really their top priorities, and which don't ring clear to them. And then on the other end of the spectrum, I've worked with a lot of political candidates, I managed political campaigns, and I am now a strategist for political campaigns. And there's a specific issue that candidates have to struggle with. Because there are the issues and the opinions that pull well, right that, that people are responding well to, that people say are their priorities. And then there are the areas of expertise and the issues that are the highest priority to the candidate. And I will never work with a candidate who I know has one set of values, but is wanting to present themselves as having another set of values in order to win. The key to being able to be a really successful candidate, who can be reelected and reelected and serve effectively in the long term is being somebody who has identified who they are, what they believe in what their core values are. And they can convey that in a way that people can relate to. It builds trust, and it builds a sense of authority. And when you do that, then you're able to be elected on the issues that matter most to you, as long as you acknowledge the issues that are important to others, as well. So, you know, those are a couple of examples. You know, Christine, one of the things that that I think is really interesting about integrity is that it has become kind of a popular term. Right? Yeah, and a lot of people mentioned it here or there. But they say things like, integrity is when you do the right thing, even though nobody is watching. Or integrity is when you do what you say you're going to do. And while I'm glad that integrity is getting play time, I really want to be clear that those are outcomes of integrity. Those are integrity centered actions that you take. But those alone do not constitute a life of integrity, you know, doing the right thing. The quote unquote, right thing depending on you know, what society you're in, or what values you're adhering to, is a good thing to do. But if we're going to live our full life and fulfill the meaning and purpose of each of our individual lives, we got to look deeper than I conformed with the norms of what is right or wrong. Therefore I have integrity, not true. So integrity is when you have defined who you are. Integrity is you Know what you believe in, and you understand the values that motivate you. And then you get really conscious about aligning your thoughts and your words and your actions around those core values. And when you have that alignment, that's integrity. So, yeah, I get a little riled up about it, because I do think it's so important that we understand integrity requires us to do some work, some reflection, some understanding about who we are.

Christine Li  10:33  
I love your explanation. So thank you for being so passionate about the topic and for explaining in really lovely and helpful detail about what living with integrity means and how it plays out. And I find myself having the question for you. What are the factors that lead people to be really confused about what their values are? And maybe if they're not confused, that they're not feeling the need to kind of understand what's driving them, the word that comes to mind is confusion that people are acting, and they're working, and they're trying to build things, but they're not really getting centered in any way. So what are the factors that contribute to not investigating what your integrity is,

Kerrie Altom  11:27  
you know, one of the things that people fall into easily is believing false stories. So this may be believing the stories of, again, the society around them, just conforming to societal norms, it can be believing the stories of your family, or a faith tradition. It's just amazing the power that story has. And I know for you, as a psychologist, you understand the way that that language works in our brains, and that stories dictate a lot of our thinking processes. And so yes, believing false stories, is one of the habits that it's hard to break. But if those false stories don't align with your true beliefs, or values, they got to get edited out of your life.

Christine Li  12:32  
I love it. So I'm gonna guess that you really help the people that you coach to really focus in on what feels true to them. What is really bothering them, all the things that make them uniquely them. Is that correct?

Kerrie Altom  12:48  
Sure. Yeah, absolutely. If we were to just say, well, who are you? And what do you believe in? Right? People can easily just come up with simple surface level stuff, you have to go deeper? Yes, we have to do some values exercises, we have to do some visioning, we have to really explore from a few different angles. And you know, one of the things that I think is helpful for your audience, and for the topic of procrastination, is we can give a procrastination specific example of this. So, you know, oftentimes, and this is rooted in a story of perfection. And this is something Christina, you and I have talked about, when we grow up in a tree, in your case, a family who had maybe had some high standards for I know, you've shared with me high standards for academics, for instance. And for me, I feel like I grew up in a society where I mean, I came from a small rural community, but I grew up in the 1980s. And mass media became available to me, even in a rural community. And so I was exposed to our society's standards of beauty and performance, and what does it mean to be a successful modern woman? And so there were these ridiculous standards that, you know, nobody can ever fully meet. And it's easy to see that perfectionism and believe that it's what you it's the standard that you have to maintain. Right. And so I think a lot of people will adopt this, this thinking about these perfectionist stories, right? So they adopt the standards of perfectionism, and they tell themselves the story that I'm not going to do it now. I'm not going to follow through now because I can't do it perfectly. Because I can't meet that standard. I'll buy myself a new outfit when I've dropped 20 pounds or I'll take myself on a vacation when I, you know, have achieved certain things and not until then. So we set these standards, we adopt these these stories, that that really don't align with who we are, with what we truly believe, with what we truly value. And we we just run those stories in our brain. And the way that those stories are fear based, is that we believe that society expects us to meet those standards, and that if we don't, or our family expects us, or whatever it is, a boss expects us to meet these standards. And if we don't, there will be consequences. And we understand why, you know, why we have these fear based stories, I think most people recognize, most people know that our brain, you know, evolved over time, and that we have programming that is, you know, the primitive part of our brain. And, you know, that was really helpful when we used to live in clans and survive in the wild, you know, there was very little margin of error, to make mistakes. And so we were having this perfectionist tendency served us well, and to make a mistake could result in eating a poisonous berry or falling into a cold raging river. But we don't have those risks in our daily life. The consequences of a mistake, aren't, aren't that severe anymore. But our brain is just trying to protect us. And so we need to interrogate those stories. We need to recognize the role those stories are having. And we need to really do the work to rewrite those stories, so that we can show up fully as ourselves. It's

Christine Li  16:58  
beautiful. Could you share a success story of how when you help someone get into alignment and to get their values articulated and known and confirmed? Kind of what the results were? And what the what the benefits are of doing this kind of work?

Kerrie Altom  17:20  
Right? Yeah. The first things that show up in my mind is, the benefit is that people show up as who they are, you know, an example of students who recognized that they were able to let go of, let's see, I think of an example of one student in particular, who he's an immigrant from the Philippines and his family sacrificed so much for him to be able to come here. And he had been raised with a certain set of values and beliefs. But he came to the US at the age of like, eight. So his values and his priorities were much more aligned with his contemporary culture, that with the the culture that he grew up in here, and so he had to go through a really long and slow and difficult process of recognizing that yes, he can hold the value of sincerely honoring his family, and who they are and the sacrifices that they made for him. And he could have his own academic goals and his own professional goals. And, you know, it takes a lot of work to dig out those fear based stories. But he went on to do international aid work, and he chose not to become a doctor. And his mother was sorely disappointed. But once he fulfilled his purpose, and he was living his truth, she couldn't be prouder of him. And he couldn't be proud of himself. He's doing what he knows he was meant to do. And I can give you an example of of the way that we would do something like that. Is that helpful? Sure. That'd be great. Sure. Okay. So with my clients now, when I'm working with students or clients, I talk about uprooting perfectionism and planting integrity centered thinking in its place. So we already talked about the fear based perfectionism, and how we're biologically programmed to have that and you know, we really do live in a safer world now. But that thinking is still embedded and so we really have to dig it up by its roots. When I'm working with my clients. I like to use a gardening analogy. I think of it like mint. Do you garden, Christine?

Christine Li  19:49  
I try.

Kerrie Altom  19:52  
So and have you had meant in your garden I have and you know what it does, right? And for those who don't garden Mantis saw wonderful, it's beautiful, the leaves are green, it just looks lush, it thrives no matter what. And you could be tempted to plant it just anywhere and think that you've done a good thing. But the truth is that that meant is invasive. And it sends out shoots. And it puts down roots all over the place and a lot of places that you don't want it to be. So when you just do something like telling yourself not to be a perfectionist, right, when you just say, oh, you know, I need to change this habit, or I need to change that habit, or I just need to get over my worries and show up anyway. That is Senem, similar to just plucking a leaf of mint, or just plucking a sprig of mint, you're just not getting at the root of the problem, the roots are still there, and that perfectionism is just going to pop up again. And it just spreads into every aspect of your life, it spreads all over your garden. And the more that you try to either ignore it, or just pick at the surface level, the more it's just going to continue to spread and undermine you. So instead, I I encourage people to think about their fear based thinking like those roots of demand. And we do this interrogate and eliminate for integrity is well how it referred to it. But first is the interrogation. So where are these roots and runners are, you need to identify where they are. And you need to take the time to, you know, see these fear based stories and realize them for what they are. Then and we were talked about how you do that, recognizing that this is fear based recognizing that this is something that you're telling yourself because you're you're trying to protect yourself from judgment or criticism or being unfollowed, or, you know, whatever the modern consequence might be. But once you realize that you really have to work on the elimination of it. So I have people do the work of digging those roots out. And we do that by working on those stories. We do an integrity gut check, which means asking myself is this what I really believe? This is really what I believe. So, for instance, I think one thing, that's a really good example, this is something that I'm working on. And that's showing up on social media. I think a lot of your listeners can probably relate to this. Because if we're building our online businesses, or even if we work within a corporation, your online presence is your reputation, it can be easy to feel as if making a mistake online or showing up without the right filters or showing up without the perfect hairstyle is going to be something that that people will judge and will have a negative consequence. Right. So there's this perfectionist attitude about it. So what I do with something like that, here's what I do with myself, I asked myself, is that standard of beauty and appearance and, quote, professionalism? My belief, is that my value. And when I asked myself that, honestly, I see that in the case of social media stories. What I really value are the women who show up authentically. I really value the women who show up

real and they're flawed and they're honest about the struggles in their lives. And I find those social media accounts are the most valuable to me. And the truth is social media accounts with women who are only showing professional headshots and perfectly filtered photos and perfectly clean everything. I don't relate to them and I and I often unfollow them. So what I believe in is authenticity. If I asked myself, what's my belief, what's my value about how to show up on social media? It really is authenticity. It's being transparent and real and sharing your struggle with other people. And so, if I apply that value to myself, and I want to show up with integrity, then the point is not to show up with perfect Lee perfectly filtered photos or perfectly clean kitchen in the background. My showing up with integrity on social media for me is showing up flawed, it's showing up imperfect, it's showing up and making a mistake. And it's showing up and being able to laugh at myself. And you know, it's easier said than done. I say that's my value, and I'm still struggling with it. But I'm digging at that root. I'm uprooting that old belief of perfectionism. And I'm needing to prep the soil, for the new values, and the values that I've always held that I want to nurture, and grow of authenticity.

Christine Li  25:43  
I love the story and the example. And the gardening analogy, which we could all tuck away, and use the next time we have a fear of a story crop up. And you're making me think, in general, about the pressures of conformity that there's always something that is around us, like setting a frame that we can look to have, what is appropriate, what is acceptable, what is in vogue, all those kinds of things. And those little things can add up to be a lot of pressure that prevents us from showing up as we either might otherwise might are our natural, free flowing selves. So thank you for doing this explanation here for me and my audience, for how we can just take each moment and examine how are we feeling about this? Does this really suit us? Is this some sort of artificial pressure that I'm trying to stay safe from or not be myself in. And I think these are really important issues for everyone to take a look at. Because you might be preventing yourself from expanding and reaching the success that might be waiting for you. If you're worried a little bit too much about the stories in your head?

Kerrie Altom  27:19  
Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, again, fear based stories, it's really important that people don't beat up on themselves about it. We all have fear based stories, and we're never going to get rid of them completely. But recognizing that that is a pattern in our lives, and uprooting one patch of meant at a time, you know, just uprooting one little section at a time, I literally did happen into invasion and a Libman. Verbena invasion in my backyard, and I couldn't, I couldn't go out in one weekend. And I couldn't get rid of it in one year. It took me, you know, season after season after season. And I do have them in contained now. And I don't have the lemon verbena contained, I'm still working. But when extension of this analogy that people may find helpful is that there is some meant that we don't want to uproot. For me personally, I'm going to harvest some of that meant. And I'm going to put that meant in a special pot where you will not be able to spread. But I am going to grow and nurture that mountain and one example of men that I want to, to grow and nurture would be for instance, for me, with my writing standards, if I'm going to write something to be published in a professional publication, if I'm going to write an article or an op ed piece, I want it to be pretty darn close to perfect. And, you know, I certainly don't want grammar mistakes, I don't want punctuation mistakes, I'm going to have a high standard and there is a time and a place for that. But it's important that you be aware of it. And it's just important that you recognize the best way to nurture it and grow it and keep it contained. And not let it spread all over the place. And, you know, invade your sense of who you are in the way that you need to show up in the world.

Christine Li  29:43  
I love it. Thank you for being a leader and a coach and so good at explaining these difficult dynamics within each of us. I think they're so important to talk about because we don't oftentimes have a communal space to talk about these personal things. So I love your work. Thank you for being who you are. Can you please share with us how our audience might connect with you and work with you?

Unknown Speaker  30:13  
Absolutely, yeah, I encourage everyone to find me on Instagram, where I am going to be showing up more authentically. And my instagram handle is Kerrie_Altom. And it's spelled ke R ri, underscore a LTO m, then you can also find me on my website at theriseway.com

Christine Li  30:39  
Beautiful, I think you also have a free gift for our lives as well

Unknown Speaker  30:44  
I do I have a free gift for for Make Time for Success listeners. And so if you go to my website, theriseway.com/stories, you can download an exercise that will help you identify one of the stories that isn't serving you and go through the process of identifying the alternative value that you want to be aligned with. And rewrite that story. And work on keeping that men just uprooted. And they have to make progress in your life. And make make time and give yourself energy for your integrity centered life. So that is again www.theriseway.com/stories.

Christine Li  31:41  
Beautiful. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your time today, Kerrie, and thank you for your leadership.

Kerrie Altom  31:48  
Thank you, Christine, thank you so much for having me on your wonderful podcast. I really love the way that you're showing up and serving and the fact that you do it was such a beautiful integrity.

Christine Li  31:59  
Thank you so much. My dear listeners. I'm going to say goodbye to you right now. But I will see you here next week. Thanks for being a loyal listener of the show. Bye bye. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Make Time for Success podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website maketimeforsuccesspodcast.com for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. We'll talk to you soon

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Kerri AltomProfile Photo

Kerri Altom

Kerri Altom is an award winning writer, educator and entrepreneur. As an integrity instigator, Kerri shows you how to define your values and align your life. With her signature framework, The RISE Way, she is transforming struggling entrepreneurs into impact-making profit-taking leaders of a brighter world. Kerri is also a business coach, leadership consultant and the founder and CEO of RISE Media Group