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Coming soon: Crucible Leadership is becoming Beyond the Crucible. Stay tuned for updates!

Building Sharp Women and a Significant Life: Kelly Sayre #108

Warwick Fairfax

March 15, 2022

Kelly Sayre thought she was traveling the perfect career path, not making much money but making great impact helping a coaching entrepreneur run a business that focused on empowering women. The boss had brought her on with the promise of her taking over one day — but then it all went wrong in a way Sayre never saw coming. Suddenly unemployed and thousands of dollars in debt, she allowed herself to mourn only briefly before carving out a new calling all her own. As the founder and president of The Diamond Arrow Group and author of the bestseller SHARP WOMEN: EMBRACE YOUR INTUITION, BUILD YOUR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS AND LIVE LIFE UNAFRAID, she equips women to avoid physical threats as well as relational and professional harm like she experienced.

To learn more about Kelly Sayre and to order her book, visit www.thediamondarrowgroup.com

Highlights

  • Kelly’s early influences (2:49)
  • Falling in love with entrepreneurship in high school (4:56)
  • Partnering with a life coach to help women find their voices (8:50)
  • How her “dream job” went wrong (12:21)
  • The ray of hope offered by her mentor (20:34)
  • The importance of forgiveness in her moving on (28:18)
  • How having strong boundaries helps with emotional health and physical safety (28:18)
  • The self-defense course that birthed her calling  (33:46)
  • Why social norms aren’t always helpful (36:51)
  • The mission of The Diamond Arrow Group (46:19)
  • Kelly’s final message of hope to listeners (51:26)

Transcript

Warwick F:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Kelly S:

You can either stay stuck in that anger or hurt or betrayal, or you can say, “How do I move forward? And what is going to be the best for me mentally?” Because I could have stayed angry. And trust me, I threw one heck of a pity party that night. It was a rager, all by myself. But the next day I got up, I dusted myself off, I went to go workout and I was like, “You had your pity party. Now it’s time to move forward because this is where you’re at. And if you stay stuck here, you’re going to stay here, or you can figure out a path forward.”

Gary S:

That, friends, is a recipe for doing what the title of this show aims to help you do, moving beyond your crucible. Is it easy? Hardly. But is it possible, and more than that, necessary? Absolutely. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show.

Gary S:

Our guest this week is Kelly Sayre, founder and president of the Diamond Arrow Group and author of the bestseller, Sharp Women, Embrace Your Intuition, Build Your Situational Awareness and Live Life Unafraid. The seed for her business and her book, she says in our interview, was the situation that led her to that pity party she described, working for next to nothing for a coaching business based on her passion for empowering women and the promise that she was being groomed to one day run the organization.

Gary S:

When that succession plan fell apart in ways you won’t believe, she found her new calling, still serving women, but this time helping keep them safe from physical threats as well as relational and professional harm like she experienced.

Warwick F:

Well, Kelly, we’re going to talk a bit about your Sharp Women book and Diamond Arrow Group, and I know you live outside of Minneapolis, I’d love to hear a bit of the backstory of kind of what makes Kelly Sayre, kind of who you are and a little bit of family origin… what’s part of some of the threads, if you will, that make you who you are, because we’re often formed as we grow up in influences and … a little bit of the origin story, if you will?

Kelly S:

Sure. I grew up in a very small town, 500 people. Everybody knows everybody. It was a great learning … way to grow up, I guess, a learning experience, impacted my life moving forward. My father was an over the road truck driver, so he was gone a lot. My mom was a nurse. And being the oldest of three, it was a lot of times my responsibility to take care of my siblings and we had to be very self sufficient.

Kelly S:

So it instilled a lot of personal responsibility, accountability and taking care of others. So I look at that as a benefit. We joke that my mother’s bloodlines, I was very calm, centered, very realistic, practical. And then my dad’s side became the whimsical, dreamer, I can do anything and go anywhere type personality. So when those two combined, when I graduated high school, I could not wait to get out of small town and go to big city and moved all over. Had some experiences with Southern California. I moved to Southern California with my best friend from college for a while. And that was a very important time in my life because it, for once, it was getting out of that small town bubble and really experiencing and getting to know people.

Kelly S:

And still pulled back, ended up back here, back home because my family is all here. So that tie and that pull back to family was also very impactful. And I met my now husband and now raising my own family here in central Minnesota.

Warwick F:

So you’re back in Minnesota and I know you were working in a nonprofit, which then shifted to kind of what is maybe your crucible experience. So talk about, as you’re back home and you’re finding a way in the career world, you’re beginning to have a family. So where did that sort of whimsical dreaming, practical side, how did that coalesce into a career path, if you will?

Kelly S:

When I was in high school, my senior year, I took an entrepreneurship class that was only allowed for seniors. So you had to start your own business for the first half of the year. And then the second half of the year was a class business, so learning how to work together. And ever since then, I had the entrepreneurship bug. I had cousins, uncles, aunts, who had all had their own businesses. So it wasn’t completely out of my purview or my perspective that, “Oh, well that’s something that we don’t do.” It was, “Oh, that could be a reality for me.”

Kelly S:

And so I knew someday I would love to have my own business, but I didn’t know what it was. And then life experiences, the nonprofit that you mentioned that I worked for was actually sports tourism for the convention and visitor’s bureau in the St. Cloud area.

Kelly S:

So it was my job to go out and research sporting events, amateur sporting events, to bring and host in our community because that fills our hotels, that has people eating at our restaurants and visiting our shops and our retail. So it’s good for economic impact. And had some great successes, some great experiences in that role and realized, I’ve kind of hit the plateau. I can’t go any further. I have two small children, we’re not leaving this area. So it’s not like I could stay in this field and move to a bigger city, a tier one city, perhaps this is the time to evaluate and see what I could do on my own. And that’s where I was introduced to this individual who had a company doing executive training and executive peer groups for females. And I was invited to be a member of her second executive peer group.

Kelly S:

And as part of that peer group, you also get coaching. And in those coaching sessions with her, I had shared, I’d really love to have my own business, but I don’t know what that is. I was still trying to figure out, what is my thing? What am I good at? I really love planning events, but I don’t want to work every night and every weekend. I have small children and a husband who has a very demanding job.

Kelly S:

And so through that natural conversation, that’s where the invitation to join her company, and she was a solopreneur, and become the legacy, kind of take her company to the next level, become the succession plan, take her company and grow. And so that’s where it all kind of dominoed into leaving the job at the Sports, Tourism, Convention and Visitors Bureau, a job that I loved, had a lot of fun with, got to travel, got to know lots of people and say … It was funny, at the time I was taking classes on entrepreneurship at our local college and it was either I could pay to take classes in entrepreneurship, or I could just take the leap and go learn it as an apprentice.

Kelly S:

And that was really, obviously, one of the decisions that my husband and I made is, let’s do this. Let’s go all in on this and take this risk in joining this company to build it. I mean, the whole purpose was, behind the mission of that business was to empower women, to help them find their inner strength, to give them confidence, to chase after their dreams, to pursue their dreams. And what really, really made them come alive, made them embrace their passions. And because of my personality, she was the coach and she was kind of the behind the scenes of, I’ll do the coaching and I’ll kind of run the executive groups. You go out, you start a podcast, you create an all day women’s event. You create networking events, you create these things, you kind of run these events and be that face and bring people in and help share our message.

Kelly S:

And because I was so naturally passionate about helping others, sharing other stories, it was a good fit. It was a good partnership because that’s … I liked being out in front of people and hearing people’s stories. My podcast that we did was all … I always said, women struggle with sharing their successes or celebrating because they don’t want to sound egotistical or they don’t want to sound like they’re bragging. So I always said, “Tell me what your success is and I’ll brag for you.” So I’ll tell your story, I’ll talk you up, I’ll share how awesome you are with everybody else. And that way it’s not you. So it was really fun and I loved getting to know people and their stories. And one of my favorite was a woman who was going to school to be a lawyer and dropped out her last semester and became a monster truck driver and was the first female to successfully back flip and land her monster truck.

Warwick F:

Wow.

Gary S:

Wow.

Kelly S:

And this is the person who was right in our city and nobody knew, Olympians or successful business owners, that the average everyday person didn’t necessarily know. To your point with this podcast, is people have stories of how they got to where they are. And it’s really fun and inspiring to learn people’s stories, because then you say, “Oh, well I could do that.” If I can go to a lawyer and then decide to be a monster truck driver, why not?

Warwick F:

Anything’s possible. I mean, that just seems like such a perfect fit, entrepreneurship, you’ve got meaning and purpose with empowering other women and anything’s possible. It seems so good. And as I’m pretty aware in the coaching circles, a lot, if not most coaches are more on the introverted end of the spectrum. They’re good at listening and coaching, but not always good at entrepreneurship and business. It’s why there’s tons of courses and there’s actually a small, if not large business of training of trying to help coaches know how to sell and be better on the business side.

Warwick F:

I mean, there’s stacks of different courses you can take. So, you didn’t need that because you already had that in your DNA. So I get why the person that started the business thought you’d be a good fit. It makes perfect sense.

Warwick F:

So it seems like this is great. This should be a great arc, a great story, but it sounds like it wasn’t the typical happy ending story, you ride off into the sunset, the business grows and the other person hands off to you and it’s all wonderful. There were some big challenges there. Talk about how, what seemed like just a perfect opportunity you ran into, I guess, per the print behind you, some stormy seas. So tell us about those stormy seas that you had, but you didn’t anticipate, and how could you?

Kelly S:

Well, and it’s interesting because it does end up tying into the work that I do now, in regards to personal safety but boundaries. And when I started, because she had been an individual, it was “Well, you’re going to have to take the risk and come in and prove your worth, basically you’re going to have to build your own salary.” So for the first six months, I mean, it was very, very minimal pay. It was basically like here’s enough for a little stipend to get through.

Kelly S:

So my husband and I had made the decision to save up. So we had saved up so that I could take this financial risk for our family, not having an income, basically, to prove my worth, which going back, I had no problem. I knew I had a good work ethic. I knew I was passionate about this. I knew that I had the fortitude to follow through and that I didn’t have a problem working hard. I didn’t have a problem saying, “Here, I will work hard for you.” But what was interesting is because I take a lot of people at their word is that’s what ended up happening.

Kelly S:

So that first six months, successful, great, you’ve proved your worth. Going forward this next year, I went to the owner and said, “I need to make what I made at the nonprofit,” which thankfully wasn’t a lot. It wasn’t like I was asking for a huge pay bump, but it’s what my family’s budget had been built on. So we knew where we could manage our family finances comfortably to continue building. And so for that whole year, I kept pushing like, “Hey, we got to get this in writing. I’ve got to understand, my family’s taking this risk in and we need something that can solidify what is the plan moving forward? How does the succession plan work?”

Kelly S:

And finally, at the end of the year, I wasn’t getting it. I said, “Here, I’ll put together an initial proposal. A and B. I don’t even know if it’s legal. I don’t know if this is contractual, but we just have to start this conversation somewhere.” And, “I will take this,” the owner took it and said, “I will review this. I’ll talk with our accountant and our lawyer, we’ll figure something out in the new year.” And then in the new year, things were planning, going forward. We had had a successful year end, we surpassed revenue goals.

Kelly S:

So again, from my perspective, it’s like, I’ve proved my worth yet again. We’re growing the business in leaps and bounds, this is great. I can’t wait to see where we’re going to take it. We had set some pretty awesome one, three, five-year goals. And I was excited by the potential for growth. And really, the crucible moment, I guess you could say, was when I got my W-2. Yes, W-2, I always forget if it’s the W-4 or W-2, the W-2 in the mail, there was big goose eggs on the tax withholding at the federal and state level. And my husband called me actually, because we had a tax appointment that day and he said, “Is this a misprint?” And called down to the accountant for the company. No, that’s what it is. It’s kind of one of those things where you go, “Well, can that even be possible? I didn’t even know you could do that. I don’t understand.”

Kelly S:

And when we went to our tax appointment, my accountant, who I had known for years, said, “What’s this?” And I said, “I don’t know. That’s just what came.” And that was when we discovered that we now owed thousands of dollars in back taxes to the federal government that we didn’t have the savings for because we had spent that money as part of the investment of me buying into the business, buying into the succession plan. And so now all of a sudden it was well, now what? And when I confronted the business owner, it was, “Well, I’m sorry you misunderstood. We don’t have any money to pay your back taxes.” And that was very shocking to me, because all of a sudden it was like, wait a minute.

Kelly S:

And there was about a two week period from there that my husband and I sat down that night and said, “We need this in writing. Going forward, we got to get this figured out.” We came up with what we thought would be a compromise saying, “You need to pay this because you were supposed to withhold taxes and you didn’t. And now we’re stuck. We have to come up with thousands of dollars within basically 30 days from our tax appointment, which we don’t have. And we’ve got to get this straightened out. We can’t anymore be just taking you for your word.”

Kelly S:

And then two weeks later, because she just wanted to talk, I wanted it in writing and it became like the Alamo, little bit who’s going to give. And so finally I said, “I will meet with you in person if you come with something in writing that shows how we’re going to remedy the situation going forward.” And when that meeting came, it was her informing me that she was firing me. And there was a whole bunch of legal documents now that said, “Well, we’ll give you a little bit, but then you have to say that you left to start your own business,” and basically lie and kind of the keep your mouth quiet and-

Warwick F:

Nondisclosure agreements, as they call them, I guess.

Kelly S:

Yes. I was so shocked because I didn’t see that coming. In my mind, we were going to figure this out. We were going to work it out. It was a misunderstanding, paperwork must have gotten screwed up. To me, I wasn’t coming at it from an intent, it came out as a mistake, and so how can we … We’ll figure this out.

Kelly S:

And so that was very shocking to me because I did not see that coming. And then when I said, “Oh, okay, well, my accountant said the total on my return wasn’t accurate, that there is some money missing. Can you talk about that? Do you know you’re supposed to by law withhold taxes?” And every answer was just, “You’ll have to talk to my lawyer. You’ll have to talk to my lawyer.”

Kelly S:

And I realized pretty quickly that this was not a conversation. This was a, here’s the paperwork and we’re done. And so I said, “Well, I’m going to review this paperwork. After all that my family’s been through, I can’t believe this is how it’s ending.” And when I drove away, I remember specifically because I drove away in such shock and it was like 13 minutes was all that … the entire length of that meeting, and I called my husband and he was like, “Wow, that was fast.” And I’m like, “I need an external hard drive and a big glass of wine,” because on my way home, I did not see this coming. I don’t know if I just lost Outlook, and we think of technology, all of my contacts, all of my calendar, all of my … I don’t know if everything’s working or if it’s gone or what, if she wiped the desktop clean.

Kelly S:

It was just such a shock and she hadn’t, and I’m sure we’ll get into this later about … I share this story as the first time, really, because I don’t believe in disparaging people. I believe people make mistakes. But from my perspective of that moment, the rug completely got pulled out from under me. I had never been fired from a job. I had worked so hard to build up this company and believed in it so much. And I could not believe that I was getting fired for basically finding an accounting error, bringing it to the attention of a woman who owned the company who talked about supporting women and building women up and asking for what they’re worth, and the icing on the cake is it was International Women’s Day, it was the day that she fired me.

Kelly S:

And this is where I say, and even in my book, my acknowledgements, I say, God has a really funny sense of humor with me. We get along great. But there are days when I’m like, really? You went for the trifecta, you got me fired on International Women’s Day by a woman who owns a women supporting women business.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I thought this was about empowering women. Gee, I don’t feel very empowered for some reason. I feel like kneecapped, perhaps, but not empowered.

Kelly S:

Yeah, we were in that position where all of a sudden I had no job. We had no savings. We suddenly found ourselves owing thousands of dollars, and no money to hire a lawyer. And every friend lawyer who I called, who in the tax space was like, “I have never heard of this situation. I wouldn’t even know where to start.” And so that’s where it came down and kind of the moment that I really think we should touch on, because I think this is so important for anybody going through a tough time is, I had a mentor in my life that I had met sitting next to on an airplane a year prior. And he had been my mentor. And so he knew, because he owned a private business. So there were times I was like, “Well, what would a succession plan, can you give me some examples or help me figure out how to set this up?”

Kelly S:

So he knew where I was at. And when he found out that happened, he said, “I will give you a job. Here’s what I’ll pay you. I know you’ve wanted to have your own business. You have to come work for me as a contractor. So, set it up.” So it was really that God had it set up, planned a long time prior to kind of have this. So we had a way forward. But at that same time, it was like, you can either stay stuck in that anger or hurt or betrayal, or you can say, “How do I move forward? And what is going to be the best for me mentally?”

Kelly S:

Because I could have stayed angry. And trust me, I threw one heck of a pity party that night. It was a rager, all by myself. But the next day I got up, I dusted myself off, I went to go workout and I was like, “You had your pity party. Now it’s time to move forward, because this is where you’re at. And if you stay stuck here, you’re going to stay here, or you can figure out a path forward.”

Gary S:

It’s interesting you use the words pity party, both start with a P, another point that that illustrates that I want to make sure listeners get is that’s a pivot point for you. We say a lot because a guest said it. I don’t know who it was, if you’re listening now guest who said it, I apologize that I’m stealing your words, but you said the words, it’s the change in mindset from this happened to me, to this happened for me. That’s the pivot point that you got to in that, from pity party to pivot point.

Gary S:

For listeners who maybe spend a little bit more time in what Warwick calls the pit, he cuts it off at pit, in the bottom of the pit in a crucible. What’s your counsel, your advice, your hope, your exhortation to people who might find themselves stuck there a little longer? How do you get to that place where you understand, it didn’t happen to me, it happened for me, and that’s how I go forward?

Kelly S:

I think that pit is going to look different for everyone. It’s kind of like grief. There’s no set time to process grief. Everyone does it a little different. From my perspective, it’s based on your life experiences. That wasn’t the first crucible moment in my life that I considered. There had been other big challenges that I had faced and being able to look back and say, “Listen, Kelly, this isn’t the first time you’ve hit a roadblock, or a concrete wall and not been able to go through it,” but there’s always up, down, to the sides. But I think it’s the giving yourself grace to feel all the feelings, that’s where I say I threw myself a pity party because I was like, I’m going to be upset. I’m going to cry. I’m going to be angry. I’m going to be mad. Just feeling the feelings, not taking it out on my kids. Not taking it out on my husband, not taking it out even on this other person.

Kelly S:

It was, this is how I’m feeling and feeling that, and then almost feeling the exhaustion for me of like, I don’t want to feel this way anymore. This isn’t good. This isn’t productive. This doesn’t get me to where I want to be. And one thing that a cousin of mine, who I’m very, very close to whose had his own business for years, he said something that really kind of helped with that pivot, to your point of it didn’t happen to me, it happened for me, is he said, “Kelly, you loved your work so much. You were so passionate about what you were doing and the mission, you would’ve sacrificed and you would’ve given so much in exchange for what was being given back to you. You would’ve stayed there forever. So maybe this was God saying, this is not where you’re supposed to go. And if I don’t come in and force you out, you will always stay there. You will always find an excuse to stay there. You will always find an excuse to make sacrifices to benefit the something else.”

Kelly S:

And so to me, I also say that I’m very stubborn. I get that from my mom’s side of the family. And sometimes it takes a little bit of a two-by-four to get a hint across to me. And so I think that was God’s way of like, if I don’t get you out of this now, you’re not going to achieve what I have planned for you, because you will continue to try and fit that round peg in a square hole, versus letting go and letting me lead the way.

Warwick F:

What’s fascinating about what you’re saying, Kelly is even though we’re very different, grew up very differently, I can absolutely relate to what you’re saying. Because I’ve said almost the exact same words that you just said, funnily enough. As listeners would know, I grew up in a very wealthy, 150-year-old family media business in Australia founded by a person of faith. Faith was very important to me. And so I felt like it’s pretty obvious what God’s plan is. It’s always dangerous to presume that we know what God’s plan is because we’re often wrong, as I was.

Kelly S:

That’s God’s great sense of humor-

Warwick F:

Indeed.

Kelly S:

… is that we think we know.

Warwick F:

Yeah. It’s like watch out, lightning’s about to strike. And so in my case, I’ve never been in the military, but it’s so about the whole duty, honor, country that … and my dad died in early ’87. I was seen as the heir apparent, did this $2 billion takeover, was “in control,” and then because of debt and recession, the company went under. But I felt in some sense that it was not a good fit for me. I’m more of a reserved, reflective advisor. I’m not wired to be in charge of a massive 4,000 person, $700 million company. So in some ways, I never would’ve left. I would’ve let down my dad and ancestors. And I mean, I’m very stubborn. I’m also very high perseverance. And so I would’ve just kept at it. The decades would’ve rolled by. Wouldn’t have been good for my kids.

Warwick F:

I have two sons and a daughter, like 30 into twenties, because they would’ve grown up with a whole mantel on their back. So in some ways I think God, said, “I know you’re never going to leave because of this whole duty thing,” but despite my own stupidity, which is in my case, it was largely my fault, I do believe God said, “Well, the only way I can get you out is for this company to go bankrupt. And so, one way or another, I’m going to make you leave.”

Warwick F:

And as I look back, that excruciating pain was a tremendous blessing in hindsight. So it’s not quite the same, but I can relate to the fact of maybe God was looking at you Kelly and says, “She’s never going to leave and we’ll figure this out.” So maybe if you believe in the divine, there was a higher purpose.

Warwick F:

As we pivot to what you do now, one of the key things, we got to make a choice to move on. But one of the key aspects of moving on is forgiveness. And as I often say, it’s not because what the person did was right. Here’s a clear case that it wasn’t right. Morally, legally, I don’t know, it wasn’t right in any shape, way or form. But as I often say, the reason you forgive is not because they deserve it, it’s because you deserve it. And you were in your own prison unless you forgive. Obviously, I’m sure you probably had to go through this. How did you manage to forgive? Because you must’ve to be able to move forward, I’m assuming.

Kelly S:

That took a lot longer, I would say. And I can say this now so calmly and tell the story and I can assure your listeners it wasn’t always that easy to tell the story without a lot more emotion or a lot more like snarled lip, but that forgiveness, I could feel myself, every time I had an emotional reaction, anytime that I felt myself adrenalizing, thinking about it and being frustrated. And it would come up at other moments, it would have nothing to do with that. But if I felt slighted or if I felt like, “gah, the world is not fair!” And starting to slip down the pity party slope again, it would, all of a sudden, it would go right back to there. And so I realized this was baggage I continue to carry with me.

Kelly S:

And while I’m all about getting good workouts and to build cardio strength and physical strength, mentally, you got to let that go, because otherwise you’re not going to be fully present in the now, you’re not going to be fully aware of what’s going on now in relationships, or it’s going to impact decisions you make going forward.

Kelly S:

And I did a lot of soul searching on forgiveness, because it’s really, “Oh, I forgave them a long time ago,” but then when it comes back up, you’re like, “Well, maybe I didn’t, maybe I just said I did.” And I couldn’t, because I never got an apology. I never did sign paperwork or the NDA. I just said, “I would rather walk.” And I’m not someone who airs dirty laundry, but I’m going to walk away with my head held high and just move forward and not deal with that.

Kelly S:

And then it took probably a couple years, I will be completely honest, before I finally got to a place where the forgiveness thing came and it was, I can forgive, not because that they asked for forgiveness, but because this is the best thing for me. And going forward, I can set a boundary emotionally, mentally, physically that I want absolutely nothing ever to do with that person again. Still in the area, she still has her business. She still does things. I interact with people who still participate in events or business activities that relate to this person. And it was very hard for me sometimes to be like, well, I know these people and wanting them almost to pick sides and then realizing, who am I to say that? This was something that was kind of between us, but it was very hard for women to understand why I wanted absolutely … why I had such a hard boundary.

Kelly S:

It was, “Well, if you forgave, then you should be okay.” And I was like, that’s something for forgiveness. And with boundaries that now, when it comes to situational awareness and personal safety is, no, you can forgive someone then and draw a hard line and say, “I don’t have to let that …” having a strong boundary isn’t about kindness, isn’t about being a good person, it’s protecting myself, my mental health, my emotional health, because I didn’t want to pick that heavy baggage back up and bring it with me anymore. I want to leave it back there. So it’s a hard boundary, and that is something that applies in all areas of life. Because again, when it comes to women and personal safety, so often we imagine an attacker or a predator as this dark, shadowy male figure. And what I’m trying to do is bring the conversation about boundaries, mental, emotional, physical, it’s not always that scenario.

Kelly S:

Sometimes it’s at work. Sometimes it’s with a female. Sometimes it’s with a friend, sometimes with a boss. And so if we can remove the stereotypical predator or person who wishes ill intent, or who causes ill intent, whether that’s on purpose or not, boundaries are boundaries. And if we can talk about behaviors that are unacceptable and we can realize what we’re comfortable with, what we want to invite into our life, what is us, what is our boundaries and what is not us, that’s all it is. Then it becomes very easy to see and to enforce boundaries in all areas of our life, which then improves our personal safety, whether that’s our mental wellness or our physical wellness.

Warwick F:

So talk about how, obviously you were, I think went on a course on sort of self defense. And I think from my understand, most of those are designed by men and not women. But it seems like that pivoted into … broader than just self defense. Situational awareness, not getting yourself into situations. It’s okay for everybody, certainly women, to have boundaries.

Kelly S:

I came upon situational awareness in a very traditional way. I took a physical self defense class for women, and we spent the entire four hours hitting, kicking, doing all these great things that, again, I’m a physical person, I’m an athlete. So I enjoyed that. That was fun for me. And at the very end of class it was, but the last thing you want to do is get into a physical altercation. You need to be more aware of your surroundings to avoid danger. And then, see you.

Kelly S:

And my brain, wait, whoa, whoa. We just spent the entire time focused on what I was supposed to avoid doing, but the thing I’m supposed to use 99% of the time, we didn’t discuss at all. And my curiosity went into hyper drive and went, well, what is situational awareness? And so what I thought would be the answer, “Oh, okay. This is like Jason Bourne spy stuff where you’re watching body language so you know what they’re going to do. They’re going to take a left instead of a right. And they’re going to do this and this.”

Kelly S:

But the more I dug, the more I researched, the more I asked questions, A, discovered that there really wasn’t anything out there for training specific to situational awareness, but especially to the everyday person and even more so, speaking to women. And when I started, well, again, it was like pulling a string where you’re like, oh, okay, here’s one little string and pretty soon the whole sweater’s unraveled, is I kept digging deeper and deeper. And what I kept getting more and more into is the psychology behind it. And it’s not this predator, the boogeyman in the bushes, it’s actually social conditioning and social mores, which gets into the kindness. And women, there’s a certain expectation placed on females.

Kelly S:

And again, this is all speaking very stereotypically, but there’s an expectation put on females of be kind, be nurturing, be forgiving. We’ve heard the saying, men, it’s called being assertive and women, there’s definitely a different term for that behavior. And that’s very confusing from a feminine perspective because, well, wait, we’re supposed to be this way at work, but this way at home. But then don’t get … domestic violence, domestic abuse statistics have been stagnant for decades.

Kelly S:

So, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. And so much of the work was advocacy. So it was a reactive, self defense is a reactive, you’re in a physical self defense situation. How do you fight back? And for me it was like, can we just not have this happen at all?

Kelly S:

Can we start having real conversations about those little things that start out as controlling tactics, that start out pushing past boundaries and get brushed off? “Oh, don’t be so emotional.” “Don’t overreact.” “Oh, you’re rude. You’re being rude by not being more friendly,” or if a stranger interrupts your conversation and wants to have a talk with you, well, it’s rude to say no and then sit there. You’re supposed to engage in conversation and small talk.

Kelly S:

And so there’s a very different social perception, and what I’ve found in the work that I’ve done, and now even with my book being out for a week, literally a week now, is the texts I get, the messages I get from women. What’s interesting to me is it’s all coming private, because they’re scared to say it publicly, but they’re like, “Oh, finally, oh my gosh, you’re talking about this in a real way, in the real …” but with a sense of humor and with a kind of authenticity that says, there’s no such thing as perfect, because again, a lot of women struggle with wanting to be perfect, whether that’s Martha Stewart or GI Jane, they think they have to be the perfect one or the other. And it’s like, why can’t you be more than that? And complex? And it’s okay to have boundaries. And if you don’t want to be someone’s friend, you don’t have to.

Warwick F:

You have to almost reeducate some women to saying, you matter, it’s not okay?

Kelly S:

Definitely. I mean, the saying, don’t mess with mama bear. Any woman that I talk to, when I say it’s okay to have boundaries, it’s okay to do this. And they’re like, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want to offend somebody. I don’t want to be rude.” But I say, “If that’s your kid,” and they’re like, “Oh, no, you don’t mess with my kids.” And it’s literally this pre-programming, building those neuro pathways that, well, you have words too. I get that you are being protective of your offspring, which is again, an inherent, we need the survival, we need the species to continue, but you matter too. And that’s where it’s bringing it up in a way that isn’t, “Well, you’re doing this wrong. So this is what you need to do.”

Kelly S:

It’s more of speaking to them and getting to the root of it. Because again, it could go back to a traumatic event that happened to them where they didn’t think they had worth when they were in high school. And so they’re constantly seeking validation from an outside source, whether that’s work, whether that’s a relationship, whether that’s financial worth or something like that. And so it’s really getting to that and changing the mindset. Because if you look, every self defense training, every even success in business training gets down to, you have to have the right mindset. How you carry yourself when you walk into a room to do a presentation tells the audience, gives them a first impression of you. Well, that same how you carry yourself when you walk down the street also tells someone who might be targeting you as a potential victim will say, “Oh, I’m not going to mess with her.”

Kelly S:

Kind of to the point of the saying, “She’s 100 pounds soaking wet, but I would not mess with her.” As I say, that’s how you have to carry yourself. Then there’s this teeter-totter of like, well, if I’m not nice and I’m assertive and I have firm boundaries, well, then I’m a negative person and I’m not a very … I’m a rude person. And it’s like, you can still be a kind person and have strong boundaries.

Kelly S:

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m trying to bring the conversation to light. And so that more people talk about the way it really works and what those micro threats on women’s safety, even if it’s an emotional or a psychological safety issue, how that manifests then into, or potentially has the capability to manifest into physical abuse.

Gary S:

One of the things that you say in your book, and I have the press release for your book here. And it’s one of the points that’s pulled out and it goes to what you’ve been talking about the last several minutes. And it’s a great phrase that you’ve said, “You are not who the world tells you to be.” Really, that’s the summary of what you just said, is one of the things you’re helping women understand, they don’t have to be who the world says they are. Why is that so important?

Kelly S:

Because we get messaging, again, coming from the female perspective. And I think, Warwick, you talked about even the messaging men receive, we get messaging. Boys are supposed to be like this, girls are supposed to be like this, and we get that messaging and it gets ingrained into our subconscious. This is who I’m supposed to be in middle school, in high school. We get defined by the clothing we wear. We get defined by whether we’re in athletics or not. Whether we’re on the debate team, whatever it may be. And then, well now, if you’re that, then this is probably what you’re going to do after high school. And this is what you’re going to do if you’re going to go onto education, or if you’re going to go into career, or whatever it may be. Well, all of a sudden you’re like, “Well, this is the path. This is what I’ve been told I am, this is what I’m supposed to be.”

Kelly S:

And in the book I do say, when kids are little and they’re like, “I’m going to be an astronaut and bake cakes.” And we’re like, “Super! That’s phenomenal!” Because we know that it’s going to change 100 times before they graduate. But at some point there starts to be this, well, you can’t do both, or you’re a woman, you can’t do that. Or, you’re a guy, you can’t do that. Or, you come from a small town, you’re never going to do that.

Kelly S:

And so that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and our internal monologue says, “Well, that’s not me. And this is who I’m supposed to be.” If we don’t take the time to say, “Well, what do I want to be? Who am I in this world?” And how often do we now see people in their forties, fifties doing the whole, “Well, who am I?” Because they’ve lived their whole life as someone else.

Gary S:

And that’s an important point to make on a show that’s called Beyond the Crucible. We’re all about how to move past, move beyond a crucible experience and lead a life of significance. And really, what you’re talking about, you’re not who the world tells you to be. If you believe you are who the world tells you to be, if you believe those things that are said about you, that can fuel a crucible experience, that can cause a crucible experience that can get you off your vision, off your destiny. It can put you in places, not just where you’re physically in danger, which certainly your book talks about. But you also talk about things that can put you in a place where your destiny, perhaps, is in danger. You’re going a direction that you shouldn’t go because you’re believing these external things about yourself. You’re not situationally aware that you don’t have to accept those things that get thrown at you.

Kelly S:

I agree.

Warwick F:

One of the things I just want to comment on as you were speaking, Kelly, is that as we do the internal work that we are worth something, we don’t have to be defined by stereotypes, be they female or male, that’s a situational awareness that will help attract the people that we want to attract, be they friends or in romantic relationships and will serve to recoil those that we shouldn’t be at.

Warwick F:

So if you’ve got some woman that’s self-confident, that believes in boundaries, won’t put up with dumb stuff, men with abusive tendencies will say this, “This woman’s not a doormat. I better go select my target elsewhere.” Not to be overly graphic, if you follow. It’ll be like, “this doesn’t fit my profile. This is a self-confident woman that knows who she is. That’s going to be too much work for me,” at the risk of being direct.

Kelly S:

And I like to preface that because a lot of times what I hear from women who are, or find themself in a relationship where they’re starting to … because of gas lighting, because of love bombing, they get confused because there’s also that mantra of like, if you’re with someone, you’re with them in the good, in the bad, for better, for worse, richer or poorer, sickness and in health. And so there’s this mentality of, well, we’re just going through a rough time.

Kelly S:

And then if they do suddenly come to a realization, this is not a healthy relationship, but it’s been years, and let’s say they’re successful at work. All of a sudden there’s this, everyone thinks I’m this brilliant, fantastic, business woman who has her stuff together and is self-confident, but in this area, and that’s where I say again, you could be that way in your career or in this external world, because that’s what the world wanted you to be. And it can be really hard to kind of internally, for those women to come to terms with the fact that how could I be so successful or so self-confident appearing, but yet be in this relationship that is physically and emotionally damaging?

Warwick F:

Just as we kind of round up here, I love just what you’ve said with the Diamond Arrow Group giving women courage to move forward, and Sharp Women. What’s kind of, would you say, I think we’ve talked about it, the overall message of what you do with the Diamond Arrow Group and Sharp Women? What’s the key message you want women to hear?

Kelly S:

So the whole mission of the Diamond Arrow Group is to have women have the confidence to move forward and live life on their terms, whatever that means for them. That’s the symbolism of an arrow through a diamond, and a solitary arrow can also mean protection from harm. I love situational awareness. I geek out about this stuff and understanding human behavior, the psychology piece of it.

Kelly S:

And because one out of four women are assaulted in their lifetime by someone they know, that statistic is staggering. If you get a room full of five women, one or two of them have experienced some sort of an event. So this is something that I feel is very important for women and women’s health. Part of what I’m doing though, is let’s get down to those foundational skills of saying, it’s not “okay, how many punches can you throw? Can you do a block? Can you do this type of kick?”

Kelly S:

Let’s talk about some of those more psychological things that I want to call to mind that maybe you’ve internalized so much as a female from messaging, from social contracts, from social mores, that you don’t even realize that that’s how it’s impacting. And that you’re “Oh, well, he probably didn’t mean that,” or you’re brushing stuff off. It’s like, no. It’s bringing forward.

Kelly S:

A friend of mine who had recently gotten divorced, single, had a gentleman who was pursuing her and under the preface of, “I just want to make sure you’re okay. And you’re doing okay?” And there was this particular instance where she was out driving, trying to run errands. And he was like, “Are you doing okay? “Yeah. I’ve just had a rough day.” “Well, do you want me to come over and talk?” “Nope, Nope.”

Kelly S:

And she had said no a couple times, but yet when she got to her house, he was sitting at the end of her driveway in his car. And when she pulled into her drive … she didn’t see it. And when she pulled into her garage and got out, he got out and started walking towards her. And she was so like, coming, saying, “Kelly, I didn’t want to be rude.” And I’m like, “You said for him not to come over multiple times. So this is nothing about you being rude. This is him being rude.” And having that conversation, because instantly she’s like, “Well, I can’t be rude, he’s here.” And so it’s changing that conversation and letting women, reminding them it’s not being rude to be direct.

Gary S:

I have been situationally aware in this conversation of my responsibilities as the co-host and that sound that you just heard, listeners, the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign indicating it is time for us to begin our descent of our plane. Before we do that though, I would be remiss if I didn’t do two things.

Gary S:

One, there’s a quote from you, Kelly, that I think really sums up what your book is about. And that is, “Preparation is how lives get saved. When it’s time to act, it’s too late to prepare.” That is the essence of, I think, what you get from Sharp Women, this idea that you have to prepare and when it’s go time, there’s no time to prepare. Love that perspective. How can listeners find out more about Sharp Women, about the Diamond Arrow Group and about you?

Kelly S:

They can go to our website, which is thediamondarrowgroup.com. The Sharp Women book is available on Amazon and it is the only Sharp Women book. So when you go to Amazon and search Sharp Women, it will pop right up. And it’s available.

Gary S:

It’s also a best seller, I hear.

Kelly S:

Yes, it is. It did get to the bestseller status. So, that was phenomenal. Thanks to my publishing team that I had the opportunity to work with, quite amazing folks over there. And following me on Instagram and Facebook @thediamondarrowgroup is where I talk about everyday situations. I’ll see headlines and say, “Hey, here’s things to think about.” Because again, going back to the point you pulled out is preparation is key.

Kelly S:

We never wake up in the morning thinking something negative is going to happen to us, we’re going to be the victim of an event. So how can we prepare? But I do it in a very nonviolent way or I don’t use fear mongering or scare tactics. It’s like, “Hey, think about these things.” And then people go, “Oh, that’s common sense. I just never thought of it that way.”

Kelly S:

So I invite people to follow me on those channels, connect with me on LinkedIn, Kelly Sayre. And I believe you have all of the links and will be hopefully posting that stuff in the show notes. But I definitely recommend-

Gary S:

Yeah, indeed.

Kelly S:

… checking out the Sharp Women book because that is, from a woman’s perspective, for women.

Gary S:

Warwick, last question is yours.

Warwick F:

Well, Kelly, thank you again for being here. It’s just so encouraging and thought-provoking, love what you do with your book, Sharp Women and The Diamond Arrow Group. There may be women who are listening to this that may say, “Well, gosh, Kelly is amazing, but I’m not as self-confident as Kelly, and I’m a little scared. And I don’t like to rock the boat. I like to be nice and kind, and I don’t know that I could do this stuff. I mean, gosh, it just feels like it’s leaping off a cliff.” I mean, what would be a message of hope or encouragement to women out there thinking, “Oh, I don’t know. I just … No, I can’t do this.”

Kelly S:

The question, because it does get overwhelming, people say, “I’m going to walk around paranoid now and looking around, situational awareness, what am I looking for?” And I remind them, take a deep breath, get curious, because my mantra’s be bold, be kind, be curious. And if you get curious about your environment, what’s in your environment? It’s not about always looking for danger.

Kelly S:

I did a training and I asked, what is something you noticed in your environment you had never noticed before? And one woman said, “All the lovely trees I have in my neighborhood.” And I was like, “That’s fantastic!” Becoming present, being aware is about getting curious. And I always say, what do we miss now is personal human interaction, communication, making eye contact is if you’re curious about the people in your environment, that could be your family, your friends, and you’ll notice, “wait, are they having a bad day? Hey, how are you doing?” It doesn’t have to be curiosity from a self-defense, physical fight. Sometimes it’s curiosity of like caring and kindness. When you do that and when you’re present and aware and you’re curious with what’s going on, you’re going to pick up good things too. So get curious is what I always tell people.

Gary S:

I have been in the communications business long enough to know when the final word on the subject’s been spoken and Kelly, you just spoke it. Listener, if you are curious, indeed, about Mr. Fairfax, the host of the show and the founder of Crucible Leadership, a couple things you can do to learn more about him and about Crucible Leadership.

Gary S:

One, you can get his book, also a bestseller, Crucible Leadership, Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance. That’s available in the same place where Kelly’s book’s available. So go to Amazon and you can get both. Do that right when this is over, not now, because there’s still … I still have a few things to say.

Gary S:

The second thing that you can do if you want to hear more about Warwick’s story and about Crucible Leadership is book him to speak, reach out. He has toured parts of the country. He’s about ready to go back out and do some more of that. You can go to our website, crucibleleadership.com and you can click a little button that says, book Warwick as a speaker, and you can talk to our speaker agent, Kerri Childers, and she will make all of that stuff a reality for you.

Gary S:

So, until the next time we are together, listener, thank you for spending this time with us. And thank you for understanding what both the host, Warwick, and our guest, Kelly, have talked about today. And that is crucial experiences are indeed painful. They can rattle us. They can knock the wind out of our sails. They can take the breath out of our lungs, change the trajectory of our lives, but they’re not the end of our stories. Kelly has proven it, terrible things happened to her as she’s pursuing what was going to be a dream of what … brought her heart alive and that was pulled from her, but she didn’t stay down.

Gary S:

She got up and she pursued it. And she’s now doing that very thing in her own business, which is not unique to Kelly Sayre. It can be your story as well. The key is to learn the lesson of your crucible, move on beyond that, and when you do, your crucible experience is not the end of your story. It can be like it was for Warwick, like it has been for Kelly and like it’s been for all the guests that we’ve had on the show, and hopefully a lot of our listeners. That can be the start of a new story. And it’s a new story that can lead to the best ending ever, because that ending takes you to a life of significance.