Kirsten Back is a Brand Messaging Strategist & Copywriter. She says that, “Words have always defined my life. In fact, words power my life and I use the power of words to create clarity and help others become visible, valued and trusted so that they can create meaningful lives that let them fulfill their purpose. And I absolutely love animals. They are pure goodness and I am grateful for every minute that I can spend with animals.”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was a wild child, spending much of my time outdoors, seeking adventure, and always, always thinking and processing deeply. I questioned everything that happened around me and always wanted to understand why things were happening and what motivated people or animals to do certain things, feel a certain way. I could spend hours outside, forget the time and just watch, absorb, and create worlds in my head.
Once I could read, books opened the gates to more fantastical worlds. I lived through books with an intensity that sometimes terrified me.
I experienced life with an intensity that made others make fun of me. I was told that I was too serious, too sensitive, too soft, and too quiet…
And I was told to “suck it up and get on with things” on a regular basis until blending in became my goal. I became the silent person who is present but watches from the shadows. Often overlooked but sought out to help when others were in need.
To this day, I am no social butterfly, I prefer watching and listening to being the center of attention. I have learned to be social but I need quiet time to “recover” from it.
Anything that gives me headspace and processing time is something that I prefer doing. Learning is my passion and I am using every opportunity to learn and grow. When I was supposed to learn a trade, I quietly insisted on going to university and was the first person in my extended family to ever get a university degree. Now I have several and I think I’ll never be finished with learning.
For many years, I pursued a corporate career, not because I wanted to but because it never crossed my mind to be an entrepreneur. Everybody I knew had a job and I was expected to do the same.
I gave everything to build my career. I even put my career before raising my children. Trying to be everything to everyone and be a mother and successful career woman – and I even did an MBA alongside a full-time job and two toddlers.
Because when I do something, I commit fully. I am all in. And I was – until everything changed…
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
Have you ever deeply felt that you don’t belong? But you go through the moves because you are expected to and you don’t know anything else?
My corporate career was like that. I was always the odd one out. The person who preferred function over style in an haute couture fashion house, the softie in a cut-throat startup, the linguist in a pharmaceutical company…
Despite building a solid career, I was fundamentally unhappy and I couldn’t pin down what it was that made me so unhappy. I did everything that was required of me.
Until the day I lost my job and my anchor.
I seriously questioned who I was without this role that I had sacrificed so much for. I fell into a big hole and needed time to come to grips with what had happened to me.
And there it was again – the emotional intensity and my runaway brain that turned my job loss into a major catastrophe that derailed me.
In hindsight – losing my job was a blessing in disguise. I opened myself to my inner voice and really listened again.
I explored and through many serendipitous steps I learned that I have quite unique talents, that I wasn’t mediocre and unnoteworthy – that in fact I had certain abilities and strengths that empowered me to help others live the lives they are meant to live.
And I finally realised that I am an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person. I finally understood why I am processing everything more intensely and that it is ok to be highly sensitive. In fact, it is an absolute gift for what I do now.
I also realised that running my own business where I can be my authentic self is how I can make a real impact that allows me to live my purpose.
Now I remind myself of my three purpose words every day:
listen – enlighten – empower
And if I have taken even the smallest actions that let me listen, enlighten or empower others, then that day has been a good day.
I believe that now every day is a good day. There’s always something that I do that contributes to my purpose.
And I am immensely grateful that I am privileged to work with so many amazing people who teach me as much as I teach them.
It all comes down to words and the messages that people share and that allow them to attract and connect with the people that they are called to help.
Words are still defining my life and they always will.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
Discovering copywriting was like finding the holy grail.
I discovered it quite by coincidence and when I learned what copywriting was, I knew that it was the perfect marriage of my language skills (and qualifications), my passion for words, my business experience, my MBA, and my personality.
It allowed me to build my own business based on what I love.
Like usual, I went all in, completed a copywriting qualification and started my own business.
In the process I made many mistakes, but learned from them all.
I suppose that I am still making lots of mistakes but I always see them as a learning opportunity.
I wanted to do something that I absolutely love so that I can pour everything into helping others do what they love best.
Over the years, I have gained lots of insights and my business has changed so that now I have three focus areas:
– content & copywriting (preferably website copy)
– a brand messaging foundations coaching programme
– a content and copywriting membership (for small business owners who want to master writing their own mind-bogglingly great content and copy)
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
My biggest challenge is to fully put myself out into the world and show up. Being visible is not comfortable for me.
I am scared of success because that makes me visible.
That is my biggest challenge and I am working on it every day. I am setting myself visibility goals.
My current goals are to show up consistently and run LIVES on LinkedIn to grow my content and copywriting membership.
Strategy and personal development are my coping mechanisms.
When I have a plan with clear steps that I can follow, along with deadlines and some accountability factors, then I can move forward.
Sometimes, I still stall but I am also focused on building a community because I know that my desire to serve my community motivates me to take the steps that I still find scary.
I am also losing my fear of asking people for help. It surprised me how willing others are to help when I ask them. And working with coaches has been a game-changer.
Without my sales coach, I would still be too scared to have sales conversations. Without some marketing coaching, I would still sabotage myself online and not show up consistently. Without my online community, I wouldn’t feel the need to show up and share my knowledge freely.
My biggest coping mechanism is to be positive, plan my days, set intentions, and check in with my purpose and my mission – daily!
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
I was already working from home and serving clients online. The pandemic didn’t bring many changes for me. In fact, it grew my target audience because now many new startups need to go through the process of finding their messages and building their brand messaging frameworks.
I admire the people who start a new business in harsh economic conditions and they are people I absolutely love to work with because they are determined, they’ve got a lot of skin in the game, and they have a lot to offer.
Just sometimes they lack insights and confidence. That’s something that can be fixed and I love to do just that!
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
My biggest achievements are my clients’ successes. I get some lovely testimonials about how my clients succeed after working with me.
Most clients were able to grow their businesses, grow their teams, create more and better leads etc.
But I am also quite proud of having created my own framework for discovering and building impactful brand messaging foundations.
That is a framework that I introduce my coaching clients to and a basic version of it is also included in my content and copywriting membership.
Launching my membership is another milestone for me. It allows me to support more people and scale my business.
And lastly, my content is inspiring others. Many people message me and share their appreciation of my content and how that is challenging them to think and develop as well as get better at their messaging.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
The most important thing is to figure out your purpose in life and then pursue that with dogged determination.
I would like many more women to live into their purpose and share their voices authentically, openly, and without inhibition or fear.
Even if it takes a while. You will be heard if you keep going. You will create a community of women who share your beliefs and values – and that can turn your purpose into a movement that cannot be ignored.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Allow yourself to know yourself. And then follow your instincts and passion and do what you were meant to do. Only actions create change. You have to be the change that you want to be.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I believe that women have the capacity to be better leaders. They still have to fight harder and be better than their male counterparts.
Female leadership brings more empathy, compassion, sensitivity and wisdom. That is something that needs to be valued higher than it currently is.
Breaking boundaries and change takes time and consistency.
And we must never forget that our daughters are the leaders of tomorrow. We have the responsibility to bring them up as leaders and world changers. We need to be role models and chisel away that glass ceiling.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Believe in yourself, listen to yourself and don’t be afraid of what you find because what you have is absolutely perfect to make a difference. You just need to figure out how to use it with impact and joy. Joy is one of the most underrated things right now. Finding the joy in what you do gives you wings.