Kristine Knutter

Kristine Knutter is a communication and career coach and founder of Express to Impress. 

She tells us that, “Since 2016, I have been helping people land and thrive in jobs and  medical residencies and fellowships in the USA. TEFL-certified, I specialize in ESL job seekers and physicians and have a vast wealth of experience and knowledge regarding cultural differences that impact communication in the workplace. I am the host of the Express to Impress podcast and offer a 5-hour course to give job seekers the knowledge they need to succeed. I utilize cutting-edge AI tools to help my clients improve their communication skills and communicate their value effectively.”

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your professional journey and what inspired you to choose this career.

As a child, I was curious, athletic, and creative. We moved a lot, and my parents divorced and remarried. I spent a lot of time playing in nature with my siblings. I was younger than my classmates when I entered school and struggled for many years. That failure and self-doubt taught me that I had to work hard, often harder than others, to achieve success. My religious community instilled the value of service, and I’ve always sought out opportunities to help others. Later, my curiosity for languages and cultures, combined with my exposure to an Executive Coach, inspired me to teach English as a foreign language. Helping individuals develop the communication skills necessary to achieve their job search and career goals proved to be incredibly rewarding, leading me to specialize in this area.

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

Earlier in my career, I was working for a mission-driven organization, which is what I always wanted, but I still wasn’t happy. The culture was toxic and management was unethical. And at the time, I didn’t realize I was an introvert. I just knew how drained I was after each day in the office.  I explored my options and decided to work for myself, and it was a wonderful turning point in my life.

Tell us about your goals, interests, and role models.

I’m fascinated by human psychology, and one of my favorite aspects of my job is helping people prepare for job interviews in their second language. I get to share my knowledge of psychology, culture, business, and American-style communication, enabling them to communicate confidently, and get a job and salary they deserve. The impact can be life-changing, allowing them to move to or remain in the US. Most importantly, I’ve equipped them with skills that will help them succeed in their careers.

My goal is to empower more individuals with knowledge and powerful communication skills. 

Authors Elizabeth Gilbert and Kristin Hannah and professor and author Brené Brown are a few of my role models.

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?

It’s crucial to have the support of individuals who believe in what you’re doing, such as a parent, sibling, partner, or therapist. When I face struggles, having someone to talk to and brainstorm solutions with makes a significant difference.

For tasks I don’t particularly enjoy, I book FocusMate sessions to hold myself accountable. Additionally, I’ve learned the importance of having savings since a steady paycheck isn’t guaranteed as an entrepreneur.

These are some of the strategies that have helped me navigate the challenges of my entrepreneurial journey.

What impact do you feel you have been able to create with your work so far and how would you want to grow in the next few years?

Many of my clients have achieved their goals after working with me. For example, last year, 11 international doctors I worked with intensively on interview preparation were matched and will start their US residency programs this year. Many others have landed jobs after struggling for months to get interviews on their own. Although most people who listen to my podcast, take my courses, or work with me one-on-one don’t always share their outcomes, I consistently receive five-star reviews and referrals from former clients, indicating that I’m providing value to many people.

My goal for the next few years is to have a more consistent stream of clients throughout the year, not just during the busy fall season. I’m exploring partnership opportunities with organizations to help achieve this. Additionally, I plan to write more consistently on LinkedIn and contribute to articles on reputable sites to share my knowledge and encouragement more broadly.

One thing I don’t plan to do is work more hours. I prioritize my work-life balance and am willing to make sacrifices to maintain it. I find value in any other areas of life as well, such as with family, hobbies, and volunteering.

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?

Invest in your well-being, which will allow you to do well in all areas of life. For many of us, that means investing in therapy, journaling, getting enough sleep, being physically active, and engaging in prayer and/or meditation. It also means protecting our minds from negative influences, like too much social media.

I also suggest finding others in your field who are willing to share their knowledge and advice with you and reciprocate their generosity. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the details, but block out time regularly to reflect and be strategic about your next moves.

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?

It’s still very difficult for women to reach the top of the pyramid, and we need those who do make it to create policies that make it easier for others to follow. Women often tend to be hard on themselves, and I believe we need to give ourselves permission to break free from society’s expectations.

Imagine the additional mental space and contributions women could make if they spent less time trying to lose weight, look more beautiful, and take on more than their fair share of household responsibilities.

Furthermore, if a woman confides that she has experienced unwanted verbal or physical advances, believe her, help her feel safe, and support her in seeking justice. Fearful of repercussions or out of other reasons, women too often hold back other women when they should be offering support.

Women’s leadership today is powerful and transformative, but there’s still work to be done to create an environment where all women can thrive and lead without unnecessary burdens.

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?

While entrepreneurship requires some risk-taking, I suggest you don’t risk everything. For many people, it makes most sense to have a full or part-time job that pays the bills and to pursue your entrepreneurial interests on the side until that interest (and your savings) grows enough to justify pursuing your entrepreneurial passions full-time. Facing financial insecurity  with your business will make you fearful and limit your potential. 

And finally, don’t forget that women hold up half the sky! (Quoted from Mao Zedong, the former chairman of the Chinese Communist Party) The world needs you, and you have so much to offer. Why not see what you’re capable of?