The Unchained Executive: Living and Leading with Purpose with Keri Durkin Caune

Episode Overview

In today's fast-paced world, balancing career, personal growth, and family life often feels like an insurmountable challenge. As an executive, it can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of responsibilities, losing sight of what truly matters. This is where the concept of the "Unchained Executive" comes into play—a transformative approach to leadership and life that emphasizes intentional living, mindfulness, and purposeful action.

Embrace the Unchained Executive Mindset for Intentional Living and Leadership

The Unchained Executive mindset revolves around breaking free from the constraints that often define us solely by our professional achievements. It's about aligning our decisions and actions with our core values and purpose. By doing so, we can create a fulfilling life that integrates both personal and professional success. This approach not only fosters personal growth but also enhances our ability to lead effectively and inspire others.

Mindfulness in Leadership

Mindfulness plays a crucial role in this transformation. By incorporating mindfulness practices into our daily routines, we can maintain a clear focus on our goals and values. Mindfulness helps us stay grounded, reduces stress, and improves our decision-making abilities. It's about being fully present in the moment, whether in the boardroom or at home, and making choices that reflect our true selves.

For me, mindfulness and reflection are essential tools for driving meaningful change. By regularly pausing to reflect on our actions and their alignment with our values, we can course-correct when necessary and ensure that we are on the path that truly resonates with our purpose.

The Importance of Intentional Living

Intentional living means making conscious choices that align with our long-term goals and values. It's about not letting life pass us by but actively shaping it according to what matters most to us. For many, including myself, this involves prioritizing family, personal growth, and well-being alongside professional achievements.

One powerful example of intentional living is integrating work and family life in a way that neither is compromised. This might mean setting boundaries to ensure that work doesn't overshadow personal time or making career choices that allow for more family involvement.

Practical Steps to Becoming an Unchained Executive

  1. Define Your Values and Purpose: Clearly articulate what matters most to you in life and work. This will serve as your guiding star in making decisions.
  2. Incorporate Mindfulness Practices: Regularly practice mindfulness to stay present and focused. This can include meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or simply taking a few moments each day to reflect.
  3. Set Intentional Goals: Establish goals that align with your values and purpose. Break these goals down into actionable steps and regularly review your progress.
  4. Create a Support System: Surround yourself with people who support your journey and share your values. This can include mentors, colleagues, and family members.
  5. Prioritize Self-Care: Ensure that you are taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. This will enable you to show up fully in all areas of your life.

The Role of Reflection

Reflection is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. It allows us to assess our actions, learn from our experiences, and make informed decisions about our future. Incorporating regular reflection into our routines can help us stay aligned with our values and purpose.

For example, setting aside time each week for a "clarity break" can provide the space needed to reflect on recent events and plan for the future. This practice can lead to greater self-awareness and a more intentional approach to life and leadership.

Living an Unchained Life

The journey to becoming an Unchained Executive is not without its challenges, but it is immensely rewarding. By living intentionally, practicing mindfulness, and aligning our actions with our values, we can create a life that is both fulfilling and impactful. This approach not only benefits us personally but also enhances our ability to lead and inspire others. As we embrace this mindset, we can achieve a harmonious balance between our professional and personal lives, ultimately leading to greater success and satisfaction in all areas.

SEO-Optimized Titles:

  1. "The Unchained Executive Mindset for Intentional Living"
  2. "Mindfulness and Leadership: The Unchained Executive's Guide"
  3. "Achieving Work-Life Balance as an Unchained Executive"
  4. "Intentional Leadership: Insights from an Unchained Executive"
  5. "Living with Purpose: The Unchained Executive's Path"

By adopting the principles of the Unchained Executive, we can redefine success on our own terms and lead lives of greater intention and purpose.

You can connect with Keri on Instagram or LinkedIn.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Ready to live a more Life Intended? Get my Life Intended Journal to start your journey to a more purposeful and intentional life. And subscribe to my weekly newsletter to receive episode updates, inspiration and announcements.

Episode Transcript for The Unchained Executive: Living and Leading with Purpose with Keri Durkin Caune

Kelly Berry (00:02): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Life Intended. I'm your host, Kelly Berry. Life Intended is a podcast that explores what it means to be true to yourself and live an authentic life. Each episode explores our guest's version of personal growth, self-discovery, and the pursuit of becoming the best version of themselves. We talk a lot about how to find the joy in the journey of becoming who you want to be. And today's guest, I'm so excited, is Keri Durkin Caune. I'm really excited to have Keri here and talk with her today and for us to all learn more about and from Keri. She is an accomplished C-level leader and mentor with a broad range of experience and a proud career of successfully meeting complex challenges. She has consistently demonstrated her ability to drive growth and innovation while prioritizing the well-being and development of her teams. I love that. Keri has demonstrated the ability to drive multi-billion, yes, it's billion with a B, business structures and has a career marked by a ton of achievement and recognition. She is driven by a desire to live with greater intentionality. Keri is on a personal journey to become an "Unchained Executive," constantly seeking ways to align her decisions and actions with her values and purpose. She believes in the importance of mindfulness and reflection, both in the boardroom and in life, as essential tools for driving meaningful change and creating a more inclusive and sustainable future. In addition to her professional achievements, Keri is a devoted mother of three and a stepmother to two. She cherishes her new role as a grandmother, finding true richness in the love and bond shared with her family. For Keri, family has always been her why, driving her to succeed in both her personal and professional pursuits while remaining grounded in compassion and connection. So that's quite an introduction. Thank you for joining me, Keri.

Keri (01:58): Thank you for having me, Kelly. I would say that those words, well, I already have goosebumps. I was like, oh, I am not that great, but I love the fact that life has afforded me the opportunity to serve others and to be a people leader and to not always understand the blessings that I've been given but understand them further over time and how I can give back to others. So I'm very excited to be able to join your venture in starting the podcast.

Kelly Berry (02:32): Thank you, yeah, it's great. There's so much in there. I know I stopped at one point and said, I love that. But one thing in there that I've never seen before really, and so I'd like for you to talk a little bit more about it, is the "Unchained Executive." Tell me more about what that means to you.

Keri (02:48): So I toyed around with that a lot and being a great child of the '80s kind of went back to "Unchained Melody." I don't know if people will be like, oh, I've heard that in songs and lyrics before. But when I thought about it and you think about just even how a well-composed song is, I went back to and said, like, how has my career and life been composed? And there were many times I found myself being defined more by what I did versus who I am and who I could and should be. And certainly went through the journey of life and was very blessed with a great career, opportunities, career is not over, still out in the world and looking to have a positive impact within business and in the most intimate spaces of home. But I thought how do I knowing my why and my why is my family. I also said if I'm "Unchained" from something, what starts to define me and for the longest time while my why was my family, I was also very chained to work and chained to who I was as an Executive and worked 80 plus hours a week to only find that I could be missing what was most important. Being that "Unchained Executive" was my way to say, I need to link myself to something different. Well, there's, I believe I've always sought out a greater purpose. I've been far more intentional of that from even the learnings as being a mother and a wife and a stepmother and a pet mom and all the things that we do within our lives. And one of the things is also starting a nonprofit with one of my very good friends is how we're so blessed to be where we are and to have the opportunities that we do. And I didn't focus on that the right way and needed to adjust my journey. And part of adjusting that journey is really becoming that "Unchained Executive." And a lot of times in conversations, people say work-life balance, that's not what this conversation is. It's really about being more intentional and more grounded in the space and situations that you find yourself in versus constantly, I could be scrolling for hours or answering emails or answering text messages and I missed out on some of the most important things throughout life and even today. So it's just finding that way, that unchanged melody that you have within life and creating, I guess, composing a different song, knowing that it doesn't all have to feel like you're chained to our technology as a world.

Kelly Berry (05:18): Yeah, I love that. So, you know, this podcast is called Life Intended and the whole premise behind it is how can we live a more intentional life? You know, how can we all stop just going with the flow or letting life pass us by? So how did you, cause it sounds like you've thought about that throughout your career a lot to how you can be intentional. Do you have somebody in your life who's modeled that for you or another way or is that just something intrinsically you've always put a priority on?

Keri (06:07): I'll say throughout my career, I've put a priority on servant leadership and people first. What has shifted me even more is faith. So just I'll say while always faith-based, we went to church at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday in the small town that I grew up in Wisconsin. And all I can remember is how much those pews hurt my booty, right? But you think back and you think about how life was at that point in time and the things that you learned and then life happens throughout in careers and family. That reflection point probably within the last couple years and even within more so the last five years, I had a very good childhood friend pass away from cancer this last October. But going through the journey with her, I saw how she stopped and lived in those moments and had her favorite things. And she was very, well, strong and a warrior. She was also very intentional in the things that she did. She went to visit her. We played a board game because that's how you stop and appreciate what's in life by a simple game of cards or a board game. So I'll say life circumstance has probably helped me to become more intended. As I also realized I missed out on a lot of things in life as I was busy ensuring I could support my family and be a great example for my three girls and then my two step-sons now as they're all adults in their lives. But we wanna make sure we're giving them a good example.

Kelly Berry (07:47): So I can relate to that, I'll call it a realization or, I think I've shared this with you. My best friend passed away last July from cancer as well and, you know, it is so true that there is nothing that will demonstrate to you how short life is, how truly, you know, all you have is the present. The present moment, you know, nothing is guaranteed to really inspire you to, you know, hey, like you only get one try at this, you only get one life and you're responsible, you know, in our household, we talk a lot about agency, you're responsible for making your life what you want it to be. But there really isn't anything like the loss of a friend or a tragedy or something like that to kind of yank you from the life that you've been living to one of presence and really just being deliberate with every moment. So I can totally relate to that. So tell me, I know you've mentioned your children a few times and I'm a mother, you're a mother. So tell me about like being a mother and what that journey has been like for you.

Keri (08:57): Well, I shared with the three girls who are now ages 25 to 32. My 29 and 32-year-old are both married. And my oldest has a son now. The light of my life, my grandson. I said, it's so fun because you get to give them back. But one of the things that she sent me was a meme that said something about how much that you show that love for your grandchild, it's an extension of how much you loved your children and that feeling of love and the reason you can love them so much is because you loved your children so much. But the path wasn't always easy. I was a single mom for moments in time and they like to try, they like to test their boundaries. So it was certainly a journey. I hear my daughter, all of them now repeat things that I said to them as children. And so some of the messages I might not have been as proud of, but some of them I remember a time just thinking back and when they were little, we didn't have a lot. We had a two-bedroom apartment and they were in one room and we had, we were in the other room and there wasn't a lot there. And I just remember my daughter, we were taking her to school one day and she said, mom, are we rich? And if I were to answer her honestly, the answer was, well, no, not financially. But the real answer is we are rich and we're rich with love. And certainly again, ups and downs of motherhood and parenting, but if you taking that message of being rich with love, like I'll hear them say that occasionally. Like I remember the time I asked you if we were rich and you said we were rich with love. And again, very blessed career. So I was able to give them much more throughout childhood and see them flourish as young women and in their educations. And they're all successful in their own right now with their careers and well established in what they're doing and in leadership roles and professional roles. So I couldn't be more proud.

Kelly Berry (10:49): Mm-hmm.

Keri (11:08): I think back to the time in just parenting with your children. And it was funny, she told me I had a chance to visit him this weekend. And my daughter told me, we believe in gentle parenting. And it just made me smile. And while there are, it was just interesting to me. I was like, okay. But the word no is still okay. So it's just hearing them as they're taking things and saying, here's how I'm going to evolve it in my form of parenting and what that looks like. I remember telling the girls that when they were teenagers and middle school and some very trying times and let's just say, you know, a partial nativity scene ended up in our front yard someday and someone no longer had a Joseph, Mary and a lamb in their nativity scene. But we had a partial one. And so it's just like the little shenanigans like that, that you see and I always just look back and go, well, hey, we can't do these type of things. I'm here to be your parent. I'll be your friend after you turn 25. And that's when your role shifts a little bit more. Now, it certainly shifted a little bit earlier than that, but that was kind of like the guardrails to put on things. The one thing that I would never change as a young mother, I had my first daughter in college, was the opportunity for motherhood, even though it wasn't easy at the moment in time, she was the best thing that happened to me in that moment in time. And then my two other daughters, without a doubt, filled it out and now I have two step-sons, also adults, ages 25 and 29. And they are so wonderful to be around. And I've learned the difference between being a mother and parenting boys versus girls. And I joked at my daughter's wedding that the boys are much sweeter. So it's just so funny how the interaction with girls and their mothers and the boys are always like, Keri, is there anything you need? Is there, what can we do? And I said, oh, this is wonderful. Now, if I hadn't met them later on in life, I don't know how I would feel about being a mom to boys. I was probably meant to be more of a girl mom, but it certainly shaped who I was as a human in establishing my why and my desire to succeed and to be able to give them, I'll say the best journey they could have in living a well-intended life.

Kelly Berry (13:39): Yeah. Yeah, that's awesome. So I'm at the other spectrum of motherhood. I have a daughter who's gonna be two in May. So we're, you know, we're just really getting started. And something that we are intentional about and talk about a lot is like the principles and the way that we want to raise her and the things that we want to instill. So are there things that you can think back on that kind of guided how you parented them, how you did things with the intention of, you know, maybe this isn't like fun right now or this is maybe the harder way to do things, but I have an end goal in mind. Are there things like that you can remember?

Keri (14:27): There are. We'll also start with the value piece because that's a very important piece. And the one thing that I consistently shared was kindness. No matter what situation you're in or where you're at school, work, friend-wise, the right thing to consistently do, while very cliche, is to be kind. I just, today's world, we could search for that a little bit more. And that's one of the things that I look to do with my grandson and even with my children as they are all adults is kindness first. And if you have an act of kindness, someone will follow that act of kindness. And that's an important piece. But it was not all like you said, it was not all ponies, sunshine and rainbows. Certainly there were goals, there were challenges, there were expectations. You know, someone comes home with a tough report card, I'm like, well, do you want to work at this place for the rest of your life or do you want to do something bigger? And, you know, the place was not desirous or like that you wouldn't be like, wait, I can't, I don't know if I could support myself on that place. So I, yeah, I would use some of that terminology, but one of the things that was most beneficial in their goal setting and who they all are as individuals was the emphasis on education and being very purposeful and intentional in education. So I made a little deal with them that, and now they'll say this is on tape, so we're gonna hold you to all of it, mom. But I made a little deal with them when they went to undergraduate and two of them have postgraduate degrees. I made the deal that if you graduate in four years or less with a grade point average that it became 3.7 at the time it was 3.5, but I saw they were doing really well. So I was like 3.7, you had to up the game a little bit, right? That if they graduated in less than four, had a 3.7 and were well-established and felt comfortable and grounded in their education. I had them all take out the FAFSA, the federal loans that I would repay those on their behalf so that they wouldn't have the undergrad debt throughout life. And it gave them a goal. It was like the smart goal. So you kind of go to business a little bit. So my youngest daughter always used to say, can you not be a businesswoman right now? I'm like, because sometimes we have conversations, she's like, I don't work for you. I'm like, but you do no. But she was like, and I like, okay, but being really intentional and purposeful in goals and what they can achieve and believing in them, I knew they could do it, so I was happy to take that on, but there was an earning of it that was required of them.

Kelly Berry (17:07): Hehehe.

Keri (17:27): And I do think that a little bit of the business in these, everyone does want to be accountable. You talked a little bit about the things that you're going to do and what's putting those, kind of I'll say lines in the sand, and putting goals in place, and the things that I look at you and your husband with your sweet little girl. And just being very intentional in that and knowing that those moments, they were like, oh, come on, mom, but they wanted to be accountable and they wanted to see a purpose. And it was very intentional in what I did. And they all finished in four or less. They all graduated with 3.7 or higher. And they're again, all successful in their own right. And I say that despite their mother. They did a great job despite me.

Kelly Berry (17:56): Mm-hmm. Yeah, well, I love that. I love, you know, incorporating goal setting as part of it. But I think what I love the most is when you said, you know, like, I believed in them. Because I think that they could probably feel that. And they probably knew that you were setting this benchmark for them knowing full well that they were gonna reach it. And that you were gonna be responsible for basically your end of the deal. And so I think that having somebody, especially when you're a female and you're college age, and you're trying to figure out who you are, just having somebody that you know, knows that you can do this and is basically betting on you that you can. That has to have felt really, really good for them as well. Yeah.

Keri (19:04): The best investment I've ever made, I will say, without a doubt.

Kelly Berry (19:07): Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. Yeah. So tell me a little bit more about, because you seem to just have like this really good handle on how you feel when you're living in alignment with your purpose or being intentional. So how, like, do you feel like you have a good barometer for that? What is it? What do you do when those things aren't in alignment?

Keri (19:39): I would say I have an okay barometer. Like, you know, sometimes it gets a little out of whack, right? Like, I will say like every thermometer does within our world. But the things that I try to put first is, again, while repetitive, it's knowing that I've had the ability to have, while I worked hard and certainly had some roadblocks along the way. I never see it that way. It's a little bit more of a charmed life. It all comes with hard work and focus and sometimes being intentional in different ways. I heard a little saying, while it's not new, one of the things that I've really been focused on is not letting anyone live rent-free in my head. And that was actually a topic at Easter service, oddly enough, recently. And it was the don't let people live rent-free. And I allowed people primarily work-related, but even within life, I spun and spent so much energy creating stories and situations and allowed so many people to live rent-free. So the moment I start to actually hit that, it is a little faith-based, well, it's a lot faith-based, I should say. So the moment I start to hit that is, I'm like, no one gets to live rent-free. Only one person gets to live up here. And that is God. And so that is the piece that has truly helped me get beyond when my barometer is a little off or I'm talking myself into a space that is less intentional, less purposeful, because let's face it, the strongest thing we all have is our mind. And there was a time that I was a runner. Now I only run when being chased. I was well-intended there, but then my knees started to hurt. So I pulled back a little bit, but I always used to say, my coaching to myself was that my mind gives up before my body because your mind is so strong. So the barometer that I use is when I let the junk get in, how do I take it out and ensure no one lives rent-free in my mind? Because they're not being intentional for you. They probably don't even know that they're living how I help keep my barometer in place.

Kelly Berry (22:11): Yeah. So what are, how do you do that? Cause I think it's, you know, the concept is, you know, it's easy, but in practice it's very difficult. You know, those are, you know, people problems and things like that, especially when you're in business, whether it's, somebody in your organization, whether it's a customer, you know, those are the things that I feel like keep you up at night, detract from your concentration detract from your relationships. So how do you actually get that out of your head?

Keri (22:46): It's really stopping in the moment because you feel the churn. I can tell when it's happening and even thinking through work or a customer issue or a people problem or a business issue that you're looking to solve. There's certain tenets in life that I've learned working with great companies. One of them is blameless problem solving. So I always go back to it's not about the people, it's about the problem. Let's root cause it, let's solve it. So let's not let that take up space. But you feel the churn. I could always feel the churn and I just have to stop myself. And I had an opportunity in life to attend business mastery. And it's about a suffering state and a beautiful state. And so you just have to note it says it is a self-awareness piece. You don't always get it right. But noting when your state has changed and you start to suffer, you start to churn. It's taking a deep breath in that 90 seconds. And while it sounds so simple, and maybe your people can be like, I've Googled that a hundred times and they all tell me that same thing. Take a deep breath, clear your mind. Think of something that creates a beautiful state for you. The reality is it works. And that's when it like just, you gotta stop the churn. And it can happen very quickly. The tailspin.

Kelly Berry (24:02): Mm-hmm.

Keri (24:10): And you know it and then you add on and add on and then I go wait a minute. That's certainly not what I intended and if you think through people and you go if I assume positive intent, they probably wouldn't be up here right now. It's because I didn't approach the situation correctly.

Kelly Berry (24:25): Mm-hmm. Yeah. I think personally awareness is the key to almost everything because you can't affect change on things that you're unaware of. And so part of this, like living a more intentional life is about just being more aware of who you are, the life that you're living, the way that you're living it, stopping to think about like, you know, I think about these things all the time. Do people really like the things that they're doing or like the way that they're living or are they just doing it because it's comfortable? It's what they're used to. It's what they see demonstrated. Like, do people, other people, I always have all these questions. Do other people stop and think about like, it doesn't have to be this way? Or, you know, I do have the ability to change my situation or, you know, stop and take the blame away from the person and put it on the problem. Yeah, so those are just, I don't expect that you have the answer about those things, but it's part of the reason that I'm even exploring this podcast and this topic is just to try to learn how other people are doing these things and being intentional and living a life that they like and that they're proud of and that they're fulfilling. Yeah.

Keri (25:42): Right. It's not easy. I mean, I'll tell you, it's, well, awareness is that key component to having intentionality and purpose. It's not easy. And I think, you know, sometimes when you take, like, I'll just think of myself, it's one step forward, because I took actually 12 steps back yesterday. So I have more ground to gain. But it's finding those things that help to bring you peace and my peace comes from family and from the opportunity to just practice kindness and to give to others. I found when I am more rooted there, I'm happier living the life that I have been given. When I root myself in other things, that's when it goes awry.

Kelly Berry (26:25): Uh huh. Mm-hmm. So another thing that I read as a part of your bio that I wanted to dig into a little bit more was the sentence says she believes in the importance of mindfulness and reflection both in the boardroom and in life as essential tools for driving meaningful change. So reflection is something that we've incorporated as a part of our like business coaching practice that I also feel is, you know, it's, it's not, it doesn't hold the same weight as awareness, but I think reflection is very underutilized, especially like short-term reflection where you just stop and kind of assess the situation. But how does that mindfulness and reflection, how do you do that or how do you coach people to do that?

Keri (27:29): Part of it is what we talked about a little bit of installing that assuming positive intent, the blameless problem solving. It's that mindset for growth. There is the in the moment reflection of, oh, I wish I would have done that differently or how might I have changed a reaction and was it appropriate or was there something I could have done proactively that might have changed the situation? The other thing that a very smart man taught me, he was my CEO at one point in my life. Actually there were two CEOs in my life that was a great takeaway and it's Shmonday is what he called it. And I mean for sure he made this word up. But it was combining your Sunday and Monday for the start of the week. So consistently and while even as you know seeking to be the "Unchained Executive," Sunday evening was always a night for reflection. So I thought about the things from the prior week but even more importantly I reflected on the current week and reflection is always you think the past the past the past but this is I was looking forward and reflecting on here's what we have for the week in front. Here's how you can impact people. Here are the things that you need to work on. Here's the things that you might need to do personally. How are you committing to those things? So I use the exercise of Shmonday and preparing for my week and what it had in front of me, whether it be personal or professional. And then I put a practice in place. And it's called Monday Motivation. I have done it for over 12 years now. And it is just to the team that I serve. And I send them something that whether it's inspirational, funny, a coaching moment, if we're in reviews, the importance of the review conversation, building trust with a client, selling more things, how to close, whatever it might be, either usually Sunday night, but sometimes on Monday mornings, depending on the organization, it was acceptable to send on a Sunday, other wait till Monday, and that's okay. But I send them Monday motivation. And I said, if you open it, that's great. If it impacts you, that's even more fantastic. If you pick and choose the week that you want to do it, that's great because I do it as much for myself as I do it for others. And those are some of the things that have just kind of helped me along in reflecting on whether it's a long-term thing from life and work, short-term, or even taking the opportunity to reflect forward.

Kelly Berry (30:19): Mm-hmm. Yeah, I love that. Yep, I love that for a lot of reasons. I think looking back is so important, but the other thing, you know, looking forward gives you time to think about the way that you want to be, how you're going to approach the situations that you have coming up. What are the opportunities? How are you going to, you know, like make the most of those? And I think, you know, intentionality, you know, it's just stopping to think about what you have in front of you, how can you take the things that you've just come through and learn from them or not. Not every single thing has to be a gigantic lesson and you don't have to try to make everything into that. Some things just are what they are. But to be able to take what you can from what's just happened and look forward and try to make the most of every situation that's on the horizon. I like that a lot.

Keri (31:12): Yes.

Kelly Berry (31:13): Awesome. This is good stuff. Do you read much?

Keri (31:17): Primarily business books, but I have a favorite book. It's called "The Hike." It's on leadership transformation. I read it, oh my gosh, probably way back but the message has stuck with me. It's a storytelling business book, but it has a lot of great business concepts. And it's about a CEO that has had some transgressions in his life, made some bad choices and wasn't intentional and purposeful in what he was doing. And his choices were so bad that he, he didn't actually see a way out. And he had hurt many people. He had hurt his business. He was lost. And so he takes, he goes on this group hike. And part of the hike and the leader of the hike is, it's part of self-awareness and finding oneself and pulling business concepts into it because it was linked in as a business group activity. And the CEO goes on this hike with the intention of marching off the side. At some point, he's just going to continue his hike and his thought and his battle in his mind was, I've done so many bad things. Can I ever get to a place where I'm good again, where I am transformed and can be personally more present with my family and apologize for those things that I've done and be better in business and be a better leader and serve a company. And it's just interesting when it's the whole group and the exercises and his negativity, just to see that transformation and how it changed, how he changed during this journey to coming out of it going, I'm not going to go off a mountainside. I learned great things. I learned about being a leader. I learned about being a servant leader. And there's an acronym in there called the V-PELTER, which means nothing, but it helps me remember. And it's in the book that way. Vision, path, leadership, team, execution, results. And it pointed out that if something, if there's a component of it that's not right, you won't get to execution and results. And if the execution or result isn't there, it's because you failed on the vision. Because you can't create the right path or the right team if you don't have the right vision. So it helped me, again, check myself. You know what? Mistakes happen, failure happens. But as an accountable individual, I didn't set the right vision for the team. So it was an easy read from the point of the storytelling, because sometimes business books, well, some are more exciting than others, I'll say. Some I've definitely used for nighttime reading because I knew I would go right to sleep, right? So, it's not in print any longer. You have to go find it used on Amazon. But I would say it's the most impactful book that I have read.

Kelly Berry (34:02): Mm-hmm.

Keri (34:54): In my career and I certainly have been students of other great business leaders that have their books out there and the habits of the seven, you see, you think I could remember it, seven habits of a great leader or whatever, the highly effective people. Clearly, I probably need to reread that one, but from Good to Great and all the different ones.

Keri (35:21): I'm a big Patrick Lencioni fan, so I love The Ideal Team Player but the most impactful one was The Hike. And just, again, people were living, well, he did actions, but people were living in his head, rent free, caused primarily by his actions and only he could change it. But someone guided him through that to make him better personally, which made him better professionally. And it was a very good read. I recommend it anytime I have the opportunity to impact leaders within an organization. Um, we're doing mentor conversations or student of the business conversations. It's the book I always recommend and someone recommended it to me. Yeah.

Kelly Berry (35:57): Yeah, yeah, I've not heard of it. That's awesome. Yeah, I've not heard of that. So I'll definitely look into it. I like the fable type business. It's like the Get a Grip version of Traction The fable type storytelling, I think can be really effective. Cause to your point, some are definitely more interesting. Some business books are definitely more interesting than others. Yeah.

Keri (36:09): Yes. Well, you felt like you were on the mountain with him. So you were part of that story. So it became easier for me to remember some of the principles of the book and to apply them. And when I had leaders who applied those same type of principles strategically, it was very easy to get on board because I understood it and it built an accountable organization.

Kelly Berry (36:27): Okay. Mm-hmm. Yeah. And it sounds like in this, I think has been kind of a theme throughout a lot of the conversations. One of my favorite books, business or otherwise, is Mindset by Carol Dweck. I don't know if you're familiar with that. But, you know, having a growth mindset. I think I recommend that book to everybody, whether you're in business or not, if you're a parent, just because I think it sounds like the leader who in that book. You know, it takes a growth mindset to realize like everybody's a work in progress. Everything's in evolution. Like you aren't your current moment. You aren't, you know, defined by anything. Like you are responsible for yourself and your path and your journey, and you can make a change anytime. And so I think that is just something that sums up a lot of what we've talked about today, whether it be parenthood and the way that you want to raise your children or how to really like assess and kind of pivot in your own life when you need to or grow. That you're just always able, you know, you're meant for more and you can always achieve more. Just got to take a minute and figure out what that is, which is the hard part, and then go after it.

Keri (37:56): Mm-hmm.

Kelly Berry (38:02): So I have some end-of-the-podcast questions that I would like to ask you. So what is one thing personally or professionally that you would like to accomplish this year?

Keri (38:13): My accomplishment for this year, a vacation. It's personal. It is. Part of that whole "Unchained Executive" thing is I go back and count the number of years that I didn't take vacation. No one says, oh, that's so great. This year I said, I'm going to do that. I want to. We're going with some good friends overseas in the September time frame with my very supportive husband. We are going to go explore and be adventuresome. This year, I said, this is the year of a break, allowing myself a break and taking some time to be a student of our world. It's a very personal goal for this year and very intentional by the way.

Kelly Berry (39:07): I love that. I love that. I think, you know, a break is good. I also read a book recently called The Pause, and it just talks about like the power of the pause and how you, you know, you can do that on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, you can take that vacation and do a pause. But you know, some of the greatest, I think, transformations or even just really appreciation can happen during times like that, especially when you're immersing yourself in like whether it's a new place, a new culture, being exposed to other people, other ways of thinking. So I think that's awesome. Congrats. Can't wait to hear about it.

Keri (39:46): Thank you. Very, very excited. Yeah. Maybe that could be a future podcast. We can talk about vacations.

Kelly Berry (40:02): Yeah, definitely. Yeah, so I guess you've probably taken a lot of years where you've not done this, but how do you recharge? Because I know you have had like a successful career, probably a lot of like high stakes, not just like times, but years on end. So how do you take care of yourself and recharge?

Keri (40:17): That I have to admit I wasn't great at and working at getting better at all the time. You talked a little bit about the fable-telling within business books and one of the things that's included in there is clarity breaks. That's one piece that I've started to attempt to employ is a clarity break and that's an opportunity to recharge while it'll say. 

Kelly Berry (40:34): Mm-hmm.

Keri (40:45): You're getting a little outside of your business. I also use the clarity break to just think and to like free your mind. And I'll tell you, I've had some of my best clarity breaks at a coffee shop and I don't drink coffee. So I'm like, I'm enough without coffee. So if I had coffee, everyone would be like, oh, can you tone that down? But just sitting, it's the, it's kind of the ambiance of what the coffee or the cafe creates. And I found myself to be most productive in spaces like that and kind of taking a break and recharging for a minute. So my encouragement to people is just find whatever space that is for you that helps you to get there. But yeah, I've not been great at downtime and that's something I'm working to get much better at.

Kelly Berry (41:31): Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah, it can be hard, especially when, you know, when you're a high achiever, you can really devalue rest and really devalue taking a break. And so it's almost like relearning that it's not a bad thing. You know, it can actually contribute. You can have time and space to think. Yeah, it's, it's like a 

Keri (41:47): Yes.

Kelly Berry (42:03): A very tough reprogramming, I think.

Keri (42:06): It is, but I found myself and find myself today most productive after I do that. The issue is you've worked yourself to a point of exhaustion before you enter it. That's a reflection point that I go back and say, if I would have done that two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks earlier, might I feel different than I did before I went entering it today?

Kelly Berry (42:13): Yep. Always a work in progress, you know? 

Keri (42:33): Yes, I forever will be. I think that's what should go on my epitaph. Always a work in progress.

Kelly Berry (42:37): Yep. Always. Well, this has been a great conversation. I really appreciate you taking the time. I think there's so much good coming out of this conversation. People will get so much value out of it. So thank you so much.

Keri (42:51): Well, I thank you for the opportunity. It has been a blast, and I wish you all the best in your adventure, because I really think it's going to be a positive impact on many.

Kelly Berry (43:05): Thank you. Thank you. I'm excited for it as well. And I hope that's the case. I'll make sure it's the case, you know? 

Keri (43:15): I think it will be. Yes, that's right. Believe. You speak it out into the universe and it shall be. That's, like I said that I was gonna diet out loud. Now I have to start one. That's it.

Kelly Berry (43:29): I love that too. I'm not quite there to admit it yet, but I probably should be. Well thank you and thanks. Thank you everyone for listening today. In the show notes, you can see all the ways that you can reach out or follow Keri, learn more about her. She has had just an incredible career and life so far and has so much exciting. 

Keri (43:36): Thank you.

Kelly Berry (43:56): So many exciting things in her future. So she's a great person to know and follow. So thanks, Keri, and have a great day, everyone.