The Great Unfamous Podcast

Kate Bradley Chernis: The Brightest Light in the Room, with Jim Thompson of The Great Unfamous Podcast - Featuring the Lately CEO

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Speaker 1: (00:02)

All right. And then you're gonna have to bear with me cuz you're a professional. So you're like, oh my God, Jim, I've got like 19 things you need to do differently next time. But no, we'll, we'll fight through it today.

Speaker 2: (00:11)

Can you hear my voice? Okay. Or do you want me to put on the mic?

Speaker 1: (00:14)

Nope, you're good. Okay, cool. You're good. I've got you. I got you loud and clear.

Speaker 2: (00:18)


Speaker 1: (00:19)

All right. Um, I'll give you a little intro and then we'll start chatting. Welcome to the great and famous. I'm your host, Jim Thompson. Thank you for dropping by. This is gonna be a fun episode. You're in for a treat because in a moment we're gonna meet one of the smartest, most creative downright likable founders in technology today, I had the good fortune to meet this woman a few years back when we use her technology to launch a new social channel for Gary Vaynerchuck's personal brand. Now as for the many credits of Kate Bradley Turner, AKA Kateley, uh, they include being co-founder of the remarkable AI based technology lately, but she's much more than that. She was a music director and an on-air host at Sirius XM, uh, radio producer, marketing expert, strategist scholar. But most of all, what I find is she's a master communicator. So, so in this conversation, we're gonna find out where those superpowers came from and who is the most influential person in her life. So with that, as Kate would say, let her rip welcome to the podcast. My friend, thank you so much for spending time with us today.

Speaker 2: (01:45)

Boy, I have to tell you that you've done it the best. I I've heard a lot of intros of myself, of course. And I really appreciate the style, how you delivered that. Um, which is saying something, cuz even I just read the script right with the bio. I appreciate that you put it in your own words and the space that you left is so powerful, Jim. Like, I don't know if you know, but you're good at this.

Speaker 1: (02:16)

I, I, I take that. I greatly appreciate that from you knowing your, your background. But the, the thing I'll say is it's easy when you do it for a friend because it's natural. It's it's I just think, I think the world of you. And so it that's easy to come through. Um, wow. But I'm very excited to have you

Speaker 2: (02:38)

boy, I, um, please come to my funeral and give the speech. Okay. That was like so great. You're hired um, it's it, you know, I like that we are friends. That's the best part. Right. And we haven't ever met, but it doesn't matter. You know? And that's the gift that I had before. COVID because of radio, you know, I can make friends through the blackness of the nothingness of sound, you know, which is now that I am here. I understand how difficult that is, but it never was right. It just came naturally. But, but the idea of, and it's a skill of being able to read a room, any room, the room where you can see people or where you can't see them is difficult. Right. Someone was asking me once, like how do you know if you've got them when you can't see them? And I just entertained myself. I figure if I'm interesting to me, I must be interesting to someone else. Right?

Speaker 1: (03:56)

Absolutely. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (03:57)

That's the trick

Speaker 1: (04:01)

Yeah. If you can create something that you have value in more than likely there's gonna be some people out there that will find similar value.

Speaker 2: (04:10)

Yeah. And that's a real hard thing for people to understand, which is kind of bonkers to me because people really think that they're boring. I mean, we're both in the, in the industry of helping other people in some way, find their zing and communicate it online marketing. Right. That's the, the point. And it's so hard for people because they either they're, I don't know if it's shyness or whatever, but maybe it's not understanding the gold within or being able to take something mundane and spin it in a way that, that is truly magnetic. You know, that's our gift, I guess, but it's, it's sad to me sometimes because I'm always rewriting bios for people. Um, when I'm interviewing them like this, you know, I see their bios and I think God, that is boring or I think none of that says, come listen to this person. They just haven't communicated their own worth very well. You know? Um, and, and what a thing to not be good at is to communicate your own worth. Right,

Speaker 1: (05:27)

Right. That, and that's why I, I always think was fascinating when you and I would have conversations is that you would prompt things I haven't thought about or, or make connections that I, I hadn't made before. And, and just thinking about what it is you do. It just struck me of like, why you're unique is because you have a great technology solution, but you've married it with you. You've married it with authentic, real communication to a real human being or built it so that it can facilitate a real connection with a human being, which is most technology is not thinking along those lines, but you are an exceptional at that piece. Like how do I make a connection with a human being that will matter? And at her, and, and then how do I build a solution around that? So

Speaker 2: (06:20)

Yeah, it was learned by the way. And I like to steal. So every time I hear someone talk about me or us, there's little nuggets in there that I jot down and I walk away with and I try them myself on someone else, you know? So like my investor pitch or my sales pitch is, or, and even these, these appearances are all, um, a collection of one liners that I've, you know, amassed or twisted or, or thought about, you know, for this moment. And I was thinking about this the other day, I was talking to another entrepreneur who was really electric person. And he was, he was giving me his best one liners. I heard them all. And I, I knew what he was doing right away. Right. And it, and it's, they're not inauthentic. It's just, you say the same things all the time.

Speaker 2: (07:15)

Cuz people ask you the same things all the time. Right. And, and they, they, they evolve, you know, but, but you know, what gets the, gets the lean in, you start to learn what makes people emote. And so he's running down his with me and I'm just thinking, good job, good job. And then, um, and then it's my turn and uh, he stopped the car. He was driving. stopped the car. Cuz I turned cuz I turned it on and cause I just wanted to cause, cause like in a nice way and a friendly, competitive way, I was like, okay, you, I got your game. Like here's mine, you know, you

Speaker 1: (07:51)

Wanna say it let's go. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (07:53)

Yeah. and he was speechless for a minute. That that felt great. It was great. You know, it was, it was fun.

Speaker 1: (08:02)

Well that it's a gift. Right. And that's why there's some people you talk to that you just, you come away from it feeling better than when you started and it's entertaining as hell. So like any conversation with you, I find is super entertaining, no matter what we're talking about. Um, and so that's why, you know, when we, as we dive into this, you know, we start talking about your superpowers, uh, what those are and where they came from and how did you, how did you acquire them? Um, I think, I think people will get a lot out of that.

Speaker 2: (08:38)

Yeah. Um, thank you. Um, one of, one of those things, by the way, I, um, I forget who was asking me about this. We were talking about making listeners into fans or customers into evangelists. Right. And what does that really mean? And how do you do it? You know? And so one of the ways that I learned was you don't wanna be the magnet in the, in, or let me say this again. You don't wanna be the brightest light in the room that, that needs that's on stage entertaining everyone. What you want is to be the person that makes everyone else feel that way. Right? Because then they're leaving, thinking about you and talking about you. And that's what, that's what I want because the, the that's the L tail, that's the longevity, the power there is infinitely greater than this sale in the moment. Right. It's then it's multiple sales later on and there are people you can go back to. That's the other thing we I've learned is can I swear in your show?

Speaker 1: (09:48)


Speaker 2: (09:49)

so I up all the time, Jim. I mean, it's like what I do, my, my husband jokes. Sometimes he says, can you fit both feet in there?

Speaker 1: (09:57)

Speaker 2: (10:02)

But um, and I need to have the grace or I need other people's to have the grace to let me, let me come back to them. And, and I've gone back to people that I'm sure I have turned off or insulted and somehow brought them around. Sometimes I don't even know how, but I remember one of the, the best lessons I learned in radio was almost always think about this, your most favorite songs. You didn't really like them the first time you heard them.

Speaker 1: (10:36)

Is that true?

Speaker 2: (10:38)

Yeah, for me, it's like, I really think about that. Like cuz the ones that you're instantly in love with they're it's candy, it's cracker Jack stuff. They're the, you know, those are the trendy pop songs and they probably will annoy you later. But, but the, the ones that you maybe didn't that kind of hit you the wrong way and then you're then you learn to love them. You know, I have friends like that and they're those, those are my favorite friends.

Speaker 1: (11:02)

you're not sure if you, I don't, I'm not sure if I really like this guy, but, and then you, well, and that's something that I do is I'm a slow thinker. Like, so I'll hear something and I won't know what I think about it. And then I'll like process it and I'll think about it and it'll pop up in the shower and I mean, and I'll think about like, wow, no, that really does make sense. Like it takes a time for me to digest stuff and to decide like, do I like that? Or do I not like that?

Speaker 2: (11:29)

Yeah. And then it's locked into you. It has you. That's exactly. That's the person I aspire to be.

Speaker 1: (11:39)

That's a, that's a great analogy that making, making people feel like they're the brightest light in the room, what a gift.

Speaker 2: (11:47)

Um, thank you.

Speaker 1: (11:49)

So you know where, you know, as you look back on the things that you are good at and the way you do, uh, are a masterful storyteller and communicator, uh, was that a natural gift? Did you always have that or did you develop it over time?

Speaker 2: (12:13)

I, so my mom named me after, uh, she was a first grade teacher and she had a student named Catherine Ellis and this girl used to wear pajamas to class. This is like in the seventies. Okay. wasn't like today where people just wear pajamas all the time. Um, and she always had jokes. She was always making the class laugh. And my mom named me that name because she wanted me to have a really good sense of humor. Um, and when every, every year on my birthday, my mom always tells me all the stories of when I was born, how I was named, um, how my father drove the wrong car to the, the, the lo the junky loading van to the, to pick me up at the hospital. And she wanted the Mercedes , you know, um, how she picked out the, the crib for me and the, the color of the outfit I wore. That is a color I told her later in years that I hated, but then was the color at my wedding.

Speaker 1: (13:18)

There you go. Right.

Speaker 2: (13:20)

The story, you know, so I grew up with somebody and I, and I always say to her sometimes will miss it and I'll call her back. And I'm like, you didn't tell me the stories. I love those stories, you know? Cause well they're about me. So of course I love them. Um, but I, the answer, your question is maybe now I see that it was natural, but then I didn't know that I, I was a fiction writing major in school, so I love writing a story, but I was actually really bad at it for a long time. And God blessed those teachers who read my awful writing, but I learned to get better. You know, I, I learned a lot about how to carefully craft something and when to drop in those, um, those kind of callbacks like a comedian does mm-hmm , you know, and , and I had another professor who used to, he had a phrase called Fritos of the mine which meant if you read, you know, valueless non-nutritious crap you shall write that way also mm-hmm .

Speaker 2: (14:32)

And so I remember making an effort, a better effort in my life to, you know, read books that, that fueled me. And I made lots of notes in the pages and I'm I was always grabbing the sentences that felt good or sounded good or some interesting metaphor to me. And then when I was writing myself, I would go through all these notes and put them all on the page and reassemble them, or, you know, rearrange them. This is a long answer to your question. And then I met, um, . Is that okay? I met, um, I went to, so, so in college, I, I went to the New York summer writers Institute, um, which is now a pretty well known Institute. I only went because my professors, um, let, let me do the work study program in school instead of serving mashed potatoes at the hot cafeteria and in the summer, um, I needed the job. And so they paid me to do that. And then I would get free room and board up at the college. And I could go to this course with all these other writers. And here's where I learned that writers are. They're all selfish, uh, narcissistic thing, ding bats. And in this case they had a lot of money cause people were paying quite a lot to go to this camp for a couple weeks, each year, which is what it was like, you know, camp camp for

Speaker 1: (15:58)

Writer, camp

Speaker 2: (15:59)

Writer, camp. Yeah. And I, the only there was fiction non-fiction and poetry, I wanted to do fiction of course, cause that's where my heart was, but there was never any openings. And so I had to do poetry and I hated poetry. I really, really did. I thought it was, I mean, I thought it was Valentine's day all the time, you know, mm-hmm, not nauseating. And I met this professor whose name, I can't remember. Um, but, but she was at Columbia and she took poems and then she would take apart different phrases and ask us to use those phrases in our own poem. Whereas other poetry teachers always were like giving you rules. Like I am a pentameter has to be eight blinds, all this kind of stuff. And so her idea was like, take this thing and make it your own. And so I'll give you an example. Um, one phrase was by which I mean, okay, now think of, I love this because think of all the things that can go before and after that mm-hmm and how in itself, it, it is by default a turning point by which, I mean, there has to be a pivot there of something unexpected. There's

Speaker 1: (17:20)

A change in direction, right?

Speaker 2: (17:22)

There's a, there's a change of direction. Something is unclear. So you're gonna clarify it. Um, and so, so that was what, what I was learn, trying to do as well, but I didn't even know it, you know, is, is take those other ideas and metaphorically, the ones that were, I was writing down on all the, you know, the corners of my pages and metaphorically, you know, use them. And I only started to love poetry after I became a radio DJ. And I, I realized that it was cuz of the sound I liked the sound of the words, words, you know, everyone says the English language is so ugly. I don't, I don't think that at all. Right. And I love, I love, um, I love it when radio is sung in a song that word, the word itself, radio, like all the vows, it rhymes with so much.

Speaker 2: (18:10)

And it sounds so good. Um, and there's, I was listening to, um, um, rivers Cuomo from Weezer, do an interview with Terry Gross and she asked him why he, I can't remember which word it was, why he used this word in the lyric instead of another one. And he said, cuz it sounds better in the song. Right. And I was really lucky in radio to work somewhere where everything was super old school and people would go to meetings for hours to create commercials, creative commercials. Mm-hmm , you know, for, um, the clients. And in fact the theater of the mind was like this, the prized thing there. Um, so they would do things like makeup, skits and where like just outta the blue, you know, where they would create these characters. And like one time I really thought Jody Peterson, um, the music director was literally a banjo of fishing auto because she was, she was interviewing Bayla Fleck and in live at the moment as we didn't see this, but they're like, Bella's like, I'm gonna teach you how to play her's on the radio.

Speaker 2: (19:23)

And so she's picking it up and she sums a couple and bam and he's teacher and she's like, amazing. And of course that's not what happened. It was Bela playing. Right. Oh, but they in this moment. Yeah. And it was incredible. And I remember like racing, I was, I was about to be on the air. So I was racing in the studio cause I wanted to see her play. I was like, Jody, you know, and I got there and, and I was like, oh my God, you're so good. Um, and so, you know, the answer is, I, I didn't know that I was good at telling the story. And in fact, I, I don't even think I am because you can, you can hear this now. I have a very hard time staying in straight line. Right. I, I zigzag all over the place and I have to keep remembering to come back to the center or I have to have people who do that for me, you know, like lo Lauren, who you've met, who works for us. Mm-hmm , she's so good at keeping me coming back to the center. Um, you know, cuz I , I get, I get way out there and I can tell people's eyes are just going, where is she? You know? And Lauren will say something to bring us right back. Um,

Speaker 1: (20:36)

But that's where the magic is off center. Right? Isn't that where some of the greatest insights it's connecting, you know, often it's connecting ideas that you think are not related. Yeah. And when someone can see that connection and you don't see it, like, wait, what are you talking about? And they explain like, no, no, no, these things are related and, and I'm gonna bring it back because I can see the four connections you make that bring you back. Whereas most people can say, I can see the two connections, but I don't see four, but you're like, yeah, you have to go out further and then come back the long way and you get there. So that's, I don't, I don't think that is a, a failing. It is a skill that most people don't have.

Speaker 2: (21:26)

Thanks. Those are my people too. Like I can tell right away if, if I'm with somebody who can't go there with me, you know, and then, then I just try to walk away as soon as possible. Cause it's not gonna be fun for anybody.

Speaker 1: (21:42)

It's like the cliff notes version of this story isn't worth it.

Speaker 2: (21:48)

No, not even that. Um, and it's such, it's so funny. Cause I, I meet a lot of those people actually because they're, they're venture capitalists, a lot of them, you know, and, and that's okay. You know, I'm not critiquing them, but but Jason Calis actually, who's a, who's one of my investors said to me, I didn't understand what he said, but he, then I did. He, he said, if you're too punk rock, you're crazy. You know, he can't be too, too punk rock. We were talking about my wardrobe actually, which was, it needed a little tightening up

Speaker 1: (22:23)

Speaker 2: (22:24)

And I didn't wanna hear that at all. he was right though.

Speaker 1: (22:30)

You know, you don't think it earns, you points for being eccentric and, and charting your own path.

Speaker 2: (22:35)

It's a little like, you know yes. But there's a little like, so for me, my hair is always messy. I can't do anything about it. I, I have it Carin to the ends of the world and you know, it doesn't matter if I've just done it or come from the salon. It just is what it is. And so I've been experimenting like, you know, how can I, if that's gonna be my punk rock thing, what's happening with the rest here, you know? So like I'm, I'm trying to put on some fancy earrings these days, as you can see , you know, cause I'm wearing a sweatshirt and my, I went to the gym earlier. Um, so I'm sorry, Jim. That's what I'm in. I'm in my workout outfit,

Speaker 1: (23:13)

I would expect nothing less Kate. So,

Speaker 2: (23:17)

But that's the thing is like, um, it's the shabby chic. You just gotta, you know, I, I, uh, just again, segue. So I remember being asked to go to chase, chase Manhattan banks, um, flagship location in New York city to be on stage, um, with a number of other people, for some kind of accelerator thing or panel thing, I don't know in start up life. And I go there in the morning and I remember right away thinking I have made a grave error because everyone, everyone is in a suit and they look fabulous with great jewelry and lipstick on and heels. And I'm in jeans and a t-shirt and Kaba boots. And I blushed, I blushed in modification, but actually this was the, this was a really weird experience for me. It was the first time this has happened after I got off stage three women came up to me in the bathroom or in the hallway and said these words, um, the words were, I want to be you, which is like powerful. It's a compliment. And also very strange to hear that, you know,

Speaker 1: (24:34)

Because you are the, the outlier, like they wanna be an outlier. They, they want to, uh, chart their own path, but they don't have the courage, which is part of what makes you, you, right. Is you

Speaker 2: (24:52)

Courage or I'm a dumb sometimes. I mean, I have to tell you like

Speaker 1: (24:56)

well, probably dumb.

Speaker 2: (25:02)

Have we have, um, sorry for interrupting you, but no, you made me think. So we have a family joke, my husband and I, and the, the joke is moped. And it's because, um, one time we, we drove to ver Vermont where my, my dad and my stepmom live and my sister was there with her family. And as we came in the driveway, they were all out in the field, flying kites with, um, fishing poles, call it kite fishing. Kit's ridiculous thing that we do. And I was so excited and wanted to get outta the car. We'd been in the car for so long. So that the moment we pulled into the driveway and went inside and I grabbed my beer and I, there was a moped there and I got on the moped and put my beer in like the basket. And David is barely getting outta the car, my husband, cuz he's also a slow thinker and he's like, Hey, do you know how to ride that thing? And I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I got he's like, Kate, are you sure? Are you sure? And I'm like, yeah, I got it. And I literally rode straight into a tree

Speaker 1: (26:05)

so the code word, moped evokes all sorts of memories and warnings.

Speaker 2: (26:14)

Yeah. Like, you know, is it courage or something else?

Speaker 1: (26:25)

That's that's a perfect example. So like how, how many moeds have you ridden in your life?

Speaker 2: (26:33)

Oh my God. So many, like sometimes I really think to myself, you are really lucky to be alive. Right. Because I have done some, some crazy things that I would never do now, but you know, I've done some other crazy things that I'd do again, like, like, um, well here's one I wouldn't do. I climbed a 90 foot cliff. I was used to be a rock climber. I don't know if you got that about me, but I was really into rock climbing before everybody was into it and I was

Speaker 1: (27:05)


Speaker 2: (27:06)

Yeah. Before it was cool.

Speaker 1: (27:07)


Speaker 2: (27:08)

Cause the outliers were there, you know? Right. This is, I smoked Jim. Right. So I was like a, I was a, a excellent smoker and, and you know, you don't have to run when you're climbing.

Speaker 1: (27:20)


Speaker 2: (27:21)

So I could, um, and you, you can be by yourself and make friends very easily. And it's, it's a, it's a puzzle. Everyone's there to solve the same, same puzzle. So it's, to me it's really fun. And, and I was indoors a lot, but cuz cuz there indoors to me is safe and you can be, you can cowboy all day, fall, fall as far as you want all day. Cause it's, you know, kind of idiot proof. Um, so I climbed a 90 foot cliff without ropes. I don't know why in California with a boyfriend prop, that's why I was wanting to impress him. And I, we have a photo of it and it is the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life. I can't believe I did that. It was probably like a, that was probably like a 5, 6, 5, 7. So you know, it's like not really hard, but like it's definitely upright.

Speaker 1: (28:15)


Speaker 2: (28:16)

And I did not die miracle, but then there's like other things like, um, I bet on an 81 to one horse and one

Speaker 1: (28:27)

that sounds like Kate. Yeah. Both of those actually we do that again. again again, the, the free solo before free solo was cool.

Speaker 2: (28:38)

Oh my God. That gives me, you know, by the way the other thing I would never do again is broadcast to 20 million listeners a day. I have to this day I have BJ nightmares where I wake up and, and think I, the, so the, I can't, I can't get the CD to play. The silence is happening on the era and it's my fault, you know? And it terrifies me

Speaker 1: (29:04)


Speaker 2: (29:05)

The was I thinking?

Speaker 1: (29:09)

You, you grow in and out of different fears. Right. So when you don't know any better, you, you don't know to be afraid of it. And then you realized, wait, I, I should, I should be more concerned about this.

Speaker 2: (29:23)

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, haven't you done those things like I, I, we drove, I drove to, I tore my ACL and my, this is 93 and, and my leg was in a cast. I was just outta like two months outta surgery maybe. And I rode in the passenger seat of my friend's, um, shitbox Ford, four door, the old cop cars, whatever, whatever it was. I can't remember the name of it because of the teeth, TAs. And, um, we drove across country to vet Denver and the car died and we ended having to be towed to bail, which is where I was going to live for the summer. Cause I was supposed to be climbing for the summer, but obviously I wasn't gonna be climbing. Um, and I, my plan was to do my PT out there with like the most famous, you know, knee surgeons in the world.

Speaker 2: (30:16)

And I was a line cook, uh, all through high school and college. And so I had a job, uh, at the hubcap micro brewery. I was the only girl in the kitchen wearing checks and whites, all the other girls were wearing super tight pants and t-shirts cuz they were the trons, you know, and they would leave. Um, I was not 21, even though I had a fake ID that got taken from me several times. Um, cuz of what a joke it was, you know, I think I even had made it myself, but they would leave me one pint of bear downstairs in the walk-in sitting on the scale every night, which is so nice. So anyways, we got to Denver and the car died, but because I couldn't straighten my leg, I couldn't sit in the tow truck. Um, so they had to get, get a flatbed so we could sit in the car and so we rode into veil. Like, I don't know if anyone listening has like taken that ride before there aren't guardrails on. Is that I 70? I think it is. It's dangerous.

Speaker 1: (31:18)

yeah. Riding into riding into veil on the back of a flat bed.

Speaker 2: (31:24)


Speaker 1: (31:26)

Highways with no guardrails.

Speaker 2: (31:27)

Yeah. And my, and my leg is busted and I had, I think I had two or $400 in my pocket. That's all I had. And there was no thought of healthcare or I think I had a place to live lined up. I didn't have a job yet. You know, I didn't know about the hubcap yet, but it didn't matter. Like I know it would all just work out, you know, or right. There was no AMA, there was no possibility that it wouldn't. And that's the thing about lately, it's the same. Right? So like there's no, even when COVID happened, there were so many other really things happening at lately at that time that I literally just took COVID and I put it over here and pressed on and it didn't affect what we were doing, you know? I mean it ended up being good for us, but there was no there's no, the, the blinders I'm gonna call them blinders. It's my negative view of it. You're gonna say something nice and positive. I'm sure to hang out.

Speaker 1: (32:31)

Continue I won't, I won't turn it around. I'll

Speaker 2: (32:36)

Look, look, I want you to see the sticky. It says positive. Cuz I have a problem cause I, I, I don't think positive. Um, anyways, so that, that ability though, to not imagine any other, you know, I always say to myself, what's the worst case scenario. What's the worst thing that could happen, you know? Like with money or something mm-hmm okay. Worst case scenario. We have to sell the house and I have to live my parents. That's the worst. That's the worst. It's pretty good. Right,

Speaker 1: (33:11)

Right. But a lot of people would kill for that.

Speaker 2: (33:14)

Yeah. For

Speaker 1: (33:14)

That option,

Speaker 2: (33:17)

You know, because I can't imagine it to be, I mean, now I'm an upper middle class, white chick not I was lower middle class, but times have changed so that probably sounds like silver, phony. Um, but yeah, the, the, uh, inability, I think it's an inability to imagine, like it's so funny that I'm talking to you and I'm hearing myself contradict myself because like, I can't imagine any situation except for lately working, but at the same time, I'm the, my worst critic. I'm always, I'm always just be feeling crushed by, um, the or, or by the negative stuff. Right? Like, so that's the stuff that I can't let go of. You know, I was just talking to Brian, my CTO right before this call and we were looking at our numbers, which so, so, so in startup life guys and gals, you are constantly making projections.

Speaker 2: (34:34)

Okay. Now in the beginning, it's all. Cuz nothing is real. Nothing has happened. You probably haven't sold anything and you have no idea, but yet people ask you for these ridiculous premonitions cause they're trying to understand if you understand like the nuts and bolts of how things works is what they're trying to understand. So you make a lot of projections over the years now in the last two years and really the last year, number one, I learned how to manipulate and understand the numbers for myself, which was extremely, I'm a fiction writing person, like other brain, you know? So this was a hard thing for me to do, but it came out of necessity and was incredibly empowering. So number one, I understand the numbers in a way that I never understood before. Um, but also I have enough data so I can actually extrapolate real things now. Not right. Not I'm not guessing anymore. Right. And so as we're looking through these numbers, cuz I'm so used to giving people these answers in the future and it feels like that it they're right in front of me and I'm like, oh, but you know, that's and no, and Brian's like, no, dude, this is real. he

Speaker 1: (35:44)

right, right. It's like you make that jump from, uh, building a future where you're making guesses like, wait, this future's actually coming to fruition. And some of that BS is actually pretty accurate.

Speaker 2: (36:01)

Yeah. You cross over you cross over. Um, it's amazing.

Speaker 1: (36:09)

I gotta say Kate I'm absolutely beside myself because the, the long guy next door has been like circling my house. It's not even my long guy, but I swear to God, he's like torturing me throughout the last 45 minutes. I'm trying to mute. I'm trying to mute when the blower comes near the window. And I'm like, can you hear that?

Speaker 2: (36:32)

No, no, I don't. Okay. I've never had a frequency that the lawn Mo frequency, cuz everyone says it feels so loud to them, but it doesn't bleed through the mics. Okay. I don't know why. So.

Speaker 1: (36:42)

All right. So what is it I'm sitting here trying to mute and unmute and is is necessary. So somebody who knows radio would appreciate that. Um, I

Speaker 2: (36:52)


Speaker 1: (36:53)

Well look, well, let me, let me ask you this, the, of the things that you've accomplished and of the, the struggles that you have navigated, if not conquered, um, as you look back on those times, are there figures or a figure that is particularly, um, present that was by your side when you made some of those correct turns or, or navigated some of those difficult insurmountable situations. Is there anyone that comes to mind that that feels like that, uh, that most influential person for you?

Speaker 2: (37:39)

Yeah. I don't know if I mentioned her to you before, but I might have, so my aunt John is, um, an a remarkable human being. She, uh, this is gonna get sad. So warning listener yeah. Um, so John at lost her three children in a fire. Um, is it 30 years ago? On 44? I think 30 years ago. Yeah. Um, they were my cousins, of course, my first cousins, three of them, two boys and a girl, the girl was the middle child. We were the same age. So I was nine when they died. So she was, uh, she had just turned 10. I think she was like half year older than me and the boys were. Um, I think DJ was 12 when John, John was eight. And um, so you know, Jeanette heard about the fire on the radio. She was driving home from a trip.

Speaker 2: (38:42)

It was very early in the morning. And we, there, there was a babysitter that whose body was found. And we, we all didn't know. We thought it was my aunt. So for a long time and my grandparents lived next door. Um, they had lost my, my, some of my aunt, John, her sister, Mary and my mom. Those were the three daughters. And they had a, a brother too who died of cancer when he was young. So my, my grandparents lived next door and they were supposed to babysit the children that night, that they got invited to do something else. And so the kids would've been at their house, the house caught on fire. Um, it was a long overdue chimney leak. I don't know the technical ideas here, but, um, it, uh, wouldn't it, the wood stove basically exploded and the children died of, um, smoke inhalation.

Speaker 2: (39:39)

They found my cousin, um, John, John junior sissy, um, she had her own bathroom and they found her. She's not she's 10. They found her in the bathroom with, um, a towel towels trying to hold the towels up against the door. And they found her brothers walking down the hall towards her room. And there were, um, fire signs stickers on all the windows and the firemen never put, uh, ladder to any of the windows and , and there were the reason that it exploded is they didn't know that that, that, um, chimney was there. They had been sheetrocked up for years. It was a really old house, but yet a chimney sweep had been there recently and was on the roof and saw all the chimneys. But didn't tell the family that there were other chimneys mm-hmm . Um, so anyways, so my, my aunt lost her whole life.

Speaker 2: (40:31)

I mean, not only her children, but her house, all of her clothes, everything was gone. Right. What do you do? And my, we had a, a strange relatives in Chicago who swooped in and, and carted her off to Chicago, gave her a place to live and a job and some purpose. She then put herself through undergrad, uh, grad and masters. And she went to Washington DC to help the core. So she became the principal at the national disability Institute in, in Washington, DC. And she's the one that had said to me. So she's always been, and let me say this to you. She's always been my, my friend and mentor. Um, my mom left our town when I was young and my aunt held all the holiday things. So Easter and Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we were really close. And, um, she was working with Walmart and had said to me, Hey, you're really good at marketing. Wanna consult us on this project? And she gave me that seat, which is what led to lately in directly right. Directly. Because just for people who don't know, I created Walmart, a spreadsheet system that got us.

Speaker 1: (41:53)

Right. Walmart spreadsheet story is amazing. Yeah. I love that one too. She's introduced you or introduced you to the folks at Walmart.

Speaker 2: (42:02)


Speaker 1: (42:03)

And she,

Speaker 2: (42:04)

Yeah, what she did, Jim was, was remarkable because I've tried to emulate it and I'm not, I'm not very good. I aspire, she let me fall up. She let me fail. She knew that whatever I did would be still great. That was her belief. And boy did I make some mistakes I really did. And it didn't matter, right. Her, she had an unwell, unwavering faith in my ability to

Speaker 2: (42:33)

Not, it wasn't due the job because there wasn't a job that was written out to be done. We were making a, we were all making history. We were making, uh, we were, we were doing crazy stuff for, I mean, I know it sounds bizarre, but Walmart and the IRS and disability, you know what a mouthful, but, um, it was exciting and she was doing it. She was pioneering this, this project. Um, and I was along for the ride, but, but she believed, and I, I was bringing in ideas that were rock and roll. Cause that's where I came from line cook, rock and roll climber. Right. And these guys are all corporate and I got my ways and you know, it's not polished. Let's just say that.

Speaker 1: (43:13)


Speaker 2: (43:15)

And she didn't flinch, not once. And that's the thing I try. I only one other woman has done that for me in my life. Another, another person who hired me. But when I got to Jonette I recognized what it was and how valuable it was. And I've said that to my team before as well. Like, you know, when someone keeps asking me to, to check them before they finish, do something, I get annoyed because I'm like, first of all, I don't have time for this, but second of all, like I hired you, like, so the, the biggest up you can make is not gonna be that bad. Like just,

Speaker 1: (43:52)

Just go, just go, just go.

Speaker 2: (43:53)

Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (43:56)

Wow. That is, that is quite a mentor. What a, what a horrific story. I'm so sorry for that.

Speaker 2: (44:07)

What a woman, what a woman,

Speaker 1: (44:09)

But right. To recover from that and to, so she went on, so how old was this when she lost her family?

Speaker 2: (44:20)

So 82 or 83. So it was 30 years ago, this March, March, this March 8th, March 8th. So, and she let's see, my mom is turning 75 on, I think John is like 72. So she was in her forties. Yeah.

Speaker 1: (44:38)

Did she just changed her life?

Speaker 2: (44:40)

She changed her. I mean, the fact that she didn't kill over and die was an incredible right. And I don't, you know, at the time, and certainly for most of my life, I didn't recognize how great this pain had been because I don't have children. And I was young, you know, I mean, at first I remember thinking she was always, she was my favorite and I, and she didn't really wanna hang out with us cuz we were reminded her of her children. And I remember not understanding that, you know, it, when I was, you know, 10, 11, and then, um, over the years it was just so nice to, you know, to work together. And, and I remember telling her, Jim, I used to have panic attacks about public speaking, believe it or not. Um, because I don't, I don't, it's different being behind the mic when you can't see me and then I'm on stage, you know, and right.

Speaker 2: (45:34)

And, um, back then I thought that when I was in front of people at, at any kind, whether it's a business meeting or presenting on stage, I had to be a certain kind of character, you know, and uh, a straight skirt and heels and a jacket and things that are not me at all, actually mm-hmm . And so it was always really uncomfortable. And I, I remember having just the worst panic attacks about it and, and telling her literally after the, after this one I did in salt lake, I said, I'm, I'm never public speaking again. I'm done. She reminds me of that often.

Speaker 1: (46:14)

And so what did she say?

Speaker 2: (46:16)

Um, she's just like, no, look at you now. Right? Because mm-hmm, what I, what I learned to do was to embrace my own, um, punk Rockness, you know, and to, instead of be ashamed of it or embarrassed of it, like that feeling I had when I walked in chase Manhattan bank and I was, or JP Morgan, whatever it was was, um, to me they're both the same thing. stiff and rich. Um, instead of, you know, feel as though I'd made it great mistake, which maybe I had, but then I found, if you just say it out loud too, if you, if you acknowledge that the elephant in the room, everyone is relieved,

Speaker 1: (46:58)

It takes all the, it takes all the mystique and the power away from it because now everyone says, yeah, so yeah, this thing is, this thing is actually happening. We don't have make, we don't have make believe it's not.

Speaker 2: (47:11)

Yeah, totally. You know, like I'm the first one just to say, is there in my teeth,

Speaker 1: (47:23)

You get rid, this is your biggest fear. Once you can get rid of that, you can move on. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (47:26)

Yeah. You can. I mean, because again, you know, what's the worst that can happen because in my, she had the worst, right. That's the worst. Right. Mm-hmm and so it's never, it's never that, you know, that's what I always, I always think about that. And the other thing about John that I remember, I don't know if she'll remember this, but I remember talking about radio and thinking like, oh God, what am I doing? Just this meaningless job, this meaningless career, compared to what you're doing, John, you know, you're saving the world. Literally like her, her job was to, um, get financial empowerment and education to the, to the poor, to people with disabilities, you know, 54 million Americans and help lift them out of poverty through these programs she was doing. And I thought like, you know, you're doing the real work. And she was like, no, you're doing real work too. You, you touch somebody's life every day. Mm-hmm , you know, think of the grace that woman has to think and say that, you know, and we all used to, she's easy to talk to. So we'd all go to her with all of our problems and cry and complain and whatever. And she would always just counsel you. And what she didn't do was roll her eyes, which I would've done be like, you're problems. Are you kidding me? Look in my life. Right.

Speaker 1: (48:50)

You know, that's right.

Speaker 2: (48:52)

It's amazing. But that is that's perspective.

Speaker 1: (48:54)

Right. That is amazing.

Speaker 1: (48:57)

Yeah. That it's, it's great. The grace for someone to say your situation is unique and I can appreciate that. Um, I know my, I know my wife spoke to the, spoke to this one woman at church when we, we had first moved there and, and, and she said, oh, well, I have twins. I have twins and a, uh, you know, an 18 month old. Right. Or I think at that point, it would've been like I have six year old twins and a four year old. And you know, and my geez, it's really hard and talked to her for 15, 20 minutes. And then later on, she found out that this woman had eight kids, but she never mentioned it. Like never said a word, never said a peep about what it was like raising eight kids versus, you know, us having three. And, uh, and, and I think that's, that's part of it, like what your aunt is saying is like, she's doing what's right for her. And you are still, you can still and are impacting lives and helping people by using your gifts in the way that you're meant to be meant to be used. Um, yeah.

Speaker 2: (50:11)

That's the trick of life, right. Is, um, someone had asked in social, you know, why, why the, um, aim to be perfect? You know, why is this things, why is this a human sort of struggle was to always be perfect. You know, perfection is overrated was, was essentially the comment. And I said, it's not about being perfect. It's about trying. Right? Like, cause all that means is you have something to look up to a, a way to go direction, a, a, a will to be better, whatever kind of better that is, you know, of your own skillset or, um, like, you know, the, the cliche greeting card is like improve 1% every day or whatever, you know how that goes. But like, it is that simple. Like you have to, she wanted to be better. There was that desire still in her. Right. So she was able to live and move on and redefine her life.

Speaker 2: (51:26)

Um, and that's the thing, you know, I think about every day somebody asked me last summer, are you happy? And the answer was no. And I haven't said that since I left XM a long time and I made, and I knew it already, but because someone asked me and I said it out loud, it made it true. Right. Mm-hmm and, and it was the, the catalyst to, to make the change when I did. Right. It's such a simple question to ask yourself. I mean, the, the, so many people have been doing that with the great resignation

Speaker 1: (52:06)


Speaker 2: (52:08)

Which is great. I mean, I feel like except for Ukraine and, and not Ukraine, but Putin and Ukraine, like, I feel like the world is a happier place because of COVID.

Speaker 1: (52:21)

So when you, when you asked yourself or when someone asked you that question and you answered no, what was, what was the outcome of that? Like, what did you change?

Speaker 2: (52:33)

They asked, so they, they were asking in general, but I can only think lately . And so the lately answer was, uh, the question was, what do I like to do? And I like to write, I like to write the marketing and I like to write what's in product. And I like to work on the product, um, with, with Ja I'd said specifically with Jason, debka my other co-founder. I, we work really well together and we make things in our, um, ability to, um, actualize an idea is in seconds we're so we're really attuned at like, just getting it done. And so it's very rewarding cuz we achieve. Mm-hmm, a lot of together. Um, and we finish he's he's my designer. Um, so we, and he's incredible. So we finish each other's sentences a lot. So it's, it's a, it's fun. And, and it's funny, we're nerds, you know, we, we watch every episode of the office 50,000 times, you know, so there's and we have, and we have that thing.

Speaker 2: (53:35)

I, I don't know what this, there must be a word for this and I should look it up. Cause I do talk about it a lot, but we have that language that you, that little small groups make up their own language, you know, mm-hmm right. Like your family has words like, oh, we have the moped word right. Um, but you have them sometimes with people and sometimes with small groups, it's like a vernacular, uh, whatever. And so we have that. Um, and I, I shifted the company. So we all stopped doing, we all stopped making something we didn't wanna make. And we started making the thing we set out to make is the shortest answer. Um, and the difference was like night and day, suddenly everyone was happy and the energy changed. The people were working on weekends again and overtime and having fun and problem solving as opposed to just in the slog.

Speaker 2: (54:29)

And like we had to get out of the scrape mindset and get into the growth mindset. Um, I spent part, part of this catalyst was, um, mark Robish, who was the former CRO that of HubSpot that took them to IPO. Um, we spent 10 weeks with him coaching us. It, you know, it was a confluence events that all happened to come into my lap at the same time. And I had the wisdom to say yes. Right. Um, and that led us release, which I think you've seen the self-service products. Mm-hmm and, um, also double down on artificial intelligence and content creation and get out of, not get out of the publishing business, but, um, embrace what makes us different as opposed to tried to bang our heads against the wall, with something that everyone else was already doing, you know?

Speaker 2: (55:33)

Um, so it was life changing and will it work? I don't know. It feels right. I mean, it feels right. Although at this moment, so I'm going, uh, to Florida for a few days, starting tomorrow and I need, I need the break I'm I'm I'm having, um, I gotta split here actually in a second, Jim, but I'm having that kind of, kind of life where I'm slamming into my evening at a hundred miles an hour. You know what I mean? If you, I know, you know what that's like, you're just like, you know, you mean you get to the end of the day. Yeah. When I get into the end of the day and I'm just like, bam. And so like, how do I, how do you then, you know, get into your relaxed time, it's really hard to then make that transition. Cause I need some kind of transition right before I get to bed. And so, you know, I'm leaning on alcohol more than I normally would. Yep. Which is not great. Mm-hmm and or I'm, you know, I'm impatient to have dinner. So like I'm kind of a cause it's, you know, I'm just trying to get into that place where I turn the phone off and I'm on the couch and I'm just checking out and someone else's sitcom or, or whatever thing I'm binging and getting my, um, getting my zone, you know, zoning out just, just the right.

Speaker 1: (56:56)

Yeah. Making that transition. That is, I was there myself during, during the pandemic and there were some intense periods of time working really hard and to shut it down. Yeah. Um, it was, I mean it was glasses of wine and 11 o'clock at night and I'm like, wait, this doesn't make sense. Like why, why do I need a glass of wine at 11 o'clock at night? That's ridiculous. And, and you start to realize like, all right, yeah. Something's, something's gotta change.

Speaker 2: (57:25)

Something's gotta change. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, at least, you know that, right? Like some people don't don't can't even get there. Um, but you know, there, it's just this weird kind of give and take like sometimes this is the life I choose. I mean, I I'm choosing to continue to be the CEO of this startup you know, which is,

Speaker 1: (57:52)

This is, this is that time in your life when you feel like that's the right fit, you know, and the different windows of time, and this is your, this is your time for this, but it won't necessarily last forever. And it might transition into something different. It sounds like it's already transitioning into the next phase, which is

Speaker 2: (58:15)


Speaker 1: (58:16)

Part of the genius evolving

Speaker 2: (58:18)

one, one last thing on the perspective idea that someone said to me recently, I was meeting with a financial I'm meeting with financial advisors cuz we're trying to grow up and like write our wills and do all these other things, you know, and figure out, well, how much did we it up? is there still time to save, save money and have a retirement plan? And so, you know, they, they ask you to list your assets and all these other things. And so we're, and so we sent, sent all this paperwork beforehand and we're having the meeting and we're talking and then at the end and I was there she's like anything else. And I was like, oh, oh yeah, well there's lately. And they're like, oh, well what's the valuation of the company. And I was like 14 million. And he's like, well that's your biggest asset?

Speaker 1: (59:04)

Oh yeah. There's that other thing. There's that lately thing that I've for 10 years. Yeah.

Speaker 2: (59:11)

It didn't occur to me that this is a, an asset and yes, my biggest asset, like there's a reason I'm devoting all this time to this and it's not, it's not for nothing. Right, right. No matter what, like, like if I don't raise the next round or if we don't hit the next monthly recurring revenue milestone or whatever it is, like it's still worth $14 million. I did that.

Speaker 1: (59:39)

Yeah, you did. And, and it's just the start. Right. Uh, think, think of all the things you were going to do, this is one, this is one of them, you know? Yeah.

Speaker 2: (59:55)

Speaker 1: (59:56)

And how many people have built 14 million startup?

Speaker 2: (01:00:00)

I don't know. We, I really need to hang out with you more. You're really good for me.

Speaker 1: (01:00:07)

Well, but I mean, look, I know, I know you're short on time and, and I so appreciative of the time you've spent with us, but I, I feel like it's just important. I think it's really important for people to hear. Not only do you have lessons and, um, wisdom to share, but you also have struggles and you also have challenges and, and things that, that you're still working on. And to me, that's the thing that people don't see. They don't say like, wait, you can't be both like, yeah, you absolutely can be both. You can, you can be, you can be an amazing leader and struggle with a number of a number of things. Um, yeah. And those things coexist for everyone all the time.

Speaker 2: (01:00:57)

It's so important to share those things because then it's attainable for other people. Right.

Speaker 1: (01:01:05)

It makes it way more attainable because now a young, uh, female entrepreneur that looks up to you and sees you as the role model that she's emulating, but she doesn't see the things you struggle with. And so when she struggles with those, she's like, oh, well I'm doing it wrong because obviously Kate doesn't Kate, doesn't go through those. It's like, no, no that's part of it.

Speaker 2: (01:01:36)

I remember getting my heart broken really badly. Like the first time and being inconsolable, just crying crying and crying. And, and my dad, I thought at the time that this was so callous, but later I understood what he was saying. He, he said, you're not the only person to ever experienced this. Right. Is what he said.

Speaker 2: (01:02:03)

And what he was saying was like, you know, well, what he was saying is like, Jesus Christ, it's not that big of a deal, cuz you're only 14 or however old, it was sorry for coughing. But, um, what he was also saying, which, which is when you realize you're not the only one, um, then that the, the weight is off you for, for just dealing with it. , you know, it's a lot easier to get through it when you there's the strength in numbers or, or, um, not the strength and numbers so much as like the

Speaker 1: (01:02:46)

or the weakness in isolation.

Speaker 2: (01:02:49)


Speaker 1: (01:02:49)

Right. It's the reverse of it is that the most dangerous thing is to think that your challenge is unique to you, which means your flawed and there's something wrong with you cuz no one else has this problem,

Speaker 2: (01:03:04)

Right? Yeah.

Speaker 1: (01:03:05)

Like, no, no many, many people have this problem and you are not, unfortunately you're not as unique as you think you are.

Speaker 2: (01:03:15)

Yeah. That's the biggest one. Like you don't, you know, when you're a teenager, of course there were world revolves around you. But um, yeah, it was, it's a good, I think about that too whenever. And it's what it also means is like health exists because you know, it's like when you type in anything in Google, it, the thing you're, someone has searched for it already. That's why it's auto populating. You're thinking about right now. There's some weird out there

Speaker 1: (01:03:39)

Speaker 2: (01:03:42)

But there's like, oh, I'm not the first person to that. This is occurring to, you know, um, anyways, I gotta split. I gotta, I gotta pack my bathing suits and my um, my mom, the first 75th birthday and I'm, I'm bringing the party it's all right here. Literally I have to figure out how it fits into the suitcase. Um, and whether it goes under or over or these high class problem problems I have today

Speaker 1: (01:04:13)

Wow. No, you please go, go prepare for your, for your Florida trip and um, and thank you for, thank you for sharing a, a tremendously difficult story about your rent and um, and for sharing both your successes and, and the struggles of someone who many people look up to as what they, uh, what they hope to be the epitome of, uh, of success. And, um, but you hit on the most important thing, which is happiness, you know, the success of reaching your happiness. And um, I think we're all, we're all trying to get there, but thank you for sharing your path of how you're working on it. That it's a work in progress.

Speaker 2: (01:05:08)

You jam, boy, I love you. Um, and your, the way you describe me, um, it's not imposter syndrome cuz I'm not, you know, I'm not quite enough to pretend that I have that, but um, you make me wanna do a better job of being the woman that I am. So thanks.

Speaker 1: (01:05:39)

That's all you have to do. You are enough, Kate. Thank you very much for your time today. You're a treasure. I look forward to following you and uh, talking to you again soon. Thanks.

Speaker 2: (01:06:06)

Speaker 1: (01:06:09)

All right, Kate. We're out

Speaker 2: (01:06:12)

Best. You're so good at this. You, you, you gotta do something with this good questions.

Speaker 1: (01:06:19)

Yeah. I, I, I feel like I didn't do a very good job with you. Um, oh

Speaker 2: (01:06:24)

My God.

Speaker 1: (01:06:25)


Speaker 2: (01:06:26)

It was great.

Speaker 1: (01:06:27)

But the, um, I'm sorry, we ran long it's alright, but um, Hey, just podcast aside. Yeah. Um, I really enjoy talking to people that are sorting things out, cuz it helps me sort things out. Yeah. And if you ever need somebody to talk to, just to sort through some, um, for some strange reason, I really enjoy that. I don't know why. Um, but

Speaker 2: (01:06:55)

I know. Where are you again? Are you in this? You're not where do you guys live? You're in Jersey,

Speaker 1: (01:06:59)

Right? Central Jersey

Speaker 2: (01:07:01)

Central. Yeah. So like what does that mean?

Speaker 1: (01:07:04)

Edison? That's like, uh, I'm 45 minutes from Manhattan by train south, south,

Speaker 2: (01:07:10)

South, south. Okay. I was gonna say, well, if you ever wanna go for a hike up at Mohawk, call me

Speaker 1: (01:07:17)


Speaker 2: (01:07:17)

Right here.

Speaker 1: (01:07:19)

I would love that. And, and I'll tell you about my, my summer plans in Durango. I'll tell you about those. Oh yeah. But um, cool. But yeah. Let's yeah.

Speaker 2: (01:07:27)


Speaker 1: (01:07:27)

You so much. I would love to, I would love to catch up again because you're you fire my brain up in a different way and uh, um, and uh, yeah. I just, I, I think the world of you, I really do. Hey.

Speaker 2: (01:07:41)

Yeah, we gotta, we gotta figure out a way to, you know, coalesce co Coco something. I don't know. I wanna figure it out. Yeah. Re re not it's not connect or reconnect, but it's like, uh, come together again somehow,

Speaker 1: (01:07:58)

You know? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Pretty soon. I'll start my dog petting business and then we can tell

Speaker 2: (01:08:05)

I need one of those. I need a dog that just comes and then leaves. all, honey. I love you. Thank so much. Talk to soon.

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