KATE E. STEPHENSON
- COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST -
It's nice to introduce someone with skills I've never posted before.
Welcome, Kate ...
1. Tell us about you and what you do.
I am a communications specialist, which is a catch-all title that encompasses writing, editing and consulting work in the publishing, business, and career development fields. I am a lover of language, a creator of narratives, and a weaver of words, who likes wearing many hats. I grew up believing that anything is possible and that you can go anywhere in the world or your imagination through a book.Which is why in 2006 I founded KEMPS Consulting, a boutique communications firm, catering to dreamers and doers with something to say. Founded on the principal of personalized, one-on-one, client interaction, KEMPS resists the mass production movement, instead offering tailored solutions and custom products to meet our clients’ specific needs. At KEMPS, communication is queen and rules with a powerful message.
In partnership with my work at KEMPS, I am an active blogger, managing KEMPS Lexicon, a niche blog exploring communication in its varied forms, as well as Kate-Book.com, a lifestyle blog for, by, and about Kates, which is currently under major reconstruction and poised for a relaunch summer 2017. I’m also in the process with a business partner of developing a guide blog focused on helping people identify opportunities to take life by the horns.
I’m on a mission to write a new world, one brave and inspiring story at a time. I believe it is a holy calling, and I honor that with an honest spirit of integrity and a healthy dose of gumption. I want to support my clients in leaning into their dreams and discovering their unique voices. There is too much in the world that silences our hopes—fear, judgment, conformity—and I want to help people let those things go to speak their own personal truth.
2. What do you think is the most important trait in your line of work?
The ability to listen.
3. What advice do you have for starting authors?
That little voice that tells you “This isn’t good enough”, “No one will like this”, “Who cares about this or you”—that nagging negative nelly in the back of your head—take it and lock it in a box, take the box to the attic, put it on the highest, hardest to reach shelf, then lock the attic door and leave it up there. That voice never does anyone any good. So just lock it away and instead listen to the much quieter and often harder to hear but more powerful voices of inspiration and intuition that whisper your truth in your ear.
4. What’s your favourite part of your job?
I love working with people to develop their stories. Witnessing an idea grow into a publishable manuscript, or a career goal grow into a unique professional brand, or a business idea become a solid business plan is so satisfying.
5. What has inspired you most?
My clients inspire me every day. I am in awe of their bravery and honesty to tell the stories that are in their hearts to tell. Or to speak their own personal truths in taking the audacious leap of faith in changing careers. Or to lean into their dreams by pursuing that entrepreneurial opportunity or small business opening or new project launch. It inspires me to show up.
6. What was the happiest moment of your life?
I’ve had so many happy moments. I can’t talk about a happiest, but I can describe one of the most amazing moments of my life—the day I held my goddaughter for the first time. I have this habit of saying that newborns look like chicken aliens. (If you’ve ever seen a good number of newborns then you’ll know what I mean.) But the first time I saw my little preemi baby, all 2lbs 4oz of her, with her big beautiful, bright eyes and perfect ten fingers and ten toes, she was perfect. Through her pink translucent skin you could see proof of the healthy veins pumping blood through her body. And though she was tiny, she was so feisty and strong. Looking back on the pictures now, I can attest that she was indeed a little chicken alien, but she was my chicken alien and that made all the difference in the world. Remembering that moment when they put her tiny bundled self in my hands (she was too tiny for arms) and I laid her on my chest fills me with an unnameable joy and pride. She was perfect.
7. What was the saddest moment?
The sister of my heart passed away February 14, 2005. Evelyn and I had been best friends, virtually attached at the hip, for almost ten years. She was the yin to my yang. Our differences only made us closer. And though we weren’t born from the same womb, we were sisters in every other sense of the word. We fought fiercely, we loved fiercely, we protected each other fiercely. My world was turned upside down the early morning that she died. Like many other people, I’ve endured through many hardships and sadnesses, but this was a crossroads moment unlike any other in my life. I have never been the same and I never will be, and that is as it should be.
8. Who or what made you laugh the most?
My goddaughter. She’s 3 going on 30. She cracks me up with her smart alec comments, her brilliant observations, and her own belly laugh that never fails to be contagious.
9. What surprised you most?
People never cease to amaze me. The unending depths of human fallibility juxtaposed with the infinite span of humane generosity and love.
10. What or who was your biggest challenge?
Accepting that there wasn’t one thing that I wanted to be when I grew up. I never had that moment where I was certain that I wanted to be a doctor or a fire fighter or a ballerina growing up. And when I started my career I thought, okay, I’ll do this. But even that didn’t feel like what I wanted to do forever. It’s been difficult to admit that I don’t have to commit to being any one thing, to having any one profession—that it’s okay to want variety in my life. With that realization comes a scary proposition that demands that I accept a higher level of risk in my life. We are already in the age where corporately sponsored retirements are disappearing like the Dodo bird; but there are still elements of stability that can be achieved in a more traditional professional life. Understanding that I don’t want that traditional life means saying “okay, stability, you aren’t that important to me” and making my own way every day.
11. What has been your biggest regret?
Concentrating more on helping others at my own expense. I am a giver by nature. I have a habit of preferencing other people’s time and development over my own. It took me a while to realize that my time is as important and my own growth as essential as anyone else’s. I regret not learning this lesson sooner. Understanding how and when to say “No” is so crucial for both professional and personal progress.
12. What is your prime focus in life today?
Seeking growth opportunities. Challenges are great teachers and so I’m chasing down challenges.
13. Do you have any fear of doing something wrong?
I have a fear of doing everything wrong. But my father taught me that fear is false evidence appearing real, and I try to remember that. Fear can be paralysing, and you can’t get much of anything done in that mode. So instead, I try to use my fear as motivation. If I fear that thing, whatever it may be, I want to know why—what is it there that I’m really hesitant about? If I can identify that, the fear tends to morph into a challenge.
14. What would be your dying comment? Why?
“Live like no one is looking.” When it’s all said and done, no one really is. The main thing that holds people back is fear, mostly of judgement and of change. But the thing is that most of the people whose judgment we fear in any particular moment are folks who in the blink of an eye won’t matter nearly as much to us anymore. And, while change is scary, it happens anyway, so why not let it be something that you want, instead of something simply forced upon you. At least if you do what’s in your heart to do, you won’t have any regrets when you look back at your life. Just live like most of us dance, with our eyes closed just grooving to our own beat—and when you peak your eyes open other people are having a dancing good time right along with you, and if not, their loss.
15. What are the greatest legacies you will leave behind?
Stories that communicate Truth.
16. What would you like written on your tombstone? Why?
Her stories told the truth, the truth spoke power to life, her life was lived in full.
17. What would be the last sentence you ever write?
“It’s never the end.”
18. What personal traits would you like to have in your next life?
Patience, natural networking, and quicker wit
19. What would be your top three chosen careers in your next life?
I love what I do so editor, writer, publishing consultant; but if I had to choose differently: chef, song writer (specifically), diplomat (I’ve been told I’m naturally diplomatic).
20. What’s lacking in the world today?
21. Have any heroes? Why? Who?
My grandmothers and aunts are my heroes. I have a lot of both, four grandmothers and innumerable aunts. They are all feisty, intelligent, A-type personalities who kick ass and take no names. I aspire to be like them. Similarly, my non-familial role models are women like Diana Ross, Beyoncé, Tina Turner, Maxine Waters, Octavia Butler, Zora Neale Hurston—women who have defied categorization, earned recognition, and used their voices in literal and figurative ways to build brave new worlds.
22. What advice would you give to parents today?
Help your children find their voices. Listen to them; help them discover what they are good at, what they are passionate about. It’s not enough to have skills any more. We really need to cultivate children’s natural talents and inclinations, encouraging them to hone their innate gifts.
There is nothing more important than finding your own voice.
23. How can readers contact you?
Email Kate | KEMPS Consulting | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Amazon AuthorCentral | Goodreads | Google+ | Thumbtack | About.Me | (201) 793-8515
Clancy's comment: Many thanks, Kate. It's been a pleasure. Some interesting answers here. Thank you.