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Episode 21: Life Changes and How To Set Non-Negotiables with Kristi Piehl

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Brief summary of show:

In this week’s episode, I sit down with Kristi Piehl, CEO and Founder of Media Minefield.

She started her company in 2010 following a 12-year career as an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter. Media Minefield is a one-of-a-kind PR agency specializing in earned media, crisis communication and social media.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • How to turn getting laid off into your life purpose

  • Empowering yourself to make different choices

  • How to model flexibility and boundaries

  • Tips for staying within our personal boundaries

Kristi is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs of all genders and ethnicities and is a founding board member of the Demon Angels and a founding member of the Women in Entrepreneurship Institute at DePaul University. She is also a founding member of The 25 at Bethel University, a four-year cohort program to empower women to use their strengths and skills to uncover their potential.

In 2020, she launched the Flip Your Script podcast, where she interviews people who have faced a critical turning point in their life and explores how they found the inspiration to move forward and rewrite their own unique story.

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Podcast Highlights:

[00:01:31] How Kristi's company was born

[00:06:28] Different ways to get your message out there

[00:07:31] How to write out your non-negotiables

[00:12:42] How she manages work, kids, family and life

[00:17:44] Her best tools for productivity

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Natalie: Hi, everyone in today's podcast. I want to talk about boundaries. What does it mean to have boundaries as a news person and a working parent? I found this very difficult for 28 years. I worked in an industry. It was really hard to set boundaries with the news being 24 hours a day, always had to know what was going on.

[00:00:18] So my guest today is someone who's going to help us redefine boundaries. We're actually going to call them. Non-negotiables Christy Peale was also in the news business. We have so many things in common as you're going to hear in the podcast, which she helps us determine what those things are. It might be work non-negotiables, it might be in your private life, but it's so important to set these types of boundaries and to have specific things that you simply don't negotiate on.

[00:00:44] I think you're really going to enjoy this podcast with Christie peel.


[00:00:51] Natalie: Christie joining me now we have a similar background and I am excited to see where her new career to occur because I'm going through that right now, Christy. So good to talk to you today. Thanks for taking the time.

[00:01:03] Kristi: Thank you so much for inviting me. It's a pleasure.

[00:01:05] Natalie: We have these stories to share from years on television.

[00:01:09] You're an Emmy award winning television reporter. And you made the decision to leave that business many years before I did. We started at about the same time, but give me a little bit of your

[00:01:19] Kristi: background. Sure. I was a television news reporter and anchor at five different television stations in four different states, got to cover and have a front row seat for amazing stories and watched history in the making.

[00:01:31] And I defined myself by my career. I was a TV reporter. It was part of my identity in an unhealthy way, which I didn't realize. I was, I just went to MES. I was renegotiating my contract. I was actually, I haven't sitting here, but I was on the cover of a magazine in town, a full page picture of winning these Emmys.

[00:01:52] I was doing some work for good morning America. And one day I got called into the yeah. And I was laid off, so I didn't make the choice. The choice was made for me. There were 20 of us in late 2007, early 2008, and we all lost our jobs. The same day. I was an investigative reporter and investigative reporters as, as you know, are expendable at, during rough economic times.

[00:02:15] So my department was changed tremendously and myself, as well as my boss and other people were all. Shown the door. And that was my exit to television news. And I knew immediately it was a blessing and a gift. I knew I should leave the business. I wasn't brave enough to do it on my own.

[00:02:35] Natalie: Well, when decisions are made for us and yet they end up being.

[00:02:39] The very best decisions in our lives. We don't see it during those hardships. During those times, I remember about the same time that television station I was working for in Denver merge with another station. And it was a terrible time where people were laid off and the business, as we know, as the same type thing happened many years ago in newspaper and magazines, like it's just changing.

[00:03:01] I have found a new way to parlay my my experience. Into something new here on this podcast and this brand, I love what you have done with your career. And it's been a while, but tell me about that. Tell me what you're doing and your mission now.

[00:03:15] Kristi: Certainly the business, I started media minefield in 2010, and we can talk about how I went from this to that because it wasn't on my my plan.

[00:03:24] And I wanted to help people with my news background. I felt like, and maybe you can relate. I sold a little bit of my soul doing television news and I loved it. I love people's stories. I feel like I got a window into either the highest in someone's life or the lowest, but whenever someone shares a story, it's just so powerful.

[00:03:46] But there were things that I did that I, if I could go back. And, you know, it you know, for example, when, when someone just found out that their child is murdered and I knock on the door, or if someone is in a really difficult time being accused of all sorts of horrible crimes and I'm running after them down the street, asking them questions.

[00:04:04] That was my job. And now as a mother and with older children, I can't imagine if something horrible happened in my life. And I opened the door to me and. I was really good at getting people to tell me their stories. And I felt like my job in that time was to have compassion and to have empathy and to help them.

[00:04:21] But looking back. It was hard. It just was hard. And I knew that after my news career ended, I wanted, I know the power of news. I know the power of storytelling. I also knew that the traditional path to public relations, which many people take. It wasn't for me, I don't believe the traditional approach to public relations is effective.

[00:04:40] I still believe that and I wanted to help people. So I couldn't figure out like, how do I use my background and help people and not do traditional PR? So I got stuck and I took a class actually at my church. That was how to help people with their passion and their giftedness and the business was born.

[00:04:56] So the business started in 2010 and our mission is to make everyone story better. We. Nearly 50 employees. We have clients all over the country from small to giant brands and we work on their social media, their crisis media paid media, and we, the primary part of our business is we help them secure news interviews and news content to move their business and brands forward.

[00:05:19] Natalie: I love what you do. I love that you're using the experience like we have, and I can relate in so many ways. I've never said so far and I'm fresher out of the industry just here in the last year that I felt like I sold my soul in some ways, but I certainly relate to that. You know, it's all of those times that someone you, you know, someone, something tragic has happened to and all your.

[00:05:40] Fellow coworkers will say, Hey, can you call them and ask them? You're like, oh my gosh, this is someone I know. And I'm, I feel for them. And yet you're asking me to call them and try to get a TV interview. Like I, I relate. and I appreciate that you're using that experience in a positive way, but I have a question for you with media minefield now, because I think a lot about help and people ask me all the time for media training or advice or a pitch.

[00:06:04] I want to know how you use that to get their story out. That doesn't have to be traditional news because traditional news can sometimes be the enemy. It's not the enemy it's still necessary and we need news. We need to know what's happening in our world. And we can appreciate that. But how do you get those stories out where it doesn't have to be that old fashioned news it as a way to get the story out?

[00:06:28] Kristi: There's so many different avenues and we encourage our clients to take advantage of all the different ways. Social media is a fantastic way. There's different videos. There's blogs, there's podcasts, which offer more time on a news interview. Write articles on LinkedIn. Authority pieces thought leadership pieces.

[00:06:45] There's so many different ways. So we really work with our clients to understand who is their audience, where can we reset audience? And then how can we tell their story so that the right people hear it and then take appropriate action. Yeah. So

[00:06:58] Natalie: let's talk a little bit about protecting yourself, your boundaries.

[00:07:02] You're a mom, you have two boys one in college and one in high school. Right? so you realize as, as I do the importance of protecting ourselves and not getting sucked into negativity in our world, and I know you help with crisis communications and media as well, but. Let's talk about protecting ourselves.

[00:07:20] We've done that in some ways in creating this new career for ourselves. But what advice do you have for people as professional woman and mom in protecting ourselves and setting boundaries?

[00:07:31] Kristi: Right after I lost my job, I made a list. And I've actually wrote it down. It's called my non-negotiables. And when I do speaking now, when I talk to people, I encourage everyone to have a list of non-negotiables one of the things that I think do men do it, maybe I can speak from my experience as a woman, as a working mom, we start our careers and we say, here's what I'm going to do.

[00:07:51] And then we don't reassess. We don't say, okay, now I have two children. Should I still do this? Now I have five children. Now I'm divorced. Like, whatever it might be, we just, this is the path and we're going to do it. So the non-negotiables. I encourage people to continue to reevaluate and to change. And even now that I have this, my older son is about to start college and my younger son is in high school.

[00:08:12] So they're, they're gone more. So my non-negotiables list looks a lot different than when they were little and I wanted to be, I needed, they needed me in a different way and they were home more. So for me, Right after I lost my job and it was trying to figure out what my next thing was going to be. My non-negotiables were, I wasn't going to move my husband.

[00:08:30] And I had decided that Minneapolis was where we were going to raise our kids. So we weren't going to move. That was one of my non-negotiables. I was no longer going to let other people dictate my time. So if in news, there's, there's a tornado on my kid's birthday. I go to the tornado. It's Christmas day. I we'd wrap gifts, unwrapped the gift of the day before, so I can go do news.

[00:08:53] I was no longer going to allow that to happen, and I really wanted to be in control. Of my life and my time and my schedule. So those were the things that were important to me at that time. And that really helped me then putting those boundaries up. Then it was really easy when someone would call because my exit here and television was public.

[00:09:13] So I got job offers. And if, if the job offers. And this box I wasn't going to say yes or even take an interview. And that led me to 18 months after the layoff. There isn't a job out there that I could control my time and really be in charge of my life and not move, which is why eventually the business start.

[00:09:36] Natalie: You know, that's, it's interesting because I think a lot of people have set those new type of non-negotiables coming out of COVID where they have experienced this new level of freedom. I was just talking to a friend yesterday who has been working at home for a year and the office has just said, we want you to come back at least a couple times a week.

[00:09:56] Like, I like having my dog sitting beside me while I'm working and I can stop in and make a healthy lunch. And I feel like I'm more productive now because I can do these things at home. But telling your boss that it, it's not something easy to do. So a lot of people have come out of COVID feeling that way.

[00:10:13] Kristi: Yes. And we've seen even at media minefield different, we've had people that have decided to leave television news and have sent their resumes and we're hiring. So we're benefiting. We've also had people who have been employees here who said, you know what? I don't want to come back to the office. And we say, okay, enjoy.

[00:10:29] We wish you all the best because the non I encourage and celebrate when people look at their life and their family and family is the most important job. The number one priority. If, if no longer your work fits into that. Please empower yourself to do something different and to make different choices, because you can never get that time back.

[00:10:50] How do

[00:10:50] Natalie: you handle that as the head of a company now with so many employees and you realize the benefit you've been on both sides, but how do you handle that? Do you feel like people are just as productive working at home when, when they're able to spend time with them?

[00:11:06] Kristi: Yes, we come back. We brought everyone back to in first, in a hybrid environment.

[00:11:11] So we're saying we believe that collaboration happens at a different level in person. So we want you to be with your team two days a week at the minimum. However, if you want to be here five days a week, you absolutely can take your own space. You can have a cube and it's dedicated to you because some people really want that.

[00:11:29] And we believe that some people are Productive and their family, whole life balance is better at home, but we do believe that for the sake of the clients, having teams, seeing each other and connecting and having relationship two days a week is powerful. So that's how we're doing it. And we're completely flexible.

[00:11:46] So even for me, this, and I have to model it, which I'll admit is tricky because I'm very driven and type a, but people are watching. So like this morning I got up early, I did some work, I have my morning routine and then I really wanted to. So from nine to 10, I ran and then I, you know, came into work and did my thing.

[00:12:03] So I'm trying to model that flexibility that we talk about here because for my family and what was going on with my kids today, I wanted to say goodbye to them before they went off their volunteering today. So it is, hard because we have to give ourselves permission. To take time and to say, I'm doing this, it matters my, my work will be there in an hour.

[00:12:22] I mean, it's an hour. I can set my email off for an hour. So that's, I just really encourage people to decide what's important to them and to fight.

[00:12:31] Natalie: ] how do you manage being a mom staying driven, structuring your time? Like, I struggle with that three kids, three dogs trying to, trying to grow a new business.

[00:12:41] How do you manage that?

[00:12:42] Kristi: I have really supportive people around me. My husband is incredibly supportive. We've always shared everything, all of the tasks around the house, all the things that have to happen. I also got really good advice from a friend of mine who has a very large company when my company was growing.

[00:12:59] And I said, I feel like I'm failing in all the parts of my life. Sort of good at my job and I'm sort of good with my kids and I'm sort of a good wife and I'm sort of a good friend and she just shut it down. And she said, write down everything that someone else can do better than you and hire it out. So I did that and it was freeing someone else for up until COVID.

[00:13:20] We had someone come make our meals, someone drops off our groceries, we take our dog to doggy daycare twice a week. Someone does our flowers, like all these things that even my assistant makes my hair appointments, which I really had a hard time because it's like, I can do this. And she's like, but why would you, your hair appointments screw up my calendar.

[00:13:36] So let me schedule that for you. So it's hard to. Resource and outsource some things, because I think we, again, I don't, maybe men struggle with this too, but working moms, we feel like we can do everything. I can do everything. I

[00:13:49] Natalie: feel like we should do everything

[00:13:51] Kristi: we should because good moms do everywhere, everything good moms, but they do everything sort of halfway and then nobody wins.

[00:13:58] So I, one of my, as we've talked about non-negotiables was like, I want to eat dinner with my children. I don't care who makes it. And it doesn't, I don't need them to see me cooking and coming home harried and like someone set the table and my, what I want is to eat with them and have conversation with them.

[00:14:17] So we made some choices to move some things around and have them. Make our meals and that works for

[00:14:23] Natalie: us. You know, I want to say something about that because I know a lot of people listening will go, but I can't afford that. And I have found through the years, like there are people who can garden better than me for me, that's therapy.

[00:14:34] So I do it. There are people who definitely cook better than me. Sometimes I like to cook, but when we can free ourselves up as moms and say, okay, I'm growing this business. I can spend time cooking and cleaning and doing these things, but I'm not growing the business if I'm doing those things. So potentially if I'm leveraging myself to grow the business or do something else, then from a money standpoint, it does make sense.

[00:15:00] I realize not everybody can afford someone to cook or clean or do those things, but if you can free yourself up to grow something else, then it's a smart business decision.

[00:15:10] Kristi: Yes.

[00:15:11] It is an evolution. So there was a time when we, we really struggled financially and I knew that I could take my kids to the taco bell drive-through and we could all eat for less than $5 and we would have a car picnic and that was entertainment.

[00:15:27] Kristi: I didn't have to feed them. So it is an evolution and I, we don't have someone cook for us right now because our kids are older and we've found through COVID and the flexibility that when we're home, we can make our meals and we have a plan. So now every Sunday, my husband and I sit down and he's actually taken ownership of that.

[00:15:45] And we talk about here's the calendar, here's what we're doing this week. Here's what the kids are doing. This is what we're going to have this night and this, so we P we plan, I guess, at the end of the day, The advice I would have is just plan it out. I think it's overwhelming to wake up in the morning and say, I have 10 meetings.

[00:16:00] The kids have this, we have to eat. Then I have probably exercise and I want to read a book like you're, you're going to feel like a failure. So have a plan, execute the. It's so true.

[00:16:11] Natalie: Have a plan. I love that. I actually, someone gave me this advice. I want to add this because when you talk about having other people do things someone gave me the advice.

[00:16:18] Don't do things for your kids that they actually can do for themselves. And I find myself as a mom doing that all the time. I have an 11 year old, he can make himself breakfast, but it makes me feel empowered. When I'm making breakfast every day. So it's more for me than it is for him. And so I have to take a step back and say, Hey, did you make yourself breakfast?

[00:16:38] No, I thought he'll say, no. I thought you were going to make me breakfast. I know you're capable of making breakfast. So to let them do what they are capable of doing. So we're not enabling.

[00:16:47] Kristi: Exactly right. My older son is going to college as I mentioned. And so now he's responsible for his laundry and I have to tell you, like, it kills me when I walked by the laundry room and there's like a pile of his clothes and I, it would be so much easier if I just did it, but I'm not teaching him anything.

[00:17:02] I know it would take me three minutes. I know we'll be faster, but he's got to learn how to do his laundry. So it sits. And the cat literally has been sleeping on those clothes for like five days. And I just like the cat. Loves that you're not doing your laundry, but someday you're not going to have any clothes.

[00:17:18] So you're going to have to do your laundry. Right.

[00:17:20] Natalie: And I'm not going to be there to do it for you in college. Well, I I've learned so much and I, I really appreciate your background, your experience into your advice. And I really. A lot to it. As I know other people do too, I have two questions that I like to ask everyone when they come on my podcast.

[00:17:34] And the first one I like to learn from people and and their experience and how they organize their lives. And so the first question is what's your favorite tool for productivity?

[00:17:44] Kristi: This is so unsexy. I'm almost embarrassed to say it, but it's paper and pencil. I am a. Avid list-maker and planner. And I have tried all sorts of apps and I've tried all sorts of other things.

[00:18:00] And I found that if I write it down and I, every night when I leave the office or leave my home office, write down what needs to get done the next day and plan it out, then I can leave that day feeling successful that I accomplished what I needed to. And I have, we have a list at home and I'm, I'm just old school.

[00:18:18] It's it's old fashioned paper pen.

[00:18:21] Natalie: I've tried so hard and I do use a couple of online things, but I end up scribbling things down. I think it's something about that. Mind, paper writing connection. Don't you? It feels good. So you think

[00:18:33] Kristi: when it does that? Yeah. Yeah. We've got people in the office that swear by their favorite app or website for all of that.

[00:18:39] And that's great, but for me, I think I remember it better when I write it. Yeah. So I'm I'm old school.

[00:18:45] Natalie: Okay. So the second question, and I'm really interested in this because you and I have both changed our purpose, but what are maybe, maybe the overall purpose hasn't changed, but what is your, what do you feel like your life purpose is?

[00:18:58] And when did you discover it?

[00:18:59] Kristi: My purpose is to help other people make their story better. And the seed of being a storyteller started when I was a little girl, I've always been a storyteller when I was in news. I wanted to tell people's story. Well, I believe in the power of someone's story and, and how important it is when people share it to honor it.

[00:19:21] So that hasn't changed. But now in the business, I. Love that we are making our clients' stories better. And every employee who comes in, I feel a deep responsibility that if we can help develop them and give them leadership training and make them a better person as a, as a human, when they leave at the end of their career here, then the first day they came, then we've accomplished something.

[00:19:42] And what happens at home impacts work and what happens at work impacts home. So if we can. People a better story here. They're taking that home and perhaps we can make generational impact in healthy environments as they learn more and get more information and work on themselves and better their themselves.

[00:20:01] And I started this podcast, the flip your strip podcast a year ago to help share people's stories because it fits into my purpose. And I have incredible guests who have flipped to their script. Okay. The whole purpose is to help other people who are struggling.

[00:20:16] Natalie: And, you know, you can at any age, flip your script and change your story and not give up on what that might be.

[00:20:22] And industries change the world changes. COVID look, we look at all of these things, like it's never too late to change your story or to enhance your story.

[00:20:31] Kristi: To fight for a better ending. There are people in bad relationships, bad situations, bad, whatever jobs. So many people now pass COVID are saying, I want it.

[00:20:42] I want to change my job. I want to change my career. I want to, I don't really love the situation. I'm in, get some therapy, get an executive coach talk, tell people around you. You want help reach out because everyone deserves a better story.

[00:20:56] Natalie: Yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate everything that you've told us today.

[00:21:01] The advice that you've given and where can people find you? You mentioned flip the script, is that where we can find you in the podcast and where else can we?

[00:21:09] Kristi: Yep. The business is media minefield. So you can Google that. My name, Kristy PL LinkedIn, all the social media and flip your

[00:21:16] Natalie: Good. Can't wait to listen, Kristie.

[00:21:18] Thanks so much.

[00:21:19] Kristi: Thank you for having me.

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