Invincible doesn’t even begin to describe Katherine Miracle. She has taken the struggles in her own life, the anxiety of others and external tragedies as learning experiences to become a beautiful and positive person who helps others. Through her company, she teaches and motivates those around her. Her story is full of inspiration, life hacks and perspective that we can all use to refine our own shine.
Jess Foutty: Can you tell me a bit about what you do?
Katherine Miracle: “I started my company in 2003. It was very event and full-service marketing related in the beginning. When the economy tanked in 2008, we moved into coaching to help people who were planning events. One of the things we realized is it didn’t matter what kind of marketing materials we were putting out or what color the logo was. If the people weren’t trained correctly and their professional development didn’t support the brand, there was a disconnect.
Teams were communicating from different perspectives. The sales people were going to sales training, the CEOs went to a leadership retreat, the front office staff was invited out to hear a speaker on administrative professionals day. So we’ve got all these people with different goals. And in the staff meeting, most of the time companies were just covering what’s going on. There was no communication. So that’s what we do. I was already doing speaking and training, but the reason we went really deep into the training component and working with teams is because of the brand disconnect. It was heartbreaking to design all this great stuff, do tv commercials, etc for a client and then we’d get customer service feedback surveys and they were horrible. So why did we spend all of this time on the exterior instead of the interior? It’s kind of like you, if you go to a restaurant, you’ve heard it’s really good, the logo is cute and looks like it’s fun, but you get horrible customer service, you’re out. So that’s why we do our 28 training programs and we do them consecutively with a company.
The crash of 2008 really changed our company because we focused more on the internal training and the needs within the company instead of focusing externally through marketing. We still love to do external marketing for our clients, but we always marry that with what’s happening internally.”
Jess: Did you always know what you wanted to do? If not, when did you identify what you wanted to do?
Katherine: “I wanted to be a tennis player. Then I wanted to be a jockey. That was so not going to happen, but I love horses. Then I wanted to be a nurse which is funny because I look at what’s going on right now and they’re just such heroes.
I always wanted to help people and educate them in a unique and fun way. I couldn’t identify it until later in life because when I was in college, with a communication degree, you can go so many ways. With a second degree in theater, it wasn’t that I wanted to be on stage. I didn’t want to be an actress; I wanted to be a director.
Every job I’ve had, it’s been based on need. I was in non-profit for 15 years and did all kinds of events. I planned really fun, fundraising events.
So for me it was always, “what’s the need?” So after the 2008 downturn, we realized the core of the real problem was that people were just so anxious. They really needed to train their people and give better customer service. I think you’re going to find the same thing after people go back to work from this (coronavirus crisis) as well.
Everything I’ve ever created was to serve as a solution to a problem.”
Jess: Did you have a champion who pushed you forward in your career?
Katherine: “My champion was my mom. When I was very young, and this will surprise you based on talking to me, I had selective mutism. It’s an anxiety disorder that kids have. What happens with selective mutism, these are the children that when you go up to them, they hug their mom’s leg. They’re very shy with people they don’t know. I had no problem with people I knew but with people I didn’t know, I was very shy. My mom became really worried about me because I wouldn’t communicate.
She helped me by doing very small steps, working with me, providing resources. She found the School of Fine Arts in Willoughby, Ohio, of which I’m an alumna and I was even involved up to my summers in college. I was in plays. And it really got me out of my comfort zone.”
Jess: How has this changed your perspective in what you do now?
Katherine: “What’s funny is I teach college in addition to owning my own business; I teach public speaking. I also work with CEO’s, celebrities and athletes, anyone who needs me to work with them on their public speaking and their communication. And I do the same thing my mom did with me. Very small steps, I work with them, I build their confidence. I help people who are going to job interviews. I’m called the communication concierge. What I do is, in any communication situation, I look at it, I research it, I’ll get you the resources so you can communicate with credibility and confidence.
I love doing that. I’ve been speaking on confidence and communication. But If you would have told me when I was 5 years old that I would speak across the country, when I couldn’t even ask for napkins in a restaurant? I couldn’t go up and ask someone for the time when I was a little kid. So when teaching at Kent State University and The University of Akron in addition to owning this business, I don’t care if I’m working with a CEO or a freshman in college. If they are having anxiety during public speaking, I understand it and work with them one on one. We facetime. I put them in different situations and get them comfortable so they can actually give a speech. Working with people and helping them through the communication issues is what I do.”
Jess: What is the most satisfying part of what you do?
Katherine: “People’s growth and success is my payday. I love it so much, especially as a teacher. It’s helping people grow and it has so much to do with how my mom helped me. It was never a push. I don’t think push works; I think challenge works. Sometimes you have to be pretty bold in how you’re challenging people. But people have to see the process and help create the process to succeed. They have to be committed.”
Jess: What would you tell someone who has anxiety? What can they do to gain confidence to communicate?
Katherine: “I have a 1 hour speech on confidence that I gave for Women in Business where I say you’ve got to identify why. Why am I feeling this? What is causing this? Most of the time people have a confidence issue because they believe an unqualified person telling them they weren’t good at something. Observe why it is being said. Be the lifeguard who looks and watches and then responds. We have to observe before we adopt a belief.
Then put resources to it. It may be working one on one with someone. It may be walking in the park and talking through the speech. I have students who stutter or have speech impediments. We’ll work with them and we’ll practice singing the speech and then we take the singing out.
It has to be expert resources.
The third thing is just practice. As a speaker, you have to have those moments when you know what works and how to pull things back. It’s just like a good comedian, you have to practice it. Do the speech in your car. Listen to it while you’re driving.”
Jess: How do you pull emotion out of conversations so you can have factual communication?
Katherine: “By observing! My 4th book is coming out this summer, Inquisitive Culture. And it is about observing and listening before you ask the question. We have in our society a bad view of those who are inquisitive. We say they’re ‘nosy’ or ‘prying’. And that’s not true because when we’re inquisitive, we’re learning.
It’s about surviving and changing the workplace culture. Really observe and really listen. For example, maybe I have a student who isn’t coming to class who I need to talk to. If I use an appreciative inquiry question, I might ask “What do you want to happen in my class?” But that doesn’t get to the core of the problem. So instead I ask “What is preventing you from coming to class?” The student says “Mrs. Miracle, I’m not sleeping and I’m really not functioning.” Ok, now I know how to respond. Inquisitive questioning is more direct and based on observation. I didn’t make the student the problem, I made the question outside of them. It has a lot more to do with observing than speaking.”
**Check out our post on how to handle mental load here!
Jess: If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is struggling to keep a positive attitude, what would that be?
Katherine: “Focus on what makes you feel positive. If that’s taking a walk, or staying out of the news. Moving forward and looking at a crisis as an opponent. Here’s what I mean by that. If I’m playing tennis with you, every inch, every hit, every ball, I’m going to give it my all. That’s how you win a match. If you look at life, life is tough, it’s not easy. Each day, move forward.”
**Need some help? Check out our inspirational memes page!
No matter what Katherine has faced, she has taken each situation as a learning and growing experience, inspiring us to take a step back and do the same in our own lives. We must remove ourselves from the initial emotions and reactions and instead observe what is happening so we can take action from a place of knowledge and understanding. When we observe, we keep our power to understand and move forward effectively. It allows us to help others and see the silver lining in every situation and crisis. How have you used observation to understand and better communicate?
Katherine’s Recommended Reading List!
Discovering Your Dawn by Katherine Miracle- for those going through a crisis or tragedy. Have a tissue ready!
Your Strategic Personal Brand by Katherine Miracle- this book creates a gps for you personally and professionally. It’s a really good book for someone who is looking for change or to garner influence.
Inquisitive Culture by Katherine Miracle- Coming out this summer! It’s the secret weapon for surviving and changing your workplace culture.
Quiet by Susan Cain- Great for introverts!
A professional, speaker, coach, leader, corporate director, wife, boxer, dancer and cat mom. I'm here to be your best friend voice with a plan, helping you achieve your goals and reach your potential.
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