Being Genuine, Authentic, and Transparent with Kathleen Sarpy—Episode 293 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Kathleen Sarpy

For more than 25 years, Kathleen Kenehan Sarpy has enjoyed a diverse career in public relations and marketing, working with the world’s most recognizable brands, as well as driven start-ups and non-profits. With unrivaled energy and enthusiasm, Kathleen expertly connects people, events, and ideas to generate a meaningful and lasting impact.

A former senior leader at the world’s leading PR firm, Kathleen left “big agency” life behind in January 2001 after the birth of her first child to launch her own shop alone in her suburban basement. Her goal: Offer world-class strategy and creativity to the world’s most respected companies by eliminating bureaucracy and without ever sacrificing kindness. Nearly 20 years later, Kathleen manages more than 40 staffers in a vibrant downtown office overlooking the Chicago River, and she’s never lost sight of her five core values that remain the cornerstone of her business: kindness, creativity, passion, hustle, and integrity.

Agency H5 has been recognized alongside the best firms in the country, winning National Small Agency of the Year and Best Place to Work by PR News multiple times. Her value-driven agency ranked #11 among Top Company Culture’s in America by Entrepreneur.com and has been recognized as a Best Place to Work by Crain’s Chicago Business both in 2018 and 2019. Personally, Kathleen has been named PR Professional of the Year by PRSA Chicago and nationally among Top Women in PR by PR News. She’s regularly featured as an expert voice on outlets like NBC (including “Today”), CBS Chicago, PR News and PR Week. Believing that life teaches you lessons that must be shared to inspire and empower others, she frequently contributes to NBC.com’s BETTER platform on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to motherhood. A fierce advocate for kindness in the workplace, she also has contributed to several books on the topic including Kindness in Leadership (Gay Haskins, 2018), Chicago Lights (Abigail Zoe Martin, 2018) and the upcoming Culture Stories from Inspiring Leaders (Greg Besner, 2020).

Leading with kindness beyond office walls as well, Kathleen proudly supports philanthropies including Breakthrough Urban Ministries, Enchanted Backpack, the Joffrey Ballet’s Women’s Board, and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s Women’s Leadership Council. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Purdue University, she founded the International Council of Purdue Women in 2017 to engage and inspire 200,000 alumnae worldwide.

However, her biggest and proudest achievement to date is being a wife and mother of six incredible children ages 19-10. She resides in Wheaton, Illinois with her husband Chris, a bustling household of kids, and an uncooperative English Bulldog named Hope.

Show Highlights

  • When I became a mother, my path changed. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • Change is the one thing that’s constant in life. It sounds like an oxymoron, but change is constant. It’s how you anchor yourself that really matters. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • Resilience is something I think a leader needs. Through a series of events, I was being taught to keep getting back up and dusting myself off. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • When you’re going through something hard, people often focus on the storm, but there’s a reason for the rain. It’s to create an opportunity for growth. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • In order for the world to work, you can’t always be a giver. You have to learn how to receive. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • You can choose to be bitter about your circumstances or you can choose to be better. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • Being transparent as a leader is important. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • As a mother and a leader, it’s important to show my truth so that when other people go through it, it’s not as scary. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • You can always look for something you can do to be more kind, have more transparency, or be more passionate in some way. Know you who are and find ways to be better at being you. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • It is not about the things you have here on Earth, it’s about the people you impact in some way. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • Gratitude has been a focus I’ve really tried to practice. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • You should be a sponge all the time. There are so many people who can teach you if you just listen. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • If you set intentions out there and write them down, it appears the universe gives it back to you. It’s also important to have hope. —Kathleen Sarpy
  • Sometimes the dream you have for yourself is so much smaller than the dream that is set out for you. —Kathleen Sarpy

Kathleen’s final thoughts: You are your energy. We all go through things and if I was negative, I could find a lot of reasons to be bitter, depressed, etc. But I never lost faith that the sun would come out and I kept seeing days where the sun was brighter. Even when a hiccup occurs, and they will always occur, you have to have perspective that there will be joy too. It was a lens shift for me, and it’s your choice to do that.

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Dan Moore, President of Southwestern Advantage, the oldest direct-sales company in America, and Partner with Southwestern Consulting. With more than 45 years in sales leadership and marketing management, Dan has a wealth of knowledge to share on how to make better use of time to achieve life, sales, and other business goals. Each week, he interviews some of the nation’s top thought leaders and experts, sharing meaningful tips and advice. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

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