327 Kelly McCausey: Instigator of Communities

Creating and engaging a community is one of the biggest value drivers in business – yet some entrepreneurs are more likely than others to seize on community as an opportunity for growth. Why? Today we focus on the magic of community.


I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who helps entrepreneurs create communities around content. And I’m excited about this one because I’ve built all my businesses around the concept that the best content is conversation and connection.

Kelly McCausey is the founder and instigator of communities. Her company is called Love People and Make Money. And her journey began when she became one of the earliest pioneers of Internet Radio, founding Work At Home Mom’s Radio back in 2003. It evolved into a massive community and a paid membership site – combining the affinity of community with the power to collaborate and educate.

I’m excited to talk with Kelly McCausey, and before I share this must-listen conversation, I have a question for you:

Now back to the inspiring Kelly McCausey.

She shares today how she started out broke, a single mom, trying to make it all work. Kelly started in business in 2002 making graphics and websites for other home-based business owners. Working hard with long hours, she soon realized she was charging too little for her time and talents. Sound familiar? So many women undervalue their own services and products. Then she discovered a smarter way to build an income online, one that didn’t sacrifice her precious time.

Today, Kelly blogs, podcasts, creates information products and runs a membership program. Additionally, Kelly holds live events and retreats for female entrepreneurs to help them achieve their dreams and grow their online businesses and communities.

I think I’ve met my twin! No seriously, there is more we have in common so listen in.

It’s time to fly Kelly McCausey.

Melinda Wittstock:         Kelly, welcome to Wings.

Kelly McCausey:               I’m glad to be here Melinda.

Melinda Wittstock:         I am glad to have you as well. Anyone who calls themselves an “instigator of communities” is good with me in my book. That’s awesome. How did you come to calling yourself that, and why is community so important to you?

Kelly McCausey:               I started to call myself an ‘instigator of community’ a few years ago, kind of tongue in cheek because people wanted to know, “how do you describe yourself?” I find that difficult to explain, so I jokingly said “I instigate communities.” I got started building communities online, when I launched a podcast, it was actually an internet radio show in 2003, called Work at Home Moms talk radio. In building that audience, a community started to develop around me, and the people who I interviewed, the people who were listening, they’d get to know each other, and they would want to spend time together. It actually led to the launching of a paid membership site the next year. And from there, the thing is I can’t say that I was strategic about any of it, it was all a surprise to me. The magic of that community, it was a private forum, they’d get to know each other, they would collaborate, they would find courage, and just do amazing things.

Why community is so important to me, is that I didn’t have any growing up.

Melinda Wittstock:         Isn’t that interesting, how entrepreneurs usually find the one thing where there was a gap, a lack, a challenge, something, as a kid, and then find a solution so that served suffering when you were a kid, it kind of felt at a time like it was done to you, but actually it’s kind of done for you.

Kelly McCausey:               Well, there’s certainly lots of good that has come from how I learned to cope. Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, because you end up figuring out a solution, or it’s the impetus to make you go find a solution, right? And so, in finding a solution for yourself, you’re the instigator of community, you have helped other people in the community.

Kelly McCausey:               Yeah, so I am adopted. I have no negative feelings about adoption whatsoever, I’m really glad I was adopted. Yet my parents, my adoptive parents, they were both alcoholics. My mother was not nice, and alcoholism creates a lot of isolation in families. So as a child and as a teenager I had no community, I had no sense of belonging, and it went into my young adult life with a very self-protective shell, big wall, so I resisted being a part of any communities. I was not a joiner. I can have one or two friends and that’s it, that’s all that can be trusted in this world.

Melinda Wittstock:         Aw gosh, that’s interesting, I’d never made that connection before. So my father was an alcoholic, and I had a very similar experience growing up. Right, that feeling of being different or an outsider, and not a joiner. Interesting for me, because I am so social, I’m so community focused, you know everyone sees me as a connector, which I am, that comes really naturally to me.

Kelly McCausey:               Yup.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, as a kid, gosh. Right?

Kelly McCausey:               Yeah

Melinda Wittstock:         That kind of isolation. That’s interesting, I’ve never tied that to having an alcoholic parent, how interesting.

Kelly McCausey:               I told myself when I was young, I don’t need people. Like I don’t need my mother, I don’t need this family, I don’t need these people. I’m just fine on my own. And that was a good coping mechanism for a kid who’s being abused.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. Exactly, like I can do everything on my own, I’m gonna be fine. Right, yeah no I totally get that, that really resonates with me.

Kelly McCausey:               It’s not so helpful for young adults, because it’s what created a divorce, lost friendships, loneliness, frustration. I think that all coping mechanisms were meant for good, but they usually have a timer, like it works for so long-

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah! Exactly, I like that. That they have a timer because yeah they do, they work for a while until they don’t, and life has a funny way of conspiring to make you grow. Like you could choose to, or life is gonna throw some sort of event or adverse circumstance at you.

Kelly McCausey:               Yup!

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s gonna force you to get out of your comfort zone. Now, of course, if you choose an entrepreneurial path, you’re gonna have lots of those opportunities. Cause it’s gonna test you in every way until you sort your shit out. So that’s so interesting.

So you go on this entrepreneurial journey, having had these things, a sense of isolation, sort of the pain of all of that, the pain of relationships not working, all that kind of stuff, and what happens when you go into business for yourself to begin with?

Kelly McCausey:               So, to understand how community became such a big part of my business, you have to know that in my late twenties, early thirties, I had a life changing experience in that I became a Christian, and I started going to church. I had a great church family, that would not let me isolate, that pulled me relentlessly into community, until I could accept it and be part of it. I quickly rose into leadership, and when I think back that still just shocks me. How do you go from being this non-joiner to ending up co-leading Women’s Ministry and working at the church for seven years? It was a graduate level course in community. To go from never being part of a community to being a deep, rich part of the community.

So when I started my business, I had had that experience of, we need people. So as much as I might have thought of myself as an Evangelist for the church, I was an Evangelist for community!

Melinda Wittstock:         Right!

Kelly McCausey:               We need it, we do, we really do. So when I started my business and saw communities starting to come around me, I’m like this is community! Look what’s happening!

Melinda Wittstock:         And we all feel so supported, and lifted. You know, when we can really show up in a community and be our authentic selves, just be who we are, you know, even show our vulnerability, and still be loved and accepted by others, that’s the most powerful thing in the world. And yet, you see so many people, and particularly women and business women, entrepreneurs, I see so many women entrepreneurs self isolating themselves. Which honestly, bad for business ladies! Bad for business! Business is about relationship!

Kelly McCausey:               It is! I mentioned before, all of my friends are my competitors. Other coaches, other content creators, other podcasters, we are in direct competition and we’re cooperating. We’re sharing and promoting one another, we’re profiting with one another. What I saw in my community, when we go way back to when the membership site started in 2004, that initial influx of members, people told us it would happen. They said the Work at Home Mom community is too frugal to pay to be part of a membership, it will never work. It did work, it worked fast. Because women were like, “there’s so much garbage out there, we really do want to learn from people who know what they’re talking about.” The joint ventures that developed among the members, the things that they went on to do, like just a few years later we were watching our members run businesses that were just amazing.That was when I kind of woke up to, this isn’t just us teaching them something, we were teaching them something, but this is them finding rich ground to grow in and launch from.

Once I saw it, I’m like I am so addicted to this. Like this is my jam. Create a space, create an invitation, don’t over manage, don’t- I don’t wanna jump around too much. But some people think that starting an online community is about hey come adore me, come sit at my feet, be my community. And that happens for some people, there are gurus out there, but that’s not my style of community, my style of community is let’s come celebrate us.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s so much more empowering. I mean because all the gurus, we can listen and we can learn from them, and there’s a place for that, but it doesn’t really lead to self empowerment. I mean people start to get really empowered when they’re out in the world doing, and they’re getting validation from other people. Not like validation in the form of love, and support, and encouragement, but also that accountability that comes with knowing other people are watching. It’s just like if you have a business coach, and she or he is like “okay, so here’s what you gotta do in the next week.” Right, and you know that you’re gonna meet with that person a week from now, I mean you’re gonna get it done. So accountability is important as well.

Kelly McCausey:               Yes, yup!

Melinda Wittstock:         So like I mean I can sit around and listen to gurus, and that’s great, but then how does it actually integrate into my own life, and so the community is a really big part of like, okay how do we put these things in practice. I happen to think that women’s brains are kind of more wired this way, I mean if you look back to when we were cave women, I mean to survive we had to collaborate with each other, and we got good at it. So it seems weird that we don’t do it so much now.

Kelly McCausey:               Yeah, well I feel like there’s people I can think of who I’ve tried to develop relationships with, that what I see in them is that they’re just holding on to that same coping mechanism I used to hold on to.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m curious what you think about this, so like my theory is that we’ve all been trained to be living in scarcity rather than abundance. So that in a scarcity mindset, you’re like “Oh there’s only room for like one Queen Bee.” Right?

Kelly McCausey:               Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, and everyone else has to be the worker bee, or the drone or whatever. So like, it gets really competitive and everyone defends their territory and all that. Women do not succeed like that, but there’s so much of that kind of scarcity thinking ingrained in the way we go through life, and it’s got to change. It’s like a personal mission of mind [inaudible 00:26:35]. So abundance on the other hand, is there’s really enough for everybody that we’re all better when we’re collaborating, and just like you say like about content, right? Everybody’s your competitor, like your friends. So we live in this kind of cooperative sort of environment, so if you’re an abundance thinker that works perfectly fine. So I’m curious on your thoughts about how that plays out in all the different communities that you’ve built, or that you manage, or that you moderate, or your clients, and bringing them from that kind of scarcity way of thinking into more of an abundance mindset. How do you do that?

Kelly McCausey:               I had a poverty mindset that you know, just ridiculous. So we do talk about- there’s three questions we use in my weekly masterminds, and it is “what if it were easy, what if I’m thinking too much, and what do I want to create more of in the world?” That helps to shake off the nonsense. But if someone- here’s what’s coming to mind about scarcity in my community, is that if you’re afraid there’s not enough to go around, then you feel like you have to be perfect in order to get your share.

So I see everyone, I see gals who come into the space, where they want to be a blogger, podcaster, coach, consultant, they want some kind of authority-based influencing business. So they hire a designer, they get a photographer, and they come out on the scene looking as perfect as possible. Looking like they already have their shit together, and that look, look at me obviously you can learn from me, because I have got it going on. And I feel like that’s coming from a scarcity mindset. Because the alternative is you could just show up in the communities like “Hey, I got this vision! I’m gonna start something.” You could share where you’re coming from and why you want to do it and cooperate with one another, and learn and grow where you’re at.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative). And it’s more authentic.

Kelly McCausey:               It’s more authentic.

Melinda Wittstock:         And it’s relatable.

Kelly McCausey:               Yes! It works!

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes, it’s relatable I mean people can connect with you, you can have a meaningful conversation of that point, and so many great businesses honestly are born out of that collaboration, and you’ve alluded to that as well. All the people that were in your original community going out and creating great businesses was because they had that connection and trust that really gets formed when people dare to be vulnerable with each other and be their true selves. So I love that, and I think anything, there really should be an AA for perfectionism. Because it stops women in particular from succeeding.

Kelly McCausey:               There is more than enough. There are new people coming online every day looking for a way to build a business. We’re not fishing out of a finite pond here. I don’t have to be perfect, I can be me and say what I want to say and express my experiences and opinions, and the right people will show up. I so believe that, and it’s just true of everybody.

Melinda Wittstock:         So still with this theme of scarcity versus abundance, what does it take to get women to really show up and support each other, because what I see in the community right now, particularly the entrepreneurial community, is a lot of lip service to the idea of abundance. Some people who are truly in it, and some people who are moving towards it, but it’s patchy. In practice, how do you lead women to getting into that mindset where they are first of all able to let go of all the perfectionism and all that fear of being seen, and the fear of stepping into the light, and the fear that there’s not enough to go around. How do you lead them there?

Kelly McCausey:               So, personally I don’t spend a lot of time talking about abundance as a concept, but if we put rubber to the road, they’re looking- they wanna believe that there are enough subscribers, that there are enough listeners, that there are enough readers, clients.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay, so they need validation that there’s a market? Basically for what they’re doing.

Kelly McCausey:               Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay.

Kelly McCausey:               That there’s a market, that’s a strategic conversation. You know you could pick a bad market, you could pick a dumb hard to monetize topic, you could. And I’ll be honest with you, if you have- but beyond that, what I hear especially in my clients who are newer in the process of growing their mailing list and building things up, is that they start to do the math and they think “Well, I’ll never be able to hit the six figures I’m looking for doing this.” It’s not true, and I really encourage them- I’m not an abundance teacher, I’m not a money mindset teacher. I don’t have that all wrapped up with a bow, but I know this: that I bring value just by showing up. In my content, in my podcast, in an event, wherever. I bring value just by showing up.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s so funny that you said that because, sorry to interrupt, that’s my mantra. That’s what I say to myself. That’s so funny.

Kelly McCausey:               It’s so stinking true. I can teach them how to set up a website, start a mailing list, start to sell information products, run memberships. I’ve got all the strategy and flow to get to share, but if they don’t believe that they’re bringing value when they show up in that content, in that membership, then they won’t market it and it’ll never grow. So, you bring value just by showing up with your experience and your opinions, just your presence. When you own that, and then just focus on the people! My brand is love people and make money.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, well see I love that. It’s very straight forward, I mean if you love people, if you care about them enough to help them solve their problems, you’re gonna be creating value and the money always follow the value. So it’s a very clear value proposition, the very name of your business, because it’s exactly how it works like when you’re creating value for other people and you’re showing that you care, and it’s not just a kind of- you know there’s a lot of people out there faking authenticity. People just do know the difference, they can sense it, they can kind of feel it, right?

Kelly McCausey:               Yup!

Melinda Wittstock:         So, if you genuinely care about advancing others, and that’s why it’s so important to really know why you’re in business, and what your mission is. Like what you’re here in an Earth suit to actually go do, and if it’s bigger than yourself if it’s bigger than your own ego, then it’s more likely you’re gonna succeed because it’s not about you anymore, it’s not even personal. It’s about them, not about you right? If you can get to that point in your thinking, I found that a lot of the women that I work with, that really helps them but it’s hard because they get that epiphany and then it’s really easy to slide back into oh the way we’ve always done it kind of thing. It takes a while to get the muscle memory of just being like that every day.

Kelly McCausey:               I believe if someone is struggling with scarcity or valuing themselves, like if they’re struggling with the idea that there are enough people to serve or that they’re not enough, I want them to get to be about it. I just dared a client, who’s doubting herself, I dared her I’m like okay this is what you’re gonna do and you can throw me under the bus and say your coach made you do it, but you’re gonna go put an offer out into all of the communities you’re a part of saying “I’m available to do a coaching session for 47 dollars.” Because she’s dared me to have ten one on one conversations with a client, ASAP. She embraced it and she’s going for it, and I’ve done this many times in the past where I’ve dared a virtual assistant, go offer to work for ten dollars an hour, for ten people, for ten hours each.

You gotta be about it to see your value! If you’re stuck in the “I’m in the growth phase, and I think I’m worth something, but I don’t have enough experience to proudly say it,” well then just be about it! I could go beat your head up against the wall and try to change your mindset, or you could just go be about it! And be able to walk away going, “Dang! I just rocked ten people’s’ lives. Hell yes I bring value when I show up!” So I love mindset, I want everyone to work on mindset, but then there’s this really practical part of me that’s just like just go do it!

Melinda Wittstock:         Just go do it! Yeah, because there’s no replacement for that. When you do it and it works nothing bad happens to you, right? Gosh

Kelly McCausey:               Yup!

You talk about a virtual assistant, there’s a gal like ten years ago, I said go offer to work for people. Ten dollars an hour, ten people. And people were losing their minds. “oh you’re devaluing yourself, you’re devaluing the community, oh my gosh you can’t do this.” She rocks one of the biggest most respected sold out virtual assistant businesses, like you literally can’t touch her to hire her. And it’s because she got started! You know?

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Kelly McCausey:               The ego says so much stuff about- we get in this argument about what’s the value of our time, you know. But you’ve gotta get started. I don’t want you to work for free, because then you don’t have a real client experience. But I’m totally happy for you to just come up with a crazy price to just go be doing it.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, so you just start and you can always continue to raise your prices with scarcity.

Kelly McCausey:               Yes! That’s the thing I tell them. Like let’s say you do, just using round numbers, so let’s say you do offer to do something for ten dollars an hour. It’s only for ten hours, and then at the end you can say, man I loved this. I think we rocked together. Would you like another ten hours at twenty dollars and hour? And then every ten hours you just keep bumping it, until you find that sweet spot. That works really well for like a virtual assistant.

Melinda Wittstock:         A very good friend of mine, it was funny she was talking about you know women who have businesses where they’re selling stuff and we were talking about pricing because so often, women will under price their services and over deliver. So she says like start with a price that doesn’t make you cough, she was like start there. Like if you can kind of say it with a straight face, right?

I think, one of the things that I coach a lot of women in is the idea of really knowing their value to create value for others, right? So, you know part of that is the value based pricing, like how much value are you creating for somebody else? WHat’s gonna be the impact on their business. And to really actually understand that and know that, and know that KPI, and like often it’s a question of just asking a prospective client. Okay so you’re here, and you wanna be there and so there’s this gap. What does it feel like to imagine where you wanna be, how much is that actually worth to you, like what would that mean for your life, what would that mean for your bottom line, and you start to get a sense, you start to get the clients put a number on it, and at that point gosh it’s like you know your price.

Kelly McCausey:               This was a difficult journey for me, because I was a high school dropout who had never made more than eleven dollars an hour at a day job. So, when I started the early days of coaching, you know I started 25 dollars an hour. Someone said you don’t charge enough, so I like got crazy and doubled it to 50! And I felt like I was making really good money. That was my mindset. I was a high school dropout broke single mom, poverty mindset, this is good money. It is not easy. I have a lot of compassion for when someone has that deep poverty mindset, where they just can’t see their value. It takes time.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, it really does. And it take community! So I wanna segue, I wanna make sure that we still have a little bit of time on the podcast to talk about content, because you’re an expert in content! So what makes really good content?

Kelly McCausey:               Content touches a real felt need. It makes people feel something, it gives them something tangible, it’s just not ignorable you know? So much content on the internet is ignorable. My goal, if I’m gonna, if I’m having a- there’s something I do with my clients, I call it banner message. We identify a stand that they want to take, not the stand of their lives, but just a stand something that they want to plant their flag on, we develop a banner message around that. We break it down into five supporting ideas, and then we blow each of those ideas up into an individual item of content so that a banner message is supported. It’s not just one thing, it’s five things because then it’s really turn around and leverage that into a webinar or a product. But when we are brainstorming the banner message, and it’s the closest I come to being a bully because I say so what who cares. They say things like “well this is why it’s important,” and I go but who cares, so what. What’s the worst that could happen? I kind of push back until I literally can’t say, so what who cares.

Take the example of the moms, you know if you keep spoiling your kids they’re gonna be weak whiny adults. There’s not a mom in the world that would say so what.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Kelly McCausey:               You know, she goes “Ouch.” So really good content passes that test.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, yeah it does. You know so much of it is just a battle to stand out. So the more we let what we think is too weird or too painful or too unlikeable about ourselves whatever we perceive that to be is usually the thing that is the most compelling. So it’s hard for people right? It’s scary.

Kelly McCausey:               People who are trying to get started with their content marketing, they want to reach everybody and so they’re a little afraid of offending or disqualifying somebody. So it’s getting people past that fear to say an item of content, if it speaks to everyone it speaks to no one. So an item of content has to speak to somebody. It has to leave somebody out. And it’s okay because you’re gonna make more content.

You know, if you’re my market, Work at Home Moms Talk Radio was me up until 2011. Work at Home Moms, it’s not my niche anymore. My son grew up and moved out you know. But women are still most of my market but not all. I have male clients. So sometimes my content is for women, and I am unapologetic about it. Sometimes the guys will go, “well what about me?” You know? Okay. So what. I want to speak to woman’s heart. And sometimes I’ll make content where I’m speaking not specifically to the woman’s heart.

But your body of content, over the years you are going to design a body of content that stands and represents you on the internet and social media. When you’re not there’s, it’s there representing you. And it’s not gonna represent all of you, it’s gonna represent an aspect of you. Different items of content represent different aspects of you, and that’s what we want because that’s what has an impact.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. Gosh, so so true. Oh my goodness, yes! And so just stepping up to do that. So in a community, going back to community and content, it’s really the support for women to feel safe in doing that.

Kelly McCausey:               Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         And have a community around you, that kind of like applauds you when you do that. I think that’s what’s truly transformational. When you attach those two pieces together. You see this is so interesting, this show is about business and underneath, I mean I’m laughing because I really think business is the best therapy. Because to do all the things that we have to do to be in business for ourselves or to create great companies or to work well with other people, require us to really tackle a lot of these issues. So personal growth, business growth, same same thing and you are making that so very clear in this wonderful interview. You know, sorry this is gonna pick up here, so Kelly this is great. So how can people find you and work with you? I mean I can talk to you for hours more, but I know we need to wrap up but I wanna make sure that people can connect with you and your magic.

Kelly McCausey:               I’m blogging and podcasting at ‘Lovepeoplemakemoney.com’ and when you come there, you can click through- I have a community. A lot of people make money community on Facebook, it’s free open there’s about 1000 people there who would love to meet you, and welcome you and get to know you. My style of community is create a space and trust people to be powerful in it. So I don’t have a lot of rules. You’re welcome to tell us about yourself and your business, there’s no spam there, like I said. I chose people to show up powerfully. There’s a lot of great cooperation there. You know I’d love to shine a light on people, that is the secret to letting a community develop around your content, is to as quickly as possible shine a light on others.

Melinda Wittstock:         Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly McCausey:               I’d love to shine the light on anybody.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely. Well beautifully said, we’ll have all the details for that in the show notes as well. Kelly, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.

Kelly McCausey:               Thank you Melinda, the wings feel good.

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Listen to learn the secrets, strategies, practical tips and epiphanies of women entrepreneurs who’ve “been there, built that” so you too can manifest the confidence, capital and connections to soar to success!
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