Authentic Conversations with Entrepreneurs Episode 5: “Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone” with Kari Beebe

In this episode of “Authentic Conversations with Entrepreneurs” I enjoyed talking with Principal Visionary Bookkeeper Kari Beebe, as she authentically shared her journey as an introverted entrepreneur networking to build her business. All it took was a bit of “stepping outside (her) comfort zone!”

Katherine Morales: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I am thrilled to have our fifth episode of Authentic Conversations With Entrepreneurs. I’m so happy to have here Kari Beebe. Kari is a principal visionary bookkeeper. She is the founder of PAG Fiscal Services, which stands for pivot, adapt and grow.

I know we’re going to hear much more about that, but before we get into conversation, Kari, I’m just going to remind everyone what an authentic conversation is. We’re here to talk with entrepreneurs just like Kari. It’s entrepreneurs who are willing to authentically share, authentically share about the journey of being an entrepreneur. Let’s humanize that journey. Let’s talk about how powerful it is to actually connect with your authentic self and show up in that sort of conversation.

So thank you for being so bold and courageous to do so, Kari. Let’s jump right in, because the topic today is stepping outside your comfort zone with networking, and perhaps a LinkedIn Live as well.

Kari Beebe: For sure.

Katherine Morales: Yeah, Kari, I’ll say I know you’re comfortable with me sharing that you are a self proclaimed introvert.

Kari Beebe: For sure.

Katherine Morales: I have a little of that myself. As I was telling you before, I think there’s 1,000,001 articles you can find on introverts networking, how do you do it, but what I’m excited about is actually exploring the journey of how you’ve come to do this more comfortably.

Let’s begin with just what does this phrase mean to you, stepping outside that comfort zone with networking? Where does that begin for you?

Kari Beebe: Well, it all began with absolutely zero networking back in the …

Katherine Morales: Back in the day.

Kari Beebe: Yeah. In the early stages of my business, it was purely word of mouth. A little bit in my defense, my girls were little at the time, so I wasn’t really interested in growing my side gig. But as they got older, I realized that, to make this really take off and grow, I’m going to need to make some effort and put some effort into it. It was absolutely frightening for me to think about meeting people.

Katherine Morales: There’s a word, yeah.

Kari Beebe: Yeah.

Katherine Morales: How long did that frightening feeling last? How did you … Did it start with a dipped toe, or did you just jump all in?

Kari Beebe: Well, it was a little happenstance. I was working out of my home, and was not getting much productivity. It was pretty low, because … I say the house is a squirrel. There’s always a load of laundry to run, unload the dishwasher. It was just …

Katherine Morales: Squirrel.

Kari Beebe: Exactly. Too distracting.

So I looked at co-working spaces to find a new home. I looked at several. I walked into one particular one. I remember very vividly thought, “Wow. This is the place.” I immediately signed up. Due to COVID, they’re no longer in business, but that is the key pivotal moment that started me down this road.

Katherine Morales: Turning point, huh?

Kari Beebe: For sure.

Katherine Morales: Well, that’s where we met too, Kari.

Kari Beebe: Mm-hmm, yes.

Katherine Morales: It was a powerful place.

Kari Beebe: Yes.

Katherine Morales: They had networking events. Is that one of your first experiences of really diving in or dipping the toe?

Kari Beebe: Very first one. I remember Joseph was like, “Hey, we’re having a networking event in the kitchen. We’ve got-”

Katherine Morales: Downstairs, right?

Kari Beebe: Downstairs. Right. “We’re having people come.”

Katherine Morales: No excuses. You just walk downstairs.

Kari Beebe: Right. I’m thinking in my head, “Oh no. I got to talk? Do small talk?”

Katherine Morales: Where’s the squirrel? I got to find the squirrel.

Kari Beebe: Exactly. But I sucked it up, and I’m like, “Okay. You have got to try this.

Katherine Morales: If I’m going to be here, I’m going to be here. Right?

Kari Beebe: Mm-hmm.

Katherine Morales: Yeah.

Kari Beebe: I remember meeting you. I remember meeting my friend, Melinda, another friend of mine, Jay. I look back at that first event. I’m gripping my cup of coffee, grip of death, trying to come up with small talk and engage these people, because I’m the little bookkeeper in the corner, and didn’t think I had anything to offer. That was my very first event. I remember it very clearly.

Katherine Morales: I love the visual of gripping the coffee. Is that … Well, we’ll get to advice for others. How did you go from gripping the coffee to, “Let me do this a little bit more”?

Kari Beebe: It was a journey. After that event, I was invited to a bigger luncheon that was local.

Katherine Morales: Beyond the coffee. Gripping the fork.

Kari Beebe: Yes. Tables of people talking. At least I knew one person who was attending. That gave me a little bit of confidence.

Katherine Morales: Did you go with that person?

Kari Beebe: We went separately, but I sat with her. I remember, at one point, they’re like, “Okay. We’re going to take 10 minutes to do a networking break, and then we’re going to hear from our speaker.” I was like, “Time to go to the restroom. I’m out of here.”

But I knew this was what I needed to do to move my business forward. Frankly, I did have some failures along the way. I can recall two, maybe three incidents where I registered for something, drove up. In one case, I walked in the building, got about 10 feet from the registration table, and I was like, “Not today,” and I turned around, and I left.

Katherine Morales: You saw the room, or just the feeling in you?

Kari Beebe: There were so many people there, so many people. This was in the before times, pre-COVID.

Katherine Morales: It was not because of COVID that you were like, “No, no, no. I can’t go in that room,” but just too many people and discomfort?

Kari Beebe: Yeah. Too many … Walking into a room cold that’s just filled with other people having conversations, my anxiety went up, and I went home.

Katherine Morales: How’d you get over that hurdle?

Kari Beebe: Starting smaller. Starting smaller.

Katherine Morales: Great tip.

Kari Beebe: The next step after that kind of failure was to go to a smaller group. It happened to be my friend, Melinda, was running a smaller group, and it was women only. I think that had something to do with it as well.

Katherine Morales: No offense, men.

Kari Beebe: What’s that?

Katherine Morales: I said, “No offense, men.”

Kari Beebe: No offense, men. But to get started, I think that was a key step.

I was going to that very consistently. That gave me a little more courage to branch out into some of the bigger groups, and chip away, one person at a time, trying to meet people, and move down the field, so to speak, in the experience.

Then the next thing that came was Corona.

Katherine Morales: Nothing like throwing a wrench in it, right?

Kari Beebe: Yeah. Nothing like a pandemic to really mess up your networking.

Katherine Morales: I think it was a wrench for a lot of people.

Kari Beebe: Yeah.

Katherine Morales: But specific to networking, pretty big one. How did you navigate that?

Kari Beebe: Well, at first, I was really disappointed, because I was just starting to get some traction, get some momentum, and then we’re all at home, and we’re stuck.

Katherine Morales: Yeah.

Kari Beebe: But then the beauty of Zoom, which, at some points, people now are like, “Oh my God. I loathe Zoom,” but that was fantastic for me, because I was in control. I could be on mute. Sometimes, I’d stop my video in the larger groups.

So I found these niche, little markets of online networking. Being in my own physical space, but yet talking to people in a breakout room, felt more, unbelievably, natural to me. So that’s where I honed more of the skills of the conversation, and honestly, from listening to other participants, the types of questions to ask. “What led you to this industry?” Or …

Katherine Morales: Curiosity. Yeah.

Kari Beebe: Exactly. I also love learning. I’m a lifelong learner. So I was generally …

Katherine Morales: That’s a growth, right?

Kari Beebe: Yeah, exactly. I was generally interested. Some people just have fascinating careers that I got to learn about. So that silver lining of COVID, for me, was Zoom.

Katherine Morales: There’s a quote. I don’t know that everybody would agree with that.

Kari Beebe: Yeah. The silver lining.

Katherine Morales: Yeah, yeah.

Now that there are vaccines, and things have opened up a little bit more, and there’s more of a hybrid model, I assume you’ve done some in person networking. How did you go from Zoom and the comfort of Zoom to doing some things in person?

Kari Beebe: It was a slope. We were all putting one toe out the door.

Katherine Morales: Are you missing it? “I’m good now.”

Kari Beebe: Zoom, yes, it was the silver lining for me, but there is something to be said about meeting in person. Kudos, again to my friend, Melinda. She moved her group outside.

Katherine Morales: Smart.

Kari Beebe: Everybody brought their soccer chairs. We sat around a pavilion at a park. We still got to have that interaction, spaced six feet apart. Not everybody was comfortable being out in the world, so the group was a little smaller. That group, as it grew in momentum and size, like it or not, dragged me along with it. I was getting better at …

Katherine Morales: I love that. “Dragged me along with it.”

Kari Beebe: Networking is … I went to a four-year college. I was a business major. Nowhere did they ever teach networking. This was back in the ancient times.

Katherine Morales: Sure.

Kari Beebe: But it’s a life skill that needs to be shared with the youth, especially now. The youth, they think everything can be done on their phone. It doesn’t always work that way.

Katherine Morales: I love this journey that you’ve taken, and even sharing one of the … I’ll call it a hiccup more than a total disaster. But in your day business …

Well, couple of things. I also love that, as you were telling the story about that first moment in the downstairs kitchen at the networking space, you said, “My friend, Melinda. My friend.” Obviously, gripping the coffee, they weren’t friends yet. So it speaks volumes to the depth of relationships you’ve been able to build.

But I’m curious. How has this intersected with your business? How has it helped build the business? I feel like there’s something with PAG Fiscal Services, pivot, adapt, grow. Have you felt that connection in your business? Because I see it clearly. I can’t help myself.

Kari Beebe: Well, the pivot, adapt, grow comes from … I think this is probably the first time I’ve shared it. I had a medical incident, gosh, 10 years ago or so. It really derailed me. I was a little bit lost. I still had this side gig doing bookkeeping, but I was lost. When I heard that quote, it was pivot, adapt, grow … I had pivot before COVID.

Katherine Morales: Lay claim to it.

Kari Beebe: I did. You’re a witness. You helped me.

Katherine Morales: Yeah, I know.

Kari Beebe: That was …

Katherine Morales: You were already trending.

Kari Beebe: Yes. I’m very trendy. But that growing … I pivoted, and myself, as an individual, grew through that time where I needed to make some changes.

Katherine Morales: Adapted, yeah.

Kari Beebe: That led to growing my business. So it’s a very personal phrase for me and my life.

Again, the silver lining of COVID being Zoom, I now have customers that I’ve never met in real life. We’ve only done Zoom. They’re in other states. It’s allowed me to grow the business, for sure.

Katherine Morales: I was going to say, I think you answered the question. I always believe that when you connect with this authentic truth within yourself, this powerful phrase, it’s how you carry yourself. It’s exactly what you’ve done through the exploration, as an introvert, networking in a business world. Right?

Kari Beebe: Mm-hmm.

Katherine Morales: When you connect with that, I believe it ignites your business. You answered that preemptively without even knowing, because yeah, when I think of you, Kari, there’s where we started, at the networking space, gripping the coffee, I didn’t notice that by the way, but I knew you were more introverted.

Yet … Excuse me. I’ve been with you somewhat on this journey, at least on the sidelines. When I think of you now, I think, “Gosh. Kari’s such a networker.” It makes me so excited for you and admirable of you.

That’s exactly why I wanted you to share this story, because you’ve taken such a beautiful journey in challenging yourself, adapting, growing yourself. I think that there’s no stinking Google article that can ever share that.

Kari Beebe: No.

Katherine Morales: No, no way.

Kari Beebe: Dare I say, I actually enjoy networking now.

Katherine Morales: What? Drop the mic.

Kari Beebe: I know.

Katherine Morales: It’s possible.

Kari Beebe: The thing is, you do have to realize I’m still an introvert. I will have a breakfast and a lunch. I’ll have to close my eyes for 15 minutes, and recharge the battery, because you can’t change the fact that it drains your energy, as an introvert.

Katherine Morales: Right, right.

Kari Beebe: At least I know that, and I know my limits. I’m like, “I can’t do X, Y, and Z in the day. One of them has to go, or I won’t make it.”

Katherine Morales: Plan. Set yourself up for success.

Kari Beebe: Exactly. Don’t book yourself back to back to back.

I remember one day, during the learning process, I had three Zooms in a row. When I finished the last one, I shut the door of my camera, and I literally put my head down on my desk. I was drained.

Katherine Morales: You know what call very Zoom-filled days?

Kari Beebe: What’s that?

Katherine Morales: Because I have introvert in me as well. I say it feels like a zoo in me. Yeah. I don’t know that everyone can relate to that, but if you’re an introvert, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

Kari Beebe: Yes. Yes.

Katherine Morales: But I love that you said … I’ll share the link, but I’ve written about stepping outside your comfort zone, which you wouldn’t necessarily think is authentically aligned, right? Showing up as your authentic self, is that outside your comfort zone?

But I love that you said you’re still an introvert. You’re still you. But what I have said about sitting outside your comfort zone, when you do it long enough, which is exactly what you’ve illustrated here, what happens is you begin to expand it. It’s an interesting effect. Expanding that helps to expand your business naturally.

Kari Beebe: Mm-hmm, for sure.

Katherine Morales: Beautiful, beautiful journey. Thank you for sharing, Kari.

Well, let me share this link. If you’re interested in seeing that article on outside the comfort zone and showing up with your authentic self, you can go here to my website.

Where can folks connect with you, Kari? How can they connect with you?

Kari Beebe: Two main ways of getting in touch with me. I’ve got a profile on Instagram, PAGFiscalServices, Pivot, Adapt, Grow Fiscal Services. And I’m on LinkedIn, just my name, Kari Beebe, first and last name, spelled kind of funky, so I’m the only one. Or you can go to my website, PAGFiscalServices, and reach me through the contact form.

Katherine Morales: I just have to say, let me put these social ones up there one more time, because it is a highlight of my day when I see your social posts, Kari, because you are a closet comedian. It is amazing. I wouldn’t think anybody could ever make fiscal industry anything, bookkeeping anything, funny. You do. I think that’s … Bravo. That’s all I got to say about it. Bravo. You found a way.

Kari Beebe: As an illustration, I was with a client the other day. I’m coaching her on how to do her own books. We were doing her credit card statement. We were missing $50 or something. So I’m scanning the statement, and I’m looking at the QuickBooks. I’m like …

Katherine Morales: Got to reconcile that.

Kari Beebe: I said, “Here it is!” We checked the box and got it reconciled. I’m like, “Yes!” She’s like, “You really like this, don’t you?” I’m like, “This is my happy place.”

Katherine Morales: That’s my jam.

Kari Beebe: I’m high fiving her, and she’s like, “Whatever, Kari.”

Katherine Morales: That’s awesome. I love that. That just speaks volumes. There’s the market all day, and say what people think … A lot of businesses will say what they think the person wants to hear, right? But I just think that story speaks volumes to the very nature of how you deliver what you do and why you. So thanks for sharing it.

The whole message, the whole journey … I want to thank you for being here. I’ll put your site up one more time so folks can see that. It takes courage and heart to show up authentically. I really appreciate you doing that, Kari. I value our friendship and miss our days of hugging.

Kari Beebe: Yes.

Katherine Morales: I’m coming after you soon. We’re going to get you coffee. I told you to send me a hug.

Kari Beebe: I’m still working on the hugging. Networking, yes. Hugging … Yeah.

Katherine Morales: I think I pushed you outside your comfort zone on that because I am a hugger.

Kari Beebe: I do appreciate that.

Katherine Morales: It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had one, so it’s overdue.

Kari Beebe: That’s true.

Thank you so much for inviting me. This has been a fun time. Very much enjoy sharing with everybody.

Katherine Morales: Yeah. Awesome, awesome.

Don’t miss our next episode of Authentic Conversations With Entrepreneurs, on June 16th at 1:30 Eastern time. Until then, get to know Kari, because she’s pretty stinking awesome.

Kari Beebe: Thank you, Katherine.

Katherine Morales: Take care, everyone. Thank you.

Click here to read Kari’s #MyBoldStory about “Networking to Build Relationships.”