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Feb. 7, 2022

Integrity Centered Business Building with Kerri Altom

In this episode, special guest Kerri Altom joined Kristina to discuss story and integrity centered business building - What is that you ask? Integrity is who you are, what you believe in, the values that motivate you... and once you become really conscious about aligning your thoughts, your words, actions with your core values... and integrate those values into your mission... They inspire your mission and become the theme of your brand.

Kerri Altom is an award-winning writer, entrepreneur, and leader… as well as the Rise and Shine Podcast host. As an integrity instigator, Kerri shows you how to define your values and align your life.  With her signature framework, The RISE Way, she is transforming struggling entrepreneurs into impact-making profit-taking leaders of a brighter world.


• [1:42] Kerri explains after decades of guiding leaders and more, she came to see a pattern and common struggles that entrepreneurs and leaders experienced…

• [2:43] Kerri gets clear on the definition of and the importance of integrity.

• [15:47] “Living in integrity centered life, and running in integrity center business, it's a choice you have to make.”

• [19:30] Kerri tells how our employees and our clients benefit when we’re doing integrity center work.


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Guest Information:

Kerri Altom

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Kristina Stubblefield  0:00  
In today's episode, my special guests, Kerri Altom joined me to discuss story and integrity centered business building. What is that you ask? Integrity is who you are, what you believe in the values that motivate you. And once you become conscious about aligning your thoughts, your words, your actions, with your core values, and integrate those values into your mission. They inspire your mission and become the theme of your brand. 

You're listening to a Business Booster episode of The Ring The Bling And All The Things podcast. My name is Kristina Stubblefield. I'm a technology consultant, marketing strategist, business coach, and in the past a wedding vendor. In these podcast episodes, I'm providing impactful, easy to implement solutions and strategies for efficient workflow and business growth. Now, let's dive in to this episode. 

I'm really excited about today's episode. First of all, special guest is with me today, my friend, Kerri Altom. Kerri, today we're gonna be talking about story centered business building. But before we get started, would you please take just a minute and introduce yourself and tell us tell all of us a little bit about your business?

Kerri Altom  1:22  
Thanks, Kristina. So I am Kerri Altom. And I'm a business coach and leadership consultant. I'm the founder of the Rise Media Group and creator of the Rise Way. So basically, the way that I came to do the business that I do now is that after decades of guiding leaders, from college campuses, to boardrooms from small businesses to start up companies, of course, I came to see a pattern and common struggles that entrepreneurs experienced and leaders experienced. And as I worked with this range of leaders, I came to realize a single solitary value that was at the root of most of their business and leadership struggles. And I realized that it was what I really needed to anchor my work around, and that that value is integrity.

Kristina Stubblefield  2:17  
That is such a powerful word integrity. And you know, a lot of my listeners, especially on my business booster episodes, or wedding professionals, and when you talk about that word integrity, it is so impactful. So that's why I'm really looking forward to today's episode. And where should we start in this whole conversation?

Kerri Altom  2:42  
Well, you know, I think it's important to be clear on what the definition of integrity is. And a lot of people have different ways of describing integrity, they say integrity is when you do the right thing, even if nobody is listening, or watching, you know, they have a lot of different shorthands for integrity, but, but really, integrity is when you have defined who you are, what you believe in, and the values that motivate you. And then you get really conscious about aligning your thoughts and your words and your actions with those core values. So like in the case of business, you integrate those values into your mission, and they inspire your vision, and they become the themes of your brand. And you know, it's not easy. i That's a simplified version of what integrity would mean in a business. But, you know, it's one of those life practices. It's something that you practice in your personal life. It's something that you practice as a business leader. It takes effort, but the truth is, it really saves you effort on the back end, it saves you effort and money and heartache. In the long run. When you are integrity centered in your business.

Kristina Stubblefield  4:04  
And from wedding professionals, I feel like integrity is on a whole different level. Because in that industry, there is a lot of referral business that goes on. A lot of wedding professionals work with the same vendors at multiple events throughout the year. And I really like what you say about embracing your integrity in your mission. You're not only talking the talk, but you're walking that walk of integrity. And so many times when I work with wedding professionals, there's not a lot usually on their website about their mission and how they want to conduct a business and I really do talk to them about that because I really think that's at the forefront of businesses. And I think that's something really important to share. So when we talk about integrity, from your standpoint, what does that process look like?

Kerri Altom  5:11  
Well, you know, what I do it big picture when I'm doing the entire, the right way framework that I take my clients through. And if that's too much to discuss here, but I often when I do quick little workshops, I often just start with the s in the rice way, which stands for story. And our stories are just a great entry point, and an easy way to do a quick little integrity check on ourselves in our businesses. And, and I can do an example of that. For wedding business. Absolutely. Okay. So for instance, if you were, let's say you're a wedding planner, for instance. And, and I'll use an example of like green businesses and companies that focus on sustainability, because that's an area where I often do a lot of work. So let's say your wedding planner, who feels really passionate about environmental issues. See, you've always been big on recycling, you love the outdoors, you want to protect the planet. So a super simple version of the story centered integrity check would be that you, you could go through four steps, I'll give these four steps for you. So you can start, for instance, with asking yourself, and maybe sitting down with a journal, and reflecting on this. What's the story behind that value? So if you're a sustainable, if sustainability is a core value, and you want to market yourself as sort of a green wedding planner, and why was that important to you? And so, you know, you might reflect back on childhood experiences that really motivated you to care about the environment. And, you know, certain insights that you had maybe some of the background in your education or whatever, but the reasons for you're passionate about it. So you want to get clarity around that personal story for your green values. And so that's step one. And, you know, I would say that, oftentimes, it's good to break these up into separate, little episodes. So maybe set aside, you know, time in an afternoon, or over coffee in the morning, or after your meditations and, and reflect on this, and, and really allow yourself to kind of go deep, because we're talking about your core values here. It's, you know, it's not something that we can easily access as we're running through a busy day. Yeah, once you

Kristina Stubblefield  8:02  
go ahead, what I hear you saying is, allow yourself the space and the time to really think through some of this, this isn't something that is an item, so much on a checklist to get done, and hurry up, hurry up and get it checked off. But really reflect on your answers. And I like what you said about breaking it up. Maybe this isn't something you do all in the same day. You know, maybe this is something that takes you a week. And every morning, when you're having your coffee, you get out your journal or your notepad and take down some notes based on what you're going through. And I really like that, because sometimes we try to just hurry up and get something accomplished. And so I'm glad you brought attention to that to allow yourself the space and the time to really focus on your answers.

Kerri Altom  8:55  
Right. Yeah, exactly. And that's especially important with this first step, which is reflecting on personal values. Yeah, those can be a little harder to access. So the next step is that you would, you would take some time and think about the ways that your industry is often going against these values. So this is this is that typical business question that you ask where was what problem? Am I solving? You know, what is the gap in the marketplace? But, but it's also really helpful to think of it in terms of what are the things when you see it, it just really boiled replied. So for instance, with the example of a green wedding planner, it could be the amount of waste that often happens with weddings, of flower arrangements to get thrown out or, you know wasteful, disposable containers. I'm sure that there's a range of, you know, decorations that aren't being reused. And so you, you would take some time, and it's really helpful to write that out. Because what you're going to end up with, what I'll lead you to in the end is that you shape your your story of who you are, as a business, you shape your brand. And this content that you're going to write in these journal entries, is, is content that you can pull out for your social media posts. It's these are words and phrases and inspirations that you'll be able to use for advertisements. And, you know, for a range of your branding material. So it is really helpful that to take the time and write this out, just so in the example of Step number two, you know, just let yourself rage about the ways that you might find it a waste in in the in a typical wedding situation. So then step three, is that at this is where you get to dream. And so you would you would vision ahead, what would what would your ideal business look like three years from now, if you are, transport yourself, like three years into the future, or so. And he imagined that you're just running the most wildly green wedding planning business ever. And, you know, maybe so much so that you've got a magazine coming up to write an article about your business and how you're thriving as a as the leading green, you know, wedding planner, in all of your area. So what does that look like? And, you know, what does that what does that journalist write about you? And your business? And what do other people say about what you're doing? What do your clients say about you, when when they give you those raving reviews? What are they saying about why the work you did for them, made your wedding all the more special. And again, one one more time, it's journal that out, write that out, because, you know, branding and marketing these days, it's content is king, and we really need to take time to, to create language that reflects our brand, authentically, and, and accepting

Kristina Stubblefield  12:35  
it in those feelings, and really be able to take it all in. And, you know, I as digital of a person I've become, I still like my pen and paper, there's just something about when you're writing that out and connecting with those words, like you're saying, of course, you can use it across so many different platforms. And that is a really good point about keeping it down in a journal. Because then when there's times that you are struggling with social media content, or you've been so busy that you need, you can go right to your own words, and pull that information. So even though that is not what we're talking about, you bring a point to being able to use content across multiple platforms.

Kerri Altom  13:23  
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And then once you've done that, once you've dreamt of your of your dream future business, and then you bring yourself back this is step number four, you bring yourself back, and you mind those notes, and you read back through and maybe you underline or you highlight the phrases that that really strike a chord with you that you think may be really effective for marketing or for social media posts. But most importantly, is that you take all of that together, you reflect on that, and then you write a little blip about your brand story, you know the story of what your business is, and, and again, maybe be the journalist on your own business, and write about how you started and what motivated you summarize all the things you've written so far. And what you end up with is this. You know, essentially, mission vision values statement, you know, it's the kind of thing that corporations spend many 1000s of dollars to help a company develop for themselves. And you know, I've sat in boardrooms and we've put the the big post it pages on the walls and we've had everybody contribute a range of phrases and wasted so much time. arguing about what belongs and what doesn't belong, what best serves the, the company, one of the great benefits of being a small business is that you get to decide. And it is really important that it's rooted in your personal core values, it is going to be rocket fuel for your business, when you know what your values are, what inspires and motivates you, and you put it in writing. Now, that's number four of the just the gut check, exercise. That's it. That's that exercise, in conclusion, but I want to make sure that I'm really clear about this, it's not something you can do once and it's done. So living in integrity centered life, and running in integrity center business, it's a choice you have to make. And you have to make that choice. You know, pretty much every day, you're deciding who you are. One of the wonderful things about branding as you create your brand story is that you create a lot of cues around you, in the example of this green wedding planners, you know, she's going to have environmentally sustainable, you know, recycled paper, business cards, and her website is going to have that look and her the vendors that she most commonly works with are going to share those values, it will align and over time, it's not as hard to make a conscious choice about it, it becomes a habit, and it becomes a practice, it gets momentum. And then you find you've created a culture within your business that draws to you that the clients that must align with those values. And those are the clients that you're going to be the most excited to work for. Right. I mean, I'm assuming that a wedding wedding professional only has so many weddings a year that they can do, you want to work with ideal fit clients, it's going to make for a much more gratifying work experience for you. And then, in addition, like over time, when you have this really clearly aligned vision of what your business is all about rooted in your true core values, then you become a premium brand you become. There's so much good energy around the work that you do. And so much consistency about the way that you do that, that you develop an amazing reputation and you get more raving referrals than you can even take. It's a pretty cool thing I have to say it's centering and integrity. It's kind of this magic thing that just makes everything else work better.

Kristina Stubblefield  17:55  
And I love going through this because even though we've done some of these steps ourselves, you talking about as our business has shifted and evolved over time, it is worth going back to the pen and paper and just doing a check and really putting it down. We are we're no different than anyone else. And this is something that everyone can embrace. Because what you're doing is your life is short. And you're right, there are only so many days in a week, in a year. And for wedding professionals. The days are going of just doing events on Fridays and Saturdays. But we all get the seven, the same seven days in a week. And why not be aligned in your mission, your integrity, your values, to show up in your business, to have clients to work with other professionals that are all aligned together? I would assume. I know I would feel I would assume everyone would feel just on a whole nother level when all of that has come together in alignment.

Kerri Altom  19:24  
Honestly, Christina, there is nothing like the piece that you feel in your heart. When you're doing integrity centered work. It's you know, your bank account benefits, your business benefits your employees and your clients. They all benefit. But honestly, the biggest feedback that I get from my clients is the satisfaction of knowing that they're living a life of integrity. It's powerful.

Kristina Stubblefield  19:52  
And I think one of the biggest things because this is something that has been very important in our business over the years for as long as I worked with clients is, you know, I will say, I sleep well at night. In all honesty, I live in integrity. And with that comes honesty might not be the most popular answers that people want to hear. But we knew when your business in your life in entails integrity and you live that way, you're exactly right. There is a peacefulness that is very hard to describe until you're actually in that same space. And, honestly, how you said your bank account effect is affected. I think that you find your referral business business you get from people referring you increases at dramatic rates. And we've been able to walk that walk, because almost all of our business is referral based. And that is a direct reflection of the work and the integrity that lies in that business.

Kerri Altom  21:21  
I can see that with you. I think in that, you know, I can say actually reflecting on that. That's true for me, too. I, I have never advertised, I haven't spent a penny on advertising. It's all referrals. And it's more referrals than I can handle. And and it's, you know, one of those big things is that when someone refers someone else to you, they're putting their name on the line. Right? Absolutely. And when they, they're not going to do that unless they trust you. And there is nothing like being an integrity, to inspire trust. I mean, that that's basically what it's basically the foundation of all trust us, you know, who you are, what you believe in you. Act, think, make decisions, according to those beliefs, and people know where you stand. And there are people that I trust, who have completely different values from mine. And I wouldn't necessarily hire them to whatever, you know, let's say, raise my children, you know, like babysit my children, if they don't share my parenting values. But if I know who they are and what they believe in, and I trust that they're always acting according to those values, then I would be willing to refer them to somebody whose values align with theirs. Yeah, trust is a big deal.

Kristina Stubblefield  22:56  
Absolutely. Absolutely. Carrie, this is amazing what you have shared these steps, I cannot wait to hear the feedback from people embracing this, and going through these steps and their outcomes with this. So first of all, thank you for being a guest and taking your time to be on here. And for sharing these steps that anyone can sit down and implement as soon as possible. But again, allowing them the time and space to go through the steps properly and not rush through it. Right. For any of our audience that wants to connect with you. Would you share the best way to do that? And of course, we'll put any links in the show notes as well.

Kerri Altom  23:46  
Absolutely. So I am you can find my website. The rise I am on Instagram, Carrie underscore Alton. So k e R R I underscore al Tom on Instagram, Carrie altom on Facebook, and I also have a free download that may be useful for your audience and they can find that on the website, the rice

Kristina Stubblefield  24:19  
Awesome, as well as your podcast that people can also find as well. And could you share with them?

Kerri Altom  24:27  
Yes. Thanks for the reminder. Yes, my podcast is though rise away or sorry. No, it's Rise and shine. I have so many different rises in my

Kristina Stubblefield  24:41  
rise and shine and all of the debris Oh, yes.

Kerri Altom  24:45  
Yes. Rise and Shine with Kerri Altom and my brand is orange when you are scrolling through Apple or Spotify or whatever you'll see it's a it's a bright orange. Little icon Yeah, I would love To welcome any of your listeners to come and check out my offerings.

Kristina Stubblefield  25:05  
Absolutely. Well, Kerri, thank you again for being a guest. Go and make sure you follow her on social media, check out her podcast. And thank you for all the information and the actionable steps for our listeners.

Kerri Altom  25:19  
Thanks for having me, Kristina.

Kristina Stubblefield  25:21  
Alrighty. And everyone, thank you so much for tuning in. We cannot wait to hear your feedback on this episode and any other episodes, you can visit our websites. And if you like what you hear, take a minute and leave us a review. Make sure to hit the subscribe button so you can get notified when new episodes are released. Until next time, everyone take care.

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Transcribed by

Kerri Altom Profile Photo

Kerri Altom


Kerri Altom is an award winning writer, educator and entrepreneur. As an integrity instigator, Kerri shows you how to define your values and align your life. With her signature framework, The RISE Way, she is transforming struggling entrepreneurs into impact-making profit-taking leaders of a brighter world.