Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. “Who are you?” – what a question. I am still working on the answer to that, which is to say, I am a work in progress. What I have so far is this:
I am Katie Marshall. I am a speaker, coach, and trainer living in Greensboro, North Carolina.
I am so excited to be here.
As a consultant, I often live that line from The Verve: “I’m a million different people from one day to the next.” Some days, I am a certified assessment coach, sharing feedback with employees and their managers. Other days, I am a facilitator leading workshops on successful communication. Some days I am a martial arts instructor. Other days I am a student. But every day I feel like I’m using all my talents. And I’ve never had this much fun before in my life.
I have lived a lot of career lives. I was a YMCA counselor and a library attendant. I was a deeply involved student leader in college. I started my career in internal communications at a global company where, over five years, I worked in event planning, internal and external communication, and branched off into training and employee network building. When I left in 2016 to take a run at building a consulting business, I had very little idea of what I was doing. I knew there were Right Ways to start a company, but I certainly didn’t do any of those. All I had was the belief that if I didn’t chase after this thing, it would continue gnawing at my heart until it was gone. And I did not want this thing, this dream, this desire to do something with my life that was bigger than me to leave.
So I started. Before I was ready, before I was comfortable. I started small and scattered. I started hungry. I started in survival mode. It was not glamorous. It was often scary. But then one yes to an email became a contract, and one contract became three contracts, one client became five clients, and those contracts and clients became a full year of business, then another. Now, I have a packed calendar through 2019. Persistence led to momentum. As momentum built, so did I. I became a new version of myself in this process. Braver. More patient. Stronger. Kinder. Passionate in a way I did not know I could be passionate. Humbled.
Today, I am over two years into my consulting business. I look around at what I have built so far, and I am proud. I am extremely grateful. I am proud of each choice I made to build this business up. I am proud of each time I asked for help. I am proud of each time I went for something and failed. I am proud of each success. I am proud of each time I learned. But mostly, I am proud to be able to serve others in their communication endeavors, big and small.
Q. What is your work?
A. You know those boring presentations you sit through at work or during conferences? The speaker gets up, tries a joke that doesn’t land, then shows a packed PowerPoint presentation with size 8 font and blurry graphs. They speak too quickly or too slowly for you to pay attention. They don’t ask for questions and you leave wondering…why wasn’t that presentation an email?
My work is to make those presentations interesting for listeners and speakers. Whether you’re in front of four people or 4,000 people, public speaking is a skill that we all use. It’s also something that we all appreciate when done well.
My goal as a presentation coach is to demystify the process. You’re not going to be a perfect speaker. No one is. But we can get to the point where you authentically share your message clearly and impactfully. There is no such thing as a natural speaker. There are only those willing to practice, receive feedback, and apply it. I live for that process. I love the work.
I work with a diverse group of clients, from senior executives to entrepreneurs, from high school students to seasoned business owners. I work one-on-one with clients and I lead workshops and trainings for groups.
My work has always been to help people communicate in the way they want to communicate. I am honored to do it.
Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. I am honored and delighted to be the TED Coach for TEDxUNCGreensboro.
Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. I recently asked a head instructor why there were only men listed on a roster of teachers for an upcoming martial arts seminar, as there are usually women. He agreed that this was an issue, then asked if I would co-teach with my fellow student and friend, who is also a woman. We agreed to teach immediately, with great honor and excitement.
I was scared to ask, but I am so glad I did. Amazing things live on the other side of questions.
Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it? If not why not what's stopping you?
A. Someone recently asked me what my dream job was. I can’t explain how big my smile was when I got to say: “I am doing my dream job right now.”
Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Here, I picture myself sitting at a table, speaking to my high school self – hot magenta bangs, graphic t-shirt about loving everyone on it and some skirt that I probably stole from my older sister – and my college self, wearing a “SGA President” nametag, guzzling coffee, writing down things she needs to do in a notebook that she will surely leave behind as soon as she sprints away from this table.
Girls. I love you. A few things:
Please stop flat-ironing your hair. You are beautiful as you are.
I cannot express to you how skinny you are right now, nor how little that matters.
Your dad loves you. So does your mom. They show this to you by creating opportunities for you, keeping you safe, and reminding you that you can do anything. Thank them more often.
You will never be as cool as your older sister. Just be grateful that you get to be related to someone so amazing.
Your friends are wonderful, but they are just as wide-eyed and confused as you are. Don’t worry. None of you have it figured out yet, but you can get closer to it if you work together.
Your taste in music rules and your dancing is wild. Don’t let anyone make you feel small.
You are funny, but you don’t have to be entertaining to be valued.
You both have these big hearts that you don’t always know what to do with. Sometimes it will feel like you are spilling out of yourself, falling out of the lines that you’ve constructed to make you feel like you fit in. Keep doing that. Keep spilling out.
Tell people how special they are even when they don’t know how to respond. Pitch crazy ideas even when you get a “no” back on the first 75 – 76, girl. Keep pitching until 76. Wear exactly what makes you feel like a superhero. Ask questions. Speak truth, even when your voice shakes. Write down those ideas that come to you without warning and prick the back of your neck. I use those ideas today.
You are not wrong for being as vibrant and bold as you are. You are exactly what you need to be.
Slow down. You get there eventually.
Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. I love a good quote and self-reminder. I have a library of them that I pull from in moments of frustration or when I need direction or when I need to get centered. Here are my go-to’s:
“I love my life, so I love myself.”
“Let things come to you.”
“It’s chaos. Be kind.”
“Call your mom.”
“Why not? What if? What else?”
“You can do this.”
“All of this is important. Everything belongs.”
“Isn’t this funny?”
My absolute favorite piece of advice comes from my friend, Michelle. I asked her for help when I was feeling nervous around a group of people that I thought were incredibly cool – so cool that I felt like the nerd in middle school again. “You know how you’re so cool all the time” I texted her. “How do you do that? How can I do that?”
She responded, “Just know how cool everyone else thinks you are…and agree with them.”
I have called on this advice more than once. It works every time.
Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Pure, unadulterated stubbornness.
Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. It has been said that the soul seeks to understand itself. We do not become coaches because we know everything. Most of us are just as messy as the people we work with. This is so important to remember: we’re not here to help because we have all the answers. We’re here to help because we know how it feels to not know and we want to help you along the way. We have failed at something so much that we turned that failure into an exploration into why something does not work so that we can share every aspect of something with others. We want to understand ourselves by understanding others. We become coaches, teachers, and trainers because we want to know everything, and we want to help you know everything, too.
Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?
A. Going into half-pigeon always feels like coming home.
Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. Brandi Carlisle wrote on Instagram about how honored she was to perform “Case of you” by Joni Mitchell IN FRONT OF Joni Mitchell. She ended her post by saying, “Can you believe this? Whose life is this?”
That feeling of wonder, awe, and down to my stomach gratitude is how I live a life of abundance. I celebrate as often as I can – small things like a great song coming up on shuffle, small things that are actually big things like groceries or a tank of gas, and big things like my business hitting the tipping point and cruising at high altitude and getting to live a life surrounded by beautiful, wonderful humans.
This week I will co-host a webinar for an international company, I will teach four young women martial arts, I will put more work in toward my master’s degree, I will coach fantastic clients on their presentation skills. I will eat good food and I will laugh more than I won’t. At the end of this month, I will see my family. I will travel to Montreal, Canada for work. I will lead another workshop I created.
Can you believe this? Whose life is this?