My name is Kate Raidt. I am a lifestyle design junkie. Here is my story.
In 1992 I was a broke, miserable college student at Baylor University. I went door-to-door in my dormitory asking people for coins to use “for laundry” when I was actually buying food from the vending machines to feed myself. My standard meal was a bag of pretzels and a Diet Sprite. When most other college freshmen gained the “freshman 15”, I actually lost the freshman 15 – by starvation and malnutrition. Not a good thing. Later that year, I heard about this crazy job where I could sell educational books door-to-door in the summertime and earn good money. Anything to put me above poverty level sounded fascinating to me, so I signed up to sell books. (Plus, I had cut my chops going door-to-door collecting coins so I felt pretty confident in my selling abilities).
So the summer of 1992, my book-selling brigade began. I had no car and my manager quit, so the odds were stacked against me to succeed. I had big dreams of moving to Hollywood to pursue a film and music career, but I knew I needed transportation and money to get there. Quitting was not an option for me. Despite the odds, I finished the 12-week summer #6 out of 4500 salespeople and received a check for $14,000. I quit school, bought a clunker, packed my bags and headed to Hollywood.
I quickly learned the winning formula: work hard for 3 months, and live life to the fullest the other 9 months. I ended up selling books for 10 summers – one of the longest careers in the company’s 150-year history. I was able to sell for 12 weeks (boot camp style) and earn $50,000 – then spend the rest of the year auditioning for movies, singing in an award-winning pop band, running marathons, skydiving, backpacking Europe, playing soccer…just about anything I wanted to do.
As I was approaching my 30’s, an evil voice chimed in my head that it was time to get “a real job”. I went to work in corporate America 8am-5:30pm for 1 ½ years – the most miserable 18 months of my entire life. I earned in 1 year, what I was earning in 12 weeks selling books! Then I received the phone call that changed my life forever. My old book-selling buddy, Barry, was the director of a supplemental insurance organization. He offered me a sales position. Why was this a life-changing position? Selling insurance is not a glamorous job, and people certainly don’t rush over to me at dinner parties and say, “Oh, you are that girl who sells insurance! Can I buy you a drink?” But this job has allowed me to work my own hours (freedom!), earn unlimited income (hooray!), build a team of my own, earn stock options and, most importantly, build residual income so I am always getting paid even if I don’t work. I finally found a “real job” that allows me to live out my dreams.
But wait. Party’s over. I get pregnant. I tell my husband, “That’s it. We will never have fun, or travel or do anything cool the rest of our lives.” I really thought I would have to trade in a fun life in order to raise kids…and raise them well. I finally snapped out of my dread and was determined to live a fun-filled life and bring my kids along for the ride. Yes, it is much harder to travel with bags of corroded sippy cups, pull ups and jetlagged toddlers. Yes, it’s more expensive and requires more planning. But it absolutely can be done. I cannot tell you how amazing it is when my 4-year old returns from Germany speaking German, we come home from a service project and she is drawing pictures of the man we just met who has no legs, she runs circles around the little boys at soccer because mom and dad take the time to play soccer with her at home, and most of all, our kids have an incredible relationship with their mom and dad because we work to live, and not live to work.
I decided a long time ago that my children will always be my #1 priority. Thanks to my successful insurance career, I was able to earn a 6-figure income the last few years from my residual income alone so I have been able to stay home with my kids. While my kids were napping, I wrote my book and developed FatNoggin.com. I have become an expert at time management and outsourcing all accounting, web development, legal needs, marketing, editing, proofreading, cover design and all aspects of my business that I don’t absolutely have to do. This allows me to simply focus on the 1-2 things I do best: Selling and promoting.
I know hundreds of people. The majority of the ones who are able to live out their dreams and have the freedom to do what they want, when they want are the people who are self-employed.
Except for the 18 months in corporate hell, I have been self-employed my entire life. In the years I have been self-employed, I have been able to accomplish the following:
- Founder, singer and songwriter for the electronic/pop band Matson Belle
- American Music Award nominee, 5 Austin Music Awards
- Completed the Los Angeles Marathon
- Member of the 2-time Texas State Cup Soccer Championship team
- Lead actress in the feature film Hangman
- Won $2500 on a game show
- Founder of service project Team Scottie
- Lived in Prague, The Czech Republic. Met my husband while on a pub crawl.
- Founder of FatNoggin.com – one of the world’s largest online book catalogs
- Author of The Million-Dollar Parent
- Mother and diaper-changer of two lovely children
I’m in my 30’s and I’m just getting started!
How can you get started?
- Write down your goals. Visualize them. Never ever give up on them.
- Read, read, read good, educational, inspirational books
- Surround yourself with smart, talented people who can support your dreams
- Consult with an attorney if starting a business from scratch. Get everything set up properly and legally from the beginning
- Outsource as much business as you can.
- Be willing to fail. Yes, I have a lot of accomplishments, but my screw-ups far outweigh my wins. I learn from my mistakes, and move on.
- Never put time or attention you need to give your family/friends on the backburner in order to conduct business. Your job/career goals will always be changing, but your kids will always be your kids. Never forget that.
Category: Startup Advice