Audio (Podcast)

Align: Ready, Set, Reset

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Dr. Kimberly Ellison’s passion and purpose is seeing, experiencing and being a vital part of the personal, professional and spiritual growth and development of people. Her professional career lends itself to over 16 years of experience, providing effective and innovative training and performance improvement solutions to national and international organizations through strategy development, program execution and training implementation.

Dr. Kimberly brings solutions oriented and outcome-driven expertise to small-businesses, Fortune 500 companies, non-profits organizations, churches and individuals related to optimizing organizational, leadership and individual performance and advancing women worldwide.


Connect with Dr. Kimberly Ellison:


LinkedIn: Kimberly Ellison, Ph.D.

Facebook: Dr. Kimberly Ellison

Twitter: @drkellison

Instagram: drkimberlyellison

YouTube: Dr. Kimberly Ellison

Introduction:00:03Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls movement. Enjoy today's show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb:00:16Welcome to Plaid Radio, I'm your host, Sarah Webb, and I am so excited to be here today with my friend, Kimberly Ellison. Dr Kimberly Ellison's passion and purpose is seeing, experiencing and being a vital part of the personal, professional and spiritual growth and development of people. Her professional career lends itself to over 16 years of experience, providing effective and innovative training and performance improvement solutions to all types of organizations. She's got a very big heart, she's a great leader, a wonderful speaker, and I'm just so excited to have you on the show today. Thanks for joining us.
Kimberly Ellison:00:52Absolutely, Sarah! It's always a pleasure to spend time with you, as well as Plaid for Women. I'm excited to be a part of this journey and I look forward to this interview.
Sarah Webb:01:01I know you pretty well, but maybe share a little bit with our listeners. You spend a lot of time training and developing executive leaders. Now, you don't just wake up one day and say, “I'm going to be the coach to a CFO or a CEO.” Walk us through your career experience with how you got to where you are today.
Kimberly Ellison:01:18Absolutely. It started actually way back in the early days when I was in collections. I started with a company where I did collections training as well as new hire training and onboarding in the automotive industry. I was very young, but I loved developing people and I got fulfillment from seeing other people become successful in their work and in the job that they would perform. And so, I actually wanted to take it a step further and do it from an educational perspective. So, I went to post graduate school and got my degree in leadership training and development. I was then able to apply for positions within the workplace that would actually help me fulfill my purpose but also others’, to impact their professional career and their family. Because when you are developing and training individuals, it impacts their growth in what they do at work, but also how they interact and engage with their family life. And so, I took a role as a trainer and I did functional training for years. I'm talking about systems training, customer service training, collections training, but that gave me the skill set to actually help individuals learn to take practical, basic, fundamental principles and then transfer that learning to the workplace. So, if you fast forward, my love for training and development, from a job perspective, really started to percolate over into helping individuals develop in their leadership style and their leadership skills and then how do they then move from potential to achievement. That became my thing. Coming up with the strategy to help individuals in the workplace move from, "Okay, you're pretty good at this job. You're pretty good at supervising and leading the process of the business, but how can you be effective at leading others?" So not just leading yourself because your work performance at work is great, but how can you lead others? And so, I started to take on projects where I'd work with individuals, supervisors, then I would take the supervisors, managers, and directors and start working with them to actually help them build their team. So, that's kind of the segue. I started from the basic fundamental stages of training from a functional group, into training individuals for their job, coaching and consulting for performance, and then moving into a strategic plan for leadership development. Then I ended up in OD and that's where I started working with the executives. So, I took a role in healthcare after 13 years in automotive industry, working with training and development, performance, and being a leader in that role. Being a subject matter expert. I had the longest tenure in the development department. And so I took a role in health care as a strategic OD consultant...
Sarah Webb:04:16and OD is organizational development.
Kimberly Ellison:04:18Uh-huh, organizational development. I took that role in healthcare so that I could actually come up with the strategies for leadership programs. I worked in tandem with our director and our vice president at the university on how we then take these programs and help leaders develop. So, I worked on a whole leadership program across the whole system in healthcare of developing leaders, taking frontline staff all the way to executive leaders, and doing leadership potential assessments, individual leadership, customized development for leaders and that's where I landed. Right now I'm working with leaders at every spectrum. From executive leaders... We’re talking about CEOs to presidents, all the way to those who are frontline staff and I love it! Because it's transferable. Leadership is not just about what the title is of your role, it's about are you getting other people to bring out the best in the work that they do and then are you actually at your highest and best at your achievement level as a leader? So, that's how I got started. That was my journey and hopefully, well I know it is going to continue.
Sarah Webb:05:35I did not know that it started in collections so that's... When you talk about leaders, one of the things when I was in Corporate America and we are encouraging women, we had some groups and things like that, I always felt something that held me back for a long time, and I could see it happening to other people, is thinking they had to have a title to be a leader. And once I put that aside, that I can be a leader in my role whether I actually manage people… because as we're flattening organizations, we actually work a lot cross functionally, where we may not have this hierarchical management, the employee-manager type relationship, but really looking at leadership as the ability to influence others and get them to work on my project or whatever I was doing, without this, “I'm your boss,” type situation. I love all that you're doing.
Kimberly Ellison:06:28Oh, thank you. And let me tell you, that just brings up a point about being an individual contributor. A lot of times people think that you have to have a team to be a leader. Leadership is intrinsic and what that looks like is pretty much you can lead from influence. If you do not have the competency or the skill or developed influence, then you're going to lack in leadership. So, you can lead from an individual contributor role and you can actually have power without full authority. That's really about getting people to see things a different way in the workplace, see that their value, your value and the value of being able to see what's most valuable for the organization. So individual contributors are significant when it comes to leadership because oftentimes you're the one who has the voice to influence the leader in the titled position. So, you can definitely have significant contribution as an individual. Also, leader development is not just about, "Am I leading people?" As I said earlier, are you leading yourself to accomplish your goals and are you self-aware? There are so many competencies that come along with being an effective leader that we cannot only think of leadership, Sarah, by title. I want to demystify that for the listeners.
Sarah Webb:07:46Yeah, absolutely. Well, you've walked us through this path that you've gone. What about… were you the kind of child that was always giving advice to people and listening to others? Did you see, when you started in collections and you became the trainer and the go-to person, was that a very natural role for you?
Kimberly Ellison:08:05Absolutely. It's funny you asked that. On my website at, I tell this story about everything you are, you always have been. I started training when I was about five or six years old at my mother's coffee table. School was out, and I tell this story… I did not know about summer fall and you start to school and you get out. So we were coming from school and my mom said, oh well you all don't go back to school, you're out for the summer. And I literally cried because I wanted to be at school! I sat in front of our coffee table and we would have those little figurines, or those whatnots, I lined them up... And these are inanimate objects, okay?! They do not talk back. And I started teaching them. I had my notebook, my pen, and I was literally teaching them lessons and reading to them. So who I am, I've always been and I've been a teacher just by gifting, spiritual gifts, as well as the skill level. I've been able to just hone that in, but I believe my level of confidence and comfort comes from knowing that that skill, that passion, it's always been there. Am I nervous? Absolutely. I'm always nervous and people say no way. I'm like, yes because it takes a lot to study... because here I am trying to break something down in a practical way for different styles of individuals who learn different ways and so I can not only be effective in learning my craft, but I have to learn how other people take in information, how they process it, and I have to be multifaceted in learning different styles for different people who are again, in the course or in the group, or whatever that platform is, I have to be conscious and aware of how the learners are taking in that information.
Sarah Webb:09:57I love how you talked about your spiritual gifting. Just some of those natural abilities. Mine is organization in spreadsheets. When you're talking about things that you did when you were a little girl, I had a day planner! I had my dad's old Franklin Covey extra pages and I would literally plan out my day. And I had a Palm Pilot in middle school... it was this little calendar technology. So, I've always married those two together. So, it is funny when you look back at what you're doing today and seeing that common thread that's been pulled along and seeing where that is. But in talking about spiritual gifting, you also have a thriving ministry and speaking platform. So when I see you out and about you have this very consistent message and this feeling, but you're working with lots of different groups. You're working with executives and you have a thriving ministry and speaking platform. How do you mold all this together? Because to me they're very separate groups but I feel like it's the same Kimberly. It's hard for my brain to think about it, so how do you manage all of that?
Kimberly Ellison:11:02You know what, Sarah, it's funny you ask that question. One thing is, a couple of years back I wrote a book called Align. It was really identifying how do you align your gifts, your skills, your passions, your knowledge, and then how do you do that in a way that you can align and live your best life on purpose. And so who I am in corporate America, I am in my business, so you get the authenticity of the gifting, the skills, the knowledge, the education, and the background. So what I do for corporate, I also do for ministry. I help individuals identify areas in their life that's going to help them move from potential to achievement. I help individuals become their best self. Now it's strategy related. Everything is a strategy from ministry to Corporate America and really finding the discipline to do that. So I'm able to go in multiple environments and be the same person. Now let's be clear, I don't go in corporate and start singing praise and worship songs or anything like that. However, who I am comes out of the knowledge and being able to take information. So if I'm facilitating, I'm doing it with the gift. I'm doing it with passion. I'm actually taking the content in corporate America and I've used the same strength which is learning what I'm supposed to, so I can really help engage others and even grow myself and so I'm able to balance it because you get the same Kimberly in ministry with the passion, the same authenticity. I'm going to put it in the same level of customization, so if I get a contract with a corporate company, I'm going to have that same discovery session as I would if I got a contract or a ministry event. I'm going to have a dialogue with them. What are the gaps? What are you wanting to get out of the people? What message are you sending and I'm able to go and I'm able to pray about the event. I'm able to put together a strategy on how I'm going to deliver, going to deliver that for both corporate and ministry and so I'm using the same part of myself, the same part of my brain and the same thing that makes me who I am at my core is that I love developing others.
Sarah Webb:13:15In addition to all this that you do, I feel you're very heavily invested in your family. And that's hard, right? That has seasons and you have an incredible partner, but how do you really balance all of that right now and how did it look different, a few years ago? Because I feel that kids change ages, so their needs are different in school and all of that. But how are you balancing it right now?
Kimberly Ellison:13:39It's funny because right now it's a little different. My kids are three and six and so a few years back it was a really big struggle because they were younger and I would have to have a sitter and I'm worried about they can't talk because they're at the infant stage and that early toddler stage and you don't really understand, so I was a little bit more leery about letting them go and be with even daddy, so, it's a little different now. They're three and six. They understand a little bit better what mommy does. I talked to them about the speaking engagements and we actually, this is how I tell them, I said we're a team Ellison and everybody on the team has responsibility and daddy has responsibility. Mommy, McKinley, and Trip, we all have responsibilities and theirs is to go to school to listen and to learn and have fun. We will engage them in their activities, swimming, piano and all that. That's our responsibility as well as a part of this team. But you also have to remember that if you want to really want the best for all of us, mommy has to go and work as well. And so I try to explain it to them. I threw balance out of the window. It just doesn't work. It's all about prioritization with me. My kids and my husband and my family are my first ministry. They are my first priority. And Darren and I, we work on... It's sad, but we keep all of our schedules, even if it's a fun event, social, kids schedule, our speaking engagements, his corporate... Listen, people think that I'm the one that travels a lot. Darren travels two weeks out of the month with his job. So he's gone a lot! And we balance that out. We put it on our calendars, we talk a lot and communicate. With the kids, it's hands down. I need help. You know? I had to have help and so I will seek out a friend who is constant, a godsister, a godmother, and they will actually watch them for a couple of hours. But daddy is a big factor. We are a partnership as well. So, when daddy's gone, Mommy's here when Mommy's gone, daddy is here. So we want to make sure that we have a healthy, consistent plan for them. But also, I take my kids with me sometimes. So, McKinley will travel with me. She will go to different functions with me and then I will have someone with me so a sitter or someone with me who can take care of her while the event is going on. So we do a lot of that but it is very challenging whenever I take an event, I have to check and see first before I secure the date. If it's a school play or whatever the case may be, whatever's going on. I have to make sure that the schedule fits and sometimes I don't take events because my kids have things and I'm okay with that.
Sarah Webb:16:21My love language is a meeting invite to put directly onto my calendar. My husband and I, we do a lot of the calendaring as well and as a mom and a mother you have that maternal instinct and I definitely have a partner, but there's things that I've just given up on. My kids can look like ragamuffins. I used to be like, “oh, they don't look cute when they're with my husband because he just, he doesn't have the same sense of style as I do” and so I just gave that up. They had breakfast, they have clothes on and I know he made them brush their teeth. That's all I can ask for. If they are wearing things that just don't even match or whatever, that's fine. You know, someone was like, “Hey, I saw your husband and your kids,” somewhere. And I'm like, “ugh!” But you know what? There’re some things I have to let go.
Kimberly Ellison:17:17Oh, I'm with you! You will see my kids. I mean they'll have mix-matched clothes... I mean everything. And they eat out. I mean when you're talking about breakfast and lunch and dinner, I'm like, really? I bought groceries before I left. I cooked spaghetti before I left and that's what I try to do. I get their clothes out, I cook a few meals if they can reheat, I come home. It's all still fully in the refrigerator, like nothing's done. So again, I've given up the hope that it'll be done, like mommy would do it.
Sarah Webb:17:46Exactly. And when I'm in charge, then I do get to do it how I want to do it. So, you've talked about matching up these two different paths. What advice do you have for those in the corporate world that might be experiencing burnout or possibly frustrated where they are? You talk about aligning passion. Sometimes we just get to that, I don't know, frustrating point. It's like we love our organization but we're not able to move around or you need that change... What advice do you have for people experiencing that?
Kimberly Ellison:18:17Three words. Ready, set, reset. My biggest thing is ready, set, reset. We, especially as women, we feel that every decision has to be made now. We feel that every progress or progression or promotion has to be done in this particular moment. Ready, set, reset. The actual expectations and goals, a vision you had for your career may not be the same for the place you're in now. So do a ready, set, reset. Start over in the place and start saying, what am I really looking to get out of this particular role? Where do I see myself again in the next 12 months? What am I doing to actually drive my career in that direction? I often say, go back to the basics and the core of who you are and your expectations. Because you could be in a role for 10 years expecting to get a promotion as promised to you, but yet you don't get that promotion. Well, that doesn't mean you give up on it or you get fatigued or you tire out. What that means is you need to ready, set, reset, go back and start to reset your expectations, reset your career goals, identify those areas in which you want to develop. Identify your strengths and those areas you want to display the most. Those are the things that I always tell my clients. I always tell those who are in the corporate world and also business owners who come to me with my own organization. My own company is you need to take a good look at... Does your strategy for your career and your strategy for where you are currently look like the goals and the expectations you had and so the biggest thing I would say is ready, set, reset. Go back to the foundation of where is it that I'm trying to move to? What's my purpose in this career? Do I need a fresh start? Not about quitting. Fresh start is not always about leaving. It's not about quitting. It's about getting a fresh start on your vision. What's your vision for your career? Where do you see yourself?
Sarah Webb:20:11I love the reset because so many times, when you get to that position, you just want to throw your hands up and be like, “I give up on everything” and go sit in the fetal position for a while and eat too much chocolate. You just feel like giving up, but really, it's a time for a reset and I like the focus of, Okay. I am where am I. Now, what do I do from here? Versus just that giving up piece. I definitely have wanted to give up, and have in some cases, and had I thought about it more as a reset, I probably would have been a lot healthier
Kimberly Ellison:20:47And that's it! Because if you reset, it's also about going back... We will get goal oriented but I would like to caution us to be more results focused and taking a look at if we're not getting the results out of our career that we want. If we're not moving in the direction or we're not expanding. I also encourage expansion. Oftentimes we try to move, vertically, but horizontally can also bring you growth and promotion and it can also bring you fulfillment. And so sometimes we're so focused on moving up vertically because we think positionally that's the only way we can actually increase our skillset and increase our pocket books. You can take those horizontal positions. I've taken a lot of horizontal, cross promotions, where I gain skill and knowledge. Where, when it was time to go for promotion, I had more of a background because of the lateral positions that I had taken. I was a little bit more decorated than the next candidate. But we really don't think of it that way. We think a promotion means I have to go to this next step vertically. People would say, “you were a trainer, why did you go and become a career development coach?” I was a career development coach for one of the largest automotive companies in the industry, and I didn't know anything about being in career development. Well, here I am, fast forward 13, 14 years later, I am doing career development for leaders and executives and I'm actually helping them identify their path and what is their next step. But I didn't know it then and it was a lateral move. So, I'll always say, get your ticket punched. You may not use it. Then again, that reset will help you reestablish your professional goals, your career goals, and then also the vision that you have for yourself.
Sarah Webb:22:37Well, one of the things we're doing this year at our NoMeanGirls' conference, which is September 21st and 22nd in Southlake is we're gonna have the opportunity to do coaching programs following the conference and so you are one of our coaches because we know that you believe in the NoMeanGirls spirit, but we also know that there's women who just need some guidance. And so, we've put together a 90-day program and you're specifically focused on people maybe that are in the corporate environment because like we said, that ready, set, reset. I'm going to write that down, but, the corporate environment is different than being an entrepreneur or maybe working with your family because you've got the political situation. But like you said, there's so many different opportunities. So tell us a little bit about who this coaching program might be best for and how you plan to work with the women.
Kimberly Ellison:23:24Absolutely. So this program... and I'm so grateful to be a part of the small group coaching for Plaid for Women, again the NoMeanGirls conference coming up, but I'll tell you this program and if you're going to be a part of the professional development piece or the corporate piece, if you are looking to really maximize your potential, take it to the next level in your career or women who are say next level meaning not just positionally, but you're ready to start in a place where there's growth skill coming back and say, you know what? I want to do something different. Sometimes you're operating off of maybe your top two strengths. Well, what about those other strengths that you have? So women who want to challenge themselves to become more disciplined, to be a little bit more confident in their skill set. We want to work through your confidence factor and being able to look at promotion as not just promotion, vertically, but promotion within your competence level. I want women in this program who are really looking at competencies. Like if you want to develop strategic thinking, networking, building your effective communication going in, and collaboration and how do you collaborate with others and most importantly, building from your actual strength. I want to be able to help you find your voice in the room, in the war room, in the workplace. And even on teams. I would love to get leaders who are in a leadership role and they feel that they are challenged in that role and they have people on their teams that they would like to grow and develop. I want women in this professional environment who are really looking to go to the next level in their career. And they have... It's not that they're not successful. I want women to come in who, hey, we want different levels in this group. I don't want people who are just executives are just leaders. I want women who are on the frontline every day. Women who are in customer service and women who are running the whole unit of a hospital. We want different women from different backgrounds because it's going to give us a collaboration, is going to help us work on some of those strategic skills as needed to compete in the workplace and also I want to work with you individually to help move you along with your career goals. What does that look like for you? I want you to see your blind spots. Women who really want to be able to see their blind spots challenge you to be a little bit more self-aware and situationally aware. Those are some competencies, as women, we are challenged in. So, I want to be able to help move that needle for you. If you are looking not just to help in your actual day to day job, but who you are, who you take to work every day. That's what you're going to change. It's not just going to be about your job, it's going to be about who you go to work as every single day and how do we develop those skills and that woman.
Sarah Webb:26:12Well, and I really wish that I had taken advantage of something like this in my corporate development... Either maybe early on in my career, but even during those transitions because I was labeled a high potential employee and got lots of coaching and things like that, but it was only from my company and I really should've done a better job and invested in myself on the outside by myself because I was only hearing what my company wanted me to hear and it's very… not you're going to be here forever, but they're molding you how they want you to be. Which I think is good. I'm not discounting corporate programs like that, but I should have also invested in myself with an outside group or coach because it could have helped me balance the whole thing. And so it wasn't just hearing one point of view. I know that would have definitely been helpful in my career and even early on in my career. I think sometimes we think that coaching programs are only for people leaders or women who are further along. If I had had some of this competence factor and self-awareness earlier on... Man! I can be running the world by now or something. You know what I mean? I think I was very hesitant and timid and I, I definitely should have invested in something so I'm excited. I'm excited for you to be at the conference and in fact we have some one on one sessions available to meet Kimberly at the conference if you're curious about the program. You can get online and schedule a one on one with her. She's a real person. You're going to like her, but I'm telling you that and you've heard how great she is today, but this will give you that chance to meet with her one on one. I'll put a link for that in the show notes. So I'm just super excited. It's going to be great.
Kimberly Ellison:27:55It's going to be great, Sarah. The ladies are in for a great treat. I'm glad that you all had the vision and a strategy to put the small group coaching sessions together for women. For one, we're going into an era now in the workplace where women, we do have a voice and we do have a seat at the table. Now the next step to that is what do you do when you get there, and so we want to make sure that we are strategically thinking. We have financial acuity and we have business acuity, so we'll talk about those things and then your individual goals and also what is your actual career path. You said something that was very, very important. You said that when you were in the corporate world that they would mold you to what they wanted. What I take that as it's you have a brand in the workplace and the workplace has a culture and how you work in your current role. That's how a brand that you've developed and so sometimes it's hard for others to see you outside of that brand and so you also get with this professional coaching and small group, is that how to rebrand and really start to bring forward some of those skills and strengths that you would like others to see you as. So don't change your brand, it's about really adding more value from a different skill set or a different place that you want to showcase. And so, taking an external view and getting outside of the walls of your organization can help you actually do a ready, set, reset, so that you can accomplish your career goals.
Sarah Webb:29:20Well, how can our listeners connect with you if they're interested in doing maybe some Internet stalking? What's your website so they can check you out in learning more about you?
Kimberly Ellison:29:31Yes, definitely connect with me. is my website. You can find all things Dr. Kimberly there. I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn. I'm Kimberly Ellison, PhD or you can go there and find me under DKEG, which is Dr. Kimberly Ellison Global, LLC. And you can also go on Facebook and Instagram. I am all things social media. Let's connect. I would love, love, love to connect with you, dialogue with you, and also just really take this journey and do life with you.
Sarah Webb:30:00Yeah, and I love all your social media, because I'm your friend, but you talked about taking McKinley, your daughter on an event. Y'all had these little matching shirts and y'all were at this event and I'm like, oh, they're so cute, so I may need to step up my game, but in a non-mom-guilty, judgmental way. Maybe I should take my little somewhere, because I think that they think that I just sit behind a computer all day. I think it's good for our kids to see what we're really doing, so definitely encourage you with that. Kimberly, it's always a pleasure. Thank you for taking time and spending it with us and we'll see you in just a few short weeks!
Kimberly Ellison:30:43Absolutely.
Sarah Webb:30:44That's a wrap for Plaid Radio.
Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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