IAM1653 – Podcaster Tells Stories To Drive Businesses Forward

Podcast Interview with Katharina Brendel

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”: It's hard not to love everything that Kat is working on and how she caught the “entrepreneurial bug” and ran with it to amplify so many women's voices. She studied journalism so it was awesome to hear how passionate she is about storytelling and how podcasting is such a phenomenal medium to amplify voices.

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Previous Episode: https://iamceo.co/2020/01/16/iam521-podcaster-tells-stories-to-drive-businesses-forward/


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Katharina Brendel Teaser 00:00

So I like to say that I marry storytelling into business. That's kind of the thing. So from the journalist side, and being a book nerd, I'm a really big fan of things that have to be interesting, you know? They have to and how we connect is stories. You know, what is a campfire, tales, or whatever it may be. That's how we connect.

Intro 00:17

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs, without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place.

Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:44

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast and we're doing something a little bit different this year with some of our episodes we're repurposing some of our favorite episodes around specific topics related to entrepreneurship. This month we're focusing on entrepreneurship and community.

Us, we, our, together. And we're gonna look at entrepreneurship and industries in different types of entrepreneurship and ultimately what that really means. But we're also gonna delve deeper into the importance of community networking niche communities and how that supports being a CEO entrepreneur and business owner.

So sit back and enjoy these special episodes around entrepreneurship and community.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Kat Brendel of katbrendel.com. Kat, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Katharina Brendel 01:31

Thank you for having me. I'm happy to be here.

Gresham Harkless 01:33

No problem. Super excited to have you on. And what I wanted to do was just read a little bit more about Kat so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing.

Kat's love of stories made her a lifelong book nerd and led to her studying journalism and building a career in media. After gaining a boatload of marketing experience around the world, she learned how to not just tell stories for stories sake, but how they can drive businesses forward.

After soaking up all that knowledge, she went out on my own, launching the Leading Rebels podcast, co-founding the community club & coworking space for women CoWomen, and collaborating with kickass (wo)men like you to launch your podcast to get your voice heard.  Kat, are you ready to speak to the I am CEO community?

Katharina Brendel 02:12

I am Ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 02:13

Awesome. Let's do it. So I wanted to give you the mic, so to speak, and kick everything off hear a little bit more about your CEO story. What led you to get started with your business?

Katharina Brendel 02:21

Well, it was kind of one thing that led to another. I started the podcast because I got a leadership position at a tech startup and there weren't a lot of women leaders as, unfortunately, it's still the case in tech.

And I kind of wanted to know a little bit about female leadership and what that looks like. And since as you mentioned, I'm a journalist and other people were having the same questions. I thought, you know, why not share the conversations I'm having, and that's how the Leading Rebels podcast got born.

And I'd have to admit that kind of already started the entrepreneurial bug. When you start a podcast and create something for yourself, you're already kind of in the flow.

Gresham Harkless 02:53 Exactly.

Katharina Brendel 02:54

And then I met my co-founders through the women's networks because I got into that scene type of marks and they had this idea for a community club and co-working space for women, which didn't exist at all in Germany.

So we're like, we got together and did that. And then I quit my job and went full-time both with co-women and as a podcast strategist

Gresham Harkless 03:13

Nice. I definitely appreciate that. And it definitely seems like, as you were saying, once you start seeing or getting that entrepreneurial bug or you discover it, then you start to see things everywhere and it's like you have to reign in the number of opportunities you have cause you always see favorite things you can do all the time.

Katharina Brendel 03:28

Yeah, the list of like to-do-soon projects of what could be is very long.

Gresham Harkless 03:33

Exactly. Exactly. No, I appreciate that. And also, I know I kind of touched on this when I was reading your bio, just as you know, journalism in and of itself is not. Just like, writing for newspapers or magazines, it's developed, especially with the content being so prevalent in businesses, it's become a way for people to tell the story.

So that's why I love everything that you're building, you're growing, and I'm a journalism nut and a book nerd too. So I can definitely appreciate all that.

Katharina Brendel 03:59

Thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, it's definitely what I love is that there are so many mediums now that you can choose what is the best avenue and how you're good at storytelling, and where your audience hangs out.

And that's just perfect that there are so many avenues now.

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Gresham Harkless 04:10

Exactly. Choices abundant. So, I know you touched on it a little bit, but I wanted to hear some more about your podcast, like what we can expect by listening to it. And also everything you're doing with your co-working space and the podcast consulting you're doing.

Katharina Brendel 04:22

Sure. So the podcast evolved with me, I like to say, which I think is fun cause a lot of people thinking like, oh, if I started this way it has to be this way for like the next 50 years.

Gresham Harkless 04:30 Right.

Katharina Brendel 04:30

And the funny thing is no, it's Zoom podcast in as you like. So in the beginning I pretty much focused on interviewing women in leadership because that was a topic I was treating, but I kind of found out that one leadership.

You know, it's not just a position in a company. That's not what leadership is about. There's a lot of ways of being a leader. And the other side was also that the tips the women had, whether they were young or old or regardless of their positions, were all about kind of being authentic and being yourself.

And we hear this so much, but we're like, what does that mean? What does that look like? As I get, you're telling me this, you clearly went through some transformation. But I don't know how to get there. I don't know how to do this. So, I decided that was a little bit the area I wanted to dive into for this last season, which was the third season.

So I've been doing this for three years. Kinda looking at like, okay, people who did outside of the norm things, who really went their own way and how did that process look like? How did they maybe not feel great at times? And then also sharing a little bit of my own storytelling chops to help people.

Not only just tell their story, but find and own them, which I think is also an important step we often skip. So that was kind of what the podcast is about. And yeah, CoWomen, it's been opened out two years. So we have a space here in Berlin, Germany, and a second location in the south of Germany.

And it's a physical space, which is really nice. So I do both online and media stuff, but also physical, which I think is also super valuable. And we bring women together and give them masterclass, co-working mentors, all this stuff to both entrepreneurship and the employed.

Kind of take it to the next level.

Gresham Harkless 06:02

Yeah, I absolutely love that. If you take relationships to a different level, obviously, if you're able to kind of get those connections and then obviously you can spread yourself and, and have much more of a broader voice by being able to do things online.

Katharina Brendel 06:14

Yeah, I think there's a lot of different relationships you can have, and I think reasons and uses for all of them. But I think we shouldn't. Leaning too much into one side versus the other is always when we kind of suddenly feel a little isolated or alone in some way.

Gresham Harkless 06:27

Absolutely. So that's why I love everything that you've been able to build and grow and, and merge together.

So you might have already touched on this, but I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce. And it could be for you or your businesses, but what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?

Katharina Brendel 06:40

So I like to say that I marry storytelling into business. That's kind of the thing.

So from the journalist side and being a book nerd, I'm a really big fan of, things have to be interesting, you know? They have to, actually, and how we connect is stories. You know, what is a campfire, tales or whatever may be? That's how we connect. But on the other hand, we've got business, if you're an entrepreneur or even if you're working in a business, you know, stories you tell should do something.

So they shouldn't be nice to listen to, they should also drive your business. But people often fall into one camp or the other. Either they're very dry cause they're like, this has to be sales, basically.

Gresham Harkless 07:13 Right.

Katharina Brendel 07:13

Or they're like, I wanna tell really nice things, but you know, sales are pushy. Knowing I don't wanna do that and then they kind of end up just telling nice stories and you know, it doesn't convert. So I like to think that I can put both hats on and do stories that are engaging, but also drive somewhere at the end that ideally benefits both parties. That's the point, right?

Gresham Harkless 07:31

Yeah, absolutely. Cause you have to have that ability to captivate people so that they are interested in your product and services and sometimes why you do things.

But you do at the end of the day, have to make sure that you're in business, and in order to do that you have to make a sale to ensure that that happens.

Katharina Brendel 07:46

Yeah. So I like to say that's what I excel at, at getting people from one camp a little bit more than the other, or vice versa.

Gresham Harkless 07:53

Yeah, that makes so much sense. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Katharina Brendel 08:06

So I am a total productivity nerd, which probably means I've tried everything under the sun that there is.

Ok. Mostly because as you've listened to what I do, I do a lot of different things in different settings, right? So when I work as a strategist and a coach, I'm more like in my home office. But then I also have a physical space I work in. So there's a lot of hats I'm wearing and that's the biggest challenge of course.

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So I really block times so I usually do sprints in the day, like three different sprints, and then I do group together task. For example, I'll say, okay, this morning I'll focus on CoWomen doing these types of things. This afternoon is podcasting, these things. And then I also have a timer so that I do see how long things are taking cause otherwise planning weeks is really hard cause you always think like, oh yeah, I'll do that in 30 minutes. And then like three hours later you're like, oh.

Gresham Harkless 08:50 You're right.

Katharina Brendel 08:51

Never mind. And yeah, that's how I get a good feel about it, so both tracking the time and really blocking times and not switching too much is what I've really found super helpful.

Gresham Harkless 09:01

Nice. That makes so much sense. And, I heard you use the word sprint, so could you kind of define exactly what that means to you? Is it just that you're working on something on a project as far as you can take it? Or how do you structure that?

Katharina Brendel 09:12

Sure. So I kind of throw it out because since I was at a tech startup, doing sprints is actually from the development side.

So like the IT tech side, they do a lot of sprints. For me, I do them small in the sense of like, focus on one topic for a certain amount of time. For example, like two hours, and then I have a bigger project that they feed into. Then I say like, I'm gonna estimate this is gonna take 10 to hours blocks to complete.

And then I can schedule those in. So I can say like, okay, this is the time I want to have this completed and that's how I sprint, so to say.

Gresham Harkless 09:40

Nice. Yeah, I definitely appreciate that cause I guess the saying is the quickest way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. So a lot of times we have these big projects, these big things that we wanna accomplish.

Not sure where that time's gonna come from, but if you're able to kind of say, Hey, if you can break in two hours, you know, for 10 weeks, then all of a sudden you hit whatever goal you might try be trying to hit.

Katharina Brendel 09:59

Yeah. And also we don't like it when we see too many big things, we don't even know where to start.

So they were like, oh, oh, let me check my email then if we drift. So sometimes it's good just like having every single task as small as might be written out because then you don't have that excuse. You're like, okay, this is what I have to do next. And then you just like go through the list and don't like even think about how big the whole thing is, basically,

Gresham Harkless 10:19

Yeah, it gives you that manageable task that you can because you can target and you can crush and hit. So, that makes so much sense. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this is a word of wisdom or a piece of advice around podcasting or even storytelling.

But what would you tell a younger business person or a younger business self?

Katharina Brendel 10:39

This is kind of one of my core beliefs and this very much what drives what I do is you have something valuable to say. Because I'm especially passionate about amplifying women's voices to what I do and also podcasting listenership is 50-50, but women are about 25% hosts, so it's not really the most equal, but in general, a lot of people feel like what they have to say don't matters.

Or somebody has said it better than them, so why should they even bother? And it's been so many times that I like to give the example. How many times have you been given advice maybe by your parents when you were younger? And they told you this 60 times and you didn't listen cause it's your parents, and then somebody you admired or a friend said the same thing and then you're like, oh yeah, totally and did it.

Gresham Harkless 11:20 You're right. You're right.

Katharina Brendel 11:20

So the point is not, has somebody said it before? Maybe by nowadays, there's so much out there I probably have. They haven't said like you would and we all connect with different people in different ways and you definitely have something valuable to say and that's why I really probe people getting out there and sharing their stories.

Gresham Harkless 11:37

That's why I love how you help people, first of all, find their voices and be able to kind of execute on that so that they can understand how exactly they can start whatever it is they're trying to start.

Katharina Brendel 11:46

Thanks. Yeah, I'm definitely super passionate about that and kind of the strategy behind that and getting the right stories out and how to tell 'em that stuff, what I'm all about.

Gresham Harkless 11:54

Yeah, that makes so much sense. So now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO and we're hoping to have different quote CEOs on this show. So, Kat, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Katharina Brendel 12:06

For me just means being in charge of your life and work. I think it's a general thing.

I think sometimes it can be tempting to when you're maybe employed or in some situation you're not a huge fan of when you're like, or you're starting your business and it's not going well to decide. It's like outside factors that are maybe in your way, and there definitely are those things. I'm not saying there aren't, you know, hardships outside you know, your world that get created for you.

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But being a CEO means saying, okay, they're my A, B, C, D things that are going against me, but I decide how I react to them and I decide what I do and how I move forward. And that's what for me being a CEO is about, is about owning the agency that you do have.

Gresham Harkless 12:44

Absolutely. Yeah, I love that owning the agency because I think so many times you can get so focused on external factors, if this is going wrong or this isn't, you know, perfectly set up. But if you control yourself, control your mindset, how you look at things, how you react to things that can give you that opportunity to hit it, hit whatever goal.

Maybe not in the way you necessarily see, but you can still kind of crush your goal and hit your goal whenever you're able to that.

Katharina Brendel 13:07

Yeah. And I think that's it. I mean, I'm not saying it's easy, it's, one of those very typical thing, it's simple but not easy.

Gresham Harkless 13:13 Yeah.

Katharina Brendel 13:14

You know, and it's also okay to sometimes be run down and sometimes feel defeated. Those are truly normal feelings, but it's just kind of having that base that you go back to, to kind of pull yourself out of it.

Gresham Harkless 13:24

Yeah, that makes so much sense. Yeah, cause it's definitely not easy, as you said. It's simple but not necessarily easy to execute. But that's why everybody isn't doing it all the time. So that's just a reminder based on that. But yeah, you're absolutely right where sometimes it is understanding too that you're not alone if you're going through one of those down moments, because entrepreneurship, running a business, running a podcast, doing all these things, it's extremely hard.

So if you're aware of that, then sometimes when you have those down moment. She won't feel like you're by yourself or you're failing or something's wrong with you.

Katharina Brendel 13:54

Yeah. That's why the second thing I'm so passionate about is a community in all these different ways. Because if you try to go at it alone and you know, from the outside in the Instagram world, everybody's crushing it, and not having a single problem in the world, it's really important to have those people around you that show you like, it's okay.

Things go wrong, we've all the challenges that we've had to get ourselves.

Gresham Harkless 14:14

Exactly. Yeah. It's all part of the process, so it definitely is great to understand that. So Kat, thank you so much for that definition. I appreciate that. I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know.

And then of course, how best they can get ahold of you. Subscribe to the podcast, to find out about the co-working space and all the awesome things you're working on.

Katharina Brendel 14:36

Thanks. Gresh, it's been an awesome conversation, so thank you for having me for sure. And yeah, and the last thing is, I think I already said my key piece of advice, right?

And as you said, if anybody wants help with how to do a podcast again, hit me up. I'm at katbrendel.com. If you've heard Gresh's podcast and you're like, this sounds cool, but I don't know if it's for the right thing for me. I actually have a quiz. That says, should you start a podcast or grow your business?

Because I'm also honest, I'm pretty direct. I'm a little bit German, so I'm very direct too. And for some people it's not the right thing it's not the best medium there. Are there other ways you can tell your story better? So I do a little quiz where I honestly tell you, is the right fit for you right now?

And other than that you can find everything about CoWomen there too. But it's cowomen.com if you are in Berlin. You're welcome to drop by guys. You're welcome at our events. So for that, you're also welcome to come. And yeah, on social media, it's all Kat Brendel so I'm easy to find.

Gresham Harkless 15:25

Awesome, awesome, awesome. And I will make sure to have those links in the show notes so that everybody can follow up with you. But thank you so much again for your time and again, for that reminder about, you know, sometimes podcasting might be for you, but there are so many other mediums as well too that might be better shoes that fit well on you as well.

So I definitely appreciate that appreciate you and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Katharina Brendel 15:44

Thanks, Gresh you too.

Outro 15:46

Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts.

Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating Grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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