Business in Boardshorts Podcast
EP12 – Kery Knutson


Release Date: February 10, 2021

Location: Delray Beach, FL

Guest Name: Kery Knutson

Business Name: UpLevel Consulting and Coaching

Business Website:

Intro (guest speaking): To just experiment and try as hard as it might be to be unattached to the outcome. This is kind of around the growth in the fixed mindset if you’re familiar with the work of Carol Dweck, and she talks about that about effort counts, you know, that instead of focusing on whether our project or initiative or whatever has worked, or not worked, you know, pass or fail, success or failure, instead of that, think about what you learned along the way.

Intro (host speaking): Welcome back or welcome to the Business In Boardshorts Podcast. Today’s guest is Kery Knutson, from UpLevel Consulting. She runs team workshops and does communication coaching for business owners and leaders across the United States. Kery, welcome to the show.

Guest: Absolutely. I’m looking forward to it.

Host: So can you tell our listeners where you are located?

Guest: I am in Delray Beach, Florida, South Florida, to give you a region.

Host: And what’s the vibe like there?

Guest: Well, it’s to November, and it’s starting to be the time of year where we can actually open our windows. Not so quiet, so hot. And it’s starting to be really beautiful.

Host: And I guess like, well, what are some landmarks near there that people may be familiar with?

Guest: Well, I’m pretty close to the ocean. So I love that, that I’m four miles from the ocean and can go put my feet in the sand whenever I feel the need. And some landmarks here, well, we’re three hours from Disney World, that’s a big, like, national landmark that everyone thinks about. About an hour or [I can’t understand] from Miami depending on which part. And sort of sandwiched in between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Host: Have you lived there your whole life?

Guest: No, I’m originally from Iowa and when people say “Where are you from?” sometimes I say I’m from the field of dreams. Because if you know that movie, “The Field of Dreams”, which, I don’t know, that 80s, 90s not sure what but that’s, um, was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa. And that’s where I was born and I lived there until I was 14 and then I moved from that small town, which is really more like a village, to South Florida. So I kind of feel like I moved from a farm into the [I can’t understand] of Florida.

Host: So, any hurricanes that come through your area in Florida?

Guest: Well, you know, I’ve lived here since 1990/91 and the first hurricane that I experienced was Hurricane Andrew, which is a pretty big one. But that really didn’t affect us directly, me and my family, because we were in Boca Raton at the time when that happened and it was really more impactful and homestead in Miami. And then through the 30-some years that I’ve been here, there’s you know, been here, hurricanes here and there, of course, you know, every season from June 1st to November 1st is hurricane season and so you have to be on the, you know, lookout with the weather and watching things that develop and so forth. But the one that really impacted me the most. I mean, there were a couple. One was Hurricane Wilma and that was back in, oh, I don’t know, 2005 I think and I was working for city government at the time, and so that was, you know, pretty big impact because I was in Broward County and that it actually turned in the storm, you know, ended up having a pretty major effect on Western Broward County, which is where I worked at the time. But when I say impact, you know, that’s all relative, right? This is a continuum of, you know, you see things like Katrina, and that’s devastation, right, but, that was an experience I’ve had with hurricanes, but we have felt different sorts of impacts along the way and, you know, one of them was Wilma. And then the other one, that I had mentioned to you before, was hurricane Irma, which was just a few years ago, and that one was really just bizarre and unique as a hurricane because it’s, you know, usually, when a hurricane is coming towards Florida, it’s coming to sort of one area, it’s either the East Coast, the West Coast, or, you know, the panhandle are different, Florida is a very long state. So it’s usually like, okay, we’re in the cone of uncertainty, they call it we’re in that cone, it’s going to impact us, let’s get prepared or outside of the cone, it’s not going to really affect us. But with hurricane Irma, was a whole different animal because it was just really unpredictable and while I live on the east coast of Florida, and my parents live on the west coast of Florida, at one point we thought it was coming to my coast, and then before we knew it, it was coming to their coast, and then before we knew it, it was basically going up the whole middle of the state and, so, that was one that really was the curveball and we ended up not, you know, doing something we’d never done before in the 30 years we’ve lived here and that was packing all our belongings and driving to one coast or the other, and then ending up in Orlando, to ride it out with some friends.

Host: You see it on TV, and broadcast and all over. But then, you know, you don’t see the everybody that it affects, and it’s over here, and now it’s over there and now it’s over here and the back and forth, it’s got to be really crazy.
Guest: Yeah, and it can go on for weeks. So it’s kind of like, um, you know, being that I’m from Iowa and when I was little, I have memories of living through tornadoes. Again, not that, you know, blessed in the sense that it wasn’t like my house or anything or neighbor’s house that impacted but you nevertheless, when a tornado is coming your way, it’s like, hurry up and get in the basement, right? Or whatever. So I’d had that experience. Now hurricanes are this long window of days and days to prepare and not know and just, you know, all this build-up anticipation and anxiety and it’s like a whole different things. On one hand, it’s good because you can get prepared, right? You can get your water and your gas or whatever, you’re going to get your generator, food. But on the other hand, it’s really wreaks havoc on your life because everything stops, and then you just kind of wait and you see what happens.

Host: Let’s transition to the business side of things.

Guest: Sure.

Host: Before you started in your current coaching business, what exactly did you do?

Guest: So I worked, about 15 years in marketing and communication roles, different roles I worked in, corporate, I worked in government, as I said, I worked in non-profit, and even higher education and so I was, you know, marketing director as one of my former roles before I became an entrepreneur. And I guess the segue or the connection from what we were just talking about with the uncertainty of hurricanes, is talk about uncertainty, right? When you’re switching jobs, there’s uncertainty when you’re taking a leap of faith that the next role or position or company that you’re going with is going to be an improvement, it’s a leap of faith, you really don’t know, you can do your best due diligence but at the end of the day, you just prepare and see what happens.

Host: You can prepare as much as you want to, but it’s really not to get put in the fire that you start to really learn and understand it in a different sense.

Guest: Absolutely. It’s like sink or swim kind of opportunity.

Host: Well, how did you transition then?

Guest: Well, talking about sinking, I took a leap, you know, I got into a role where I was thinking that this was going to be my dream job. I was so excited, I was telling everyone “Oh my gosh, I’ve just landed my dream opportunity. This is where I’ll be for the rest of my career” and as it turned out, it was the exact opposite. It was the nightmare that I experienced and I don’t say that lightly. You know, a lot of people have stories with their job that they’re just not so happy or this reason or that. But for me, this situation, in particular, was, you know, there was a full department turnover under my boss’s leadership. So it was a pretty big deal and it was one that I tried to navigate the best I could by having direct conversations and work through conflicts and so forth. But once I recognized that this was bigger than me, it wasn’t something I could change and this environment wasn’t something for me that I just had to, you know, take stock and make a decision and I decided that that was the push that was going to make me try entrepreneurship because my family are entrepreneurs, you know, growing up, you know, we owned restaurants, we own convenience stores, we had, you know, lots of different businesses. My parents did house flipping, before flipping was the thing to do and, you know, they did a lot of stuff, you know, bootstraps kind of thing I saw them have great success, and I saw them have lots of struggles. So I felt like, you know, I’m going to go the safe route, I’m going to get a master’s degree in communication, which is what I did, and I’m going to get a good, you know, professional job, and then I’ll be safe from all that up and down and uncertainty of entrepreneurship. Well, that’s not really how things go, right, the best-laid plans, they say and so I just, um, because I got in that situation where I was really unhappy and it just wasn’t for me, I decided that was the push I needed that, if that didn’t happen, in other words, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.

Ad-Break: Hey there CT, I’m interrupting my own show. Because I’m now open to new clients or I have a waitlist for website design projects and marketing strategy sessions. If you’re trying to throw in your marketing dollars down the drain, and want a website that actually drives new business, let’s hop on a call. You can book a free hour with me at No fluff, no BS, just everything you need to up your online presence today. Now back to the show.

Host: Well, there’s a lot of similarities between what you just described in and what you do in your coaching, correctly? You’re trying to help people to get away from that negative situation and, you know, create a life that they are fulfilled by.

Guest: Yeah, exactly. And so, because of that experience, I’m really deeply passionate about helping people navigate communication challenges, you know, I call it that, you know, a lot of it is emotional intelligence, because knowing what I know now, and looking back on that situation, well, that leader just was, you know, not to sound insulting but there is such a thing as called, you know, emotional illiteracy, that if you just don’t have those skills of social wealth, you can call it, you know, dealing with interpersonal strengths and so forth, that you haven’t had the opportunity or spent time really practicing and developing those things, you know, it’s not so easy, It doesn’t just come easily to everyone. So I want to help people now build those skills, become better communicators, navigate conflict. You know, I did a workshop not too long ago called confronting workplace conflict and one of the first things I do in that workshop is, say, define conflict, you know, what does it mean to you, and most people will have a negative definition, you know, it’s like, oh, it’s really bad, you don’t want to do that, you want to avoid that, you know, things like that and really, reframing is what we try to do is to say, well, is conflict avoidable? You know, you can’t avoid it, it’s part of life, it’s part of every relationship you’ll have. So if we can think about it differently, and we can create some skills and tools and things that are going to help us through those things so it’s not such an emotional ride, you know, that’s going to help us professionally in our business, in our career and whatever way.

Host: Yeah, what are some of the different ways that you work with your clients?

Guest: So I do one on one, individual coaching, and sometimes that looks like, you know, I want to transition roles and I’m not really sure how to do that, what to do next, I feel stuck, you know, or it could be people with big goals, like, I know, I’m meant for something big, I want to start a movement, I want to write a book, I want to build a community, how do I do that. So we’ll do three months or six months of coaching individually, and we’ll work on different things with that person, and then another role that I have, or things that I do in my business is workshop facilitator. So now, especially, we’re doing a lot more on zoom for workshops, and corporations and teams, and things like that. Most recently, I was doing one called coaching for development. So this is where we help managers and leaders build their own coaching skills for the development conversations. So when you have to do those annual reviews that no one really enjoys, how do you coach the person instead of tell them what they should be doing. So yeah, it’s really between the teamwork and the individual work of what I do in my business now.

Host: I just hearing you talk, it seems like it’s so much communication like at the end of the day, it really just comes down to communication and being able to reframe it like you said.

Guest: Yeah, you know, I call it communication, that I’m a communication coach and consultant. And that’s what I’ve sort of given my work, you know, that’s the umbrella term, to call it and as I dig in, and dive in and work with people, and I find out that, that it is called different names and so when I started calling it, I don’t know how I came up with this, but, oh, I know what it was, I’m remembering now, as I speak, what I call it is power skills. So and reason I call it that is because often communication skills or people skills are called soft skills, as opposed to hard skills, which are like technical or, you know, things like that and so instead of calling them soft, which to me, kind of has a negative connotation I call them power skills because I think they are so very powerful.

Host: Can you talk about that a little more?

Guest: Sure. So, um, one of the foundational things around power skills are things like self-awareness, and you and I talked briefly about different assessments that people take, and I’m certified in everything just [I can’t understand]. So I’ve done disc assessments with people, of course, I’m sort of an assessment, I’m maybe a little addicted to assessments because I’m just so interested in, you know, learning more about me, because once we each learn more about ourselves, we’re able to connect better with other people and so not that these assessments are law by any means, right? It’s more about the exercise of doing it and reflecting on it and talking with a coach about it a little bit, that’s the value in it. It’s not as if we take some 15-minute test, and that’s gonna tell us, you know, the whole future that we have in front of us. It’s more about the exercise and what you get out of it. But you do get a lot of value and that’s a foundational power skill, I would call it.

Host: I love that. I think, we connect on that early on and we both are obsessed with those different tests, we could say, and I find them intriguing as well and I think there’s a lot of value in to be able to understand yourself on a deep level first, and that’ll help in every other area of your life.

Guest: Absolutely, yeah.

Host: What would you say is the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Guest: What I’ve learned, and what I would give, perhaps as business advice would be experiment, you know, to just experiment and try as hard as it might be to be unattached to the outcome, you know, this is kind of around the growth in the fixed mindset if you’re familiar with the work of Carol Dweck, and she talks about that effort counts, you know, that, instead of focusing on whether our project or initiative or whatever has worked, or not worked, you know, pass or fail, success or failure, instead of that, think about what you learned along the way. You know, when you put something out there online, whether it’s a video or a post, or a blog, or something that you’re creating, that you’re testing the waters, and you’re just going to see what happens, you never know what kind of connection you might make from that or opportunity might come from it. So that would be my best advice would be to experiment, experiment, experiment.

Host: And what’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?

Guest: This is going way back to when I was just starting college and I talked to one of my uncles at the time, and I said, you know, he had gone to college, and he was the only uncle of the seven or the eight kids, you know, in my mom’s family that went to college. So I said “Hey, Uncle Jeff, what do I do? What I major in?” and he said, “Take some classes and see what you like, and follow what you like and don’t worry about any, again, like the outcome.” He didn’t say that word but it’s like, don’t worry about what it’s supposed to do for you, just take the classes you like, and that’s what I really did. Because I gravitated towards communication classes.

Host: Yeah, no, I think there’s a lot to be said there. I always say that. If people ask, you know, well, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what I want to do, I don’t know what I’m passionate about. I’m like, well just do what you would do for free and make that into a career somehow and I think when you may be in high school or college age, that’s, well, I don’t know. But that’s because you haven’t tested enough or tried enough. So it’s really just experienced and like you said, just follow what you like what you love, and it’ll flow from there.

Guest: Exactly. Yeah.

Host: Where can my listeners check you out online?

Guest: Well, of course, you can check out my website which kind of stands for consulting and coaching now, and on Instagram, you can find me at @coachkeryk that I like to do a lot of Instagram stuff recently. It’s a lot of fun, and of course on LinkedIn professionally for workshops and things like that.

Host: Awesome. Thank you very much for joining me.

Guest: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Host: Before you go, there’s a special offer for Business in Boardshorts listeners. Kery tells me that if you email her at with Business and Boardshorts in the subject line, you will get a free one-hour coaching discovery call with her valued at $250 and that is valid from 30 days of the launch date of this episode and I’ll see you next time. Thanks for listening.

Overview: Kery Knutson has a fundamental belief that no one should be miserable at work. As founder of UpLevel Consulting & Coaching, Kery’s mission to create more harmony in your work life

Working with individuals as a coach, Kery focuses her clients on developing what she calls “power skills.” It’s all about building on your emotional intelligence and communication skills, she says. Kery helps leaders identify their thought leadership, craft their story and speak with authority and influence.

Her team trainings help teams create more understanding so they can leverage their collaboration to create a competitive advantage.

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