HerStory Moment with Kelli Wingo

Kelli has a passion and calling to help people excavate the greatness that lies within. She serves as the Founder/Chief Vision and Strategy Officer of KMW Catalyst, a leadership development company dedicated to transforming the business experience into the human experience through entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial culture, employee experience, vision, and strategy. She is also the Founder/Chief Orator of Spiryt In Motion, a movement dedicated to dismantling the oppression of limiting beliefs one talk at a time.

We recently caught up with Kelli to learn more about HerStory:

When did you know that you wanted to work as an entrepreneur?  I knew I wanted to work in leadership development officially about 4 years ago when I decided to launch my consultancy. I had spent almost 25 years on the corporate side of the financial services industry when I realized a new chapter in my professional journey was beginning. Through my transition from employee to entrepreneur, I was able to lean into my superpower of seeing greatness in others and helping them to excavate that greatness from within. I do this largely by promoting an entrepreneurial ownership mindset in the workplace that empowers clients personally and professionally.

Who is a role model that you look up to?  My ultimate role model is my mother, the late Dr. Rose C. Wingo, Ph.D. She taught me what it is like to be an accomplished human being personally and professionally. She rose to the status of tenured professor and department head at her university at a time when women, especially Black women, did not hold such positions. She faced much adversity, but she taught me that I/we belonged in such positions and could still handle ourselves with power and grace. She was elegant and demur, demonstrating to me that you do not have to be the loudest one in the room to have the greatest impact.

What is a struggle that you’ve faced and how did you handle it?  Breaking free of the “I have to know it all before I can move forward” mindset is one of the biggest struggles I have had to overcome. I used to believe that all my steps had to be planned out before I could take the first one. Over time, I realized that was absolutely not the case. Confidence comes before skill any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I have the vision, I will figure out the strategy as I go along.

What is something that you are immensely proud of?  I am immensely proud of my journey. It is unique to me – strengths, weaknesses, wins, and failures. It has not been perfect, but it has been evolutionary.

What qualities make a great leader?  Great leaders create space, see others, lead from any position, value work, and honor excellence. They are organically authentic, innovative, visionary, and human.

What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of leaders?  I think the biggest challenge for the next generation of leaders will be the same as leaders that came before them. It is important for them to understand that they are not leaders of the future. They are leaders of the now — right where they are. Building on the foundation laid for them, they need to carve their own path that is unique to them — even if everyone does not understand it nor support it. They should have faith in their vision and realize that there is opportunity even in fear and failure. That is what will make them successful. 

If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?  I would be the head choreographer for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater! I have been dancing formally since I was 5 years old. And, when my parents took me to see Alvin Ailey perform when I was 7, it changed my entire life. I had never seen such powerful, emotion-provoking movement coming from brown bodies before and I was mesmerized.

If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?  Chillax, you’re fine! Lol

Favorite book?  I do not necessarily have a favorite book, but I recently read “Leading from the Outside'” by Stacey Abrams. I loved how she shared her journey of not quite feeling like she fit in yet leaning into her sheer tenacity and unassuming bravery to reach heights that perhaps even she did not know were possible.

Where can we find you on your day off?  At home chillin’ and minding mine!

Learn more about Kelli at https://www.kmwcatalyst.com/about and follow her on social media at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kelli-wingo-0937a55/

-Marsha

 Marsha Guerrier is a bestselling author, speaker, trainer, business analyst, business coach, and CEO of HerSuiteSpot®, a MWBE and SBE certified small business consulting and coaching agency that provides online and in-person support to early stage female founders looking to accelerate their business.

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