Karen Chaston Show Notes Page
Karen Chaston tragically lost her son Dan and she went straight back to work. She knew how to be a CFO, not a grieving mother. Eventually, she learned that his passing was meant for her to wake up. She now knows that you can have that career, but it doesn’t have to come at a cost to you.
Karen was born and raised in Sydney Australia. She is the third oldest of 6 girls and 1 boy. The boy is the baby and even now at 53, he’s still the golden child!!
Her parents were married for just under 52 years. Sadly, her dad passed away in 2003, though her mum is still going strong at 88.
In 1973, at age 16 Karen gave birth to a daughter who she adopted out. Karen then decided to not complete her final year of high school and started her banking career which lasted for 10 years.
At the age of 19, she moved north to the Gold Coast which is in South Queensland (another Australian state) with her then boyfriend Andrew. She married Andrew a year later in 1978. Earlier this year they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
They have three boys Ben (37) Josh (34) and Dan. Josh and Dan were twins, unfortunately Dan passed away at age 27 in July 2011.
After the twins were born, she took six months off and then she was offered a 4-week casual job at Dreamworld (a theme park on the Gold Coast), which lasted 14 years. In 1996, when she was Financial Systems Manager, her CFO boss suggested that if she ever wanted to be paid what she thought she was worth she had better go and get her bit of paper. She listened. Then whilst working full time from 1996 -1999 she studied part time at Bond University for Master of Accounting Degree (life was her undergrad). Then in 2001 she was granted her CPA status.
From there she rose the corporate ladder very quickly, eventuating with her and Andrew returning to Sydney to be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a publicly listed company form 2008-2013.
After losing her son in 2011 and then 15 months later, choosing redundancy (being laid off) she started on her journey to becoming her own best friend. A journey through life’s university, empowering her with the wisdom to become an author, speaker, trainer, radio co-host and ultimately, her founding the Live Love By Design brand which includes online and offline programs, book, soon to be released Live Love By Design TV and Live Love: Give Back to Teens Project.
Karen and Andrew currently live in Sydney, but plan to move back to Queensland soon.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“Everything starts with you, where a lot of time, we tend to put ourselves last.” – Click to Tweet
“How often do we end up fighting with colleagues, all because we haven’t taken the time to look at them from a different perspective.” – Click to Tweet
“We’re constantly not only battling against our peers, but our self as well.” – Click to Tweet
“We self-sabotage, so many times.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s about being more conscious in everything you do.” – Click to Tweet
“How many roles do we play during a day?” – Click to Tweet
“When you have great relationships, especially with yourself, everything is just easier.” – Click to Tweet
“It’s all about you actually understanding what you want out of life.” – Click to Tweet
“So many times, we don’t even define what success means to us, we take on someone else’s definition.” – Click to Tweet
“There’s a million ways to look at anything, but we get stuck in, this is the way we do things.” – Click to Tweet
“We all forget to breathe, properly.” – Click to Tweet
“You can have it all, but when you drift apart from who you are, life doesn’t work.” – Click to Tweet
“It will take you nine months to birth your new way of life.” – Click to Tweet
“When you start to change, everyone around you will start to change.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Karen Chaston tragically lost her son Dan and she went straight back to work. She knew how to be a CFO, not a grieving mother. Eventually, she learned that his passing was meant for her to wake up. She now knows that you can have that career, but it doesn’t have to come at a cost to you.
Advice for others
You are the only person you are going to spend your entire life with. So, put yourself first, find your strength, courage and truth to make sure you live a life that is true to you.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Not really very much. I’m only in competition with “yesterday me”.
Best Leadership Advice
Schedule everything in your calendar. Look to if it’s been your joy, moving you closer to your goal, if you should delegate it, or eliminate it.
Secret to Success
I genuinely listen to people and myself. I keep asking questions, is there an easier way of doing this better.
Best tools in business or life
Constantly monitoring my goals and how I’m closing gaps in each pillar under the live love way of life.
Contacting Karen Chaston
Resources and Show Mentions
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
206: Karen Chaston: I did not honor myself
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay Fast Leader legion today I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who’s going to give us a quite different perspective on our careers and our lives. Karen Chaston was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. She’s the third oldest of six girls and one boy, the boy is the baby and even now at 53 he’s still the golden child. Her parents were married for just under 52 years. Sadly her dad passed away in 2003 though her mom is still going strong at 88. In 1973 at the age of 16 Karen gave birth to a daughter who she adopted out. Karen then decided to not complete her final year of high school and started her banking career which lasted for ten years. At the age of 19 she moved north to the Gold Coast which is in South Queensland with her then boyfriend Andrew. She married Andrew a year later in 1978.
Earlier this year they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They have three boys Ben, Josh and Dan. Josh and Dan were twins and unfortunately Dan passed away at the age of 27 in July 2011. After the twins were born she took 6 months off and then she was offered a four week casual job at Dreamworld which is a theme park on the Gold Coast and that lasted for 14 years. In 1996 when she was financial systems manager her CFO boss suggested that if she ever wanted to be paid what she thought she was worth that she had better go and get her a bit of paper. She listened and then while working full-time from ‘96 to ‘99 she studied part-time at Bond University for a master of accounting degree then in 2001 she was granted her CPA status from there she rose the corporate ladder very quickly. Eventually with her and Andrew returning to Sydney to be the chief financial officer of a publicly listed company from 2008 to 2013. After losing her son in 2011 and then 15 months later choosing redundancy, which is being laid off, she started on her journey to becoming her own best friend a journey through life’s university empowering her with the wisdom to become an author, speaker, trainer, radio co-host and ultimately founding the Live Love by design brand which includes online and offline programs a book soon to be released, Live Loved by design TV, and Live or Live Love: Give back to teens project. Karen and Andrew currently live in Sydney but plans to move back to Queensland soon. Karen Chasten, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Karen Chaston: I certainly am, thank you for having me.
Jim Rembach: Well, I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?
Karen Chaston: My current passion is Live Love by design. I just love everything about it and I truly wish that I had this wisdom this understanding when I was a lot younger. Which is why my passion project is a Live Love Give back to Teens Project. I’m very passionate about showing this wisdom with young women especially young women who have had an unexpected pregnancy like I did in their teens or early 20s so that they can understand that no matter what choice they made whether they decided to keep the child, get married, raise it as a single mother or to abort their child or to adopt their child out like I do they still can live their dream life they still can have everything they desire or they require are the keys to their success which I share in the program, Live Love keys to a young woman’s success.
Jim Rembach: As you’re talking I started thinking about a lot of different aspects of I guess you’d say self-sabotage barriers, self-inflicted wounds, our own humps that we put in front of us.
Karen Chaston: Yeah, limiting beliefs the whole lot of it.
Jim Rembach: So when you start talking about the Live Love by design, for me I could initially say, oh this is just all fluffy stuff, but however I also know that you’re a CPA so there’s got to be some structure and frameworks and things like that, tell us a little bit about that?
Karen Chaston: There is a lot of structure. There’s nine areas of life in my Live Love our wheel of life and I like the fact that there’s nine. The reason being is nine is all about birthing, it takes nine months to birth a child and it really does take these nine areas of life for you to birth your Live Love way of life that I like to say. The nine areas are mentally, professionally, financially, family, socially, physically, spiritually, emotionally and environmentally, now that’s a lot to remember. So for ease I’ve bought them into four pillars which is all about you, all about your relationships, all about your expertise, and all about your wealth creation. And it should be in that order that you actually create everything. So everything starts with you, whereas a lot of time, especially women, we tend to forget about ourselves we tend to put ourselves last. And what happens when that happens? We end up in resentment we end up exhausted and we end up going when is it my time?
Jim Rembach: That’s very interesting that you say that. Because when we start talking about development, skill development, personal development, when we start looking at work—I was just reading a study that was talking about training and development at work and one of the things that was saying is that for a lot of organizations where the struggle becomes is that people don’t take the time to do it. Kind of like here in the States people have a lot of vacation or holiday time that they just end up sacrificing, they don’t take it they just continue to work on through. When you start talking about Live Love by design and being able to make sure that you’re investing in yourself and doing those things how do you get people to actually do that?
Karen Chaston: Okay, so I show them the benefits of what happens when they do it. When they do spend the first hour of themselves each day and looking after themselves before they go to work and how different they are when they turn up to work how more productive they are how energized they are all day long. By showing people the difference is how they can actually go, I’m going to do it. And it’s quite interesting that you said that about taking leave and taking time to go to take the time to rejuvenate yourself. I always left every job with at least four weeks annually up my sleeve. I never did it, I worked, worked, worked. That’s why I love this program because I have lived that life of the people that I assist I can say firsthand, I know what you’re going through I’ve done it I burnt out I put on weight I did all of the things that I’m telling you not to do so I’m coming from that experience and I know how different. Not only I would have been but how different my colleagues would have been if I had these gems when I was in that role. Every single person in that organization would have been more productive would have been happier would have been truly coming to work and understanding each other. How often do we end up fighting with colleagues all because we haven’t taken the time to look at them from a different perspective?
Jim Rembach: Okay, so as you’re talking I started thinking about how a lot of folks are saying that the younger generation is kind of requiring a workplace that is more like that. Is it possibly that we’re going to kind of grow into this as the workforce shifts or do we really need to make and take a proactive stance in moving things forward? Let me also add this one piece is that, here in the States there’s this whole gender pay equality thing that’s been existing as long as women have been in the workplace.
Karen Chaston: Yes, it’s the same in Australia, it’s the same reward.
Jim Rembach: So then if we talk about those things, and Live Love by design, is it part of that issue that kind of causes women to have to—I have to prove myself I have to compete at a higher degree I can’t give up—is that contributing to this issue?
Karen Chaston: Totally. I totally agree. I know for a fact that I worked harder than any colleague or any peer of the same level it was because I was constantly trying to prove myself. And of course we’ve all heard of the imposter syndrome, we all have that and I thought it was just women that had that but I’ve spoken to a lot of men and a lot of men have it as well. We are constantly waiting for someone to tap us on the shoulder and say, you know what? You shouldn’t really be in this role you’re not as good as what you think you are. We constantly not only battling against our peers but our self as well we self-sabotage so many times.
Jim Rembach: Okay, we’re talking about a systematic approach that has the nine areas of focus. For me, like you said it was a lot, but then I also thinking about I can’t focus on nine things, maybe that’s a gender problem too I don’t know, from a system perspective how do you get to make sure that holistically they’re actually helping and lifting themselves up in all areas?
Karen Chaston: Okay, so it’s actually quite simple and you’ve got to love the world we live in. We have a calendar, you schedule everything into your calendar and every week you review who you were at the start of the week what your goals were for the week and then you review at the end of the week and you just do that continually. So you’re continually moving forward you’re continually focusing on all nine areas of your life. Once you sort of get into the habit, and this we know it takes 62 days to form a habit, once you actually get into the routine it’s more about tweaking as opposed to, oh my god I’ve got to spend all this time looking at the nine areas how on earth can I possibly do that? It’s just about getting it and starting to understand how better you feel? How more alive you feel? Just by the fact that everything is coming together. How many times do people come home and they bring the worries of the day with them into the home. And then they end up fighting they’re not spending time with their family they’re not really there because they’re still going over the day in their head and they just plop themselves on the couch and sure they might have the TV on but they’re not even focusing on anything. It’s about being more conscious in everything that you do.
Jim Rembach: Okay, you just described my day of the past three days in a row.
Karen Chaston: You need to learn to transition then. And it’s so easy to do it you can just sit in your car for five minutes and breathe and then consciously say, who do I want to be when I walk through that door? And you can be that person. How many roles do we play during the day? There’s a lot isn’t it? And it’s about consciously starting your day walking through your day because you know what your days roughly going to be like and saying, who am I going to be in every different meeting in every different scenario? And then you bring that person into the scenario and everything just works easier because you’ve created it in your mind before you even start it. Sure it might not go a hundred percent the way you are but it’s going to be a lot easier. So you’re not bringing home that really tied burnt-out person and you’re then, okay I’m going to be a husband now I’m going to be an father now, so that you are actually, consciously making those relationships better in your life. When you have great relationships especially with yourself anything is just easier.
I’m trying to think through all this and without knowing exactly the entire system program and all of that but I’m starting to think about isolation. Meaning that, okay I’m trying to do these things I’m trying to execute this system I’m trying to be proactive and get in front of this whole issue because it’s kind of like you–I always used to talk about training of people either you take the time and put in the investment to train those people otherwise you just end up doing it all yourself and they never learn the job and you have to invest upfront have the hard work come first in order for you to enjoy the easy later. I see this being very similar in that perspective. However, I would think that you would need to have some type of peer support at least to have the common thread with somebody else that kind of, hey, we’re going through this together, kind of like that buddy system.
Yes that works but it’s all about you actually understanding what you want our life. So many times we don’t even define what success means to us. We take on someone else’s definition and we wonder why we’re either falling short or we achieve it really quickly and we’re still unfulfilled. So it is about you sitting back initially and defining what success means to you in every area of your life. Then you say and you’ve got to be really honest with yourself now, where am I now? So if 10 out of 10 is success, where am I now? And more than likely you’re below five because you’ve never taken the time to do this. Then you figure out, okay, what are the action steps to get me from five to ten? Then you schedule those action steps keep reviewing, keep reviewing, keep reviewing and then you will achieve it. When you get to ten out of ten you will up the ante. And then you go back to five again and you just keep doing that and that’s how you create it. When you know inside of you what success means to you in all of areas of life you actually then are consciously always going where am I at? Where do I want to be? How do I close that gap? How do I close that gap? And that’s what I love about it is because you’re actually consciously taking control of your life as opposed to just letting circumstances tell you where to go. But every single job I had circumstances got them for me I didn’t consciously go, I now want this role I’m now going to go there. Sure I became a CFO of a publicly listed company but that happened because I was in the current role I told him I was bored I told them I was going to start actively looking for another job and they said come to this company we’re directors here we want you there in that role. I didn’t even have to look for a job it just came to me.
Jim Rembach: It’s very interesting as you’re talking it reminds me of a brief conversation that I had really just yesterday with a friend of mine. She started talking about a lot of her female friends are going through, she call it a mid-career not a midlife I think she called a mid-career crisis. And really not trying to find their way on where they want to go next. And to me as you’re talking I’m like, oh, this is a solution for them.
Karen Chaston: Exactly and they are my ideal clients. Because it all comes from a different perspective. Let’s face we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s about someone else coming who has no agenda apart from helping them to succeed and say have you ever looked at it from this perspective? And let’s face it there’s a million ways to look at anything but we get so stuck in, this is the way we do things, that we don’t look outside of those areas.
Jim Rembach: Yeah, I think that’s an issue in a lot of different ways isn’t it? When I started thinking about the transition and all that you’ve gone through and the pivoting and going a different direction and coming to a lot of these realizations is that I can think of a lot of inspiration that you have found along the way. One of the things that we do in the show is look at quotes for that. Is there a quote or two that you can share that you like?
Karen Chaston: My favorite quote, and I’m pretty sure everyone watching this or listening to this actually have been on a plane and they’ve all heard it, please put your own oxygen mask on first before you assist others. Now I found that’s not an emergency situation that is an everyday requirement. Because when you are all topped up when you are energized when you have looked after yourself first you can have anything come at you and you will not react you will just consciously know how to deal with anything. And you really do assist others all day long nothing fazes you because you’ve taken the time to breathe you’ve taken the time to look after who you are. And our breath is the most amazing thing on helping us in any scenario and we all forget to breathe properly deep into our bellies.
Jim Rembach: That’s a good point because I even talk about breathing, teaching my young middle school baseball players when they’re up and have a whole lot of anxiety and things like that and I’m like, look, stop, pause and breathe.
Karen Chaston: Exactly.
Jim Rembach: They look at me like I’m crazy. Maybe they’ll figure it out someday.
Karen Chaston: Get them to do it get them to notice how different they feel. Like consciously say, how do you feel at the moment? And they’ll feel it. Then say, okay, let’s do a couple of deep belly breaths. I like to call them my conscious loving breath. And then say, how do you feel now? And they’ll go, wow, then they’ll brave all the time.
Jim Rembach: That’s a good point. Okay, so now when we talking about again this transition everything I know you’ve had humps to get over. You and I’ve had the opportunity to chat on several occasions and we’ve had some really good discussions and I know you have a lot of good stories to share. But is there a time where you’ve gotten over the hump that you can share with us?
Karen Chaston: Yes there is actually. It all comes back to when my son passed in 2011. I did not honor him. I did not honor myself. I went straight back to work because I knew how to be a CFO I did not know how to be a grieving mother and to be quite honest I didn’t want to be a grieving mother. And that was meant to be my wake-up call and because I didn’t wake up I had to have another tragic event which was me being laid off. It was my choice when two companies merge together and they decided to offer me 2/3 of my current salary. I started to realize that I didn’t want to do it anymore I just couldn’t do it anymore it was just too draining on me. I now know that Dan’s passing was designed, and I’m pretty sure that we designed it on the other side, for me to actually wake up for me to actually start doing what I’m doing now to help the world to understand that you can have that career but it doesn’t have to come as a cost to you, for your health. There’s a saying, I gave up my health in order to get my wealth and now I’m spending my wealth to get back my health. And that truly was me and I truly believe I was heading for major illness—heart attack, stroke, and diabetes possibly even death. And it was through that life university phase of me actually learning new concepts learning new awareness that I came up with the, Live Love by design. It’s about helping people to actually go, you can have it all. But when you drift apart from who you are, life doesn’t work it may for a little while but it won’t wrong turn and that’s what I love about who I am today. I honestly wake up every day and I just love who I look at. I love my life and I like to say I dance to work and I tap-dance home because it is a new way of doing things as you said the younger ones are looking for a new way. We’ve been doing it this way for so long. Look at all the cancers in the world look at all the illness look at what stress is causing everyone it doesn’t have to be that way.
Jim Rembach: Alright, so gosh, there’s so many things are just flying through my head as you’re talking. I want to kind of get an idea of say a transition period. In other words I am struggling with some of these things today and I do put in or I’m going to put in the effort to make some changes but how long was it going to take me to really start getting some momentum from it?
Karen Chaston: Okay, let’s put it this way as I said in the beginning nine months it’ll take you nine months to birth your new way of life and depending on how focused you are depending on how much you notice how much easier life is you could get there quicker. Okay, now nine months it sounds like a long time but how quickly do our years go by? How quickly do they fly by? It doesn’t take that long. But as with everything it comes back to you consciously deciding consciously seeing who you are today and then designing who you want to be. Because you can do it it’s really easy. You think nine months, come on, how old are you? For me it’s not even 161th of my life, so it’s not that long but you can do it. Not only will you do it when you start to change everyone around you will start to check. When you become happier when you become to truly enjoy your life it’s really easy. And you’ll be like, oh my god, why didn’t I know this when I was 20, that’s exactly what I say all the time. Why didn’t I have this wisdom when I was that young? Why didn’t I look after myself first when I was younger? Let’s face it it’s a lot easier to look after yourself to maintain than it is to do a big major overhaul.
Jim Rembach: Most definitely. Okay, so when you start talking about launching all these things and you’ve been working at this program and this work for a while, this coaching work, what are some of your goals?
Karen Chaston: Some of my goals, well as you said in the beginning I’ve just launched my Live Love by design TV show, I obviously want to get out there I want to speak more I want to go into more corporations. I truly want to be able to go in in to back end, especially in accounting firms and especially in lawyers and all those sort of areas where I was really dealing with, banks and everything to actually go, come on it’s not working like you’re burning out your employees let’s look at a new way of doing things let’s just trial it let’s actually see what a difference this will make let’s actually have your employees work less hours but be more productive. Like how cool would that be? Why do we have to be there for 10-12 hours a day? We don’t, we can if you’re honest with everyone your staff are only working probably six hours of that 10 12 hours. They’re doing other things they’re just trying to cope to get through the day. So let’s actually bring it down so that they actually work less hours more productive you make more money and everyone is happier. That sounds pretty good to me.
Jim Rembach: Does to me too. And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach: Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion it’s time for the Hump day Hoedown. Okay, Karen, the Hump day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Karen Chaston, are you ready to hoedown?
Karen Chaston: I am.
Jim Rembach: Alright. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Karen Chaston: Not really very much, every night I actually really look at my day and I always ask myself two three questions and it’s in answering these questions that I always make sure that I’m continually moving forward and I like to say I’m only in competition with yesterday me no one else.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Karen Chaston: To schedule everything in your calendar. To constantly look at it to constantly see if it’s bringing your joy, moving you closer to your goal or whether you can delegate it or eliminate it.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Karen Chaston: I genuinely listen to people and myself. I keep asking questions especially—is there an easier way that I can do this better?
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Karen Chaston: Constantly monitoring my goals. How I’m closing the gaps in each pillar under the Live Love way of life. All about you all about your relationships all about your expertise and all about your wealth creation.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion, and it could be from any genre?
Karen Chaston: It’s the, Five Regrets of the Dying from Ronnie Ware, she was an Australian palliative care nurse. She interviewed people for years. The Five Regrets were: number five, I wish I had let myself be happier, number four, I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends, number three, I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings, number two I wish I had not worked as much as I did, and number one I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/Karenchaston. Okay, Karen, this is my last hump day hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25. You can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t everything back you can only choose one. What skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Karen Chaston: You are the only person you are going to spend your entire life with. Put yourself first find your strength, courage and truth to make sure you live a life that is true to you.
Jim Rembach: Karen it was an honor to spend time with you today can you please share it the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Karen Chaston: They can contact me through my web sites which is, livelovebydesign.com or karenchaston.com.au and please reach out because I would really love to assist you in birthing your new live love way of life.
Jim Rembach: Karen Chaston, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show special offers and access to download and subscribe if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
END OF AUDIO.