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Break Away From Negative Thoughts & Experience Life: Kip Hollister (Transcript)

Kip Hollister

Full transcript of Hollister Staffing CEO Kip Hollister’s TEDx Talk: Break Away From Negative Thoughts & Experience Life @ TEDxBeaconStreet conference.


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Kip Hollister – Founder & CEO, Hollister Staffing

I have a question. By a show of hands, how many of you feel good about yourself?

I have asked this question in front of thousands, and less than 10% raised their hand.

Welcome to being human.

We all struggle with insecurities, and these insecurities can really hold us back from being engaged in our life. And I’ve always believed that to feel really good about ourselves, it’s important as I call it to be lit up in life. It’s important to connect with our passion and our purpose.

For the past three decades, I have been running a really successful staffing organization. We get people jobs. And this concept of being passionate in life is one that I have brought into the fabric of my organization.

I am really committed to my staff being lit up. I want them feeling good about themselves and to feel as if they are contributing.

So at the core of my being, I’m really shy and I’m an introvert more than an extrovert. And I’m very familiar with these feelings of insecurity.

I want to share with you my story today and how I moved through my insecurities and tapped into that passion and purpose. So you can do the same.

I started to not feel good about myself when I was a kid. I was four of five children, and one of my sister’s was 18 months older than me. And I constantly was comparing myself to her. I felt like she was prettier and more popular and thinner than me.

To make matters worse, I, in the fourth grade, was put in the lowest level reading group, low-grade group. You can imagine what that made me feel. That’s the first time that I heard this negative chatter going on in my head.

It was this judge, it was this judge or this critique saying, I am not worthy… I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough. We all hear that chatter, right? Sometimes it’s louder than others.

In fact, humor me and close your eyes for a minute. And I just want to ask you: how are you feeling about yourself?

Open your eyes. So were you judging? Were you self-doubting? Were you criticizing?

Did you feel awesome? Did you feel connected? Those are the thoughts constantly running through us.

And I learned that there are over 70,000 thoughts that run through our head on a daily basis. And 80% of them are negative. 80%! Think about it.

As a kid, I really struggled and tried to figure out what to do with these thoughts. As a Presbyterian minister’s child, I went to Hebrew school and catechism with my friends, all to search for meaning. I was lonely.

And then I was searching and moving through high school and college and still searching for this meaning of life, really out not fitting in. And my family thought for sure I would join a cult.

My first job in Boston, I met a mentor who introduced me to this ancient tradition: meditation. And it was through this experience of meditation that I connected with my inner self. And I had this huge epiphany.

Here’s what I learned. I learned that oh, my gosh, this negative chatter going on in my mind is not real. These limiting beliefs are not real; it’s made up. And all of a sudden, I felt like that’s what had held me back in my life so far.

It’s as if I had a speed limit on my life. Who wants to go 45 miles an hour? And once I discovered this, I started to practice more and more. And then I started to thrive in my job. And I was in sales and I was on fire. Why? Because I started feel good about myself. I had confidence.

And then when I was 26, with this new sense of confidence and belief in myself, somehow I had the courage to open up my own company. And we started to thrive. Why? Because I was passionate about what I did.

And I was also committed to helping others be passionate about what they did. So I wanted to find someone the dream job and I also wanted to have people come into my company that wanted to help create a culture that was lit up.

Through two recessions — I got through those two recessions practicing meditation. I had this laser focus, so I was able to let go of all of the external stimuli and circumstances and stay centered. And this was a really great gift. And this company grew over the next two decades.

And then the third recession hit. And when the third recession hit, for whatever reason I had trouble going inward and practicing what I knew worked and instead I panicked. And I felt like I have to fix things.

And I was living on four and five hours of sleep, and my cell phone was on 24/7 and I was on it. And I was absolutely exhausted.

And in this time, there was no meditation experience other than what I call that drive by experience, introspection on the go. So I was totally submerged in being a CEO, a wife and a mother to four wonderful children.

And I imploded and I knew, I said things have to change: what do I do. And so it was one day when I was driving home, 45-minute drive home from work, and I realized I didn’t know what route I had taken. I had no clue.

And this is when I said to myself: you got to change; things have to change. I was not passionate, I was lonely, and I was lost.

So what I did is I said I have to do something. I started to go inside and this another thing that happened in this time is that these limiting beliefs kicked in. And I started to say to myself, I’m not a good leader. I’m not good enough. I am not worthy.

And then I knew that I had turn inward for self-reflection. It was not an easy process, and I had to get quiet again. Because I remembered that this is what had gotten me to this point so far.

So I took time and here’s what quiet looks like. Quiet is sitting with no cell phone even in the room, no TV, no papers, no people, no distractions. And I started to meditate again.

And in meditation, I discovered, wow, when we’re so stressed out, why do we give up on taking care of ourselves? What why does that happen?

And I became centered again. I became focused again. And this experience was so enriching for me. So I wanted to make this experience permanent. I wanted this change to be permanent in me.

So I knew what to do. I said I have to just set this vision and commit to it and stick to it and take action. Now this realization was both exhilarating and terrifying.

First step, I went into my VP of Finance and I said we will be building a huge meditation room. Can you imagine his look? Oh boy! I said I am committed. I want my staff to be able to have a space where they can self reflect so that they don’t spiral down the way I did.

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