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Thriving After Trauma: An Interview with Karen Nowicki on The Price and Value Journey


What do you do when trauma hits you without warning? How do you recover personally? How do you hold it together for the clients you work for in your services practice? How do you get to a point where you can thrive again?


On this powerful edition of ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜—๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‘๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ, Karen Nowicki, Phoenix Business RadioXยฎ and Deep Impact Leadership Coaching & Consulting, joined me to discuss the trauma of her husbandโ€™s suicide attempt, what she did to cope with her own mental health challenges that followed, her decision to share her journey in detail, how she managed her two businesses through those difficult times, and much more.


The full interview can be found on YouTube as well as your favorite podcast app. You can also find it on the Business RadioXยฎ - North Fulton here.


For links to the complete show archive of ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜—๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‘๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ, go to pricevaluejourney.com. You'll also find details on my book, to be released later this year, entitled "The Price and Value Journey: How to Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices Using the Generosity Mindset."

ยฉRay Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray

John Ray: [00:00:04] And hello, everyone. I'm John Ray on The Price and Value Journey. And I am delighted to welcome Karen Nowicki. Karen is with Phoenix Business RadioX and Deep Impact Leadership Coaching and Consulting. And just a way of introducing Karen, what do you do if, not only in your professional services practice but in your life, trauma comes right out of the blue and drops right in your lap? And how do you hold it together and recover? And that's what we're going to be talking with Karen about today.

John Ray: [00:00:40] Karen is a successful author, speaker. She has her own coaching practice, as I mentioned. The name of that practice is Deep Impact Leadership Coaching and Consulting. Karen's been an expert guest on regional television and radio shows. She's a regular contributor to many print and online magazines, blogs for both business and education. And where I intersect with her proudly is that she and I are colleagues in the Business RadioX Network, and Karen's the much smarter studio partner than I am, but she runs the Phoenix Business RadioX Studio. And Karen Nowicki, it's just a pleasure to have this time to chat.

Karen Nowicki: [00:01:29] I'm excited to spend time with you, John. It's usually a quick text or a phone call, how are you doing this, what's going on here, between either one of us. And we have yet to ever meet in-person, but we've got to change that in 2023.

John Ray: [00:01:42] I look forward to that. Yeah. I want to correct that. So, let's put that on our list for 2023. I like that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:01:52] Did I say '23, too, I think? I meant 2023. If I said '22, I can't keep up.

John Ray: [00:01:58] Well, let's get each other the right year. I'm not sure I said the right one. But I gave a little bit of an overview of you and your work. But like me, you have two different professional services businesses, so give everyone a little bit of an overview of that work.

Karen Nowicki: [00:02:16] Sure. Again, thank you for having me be with you and your listeners today or viewers. I have been referred to, for years, as the ultimate problem solver and solution finder. For the past 24 years, I've acquired advanced training and certifications in executive leadership, trauma integration, Tao Healing, and then organizational and personal development.

Karen Nowicki: [00:02:40] And it just made sense that while I was running my coaching practice - which you've mentioned a little bit - almost six years ago to open Phoenix Business RadioX and run that alongside it. And I'll talk about why that was so important in a moment.

Karen Nowicki: [00:02:54] My greatest strength is the ability to help people understand what they need, what they want, and how to have that come together on a consistent and daily basis. Most of the time, it's telling people and showing them how to get out of their own way. And I know the business of business as well as the business of people. And so, let's face it, in any business, we're always dealing with people.

Karen Nowicki: [00:03:19] And so, it just made sense, Business RadioX was a wreath on my door and an opportunity for me to kind of elevate my exposure as a leader when it comes to personal and professional development. And I haven't ever looked back and regretted the decision. It's been hard to run both businesses at times, especially these last couple of years. But I'm doing it and I've got the right team to help me now.

John Ray: [00:03:45] Yeah. That's terrific. I'm curious for you - and we've talked a little bit about this, but for our listeners - why later on Business RadioX specifically, and that work among all the other things you could have done next to your coaching practice?

Karen Nowicki: [00:04:03] It's a great question. I think it's an important one for you and I when we encourage people to take on podcasting or B2B radio in their businesses, because not everybody understands why at Business RadioX we do the things that we do it or the way we do it.

Karen Nowicki: [00:04:18] So, six years ago I had sold a business, and it gave me the leverage to hire a coach and think about how do I want the next layer of my career to be. And, also at the same time, gave me the leverage to open an auto mechanic shop for my then husband. So, I went to my coach and I said I continue to work with professionals. These were attorneys, doctors, successful entrepreneurs and business owners, typically highly visible in their industries and was coaching them at a very soulful, personal, and professional level. And yet they weren't referring me like other people were, the general laypeople.

Karen Nowicki: [00:04:58] And I knew that I was making a huge difference in their lives because I was always the one they were texting saying, "Thank you. I finally solved that problem at work. I finally hired the right teammate. My husband or my wife and I are getting along better. I had you sit on my shoulder when I had those conversations." Like, all that acknowledgement told me that they were stepping into their life and leadership in an incredible way and I got to be the catalyst and the help to kind of either nudge or shove them into that depending on what they needed. And yet they weren't referring to me.

Karen Nowicki: [00:05:32] And so, my coach said, "Well, go ask them. These are people that you've gotten to know and they really care about you. And clearly, you're making a difference." Their feedback to me, John, was, "Well, why would I tell anybody you're my best kept secret. Like, you're my secret weapon." And they weren't interested in telling me.

Karen Nowicki: [00:05:47] And that was difficult for me to hear because at that time my coaching practice was referral only, which is a mistake, but it's how I built it. I didn't understand marketing and advertising nor did I want to do it. And I really have never liked the sales part of things.

Karen Nowicki: [00:06:06] And so, my coach challenged me to maybe consider a podcast. And at first I thought that was an awful idea. I quickly, within two hours of research, came across Business RadioX. And I could just tell that they were or we are doing things differently. It's about the story and shine the spotlight on someone else. So, I thought, I can do that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:06:28] And within a week, was in Atlanta visiting with Stone and Lee, following them around and paying attention to what they're doing. And by the time I flew home about four days later, I had made the decision to open Phoenix Business RadioX so that I could show up among our leaders in the Metro Phoenix area, have conversations about what's important to them, their industries, their verticals, their decisions, their initiatives. And in exchange, have an opportunity to get to know them at a really deep level. And then, in turn, be able to say, "Here's what I do outside of Business RadioX. If you know anybody who's struggling with personal growth or professional development or leadership or finances, whatever it is, have them have a conversation with me."

John Ray: [00:07:13] You know, it's amazing what you can do with a mic, isn't it? I mean, that's terrific. Well, I want to get right into your story, Karen, or the reason we're doing this show in terms of the trauma that hit you and your now former husband, Mike. I want you to share whatever piece of that you want to share and how you want to share that story.

Karen Nowicki: [00:07:38] Yeah. It's not an easy conversation to share and it's also not very easy for people to listen to. Back in 2019, my then husband attempted suicide and survived gunshot wound through his head. It was a total surprise to me. We closed his auto shop and we unraveled the mystery of how did this all happened while he was lying in the trauma intensive care unit for the first month of his recovery. I came to see that there was addiction and gambling and just really a lot of mental health challenges that weren't as evident as they were. We had been together for 15 years, the love of my life.

Karen Nowicki: [00:08:27] And I struggled to get up everyday. I struggled to help our then 12 year old kind of make his way through it. I have two older kids as well who very much loved and cared for Mike and they were trying to make sense out of it. They were living out of the house, already adults.

Karen Nowicki: [00:08:45] And being so visible in our community already because I have had Business RadioX up and running for then almost two-and-a-half years, and the way in which I show up in social media even before this, is kind of I'm visible, here are the situations, the struggles, the challenges that I go through, I decided that I was going to tell the story while it was happening.

Karen Nowicki: [00:09:10] That was, I'll say, a divine download. I woke up one morning and what was on my heart and in my head was you will tell this story as it's happening. And I thought, "Oh. You can't ask me to do that." I was in trauma. I was in crisis. I wanted to just pull the sheets over my head and just disappear. And yet the next thought that I heard was, "I've prepared you your whole life for this." And I thought, "Well, that's a crappy way. Why would that ever be part of my story?" Because I pride myself on knowing people so well, and helping people, and getting really clear about soulful self-reliance and deep impact leadership, how could I end up with a partner who went to bed with me every night, that was the love of my life, end up wanting to take his own life?

Karen Nowicki: [00:09:59] So, long story short, Mike and I are no longer together. He wasn't willing to or wasn't capable of, I think is more more appropriate to say, to do the work it required to be a healthy whole unit between he and I and then, of course, our son. And it just made more sense safety-wise, mentally, physically, emotionally for Ivan and I to be on our own. I do know that he is now with his family in a different state. They've chosen not to have anything to do with us, which is heartbreaking. And at the same time, I continue to recover from that, all the while keeping both businesses open and being very vocal about my own mental health journey throughout this chaos and trauma and that of my sons.

John Ray: [00:10:46] Wow. A lot there. Let's talk about the processing, the idea that all this was going on with your life partner and you had no idea. I mean, in terms of just the mental health struggles and then the financial issues and other issues that you talked about that were going on, how did you process just getting hit by this out of the blue?

Karen Nowicki: [00:11:16] I would like to say people will tell me that I processed it really well. And my first reaction is, "No. No. I didn't." When we fall into trauma or chaos, we go into the fight, flight, or freeze, or fawn mode and we're now using a different part of our brain just for survival. So, a lot of it really, John, is a blur. Even though I was writing daily on our CaringBridge page and then, of course, on social media, it was really a therapeutic opportunity for me to try to make sense out of everything.

Karen Nowicki: [00:11:47] Mike and I were both building our businesses at the same time. Phoenix Business RadioX was brand new, so is his auto shop. And one business alone for a family is difficult in those early startup days, you and I both know that, let alone two. So, while I felt like we were grounded and corrected - excuse me - grounded and connected, he had his set of challenges and expenses and I had mine. And so, I knew he wasn't feeling well physically. I was oblivious to - because he wasn't willing to share it - what was going on mentally.

Karen Nowicki: [00:12:21] And I think that's the most important call out here for our listeners and our viewers. Not everybody, one, knows when they're struggling mental health-wise. And even if they do, there's so much stigma and so much fear about saying to somebody I am not well, I am not doing well and I need help. Like, for Suicide Prevention Month and even just mental health awareness, we always say I'm there for you, be on the lookout for clues and that sort of stuff.

Karen Nowicki: [00:12:53] And I will tell you, I think we are very good at hiding that stuff, which is part of why I've told my story so vocally and so visibly, because my story is no longer Mike's story, nor was it even when it was happening. I had to deal with my own mental health. And so, I just got really good about asking for help and being very candid, "I feel like crap right now" or "I don't even know which way is up."

Karen Nowicki: [00:13:20] And always continue to have faith. I said to you earlier today before we got on the interview that the universe always has my back. And I believe that for all of us. If we can hold on to hope, we can get through anything. And I always knew that at some point beyond that threshold of chaos and craziness and be, fortunately, where I am today, even though the fog has just finally lifted the last couple of months.

John Ray: [00:13:44] Well, I want to dive into that a little more, the universe has my back. What are the beliefs that underlie that statement that you have?

Karen Nowicki: [00:13:55] For me, it's faith-based. I don't attend a church any longer. I grew up Catholic and have always been a very soulful, spiritual person, very led by a belief in a higher power. And even though life has proven to give me challenge after challenge, business and career, and marriages, and even challenges with kids, and health, and all that stuff, I continue to give that over to a higher power. And when I say the universe has got my back, I don't know that it matters what faith we have or if we have any faith as long as we believe that there is something better on the other side of a challenge.

Karen Nowicki: [00:14:37] And so, every time I have a challenge, small, medium, or large, I just know where's the growth, where can I learn more about me, learn more about me and how I show up in the world that I can take into this next iteration of where I'm going after, this stuff is behind me.

John Ray: [00:14:56] So, when all this happened with Mike, you decided pretty quickly that your response needed to be journaling, sharing what you had. And we're not talking about private journaling. I mean, we're talking, really, about online journaling. You can explain more about what I mean by that. But what was the genesis of that decision for you?

Karen Nowicki: [00:15:21] Again, I will tell you that it wasn't my decision. I know that might sound crazy. But in my meditation practice and the way in which I just am very soulfully self-reliant, I listen very deeply to what my soul needs and how I'm supposed to show up in the world. So, I know that gets a little bit woo, but there you go. So, very early on within three or four days, again, I woke up and I just knew that I was being called from a higher place to journal and share publicly what was going on for me. And it was a survival mode.

Karen Nowicki: [00:16:04] My son said it recently that it was a way for me to survive and thrive versus a way for me to story tell and get attention. It doesn't fit with everybody's narrative. You know, there's a handful of people, my family included, thinks I did it for attention and did it just to further my career. If that were that, I literally would have kept the sheet over my head, put a padlock on the door, and said, "I'm done. I'm out."

Karen Nowicki: [00:16:30] And so, I asked three friends to read every entry that I wrote for CaringBridge - that, again, was repeated on social media - so that they could look at it through three layers. One, am I taking care of myself in this? Are you reading it to where you can hear that this really is me trying to find my way through the chaos and make understanding of what's happening to the degree that I can?

Karen Nowicki: [00:16:53] Two, is it being respectful of Mike and his family and his journey? Because at the time, while I wanted us to be together forever, that was the plan, I never would have guessed that it would not have turned out that way. And yet I knew that at some point he would likely be in a position to be aware that I told the story as it was happening. So, was I respectful to him and his family and his journey? And then, the third piece was, if there could be a nugget for other people who are watching and listening and reading, is that opportunity there for someone to have a takeaway?

Karen Nowicki: [00:17:21] So, all, but I think one journal over the course of probably nine months journal entries, was there ever a sentence that came back? And my very best friend, Julie, came back and said, "This is the only sentence that I'm not sure where you're coming from on this. It sounds more like ego than anything else. Can you reword it or pull it out?" And with that, I did. That was the only time. The rest of the time it was, "Oh, my gosh. Karen, this is what I'm getting from it and I know this is going to make a difference. And I can hear you getting better and healing as you go through this."

Karen Nowicki: [00:17:49] So, less of a decision, John, and more of a calling. Which, I think, again, our viewers and our listeners for this particular show, if they're entrepreneurs and business owners, even solopreneurs, we don't come into our businesses lightly. We come into it, I think, oftentimes, because we have a calling to do something that's bigger than us.

John Ray: [00:18:12] Right. Yeah, for sure. Now, this is the part of the story that I'm not sure that I've heard before, that you had three trusted friends that knew you quite well, that they sound checked it, I guess maybe is the word, right? They sound checked to make sure that the Karen they knew was speaking.

Karen Nowicki: [00:18:37] Yeah. And this was well before any of the immediate family started attacking and wanting to manage what I was saying and would rather have me be quiet. I just knew that I was fairly visible in our community anyway already. I'd already talked about post-partum depression when my kids were younger, and changing careers, and what is it like to be fairly visible and that sort of stuff, getting older, those kinds of things, even body image and those choices, and how I can grow to love myself more.

Karen Nowicki: [00:19:18] So, knowing that I had already been through all that and sharing in that way, I knew I needed to have people, not fact check, but just sound check and make sure that I was doing it from a place of, first, caring for myself; second, being respectful of Mike and his journey, wherever that would take him; and third, can people hear it from a place of what's in it for me.

Karen Nowicki: [00:19:39] And it's proven to be one of the most amazing things I've ever done. I hear, still, from people three years later how much I've changed their life or the lives of their loved ones. I would say, and I think only firefighters and medical professionals get to say this, I know there are at least eight people whose lives I've helped save because they either read or someone read to them the accounting of what I was going through as a dear casualty of somebody who wanted to leave this earth before their time.

John Ray: [00:20:15] I would love it, Karen, if you would share one of those as an example. You know, obviously, we're not going to mention names or anything like that, any identifiers. But if you could just share an example of one of those stories.

Karen Nowicki: [00:20:30] I can. So, we're here in Arizona. I had a high school friend reach out through Facebook and mentioned that she was going to be in town - this has been, oh, probably a-year-and-a-half ago - and would I be open to coffee. And we don't know each other well. We see each other at reunions and, of course, on social media, thumbs up, or a little like this, like that. And I said, I'd love that. And so, I waited at the coffee shop for her to arrive maybe three or four minutes early. And as she's walking from the parking lot, we smiled at each other.

Karen Nowicki: [00:21:00] And as she's getting closer, I watch her face change and she starts to get teary eyed. And I was not prepared for that. We gave each other a big hug and she said, "I'm so grateful that you're sitting down and meeting with me. I need to tell you how much you've impacted my life and the life of my fiancรฉ."

Karen Nowicki: [00:21:18] Now, we're not spring chickens. We're celebrating our 40th high school reunion this year, so we're in our late 50s. And so, this is somebody that I knew as a young girl and have seen at reunions. And she's in a relationship now. I believe they're engaged, maybe even married now, a couple of years after we met over coffee.

Karen Nowicki: [00:21:39] And she said that her then partner was struggling with mental health, depression, suicidal ideation. And as she read what I was sharing, being his beloved partner, it was ripping her apart that that could be her and she didn't know how to handle it. He was unwilling at the time to get professional help. And so, she started reading these entries to him aloud. And I don't know how soon, but I think within four or five entries, he ended up agreeing to go get professional help by himself and also couples counseling for the two of them.

Karen Nowicki: [00:22:16] And she said I just knew that the anguish and the difficulty that I was sitting in, not having a clue what happened, not having known how to help, and having a partner who refused to get help until it was too late, and even now not getting the help, she just knew that she had to share that. So, I hope that's kind of the example that you're looking for.

John Ray: [00:22:43] Wow. That's tremendous. And there's no telling what has happened without you even knowing about it. And this is just what you know about in terms of the people that you have impacted by sharing your story so truly authentically.

Karen Nowicki: [00:23:03] Yes. There was no other choice. And now it's interesting, again, I'm beyond it. We have not been married for over a-year-and-a-half now. And I want to continue to be a beacon of light for people, and it has to be authentic. So, I'm just kind of looking for what's happening in my life that I can continue sharing.

Karen Nowicki: [00:23:26] You alluded to this, there was catastrophic financial loss that I was not even aware of had already taken place. And so, even though I'm 58 years old, it's like I'm 23 years old, starting over again and keeping both businesses afloat. I'm so grateful for the community providing some financial support when we were in the midst of the chaos. I have a very dear friend who recently invested in my business so that I could get to the next level with teammates and that sort of thing.

Karen Nowicki: [00:23:55] And, yeah, I feel very grateful that I've been willing to get out of my own way and also share that part of the story to help other business owners and individuals who, again, sometimes we think that we're the only person. I always say, people think that they're terminally unique. And we're not. We're all looking for validation that we're okay, and that we're enough, and that we can contribute in some way. We're all designed fairly similarly, whether we're an introvert or an extrovert or anywhere in between, we just want to know that we're here for a reason.

John Ray: [00:24:31] Since you brought up introvert and extrovert, we were talking about this before we came on, you know, the typical listener of this series is a solo and small professional services practitioner, most of whom are introverts as a general proposition. And I can hear the introverts saying, "I can't believe that Karen shared what she shared." What do you say to somebody that is thinking that and thinking I'm a private person and there's no way I could do what you've done, Karen?

Karen Nowicki: [00:25:12] Well, stay private. I realized that that is one of my unique - I don't know what it is - call it a curse or a blessing. One of the unique gifts that I bring to this world is the ability to tell people how I'm feeling as it's happening. And not everybody can do that publicly.

Karen Nowicki: [00:25:32] However, it's important to share your story with someone. And when people are fortunate to be in relationships, marriages, or long term friendships where they can really show up authentically as who they are and let someone know when they're struggling and challenged and they've got the right support structure, that's great.

John Ray: [00:26:16] And I don't want to make this into something that's a little crass like personal brand, but I think people hear that and they hear authenticity and showing up. But there's showing up as - I'll call it - the made up you. They're showing up as the Real you. And I mean the capital R, Real you. That's what you did.

Karen Nowicki: [00:26:58] Yeah. And there's a way to do that, no matter who you are. This is not about airing your dirty laundry, just to do that, right? Just speaking authentically from a place of some of the challenges, whether it be business, or raising children, or moving to a new location, or the next level in your business, whether you're introvert or extrovert, I don't think that matters. As leaders, we're called to show up authentically and everyone has their own pace and cadence for that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:27:30] That's one of the neatest things that you and I can offer with Business RadioX, our story matters. And people want to hear what we've been through, what challenges do we have, what hurdles did we have to overcome, when did you think you're going to quit and give up, and what got you through that to to be where you are today, what's the next challenge that you're faced with right now going into 2023. Those answers can be from the cuff and they can be from the heart.

Karen Nowicki: [00:27:57] And I think that's one of the greatest things that Business RadioX has to offer people and with the work that you do, John, with your clients. People need to get out of their own way, myself included. So, I have coaches and guides. When it comes to sales, when it comes to marketing and advertising - I mentioned that early on - those are areas that I'm not well-equipped at and good at. And yet I show up because I'm listening and I'm learning and I'm paying attention to the people who do it better than I can. And they're helping me learn how to do it for me in a way that it feels real and authentic to me.

John Ray: [00:28:33] So, let's talk briefly, if we can, just the whole idea of you obviously had to hold yourself together, your relationships together, your children as they navigated this trauma that came out of the blue for them as well. But let's talk about your businesses and just how you held it together. Because you've got to show up for clients and you're a coach and you've got to bring something for that client that's sitting in front of you with their own issues that may have nothing to do with what you're dealing with. How did you do that?

Karen Nowicki: [00:29:23] I'm grateful that I had a couple different income streams. So, I think that's important when we look at it from that perspective of we're relying only on one avenue of income and it's solely dependent on us, we're in trouble. I was fortunate that I could very quickly hire someone to run the studio for me. And with very little direction, she took it over for me. So, that part of my business was handled.

Karen Nowicki: [00:29:49] I did step away from the intimate coaching for a little bit of time because I was no good for anybody, so being able to admit when I needed to step away. And, again, grateful that I had this other business running so that there was still the income.

Karen Nowicki: [00:30:07] As far as working with clients, both here at Business RadioX and in my coaching practice, I had already built enough strong enough relationships just in caring for people deeply and giving them permission to care for me back. That when I was ready to come back into the field full force, I could simply make those calls and send an email and say, "Hey, listen, I'm ready. Here's the kind of clients that I enjoy working with. If you're ready to come back and work with me, I'd love that. If not, if you'll be a referral source for me."

Karen Nowicki: [00:30:36] So, I think the theme for both of my businesses is when we care deeply for people and we allow people to care deeply for us, the universe works on our behalf. Things will come our way when we know that we are really a force for good.

John Ray: [00:30:53] You know, it strikes me as I'm listening to you talk, Karen, and again, I'm getting back to just what you decided to share. I mean, you did that as your own personal source of healing. It strikes me how generous that is, because you could have kept all that to yourself. You could have written what you wrote, pass it along to your three close friends, let them look at it, and just deep sixed it and kept it private. But there was a mission to what you were doing, and it was an act of pure generosity, it seems like to me, because you were willing to take whatever came your way in terms of the consequences of doing that, which, for you, were severe.

Karen Nowicki: [00:31:49] That's very sweet of you to say. I don't think I've ever heard anybody refer to it as generous, so thank you. It makes me a little overwhelmed.

Karen Nowicki: [00:32:00] It was a survival mechanism. It's not something I wanted to do. I wanted to be like the rest of the world on social media and who's visible and just the highlight reel. And, unfortunately, I didn't get to share that. So, it was a survival technique. It was the only one that I had available to me. And I just listened.

Karen Nowicki: [00:32:26] And I think when we're being called to do anything in our life, business or personally, and we have that - I'll call it - nagging voice in the back of our head - mine sometimes sounds like a nag, a nag or a nudge - I've just learned in my life that it's that voice and that nudge or that nag that's constantly humming in the background that I've got to pay attention to. And, again, I have to just trust that I'm going to find my way through why it is that we do the things that we're called to do.

Karen Nowicki: [00:32:57] And I love that you've shared that it felt generous. It makes me feel very hopeful and appreciative that you're paying attention.

John Ray: [00:33:06] Well, thank you. Well, see, there's a difference, to me, between help and trying to help people. Because sometimes help has strengths, right? I mean, it can come back in ways that maybe we don't acknowledge, but it comes back in ways to benefit us. But when you're doing what you were doing, knowing that you likely would suffer in some way from it, and you did, then that really gets beyond help into generosity, and that's why I say that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:33:39] And my Business RadioX family or our Business RadioX family was there for me every step of the way, all of you. And we were fairly new in relationship. I'd only had the studio, I want to say, for - what? - a-year-and-a-half, maybe two years, and, again, at a great distance. I'm way over here in the Southwest and you guys are all in the Atlanta area. We've grown a lot since then as a team. And I never felt like there was a time that I couldn't pick up the phone or text or email and say I need some help. And I didn't have to rely on that very often. But when I did, everybody rose to the occasion.

Karen Nowicki: [00:34:16] Which, again, for our listeners, for this particular group of people who might be interested in a conversation like this, even though you are a solopreneur and you are at the helm, bring people in your life, invite people in your life, the coach, the guide, the mentor, possibly a partner, certainly your clients and your customers - find the win-win-win for everybody - all the stakeholders. So that, again, it's a richer and more viable experience and it will have legs.

John Ray: [00:34:48] Yeah, for sure. And, really, one aspect of what you're talking about is digging the well before you're thirsty. I mean, you had that support structure before this happened. And when it happened, you were ready, you had prepared.

Karen Nowicki: [00:35:06] I have a friend who just had a 20 pound tumor removed from her stomach. We're hoping that it's not cancer. It doesn't look like it's going to be. And I just went and visited her on Sunday. Also, a business owner, a longtime solopreneur. And now she has a team of 20 people on her team, which is amazing. And she said just that, John, "I had no idea how the community and people in my life would respond when I needed help and I was laid up. And I'm so grateful that I built a business that didn't rely just on me. That I got smart a couple of years ago and started building it so that more stakeholders could benefit in profit and we could help more people."

Karen Nowicki: [00:35:46] And very different situation for me, but she said the exact same thing, "I am so overwhelmed by the amount of love and support and outpouring for people just being a champion of me. I can't help but wonder why." And we both laughed at each other and said, "Well, it's because you show up that way for other people and that's truly who you are." So, yes, I love the way that you put that.

John Ray: [00:36:08] Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Shoutout to her and her healing, for sure. So, one of the things that has stood out to me recently, speaking of things we post on social media, is you've been using this hashtag I want to know about, so it's #traumainformedworkplace. Now, what do you mean by that? What does that term mean? And is that looking ahead toward trauma that might occur? Is it looking backward? What are we talking about there, Karen?

Karen Nowicki: [00:36:43] So, it's not my term. I didn't make it up. A lot of people use it, especially now that COVID has been something that's really knocked us all off of our A-game. And I come at trauma informed workplaces a little bit different. A lot of folks will go into companies, enterprises, medium size, small businesses, public education, wherever, and they will have hour long talks, sometimes half-day seminars, even three or four days, certification programs around how to be aware of where trauma might be impacting the way we show up in our life and businesses. That's all well and fine. I would say that's layer one. Let's be aware that trauma is part of what's happening in the background all the time.

Karen Nowicki: [00:37:34] So, the angry executive or the pissed off client or the employee who doesn't show up for work day after day or they're there but they're not really high functioning, it's likely that something traumatic has happened either recently or from the past that they haven't dealt with. And in the work that I do with clients, I help people get the shock out of their body in a variety of different ways. But the body keeps score, and if we don't clear the shock out of our body, it will inform our decisions. And we're still in fight, flight, or freeze, or fawn mode. And fawn is maybe a new word for a lot of people. Fawn is an over caregiver and I'm taking care of everything but myself - that would be fawning - and kind of grappling for the attention and needing the visibility.

Karen Nowicki: [00:38:23] So, layer one is let's just be aware of what trauma is, how it impacts our brain, and how it shows up in conflict. And let's make sure that as a trauma informed workplace, we have a way to handle that and deal with that culture-wise and team-wise. That's all well and fine.

Karen Nowicki: [00:38:39] And then, this next layer that I work with, with individuals and business owners that come to my practice and work with me, it's let's have you heal your trauma and re-integrate it so that your decisions, the way you show up in your marriage, your friendships, your business, your leadership, the way in which you work with your stakeholders, you're standing in the present moment with all your faculties about you. You're aware that you have a past, some of it may have been kind of sucky, some of it may have been great. But the decisions you're making today are in alignment with who you are today. And you're not having to look over your shoulder out of reaction or response.

Karen Nowicki: [00:39:16] Now, it's a long winded answer, but there's a lot to trauma, and I think we're finally starting to have conversations about it so that we can be there at a higher level for each other, and most importantly for ourselves.

John Ray: [00:39:30] Yeah. And that shows up differently, as you said, for each of us. And the question is having conversation and being open about that and creating an environment where people can be open.

Karen Nowicki: [00:39:43] Safe, right? And we're talking about trials. There's personal trauma. There's also historical trauma. There's legacy trauma, familial, family trauma. And we all carry a little bit of that with us without even knowing it. So, we've got to come to better understand how does that come and show up in our communication or our lack of communication, and how can we have compassion, respect, and autonomy with each other.

John Ray: [00:40:11] So, Karen, you've been really generous with your time, and you're busy, you got a lot going on.

Karen Nowicki: [00:40:18] My producer just walked by the window and was going to come in and get ready for our show, and he's like, "Whoops. I can't go in there yet."

John Ray: [00:40:24] He's like, "Hey, we got other things to do here." But before we let you go, though, I would love it if maybe you could share one final takeaway. You know, as listeners absorb your story, what should they hold on to from your story that could help them in their personal lives and in their business lives?

Karen Nowicki: [00:40:49] So, we heard a couple of times that phrase, a couple of times, and you just said it to me as you're kind of handing this for my final word, everybody's story matters. Therefore, your story -- like you're lacking or you deficit, those are just stories that you tell yourself that you can change your story. Our stories and our past matter, and they don't have to fully define us. So, take care of yourself, mental health, physical health, self-care, all of that is not underrated.

Karen Nowicki: [00:41:22] And it's not just going to a spa once a month or getting your manicure, pedicure, or going to see your chiropractor, once a year checkup. It is daily practices that help you become the best version of you, so that when you look in the mirror everyday, you like the person that you see looking back at you. And that filters into every aspect of your life, most particularly those of us who are solopreneurs and entrepreneurs and business owners, we've got to get that together or we're going to find ourselves struggling when it comes to financial wellbeing and the success of our businesses.

John Ray: [00:41:57] And, folks, if you need heWhat do you do when trauma hits you without warning? How do you recover personally? How do you hold it together for the clients you work for in your services practice? How do you get to a point where you can thrive again?

On this powerful edition of ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜—๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‘๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ, Karen Nowicki, Phoenix Business RadioXยฎ and Deep Impact Leadership Coaching & Consulting, joined me to discuss the trauma of her husbandโ€™s suicide attempt, what she did to cope with her own mental health challenges that followed, her decision to share her journey in detail, how she managed her two businesses through those difficult times, and much more.

The full interview can be found on YouTube as well as your favorite podcast app. You can also find it on the Business RadioXยฎ - North Fulton here.

For links to the complete show archive of ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜—๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‘๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ, go to pricevaluejourney.com. You'll also find details on my book, to be released later this year, entitled "The Price and Value Journey: How to Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices Using the Generosity Mindset."

ยฉRay Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray

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John Ray: [00:00:04] And hello, everyone. I'm John Ray on The Price and Value Journey. And I am delighted to welcome Karen Nowicki. Karen is with Phoenix Business RadioX and Deep Impact Leadership Coaching and Consulting. And just a way of introducing Karen, what do you do if, not only in your professional services practice but in your life, trauma comes right out of the blue and drops right in your lap? And how do you hold it together and recover? And that's what we're going to be talking with Karen about today.

John Ray: [00:00:40] Karen is a successful author, speaker. She has her own coaching practice, as I mentioned. The name of that practice is Deep Impact Leadership Coaching and Consulting. Karen's been an expert guest on regional television and radio shows. She's a regular contributor to many print and online magazines, blogs for both business and education. And where I intersect with her proudly is that she and I are colleagues in the Business RadioX Network, and Karen's the much smarter studio partner than I am, but she runs the Phoenix Business RadioX Studio. And Karen Nowicki, it's just a pleasure to have this time to chat.

Karen Nowicki: [00:01:29] I'm excited to spend time with you, John. It's usually a quick text or a phone call, how are you doing this, what's going on here, between either one of us. And we have yet to ever meet in-person, but we've got to change that in 2023.

John Ray: [00:01:42] I look forward to that. Yeah. I want to correct that. So, let's put that on our list for 2023. I like that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:01:52] Did I say '23, too, I think? I meant 2023. If I said '22, I can't keep up.

John Ray: [00:01:58] Well, let's get each other the right year. I'm not sure I said the right one. But I gave a little bit of an overview of you and your work. But like me, you have two different professional services businesses, so give everyone a little bit of an overview of that work.

Karen Nowicki: [00:02:16] Sure. Again, thank you for having me be with you and your listeners today or viewers. I have been referred to, for years, as the ultimate problem solver and solution finder. For the past 24 years, I've acquired advanced training and certifications in executive leadership, trauma integration, Tao Healing, and then organizational and personal development.

Karen Nowicki: [00:02:40] And it just made sense that while I was running my coaching practice - which you've mentioned a little bit - almost six years ago to open Phoenix Business RadioX and run that alongside it. And I'll talk about why that was so important in a moment.

Karen Nowicki: [00:02:54] My greatest strength is the ability to help people understand what they need, what they want, and how to have that come together on a consistent and daily basis. Most of the time, it's telling people and showing them how to get out of their own way. And I know the business of business as well as the business of people. And so, let's face it, in any business, we're always dealing with people.

Karen Nowicki: [00:03:19] And so, it just made sense, Business RadioX was a wreath on my door and an opportunity for me to kind of elevate my exposure as a leader when it comes to personal and professional development. And I haven't ever looked back and regretted the decision. It's been hard to run both businesses at times, especially these last couple of years. But I'm doing it and I've got the right team to help me now.

John Ray: [00:03:45] Yeah. That's terrific. I'm curious for you - and we've talked a little bit about this, but for our listeners - why later on Business RadioX specifically, and that work among all the other things you could have done next to your coaching practice?

Karen Nowicki: [00:04:03] It's a great question. I think it's an important one for you and I when we encourage people to take on podcasting or B2B radio in their businesses, because not everybody understands why at Business RadioX we do the things that we do it or the way we do it.

Karen Nowicki: [00:04:18] So, six years ago I had sold a business, and it gave me the leverage to hire a coach and think about how do I want the next layer of my career to be. And, also at the same time, gave me the leverage to open an auto mechanic shop for my then husband. So, I went to my coach and I said I continue to work with professionals. These were attorneys, doctors, successful entrepreneurs and business owners, typically highly visible in their industries and was coaching them at a very soulful, personal, and professional level. And yet they weren't referring me like other people were, the general laypeople.

Karen Nowicki: [00:04:58] And I knew that I was making a huge difference in their lives because I was always the one they were texting saying, "Thank you. I finally solved that problem at work. I finally hired the right teammate. My husband or my wife and I are getting along better. I had you sit on my shoulder when I had those conversations." Like, all that acknowledgement told me that they were stepping into their life and leadership in an incredible way and I got to be the catalyst and the help to kind of either nudge or shove them into that depending on what they needed. And yet they weren't referring to me.

Karen Nowicki: [00:05:32] And so, my coach said, "Well, go ask them. These are people that you've gotten to know and they really care about you. And clearly, you're making a difference." Their feedback to me, John, was, "Well, why would I tell anybody you're my best kept secret. Like, you're my secret weapon." And they weren't interested in telling me.

Karen Nowicki: [00:05:47] And that was difficult for me to hear because at that time my coaching practice was referral only, which is a mistake, but it's how I built it. I didn't understand marketing and advertising nor did I want to do it. And I really have never liked the sales part of things.

Karen Nowicki: [00:06:06] And so, my coach challenged me to maybe consider a podcast. And at first I thought that was an awful idea. I quickly, within two hours of research, came across Business RadioX. And I could just tell that they were or we are doing things differently. It's about the story and shine the spotlight on someone else. So, I thought, I can do that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:06:28] And within a week, was in Atlanta visiting with Stone and Lee, following them around and paying attention to what they're doing. And by the time I flew home about four days later, I had made the decision to open Phoenix Business RadioX so that I could show up among our leaders in the Metro Phoenix area, have conversations about what's important to them, their industries, their verticals, their decisions, their initiatives. And in exchange, have an opportunity to get to know them at a really deep level. And then, in turn, be able to say, "Here's what I do outside of Business RadioX. If you know anybody who's struggling with personal growth or professional development or leadership or finances, whatever it is, have them have a conversation with me."

John Ray: [00:07:13] You know, it's amazing what you can do with a mic, isn't it? I mean, that's terrific. Well, I want to get right into your story, Karen, or the reason we're doing this show in terms of the trauma that hit you and your now former husband, Mike. I want you to share whatever piece of that you want to share and how you want to share that story.

Karen Nowicki: [00:07:38] Yeah. It's not an easy conversation to share and it's also not very easy for people to listen to. Back in 2019, my then husband attempted suicide and survived gunshot wound through his head. It was a total surprise to me. We closed his auto shop and we unraveled the mystery of how did this all happened while he was lying in the trauma intensive care unit for the first month of his recovery. I came to see that there was addiction and gambling and just really a lot of mental health challenges that weren't as evident as they were. We had been together for 15 years, the love of my life.

Karen Nowicki: [00:08:27] And I struggled to get up everyday. I struggled to help our then 12 year old kind of make his way through it. I have two older kids as well who very much loved and cared for Mike and they were trying to make sense out of it. They were living out of the house, already adults.

Karen Nowicki: [00:08:45] And being so visible in our community already because I have had Business RadioX up and running for then almost two-and-a-half years, and the way in which I show up in social media even before this, is kind of I'm visible, here are the situations, the struggles, the challenges that I go through, I decided that I was going to tell the story while it was happening.

Karen Nowicki: [00:09:10] That was, I'll say, a divine download. I woke up one morning and what was on my heart and in my head was you will tell this story as it's happening. And I thought, "Oh. You can't ask me to do that." I was in trauma. I was in crisis. I wanted to just pull the sheets over my head and just disappear. And yet the next thought that I heard was, "I've prepared you your whole life for this." And I thought, "Well, that's a crappy way. Why would that ever be part of my story?" Because I pride myself on knowing people so well, and helping people, and getting really clear about soulful self-reliance and deep impact leadership, how could I end up with a partner who went to bed with me every night, that was the love of my life, end up wanting to take his own life?

Karen Nowicki: [00:09:59] So, long story short, Mike and I are no longer together. He wasn't willing to or wasn't capable of, I think is more more appropriate to say, to do the work it required to be a healthy whole unit between he and I and then, of course, our son. And it just made more sense safety-wise, mentally, physically, emotionally for Ivan and I to be on our own. I do know that he is now with his family in a different state. They've chosen not to have anything to do with us, which is heartbreaking. And at the same time, I continue to recover from that, all the while keeping both businesses open and being very vocal about my own mental health journey throughout this chaos and trauma and that of my sons.

John Ray: [00:10:46] Wow. A lot there. Let's talk about the processing, the idea that all this was going on with your life partner and you had no idea. I mean, in terms of just the mental health struggles and then the financial issues and other issues that you talked about that were going on, how did you process just getting hit by this out of the blue?

Karen Nowicki: [00:11:16] I would like to say people will tell me that I processed it really well. And my first reaction is, "No. No. I didn't." When we fall into trauma or chaos, we go into the fight, flight, or freeze, or fawn mode and we're now using a different part of our brain just for survival. So, a lot of it really, John, is a blur. Even though I was writing daily on our CaringBridge page and then, of course, on social media, it was really a therapeutic opportunity for me to try to make sense out of everything.

Karen Nowicki: [00:11:47] Mike and I were both building our businesses at the same time. Phoenix Business RadioX was brand new, so is his auto shop. And one business alone for a family is difficult in those early startup days, you and I both know that, let alone two. So, while I felt like we were grounded and corrected - excuse me - grounded and connected, he had his set of challenges and expenses and I had mine. And so, I knew he wasn't feeling well physically. I was oblivious to - because he wasn't willing to share it - what was going on mentally.

Karen Nowicki: [00:12:21] And I think that's the most important call out here for our listeners and our viewers. Not everybody, one, knows when they're struggling mental health-wise. And even if they do, there's so much stigma and so much fear about saying to somebody I am not well, I am not doing well and I need help. Like, for Suicide Prevention Month and even just mental health awareness, we always say I'm there for you, be on the lookout for clues and that sort of stuff.

Karen Nowicki: [00:12:53] And I will tell you, I think we are very good at hiding that stuff, which is part of why I've told my story so vocally and so visibly, because my story is no longer Mike's story, nor was it even when it was happening. I had to deal with my own mental health. And so, I just got really good about asking for help and being very candid, "I feel like crap right now" or "I don't even know which way is up."

Karen Nowicki: [00:13:20] And always continue to have faith. I said to you earlier today before we got on the interview that the universe always has my back. And I believe that for all of us. If we can hold on to hope, we can get through anything. And I always knew that at some point beyond that threshold of chaos and craziness and be, fortunately, where I am today, even though the fog has just finally lifted the last couple of months.

John Ray: [00:13:44] Well, I want to dive into that a little more, the universe has my back. What are the beliefs that underlie that statement that you have?

Karen Nowicki: [00:13:55] For me, it's faith-based. I don't attend a church any longer. I grew up Catholic and have always been a very soulful, spiritual person, very led by a belief in a higher power. And even though life has proven to give me challenge after challenge, business and career, and marriages, and even challenges with kids, and health, and all that stuff, I continue to give that over to a higher power. And when I say the universe has got my back, I don't know that it matters what faith we have or if we have any faith as long as we believe that there is something better on the other side of a challenge.

Karen Nowicki: [00:14:37] And so, every time I have a challenge, small, medium, or large, I just know where's the growth, where can I learn more about me, learn more about me and how I show up in the world that I can take into this next iteration of where I'm going after, this stuff is behind me.

John Ray: [00:14:56] So, when all this happened with Mike, you decided pretty quickly that your response needed to be journaling, sharing what you had. And we're not talking about private journaling. I mean, we're talking, really, about online journaling. You can explain more about what I mean by that. But what was the genesis of that decision for you?

Karen Nowicki: [00:15:21] Again, I will tell you that it wasn't my decision. I know that might sound crazy. But in my meditation practice and the way in which I just am very soulfully self-reliant, I listen very deeply to what my soul needs and how I'm supposed to show up in the world. So, I know that gets a little bit woo, but there you go. So, very early on within three or four days, again, I woke up and I just knew that I was being called from a higher place to journal and share publicly what was going on for me. And it was a survival mode.

Karen Nowicki: [00:16:04] My son said it recently that it was a way for me to survive and thrive versus a way for me to story tell and get attention. It doesn't fit with everybody's narrative. You know, there's a handful of people, my family included, thinks I did it for attention and did it just to further my career. If that were that, I literally would have kept the sheet over my head, put a padlock on the door, and said, "I'm done. I'm out."

Karen Nowicki: [00:16:30] And so, I asked three friends to read every entry that I wrote for CaringBridge - that, again, was repeated on social media - so that they could look at it through three layers. One, am I taking care of myself in this? Are you reading it to where you can hear that this really is me trying to find my way through the chaos and make understanding of what's happening to the degree that I can?

Karen Nowicki: [00:16:53] Two, is it being respectful of Mike and his family and his journey? Because at the time, while I wanted us to be together forever, that was the plan, I never would have guessed that it would not have turned out that way. And yet I knew that at some point he would likely be in a position to be aware that I told the story as it was happening. So, was I respectful to him and his family and his journey? And then, the third piece was, if there could be a nugget for other people who are watching and listening and reading, is that opportunity there for someone to have a takeaway?

Karen Nowicki: [00:17:21] So, all, but I think one journal over the course of probably nine months journal entries, was there ever a sentence that came back? And my very best friend, Julie, came back and said, "This is the only sentence that I'm not sure where you're coming from on this. It sounds more like ego than anything else. Can you reword it or pull it out?" And with that, I did. That was the only time. The rest of the time it was, "Oh, my gosh. Karen, this is what I'm getting from it and I know this is going to make a difference. And I can hear you getting better and healing as you go through this."

Karen Nowicki: [00:17:49] So, less of a decision, John, and more of a calling. Which, I think, again, our viewers and our listeners for this particular show, if they're entrepreneurs and business owners, even solopreneurs, we don't come into our businesses lightly. We come into it, I think, oftentimes, because we have a calling to do something that's bigger than us.

John Ray: [00:18:12] Right. Yeah, for sure. Now, this is the part of the story that I'm not sure that I've heard before, that you had three trusted friends that knew you quite well, that they sound checked it, I guess maybe is the word, right? They sound checked to make sure that the Karen they knew was speaking.

Karen Nowicki: [00:18:37] Yeah. And this was well before any of the immediate family started attacking and wanting to manage what I was saying and would rather have me be quiet. I just knew that I was fairly visible in our community anyway already. I'd already talked about post-partum depression when my kids were younger, and changing careers, and what is it like to be fairly visible and that sort of stuff, getting older, those kinds of things, even body image and those choices, and how I can grow to love myself more.

Karen Nowicki: [00:19:18] So, knowing that I had already been through all that and sharing in that way, I knew I needed to have people, not fact check, but just sound check and make sure that I was doing it from a place of, first, caring for myself; second, being respectful of Mike and his journey, wherever that would take him; and third, can people hear it from a place of what's in it for me.

Karen Nowicki: [00:19:39] And it's proven to be one of the most amazing things I've ever done. I hear, still, from people three years later how much I've changed their life or the lives of their loved ones. I would say, and I think only firefighters and medical professionals get to say this, I know there are at least eight people whose lives I've helped save because they either read or someone read to them the accounting of what I was going through as a dear casualty of somebody who wanted to leave this earth before their time.

John Ray: [00:20:15] I would love it, Karen, if you would share one of those as an example. You know, obviously, we're not going to mention names or anything like that, any identifiers. But if you could just share an example of one of those stories.

Karen Nowicki: [00:20:30] I can. So, we're here in Arizona. I had a high school friend reach out through Facebook and mentioned that she was going to be in town - this has been, oh, probably a-year-and-a-half ago - and would I be open to coffee. And we don't know each other well. We see each other at reunions and, of course, on social media, thumbs up, or a little like this, like that. And I said, I'd love that. And so, I waited at the coffee shop for her to arrive maybe three or four minutes early. And as she's walking from the parking lot, we smiled at each other.

Karen Nowicki: [00:21:00] And as she's getting closer, I watch her face change and she starts to get teary eyed. And I was not prepared for that. We gave each other a big hug and she said, "I'm so grateful that you're sitting down and meeting with me. I need to tell you how much you've impacted my life and the life of my fiancรฉ."

Karen Nowicki: [00:21:18] Now, we're not spring chickens. We're celebrating our 40th high school reunion this year, so we're in our late 50s. And so, this is somebody that I knew as a young girl and have seen at reunions. And she's in a relationship now. I believe they're engaged, maybe even married now, a couple of years after we met over coffee.

Karen Nowicki: [00:21:39] And she said that her then partner was struggling with mental health, depression, suicidal ideation. And as she read what I was sharing, being his beloved partner, it was ripping her apart that that could be her and she didn't know how to handle it. He was unwilling at the time to get professional help. And so, she started reading these entries to him aloud. And I don't know how soon, but I think within four or five entries, he ended up agreeing to go get professional help by himself and also couples counseling for the two of them.

Karen Nowicki: [00:22:16] And she said I just knew that the anguish and the difficulty that I was sitting in, not having a clue what happened, not having known how to help, and having a partner who refused to get help until it was too late, and even now not getting the help, she just knew that she had to share that. So, I hope that's kind of the example that you're looking for.

John Ray: [00:22:43] Wow. That's tremendous. And there's no telling what has happened without you even knowing about it. And this is just what you know about in terms of the people that you have impacted by sharing your story so truly authentically.

Karen Nowicki: [00:23:03] Yes. There was no other choice. And now it's interesting, again, I'm beyond it. We have not been married for over a-year-and-a-half now. And I want to continue to be a beacon of light for people, and it has to be authentic. So, I'm just kind of looking for what's happening in my life that I can continue sharing.

Karen Nowicki: [00:23:26] You alluded to this, there was catastrophic financial loss that I was not even aware of had already taken place. And so, even though I'm 58 years old, it's like I'm 23 years old, starting over again and keeping both businesses afloat. I'm so grateful for the community providing some financial support when we were in the midst of the chaos. I have a very dear friend who recently invested in my business so that I could get to the next level with teammates and that sort of thing.

Karen Nowicki: [00:23:55] And, yeah, I feel very grateful that I've been willing to get out of my own way and also share that part of the story to help other business owners and individuals who, again, sometimes we think that we're the only person. I always say, people think that they're terminally unique. And we're not. We're all looking for validation that we're okay, and that we're enough, and that we can contribute in some way. We're all designed fairly similarly, whether we're an introvert or an extrovert or anywhere in between, we just want to know that we're here for a reason.

John Ray: [00:24:31] Since you brought up introvert and extrovert, we were talking about this before we came on, you know, the typical listener of this series is a solo and small professional services practitioner, most of whom are introverts as a general proposition. And I can hear the introverts saying, "I can't believe that Karen shared what she shared." What do you say to somebody that is thinking that and thinking I'm a private person and there's no way I could do what you've done, Karen?

Karen Nowicki: [00:25:12] Well, stay private. I realized that that is one of my unique - I don't know what it is - call it a curse or a blessing. One of the unique gifts that I bring to this world is the ability to tell people how I'm feeling as it's happening. And not everybody can do that publicly.

Karen Nowicki: [00:25:32] However, it's important to share your story with someone. And when people are fortunate to be in relationships, marriages, or long term friendships where they can really show up authentically as who they are and let someone know when they're struggling and challenged and they've got the right support structure, that's great.

John Ray: [00:26:16] And I don't want to make this into something that's a little crass like personal brand, but I think people hear that and they hear authenticity and showing up. But there's showing up as - I'll call it - the made up you. They're showing up as the Real you. And I mean the capital R, Real you. That's what you did.

Karen Nowicki: [00:26:58] Yeah. And there's a way to do that, no matter who you are. This is not about airing your dirty laundry, just to do that, right? Just speaking authentically from a place of some of the challenges, whether it be business, or raising children, or moving to a new location, or the next level in your business, whether you're introvert or extrovert, I don't think that matters. As leaders, we're called to show up authentically and everyone has their own pace and cadence for that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:27:30] That's one of the neatest things that you and I can offer with Business RadioX, our story matters. And people want to hear what we've been through, what challenges do we have, what hurdles did we have to overcome, when did you think you're going to quit and give up, and what got you through that to to be where you are today, what's the next challenge that you're faced with right now going into 2023. Those answers can be from the cuff and they can be from the heart.

Karen Nowicki: [00:27:57] And I think that's one of the greatest things that Business RadioX has to offer people and with the work that you do, John, with your clients. People need to get out of their own way, myself included. So, I have coaches and guides. When it comes to sales, when it comes to marketing and advertising - I mentioned that early on - those are areas that I'm not well-equipped at and good at. And yet I show up because I'm listening and I'm learning and I'm paying attention to the people who do it better than I can. And they're helping me learn how to do it for me in a way that it feels real and authentic to me.

John Ray: [00:28:33] So, let's talk briefly, if we can, just the whole idea of you obviously had to hold yourself together, your relationships together, your children as they navigated this trauma that came out of the blue for them as well. But let's talk about your businesses and just how you held it together. Because you've got to show up for clients and you're a coach and you've got to bring something for that client that's sitting in front of you with their own issues that may have nothing to do with what you're dealing with. How did you do that?

Karen Nowicki: [00:29:23] I'm grateful that I had a couple different income streams. So, I think that's important when we look at it from that perspective of we're relying only on one avenue of income and it's solely dependent on us, we're in trouble. I was fortunate that I could very quickly hire someone to run the studio for me. And with very little direction, she took it over for me. So, that part of my business was handled.

Karen Nowicki: [00:29:49] I did step away from the intimate coaching for a little bit of time because I was no good for anybody, so being able to admit when I needed to step away. And, again, grateful that I had this other business running so that there was still the income.

Karen Nowicki: [00:30:07] As far as working with clients, both here at Business RadioX and in my coaching practice, I had already built enough strong enough relationships just in caring for people deeply and giving them permission to care for me back. That when I was ready to come back into the field full force, I could simply make those calls and send an email and say, "Hey, listen, I'm ready. Here's the kind of clients that I enjoy working with. If you're ready to come back and work with me, I'd love that. If not, if you'll be a referral source for me."

Karen Nowicki: [00:30:36] So, I think the theme for both of my businesses is when we care deeply for people and we allow people to care deeply for us, the universe works on our behalf. Things will come our way when we know that we are really a force for good.

John Ray: [00:30:53] You know, it strikes me as I'm listening to you talk, Karen, and again, I'm getting back to just what you decided to share. I mean, you did that as your own personal source of healing. It strikes me how generous that is, because you could have kept all that to yourself. You could have written what you wrote, pass it along to your three close friends, let them look at it, and just deep sixed it and kept it private. But there was a mission to what you were doing, and it was an act of pure generosity, it seems like to me, because you were willing to take whatever came your way in terms of the consequences of doing that, which, for you, were severe.

Karen Nowicki: [00:31:49] That's very sweet of you to say. I don't think I've ever heard anybody refer to it as generous, so thank you. It makes me a little overwhelmed.

Karen Nowicki: [00:32:00] It was a survival mechanism. It's not something I wanted to do. I wanted to be like the rest of the world on social media and who's visible and just the highlight reel. And, unfortunately, I didn't get to share that. So, it was a survival technique. It was the only one that I had available to me. And I just listened.

Karen Nowicki: [00:32:26] And I think when we're being called to do anything in our life, business or personally, and we have that - I'll call it - nagging voice in the back of our head - mine sometimes sounds like a nag, a nag or a nudge - I've just learned in my life that it's that voice and that nudge or that nag that's constantly humming in the background that I've got to pay attention to. And, again, I have to just trust that I'm going to find my way through why it is that we do the things that we're called to do.

Karen Nowicki: [00:32:57] And I love that you've shared that it felt generous. It makes me feel very hopeful and appreciative that you're paying attention.

John Ray: [00:33:06] Well, thank you. Well, see, there's a difference, to me, between help and trying to help people. Because sometimes help has strengths, right? I mean, it can come back in ways that maybe we don't acknowledge, but it comes back in ways to benefit us. But when you're doing what you were doing, knowing that you likely would suffer in some way from it, and you did, then that really gets beyond help into generosity, and that's why I say that.

Karen Nowicki: [00:33:39] And my Business RadioX family or our Business RadioX family was there for me every step of the way, all of you. And we were fairly new in relationship. I'd only had the studio, I want to say, for - what? - a-year-and-a-half, maybe two years, and, again, at a great distance. I'm way over here in the Southwest and you guys are all in the Atlanta area. We've grown a lot since then as a team. And I never felt like there was a time that I couldn't pick up the phone or text or email and say I need some help. And I didn't have to rely on that very often. But when I did, everybody rose to the occasion.

Karen Nowicki: [00:34:16] Which, again, for our listeners, for this particular group of people who might be interested in a conversation like this, even though you are a solopreneur and you are at the helm, bring people in your life, invite people in your life, the coach, the guide, the mentor, possibly a partner, certainly your clients and your customers - find the win-win-win for everybody - all the stakeholders. So that, again, it's a richer and more viable experience and it will have legs.

John Ray: [00:34:48] Yeah, for sure. And, really, one aspect of what you're talking about is digging the well before you're thirsty. I mean, you had that support structure before this happened. And when it happened, you were ready, you had prepared.

Karen Nowicki: [00:35:06] I have a friend who just had a 20 pound tumor removed from her stomach. We're hoping that it's not cancer. It doesn't look like it's going to be. And I just went and visited her on Sunday. Also, a business owner, a longtime solopreneur. And now she has a team of 20 people on her team, which is amazing. And she said just that, John, "I had no idea how the community and people in my life would respond when I needed help and I was laid up. And I'm so grateful that I built a business that didn't rely just on me. That I got smart a couple of years ago and started building it so that more stakeholders could benefit in profit and we could help more people."

Karen Nowicki: [00:35:46] And very different situation for me, but she said the exact same thing, "I am so overwhelmed by the amount of love and support and outpouring for people just being a champion of me. I can't help but wonder why." And we both laughed at each other and said, "Well, it's because you show up that way for other people and that's truly who you are." So, yes, I love the way that you put that.

John Ray: [00:36:08] Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Shoutout to her and her healing, for sure. So, one of the things that has stood out to me recently, speaking of things we post on social media, is you've been using this hashtag I want to know about, so it's #traumainformedworkplace. Now, what do you mean by that? What does that term mean? And is that looking ahead toward trauma that might occur? Is it looking backward? What are we talking about there, Karen?

Karen Nowicki: [00:36:43] So, it's not my term. I didn't make it up. A lot of people use it, especially now that COVID has been something that's really knocked us all off of our A-game. And I come at trauma informed workplaces a little bit different. A lot of folks will go into companies, enterprises, medium size, small businesses, public education, wherever, and they will have hour long talks, sometimes half-day seminars, even three or four days, certification programs around how to be aware of where trauma might be impacting the way we show up in our life and businesses. That's all well and fine. I would say that's layer one. Let's be aware that trauma is part of what's happening in the background all the time.

Karen Nowicki: [00:37:34] So, the angry executive or the pissed off client or the employee who doesn't show up for work day after day or they're there but they're not really high functioning, it's likely that something traumatic has happened either recently or from the past that they haven't dealt with. And in the work that I do with clients, I help people get the shock out of their body in a variety of different ways. But the body keeps score, and if we don't clear the shock out of our body, it will inform our decisions. And we're still in fight, flight, or freeze, or fawn mode. And fawn is maybe a new word for a lot of people. Fawn is an over caregiver and I'm taking care of everything but myself - that would be fawning - and kind of grappling for the attention and needing the visibility.

Karen Nowicki: [00:38:23] So, layer one is let's just be aware of what trauma is, how it impacts our brain, and how it shows up in conflict. And let's make sure that as a trauma informed workplace, we have a way to handle that and deal with that culture-wise and team-wise. That's all well and fine.

Karen Nowicki: [00:38:39] And then, this next layer that I work with, with individuals and business owners that come to my practice and work with me, it's let's have you heal your trauma and re-integrate it so that your decisions, the way you show up in your marriage, your friendships, your business, your leadership, the way in which you work with your stakeholders, you're standing in the present moment with all your faculties about you. You're aware that you have a past, some of it may have been kind of sucky, some of it may have been great. But the decisions you're making today are in alignment with who you are today. And you're not having to look over your shoulder out of reaction or response.

Karen Nowicki: [00:39:16] Now, it's a long winded answer, but there's a lot to trauma, and I think we're finally starting to have conversations about it so that we can be there at a higher level for each other, and most importantly for ourselves.

John Ray: [00:39:30] Yeah. And that shows up differently, as you said, for each of us. And the question is having conversation and being open about that and creating an environment where people can be open.

Karen Nowicki: [00:39:43] Safe, right? And we're talking about trials. There's personal trauma. There's also historical trauma. There's legacy trauma, familial, family trauma. And we all carry a little bit of that with us without even knowing it. So, we've got to come to better understand how does that come and show up in our communication or our lack of communication, and how can we have compassion, respect, and autonomy with each other.

John Ray: [00:40:11] So, Karen, you've been really generous with your time, and you're busy, you got a lot going on.

Karen Nowicki: [00:40:18] My producer just walked by the window and was going to come in and get ready for our show, and he's like, "Whoops. I can't go in there yet."

John Ray: [00:40:24] He's like, "Hey, we got other things to do here." But before we let you go, though, I would love it if maybe you could share one final takeaway. You know, as listeners absorb your story, what should they hold on to from your story that could help them in their personal lives and in their business lives?

Karen Nowicki: [00:40:49] So, we heard a couple of times that phrase, a couple of times, and you just said it to me as you're kind of handing this for my final word, everybody's story matters. Therefore, your story -- like you're lacking or you deficit, those are just stories that you tell yourself that you can change your story. Our stories and our past matter, and they don't have to fully define us. So, take care of yourself, mental health, physical health, self-care, all of that is not underrated.

Karen Nowicki: [00:41:22] And it's not just going to a spa once a month or getting your manicure, pedicure, or going to see your chiropractor, once a year checkup. It is daily practices that help you become the best version of you, so that when you look in the mirror everyday, you like the person that you see looking back at you. And that filters into every aspect of your life, most particularly those of us who are solopreneurs and entrepreneurs and business owners, we've got to get that together or we're going to find ourselves struggling when it comes to financial wellbeing and the success of our businesses.

John Ray: [00:41:57] And, folks, if you need help with that, I know a coach that can help you. So, that gets us to the most important question, maybe, which is how folks can get in touch with you, Karen, that would like to know more maybe about your coaching practice, but just maybe they've got to download their own trauma around suicide.

Karen Nowicki: [00:42:20] Absolutely. I would love to help even if just a conversation. If we're not a right fit for each other, I can refer you to other people. I do see people here in-person in the Metro Phoenix area. And I also have just as many clients - actually, maybe even more - that we do FaceTime or Zoom from the comfort of their office or their home. So, happy to be of support.

Karen Nowicki: [00:42:39] I am on LinkedIn, Karen Nowicki or Phoenix Business RadioX. I am just now finally working on a website for Deep Impact Leadership. So, the best way to reach out to me right now is through LinkedIn. Or my email address is karennowicki2007@gmail.com if you want to reach out personally. Or reach out to John and he'll direct you to me, and we'll have a conversation, just a discovery and see where I can best support you if I am the right person for that.

John Ray: [00:43:08] Terrific. Karen Nowicki, wow, I'm just honored to have you as a friend. And thank you so much for your great work and how you are helping people in such a generous way. Thank you.

Karen Nowicki: [00:43:23] You're welcome, John. Thank you for letting me share this time with you.

John Ray: [00:43:26] Absolutely. Hey, folks, just a quick reminder as we wrap up here, pricevaluejourney.com is where you can find out more on this series, you can find the link to the show archive. And you can also sign up to get more information on my upcoming book coming out this summer called The Price and Value Journey - ironically enough - Raising Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Pricing Using The Generosity Mindset Method. So, if you want to know more about that, you can sign up for updates on when that's coming. And with that, thanks again to Karen Nowicki for joining us. I'm John Ray on The Price and Value Journey.

_______________

About me: I help solo or small professional services firm owners with the confidence and positioning necessary to improve their pricing and change the trajectory of not only their business but their life.

I have a podcast called The Price and Value Journey, which features interviews with industry leaders and audio versions of my blog posts. You can find the podcast on your favorite podcast app.

I also have a book coming out in 2023: The Price and Value Journey: Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices to Grow Your Business Using The Generosity Mindset.

For more information, go to PriceValueJourney.comlp with that, I know a coach that can help you. So, that gets us to the most important question, maybe, which is how folks can get in touch with you, Karen, that would like to know more maybe about your coaching practice, but just maybe they've got to download their own trauma around suicide.

Karen Nowicki: [00:42:20] Absolutely. I would love to help even if just a conversation. If we're not a right fit for each other, I can refer you to other people. I do see people here in-person in the Metro Phoenix area. And I also have just as many clients - actually, maybe even more - that we do FaceTime or Zoom from the comfort of their office or their home. So, happy to be of support.

Karen Nowicki: [00:42:39] I am on LinkedIn, Karen Nowicki or Phoenix Business RadioX. I am just now finally working on a website for Deep Impact Leadership. So, the best way to reach out to me right now is through LinkedIn. Or my email address is karennowicki2007@gmail.com if you want to reach out personally. Or reach out to John and he'll direct you to me, and we'll have a conversation, just a discovery and see where I can best support you if I am the right person for that.

John Ray: [00:43:08] Terrific. Karen Nowicki, wow, I'm just honored to have you as a friend. And thank you so much for your great work and how you are helping people in such a generous way. Thank you.

Karen Nowicki: [00:43:23] You're welcome, John. Thank you for letting me share this time with you.

John Ray: [00:43:26] Absolutely. Hey, folks, just a quick reminder as we wrap up here, pricevaluejourney.com is where you can find out more on this series, you can find the link to the show archive. And you can also sign up to get more information on my upcoming book coming out this summer called The Price and Value Journey - ironically enough - Raising Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Pricing Using The Generosity Mindset Method. So, if you want to know more about that, you can sign up for updates on when that's coming. And with that, thanks again to Karen Nowicki for joining us. I'm John Ray on The Price and Value Journey.

_______________

About me: I help solo or small professional services firm owners with the confidence and positioning necessary to improve their pricing and change the trajectory of not only their business but their life.

I have a podcast called The Price and Value Journey, which features interviews with industry leaders and audio versions of my blog posts. You can find the podcast on your favorite podcast app.

I also have a book coming out in 2023: The Price and Value Journey: Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices to Grow Your Business Using The Generosity Mindset.

For more information, go to PriceValueJourney.com

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