Katie Zeppieri is the founder of GIRL TALK Empowerment, an organization that empowers girls to overcome personal challenges and be inspired to make their mark on the world. Over 10,000 girls have been empowered through GIRL TALK thus far, which has school chapters in Canada, the United States, Uganda and Egypt. Katie is also the author of the book, GIRL TALK: Words Every World-Changing Girl Needs to Hear which is used as a teaching resource at schools across North America.
My first job was… working as a clown named “Giggles” on the weekends for kids’ birthday parties! I was 13 years old.
My proudest accomplishment is… writing and self-publishing She Rises. I am just so proud of the final product and think it has such a unique take on poetry and empowerment. Plus, the topic of mental health has become of greater importance to me over the past few years. In 2017 I underwent a period of burnout where I struggled with anxiety, depression, and intrusive thoughts. This was a real low point for me and made me empathize with the struggles of others. I told myself that when I got through this I would write about it to help and inspire people who were struggling and let them know that it’s OK to not always be OK.
My boldest move to date was… deciding that I wanted to work for myself just six months after graduating from university. I finished my six-month work contract and then went cold-turkey into being an entrepreneur despite having zero previous business experience. I just had a little dream and a desire to make it happen, no matter what the cost.
My biggest setback was… struggling to get my organization off the ground. It took quite a few years to find our business model. I found it especially challenging starting out as I was uncomfortable asking for money—not great for a budding entrepreneur!
I overcame it by… surrounding myself with an incredible group of mentors and establishing an Advisory Board. These people had all achieved great career success and helped me navigate many of the challenges I was facing. I’m proud to still have many of these people and some new ones as current mentors.
“Sometimes knowing that someone has been where you are can greatly reduce anxiety and help the person focus on healing and finding the right supports they need to make it through.”
The best part of my job is… getting to talk to people about things that MATTER. I spend a good portion of every year talking to youth and adults about self-esteem, confidence, leadership, bullying, and making a difference in the world. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night and I am so blessed to be able to help people think about their lives in a deep and meaningful way so that they do not live with regret.
The most challenging part of my day is… balancing how I spend my time. There’s always lots on the to-do list but the key is to focus on the handful of things that really move the needle forward on my business. I also continually strive to have technology-free periods of my day where I am not on a laptop or my phone. It’s a work-in-progress but I am happiest when I have a balanced day with time away from distractions.
My hope for She Rises is that … it can touch the lives of those who are struggling to find the light in their life. Sometimes knowing that someone has been where you are can greatly reduce anxiety and help the person focus on healing and finding the right supports they need to make it through.
My greatest advice from a mentor was… to stand strong against adversity. One quote my mentor gave to me that stuck was from Martin Luther King Jr. “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in times of comfort and convenience but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy.”
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… RESILIENCE. None of the things I am working to build have come without setbacks and personal challenges. Truly in order to come out on top, a resilient mind and heart is required.
I surprise people when I tell them… although I am a very gregarious person, I can also be quite introverted. I find crowds exhausting and get my energy rejuvenated from alone time reading, writing, exercising, and reflecting.
The future excites me because… I truly believe that the best days are yet to come.