Kasie Smith is the President of Serendipity Media, publisher of West Michigan Woman Magazine. In addition to spotlighting women in her community through print, she gives back personally as well, while working on her golf game and raising twins. Kasie shares details about her personal journey with us today on Powerful Women: Let’s Talk.
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>> Produced by women about women , powerful women, let's talk is a series of interviews with women who have helped shape our community and transform who we are and how we live.
Kasie Smith is the president of Serendipity Media LLC best known locally as the publisher of West Michigan woman and Revue magazine's executive director Serendipity Cares a nonprofit that supports the development education, and women's health. She also volunteers for a variety of organizations and is award-winning in her field, she is the mom of twin boys, we'll talk more about that welcome Kasie to powerful women, let's talk.
>> Good morning to you, thanks for having me
>>Twin boys a husband at home yet most of your employees are female so your life is balanced.
>> I don’t know if it's completely balanced but it definitely makes for an interesting mix. Every single day.
>> Good looking forward to sharing all about you. How was Serendipity media born?
>>Serendipity was born in 2002 about 11 months after 9/11. And I was working for previous publisher and we're in the midst of making a lot of changes and at that time in in our industry there was just a lot of change that was going on. And at the time I had a business partner and he said you know we can do this on her own and do what we want to do and kick it off. And looking back and I think about it how crazy it was. We opened our doors in August of 2002 with a group travel publication and it really took off. We have enough contacts and relationships in the industry to really build the publication and then within 3 years we are adding different publications and kind of how the story wrote and it's taken off from there
>> Why a West Michigan woman magazine?
>> You know when we started Serendipity media all of our publications were and for the most part tour and travel. And having gone through a 9/11 we wanted to diversify our portfolio and in over the years we did a couple of additional things we worked with the Student youth travel Association, we brought in the national after School Association. So we started getting a little more about education and association and then we also published a magazine for the Shubert organization in New York. So again still all tour and travel and education and when we looked at our portfolio at that given time the only publication that we actually owned was Groups Today Magazine original core publication and so we really wanted to once again diversify our portfolio. And you know I had this idea after I had my boys that I'm like you and I know that there's some organizations out here but there's got to be a way in a magazine for people to connect women. To connect professional women like myself who is really struggling with like the balance of work and life and living and so I had the idea to reach out to the team and obviously having a predominantly female team they were like absolutely let's do this. And in 2012, we actually launched with the digital a website only and within about 3 weeks we had 12,000 page views and we're like hmm I think there's something to this. and we launched in August of 2012 with the print edition and since then it's um you know the community is really grabbed on to it because it's talking about real content that we're all facing whether it's going through what we're going through now. Whether it's a career whether it's just home whether its relationships, no matter what the topic is the community is really you know locked onto it and we've evolved into events as well and I'm it's been it's been a great journey has been a ton of fun.
>> Let’s talk about your leadership style leading well a team of I would think mostly women. What works?
>> You know, I would say that my leadership style has evolved over the years and I think it's just evolved based on experience and life and what you're going through. You know today I would say that I definitely lead with transparency and communicate even if I don't have anything to communicate with our team. Its taken me a long time I think to get to that point we're being really transparent about where we're at, what our goals are, what we want to do, what we can accomplish and be articulate about that. I also think that you know as a leader, I surround myself with great people that have different skill sets then I do. I believe that you can't manage your entire team, you have to do it in a tiered approach. I can manage a few people really well and then empower them to manage the people that they're working with us as well. and I truly feel blessed to have a fantastic group of team members who also believe in the philosophy that I do is that you're learning and growing every day. And just because we create an expectation, a plan that's moving forward doesn't mean that once we get there that things are done. We grow, we develop, we build we begin to grow beyond where we are today and that culture is not great for everybody. You know so we try to bring people in who really believe that and it's been a fun journey. My leadership team is really strong and our team members that we have are committed to quality work into success and to helping us ride this journey together and in especially in our industry, I mean the rules change every day whether it's you know marketing and social media and things are changing so got a great team who really want to grow and develop together.
>>As you climb the journey of your career what’s it takes to find your own voice, to own your own voice, how important is that?
>> It's definitely important to find your voice, I mean without a doubt I would say you know for me it's taken a lot of life experience to get me to find my own voice, you know. I think that your voice changes over time, and I think it changes based on the experiences that you have. But I also think that part of the way is you need to have confidence in yourself and believe in the work that you're doing and be an advocate for yourself. And I would say probably earlier in my career I didn't do that as much, but I also have a group of people around me that have encouraged me to you know use your voice and do it for good and I’ve done that, you know. I think it's important too I feel very blessed to have the company that I have to have the team that I have, the success that I have. But I also feel it's our obligation to also use that voice because you have been given that gift of success and so like I said it's taken a lot of years to get out there and to do a little bit more talking and using the voice in the best way that I feel that it can be used, but it's been a great journey.
>>Did you have a mentor growing up and or are you serving as one?
>>You know, I have had many mentors throughout the years and I wouldn't pinpoint one person, I said a minute ago one of the things that I really believe in is that you have to learn and grow. And I think that those opportunities come in so many different ways that can come from this experience right here that we're having, I have learned from people that I've sat on boards with things that I just never thought was going to be something that was going to be an awareness for myself. I have learned from the covers of our magazine and their journeys and the experiences that they've had. And you know honestly have also learned from my employees they've taught me how to be a better leader and they've really helped to shape who I am. And you know certainly there is that additional people my personal life as well, but I think that there are mentors all around you just have to open your eyes and your ears and listen to those that are around us. And I think that people um shed really incredible light on life and business and personal stuff when you just have your ears open
>> You have personally and professionally given back to the community expand on that.
>>So I’ve always been a philanthropic person by nature and have always been participating in various nonprofit organizations in my entire career, however in 2012 when we launched West Michigan woman we felt that it was very important that we do something as a give back. There are so many events in our community and as you know we have an opportunity again to do something really good and get some quality work in. So long story short we established Serendipity Cares which is our non profit and that does cover our nonprofit arm for all of our publications but particularly locally we do Wine and Wig and for West Michigan woman. And that that event particularly helps us to raise funds for the breast cancer awareness community and particularly we believe that the 4 charities we have really focused on what we call the breast cancer continuum. Which is early detection, treatment support, emotional support, and research. And so the funds raised through Serendipity Cares and Wine and Wig we divide by 4 to those local charities that we have here in in town and to date we've raised over about a $167,000 for these organizations. And it's a ton of fun doing the events but what's more important is the fact that we give back to these local organizations that are really doing the meaningful work in our community.
>>Alright time to have fun. Why should the topic Kasie Smith of twins come up in this conversation.
>> I got to tell you it's been quite an adventure you know as my kids never cease to amaze me in the stories they write, the laughter they bring to the table and the frustration. To be honest with you I was a little frustrated yesterday, you know we are golfing together as a family I had to teach one of them like you can't quit, we don't quit, we're not quitters, you know, but I'll tell you what I mean having a set of twins people has asked me gosh what's that like, I have no frame of reference. I didn't have children before I had twin boys and my husband, and I wanted two kids, two boys and we got in at the same time.
>>But twins run in your family,
>>They do so my aunt and uncle are twins, my husband and I have twins, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have set of twin boys, and my niece has a set of twins as well so yes, it does run in our family.
>>Let's talk also about the not driving the cart when you golf.
>> And that was probably why I was frustrated yesterday, we typically do Sunday family golf together and I was actually driving the cart which might have contributed to my frustration, but no I have this weird thing I don't like to drive a golf cart when I golf for me, it's one of those things where I really gets to sit back relax and just enjoy and I don't think about scoring. I don't think about anything all I think about is just enjoying nature and being outside. And so I literally have examples of people who have joined me as my guest and I asked them do you like to drive a golf cart, like sure, Okay thank you, your driving today, and I'll just tell you where to go. It's a weird idiosyncrasy that I have but I do love the game of golf though it’s a ton of fun it’s just great to be outside
>>Is short game or long game, your strength?
>>Neither I don't know what it is these days, you know I have been a playing fairly committed for the last 10 years and have been taking lessons for 10 years and so I still need to have more lessons. And so it's a game of complete frustration, but it's also a game of commitment and you know what for me, it's a ton of fun and I love to be outside. And you know, especially this last summer you know to just have that outlet has been really tremendous not only for myself, but our entire family.
>>Lesson in life never quit. Can you be successful in your business and still be an introvert
>> What most people don't know is that I am an introvert so I would say yes to that. I have you know have tested on multiple test Myers Briggs and done the disk and all of that kind of stuff, but I tend to be more of an introvert and extrovert comes out when I need to be an extrovert. And I do love to socialize I love to get out there, but I'm really regenerate by being alone being at home being able to collect myself as an individual. I love to be social, love to go to events, I love to meet new people. But I'm you know I definitely regenerate internally.
>>Great, fill in the blank you love to bake what.
>> Anything. I’m particularly known for my chocolate chip cookie bake. Yeah, it's a Nestle toll House recipe with some personal stuff that I can't share because I was told I can’t pass along that.
>>Keep that in the Smith family. How important is it to plan our future or is it simply how do I plan the next step?
>> That’s a great question. So I think that planning is important I think that you should be able to have some long-range goals in what you want to accomplish because I do think it helps you navigate the path as you go. What's really interesting is over the last few years I was really good at planning one to two years out and achieving those goals but really struggled with a little bit more longer term. And you know it's really challenged at looking you know where you want to be in 10 years. And I’m like god I didn’t know I even wanted to be there in one year let alone how can I figure out 10 years. And it's been a great exercise to go through because it helped me to really start thinking about where it is that we that we want to go. And you know and got all the plan all completely done and then COVID hit so you got to re- tool and revisit what some of those long-term plans are. But I do think it's important to look into the future and say this is what I want my company to be in 10 years, this is where I want to be and be able to articulate that so you know what path that you're creating and what the journey is going to look like to get there. And you know there's many points we're going to have to navigate the sail and readjust but I know that I want to double the size of my company in the next 10 years, you know it's going help influence some of the decisions I want to make and need to make in order to be able to achieve those goals.
>> What book do you want me to read?
>> So this is a book I read a really long time ago is probably 20 years ago and it's called In the meantime and I am- In the meantime by Iyanla VanZant and I'm am notorious for, as soon as we get through this things are going to be normal. And as soon as we get through this things are going to be normal. And just keeping things very clean. And on the main floor and the book really relates to a house right, and you know the main floor of your house is what everybody sees and in particular myself I like to keep that really clean. And you know that sometimes when you go to the basement, you certainly can some cleaning whether it's personally working through things you know you just hard to clean the basement. And you know upstairs in your bedrooms where you kind of keep some private stuff. And it's a great book that really relates to life that you know you can you can look ahead and you can look in the past but ultimately need to really live in the moment and live in today and realize the feelings the emotion in life that you have today is going to help shape what you do tomorrow. And it was great book of growth and one that was really significant at that point in time in my life.
>> Awesome thank you. Kasey Smith, president of Serendipity media for this conversation.
>> Thank you for having me
>>And thank you for listening to powerful women, let's talk I’m shelly Irwin.
>> Produced by women about women these powerful podcast focus on powerful women and how their strength transforms who we are and how we live. Want to hear more powerful women, let's talk get additional interviews at WGVU.org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe powerful women, let's talk is produced by WGVU at the Myer public broadcast Center at Grand Valley State University, the views and opinions expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU its underwriters or Grand Valley State University.