Karl Shallowhorn – CEO Interview

by | Dec 19, 2020

Karl Shallowhorn

When did you know you wanted to start your own company?

I realized that I had value that outpaced my work situation. I also had conflict of interest issues with my workplace that prohibited me from delivering services. I also knew, that being in business for myself would provide me with greater potential income. In addition, I had been in the Health Leadership Fellows program which gave me the confidence I needed to step out on my own.

What was your original idea for this company, and are you still doing that (or did you pivot, if so, what is the new focus & why)?

I originally planned to focus on in person behavioral health training, which I’m still doing, however as a result of COVID, I’ve pivoted to online workshops which has actually been a relatively easy transition considering everything I did previously I can do virtually. I’ve also expanded my offerings to provide leadership development and coaching. I published a book in September, Leadership Through the Lens of the 12 Steps, which takes my 32 years of experience in a 12 Step program and combines it with my work as a professional. I’ve also created an accompanying Mastermind class. The overall concept is that the principles found in 12 Step programs can be correlated to those found in leadership.

How long did it take you to finally take the leap, and what was it that pushed you over the fence?

It actually took about 3 years. Initially I had the idea of providing programming targeting at-risk youth but I abandoned the idea due to landing a new job. A couple of years later I was offered a relatively sizable contract to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid training however I had to turn it over to my organization due to conflict of interest issues (the organization also provided Mental Health First Aid). So, I said to myself, “Why am I working for someone else when I can do my own thing, increase my income, and be my own boss).

Who inspired you to pursue your dream, and why do you think they believed in you?

In the Health Leadership Fellows Program, I had a coach named Geri Grossman. She was awesome. She even agreed to keep working with me after the program was over. I believe she saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. We did a number of assessments for the program (Myers-Briggs, 360, FIRO-B) which she used to analyze my leadership style. She said that one of my strengths was my emotional intelligence. I think this comes from my years of working as an addiction professional.

Who is your favorite mentor and why?

My friend Greg Barber. I’ve known Greg since I’ve been 4 years old. His wife used to be my babysitter. His mentoring actually began when I was in the midst of my struggles with my Bipolar Disorder condition. He was always supportive and encouraging. He helped me to believe that I could do more than I thought I could.

What was the hardest thing about starting your company, and what did you do to make it through the first stage?

Starting from scratch. I’ve had great guidance from my business coach, Sabrina Kinckle. She has provided invaluable guidance in growing my business and creating a strategy for success.

What has been the hardest lesson to learn?

After only a little over a year in, I’m still learning a lot. I had to begin with knowing how to establish the business as a DBA and then transitioning to a LLC. I think the hardest lesson to learn, for me, has been that I need to take my time and grow at the right pace to be sustainable. I don’t want to have my dream collapse.

What has been the most amazing thing you have experience while running this company?

Without a doubt, writing my book and creating the Mastermind class. I never had this in my mind when I first started but now it is looking to have a lot of potential.

What is the weirdest thing you have experienced while running this company, and how did you react to it?

Conducting online training can be weird. Just today I was leading a Mental Health First Aid training and one of the participants was taking it in his kitchen. In the middle of the session, a young woman (who I presumed was his daughter) came in to heat up a dish in the microwave. And shortly thereafter she returned to heat something up on the stove. I just kept going like she wasn’t there.

What is the best decision you’ve ever made while running this company?

To hire my business coach. Sabrina has enabled me to properly scale my fee structure and provided me with key strategies to grow.

What is the biggest mistake you made while running this company, and why do you think it happened?

I think I’ve made some unnecessary purchases (fortunately not too costly). I think I was just eager to have the best I could afford and that I was impulsive.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your company?

The pandemic has actually benefited my company. I’ve been able to help individuals and organizations with workshops and trainings to educate about mental health. I can do everything virtually so now I can present to audiences across the country.

What keeps you passionate about your company?

I love what I do. I am passionate about mental health. I love helping people. it what I was born to do.

What daily routine have you developed to help you take care of your mind, body, and soul?

I meditate. I actually started meditating regularly in the summer of 2019 and this practice has enabled me to maintain a sense of balance and wellness, especially with the pandemic.

What one thing would you like people to take away from this interview?

To take a leap of faith and healthy risks. There are no rewards without risk.

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On the podcast, Sean talks with entrepreneurs about the reality of their struggle to succeed, as well as answering questions from the community, and sharing nuggets of wisdom from his own life.

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Sean Weisbrot

Sean Weisbrot

Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.