Katie Zepperi is a social entrepreneur, radio panelist, motivational speaker, author of the GIRL TALK book and the founder of Make Your Mark. She is passionate about empowering youth, using business as a tool for bettering the world, and creating events that inspire.
“We sometimes feel like what we’re doing is only a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less without that drop”
The first thing I noticed about Katie was her enthusiasm. Her smile lit up the room and her voice was animated with so much emotion and passion for girl empowerment. When I attended her workshop at the National Strong Girls, Strong World Conference in the end of 2016, I was mesmerized by how confident she was in her vision and herself. It’s easy to place people on pedestals but in reality, everyone has their struggles and their own process of how they went about overcoming or dealing with those struggles.
After graduating from university, she wanted to do something that would make an impact because she knew that she was given a gift of speaking and writing. Knowing that she was here in this world for a purpose was the foundation with which she took her leap of faith to start took makeyourmark and to tackle the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Some of the hardest but also rewarding things she realized was that her venture rose and fell depending on her motivation and the amount of work she put in. She also realized that her attitude towards what she was building directly influenced the results of her work.
Originally, a big obstacle for her was answering the question: How can I make my ideas happen? Having so many ideas and not knowing where to start especially coming out of university was difficult. Being in high school and then university, she felt on top of the world but she felt unprepared as she entered the real world.
Eventually, she took that first step in taking action and she hosted a camp. This camp was the first thing for her business and she spent a lot of time marketing her camp. Printing posters, making pamphlets, and getting the word out in her community. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the engagement she thought she would. In fact, only one girl signed up for her camp. Though the outcomes didn’t align with what she had expected, she decided to hold on her dream that the camp would still be able to continue. She cast away thoughts of not being able to break even and did her best to reach out to friends and family who would be interested in enrolling their girls at this camp. Luckily, in the end she had five campers come out to the summer camp. The camp was a moment of failure for her because she had expectations of thirty people signing up. But she did realize that if she never did the camp, she would have never had the encouragement and motivation to do future things. Personally, I am so fortunate that Katie ended up doing the camp because it catalyzed her Girl Talk movement and to date, Katie speaks to thousands of girls with her organization GirlTalk, and holds annual conferences for thousands of girls in Toronto.
In hindsight, she truly believes that starting small helps with growth. “If you never start, there’s nothing to grow from.” Progress depends on taking that first step and like Confucious once said “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” Whether it’s an idea you have, or a relationship you’re working on, or recovering from an addition, illness or grief, just starting out with the smallest steps is monumental because it takes courage.
Katie ended up questioning herself a lot. Am I doing the right thing or did I make the right choice? What if I’m throwing away other opportunities by pursuing this entrepreneurship lifestyle? But she learned a lot from people in her life especially her family and mentors who believed in her. She found people who believed in her and they gave her strength during tough times of doubt. She also is a person of faith and intuition and she tells me “I don’t know what I’m going to do or how I’m going to do it, but I know I’m going to do something and it’s going to be great.” That is a mantra she lives by and I think it epitomizes who Katie is as a person. She doesn’t always have it figured out but she has faith that things will work out. For instance, though her camp was a failure, she took it as a learning experience because she held onto the belief system that things were going to work out.
Towards the end of the interview, Katie left wonderful pieces of advice on the process of overcoming challenges within her life. Here they are in the most clear and concise form possible:
Great things take a lot of time: nothing is an overnight success so don’t get frustrated with yourself on how long whatever you’re doing is taking.
The act of doing the good is enough in itself. “I tried my best to be kind to the people around me and that I tried making a difference…I can feel good about that at least with that intention if things don’t work out”
Everyone struggles this includes people that seem like they have it all together.
Ask yourself: Are my actions in line with who I want to be and what I want to contribute; Can I feel confident and happy with myself?
Repeat this often: I may not be there yet but I know I will get there
The people you meet is the most important. “The greatest legacy you will leave behind will depend on the relationships you have and how they remember you.”
“We sometimes we feel like what we’re doing is a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less without that drop.” Never doubt your significance in this world. You are gold, remember that.
Thank you Katie so much for your optimism. It makes the world a brighter and greater place. You’re an amazing role model and I am eternally grateful for your advice always.