5 Ways to Ask for What You Want

Contributed article in our professional empowerment series. Enjoy! – Kimberly

During a talk I was explaining the spirit of generosity, the final mindset in my book, The Connector’s Advantage. The idea of giving because you can, because you want to, giving because it feels good to you and without expectation of anything in return.  

My passionate please was interrupted when a woman in the audience loudly grumbled, “I’m tired of giving.” She threw her hands up in the air and continued, “No one ever gives back.” I paused quickly trying to determine why this could be happening to her. Then I questioned, “What have you asked for?” With a look of something between surprise and confusion she thought about it for a moment and then, a bit deflated said, “nothing.”

It is hard to ask for what you want, but you’ll never get it unless you do. I always say, “If you don’t ask, the answer is no. If you do ask, you immediately increase your odds.” We can’t expect others to read our minds and know what we want (and yes, that includes our significant others.) So, let’s talk about how to make ‘the ask’ easy so you can get what you want with the least amount of stress.

First, get clear on your fear. Are you worried you will come off as pushy or annoying? Do you feel guilty that you never did anything for them? Are you worried about jeopardizing the friendship or making them feel uncomfortable?

If any of these sounds familiar, choose a strategy to counter your concern. Below are five pressure-free ‘asks’ that snuff the stress out of these situations for you and the person you are asking the favor of.

The “Opt-Out Ask”
When you make this type of request, you will actually provide the reason why they may say no. You want to make ‘no’ as easy as saying yes. After all, yes feels good and no makes me want to avoid you. By making it easy to say ‘no’ you protect the relationship and leave the door open for a ‘yes’ down the road. For example, “I am interested in learning more about the day-to-day responsibilities of your job and the company you work for. Would you be available for an informational interview?  If you are too swamped with work, though, I understand.”Continue reading

You Can Beat Autoimmune!

We are delighted to host this guest post in support of the wonderful work that Palmer Kippola is doing to help people reclaim their best lives. Enjoy! – Kimberly

I’m Palmer Kippola, certified Functional Medicine Health Coach and I used to have MS.

If you’re plagued with frustrating or debilitating autoimmune symptoms like profound fatigue, aches and pains, numbness and tingling, brain fog, or all of the above you’re not alone. About one in five Americans, or roughly ten percent of the world’s population, suffers from one of the more than 100 autoimmune diseases. It’s estimated that the prevalence and cost of autoimmune disease is greater than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, and it’s one of the top ten causes of death in women under age sixty-four. Long haul COVID may very well be classified as an autoimmune disease too.

Autoimmunity is epidemic today but it doesn’t have to be that way.

While it took me more than two decades of trial and error to finally reverse the MS, and another 5 years to study how that was even possible, it can be far quicker, more straightforward, and less costly to reverse or prevent autoimmune conditions today.

You may be thinking all this sounds a little too good to be true. And who can blame you? You probably haven’t heard many people say, “I used to have MS,” and most likely, your doctor hasn’t mentioned anything beyond the use of prescription medication to “manage” your condition. Although millions of Americans suffer from at least one of the myriad autoimmune disorders, the best the current medical establishment can provide is little more than medications, which may in an ironic twist, trigger additional autoimmune conditions, and even cancer. That’s because most conventional doctors have never learned how to effectively treat chronic disease, like autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes, and dementia.

In other words, what your doctor doesn’t know can hurt you. Thankfully, despite Western medicine’s current limitations, groundbreaking studies in the last decade have given us the science we need to prevent, and yes, even reverse autoimmune disorders.Continue reading

My friend’s 5 year old daughter, Dejanah, published her first short book on Amazon as part of a series. She is so excited about it. Her Mum says “She really worked hard on this and saw this process through, even the publishing part that my husband helped with. So she has asked me to share the news!” Enjoy! – Kimberly

The author describes this as an epic book. It is part of a series, and is only part one. It is about Serena, a superhero, and she is great! More books about her will be coming out that explain her legacy. This is a beautiful book. It is magical, is very mysterious, and it is very funny. It explains a tiny bit of her life. Follow her as she explores the nether, in search of her sister.Continue reading

Becoming a Student of Leadership – Making Leadership a Practice, by Jeffrey Page

If EVER there was a book excerpt MADE for our blog, THIS IS IT! AND Jeff mentions CLUCKSTERS and CHICKENS!! What could be MORE scrappy??!! Enjoy scrappy gal pals! – Kimberly

About the Book

Becoming a Student of Leadership – Making Leadership a Practice is a book about leadership in the broadest sense of the word. It asserts that we all serve as leaders in some way, and we need to become students of leadership to learn how best to lead from our various positions within an organization. As students, we must practice with a drive to continually improve and with the humility to know that we’ll never be finished learning. The most effective leaders spend less time trying to prove what they know and more time creating opportunities for everyone to learn.

The book is written as a series of stories, meditations, and essays about various aspects of leadership including the influence of ego, the importance of humility, the power of radical candor, and the ability to address adversity with generosity and an assumption of positive intent. Many of the pieces present stories about Jeff’s work and life experiences — and often about his mistakes and shortcomings — that led him to revelations about how to become a better leader.

Book Excerpt

Jeff felt the following excerpt of “Becoming a Student of Leadership” might resonate with readers of the “Scrappy Women” blog – and not only because of the word “scrappy” is in the title. As you will see in the excerpt below, Jeff and his wife Lisa admire and applaud the scrappiness of daughter Nicole…

Get Scrappy

When my wife Lisa and I think of our daughter Nicole, there’s one word that usually comes to mind: “Scrappy.”

Describing Nicole as scrappy is an expression of our fondness and admiration for her bold and determined, go-getter attitude. We don’t think of the word’s more quarrelsome connotations. If anything, Nicole is conflict-averse.Continue reading

Meet Chryseis Knight – Possibly the Youngest Child Author

Welcome to this special post! It’s truly my pleasure to feature Chryseis Knight here. She wrote her first book when she was 3. Now THAT is SCRAPPY! Below in the images is the message she wrote to me, transcribed by her dear dad. Enjoy! – Kimberly   

WRITTEN by a 3-year-old . . . “The Great Big Lion“! I got to meet Chryseis virtually last week. She’s AWESOME!

Dear Kimberly, here are my thoughts about writing & why I write books.

Why books?

  1. Because when you read books, they are always exciting. You never get tired of reading them.
  2. Because when you read a book, you cannot stop reading it. When its time to put the book down you feel that was such a wonderful read & get inspired to write books too!
  3. Because when you read books, your mind is opened to another world, full of wizards & witches & fairies, & even pixies!
  4. Because when you read a book you feel like you are all of the characters, you feel sucked into the book & you don’t expect it to end at all!
  5. Because when you read books you finally know which kind of book you like, whether it’s a funny book, a horror book or a fantasy book.

Why I write books?Continue reading

“Age is not important unless you are cheese.”

Helen Hayes

“Age is not important unless you’re cheese.” – Helen Hayes, an American actress whose career is said to have span 80 years.

When I saw her quote for the first time, it made me think of two things:

  1. The really good cheese I enjoy that takes time to age.
  2. The people I know who are doing amazing things and “have aged” according to cultural concepts of aging.

One of those people who stands out to me is someone named Sherry Saterstrom. I met Sherry when I was a college student and she was a dance professor. She has the kind of voice recognizable from across a room. She expresses the energy of what she’s communicating in exclamations and punctuative sound. Similarly, she is nimble and quick, and the most energetic and curious person I have ever met. At the time, she was also almost 70 years of age.

Sherry Saterstrom

While I was at school, I took several of her dance classes, one of them I even took twice just because it meant more time around Sherry. We learned anatomy, physiology, evolution, somatics, dance, and improvisation, and practiced something we now call “Mindful Movement.” As students, we watched and learned as this limber and spritely woman showed us how with an attention to alignment you can be in the middle of lecture and discover you can do a handstand (this literally happened one day while we were in class).

When I think of someone who doesn’t let anything, like expectations around what someone at age 70 should be doing, I think of Sherry. In fact, her more recent jump from teaching into what most people call retirement also took a more unconventional route.

“Graduation”

After spending 30 years (of one year contracts) teaching dance at St. Olaf College, Sherry decided it was time for one great life phase to end. No, she wasn’t retiring. As a St. Olaf alumnus herself, she told everyone, “I’m finally graduating.”

During her time teaching at St. Olaf, she had never gone on sabbatical, so her first year after “graduation” she set aside as “sabbatical.” She gardened, cross country skied, cooked, organized her home office, and probably ate yummy cheese. But she didn’t sit around in the fridge like cheese. In fact, winter, when Minnesota feels the most like a refrigerated world, is when Sherry loves to be outside the most.

This year, she told me she’s looking for a market. She’s ready to start her own venture about mindful moving and fitness.

“This is an idea I had 20 years ago, but when I was thinking about it then, I was 20 years too early!” She says, “Today, even when I go to the Y for my cross fit class I hear the trainers talking about being mindful. Who knows, maybe I’m still wrong and it’s too early, but I think there’s a wider awareness now about what mindfulness is and that makes me look for a market to launch a venture offering new kinds of classes.”

Lessons about Age

Listening to Sherry’s story, I wonder: how did she know this was the idea she wanted to go for? In some ways, it was because it’s something that she has been fascinated by for decades. In other ways, it’s because she has seen other people talking about the concepts she wants to build a business around. Either way, her age has given her the advantage to see her idea in a broader context.

That tells me two things:

  1. We all have potential skills and value to offer already inside us. Like an expensive cheese, we have so much depth and richness that can create value in the world today. Potentially, even greater value the more we age!
  2. Hearing about other people thinking the same thing isn’t a bad signal. In fact, it may be a signal the idea you have is even more worth doing. Timing is critical in launching and getting traction around a business, and knowing your idea resonates with people who may be future customers is a great signal you’re onto something good.

While things are still early for Sherry, what I love about her journey into “retirement” so far is that it’s characterized by a clear intention to throw out the window all the things we think “should” happen as we get older. Instead, she plans to continue to be curious about what’s next. No venture is too big or too small when you set your mind to it and begin to see all the possibility. Who knows, maybe Sherry’s career in dance will eventually rival Helen Hayes’ career in acting. If you’re going to have that much life, what are you going to get up to?

Kirsten Schowalter is the founder of Aging Courageously and the author of the memoir In My Own Skin. Originally posted on Aging Courageously.

How to grow up and live a fulfilling life

When you grow up

You spend your life trying to figure out what you’re going to be when you grow up. Maybe you know from the get-go or maybe, like me, you are just trying to figure out the next step along the journey.

When I was little, I never really had a clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought, “I could be a ballerina, or maybe a teacher, or a doctor, or a secretary.” Every time I picked something, I felt like I was jumping in a category of people and nothing felt just right. What if I started a job when I was 22 and woke up ten, twenty, thirty years later and decided it wasn’t for me? In some ways, I feel like my early career has been dictated by the fear that I will have to choose something and stay with it… for the rest of my life.

That’s intimidating.

When I was 18, my mom (age 48) decided to quit her job and go back to school to become a doctor. Nobody knew how this was going to go.

There was only one school that accepted her, so clearly not many places thought she could do it, right?

How can someone reinvent themselves just like that?

Last year, my friend Aaron lost his job at age 52. He told me, “It’s likely the best years of my career are behind me now, Kirsten.”

When we live to be a 102, how can the best years of our lives be behind us at age 52?

One day while my uncle drove me to the airport, he said he wished he could find work he really loved. “I love antiques, but where are the jobs in antiques? Plus, who would hire a guy in his late fifties anyway? I’m worthless on the job market.”

Do you know the feeling? You have experience, and yet somehow it doesn’t mean anything?

So what’s left for you?

While I was in grad school at UC Berkeley, I studied demography, or population studies. In one class, the professor put up a picture on the screen and said, “The U.S. population is aging. We know it, we can see it, and the only way we are going to be able to survive it is if you go out and make better institutions.”

When I look at these four situations, I think, “There’s got to be a way that we can live that supports us in finding something we care about and can make a living doing, no matter how old we are, no matter what stage in life we are in.”

Now there is.

Whether you’re looking for a new story, sending kids off to school, leaving a long standing career for retirement, or something else entirely, you can reinvent yourself. This is something I believe deeply.

Launched in 2018, Aging Courageously will inspire and strengthen you to make your dreams real at EVERY age. Rather than follow the social momentum of slowing down as you get older, with Aging Courageously it’s never too late to feel engaged and passionate about your life.

Who am I?

I’m Kirsten. I guide people in restoring their sense of self through major life changes.

How did this become my life?

As I said, when I was little, I felt like every time I considered a career for myself I was deciding on something that would stick for the rest of my life. Honestly, being put in a category like that scared me. So, I decided I didn’t have to just do one thing. I researched brain cancer in a genetics laboratory at Mayo Clinic, curated exhibitions at an Austrian ethnographic museum, worked as the head baker in a farm to fork bakery on a fruit orchard, and got a Master’s degree at UC Berkeley where I studied populations and aging. After it all, I was sure there was something more for me.

That something more turned out to be sharing my own story. I wrote a memoir called “In My Own Skin”. It’s memoir about my story of loss, love, and growing up after my dad died when I was 14 and my family was in a car crash. Reflecting on the choices and circumstances that have shaped my life, I want to help you love who you are and make your dreams possible from where you’re standing right now.

Let’s get this started!

That’s why I started Aging Courageously. Because the best way to grow up to a fulfilled life is to believe it’s possible at ANY age.

And that’s why I’m excited to share stories of Aging Courageously with you, my new friends at Scrappy Women. We know what it’s like to create something from nothing – “to take risks and put ourselves out there;” “to care about something more than we care about being comfortable, socially acceptable, or politically correct;” and “to be absolutely, totally committed to extraordinary results.” As we venture on this journey into the world of aging, grab hold of your scrappiness and dive in. Let’s show the world just how far our scrappiness can take us in living long, healthy, and fulfilled lives.

Stay tuned for my next post about my friend Sherry, a 70 year old “graduating” into entrepreneurship.

Kirsten Schowalter is the founder of Aging Courageously and the author of the memoir In My Own Skin.

(In case you’re curious…Above is a picture of my mom speaking at her medical school graduation.)

Young Community Volunteer Makes a Difference with Autistic Children through Music by Nithya Tippireddy


Whenever we would go to India, my mom would take us to her friend’s house. That friend, who was affected with a form of muscular dystrophy, could only move her feet. I remember first visiting her 10 years ago when she was a shy and naive seven-year-old. I hid behind my mom, staring mortified at her distorted features.

Concerned about the resistance I showed towards this friend, my mother encouraged me at fourteen to volunteer at FCSN, a special needs center, hoping to increase my exposure to the disabled community. I recall being nervous my first day, completely unsure how to react when engulfed by meandering kids who were flapping their wrists and incoherently asking my name. Asked one day to help a young autistic girl use the restroom, I stifled my initial horror at this request and led her inside, soon realizing that yelling instructions from outside the stall doesn’t work. Continue reading

Scientist Comedian Finds an Algorithm to Bringing Laughter to the World by Vidushi Somani


I stood in front of hundreds of people, worrying that the microphone would slip out of my sweaty hands. Suddenly, my throat swelled up, and my chest became heavy. I took a moment to reflect on how I’d ended up on this stage. This was different from anything I had done before.

For years, I had entertained my parents with stories from school and accents I picked up. My parents would hang on every word, laughing hard. Then they would invite me to perform in front of their friends. Embarrassed at first, I became more comfortable the more my audience laughed. Soon, I was making up stories on the spot, coming up with new ways to embellish and exaggerate to get people howling with laughter. Almost every week, I’d find a new family to entertain.Continue reading

Complex Systems View at the Emergence of Communication from Cells to Societies

Contributed article in our business series. Enjoy! – Kimberly

The unifying theme of this book is that communication is an underlying fabric of life, as fundamental as matter and energy are to our world and, more importantly, to our understanding of the world.  This book is also a non-exhaustive account of interesting, out of pattern communication and social behaviors that we can observe in animals, or in the biological world; among us, humans, and between us humans and other species.

While we know that communication is fundamental to life, in any form or shape it comes on our planet, the goal of this book is to show that there are aspects of communication that can be universal and transferable from one species to another and that it is what enables collective behavior in social animals and humans. At the same time, there are aspects of communication that are unique to each species or ecosystem, that communication has evolved both alongside the genetic evolution, the social evolution that is characteristic to a subset of living species, and the cultural evolution that is characteristic not only to humans, but also to whales, dolphins, primates, elephants, and many more.

Continue reading