Chris: Hey, Total Freedom Podcasters! Chris Duncan here, and today I’m with a new friend and I feel like we’ve connected already. It’s taken 20 minutes for us to get started because we’ve just been sitting and talking like old friends. Nancy Klensch is the founder—I guess the creator and innovator of Summit Kids, which is an amazing company out in Canada. Nancy, I just want to welcome you from my heart to being on the show. So welcome.
Nancy: Thank you, Chris. It’s great to be here.
Chris: It is, and we were talking off recording so much we had to say pause, let’s get started, because we were talking about one thing that I think is so important, and it’s possibly going to end up being name of this episode, which is; “Don’t complain about the world; create the world you want.” I want to start off right there, right where we were, and say; why is that so important to you?
Nancy: It’s so important. I mean, that’s the ultimate definition of freedom, isn’t it? It’s creating the world that we want to live in, and that’s just a great place to be, and it’s a great compass to use. I never intended to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t even know I was an entrepreneur. What I did know is what I wanted my life to feel like. I didn’t have these goals that were monetary or anything like that, and people would say to me, “What do you want?” and I’d say, “I don’t know, but I just I know what I want my life to feel like”, and so if I use that as my compass, I’m always going to be heading in the right direction for me, and by default I end up creating a world that I want to live in, so that just becomes the path and whatever that looks like.
Chris: There’s so much in what you’ve just said, and I don’t think that you quite understand how much there is in that, because it’s phenomenal. I say that by what I want it to feel like. And I’m going to circle back around to that statement, because I want to give us a nice introduction of who you are, but that is such an important thing. It’s so critical, and so I’m falling in love with this conversation so much already.
Chris: Let’s hone in on that you didn’t intend to be an entrepreneur and talk about your story, because you now run a successful, multiple seven figure business, and it’s doing great things, and changing the world. You’re kind of living the dream of what a lot of people listening to this show see for themselves. So would you do us the pleasure of hearing your journey from being in the corporate world to creating what you have now?
Nancy: Yeah, for sure. It actually even started further back than that. At the age of 30, I essentially started over again. I went through a crazy divorce and I was alone with my son, so I was now a single parent and he was just a baby at the time, and he was really the vehicle that created this momentum for me. So of course I need to go to work. I’m a single parent. I don’t have the luxury of staying home.
Nancy: I started searching for childcare, and I kept running into these awful environments, and these environments that were just quote unquote good enough, and it just really didn’t sit well with me. I found a great day home for a while, and then as he gets older, the childcare environments change as your kids get older, which I didn’t realize either, and I really got pissed off. I’m the pissed off entrepreneur, and I really said, “You know what? This is not okay.” These environments that have no consideration for the child, which sounds like a contradiction because you’d think by the name on the sign on the outside would indicate that there was some level of compassion, and I didn’t find that, and I didn’t find any respect for the family as a whole, and as a parent, what you wanted for your child.
Nancy: There was not one person that, when I went in there, said, “What do you want for him? What do you want this environment to be like?” It was, “This is what we have. Take it or leave it.”
Nancy: So that’s where the change came in, and I thought I don’t like this. I don’t like this world. This doesn’t feel good to me, and I thought, what would it take for me to do this? Seems kind of easy, and I think that’s probably where a lot of entrepreneurs start, where they say, “Wow! That seems easy,” and it’s not, and then I think that’s also where a lot of entrepreneurs decide not to follow through with this dream of theirs, because it’s never as easy as the Entrepreneur for Dummies book makes of it to be.
Nancy: But I went back to how I wanted my life to feel like, and how I wanted my parenting to feel like. I wasn’t a victim. I wasn’t a product of my place in life. Being a single mom was not a bad thing, and having to go to work and put my child in childcare wasn’t a bad thing, or it shouldn’t have been a bad thing. I just did it, one day I just did it. I said, “Okay, this is it”, and I quit my job, and actually quit my job about four months before I actually even opened our doors or saw any revenues. So failure was not an option. I was blissfully ignorant. If I even had any notion of how awful it could’ve gone for me, I probably wouldn’t have done it.
Nancy: So there’s something to be said about just having blind faith and just having that compass of wanting your life to feel a certain way, and wanting that world that you live in to look a certain way, and then all of the obstacles decrease. They become these bumps in the road, but they’re nothing that [can] stop you.
Chris: I love it, and you’ve said it so many times, being guided by feeling. It’s an incredible, incredible story. The odds against any business working and getting to where you are are against it, but then having the child as a single mom without business experience, this is fantastic.
Chris: I want to just hone in on one thing, which is so many people say start something about what you’re passionate about where we want to go. But here, we’re talking about something that just pissed you off. It was something you were passionate about what you didn’t want, right? And then fell into what you want. Do you think that that was a massive part of your success, that there was so much emotion around, “I just don’t want this”?
Nancy Yeah, I think so, and it’s funny, I didn’t even have a business plan. Now, actually, seven years later, I’m going back and I’m putting all those proper business elements back in, because I was just able to barrel ahead absolutely based on I know what I don’t want. And by default it opened what happened wide open. Because I think what happens is when we zero in on exactly what we want, sure we can get it, but we don’t also get any extras either, right? Because we’re just focused on that one thing.
Nancy: When you focus on what you don’t want, the floodgate opens for all of these good things to happen. And then you think, “Wow! That was even more than I expected it to be,” and actually it becomes this self-fulfilling prophecy where it’s, “Wow! Life could be even better than I thought it was.” I just wanted my life to feel good, but now it feels great. Who knew that could happen? Or that’s a great byproduct of just not wanting this situation that sucks. So it’s a great place.
Chris: That’s huge! That’s huge.
Chris: There are so many people talking about go and find your passion. We could nearly do a course right now; “don’t find your passion, find out what you’re pissed off about!”
Nancy: Yeah, and it’s funny because it actually hits you on a different level, and I hear it all the time, “Well, I don’t really know what I want to do,” and it’s this, and everybody’s searching, right? Searching for that big ticket item.
Nancy: When you’re pissed off, it hits you in a different place, and it really hits you in a place of action, because you don’t like it, right? You want to change that. We can float around in this sea of maybe this, maybe that, and kind of this and kind of that. Be influenced by what other people feel is important, but nobody else can tell you what’s going to piss you off. When you reach into that deep feeling of, “Damn, I don’t like that,” there’s nobody that can tell you that. They can say, “Chris, you know what? You’re crazy. How did you think this was going to work?” And you’re going to say, “I knew it was going to work, because I needed it to change.”
Nancy: When we start having these ideas of just maybe, kind of, sort of, then that’s actually the businesses that we build, right? Maybe, kind of, sort of.
Chris: Here’s what’s beautiful, and I love you for this, is you didn’t just get pissed off and go and moan and complain about it, and this is what we were talking about before, and I think now’s the right time to bring it out. You did something about it. I’m sitting in January 2017 as we record this, and I’m in the United States, and there’s some interesting stuff happening in politics that are there, and I just see this wave of complaint, and then there’s people that are out there actually acting and doing things, and so…
Chris: How come you had so much courage, to be able to go out there and actually do something? Because it is interesting, most people don’t. What was different?
Nancy: I don’t know! Failure—it just was not an option. I think by default when we take away our safety nets, and maybe that’s where we are a bit—as a world, you know, we like all of these safety nets, and when we don’t have that safety net, then we feel it’s not safe to move forward. For me, it meant there was no going back. I come from very humble beginnings, so there’s no money in my family. There was no; gee if this doesn’t work, I’m just going to call my dad and he’ll just write a check and bail me out. This was it. So you make yourself be the real deal. So, yeah, I don’t know.
Nancy: So I’m all about living out on the edge, right? We’ve got the most to risk, but the most to gain as well. And then that’s where change happens, right? I mean we don’t change anything sitting in the middle. That’s where mediocrity lives. If you want to be pissed off, piss off! I’ve never seen anyone get pissed off at so-so. Anybody who made a difference in the world has never said, “Well, I kind of had to make a difference,” right? Kind of wanted to make change. It just doesn’t happen there. It happens at the edge, where there is no safety net.
Chris: The comfort zone is one of the worst things we can get into, even though we do want to feel good, but feeling complaisant and comfortable can really-
Chris: Gosh, this is deep, but I want to ask it to you anyway. You said that you were being guided by feeling, and one thing that I find after interviewing so many people is, people who have actually been able to achieve what they set out to, is this one thing that you just said. So often, the people that are struggling, they feel less than, and they don’t get guided by their feelings, they just get guided by, you get to kind of have to …
Chris: What did you mean when you said guided by your feeling or you were guided by what feels good in your life? Could you elaborate on that? I know it’s tough.
Nancy: That’s a tough one. I think I’ve been blessed by bad circumstance. Can we say that? Where you walk out of a situation and you think, damn, that is not happening again, and I don’t want to feel like that again, so those start to blueprint in you to say … Maybe there’s probably some science around that that probably says that we veer away from that in the future, when it starts to feel like that, that we go, “Whoa, we’ve been here before”, right? It’s touching that hot element, you only do it once before you … You check it out before you put your hand back on it.
Nancy: I think for me a lot of it was my son. I’ll give him a lot of the credit. I think a lot of times when we think of ourselves, that’s where we can get caught in that victim mode. Or even in putting up with too much. I probably should’ve walked away on a lot of bad circumstances in my life long before I did. I’m a slow learner there, I think. I didn’t want that for my son.
Chris: Right: Tell us about your son, and tell us about the business that you started, because I think that that’s important right now.
Nancy: Yeah. I started Summit Kids, and Summit Kids is a before-and-after school program. My son was in a program like this, and this was the year that it all happened for me. I went in and there’s broken toys and he’s playing in the corner. Nobody’s paying attention. There’s some 19-year-old kid quote unquote watching the kids, and she’s on her cell phone, and I thought, wow, environment is so important, and when we talk about environment, it’s where people thrive, and this was not an environment where these children were thriving. This was just running the clock out until the parents show up, and I thought; my son is worth more than that.
Nancy: I needed him to be around great people doing great things, and this just wasn’t it, and this was actually standard operating for childcare environments, and the kids are older, they’re school age, so there tends to be a less nurturing environment. There are no kids crying and no needing to rock them to sleep and things like that. These are older kids, and so they’re pretty self-sufficient.
Nancy: It just didn’t sit right with me. Really I’ve been trying to build great environments for him ever since. By default, we have 800 kids that benefit from my need to have my child in a great environment. So now, I’m an advocate for these children and for these parents that just didn’t know they could ask for better, and I created this environment and my whole criteria was, what do I want that environment to look like? What do I want that environment to feel like? What type of people do I want him to be around? What type of experiences do I want him to have?
Nancy: When I started writing it out, it was all doable. He’s 14 now, he’s in junior high, but still every day at Summit Kids, I use that as my decision making process; would I want this environment for my son? These kids are so willing and capable, and they’re wanting to learn. They actually, if you leave them to their own devices, there’s more than you think that they would do. We actually had our kindergarten class a couple of years ago working on grade three science, and somebody said, “Well, that’s wrong!” And I said, “They actually, the kids drove the program. They came in every day and said, ‘We want to do more.” And so we just let them run with it, and by the end of the year, these five-year-olds were doing grade three science.
Nancy: I think we’re really not giving kids the credit that they need. So I facilitate that. I’m that vehicle. I’m that intersection between home and school. There’s a lot of things now that they don’t get from school environments, and that could be another topic, that’s another topic I could go on about, and there’s a lot of things that they can’t get from their parents, and parents are, their resources are tight, whether it’s time or money or whatever it is. So if we can be that third place for the kids, then we can provide something really great, and there are no limitations.
Chris: Your viewpoint is funny. You say the third place, because I was going to bring up Starbucks. You say the third place, which was obviously their intention.
Chris: Here’s what I see, entrepreneurs who are listening—is Nancy was pissed off, saw a problem, saw a place that could create immense value, but this is what I love is you literally just created something for you, and there’s this unconscious thing that happened which was like, “Well if I want it, other people must want it.” And this is one of the easiest places to build businesses, is build the thing that you wish was there, or create the thing that you would like to use, because it sounds to me, and tell me if I’m wrong, that you would be or are, if it was somebody else creating it, the number one advocate of this thing. You kind of built it for yourself.
Nancy: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that’s it. That’s that piece of that world that I want to live in. We know that we spend more time at work than we do at any other aspect of our lives, so why wouldn’t I want that piece of my life to be one of the most rewarding things that I do?
Nancy: It’s really an extension of me. There’s lots of people that have come into our environment that then they say, “Oh, yeah, I clearly Nancy designed this space or Nancy’s designed the programming,” because it really is an extension of me. I don’t even need to be there and you can feel that my presence is there. I’m not sure how my staff feel about that.
Nancy: I might be an ominous presence. No, I’m just kidding. I have a great team.
Chris: I bet you do! Just, scaled to the size that you have, team and systems and technologies—so I bet you do.
Chris: I’ve got two questions I ask everybody that comes on this show, and I think its such important questions to understand, after all the experience, where you are now, what you would do. Very easy. Here’s the first one.
Chris: If right now you lost it all, and you lost your business, you lost all the connections you’ve made, it’s just you and your family, and you’re tasked with the question of building a business or starting again. How would you do it?
Nancy: How would I do it? I’d probably do it in a very similar way. The beauty is you can’t unknow something. There is no actually starting back at square one again, because by default I know what I know. I’ve made a number of mistakes. I’ve had a number of opportunities. So right off the bat, I’m starting halfway through.
Nancy: I think that i would use the same guiding principles. I would say, “Okay. Here. Maybe I’m in a different phase in my life and, you know, and the situation looks different, but what do I want it to feel like? What do I want that next, that next piece of my evolution to look like?” And just start designing that. I don’t know maybe it will be another thing that would piss me off. There’s a lot of things, and you’re right, there’s a lot of things right now going on in the world that we could say, “Damn, if I could just change that.” Well, I don’t know, then go and change that. And that’s a great place to start.
Chris: It’s an amazing place to start, and I wish that everyone listening hears that, because I see a lot of people that are annoyed and pissed off at things, and then I see this amazing person I’m talking to today, who wasn’t just annoyed, that actually started it.
Chris: So here’s the second part to the question. If today you got to fly back in time to when you first started, so back to 2008 or 2009, and you have a minute or two minutes to give yourself advice, what advice would you give yourself right back at the beginning?
Nancy: Two pieces of advice. One, run your own race. I’ve never been caught in what anybody else is doing, and every once in a while, I have some of my teammates that are going, “What about this and what about that and what’s going on out there?” Like I say, I was so blissfully ignorant when I started … And keep running your own race. People will say it’s not going to work. People will say you are crazy. I think we have a small dose of crazy in us just wanting to get out into the world and change stuff that pisses us off, and that’s fine.
Nancy: And probably the big thing is also, success and accomplishments are different. And I don’t really think I need the difference between them. Even in conversation, we use the terms interchangeably all the time. You can have all sorts of accomplishments. You can win awards, and you can get all sorts of accolades, and you can still wake up in the morning and not feel like you’re being successful. So those are two different things, and really not to be confused by them. I don’t think there’s a wrong answer. You want to chase accomplishments, great. If you want to chase success, great. Just understand that they will feel different, because they’re not the same thing.
Chris: I love how guided you are by what feels right. That’s really important to me and I really appreciate that, because having that guiding internal force, I don’t think you can ever go wrong, and even sometimes when you’re going into things that are tough, if it felt right to go into it, you kind of needed to do it. Like I said, it’s cool.
Chris: So what’s next for you? What’s the vision for the future for you and your business?
Nancy: Oh, the future for us. We’re really excited. We’re launching a series of daycares, which is something I said I’d never do. I said, “No. That’s okay. I don’t need to do that.” But the more that I’m involved in this industry, the more I’ve become an advocate for children that we serve, and the more that I work with different schools and see how the school systems work. I just, by default, take on another chunk of it because, again, it’s that piece where I go that just doesn’t sit right.
Nancy: One of the big things for us is we are partnering with an extended care facility, which is a seniors home. I don’t know if we say seniors anymore, because sometimes that extended care facility could be 55 and up, so by no means what we would consider a senior citizen. What we will be doing is we will be launching our daycares within those environments, and so what that is going to create is this whole multi-generational community where our little guys get to interact with the extended care residents.
Nancy: It fits on so many different levels. We’ve got little guys who their grandparents are halfway around the world, and so they don’t have that figure in their lives. We also have these residents in these facilities that don’t really have access to children anymore. The one facility that we’re going into has a dementia unit, so by default these people don’t get out, they don’t get out, they don’t get to experience other people, and so we are building this really great program to connect these groups together.
Nancy: Because at the end of the day, humans need humans. We know that. We know that we die without human contact. If we’re building environments for both children and people at the other end of their lives, we still need to make that human piece such an important part. And there’s just a million things that we’re going to do with that. We’ve just been hammering out the initial agreement and partnership, but this for us it really does create a whole new world literally.
Chris: It’s amazing. I feel so moved that you’re doing that. I think that one of my biggest blessings in my life is I did get to hang out with my grandparents. I believe that in most of the Asian world, that the parents are out working and the grandparents are actually the ones to raise the children, because they have the time, and the parents can then get out and work, and it’s like we’ve missed that a little bit in the Western world. So I love that.
Chris: We’ll talk off air a little bit more about that, but thank you so much for being on here today!
Nancy: Thank you so much. This has been exciting.
Chris: I’m just looking at my page here and out of everything you gave everyone permission. That’s how I feel today is that today you got permission to be guided by your feelings. If you’re pissed off by something, then make something better. Be guided by that and don’t be a victim. Go out. Failure is not an option. Run your own race. Focus on success.
Chris: And something that was unsaid but was there, was a complete focus on service. You are a servant entrepreneur to the highest degree, and that’s exciting, and so I am inspired just being here listening to you. You’re amazing. Thank you for being here.
Nancy: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Chris: And I guess there’s only one other real question is people that want to reach out and connect, maybe they like what you’re doing, they’re in a different part of the world, they think they could—is there an email or is there a place they can go to if they want to reach out and touch base with you? Or visit Facebook? What’s—
Nancy: Yeah. Our website is summitkids.ca, not .com, .ca. We’re in Canada. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Yeah, would love to hear from any of the listeners and let people know what we’re doing, and there’s so much more change to happen out there, and yeah, everyone officially has permission to be pissed off.
Chris: This is the Total Freedom Podcast. My name is Christopher Duncan, and this is Nancy Klensch, and it was so good to have you here. You have permission to be pissed off today. Live with total freedom. Free your mind. Free your time. Free your life. And do what matters most. And don’t let that pissed off thing stay in your reality. Have a great day.
Chris: It’s so funny. Let me just turn off the recording.