Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with (@getoffthebench ). Kerryn is an international speaker & author, facilitator, podcast host and Social Impact Influencer. With over 40 years of stage experience in multiple arenas, for crowds up to 20,000 people, her uncanny ability to command the stage sees many return requests for her talent.
Kerryn’s award-winning book ‘Magnificent Kids!’ was the catalyst to her founding the global organization One Planet Classrooms, which facilitates projects such as clean water solutions, to schools and communities in Africa.
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Miko Santos [00:00:35] Kerryn Vaughan is an international speaker and an author and a facilitator and podcast host and social impact influencer with over 40 years of stage experience in multiple arenas for crowds of up to twenty thousand people. Her uncanny ability to command the stage seen as many return requests for her talent. Her award-winning book, ‘Magnificent Kids, was the catalyst to her funding the global organization One Planet Classroom, which facilitates projects such as a clean water solution to schools and communities in Africa. And twenty eighteen she launched girls with Hummer’s, which hosted a conference and workshop aimed at empowering women. And in 2019, she released her second book, Get Off the Bench, to help bring ideas to life. You can check her other social, especially the website she won at dot com or on her Facebook get off the bench Australia and of course, on Instagram. Get off the bench.
Miko Santos [00:02:07] Please welcome everyone to the show. Welcome to Tribe podcast under AusPod Syndicate, How are you today?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:02:15] Thank you very much. I’m great today. It’s a beautiful, sunny morning. And that’s what counts, isn’t it? It’s wonderful.
Miko Santos [00:02:22] Yeah, it’s a wonderful day. So can you tell us about you, how it started and what you do?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:02:30] I think going back a fairway. You know, it started I used to be playing the rock-star life, you know, absolutely loving myself, stupid thinking that I was the only person in the world, you know, and then my sister. This was about 20 years ago. My sister got cancer. And so I kind of saw that. I didn’t see the C-word for cancer. I saw the D-word for death. And I spent this five years journey, you know, trying to save her life and completely failed, you know. And back then, I actually thought that maybe I had some power, maybe I could actually save and save her life. So then it sent me on an 11-year journey. Well, I didn’t realize it would be 11 years, but it sent me on a journey to find something bigger than myself, you know, to leave a legacy for her.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:03:15] It led me into the field of disability. I became a specialist in autism and behavior. I was training in schools. People were saying to me, fix these kids. And so I ended up being a little bit miffed by that. So I wrote the book Magnificent Kids, and which was about 23 superheroes all under the age of 18 doing world-changing projects. And I thought to myself, man, I’m 50. And if these kids are under 18 and they’re doing all this, I need to pull my finger out and I need to do a lot more. So the book was a great achievement.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:03:47] Then when I had my book launch, a guy in Africa saw a photo and he was a friend of a friend and he said, wow, I’d like one of those books. I sent it over. Did he say, could we Skype and make a magnificent class? I said, yes, but may I jump in? I’m the sort of person that jumps in all my feet and arms and head and head in the mud straight in. So I said, why don’t we do a Skype project and kids in Australia can Skype with kids in Africa in school anyway. So we went into that process and I tried to send laptops. That was a nightmare. You just can’t send laptops into Africa. I did get twenty-eighteen. But stupidly and I want to talk about this bit because this is where I think people need to accept failure. I sent laptops into a country where 95 percent of them this is into Uganda don’t even have power.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:04:37] So that was stupid and it was impossible to get it in the mean. But also the kids in Africa were in bed when the kids in Australia were in school. So this project was never going to work. And I jumped in on this great idea and set up this business called One Planet Classrooms. And I didn’t even know how to set up a not for profit. I just set it up as a business, came to tax time and I realized I had four thousand dollars of donations sitting in the bank. And I thought, oh, shit, I’m going to get taxed with this, you know? So then I learned quickly how to set up a not for profit. But what I noticed is that it failed. It absolutely failed because it couldn’t go ahead. But I had two options because in that space of a few months. Well, yeah, for a few months, six months maybe. I had 45 schools in Africa registered for this program now. So damned keen, you know, to start with schools in Australia. And so but what I realized what I’d learned from talking to them is that kids were dying. You know, little girls were going to collect water, you know, kilometers away carrying those big jerrycans.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:05:43] And they were being sexually assaulted and raped and sometimes killed, you know, little girls getting water. And the solution was to put water tanks in the schools, you know, so that they could there’s no shortage of rain in Uganda, but there’s a shortage of infrastructure. So I just flipped it. I decided, well, why don’t know that I’ve got Connexions with all these people and I don’t have to go through the government, I know I can just go straight to them. I’m going to put water tanks in and water wells so we do what wells? Water tanks. So we put solar systems in schools so kids can stay back and study. We’ve got women’s empowerment projects going on. We’ve bought blocks of land, rebuild a school. We sponsor 120 kids.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:06:22] So that’s that part of it. And then in twenty eighteen, I was on stage at an International Women’s Day event. I didn’t need to speak, but now I’m a speaker. I can’t help myself. And I jumped in again and I said, I will launch a purposeful, female focussed initiative. I got down off the stage and thought, Oh, shit, now what am I going to do? So that was where I launched Girls with Hammers with my partner. And we do conferences for women and retreats and online events. And then in 2014, I was speaking at a conference and the guy running it said to me, can you run a workshop on how to get projects started? And I said, Why are you asking me? I don’t know how to get the project started. He just looked at me like, Are you kidding me?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:07:06] Anyway, so I did the workshop, I said to everybody, I’ll go home and do a PDF with some more information and send it to you. So I came home and started the PDF and it ended up a book. So there was get off the bench and wow. And that’s about it. So that’s about where I launched I launched the Get Off the Bench podcast last year, 2020. So that’s a long story. Very short.
Miko Santos [00:07:31] Thank you so much for that. That’s yeah. It’s more concise. Yeah. So you said you were living like a rock star when you’re starting up. What is a piece of advice that you received that kind of stuck on your mind for being an entrepreneur?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:07:51] I think I don’t remember who said it and I don’t remember exactly what was said. But I remember hearing something about choosing your life, you know, and you being the master of your destiny, you know, and you creating your life and living on your terms and having the flexibility that you want and not be controlled by somebody else. Now, I don’t remember who said that, but I do remember the feeling of that and thinking I want that. I definitely want that. So I think that’s the thing that’s driven me the most.
Miko Santos [00:08:22] So you said you 2018 you co-founded Girls with Hummer’s. Can you elaborate that for our audience, to our listener who is wanted to start their own business as woman entrepreneurs?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:08:40] Yeah. So we just I just came home originally. I thought it would be to go into schools and to challenge, you know, maybe 14, 15-year-olds on stereotyping and not to sexualize themselves. I really wanted girls to be able to just do whatever they want to be and be who and who they want to be and not have to feel they have to, you know, to fit into some kind of stereotype. I did a couple of schools and it just didn’t seem to work. You know, the girls just were like, yeah, you know, I still want to do my thing.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:09:13] And I didn’t really grab it. And then we realized that our audience was middle-aged women, you know. Forty-five to 60 kinds of women felt disconnected. And so what we started doing them as we said, well, how can we pivot, how can we serve these women? And then we said, let’s do a conference and let’s get speakers and let’s just see what happens. And I think this is something that people need to be okay with. Is starting Messe starting in the wrong place, you know, refining as you go. So we had our first conference in 2008 and it was fantastic. And 150 women and it was just wonderful.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:09:51] So then we said, okay, well, we’ll do this every year. So we did last year, 2014, 2020. We couldn’t do it because of the because of covid. So what we did was switched it to online events. So we have an on the couch and we have it every month where women can just join on zoom in. We have a guest speaker. So that’s our thing at the moment. We’ve got retreats planned, but we can’t do them either until covid goes away or we can travel again. But I think the thing is you’ve just got to start.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:10:22] And even if you have an idea, I always say this would get off the bench. You have an idea and have a vision and you head towards that vision. And that vision is like goalposts and it can move, you know, it can always move, but you’ve got to go somewhere. You’ve got to have a direction to follow and. Yeah, and just refine it as you go so people are scared to stop. And I think we’ve got to stop being scared to start.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:10:46] And what if I fail? You know, the fact is that we thought we’d get off the bench as five reasons why people don’t start. I won’t elaborate on these because I know you can put them in another video. But self-doubt, imposter syndrome, not knowing where to start, overwhelmed by the big picture, and fear of rejection, failure, criticism.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:11:06] And if you look at all of those things, they’re all things that are in your head. You know, they’re so nobody’s out there saying to you, I’m going to stand here and block you and you absolutely cannot do that thing. It’s all of us that are stopping it. And you know what? Entrepreneurs have many, many, many businesses that fail, and some fail, some succeed. And I think that we have to move past that. What if I fail? We have to move past it and we have to give it a go. And people talk about you. They’re only talking about you for two minutes and then until the next big thing comes along. So don’t even worry about it. So that’s my thoughts on that.
Miko Santos [00:11:42] Do you think there’s still a gender gap in these entrepreneurs’ space? And what do you think is the solution for this? If they have?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:11:55] I think that there is definitely still a gap. And, you know, when you think about applying for jobs, if men have got 60 percent of the criteria, they just throw their hat in the ring and they can. Well, who cares what, women won’t apply for a job until they got 95 percent, you know, the criteria said the same thing happens within the entrepreneurial space. You know, women women won’t start until they feel like they’ve got all their ducks in a row.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:12:20] You never get your ducks in a row. So you might as well just start. But I think that the solution to that is, one, just giving it a go, but surrounding yourself by a group of women who support, you know, being part of a group on a Facebook group or being part of a networking group or just having a group of friends who support you. The problem with women is that I always go to their mom or their sisters or their best friend and they say, oh, I don’t want you to get hurt. You know what? If you’ve got a good job, just keep your job. And I think we have to look beyond those people. And unless they’re supportive, but look beyond them and find a group that really, really lifts us up. And, you know, so we feel supported by makes no difference whether they’re there or not, because it’s your action that’s going to be the thing that does it. But I think women have to be surrounded by support and they just have to give it give it a go.
Miko Santos [00:13:13] Do you think we need a mentor or a mentorship when you’re starting up a business?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:13:17] I do. And I didn’t have it. And I have resisted mentorship for a long time. I’ve only just started last year getting mentors and I realised that I had many gaps that I couldn’t see. And I think that mentors will help you to see the gaps that you simply can’t see yourself. And now it’s just that person in your corner, that person that says, come on, get back up when you don’t want to get up and they help you to see things that you just because you get so overwhelmed when you’re trying to set up a business and there’s somebody who says, okay, stop, let’s sort this mess out, let’s put it all on the table and let’s go through it. And then you can once you do that, you can see that I was worrying about so many things I didn’t need to. So, yes, I do. I think that and I also think it’s good for entrepreneurs to be mentors. I think that’s a way of giving back. And I think it’s it actually helps you to grow as an entrepreneur yourself if you’re helping somebody else in their journey.
Miko Santos [00:14:13] All right. So I might need one. I don’t have many things to do. So I think I need one because I don’t have any mentors. I just do it myself. So maybe I have got that. I don’t know. So that’s a question I have. What do you think is the challenges if you want to start a business as being an entrepreneur, especially now during a pandemic?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:14:44] I think that we have a false sense that and I and I struggle with it. You know, I have to keep talking myself out of it. I think that we feel that because there’s an economic collapse, you know, that we think it’s bigger than it is. And we think that there’s no room for us. You know, people out there don’t have money or that kind of stuff. But that’s not true. It’s just a story that was built up in her head.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:15:05] So I think that its people are believing that it’s a hard space now, you know, to get into. But right now, a lot of women have coaching entrepreneurial business, you know, businesses. And so many women out there now need an entrepreneur, don’t need a coach, you know, a life coach or healing and that sort of stuff. People are looking for it. So there’s actually a lot of spices out there at the moment if you just going to put it out there.
Miko Santos [00:15:33] All right. Let’s talk about get off the bench. OK, so you started get off the bench as a book in twenty nineteen. And now in 2020, you turned this book into a podcast. Can you give us an overview of your podcast, the get off the Bench and why did you start your podcast?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:15:55] I was doing a podcast with another guy in 2019, but he was in Tasmania. I’m in Victoria and it was just with the logistics hard. And so I wanted to do my own podcast, but I didn’t know really what what I wanted to do. But get off the bench is it’s to inspire people to take action. It’s too so what I do is I bring on guests that have gotten off the bench, you know, that have backed themselves and pushed through challenges to have their own journey and their own to create some project.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:16:27] And my hope is that it will inspire other people to think, oh, I’m just like her, you know, I’ve had these challenges or I’m just like him and maybe I can do it, you know, and then I get the guests to give them a bit of advice. What would you do and all that. They all said the same thing. Just stop. Just take the first step. But with the podcast, I wanted to launch it. And just so that people know that, you know, I don’t just like we we’re all got struggles.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:16:54] So I wanted to launch it in 2019. And, you know, I started to get it ready. And then my sister had a cardiac arrest and. She did survive, but that sort of threw me right off, I thought, well, I just can’t be out there, you know, Yahoo! And go and look at the look at this. Come on, everyone, get off the bench while there’s such a trauma going on in the background. And then we had the fires, we had the Gippsland bushfires. We lost one billion animals as a lot of people would know. I’m an animal rights advocate.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:17:28] I like animals more than people, actually. So it actually crushed me and it was something that I just couldn’t cope with. And I got really angry, upset. You know, I lost the plot. I just couldn’t manage anymore. And my partner said you’ve got to do something with this anger. You need to channel it. You know, I get that you’re hurting because of the animals, but you just have to put it into something constructive so that animals can be saved, you know, through your advocacy. And I thought about it more and I thought with the podcast isn’t about that, you know. So then I delayed the podcast, but then I thought, no, if I put get on get off the bench out there, it’s going to inspire people to take action, to make a better world.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:18:09] And as a by-product of making a better world, you know, the environment is going to be better. Animals are going to be better. Humanity’s going to be better. So I thought this is it’s actually my I have a moral obligation to put this podcast out there. And then we got covid and then everybody was locked in. And then I thought, oh, now I can’t do it again. How am I going to tell people to get off the bench when we’re all in lockdown? You know? So I had another struggle. But by April, I just said, that’s it. No more no more struggles. It’s going out there. It can land on people it needs to land on. And it cannot land on people it doesn’t.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:18:44] And there still are people out there who want to do something different because of this pandemic. And I’m putting it out there. So I just did. And I’m so glad, so glad I did. But in that story, I want people to understand that there’s always the to ing and fro ing. Nothing’s ever going to be right, that there’s no perfect time. It just got to follow your heart. You just have to follow your heart.
Miko Santos [00:19:06] So what is your biggest impact it has on you and on your business by doing this?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:19:13] Yes, I think that it gets me work, you know, gets me speaking engagements. People say I listen to a podcast. You know, I’d like you to come and talk about it. It sounds so it does get me speaking jobs. It gets it helps me to get workshops as well. But I don’t know categorically, because only some people say to me, you know, I heard you on the podcast and I’d like to get you here so further than me, though I hope and I can’t measure this, but I hope the impact is that I’m contributing to a better world. I hope that people are going away either feeling stronger, that they can start something or that they’re reflecting on how they contribute to the world as a whole. So that’s the impact that I hope on making, more so than what it brings me.
Miko Santos [00:20:03] Do you think is podcasting is a good addition as part of their business if they want to have brand awareness?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:20:13] Yeah, I do. I really do. Because you’ve become known for that person. You become known for that thing. You know, it’s you’re the go-to person for that. And sometimes we think, oh, there’s already somebody doing that. You know, there’s already somebody doing that type of thing. But nobody’s got your voice. And I think that you know, we can put ourselves on websites and we can put pictures of ourselves up everywhere and people can see what we look like.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:20:39] But people resonate with how we sound like. Did you know, I like the way she said, my voice is very unique. And right now I’ve got a cold and it’s a little bit deeper, nastier than normal. But some people are going to hate my voice and think, oh, I do not want to work with her. You know, I don’t resonate with that voice. And other people are going to say she’s so down to earth, I just want to work with it, you know? So I think that I think having our voice out there is a great way for people to really know who we are. I think that’s really important.
Miko Santos [00:21:08] What is your favorite book that you would recommend to people who are starting out ?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:21:27] Maybe the seven habits of highly successful people. You know, that’s that’s how or whatever it is highly influential. I can’t remember what it is. The Seven Habits. I think there’s a lot in that that’s quite good. But to be honest with you, I’ve written two books, but I’m not a reader. I don’t read many books at all. And I listen more to podcasts, you know, to get information. And I wish I could give you a better answer, but I can’t. I’m just not a good reader.
Miko Santos [00:21:55] All right. So you say podcast. So what is your favorite podcast that you listen to?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:22:02] I kind of listen all over the place, but. One of the ones I do listen to is Cathy Heller ‘Don’t keep your day job’. I really like that one. And because there’s a lot of good guests on there that just inspire me, that make me think, yeah, I can do that. Yeah, that’s a great idea. I could do that. She’s probably my favorite, but there’s a lot of there’s a lot of I kind of dabble back and forth in there used to be one-two women in England called Ownit. They’re not running it anymore. It is still up there. And I love that it was just chatter, but it was a lot of gold nuggets. So, yeah. And now I’m listening on the clubhouse, you know, I’m listening to a lot of the rooms on the clubhouse and not a lot just when whenever I can even if a title grabs me, I go and listen in there and I always get a nugget, a gold nugget. So yeah.
Miko Santos [00:22:53] So that’s good. So do you have any final advice, anything else you want to share with our audience?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:23:06] Look, it’s just the same as I always say, just have a go, you know, start me, see if there’s something that you want to do. Give it a go because and you can start small.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:23:17] You know, I always call it when we were walking, you know, you can have one foot in your job and one foot in your in you’re stuck in your side hustle, you know, take Fridays off and just start doing it on Fridays or one day a week or start doing a few hours away, start doing that thing because, you know, honestly, I don’t want to be morbid, but one day we’re going to die.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:23:35] And you don’t want to be on your deathbed saying, why didn’t I give that a go? Just give it a go. And the thing is, we don’t have all the answers. We don’t know-how. Well, I just might work out what the work at your idea, work at your vision so that you know where you think you’re headed, even if that changes allow for flexibility.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:23:55] But take that first step, but that paper down and step on the damn thing, you know, and the next one will appear when it will appear, you know, because once you’ve taken that step, it’s like, oh, now what do I need to do? Oh, that’s what I need to do. And then the next one, oh, that’s what I need to do.
Kerryn Vaugham [00:24:13] The best advice. Just give it a go. If it fails, who cares what’s failure anyway? Failure is just feedback. Just who cares. Start again. You start in a different way, you know, that’s like just go please just go. Because the world needs you and you’ve got a moral obligation. If you’ve got something, the world needs it. You should do it. The world needs you.
Miko Santos [00:24:37] That’s it. Thank you so much for that. So if our audience, our listeners, and who’s watching you on YouTube or Facebook, how they can contact you?
Kerryn Vaugham [00:24:48] Yeah, they can contact me through my website, so there are contact forms on there www. kerrynvaughan.com, Facebook get off the bench and Instagram get off the bench. So and also LinkedIn. Just KarrynVaughan. I’d love to connect with anybody who’s listening and. Yeah, please. And you can hit me up for a virtual coffee on my website. So hit that button and let’s have a chat.
[00:25:21] Thank you so much for your time and thank you to all our listeners and And of course. See you next week for another episode of Tribe Podcast under Auspod Syndicate. This podcast brought to you by Kanagaroofern Media Lab Pty LTD, a podcast management service. If you are looking at getting started on a podcast or you already have a podcast, it wanted to manage it. Just call them or book them at www.kangaroofern.com Thank you. See you next week.