Kendal's Podcast

Ep. 14 – The Leader Within: Become The Leader You Were Born To Be

Hey, it’s Kendal Netmaker coming to you live from the studio, and today we’re gonna be talking about the leader within how to become the person that you were born to be, not what someone expects you to be. You see, as a kid, I grew up on this place called Sweetgrass, first Nation Saskatchewan, and we were taught certain values that really impacted our future. You see, one of the main teaching points that we were told as children was that each and every one of us had gifts. And if we use these gifts and combine with a healthy lifestyle and a purpose-driven path, we can become successful in whatever field that we choose to live in. So in the next hour, I wanna be sharing with you these important values that I wanna be given to you so they can help impact your life and help you to become the person that you were born to be that leader within yourself, it only takes one person to change another person’s life, to change an entire organization, to change the world, but it starts within you.

Yes, you the person who’s listening to this audio program, you see, as a child, when I was being raised, I didn’t realize the values that I was being taught at a young age. My very first memory as a kid was growing up in this place called Big River First Nation. And in this community we were being raised by my mother, my father and I have three younger sisters. And my earliest memory was getting dropped off. It was a hot summer day and I was at the end of my driveway getting off after school on the bus. Suddenly I had noticed that there was a pickup truck I had never seen before, parked right in front of my dad’s house, I could see from a distance my mother was frantically going inside and outside the house, grabbing garbage bags, boxes, throwing in the back of the pickup truck.

When I got closer and closer and closer to the house and I could see my sisters now getting in the back seat of the pickup truck, my sister Kendra, my sister Farrah, my sister Maisha, who is just the infant getting in the back of the pickup truck. And when I finally got to the house, I asked my mother this simple question. I said, Hey mom, what are you doing? And she said, Hey Kendal , go inside. Pack up your bags. We’re gonna be going somewhere. For a while, I was about five years old when this was all taking place. I had no idea what was going on. But in this moment as a kid, all I was thinking about was, we must be going to the city. We must be going somewhere amazing. And the key moment in this conversation was, I always want to go to a place called, you know, as a kid, Walmart was a place where you went for toys, for treats and so on.

I was like, yes, we’re gonna go to Walmart. I jumped in the backseat and all I had in my possessions was a little Ninja Turtles backpack. I put all my Ninja Turtles toys, put ’em in the back of the pickup truck, jumped in the backseat, and we were off to the city. Little did I know that this would be the last time I’d be living in that house. You see, when we got to this city, we stayed in these places that looked like hotel rooms, but they weren’t necessarily hotel rooms. You see, when we got in them, we would stay in these places for one, two nights, go to a different place, one two nights for a week, a different place to different city, everywhere from Prince Albert, north Alford, Saskatoon bounced around these places. And when I became a young man, I asked my mother, I said, Hey mom, what were those hotel rooms we used to stay at as kids?

And she said, hold on a second. She paused me. She said, those weren’t hotel rooms that you’re staying in. Those were women’s shelters for single mothers who had no place to go with their children, the emergency shelters for single mothers. And at five years old, I didn’t realize that we were homeless. You see, for the next several weeks to to several months, we are bounced around these women’s shelters and we had no place to call home. Here’s the teaching point. In this moment, in this moment, the leader of our family, the leader, our mother, my mother’s name is Inez, my mother decided one day that she was going to sacrifice for her children. You see, in every organization, every person who’s in the leadership position, they have to make decisions. And most often times it’s a sacrifice for the rest of the team, the rest of the organization to keep moving forward in a healthy way.

My mother had to make this decision one day. She said one day she was gonna separate from my father because it was an unhealthy relationship because her children, her team members were more important and the success journey of them was more important than staying at, you know, satisfying her own needs once and so on. But that decision would deeply impact the person who I would become and my sisters would become. Because that decision of sacrifice allowed us to, to have a better chance of succeeding in this thing that we call life. Right after, in those moments, I remember the next memory I was, we were in those shelters. My mother got on the payphone. Do you remember one of those, the payphone? Well, my mother was on the phone with my grandma and in our language, we call her Grandma kokum. And my kokum one day was talking to my mother on the phone and she was asking how the kids were doing myself and my three sisters.

So my mom opened up to my grandma and explained that we had no place to go. We were basically living in these shelters. And my grandma was one of those people that had a deep, loving character about herself. She was always super forgiving and and most of you who are listening to this right now can understand or know someone like this. So what she did was she took us into her place. But the thing was, she lived two hours away in this place called Sweetgrass First Nation. So we packed up our belongings again and we headed for Sweetgrass First Nation. I remember like yesterday, the very first day we get into this house, you see my mother was the leader of our family. My kokum was the leader of the entire family that Umbrellaed my mother, her siblings and so on. So when I got to Sweetgrass First Nation, I walked into her house.

She lived on top of a little hill of one bedroom house. And when we got there, I was amazed because not only was I able to learn from my kokum who barely spoke a word of English, but I was able to learn some values that she would teach me. And the very first day we got into her house, I remember like yesterday we walked into the house. She had her own room, so we had no choice but to sleep in the living room. So at the end of her living room, she had this long narrow couch. My mother slept on there with my baby sister, who was an infant. I slept right beside her on the floor. My sister Kendra, my sister Farrah, and my baby sister Mauritius was an infant with my mom. So that’s what we called home for the next two months, listening to and learning from my kokum who would teach his values.

And one of the things that my kokum would teach me was to forgive people, to respect other people, especially people who don’t have your best interest in mind. You see, in life and in business and organizations, there’s gonna be times when you’re going through your daily life and maybe someone’s gossiping about you or maybe someone is, is talking nonsense behind your back, spreading gossip and so on, and being maybe a bully to you. I don’t know. But what I’m saying is in those moments, she taught me something. She told me how to forgive people. I learned this by just watching how she did to other people. You see there be times when people would come into the home and maybe they would say something disrespectful. She would let it bounce off her shoulder and she would continue on with her day. You see, that was the power of forgiving.

And as I would become a young man, I would keep looking at and watching my cook him and how she would handle her daily life. And how many times in particular she forgave people, she would let things go. You see, I think that’s the true lesson that we need to take outta this point here, is that sometimes in our life there’s gonna be things that are gonna come and hit us, obstacles, problems. And if we dwell in those, it’s very hard to see the light outside that tunnel. But if we learn to forgive other people and if we learn to move on, that’s where the true power comes within us. You see that leader within us is born through those problems, those challenges, those obstacles. And if we notice one thing that those problems are just opportunities in disguise, you see it’s in those problems where sometimes things are showing us a way or making us stronger, shaping us for what’s to come in the future.

And that’s what my grandma was teaching me as a young age, living with her in that one bedroom house, in a crowded house on the floor and so on. Within a few months we finally got this call. You see in most first Nations communities, it’s very difficult to get housing. So we just happened to get a house not far from a curriculum’s house because my mother’s cousin was moving out of it and he offered it to my mother and my sisters. So I remember like yesterday, we get to this house, a two bedroom house, not far from the curriculum’s house and walking in the front door. I remember like yesterday, I was like, wow, we get our own yard. Wow, I can play soccer out here. I can do, you know, maybe play some volleyball and so on. I get inside the house and I was like, wow, there’s two bedrooms here.

Who’s gonna get the room? My mother says, son, there’s your room right there. I was like, wow. I get my own room. I was so pumped up and I threw my Ninja Turtles backpack there and I walk in, I threw it there and then I said, okay mom, where’s Kendra? Farrah And Marisha gonna sleep. She’s like, around this corner, this other room. I was like, wow, okay, well where are you gonna sleep? I’ll be okay. She says, pointing to the couch in our living room. I’ll sleep right here. It’s okay. You see this word of sacrifice is so prominent in the way I was raised and the people coming from First Nations background, it’s ingrained in everything through ceremony, through way of life. Without sacrifice, there is no fruits to come in the future. It’s hard to really appreciate what’s to come if you don’t go through those sacrifices.

So at a young age, I was watching my mother, the leader sacrifice for her children so we can have an opportunity to succeed going through this. I remember watching like yesterday, from grade one to grade two, watch my mother frantically being able to raise us living on this thing called social assistance welfare. You see, in our community, again, we never had, you know, economic development, no active jobs. There’s no entrepreneurs that I can even relate to. We were living in this cycle of poverty where it became normalized to us. So every single day was a struggle to, to keep food on the table, to make sure everything was was, you know, was, was, was healthy. Everything from even our drinking water. I remember like yesterday, like every week we would have to not drink our water because it would turn brown things like this that, you know, people in the cities wouldn’t have to worry about.

We were facing every single day. So growing up through this, we were being programmed to rely on all these different things through the cycle of poverty. So when I became a young man, I was like, wow, I can’t believe this is, I was conditioned in this way of life. You see, in order to become the leader that you were born to be, you must understand everything that shaped the person that you are up into this present moment. Everything from forgiving your past to taking responsibility from whatever’s happened in the past so you can move forward in a healthy way. And I didn’t realize until I became a young man how programmed I was to rely on everything from social assistance, the welfare. You see, our reality was to rely on everyone else for help. But my mother one day made a decision for all of us that she was gonna take matters into her own hands.

Everything from sacrificing relationships. One of the things that she would do as a kid, my grandmother became an older lady when she was becoming very hard to walk and she ended up in a wheelchair. My mother took it upon herself to now become the caregiver to my grandma. So now I watch my mother not only sacrifice time with us, but sacrifice times with her friends and so on to go and watch and look after my kokum upon the last years of her lifespan. You see, my mother would do this for a long time and I was just so, I was in awe of how much she put other people before herself. And I was being raised in this environment, watching this stuff from grade one, grade two, grade three comes around and my mother one day says, in order for you to keep going forward in a healthy way, I’m gonna put you in a different school.

And I didn’t know what that meant because everything that I knew was in the reserve. The first nations community of Sweetgrass. So in grade three, my mother puts me in this bus and I get shipped off to this place called Cut knife. Cut knife. Elementary school. A farm community is maybe five, 600 people in this community. I remember like yesterday getting off the bus and I had to now make some new friends, like most of you can relate in a situation where you get off somewhere, you walk into a room and you’re terrified ’cause you don’t know anyone. Well, this is the very first time I felt that. And it was also very awkward because I felt like I was different, right? I had an accent. I, I had darker skin. I came out from a First Nations community. I didn’t understand what anyone was talking about.

They talked about farming. I didn’t know what a farm was like, all these different terms I had to learn. So one of the things that I would do is that very first day I get off the bus, I started to listen to what they were talking about at recess. And one of the things that they would talk about was farming, right? The inventions that they were doing, the the cultivating, the seeding, the how much rain they get last night and so on. Like this is their everyday language. So on the fourth day at recess, I took it upon myself to go try and make some friends. And I remember walking up to these kids at recess and I started asking them crazy questions that I thought was crazy ’cause I didn’t know what they were talking about. How much rain you get. Last night guys, I started asking these kind of crazy questions.

You know, how their crops were doing. I had no idea what I was talking about that this is what they talked about. You see the teaching point here is in order to keep moving forward, you have to adapt to different situations. You have to be able to adapt to different environments. The most successful businesses, the most successful companies are there because they’ve learned to adapt every situation, every obstacle put in their path. They don’t just stay the same. The people who stay the same are on a downward spiral. And you know that because you could see all the companies that are no longer here in the 21st century in modern technology because they have failed to do one thing, keep up with the times and looking at different ways to adapt, to innovate so they can keep moving forward and keep up with the competition.

You see, as a kid, this is what I was trying to do. I was just trying to make some friends and I learned this the hard because I remember going up to these kids, some of them didn’t wanna play with me, but there were some that did because I made the opportunity to try to adapt to them. I took it upon myself to go and talk to these kids. I started playing soccer at recess from grade three, grade four, grade five. Suddenly I had all these friends that I was able to play with. Some even invited me to their homes. I remember like yesterday, there was a kid who had this beautiful home and I remember his mom made this amazing breakfast. Like I felt like I was in a movie and like things like that, people were inviting me and I was guess I was, I was using what they knew and making a commonality and were able to use both of our gifts.

And at that time it was soccer and that’s how we made friends. How many times in your organization have you failed to do the same thing where maybe you have some commonalities with the person in the same lunchroom as you, but you failed to make that connection? Here’s how this connection paid dividends for myself. Grade five comes around, I’m playing soccer. I become best friends with this kid from South Africa. His name is Johann. Johann and me became best friends every day we’re playing soccer. One day after school, my bus just pulls up, my bus pulls up and suddenly right when I’m gonna get on the bus, he asks me a simple question. He says, Hey Kendal , why aren’t you playing soccer with us after school? Pointing to a group of friends, right? When I was gonna get on the bus, I turned around and I said, I was having this conversation in the back of my mind.

Should I open up? Should I open up right? This inner conversation I decided to open up. So I said, Johann, you see this bus that just pulled up? This is my only ride to and from my first nations community back home. We have no vehicle. Okay, we’re living on welfare. He had no idea what that even was. And I had to explain to him that we are living in a cycle of poverty where every day we were just trying to, you know, we are living to the 20th day of the month where it was child tax day where we’d get her a little bit of money to buy some food, some groceries. And in between that and the welfare date, we would have to find a way to continue that flow of cash coming through so we couldn’t be able to pay for more groceries and so on.

And in that time, I opened up more to him. I said, you know, in between that time I would have to pawn my bike, my, my Super Nintendo at the time, just to be able to have groceries and to live. And he didn’t understand this. And he ended up turning around, walking away, going on his bus after a while, going back home, telling his parents the very next day we go back at school at recess and he says, Hey Kendal , I told my parents what you told me. And I was like, oh my goodness, why would you tell your parents right? My best friend just, I just opened up to you. But he is like, no, no, no Kendal , we want to help you out. From that moment forward, this family paid for my registration fees to play soccer. They gave me a ride to and from my community and they gave me this opportunity to use my gift so I can keep moving forward.

You see, they saw a kid that was hungry, that wanted to keep moving forward in a healthy way. They saw a kid that wanted to use his gift. How many times in your organization, your business, whatever’s that you’re doing right now, are you using your gift? If you’re leading people, are they using their gift in a way that’s gonna propel everything forward? You see, I believe that true fulfillment is you being able to use your gift the way that you are meant to and not trying to be like some other person that expects you to do something and just because someone else is good at it. No, no, no, you want to use your gift. That to me is true fulfillment, true purpose. And if you combine your gift with a career, with a job, with a business, whatever you feel like you’re meant to do, that is where true fulfillment lies.

So grade five, this family gave me that first opportunity. I remember like yesterday too, the, they used to drive me to the soccer practices and then on the weekends I’d go to their house and everyone has a role model or a mentor figure. See, in grade five, I had met my first role model, my first mentor and his name was Johann Sr. Johann Junior’s dad. And I would watch him because he would wake up at the break of dawn and he’d be doing laps around the lake, doing marathons. He’d come back, he’d be studying, looking after his kids. And I was like, wow, this guy is so driven. I was like, I can’t believe how hard of a worker he is. And I would just watch him do this. Like every time, every weekend I would go with her and the things that he would do to me as his teammate, if you will, he would say things like this, Hey Kendal , good job today.

Hey Kendal , I like the way you’re dressed to the young man. Hey Kendal , great job doing this, this and that. Today, giving me seeds of encouragement, hope. Because you see the people that we’re working with every single day, the people that we’re meeting with. If you’re with people consistently, you wanna do things like this for them, you wanna uplift them with kind words. ’cause here’s the key teaching point. We don’t know what people are going through at home after work and so on. So if we can be the catalyst that gives them hope, gives them these key confidence boosters while we’re working with them, we can watch things improve. We can watch work environments improve. I know this because when I started my own companies, I started to do this with my staff and I watched the work ethic improve the morale and so on.

The culture shifted and it was all because the leader decided that they was gonna take this initiative upon himself to impact and to uplift the people around them. And that’s what you wanna do with whatever’s that you’re, you’re feeling right now. Whatever work environment that you’re in, if you’re starting a business, if you’re leading people do the same thing. I guarantee you it’s gonna pay dividends for yourself in the future. By the time I was in grade seven, Johan and his family had to move away to this place called Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. So I’m thinking, what’s gonna happen to my ride to play soccer? I’m terrified and Johan and his family are moving away. I’m like, oh my goodness, I’m not gonna play soccer again. Right before they left Johan’s family, his parents gave my mother a gift. They gave us a 1986 Ford Crown, Victoria, burgundy red.

It was sitting in their driveway. They saw a family in need that wanted to keep moving forward in a healthy way. You see, the reason I truly believe that why they gave us this vehicle was because my mother was sacrificing and they saw the sacrifices that she made for her children. They gave it to her so that we continue to play sports, being involved in afterschool activities and so on. That’s how one family changed my whole life in the beginning, gave me an opportunity. Now my question to you is, where are those moments in your life where you can help people to uplift one another, to change the people around you? Whether it’s strangers, whether it’s a coworker, whether it’s a family member, whether it’s your own children, so on. There’s always people that need your help. And yes, you, the leader within yourself has the opportunity to create that for yourself.

If you are doing that for other people, guess what? There’s gonna be times when people are giving you opportunities in disguise. There’s gonna be times when people will think of you for an opportunity because of that thing that you did for them in the past or maybe the times where you forgave another person. That vehicle allowed us to take part in more sports, become involved in afterschool activities. By the time I was in grade nine, I, my mother said, Hey, it’s up to you if you want to stay at cut knife or you want to go to different school. Grade 10. I said, I want to go to different school. Why? Because I wanted to play more sports. I was becoming more of an athlete. And I remember like yesterday, again, I go to this place called North Battleford, Saskatchewan, John Paul Two Collegiate. I want to play more sports.

I go to the local community bulletin board. What are the tryouts happening tonight? I could see that there’s volleyball. I show up five o’clock for the volleyball tryout and I walk into the gym. And have you ever walked into a place and you wanted to walk back out, but it’s too late? Well, that happened to me that day. You see, I walk into this place, I had no confidence in myself. I’m a shy kid. And I walk in there, I’m thinking, what did I get myself into? ’cause all these kids are, are screaming at the top of their lungs. I got it, I got it. Mine, mine, mine. Ball, ball, ball. And here’s this shy little kid, super skinny kid walking into the gym trying out for this volleyball team for the first time. And I was terrified. And I remember going through the motions over two the next two hours, just trying out for this team.

And the leader, the coach, the mentor, his name was Doug. He could see that I was struggling. He could see that I had a gift, but he could also see that I wasn’t given everything. I had two hours pass. And I remember grabbing my backpack, I put it on, I was like, I’m getting outta here. I could see the exit sign. I make a beeline for the exit sign. And when I get my hand on that handle, he pulls me aside. He’s like, Hey Kendal , come here. I wanna talk to you for a second. So he pulls me aside where no one else can hear us. And this is what he said, Kendal , I really liked what I had seen today. I see a lot of potential in you. Keyword potential. You might not get a lot of playing time this year, but I want you to stay on my team.

I see a lot of potential in you. It was those words that changed my life. You see, growing up, I didn’t really have my father to really say these kind of words to me. So here is another man aside from Johann’s dad that said, I see potential in you. Powerful words. This changed my whole life. This mentor, this role model, this leader said, I see potential in you. You see, you don’t know what people are going through When the buses leave school, when five o’clock hits at the workplace and so on. We don’t know what people are going through. So you can uplift people with your words. And that person today changed my life. Guess what? I stayed on his team grade 10, just like you said, I didn’t play a lot. Played just, you know, I went through the motions trying it out. Grade 11, I started playing more grade 12 as a team captain.

He changed my life. This guy, I was more vocal. I got more confidence because this man saw something within myself that I could barely see. Yet outside of my outer world. After grade 12, the last two months before school, Doug, our coach, would take it upon himself to say things like, Hey Kendal , have you thought about what you’re gonna do after grade 12? Hey Kendal , I could see you becoming a teacher at the school one day. Hey Kendal , I could see you becoming a coach one day, planting seeds of hope, encouragement, future possibilities. We need to do this more in the people that we’re working with in our organizations, our businesses, planting seeds of where they are right now, to who they can become so that they can become the person that they were born to be. That’s what Doug was doing to me. So I took his advice, I sent this letter off to the university.

I get a letter back a few weeks later, and guess what? I got my first rejection letter. And it wasn’t a good feeling. I remember telling Doug, he’s like, Hey Kendal , don’t worry, you’re a hard worker. Things will work out for you. So I remember at school, I get this phone call on this, pay this thing on the payphone. And this guy called Trent calls me on this payphone. He’s like, Hey Kendal , I’ve been watching you play. I would love for you to come play college for us in this place called Keyano College. And I said, hold on a second, Trent, I never even got into university. How can I get into your college? He’s like, Hey Kendal , you only need a 60 to get into this college. Do you have that? I gave him a nod I was in. So I moved away from Sweetgrass First Nation and I went to go play college in Alberta, can college for two years, learning everything, learning from my coaches and so on.

But after two years of coming back home, I realized that I could barely keep up with this sport because the impact it had on my knees was really starting to affect me. I could barely walk up the stairs without holding the handrail. That’s how much this sport affected me. So after those two years, I applied to university and guess what happened? I got into the open arts and science program. I was so pumped up, but it wasn’t the original program I had wanted to get into. I wanted to become a teacher. That’s what I felt I was gonna become. So I was sitting there, north Battleford, at a local salvage yard working a summer job. And I saw this email come through my inbox and I said, I wanna call this number because it says the education program is coming to the city near you.

I was like, wow, there’s a number right there. I was battling my inner conversation of making a phone call or not Have that ever happened to you? This happened to me at this moment. You see, I was battling this inner conversation of negativity. Finally, I said, I’m gonna pick up my Samsung flip phone and I’m gonna call this number. So I called the number and the other line said, Hey, this is Orest how can I help you? And me being a really shy kid, super low confidence, I used to stutter. I used to have the really fast voice tempo. I said hello, my name is Kendal , Netmaker. I applied to program in after grade 12. Never got into program. I lost myself. He’s like, hold on a second, slow down. And he started asking me questions. I said, hello, my name is Candle Netmaker.

I applied to your program. Never got in. What do I have to do? Get in your program. So after a few minutes of talking, five minutes later I started talking about my story. Guess what happened? It was that story that got me in University. Now, the reason I tell you that is because so many times we’re working with people, we’re working right beside people and we’re only working with them because of a paycheck, because of, you know, we’re required to work with this person. But how many times have we stopped ourselves from growing or from really appreciating the people around us? Because we don’t take the time to understand their story. Something that they have to overcome to get into that position that they’re in. I’ve noticed this because I’ve done workshops, I’ve done seminars across the country and I’ve done a simple exercise.

If you’re leading people, try this one thing. Put ’em in small groups of four to six people, spread them out and get every single person, just tell an obstacle story, something that they have to overcome. Start right there and give every person opportunity to share that story to the whole group. And after that story is done, you get every single person to say, I like your story because, and everyone goes around that circle saying, I like this because, so now the person that shared this vulnerable story is getting uplifted by the people around them. And what happens is once they go back to their normal workplaces, everyone starts to build more togetherness in this environment. I’ve seen it. It’s amazing. So take that challenge, apply it to your life and business and watch what happened. It’s amazing. So in 2007, I moved to Saskatoon Saskatchewan going to the University of Saskatchewan, hoping to become a teacher.

And I wanted to still play some volleyball on this site. So me and a bunch of buddies from everywhere, from Dylan to Pelican Arrows and Sturgeon Lake and so on, we decided to form this volleyball team. And we went to our very first tournament and my buddy Justin said, don’t worry about the name, I’ll take care of the name, I’ll get his jerseys. And so on. I just showed up and I put this jersey on and people started laughing. I was like, why are people laughing? Justin? And I could look down and it said the word moose meat on it. I was like, oh my goodness. Who’s gonna take us serious wearing moose meat jerseys? And we get to the line and everyone starts laughing. ’cause now they can see the back of our jerseys. And I look back, I can notice that everyone has a moose nickname, moose knuckle, moose lips, moose ears, moose, everything.

And people are laughing at us. It’s like, oh my goodness, people are gonna take us. Not seriously. But guess what happened? We started winning tournaments and people started asking us, Hey, if you had a moose meat shirt, I would totally buy that from you. So guess what happened? A light bulb idea went off and I was like, Hmm, here’s an opportunity to not only make more money for the company, but to actually try something that might work. ’cause I had no idea about anything about business. I had to learn everything from scratch. So guess what happened? We launched this company called Moose Meat Apparel, started selling T-shirts, hoodies. And I remember going to my first competition and I started talking about, you know how we’re gonna create this company called Moose Meat. We started winning money from a competition and I started selling from my, from my backpack on campus at different events.

Eight months into it, we just got featured on a national global mail and it said, moose meat apparel gives back through sport. Right after that, we got the Saskatchewan Student Entrepreneur of the Year award and everything changed. I get this letter in the mail, the letter says, I can no longer use the word moose meat because it infringes on a similar trademark. I was like, oh my goodness, I have to close it down. So guess what happened? I closed it down. I sold everything out. I felt like an epic failure. I, I felt awful. I went through a mild depression. I didn’t wanna talk to anybody. And during this time I was talking to my buddy Neil on Facebook and Neil says, Hey Kendal , just change the name. I was like, what do you mean change it to neechie or neechie gear? I was like, interesting.

Where does neechie come from? neechie is a slang form of friend in our language. I was like, interesting. So it’s like friend gear. He’s like, yes. Well, I had nothing else to lose. So I changed the name. I incorporated the brandand I started to sell at conferences events. I entered more competitions. Business planning competitions, had no idea what I was doing. So I’d find people who knew what they were doing, I would take ’em out for a coffee, pick their brains and ask them questions about writing a successful business plan. I show up to these competitions because I have to be required to do a business pitch. Terrified of the stage. I was terrified of public speaking, but I showed up anyway and I did my pitch. And out of all those competitions, there was one thing that separated us from every single person there.

Guess what it was? We were the only one to tell a story. That story was the key ingredient to having a successful pitch, to having a successful business later on. Because without those winnings or those business competitions, we wouldn’t have been able to start Neechie gear. I took all the winnings from those competitions, about 16,000 initially to start this business. And eventually we, our biggest competition we won is 20 grand in the US and we took everything and we kept growing this company. We took it all from a one bedroom apartment to a little office to a little kiosk, to all these different stores in different cities. And then people wanted to wholesale. So we started to wholesaler brand to different companies, different retailers who would resell our brand. Then we opened up an online store, distributed around the world and so on. So, so much stuff was happening.

And during this time, I am a solo, I am the only person running everything and I have all these dozens of staff, different stores, and if someone’s not showing up in this city, I have to go and fill in for that person. And I was like this hamster in the wheel, going as fast as I could, as fast as I could. And what happens after a while, if you’re going fast as you can, you have no one else to rely on, you start to burn out. And that’s what happened to me in 2015. I found out the hard way that I can’t keep this up, you know? And I made a decision one day that I was going to start speaking more because it was in this moment where people started to ask me to go and do presentations for high schools, for local events and so on.

And all I wanted do was to show up and do my story so I can sell my T-shirts. That’s how I got into the speaking business. So, so much stuff was happening and, and aside from all this, I’m raising a family. My girl’s not even one years old, my son’s now about four years old. My wife’s the teacher, and life is just busy. It’s so hectic. And I’m like, oh my goodness, I need to start making more decisions. So it impacts the people around me more positively. So it was in that moment, I just said I was gonna make things simpler. I’m gonna simplify things for myself, my family, and my business. Question is for you, are you making those right decisions for yourself to simplify the things around your organization, your business, and so on, so you can make your life easier for yourself?

You see, so oftentimes people start these projects with these big ideas and they get themselves in a problem where they have a hard time getting themselves out of it because they’ve taken on too many things. That’s what happened to me. So my challenge to you is try to make things simple for yourself so you can have time for your family, for your health, for your wellbeing. So you can perform a hundred percent whenever it is needed from you. The very first thing you’re gonna have to do in your life when you hit a certain point in your life, you’re gonna have to make a decision and that decision is going to define your future. And that decision for me in that moment was to become a speaker and start building a speaker business. So I made a decision, I was gonna start doing that. So I started working on the speaker businesses and I started to speak at every event that I could speak at and so on.

And I, you know, I just wanted to speak. So I would go and I would learn. I remember my very first presentation, I get up to this stage. They said, Kendal , you have two minutes to speak. And it was a old school. The stairs going up to the stage, looked like they were gonna fall apart. And I was terrified of them. And the whole time I’m thinking, I hope I don’t trip on those stairs. I hope I don’t trip on those stairs. I hope I don’t trip on those stairs. So they call me up, Kendal , Netmaker come on up to do your presentation. Guess what happens? I tripped on the stairs. It wasn’t just a trip. I fell all the way down the stairs, okay? It was embarrassing. People are laughing at me. I get up to the stage, I dust myself off, I pull out these notes ’cause I didn’t know how to speak yet and had a speech written down.

And I get up to the mic and all you can hear was rustling, like literally rustling on that microphone. It was embarrassing. And that was my first presentation. And I was like thinking, oh my gosh, what did I get myself into? I’m trying to become a speaker, I’m a failure and so on. Like we, we all have that negative voice that we, we resort to sometimes. But the more you work on yourself and throw yourself out there, get yourself uncomfortable, volunteer yourself, the more confidence you get in your abilities. Because most people don’t take that initiative to make themselves uncomfortable so that they can grow. The only way to successfully grow in any organization, whatever path that you’re on, is to fail a bunch of times until you find what works for you, not what works for other people, but works for you. That’s the key ingredient right there.

So how do you know that you’ve made the right decision? Here is a tip that I wanna share with you. You see, when I made a decision that I was gonna speak, that I was gonna get into business, I didn’t know what or how to do it, but I knew that I wanted to do it. Why? Because it was an obsessive feeling within myself that told me that I wanted to keep doing this. And I felt like I had a purpose feeling when I was doing it. It felt purposeful. I was purpose driven. And if you have a project, an idea, something in your workplace that makes you feel purposeful, that makes you obsessed every time you do it, that is what you should be focusing on. Not something that bores you to death where you don’t, every time you do it, you don’t even want to come to work, right?

That’s, that’s not being purposeful. So that’s how you know, once you make that decision, it’s an obsessive feeling. Three simple things that will help you once you make this decision, okay? Number one, you must be around the right people once you make this decision because you’re gonna find right away who’s gonna support you and who’s not gonna have your best interest in mind. When I made a decision I was gonna follow this path, when I was gonna grow, when I was gonna become the person that I was born to be, that leader within myself, I noticed that there was some people who didn’t have my best interests in mind. And when I started to get more public about it and I started to grow and I started to sell my stuff, I started to get on these stages. I noticed that there were people that I used to hang around with that stopped coming around, that stopped encouraging me.

In fact, there was even people that would discourage me from what I was doing because they thought it was kind of crazy. I stayed away from those people, you see? And I started to keep the people around me, especially my immediate family members that really supported me. And I kept them really close by. And I started to reach out for help from mentors that people that would help guide me. And guess what? All it takes is for you to go and ask for help. You’d be surprised how many people would reach out and give you their time to try help you succeed. Why? Because the more you help other people succeed, the more you’ll succeed. When you give, you get, okay? So that’s what was happening at this time. And you’re gonna go through that in your own journey, your own leadership journey to help develop yourself.

So one of the things that I would do is I would go into these small groups called Masterminds of other People Driven individuals, and we would meet on a consistent basis, talk about the things that we are struggling with in your groups, your organizations, your inner circles. Try to create those same kind of environments that will help and collectively solve problems together. Because it’s so easy to be stuck on a problem as an individual for a long time, but sometimes all it takes is to talk with someone or a small group that you trust about the problem that you’re going through right now. And you’d be surprised where that solution might come from. Whether from the person across the room for you or the person right beside you. Every single time I’ve had an obstacle, I’ve had to reach out to someone like that. And it’s always helped me to solve this problem so I can keep moving forward in a healthy way with my life and business.

So once you find those people that are the right fit, those people that are supportive of you, those right people, those mentors, and so on, the next thing you’re gonna have to do is start reaching out to find those right information. So will help fuel your mind to get there faster. You see, one of the things that I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to grow the speaking business. I didn’t know how to grow in the retail business. So I found information, I attended trade shows, I attended seminars. I went as far as paying for coaching and consulting. I remember paying to go and see Damon John at the Empire State Building in 2014, I believe, and picking his brain for an hour to how I actually grow my apparel business. That’s how hungry I was. I was driven, I was obsessed.

I wanted to grow this thing. And when I became a speaker, I started to reach out to people that were in the speaking industry. I started to buy their books, take their online courses, go to their events. And to date, I have three coaches at this present moment helping me everywhere from, from, from life coaching to to to business, coaching my, my my coaching business, my speaking business and so on. I have all these coaches helping me at this present moment because I’m hungry. I’m driven to succeed. I wanna grow. And if you truly want to grow your life, your business, your organization, you need to develop that same hunger. ’cause that hunger is what’s gonna fuel you for the future and it’s gonna make life fulfilling. And what is fulfillment? Using your purpose, using your gift combined with whatever workplace that you’re in, whether it’s sports, whether it’s musician and so on.

Combining your purpose with that is fulfillment. That’s true. Fulfillment. How do you appreciate things? Well, everything in life, like I talked about in this recording, it starts from this thing called sacrifice. Sometimes you’re gonna have to give up time with, with with buddies. Maybe some friends will wanna pull you on the weekends to go and have a drink and so on. You’re gonna have to sacrifice those times so you can work on the present so you can appreciate the future to come. That’s the kind of mini commitments that you’re gonna have to do for yourself. I could tell you for myself, there were times where I would seclude myself all weekend, not talk to anyone working whether on my book, whether on my, my apparel business, whether on my speaking business, secluding myself, putting in the time so I can reap the rewards in the future.

That’s the same kind of hungry you need to develop to get there. I wanna give you an example. You see, back in 2014 before I understood what personal development was, I was speaking at this high school and after my presentation, there was a guy in the back of the room who had this little sticky note and on the sticky note, he scribbled something and he came up to me. At the end of the presentation, he gives it to me. He’s like, Hey Kendal , great presentation. I really love what you’re talking about. I want you to YouTube this guy. I took it and I put it in my pocket. I didn’t think nothing of it. And I said, thank you very much, sir. And he turned and he walked away. That night I went to my computer monitor and I stuck that sticky note on my monitor, and for the next two months it sat there.

Christmas comes around and I’m sitting there getting ready to enjoy my two weeks of holidays with my family. And I saw that sticky note there and I was like, oh yes, I’m gonna YouTube this guy. So I typed it in Les Brown, you deserve. And for the next three hours I’m watching this guy, motivational speakers, one of the best ever in the world. And I was hooked. I started to reprogram my mind through these things called audio programs, the thing that you’re listening to right now. And I started to listen all the time. These messages, these these messages of hope transforming myself so I can become better person so I can grow my business, my family, and so on. Much more better than what I was doing at that present moment. And I started to get hooked. I’d buy more, more books, more, more.

I’d go to seminars and so on, investing in my mind. Guess what happened in next year? I made that decision in 2015 to grow my speaking business because of that sticky note. I was hooked every time I was driving from either Saskatoon to Regina, to North Battleford, the Prince Albert. I was listening to an audio program. If I was stuck in traffic, I was listening to an audio program. If I’m walking through an airport, I’m most likely listening to an audio program, always listening changes your mind. If you want your outer world to change, your inner world has to change. The best way to change your inner world is to change the input, the things that are going into your mind. And you can do that by listening to audio programs. It’s changed my life and I hope it changes your life too. So you have that community of driven individuals, those positive, uplifting support team around you, combined with the right information.

The last thing you’re gonna be needing is a coach, a mentor, someone who’s gonna help you get you there much faster. One of the ways you can do this is do what exactly I did. I would ask people who are super successful, take ’em out for coffee. I would buy their coffee. I always do that when you’re taking out someone out for information, you know, treat them well. When I finally grew my business and I fi was able to invest more in myself, I started to hire coaches. You see, every part of my business, I’ve taken upon myself to hire someone because I knew that how long you can stay in a a problem can be solved sometimes with by hiring a coach, hiring a mentor, hiring an advisor. So everything from our bookkeeping or accounting from the the apparel business, I hired a coach from the, when I wrote my book, I hired a coach.

When I wanted to become a coach, I hired a coach. When I wanted to become a speaker, I hired a coach. When I wanted to tell better stories, I hired a storytelling coach. Every single piece of my business, I’ve hired coaches, and those coaches have changed my life, have changed my perspective, and I’ve helped, here’s the key word. It’s helped propelled me forward much quicker than figuring it out on my own. That’s the power of coaching. So you get those community of driven individuals with the right information combined with the right coaching. That to me is the ultimate success formula to achieving any goal you have in your life, your business, your organization and so on to help you to become the person that you are born to be, not what someone expects you to be. I wanna wrap up here today by telling you a very personal story.

You see, my mother was very heavily influenced by her mother, my kokum, the one that I told you about in the beginning of this presentation and in my kokums time, there was this era called the residential school era, where children First Nations backgrounds were abducted from their homes and put into schools so that they would get assimilated, so that they would basically stop learning their culture stop talking their language and so on. And when those wagons would come around, Mike kokum was one of the, the few people in her family that had to kind of hide from those wagons and avoid going to those schools. As a result of that, she really kept her language, her culture. And when she had my mother, my mother’s father unfortunately, went to those residential schools.

And when she was being raised and when that environment would come into her home, where there would be be drinking and so on, my mother always had this, this tight stomach where she felt very uncomfortable and she resented that lifestyle that her dad would carry. One day her dad asked her to do something very simple, a simple chore. And my mother kind of snapped back at him verbally. My kokum could see that she did this to him and she pulled her aside and told her, these simple words translated into English. If you don’t like the way things are right now, when you get a chance, you go and change it. You see back then they never said things for nothing. To be told something like that at that age is very profound. You see, my mother realized that she couldn’t really change a whole lot in that current situation, but if she had children, she could change it for them.

So my mom never forgot about that. And when she had me, I was just a kid and I became a young man and I went through the story I just told you. But when I was 20 years old, I was very lost. I was very, I had no idea who I really was. I was kind of lost. I was a young man. I could have went from left to right. I was very vulnerable and lots of people go through this. I come home one day and I told her what I was going through and she sat me down and she said, if you don’t like the way things are right now, you still have a chance to change it. Don’t come here telling me how hard life is when you haven’t even lived it yet. Creator, put you here for a purpose. He’s given you gifts.

If you use those gifts combined with a healthy lifestyle, doing what you are meant to do, you can become successful in whatever it’s that you feel you’re meant to do, but you have to use those gifts. Don’t come tear crying. Tell me why you’re not successful when you haven’t even tried yet. So I got up and I went and did it, and I’m here today, ladies and gentlemen, talking to, if you are struggling, if you’re having obstacles, if there’s things in your life where you’re having a hard time with, you can change it. You can become who you are born to be, not what someone expects you to be. And if you use your gifts, your talents and abilities, you can truly become that leader within yourself so you can uplift the people around you, your family, your work coworkers, and so on, and really change the life of your business and organization to its fullest. But ladies and gentlemen, it starts with you. Yes, you. That person is you. And if you take that initiative upon yourself, you too can become all that you are born to be. Keep moving forward!


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