Episode 419: Lessons Learned on How to Unleash Your BEST with Cayla Craft

Episode Summary

In today’s episode, the amazing Cayla Craft joins us to change the paradigm of being a high-performance entrepreneur. Throughout our conversation, you’ll hear Cayla’s inspiring story of turning a significant setback into a sharpened tool to succeed in the entrepreneurial world, her past as an ER nurse, and the moment she decided to believe and bet on herself. Cayla also shares her thoughts and advice on unlocking our best version, switching from victim mode to a champion’s mindset, and more.

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our “Becoming Your Best” podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger. We have an extraordinary guest with us today. She has spent the last 12 years teaching people how to monetize their personal brand. Whether you are within a company or outside of a company, either way, you need to do that. She focuses on helping online entrepreneurs become investors. She’s an angel investor, real estate investor, and founder of the Crafted which is an entrepreneurial show. So, this is going to be fun to talk about all this as the inspirational icon for families seeking financial freedom, asset wealth generation, and multi-generational wealth. She is out there to shatter society’s addiction to a paycheck, which, as I mentioned, within a company or out, there are ways to boost that paycheck and we’re going to talk about that today. She’s the author of “What Do You Really Want? 7 Questions That Can Unlock the Answers to a Life Full of Abundance, Meaning, and Connection.” Welcome, Cayla Craft. 

Cayla Craft: Thank you so much for having me, Steve. I am so excited to be here and talk about all the things. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, we’re going to jump right into it here. She is wonderful. Cayla, we’ve had a little chance to visit beforehand. It was a lot of fun. Tell us about your background, including any turning points in your life, especially those that have had a significant impact on what you’re doing.  

Cayla Craft: I was an ER nurse. I think it’s important for people to understand why I became an ER nurse. I was raised by a single mom. She was a hairstylist, so she would work long hours just to pay the bills. I really wanted a job that was secure because there was so much instability in my childhood. So, I had heard that there was a nursing shortage when I was in junior high. I said, “Okay, I’m going to be a nurse.” I went to a special high school that helped me become a nurse at a very young age. So, by the time I was 21, I was a charge nurse in our local ER. I loved it. I loved leading people until I had my first son. I was 23 years old, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh! I don’t like working such long shifts.” So, I just started to dabble in network marketing, and I was able to create some real success. This is crazy, I stayed on as a nurse for a while and ended up doing surgical nursing and stuff like that that was easier to work with growing a family. I was doing all this stuff, but I really wanted to work for myself. So, I went all in on my own brand by the time I was 26. I’ve been coaching people ever since, helping them really get whatever it is that they want in their life, whether it’s a promotion at their job, to increase the commission that they’re getting in their sales position, or if it is to start their own business, whatever that is, let’s get clear on it and let’s take the steps to make it happen.

Steve Shallenberger: Well, that’s quite a background. I understand that you grew up with your father in prison. So, how did that shape your pathway forward in life?

Cayla Craft: It caused issues but some of those things ended up being good. One of the things that it did was it caused me to become very independent and have thick skin. When you’re in sales, you need that thick skin, because you’re going to hear “no” a lot. So, I think when I got into sales, the ‘no’s didn’t affect me like it affected a lot of people around me. People gave up very quickly, and I was just like, “What? I don’t care if that person goes to me, I’m gonna keep going.” Probably because I had been abandoned by the number one person in my life at a young age. So, I was like, “What’s new?” Which is kind of sick saying it like that, but hey, it works for me. And then on the flip side of that, the thing that messed me up was I had a really hard time trusting people. If you’re going to be successful, and you’re going to be happy in life, you’ve got to learn to let some people in—not everybody, but you’ve got to let some people in and trust them that they’re going to help you, that they’re going to support you, to help you get to where you want to go. Whether that’s your boss or the team that you’re building around you and your company, you’ve got to have a level of trust. I really believe, 12 years into this, that without my team, I would be nowhere, I have to have amazing people around me. So, I had to learn to build up the trust muscle. It’s taken a lot of inner work. I talk about that in the book because—I talk about the inner child—little Cayla will come up from time to time trying to make up all sorts of stories about people and why they’re not trustworthy. But I live by the motto now, I keep people at an arm’s distance, they get to work their way in by proving that they’re trustworthy. That’s kind of how I live my life. 

Steve Shallengerger: What have you found to be the best way to bridge across those past experiences? And what’s the best way to build trust with people? 

Cayla Craft: I personally believe that if I just meet somebody right now, maybe they’re a new employee on staff, I’m not going to give them the keys to the kingdom of coming inside of Cayla’s world, right away. I’m going to give them little things that they need to do to prove that they’re trustworthy. So, are they going to follow through on what they said they were going to do? Are they a person that follows through? That’s huge for me. If you’re a person that follows through, you’re going to get closer. As you do what you say you’re going to do, I’m going to give you more access to things that we have going on and opportunities that are available to you. But it’s all proven on do they follow through on their word. So, I think that’s really big.  

Cayla Craft: A lot of people don’t follow through on their word. If you’re experiencing that a lot in your life, sometimes you have to look in the mirror and say, “Do I follow through? When I say I’m going to do something, do I do it?” Because usually, the people who are showing up in your life are a reflection of who you are. You’ve got to take radical responsibility for who you’ve been and how you’ve been showing up in your life. If you go, “Oh, I haven’t been a person that’s followed through very much.” What is one small commitment you can make to yourself today that you know you’re going to follow through on? And can you do it again tomorrow? Those little small commitments to yourself will help you build trust within yourself, which helps you trust other people. When you trust yourself fully, you’re able to go, “Okay, I’m gonna trust that person as well.” But most of us struggle with trusting because we’re not doing the things that we know we want to be doing and that we need to be doing. 

Steve Shallengerger: Cayla, and I had the opportunity to discuss “Becoming Your Best.” She has the spirit of Becoming Your Best—a wonderful spirit. One of those 12 principles of Becoming Your Best, of highly successful leaders, is building and maintaining trust. So, I love the fact that what you’re talking about is that this is a deliberate decision by a leader to do things that move that trust needle up to full, but it also sets the model of what you expect from others. What have you found is the best way to create a culture of trust within your team and organization? 

Cayla Craft: Well, as a leader, you have to do the things that you said you’re going to do. I remember when I first started my company seven or eight years ago, I was so excited. We get that way; we get so excited, and I would overshare all the things I wanted to do and all the bonuses I wanted to give. And then all of a sudden, it’s like, “Well, I can’t actually do that. I mean, I have to run a company.” And people would be like, “Well, you said.” So, now, I’m very careful. That’s why I have my employee handbook, and we follow the structure in there. But I think that a lot of times, leaders can get overly excited, especially in the beginning, and I see it happen with my clients a lot. We have to not be sharing those types of things unless we’re willing to actually do the due and follow through on that. So, I think that’s number one: as a leader, you’ve got to always go first; you’re paving the path, you’re the model for how everybody else shows up. So, be a person of your word; always do the right thing when nobody’s looking. That’s how the culture is created; it’s what you’re doing in silence sometimes. People can feel it. 

Steve Shallenberger: You have made quite a shift, Cayla, of going from being an ER nurse to building your own network marketing business and then to your own company. What had to shift for you to have that kind of success? 

Cayla Craft: That’s a good question. The number one thing that had to shift for me was, I was willing to bet on myself. I remember working as a surgical nurse, like I said, and in my network marketing business, I was making multiple six figures, almost seven figures a year. I was so afraid. It didn’t make sense why I was still getting up at four o’clock in the morning to go to work when I was pregnant with my third baby. It was like, “Okay, you can afford to stay home, and everything’s going to be fine.” I was so scared. “What if that money goes away? What if it goes away and the network marketing businesses close down tomorrow? What would I do?” Then, I said, “Okay, well, I can always go back to work as a nurse. So, there’s that. Second, I could always start my own company; I could go to another network marketing business.” And I started to realize there are a lot of options. The common denominator for my success was me. It’s that if I set my mind to do something, I’m going to get it done. I understand sales; I’m a good communicator. I had to build up the belief in myself that if everything went away tomorrow, I’m not starting over at zero because I have my experience, and I have my skills. So, I learned to bet on me. I said, “Okay, we’re just going to go for it; we’re going to do the thing.” Because at the end of my life, I don’t want to live with any regrets, and I think not going all in on my dream was going to be a regret for me. So, that’s why I decided to make that shift. But it started with learning how to bet on me. Do I really believe in myself at the end of the day, that I can accomplish any of my dreams? 

Steve Shallenberger: That’s great. One of the things I like about that is I have all kinds of podcast guests, which is wonderful because you gain all kinds of insights. I had one about a month ago. This talks about whether it’s an internal entrepreneur, an employee, or an external entrepreneur like you’ve been describing, running your own business. But it is this attitude, “You know what, I’m going to get this done; I’m going to figure out how to make it happen.” I like what you’re describing: you take personal responsibility for the success. I think when a person makes that jump, they’re going to start gaining experience, they’re going to start creating value, and making a contribution. That’s how somebody grows within an organization, and it’s how someone is successful with their own endeavor. What’s been your experience with people as they struggled trying to be successful? What are some of the biggest obstacles that you’ve seen? 

Cayla Craft: Number one, I see people spread themselves too thin. We have this people-pleasing tendency—a lot of us struggle with it—where we want to say yes to everybody; we don’t want to let anybody down. When you’re saying yes to everybody, you’re saying no to something. It could be you’re saying no to your family, you’re saying no to that promotion, you’re saying no to something that you actually really want. So, you need to say no more often. I think that’s really important. When you decide that you want to be successful at whatever it is that you’re doing, you’ve got to say no to probably 99% of the opportunities that come your way. Stay in your lane, get really good at your zone of genius, be the number one in your category, and constantly be focused on getting better. That’s when actually you create your own opportunities. Let’s say you’re in a company, and you’re the best at data collection; let’s say that’s your thing and you’re good at it. How do I become even better? How do I make sure that I’m going above and beyond? You’re taking the initiative, you’re making new reports, you’re showing people “Oh, wow!” Your boss is going to go, “I didn’t even think to even look at that data,” and go, “Yeah, but look what it’s showing us.” So, you can only do that when you make space in your life and in your career because you’ve said no to the wrong things that aren’t going to actually help you. Because space will give you clarity to go, “Okay, what am I not seeing? What is it that’s going to help this company grow? And how can I bring that and have a seat at the table?” 

Steve Shallenberger: Oh, man, I’ll tell you, you get a Bravo for that answer. I love that. That is great. That’s wonderful advice and experience. It’s all about becoming your best and translating that into making the best contribution, and that takes work. That’s a mindset. As you said, you also have to develop the skill set where they come together and have a mind that’s all engaged in saying, “How do I make this better than it’s ever been?” Way to go. Nice answer. 

Cayla Craft: Thank you. A plus. I passed. 

Steve Shallenberger: Totally. Way to go, Cayla. You’ve talked about the “little me” concept, and you’ve used it to unleash the potential in others. What is the “little me”? 

Cayla Craft: I’ll give you an example. I’m still working with a client who’s very successful in the insurance industry. He’s already a multimillionaire; he’s doing really well. Things in his personal life weren’t going so well, and his team’s culture was kind of all over the place. The more that we worked with him, and I introduced him to the inner child work, he realized that he had been running his company and his marriage from his past self, from his younger self. Number one, as a CEO, you cannot try to be friends with everybody in your organization. You’ve got to have boundaries; you’ve got to hold people to a high standard because that’s the culture of excellence that you’re trying to implement. So, when you are constantly accepting people’s excuses for bad performance, nobody’s pushed to grow. And then it becomes a culture of kind of laziness and complacency, which you’re going to get stuck at a certain income, a certain amount of clients; it’s not good.  

Cayla Craft: So, when we worked with the inner child part of him that wanted everybody to like him because as a kid, he wasn’t picked, didn’t have a lot of friends, he wasn’t the popular kid. And the more we worked through that and realized how that made him be successful today, he was able to switch and really step into being the CEO of his business, holding boundaries, saying no when he needed to say no, writing people up as needed, because that’s gonna cause growth in their performance. It’s either going to make them or break them. Really turned it around for him. It’s a life-changing concept. A lot of people think it’s so woo-woo, talking about inner child, but what I have people do is just get a picture of yourself as a kid, and you can put it next to your computer, you can have it on your phone screen—I talked about this in the book—where you’re just looking at that little version of yourself, and nurturing them so they can not be up here in the headspace while you’re working your job, focusing on your marriage, all of the things. It’s a really life-changing tool. 

Steve Shallenberger: I love it. Good job. How important is gaining knowledge and continuing to learn? 

Cayla Craft: I always say that leaders are learners. So, I give myself a goal of learning something new every single day, and I even instill this in my kids. I always say, “What did you learn today? What made you laugh today?” Really getting them to focus. That actually makes life more full when you get to add something. I don’t really care what they learned at school, maybe I should care. But I want to focus on them learning outside and reading books that they are interested in. I’m giving myself a goal of doing at least 10 pages a day. But usually, I’m reading two to three books on the weekends. So, I’m constantly just adding to me because you are your biggest asset. So, you have control over what you consume. Most people are consuming things that are actually hurting you and harming you. I don’t watch the news; I don’t listen to radio shows. I’m very careful about what I put in my ears and in my eyes because that makes you who you are. I think that’s the one thing that we can control. We really actually can control that, and it’ll make you a better, happier person. 

Steve Shallenberger: I have a sense of feeling that as you continue to have that kind of dedication to be a learner throughout your whole life, that helps to create a transformation from the little me to being the more successful me. 

Cayla Craft: Absolutely. It builds up your confidence. People say knowledge isn’t power. It absolutely is power. You feel empowered when you know more about situations or your industry.  

Steve Shallenberger: Tell us about “Take Seven.” Why did you write it? And what are some things in there that can help people? 

Cayla Craft: It’s an interesting question. I have to preface this because we live in a society that doesn’t like to be negative; we don’t want to talk about negative things. If somebody asks you, “How are you?” “Good, good, good.” We’re always just trying to be okay and fine. But really, if we ask ourselves, step one, it’s “What’s not working for me in my life?” And I break our life down into five simple parts: health, wealth, career, relationships, and spirituality. If we ask ourselves, and we’re really honest with ourselves, there’s probably something that’s not working in every single one of those areas that we can grow in because we’re still alive. So, we’re still meant to grow; we’re still meant to challenge ourselves.  

Cayla Craft: A rule I have around “What’s not working” is you can’t go into complaining mode. And complaining mode is, you’re going to list out all the things that are not working for you in your life, but you’re not willing to do anything about it. I don’t like that energy. So, if you do it, you’ve got to state a complaint. And a complaint is, “Hey, I don’t like that I have no energy when I wake up in the morning. I feel exhausted all the time. It’s not working for me in my life. I’m willing to do something about it. I’m going to go to the doctor, I’m going to start eating right, I’m going to go to bed early tonight.” Whatever it is that the choice you’re going to make to do something about it, that’s really what “Take Seven” will do; it’ll take you through how to figure out the next best step for getting closer to what you actually want. But it starts with going, “What’s not working?” So, step one is that.  

Cayla Craft: I talk all the time about how questions create a high quality in our lives. If we ask ourselves questions like that, or sometimes we’ll find ourselves looking at our life and we’ll go, “Why are things so hard for me? Why am I not getting noticed at work? Why don’t I get invited?” The “why” questions, they’re so disempowering because that’s what a victim says. A victim says, “It’s everybody else’s fault that I’m not getting the results that I want in my life.” And a victor, I talked about in the book, I call her “your champion self.” Your champion self says, “Hey, if I want to get noticed at work, what do I need to do? Who do I need to be? Where do I need to show up? What do I need to learn?” Look, these are all questions, very high-quality questions that your mind can find the answer to, and your mind loves to have the answers. That’s, I think, the shift that a lot of us have to start making is saying, “Okay, am I thinking like a victim, or am I thinking like a champion?” Most of us, if we’re being honest, we walk around like victims because life is always going to be happening. There’s always something. I’m sure, Steve, you’ve experienced this running different companies that it doesn’t stop. It’s not like people become successful, and then life becomes easier. I actually think life becomes more complex, the more successful you are because you have more moving parts—you have a lot going on. You have to become the person that can handle all of those moving parts and be a really great decision-maker. So, you’ve got to start really thinking about, “Who is my champion self? What are they accomplishing? How do they show up in a room? Are they bringing energy to a room, or are they taking energy from a room?” We talk about so many different concepts in the book. But that’s one thing I wish that everybody could just take away is knowing you have a choice right now to think like a victim or think like a champion. 

Steve Shallenberger: Oh, what a delightful book. That sounds pretty amazing. 

Cayla Craft: I’m very excited about it. I’m very proud of it. I wrote it two years ago, actually. It’s funny because I’m already thinking about book number two because now that I’m talking about it so much. 

Steve Shallenberger: As you reflect and think about your career and experiences that you’ve had, what are some final tips that you could leave with our listeners today that you think will really have a great impact on them? 

Cayla Craft: I would say, number one, you really become who you surround yourself with. You need to take an audit of who are the last five people you texted. Who did you hang out with in the last seven days? Are they winners? Are they people that are getting what they want? Or are they the kind of people that go with the flow, letting life happen to them? Hey, either one is good. I’m not putting either one of them down. It’s just, you look around and say, “Okay, if I’m hanging out with the people who are kind of just letting life happen to them, going with the flow, complacent,” that’s who you will be, that’s your future. If you’re hanging out with winners, people that don’t take no for an answer, they keep going, they’re persistent, they’re focused on having an impact, there’s your future, you’re going to be an impact maker because it’s contagious. We have to understand the importance of the environment; the environment is stronger than willpower. So, you’ve got to put yourself in environments that are going to cause you to grow. I’m assuming if you’re listening to Steve’s podcast, you want to be your best self. You’re somebody who thinks like a champion or wants to think like a champion, and you’re obsessed with growth. So, you’ve got to be in environments that are going to cause you to grow. Challenge yourself constantly. I think that’s the number one tip I can give. 

Cayla Craft: And then, number two, I feel like God has everybody on this earth for a certain reason. We all have a purpose. Our purpose is so much bigger than ourselves. It’s bigger than our happiness. We’re here to leave an impact and help other people. So, you’ve got to have a clear vision. I think that’s so important. If you don’t have a vision for your life, make space to start dreaming again about what your life could be. If you keep listening to Steve’s podcast, you read my book, where could your life be in one year from today? If you don’t know and you’re like, “Gosh, I don’t even know.” That means that you just need to get out, go for a walk, go sit in nature for a second, be in God’s creation, and really get still and hear: “Wow, okay, let me dream.” It’s safe to dream. And then, once you get a vision, connect with people like Steve, read his books, and start taking action. I think about every single one of us; we all have a vision. But we’re just one puzzle piece in God’s big puzzle, and if we don’t follow through on our vision, there’s going to be a missing puzzle piece. How annoying is that? 

Steve Shallenberger: It’s annoying. 

Cayla Craft: I love doing puzzles, so I love that analogy. Because you get to the end of it, and there’s one missing puzzle piece, you’re like, “Wow!” We all have to do our job. We need to follow through on our purpose. It’s so important that we have that vision and that we follow through on that vision. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, great, Cayla. How can people find out about what you’re doing? 

Cayla Craft: Well, I have a podcast, too. It’s called The Crafted Entrepreneur. So, if you want to listen over there, we talk about a lot of things: money mindset and investing. I know there are intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs who are listening in here, and I think investing is for both. My motto is always “invest early and often.” You’ve got to get educated; don’t just trust somebody else with your money. I’m constantly talking about that, over on the podcast, about just different ideas, hoping to expand people’s mindset about all the different creative ways. It’s not just the stock market. There are so many other things that you could be doing. You can start with a little; you can start with a lot, but you need to be empowered, and you need to be educated about it. So, that’s what I talk about over on my podcast. You can pick up my book anywhere where you buy books, or you can go to, and you can pick up my book and get a couple of free goodies as well. You can follow me anywhere that you are on social media, I’m cayla.craft. 

Steve Shallenberger: I’ll tell you, this podcast today has been inspirational. It has been so fun having you on today, Cayla. So, I appreciate the ideas that you’ve shared and the spirit in which you’ve shared them, and we wish you all the best in the great adventure that you’re having. 

Cayla Craft: Thank you, Steve. It was so fun being on, and I hope that everybody goes out there and lives out their champion selves. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, thank you. One of the things that Cayla has mentioned while we’ve had our interview today is hanging out with the winners. She said, “Your listeners are winners.” And yes, you are. Oh, man, we’re so grateful and privileged to associate with you and the spirit that you bring, and that touches everybody else in your life. So, it’s been great being together today. This is Steve Shallenberger signing off, wishing you a great day, today and always. 

Steve Shallenberger

Founder, Becoming Your Best

CEO, Executive, Corporate Trainer, Entrepreneur, and Community Leader

Cayla Craft

Real Estate Investor, Wealth Advisor, Best-selling Author

Real Estate Investor, Wealth Advisor, Best-selling Author

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