the 2017 best of: book edition


It’s no secret: I love, love, love books. 

That new-book smell. The feel of crisp pages between my fingers. Unwrapping books from their boxes. All of them lined up in a row on my bookshelf. Bookmarks and highlighters and notes scribbled in margins.

Sometimes, when I walk through the doors of The Elliott Bay Book Company, my favorite local bookstore, I imagine the millions upon millions of years and moments and bits of personal experience that are stored on the shelves. Literal blood, sweat, and tears have gone into their pages, hundreds of thousands of lifetimes stored in their bindings. It's awesome in the truest sense of the word.

When I graduated from college, I told myself that I would never stop reading. After my last class ended, I remember being terrified that my life would be like one long summer break. While one long summer break doesn’t sound so bad - all bike rides and sunshine and long stretches of freedom, for me, it also meant the inevitable atrophying of my mental muscle. Remember sitting down at your desk after a long summer break only to realize that you forgot how to do the work? Forgot how to write, pen to paper? Forgot how to think critically and gather knowledge? 

That. That’s what I was afraid of.

So, when graduation approached, I made the commitment: I would never stop reading.

And I haven’t.

As a writer, a creative, and a human dedicated to knowing more, learning more, growing more, reading is my creative nourishment. It’s how I introvert in and rejuvenate my spirit. It’s how I expand and learn to express and remember how to feel and behave and reflect. Fiction. Non-fiction. Memoir. Poetry. Short stories. It doesn’t matter. It’s fuel. Food. Self-care. Life.

And when my husband became a reader (4 years into our relationship!), I swear I fell in love with him all over again. There’s nothing more attractive than a man with a book. Other than a man with a puppy. Because… puppies, y'all.

Anyhow… Each year, I collect and recollect the best books that I’ve read over the past 365 days. And, love, there have been so. many. good. books.* 

Without further ado...


Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown

If you've been around here for long, you know that Brene is my girl. Vulnerability. Storytelling. Authenticity. I'm all about it. But, y'all, this book surprised me. Brene writes about belonging and courage and uncomfortable conversations in a way that made me feel understood on a soul-level and challenged to be better... and braver.


Profit First, Mike Michalowicz

Back in January, I read Mike Michalowicz's The Pumpkin Planand it shifted the foundation of how my team and I strategized for growth over the past twelve months. Just a few months later, I began hearing the buzz around Michalowicz's most recent release, Profit First. For each and every creative entrepreneurs, cash flow means the difference between a healthy bank account and burnout. Michalowicz provides a step-by-step plan to make your business profitable - starting with your next sale.


LexiconMax Barry

Do you ever pick up a book at random and, from the very first page, inhale it in a matter of hours? That's what happened when I picked up Lexicon, an NPR Best Book of the Year, at the San Francisco International Airport. I literally sucked it down before we touched down in Seattle. Thrilling and daring, this is one of my favorite non-fiction reads of the year. Plus, words as a superpower? Sign me up. 


The Book of JoyHis Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

This book single-handedly inspired one of my favorite business ventures this year: the #CultivateJoy Conversations (and our retreat, the #CultivateJoy Retreat!). The Book of Joy weaves between vivid observation and deep conversation, leaving the reader more joyful just by reading it. But more than the surface-level happiness that we so often seek, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu share how to seek deeper joy, one that persists through suffering, discomfort, and change.


Year of YesShonda Rhimes

Why did I wait until just this year to dig into this book? Y'all. Yes. All the yes-es. With a couple of Audible credits just sitting in my queue, I finally downloaded this book - with Shonda Rhimes' narration to boot. Sweet, fierce, and honest, the Year of Yes reaffirms so much of what I believe about the life of a creative - and pushes me to discover and articulate new truths, for my business and my life.


Honorable Mentions

From books that didn’t make the Top 5 to novels that have been recommended by, well, everyone, these are a few that should find their way into your Amazon cart (or to the counter at your favorite indie bookseller)!

Dark Matter: A Novel, Blake Crouch

the sun and her flowers, rupi kaur

You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero

Chasing SlowErin Loechner

What are some of your favorites?! Share in the comments below.

*You’ll note that book links lead to, but most if not all of these titles can be found at your favorite local, indie bookstore! Please note, some links contain affiliate information.

To be Garth or Chris, that is the question. (What's your answer?)

Little known fact: I grew up on country music.

(P.S. If you're someone who hates country, just stick with me, alright? This story is worth it.)

I can vividly remember sitting in the backseat of our beat-up burgundy Dodge Caravan, windows rolled down (because who has A.C., amiright?), the sounds of Reba McEntire and Shania Twain blaring in the speakers.

But one of my all-time favorites was Garth Brooks. 

In the world of music, Garth is LEGEN-wait-for-it-DARY. 

With over 20 recorded and released albums, Garth is the only artist in history to have released seven albums that have reached Diamond status (10+ million albums sold). He has won 2 Grammy Awards, 17 American Music Awards (including the "Artist of the '90s"), and the RIAA Award for Artist of the Century in the United States.

Artist of the Century, y'all.

I mean… he's kind of a big deal.

And the thing is that even now, decades later, I can still recognize his voice when he comes on the radio. Sweet and lilting, with a soft Oklahoma accent… no matter the song, you know his voice. 

But in 1999, Garth decided to make a change. Like, a big one.

Enter Garth's alter-ego, Chris Gaines. 

While Garth was known - internationally - as a critically acclaimed country singer, Chris Gaines was a rock artist hailing from Brisbane, Australia. 

Confused yet? Yeah, so were audiences.

Chris Gaines didn't last a year. When Y2K rolled around, Chris was out and Garth was back.

And his audience breathed a massive sigh of relief.

Here's the thing... 

When it comes to your brand's unique voice, you have a choice: to be Garth or be Chris.

  1. Be Garth. And by that, I mean be yourself. Whether your natural personality is soft and lilting or bold and gravely, you can show up and stand out… just by being yourself. You can infuse who you are - your personality, your quirks, your natural gifts and creative expertise - into how you show up in front of your people. All it takes is knowing what song you want to sing and who you're singing it to - and just open your mouth and sing the melody (metaphorically speaking, of course).
  2. Be Chris. And by that, I mean play a part. Choose a genre that might not naturally vibe with who you are and what you're about and try it out. You might be all about courage and wholehearted vulnerability, but you might play the part of a fear-driven marketer in your messaging. You might be fun and light, but you might try on the brash, serious persona.

Here are the facts. 

Today, Garth Brooks continues to make music and perform in front of audiences around the world. He's amassed hundreds of awards, and still goes out there and does what he loves. I'm not saying that his career didn't take a massive amount of work and an intense amount of self-awareness around his gifts and passion, but his artistry and voice are uniquely him. He shows up as himself and it works.

Chris Gaines? Well, he's a bit of trivia, an experiment gone wrong. Not only did his "career" not last more than a year, but he'll maybe get a giggle from those that remember his name (and it's only when it's attached to Garth's that anyone remembers).

You get to choose. Who are you going to be?

Are you ready to show up as yourself in your brand and business? Click here to download Unedited: Your Guide to Effortless & Authentic Content to give you the words and clarity to show up - like, really show up - in your brand and business.

Amplified Interview: Anna Frandsen on Heart-Centered Success

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the one and only Anna Frandsen.

Along with being one of my favorite humans on the internet, Anna is a phenomenal business coach and mentor for heart-centered entrepreneurs. Through her DIY resources, courses, and 1:1 mentorships, Anna is passionate about helping heart-centered women create and implement a business strategy that works - for them.

Over a cup of coffee - or in her case, green tea - we had an amazing conversation about the coaching industry, the seasons of business, and how to show up as yourself in a sea of sameness.

You can catch the entire interview on my podcast, Amplify: A Podcast for Creative and Courageous Entrepreneurs, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the most potent and powerful parts of our conversation.


You recently celebrated an anniversary in your business. Congratulations! How have you seen your business evolve from that very beginning to where you are now?

I feel like you could probably ask me that question every month and it would shift every month. But I do feel like the 1 year milestone was the point for me, where one minute I hated the coaching industry and was going to quit, and the next I was loving it.

I love that, because I think there are those times where we are super polished, where we’ve honed our message. But there are those moments of vulnerability in our own businesses where, I think that the world needs to see us at those places, too. Because it’s not always focused, shiny strategy. So what does being in that season look like and how does it feel?

Two Fridays ago, what it felt like was: I saw two things in the online coaching space that I was like, “I can’t believe I just saw that!” – it really frustrated me! Then, I had this realization of like, “OK, Anna, every industry you’ve been in – as a therapist, before that I worked in higher education where I oversaw a resident life department – I’ve been pissed at something and wanted to change it. I think that’s why we become entrepreneurs, right?

And so, I think I was like, “Oh, Anna, this has nothing to do with my industry. This has everything to do with my seeing things that just remind me of my core values and that are pressing me further into how I want to show up.”

That’s been the pattern for me, and hopefully a pattern for everyone in their life, questioning from a respectful place. Why is it that I do what I do? How am I different? What do I stand for? What do I believe in? And what are the core values that I am preaching, am I living those out behind the scenes? So that is what it has looked like more recently for me.

So, what are your core values?

I feel like the strongest of my core values is integrity, doing things in a way that I am proud of. Like, how I am selling, how I am serving, how I am serving my current clients, everything I am doing – if someone were to follow me around – that my life is very congruent. I think that is what that means.

Obviously, I am not always perfect at that. There are parts of my life that fall out of being congruent, but I think that what’s most important is that I correct it. Something comes up for me and I’m like, “Oh, that’s not how I want to do things, “ or, “That didn’t feel right,” or, “That felt weird,” right? And I think that that’s normal.

What isn’t normal is those of us that make sure to correct it. Like when something is not right, thinking: how do I bring my business, my life, my mamahood, how I’m a wife... how do I bring that back to integrity?

So, in terms of showing up, how are you intentionally trying to show up now, in your business?

In this season, it has looked like sharing a little more intimately with my 1:1 and mastermind women. Just sharing more transparently where I am at. Which is harder. It’s easier to say, “Well, last month I learned blah blah blah.” It’s harder to say this is what I am learning right now, and if there is anything for you to take from it, great.

What are the ways you see people doing authenticity “wrong”? Does that make sense? I don’t want it to be judgy, but there are ways that we go wrong in this.

I think the biggest way I see people go wrong – especially heart-centered women that really want to serve good, authentic, integrated women – is they have lived their whole lives as good, solid women. And their friends and family they have in real life and their in-real-person clients, they already know that they’re human beings. And they get into the online space and they assume everyone knows that. Right?

People know I’m a good person, so why should I have to tell these people? Or, what I have to offer is super valuable, like, I know lives are transformed by what I do, but I don’t quite know how to communicate what I do, I feel nervous about communicating it, I feel pushy or salesy or sleazy about that, so I think we actually don’t show up authentically in that we are underselling ourselves.

For someone who’s like scammy, they are presenting this false front of, “Here’s this thing I do!” But, they really don’t. Heart-centered women have the opposite problem, and they are putting up a false front too. But, their external marketing, their selling, their content is worse than their actual service. Women don’t see that selling assertively and honestly is actually more authentic than doing what a lot of women do when they come in the space, which is like shrinking back and not owning their service.

Being in the online space, what do you think that audiences are begging for in terms of content, messaging, or value?

More authenticity, more intimacy. Just looking at the trends, in general, several of the people in our online space that had large, million dollar signature courses, and their sales didn’t do as well this year. And, I think that’s just indicative of, like, the trend that people are wanting less cookie cutter stuff and more intimacy.

So, as we scale our businesses, the question is, well, how do we scale with intimacy? My coach just told me the other day that not everything has to be scaleable, which is true! But, I think that, in general people are – rightly so – wanting more intimacy in the services we offer and authenticity.

When you look into the future, what kind of impact do you want to make?

One of my strengths is I always ask myself what impact can I make now, you know? Like, I don’t wait for the someday. I really work to be in the present and – in my personal and professional life – how can I really make an impact? I feel like we really can make an impact through relationships. Sometimes to a bigger scale, but I feel like my impact will always come through relationships. So, in the relationships I’m already in, not waiting for the someday, how can I show up more fully, how can I be more present? So, I don’t know what that looks like. I love what I’m doing right now, so hopefully I can keep doing that.

I think that the ability to show up and be present, one, is for many creative, soulful, heart-centered entrepreneurs is a strength that is not leveraged to the degree that it could be. Selling doesn’t have to be as complicated as we think that it needs to be. Strategy can actually make thing simple and allow for us to have deeper, genuine, more impactful relationships, and I think that is what it all comes down to. And for me, any success I have seen in my business has all been birthed through connection and relationship.

Oh my gosh, yes! It’s true! And, you’re right! I think that we forget that! Most heart-centered entrepreneurs, that’s natural to them: being real, forming relationships, helping other people in their industry, connecting, caring, serving, right? And that, exactly, I feel like when most women come to me and I’m giving them more strategies on how to sell in their business, usually what I’m doing is I’m helping them actually return to their heart and return to what probably came naturally to them before they got this idea that it had to be weird and complicated and something else. When I say, “Oh, try this!” They are like, “What? That can sell?” Which is usually connecting. Which is usually being honest. Which is usually sharing. These things that come innately to us are what help us be successful in business.

This has been so fun, Anna! Thank you so much for being here. Where can we find you online?

The best place to find me is over in my Facebook Group, The Heart-Centered Entrepreneur, at If you’d like to learn more about me and my services, head over to my website,

Want to listen to the full episode? Catch Anna's episode of Amplify: A Podcast for Creative + Courageous Entrepreneurs here!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Just when I was about to give up

A few weeks ago, one of our beloved community members stepped out in vulnerability and courage to ask a tender and sensitive question...

An intrepid entrepreneur with a strikingly beautiful and sensitive heart, she had - six months earlier - launched a blog and accompanying Instagram to match her brand-new, inspirational brand identity.

For months, she had been posting regular, branded content on Instagram. For months, she had been connecting with like-minded accounts. For months, she had been commenting and liking, following through and reaching out.

Doing all the "right" things - and with heart.

But little did she know that while she was reaching out and connecting organically and intentionally, there was, underneath the likes and comments from other accounts, a strategy of "like-for-like," follow-back bandwagons, and bot-like behavior. Accounts would ghost on her, following her only to gain her "follow-back," and she'd be left feeling disconnected and used.

After 6 months of consistent content and connection, she was feeling hopeless, burned-out, and uncertain. She didn't know what she was doing wrong - or whether she should even continue when the road felt so long and arduous, the relationships so surface-level and disingenuous. 

So, she reached out.

And, because I've been there, and because I know that, whether you're building a social media following or an email list, many of you have felt and might feel the very same way, I wanted to share my reply with you.

"The online space can be... well, shallow. It can be noisy and chaotic - everyone trying to shout a little louder to get a slice of the pie (we all have our own pie, but that's a story for another day). I want to encourage you to keep sharing, whispering the inspiration from your spirit. You quite literally never know who is listening. 

When I first started showing up regularly in my online visibility over two years ago, I would post daily in Facebook groups and on Instagram, and it felt like there was little to no traction.

About 6 months into sharing my content regularly, one little comment blew me away. 

One woman (who had never "liked" or "commented" on a post in the history of ever) said: 'Is it just me, or do you save every single one of Kate McCarthy's posts to return to later?'

I was dumbfounded, speechless, and shocked. I had absolutely no idea that she had even been seeing my work or my words -- and I had been this close to giving up.

You never know who is listening.

In terms of attracting new followers (who are super-aligned with your spirit), I would encourage you to keep reaching out, play around with hashtags and Instagram stories and light-hearted connection.

And know that this is just a season. You never know who is listening, lovely."

I share all this to say: keep going. Keep sharing. Keep reaching out and connecting with soul and intention and depth. 

Your worth isn't tied to the number of followers on Instagram or how many likes your latest Facebook post received. It's not connected to the number of people on your email list or how many times you post on Pinterest.

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle. To think that, because your Instagram followers ebb and flow, your message isn't making an impact.

But keep sharing, love.

Because the world desperately needs what you have to offer it, love. Because, beyond the scope of your brand and business, your wholehearted and soul-soaked success changes all of us for the better. Because you're doing good work - and with heart.

Because you never know who's listening.

And, if you need a little extra encouragement or a digital hug from a human who believes in you and your desperately needed work in the world, reach out, love. I'm here. 

Want to join the community? Click here to join - and get exclusive access to Unedited: Your Guide to Effortless & Authentic Content.

i'm on a mission


Maybe you're like me.

Maybe you've chased shiny things when you should have stayed in your lane.

Maybe you've followed "experts" down the path of "should" and "supposed-to" only to find that it led you down the road to debt or doubt or shame.

Maybe you've tried to be clever only to find that clear beats clever, every time.

Maybe you've convinced yourself that you need to do all-the-things (losing yourself and your sanity in the process)… when a few things, done well and with heart, are more than enough to build a business that provides for your people, your pocketbook, and your soul.

Maybe, like me, you've lost hours, days, or months waffling and wondering what's best, gathering opinions and information, only to gain clarity and exclaim - yet again - "Ah! Why did I have to make it so complicated?"

Enough is enough.

It's a brand new ballgame, y'all.

It's the year of doing less to create more.

It's the year of courage and meaningful connection, of stripping away what doesn't work and leading with wholeness and heart.

It's the year of depth and discovery, of impact and expansion and truth.

It's the year of letting it be easy, of leading with what you do best, of investing in your people, and of letting go of whatever doesn't feel true and real and worth it.

Feels good, right? 

I often say that I am here to hear your heart, and to help you hear it better, too.

That's not some quirky little marketing schpiel. 

Hearing hearts (metaphorically, of course) just so happens to be my personal superpower. It shows up in everything I do – in business and in life.

For so many of us, our heartbeats – and the heartbeats of our businesses – get muffled, overwhelmed by shiny objects and the loud shouts of "should's" and "supposed-to's." 

The pulse of our heart's work gets drowned out by to-do's and checklists and coaches whose purposes and programs are misaligned and misused. 

We try to stick band-aids (i.e. another coach, course, free opt-in or "secret sauce") on the gaping wounds left behind, our heartbeats slowly fading until we give up or burn–out or become something we never intended.

It's true. You could stay where you are, struggling to hear your heartbeat amidst the online noise and shouting "should's." You could try to quiet your uncertainty with a long list of to-do's and the next, best shiny thing. Shiny things work… for a little while… maybe.

But I've seen what happens when you stay there. I've watched as souls slowly suffocate. I've witnessed beautiful humans literally get sick with the stress. I've seen lights dimmed and voices silenced. 

Their desperately needed work never makes it out into the world – and, when it does, it's half-hearted and laced with desperation and doubt.

No more.

This year, I'm on a mission to amplify heartbeats. 

To guide you as you rediscover the sound of your own heartbeat and to help you put it to words.

To turn up the volume on your spirit and unclog all of the gunk that's keeping your (desperately needed) voice from flowing loud and clear – straight to the hearts of your dreamiest clients.

To wash away what feels misaligned and inauthentic and get to the core of what's true and real and you.

That's what this year is all about. Amplifying heartbeats. Reconnecting to the pulse of who you are. 

Forget shiny. We're going with soulful. 

And whether you read my love letters each week or decide to finally step out of the shadows and "should's" to join me in going deeper, you're invited.

I'll keep it honest. Real. True. I'll share my successes, my secrets, the mess and the miracle. All of it straight from my heart to yours. 

Nothing complicated or confining, no "should's" or salesy schtick.

But, like any meaningful (and true) relationship, this is a two-way street, love. 

I want to know what's coming up for you. Do you have grand plans for this year? Or are you finding it hard to just stay afloat with all the to-do lists, "shoulds'" and "supposed-to's"? Are you dreaming big or rehabbing your heart? I truly want to know. 

All you have to do is reach out, comment below, or connect here. I'm just on the other side.

More to come, love.

xx k

P.S. Ready for soulful, sweet friend? My workbook, Unedited: Your Guide to Effortless & Authentic Content, was designed to help you get your work into the world - in the words and in the way that only you can. Click here to download your copy!