Founder Shares

Hosted ByTrevor Schmidt

At Hutchison PLLC, we work with founders and entrepreneurs as they fight and grind and stress and push to bring their visions to reality. We are inspired by their incredible stories of success, of failure, of reworking and trying again.

We get to see this every day through our work, helping technology and life science companies start up, operate, get funded, and exit, but we want a chance to share some of these stories with you, our listener. So whether you already are an entrepreneur, have an idea that someday you want to start a business or are just fascinated by the stories of how a business goes from idea to success... or not such a success, this podcast is for you. 

Lessons in Social and Emotional Entrepreneurship, with Kristen Hopkins (Dangers of the Mind)

What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)? Why is it so important to Kristen Hopkins, who founded both Dangers of the Mind and Kristen Hopkins Global?  And how is she planning to change the world AND become a thriving success?  Find out on the latest episode of the Founder Shares Podcast!

Dangers of the Mind
Kristen Hopkins Global
Dangers of the Mind Book
Dangers of the Mind Podcast

Hosted by Trevor Schmidt

Trevor Schmidt: So very excited today because I am here with Kristen Hopkins. Kristen, thanks so much for coming on.

Kristen Hopkins: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited that you guys have this. It’s awesome!

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah, well, it’s just a great way for us to connect and to learn more about what you’re doing and kind of hear about your journey, your entrepreneurial journey. So you are an author, motivational speaker, educator, founder, and CEO of Kristen Hopkins Global. Founder, CEO of Dangers of The Mind. It has always seemed to me that you’ve got so many different irons in the fire. Tell us a little bit about you and what it is that you do.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. So me in a nutshell, I believe that I’m a change-agent, ” I’m a pioneer or a thought leader. I’m someone that’s super innovative. And, just trying to take all my social responsibility, you know, to this world. And I feel like I help kids, of course, every day with social, emotional learning.

And so that’s one of the biggest aspects of what I do. But then I also help adults with social, emotional learning as well. So that’s where Kristen Hopkins Global comes in because I was like, how can I–I love helping kids, right? But how can I really be able to further extend this? Because a lot of us didn’t know social, emotional skills when we were growing up. We weren’t taught to  have great relationships or healthy relationships, or what does that look like to know your social awareness and who you’re around and appreciate diversity and all these things. And so I wanted to make sure that adults really understood what that looked like in the workplace at home. And so I’ve really been focused on kids and adults, just making sure that between the two companies that were pushing SEL on all levels.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. And then for somebody who’s not familiar, can you tell us a little bit what SEL or Social, Emotional Learning is?

Kristen Hopkins: So social, emotional learning is basically the attitudes and behaviors that make a person who they are in a nutshell.

And so there’s five competencies that are followed by castle. And then the sixth one that Dangers of The Mind has incorporated through our Theory of Change model. I’ll share that with you. So there are five, and there are “Self-Awareness,” which is obviously, you know, there’s, there’s umbrellas of these competencies and the domains of these.

So, Self-Awareness talks about strengths and limitations, self-confidence, self-efficacy, like how are you evaluating yourself every single day? You know? And we don’t think about that. We kind of wait for a boss to evaluate us or someone to tell us something, but you can actually do it yourself.

And that’s a powerful thing. For you to be able to say, “Oh, wow. I’m going to say rate myself from one to ten and say, how have I performed today?” How I perform as a student, how I perform as a, as a sister, as a mother, as a, as a husband, whatever that title is that you, that you carry, what does your performance look like?

And then there’s Self-Management. It’s one of the biggest competencies, because it talks about self- motivation, self- discipline, it talks about goal-setting and organizational skills. And I think a lot of successful people have mastered those, those skills.

And so when you look at that, that’s so important to, to, to just be able to know how to manage and regulate your emotions as well. And then you have relationship skills, which is foundational in social, emotional learning. Building, authentic relationships, being genuine with one another.  Teamwork, communication, all those domains that are really important when it comes to relationships skills.

And then we have Social-Awareness, which is appreciating diversity. No one really taught us the importance of appreciating diversity. I think we’re in a season of our lives or a time of our lives where it’s it’s at an all time high where I think we have to continue to incorporate what does that look like?

And not just diversity in culture, but diversity in industries, you know, I’m big on your network is your net worth. And so making sure that you understand that, hey, you don’t want to just be friends with lawyers, you don’t want to just be friends with doctors. You don’t want to just be friends with teachers.

You want to have a vast network of people. And that’s what I have. I strongly believe in it and a lot of my friends are in different industries and that’s what allows me to continue to be innovative.  And then the last one is what did I say? Self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, social-awareness in the responsible decision making. Really big. People don’t understand that responsible decision making is actually a process.

Like you have to identify the problem, then you have to come up with the solution, then you have to reflect and evaluate. Like it’s a real step-process and we were not taught that growing up. So we taught that, “Oh, our decisions are our decisions.” But when we look at them, it is actually a skill to make a responsible decision.

And then the last sixth competency, which is Dangers of The Mind based off our Theory of Change is Civic -Engagement. I believe in each one, reach one, teach one. So we cannot do that. We can not just hoard information, but we have to share it. I believe it’s one of our social responsibilities, you know? And so, that’s social, emotional learning in a nutshell.  The quickest way I can say it.

Trevor Schmidt: That was fantastic. There’s so much information in there. I can sit back and listen to you talk about it. How do you take that and turn it into a business or in this case, multiple businesses, what is it that you’re doing with it?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah, so, I mean, I have so many businesses in one, so I have a speaker’s business. And so I, I would say I was always an author first. I created Dangers of The Mind in 2014, and I’ve talked about the attacks we have against our thought-life that shift our progress. So what does that look like? I’m talking about brokenness and fear and insecurity and perception and complacency and distractions and all these things that delay us from walking in our fullest purpose. And so from there, I was like, “Okay. Hmm, this is interesting.” So I started speaking about this because actually I was going through it in my own life, you know, so I have to really understand, as I was writing the book, I was literally getting over it, you know I was figuring it out as I was going.

And that’s probably how I’ve written all of my books, because it was, it was like a therapy for me. Like I have to get through it first for myself. And then from there, I was speaking, I went to Juvenile Justice Center. I spoke at colleges, schools, secondary schools. And I’m like, I don’t like this feeling, I didn’t like to just motivate people and walk away. Because you know how you have you’re on this big high from like watching like a Tony Robbins video or like Eric Thompson.

You’re like, “Oh my God, this is amazing.” And then 10 minutes later, like, wait a minute.”  Like you forget, or it just dies off. So I wanted to create something that was tangible. Something that, that kids can actually take with them. And so I developed a curriculum and what– it was so funny, one of my friends called me one day and she said, “Kristen. This is social, emotional learning all day,” my book. And I was like, “What?” And so I didn’t know what that was at the time. And so I started reading, I started researching, I ended up going to Rutgers, I got certificates. I did all these things. And then I developed this curriculum.

Well, I developed a curriculum prior to going to Rutgers, but I developed a curriculum and it was like, oh, you’re you’re you hit the vein. This is great. So I was like, well, let me just go get the certificates but I already had these, these foundational tools. And what I did was I took The Dangers of The Mind and I combated them with the social, emotional skills. So every time you have a Danger of The Mind like fear or brokenness, then you learn an SEL skill that will combat that Danger of The Mind. And so that’s really what turned into a business for me. And so when I had the “aha” moment and started on the curriculum, the business was too, obviously provide the resources to different school districts and organizations and nonprofits.

So that’s a lane of the business, but then another lane was me actually speaking. So Kristen Hopkins Global, I’ve kind of divided them where I speak. Because a lot of people would call me and just specifically speak on like shifting the, the need of high-risk students to high-promise stories, through culturally-responsive resources and that’s one of our taglines.

And so I specifically work with a lot of kids that are in alternative schools or Juvenile Justice, and I’ve actually been pioneering in this lane. I had really nice policy brief written on the company from Juvenile Justice Institute talking about the work that we’ve done in this lane, because a lot of people aren’t in, that are in SEL are not going to do without Justice Centers. And so I think that’s the work that I really pride myself on because it takes time. It’s a, it’s a lot of work. It’s not easy. I could have gone the easy way out and just went to a normal comprehensive school. But I felt like these kids really, really needed the foundational support of social, emotional learning.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. So, I mean, again, there’s just a lot that that’s in there kind of where you’re at now. Maybe could you back up a little bit? Is, is this where you imagined yourself when kind of, when you started out, when you were a kid, did you imagine you would form your own business or multiple businesses?

Kristen Hopkins: Well, no, I didn’t imagine myself being an entrepreneur. No one in my family was an entrepreneur at the time. Now everyone is because I am, to be honest with you, like my mom has her, owns a nonprofit and my sister has a business, it’s just, it’s just phenomenal to see this now because I started 11 years ago. So I had one good corporate job, PR for McDonald’s, you know, my mom and dad was like, “What is wrong with you? You should have kept that job.” And then when I walked away, I was like, I felt in my heart that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I will say I found a picture of me when I was six years old and I was, I wrote my first book and that was like mind-blowing to me. I was in front of a crowd of people and it said like, Kristen Hopkins Author. It was like a crazy picture. And I’m like, where’d you find, my mom had found it. And I was like, wow, that is so significant because I would have never imagined that I would be an author.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. So even from the beginning, it sounds like you were creating content and then, you know, the business comes up around it. Right?

Kristen Hopkins: Exactly.

Trevor Schmidt: So you said you worked a little bit for just a short period of time in corporate, right. And then I understand you started your own PR firm. Is that right?

Kristen Hopkins: Yes, so–

Trevor Schmidt: Tell us a little bit about that.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. I mean, I, PR was my background, so I graduated with a Public Relations degree and then on to education, so crazy, but that’s how life works. But, I graduated a PR degree and I love Public Relations still to this day. I mean, I’m very visual. I love layouts. I love branding. I think that it’s important to brand yourself. You are your brand. I think it’s important to brand who you are and what you do as well. But, PR I think it will always stay with me, but I, I, I graduated with a PR degree from Delaware State University.

And then, I got, I was actually doing some stuff in China, 2008, I was working for the 2008 Olympics. So got a lot of experience, spoke Mandarin, lived there for nine months. Got a lot of experience in, in like that was like my background, like literally. So I was like, this is what I want to do with my life.

You know? So I went there.  I was a journalist I interviewed Russia and US athletes.  And I interviewed Michael Phelps. He’s one of the people that I interviewed. So that was a very amazing moment for me. But then right after that, I had this amazing resume and it was a recession. If you don’t remember 2009, it was like the biggest recession.

So I graduated at college and I’m like, I’m never going to get a job, you know, but lo and behold, I would tell every college student to do internships, internships. Internships saved my life. That China experience created such a eye opening experience for me, where, when I came back, like you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t normal.

You know, like I was like, “Oh, I’m out here above normal.”  I gained so many friendships, but from that, I believe that’s why I got my job because they were looking at me and was like, “Oh, she’s not afraid to take risks. Oh, she’s not afraid to have our work.” I’m on the bus back and forth from Beijing, like the international site all the way to my dorm.

Like it was a lot of work. And then right after that, I went to Washington DC and I internshipped there for a PR firm. So with all that knowledge, I just jumped into corporate. I did PR for McDonald’s for a year. I actually presented to like millionaires at casinos in Connecticut. It was a crazy experience.

I went, I used to go on like radio shows and be like, “Hey, I’m here with the Mac Cafe.” You know, I’m bringing back cafes for everybody. It was a really fun job. I mean, my boss was really shocked when I said I was leaving, but I just felt in my heart that this wasn’t what I wanted to do.

And I thought that at a really young age, and, I had a little bit of clients I was excited I was kind of working with and trying to build some stuff up. And I just kind of branched off. And my business partner, my former business partner, she was in Atlanta at the time. I just drove down, packed my car up, moved to Atlanta and started this new life. I lived in Buckhead. My first apartment was in Buckhead. I had a pool and a rooftop. I was like, yes–

Trevor Schmidt: That’s the way to go. Right?

Kristen Hopkins: Success at this young, early age. And the PR company, we did a lot of stuff with like lifestyle. We New York fashion week. We would fly to New York and have clients on the runways.

We would do non-profit organization. So we had so much fun, but it was like, it came a point where I was like, I want to do something else now. You know, something else that’s passionate now. I felt it.

Trevor Schmidt: Now was that something else, you know, was it just working for yourself or is that something else? What eventually became Dangers of The Mind?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. Well, what eventually became Dangers of The Mind I think that I was living a fast life, you know, in Atlanta. I was living so fast. I was, I was living in my own terms. Nobody could tell me nothing, I’m young, I’m bossy. I’m going out, I’m sipping ‘coladas at the pool at three o’clock in the day.

It was like, alright, you gotta relax.  I didn’t have those self-management skills, you know? And so I was literally at a lot of events and my life was going really fast. And three things happened to me that were really, really important that I always tell people. The first thing was I was, coming home from the club with my friends and they had car service.

And so they dropped me off at my car and my friend lived in Buckhead, but it was torrential downpours and I insisted on going home. So I was like, “I’m going home. I gotta go home. I’m only five minutes away.” My friend’s like, “no, turn up, still party with us.” And I’m like, “No, I’m going home.” So I jumped in the car.

I was on the phone with a friend of mine. This is about like 4:30 in the morning. So I jumped in the car and when I say I literally was five minutes from my house and I saw a huge puddle of water. So I tried to stop abruptly and my car hydroplaned seven times and smacked into a metal pole.

So this is the first thing. Yes. So when I got out of the car, my car was wrapped around the pole, like in a– A taxi driver actually, came up to me. And when I, when I got out, he was standing right there. It was light shining. I mean, those people like stopping and he felt my body, my whole body. I remember this distinctively. He found my  whole body and he, he yelled to everybody “She’s alive. She’s okay.” And I’m like, ” What are you talking about?” Now, mind you, I had been drinking. So I’m like, whatever the impact was. I didn’t feel it at the time. So I’m like, “what are you talking about?” Like what do you mean, you know, and so I looked back at my car and it’s like wrapped around a pole and I’m like, “Oh my gosh.”

And so thank God I didn’t hit anybody, you know? And nobody was injured and things like that. And so, when the guy, the cop came, he said, you know, I don’t know, who’s watching over you, but you’re not supposed to be here right now. He was like, “So this taxi driver suggested that he would take you home.

You can pick your car up at the lot, impound lot. I mean, it’s totalled.” And so I  was like, “Wow.” So the next month after that, my condo floods. So this is my car, my transportation. And then we have my condo. So literally, I was bumping my hair one day and then my bathroom and I heard water.

So I thought my dog was like licking up something. So I go into the, like the living room and I just see water, like flooding out, coming out of the fixtures, light fixtures. And then I see water shooting out of my second bathroom. Then I see water in the kitchen and I’m like, “Oh my God.” It hit me. My place is flooding.

So I ran upstairs. I grabbed my dog, I ran upstairs and the guy had burst a vanity. Yes. And it came down. And so I was like, okay, this is the second time. And then the third month, my computer crashed. And so that’s when I was like, “Okay, God, you’re, you’re trying to get, you’re trying to tell me something.”  Something you trying to tell me to slow down.

And so I literally, I lost everything, you know, and I got super depressed and, I came back home to North Carolina to my parents in Sanford. And I told them, I said, “Hey, I’m going to have to, I think I’m going to come home for at least six months and kind of get myself back together.” And I had some opportunity for a PR client.

He handled some Zaxby’s. So he wanted some PR for that. So I’m like, “Okay, perfect. I’ll come down here and do a little contract. Go back.” That’s, so I thought. When I get down here, he actually found out that he got bought out.  And then, so I was like, “Okay. So I guess I’m just here.” But as I walked in, in my parents’ house, I heard Dangers of The Mind. This is what’s so critical. So when I heard this, I literally went upstairs and wrote on my mom’s, it was my mom’s desk. I had a red pen. I wrote Dangers of The Mind out. I didn’t know what that even meant. Right? So then the next day I opened up my mom’s laptop cause I didn’t have a computer and I started writing and as I was writing, I was actually crying.

I was crying cause I, I did, I didn’t even know what I was writing. And once I kinda got, got out of control was I, you know, I literally read back what I wrote and it was every single attack against my thought life that shifted my progress. Everything that was really delaying me from  being this entrepreneur.

I knew it could be being this woman. I knew if I could be, and it really hit me. And so I started thinking about strategies to say, “what do we do once we identify these?” Because we’re the victim until we identify that these things are struggles of ours. And so. And I always tell people that like, “You’re the victim until you identify, but once you identify, you’re no longer the victim.”

So you have to know that distractions and weighing down, have to know that fear is stopping you from progressing. You know, you have to know that brokenness is delaying you from what you’re supposed to reach. And so I had to realize that after I allow that to be something that gave me a drive, you know, to say, okay, I need to do better.

And I had to recreate my atmosphere. I had to proclaim my vision and I had to prepare it for the greater. So I gave people tools in my book to be able to, to step by step, get over the dangers of the mind.

Trevor Schmidt: And the title of your book is in fact Dangers of The Mind, right?

Kristen Hopkins: It’s Dangers of The Mind. Everything is Dangers of The Mind.

Trevor Schmidt: And, and so from that book, then you said earlier on you started speaking and then kind of turned that into a curriculum. Is that right? For kids? Is it —

Kristen Hopkins: Yep, for kids. I turned it into a curriculum for kids, middle school and high school.

Trevor Schmidt: Okay. And so how, how do those kids engage with your curriculum? I mean, is it something that you go in and teach? Do you train other people to teach?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah, so we do a “train the trainer” model. We still go in and train if they want like a one on one experience. Cause I do believe in that. I believe that having that one-on-one experience is great just because we are really, our curriculum is very culturally responsive.

So that means that we are responsive to what’s happening at the moment. We’re responsive to people’s needs. And so we do train, we have a five module or six module course that trains on the curriculum. And then we have an intervention kit that, that started out serving in school suspension. I created it specifically for in school suspension, but now it’s multipurpose, it’s, school counselors are using it.

We have it in ISS, we have in Juvenile Justice Centers, and now it’s virtual. So we have an integrated virtual system where kids are literally listening to it through audio, or they’re responding through interactive activities online. So that’s exciting. So yeah, so we had those things and, I feel like that those are actually like ways that, that can reach kids more.

So like kids are, with our curriculum, kids are like writing rap songs about their brokenness and they’re getting up and performing them. So we have so many fun videos that I watched from kids that are literally like rapping and principals are like, these kids never really talked to me at all. And now you’ve got them rapping? Like, who even knew they would talk, you know, it really, you see the connectedness of the program and how it really allows a child to not only feel worthy, but feel safe in an environment that they can connect to.

And it really grows that relationship with the teacher and the child as well. And we have kids jump up and do skits on fear, like we have– so a lot of this is very right-brained, very creative, very visual. I am right-brained. I’m not left-brained. So I try to create things that are visual and audio. And I believe in the most immediate theory, I believe that we need that we learn better through visuals, you know? And so with my kids that are having behavioral challenges, these are the right tools for them that we found out.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. And talk a little bit more about that . What’s it like to kind of interact with the students? You know, some of them come from very challenging backgrounds may not have opened up. And in other situations.  Is there something specific about how you reach those types of kids or something about your curriculum that kind of resonates with them?

Kristen Hopkins: I would say honestly, It’s me being me . It’s sometimes it’s, it’s sad. I wish I could duplicate myself because people say all the time, like we love your curriculum, but we love you more, you know?

I think I have a personality that just sits with people, which I appreciate. I know that some of my natural gifts is talking and, and I actually really do love people. Like I love to be around people.  You can imagine how this pandemic is feeling right now. Cause I, I want to hug my students. You know, it stinks because a hug will go a long way in my, in the environments that I work in.

Like I literally, I walked into a school one day and I was just popping in. And I sat at the door. They knew who I was cause I came in for like an intro and stuff like that. So I stood at the door and I made them say one positive thing that happened today before they entered in. And then they had to give me a hug, but the way their face was , some of them felt so uncomfortable, like giving me hugs, but others of them was so happy, like their face was so happy.

And I was like,”When was the last time you got a hug?” “Like, I don’t know,maybe like a year?”  It’s stuff that you would never think of, but it’s the littlest things that make such a big difference to these kids. Like just remembering their names, and not labeling them. And that’s why I always say shifting the narrative of high- risk students to high-promise stories. These kids are high- promise. You know, these kids are at promise. They’re not at risk. And once we continue to label them, that that sits with them and they hear us talking about them, even if they’re not in the room, you know? And so we have to begin to change our language, towards our kids that are troubling or in trouble environments or come from traumatic past situations because it’s not their fault.

It’s generational, most of the time, so. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s really me just connecting with students and  having those authentic relationships and then I, I try to duplicate that with my, my facilitators. So I make sure that they have like criteria that they have to check off.

Like you have to be this person, this person, this person in order to teach this curriculum. Because if not, it’s not going to work, you know? You have to be really 100% bought in because the students feel that. Especially in this generation, they will sniff out the fake and phony all day long, you know, and of course these kids are guarded, you know, they, they have trust issues.

So it’s like once they let you in, you’re really in. So you can’t make promises that you can’t keep. It’s just a lot of little things, you know, even saying. Talking about parents, you might need to say caretaker, cause “parents” can be a trigger word. So it’s just the littlest things to make sure you’re considering when dealing with kids that I deal with every day.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. I mean, that’s just amazing. It’s just, it’s it illustrates to me kind of the number of different challenges that you talk about. Cause you talk about, you know, social, emotional learning and how we haven’t learned that. So, you know, even those from. Some, some of the most privileged backgrounds may not have had training in social, emotional learning.

So somebody who’s coming from a background where you may not have the same caretakers, may not have the same opportunities to have to learn all of these skills. You know, it’s just, it’s amazing. The kind of work that you’re doing.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. Thank you.

Trevor Schmidt: Oh, no. Aside from there only being that, the challenges, that they’re only being one Kristen Hopkins, you know, what are some of the other big challenges that you faced with Dangers of The Mind?

Kristen Hopkins: I think right now we’re facing challenges of we’re just expanding. And so, hiring and getting people on board and just really being able to do everything I want to do. Cause you know, me, Trevor, I am like an idea person. I’ll come up with something I’m like, I want to do this. I want to do this.

And really understanding like when the timing is right to do it, because I know I have like my whole life, God willing, ahead of me, you know? And so there’s so many things I want to do. So many books I want to write, so many inventions and it’s just so much I want to do. So I’m trying to space these things out. But I think that’s one of the challenges with me, cause I’m a visionary, and I actually don’t know if I told you, but we’ve started the Dream It, Own It, Master It Foundation. So it’s a nonprofit that helps raise young visionaries and to see beyond their current circumstances. So I’m a visionary, I’ve always been able to see beyond, and so one of the things I saw lacking in my environments was kids are not dreaming. Cause they’re not being able to see beyond what’s in front of them or what’s around them or what’s in their environment. And so that’s something that I want to do is be able to help kids see beyond and dream.

Trevor Schmidt: So what what’s that going to look like? I mean, are they, are you doing mentoring? Are you helping them to kind of achieve those goals? I mean, what is the foundation hoping to accomplish?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah, so I want to do a gala in 2021. And that will be spring. Hopefully, hopefully Covid is, is all set, but it will be spring and I want to do a benefit dinner where I’m honoring the visionaries across the globe that are going to come to Durham, which I’m excited about.

And then also I want to honor young visionaries, which are some of my brand ambassadors that I see the visionary qualities and leaderships in them. And then from there, we’ll, we’ll be able to do mentoring and training and doing a lot of things with different kids. Like our brand ambassador retreats we have, we’ll do one for Dream It, Own It, Master It Foundation.

Trevor Schmidt: Okay. And once again, as you say, Dream It, Own it, Master It Foundation?

Kristen Hopkins: D-O-M. Dream It, Own It, Master It.

Trevor Schmidt: I should have known, we got the D-O-M behind you. You know, Dangers of Mind. Always there, right?

Kristen Hopkins: Always there.

Trevor Schmidt: Well, what would you say some of the greatest successes that you’ve had so far with Dangers of The Mind? What stands out to you?

Kristen Hopkins: Well, one of the most amazing things that I’ve done with Dangers of The Mind is I went to Ghana, which I love. So I’ve been there three times to teach my curriculum out there. We’re actually supposed to go in, in December.  So yeah, we supposed to go in December I don’t know, but I’m still thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it, I’m tempted. But we’re supposed to go in December also, Haiti, I’ve been to Haiti, which I love, I taught my curriculum out there.

And then we’re supposed to be doing some really exciting things with Ecuatorial Guinea. Just, just some other fun things at Columbia that we’re, we’re supposed to do, but we’ll see with the COVID and stuff like that. But those are some successful things. Also in 2015, when I first wrote my book, my friend, who plays football, he was, he had my book on the table one day.

And one of his friends came in and was like, “Oh, what’s this? “And he was like,” Dangers of The Mind.” And he was like, “Oh, this is dope. Can I take it?” But yeah, sure. So he texted him, asked him for my number. And so I got a call and this is, this is such a good example of first impressions are everything. So I got a call and I didn’t know who was on the phone. It was an LA number.

And I’m like, “Hello, this is Kristen.” And you know, and they were like, “Hey, I got your book off  your friends coffee table and I wanted to just talk to you and actually, what inspired you to write this?” So I could have been like, who is this? You know what I’m saying? I was like, oh, well, you know, I just talked about what inspired me.

He was like, “This is phenomenal.” And he was like, “Well, well give me, let me give you a call back in a week. And I was, I didn’t know who this guy was. I didn’t know what was going on. So I called my friend, like, “who is this guy?”  “Oh no, he’s someone to know.” So I’m like, “What?” So he called me back in a week and he told me, “Hey, we’re going to, the Russell Simmons foundation is going to buy 400 copies of your book. And we’re going to fly you to LA, to Russell’s house to give your books out and to speak for the ethics foundation organization”, or something like that. And so I was like, “What?” And so like literally in the next week I was at Russell’s house and with all the, all the famous people, I mean, like.

People was just a lot, a lot at his house, you know. And I’m in the kitchen just networking,  you know, I mean these, these people got my book and I mean, I was getting DMS like, “Oh, I read your book on the way on the flight home. It’s amazing.”  So it was a really amazing opportunity.  And, and there’s been several things like that, but yeah, I think one of, one of my high career moments though, was I spoke for Lake Placid in Lake Placid for a conference and I spoke alongside Dr. Maurice Layez .

And he had been in social, emotional work for 45 years. So I spoke right after him and to see him taking notes on my presentation had me like, cause I mean, he started, Rutgers, the school of social work that I I went to. And so I had talked to him. I’m like, “I went to your school, this is so amazing.” And so it just was phenomenal to see how fast, you know, I’ve come up. And then also I spoke for international social, emotional learning day. So the first international social, emotional learning day, I was one of the speakers for that. So it’s been many of successful moments, but. Those are some of the highlights.

Trevor Schmidt: Well, that’s fantastic. And you know, you, you touched on something that I wanted to ask you, cause you’ve always struck me as somebody who’s just an excellent networker because every time I talk to you, you’re just like, I was having this conversation with this guy. And now all of a sudden, I’m speaking at this event, I’ve had this conversation with this lady over here and we know we got her curriculum in that, but what do you attribute to that? I mean, how, what advice do you give to people who are looking to either be better networkers? Or what do you say is, you know, your gift as a networker, what what works for you?

Kristen Hopkins: So it’s so funny you asked this because we just filmed a video on networking that’s going on, coming on our YouTube channel, Kristen Hopkins Global. But it’s, I love this topic because I think that people, sometimes people are very awkward when it comes to networking. You don’t have to be, but because of the fact that it’s just really about knowing who you are. When you’re confident in who you are, when you’re self-aware, when you know your strengths and your limitations, you literally can sell yourself.

But the problem is when people go into network environments, they sometimes have insecurities. So they don’t, they’re not as confident or they’re not as like bubbly or happy, or just explain who they are. You know, I know a couple of people who have to take a couple sips of wine to say, “Hey.” You know, before they can network and I’m not opposed to it, but I will say that it just, you just have to know who you are. When you know who you are.

And this is one of my quotes on our wall. And in my book, it says, “Know your power so that your influence can live up to it.” So know your power, you know who you are. If you know what you carry, then every day you walk around, your influence is living up to it. You’re influencing people by the day, by the minute, by the hour because you know the power that you carry. And so when it comes to networking, it’s just you got to know your power so that your influence can live up to it, you know?

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. That’s great. So I’m looking forward to this video because I’m going to bookmark it and go back to it over and over again. Cause you know, no matter what business you’re in, whether you’re an entrepreneur, whether you’re lawyers, CPA, whatever you do, and you’re going to have to network to kind of grow your business, so.

Kristen Hopkins: You have to. And on top of that, I think one of the biggest things with networking is building authentic and genuine relationships. And also allow people to know that you’re trying to connect the dots. You know, like I’m not networking with someone and I’m not bringing something to the table. Like I already know what I carry. Like I know my power, right. So when I come to the table, I’m already thinking about how can we work together? Or when I meet you now, now I’m going to follow up with the email that says, how can we work together or position you with something that either talks about you, or shows that I’ve done my research on you.

That’s a big thing for me because people will DM me all day and they’re like, “Oh, do you teach people how to write books?” And I’m like, “Hm, if you looked at my bio, and you would’ve saw those are one of my coaching options.”  So it shows that you don’t research. And to be honest, for very professional people, it turns them off, because it is like, now, I know your work ethic, I know your mindset, you know?

And so you have to be like, to me, I’m just on top of my game. When I meet people, I’m going to take the time before I just jump in and try to email you. I’m going to take the time to really research you and really see how does this benefit both of us? How is this mutually beneficial? Because sometimes we’re always thinking about how can it benefit us?

And that’s a turn off for people, you know, because they, they, they can feel that that’s not genuine. And then also just making sure that you connect the dots like the dots are really really important for me. Just making sure that people understand what you bring to the table.

Because a lot of people will reach out and say, “Oh, let me pick your brain.” And it’s like, I cannot stand that, it’s like a pet peeve of mine because I’m like, “you know, how much money I paid for this brain? You know how many books I read for this brain?” You know, like we have to make sure that we’re, we’re coming into networking in such an organic and authentic way that it just feels good. It feels natural, you know.

Trevor Schmidt: Well, it’s so much easier in some respects. I think, you know, it’s when you try to be somebody that you’re not, or when you’re trying to accomplish something that’s not consistent with who you are. That’s when networking becomes hard. But if you’re talking to the people that you want to know, and you genuinely want to know them. And you express that, and you communicate it, and you can tell what you can do to help them. I mean, It makes it a lot easier, I think.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. And you just reminded me of something. Also, one thing I want to say that people forget when they think of social, emotional learning, social, emotional learning goes hand in hand with character development. And so if you don’t know your core values, like integrity, respect, responsibility, loyalty, whatever those core values are to you.

It’s the foundation before we can learn SEL. And so when you’re going into an environment where, you know, maybe I’m saying, “Oh, Trevor, I love the fact that you love X, Y, and Z.” Whatever that is, whatever that is that I see that’s a core value of yours, or you consistently stand on that thing, or you’re consistently integral. You know, whatever that is.

And now I can say I can relate to you and I can be able to come to a common space with you. But if you don’t know people’s core values, and I tell this to, we did a little Instagram video or real, the new reels on Instagram about knowing your three, three friends.Thinking about your three friends and knowing if you could spit out their core values.

And if you can’t, that’s a problem. That’s a problem and you have to really go think about it and say, wow, why don’t know my friends’ core values, because if something was to really pop off, you know, are they, are you going to have a shaky friend that’s not going to have a foundation? Or are you goingto know I can count on so and so, because she’s loyal. I can count on so and so, because he’s responsible or he’s respectful, or he has integrity. Those are really important. I think we stray away from those things.

Trevor Schmidt: I also think of the opposite. Would my three friends be able to say what my core values are?

Kristen Hopkins: Yes! Exactly.

Trevor Schmidt: Have I communicated that? Have I been clear about that?

Kristen Hopkins: Have you been clear about it? And I think that that’s a conversation in itself, you know, to be able to have, because I think we we’ve moved so fast sometimes that we don’t realize what our, what are our core values. And I think our core values change as we grow too. So it’s like, how do we reevaluate those core values and see what that looks like?

Trevor Schmidt: No. It’s interesting. As we were, as I was preparing for this interview, I was, I was thinking about the fact that, you know, social, emotional learning is really kind of a core part of your business, but so many of the keys in it seemed to be very important to business itself. So how do you find kind of, social, emotional learning, influencing how you conduct your business or how you interact with other people?

Kristen Hopkins: Oh yeah. Oh, I can’t, I can’t talk about it and not be about it. That’s like, I learned that quick. Okay. I learned that quick. I started speaking about social, emotional learning, and then I’m like, “Whoa, this is like coming back to my whole life.”

And so I had to really start applying these things to my life. And I mean, my business, my mindset, everything from just having a growth mindset, it all like skyrocketed for me because I really put this stuff into practice. And I mean, not just with business, but with my lifestyle. We’re working out. Some management doesn’t just apply when we’re doing business.

Some management applies in our entire life. How can we organize our bills. How can we be self-disciplined when it comes to working out or a goal that we really want to have? Relationship skills don’t just apply to our business. It applies to our life. How are, how are we building healthy relationships with our own family members?

How are we renewing those relationships? What does that look like? And so I, I think that it it has–  social, emotional learning is like, the umbrella, my business. Because when you think about it, everything functions from social, emotional learning from, and then even with our gear, our clothes, you know, all that, you can still speak to social, emotional learning, you can speak to that as well, you know? So, yeah, it, it encompasses everything.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. I mean, it absolutely has to, I think you’re right that, you know, you couldn’t go out and speak about it and have it not reflect your own  business andnot  have it reflectin your own life. So, I wanted to ask you, cause I know you’ve done a lot of work with kind of some of these big school systems–

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah.

Trevor Schmidt: So if there’s a kind of a startup that’s coming in behind you, that is trying to work with these institutions, any tips or, or kind of the struggles that you’ve had kind of trying to work with a big tool district or a big institution like that?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah.  I would just say follow up, follow up, follow up. Cause they have so much going on and so many curriculums I’ve been working with, especially huge districts.  I would also say just be very clear in what you want too. Because sometimes we try to beat around the bush, but like you have to be straightforward with school districts. You have to, and you also have to come very well prepared. Like you should have a document that that is either a PDF or a deck that shows everything you’ve done. The work that you’ve done, the data that you have collected. I mean, it should show where they don’t have to go searching for anything from you. It should be one document that shows everything because what I’ve learned about educators and I love educators, but what I’ve learned about them is they don’t want to do all that.

They don’t want, like they get very overwhelmed very, very quickly. And so just allowing them to be straightforward and say, “Hey, on page one, here’s this.” Highlight, give them a little high level overview, I think is important. And then also understanding how important data is because you have to make sure that you are collecting the data you need for your programs. And I learned this the hard way, because I thought that like the teachers would do it. Like I gave them the sheets and said, “Hey, you know, send those sheets and we’re going to even provide a link for you where you can click and submit it.” And then it’s like, later in the semester, it’s like, where where are all the sheets? What’s going on?

And so I had to learn that I had to be responsible for that and really make sure that that’s being pushed because it is the significance of your program. It shows if your program is working or not, and it shows what outcomes your program really has.

Trevor Schmidt: And did you find it to be important to have kind of an advocate kind of within either the school district or within kind of the institution that you’re working with? How important is that? And again, maybe it goes back to networking, but how do you kind of identify that advocate?

Kristen Hopkins:  Oh, it’s very important. I think that you need to always have a contact person, always have someone that you can lean on, always have someone on the ground level.  For our company, we have success coaches.

So you like check in with the program, but I think is important to advocate for the programs that you work with, but especially in my environment, because you know, you could, you got kids that might cuss a teacher out, and then the teacher’s gotta teach social, emotional learning, and they’re like, “bump this, I’m not doing this.” You know?

So you got to reel them back in, you got to check in on ’em and it’s important also when working with school districts that you are able not only to train on your program, but you train staff on your program too. Like when I say staff, you don’t just train facilitators, you need to train staff because the whole building needs SEL.

The whole building needs to shift in culture and climate. And if you got only a group of people that are doing this and everyone else’s is not modeling this in their own life, then it becomes, it doesn’t become what you needed to be or sustainable. And so, that’s one thing we’re big on and also embedding it in our communities with our parents.

And that’s something I’m speaking on today with Clayton County. It’s really the parent night. And I’m speaking about resilience, you know, and making sure that people understand that, “Hey, listen, you are resilient, but you were resilient without key social, emotional skills and so that’s why you’re resilient SEL. And that’s important for me to allow them to understand because with us, we do things from a practical lens. A lot of people could, could talk about social, emotional learning from a scientific lens. And I could be in those conversations all day, but it doesn’t reach the people that we need it to reach.

So we have to break it down.  I had to give it to you the plainest way possible so that people could realize, “Whoa, my attitudes and my hate behaviors that I’ve acting one or doing everyday or displaying every day, that’s SEL.” So if I changed that, I’m gonna, you know, be greater than I was yesterday. That’s the goal, you know, so I think it’s important to do all those things.

Trevor Schmidt: That’s interesting. Cause you kind of touch on that, how important it is to have that holistic view. And I think you would actually said it in one of your recent podcast episodes where, you know, you can teach all these kids in the school about social, emotional learning, but then they’re going to go home and they’re going to deal with mom and dad.

Mom and dad, like are not providing social emotional learning. You gotta, you gotta provide that, that, that teaching to kind of all the caregivers. So how do you kind of from your model, how do you, how do you approach that? I mean, it’s a big ask.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah, so we have a program or a forum called, “Let’s Talk More SEL.” Started this last September in Hartford with the Hartford Public School district. We had, we promoted in two weeks, had about 180 parents come out. We had catered food. We had six breakout workshop sessions. We had the mayor, the state of, state representatives. All these people come out and we talked about, we had panel discussions about how do we embed social, emotional learning as our positions, as the chief of police, as the mayor, as the state representative? How do I embed this into my job so that ultimately it could be embeddedd in their communities. And so we taught parents and this is what, this is, what we do with different districts is we’d go out and we wanted to do this even more now.  But we want to now of course go virtual for a little bit, but we’d go out and we teach parents what are social, emotional skills. And then we give them the packets on how to incorporate this in the home. So activities and chores and games to incorporate SEL in your home. So that makes it easier for them to be able to build relationships with their kids.

Trevor Schmidt: That’s great. It’s so important too. It’s just seems like there’s so many aspects to your work that, you know, it’s, it’s a big ask, but you know, you’re going all directions.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. And then we’re actually about to do an HBCU tour, which I’m really excited about. And that’s teaching college students about core social, emotional skills.  So that, because it’s about 88% of employers are looking for kids with social, emotional skills and these kids don’t even know what that is. So, so being able to help them with that as well. And then we’ll continue to go to different colleges, but we’re starting off with a pilot, HBCU tour. And then we want to continue to go to different, many main schools.

Trevor Schmidt: That’s great.  And now I’m going to, I’m gonna spring a question on you. I didn’t, I didn’t give this one to you in advance, but you know, at the end of the day, you know, I don’t know, 50, 60 years down the road, you’re, you’re done retired with business and you just like, what would it take for you to look back on kind of your career, the business and say, “yes, this was a success. I accomplished what I wanted to.”

Kristen Hopkins: Impact. I need to reach like millions and millions of kids for me to say, “This was it.” I get stories and DMS all the time and it just makes, people don’t understand. I don’t even exaggerate when I say like, this stuff makes my day because I have an intrinsic motivation and Itell, I teach my kids this.

So there’s extrinsic and intrinsic. And intrinsic is you do things because you want to feel an internal award. Extrinsic is you do things because you want an incentive of money or things like that. And so what I do, I feel like I’ve mastered intrinsic motivation. Like everyday I wake up, I’m motivated. I am dancing in my place. I am excited to start the day. I just moved to downtown Durham. So I’m like, “listen, sunlight hit me.” You know, like I’m excited. I’m excited to just be able to be alive and walk in purpose. And so for me, I feel like, it would just be the impact of changing lives and seeing the seeds that, cause I feel like these are seeds that I plant into people. Even when I’m talking and sharing information, they’re seeds, they’re nuggets, and I want to see them grow.

And so seeing other people be successful, seeing my brand ambassadors start businesses and be successful. I’ve seen my kids, you know, go from being shot four times, and now in college. Like that’s already mind- blowing to me, these are things that make me feel like I’ve, I’ve reached a certain level of success.

Of course I would love to see a certain amount of money in my bank account and in my 401 and you know, all those things, but the, the biggest thing for me is, is the impact.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. Well, I, you know, as I sit here thinking about it, you really have an opportunity to, and that generational change, not just like change for one life, but you, you know, if one kid learns those processes, it has their own kid and kind of instills that into the next generation. I mean, that’s longterm impact. That’s that’s more than a bank account, that’s more than a 401k, that’s, you know, changing people’s lives so. Y

eah, that’s

Kristen Hopkins: big. Wow. I am. I’ve never looked at it like that.

Trevor Schmidt: So who do you look up to in business? Do you have kind of mentors or role models that you’re looking up to?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah, so I have a couple. One of them is Dr. Kingswood Fletcher and he’s my mentor. He has traveled the world. He’s actually a King in Ghana.  And that’s where I partnered with Life for Africa, his company. And when I go to Donna and teach my curriculums, he’s authored like 15 books and, you know, just a phenomenal, phenomenal guy. Pastor as well.

And so that’s what one of them. Another one is Mina Fort Brown. She served on the education board here for 16 years national and she’s traveled the world. Been on Capitol Hill advocating for policy changes. Very, very big mentor of mine that I support and appreciate. And then I have, I have so many other people, you know, one of the things about me is that I stay around people with wisdom.

And a lot of people were like, “You’re never around your friends or hanging out with your friends.” And it’s like, I’ll hang out with them. But I will sit with a person that’s older than me, like all day. And I would just learn and listen to scenarios.

When I was like 22, 23, I was like in Atlanta at the city called Buckhead. And there was all these old entrepreneurs. I think that’s where I really got it from, because I realized, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about myself.’ Like these people are talking about themselves and all the things that they’ve done and, and when you’re young and you’re successful, you can get big headed because you know, people are always like, “Oh my God, you’ve done so well for yourself.”

And although I love that, it’s like, no, if you really knew my goals, I’m okay, but I’m not doing what I should be doing, you know? And so when it comes to people, wisdom being around me, first of all, they are going to tell you like it is cause they don’t care. They’re like I’m so past the age limit, I don’t care about anything. They’re gonna say it like it is.

And then second, they’re going to really be in a place where  that’s humbling where they’re, they’re talking about all the accomplishments that they’ve done and that’s what I like to hear. Cause it keeps me going versus kind of highlighting more of what I’ve done.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah. So, so what are some of the pieces of advice that you’ve received from, from these folks that really stands out to you or stuck with you?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. One, one person told me, and this is not some I mentioned, but I was at the upholstery  shop the other day. He owns Durham Upholsteries and I was sitting there  and he was like, “Hey, how’s everything going?” And he’s the entrepreneur for years. I said, “Everything’s  going good.”

Every time I’m there, I’m always talking to them for like an hour. And so I’m like, “Everything’s going good.” And he was like, “You working hard?” I said, “Oh yeah, I’m working so hard.” And he’s like, “Hm, you probably only working 30%.” And when he said that, I was like, “What?” You know, I was insulted. And you know, when I really thought  about it,he was like, “Kristen, you have so much more in you. You think you’re working hard, but you’re not working hard at all because you’re, you have a cap of what working hard is.” And so when he said that, I was like, “Whoa.” And so it just really kind of transformed me. And another one is my mentor. He says like, “Who says you can’t?”

And it’s just like, “Who says you can’t, who says you can’t do this?”  And that really took me by storm too, because it’s like, who says I can’t? Nobody.  I can do whatever I want to do.

Trevor Schmidt:  I love it. That’s, that’s the inspiration. Cause you know, there’s enough people in the world who are gonna tell you no. So sometimes you gotta be able to say, “Who says I can’t?”

Kristen Hopkins: Exactly, exactly. I think we’ve been proven this during these times. Everybody’s being innovative and changing. And so.

Trevor Schmidt: Yeah, if anybody would have just told us what we were doing in 2020 was what we were going to be doing, we’d be like, no.

Kristen Hopkins: Right. You would never imagine.

Trevor Schmidt: No, but so now it’s your turn. So we are the Founder Shares Podcast and so I love to ask all of my guests, you know, if there’s one piece of advice that you could share with another founder or somebody who is thinking about starting a business, and it doesn’t have to be one piece of advice, but what is it that you’d like to share with other people?

Kristen Hopkins: Well, I’m going to leave you with this quote. and it’s a quote from my third affirmation book. I love quotes by the way. So, so many, but it says, “The position of your mind determines the posture of your life.” And so every day we wake up, we have positioned as an entrepreneur, like as just someone in general.

But if we’re talking about entrepreneurship, entrepreneurships are people that fix situations and solve solutions, right? Or bring, bring about solution. Bring about change. And so we have social responsibility to, to whatever that is that that looks like for us.

So what I would say is that, the position of your mind determines the posture of your life. Every day you wake up, you position in a certain way. And that way it’s like whether you are, whatever your title is, that’s your position, but your mind is positioned in that way. So if you have negative thoughts, you need to quickly combat those thoughts with positive thoughts and start affirming yourself over and over and over again. And then it determines the outcome of your life. So it determines the posture. So if we sit up straight, right, we’re always sitting up straight or we could be hunched back. Everybody has different postures. So you got to ask yourself, what is the posture of my life?

And then that shows you the outcomes of your life that shows you, is my life positive? Or is my life successful? And so when we think about this everyday, just know that the position of your mind, every day you wake up, it determines the posture it’s determines the outcomes of your life.

Trevor Schmidt: Oh, I love it. Cause you know, again, it goes back to that. You know, your life, your business, all of this is integrated. And so you can’t separate the two and it, you know, that advice applies to what I’m going to do in my daily life. It’s going to apply with what I’m doing in business.

Kristen Hopkins: Exactly.

Trevor Schmidt: That’s fantastic.

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. And so that’s my, that’s my piece of advice. And then, and then, you know, just never give up, you know. The world gets tough. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy at all. And I think on Instagram and social media, it’s like this entrepreneurship is this new, this new wave. And everybody’s like an entrepreneur. And I think that’s good and all, but also like, entrepreneurship is not an overnight success. And that’s what you have to remember. So when, when these kids or adults are just looking, “Oh my God, they’re doing amazing.”

Or, “Oh my God, she’s doing great.” It’s like, I always tell people, this is 11 years in. Okay. This is not like an overnight thing. So don’t let this fool you that, you know, and only 11 years in I’m here. You know, imagine 20 years and like, so I just showed you that it takes time and it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So continue to just do what you do every day. Be consistent at it, be dedicated to it, be passionate about it, and it’s going to happen for you.

Trevor Schmidt: I love it. And that, you know, how do people get in touch with you if they, if they want to reach out and follow you either on Instagram or catch up on some of these videos that you mentioned today?

Kristen Hopkins: Yeah. So is one of my websites. And then there’s You also can follow me on Instagram, Kristen, K-R-I-S-T-E-N-D-Hopkins.  And then our Dangers of The Mind page as well.

Trevor Schmidt: Alright. Well, Kristen, thanks so much for taking the time out. Thanks for all that you do. I could talk to you for hours, but I know we got some other things to do. You got, you’ve got a thousand things going on, so I’ll let you get to it, but I appreciate it so much.

Kristen Hopkins: Awesome, well, thank you so much for allowing me to be on the Founder Shares. I really enjoyed myself and I continue to, well I’ll continue to look for more episodes.

Trevor Schmidt: Alright. I appreciate it, Kristen.

Kristen Hopkins: Alright, thanks so much.

Full Episode Transcript

Founder Shares is edited and produced by Earfluence.

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