APU Business Leading Forward Podcast

Discipline and Mindset: Marathons and Entrepreneurship

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Podcast featuring Dr. Kandis Boyd WyattFaculty Member, Wallace E. Boston School of Business and
Karen Murray, entrepreneur and marathon runner

Are your goals big enough? The bigger the goal, the greater the passion, says entrepreneur and experienced marathon runner, Karen Murray. In this episode, APU Business professor Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt talks with her about how running has given her the discipline and confidence needed to start her own business. Learn how she has used affirmations and positive self-talk to help her complete more than 200 marathons and how that positive mindset has helped her fight off any self-doubt or fear about her entrepreneurial goals. 

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Read the Transcript:

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt. The goal of this podcast is to highlight our local heroes in our community who are champions of important issues affecting us on a national and international scale. So today we’re going to add to that very important discussion and highlight the importance of creating and executing a clear vision as you pursue your dreams.

So today my guest is Karen Murray, who is a marathon runner. She has completed over 200 marathons to date, including a marathon in every state. In which she completed in three and a half years. Once she decided at 46-and-a-half, that her goal would be to run a marathon in every state before she turned 50. And she completed that goal three days before her 50th birthday.

She is currently working on the third round of running a marathon in every state. And she also serves as a coach to people to help them meet their running goals and health goals. So after leaving the corporate world, she now prides herself by enabling others to start their own business with unlimited opportunities and growth potential. Her motto is “You can do anything you set your mind to do.” So Karen, welcome to the podcast and thank you for joining me.

Karen Murray: Thank you so much, Kandis. It’s such an honor and a privilege to join you and all your listeners.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Oh Karen, thank you so much. The pleasure is all mine. So let’s get started. There are so many critical conversations happening today that address issues surrounding, just becoming an experienced runner. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why this topic is so dear to your heart?

Karen Murray: Well, since running has come into my life so late in my life, it actually has opened up so many amazing doors for me. If you would have asked me, even at 45, what my five-year plan was, it didn’t include running even one marathon. I grew up with two deaf parents and I’m really grateful for all the early lessons that that taught me. Between interpreting for them and having to go places for them and pretty much be their ears since I was three years old.

It wasn’t easy, but I’m really grateful for those lessons. And my parents were limited and didn’t really guide me into any kind of goal setting and telling me how important education is. I mean, they did encourage me to go to school obviously every day, because that was mandated by the state. But as a teen and young adult, I found myself with very low self-esteem and running changed that for me.

I mean, running has brought me so much confidence that I never knew—it finally gave me what goal setting was. And finally gave me a vision of really what I wanted to do with my future. And even though I did encourage my own three children into their dreams and goals, it was a lesson that was hard for me. And so running really is very dear to me because it opened up so many doors and connections with other people. And I’m really grateful that I did finally start running.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I really think the listeners can identify with what you said about goal setting. For many people, it’s something that is not taught until later in life. So let’s connect goals and running. Can you start by talking about maybe some of the challenges you encountered when speaking about your running goals?

Karen Murray: Well, since I was working full time and had three children, time is always a big item for everybody, time management. So I had to find time for training and as I started increasing my goals and wanted to then travel to each different State, was scheduling and balancing work with family and personal time. And I discovered Marie Forleo’s line, which I absolutely love. She says “Everything is figureoutable.” And so every time I run into a challenge I’m like, we are all resourceful and we all could use our resources. So everything is figureoutable. I use that line frequently when I come upon obstacles.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I like that word figureoutable because it means you can come up with a solution. So can you tell our listeners, how do you set and achieve goals?

Karen Murray: When you really find your passion and your “why” to achieve that goal, you are so extremely motivated. You literally become unstoppable. Nothing gets in the way of your goal. Passion creates that fuel, that overrides all the fears. And if you’ve ever read Grant Cardone’s book “10X”, I strongly recommend it. He says that we’re all taught to take baby steps or set realistic goals, but that we were taught all wrong. He says to set huge goals, like 10X goals. He claims that if your dream is big enough, you’re going to be more passionate about achieving them.

[Podcast: Empowering Women to Overcome Mediocrity]

And I also use affirmations to help me believe in myself and to get through the next finish lines or within business goals or anything. I still do that today with my career change and shift that I’m in now. I have to remind myself that I’m courageous and I trust the choices that I make. I believe in myself. Even when you don’t, you have to keep a positive mindset and use positive self-talk. Talk to yourself and give advice like you’re talking to your best friend. It’s too easy to have a negative mindset.

In fact, we all have 60,000 thoughts per day. Did you know that of those 60,000 thoughts, most of them are negative and 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday. I mean, that’s really profound.

We actually need to teach ourselves to have a positive mindset. It doesn’t mean that we have to walk around with smiles a hundred percent of the time. It just means that we need to teach ourselves the positive triggers. When our mind goes into that negative black hole, that we can sometimes tend to find ourselves in. That’s where running really helped me too. When I start my day with a run or whatever exercise you enjoy, that gets your heartbeat up 30 minutes a day. You start your day off with a positive mindset with that natural dopamine. It’s really a great way to start your day.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: I think that’s a great point. That a great way to start your day is to just try and be as positive as you can be. So that’s awesome. Thank you so much, Karen. So I understand you just left the corporate world after 30+ years. As you enter into your new business ventures, do you draw on the strengths of running to help you get through the dips of self-employment?

Karen Murray: Oh my gosh, absolutely. I mean, my strength does come from the confidence that I have drawn through running. I’m very humble about all the marathons that I have run and all the experiences that I have there. But I do need to draw on the strength of my running, to lead me to where I am today.

The self-employment is awesome because I love the autonomy. I love being able to create my own schedule. However, I’m finding that it’s taking me a little bit more discipline than I thought I needed. So I need to draw on the discipline that gets me up every morning to go for a run, to get me through the activity that I need to do during the day.

There are days when I feel fear. And then I have to remind myself that when that fear tries to raise its ugly head, that I have to be strong and plow through. That’s the saying that most of you may have heard, “feel the fear and do it anyway” because usually once you cross certain hurdles or tasks, those fears go away.

Learning something new could be really nerve wracking. Do you recall when you were nervous about learning or handling something new? But once you did it a couple of times, those tasks, you can handle those with ease. Now running did teach me that. I used to be so nervous, but it’s definitely given me the confidence that I need.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Yeah. That is a good point. There have been several times where my mind almost talked me out of doing a lot of things. And like you said, you sometimes have to just fight through the fear.

Let’s talk about American Public University. We have a large number of students that are in the School of Business. How do you use some basic academic practices and theories to define what’s the best strategy to become more mindful of setting and achieving goals?

Karen Murray: When you find your why, you get so passionate about what your future goals are. And time passes so fast. And you’re so laser-focused. Like for instance, I never thought I would even have the financial ability to travel all 50 States and complete that goal. But when you’re passionate about your goal, you just, you find a way to so it. I wound up finding women to share hotel rooms with and sharing rental car expenses. Again, when you’re passionate, you just, you light up.

I mean, some of those core values that I now look for in determining who I want to work for or the people I want to work on my team, it’s relationships matter, people come first. When you run and stuff, running which is personal to business, but it’s really helped me with my mindset so much.

The second thing is relentless pursuit of personal growth. Another thing I look for in business is to make sure that we all have open, honest and productive communication. You definitely want to work with people who are ethical and doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. You want to work with a true team and strive to be a positive influence. I love being of service and doing good in the world and we all have fun and get stuff done.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: It sounds like your work environment is pretty awesome. So I’m just going to ask a very basic question. I’m not a runner, so I always wonder, does every person have the skills to be a runner? And does every person have the skills to create and execute goals to become an experienced runner?

Karen Murray: Yes, absolutely. What your mind believes, your body or you can achieve. Absolutely, hands down, without a doubt.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Well, that gives me hope. Because I have to admit, I do truly look up to people who just have that discipline and that ethic to just get up and go after their goals and especially when it comes to running. So thank you so much for that. As we begin to wrap up, what are some resources or some suggestions that you would offer to people, if they want to become a runner or just in general, if they want to set and achieve their goals?

Karen Murray: Well, I can definitely be available as a resource. Any one of your listeners can give me a call, whether they want to set and achieve their marathon goals or their financial goals. Or at a place where they’re trying to figure out their future career goals. I mean, I’m here to help. So feel free to have them call me. My cell phone number is (203) 918-7736. Or you can visit my website karenbmurray.net. And it’s Karen K-A-R-E-N B as in Beth, Murray M-U-R-R-A-Y.net.

To back up a little bit, I’m working with somebody now who has never been a runner and wants to run a marathon in October. She doesn’t want to go outside right now because it’s a little bit cold, and she’s got a bike. So we’re starting on the bike a little bit and it’s just getting the endurance up and getting a couple of minutes each day and working up to getting that endurance and your heart rate up. And I love working with beginners actually, because usually when they hit their goal, to see them cross that finish line is just an amazing feeling. Not just for the runner, the beginner runner, but also for me. I love to see people light up. So I look forward to your listeners calling me.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: Wow, that’s great. I know running is such a sense of accomplishment, not necessarily being first, but just being able to start and finish. It’s a goal in and of itself. Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your expertise and your perspective on this issue. And thanks for joining me today for this podcast.

Karen Murray: Thank you. Be well and stay safe.

Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt: And also thank you to our listeners for joining us. As a reminder, you can learn more about these topics by signing up for American Public University’s bi-monthly newsletter. So until our next podcast, be well and be safe.

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Public University and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. A Professor and STEM advocate, she is a renown global speaker and holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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