In this episode, we visit with Nikki Speer of Redefined Courage.
Nikki shares the promise she made to her mother and what she's learning as a strong visionary leader and nonprofit founder, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities that she and her team face as they help women during some of their most vulnerable moments.
Redefine Courage believes every woman healing from breast surgery deserves the comfort and practicality that the HOPE post-operative shirt provides. #hope4everywoman
Rally Corp couldn't agree more, and it is an honor to know Nikki and her team and introduce her to our #TextGen community.
Hello, and welcome back to #TextGen. In this episode, I'm going to introduce you to Nikki Speer with Redefined Courage. Now, what's exciting about Nikki is when I first met her, I thought, ''You know, there's a good soul. There's someone I would like to introduce to my friends and family.'' Frankly, I would not be much of a host here on #TextGen if I wasn't constantly on the lookout for people like Nikki. Nikki has a very touching story with watching her own mother go through treatments with breast cancer and just the passion and the promise that she made her mother to help people like her that were on a similar journey was, is very touching and heartwarming. Also, Nikki's vulnerability and how open she is with her own either self-limiting beliefs or current concern she has with what it takes to run a non-profit as a visionary, as the founder. Is she the right person to take it to the next level? Does she need to find someone that's maybe more of an execution person or more of what I would call an integrator? I thought that vulnerability and an openness in our conversation was incredible. She also touches on her strategies to raise support working with local businesses, which I thought was phenomenal, not something I come across in many conversations. And I talk with hundreds of thousands of non-profits over the years. So I really found her vulnerability, her personal story, but also just her strategy very intriguing when it comes to mobilizing people and moving them to action. I would like to introduce you to Nikki Speer with Redefined Courage in this episode of #TextGen. Let's get started.
Welcome to #TextGen. This is James, your host, and I'm excited today to be with Nikki Speer. Nikki, welcome. We're glad you are here.
Thank you. [I'm] so glad to be here with you.
So exciting. Listen, you and I have just met. I think we just had a couple of conversations, but in our first, very first conversation, Nikki, I thought, ''Well, there's a woman I would like to talk to and interview.'' It seem like you have an amazing heart for what you do and the work that you're about. Why don't you introduce us a bit to who you are and what you're doing today?
Sure, absolutely. I am a mom of three teenagers, first and foremost; a wife to my husband, Jared, for 17 years; and I am a non-profit founder. I founded Redefined Courage basically from a promise to my mom to make her feel beautiful. She had battled breast cancer, not once, not twice, but three times. It really ravaged her entire torso. As a woman, as a person, as someone even like getting dressed in the morning, it's really difficult to get dressed, completely bandaged like a burn victim. Have no breast, no hair, big arms from lymphedema, big belly from chemotherapy and, overall, just not feeling beautiful. My mom was the most beautiful woman that I'd ever met. Watching her and seeing all of this unfold, I knew in my heart that I wanted to do something. I simply made a promise that I would design clothing for her to make her feel beautiful. That is the day that Redefined Courage started to unfold before I even knew it would be Redefined Courage, before I even knew it would be a non-profit, before I even spoke those words. That is kind of a little bit of our backstory and how we got started. We currently support women that are recovering from breast surgery with a shirt called Hope. Hope is a specifically designed with pockets inside to hold drain bulbs that women come home with after a breast surgery to release the fluid. It is very soft and comfortable and button up because there's limited mobility with your arms. I just thought of some of the things that my aunts and my mom and myself had had. I personally preventatively had this surgery and just thought I want to help women feel beautiful and comfortable in the skin that they're in, with the body that they have in the moment that this tragic thing is happening. I want to be a light. That is what Redefined Courage is.
Nikki, that seems so practical. It's amazing yet impactful. I just don't think we, men, really understand that. We have family friends that have gone through those surgeries and we've seen it in our relationships. But to live it and experience it with your own mother and then to be able to kind of connect the dots down what needs to happen, as you said, get the vision before you got the implementation sorted out, that's just absolutely amazing. How's your mom doing today?
My mom is actually home with the Lord. She has left this earth almost six years ago now. Now, I can actually talk about it with a smile on my face. It's not that it doesn't hurt, but I am now able to share her legacy of faith and hope and courage with the world, and I'm doing something good with the pain that tried to take me out. But I am now doing something good with it. She is no longer here on this earth and actually wasn't even able to see the design that I drew. I did tell her and make the promise, and she said, ''I believe you'll do it.'' With those words from my mom, I carried on the vision. Actually, 70 days after I made the promise, my mom went home to be with God.
I'm both sorry to hear that, but also encouraged that you kept your promise and you gave her such an amazing opportunity to impact so many other lives.
So many people experience -- well, we all experience loss -- but so many experienced loss and that's the end of it; it's just loss. But your loss sounds like it's turned into triumph and help for others. Would you agree?
Yeah, absolutely. I'm just so fortunate that I was able to see kind of a bigger picture. It's not always that way for everybody -- and it doesn't have to be because everybody's story is different. Not everybody's pain is meant to turn into purpose and not every road you walk down is meant to turn into this triumphant thing. I think there's a plan and a purpose for everyone. But I do believe that it really was meant for me to do. It feels like it's what I'm supposed to do with my life. Even though some days are very difficult, I am very grateful that I was able to see the good in the really hard things. Yes.
Yeah. That's absolutely right. Something you said that really struck me and I totally agree. Not every pain is necessarily meant to turn into purpose on a scale like what you've done. I think that a lot of times, we try to find meaning in our pain. But would you agree that that's too big of a question sometimes, isn't it? Kind of finding why...
Yeah, I really do. I think had I not made that promise to my mom before she passed, I really have to say, I don't know that I really would be on this journey right now. It could possibly be something different. I want to put that out there because a lot of times we think, like, ''I went through this thing.'' Like, ''I went through a divorce'', or ''I lost all my belongings'', whatever that thing is, and you're like, ''Okay, I have to find the meaning in this.'' There may be something, but it doesn't always mean like you have to start a business or you have to start a non-profit. It could just mean you help your neighbor. We were talking before you hit record just about our neighbors and the people that bless us. It could just simply be the children in your home, or the husband, or the wife that you have. I think that it doesn't always have to be this grand scale of something; it could actually just be meant for you, and that's absolutely amazing as well - us changing, and learning, and growing is always important, too. It doesn't always mean it has to impact the world.
Yeah. Nikki, I love those words. Those are so encouraging because I know I went through both the loss of my father and my little brother. For a long time, I felt like I had to find the purpose or meaning or the ''why''. The reality is, is that sometimes those questions just can't get answered and the struggle is the meaning. At times, it's just life moves on. But you're absolutely right. I think if we find compassion for ourselves and for others -- sure, it's you know outstanding when we can find a way to amplify that voice in that and that suffering and have empathy for others. But at the end of the day, like you said, I think it's very personal and there's no right or wrong way to do it, is there?
Nope, absolutely not. Absolutely not
I love it. Outstanding. Well, Nikki, walk me through what a typical campaign. How do you go about raising funds for your non-profit? I know one of the things that, when we talked about, struck me is your work with a lot more corporate donors and corporate initiatives. Walk me through some of the ideas there and what you've seen Work for you.
Yeah, absolutely. I think in the very beginning, it was Nikki calling all the places and doing all the things which, when you start out, is not a bad thing so don't feel alone. [I] just did a lot of that on my own and eventually, now, have a team of a few women that work alongside of me. What we've actually implemented, we're working more towards corporations right now. That kind of happens more when we're looking more towards the gala, which is a yearly event that we have and kind of connect with them more. But what we've really done well, and I'm so proud of my team, is that we've connected with small businesses and really tried to amplify what they were doing within the marketplace to then help Redefined Courage as well - earring makers, candlemakers, soap makers. Amazing small businesses that really start from their home and from their vision and their passion. We meet them on that level and then connect with others through social media and let people know what a giving heart they have. If you purchase these earrings this month, they give back 10, 15, 20%, that kind of thing. I really love the heart of not only are we touching women at a really practical, difficult time in their life, but we're also helping women and sometimes men, but mainly women that, say, like, ""I have this dream to have this small business get off the ground, but I still want to give back and partner.'' That is kind of what our everyday reaching out really looks like to kind of champion small businesses and also keep our mission going to send shirts nationwide. That's what we do every day.
You partner with small businesses. You mentioned candlemakers, local shops. We're here in San Diego, so if you go to a lot of our touristy areas, there's a lot of these real smaller shops. Some of them actually [are] a lot of creators will create and makers that will make. It sounds to me as if you found a way to really activate a whole group of individuals or companies, if you would, or businesses to also get onboard. Now, does that look like you're doing a lot through social media? You mentioned social, but what are some of the channels that you're doing that through?
Yeah, a lot is social media. Definitely. Really, Instagram has been an amazing way to partner because a lot of our women that receive shirts are on Instagram and Facebook. We always ask the women when they request a post-op shirt, ''How did you hear about us?'' It is mainly through social media. We've just tried to keep that circle pretty small even though it's really big, but kind of keep it at that Facebook, Instagram kind of level to DM people and say, ''Hey, we were thinking about you'' or, ''W0e saw this post, it's amazing. Would you consider partnering with us and giving back?'' It's really been really beautiful. If they didn't want to do it with a particular product, or they're just starting out, some people start a Facebook fundraiser. Man, what a way to connect a non-profit with the community that you have. I have 1800 friends on Facebook to say, ''Hey, I am supporting this mission. Would you join me?'' Let's just say, 10% of those people gave, that's 18 people that know about this mission now that you love. It's really not only is it businesses, but it then can become personal. I just thought the one-on-one is never a waste of time because people are never a waste of time. But when you are in this business of getting a woman a shirt on the day of surgery so she is comfortable, it's kind of fast. We need to raise money and we need to get in front of people. I believe that we can do that with a bigger audience with a small business.
It seems exponential because you said 10%, it's only 18 people, but it's 18 people times their friends, right, and then their friends. It really can -- and I know the word viral gets overused a lot of times -- but it really is, in a sense, how viral movements move right there. You align people's desires to be involved. You're touching people at a time in their life when they're very vulnerable. A lot of us know what that's like, and we have been in those moments. While not, maybe, in that particular way but certainly in other ways we think, ''Hey, this is an opportunity.'' Then what a gift in the small business, right? It would seem a lot easier to go out and ask for additional sales and store traffic if you're doing it in alignment with a cause and a purpose. I mean, we all love to shop, don't we?
Yeah. We need things. Yeah. We need things.
Yeah. I know that 10 or 15% of the purchase is going to a cause might be just enough to tip me over the line to go ahead and pick up that scented candle or whatever that little item is. What a gift. That's great.
Nikki, what are some of the challenges that you're facing today that, as you're looking into the future, like, what are some of the things that you deal with now that you're looking to solve?
Yeah. I think right now is our biggest mission is to have every woman that undergoes a mastectomy, receive a Hope shirt. That's a really large mission and was from day one when we decided this would be a non-profit. But I have to say that that is our daily struggle. I think partnering with hospitals and healthcare, especially now with COVID, we have a lot of circumstances and situations that are dire. People need oxygen and we want to fight for people's lives. We have come across the challenge trying to get into the hospitals, and now we've come across to even a bigger challenge. I would just say, as a non-profit, it's been difficult in those senses to kind of realize that big vision. It's really hard to connect with 200,000 women, and not all of them receive a double mastectomy, but most women do choose to have a surgery to remove the cancer.
I think that's probably our biggest challenge, is that we have a very large number in front of us. Because we are not very well-known as far as like a Susan G. Coleman or some different breast cancer foundations that are out there, which are incredibly amazing doing the research and how they've connected people, I think that's where our biggest challenge lies, is that the connections are a little bit more challenging at this point. [It] doesn't mean we're going to give up; it just means that we need to find new ways to do things. Just as of late, I have put a request out for people to apply for an executive director position. I believe sometimes when you start something, it may not always be your wheelhouse. I am a woman who has a two-year degree and I struggle sometimes with, I guess, people call it ADHD now, which I'm learning about and getting help for. This is extremely personal, but I feel like business and personal always collide as you learn and grow. What I've realized, and what the board has shared with me, is that someone may be that is more qualified for this position may be able to take us to the next level. I think, man, if you're a business owner and you're listening to this and you're like, ''I want to execute all the things'', sometimes we're just not made to execute all the things.
And in the realization of that, there's freedom. It's been a little hard for me in the last couple of weeks thinking, like, I'm actually going to let this piece go. But what I've realized is I've done all the things around what that initial job is to connect with hospitals. So we're going to try something different and we're going to move forward in a different direction. It's exciting and scary but also invigorating. Imagine what -- like, imagine if this really was. Those are kind of our two biggest challenges that we're facing, but nothing that we can't get through and overcome, if this is what we're supposed to be doing,
No, I appreciate that, Nikki. I love your vulnerability and you sharing because so many of us, I think, feel that we have to maintain the role. We started this thing and we have to run it. It's our baby and our burden. But the fact of the matter is, it is a different skillset often. Not always, but often the visionary is not the integrator, right? Not the person that does the work. In fact, there's an incredible book called Traction. It's really written more towards business, leadership and management. But in it, it introduces a concept of what it takes to get traction. And that's , as you said, the next level. Many of us, we hit the barrier of our own abilities because we're looking at the business as a visionary and we're executing at the high level, which is what it takes to get a business off the ground, but to get to that next level and break through that growth ceiling, it takes somebody potentially with a different skillset, doesn't it?
That can come and run the day-to-day, that isn't going to have the the shiny pebble syndrome where we're always looking at the new thing and trying to come up with new tactics.
They call that, the person, the integrator. Often, you'll find at big companies, there's a CEO, who's the visionary; and you'll have a COO or a president, that's the execution person.
Corporate structures break it down that way because they recognize that the dynamic personality that it takes to get something off the ground may show up more as a visionary. Whereas, the day-to-day maintenance and management and execution might be a different skillset. I appreciate you sharing that. I think that's something that's very common. It's something that we all we all run into. In fact, the matter is, is often for the first several years, we're doing both, aren't we? And we have to learn that skill.
That's right. [Laughter]
[Laughter] Often with some coaching, accountability.
[Laughter] There's so many things.
Yeah. Volunteers. Whatever it takes.
[Laughter] Exactly, exactly. I mean, that is a beautiful piece of it, you know, w''Wen you start something to really be like, ''We're doing all the things. I didn't even know this was possible''. You realize so much about yourself. But we're going into year five of the vision and the plan and all of that, but year three of really executing everything. It's just time to grow.
Yeah. I love it.
That just looks a little different here and that's totally fine. We'll be good. Everything's going to be great.
Everything will work out, I promise.
There you go.
Nikki, what I tell my family is that starting Rally, as I did, felt like I jumped out of a plane and then sewed my parachute on the way down. [Laughter] It was both the worst and the best of times, I tell you.
[Laughter] Yeah. That's a really...
We'll see how hard I hit the ground. That's how it feels, isn't it?
[Laughter] Really good analogy. That's exactly how it feels.
That's right. In fact, I would argue that I probably didn't realize that I needed a parachute until I was already out of the plane. [Laughter] Then I thought, ''Oh, that might've been a good idea.'' [Laughter].
[Laughter] Exactly, exactly.
Yeah. Very, very good. That's very common. If you could go back and speak to yourself -- you've been very real and I appreciate that, Nikki -- but if you could go back and get the younger version of Nikki that was just starting out, you don't want to discourage her from the path that she's on so you'd want to make sure want to make sure that the encouragement is well positioned and moves young Nikki forward, what would you tell her? What would you say to Nikki if you could go back in time?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing that I learned would be time management. Younger Nikki accepted every phone call, every email, every invitation, every network group, every Facebook group. That really affected my marriage. That really affected my children. And everyone was hurting from the loss of my mom. This was very close to immense death in our family. So younger Nikki, I would say, ''Hey, you don't need to please everybody. This is your dream, your vision. Bring value to others 100%. One hundred percent.'' That's one of the biggest values we have at Redefined Courage is we always want to bring value to others, but be selective in the time that you allow other people to come into your space. I would say, ''Younger Nikki, listen to your husband a little more. Younger Nikki, don't take every meeting.''.
Yeah. Such a good word.
''Don't do 25 things on your to-do list. Do a few things well. Make some really special time set aside for your family and your marriage. And know that things will be taken care of and what you can do will be done. And it will be good.'' It was a little bit choppy there in the beginning, just trying to make do with the little that I had and figure it out. It definitely made me a stronger person, a stronger woman, but I have to say, being able to say, ''I'm so sorry, I'm not going to join that.'' Or, ''I only take three late meetings a month.'' Really kind of setting boundaries is a definite thing that helped this Nikki grow to be the woman that I am to have the marriage that I have.
I love it.
Yeah. That would definitely be the thing that I would say to my younger self. [Laughter]
Good word. Slow down, Nikki.
Managing time, managing our energy. I think finding purpose, particularly when it's around a grief, you mentioned the loss of your mother. I mean, that's what the promise you made. And I could totally see with a lot of empathy and compassion for you, Nikki, how we would be so caught up in making this thing work, right, because we promised. It's easy -- very, very easy -- to keep ourselves busy when we're suffering and when we're hurting. And that's okay. That's a gift. That's grace, and we celebrate that. We also recognize it's not completely sustainable. So slowing down and finding that rhythm and teasing apart our identity and what we do and who we're doing it for, and even why we're doing it. A lot of times, we, founders don't. We get that confused.
[Laughter] A little bit. Yeah, it takes a little learning, a little growth. I actually am speaking of that on Thursday, which is pretty awesome to be able to -- like, you wonder why you're going through these things. It's just crazy, you know? You're just going through all these things. Then someone asked me to speak on that and I thought, ''That's it right there. That is what I've learned and how I've grown as a business woman.'' I think, a lot of times, we don't celebrate what we've done well or how we've taken this thing and just made it a little better for our family ourselves, for our health, all of these things. I think, as business owners, take time to celebrate those things that you do well. Not in a haughty way, always humble, but in a way that says, ''I'm grateful.''.
Yeah. ''I'm grateful that I learned this thing and that I can now move forward in strength, in dignity because of this.'' I think we do struggle with that for some reason, because it's like, ''I don't want to let anybody know that I'm good at this.'' Maybe there's a little problem if I say that.'' Like, no. I think it's really important to be like, ''I've really struggled with this and I do this well now, and it's good to celebrate.''
Yeah. Nikki, it's such an encouraging word. I really appreciate that. I think that it's a good reminder for all of us. When I work strategy sessions with clients or even with my own team, a lot of times I have to re remind myself to start from a place of positivity and gratitude. Because when you look at a list of things that you have to do, it's a whole lot easier, I think, as we work that into the upcoming quarter or season or period of time, whatever that looks like, the year, annual planning. But it's a lot easier to do that, isn't it, when we've looked at what we've accomplished over the last 3, 6, 9, 12 months? So if we start from a place of just listing that out, what we will find is the list of what we've already accomplished is pretty significant. From that place, now we can look at the list of upcoming tactics and think, ''Hey, this is doable, some of it, and maybe some of it not.'' What a way to recalibrate. Nikki, so encouraging, I love your heart and your authenticity and your vulnerability. Your mom is and would be proud today, for sure.
Thank you. Appreciate that so much.
How do we get in touch with you, Nikki, if we want to learn more about what you're working on or participate in any way? What's the call-to-action here?
Sure, redefinedcourage.com, best place to find us and see what we're doing there. Then Redefined Courage on Instagram and Facebook. Then if you want to find me, Nikki Speer.
Yep, I love it. It sounds to me like you're potentially looking for an executive director type role. So if anybody's listening and interested in learning more, reach out. Small business owners, any particular area of town or states? Is it national? Any business owner anywhere?
National. All 50 states. Yes, sir.
All 50 states. So you can help them and guide them in what that would look like to run a campaign with you. Then we have several clients on our platform that are in hospitals, so I'll spread the word as well. I know that the hospitals, as you said, are having their own set of challenges. So we definitely want to find a way to support one another, don't we?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you.
Well, Nikki, I appreciate your time this morning and for spending some time with me and our #TextGen audience. As I said onset, we're just getting started. As I meet people like yourself, I love to hear more of their story and really unpack that and shine the light on you. I appreciate that that opportunity has been a real pleasure and an honor. Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Nikki. Bye bye now.
Okay, so that's Nikki Speer. Thanks for joining us for this episode of #TextGen. I want to remind you that #TextGen is for non-profit leaders looking to mobilize their mission. Now, we talk about all things from tactics to technology, text messaging, text-to-donate, all those fun things, but at the heart of the matter, at the end of the day, it is always about moving people to action, decisive, clear leaders with good leadership principles and practices do that, of course, best. And then no matter what technology we're looking at: text-to-donate, conversational text messaging, most effective means, at the end of the day, for a conversation is to bring it into alignment with our vision, our values, who we are as an organization to make sure that the cadence, the conversation, the touch points, the donor journey, everything, maps back to who we are at the heart of our cause and why we exist. So it's people like Nikki, it's people like you, they make that possible. And we, at RallyCorp, are very grateful for you. So if you're not part of #TextGen, the community on Facebook or LinkedIn, please join us there. If you want to connect with Nikki, do so through the group. She's at redefinedcourage.com as well. She would love to hear from you. Thanks, again, for joining us here at #TextGen, and we look forward to seeing you on our next episode. Have a great day.