EP 16: Leading with Comedy as a Catalyst for Change and Healing with Digital Strategist and Business Comedian, Rachael Kay Albers

healing leadership Dec 11, 2020

Our workplaces need more laughter. 

Our homes need more laughter. 

The world needs more laughter. 

And I don’t know about you, but I too need more laughter. 

There have been times of late when the smallest thing sets my family into a laugh-fest - usually triggered by something we were watching on TV or something one of us said that just tickled the proverbial funny bone. 

This communal laughter always feels like a welcomed exhale when I didn't even know I was holding my breath. Every time, I feel lighter and clearer after I wipe the tears of joy away from my face. 

Growing up, I got the message that humor and comedy were for those who were not serious. I was always equal parts annoyed and envious of the class-clowns and those that seemed at ease using humor as they lead. I wanted to focus on work but I also appreciated their ability to lighten the mood and not take themselves too seriously while building a sense of connection.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Comedy and humor can be a powerful catalyst for communicating. It brings people together and it is often memorable by making an impact through teaching and entertaining.

Today’s Unburdened Leader guest has the gift of teaching powerful business truths and insights through her gift for comedy. 

Rachael Kay Albers is a digital strategist and business comedian. As the founder and creative director of RKA ink, a branding, web design, and digital marketing studio based outside Chicago, Rachael helps thought leaders and visionary entrepreneurs all over the world stand out online without selling their souls or playing the manipulation game. 

Fasten your seat belts. This is a ride of a conversation!⠀⠀⠀

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Rachael’s skill for observation fueled her use of comedy starting at a young age
  • The connection Rachael makes between her pain and her use of comedy personally and professionally 
  • The wisdom she drops on the slippery slope of entrepreneurship and owning your own business
  • How Rachael sees comedy as a healing tool

Learn more about Rachael Kay Albers:

Learn more about Rebecca:

Resources from this episode:

Scroll Down for The Full Episode Transcript:

Rachael Kay Albers: So the comedy, this is directing me towards where I need to be speaking truth into the business industry, right? But then the comedy is the means by which I temper my own internal rage and the means by which I make sure that other people can actually get the message.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching: Leaders who laugh and help others laugh can create positive impact. Now, I’m not talking about so-called humor that is cliquey or one that bypasses pain or exploits or belittles. That is not anywhere in the ballpark of the humor I’m talking about today. I’m talking about that jolt of joy that comes from a deep belly laugh while feeling known and understood. Now, I’m talking about the clarity that comes from that shared laughter experience that takes the edge off the rage and the pain and the uncertainty. I’m talking about that sense of connection that comes from the beautiful combination of a good laugh that also teaches us a hard truth.

Yes, laughing and taking a pause, not taking ourselves so seriously is good for all aspects of life and work. Leaning into your humor, authentically and intentionally, can turn pain into something productive that becomes medicine for your work, your community, and also for your soul. Our workplaces need more laughter. Our homes need more laughter. The world needs more laughter. I don't know about you, but I know I need more laughter. There have been times of late where it’s like the smallest thing sets my family into a laugh fest, usually triggered by something we were watching on TV or something one of us said that just tickled the proverbial funny bone. 

This communal laughter feels like a welcomed exhale when I didn't even know I was holding my breath, and I know many of us have been holding our breath a lot over this last year.


Every time I feel lighter and clearer after I wipe the tears of joy away from my face, which got me thinking growing up I got the message that humor, and comedy were for those who were not serious about life or about work. I was always equal parts annoyed and envious of the class clowns and those that seemed so at ease using humor as they led.

I wanted to focus on work, but I also appreciated their ability to lighten the mood and not take themselves too seriously while building a sense of connection. Comedy and humor can be a powerful catalyst for communicating. They can bring people together and are often memorable by making an impact through teaching and entertaining.

Today’s Unburdened Leader guest has the gift of teaching powerful business truths and insights through her gift for comedy. And y’all, this is truly a gift. Rachael Kay Albers is a digital strategist and business comedian (true story). As the founder and creative director of RKA Inc., a branding, web design, and digital marketing studio based outside of Chicago -- a little shoutout to a fellow Midwesterner -- Rachael helps thought leaders and visionary entrepreneurs all over the world stand out online without selling their soul or playing the manipulation game, which I am so here for.

When not crafting epic, unforgettable brands for her clients, Rachael hosts Awkward Marketing, a business comedy show blending fun-sized business advice with storytelling and sketch comedy. Think of her as a one-woman SNL of biz TV. I recommend her link to everyone I know, especially if they need a pick-me-up and to learn good business strategy. It is worth it, so we’ll make sure to have this link in the bio. 

Now, during this show, I really want you to pay attention to how Rachael’s skill for observation fueled her use of comedy starting at a really young age.


Notice the connection Rachael makes between her pain and her use of comedy personally and professionally. And listen for the wisdom Rachael drops on the slippery slope of entrepreneurship and owning your own business. And now, I am so happy to welcome Rachael Kay Albers to the podcast!

Rachael, thank you for joining me today! 

Rachael Kay Albers: Thank you for having me! I kind of think it was all meant to be and that this moment was predestined! That’s how I’m feeling about meeting with you right now! [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: That’s powerful. That is powerful. I have been watching you online. You know, social media gets a bad rap for a very, very good reason, but let me tell ya, I have met the coolest leaders online, people that are just three-dimensional, awesome, cool, and that is you. And I’m really, really excited for listeners today to have a little snippet of your awesomeness and depth. You just really offer so much in all you do.

And so, I want to kick off by just -- for those who do know you or know of you, you're known for your integration of humor, business, and storytelling in your work. I mean, honestly, anytime I scroll through Instagram and I’m going through stories, I have to go to the bathroom. I have two kids, right? So I’m like I have to go pee because I’m laughing so hard and I might pee my pants because you bring so much joy, but you also are nailing truths so much in your work. 

But I want to touch on the comedy part of it because this is not something I’ve seen done the way that you do that it’s wholehearted comedy, and I know that behind comedy is often pain. 


Usually there is, and I just know this being in the line of work that I’m in. And that comedy’s also a catalyst of healing. I know, from me getting to know you and experiencing your work, I’ve experienced some salve on the wounds of just being a leader right now. And so, I’m curious for you, how has comedy been healing for you? 

Rachael Kay Albers: Well, I totally agree with you that some of the greatest comedy comes from pain, and I always tell my clients and the people that I teach about creating their own content, I always say that my greatest content comes from the stuff that pisses me off, right? And if we know that the roots of anger grow in sadness, then yes, I’m basically saying, “My greatest comedy comes from my greatest despair.” 

But how has comedy been healing for me? What I realized with using Awkward Marketing, which is my business sketch comedy show, was when I would get frustrated about the things that I was seeing happening in the marketing space, for example, and it would make my body light up with sometimes even rage, I started to pay attention to that. I started to say, “What is this trying to teach me,” right? It intercepted with whatever other enlightenment was happening in my life, and I’m like, “Wait a minute, this anger might be trying to tell me something,” right? [Laughs] I’m like, “Maybe it’s trying to tell me the content I should create,” and I say that kind of half-jokingly.

And so, I started to pay attention to when I would get frustrated about what I was seeing in the business and marketing world and say, “What is this trying to tell me about how I need to show up in my business?” Because what this is pointing me towards is there’s something we’re not talking about. There’s an elephant in the room we’re not addressing. There’s a need here that needs to be addressed. What is this telling me about how I need to show up?

So this is directing me towards where I need to be speaking truth into the business industry, right? But then, the comedy is the means by which I temper my own internal rage and the means by which I make sure that other people can actually get the message.


So it’s healing in that the comedy is helping me turn my pain into something productive that’s actually helping to heal the pain itself, right? Like, “I’m turning the pain into the solution,” right?

Rebecca Ching: Well, yeah, and so, I’m hearing though it’s twofold, and when we have meaning and purpose, that is healing in our work, in our life, right? And so, I’m hearing from you, you're really embracing curiosity, right? You're noticing where your rage is and, my gosh, we’re having this conversation on a day where there’s a lot of rage and grief happening in our culture with the recent verdict around the killing of Breonna Taylor. And so, this is a timely conversation about getting curious about your rage. 

Then you go deeper even in saying, “How is this gonna help me? But then how is this also gonna be meaningful and helpful to others?” You really bring them together, and that’s not a quick process, right? Is this something that just flows quickly or what’s your rumble and process as you start to notice, “Okay, this is lighting me up,” and then how do you go from there to offering something of value to you personally, but also professionally to those that you lead and serve? 

Rachael Kay Albers: So it’s kind of twofold. Now, I have enough experience with the catharsis that you just described that I can recognize it a little bit faster. It took me a while to actually see what was happening and to be able to observe it long enough to turn that into rules that I could then use to observe, “Oh, this is happening again. Wow! This is so -- we’re going there today, Rebecca! Oh, my god! I’m boggling my own mind! Okay, let me take a step back.”


So that happens. Whatever I just said I don't think I could ever say again. I don't even fully understand it myself. That whole thing happens. Really, the way that I do it is sometimes it’s just as simple as I see something out in the world, it pisses me off, and I know enough to go into Siri on my phone and go, “Hey, Siri,” I’m gonna whisper, “Make a note that says Awkward Marketing,” and then I’ll describe whatever the thing is. Like a bus passed me on the street and it had a campaign on it that made me mad, and so I’m like, “Hey, Siri, Awkward Marketing: fatphobia in the news,” right? Then I’ll describe it a little bit, and I just trust that future me is gonna come back for this and hold the space that I need to get to whatever needs to be spoken later, whatever the two steps ahead are.

Sometimes it just flows through, right? Sometimes it does just fire so that I observe something in the world that’s like, “That’s bullshit,” and then I’m like, “Wait a minute though, what does that mean? It’s bullshit because…,” and it’s already happening, and those are the moments I try to teach my clients to pay attention to because those are the moments when, no matter what, if you are capable of doing it, you need to stop what you are doing and create and channel, right? Sometimes I put a pin in this and say, “I will channel later. I will turn this into a comedy bit later,” but sometimes it’s happening whether I like it or not, and I think it’s radical and healing just to be able to say, “I’m gonna give this the space that it’s demanding,” versus trying to compartmentalize it later. Does that make sense? 

Rebecca Ching: It makes a lot of sense. And so, you just have a practice in place, and sometimes you go for it when you have the space, and if not, then you trust that you will circle back to it if and when it’s needed, and I think sometimes people overthink that stuff and bypass it and just don't take the time to document the rage, document the anger and the pain, and whether that’s for their personal healing but, most importantly, for work.


Knowing what we’re against really does help clarify what we’re for. Oh, and she’s pointing at me. I’m getting the nailed-it look from Rachael right now.

Rachael Kay Albers: You literally just described what I call reverse niching. So you and I are soul sisters. We are literally kindred spirits. We’d just been married right now, I feel like, in some weird universe because I talk about reverse niching is how I help. In the business world -- let’s make this fun and practical here for a second -- the popular question is to say, “Who’s your ideal client?” And I find that most people that I work with have a really hard time with that, but when I ask them, “Who will you absolutely, positively never work with,” that gives me some juicy stuff. Then we can reverse engineer that. So when I teach people how to do this, by the way, I literally say that, Rebecca. I say, “Sometimes to discover what you're for, you have to start with what you're against.”

That’s what Awkward Marketing is, right? Because I’m showing kind of what I’m for when it comes to business and marketing partially by defining what I’m against, and that’s what the comedy comes from, right? That’s where I get to create all the fun characters doing ridiculous things that we can all collectively laugh at together and say, “Yeah, wait a minute. Something’s going on here,” right? [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: And if you have not tuned into Rachael’s Instagram or her Awkward Marketing, and you just need a space on the internet that just gives you a little bit of a break and a little bit of joy and play, which is absolutely essential to running the marathon of adulting and being human and leading, then you need to check it out. We’ll make sure we get that to you. 

So, all right, I want to circle back to this. But first I want to know about when you discovered your love for comedy, and I want to hear how it helped you move through a specific pain story. Take me back to when you realized, “This is my jam.”


Rachael Kay Albers: I mean, it’ll tell you a lot about me to say it was through other people’s praise, other people noticing me being funny and validating me for it that helped me see that I had it, right, that helped me see that this was something that I enjoyed. So I look back, I was just recently asking myself, gosh, now I’m really seeing how much comedy has been a coping mechanism my whole life with the persistent terror that I’m a horrible person. Don't all of us kind of secretly fear that we’re horrible human beings? Or maybe just me! But I clearly developed my comedy based on getting other people saying, “Oh, we like this part of you,” and then I just kept developing that muscle.

When I look back on it now, if you were to describe it in another way, it would be like, “I was in third grade, and I auditioned for the play, and I did this character that was like a Southern guy, and everybody loved it,” and I had been an outcast up until that point. I was a big ole weirdo, I’d always broken the rules, got almost no social validation, until I became this clown. And then it was like, “Yeah, Rachael’s super weird, but she’s hilarious so we keep her around just kind of to amuse us.” And I was like, “Okay, I’ll take it,” you know?

Rebecca Ching: And is there a time that you recall that comedy really helped you move through a pain story? I hear you saying it helped you belong, or did it help you fit in?

Rachael Kay Albers: I don't know if it helped me fit in. I’ve never fit in, and I’ve enjoyed that actually. It’s been kind of nice being on the outside because then I can watch everybody and then make funny observations about them, right? [Laughs] Like if I’m sitting outside being like, “I’ve never really fully felt that I was on the inside of anything,” and that, in and of itself, the maybe not belonging and the pain of feeling like I didn't belong forced me to then observe and then I developed this comedic skill, right, where I could then turn those observations into sketches, into characters. 


I mean, that’s just how I even exist in the world. I’m telling you a story, and I’m becoming my mom, you know? I’m telling you what my mom said in her voice, right? 

So okay, to answer your question about a specific pain story, I hate to say it but if I’m really being honest with myself, I think humor has helped me cope with every piece of pain. So then I’m like, “Okay, let’s choose one. Let’s choose one.”

I think my parents were getting a divorce when I was seven years old, and I was getting a lot of heat back home because I think that my parents were projecting their pain onto me, and they couldn't control their marriage falling apart, but maybe they could control their weirdo daughter, right? So they spent a lot of extra energy trying to shape me according to whatever they thought I needed to be. And so, I would go in the schoolyard, and I did this thing, and I called it channels. I would stand in front of my elementary school before we went in for the school day, and the kids would yell out a television channel, and I would become the channel and do a sketch. I was my own Whose Line Is It Anyway? Just me, myself, and I. I’ve always been the one-woman whatever of anything, right? Now I call myself the One-Woman SNL of Biz Comedy. That’s the best way to get a job title is give it to yourself, right? 

But that’s what I would do. I was struggling at home feeling like I was a horrible human being, and then I go to school and I’m creating these sketches, and people are loving them, and how could you not then pursue that, right? How could you not? That’s where you're getting blinded. That’s also where you are creating my own new reality. Comedy and art is such a powerful thing because we can create -- we might not be able to create the major world-level change that we want to or we might not be able to escape an abusive home environment, but we can create an artificial reality, and we can practice -- there’s Agusto Boal who pioneered the Theatre of the Oppressed, said, “Theatre is a rehearsal of revolution,” and I think art, in general, is our way of practicing creating the new world we so desire and rehearsing the revolution we also need. Does that make sense what I’m saying? 


Rebecca Ching: It makes a lot of sense. I’m thinking back to the elementary-school-girl you commanding your school before school starts. And so, because I think sometimes people use funny to hide, and I’m getting this sense that it was a way to connect but it also was power. You know, when there are so many things you can’t control, it’s like, “All right, I’m leaning into this. I’m not gonna hide. I’m leaning into all of who I am.”

And this may sound cliché, but I’m gonna ask it anyway. Did you ever have a sense of people laughing -- the difference between laughing at and laughing with? Because I think sometimes people, when they're funny, they're cultivating people to laugh at them, and I don't feel comfortable with that. But I’m getting the sense for you it was a with, it was a we experience, and that’s a big part of, at least what I’ve seen, of you recently. 

Rachael Kay Albers: I’ll tell you this. When people were laughing at me, it wasn't because I was being funny, right? And that was very -- 

Rebecca Ching: Oh.

Rachael Kay Albers: Right? And so, you're right. I was not making myself the butt of the joke. Almost it was as if I was using the comedy to turn their laughter from at me to with me, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, yeah.

Rachael Kay Albers: Because I was weird. I was very weird, okay? I look back at some of my behaviors, and now I see as an adult, I’m like, “Damn, those are legit warning signs.” This is what they put in books about, “If a child is acting this way, they might be having trouble at home,” right?


I didn't know! But the kids, how are they supposed to know that? Like my fellow eight-year-olds are gonna know that somehow my weird behavior is a result of my emotional damage? No, so I was just weird, and I was a little bit of an outcast, and I did experience them laughing at me. And so, I was like, “Wait a minute! If you're gonna laugh, it better be for a damn good reason. It’s gonna be because I’m hilarious.” I mean, I think that’s what I did.

So then I was like wait a minute. Hold on. Let me redirect your laughter over for something that serves both of us, right? It’s gotta be what was going on. 

Rebecca Ching: Totally, but that’s power. That’s power. I mean, and it’s not a surprise that you got into marketing, then, because that’s a lot of power, that’s a lot of responsibility, and there’s a lot of harm done there. But I think that’s interesting. So just even the pain of not -- and again, just whatever feeling like an outcast is what you said, and I just keep thinking back and just this world that we have of this is how you should be, and I feel like we’re at a reckoning point of trying to really blow up a lot of that stuff versus, for you, you leaned in. You leaned into the awkward and channeled it in a way that didn't make you the butt of the joke but created a culture and a sense of just a community of laughter, a community of humor.

Rachael Kay Albers: And I’ll add onto that. At the same time, really, this is where I started chiseling out my identity as an outsider. So like I was telling you, by feeling like I didn't belong, my way of coping and compensating for that was of observing people and being able to see them for what they were, right? And then the more I did that, the more I wanted to stay on the outside, right? And so, I might have continued to play into what’s that confirmation bias? It has shaped my politics. It has made me a radial. 


I think all of that begins in that feeling of not belonging, and then earning an identity and getting validated because I didn't belong and as a result I could make observations that were super funny about people, but then at the same time, I consciously kept myself away from people, right? Honestly, I see that as a good thing at this point.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Rachael Kay Albers: That’s why I think I’m tethered to compassion in a way that people who are still deep in the system are struggling because the system’s telling us to be cruel, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah. 

Rachael Kay Albers: So I’m still going deep and I’m boggling my own brain! Anyway, you get it, Rebecca. I know you know what I’m talking about.

Rebecca Ching: I do, and I’m just thinking of Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness, and it’s really a book I keep going back to right now and talking about belonging. It sounds like you talk about the more that you were on the outside the more you realized that shaped you, and you didn't want to try and fit in. You wanted to belong to you and who you were, and I just feel it in my body right now. That’s where the freedom is. And you can't see Rachael eight now, but she’s doing a Hallelujah praise, hands in the air, head shaking right now. 

Rachael Kay Albers: You know how I told you I was supposed to be on this interview with you today? That was why. What you just said was why I was supposed to talk to you today. So how about them apples? 

Rebecca Ching: Tell me more. Why are you saying that?

Rachael Kay Albers: You’re unlocking a piece for me. You're saying something. So when you say, “I didn't want to belong to the group, I wanted to belong to myself,” I think you’ve just described my hero’s journey or whatever you want to call it. My purpose at this -- I don't know if it’s for my entire lifetime, but certainly for the place that I’m at in my lifetime, that is still my pursuit. I’ve spent the last -- I’m 36 years old -- 36 years, almost, trying to learn how to belong to myself. I’m still working on it. I’m still working on it.


So that is like you just described my whole reason for being. [Laughs] 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, but I think, Rachael, that really is for all of us because when you said that I could just even feel the tears well up for me because it’s like, well, me too! Me too. I know what I should do. I know who I’m “supposed to be.” I’m done with it and shedding that. It sounds like you had a jumpstart that so many of us who were good at the fitting in and the awkwardness and just you leaning into, “Okay, I’m going to channel the laughing at to hopefully we can laugh together as a survival mechanism,” and then saying, “Wait, I don't want to fit in with you. I’m gonna stay here and observe and create and figure this stuff out.

It still has a price though.

Rachael Kay Albers: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Rebecca Ching: It still has a price. The world we live in is harsh. I think there’s more, my husband calls them safe zones. We’ve started talking about safe zones back in the day when we went to the mall. I would go to Anthropologie, and he would go to a different store because he was just like, “I can't sit on a couch for $6,000. It makes me angry.” [Laughs] So he would find his places to go shop like at Sur la Table or something.

And so, we have our safe zones. I think we’re creating that with community, and I’m seeing that, and that people are fierce and protective about it, and I think what you're offering, that’s why I’m so drawn to your work because it’s more than business. I think the echoes of what you're naming, when we can laugh at the pain of what you're calling up and out and in is really medicine, and that’s powerful leadership. So I’m really grateful, really grateful for you for rumbling with this with me.

Rachael Kay Albers: Mm.


Rebecca Ching: You've also shared -- and I remember you DMed you when you talked about this -- that you struggle with anxiety. I’m curious, when do you notice your anxiety most?

Rachael Kay Albers: When don't I identify my anxiety most? Gosh, you know, I feel it, at this point in the pandemic, I almost feel like I haven't not felt it for so long that I forget what it’s like to not be in a physiological state of distress because I have been, because of what’s happening in the world, because of what’s happening at home, because of what’s happening in myself, I think since the pandemic really started, I’ve been more physiological -- and when I saw physiological, my heart is beating faster. I feel the tension in my chest. I’m in constant physical pain and just navigating that. So I’m having a hard time answering that question because I’m like, “I don't know how I notice it! I don't know how I don't notice it.”

Again, also I think a lot of the conversation has been demonizing fear during this whole thing.

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm. Totally.

Rachael Kay Albers: Like, “Ugh,” and that fear is a weak state, and I’m like, “Dude! Fear, just like anger, is a bell sending me a signal, ‘Hey, girl! Look at this. This is what you need to be looking at.’” Same thing with fear, and I refuse to allow myself too long, because I still do it, to feel shame that I am experiencing fear to a degree that it is now affecting me physically, and I think maybe part of that is physiological, is part of my I was born this way, but no. I think my anxiety is mostly man made. [Laughs] I’m paying attention to it right now. I don't think that I need to be shooing it away. I’m doing a lot of work. I’m doing a lot of work over here, Rebecca, but I’m in a constant state of anxiety, and I think it’s trying to tell me something, you know what I’m saying?

Rebecca Ching: I do. Thank you for naming that about fear and getting demonized.


I feel very frustrated with those long-term messages. They do such harm, and I’ve seen so many leaders face down because they're like, “Why am I still feeling these things?” I’m like, “Because you dared to care. Because you tried. Because you're human.” Instead of trying to all become a bunch of robots and power-over our own systems that are just, like you said, there’s so much wisdom there. What do you do --

Rachael Kay Albers: So what I’m saying is I don't even know how to notice my anxiety anymore because it is my reality all the time it feels like, whereas I didn't feel this way before March.

Rebecca Ching: I see. I see.

Rachael Kay Albers: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Rebecca Ching: Oh, so for you, your homeostasis is just --

Rachael Kay Albers: It has been elevated to -- yes, so that’s why I’m like, dude, I don't even know. How do I recognize my anxiety? How do I not? It’s always here. I’m okay with that in the sense of -- I mean, I’m not okay with that. I am doing the work that needs to be done, though. I feel that I am taking care of myself. And so, then it’s just my body in part telling me to pay attention to a very terrifying time in human history and in my own personal journey, right? 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Rachael Kay Albers: Maybe the anxiety is inevitable at this point, and I’m learning how to cope with it, you know? So that’s where I’m at!

Rebecca Ching: Thank you for clarifying that. What are the things that you're doing to take care of yourself? You mentioned that a couple times.

Rachael Kay Albers: So, now, what am I doing to take care of myself, because, oh, man, at the beginning of this thing, I was doing all the self-destruction, right? And so, I’ve been very proud that I’ve pried my fingers away from all of the different -- anything you could imagine that people used to try to escape their emotions, that was me March, April, May, right? And so, now, we’re talking in the beginning of the fall, things have changed. So now, it might be something like this morning. I will just go and take a hot shower, right? 


If I’m feeling truly panic-attack levels of distress where my body wants to tell me it’s dying, I’ll hop in a shower, I’ll get some ice and put it on my face, bring myself back into the moment and the body right now versus the spiral thing that’s happening in my head.

But, on a general day-to-day basis, when I’m just dealing with the regular, everyday 24/7 anxiety, it’s a lot of processing and a lot of reaching out for community. Back to belonging, my people are helping me through this. That’s pretty much the only thing that I can do and using my work like a mindfulness anchor.

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Rachael Kay Albers: So being in the day and an alert comes up that says, “RBG has just died,” and having my experience of that and, at the same time, because of my values and my priorities, knowing I do have to get work done, and so, bringing myself back to the work as an anchor, and then when I get taken away again, being in that moment and bringing myself back to the work as an anchor.

And so, that’s what I think is making more people so exhausted during the pandemic is we’re all coming back again. We’re all practicing mindfulness to varying degrees of success, bringing ourselves back to the priorities, bringing ourselves back to what we need to do, and we’re really tired because we’ve got legitimate things taking us away, legitimate fears, legitimate challenges and stresses and additional -- you know? So that’s it.

So I’m just trying to keep coming -- the work has been healing in that way because it’s my anchor back into reality when the pain of living during 2020 makes me want to just spiral for the next 6 months, you know?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I’ve been writing and talking a lot about certainty anchors, and it sounds like, for you, work is that certainty anchor, but it’s also this beautiful creative outlet, and it’s bigger than you, which is great.


You touched on this a little bit about going in and out of work but is there anything else that you do to navigate your anxiety as you have work deadlines and obligations. Anything else that you've been doing that’s been helpful?

Rachael Kay Albers: Being really honest with my clients.

Rebecca Ching: Oh. 

Rachael Kay Albers: That’s been a new thing for me, a new shift because before the pandemic, pre-pandemic, RKA would shame herself into toughing it out even if she knew that delivering this thing to the client tonight wasn’t actually gonna move the needle for them. They didn't need that. I would just push myself because that’s what you do.

So this year, oh, man, this week even, has been a real practice of humility because it’s also very humbling to have to go to your clients and say, “Listen, I can't deliver this today. Here’s why,” and that’s it. It’s not a negotiation at that point, and that’s how I’m taking care of myself. That’s how I’m managing the anxiety, by giving myself more time. That’s hard! I’m struggling, but I’ve been doing that. I’ve been doing that.

Rebecca Ching: Well, I actually think that’s an incredible leadership practice of that practice of humility and deep honesty but not apologizing and over-explaining. It’s like, “Here’s what’s going on,” and that takes a lot of trust and mutual kind of contracting, obviously, with your clients. But I find that when people communicate with me more and say, “Hey, this is what’s going on. Heads up on this,” that fosters more trust, that fosters more connection, and then I can say, “Oh, gosh. Now I’m panicking a little. I still need this from you. So what are my options?” We have a conversation, and then we both are on the same page. We’re aligned, we feel good, and we move forward, and we could do that in our personal or professional life, that practice. 

Rachael Kay Albers: Yeah, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: But a lot of people, it’s really courageous to say, “Hey, guess what? I’m not going to be able to do this, and here’s why, period,” and not being like -- go ahead.


Rachael Kay Albers: You know what? The impulse that I’m denying also that I want to add into this is to lie and to just be like --

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: How much I have done that because -- or to try to spin it to be something that society says is a good enough reason, right?

Rebecca Ching: Ooh!

Rachael Kay Albers: You know?

Rebecca Ching: Okay. Yeah.

Rachael Kay Albers: Yeah.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh. Yes, say something that society says is a good enough reason. I think so many people can relate to that. I know I am because I’ve been in those situations, and I dress rehearse, “Maybe this is good enough, and maybe this is good enough,” versus truth. It doesn't have to be the raw, unedited truth. 

Rachael Kay Albers: Right. 

Rebecca Ching: But it’s just, “Here is appropriate, boundaried-for-the-relationship-and-the-time truth,” and that’s our power. 

Rachael Kay Albers: And then not needing them -- like the piece you said before, about not overexplaining, then not looking to them to validate that either, right?

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Rachael Kay Albers: Why do we do that? Why do we try to find a socially acceptable reason for telling the client, “We need to push a deadline,” because we’re afraid they're not going to accept whatever other thing we were gonna say. So then we do say the other thing and we over explain it so that person can validate and accept it, right? Because we’re so insecure and we're also so all these things. So I had to get comfortable -- and actually when I say I had to get comfortable as if it’s in the past and I really mastered this, it was yesterday we’re talking about this!

So yesterday with multiple clients I had to go to them and say, “I have to postpone. This is why. Here are the options in terms of times. Period.” I had so much of a desire to really over-stretch what was going on and to over-apologize and to over-assure myself that they weren't mad at me, and like you said, it was such a huge shift for me to just show up and say, “Here’s where I’m at. Here’s why. Here’s what we can do next,” and not ask for permission.


I knew, of course, Rebecca, that I was talking to people that I wasn't going to throw them into emergencies, so there was an awareness there. I wasn't saying this to somebody who was like, “But it’s life or death!” So by not giving them the option to argue with me, I was also doing that in a situation where that was appropriate, right?

Rebecca Ching: Right.

Rachael Kay Albers: If I was a doctor explaining to my patient why I can't be there for the birth of their child, it might be a different story, but we’re talking about somebody’s website here, you know what I’m saying? We’re okay. And it’s also not like a website that’s integral to the election or something, right? It’s just like a website that sells doodads. You're okay until Thursday, you know what I’m saying?

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: So that’s where I stand. 

Rebecca Ching: You know, the burden of shame really gets the best of us. While it’s a universal emotion, we all have our own unique burdens of shame, and then we have these parts of us that want to come in and keep that from showing up and saying, “See, you're a fraud! Who do you think you are? You suck! You’re a failure! You’re found out!” And then these other parts of us that -- and really, for me, that’s where I think of Self leadership, right? That place of confidence and courage but also compassion for ourselves in the moment. Saying, “I got you,” to ourselves. “I’m gonna talk to the client. I’m gonna set some boundaries here. Yes, this isn't life or death, so yes I’m gonna create space here with these clients, but I’m gonna give my energy for this person that really would be in a pickle if I didn't show up here.” We negotiate that, but we show up for ourselves when we create and realign those expectations and boundaries, again, within the contract. 

But I worked in politics and advertising right out of college, and it was over-deliver or do everything early, blow everyone away. I love good customer experience.


I know that’s a big deal to you too, creating experiences is a value of yours too, but it was in a sense that it was tied to our worthiness. It wasn't about the job, and this sense that if someone wasn't above and beyond delighted, you failed, was the message I got early on, and I think that that has just done so much harm to our wellbeing and to how we work. 

Rachael Kay Albers: Yeah, and I mean, I think I’ll take it a step further to say, ugh, this is why work being how I heal myself is a really dangerous place and I probably have a lot more work to do because they say that a lot of people who’ve become entrepreneurs do it because they are filling this need to be needed, okay?

Rebecca Ching: Sure.

Rachael Kay Albers: So like you were saying about over-delivering and how that connects to our worthiness, I think those of us who have created our own businesses somewhat do it because we are addicted to other people needing us, right? We’re addicted to the validation and the false healing that that seems to give us, but really it doesn't because as soon as we drop a ball, then we have this deep shame that comes up because we’ve tied our self-worth into other people needing us, and then we’ve let them down. You know what I’m saying?

Rebecca Ching: From that lens, yeah, that just replays the cycle of shame, but I guess I would expand that to say that our pain inspires -- entrepreneurs are often inspired by their pain, and amazing things happen and are created for the world because of people’s pain stories. But if they're not dealing with that and unburdening it, which is kind of the heart of this show and me talking to people about that, then we don't get our stuff out in the world, and it’s harder. And so, how do we keep rising from that pain?


I would say, yeah, we are now on steroids in a culture that’s -- addicted is a strong word, but dependent, for me I will say, on immediacy and feedback and jonesing for the superficial feedback, the likes, email replies, whatever. But I think also some of the most hurting folks have also done some, I think, of the most incredible things on this planet, and holding space for the complexity of that even admits their deep pain and what they're putting out in the world is for the greater good even, but they're not thriving, and I think that to really run the marathon, it’s just what you're talking about. We have to do the work. We have to get clear on our boundaries. We have to get clear on our pain story. And it’s not sustainable if we don't give our permission to circle back.

That leads to my next question. I saw you post recently, and I really needed this on that day because I’ve been spending years cutting down on all the things. I am always doing too much, and I’m really editing that, and it takes a while to bring that in, and you've been going through a rebrand, and you said, “Yeah, my rebrand’s three months late, and it’s still gonna be late, and basically it’s gonna get done. I’m working on it,” and you just wrote this huge permission slip publicly. It was this permission of, “Wait, this is my thing that I’m doing, and yeah, I wanted to have it done, and sometimes we set these deadlines that set us up for feeling horrible. We box ourselves in a corner.”

And so, I’d love to hear you share about your plans along with the delays and the permission you gave yourself to take the time that you needed to get it done. 

Rachael Kay Albers: Yeah. And it’s so crazy because it’s like, okay, we put an arbitrary deadline for ourselves on things, and then we don't meet the deadline, and we feel crappy about it.


All of that was true for me, but in my case, I had to set the deadline, and I had to blow it, and then I had to reflect on it to get to the place where I was able to finally make some freakin’ breakthroughs in the rebrand itself. So the arbitrariness of the deadline and the shame that I felt, and then the reflection that I did upon it was all part of the plan, if there’s a plan. I actually don't necessarily believe that, but it certainly was part of what I now see as a beautiful gift that came from that experience. So it was like could I have avoided this by not setting an arbitrary deadline? No, because the arbitrary deadline was part of it.

So that’s a piece of this. I was supposed to launch my brand a few months ago. That’s what I thought, that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I felt was best. But there were some unresolved questions. For me, what’s really meta about all of this, Rebecca, is I build brands for people, okay? I work with people to shape their brands, and so, I’m rebranding, and what complicates it is while rebranding, I’m observing the art of branding and learning things about branding and reflecting upon branding. So I’m in kind of an inception-type experience right now. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: And all of it, all of it, was part of helping me access the answers I was seeking. All of it. The failure to launch is what will help me to launch, right? Everything is really very poetic and confusing today coming out of my mouth, but this is where we are, Rebecca. It’s a beautiful time! But that’s where I’m at.

So here’s the thing. I don't know when this show’s gonna come out, but I have given my -- so you guys, we’re gonna see whether this happens or not. I’ve given myself the deadline now of September. I will launch by the end of September, come hell or high water, however messy it is. Because at some point, you can learn all the lessons (you’ll always be learning lessons), you’ve just got to freakin’ get out of your own damn way. 


So thank god I learned the lesson. But now part of the next step of the lesson is giving myself permission to  launch an unfinished product because that’s what I teach my clients. Every website is an unfinished website. It’s never a finished website. Every brand is an unfinished brand. You know what I’m saying? And so, that’s what I’m surrendering myself to now, Rebecca. We’ll see how it goes. You guys can check on me to see do I make it to my goal? Do I do it? And what do I learn if I don't? [Laughs] Stay tuned for more! [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: You touched on a couple things. We do need those deadlines. That’s part of how, from neuroscience, we work, and that will move us forward. But if our worthiness and safety get tied to those deadlines, that’s where we start to spin out.

The other day I said to my husband, because you were saying, “I’m behind on my rebrand,” and I’ve been thinking about that feeling of behind and catching up and how that’s just jacked me up. I said to my husband, “I am not behind today. I’ve got a lot to do, but I am not gonna live from the mindset of being behind. I’m done with it.” He just kind of looked at me like, “Okay.” [Laughs] 

It’s a fight because if you look at a lot of the systems in culture right now, it really is a power-over, top-down, it’s good/bad, up/down, right/wrong, this, “Are you behind, are you caught up?” It can just do a number. Especially for me, these perfectionist protectors of mine. The one way that’s helped me (I don't know about you) is I’m like, “Okay, everything’s beta. Everything is beta,” and like you talk about shipping went unfinished. That word is hard for me, but if I’m like, “It’s just beta, and it’ll be beta ‘til I breathe my last breath,” that helps me be able to just do something that is, you know, the hashtag #perfectlyimperfect. [Laughs] But it truly helps that. 

So I appreciate that. Thank you for sharing that, and I love that tension of setting the deadline, not meeting it, and then your rumble to, “Okay, I’ve been learning, learning. Now I just need to shift.”


Rachael Kay Albers: I love “everything is beta!” Put it on a t-shirt. I’m Googling it: www.everythingisbeta.com, let’s see! So far so good! You might be able to buy this domain. I don't know, but I feel like there’s something here. Monetize everything, people. That’s the message I want you to get from me, more than anything else. Monetize your pain to whatever degree you can. Come on, somebody’s got to profit from this shit. So there you go. 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: I mean, I don't know. “Everything is beta.” I need that tattooed on both of my buttcheeks. This is gonna help me through life for real.

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] And now we have that visual. So I want to circle back to when I first learned about you and your work. My DMs blew up when you did a video sketch on vulnerability because folks, now that I’m certified in Brené Brown’s work and deeply a believer in her research, and so everyone’s like, “Have you seen this?” “Have you seen this?” “Have you seen this?” I’m like, “Okay! Okay!” And after recovering from that laugh-cry situation and running to the bathroom so I didn't pee my pants -- you made this video: “How Vulnerability Made Me Rich.” And I’m not even gonna do justice to it. We’ll put it in the show notes, and it’s required viewing. But I’d like to hear why did you create that piece? I want to hear from you why you decided to create that piece on how vulnerability made me rich, because it really was one of the most powerful messages on vulnerability and business, next to hearing it from Brené Brown herself who did the research. 

Rachael Kay Albers: Goodness gracious! Wait a minute!

Rebecca Ching: You nailed it, and people have gotten it wrong and wrong and wrong, and Brené keeps talking about it and really explaining what vulnerability is and isn't, and it was so well done, and your sketch was just brilliant.


Rachael Kay Albers: So this would be a great example of seeing something in the wild that’s like, “Ahh, that pisses me off,” and then putting a pin in it, and putting it into my notes, and being like, “I’ve got to do something about this,” and this is often how I back into my best content because, in this case, I did not set out to make a video about vulnerability. I did not set out to make a video about Brené Brown or anything. She’s in my world. I’m like, yeah, you know, I’m not a Brené Brown devotee, and so, I never was like, “You know what? I’ve got to make my Brené Brown video.” I just backed into her where I had no choice but to make a Brené Brown video.

So what happened was I was talking to a girlfriend, a very successful business owner and leader. She’s made millions of dollars, and she’s sitting there telling me why she really wants to do a podcast, but she’s got to wait because she, of all people, has to have thee most amazing podcast idea that’s ever hit the history of podcasts. I’m just watching her from the outside, seeing how she’s getting in her own way, seeing how she’s being a perfectionist. 

So that was part one, right? And I put a little pin in that conversation being like, “Ah, the whole point is you’ve got to do it. Don't wait until you have the great idea, because the great idea comes in doing the bad idea! The great idea comes when you try something,” right? 

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm.

Rachael Kay Albers: And then combine that with the pin I put in every frickin’ third day: people getting on their Instagram stories and being like, “Hey, it’s me. Vulnerable share,” which you'll watch the sketch, and you'll see that’s how it made it in. But people getting on and abusing the word vulnerability when they're not really actually being vulnerable, right?

So both of those notes end up in my long, giant notepad with Awkward Marketing ideas, and when I do sit down for a few days, part of my process is when I’m ready to put together a season, I’ll sit down with all my notes and then I’ll go through them. The ones that I’m channeling right then, those are the ones that are gonna make it to the top.


And so, in this, I took that situation with my friend and her podcast, and I took the situation of, “Oh, I’ve got to do something fun,” with the making fun of the people who get on their Instagram stories talking about vulnerability, right, and they just revealed themselves to be the same thing, right? Because my friend in that moment when we think that is vulnerable, you're sitting there being like, “I want to start a podcast, but I feel like I’ve got to create the greatest podcast ever,” what the misinterpretation of vulnerability is is that the way to be vulnerable is to go on Instagram and be like, “Guys, vulnerable share! I feel really scared today about starting a podcast. I feel like I’m not good enough,” and then they’ll start crying, and they'll think that that, in and of itself, is vulnerability. No! It’s doing the podcast even though you're scared. That’s the vulnerability. That’s it!

Rebecca Ching: Nailed it! Nailed it.

Rachael Kay Albers: Then, in all that, of course I’m stumbling into -- and I’m like, “Well, this is exactly what Brené Brown says, so I guess I’m making a video about Brené Brown.” Who knew? I had no intention of it. But I had the idea, Brené Brown is there, that’s what I’m making a video about right now. Isn't it amazing? That’s a great example about anger being such a gift.

And so, just like you, taking it back to what you were saying before, I do believe, when I’m in my most zen, grounded place - -when I’m in the throes of despair, I don't know. You can't count on this. But yeah, pain is such a gift. Pain has then unlocked my greatest triumphs and my greatest creative works and my greatest advancements as my own human world have come through pain. But ugh, I don't know. I also acknowledge the privilege of my own experience as to why I can sit here and say that it was such a gift.

Rebecca Ching: You got it.

Rachael Kay Albers: Because even that is privilege. 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Rachael Kay Albers: But there we go, baby! There we go.

Rebecca Ching: So what is most vulnerable for you right now? 

Rachael Kay Albers: Well, I would say launching my shit. It is very vulnerable for me to not -- I have that same feeling.


The thing I’m accusing my friend who’s the successful leader of, I’m doing that now, right? Because I’m putting that pressure on myself that because I’m in branding, I better come out with the greatest brand that ever lived. I’ve just talked about how I have been pregnant with my new brand for longer than I was pregnant with my daughter, like twice as long. If we just had fetuses for 18 months, that’s how long this -- people are sick of hearing about my brand pregnancy. You don't have to talk to me about how -- you know you have that friend on your Instagram grid or whatever, seems that they’ve been pregnant for three or four years? They just will never shut up about the baby they're about to have? That’s me right now, Rebecca!

So I need to get out of my own damn way and actually be vulnerable in being a branding expert, putting out a brand that I am not totally satisfied with. That’s why I gave myself the final deadline of September, because the only way now to be vulnerable is to do that, is to do it, is to just frickin’ do it and stop making really wonderful introspective Instagram posts about what I’m learning about myself during branding. I’ve done it. I’ve set it. It’s time to actually [Claps Hands] beta that shit, you know what I’m saying?

Rebecca Ching: Vulnerability is action. I don't know if I -- I might have to think that through, but it is. Brené defines it as risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure. And so, it is, yeah, the path there.

What’s vulnerable in your life right now outside of work?

Rachael Kay Albers: Yeah, man. Who’s life isn’t falling apart, right? You know, I think one thing that I’ve been facing this summer that was kind of the bridge between what I was telling you about when the pandemic first hit and I was doing a lot of self-destructive behaviors and drinking too much and eating too much and just indulging and allowing myself to spiral, enjoying the pain a little bit too much, if you will.


The bridge back over to taking care of myself came through having a lot of fights with my husband and having to finally put the mirror on myself and start taking some freakin’ responsibility, right? So getting out of a victim mindset, of, “Woe is me and I have no control, almost, over what’s happening to me,” to finally saying, “Okay, wait a minute. I may have been victimized, but I am not gonna sit and allow myself to believe that I have no way out of this or that I am not an agent of the change that I need to see in my life.”

So taking responsibility has been what I would say is the way I would describe how I’m acting vulnerably right now is to continue to look in the mirror at myself and take ownership. This is also my journey as a human being just in general. I’m always coming back to this in my life on greater and greater levels. But yeah, just to continue I think to avoid the urge to make rash decisions during this time, you know? 

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Rachael Kay Albers: So just being here now while being radically responsible for my own liberation is my current state of vulnerability.

Rebecca Ching: Ownership. Yeah, really looking in the mirror. Really taking responsibility for our lives versus defining --

Rachael Kay Albers: And, like you said, belonging to myself. That’s how we belong to ourselves, right?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, well, I mean, I’m inspired from Brené’s Braving the Wilderness. I want to give credit where credit’s due, and I’m just pausing and thinking about this image I have of you in front of your elementary school taking ownership of something that helped you move through your pain. Then now, as an adult, as you're navigating the most important relationships in your life, really the way through is ownership, and that’s seeing things that we don't like and feeling through the hard things and just being kind and still showing up for ourselves. 


I’m just thinking my husband and I had a little tiff this morning even. He said I was peppering him. I didn't think I was. I thought I was being curious like, “When are you going grocery shopping? When are you going to do the chores?” I thought I was just being curious, but he was like, “This is my quiet time, and for an hour you’ve been asking me,” and I’m like, “I’m just planning my day, and the house is getting on my nerves!” And then I forget what it was, but he says, “Well, you do that to me.” I think we started talking about shame, and it’s like that because he’s taking Brené’s work to his classroom( Brené’s doing classroom), so now he really knows it too. [Laughs] What our kids must be listening to us talk about.

Rachael Kay Albers: Oh, my. I want to know how I would have turned out if my parents had fights like that, though, for real. 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: Shame right now. Yeah, I don't know.

Rebecca Ching: “I feel ashamed with this now.” He’s like, “I didn't mean to.” I’m like, “Don't.” And he’s like, “That’s not--,” And I’m like, “You can't tell me my shame is in my shame.” He goes, “Well, you do that to me.” I was like, “I do not!” He was like, “Now you can't tell me my experience,” and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh! We just need a time out right now!” [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: That is hilarious.

Rebecca Ching: I think that sometimes, like, okay, pause, and I just walked away, and I went and hopped on my bike and did a Peloton class and then realized, yeah, I owe him a big apology. I’m thankful. I’m thankful for people that can be the mirror too. It’s so vulnerable when someone’s holding that up. It’s really important to you too. Whether it’s a client, whether it’s someone in your family that you love and respect, that is the work. That is a beast for sure. 

So one final question. You talked about being in marketing and, really, you're on a mission to use marketing for good, which is another thing I love about you because I think some of these things, whether social media, marketing, I worked in issue advocacy advertising and really could see how these things could be used for good. I see the harm also.


Billions of dollars spent to get us to be afraid and spend money to make ourselves feel like we belong, right? But you want to take, in essence, back the sleaziness and manipulation tactics, and I still see them push it. It lights me up. So this is bold, and this is a needed mission.

How do you want to transform marketing and use it for good? Talk about how you live these marketing values in your business.

Rachael Kay Albers: You know, part of the rebrand realizations that I just described earlier was this question and kind of getting dialed back into what I now describe, at this phase in the journey, as marketing in pursuit of meaning. I talked to somebody else yesterday who was like, “Okay, so tell me more about the meaningful marketing that you're doing,” and I’m like, “No, there is a distinction here because I don't know if I’m doing meaningful marketing. I am now at a place in my career where I am practicing marketing in pursuit of meaning.” 

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Rachael Kay Albers: The pursuit of marketing as a tool for culture making, marketing as knowing that marketing is all around us, now more than ever with the internet, that literally we are just saturated in content -- I joke monetize everything, but now that’s becoming the way, that we all have to monetize everything in order to survive in this crazy world, right?

So if we know and surrender to the fact that we are going to be surrounded by marketing messages for the rest of our lives, then I am now newly committed -- I think I spent the first 11 years of my career wondering why I ended up in this damn industry, feeling ashamed that I did, thinking, “I’m a radical anti-capitalist feminist that ended up in marketing? I went to law school, I went to seminary hoping I was gonna change the word that way, and then decided no to both of them and ended up in marketing?”


And I just this summer, just now, realized, oh, it wasn't an accident! There are lots of ways that I could have possibly pursued my life’s purpose. I think the purpose would have been the same no matter what. This is the medium for that because we are surrounded by marketing messages, and there is no way out, and I’m not just interested in marketing that isn't damaging. I’m interested in the art form, the plight, the pursuit of marketing as a way of making the world better. When you say, “What does that look like?” I don't know! I’ll tell you in ten years! I’m just at the beginning of what I feel is a new grounding in that purpose.

But I’ll tell you what. I sent you this person’s book earlier this summer. Ron Tite is the head of an agency that works with multi-national companies, and he wrote this amazing book called Think, Do, Say all about helping companies identify and then live their values. He put something on LinkedIn the other day that gave me so much ahh. It just spoke to my soul about this very thing. He said, “Patagonia, the brand, is slowly turning into an activist brand that just happens to sell green products versus a green brand that just also happens to have activist values.” That’s how I see my career going forward is an activist brand that just happens to sell marketing services, right? Versus a marketing brand that also is committed to activism.

So, now, the next part of the journey is figuring out what the hell that means, right? That’s what I’m gonna do. I’ll talk to you in ten years. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: I look forward to that, and I think we’re gonna have conversations before the next decade because things are moving fast. Things are moving fast, and we need change, and yeah, this is --

Rachael Kay Albers: You're right! I’ll talk to you in 90 days, okay?

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Yeah, that works. I’m sitting here thinking about Patagonia because I did see their new little tags that say, “Vote the assholes out,” in their little size tags when you go to see what size it is or what it’s made of, and that’s been catching some press. But it’s an interesting reframe in terms of greater good is if that’s the overall mission.


This is interesting too because profit and bottom line are still essential. I mean, to have a business, we need to have profit, and we need to be able to pay people and have resources to give back. Because a lot of people have issues around money and profit.

Rachael Kay Albers: See, this is the question! This is the question! So I might change my mind about this. I’m open because I just recently slid into what I think is my belief on this. 

Today, I can tell you, “This is what I believe, Rebecca,” which is that I think up until now what I’ve seen most self-described ethical marketers try to do is sell to their audience the idea that, “I’m gonna show you a better way to market, but you're gonna make the same money you would have made the other way.” “I’m gonna show you the non-sleazy way to build your business, but don't worry, you're still gonna make as much money, if not more, than the dick way,” right? I would say that’s a lie, and I would say as long as we want to believe that lie, we’re just recreating the same system, and our so-called ethical marketing is just a way of us feeling better about ourselves, right? We’re just buying carbon credits for our own -- just doing the same damn thing, right?

So I would say I feel like the change that I want to be part of creating is to redefine profit. Now, I think we could all agree that money is a tool that we use in this system that we all live in to survive, right? So there is a degree to which we need money, and money is part of profitability. But as long as profit comes before people, right, then, no, I’m not an -- and that’s what I’m building, that’s the business I’m building, that’s the lie that I’m feeding, I’m not an ethical marketer, right? 


So yes, we do need to work -- we still don't live in a post-capitalist society, and I don't know if we will in my lifetime, but I would like to be part of shaping the conversation and contributing to a greater consciousness and normalizing the idea that maybe the businesses of the future need to be putting people over profit, and that means we’re gonna make less money and that we’re going to realign our relationship with wealth, and that’s the answer, man.

So yes, follow me! I will help you make money. I have a very healthy, mature business. But I have no interest in helping you make eight figures. How many figures is it when you hit a billion? Is it 10, 11? I’m not gonna help you make -- I don't believe we should be helping people build billion-dollar businesses. That's bullshit, right? Follow me, and we’ll make less money, and you'll be a hell of a lot more rich. That's what I want to do. 

Rebecca Ching: And on that note, Rachael, it has been a joy. This conversation’s been a ride. I cannot wait for people to be exposed to you. And there’s so much wisdom in here, so much wisdom.

How can people find you if they want to connect with you?

Rachael Kay Albers: I feel like everyone listening to this can feel my energy right now. Just like put your finger up into the wind, and you'll feel me. I’m coming to ya. 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: A good entry point is to go to www.awkwardmarketing.tv. That’s my YouTube channel. It’s a great way to begin on the journey and just find some laughter. Just laugh along with me making fun of what’s wrong with marketing. And then you'll see the next step once you get there.

Rebecca Ching: Wonderful! Other than your rebrand, is there anything else that you're working on right now?

Rachael Kay Albers: Other than just belonging to myself… 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Rachael Kay Albers: I’m gonna cap it. I’m gonna give myself permission. I think that’s enough. That’s it! That’s more than enough. [Laughs]


Rebecca Ching: Good point. I’m with you on that. Rachael, it was an honor. I enjoyed getting to know you even better today, and I’m really grateful for your leadership, for your light, and for your courage in all you do, so thank you for showing up here and showing up consistently everywhere that you do. I’m really grateful for you. So thanks so much for this conversion today!

The power of comedy is more than just entertaining. It can be a powerful catalyst for communicating in business. It is a memorable way of leading. It is an impactful tool for educating and advocacy. Humor is the glue that builds common humanity, and it keeps us from taking ourselves so seriously while we’re navigating really serious and complex things, gosh, especially these days.

Yes, when using humor as a leadership tool, there needs to be boundaries and a clear sense of culture around humor. As I say to my kids often, “Know your audience.” While many hold an inner polarity around humor like we’re drawn to humor and the lightheartedness but also fear not being taken seriously or being seen as not serious about your work, it’s hard to dispute the impact comedy can have on our lives and communities. 

Rachael gave us a powerful window into her authentic use of comedy in her business. She shared with us how she uses comedy to help her clarify and find purpose in the things that cause her pain and rage while also educating and inspiring so many through her comedy that calls us up and never belittles. How has humor helped support you in life and work? What stories do you tell yourself about humor and comedy that are holding you back from showing up authentically? How do you want to bring more humor into all areas of your life?


Leading with laughter, when done with intention and authenticity, can offer much-needed connection and community while doing the hard work, even the messy, uncertain work that we’re all rumbling with these days.

The weight of the world can drag the best of us down, robbing you of your joy, your optimism, your sense of humor. Yes, you take your work seriously. But you have a hard time shifting out of the grind of the drive, of the intensity of your work and life. 

Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that can keep you from enjoying life more and help put a pause on taking yourself so seriously. Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights. It is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up. 

Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned. When the stakes are high and you don't want to lose focus, when you want to navigate inevitable conflict between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can’t wait to hear from you!

[Inspirational Outro Music]

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, and free Unburdened Leader resources, along with ways to work with me www.rebeccaching.com.


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