Mindie Kniss was on the fast-track to success: a Fortune 100 career, the house, the car, etc… Then, in 2008, after being laid off twice by the same company, Mindie gave up the cushy corporate career to become an entrepreneur. Within two years, she was $100,000 in debt and faced eviction, foreclosure, and eventually, bankruptcy. Having hit rock bottom, Mindie knew there was nowhere to go but up, and has since developed a successful, six-figure coaching practice.
Today, Mindie is CEO of Lucra which offers training on money mindset and entrepreneurialism. She hosts the annual HeartPath retreat and is author of The Heart of Consciousness. She holds degrees in theology, writing, and philosophy.
Sean Stephenson: Hey my friend, welcome to another episode of The Lucrative Society. Today, my favorite person on the planet is going to be our guest, the great, one and only, Mindie Kniss. Mindie, thanks for being on the program.
Mindie Kniss: Thanks for inviting me onto our program. [Laughing]
Sean Stephenson: Well, today I get to interview you so you’re my guest. So Mindie, you know that The Lucrative Society is all about looking at that awesome intersection of wealth and happiness. So we’re going to talk a lot about that today. And I want to know, just could you share with our listener who may not know much about Mindie Kniss, like what is your wealth evolution from the start when you were a little kid around money to today?
Mindie Kniss: There’s been a lot of ups and downs. I would say some pretty big swings in that journey. I grew up in a fairly well-off neighborhood. It was the North Shore of Chicago and I felt like a lot of materialism surrounded me. A lot of people that I knew at school had certainly a lot more money than we did, my family, and they would get a brand new car on their 16th birthday and things like that. And I just thought, ugh, I didn’t like that probably because I was a little bit envious of that. But I kind of swung completely the opposite direction and went into things that were of service. I sponsored a lot of kids, even from when I was really young, I think maybe around 11 or 12 years old, I started sponsoring kids in other countries and that led to lots of other types of volunteer work and eventually going to East Africa and working over there, seeing the just immense poverty in various parts of the world.
And when I started working in corporate America, that was a whole different situation. What was your first job? When did you get your first dollar? Well, my first job was babysitting. I mean, that wasn’t a real job. But I babysat a lot for friends of my parents or whomever, neighbors or whoever. And that was my first money. I probably spent most of that on books. We would go to the local…
Sean Stephenson: Nothing’s changed.
Mindie Kniss: Right? We’d go to the local bookstore and I would probably buy a lot of books, maybe some snacks or candy every now and again, but mostly books. I didn’t really have a lot of money, so that was never really a thing. And even all through college, working…
Sean Stephenson: Bookstores.
Mindie Kniss: Working at a bookstore, again, spending probably more money than I made at that bookstore on books. So that didn’t really serve me that well either except for my knowledge. Then after that I got kind of just a regular office job and I still really didn’t have any money. And then through a course of really interesting connection points, I ended up working for a pharmaceutical company and this was a big Fortune 100 career. And I remember getting the letter that was my offer from that company. And I looked at the salary and I was like, what?! It was to me…
Sean Stephenson: I’m rich, bitch!
Mindie Kniss: I don’t even remember exactly what it was, but I want to say it was, I don’t know, maybe like 40 or $50,000 something as a starting salary. And the whole idea that I was going to work in this position at that company was crazy from the get-go because my undergrad degree was in theology and everybody else at that company, at least in the position I was applying for, had some sort of biochemistry degree. I mean, they were a scientist and then I come in as a theologian and most of the people there were like, what is that? You know, like what are you doing here? So I had the wrong degree. And to get that job you needed three to five years of experience in the industry, which I also didn’t have. So anyway, the whole job thing was crazy. But I very quickly got in there and was able to really excel at my job. And because of that, I got a lot of promotions and I got a lot of raises really quickly. Within a few years, I was making upwards of $100,000. To me that was out of control. I mean, it was just crazy. So I had a car and a house and all this stuff that I had never really even been able to do before, but suddenly it was more accessible.
I was able to pay off my student loans for undergrad and it was just awesome. Then I get this crazy idea where I decided I would like to become an entrepreneur and I had kind of ventured into some various businesses. My very first business I started myself was an editing business. I started it when I was living in Nairobi.
Sean Stephenson: Word Reverb.
Mindie Kniss: Yeah. It was called Word Reverb, which I thought was brilliant. I don’t think that anymore, but I thought it was pretty smart at the time. So I did a little editing work. I would help people with their resumes or I’d help them with papers or assignments, things like that. It didn’t really go anywhere and didn’t really do anything. So my next venture was, well, I’m going to become a coach. I had always been the type of person who people tended to trust even at work, all kinds of people, especially sometimes people that I didn’t know very well, they would come up to me and they’d be like, Hey, you know, can I talk to you for a minute?
And they would end up telling me their deep, dark secrets. And anyway, that was very interesting. But I thought, you know, I’m kind of already doing this for people. I love leadership. So I was always in leadership-type roles and I thought coaching would be awesome. So I think, Hmm, okay, I’m a pretty good coach and I got my start while I was still working. Then I decided to just get crazy and move across the country and leave that job after I’d been laid off from that company twice based on their downsizing and reorganizing and all that stuff. So I move across the country. I am living off of a severance, I’m living off of my savings and then I’m living off of…
Sean Stephenson: The floor.
Mindie Kniss: …my credit cards and then I’m living off of my 401K and then I’m living off literally any change that I could find that day so I could afford to eat from the 99 cent menu. And yeah, you know, you joke living off the floor…
Sean Stephenson: No, I wasn’t joking.
Mindie Kniss: But it wasn’t, however, I did have a futon. I will say this, I never actually had to sleep on the floor, but I was evicted from my apartment. My house that I owned at the time in Michigan was foreclosed. I moved into my small office that I was renting. So I had my office and my car and the only reason I had the car was because it was paid off. Otherwise that probably would have been taken as well. And it was a really, really tough time. So I would say this was by far the lowest point in my wealth experience. And since then, over a good bit of time, many years, I have developed a much different view and a much different mindset around wealth, about money creation, about abundance, about worth really.
And that has made all the difference. I remember very specifically the first time in my coaching business when I made over $100,000 in a year, I was like, I’m done. Like this is amazing! It was like so great. But what that set me up for is, okay, what’s next? You know, where can we go from here? So it really has shifted so dramatically.
Sean Stephenson: So we talk about wealth, we also talk about happiness. What does happiness look like to Mindie?
Mindie Kniss: Happiness to me is has a lot to do. And I would say for me it’s, there’s a split. My greatest happiness is in the wilderness in solitude, just out where the earth is allowed to be wild and we haven’t tried to tame it with our cities and structures and all of that. And I’d probably bring a book. So that’s a lot of happiness to me.
And then on the flip side of that, happiness is also being in relationship. And a lot of that is our marriage. Both of us are very committed to making it fun and making it growth-oriented and making it enjoyable. And what I find the most happiness in with us is that we both are what we call self-cleaning ovens, in other words, we do the work. Any relationship is difficult, any relationship takes effort. But you and I are committed to putting in that effort and that generates a lot of happiness.
Sean Stephenson: Absolutely. So, as you know on this program we have this acronym called herb, H E R B. And we share this with every guest because we want to know their HERB. I’m going to take you through it and you tell me what you would share with our listener. So H stands for habits. So what are some of your habits that have developed your personal life as well as your professional life?
Mindie Kniss: I would say reading would be primary. I love books as we’ve already alluded to. Reading, to me, is something that has always been part of my life. My mom read to us when we were little. As long as I can remember back, she was reading to us and then we would read. Like I would read myself and then I was the oldest of my siblings so I would read to them and it was just always in our family and in our DNA really.
Sean Stephenson: So how did that fall off the table for those other two?
Mindie Kniss: Yeah, I don’t know.
Sean Stephenson: I don’t think the two of them read very much.
Mindie Kniss: My siblings? Well, you know, my dad is not either.
Sean Stephenson: Did those kids learn how to read?
Mindie Kniss: I am pretty sure they know how to read. Yeah, I don’t know. My mom and I are definitely bigger book people in our family, but it was just something that I clung to and resonated with so much. So that’s a habit for me and that has hugely influenced my life, my work, my business, my beliefs, all kinds of stuff has been that. Another habit, and this one is much more recent, I used to feel like I did not like working out. I really, really just was like, I don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t want to have to deal with all this stuff. But more recently, working out has almost become non-negotiable. A lot of that is because I have found a workout that I absolutely love to do. So that shifted my mindset a lot around that. But more and more now, that has become a habit that obviously contributes to health, it contributes to a clear mind and just oftentimes I’m also listening to an audiobook while I’m working out, so I kind of get to do both at the same time.
Sean Stephenson: So moving from the habits into the E for Environment, what are some of the things that you allow in and keep out of your personal and professional environments?
Mindie Kniss: Well, what I allow in, and this drives you crazy, is clutter. I totally resonate with the guy who wrote the book Messy and he talks about how it just contributes to creativity and…
Sean Stephenson: If I meet that guy I’m going to punch him in the face.
Mindie Kniss: [Laughing] You’re not going to punch him in the face, you wouldn’t be able to reach his face.
Sean Stephenson: I am. No, I would say, sir, come here. I want to just stroke your cheek and say thank you and then I’d punch him right in the gut. [Laughing]
Mindie Kniss: Okay. Well, interestingly enough, my sister just recently, the other day, sent me a photo and this photo was taken of when we were little. She and I shared a room and you wouldn’t even be able to get in there because there was just stuff over the whole floor.
Sean Stephenson: I remember when the two of you lived back at your parents’ and I saw the rooms and yeah, I have an idea.
Mindie Kniss: No, you don’t because this was so much worse.
Sean Stephenson: Oh my.
Mindie Kniss: I looked at that picture and my first thought was how did our mom let us get away with that? Like why didn’t we have to clean it up?
Sean Stephenson: I’m going to have a talk with her.
Mindie Kniss: But I think probably she was just so done with us. Like if we could just at least contain it in our own room, she was willing to deal with that. So I would say I have come a long way because our space doesn’t look anything like that, of course, because you literally wouldn’t be able to enter the room if it did. But I do allow that into my space.
Sean Stephenson: So that’s your only suggestion? Keep clutter in environments?
Mindie Kniss: No, you asked what I allowed in and that is something I allow in. The other things that I intentionally bring in, I like to have color. I really don’t feel all that jazzed about just blah, meh colors. That’s very boring to me. So I like color. I like plants. I like living real things. I’m really into craftsmanship. I don’t like things that are just shoddily put together. I like when they’re put together well or built well or they work, it’s efficient, it works well. So maybe that doesn’t coincide great with the clutter aspect. But I generally like really nice craftsmanship.
Sean Stephenson: So moving from the environment to our resources. This one, you could spend hours on, I understand that. By resources, I mean books, courses, programs, what has developed you?
Mindie Kniss: I know what you mean, love.
Sean Stephenson: Well, I’m letting the listener know all the different ways that you can have resources.
Mindie Kniss: Resources I would recommend. One of my most recommended books is called The Millionaire Master Plan. It’s by a guy named Roger Hamilton and I recommend it so often because it doesn’t just say, okay, if you want to learn how to make more money, do this. Because I don’t think it’s that easy. What he does is he breaks it into four different types of person and I’ll just give you two as an example. Sean is a Blaze. That’s a people person. He builds his business based on people, networks, connections, relationships. I myself am a Dynamo. That’s an idea person. I build my business through creativity, different ideas, stuff like that. And then, he not only says, okay, this is the type of person that you are, but where are you currently in your wealth evolution? You take a little quiz, you can take it online, it’s free, and he says from that stage and for that type of person, here’s the next three steps of what you need to do to get to the next level, which I really appreciate. It’s simple, it’s efficient and it’s great. So that would be my top resource in terms of books that I would recommend.
Sean Stephenson: What about from the personal side? That’s business.
Mindie Kniss: Sure. Personal side, I have learned probably the most in terms of my philosophy, my current belief system, my understanding of world, and the way that the world works from Louise Hay. She has lots, there’s tons of programs through her publishing company, Hay House, and specifically, I’d recommend the book. You Can Heal Your Life. That just is a very, very powerful way of owning and taking responsibility for everything in your life.
Sean Stephenson: So that rounds us out with the B, which is beliefs. What are some of your core beliefs that make up Mindie Kniss?
Mindie Kniss: You know it’s a great question because I have studied beliefs. That’s what I studied in school was spirituality and just how people believe, what people believe, why people believe what they believe. And I’m fascinated with that topic. So for me personally, my beliefs are that everything is exactly the way that it needs to be, should be, and that, ultimately, I want it to be. If there’s something going on in my life that I am not vibing with, I have to ask myself, okay, well I was a co-creator in that. What is it that I want about that? Or how do I want to shift that? It’s my responsibility. So you talk a lot about this, Sean, cause is greater than effect. The way I would say that is, you know, it’s always my choice. Choice is primary to me and I believe that we can also create our own reality, which is a lot of fun. I’ve had to learn that over the years. But it’s a blast when you get into the flow. So those would be some of the top beliefs that I hold.
Sean Stephenson: So before we finish this out, I want to know what is your definition of wealth?
Mindie Kniss: Yeah, I love this. And you know I like to geek out on words and etymology and things like that. So as I was studying money and studying wealth, I ended up looking up the word wealth to see, you know, where does that word even come from? And it comes from middle English, from a word spelled wele. And what that means, or what that meant, is wellbeing. And I love that definition because it’s not necessarily about money. In today’s society, money is part of wellbeing because it contributes to a lifestyle that you can have healthy, organic food and you can maybe pay a trainer or go to a gym or just even have adventures in the wilderness with the right gear and equipment, but it’s overall wellbeing. So to me, that’s what I love about this conversation about wealth and happiness. To me, it’s one and the same because both contribute to your wellbeing. So to me, that’s what wealth means.
Sean Stephenson: I think that there is so much more that we could cover around your beliefs alone, and that’s why I encourage people that want to learn more about you to investigate you. What’s the best place that somebody could go to learn more about you?
Mindie Kniss: Sure. They can go to my website at MindieKniss.com.
Sean Stephenson: Awesome. Well, thank you for being on the program, Mindie.
Mindie Kniss: Thanks for interviewing me, Sean.
Sean Stephenson: Hey, any time.