You won’t see this coming!

the

Nicole Walters Podcast

The Nicole Walters Podcast

Join me each week for a new episode packed with what you need to know to gain clarity, grow your network, and monetize your life using the proven corporate strategies I’ve mastered in 10 years as a Fortune 500 executive.

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SHOW NOTES

Y’all this chat is one for the books! My friend, Katie Whitlock, is here to chat about the the real life pivot she made from working as a statistician. You won’t see this coming!

Katie created a completely new career in a field she had no education or background in. This is the freshest of fresh starts and an inspiring story you won’t want to miss!

In this chat Katie shares why she felt called to leave her career, why ‘good enough’ was not good enough anymore, and how starting small led to big results.

Isn’t it wild that you can truly change your life with just a few bold decisions? Let’s keep this conversation going over on Instagram! Find Katie at @WindyIndigoFarmandFiber and myself at @NicoleWalters.

 

Nicole:

Hey, y’all. So you heard me say last week and the week before that, that I was excited about the episode. Well, look, I lied, I’m excited about this one, if you cannot hear in my voice right now my level of hype. <breaths> Now, if you know me at all, you know that one, everything I bring you is rock solid. And two, I get excited about different things. So, this is not your typical chat. I have brought in one of my good friends, who has an absolutely wild life pivot that you will never anticipate but you will learn everything from. I’m not even going to tell you what it is, I’m going to let you tell you herself. I am here with Katie Whitlock of Windy Indigo. I can’t tell you what that is yet because it’ll give it away. And we are going to talk about what she does for a living, how she got to this work, and the thing you’re going to learn from this moment is that one, you can do something radically different from where you are now.

You can literally decide in a heartbeat because of a moment, a mission, a feeling to be someone else doing something else and go do it. You can, right? And it can be something you are completely and entirely unaware of how to do. And what’s great is Katie, generously came in here and is willing to share with us her journey, and you’re gonna be so inspired. So Katie, thank you so much for being here.

Katie:

Hi, Nicole. Thanks for having me.

Nicole:

Katie’s like girl. Don’t you hit me up like that? No, seriously, like, you are incredible. Like, you. I don’t even know I’m like, I sound like a fan. Right? I literally looked around like I’m fangirling. But I am fangirling.

Katie:
Ah, thank you.

Nicole:

Yeah. So okay. I don’t want to like drop bury the lede too long. But before we go into what you do for a living, right, and like your, you know, your passion, your mission, your statement, all of that. Tell everyone about where you started. What was the work you were doing before you got into your current field?

Katie:

Before I came to my current field, I was a research statistician up in Seattle.

Nicole:

I tried not to giggle because it’s so unrelated. It’s so unrelated, y’all.

Katie:

Um, so I was helping pediatricians, nurses, other medical folks find better ways to treat kids who were sick or injured.

Nicole:
Incredible work.

Katie:
I loved it. There were a lot of things that I loved about it.

Nicole:
So what didn’t you love about it?

Katie:

Well, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity left. For me in that field. I don’t have a PhD. I’m not clam climbing the academic rankings. And to be honest, the thing that really pushed me over…

Nicole:
It wasn’t the work itself so much as the call to your new work?

Katie:
Well, there was a moment in around 2015, when my husband got laid off. And we had to, for his job, we moved to actually move to Los Angeles briefly, and then moved very quickly back. When we got back, I got my kids back into childcare, I got myself back into a similar job in the same, you know, with the same hospital. And it seemed fine from the outside.

My husband kept saying, Oh, look, we landed right back where we started it’s like it never happened.

Nicole:
So I just want to wait, I just want to pause here for a second. So the thing I want to call out here, because everyone right now is listening with bated breath. They want to hear where you landed eventually, and I want everyone to understand that. Katie, so many of us are in this position where it’s like, look, and I relate to this where I make good money, my job is fine. The kids are okay. You know, but this is not it. It’s not enough. I feel stuck. You know, and I know this is not all that I meant to be and frankly I have stuff I care about that I am not doing. So sometimes good enough is not enough.

Katie:

Exactly. And that is exactly what that move and that transition, that sort of, you know, giant blender of life. Huh, spit out at me was that something wasn’t quite right.

Nicole:
Oh, that is so real. And that is such a driving force I think, because a lot of us feel like, we need to have something clear, right? You know, like, people are like, oh, you know, my daughter lost all her hair and that’s why I started this hair extension line or, you know, I got into a terrible accident. And that was when I knew I needed to work on brain trauma, you know, like, and it’s like, no, like, sometimes it’s that dull, quiet human, but consistent roar that that thing underneath you that saying, No, I have to make a change. So let’s go back to where you are. So you have, you know, ended up back where you were, and to the point where it was almost maybe a little celebratory, like, oh, good on us. Right? We made it back. Right. But you knew that wasn’t it?

Katie:

It didn’t feel quite right for me. And I really wrestled with that feeling for several years. Until someone…

Nicole:

Can you tell me some of the feelings that you’re wrestling with? Because I know some people are sitting there right now? Do you wrestle with guilt? Did you feel like I should be grateful for where I am?

Katie:
Truth be told at that point, I was working full time outside the home with three kids six years and under. And I felt invisible. I actually didn’t know completely if I still existed.

Nicole:

Wow. That’s big.

Katie:

All of my time. And energy was put into, you know, the research, which is great and important. And my kids, which are great and important. But I didn’t have two seconds to put together for myself.

Nicole:
So you weren’t developing you?

Katie:
I wasn’t developing me. I wasn’t even. You know, I didn’t have time to even think my own thoughts. And it was too much.

Nicole:

Oh, I mean, how many of us, I mean, y’all I told you this is gonna be a fire episode, you understand how excited I am about this like this is? So what you’re talking about where you’re going with this. We are literally listening to this and sitting in this and feeling this right now. We relate to this, right? So you’re in this moment where everything is right, but everything is wrong. And it feels like something is missing. So tell me, what did you decide to do?

Katie:

Well, one day, someone at work was doing a little article, you know, so they were interviewing different people around the office. And she asked me where I would be if I wasn’t there. And I said I would be on a hill with some sheep.

Nicole:

Which we all had these like ridiculous things we say we all have these things were like, Oh my gosh, like I’d be on a boat in Tahiti stark naked eating some fudge. Okay, maybe that’s just mine. But you know what I mean? Like, you know, we all have things.

Katie:

If it comes out of your mouth, it comes from somewhere.

Nicole:
Oh, oh, you better preach today. Okay, so that being said, you said you would be on a hill with some sheep. And you were presently in what a cube in a building?

Katie:

A cube in an office building downtown Seattle? Yes, night and day. I mean, cube might be a generous description.

Nicole:
Right? We all have a slot under the stairs like, corporate right? Yeah. So okay, so this is what happens. And then what did you decide to like, what happened next? I mean, it’s just an article. It’s one of those work things

Katie:

Well, so I I started to think about why, why that in particular came to mind and, and I had started knitting a little bit in the evenings and sort of remembered my childhood hobby. Um, and really, what it came down to was starting to investigate and explore what would it mean to actually have sheep? Do I need to do something different? Do I want to start a knitting business? Do I want to start a design business? Do I want to have sheep and what would be involved in any or all of those things?

Nicole:

So y’all, pause, freeze, stop for a second. Girl you could have just been knitting. Do you know what I mean? Like people literally are like, oh, like or you just needed a vacation to Ireland. Okay, like, right like I’m over here like no, what do you mean have sheep? Now, you know this about me? Because like Katie and I are friends. You know this about me, I was in 4H club. This is Nicole trivia people don’t know about this. I actually used to show sheep at the farm show. So but I did that like in seventh grade as part of like horticulture class like it was like a thing, right? And then it eventually became like a bit more of a hobby. So I know what it means to say what if I get some sheep? It’s a leap, boat ride, plane flight away from I like to knit. What happened? Was this just a Wikipedia gone wrong?

Katie:

I mean, so you would think, for a lot of changes, you just maybe dip your toe, but how do you dip your toe in sheep when you live in suburban Seattle?

Nicole:
That’s true.

Katie:
So I found another shepherd.

Nicole:

So you found a shepherd. So okay, so you start Googling around, like, what would it take for me to be on a hill with some sheep? And then that led you to finding a shepherd in Seattle?

Katie:
In Vermont.

Nicole:
And so 3000 miles away, right? You decide to talk to a shepherd. So someone who is living on a hill with some sheep, and let me tell them, I know that what you’re gonna say next is, you ask them if they had an Airbnb, so you could just go stay for a week or two and then move on with your life. Please, Katie, for all of the masses tell us that’s all you did.

Katie:

Oh, my goodness, I took a class. Sheep finances. Can you make money in sheep? The answer by the way, is maybe not…

Nicole:
But this is a thing.

Katie:
Yeah. It’s a thing.

Nicole:
So Katie, what do you do now?

Katie:

So now I am a shepherd. I have a herd of about 40 Romney and Rummel Dale sheep on Whidbey Island just northwest of Seattle.

Nicole:
Y’all, y’all the jaws are dropping, have you in your lifetime spoken or heard of a shepherd, in real life, in modern day? She has sheep now! I say this as someone who I’m riveted by this, right? There are a million nuances that we can go into about what it takes to rear them, etc. Where does one even buy a sheep in this day and age? You know, like there’s so many quite like it’s not a Costco item. You know what I mean? So there’s so much we can get into and y’all I’m telling you, you have to follow Katie, you need to keep up with Windy Indigo farm like just Google it you can go learn, learn, learn because it is riveting. Like I’m not not even in the cheeses way. It’s riveting stuff.

But I want to stay with this. Like I want to say with this pivot, you made this massive fresh start. So now you have sheep. Okay, you have no sheep experience, like at all. Like and you’re now in charge of lives. This isn’t a puppy. This isn’t a couple kids. You now have added to your brood literally. Aren’t you scared?

Katie:

I was scared. That was a big leap of faith.

Nicole:

And financially! How much are sheep? What do they go for these days? $20? $50 I’m just kidding. How much is it?

Katie:

About $350. Yeah, I mean, it varies.

Nicole:
But yeah, but I mean, so you invested in this thing that you’d never done before had no background about. And you literally were like, I’m just gonna go all in.

Katie:

I started, I actually started small. I think that I actually think that that’s probably the best thing that I that I did is I did drag my family to a farm. But beyond that. I brought home four sheep.

Nicole:

I mean, first of all, there’s a lesson for all of us there. If you’re looking to explore your dream, no one’s saying you have to move to Ireland. I think a lot of people look at me and they say, Nicole, you were in corporate, you quit your job and launched this thing, like how extreme but the truth is I started small. I had a couple clients before I quit to see how it was going. So you brought home four sheep before four turned into 40.

Katie:
That’s right.

Nicole:

That’s right. So how did you feel? Which is four? Because I bet you 40 feels easier now that you’re more experienced than four did when you first started.

Katie:
It is a steep learning curve. Every single day was something new.

Nicole:
Oh my gosh, what’s your story did like whatever get out in your kitchen?

Katie:
I mean, I went out to the barn about a month ago. And there should be no sheep in the barn right now. All of these were in the field. Okay, and the Rams were all in a different field. So I walked out to the barn and there were four rams, looking at me in the barn. And all of the yews we’re standing behind them. They’re not supposed to be bred yet because I don’t want babies before Christmas.

Nicole:

Oh, yes. Oh, no. So boys and girls not together, not together and you put them where they’re supposed to be. And they somehow found each other?

Katie:

They decided to remove a gate. Oh, wow. In order to be together.

Nicole:

Oh, wow. We’d love to say we love a love story.

Katie:
That’s right.

Nicole:
But also, you’re, you’re gonna be a happy mom. So yeah, so it’s unexpected, right? Crazy things can happen. But you know, you’re gonna learn as you go. And I mean, you have to be willing to embrace that, I’m sure.

Katie:

Absolutely. You never know what you’re gonna find when you go to the barn and you just have to be ready to take the steps that need to be taken. But the thing I’ve learned by being a shepherd is that actually, I can handle pretty much anything that I find.

Nicole:

That’s good because you have to, when you’re looking at life in the face, you have to, oh, that’s so big. Okay, so let’s go back to you know, sort of this. I’ve taken I know your farm is not in the middle of downtown Seattle. So there are lots of things you have to overhaul when you decide that you’re going to take on a certain way of living, right? So if you say to yourself, I, you know, decide I want to be a shepherd and I used to work in a cube, you’re not bringing four sheep home to an apartment. So what happened here because you’re flipping your whole life upside down, it’s the freshness of fresh starts.

Katie:

Well, I left my job at the hospital.

Nicole:
Wow.

Katie:
And, and still do have a few consulting clients. So I do publish from time to time still, um, we bought a farm that happened to be in the middle of COVID. That wasn’t really the plan. But you know, COVID wasn’t anybody’s plan.

Nicole:

Also, like, look, I mean, things work out in the craziest ways he got out of the city onto an island, you know, so you bought a farm. And of course, did the research. We’ll do the numbers for you and all the all those back end things. But you said no, I’m taking the steps forward.

Katie:

Look, we were looking for acreage, I was looking for outbuildings. I didn’t want to buy a piece of property that didn’t have anything already built.

Nicole:
Sure. Sure.

Katie:
I wanted water hookups and electricity.

Nicole:
So you learned all these things, though…

Katie:
Before we ever bought the land. 

Nicole:
So I just saw, let me just translate this for people who are listening. So part of why I needed you to meet Katie is one inspiring story. But two, it is so categorically opposite what any of you are thinking right now, if a single one of you right now is thinking I want to be a shepherd, please reach out to me because you need to meet Katie personally. But outside of that, all of you reach out to me all the time about your dream, your goal, your aspiration, what you’re thinking about day in and day out, and how you can’t do it for whatever reason, or you don’t know where to start.

Understand that if Katie can pull this off, and she is currently at a farm with 40 sheep, you can pull off launching your business and creating one piece of content, you can pull off going out and sending an email and getting one client. You know how to do an email already. You don’t even need to reach out to someone in Vermont for that you know how to do it. So if you’re able to do that, you’re able to have success and step into the life that you want. This is like wildly inspirational, like you have no idea. So that said, you’re now on this farm. Do you only have sheep just out of curiosity sake?

Katie:

We also have chickens.

Nicole:
Okay.

Katie:
Of course, we have chickens. My daughter is the chicken whisperer. She loves to watch them.

Nicole:
So you’re like a real proper farmer now like this is a thing.

Katie:

Yeah, it feels strange to call myself a farmer because I’m, you know, a city girl.

Nicole:
And Sure. Well, I mean, not anymore. You know. And it’s a beautiful thing, because we can be all the things so the, you know, I’m sure everyone wants to know the families there. Right. And they all came along for the ride. Are they as into this as you are like, how did that go?

Katie:

The first conversations with my husband sounded like, there was no way we were ever going to leave the house that we had in suburban Seattle, he loved it there. The kids were happy there. There was not really any reason to leave.

Nicole:

Although there was every reason to leave…

Katie:
For me.

Nicole:
Sure, sure. Absolutely you had to make it work. Like you had to find the way. Right. Right.

Katie:

Exactly. And, and, and I think that it was really important to have that time to do what I could do, huh, you know, it, I could have said, well, we’ll never go it’ll never matter. You know I should just do something else. But I took all of that time to learn of course, and and in the process of that kind of convinced him.

Nicole:

That’s so brilliant. Because also I think a lot of us when we’re in a position right now where it feels like we don’t have the resources. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the team. I don’t have the opportunities. I don’t have the fame. I don’t have the followers. Well, there’s still things you can do to get ready for that future you want where you are right now.

Are you putting in the time? Are you reaching out to the network? Are you putting in the practice? Are you getting the side hustle and saving in order to be ready when the time comes? I mean, I’m not kidding Katie your life is like a testament to all of this. So now you have this farm. And you’ve got these sheep, well the chickens too. We don’t want to leave them out in case they hear this, you know, so you’ve got this farm. How is this farm working in your life now? I mean, is it available for you know lessons and like I mean, what do you do is just you and your sheep like what do you farm?

Katie:

So it is primarily a fiber farm.

Nicole:
So tell us more about that because I don’t think anyone knows about fiber.

Katie:

So the sheep are there. They’re wool sheep. So they grow wool, wool sheep have to be shorn, it’s part of their regular maintenance.

Nicole:
And so it’s not harmful to the sheep?

Katie:
It doesn’t hurt the sheep at all. It’s like a hair cut.

Nicole:

It’s like guys shaving their face absolutely needs to happen gonna grow hair, right, shave it off, it’s fine.

Katie:
Absolutely. The byproduct is something we can use, exactly. The wool can be spun, it can be made into yarn, which can be made into garments and home goods and all kinds of things. Which, personally, I love, it’s a completely sustainable fiber.

Nicole:

So we don’t even think about this. I think sometimes that things like cotton take, you know, acres to grow the manufacturing, processing, all of that, for those of you all care about that, you know, which, you know, hopefully, we’re all starting to care a little bit more about where things come from, and how it affects our body and the planet and each other. So wool is just one of those things where it’s like, look, we’ve got these sheep that we’re raising, but we’ve got this amazing thing that continues to grow and cultivate, they can be turned. And you all may not know this, but sweaters lasts a long time when they’re made of real wool. Like I mean, you can hand those down through generations.

Katie:
They last a long time, they’re warm, they don’t have to be washed actually, as frequently as synthetic textiles, because the wool doesn’t hold on to the bacteria that causes odor.

Nicole:

It makes sense, because you’re coming from an animal. I mean, this is a protective coating added to animals as well.

Katie:

And when they’re done, they either can be composted. So I mean, technically, you can put wool in your garden as a mulch.

Nicole:

I mean, that’s incredible. So it’s like a full cycle.

Katie:
Absolutely.

Nicole:
I can tell you right now, everyone has learned more about wool than they’ve known their entire life. Which is, and I’m not kidding, I really believe that we may have accidentally created some shepherds here. Like, I’m sure some of you are, like, Look, she’s making it sounds way more reasonable than I thought, like, you may have remained soon. So I love this. So. So that said, you know, you found some mentors, you know, you went all in you did research, but you took tiny steps as you got there. And now you have this, you know, farm that actually can feed itself. I mean, you work on the monetization of it, like any business, but it generates a product that can be sold, that is sustainable and good for the planet, and can be used.

But there are other things that your farm can do right? I mean, if one were to have a farm that that I think are fulfilling, right?

Katie:

Oh, I mean, absolutely. We also, I mean, obviously the sheep we, we also breed the sheep. So we have lambs. We do small, sell some lamb shares, a small number. And we have events and other kinds of activities going on at the farm.

Nicole:

That’s incredible. I mean, and I can imagine, and you can, you know, correct me if I’m wrong. How fulfilling does it feel to know that you’re doing this work where, you know, Legacy leaving, you’re creating a product that leaves a legacy, you’re caring about the planet as a legacy? You’ve got kids that can come over and learn, like, so different from the work you’re doing before?

Katie:

It’s really different. You know, my first job out of college, I worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing, it was a long time ago. I remember there. We produced injectable medications primarily. And there was a problem with a batch, where they found a fiber in one of the syringes. It was a little tiny red fiber. That little tiny red fiber had come from the carpet in the offices. Had made it all the way into the clean rooms. You know, and I know, it’s complicated with all of the things sorted to prevent that from happening. Sure. But that look, it was just a little piece of synthetic carpet. Wow. And, and I feel, I think, you know, if a little tiny piece of synthetic carpet can make it that far, in spite of all of those obstacles. Where else are those little tiny synthetic fibers ending up?

Nicole:
And I mean, I have to have you back because we can have a whole conversation about that and what our options are, that is so so good. But I love that you’re saying you feel fulfilled because the work you’re doing it matters. It ties in.

Katie:

it does matter. And I and I think it’s I think it’s the direction that that things are going to need to go going forward.

Nicole:

And you get to be a part of that. Oh, Katie, you’re amazing. I’m so grateful and so much sight it was so fun it’s so fun to have you I know everyone right now is like this is Nicole like if you don’t know shepherds like how do you know what is happening right now so I love, where can people keep up with you keep up with the sheep’s keep it what are we going to see some lambs because you know I like to be a lamb auntie. So tell me where can we keep up with all the things that are happening? Is there like a video stream? Can we bring the kids to the farm like what is there because we want to know everything.

Katie:

Yeah, you can follow me on Instagram at Windy Indigo farm and fiber. I’ve got a website, windyindigo.com. And I’m going to be starting a Patreon pretty soon.

Nicole:

Oh, I love that. So y’all, we can support not just sustainable incredible work. But we can you know, pick a lamb! I mean, it’s a beautiful thing to do. And it’s a great project for the kids. So, you know, we’ll have all those details in the show notes. We will keep up with you. And thank you so much for the work you do and for sharing your story.

Katie:
Oh, thank you for inviting me.

 
In this episode, Katie and I chat about:
  • The crazy career pivot Katie took from being a statistician,
  • The events that led Katie to make this big pivot,
  • How she got her husband and family onboard,
  • How bold decisions and small changes led to her success, and
  • What you can do today to take a step into your calling like Katie

Resources and links mentioned in this episode:
  • Find Katie Whitlock HERE and connect with her on Instagram!
  • Grab my New York Times Bestselling memoir, Nothing is Missing, HERE!
  • Send me a DM on Instagram and Facebook!
  • Book a 20 min call to see if working together is the right next step for you!
  • Don’t miss one of the MOST LOVED chats showing up on empty – Listen here or watch here!
  • I love reading your reviews of the show! You can share your thoughts on Apple here!

More about The Nicole Walters Podcast:

If you’re looking for the strategies and encouragement to pursue a life of purpose, this is the podcast for you! Week after week Nicole Walters will have you laughing hysterically while frantically taking notes as she shares her own personal stories and answers your DMs about life, business, and everything in between.

As a self-made multimillionaire and founder of the digital education firm, Inherit Learning Company, Nicole Walters is the “tell-it-like-it-is” best friend that you can’t wait to hang out with next.

When Nicole shows up, she shows OUT, so tune in each week for a laugh, a best friend chat, plus the strategies and encouragement you need to confidently live a life of purpose.

Follow Nicole on IG @NicoleWalters and visit inheritlearningcompany.com today and click the button to join our betterment community. Your membership gives you access to a world of people and tools focused on helping you build the life you want.