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Achieving a Limitless Mindset With Mary Kay Kemper


Mary Kay Kemper is a top-ranking executive director who is passionate about guiding people to create purposeful lives. She has over eight years of experience mentoring and coaching over 23,000+ men and women and is driven to help people step into their greatness by adopting and maintaining a positive, abundant mindset.

In this episode, we dive right into her journey of twists and challenges of living under a tsunami of shoulds and waking up every day trying to fulfill someone else's expectations to a serious business badass. Her journey began when she experienced a huge loss on 9/11 and that road allowed her to start questioning what she truly wanted. When she got quiet, she was able to start hearing the inner voice that has guided her to where she is now.

Join us on this incredible episode on how a former Wall Streeter now heads a massive team in the beauty industry where her focus is on helping women see themselves as limitless. To connect with Mary Kay, check her out on her website


Watch Mary Kay's Story



Jennifer: Welcome to the I Don’t Give a Should Show – a podcast exploring ALL the ways that women SHOULD all over themselves. How many times do you find yourself acting out of obligation or doing what everyone ELSE expects from you without stopping to consider why? Where do all those beliefs that are driving you come from? If you’re tired of feeling resentful, overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted or pissed off you’re in the right place.

Shoulding all over yourself is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat.

I’m your host Jen Sherwood, and I spent waaaaay too many years trying to prove that I was good enough and worrying what other people thought while avoiding conflict at all costs. Today, I don’t give a should – well not as many anyway and neither should you. I’m talking to women like you who figured out how to stop shoulding and start LIVING.

Today, I'm excited to introduce you to my guest, Mary Kay Kemper. She is a top-ranking executive director who is passionate about guiding people to create purposeful lives. She has over eight years of experience mentoring and coaching over 23,000 men and women – that's a serious amount of mentoring and coaching.

She's done that as the head of Team Genesis, which is the first corporately sponsored leg at LimeLight. Mary Kay is driven to help people step into their greatness by adopting and maintaining a positive, abundant mindset.

Still gives me chills - I love what I do for you so much, and I just have so much gratitude for being in this place in my life. I'm so excited to have this conversation with you!

Mary Kay:

Oh, I'm just like, I'm buzzing - I'm ready.

Let's do it!


Friends, let's dive in!

So Mary Kay, why don't you tell us about your experience when you were living under the shoulds?

Mary Kay:

Okay, so as you said at the beginning of this generation, a lot of people don't even realize they're living under the shoulds, and now, as they say, hindsight is 20/20. At the time, I didn't realize it as much. It was something that was the culture that I was brought up in, you know, my parents were pretty controlling, you know, they had a certain way that they wanted us to be and do.

There was a message that if you have a voice if you've seen - you're being selfish, and that was kind of the underlying message of the house that I was brought up in. It became like, you're meant to be seen, not heard, and that was really the beginning of the shoulds because then I was like, well if I'm not meant to be heard, every time I opened my mouth, I need to ask if it's okay.

It did become a should of what would you like me to do and how do you want me to be. I just grew up not really knowing or having a sense of self. When you don't have a sense of self, there is just an absolute tsunami of shoulds - I mean, it's just Groundhog's Day of shoulds.

Now it's every single day you wake up, and you have to be a certain way in order to fulfill someone else's expectations of you. I became a person who was living a very default life, like, that's kind of how I put it in that term now, because it was a default life because it was what my parents knew, and they were just putting that on to me. If I didn't start to step into who I am or start doing the self-development going on the journey of my most purposeful life, well, then it just would have been exactly a repeat of my parent's life, right?

It was even so much as the friends I would choose to be with where I should be friends with this person or anybody that I would have a relationship with. It would be, should I date a man that's this height, with this profile, or with this pedigree? You know, and so when you talk about shoulding, it was every aspect of my life. I was holding, and I was just following a pattern of what I thought somebody else expected of me. I went to college because it was the college that my parents put the book in front of me to look at, you know, I chose a job because it was the job that my brothers had already been involved in and my aunts and uncles were already involved in so this is what I should do, and it just became a pattern, and it became a way of living for me.

I was really just surviving - I was not living,


You know, as, as you're talking, I wonder, as I'm listening to, and I'm thinking about those expectations that our parents have on us, and as you're describing it, I'm imagining that in order for you to feel safe in your home in your life, you had to live up to what your parents were saying.

I mean, our parents are so influential in our early years, and then, you know, beyond, but is that what I'm getting from? This is like, in order to feel safe in your home, there were very strong expectations, and if you didn't live up to them, you probably didn't know what was going to happen, but you didn't want to find out what would happen.

Mary Kay:


You know, let me just say my parents did the best they could do, right? I mean, they were trying to keep you safe, and their way of trying to keep you safe is somewhat keeping you small, and so there was even an expectation of me that I was not going to play sports because girls don't do that. The boys play the sports; the girls don't, so then I remember I would go into cheerleading. I would say, well, maybe I should be a cheerleader - I hated cheerleading, and I never did cheerleading because I hated it. I didn't love it, but I went back every single year to try out for cheerleading because I thought that's what I should do.


Isn't it amazing?

How, and it's like hitting your head against the wall, you don't like it? You do that every year, like maybe this year? Maybe this time? I'll be good enough, I'll do it, and you know, I think it is crazy-making what we do to ourselves to try to fit into that mold.

I really want to acknowledge what you said about your parents. I do think, for the most part, they're doing their best, you know, this is how they were raised. They don't want you to get out there and fall flat on your face, so they're doing everything they can, but at some point, you think maybe this isn't for you.

So I'm curious, Mary Kay, you mentioned this self-development journey. What would you say started that for you? What was the thing that made you say, Oh, I'm not going to try to shove myself into this mold anymore, and maybe it wasn't one thing - maybe it was a series of things.

What was it that shifted for you?

Mary Kay:

Yeah, I would say it was definitely a series of things that I can identify now, but when they were happening, I was not, you know, yeah, there were small little things that were allowing me to find my voice, and then I can recall a very specific moment.

I told you that I took a career that I thought I should take, and I was so unhappy in this career. And not that it was, I mean, it was fine. I just knew that it was Groundhog's Day, I woke up every day, and I went to this job that paid the bills, and then my brother was lost on 911, and that was a very pivotal moment.

You know, in my life, obviously, a tragedy like that makes you look at things and, but it makes you look at things, but I remember being like, I had two choices at the time, I can either be a victim and throw my head over the blanket and say, woe is me, I was dealt this card and now I had a reason to just be lazy because the old me that lived in the shoulds was a very unmotivated, lazy person.

I think that's what happens when you stay in this place of shoulds because why would you be motivated to do anything? Why? Why would you be motivated to get up and hustle and, and dream and all these things that, you know, I now get to do, but I remember thinking, Oh, this is a really easy way for me to just play that victim card, you know, and be woe is me and then I thought on the other hand, but this is also an opportunity for me to really look at what is my purpose in life.

I didn't know how to do that, and it took many, many, many years after September 11 of 2001 for me to really say it was time for me to look at who I am and what I want, but I believe in those years, there were little things that were showing themselves to me, that were making me realize that I have a voice.

I have something to say: it's not selfish to want a future for me that brings me happiness. But then that became scary because I was 40 years old, and here you are at 40 years old, and I had three small children at the time, living in the suburbs of Connecticut, and it becomes scary. It's like, well, what does that look like? How do I? How do I look at my life now? There were plenty of times when I wanted to just take the easy way out and say, but I'm alive, I'm healthy, my kids are good, and my job is good. I'm paying the bills, you know, and I think we get stuck in that routine where it's like, it couldn't get better than this - maybe, but maybe not, and it's very easy to stay comfortable.


If you want to go make a change, that is risky, in our minds, and that's terrifying. Even though the payout can be huge. You know, anytime we start to rock the boat, and particularly women in our culture are taught not to rock the boat.

If you've got a job and a house and kids, why would you want to change anything? I totally, totally get that, except that you really wanted to change something.

Mark Kay:

I really did.

It was a physic for me; it was a physical feeling, there was an irk, and I don't really know how to explain it, but I would have moments of thinking, you know, sometimes your mind goes off, and it wanders, and you daydream. I remember thinking, like, Oh, I wonder if I have a purpose, I wonder if there's something else I should be doing.

Then I would have a physical reaction to that thought, and there would be this irk in me, and it's interesting, I now identify it; I do believe it was my brother trying to, from a very higher place, send me a message that there's a life out there for you, and you need to go find it.

I believe all of us get these signs - sometimes they're small, sometimes they're bigger, but I believe all of us get these signs of time to find our authentic path, you know, and a lot of times we ignore them.


That’s what I was just thinking we don't always listen.

Mary Kay:

We all have moments in our lives where we are given some sort of sign, and so I would feel this physical irk when I would wonder if there's more for me out there, but I would shut it down because, again, it's scary.

I would shut that down, and I would say but no, but no, but no, I have responsibilities, I have kids, and you know, everything starts to come up for me, and what does it look like when I do start choosing me. What has to change and becomes so scary, but it irked me so much, and I really was lacking so much joy in my life that there was a moment when I could not pursue this.

I can't ignore these feelings anymore, I can't go on this journey, and you know, I need to make this happen.


You didn't know what that journey looked like; you just knew you needed something different.

Life was not very joyful, you know, and I think people are ashamed to admit that, so I'm really glad you said that. That's how I was in my journey to I had two young kids healthy, you know, on the surface, there was why was I not happy and so it's, it can be shameful.

Mary Kay:

Oh, God, so much guilt.


Why aren't you grateful for what you have? It's not that you're not; it's just that, you know, something is pulling you that there's something more out there, and I'm so glad you said that.

If anybody is watching this and you're feeling this way, there's nothing wrong with you, and there's nothing to be ashamed of going for more is amazing.

Mary Kay, you're having these inklings, you're, you're getting this pull, so what did that look like when you finally decided to? I don't know what that means. Was it a massive change in your life? Was it incremental changes? What does it look like?

Mary Kay:

It was very small, but for me, it was a lot of meditation and prayer-like; I got really quiet with myself, asking a lot of questions. I do believe that it comes to us intuitively, and there were things I remember specifically saying, well, what am I passionate about? Like if I had an extra hour in the day? What I would love to do, and for me, that was reading a fashion magazine like that, was kind of one of my guilty pleasures.

I was like, well, maybe I want to go into, you know, journalism, or maybe but there was a clear No, every time I would ask those questions of things that I really love to do in my free time. And then I remember thinking, oh, I love to do, you know, if I had a free hour to go shopping, you know, or do something in fashion and beauty, and so it led me to take a job at a boutique.

I took this job at this boutique, but it was quick to show me that that wasn't my path the interesting thing is when we start to choose when we start to say yes to an opportunity, it does open the door to even more you and for any one of your viewers that are watching this, I just want them to trust that you know, like, it might not the opportunity that presents itself might not be the one that brings you to your most purposeful soldier in life, but it will get you somewhere.


It's not a failure.

If the first thing you try or choose isn't, though, one, I think that's so important to follow. What is drawing your interest and follow because you don't know where it's going to lead? I think that's such an important point.

Mary Kay:

The thing for me, and I think this is important to note, too, when you're living a life of shoulds, and you're trying to change that, there's a part of you, at least for me, where you don't believe you make good decisions and this was huge.

For me, this was actually one of the biggest aha moments in my life when I realized that I could make a good decision. If I'm being honest and I'm coming from a place of my heart. Nine out of 10 times, it's going to be a good decision, and one out of 10 times, it's an honest mistake, but once I learned that, I learned that I can make a good decision.

Everything started to sort of open up for me, so yes, I took this job at this boutique. It wasn't exactly, you know, what I was looking for. But it did lead me to understand that I really wanted to help women. Because what I did, okay about this boutique is to help women look and feel more beautiful.

Though it was close to the platform at the boutique, it brought me so much joy, so I started to realize that, okay, you know, helping women feel empowered, helping women feel seen, helping women feel confident, is something that I'm really passionate about. I would leave this boutique so happy because I would see a change when they would put on a pretty dress or a pretty outfit; you know, I would see them physically change the way they felt about themselves, and so they would enter the boutique one way, but they would leave another.


Oh, that's so fantastic.

You know, and I think that the fashion industry can get a bad rap or just the beauty industry in general, but what you're talking about is the internal change that came from doing something for themselves.

Is that what I hear you saying?

Mary Kay:

Yes, yeah, exactly, so just by saying, I think there's more for me, and I'm gonna go see what that is. And being open, you know, and I think that that's a big part of anyone who's trying to make a shift in their life is being open to receiving and just watching, you know, and really paying attention to how you feel. And so I got kind of obsessed with this idea, and the interesting thing for me is, it was starting to even heal the little girl in me by helping others look and feel more beautiful because I never felt seen, you know, I never felt pretty growing up.

I was the woman, the girl that everyone was trying to change; you know, my mother had me in the hair salon, like three times a week, trying to get my hair to be thicker. I took myself to Weight Watchers when I was in fourth grade, like, you know, there were signs of, like, the way I was not right, not good enough.

So growing up with that, I'm not good enough, and then growing on top of that all the shoulds, yeah, so I was starting to heal a little girl in me by helping, you know, these women feel more confident about themselves. Then it shifted to the opportunity that I now have, which is in the beauty industry, it's in makeup and skincare, and working with LimeLight by Alcone has been so game-changing in that I obviously help empower women and help them feel more confident through makeup and skincare, but also through finding their most purposeful soldier have in life and really unlocking the magic that is in them.

We're all pure gold when we're born, and then life happens, and circumstances happen, and we put this armor on. It becomes our defense mechanism, and over the past eight years myself, I've just been peeling back that armor every day, and what has been so fascinating to me is what I thought was going to be selfish to choose me and choose my happiness. By me doing it, it's given the courage to 10s of 1000s of other women to do the same.


Oh, hold on a second, can we just stop and, like, put a big frame around that?

What you thought was going to be selfish choosing you has actually resulted in 10s of 1000s of women getting their happiness, their empowerment there. We talk about the polar opposite of selfishness, and if you hadn't listened to that inner voice, these women wouldn't have gotten this.

Maybe they would have found some other way, but they weren't and have gotten this special Mary Kay brand of joy, empowerment, and building. I want to be clear about this for anybody who's watching, so I know you.

I want to just clarify, not only are you helping individual women with beauty, but you're also helping individual women, and they may be the same crowd, they may be separate crowds building their own business through LimeLight. Is that correct?

Mary Kay:

That's correct.

That's my absolute passion is to build leaders in life, not just, you know, as makeup and skincare guides and specialists, but really leaders in life. That's the basis of my leadership - that's the basis of my coaching and mentoring is to really help them see how incredibly limitless they are.

It's such, to me, such an issue that women do not see that, you know, and I get it because I was there, but now it is my absolute joy to help others see that in themselves. Sometimes it does take someone else believing in you before you believe in yourself because I know I had that early on in my career. It's been such an incredible journey of just saying yes to me and recognizing that my happiness matters.

There's a ripple effect - he chooses them and chooses their most authentic path because we are all here for a purpose. Our job is to find that, and we don't have to settle for mediocrity and we don't have to put ourselves in a box. We don't have to, you know, stay the status quo, and if there's something more for us out there, so it's been just it's been such an amazing journey for me.


You're glowing; as you describe this, you are literally glowing - I love it.

I really want to say to anybody who's watching this, if I remember correctly, Mary Kay, that job that paid the bills was like a Wall Street job, wasn't it? So we're not saying that you already had some insider information into the beauty industry.

I want someone watching this who's thinking, yeah, but I'm just or I'm not. You 're not in the beauty industry, you are in a male-driven corporate Wall Street setting, and then you went to this; what I would almost imagine is 180 degree, different environment.

Mary Kay:

When I was being raised, words like female empowerment were not something that was given to me; it was not language that was used. The entrepreneur was not the language that was used; you know, going out and creating a business was probably the epitome of scary.

I had no resume for this; I had absolutely no experience in the field I was going into, and as a matter of fact, extremely intimidated by makeup. As I told you earlier, I didn't even feel pretty, so to go into a beauty business when you don't even feel beautiful. It could not have been more intimidating. It could not have been. I wanted to say no so badly to this - I wanted to say no, and I almost did, and I don't know my CEO may say I did say no but the irk that I was describing earlier is it.

This is what you're supposed to do because sometimes it really is the scariest of things that give us the biggest growth, you know for sure. It was this. It was definitely like, I think this is it, but intimidation is not. It's an understatement.

It's an understatement because I was like, really, this is it - my name is Mary Kay. Is this really what it is and all due respect to Mary Kay Cosmetics, they paved the way in the industry, but I listened, and I was obedient to listening to your inner voice.


You were being obedient to the external forces.

You were listening to your internal voice - I love it, love it, love it. Mary Kay, I think this is so fascinating, and I love what you've done. I think if I could sort of sum this all up, it really is about listening to you, and putting your happiness forward isn't selfish.

Mary Kay:

Now I did learn through my happiness journey that I was not in a relationship that was right for me, and that was again another day. difficult decision but one that I really, again, listen to my internal voice on.

You know a lot of this, too, when you're stepping into your higher self and your greater self; there's a lot of the I am and the I am not, and I remember a coach of mine really identifying that for me because I remember saying, okay, maybe I am an entrepreneur now.

I got that maybe I can empower women, and maybe that's some, but a woman who gets divorced - that's not me. But again, it really is about that inner work, and it really is about, no, I am a woman who gets divorced, and I'm going to be okay.


You are more than okay.

I think the big takeaway from this really is just listening, and I think that's huge.

So, Mary Kay, I can't thank you enough for being here and sharing. And I am certain people want to be when people are around you. I know this because I was physically around you, and they're like, I really want to know her more, and I want to get to know her. This is why I'm bringing you, Mary Kay, today, and how can people follow you? How can they get in touch with you if they want to? How do we find Mary Kay?

Mary Kay:

I do have a website which is

Okay, also find me on Instagram @mkstylista and my Facebook is Mary Kay Duffy-Kemper.


I will put all of this information in our interview notes so everybody can come, and you guys do go find her.

She has beautiful posts - that's one thing about Mary Kay, like, just everything is beautiful. I love looking at your photos, and I love seeing that we have matching dogs - we were meant to be friends!

Mary Kay:

I will end on this, Jen, because when you do choose and you do start stepping towards your most inspired future instead of your default future. Everything does become beautiful, and it doesn't come without challenges.

It doesn't come without some setbacks and some scary moments, but it is so beautiful on the other side, and every day, I just am so obedient to that internal voice because it is your north star; it is a compass, and it's not to be ignored.

Take that first step and just ask yourself, show me my compass. Show me my North Star, and I promise you slowly but surely, things will be revealed to you, and you will be living your most inspired future, and the world needs everybody to do that.


Yes, I would agree.

Okay, ladies, go follow your compass - I think that's a beautiful way to end this. Thank you all for joining me, and thank you, Mary Kay, for being here.

I'll see you all next time on the next episode.

3 simple steps laid out in 3 bite-sized videos to go from overwhelm to ease (even if you think it's not possible!)



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