Sunday, May 19, 2024

Kristin Kaufman of Alignment, Inc.: Navigating Success Through Alignment and Purpose

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Pathways to Success: Exploring Unique Paths to Achievement
Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Kristin Kaufman, the Founder and CEO of Alignment, Inc. Kristin has had an incredible journey from a small-town Southern girl to a successful entrepreneur. She shares with us her personal story of overcoming challenges, the mentors who have guided her, and her unique perspective on defining success. Join us as we delve into the inspiring story of Kristin Kaufman and gain valuable insights on achieving personal success.

Kristin Kaufman of Alignment, Inc.: Navigating Success Through Alignment and Purpose

Interviewee Name: Kristin Kaufman

Company: Alignment, Inc.

Kristin Kaufman’s favourite quote: It is really more of a prose, yet it is by far and away my favorite:

“To See a World in a Grain of Sand, and Heaven in a Wildflower. Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, and Eternity in an Hour.” William Blake

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Kristin Kaufman : I am a small-town Southern girl, reared in Hot Springs, Arkansas. After graduating from college with a degree in business and quantitative analysis, I was offered a job at Hewlett-Packard Company. No question I was a ‘risk hire’, as I was not engineer – back when that was what HP typically recruited. After 25 years, I had risen in ranks and was leading a large global unit. This was the first of 3 high-level roles in publicly traded companies. I loved my Corporate career, until one day – I didn’t. After much soul searching, I made the decision to go out on my own. I never looked back.

When the idea of Alignment, Inc. first came to me, I was still a senior leader in Corporate…..running a large global business in the technology space. As much as I loved how I had been contributing for over two decades, I realized somewhere along the way. – I had ‘lost the plot’. The daily experience was no longer fulfilling to me. I was (as I refer to this) ‘out of alignment’.

I wanted to continue to do what I loved, what I am good at doing….and most importantly, I wanted to tie my contributions t to something much greater than myself. That is my definition of alignment. And…if any of these three pillars are not present in their full and optimal potential…neither is the individual.

There is no question that we are at our most powerful when we are aligned to our purpose. And when our gifts, strengths, talents, desires, and intentions support that purpose – that is the recipe for fulfillment.

I had that fulfillment for decades when leading large global teams in Corporate…. then I didn’t. I wanted to tap into the power of alignment for other individuals like me, as well as teams, groups, and organizations…..and that is how my company Alignment, Inc. evolved. I love being an entrepreneur, being in service to others, and applying my Corporate business experience to help others reach their potential.

Overcoming obstacles is often a part of the journey to success. Can you tell us about a particular challenge you faced and how you navigated through it to ultimately achieve your goals?

Kristin Kaufman : We always learn more from adversity, challenge, and hardship. Always. My personal experience is no exception.

A few years ago, I was facing my 3rd realization of mortality (I have faced serious illnesses 3 times in my life – any of those 3 could have taken my life.) and I had a strong sense of urgency – and fear – that I was running out of time, and I may never reach my ‘end goal’ in this life. It was scary. It could have been a paralyzer – yet it became a catalyst. It heeded me to step up my game and ‘get on with it’.

Yes, we know that life is to be experienced – those experiences are indeed the GOLD of life. And, I realized (which I have written about in my most recent book), that as long as we have breath – we have a reason for being here. And my sacred responsibility was (is) to get going! That was a huge pivotal point for me. Time is our gift. Time is really all we have. Urgency can be a tremendous asset in life.

Let’s face it: everyone on this planet is aging. The universal law is that we are in a constant, never-ending state of entropy. However, the comforting credo is that our human spirit, our life force, does not age. Despite the ongoing phenomenon that our bodies get old, our spirit continues to grow, expand, and evolve. There is such power in knowing and embracing this fact. As long as we have breath, we have the ability to contribute and to make an impact on the world. And the time is NOW – as that is all we have – THIS very minute.

Many people draw inspiration from the stories of others. Are there any individuals or mentors who have played a significant role in guiding or supporting you along your journey? How have they impacted your perspective or approach to success?

Kristin Kaufman : Without question, the three most important role models in my life, and relative to my business, were my parents: Joe and Gretta Kaufman, and my dad’s identical twin brother, Ben Kaufman.

Daddy and Uncle Ben took over the family business after they both had highly successful early careers at Westinghouse. They built their business to be one of the most well-respected electrical engineering and contracting businesses in the southeast. They did this through arduous work, never – never – doing anything remotely unethical, and always treating their clients the way they would want to be treated. Almost 100% of their business was conducted on a handshake, and their word was undeniable their bond.

My mom also was also a career woman before those two words were ever used together. Though her frame was only 5’2” and 100 lbs. sopping wet, she commanded a large presence. She was one the most admired women in our hometown, and her strong yet gentile reputation preceded her wherever she went. Those three individuals taught me how to live, how to lead, and how to strive to be a success in life and in business.

My first job out of college was with Hewlett- Packard. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were still intimately involved in the business. There is no question that these two men created the gold standard of strong company values which led to the powerful HP Way culture. I admired them and became ardent students of how they built and led their company. I have written many articles about the impact the decades spent in this company shaped my leadership style and my approach to building teams and businesses throughout my career.

My greatest business (and life) takeaway is from my father. He taught me throughout my life, that we only have control over three basic things. Our ABCs. We can control our attitudes, our behaviors, and, most importantly, our choices. That’s it.

So, how we choose to deal with the curve balls define who we are. At the root of our life’s story, there is one basic truism: we own it. No one else does. The harsh reality is that no one owes us anything. Not our corporate employers, not the government, and not our various relationships in life. Sure, it would be great if we got everything, we think we deserve in life. Yet, again, we do not control any of this. Nothing, nada, zilch. Welcome to the world of “life is not always fair.” How we ultimately respond to these inequities and other occurrences is what creates our reality.

Ultimately, we write our own stories. Each one of us has his own sack of rocks; what distinguishes us is how we carry the load. Giving up, caving into the comfort of inertia, or believing the hand we’ve been dealt is the only game we can play seals our fate. We have the gift of free will, which is one of the most important privileges of our lives. We have the ability to choose the direction we want to go, despite where we find ourselves in life. We have the option to resign ourselves to a fate we believe has been predetermined; or we can take the reins and choose to pursue and create the life we want.

The last person I will mention is Victor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, which remains one of my favorite books, and at a very young age, transformed the way I look at the world. He wrote about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp and explored the psychological effects that being completely dehumanized had on his fellow prisoners: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” The power to choose never leaves us, regardless of the circumstances. Our free will is what distinguishes human beings from every other living thing on the planet.

Success can mean different things to different people. How do you define success personally, and what advice would you offer to others who are striving to achieve their own version of success in life?

Kristin Kaufman : Success is individual. I believe it is aligning who you really are inside with how you choose to contribute to the world. It cannot be limited in scope by a mere accumulation of tangible objects. Much like happiness, it is not defined by money, status, or power—real or imagined. Despite the ever-growing preoccupation with wealth and opulence and the stark reality that money is vitally important for our existence on earth, it is not the only metric for success. Like a barometer, financial reward can serve as a gauge of the weather, but it does not make or control the rain.

Leaders Perception would like to thank Kristin Kaufman and Alignment, Inc. for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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