Winning in Business: Kelli Risse


Recently I was lucky enough to be the guest of Kelli Risse on her podcast: Winning in Business. What a fun, inspiring conversation we had. Listen to the podcast here: Good Writing Practices with Pam Wilson – YouTube

A few weeks prior Kelli and I met at two networking meetings on the same day! We then zoomed and I loved talking with her. We had inspired ideas and shared wisdom…She brightened my day when she commented, “You light up when you talk about writing!”

On her podcast, Kelli and I chatted about writing, networking, whole brain thinking and self-care including BALANCE and EASE.

(Please see other places to listen to at the end of this blog.)

Kelli started our conversation by asking about one of my favorite topics: how I got started writing. I’ve been a writer and storyteller my whole life. Writing is my passion, my heart and soul. I simply do not remember a time when I wasn’t writing and thinking about stories. Like Nora Ephron says, “Everything is copy.”

Growing up creative and in St. Louis nobody knew quite what to do with me. I knew I wanted to tell stories about life. Real life. I found it intriguing. Maybe I read too many books or watched too many movies. I just knew that real life stories were interesting. I am a people watcher and that is part of my inspiration. I was influenced by Erma Bombeck and Tom Bradford on Eight is Enough. My dream in high school was to move to Chicago or New York and write for magazines. This was in the 1980’s, a long time before Sex and the City.

In college, my grandmother urged me to have a back-up plan. And while she was right, that back-up plan became my plan when failing Spanish at University of Missouri-Columbia, I couldn’t get into the Journalism School. Today there is direct admission. When I was a student in the ‘80’s you had to apply during your second year, and you had to have fifteen hours of a foreign language. With a passing grade.

And so, I earned a degree in Child and Family Development, and I taught preschool, going back to school to get an MSW (Master of Social Work) so that I could pay my bills. An MSW is a great degree to have and I’m proud of my work at George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. While I couldn’t get in the J School at Mizzou, I was accepted into the graduate programs at Wash U and USC.

I worked in social work until I had kids in 1996.

Then, after working two to three jobs for years, I was fortunate to be able to choose to stay home with my kids and at some point, began writing about our lives.

It all started with SOS From Suburbia: a monthly column about raising kids. And how I responded as a parent. It was funny, filled with insights and humor and I was always Lucy in every situation. My kids were forever teaching me something and that was a true gift.

It was fun to write about what was going on in our world. I was also very respectful of my kids, and this became a perfect creative outlet for me. Unless you knew us, wouldn’t know that my kids and I were related as we have different last names. The response was surprising. Readers began reaching out telling me that they could relate, that they had been through some of the same things we were living through and that they enjoyed reading the columns.

S.O.S. From Suburbia had a home in Savvy Family Magazine, migrated to St. Louis Moms and Dads, eventually finding a place in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A real home-girl experience for me. Luckily, I collaborated with talented editors over the years, including Janice Denham who was my own Candace. (That is a Sex and the City reference.)

Once I began writing, and receiving feedback, I reached out to other publications about writing. This gave me confidence in a skill I’ve always had and knew I wanted to use. I was fortunate to write for local magazines and a few online sites, too.

In 2012 I wrote a book, S.O.S. From Suburbia, a compilation of the newspaper and magazine columns.

The S.O.S. From Suburbia column lasted about fourteen years and, in that time, Janice also taught me to write features articles. I was incredibly lucky working with her. In fact, we are still in touch, and I admire and respect her personally and professionally.

As my kids got older, I kept writing about what was going on and using creativity whenever and wherever I could.

At some point, I realized I had a hidden talent. I can read something and see and hear how it needs to be edited. I was in the right place at the right time a few years ago and was hired to be a book coach, editor, and ghost writer for a local publishing company. This brings me great joy. Part of my passion is helping people discover and use their voice through writing and storytelling. Working with authors is a good fit.

I am happy to say that I am back working for this company once more after dipping my toe into the social work world once again.

Over the years I have written blogs when I need to get my story into the world. Today I write personal narratives, travel blogs and interview on the StoryCorps app (

I love to tell stories and love when people read and listen. And I often use the great line from Sex and the City with my friends who don’t always read what I write, “Do any of you read what I write?!” That makes me laugh.

Often people ask me what I hope happens with the writing. I write about my life because it helps me process my life. I write what I want other people to know. For the most part, I put my writing into the world, hoping that people read my writing and that it makes them smile, question, learn, grow, share, talk, and feel inspired. Because that is what my writing does for me!

My writing usually involves huge AHA moments which I hope readers enjoy. And in turn, possibly have their own AHA moments.

And…. if Reese Witherspoon or Sarah Jessica Parker find these stories and think this is the best idea for a Netflix series, that would definitely make me happy, too!

In addition, recently, I have begun writing travel blogs, which are my experiences of the adventures I’m having when traveling. They are definitely personal narrative slanted.

Kelli reminds me that, “People will remember through stories,” and she is spot-on. You might not remember facts; however, most people remember the stories they hear.

When you put something into the world with your voice-written, audio, whatever it is, it can make someone smile. And makes us relatable. We all really are in this together. And learning from someone else’s experience can be helpful and inspiring.

Kelli and I also spoke about AHA moments in business:

In 2022 I started a writing company and thought I would have immediate success. I’m here to say I failed fast and learned that even though I can do something doesn’t mean I should do something.

Kelli reminded me that we learn through mistakes. Failure is feedback and a great lesson for business owners. It’s okay to shift, pivot and learn which direction you want to head. And that’s the fun part. It helped me figure out what I liked and what I really wanted to do as well as HOW to do it. There’s magic in the mistakes.

Thanks for that reminder, Kelli. I can’t hear that enough!

Since I wasn’t overly busy, during that time, I researched business, writing, and spent quite a bit of time networking. Connecting more and more. And then I found out I was networking too much! That was a great AHA moment. Jennifer Cooper, an amazing yoga instructor asked one day if I was writing and I responded, “I don’t have time to write!” Eye opener for me.

And Jennifer reminded me that when I don’t have time, that’s my cue that I need to come into the yoga studio. I can’t be my best self or my most creative self if I’m stressed out.

Understanding then, that I needed to be much more protective and careful of my time so that I could spend time writing and researching, which I now schedule into my calendar. Then I asked myself “What can I let go of?”

I also learned the business of business in an on-line networking group with Colleen Biggs, the founder of Leap for Ladies. That was also an AHA moment as Colleen also hosted a Business Mastermind once a month. I learned what I didn’t know, how to follow-up, and how to get the “no.” Colleen told me, “You need the no, in order to move on.” This in turn opens doors for other kinds of energy. As a creative this was excellent learning. And it’s so true.

Every time I let go of something, and this is not my strength, something up shows up on my doorstep.

In addition, I have also learned and embraced relational networking. I don’t have to meet everyone in the room. I can have fewer, more impactful conversations with less people-wherever I am. This also was an AHA moment and I enjoy networking events so much more.

In 2023, I decided to become a Certified Whole Brain Practitioner. It was in Whole Brain Thinking where my creativity was once more validated. Whole Brain Thinking shows us what our thinking preferences are and then by knowing this we can enhance communication, innovation, and change. We use an instrument called the HBDI and it indicates our thinking preferences. It’s quite fascinating. (

Whole Brain Thinking focuses on relationships. This works in any size company, including sole entrepreneurs. It was an excellent training that I can utilize to help others play better together in the sandbox.

When I went through the certification to become a Whole Brain Practitioner, they wanted to know what I was going to do with the learning. They had only ever trained one social worker before, and I was their first writer. I enjoy writing about whole brain thinking, and what it can do for us in the areas of communication, and relationships.

Kelli and I spoke about other AHA moments and I shared that I never realized how smart I was growing up. I grew up with very smart friends; I was the creative and the one thinking about things to do.

It took me a long time to realize that I’m actually smart, too. In life, as a woman, as a parent, friend, sister, and yes in my work.

I might need to learn how to be a businesswoman, but I can, and I did. I learned to rely on myself and listen to my gut. This was a HUGE lesson. Are all mistakes worth it? Maybe…. what I learned was that when I decided to go with my gut it made all the difference in my world.

My biggest take-away:

Trusting myself, and the decisions I make.

It’s my business and I get to make those decisions. It’s my life and I get to make those decisions, too.

As a book coach, editor, and ghost writer, I allow my gut to be in play. I pay attention to my intuition now more than ever. And this helps in my responsibility to the authors and people I am working with.

Kelli asked if I had suggestions about developing a good writing practice. Here a few strategies, there are more on the podcast.

-Figure out what works for you and your writing style.

-Live life. You will have more to write about.

-When you are inspired, go with the flow!

-Writers need to be readers.

-Talk to other writers. Collaborate and share.

-Don’t ever force anything.

-Respect deadlines: if you miss it-people won’t trust you. You are responsible for your work.

-Let it be free: don’t judge your writing. The freer you feel, the more creative your writing will be.

-Let writing rest for 24 hours. You will feel different about it when you come back to it.

-My style and voice are conversational. That’s what I want you to think. You don’t have to know that what you are reading went through many edits. You are reading it easily because that’s what I want to happen.

-For all the perfectionists out there: at some point, you need to say, “This is good, I’m going to leave it alone.”

-While Kelli readily admits she’s the queen of editing, I am not an over editor. I instinctively know when it’s ready to go. However, this works in your best interest-go for it.

– A great analogy for writing is likening it to icing a cake-you can go back many times and at some point, you are going to mess it up! Take a deep breath and enjoy what you’ve created!

-OWN whatever you put into the world!

-KNOW your reader. Your voice will come easily if you picture the people who are reading what you are writing. WHO is your reader?

As Kelli reminded me, “Any form of communication is so much easier when you have your ideal client nailed down, you know exactly the one person to whom you are speaking. And then you’re having a conversation with them.”

We then spoke about the challenges as business owners. For me it was hard to figure out my ideal client and find them.

It wasn’t all about earning money either: it was about doing good work and putting it into the world. The challenge for me was, ‘What is that good work?” What do I want to create? What messages do I want to put into the world?

In addition, I had to keep a balance in my life. I can close down every evening while finding a really, good healthy balance in work and life. I also realized I needed to balance with boundaries which includes taking good care of myself, getting outside, nutrition (which for me includes a daily dose of chocolate), exercise, and social life. I cannot always be concerned about being a business owner. My brain needs a rest every now and then.

While I had a challenging year, I had a lot of support with friends and coaches. I realized after the fact, the more I kept things in balance the better I felt.

Kelli says, “As business owners, we go into business doing something we love, and it is hard to keep a balance. It’s easy to not keep that in check. Setting boundaries which are too loose or too rigid will cause stress. Finding the healthy boundaries for you and your lifestyle will help create healthy boundaries. Including the calm and ease of life.”

I’ve observed others setting boundaries and they seem fine with this. I always feel like I don’t want to turn anything down. And yet, I know it’s better to only agree to do something I really want! And most importantly, I’ve learned to not squish things into my life.

Kelli shared that her word of 2024 was: EASE.

My word is balance. It’s taken me a long time to find balance. And when I am living in balance, I am a better person, writer, friend.

Kelli’s big AHA moment was when she discovered as a business owner that when she has more space and more balance, she has emotional and mental clarity which allows her to be more present and more creative, tapping into aspects you can’t tap into if you’re stressed.

When Kelli asked me what I am proud of I smiled. I am so proud of S.O.S. From Suburbia and the stories, I was able to tell. That I could document raising kids and kids raising me.

I am proud of myself that I’m still here doing what I’m doing and what I’m supposed to be doing. Writing and storytelling are my passions. My reason.

It took me a long while to really embrace the fact that I’m creative and that I need writing like I need sunshine. I always knew I was a storyteller. Now, I celebrate this every chance I can.

When I got into the business world, it was a lot more challenging than I thought. I kept pivoting and going with the flow to learn, grow and figure out for myself what brought me JOY. What actually brings me joy.

I have immense Gratitude to the Universe for listening, letting me make mistakes, pivoting and figuring this all out. This brings me joy as well.

It’s a priority for me to find joy and live in the moment. I’m particularly good at living in the moment. I will put the phone down. I will be with you if I’m with you. Joy can be found in many different places-talking with you, with friends and putting something into the world that will bring someone else joy.

Understanding that joy is innate and inside myself. Joy is what I am doing and how I am feeling… this is huge for me. This is JOY.

I hope that readers can sense my joy in my writing and storytelling.

Thank you, Kelli, for such an interesting, fun conversation! You are an inspiration, and I am so glad we met two times in one day!

Expect Good. Defy Gravity. Sparkle On. Share your stories.

For more StoryCorps interviews, personal narratives, travel blogs and how I empower people to find and use their voice through storytelling as well as information about Whole Brain Thinking, visit my website:

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Kelli Risse, Speaker & Elite Mindset Coach:



Listen to the podcast here:


Winning In Business with Kelli Risse


Winning In Business: 69: Good Writing Practices with Pam Wilson on Apple Podcasts


69: Good Writing Practices with Pam Wilson – Winning In Business | Podcast on Spotify


69: Good Writing Practices with Pam Wilson-Winning In Business (


Good Writing Practices with Pam Wilson – YouTube





About Pam Wilson

I've been writing since I can remember. At heart, I am a story-teller; making sense of my world, finding humor and light through writing. Now I help clients to write their own stories. As I continue my own writing journey, my passion is to help clients write their own stories.