That's What She Said

Episode 48: Visiting with Katie Kim of Peoria, IL and her story, “Constructing Katie Kim”

one person behind the camera and one in front of the camera with a microphone and hard hat

Katie Kim That's What She Said


Raising women’s voices one story at a time. Welcome to The She Said Project Podcast.
[music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]

JENETTE JURCZYK 00:28 Welcome friends to another episode of The She Said Project Podcast because at The She Said Project, we hang out with really cool women. That’s what we do.

KERRY ROSSOW 00:37 There’s no shortage of things to say. And I am so excited about today. You can’t see this but I am burning my bra as we speak because this, this one gets me so fired up and I was so proud. She doesn’t know it. But we’re best friends now. I just wanted to high five her and butt slap and all, all of the exciting things.

JENETTE 00:55 So if you haven’t met Kerry Rossow yet, that’s, you know, that is her vocabulary for “Hey, I’m really excited,” but Kerry Rossow, one of the founders of The She Said Project. I’m Jenette Jurczyk, National Director, and let’s just bring our guest right on here, because Katie Kim is a force. She is a powerhouse in her community of Peoria, Illinois. Hi, Katie Kim.

KATIE KIM 01:17 Hello, ladies.

JENETTE 01:18 Oh, I love it already. I think I loved you the moment we met.

KATIE 01:23 Ditto. I mean, you have a magic of making people feel comfortable and open and in their skin. And I told you before, and said I can talk about all my tenants and all my clients, and I’d love bragging on them. But you want to talk about me. It’s like, ooh, you know, so I know that you, you’re amazing. You’re amazing.

JENETTE 01:40 You are so kind, thank you, but we hear that all the time. Like women, when you are giving them an opportunity to be seen and be heard, what happens, Kerry?

KERRY 01:48 Right, nine times out of ten, if I directly ask a woman if she wants to be in the show, she immediately says, “I’m just a…” and then fill in the blank, whatever. And “I don’t really have anything to say, but let me tell you about this other woman I know.” And so I always let them go on and on and brag up the women they know. And then it’s like, okay, so just say yes, because you’re going to be on the show. Everybody has something to say. But it’s something that is a consistent theme in women, everybody, which I love, because you don’t, this isn’t the stereotype. The catty stereotype has not been our experience. It’s been nonstop women building, building up other women and saying, “Do you know? Have you met?” All of those things. And that’s how I felt when I listened to your words coming out of your mouth. This woman is amazing.

KATIE 02:29 Well, thank you. Well, we’re groomed for that, right? We told her we’ve paved the path. And then I always say, “You build one, bring one.” So like, as you’re building up, bring one with you. That’s what we do.

KERRY 02:39 I love that. Oh my gosh.

JENETTE 02:40 I think we should adopt that: “Build one, bring one.” Oh! I’m so gonna use that. Sorry. And thank you, Katie was asked to appear in That’s What She Said. Not just any That’s What She Said. But the very first show in a new community in Peoria, Illinois, in the spring of 2022. Co-produced by myself and Nikki Romain, and I got to direct this new cohort of women. But it really was Nikki who reached out and said, Hey, will you be in this show? Will you, will you stand on stage and share a story? I wasn’t there for that moment. So I would love to hear what that experience was like for you when Nikki reached out and asked you to be in the show.

KATIE 03:20 You know, as women when we know each other, and I always say when you know where my heart is, you know, you can ask me and as long as it’s within my personal mission, I’m yes, no questions asked. And, and I had heard about That’s What She Said from a lady in Champaign and I got the Reader’s Digest version of it. Like this is amazing. It’s women sharing their stories. And that’s kind of what I got. And I’m like, I want to do that. I want to be a part of that amazing awesomeness. So when Nikki said she was doing it, like I’m in, and then I was okay, now I gotta ask questions. What are we doing? What is this? When? And I but that’s what we do with women. Right? If our friend needs help, it’s like, yeah, absolutely. So it was an amazing experience to not only bond with the women in Peoria, that I had not met and some of them I had, and to hear some of their stories. And some of these women I hang out with regularly, but I didn’t even know those things. And to come to that. I mean, now we are a force in the community. And even when we got together afterwards, it’s like, Hey, guys, this needs this nonprofit needs help. Okay, and then everybody kind of chipped in and we put some things and that’s what women do. Like I said, you put two women and a whiteboard in a room and you can solve the world’s problems. [laughter]

JENETTE 04:32 So agree with that philosophy.

KERRY 04:35 So true.

JENETTE 04:36 I hear it. I hear it. One of my favorite things was the morning after your show, you know, we have a group text going on and the ladies are sharing, oh my god, that that felt so empowering. I couldn’t sleep. You know, I’m still riding high. But it was Donna from your show who sent a text, “God brought this group of women together for a reason. Let’s go do something amazing.” And you’re so right, that the calls have already been out there for let’s support this group. Let’s build this this idea. Let’s continue our impact because stories connect us and they empower us. There was just so much love so much love on that stage. But you know what, our listeners are like, I want to know Katie Kim because she’s so awesome. So why don’t we go ahead and share your story from that performance so our friends can get to know you as well. We’re going to play the performance, the clip we’re gonna go to the clip of Katie Kim onstage in That’s What She Said Peoria, Illinois spring of 2022 with her story, “Constructing Katie Kim.”

KATIE KIM 05:35 I am a complete and utter total nerd for professional development. [laughter] As an entrepreneur who runs a development company, I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. And when my friends or family say that they’re going to start their own business, or they’re going to try something new or branch out on their own, I always invite them to go have a beer, or to have a cocktail. And I tell them the crab story. So how the crab story goes, I came across it a number of years ago. And when I was building my company, and I was diving deep into something, people term is self help self development, I learned about the crab story. When a crabber or goes hunting, they put the basket into the ocean. And if you see a crab basket, it has a hole, it doesn’t have a trapdoor it doesn’t lock them in, it has the food at the bottom of the barrel. And so the crabs crawl in there, and they eat the food, and then they stay there. Right. So they’re easy targets, and they’re cheap bait. If you watch closer, if one of the crabs tries to crawl out, one of the other crabs will grab them and pull them down. If they try a second time, that crab will pull him down and break his leg. If they try but a third time, they will pull it down, and they’ll kill the crab.

KATIE 06:59 And so what I realize is these crabs are acting on instinct. They’re just animals. And so are we. And once I realized that the author was actually pointing out the similarities between crabs and humans. I couldn’t stop but thinking to myself about the patterns in my life. And my own profession. That I started paying attention to at the time. Where people tried to nip me. Where they tried to pull me down. See, I came from a loving family who worked hard in the construction business, and they didn’t believe in the word I can’t. If we ever uttered the word I can’t, my dad would make us drop and give us 20 situps. And while I was in high school, I couldn’t really appreciate what my abs looked like after two kids I can now… I truly did appreciate how great that development and mental toughness was because I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be the first person in my family to graduate with a college degree. To better myself, to seek out opportunities for myself and to make a meaningful impact. I quickly learned that education is a key to success for some, yet. For others. It’s a point of contention. It’s a mirror holding up all their failures and all the things they didn’t do.

KATIE 08:24 So, I went on to college, and I ended up breaking up with my longtime boyfriend. Some people joked that I couldn’t hold down a guy and that I wouldn’t be graduating with my Mrs. degree. I didn’t even know what that was going to college. And I said what? I can’t even think about that. I was not looking to settle down. I was looking to gain a career and experience. I was only 20 years old after all. As I digested this reaction from people I loved and knew I couldn’t help but think it was a little nip pulling me down. So my first real professional experience was a summer internship, which I absolutely loved. It took me to the big city of Chicago. And I quickly got used to being one of the only or one of few women in the room with all men often.

KATIE 09:17 I showed up early. I stayed late and I worked really hard to prove myself. Early one morning, my manager came in and found me at my desk working and decided to share that he had an argument with his girlfriend the night before. I didn’t ask for the details. I had learned that way long ago with men. But he started to share anyway. And he said she asked me what I think about when I pleasure myself. And I got really uncomfortable and I said nothing. And so he said Yeah, and I said I think about you and I said oh I’m sure she really appreciated that. That’s very nice. Back to coding. And he goes, “No.” Walks straight up to me and goes, “You.” And I couldn’t think of anything to say other than “probably not the best thing to say.” As I turned back to my Lotus Notes coding and prayed somebody else would come in the office. I could feel the flush of embarrassment on my face. The exchange had nipped at my integrity. But I was determined not to let it stop me. When the summer ended, I went back and I finished my computer science degree at the University of Iowa and I became the first person in my family to graduate college. [applause]

KATIE 10:42 I moved back to Chicago with a stellar job offer. And a few years later, I married this really great man that I had met on the sand volleyball courts of all places. Things were totally on track for my ‘big time company partner by 30’ timeframe. I worked 80 hours regularly. I got to travel to some pretty fantastic locations. I fought with every ounce for all the recognition and respect I could achieve. One time when my husband tore his ACL, and needed surgery, I finally requested just two weeks off, I had banked up a lot of overtime. And so when we were only on day two of his recovery, I received a phone call from work stating that a client wanted me on site on Monday, I reminded them I had two weeks of very long overdue vacation. And I was told, find somebody else to take care of them. If you value your job, you’ll be on a plane Monday morning.

KATIE 11:46 So I felt that nip very, very loud and clear. And Monday morning on that airplane I sat down, opened up my computer and started updating my resume. After a great stint with a newly found startup, I had a conversation with my family about moving back to Peoria. Taking on some of the family business. It was a challenge to move back. But we were thinking about starting a family and it would be nice to have some family support around. But there was a shift. When the educated big city girl came back home the nips and the jabs were subtle, but they were still painful.

KATIE 12:28 When our first pregnancy ended up with a miscarriage, I was told, “Well, some ladies can’t handle pregnancy, Katie,” and “Maybe being a mom just isn’t in the cards for you.” So when our first son made his way into the world on July 4 with a C section, I was beyond happy, blessed, glowing. And I was shocked to hear some people say, “Don’t worry about that natural childbirth you want. A lot of women can’t really handle childbirth.” With a newborn baby in my hand and working for a family business I was struggling to be that powerhouse that I was prior to becoming a mom. I would find myself crying daily as I tried to balance work, life, lack of sleep. And let’s not forget those all fun post pregnancy hormones. So I have to admit, I was taken aback.

KATIE 13:26 This was the first time in my career experiencing motherhood. Juggling things I had absolutely no control over. A baby. A career. And I was expecting a little sympathy and support. But…I pushed through. And after our second son, I started studying for my CCIM designation. So that’s like an equivalent of like a master’s degree for commercial investment. Real Estate. Fastest I can say it without putting you guys to sleep. So I was taking online courses while breastfeeding my youngest and my oldest running around on the floor playing cars, which was way before Zoom, and any of the fun we have with that. And I still managed to have the time for my husband to take control of the two kids so I can fly out to California to take the eight hour test. And I’m so proud to say I passed. [applause]

KATIE 14:24 Riding high afterwards, a lot of the new candidates and some of the people from the chapter go out to work or go out to drinks. And I was having a lot of conversations with people about what this meant what’s this going to do with their career. And I was talking with this really nice man, a father of three, who does low income housing tax credit so I was being a nerd, and asking him about the, what he does. And so when we were getting ready to leave, he offered to walk me back to my hotel. When we got there, he pushed me up against the wall and said, “This can end in two ways. I can take you upstairs and bleep. Or we can just go talk and see what happens.” Utterly frozen and shocked. I said, “Or you can go home,” pushed him off me and ran into the back of the hotel lobby as fast as I could. [applause]

KATIE 15:26 I have to say this was probably the hardest nip I’ve ever, ever experienced. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t think. I didn’t think so. I felt like a victim. I was a victim. And I’m a strong woman, I couldn’t understand how I let this happen. I was so upset. And I was scared to tell my husband. But I didn’t want to keep any secrets in our marriage. And with the help of my prayer group, I found the courage. His first response was, “I’m so sorry.” He asked if I was okay. And he affirmed that he had no doubts about my actions, or my integrity, this kind, loving and supportive man and I have built a family together, that just makes my heart overflow every day. After all those nips all those crabs trying to knock us down and realize that we are so much stronger than any of them. I became the first woman in Peoria to obtain her CCIM designation and we relaunched the Kim Group together. Now, I’m constructing my life, my career, my company, on my terms. [applause]

KATIE 16:43 I have been blessed to have amazing clients that believe in me, and allow me to help them build their business and build their path. All those years that I searched for something grander, something more, something that I could believe in, and then get behind. I had finally constructed what I was looking for. When I look at the completion of a project, I see the meaningful impact that it has on my clients, my community, and myself, I feel completely fulfilled. When, so when you’re limited by resources, and education, and experience, you still have a choice: to stay where you are, to fight your own way out of that cage, up and out, for something better, something more meaningful. But be aware, there are those people out there who will only react to what they know, to their instincts. They are the crabs and they’re coming for you. And they’re coming in all different directions and ways you would never expect. They will try to nip at you. They will try and pull you down. They will eventually kill your spirit. So you have to make the decision: “Should I stay? Or should I grow?” [applause]

JENETTE 18:16 Oh my gosh, welcome back. I felt like I was right back there in the theater listening to your powerful words one more time, Katie, how did it feel to remember that evening, remember that story?

KATIE 18:26 It was amazing. And it was so much emotion in that night and to hear women coming up to me afterwards and saying, “I really needed to hear that,” or “I’ve never heard that crab story before.” And I mean, that’s why we share our stories, right? So people can learn from our scars and our wounds and not make the same mistakes or do something better and empower them. You know, I love the crab story because it’s an analogy that everybody can relate to. And it kind of does what I say the new car syndrome when you buy a car and then all of a sudden you see your car everywhere. Well, not everybody went out and bought a new car. But now you’re aware of it and that’s what I love when I share that with my clients or with my friends that are starting businesses. You need to be aware of the people that are going to tackle you that you don’t know are going to tackle you and that’s why the shared the crab story. I feel so blessed to be able to have had that that’s what she said platform to be able to share that with more women and more people because we had a lot of that in the audience as well. And it’s just great. That’s my personal mission is build one bring one

KERRY 19:27 I think it fit with us so perfectly and I was nodding when you were talking about that and thinking about you know, who do we all want to be. Don’t, don’t be a crab. Don’t be that person. And when we were starting out it was a similar thing but and then in the reverse we had people showing up. So you know really trying to focus on don’t let the crabs have real estate in your in your brain and focus on the people who show up and say hey, I’m you know, an attorney. How can I help? I’m a graphic designer, how can I help and focusing on those people and not the crabs, really keeping your eye on the ball.

JENETTE 20:02 But Kerry, what you guys built,

KATIE 20:04 Absolutely.

JENETTE 20:04 ...what you built with That’s What She Said is the epitome of ‘Build One, Bring One.’ Build One, Bring One. We’re creating something who can come along and feel the love. We’re creating something who can walk away from this experience, and be one step ahead or are inspired to do something else, bold and brave and great. So this platform really does provide that. Build One, Bring One, I’m just gonna walk around saying that all day long. Now, I love it.

KERRY 20:28 I know, I love it. I love it. Well, so what has been the feedback for you after the show?

KATIE 20:32 One, everybody did not think that I had gone through that or had encountered that, because they see, they either see me as a woman in construction and development and a thick skin. And, you know, I think all of us have that image that people think of us as, and then they, they either get to know us or they take the time to get to know us and realize that all of us have scars, all of us I’ve been through the our own version of, of struggle, whether it’s emotional, personal health, and it always reminds me to like, don’t judge a book by its cover, you know, and everybody is coming with their own baggage and own story.

KATIE 21:15 And so, to be able to share that to some of the young women in the crowd that I do mentor was empowering, it was really empowering to get that message out. Because, as I shared in my story, a victim is a word that I was like, I’m not a victim, I’m not weak, right, and one of my prayer warriors was like, you are a victim. Repeat that with me, I am a victim, you don’t get to choose whether you’re a victim or not. It’s that situation that happens to you. And it was a really big mindset for me. And honestly, building up the courage to tell my husband, I wanted no secrets in our marriage I wanted no wedges is what I say is nothing that like we’re keeping from each other. So, you know, sharing our stories and sharing our scars also helped us master recovery from them as well. And so I think in empowering others, we also heal ourselves. So it was a, it was a great opportunity for me to heal a little bit more. So thank you,

KERRY 22:14 You know, my first impression was like, badass. And then, you know, all the tough and, you know, go getter and all of those things. And I realized that I think somewhere in me, I even had that same stereotype of what it would look like to be a victim. And what I was thinking was, you know, I think the reason because sometimes people feel like those are two separate things. And sadly, the truth is, is no one is exempt. You know, I can be a badass and can recite ten gross things fellas have said over the years in different arenas. And I think that’s a really important thing for people to note. No one is exempt. It isn’t personality specific.

KATIE 22:54 Yeah, and I almost feel the stronger a woman is perceived or presented. It’s almost as if there’s a bigger target. So the more successful she comes as a bigger target to knock her down, the more chances she takes isn’t that bigger target and I don’t know why. Because, you know, I do a lot of things and I fail and I openly tell my kids, you know, they’ve, they’ve got to sit in council meetings when I was being drilled. And they’re like, oh my gosh, mommy and I said, Well, hey, look, you know, things don’t always go the way you want. And then this is life and it’s a great teaching moment to bring again, bring them along with it. So it is that, you know, the more badass you are because I was curious about and that I listened to the Badass Babs (ed. Barbara Hedlund), like one time right before one of them on my she’s amazing! You know, and, and we judge ourselves with other women and it’s like, Oh, I’m not I’m not as badass as her or I’m not as intense as her and you know, we belittle ourselves and we really, we need to stop we just need to stop and we just need to lead on ourselves and build each other.

KERRY 23:57 Yep, yep. 100%

JENETTE 23:59 I’m just sitting here soaking this all in like your, your story was such a good life lesson and, and you got to share it with the people in the room, the people on this podcast are gonna walk away with all these great lessons. You’re really giving our audience something juicy to think about. It’s so good. But you’re so right. I keep thinking about what you said at the Target, the more successful you are and the more you, you try to accomplish. Yes, on one hand, it looks like you know a badass woman is out there doing great things but when you are putting yourself out there you are naturally be more vulnerable. And those crabs will find you…

KERRY 24:37 Here they come.

JENETTE 24:38 Yeah, yeah. The more successful you are the more people…And it only show, it only demonstrates their own insecurities. It doesn’t say anything about you and your successes. It speaks volumes about the people who are out there to pull you down.

KATIE 24:44 And it doesn’t hurt less knowing that. Yes, we can say that and we fully understand that, right? But it doesn’t hurt less than somebody tries to pick, get you in to nip at you. And I remember in trying to launch my business and build my business people would say, Okay, that’s great. I hope you do it, not okay. Let me you know, I’m like, Okay, you need, you need your C suite, okay, you need this person, this person, this person, I’m gonna make connections and do taxes before we leave, you know, our beer and, and that’s we need to help empower people because that really gets us next level and you just have got to keep focusing on and building each other out. Because really, nobody has time for crabs and we don’t want to in our life, you really don’t.

JENETTE 25:29 And I think that’s the takeaway here, Kerry. ‘No one has time for crabs.’

KERRY 25:34 Jenette’s trying to get me to go down a bad path and I’m not gonna bite. Katie, I’m not gonna do it. I’m a classy broad, alright?

JENETTE JURCZYK 25:44 Always bringing the class here at the She Said.

KATIE 25:47 I’ve got the ‘Job Site’ Katie and the ‘Presentation’ Katie.

JENETTE 25:53 Yes, we all have to laugh a little bit. We all have to, you know, be a little bit rough around the edges and still show up and do the amazing things that we do. And you are the perfect example of all that. Katie Kim, my new best friend. I mean, just oh wait, don’t tell Nikki I said that. But Katie Kim…

KERRY 26:10 My new best friend for sure.

JENETTE 26:12 My new friend in Peoria. But you’re gonna go out there and spread the word. And you know, and keep moving the mission forward of empowering women empowering young people, you know, showing people that they can be real, raw, authentic, and powerful and successful. And build one bring one. Love it.

JENETTE 26:31 That’s all the time we have here today with our guest, Katie Kim. Thank you so much for saying yes. To being in That’s What She Said so that we could have moments like this where we get to, you know yack it up as Kerry would say. And just check in because sometimes the story is everything and sometimes the story behind the story is even more. We’re excited our friends joined us got to know Katie a little bit, laughed and cried with us, as we do here at The She Said Project Podcast. Over and out.

KERRY 27:01 Over and out.

JENETTE 27:02 That’s right. That’s our new tagline because Kerry was, “let’s say over and out now. It’s fun.”

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ANNOUNCER 27:11 Thank you for listening to The She Said Project Podcast, in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in the podcast are the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That’s What She Said, LLC. For more information on our live shows, go to This podcast was made possible with support from Carle and Health Alliance and presented by Sterling Wealth Management, empowering women to live their best lives.

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Katie Kim shares all the rises and falls of building her business and raising her family in Peoria IL, when she chats with Jenette and Kerry about her story, "Constructing Katie Kim."

The She Said Project Podcast is recorded in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in this podcast are the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That's What She Said, LLC. Learn more at