Sara Kauk

There’s no shortage of wonderful things to say about this next woman. She is the reason and the mastermind behind this group; with her vision we are creating something beyond amazing. She is brilliant, she is kind, she is humble, she is one-of-a-kind, she is our very own Sara Kauk.

1. What is your morning motivation to do great things?

My main life motivation is, without a doubt—no questions asked—said with tons of excitement, to leave a positive mark on the world and do what I can to encourage and help others to be the best they can be through positive interactions. I have always believed that kindness, compassion and love can create unbelievable outcomes and that it is our privilege to push and support each other through the good and the bad. So, every morning when I wake up I try to remind myself to take a minute and do something kind—smile at a stranger or buy a pastry/coffee for someone who looks like they could use some happy. It is important to find and appreciate the good in the small things. A simple smile could save someone’s life or just offer hope and provide confidence so they can accomplish things they always dreamed of accomplishing. You just really never know. That is from the bottom of my soul what motivates me.

Also, coffee is a must-have. I’ve even made pots of coffee just to smell the sweet aroma…normal, right?

2. What is one thing you do to work towards a work/life balance?

This is a work in progress for me. I struggle with being able to shut off work mode. I abide by the work hard, play hard motto, but sometimes I find myself working harder (or more often) than I am playing. In the past year, I have made it a point to go places where I am “off the grid.” Places where there is no option to respond to emails, answer the phone, work on projects, etc. and my faithful computer companion doesn’t get to tagalong! These work breaks have been a huge help in maintaining and restoring my creativity, sanity and health.

3. Name one person who has inspired you in your career.

My ex-boyfriend, Donovan. He is one of the smartest and hardest working people I have gotten the chance to know. Donovan definitely pushed me to grow in my career, and he provided the confidence I needed to jump into starting Design Missoula. I am certain that without his support, I may not have ever made the leap into self-employment. Donovan was always starting new business ventures, moving and pushing ideas forward, and if something “failed” he would redirect that same idea so it was successful. Donovan’s ‘have no fear’ mentality inspired me to take chances and dream big.

4. Why did you decide to start Design Missoula?

I had the opportunity to work for an appliance and electronics company with an amazing group of individuals. That employment experience fed me full of knowledge and experience, but I found myself working extremely long hours way too often with very little return. I did not feel that I was ‘changing the world’ with the design services I was providing in the electronic/appliance industry and, because of the demands of my job, I did not have any time to work on pro bono projects (helping non-profits, entrepreneurial upstarts, etc.) So, with the push from Donovan, the idea of Design Missoula hatched.

Design Missoula has been able to offer one non-profit pro bono design services each month, whether it was a print or web project, to help them to provide quality services to our community.

5. What is one technological device or app you use that you could not live without?

Technological device: To function I have an Apple MacBook Air that lives in my backpack and goes wherever I go—literally wherever I go, unless I am intentionally ‘going off the grid.’ Not gonna lie—sometimes there is a MacBook Pro in my backpack too.

App: I couldn’t live without Freshbooks. It has been the biggest life-saver for creating estimates, invoices, and reporting for accounting purposes.

6. What is your greatest strength as a leader?

Well, my sweetheart of a momma didn’t put up with slackers. She raised us to be hard working and to work your tail off until the job is done and done well. At this point, I would go to bat if someone wanted to challenge me on who can out-work who. The challenger might win, but it would be one heck of a battle . I am a firm believer in leading by example, and I would not expect others to work longer hours than me to get a job done.

7. What has been your biggest failure and how have you overcome it?

I am a YES person and a very PASSIONATE person. That combo has made it difficult to draw lines. Over the past year, I have finally started saying NO to certain projects in order for me to have time to focus on ones that will allow my business and myself to grow. It has taken me a long time (and is sometimes something I still struggle with) to realize that it is essential to a successful business and entrepreneur to know when to say no and not feel like a person has to do everything to help everyone. Saying no helps to keep me sane and live a happy life. And living a happy life is really what life is about after all anyway, right?

8. What is success?

Without a doubt, happiness!

9. Name one person who is a successful leader.

While Simon Sinek is definitely up there on my list, no one comes close to my sister, Brandi Ries. She has always focused on helping to bring out the best in people and to help them find solutions that will result in “their happy”. She is honest, caring, hardworking, and willing to go the extra mile and beyond to help others succeed. She has the ability to create confidence in others and has set out a great example of what a leader looks like for this little sista! She has always made me believe I could rope the moon and she would be there to help make sure that happened. I watch her do that with others too, and that to me is the most important skill of a leader.

10. What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend to others?

Do something nice for someone every day—even if all you have to offer is a simple smile! Work hard and be humble. There is absolutely no reason to be cocky (Note: confidence is very different from cockiness) and if you think you are better than someone than you should help that person succeed not push them down.

Grow people! Be a great example. Go out and set the world on fire in whatever directions your passion points you! — with Sara Kauk.


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