March 24

Episode 27: Multiple Mentors and Mind Maintenance With Sandy Kearney


Learn what makes Sandy, a self-described “serial entrepreneur”, successful despite personal and professional loss within the past year. Mike and Sandy discuss the importance of building a network of mentors with different backgrounds. We learn why reaching out to these people for help can get you back on target easier than you might think. 

Sandy’s Bio

Sandy Kearney is a successful entrepreneur who built her businesses on relationships. Sandy started her career in hospitality and learned early that business is about taking care of people. She is an expert in networking to create deep connections that expand the business. 

Sandy speaks and does workshops to help people effectively network. Times have changed and it looks like the virtual world is here to stay. Sandy is the CEO of Human Power Solutions. She started her latest venture in December 2019 and has built a successful business through the pandemic and personal loss due to her strong network and deep connections. Sandy is a mother of 3 young adults and has 2 granddaughters. She loves to ski, hike and is about to get her motorcycle license. 

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • How Sandra has tackled difficult personal and professional obstacles in her life within the past year 
  • Why feeling uncomfortable is actually good for you and your business 
  • Why it is important to have multiple streams of income that complement each other within your business 
  • What actions Sandra took to get unstuck when she found herself in a rut in her business 
  • Why it is necessary to have mentors with different backgrounds, even as an entrepreneur 
  • Why taking care of your mind (and body) is critical to your success 


  • “If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing.” – Sandra Kearney 
  • “If you have relationships that are based on mutual trust, collaboration will come.” – Mike O’Neill 
  • “You’re smart. You know what to do. Go do it.” – Sandra Kearney 
  • “Your mind is what gets in your way.” – Sandra Kearney 

Links & Resources Mentioned…

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Read The Transcript

Mike O'Neill:  Welcome back to the Get Unstuck & On Target Podcast. I'm Mike O'Neill with Bench Builders, and we're speaking with thought leaders to uncover tips to help you break down the barriers that may be keeping you or your business stuck. Joining me today is Sandy Kearney. Sandy is the founder of Human Power Solutions.

Welcome Sandy.

Sandy Kearney:  Thank you, Mike. Nice to be here. 

Mike O'Neill: I'm looking forward to our conversation. We've had a chance to speak at some length prior to this, I've got to know you a little bit better. Let me share with our listeners a little bit about Sandy. I would describe her as somewhat of an expert in networking, but to do so her goal is to create deep connections that can expand business. Sandy's latest venture started in December of 2019, which is the Human Power Solutions. And she's built a successful business through the pandemic and personal loss. Due in large part to her strong network and deep connections. And Sandy it's just that, that would like us as kind of jump right in.

We spoke prior and this theme of resilience just kinda came out. Resilience. When I use that term. What does that mean to you? 

Sandy Kearney: It just means not letting things that happen to you define where you, how you move forward.  So many people will look at their past and look at the experience that they have and, and they'll continue to recount those passes as a, Oh, I got through this, but what's happening is they're still living in it.

So you get through something, put in a box and you learn from it and move forward. That to me is what resilience is. 

Mike O'Neill: You know, resilience is probably something we've all had to kind of tap into, particularly in the last year or so due to COVID. But you started your business in December, 2019, and let's see something happened around March of 2020, my goodness.

Not the best time to start a business. 

Sandy Kearney: No in theory, it's not, it wasn't, you know, we were, we were very hopeful when we, when we first launched in December, you know, we had a very clear plan as to what we were looking to do. And,  I spent, I live in Massachusetts. But, but my partner had been working in New York and

so I said, you know, why don't we try to build something out in New York as well? So we spent the first three months of 2020, going back and forth between New York and Boston and building up our team in New York. And, suddenly we were home in March and it was not in the plan for sure. No, but you know, we may do.

Mike O'Neill: You mentioned it's not in the plan, but, it's not only that you were starting a business at the cusp of the pandemic came on, but, but you and, and others, but you particularly experienced a very deep personal loss, soon thereafter. Would you mind sharing what that was? 

Sandy Kearney: Sure. So my, my partner, he passed away in August very suddenly.

And had he really struggled with this pandemic? Really struggled. Himself personally, and, was, was a very difficult time for us. And with his passing was that that was the big test. So the resilience say, but again, you learn from different people. They come into your lives for a certain amount of time.

And you take what you can learn from them and hopefully that propels you forward. And that's really, I'm not building my business in his memory. I'm, I'm building my business because of the things that, you know, we shared together and we did together and, you know, it's what I want to do for my state of mind.

So it's been a challenging time that's for sure. 

Mike O'Neill: Well, there's no question about it, Sandy. And, in terms of kind of what you have been dealing with, you've mentioned that you, have to kind of learn from, this and, move on is kind of way I think you kind of describe it. Otherwise you do get kind of mired in that.

What was one of the things that you most definitely, learned through this sudden loss that has stuck with you? 

Sandy Kearney: I think the biggest thing is, not letting it overtake you. So there are days where I don't want to get out of bed. And some days I don't get out of bed. Those are very rare though. I, you know, I think the thing that I really learned about myself is, that this is just part of life.

This is just part of the circle of life. And, for, for Matt, he didn't want to live in this kind of environment and it wasn't what he wanted to do. And so. It was just, that's just what happened. And I use, I've made it, I've made a different choice and I think we all wake up in the morning and we have a choice and you can choose to either live in misery and depression, or you can choose to have a network of people reach out and ask for help and kind of move forward.

So, that's what I've learned. I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was. 

Mike O'Neill: Well, it's pretty clear, and I really do appreciate your sharing this personal story with us, but it sounds as if it's defining you and it's impacting how you're choosing, to conduct business, you mentioned before we started recording this, that what you've really are trying to do is live each day.

Like it is your last day. 

Sandy Kearney: It. Absolutely. So I've made it a point to, spend more time with my family. A lot more time with my family. I've got two gorgeous grandkids, three beautiful grown children who I adore being with.  But I've also decided to get my motorcycle license. And so I'm doing that, in the first weekend in April, you know, we're planning some trips to, as soon as the things open up to go zip lining and all the things that, you know, that make life worth living.

So, you know, I think it's really important. The one, the couple of things that Matt taught me over the last five years, I mean, he taught me how to ski at 48 years old. I learned how to golf. So I'm taking all those. All those great experiences that we had and, and incorporating those into my life and continuing to push the envelope a little bit.

And this business has been an amazing push of the envelope and I, and there's, there was a time where I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue. But I decided to continue. And I'm very excited that I did. 

Mike O'Neill: Well, if you hadn't, you and I would not have crossed paths. Sandy share with our listeners a little bit about your business please.

Sandy Kearney: So our business, we do employee engagement programs, and we're really about working with employers to help keep their employees engaged in work and productive and feeling like they're still part of a company if even if they're working remotely. And, and that's our biggest mantra right now is, you know, how can we make learning fun and keep everyone kind of together and connected.

And, I've created some great relationships with our clients. Last night we did a the last of a six week program of time management productivity, because from six thirty at night to eight thirty at night with 17 people, and none of them see each other now because they're all in different locations. And so it's so much of it is just kind of keeping people together.

They're learning together. They're getting advice from each other and it's, I was sad. I was sad to have it end. You know, cause we had such a great time and that's really what it's all about. 

Mike O'Neill: So you are providing means for, for folks to learn, to be in engage. And that seems like that's kind of what helped in driving your business.

You started your business, this business in December, 2019, and you had shared with me, this idea of you're a business owner. And many of our listeners are either business owners or business leaders, but just, you mentioned this idea of being uncomfortable in your business. And I found that term, intriguing.

Tell us more. 

Sandy Kearney: So I'm a serial entrepreneur. So anyone that, anyone that knows me, I love starting businesses and I love being in business. I owned a fitness center for seven and a half years and, I was really uncomfortable there. Cause it was, tough, tough business to, to run, but I'd tell my kids and I, people that I'm coaching, I'll say, if you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing.

You're sitting in your business and everything's status quo. You're just kind of doing your thing. Well, your status quo. So as you push the envelope in life and in business, that's where you get to the other side. As long as, as you're pushing you, don't stop yourself. And so many of us have that mental block of wait,

I can't, I can't be that successful. Sure you can.

That comes through.

Mike O'Neill: Yeah, it's going back to mindset, but what I'm hearing you say is complacency. Can be very much to the detriment of a business. And it sounds like what you're encouraging us to do is be willing to kind of push the envelope so that you're always have some degree of uncomfortableness. Am I hearing that right?

Sandy Kearney: Yeah. Yeah. A little bit of uncomfortableness is not a bad thing. It means that you're, you're, you're pushing the envelope a little bit and you're growing. 

Mike O'Neill: You know, nothing you mentioned to me, and this came up in our very first conversation, the type of work you do for clients, the type of work that we do for our clients.

There's some similarities, but you literally put it in writing and that is don't compete, collaborate. I think I know what that means, but when you say that, what does that say to you and how do you evidence that. 

Sandy Kearney: So we're very much a servant organization. So we really believe in serving our clients in the best possible way.

And there's so much business out there. Especially in the learning and development space now there's so many different experts that do different things. Stephanie Heider, Bridging Distance does remote teamworking like there's no tomorrow. I don't want to compete with her. I want to bring her into our clients so that

you know, we can really serve our clients well and give them the best person possible to deliver some of those trainings. So when I'm talking with people and they say, Oh, well, I do the same thing and I can't work with you. I, I, I will question that and say, why what's your mindset? Why is why can't we share business where we do something really, really well.

And you might do something a little bit differently. So collaboration, I think is really key.  No one knows everything so we can all learn from each other and we can all serve our clients in a very powerful way. If we have that mindset. 

Mike O'Neill: Well, that's exactly how you and I, came together. We came together

I wanted to get to know you better. The more I learned about your business, what I learned is the kind of work you do. And the kind of work we do is very, very similar. But before almost I could say it, you immediately blurted out this notion of collaboration and that's music to my ears. And that is a, it's a big world and we really need to be looking at what's in the best interest

of our clients. And if you have the relationships in place, which I know you pride that are based on a mutual trust, that collaboration will come.  So I saw that firsthand and it was a result of that conversation that prompted me to say, Sandy, you'd be a great podcast guest. And here we are.  So, we also have talked kind of comparing notes in terms as business owners, and, there's a tendency sometimes to find something that you're good at and do that one thing.

And therefore all of your income comes from that one thing that you're good at. You say that's maybe not the best move as a business owner. 

Sandy Kearney: I'm a multiple streams of income type of person. So if I look at a business, whether it was my fitness center, whether it's this business, I, I come from multiple streams because you, you never know what's going to happen.

So if you, if a restaurant didn't have a takeout,  you know, system in place during the pandemic. They might, they might not have survived the pandemic. Right. So if you're thinking about those, those kinds of things, and, for my fitness center, we sold supplements. We sold training, we sold, group training.

So we had a bunch of different things that we did aside from the memberships. And then for this business here, I have, you know, we have our HPS, our training and development, leadership training, all of the courses that we do. We also have a speaking side. So I go out and I speak, and then I also have a professional networking company as well as part, as part of our company, because I've built my business on the network.

So, you know, there's three different avenues that we make money. And so it helps cashflow. It helps payroll. It helps you feel comfortable every day. So thinking about the ways that you can find things that are going to compliment what you're doing, everything compliments, our main business HPS. 

Mike O'Neill: Back to the word, compliment, and that is find something you're good at, but then find those things that compliment that, and build that out and odds are pretty good.

All you're doing is making it much better for your existing clients to take advantage of things that they might not have known if you hadn't made it known to them.

Sandy Kearney: Exactly. Yes.

Mike O'Neill: You know, Sandy, the title of this podcast is Get Unstuck & On Target. And I was going to ask, if you don't mind, would you share an example where perhaps, you were stuck and if you were, what got you stuck and what did you do to get unstuck?

Sandy Kearney: So I think the best example is in my, is, is in the fitness center. When I opened that up in 2008, I had a clear ideas as far as what I was purchasing. And when I found out actually what I was purchasing it was much different and not in a good way to what I had agreed to. It was very challenging and I had put some money into an, into the center and, was not getting the return that I, that I wanted.

And I froze, I absolutely froze. And because I had poured, you know, a lot of my life into it and my family's future. So I didn't, I stopped kind of working in my head, just couldn't get past this mistake that I made I missed numbers. You know, even though I had 10 people look at, you know, the whole deal and tell me it was a good deal, you know, you just, you don't know when people are not being honest with you.

You think that they are. And I remember going to lunch and I reached out, I reached out to someone and I think that's the thing that really helped me is I have a network and I reach out to people and I'm not afraid to say help me, you know? And we went to my mentor and I went to lunch and I'll never forget it.

I was crying. Like I was, I was like, I can't believe I did this and my whole family. And he looked at me and he said, Sandy, you're good at what you do. Just get to work. And I was like, What? And it was the best thing, the best thing anyone has ever said to me. I mean, I'm like, you're right. I got to put my head down and just go.

And so I put my head down, you know, gathered up my, gathered up my humans to help me. And we, we moved forward from 88 members to when I sold it. It was like 630 members when I sold it seven years later. So.

Mike O'Neill: Goodness gracious. 

Sandy Kearney: And it was a wonderful place. It was a beautiful place. 

Mike O'Neill: And we described that you're not talking about this, the physical aspects, the wonderful place you're describing.

What, when you say a wonderful place? 

Sandy Kearney: We were cheers of the beer was what we called ourselves. We were just this really great family of people that wanted to get healthy and do things together. So 25 of us would do a warrior dash. Several of us have run marathons together. It was just a family.

It was a real family. And my, two of my kids work there. So I was able to share the experience with, with them. And, you know, I sold it after, after I got divorced and, my younger son, I wanted to be able to be there for his high school years and I don't regret selling it at all. I, it was a great time, but the hours were kind of brutal.

And, I do miss the people though. I do bump into people now and they're like, we miss you on like, You know, five, six years later, it was a really great place. 

Mike O'Neill: Well, this theme of relationships, it just keeps coming up over and over again. You know, you shared where you did due diligence. You had a lot of people look at that business from every potential angle, but when you got in there, it just was not what you thought it was going to be.

And you, you were almost at wits end, but you went to a trusted person and that's why I want to make sure come back to that. You went someone who you value a mentor is what you described. And this mentor who knows, you said something relatively profound. You're smart, you know what to do, go do it. And hearing that it sounds as if that's kind of spawned you on to do what you are capable to do, but hearing it, it sounds like a light bulb went off.

Sandy Kearney: Absolutely. It was, it was, it was almost like a punch in the gut, you know, like, what are you, what are you doing? You know, you are, you're better than this. And you know, don't let this, don't let this decision and these people ruin, you know, your dream. And it was, it was just probably I see him now. And I'm just so grateful, still.

And, and over the years, I've, I've collected more mentors and, and more people. So with this, with this particular business, I met someone, last February, who basically said, you're my new project. I love what you're doing. And you know, he's been, he's been a trusted advisor, a trusted friend has given me a CFO giving me some really great resources in order for me to

you know, this business was much bigger than the fitness center in, there's there's many, there's many more facets to it. And I know that I need more help. I can't, I, I cannot run this business alone. 

Mike O'Neill: So Sandy, you're a serial entrepreneur. You've owned multiple businesses and people in that line of work might think I've got all the answers and you've said, no, I have benefited from others.

Particularly from mentors. What, in your opinion makes a good mentor? 

Sandy Kearney: I think someone that's, has, you know, experience in your space. This, this, this current, person was a six time CEO. And so he is a vast experience all over the place, but I've got some really great HR partners as well. And I've got a really good digital marketing partner.

So I think it's, I've got different people in different facets of the business that I can call upon. So if I'm looking at scaling, I'll call Phil. If I'm looking at digital marketing, I'll call Com. So, you know, there's certain people that you're going to, that you're going to tap, you know, when you, when you need some help, So, I think that that's the biggest thing with people that are stuck.

Go get some help. You can go to CWE. If you're a women owned business, a Center for Women in Enterprise at the, they offer free mentoring and free coaching, or you go to Score, which is a national nonprofit organization as well. So there's, there's lots of resources out there for, for companies that take advantage of it.

That's what they're there for. 

Mike O'Neill: Great suggestions. You know, we've covered quite a bit in our time together. As you kind of reflect on what we've discussed, what might be some things you want to make sure that folks have as takeaways 

Sandy Kearney: I think takeaways is, you know, your mind is what gets in your way. So a lot of times the block is, is mental.

And so making sure that you feed your mind by listening to different podcasts and different people, Mel Robbins, Simon Sinek, Brenae Brown. So I feed myself every day, making sure that you take care of your body and you take care of yourself, walk and exercise. And that, that work-life balance or blend is really important.

And, and tapping people asking for help. Its okay to ask for help. People want to help, in general. So those are the things I think I'd want people to take away from our conversation. 

Mike O'Neill: Those are great, great things for us to remember, you know, Sandy folks have been listening to you and they may say, gosh, I want to reach out to Sandy.

What is the best way for them to connect with you? 

Sandy Kearney: So they can connect with me on LinkedIn, ran the tag of Sandra Kearney, K E A R N E Y. Or my email it 

Mike O'Neill: Excellent. Now, if you're driving, don't worry about that. We will include that in our show notes. So fret not, at all, boy, we, we covered a lot in a short period of time, Sandy, this has been a real treat.

Thank you. 

Sandy Kearney: Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate you having me. 

Mike O'Neill: It was my pleasure. And I also want to thank our listeners for joining us for this episode of Get Unstuck & On Target. We upload the latest episode every Thursday. And if you haven't already, I invite you to join our growing list of subscribers, but we at Bench Builders,

we love to help companies get unstuck with Practical Management Training, Leadership Coaching, and better business planning and execution. But have you been listening to my discussion with Sandy and you're realizing that something's keeping you or your business stuck, let's talk, visit, to schedule a call.

So I'd like to thank you for joining us. And I hope that you've picked up on some tips that help you Get Unstuck & On Target until next time.

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