Embrace Joy and Self-care as Essential Components of Success with Kishshana Palmer

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“If you are delivering transformative, impactful words of wisdom that help people shift the money they’re raising, help people shift the organizations they’re leading, help people shift how they live in their bodies and their families, we also have to make space to do it for ourselves, for our bodies, for us.” – Kishshana Palmer

Episode #183


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

Embrace joy and self-care as essential components of success!

This episode is a must-listen for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance on their journey towards leadership, wellness, and joy.

Meet Today’s guest, Kishshana Palmer, CEO of ManageMint, Inc., renowned keynote speaker, and TEDx alumna. With her expertise in leadership and wellness, she transforms leaders and energizes events worldwide. As a trusted advisor to executive leaders, Kishshana brings passion and authenticity to every interaction. Moreover, her commitment to growth, wellness, and impact shines through in her work, making her a sought-after partner for organizations seeking transformation.

During Today’s conversation, Kishshana delves into a rich tapestry of topics, from leadership and wellness to the pursuit of joy. She passionately discusses the importance of self-care and self-awareness in Today’s fast-paced world, exploring the intersection between wellness and joy. Drawing from her own experiences, she shares personal anecdotes and candid reflections, inviting listeners to reconsider their relationship with their bodies and minds. Furthermore, Kishshana emphasizes the need to slow down and embrace everyday luxuries, challenging the notion that self-care is merely a reward for productivity. Also, she encourages listeners to prioritize joy and self-worth, recognizing that authentic leadership stems from authenticity and vulnerability.



Kishshana Palmer


  • This week’s episode is sponsored by DonorPerfect

    DonorPerfect’s Community Conference is igniting a passion for change!  This year’s event, on June 4th & 5th, will equip you with the tools to excel in donor management, program innovation, community engagement, and organizational growth.

    Remember, every powerful movement starts with a single spark.Your expertise is that spark!  Head over to donorperfect.com/donorperfect-conference to register today!

  • If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
  • If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point

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Get to know Kishshana Palmer:

Kishshana Palmer is an international speaker, trainer, and coach with a 20+ year background in fundraising, marketing, and talent management who helps leaders create high performing teams.  Kishshana is CEO of ManageMint, Inc., an organizational development firm focused on helping everyday leaders live well and lead well. Her firm’s work centers on equity and social justice and practical solutions for today’s organizations. She is the founder of The Rooted Collaborative — a global community focused on the growth and development of women leaders of color in the social sector. She’s the host of the podcast “ManageMint Made Easy” formerly “Let’s Take This Offline”, an adjunct professor at Baruch College, a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer (CGT), A Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, a Q3LC Certified Coach and an AFP Master Trainer.  When an organization wants to grow, find and retain people on their team, raise money, and more she is the fairy godmother they have on speed dial. Her work isn’t limited to organizations, she also coaches high performing leaders. Kishshana is a NYC girl now living in Atlanta and a mother of one wonderful teenage daughter. Kishshana is the epitome of your classic 90’s Queens homegirl and quintessential corner office executive. She is your daily dose of Claire Huxtable with a side of Blanche Devereaux.


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Episode Transcript

Kishshana Palmer  0:00  

For dis ease. People don’t even say disease together right as it sometimes it isn’t happening out there. And some things like environmental, let’s be clear, some things are hereditary, environmental, etc. But let’s not pretend that it’s not exacerbated by the inputs that we’re getting into our skin, which is a whole organ, our minds whole organs, we’re doing things that are literally in writing in the very things that we are trying to solve for problematically in our social safety net globally.


Mallory Erickson  0:31  

Hey, my name is Mallory. And I’m obsessed with helping leaders in the nonprofit space, raise money and run their organizations differently. What the fundraising is a space for real and raw conversations to both challenge and inspire you. Not too long ago, I was in your shoes uncomfortable with fundraising and unsure of my place in this sector. It wasn’t until I started to listen to other experts outside of the fundraising space, that I was able to shift my mindset and ultimately shift the way I show up as a leader. This podcast is my way of blending professional and personal development. So we as a collective inside the nonprofit sector can feel good about the work we are doing. Join me every week as I interview some of the brightest minds in the personal and professional development space to help you fundamentally change the way you lead and fundraise. I hope you enjoy this episode. So let’s dive in. Welcome, everyone. I am so excited to be here today with my friend Shawna Palmer kushana Welcome to what the fundraising what oh,


Kishshana Palmer  1:34  

what’s up what’s amazing Mallory every time I try to get out this darn game.


Mallory Erickson  1:44  

I know but I’m happy you’re here because I want to talk about some themes that I feel like are running through your in my like personal lives, professional lives, all the things we’re talking about like wellness, Joy connection, like what it looks like, I feel like before we jumped on this call like you are my friend that we just like role laughing when we’re together even when we’re talking about like serious things. And it is such a part of my like wellness, my like business wellness, my leadership, wellness and like so I want to talk about that. But let’s start I feel like you’re somebody who needs no introduction. But for those of you who might be meeting Kish for the very first time. I want to make sure you get to like introduce yourself to everyone and then we’ll we’ll dive in. Absolutely.


Kishshana Palmer  2:30  

Listen friends if you haven’t met me yet. Where are you been? Okay, no, I’m kidding. I Prasanna Palmer I am CEO of management Inc, we have decided that we are taking a fresh take on management and leadership we are just doing away with the status quo. We’ve learned the rules and now we are breaking them because folks attire, okay, the tide of the same old same old is not working for their teams is not working for themselves. And we are determined as a team to make folks fall in love with managing people and leadership all over again. I’m happy to be here.


Mallory Erickson  3:03  

I love the way that you talk about like leadership and wellness and not just talk about it, like the words that come out of your mouth, but the energy through which you talk about these things, because I feel like going if you have never seen Kish talk in person, you need to like figure out how to get somewhere where she’s doing it. Because I feel like just listening to you talk and like going to one of your sessions like helps me like not just what you’re saying. But like being in that energy with you. And like the lightness you bring to things the humor you bring to things I feel like you help people not just through their minds, but like in their bodies, like connect to self and like find joy. Tell me how you think about like the intersection of wellness and joy and fun.


Kishshana Palmer  3:47  

So you know, it’s funny, fun is one of my company values. And so we do a lot of change, management work and change management is not always fun. Okay, changing beliefs, changing habits, behaviors, mindsets, not always fun. However, if you can’t bring some levity to what you’re doing, especially when you work with the same folks day in and day out whether you’re working virtually are in the office or both. What are you doing we spend more time for the most part with our co workers and we do with our families that has not changed over the last 30 years. Okay. Now in other countries it might be different but here in this us obey that is the world of work. And so the reason that it’s so important to me is because I did not listen to my body and our bodies are telling us they are our alarm system. They are our reminders. They are our celebration tools. And we use and abuse this vessel, ignore it, abuse it, cast it away, bring it back, yo yo wit not just in what we put in our bodies, but what we put in our mind. And so after years of having debilitating back pain, and now you know I love a good shoe. So can you imagine somebody that I can collection I have I just organized They’re finally in my new house. And I have to tell you, one of my girlfriends who was helping me, she said, Are you planning to insure these shoes, and I said, I had never considered that. But I did call my home insurance company to see. And so when you have a shoe collection, that is just beautiful. But your back is burning, every time you take a step one thinks to oneself, we should do something about this. But now it took not one, not two, not three, four times to have debilitating slip, this bulging disc where I couldn’t walk, but weeks for me to finally go Enough is enough. So much so that the first couple of years that I was full time in my business, because I’ve had well used to be kushana, and CO and then we rebranded in 2023 my first couple of years, when I was part time, I’m a full time single mother, I’m a sought after fundraiser, I am trying to run this business part time because I got to feed my child, there’s all this stuff going on. And I could go so when I transitioned to full time entrepreneurship, I would sit up all day and night, I would be sitting which I pointed this one, I’d be sitting for hours at a time, fast forward to now I created the DIS ease in my body of having sciatica, I didn’t have it before I created that disease. Because my body kept being like are you don’t want to rest, you don’t want to put an icepack on that. You don’t want to get up and walk. And I’m like, I don’t know, just one more grant. Just one more, just one more. You can’t just one more your way through your 20s through grad school, through motherhood through the heightening of your career, through planes through training, through automobiles, through stress through illness, you see where I’m going with this? One in any of that. And so there had to be a point where I’d say enough is enough already. And so I said if it’s not fun, the homeless can’t have enough. Okay, if my team is not cracking up, I don’t care how tough a change management product I’ve taken on is, for the most part, we have a good time. And so for me, wellness actually has five points. Most of us are thinking about wellness, from the perspective of very low brow, low vibration, low energy, let me get him aside, let me go to the smile, let me do this, let me escape, you should not be escaping from your responsibility to be well. And so to me, I think about wellness in five ways. And this is not new news. Gallup came out with this about five or six years ago, and they do an engagement report. And I decide to do women’s wellness reports, which I love. And so there’s your physical wellness, right, move your body, then there is your emotional wellness. For those of us who have a belief system, there is your spiritual psychological loss that kind of goes in together wellness, then there’s your financial wellness. And I want to stop there for a second because lots of us, particularly those who identify as women and marginalized folks, for the global majority, our relationship with money a little bit funny. And then there’s our community wellness, which is what you just referenced, in order to be well, you cannot forget the community that you are a part of who is in your group chat. And on your line. I’m gonna pause right there because you’re not gonna go into the sermon.


Mallory Erickson  8:02  

Oh my god, okay, I don’t even know where to, like begin with all of that. I mean, it’s so interesting to me, that piece you said about like a date. And I’m thinking about that in terms of, you know, how we talk about self care often, right? And, and then like self care becomes this, it becomes like another check, like checkbox or deliverable, and we kind of like oscillate. And then it’s like this other thing that we that we feel like maybe we’re failing at because we’re not doing enough of it. And then we just kind of beat ourselves up around that and we go into like our net flick kind of spiral for four hours and we come out of it, we’re not feeling any better. And like, I’m just thinking about all these ways in which we’ve sort of become so like, disembodied or disconnected from our body that it takes and I talked about this in my book, too, like chronic pain, or burnout. Like for me, it was like a chronic pain, being totally bedridden, you know, in my neck, numbness in my hands, like all these things to be like, whoa, whoa, okay, here I am, like, I have tried every way to like, push this down power through get over that next illness do one more thing, right? All this stuff until my body was literally like the end, like you either solve this or we’re out or you’re in bed forever. Right? Okay.


Kishshana Palmer  9:23  

Okay. And I said there were dis ease. People don’t have to take disease together right as it sometimes it doesn’t happen out there. And some things like environmental let’s be clear, some things are hereditary, environmental, etc. But let’s not pretend that it’s not exacerbated by the inputs that we’re getting into our skin which is a whole organ, our minds whole organs. We’re doing things that are literally inviting in the very things that we are trying to solve for problematically in our social safety net globally. Hello,


Mallory Erickson  9:53  

yeah, hello. Yeah, and then we’re doing it with like the level Have like responsibility and heaviness that we think is like, required of dealing with such a serious thing, which is obviously serious. But like in that heaviness and in that seriousness and sort of approaching all these things from this sort of like tunnel vision, responsibility, pressure, whatever we are, like making it even harder for us to find spaciousness, joy, connection, like all these things that actually ultimately will bring us wellness. Correct.


Kishshana Palmer  10:33  

And I think that’s because many of us, depending on which educational system you grew up in around the world, are taught to repeat, memorize, repeat, memorize, regurgitate, memorize, put it out there, unless you grew up in like a Montessori environment or one of the environments that are more like free flowing, free thinking, allowing children to come to their own decision making building up those muscles early, you don’t actually have a lot of experience in taking command not control but command of yourself and your ability to be able to take care of yourself, you sort of go from being told what to do to being expected to know what to do. And that includes your body. Think about anything about the My son is in college right now. And I have like, did you make an appointment for the GYN? Now she can’t make the appointment for her? No me like we are going to eat? Or you’re like, oh my gosh, the dentist is gonna be okay, how many tickets you get? Okay, but you go from like this, like somebody does it for you and tells you where you need to be to magically they’re supposed to know what to do no transition that happens with work working at the Dairy Queen being told what time to be there being annoyingly not the window for you to pocket money to now magically know how to put on the suit, have interview skills and get your first job. Wait,


Mallory Erickson  11:54  

okay, you’re also bringing up like in that explanation. Okay, I knew we find something juicy. I was just like, I feel like we got to get into this today. Okay, so we’re here. Okay. So in that they’re like two things that you said in there that I’m like, Whoa, okay. One is, you know, this piece around like, yes. Okay, so we go to the doctor, we’re sort of like we’re managing health, but we’re not creating wellness, we’re never taught to create wellness, we are we even when we’re taking care of our, like kids, or bringing them to the dentist or doing those things like that’s like a piece of health, but not wellness. The other thing that you know, as we were talking about before, this idea of like discomfort, right. And like, I feel like when we are younger, so much of how we are taught or encouraged or pushed to show up or behave or perform is not only not about our wellness, but it’s also not about our comfort, it’s about the comfort of the person who’s with us and avoiding the discomfort of that person day in creating tremendous discomfort for ourselves.


Kishshana Palmer  13:08  

Let me tell you what, boom, Mic drop. Forget us wrapping up right now, whoever, pause and just go back to the beginning and listen to this because you know, people listen to this on 1.5 and 2.0 speeds and you’re trying to get through it, you better run down. Okay, sit down and eat your lunch, don’t stand up and eat it on the go. Sit down and have your coffee, put it in a nice cup, not in the plastic or the paper cup slow down. One of the things that I have had to really sit in is that I believe deeply in operating integrity. And I believe deeply in trying my endeavor best not to be a hypocrite, I’m not 100% of the time, but if once I’m aware, I’m on it. And so I was so humbled in the second half of 2023 and this is really important in terms of wellness and listening to your body and slowing down. I was humbled because I’d had a meteoric rise for a long time that’s what it felt like no, I was hustling and, and toilet back to the issues with the cytokines and the nerves and the tinnitus. Okay, but it seemed like that’s what it felt like because the people are seeing my feet paddling hard underwater, they just saw me cruising on top right. So this came to a halt for reasons we will not discuss on this podcast. But if you are watching the video portion of this I want you to know that my eyes say if I see a fighter that that is humbled and therefore for the first time since 2017. I did not have a fully booked speaking schedule in the third quarter of the year. So the fourth quarter of the year. I always do like 3040 50 speaking engagements from the end of August to December. By the time I get off the road all I want is a nap and several pints of ice cream. Okay, didn’t happen moved to a new city didn’t have anywhere to be. Didn’t know what to do with myself kid just went to college. So what did I need to do slow down the first few weeks Mallory hang on sitting on my front porch was looking around. First of all, I’m a city girl who bought a house in the dark woods, off the wasps, seven types of mosquitoes and the family of deer that just decides to walk across to me, okay, because we are in their space, it gave me a lot of time to slow down and to think, which I realized I had not been doing. And you and I are similar in the fact that you know, we have some smart, smart women smart, when you are gifted, and you are brilliant, much of that is muscle that you have been building for a long time. So even when you aren’t at your endeavor, best people think you operate non optimal. So I didn’t have space for new thoughts. Because I was on the road all the time. I didn’t have space to to ideate because I had to deliver, I didn’t have space to reflect, because I was going so fast. But that period allowed me to reevaluate for myself, what is in my five star wellness plan now that I’m an empty nester, and I decided, since Monday has started to be a little funny. Let me look at everyday luxuries. So those are some of the things now that I mentioned to you, I stopped drinking my coffee out of the little plastic as of right now, because I was running out of a plastic cup. And I had my nice little, little cup, my nice one with the goal handle, I took my time and did my face in the morning, before I used to do a nine step routine and 10 minutes now takes 20 minutes, I started to slow down and enjoy the ritual of the routines that I did every day. And that’s what I’ve been talking about in my keynotes for two years. Oh, so everybody, even those of us who are seen as thought leaders who are looked at as experts, that’s a lot of pressure. And that pressure feels like an anvil on your shoulders. And particularly if you are delivering transformative, impactful words of wisdom, that help people to shift the money that they’re raising help people to shift the organizations that are leading help people to shift how they live in their bodies in their families, we also have to make space to do it for ourselves or our bodies, do it for us.


Mallory Erickson  17:12  

And just sitting in that for a second. And I think you know, back to that piece around, like whose comfort are you prioritizing? And how is that impacting your wellness, I think, especially as people who want to enable or support other people to like, find their flow, or reconnect with themselves or figure out how to advocate for themselves. But then oftentimes, we’re passionate about that, because of our own stories of not having that support. Not like knowing how to do it ourselves and learning how to do it ourselves. But then I think, you know, like with all of these things, gets a process. And it’s not just a process, it’s not linear. And it’s a practice, right. And so I think it’s so easy to fall back into patterns, prioritizing somebody else’s come for over your over your own, and especially when we are in states of like dysregulation already, or we’re already feeling overwhelmed. And we’re like, oh man, like right now I want life with like the least resistance, you know. And so then we ultimately, you know, prioritize our immediate comfort, which is the lack of conflict, over strew comfort, which is an embodied state and living in alignment.


Kishshana Palmer  18:39  

You know, now you are the first you were the first person that I actually listened to, and didn’t roll my eyes when you started when we started the conversation about dysregulation a couple of a few years ago, because I’ve been reading about it since grad school and I was like, but I knew somewhere deep in my spirit, I knew it was because at the point that I started to recognize and then start to lean into like, well, if this is true, then what then I would knock the door and he’s going to do something about it. I was too busy to do something about it. But the reality is that so many of us live in such a state of dysregulation where your body is twitching and your eye is twitching and you can’t keep stilling 19 tabs open and I’m on the phone with you right now fully enthralled in this conversation. But if this darn ticker on my darn text message goes up one more time. You know, and so we just there’s so much input all the time, taking a break from social media does nothing but drive my anxiety because I have fear of missing out. And so we have to have ways to get ourselves into that space of accepting that it’s okay to regulate ourselves and that regulation doesn’t mean restriction that actually is release. So you’re the one actually I get I tell anybody That made me go, oh man he’s talking about now. Because we’re actually talking about it as friends. And I was like, Oh, now I gotta go read this damn book she’s talking about because she has since


Mallory Erickson  20:16  

I am so annoying. That’s really annoying.


Kishshana Palmer  20:21  

Don’t get it, you don’t want to change, change the way you do fundraise don’t change, if you want to change. You want to just do the same thing you’ve been doing since yesterday and just complain about it. Just Just leave both of us alone.


Mallory Erickson  20:34  

Fair. But okay, wait. So we came into this conversation, and I was like, I want to talk about like joy, and the role that joy plays in wellness, as you were just talking, you said that thing about like, Oh, you were talking about this, and I knew if I learned about it, I was gonna have to deal with it, I didn’t have time to deal with it, I actually think I’m gonna bring this full circle, because I actually think this is the role that joy can play and wellness is like, when we don’t feel like we have time to undertake something big or heavy or go deeper, or learn more about ourselves, or try to find the trigger that created our dysregulation, or whatever it is like when we feel like that it’s too much to go there. And maybe what we look for then is an escape like a numbing escape, maybe the escape that brings us back into more wellness that gives us capacity to ultimately do that other work later is joy, and, and fun. And like, those are the moments to be like, Okay, what do I not need to like, just zone out? But like, what do I need to like laugh right now, who do I need to talk to, to like, have some fun, even though today feels so heavy, who helps me like always feel like there’s fun out there. And that can be like those tiny, like faces created in our lives that open up the capacity for more of this work.


Kishshana Palmer  21:58  

We love that. I love that. I think that the thing that sticks out for me in that and what kind of sat with me is that sometimes we don’t think we’re worthy of joy. And I was in a women’s mastermind at the beginning of the pandemic. And it led me to some bad habits. But the good thing I got out of that was we don’t have to do nice things for ourselves as a reward for doing something else. And I didn’t understand it then. But I understand it now that because I had been used to performing to be accepted, performing to get love performing for recognition that I was performing for myself. And so there’s no joy in that when you are performing for yourself. Like you, you want to disappear from yourself. And so to your point, if I’m having a hard day, it used to be that I will disappear into my phone. I actually have a shot let me just let me just put these put it out there to people I gotta fly this wardrobe because I had terrible money habits even though I made good money. Okay, I’m working on it now. Now. Now I’ve told you all on my business. Okay, repair this lesson. Okay, don’t be ashamed. Just decide. So I will go shop, right, that’s disappearing. That’s this association. That’s not thinking about my budget. My bill is metallic education, my spending plan that’s just thinking about immediate gratification. Now, I still have that urge, okay, because that is a habit that’s been built over years, when I get my butt up, and go walk outside, and somebody’s gonna be available to me on the phone. And I’m like, hey, 15 minutes. Talk to me about foolishness. And there’s plenty to talk about. And we always have this thing about wanting to, to keep our conversations. So high, high brow. So Tarik, now, talk to me about because 


Kishshana Palmer  23:34  

I need to be able to reconnect with the part of me that understands that everything doesn’t have to be a problem to be solved, that I am not a problem to be solved. And so what came to my mind now, as we were talking, I was trying to sit still, as I could is that we have a responsibility to seek joy. You can’t be a great leader, in my opinion. If there’s not joy, you might be able to be effective, potentially, but great that people want to invite you to their wedding. They want to tell you what, what the sex of the baby is before the time is they want you to come to the gender reveal. They want you to mourn with them if a loved one, like if you are not the kind of leader that models that life is coming at us fast. And I’m human enough to know that I’m not going to be in a Mortal Kombat game for the rest of my life. And so I can’t keep taking all these body blows. What are we doing? So that joy piece is important. It’s our responsibility to chase it to grasp it. 


Kishshana Palmer  24:29  

Like when we were kids now, I mean, you have a little light meant the little little light box to bottle it because we need


Mallory Erickson  24:36  

  1. All right, we’re gonna end right there. This is a little teaser friend’s kitchen. I both have books coming out later in 2024 and this is just a little sneak preview of what you are going to be getting from the two of us and we are just so excited to share more with you. So Kish thank you as always, for this conversation for being you. I’m so grateful for your friendship for your As leadership for everything I love you so much


I hope today’s episode inspired or challenge you to think differently. For additional takeaways tip shownotes and more about our amazing guests and sponsors, head on over to Mallory erickson.com backslash podcast. And if you didn’t know, hosting this podcast isn’t the only thing I do. Every day I coach guide and help fundraisers and leaders just like you inside of my program, the power partners formula collective. Inside the program, I share my methods, tools and experiences that have helped me fundraise millions of dollars and feel good about myself in the process. To learn more about how I can help you visit Valerie erickson.com backslash power partners. Last but not least, if you enjoyed this episode, I’d love to encourage you to share it with a friend you know would benefit or leave a review. I’m so grateful for all of you and the good hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. I can’t wait to see you in the next episode.


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