We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristin Tillack and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristin, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking has been a key to my agility as a business owner and has fostered more confidence in myself. When I look at every step or milestone in my career, it has been the risk taking moments that provided either opportunity or reward. After graduating with a teaching degree in Southern California, teaching jobs were sparse so I took the risk to move to Washington state for adventure as I had never lived out of state. I figured now was the time before I got locked into a tenured teaching career. Little did I know that this risk would set the tone for a career filled with following opportunities and adventure. When I landed a great job in Washington (not teaching but in the child development realm, learning the ins and outs of a small business), that gave me the confidence to start my own business years later–a risk I may not have taken if I hadn’t taken the leap of learning a new area, meeting new people, and being forced to “put myself out there” in a new career. Thirteen years later after that first risk, we took the risk of moving to Colorado, managing my current business remotely and starting a new business based in Colorado, my passion project www.RaisingHikers.com. One risk led to the next and I got more confident in taking those leaps. Not all of my risks have resulted in everyone’s definitions of success, but they have all been successful for me as I have learned from each one and have found a way to make them successful in my own definition.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My professional career has taken many turns to lead me where I am today. My first “real job” was as a placement consultant helping parents find nannies in the Seattle area. I never knew this type of work existed and it was a wonderful experience to learn the ins and outs of a small business, managing people, and consulting in a field I was passionate about as a Child Development major and a trained Elementary School teacher. While I loved my job, I always had the pull to teaching and the responsibility to “use my degree.” I think this is a trap that many get pulled into. Nonetheless, it was an important decision for me to explore this so I taught 2nd grade in the public school system. I found that teaching adults was more in line with my passion so I took the risk in going back to school to get my MBA and find a career where I could meld my love of teaching and consulting with business. I got a position in tech sales and moved up to be a sales trainer since I love educating. It was a great way to explore the corporate world, but after having my 2nd child I yearned for more flexibility and time with my family. This was the biggest challenge for me as I had always defined my success and self worth in my career successes. I could not let that part of me go, but I wanted both. That’s when I took the risk of starting my own business–opening a childcare staffing franchise in Washington. As most who have started their own business and are seeking “flexibility” can relate….there was NOTHING flexible about that first year in building a business!! I worked around the clock and poured all of my energy and time into the success of that business. I proved to myself that dedication, hard work, and investing in employees growth and development pays off. I am fortunate to still have many from my original management team with me today. After moving to Colorado and managing that business remotely, I was ready to meld my love of child development with my personal passion of the outdoors. This is where the concept of Raising Hikers was born and I am currently in the thick of building this business and co-authoring 50 Hikes with Kids: Colorado. I am overjoyed with the opportunity to share our adventures and knowledge with other families to encourage them to spend more time outside connecting with nature. I have found a place where my passions, previous experience, and education have collided. My experience and career has been dynamic and has taken a “choose your own adventure” path. At the core of every change, risk, and decision has been an attempt to follow my passions, look for ways to create an adventurous yet stable life for my family, and hard work and grit. This is what I want my kids to see.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Such a fun question! My ideal itinerary would be spending time hiking in the day and eating good food in the evening. I would take them to hike Mount Falcon one day with views of Denver from above. Then have dinner at Avanti or Linger out on the patio. Another day we’d drive out to the Indian Peaks Wilderness to hike to Lake Isabelle and maybe have some fun in the South Broadway area eating yummy dinner at Postino’s and a nightcap at Punch Bowl Social. If we are lucky, we’d spend at least a day in Rocky Mountain National Park to really feel on top of the world. No trip to Denver would be complete without a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater so we would hike the Trading Post Trail or Morrison Slide before the concert, then experience a magical show at one of my favorite venues ever!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Absolutely! I dedicate my Shoutout to my good friend, Ashley. We met in Emotional Intelligence courses in our MBA program at Seattle University. As you can imagine by the course name, we met in a vulnerable, authentic space and we have continued that kind of raw relationship ever since. She is someone who I can go to who will think critically about risks and decisions I am considering, while also knowing my love of risk taking deeply and not deterring me from those career moves. Having a mentor who can hold space for both is hard to find so I am incredibly grateful for her in my life!