Kalyn is the founder and Chief Travel Officer of The Citrine Compass, a boutique travel advisory group that helps busy, sophisticated world explorers create curated and authentic travel experiences. Her business has “Tastemakers” all over the globe that provide travelers with hyper-current and personalized travel recommendations through consultations and custom itineraries . Her mission is to help busy professionals travel better with less research.
Kalyn spent 13 years in executive recruiting in the fashion and financial services industries before making The Citrine Compass, her passion and side hustle, her full-time venture in late 2022. She resides in Los Angeles with her amazing husband and gorgeous baby girl.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
Honestly every day is different in the life of a bootstrapped founder but if I had to sum up a typical day, it starts with a 5am wake-up to read and journal and then a Peloton ride before my daughter wakes up so I can spend time with her in the morning. Once my work day kicks off, I am sourcing, meeting or on-boarding Tastemakers around the globe, designing guides and curated itineraries for clients, working on social media content creation, writing blog posts (or updating old ones for SEO purposes), working on e-mail newsletters and personally meeting with clients. I also try to leave some space for networking (often with fellow members of Dreamers & Doers, an entrepreneurial network for female business leaders) or teasing out the “big ideas” I have brewing for the business.
Because there are so many competing priorities and opportunities in the business, I have to be very focused with my time and energy to make the day productive. In my morning journaling, I typically choose two or three priorities for the day that I want to get done, even if my day goes astray. Then I build out my calendar with every little thing I want to do that day including when to respond to emails, do personal tasks, conduct client follow-up, etc. That is the best and easiest way I have found to make the day productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
At the ideation phase, I am a big fan of handwriting my thoughts just to see where my creativity take me. Once I have something crystallized, it goes on my Evernote (which is essentially my digital business journal) so I can adjust and refine the idea with time. I will then usually seek outside feedback, either from my husband (who is a self-made entrepreneur and the absolute best at lensing out and seeing the big picture), my Dreamers & Doers community, my team of Tastemakers, or someone else that has a vested interest in what we are building at The Citrine Compass.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It has to be Web3. There are so many exciting aspects of it, whether that be empowering content creators to really own and capitalize on good content or the advances of AI with things like ChatGPT and Auto-GPT. There are a LOT of exciting things happening in Web3 right now and I’m considering dipping my toe in it with The CC…we will see!
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
Building out and then sticking to my calendar is the number one thing that helps me be productive. Working out early also helps my productivity as it gets my mind right and my energy up to tackle the day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My husband is a financial advisor so I think I would tell my younger self to save and invest as much money as humanly possible as it will have the longest amount of time to appreciate.
On a more personal note, I would tell my younger self that everything that happens to us is preparing us for something else – we don’t always understand it but every challenging, heartbreaking or upsetting situation is going to help us or prepare us for something down the line. I believe that now but think I would have saved my younger self a lot of pain and anxiety by believing it then!
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
The Bachelor/Bachelorette is the best television show in history. I am embarrassed to admit this as I consider myself an intellectual – I love to read deep, moving books and watch offbeat and thought-provoking films but I watch every season of The Bachelor/ette and will continue watching as long as ABC airs it.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
I work out every day. I almost never take a day off completely; my “off days” are spent doing reformer pilates or taking a power walk in the hills of my neighborhood. Reading and meditating can help shift my outlook but there is nothing that transforms my mood like physical exercise. I’m a better leader, entrepreneur, wife, mom and friend because of it!
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
If I’m really feeling low or off for some reason, I’ll stop everything to do a 5- or 10-minute guided meditation. It’s my quick fix to starting afresh and I can do it pretty much anytime I can find a private space.
Also, I can’t preach enough about building out the day’s calendar first thing in the morning. It’s how I hold myself accountable and realize when I’m taking too long on a certain task, procrastinating or getting off course from my day’s objectives.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
My uncle has been very successful in business and when I was in the early stages of building my business plan for The Citrine Compass and shared my idea with him he said, “If everyone acted on their million dollar ideas, we would have a lot more millionaires out in the world.”
The spirit of this can be found in so many sayings and theories. If you don’t take action, nothing will happen! When I was first launching my business, taking action felt like I was pushing a boulder uphill. Things like finding clarity on pricing and offerings, brand messaging, building a website, starting my social media presence from scratch, all felt completely overwhelming. But I kept telling myself that some action today was better than perfection tomorrow. I continue to tell myself every day, even when it’s messy and frustrating (especially when it’s messy and frustrating), that I just have to take SOME action and the rest usually flows.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
With The Citrine Compass, I am trying, failing and pivoting on the daily to see what works for our team and for our clients. The business is still a series of market tests and pivots as the business is in its infancy.
In my fashion recruitment agency days, I think the biggest career failure I had was leaving my agency without a lot of notice. I don’t think they were surprised that I was leaving and I was leaving on good terms but it’s something I regret. I was worried about the exec team not accepting two weeks’ notice and missing out on that pay and I ended up putting them in a tough position as I was leading a large team and had a lot of client relationships to hand over.
My lesson learned was that you need to be good to the people who have been good to you, even if you have to be vulnerable and trusting to do that.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start a home cleaning company. I know of two individuals who run their own cleaning company and one makes $1.2M annually and the other makes $2M annually and we’re talking NET INCOME, people! Finding talent is the difficult part but if you manage the team and services well and can market yourself, I think it’s a solid business idea.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I am obsessed with Calendly. I use it for any and all meetings that I have on the business front and my Tastemakers use it when scheduling consultations with travelers. It completely eliminates the back and forth emails we have to endure when trying to pin down a meeting time.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Professionally – I ran a giveaway on my Instagram with AWAY travel packing cubes as a prize and bought the cubes for the winner myself. I got a lot of engagement and interest on social and people thought that AWAY sponsored the post, which was cool from a brand alignment perspective.
Personally – I am never mad when I spend money on wine. The best $100 I spent was on wine from Cafayate in the Salta region of Argentina (Mendoza’s chiller little sister). I bought 6 bottles and brought them home in my suitcase. We stayed at a wine hotel called Patio de Cafayates and our favorite wines end up being the ones produced on the property under the label El Esteco. We already drank the bottles of garnacha (dark ruby red rosé, just a hair shy of a light red) and torrontes (a crisp white) and I am legitimately sad they’re gone from the wine fridge.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
I am obsessed with the podcast Female Startup Club – I get so inspired hearing other female founders tell their story and it’s a reminder that every great business started with an idea.
I’ve read a lot of great personal development books. I’m currently reading Traction by Gino Wickman and am enjoying it but I think the crown goes to Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. She provides a tool in the book to use when you are feeling really strong reactions to something. You take out the trusty journal and answer the prompt, “The story I’m telling myself is…”. It has helped me learn how to diffuse things quickly personally and professionally instead of assuming someone’s intention.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
I just (re)watched the movie A Bigger Splash and ate it up – the cast and acting is incredible and the island where it is shot (Formentera, Spain) is on my list of islands to visit before I die!
- Take action every single day and don’t wait for things to be “perfect” – if a finished product is 80% of what you consider perfect, it’s probably good enough.
- Be yourself. One of the joys of being an entrepreneur is you don’t have to be a reflection of someone else’s brand, be authentic and have fun with it.
- If your business efforts continue to try and serve the people who need your product or service, you can’t go wrong.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.