Kelly Hager

Take action to implement with urgency. Don’t spend time on things that don’t count. Practical implementation is what is important.


Kelly Hager is the dynamic, visionary CEO of Arras Sisters. After a near-death experience, she built a $55 million business and launched Arras Sisters, a corporation that’s dedicated to creating opportunities for women. Kelly is an international speaker, author, and business consultant and has been a contributor to HuffPost, Success Magazine, CBS, NBC, and Fox.

Kelly credits her near-death experience in 2010 with giving her the clarity to enjoy life, family, her profession, and giving back. Her speaking topics include leadership, creating opportunities for women, gender parity in the workplace, team development, overcoming adversity, and building community.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

In 2010, I had a near-death experience. It left me in a coma, totally vulnerable, and my husband walked in and told me he wanted a divorce. I had to reach into a part of me that I never knew existed before, a courage from deep within. When you are at your lowest, you can stay there, or you can turn it around. That’s what I did. It took three years of hard work to get my physical movement, strength, and energy back.

The idea of Arras Sisters was born from this courage. As a presenter of my story to people across the globe, I also learned about their journeys and their life stories, and I wanted to help them create opportunities for themselves and to create a community of support.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I go to bed early and wake up early. Waking up around 3:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m is my best routine. I look at my schedule, think about the specifics of my day, and download everything to my team.

Reviewing social media early in the morning helps me understand the tone of the people around me. I’m curious, and I enjoy it. I like to see what my friends and family are up to.

I follow my son’s schedule because work-life balance is important to me. Throughout the day, I make adjustments to keep my energy level where it needs to be. My most productive time is from 3:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then I am exhausted. Time to recharge.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Practical enthusiasm, which involves action. I generate ideas that create opportunities for women. Practical enthusiasm means knowing which ideas I should work on now and which I can schedule for later or shelve.

I go through a granular decision-making process to determine why an idea is a good one. For example, we are in the process of planning an Arras Sisters tour. During meetings, the granular decision-making is a process that places all decisions into buckets. In each bucket, decisions have to be made to move things forward.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Woman leaders in the middle. Those women who might not be the so-called superstars but are leaders in their own right, willing to stand up for themselves. The trend is to show corporations and businesses that these are the leaders they really need to start focusing on.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Waking up early and finding consensus on my team. We might not always agree, but we talk through issues.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would give myself a break a bit more. I know a lot of people say that, but they don’t do it. I would stop and celebrate my successes.

For example: After I left the hospital, I found out my real estate company had reached its goal and made $30 million in sales for the first time. I didn’t even stop and celebrate; I immediately thought about how I was going to reach $50 million.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Urgency is key. Either people don’t have the speed to work at what pace I think is needed, or they don’t have the capabilities to do so. So sometimes I become the bad guy. But I know that if we don’t work at peak performance, we will not get there. I only want to surround myself with people who execute.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Visualize and take action. I believe you need to see the dream, the goal. Take action to implement with urgency. Don’t spend time on things that don’t count. Practical implementation is what is important.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Surrounding myself with the right talent. I ask people who has helped them. I find people who are 10 steps ahead of me, like Oprah’s former chief of staff. She spoke at an Arras Sisters conference in late 2018, and she reiterated that finding those motivating individuals will make a difference when times get tough.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I went into business with one of my best friends, but I didn’t understand the boundaries. It took longer to get the business going. There was no bandwidth, and the creative side took longer. The lesson is to really understand boundaries and not go into business with people you love.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Taking the right people to lunch. Find people who you can help and who can help you — personally and professionally. This expands your network in a conversational setting.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We use Trello for project management to help us all stay connected with our top projects, ideas, and next steps.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown. It is a book about having the courage to be vulnerable in a world where people want to appear strong, confident, and as if they know what they’re doing. Being vulnerable is really a strength, not a weakness.

What is your favorite quote?

“I learned that sometimes things do not always go according to plan and course correction is necessary.” — Kelly Hager

Key Learnings:

  • Keep a positive internal talk track.
  • Lay out your plan. It is going to change, so course-correct to meet the market, improve your team, and feel satisfied.
  • Stay the course, but realize unexpected challenges will be a part of your business.
  • Working with varying personalities can be difficult. Building skills by understanding what each person needs is most important.