Kelly Motley

Author of “The Fight for My Life”

Kelly Motley is the author of The Fight for My Life: Boxing Through Chemo, which chronicles how boxing helped her to navigate a breast cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy. Kelly’s been interviewed on TV and her guest appearance on the biggest podcast in the boxing industry garnered more than 50K views. Parnassus, one of the most celebrated Indie bookstores in America, hosted an in-person conversation event with Kelly about her book.

The Fight for My Life received praise from bestselling authors such as Rebecca Wells the author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. One of the world’s biggest Christian authors Stormie Omartian said,“Kelly Motley’s book is about spiritual hope and power and courageously getting into the ring when facing your worst enemy. In her case it is a formidable cancer opponent. This is one of the best written books I have read and there is an important lesson for everyone who reads it. She does not gloss over her raw feelings or her struggles as she has to deal with each new stage, disappointment, and complication. She faced her worst fears head on – including near death – and came out the other side stronger than ever. Whenever I have to face my worst fear or greatest enemy, I intend to read this book again to remind me how to do it.”

Kelly owned her own public relations and brand marketing company, working with publicly traded companies, CEOs and entrepreneurs in Nashville’s $92 billion healthcare industry. She landed stories America’s top news sources. She and her husband of almost 30 years live in Nashville and they have two sons, a new daughter-in-law, a German Shepard named Chloe (who was written about in The WSJ) and chickens.

Where did the idea for your book come from?

I was feeling stuck in my life despite having a successful PR business and a wonderful family. One day I just wanted to hit something (we’ve all been there) so I did – I found a boxing class. I loved boxing so much I hired a super middle weight professional boxer and former Olympic boxing coach. The principles I learned about boxing became life savers when I faced my most difficult fight – breast cancer. “The Fight for My Life” lays out those principles. I wrote the book I wished I could have read when I was diagnosed but it didn’t exist then.

My Story is about developing a stronger mind, body and soul for facing your worst enemy. And so I wanted to write the book I wished I would have had read when I got diagnosed, but didn’t exist then. I wrote this book as a sincere desire to help people when facing their worst enemy.

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

I always start off each morning with meditation and prayer for guidance and how to prosper. I treat my day like a professional boxing match or a sports event—approach is everything. I then stretch on my yoga wheel which improves my athletic performance, improves flexibility and opens my heart and mind. I take a morning Pure Barre class (since 2009) that cranks up my metabolism and builds lean muscle. A few days a week I go to different neighborhood boxing gyms to box or practice Jeet Kune Do. Some activities include shadowboxing, speed bag, hitting the mitts and strength training.

Writing, media outreach and work in my home

Riding my Greg LeMond “Pink Cadillac” bike around Nashville’s largest urban park Percy Warner Park

Real time with my family, dog Chloe and chickens

Balance, movement in my day makes me more productive. Going to different neighborhoods—seeing different people from all walks of life keeps me thinking “out of the box.”

How do you bring ideas to life?

Through prayer to find a higher power, physical movement (boxing training) with a focus on breath and then connecting later in the day to people through story and conversation. I’m a big connector and know how to find and reach out to people. I often times initiate big ideas with boxing coaches and trainers and then bring them to life later in the day. Executing with confidence is critical.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Tapping to access my body’s energy to send signals of the brain to live the kind of life I want to live. I experience successful results each day from tapping to bring my energy up.

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

I pray for guidance each day. Approach is critical to everything you do in life. This prayer formula of belief and practice helps me to achieve victories throughout my day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Here’s what I talk about in my book: In life there are circumstances we can’t see coming—circumstances we would never voluntarily choose. When you are blindsided with a breast cancer diagnosis it’s not going to be a comfortable road—your mind, body and spirit needs to be sharp like a sword for the battle. One of my coaches always says, “Your purpose is greater than your circumstance.”

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

Physically and mentally lean into those things, situations and threats that we fear the most in life. What happens with you lean away? When slipping or rolling to avoid a punch, you have to physically lean forward into your opponent or the threatening situation and not away, making you well-grounded and better positioned to follow up. Leaning away affects your balance, keeps you in the line of fire and puts you in an even worse situation.

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

Do things that petrify you. Get into a boxing ring and hit the mitts, shadow box, or hit a speed bag.

The link between boxing and the mind and body empowers me to shift my mindset and completely alter any experience. Instead of catastrophic thinking, I start viewing an unexpected circumstance as management/do-able/achievable and acknowledging my body as capable and resilient.

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

Don’t end your day with failure. I will stay focused on persisting until I succeed. Each new opportunity is like a test, a process to reach a goal, with one step at a time. It’s often about taking small, repeated steps. Each small obstacle can be viewed as a small detour.

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

I lost a major contract with a publicly traded company after three solid years of helping the company grow its brand and build its reputation with investors. I had just landed the company 3 incredible stories in the WSJ in the same day! I started to master my emotions around the loss and started to laugh more and not fall into the trap of the mind with the thought that, “This too shall pass.”

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

My 18-year old son just started his own business—it’s around how to beautify and cover up all the ugly, unsightly garbage cans around the city of Nashville with wooden storage bins.

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

On boxing lessons with an Olympic boxing coach. I would use principles I learned inside the ring to help me to climb out of a hopeless, desperate situation,…where the opponent I’d be facing, moves and tries to dictate the pace of the fight.

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

Canva and Black Hat Accelerator for promotions and communications to grow my brand.

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

My book, The Fight for My Life: Boxing Through Chemo that was released in the fall of 2021.

We are all blindsided at some point, by an unexpected circumstance and have to face our worst enemy. It might be divorce, financial struggles, the sudden loss of a career.

We are all beset by the same internal conflicts, for some it might be self-doubt, feeling dismissed, not recognized, worry or fear.

I understand firsthand how an unexpected circumstance can take a toll on someone. I was blindsided by a cancer diagnosis and pushed to the brink where my life felt threatened by defeat. Ultimately, I was dragged into a fight I wasn’t prepared for.

But instead of shrinking and surrendering to my situation, I put together a plan and approach to continue my business and keep a strong mental and physical wellbeing.

And so I wanted to write the book I wished I would have had read when I got diagnosed, but didn’t exist then.

What is your favorite quote?

“Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin, which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity. Today I am born anew…”

-Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In The World

Key Learnings:

  • Boxing like entrepreneurship or cancer tests a person’s will and courage. So much of boxing is a mindset. Growing a business is a mindset. Healing is a mindset. Boxing became my remedy, to uphold and guide me to make the right decisions, something to turn to for a higher help when growing my business, dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. Boxing taught me there’s tremendous satisfaction derived from recognizing you can discipline yourself, to take your mind and your body from point A to point B.
  • Just like in boxing, I knew the better conditioned fighter has an advantage. I would need to move and dictate the pace of the fight. The techniques I used were tested in the laboratory of life.