5 Keys to My Success

by / ⠀Startup Advice / October 14, 2012

The word “success” can be defined in many different ways, largely as a result of unique life experiences; such experiences that affect us in both good and bad ways. Hopefully we learn from the bad ones – despite how challenging – and move forward in search of better, meaningful life experiences. Personally, my experiences have led me in a completely unexpected direction: becoming a business owner and publisher. This phenomenal experience has taken me on a journey of drafting a first chapter, to naming the book, to a cover shoot, all the way to layout designing and distributing my proudest accomplishment.

Successes can be big or small!  It is all in how we measure success. Some of us have to be a little more patient and optimistic because of those experiences we have encountered.  I look at obstacles that I have experienced as “lemons.” When I encounter a “lemon” or a whole bunch of “lemons” I take each of them and turn them into “lemonade!”

Choosing to beat the odds despite having to endure what life has thrown in my direction has been my personal story for nearly twenty-eight years.  Just like many others, I have taken the obstacles in my life and continued to be persistent no matter what it takes to achieve my goals and dreams.  When those are reached, I set the bar even further and push myself even harder (after I stop and reflect on my amazing accomplishments, of course!). Even in times of struggle and near-failure, and believe me, there have been many of those, I remember that’s all part of what makes life interesting and I become even more motivated!

Let me explain myself. I am a person who has a rare genetic disorder, but have never let that stop me from soaring past limits that might hinder me from reaching my dreams and goals.  Even though I am just 3 feet tall, it doesn’t mean my achievements are completely out of reach or different from any other “normal-sized” twenty-eight year old.  Every day I strive to be creative, successful, and inspire others.  Every day I remember anything worth achieving is never easy. Every day I remind myself that attitude is everything.

There are many different types of “success” for each and every one of us, but for me these are the top 5 Keys to My Success! 


I am a very determined person and always have been since I was a young child. I was taught as a child that if I wanted to achieve anything in life it would take hard work and dedication.  I was also taught that nothing will be handed to me because of my health condition.  My parents knew I could be successful if I set my mind to it and worked hard enough for my dreams.  Since my childhood, I persevered through long dance academy rehearsals, despite getting extremely fatigued and out of breath numerous times. I graduated with honors from high school, even though I missed countless days because of hospital stays and long trips to receive medical treatments. After six grueling years, I graduated from college, and even after I was once told being in a wheelchair would inhibit my performance in the workplace, I landed an amazing job. Finally, I wrote a book, despite not knowing the first thing about self-publishing. Those are just a few of the “lemons” I have turned into “lemonade.”  I believe everyone should have determination… without it I know would not be where I am.


The typical communication skill involves openly talking to others to avoid miscommunication and uncomfortable situations. I do not mean communication in this sense.  For me, I use communication as an accountability tool for myself to help me accomplish my goals. I have always communicated them to others out loud, after which the thought in my mind is “Kendra, now it’s out there… you better start working toward it.” Communicating it out loud holds me accountable to those I have told.  The spoken word has always been very important to me such as the phrase goes: “You can talk-the-talk, but can you walk-the-walk?”  I have always felt that people shouldn’t talk-the-talk if they are unable to prove that they know what they are talking about or if they have no intention to do what they say they are going to do.  So in simpler terms…talk is easy, but can you actually follow through with the action in which you are discussing.  I have the mindset that if I talk-the-talk I will walk-the-walk!


There are many people who wish they could reach or accomplish something they have always dreamed of in their life. But to achieve a dream it takes planning and the setting of expectations.  Another parameter I set for myself, that I mentioned prior, was graduating from high school with honors and with a 3.6 G.P.A.  To reach that I worked hard at studying and made up all the homework I missed while at the hospital.  Of course you may have days where you feel like your dream is too big to achieve, but that is when I especially believed that I needed to stick with my expectations that I set for myself.  Nothing worth accomplishing comes easy!

As for me, when writing my book, I knew what size, how many pages (roughly), how many chapters, the timeframe, and that I would self-publish.  I gave myself deadlines while writing my book so that I did not procrastinate or make excuses to avoid this challenge.  As I got closer to finishing writing my book, the process evolved into the need for my own business in order to promote and distribute the book.  This involved deciding whether to become a Sole Proprietorship or Limited Liability Company, getting a license number and taxpayer ID, and registering the necessary information at the county courthouse.


Having a support system and network in place is essential. My support system included all of my amazing friends and family members who have helped me along the way.  When I refer to support network I am referring to those incredible individuals who have given me help with their guidance, sharing their business expertise and insights from their experiences.  My parents, extended family, and friends have done a lot for me throughout the process of growing up and haven’t stopped as I’ve entered adulthood.  Without their conditional support and love I know that many of the goals that I have accomplished would have been much more difficult to achieve.  My family and friends mean the world to me!

As for the support network I have been able to surround myself with as a business woman, I have gained an unbelievable amount of knowledge from these individuals.  Whenever I encounter difficulty I call upon them for their insight as to what they might do.  What has been amazing is at times if they feel they aren’t able to assist me they have known someone who could give me help with guidance and business understanding.  I have learned that when I approach an issue in which I have not yet encountered, there are always wonderful people to reach out to that are willing to help me.  For that I am so grateful!


As a Christian I have an extremely strong belief in God’s plan for each and every one of us!  He created us all with a purpose no matter if the purpose is big or small.  Some of us may already know why we are here and some of us my not. But believe me…there is a reason we are here.  I trust that I was created to help others see that no matter how many “lemons” life throws at you in your life it is still possible to achieve greatness no matter what!  Obstacles happen for a reason, but it is our reaction to the challenges and the attitude we chose that determine our successes or failures.

When I was diagnosed with MPS Type VI my parents and I knew no one that we could share experiences and worries with.  But now as an adult who has lived my whole life with it I can now be a resource for families in need of hope and advice.  God’s plan is not always visible for us to see. We have to trust as it slowly materializes throughout our lives.  For example, I wanted to write a book… which then turned into a business… and now I receive messages from people, whether they have a disability/health condition or not, telling me “thank you” for sharing my story of hope, inspiration, and positive attitude with others!

Never forget: if you can dream it…you can achieve it!!!

Kendra Gottsleben has distinguished her life with a positive outlook and success in overcoming obstacles determined to not be defined by MPS – the rare genetic condition with which she was born.  She is the founder of Ken Imagine and author of Live Laugh Lemonade: A Journey of Choosing to Beat the OddsFollow her on Twitter @Kegottsleben

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.