Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristine Oller.
Kristine, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Although I was born in L.A., I think I had the only set of parents not involved in the entertainment industry, so I grew up only dreaming of being an actor. (Oh I begged – and, for many years, I put “an agent” at the top of my Christmas list – but my parents were not at all interested in spending their time schlepping me around to auditions. So no child acting for me. Probably for the best.)
I chose to attend (sight-unseen) Linfield College, a small, wonderful, liberal arts school in Oregon (mostly because I wanted to experience things like “weather” and “seasons”), and then I returned to L.A. to start figuring out how to get work as an actor. Fortunately, I did finally figure it out, having enough success to qualify for health insurance throughout my twenties (a genuinely weird yet valid measurement of success in this industry).
My husband and I were college sweethearts (we’re now celebrating 30 years together) and when we moved into our first L.A. apartment, all we had was a card table and two folding chairs (all borrowed). We couldn’t afford a couch and a bed so we bought a sofa-bed and slept on that for a year or two until the springs got un-sprung. (And then we slept on the sofa-bed’s mattress on the floor. Then we got a real mattress. Then, eventually, we got a frame for that mattress. Movin’ on up!) Ours was a one-bedroom apartment but the sofa-bed (and, later, the sofa and the bed) were in the living room. (Oh yes, lots of teasing from friends about this!) But we made the “bedroom” room into our office because we knew it was the work we’d do in our office that would eventually get us into a bigger, better home. And, a couple of years later, that’s what happened. And, some years later, we made it happen again. Overall, we were happy, hopeful, sometimes doubtful, but always consistently striving towards creating the texture of the world that we desired.
During this chapter of my life, I started leading monthly Power Groups for The Actor’s Network. These were groups of 30 actors who met for 2 hours each month to review their victories, discuss their issues and plan their next action steps. This was where I put in my “10,000 hours,” learning how to listen, discern, and coach. I discovered that I am passionate about facilitating groups, so much so that I have been leading multiple ongoing mastermind groups for creative professionals every single month for the last eighteen consecutive years.
I am not a gal who was born to work in a cube. (Who is, really?) I’ve always had an independent, enterprising streak. I’ve never had a “regular” 40-hour a week job, and I’ve never worked any part-time job for more than three years. My pattern was: get a job, organize everything, get bored, get restless, get another job to help pay the bills as I pursued acting.
In the middle of my performing years, I discovered “professional organizing.” This was pre-Google(!) and, I happened upon a one-page profile in a magazine of a man who made his living organizing executive’s desks. I knew I was a natural organizer (as a teenager, a fun Saturday for me was forcing my sister to let me tidy her room – occasions that she remembers far less fun for her) and I figured if one other person was doing that sort of thing, I could do it too. So, right after reading that article, I printed up little purple business cards and the next day started telling people about my new biz: Personalized Organization. From the moment I started, I was earning three times more per hour than at any of my previous support jobs and my fellow actors started asking me to help them start side hustles of their own.
I fell in love with both the organizing profession and the autonomy of being able to set my own hours and give myself raises. In my early 30’s, after a semi-torturous, eighteen-month-long deliberation, I decided to take a hiatus from acting to see what would happen if I focused on my organizing biz full-time. The business exploded – in a good way – and I never looked back. Eventually, I had two associate organizers working for me.
As more of my organizing clients started asking me to organize their minds, my evolution into a “change strategist” began. After seventeen years of transforming homes and offices, I retired from organizing and shifted my focus to strategic coaching.
The biggest gift acting and organizing gave me was a deep understanding of the unusual and demanding dynamics of dealing with the unpredictable schedule, sporadic work hours, and unexpected fluctuations in income that come with a creative, entrepreneurial life. I know first hand about following one’s dream – and about choosing which dream to follow. Very early on in my life, I decided that, above all else, I was going to follow my inner guidance and bet on myself. After almost five decades here on Earth, I can say with confidence that that was one of the smartest decisions I ever made.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like many people, I an on intimate terms with expansion and contraction.
While I am naturally oriented towards growth, and while I am devoted to helping people expand their lives in a wide variety of ways, I am also a witness to what it looks and feels like when a life diminishes – slowly, uncontrollably, and incurably. And I know firsthand the struggle of coming to terms with the impact that unexpected sacrifices and tough decisions have had on the plans I made and the expectations I held for my own life and career.
My witty, powerhouse of a sister is five years younger than me. We are very different people, yet we are equally gifted in terms of intelligence, talent, industriousness, and kindness. Her health, however, has been declining steadily, substantially, and very, very painfully over the past twenty years. For seven of those most recent years, she lived with me and my husband, and I still provide hands-on caregiving and companionship because her entire group of friends have now faded out of her life. (Health Tip #406: Don’t become disabled when you’re in your early 30’s.)
To say these circumstances are deeply challenging and heartbreaking would be an understatement… but, oh, I’ve learned a great deal. This experience with my (only) sibling has given me a visceral understanding that life is as wonderful and malleable as it is unpredictable and fragile. My belief in an attraction to our ability, as humans, to expand, create, and achieve is balanced with the knowledge of how to identify, handle, and surrender to what is and is not within our control.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I have one of the best occupations in the world. As a result of freelancing throughout the past twenty years, I get to choose all of the folks I work with – from clients to vendors – which means that I only interact with kind, talented, proactive, good-humored creative professionals, people who bring a great deal of joy and stimulation into my life and livelihood.
As a seasoned Change Strategist, my workdays currently consist of deep conversations with dynamic people as I mentor and coach them through the process of change – whether those changes are self-directed or unexpected. In private sessions, masterminds, and intimate group coaching programs, I help my clients untangle the complexity of their current personal and professional circumstances, find and plug their mental energy leaks, and design clear and effective plans of inner and outer action as they expand into the next chapter of their life and/or career. Some of my clients are top-notch experts (Oscar nominees, published authors, international speakers, TEDx speakers) and some are still gaining momentum, but they all intelligent souls who understand how valuable getting next-level guidance and support can be.
Also, since starting my own successful side hustle way back when, I have taught hundreds of performers and artists how to develop lean, low-cost, profitable streams of supplemental income to fund (but not overwhelm) their creative pursuits. I finally took the time to write down and record all of my very best advice on this subject and created the Cashflow for Creatives audio course. This course is tailored specifically to the unique life and needs of performers and other artists, and it goes above-and-beyond because it includes several weeks of direct access to me for help applying the information and getting a little biz up and running (and making it as profitable as possible). My podcast, Cashflow For Creatives, delivers additional inspiration and coaching on this subject to listeners all over the world.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Nothing of significance is ever achieved alone.
Were I to list all of the mentors, teachers, coaches, authors, advisors, and colleagues who have contributed (and still do) to my success, the scroll of names would go on for quite some time. Then there are the loved ones in my life who prove a safe and soft space to collapse into when my spirit feels less than steady. Add to that the assistants, stylists, videographers, photographers, and other gifted individuals who sprinkle generous heaps of fairy dust on me on a regular basis. And my clients and friends who keep my skills sharp. There are also folks I’ll never even get to know (or know about)… the ones who pass my info along to someone else, or who silently wish me well after they watch one of my Golden Nugget videos.
From the start, I was fortunate regarding where I was born, who I was born to, who I was born as, how I am naturally wired, and the timing of it all. While I strive to always make the most of what I got, I acknowledge that I certainly got a lot.
- Website: KristineOller.com + CashflowForCreatives.com + TheActorsLibrary.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kristineoller/
- Other: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cashflow-for-creatives/id1378082508
Wyoh Lee + Rachel Stander