Kari Enge is founder and editor in chief for Rank & File, a company focused on fostering a community of purposeful entrepreneurs and business owners who aim to create change. Rank & File uses digital magazines and podcasts to offer practical tools and business advice for those who would like to do impactful work and service others. We at Psych2Go believe in Rank & File’s philosophies; we understand that our content can do good, as we aim to nurture a more informed community. Therefore, we are excited to share with you this interview with Kari, to learn more about her, the history of Rank & File, and using entrepreneurship to do good.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself! What are some things that interest you? How would you describe yourself in three words?
Sure! I’m Kari, I am an American that grew up in the South – I love fresh air, southern hospitality, cornbread and honey, and hangin’ out by the lake. A little adventure around the world a few years back (long story) made me cross paths with a Norwegian guy named Thomas. We fell in love, so now I call Oslo, Norway home. Currently, I’m attempting to learn: new vowel sounds (this language is hard!), multi-traffic lane roundabouts, and cross country skiing (#fail). Despite all of these little nuances with life in Scandinavia – I enjoying every minute of it!
I heard on your podcast that your previous job included a lot of traveling. Where is your favorite place you have traveled to (for a personal vacation or work)? Why?
Yup, my twenties were defined by travel. I traveled to over 40 countries and worked with people of more than 40 different nationalities in my past corporate career! It really changed how I view the world and life in general! For me every culture is special in its own unique ways – that’s what makes our world so amazing. My favorite places are the ones where I got to really spend enough time there and immerse in the life of its people – so Japan is probably up there on my list. After spending about 2 months transversing the country, I absolutely fell in love!
What is Rank & File? What does the name of the company refer to? What is its goal?
Rank & File is a digital magazine for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to create a meaningful company that fits with their ideal lifestyle, supports them financially and makes a difference in the world at the same time.
It’s a publication about people, not pedestals. The quarterly digital publication features fellow social entrepreneurs, changemakers and thought leaders, full of passion and vulnerability. And each and every article shares authentic advice from experience, how-to’s, lessons learned and practical steps on how to start, run and lead a successful social impact-driven business.
The name was actually inspired by my past corporate life. I was so sick and tired of the politics, of the hierarchy, of all the hoopla… for no apparent reason at all. I was ready to do business differently! The term Rank & File is actually an old military term that means “ the enlisted personnel or lower ranks of a troop” and now it’s often used to mean “the ordinary members of an organization or society.”
I love this term because it shows that EVERYONE no matter who they are, or how ‘good enough’ they feel, or where they lie on the corporate ladder – is capable of making a difference in our world, going after the life they want, and seeing amazing impact because of it!
How did Rank & File come to be? What inspired you to create it?
During my travels around the world for work, I met many small businesses in tiny little places doing AMAZING things for the world. I was so inspired by their creativity, their passion and their impact, that I really started to think for myself: how can I remove myself from the sterile, purposeless corporate world and make a difference too?
I was burning out in corporate America, feeling disconnected from myself, my values, and what was really important to me. And I was looking for more. To do things my way. To set my own schedule. To have more time for creative outlets, deeper relationships and authentic travel.
I really wanted a life of meaning. To serve others. To do impactful work. To close out each day pulsing with gratitude and feeling like I’d made a difference.
So, I finally got up enough courage to ditch the corporate world and become the architect of my own life – designing a new legacy I could be proud of as a purpose-driven entrepreneur.
When I was learning about social entrepreneurship in my early days, I was binge consuming all sorts of content (don’t we all!) and noticed that all the magazines were following the same styles of the big “get rich fast” and “look uber successful” publications like Entrepreneur, Forbes and Fast Company…. These magazines didn’t feel authentic, human or ultimately helpful in figuring anything out. There were just crammed full of fluffy corporate spotlights, advertisements and surface level advice. So I started Rank & File to be a vulnerable, real, human conversation on what purpose-driven entrepreneurship is all about.
Who is Rank & FIle for?
Rank & File is for the dreamer, who wants to do more with their life. For the changemaker, who genuinely cares about people and our planet. And for the risk-taker, who wants to break away to make a difference in the world by running a business of their own.
How has your previous experiences and lessons prepared you to manage your company?
My time in corporate America taught me SO much about business and leadership. Without that bittersweet experience, I would not be the person that I am today. I learned how to create an amazing customer experience, how to collaborate through partnerships, how to manage projects and more. I also learned A LOT by trial and error in my own business – learning how to share a compelling story that connects with my audience and how to authentically sell my products and services. I will say this – it’s a journey! No one is perfect, so I always tell entrepreneurs to seek out help from experienced mentors to help them navigate through.
What is the most memorable advice someone has given you and how have you implemented it in your life?
Oh gosh, this is hard! I’m a serial thinker, creator and inspiration seeker, so I am constantly talking to entrepreneurs and mentors to feature them in Rank & File Magazine.
There have been so many ‘aha’ moments that have come from these conversations. But recently, a really amazing thing someone shared with me was that: “Entrepreneurs don’t make things, they make things happen.”
So many entrepreneurs (including me sometimes) just get hyper-focused on an area of their business (normally the one they feel most comfortable in) and don’t take a step back to see how the whole machine is working together. It’s better to get out of the weeds, out of our heads, out of our insecurities and go make that process work, close that sale and change some lives!
Who was the most interesting person you have interviewed or the person whose interview has impacted you the most?
Again, they are all so interesting and impactful in their own ways. Simon Sinek was an amazing conversation (of course). Speaking to a legend was an ultimate honor for me and he had many great insights into being a purpose-driven leader. Most recently, I was really surprised by my conversation with Claire Diaz-Ortiz who a genius when it comes to goal-setting for purpose-driven entrepreneurs. She helped me totally revolutionize my goal-setting process just in our short conversation. I moved from annual goals to quarterly goals and from nitty-gritty details to overarching guidepost words that help me stay focused on my big vision – it has been game-changing!
Starting your own company comes with a lot of unexpected territory. When you were first starting your business what were your expectations? Have you reached or exceeded them? Or have they changed over time?
“Unexpected territory” is a great way to put it. The journey of entrepreneurship is a roller-coaster and we never, ever arrive at THE destination. We are constantly shifting and moving and reaching for that next goal. Before I actually quit my job and started my company, I thought it would be more of a “set-up shop and let it run” sort of operation (like many podcasts try and sell you), but the reality is, is that it’s a constant work-in-progress. And even though I have reached my financial goals, there is always more to learn, more impact to achieve, and more personal life-fulfillment to balance in.
That is why I love Rank & File magazine because it really helps entrepreneurs to get that authentic inspiration and advice to get them through the ongoing journey.
Where would you like to see yourself and Rank & File in five years?
I have learned so so much building my own company that I want to continue passing along this knowledge and wisdom to other entrepreneurs who are starting out. So, in addition to growing the reach and impact of Rank & File magazine, I am working on a supportive program now to help purpose-driven entrepreneurs (not make any of the mistakes I made and) reach their goals faster and with more ease!
Do you have any advice you could share with our readers?
My last piece of advice is to GET CLARITY.
I meet so many entrepreneurs who think they understand their audience, their offer, the value they bring, and the strategy of sharing that in a way that ultimately leads to paying customers – but most of them don’t. I was one of these such entrepreneurs!
My number one piece of advice is to spend time on the core foundations and to get help figuring that out from a mentor who will make sure you haven’t left anything out. Spend your money there – don’t start social media, buying an expensive logo or brand identity package, purchasing inventory or doing ad-campaigns until you 100% know these core things!
Thank you so much, Kari, for answering our questions! It was a pleasure to learn more about your history and passion for social entrepreneurship. As many of our readers are young and motivated people, beginning their professional careers, we believe many people can connect with the frustrations of corporate culture and desires for being a part of purposeful change. There are a lot of great points brought up in the interview which can be used as seeds for further reflection and self-improvement in the workforce.
Be sure to check out Rank & File’s website for more information!: https://rankandfilemag.com/