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Business

Strategic Samurai Empowers Clients to Break Through Personal, Professional Barriers

Kymberlee Weil takes her love of martial arts and kicks it up a notch, with seminars to help business professionals visualize success

“To know and to act are one and the same,” according to an ancient Samurai proverb.

While the concept may seem counterintuitive to many people, Kymberlee Weil, local entrepreneur and founder of Strategic Samurai, is using this philosophy of visualization and self-actualization to help people make major breakthroughs — both figuratively and literally — in their personal and professional lives.

Strategic Samurai involves a unique business platform that allows Weil, through group seminars as well as the occasional one-on-one session, to blend her proven business acumen with her extensive martial arts training to guide people through the process of identifying specific life obstacles, and then overcoming and breaking through those obstacles.

Near the conclusion of every seminar, each participant takes a dramatic leap to the physical world from the metaphorical world by actually breaking a ¾-inch-thick rough-cut piece of wood with their bare hands. To further personalize these symbolic breakthroughs, Weil has the participants write their obstacles on the wood just before breaking them in half.

Weil said the response she has received from the breakthroughs has been both surprising and life-altering — and not just for the participants.

“In the moment that the wood breaks, it is really life-changing,” she said. “People have told me over and over — and I’ve experienced it — but to have them come and tell me how it has changed their life, how they were stuck at a certain point in their career or in their relationship, and how breaking the wood was so symbolic, and it showed them how powerful they truly were — it brings people to a higher level, and that part is completely transformational for me as well.”

The 19-year veteran of numerous martial arts disciplines is no stranger to breaking through barriers of her own. A lifelong athlete, Weil was given a full-ride scholarship to the University of Hawaii as a star softball player, where she did the Rainbows proud by pitching her way to Scholar Athlete of the Year honors during her senior year. She was also named NCAA Woman of the Year in 1994. After graduating with a degree in health and exercise science, she earned a master’s degree in business administration from Pepperdine University, during which time she became fascinated with the world of computers and authored two very influential books on flash technology.

In early 2003, Weil became co-founder and president of the hugely successful service through software company introNetworks, along with business partner and CEO Mark Sylvester. Since then, the innovative duo have been on the vanguard of the social networking landscape, creating customized online communities for business professionals.

However, perhaps her most influential and long-standing passion is her love of the martial arts. Since 1991, Weil has trained extensively in a variety of styles ranging from kali, jeet kun do, muay thai, escrima and traditional Japanese sword fighting. She also has earned a third-degree black belt in the Korean martial art of dynamic circle hapkido, which is often translated as “the way of coordinating energy.”

Weil’s journey to launching Strategic Samurai in order to help others learn how to coordinate their own energy began a few years ago, when she attended a Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference, something she said she has had the privilege of doing for the past eight years. When Chris Anderson, curator of the TED Conference, extended an invitation to the attendees to submit a proposal concerning a topic they would potentially like to speak about, Weil decided to submit a topic of her own — titled “Mind Over Wood.”

Weil said her selection to be one of the presenters at TED was a great honor, but it didn’t come without its share of nervous energy.

“All of a sudden, after Chris told me my topic had been selected, I was signed up to do not one, not two, but three different classes in one day — so it was kind of like, be careful what you wish for,” she said. “I had done board-breaking seminars for martial artists before, so I had experience with that, but I had never done it for business people.”

Weil said that at first, most of the people who attended her classes assumed that it would merely be a demonstration, but they soon found that they were in for a far more “hands-on” experience. And, as anyone familiar with TED can tell you, many of the attendees aren’t your average business people. The high profiles of some of her “students” that day would be enough to give anyone a bit of pause when asking them to put their bare hands through a solid piece of wood.

“Out of respect, I can’t name specific names, but the people who were in my classes were just some of the most well-known CEOs and thought-leaders in the world, and they actually experienced board-breaking for the very first time, without any prior martial arts training,” Weil said. “At the end of the day, every single one of the people who went through all three classes broke their boards — men, women, everybody.”

The TED experience had such a profound effect on Weil that she decided to start a business based entirely around the concept of breaking through all manner of personal obstacles. Thus, Strategic Samurai was born. Today, she has built a team of assistants — all second-degree black belts and above — to help her with the presentation of her seminars, which range in size from 20-person executive retreats to a 200-woman seminar she recently held in Miami.

Weil said the basic tenets of visualization that allow for a 100-pound woman to break a ¾-inch-thick wood plank are the same ones that people can apply on a daily basis to every aspect of their lives.

“One of my favorite quotes is from a 16th-century Samurai general named Kenshin Uesugi, who said, ‘Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory and you will come home with no wounds whatsoever,’” she said. “What it means is that you have to visualize success. One of the tricks of board-breaking is focusing beyond the wood — it is one of the most important lessons. Because if you focus on the wood, you’ll stop at the wood and get hurt. It’s just like when you’re setting a goal in life, you need to focus beyond the goal, to visualize how your life will be different once you achieve that goal.”

The word Samurai evolved from the word saburai, which itself is rooted in the verb saburau, meaning “to serve.” It seems apropos then for Weil to have chosen the moniker of Strategic Samurai, as she insists that through all her personal success, the thing that gives her the greatest satisfaction professionally is being able to serve others in their own journeys to find their higher selves. While she has had the opportunity to give seminars all across the country, including a business trip just a few months ago to the Big Island of Hawaii, she says she would love to be able to see more people make breakthroughs right here in Santa Barbara.

“I would love to work with some companies locally. That would be a real treat — I think both for me and for them,” she said. “I try not to make it about me. It’s about them, and the amazing things that they can do in their lives. I am simply facilitating.”

On the homepage of her newly revamped Web site, Weil has a section that poses the open-ended phrase, “Success is ...,” and she invites all visitors to add their own definition of success in her ongoing effort to increase her personal knowledge concerning the roots and causes of success.

With all that the tenacious yet humble young entrepreneur has achieved — and continues to achieve — in her life, it would appear that success is ... being Kymberlee Weil.

Noozhawk contributor Kevin McFadden can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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