Kaci Lambe Kai and the Books That Inspired Her to Become an Author

Kaci Lambe Kai is a writer and photographer, with years of experience working as a web & UX designer.

In 2016, Kaci started living a digital nomad’s life. She sold everything she owned, and began traveling around the world. In the meantime, she produced creative work that illustrated what she was experiencing.

Prior to this, Kaci worked as a web designer and product owner for Whole Foods Market.

Kaci’s also an altMBA coach – the attached photo is from an altMBA alumni meet-up held last autumn in Texas, where Kaci is now based. For those of you who aren’t familiar: altMBA is Seth Godin‘s intensive online workshop designed for high-performing individuals who want to level up and lead.

In her free time, she practices martial arts, with a focus on Krav Maga.

Find out what books she considers critical for leaders, the ones that were pivotal for her as a creative and an entrepreneur, and whose words helped as she prepares to release her own poetry into the world.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 12 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business:
I immediately thought of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It was pivotal for me as an artist, a creative, and an entrepreneur, but it’s not just for artists. It’s a book about fear and how we limit ourselves. This book helped me unlock my Resistance to perceived risk in business and in my career in a way nothing else had.

Non-business:
The Broken Wings by Kahlil Gibran shook me someplace deep. I also really love The Prophet by Gibran. He’s a phenomenal writer and poet.

I cry every time I read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. That story breaks my heart. I recently read it to my nephew (then five at the time) and I cried the whole time.

More modern, I recently read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and I love the way it was written. A great story brought to life with long, descriptive, sometimes frenetic sentences. She paints some scenes and some ideas that are unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s like watching magic on the page.


Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman impacted how I interpret and receive love. Not just romantically, but in my friendships and business relationships. I had several personal and professional relationships that improved when I could appreciate that their “love language” was different than mine. I could at least see their efforts as an attempt at showing me love and kindness, even if it wasn’t how I best receive or give love. This is pivotal. And if you can separate out the idea of it being for romantic partners only, I’d say this is critical reading for leaders. Not everyone is motivated and feels appreciation by a raise. Sometimes, public recognition of kind words or an act of kindness will feel better than anything else you can do.


What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

I read two books on a flight back from Europe several years ago that combined set me on a trajectory that has significantly changed my career. At the time, I was working in marketing as a Sr Web Designer. I had a 9-5 job, a 401k, and a clear path into leadership. But then I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield in which he addressed fear and resistance and why we choose (or don’t choose) the things we do in life. On the same flight, I read Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. They made it seem so easy to become an author and a creative. It’s as easy as the title. Create a thing. Put it out into the world. Do it all over again. I got off that flight a changed human being. I knew I wanted to make my living as an independent creative in which I create works, release them, and obtain dollars to sustain myself on that creativity. In January, I’ll publish my first book.

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What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

I’ve had a few semi-related careers so I’ll list each of those here.

Design / User Experience Design / Web Design
These three books are about how people actually use design in their lives. They helped me understand this very basic idea: There are no dumb users, only bad designers. Take the time to create based on how your design will be interacted with. Test it. Iterate. That’s how you become a good designer.

Writing & Creativity
These three books were very inspirational and broke down their way of creating in a way that was genuine and honest while still making me feel like I could be a writer.

  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
  • Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – I loved this book largely because it gave me permission to mix my influences into my own work. To steal without regret to create something new. I have a voice and it’s valuable.

Business / Entrepreneur / Leadership
I’ve mentioned these already but I’ll add them here again:


I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I recently stopped traveling full-time as a nomad. While I was on the road, I was largely limited to what I could fit in my backpack, so I read on my iPad. I hated it and didn’t read a lot while I was traveling. I love physical books. The way they feel. The smell of the paper. And they just don’t strain my eyes like e-Readers do. I’ve owned a Kindle before too, but the user experience didn’t feel as simple as turning a page. As a UX designer, it was distracting.

I read a little every 2-3 days. I’m almost always reading poetry. I’ve always got a few genres of book I’m working on.


How do you make time for reading?

Like anything in life, you just have to prioritize the things that are important to you. Reading is important to me, so I read. Sometimes a little before bed. Sometimes during the day when I need a break or a distraction.


Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I have a journal where I’ll write notes. I also keep some notes in Evernote. It’s all a bit of a mess, actually.


How do you choose what books to read next?

I’m an avid user of the website GoodReads. I used to keep all the books I wanted to read in a little notebook, but it became impossible to organize it all. This site helps me categorize what I want to read next.

It also depends on where I am in my life and what my goals are. If I’m publishing a book, I might be reading more on publishing. If I’m doing more martial arts training, I’ll read more about that.


Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

My sister is the person in my life I listen to when it comes to books. She’s always reading and always has great recommendations based on what I’m looking for. Do I want something with great character development? Something silly and fun? Something dark? Poetic? Something where the scene setting is crazy good? She could give me multiple book recommendations for each of those without even trying.


I know that you were part of Seth Godin’s altMBA program. From the books that you had as recommended reading, which one had the biggest impact on you? And how did you apply in your life the lessons you learned from it?

I actually already touched on this one. Several of the books that were in my books list in altMBA are here: The Art of War, Steal Like and Artist, and Business Model Generation. 🙂


Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Meditations on Violence by Rory Miller. I’m an avid martial artist and I’m currently training to become a Krav Maga instructor. I take this work very seriously and this is part of my studies in the world of self defense.

Half-life: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart. I love poetry. I’ve been reading more and more of it from some great writers as I prepare to release my own poetry into the world.

Tank Girl by Alan C. Martin, Jamie Hewlett. This comic series is just a fun, light read. I love strong female lead characters who are deeply flawed and weird.



Links where you can follow Kaci Lambe Kai or find out more about her projects:

  • inmyviewfinder
  • Kaci @ Instagram | LinkedIn
  • KaciHampton.com
  • Kaci @ Society6
  • altMBA alumni spotlight: Kaci


  • All books mentioned by Kaci Lambe Kai in this interview:

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