Kyndall Bennett is a Veteran of the United States Navy and currently a personal development blogger and influencer, helping people discover affordable ways to learn and grow. Through blog posts, social media, video content and exclusive newsletter deals, Kyrabe Stories’ purpose is to help motivate and inspire those who are trying to break out of their comfort zones or those who are trying to fit in somewhere or those who just need a little encouragement in their lives. Check out kyrabestories.com or follow Kyndall on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to name a few.

First off, congratulations on winning our very first Intellifluence retweet contest!

No, thank you all so much for that. That was a blessing to find I’m like, “Oh, yes!”

So glad to hear. So can you give us a little bit about your background, including what led you to create Kyrabe Stories?

When I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to college for computer animation, but at that point, especially when it was mostly just me and my mom, financial aid was difficult, things like that. So I ended up going into the military because I thought it was just a one solid street in my hand in order for me to reach this goal, I have to go to college. So high school, military, college.

Well, once I started doing more research into career opportunities, I realized that depending on the path that we want to go on, we don’t always have to pursue a bachelor’s degree. We could pursue like a license or certification or things like that. And fortunately for me, I had my GI Bill, but a lot of my fellow classmates, I saw how much they was threatening, especially under that debt. So I knew that I wanted to create an environment that taught mostly our youth that, “Hey look, this isn’t your only option.

Related: How does messaging for influencers work?

There are many career paths that you can go on. There are different methods to educate yourself. It’s not just one way street.” So, I had to learn all of this the hard way. So with Kyrabe Stories… Back in college, when we needed to create our own brand, I’m like, okay, I kind of want to do a little story time, but have a wiser version of me actually telling the story like, “Hey look, this is what I went through.

This is how you probably can avoid it.” So Kyrabe is the first two letters of my first, middle, and last name. So Kyndall Rachell Bennett, and Kyrabe Stories is mostly just a wiser version myself saying, “Hey, look, don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Here’s a smarter path.”

What are some of your favorite topics to write about?

Honestly, my favorite I would say would probably be a book recommendation. In high school, surprisingly, I wasn’t that into reading mostly because the books that were assigned to us, I’m like, “Okay, this is boring, I don’t really want to do this.” But once I started choosing books on my own, especially self-development books or self-help books, I saw that there was a lot of stuff in there that I wish I had known beforehand.

I’m like, why did you assign me this book? This one, actually, I can apply the rules in life. So, I like to write about book recommendations that can help with say communication, with the power of storytelling when it comes to applying for jobs, if there’s specific marketing tech that will help you build your business. Books like that and be like, “Hey, look, there are books out here that can help you improve yourself. Try these.”

At what point in your journey did you realize that you were, in fact, an influencer?

I think that was, let’s see, I want to say it was maybe about six or seven months into creating the Kyrabe Stories blog. Because when I started it, I didn’t know what I was doing. It was like, I was supposed to start the blog on January 1st, on New Year’s Day, and I freaked out, procrastinated, then did it on the second. So as I started learning and teaching myself, I’m like, “Okay, I can do this. Let me reach out to people to try to teach me, let me reach out to someone about this.”

Then halfway through the year, maybe a little more, I started receiving emails saying, “Hey, we love what you’re doing with Kyrabe Stories. Can we guest post for you?” And there was that moment of, “Are you sure you meant to send that email to me? Because I’m still figuring things out too.” But it took me a moment to realize like, “Hey, look, you’ve made a lot of progress. Like, don’t turn this away. You’ve influenced some point, accept it.” I’m like, “Okay.” And after that I realized this is something I can genuinely do. I can influence people to go to a certain career site that will actually help them. It’s better going something that’s more expensive. I can influence people to check out certain books that will actually help them. So yay. Eventually I kind of dabbled into influencer marketing.

In the introduction video on your blog, you encourage people to live their lives one story at a time. So what are some of the strategies you use to encourage people that might struggle with verbalizing their stories?

I start off by sharing my own mistakes. I know a lot of times it might be hard for someone to open up about their own struggles, especially to be the first person, because you don’t want to be judged. You don’t want to be harassed for it. So I share stories about how in high school, I forgot the words to my favorite song during the Black History Month program in front of the whole student body. And then went behind the stage and began crying.

I tell about how, when I was a little kid I got distracted by my shadow and ended up running right dab into a rock covered, industrial trash can. That’s how I got the scar on my eye.

I try to start off being the initial storyteller to say, “Hey, look, these are some of the stupid things I did, but these are the lessons that I learned from them.” I appreciate whenever I start seeing comments like, “Oh my God, I did the same thing too.” And then you have people start telling their own stories as well.

Related: Why am I not seeing any Marketplace offers?

Then you’re literally just living out your mistakes in a better way. So, that’s how I try to encourage people to live their life one story at a time. You may have made mistakes. It’s okay. That’s normal. Learn from it. Keep it moving.

You touch on the topic of affordable education in your blog. So, what are some of your favorite ways that people can access education that is actually relatively affordable?

One, I try to encourage people to actually do research about some stuff that they are interested in doing, like say information technology. A lot of people don’t realize that you can start off by going to a technical college with a portion of the price, get your certification there, and then get started with an entry level position. And then once you build up that work experience, you can pursue maybe a degree, an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree after that.

And once you’re actually making money, that can actually compensate for that, you’re most likely to be in less debt. But if you go straight off into going into a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, without having that initial entry level work experience, it’s going to be hard to make enough money to compensate for that student loan. I like to encourage people to use LinkedIn learning.

When I was in college, back when it was still called Lynda, that’s what I used for a lot of my projects. If I didn’t have enough credits to take a specific course, I watched the tutorial on that site and just figuring it out myself. With the blogging, a lot of people may not realize that a lot of the ways that I format my blog posts, I watched the tutorial on how to do that. So a lot of people were like, “Oh my God, I don’t know how to do this.” I’m like, “Watch a tutorial.”

Where do you see influencer marketing or blogging in five years or so? Or where do you see you with it in five years or so?

I see it becoming more personal and it’s like, we’re, we’ve almost become numb to commercials. It was like, unless it’s the commercials from the Super Bowl, we don’t really pay much attention to it unless it’s genuinely personal lives. Like for instance, a lot of the advertisements that I started paying more attention to are the ones, say on TikTok, because as you have content creators who are making the content more personal, instead of it just being like buy, buy, buy. And I think as far as companies, they’re going to see that it’s not just about the functionality or the parts or things like that.

You really have to get to the point where you have to show or tell the story of how this product can help you in your everyday life. It’s not just about the memory space on her or anything. It’s about building connections. And if you’re wanting to get into influencer marketing, that’s one of the best lessons I can take from that. Show how the product can actually help someone share a story, not just the functionality.

Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.