At 30, Kim Becking was doing it all. She was working in a high-level position for the mayor of Kansas City after leaving a large law firm to focus on public service.
She was also founding a communication business and caring for her young family.
Then she received a breast cancer diagnosis.
After that news, Patti Balwanz — Becking’s Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority sister and a fellow Bear — gave her a handwritten card she still holds dear.
“The ‘you are allowed’ card was all about giving yourself the permission and grace to feel what you need to feel and to allow others to do the same,” Becking said. “It’s now become a tool that I’ve adapted. I have shared that idea with thousands of leaders and teams who are going through change, at work or in life.”
Today, she is a self-described “recovering attorney,” best-selling author, motivational speaker and consultant. Her mission, she said, is to “empower leaders, teams and organizations to be more adaptable and resilient, and build unstoppable momentum.”
Friends cite passion, kindness among her skills
Becking, maiden name George, is no stranger to seeking out community wherever she goes.
At Missouri State, she served as president of her sorority and was voted Homecoming queen.
She was also involved in student government, was a student ambassador, a SOAR leader and more.
“The sense of community I had at Missouri State was the biggest thing for me,” Becking said. “It was a community I loved giving back to and still do.”
In 2003, Becking was honored with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the Missouri State University Alumni Association.
“Kim has always been a dynamic leader, but her greatest skills are her passion and kindness,” said U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Bough, a 1993 MSU alumnus.
Bough met Becking at Missouri State and attended law school with her at UMKC.
“She is the first to volunteer and the first to lend a hand,” he said. “Her servant leadership makes her community better.”
Becking received her Juris Doctorate in 1997. She worked for a major law firm in Kansas City before taking a job with the mayor’s office.
First business centers on public affairs, communications
Becking got the idea for her first business when she was working for the city council and staffing the planning and zoning committee.
She saw how K.C. administrators struggled to communicate with community members who would be affected by their decisions.
She wanted to help bridge that gap and ensure everyone was seen and heard.
Becking launched Momentum Public Strategies more than 20 years ago. Momentum provided public affairs, strategic communication and other consulting to clients that range from Fortune 500 companies to smaller nonprofits.
Book about cancer stories becomes bestseller
Her cancer diagnosis came right in the middle of building her first business.
Becking did not go through it alone. Her friend, Balwanz, was diagnosed with the same disease when she was just 24. Balwanz’s encouragement to do a self-check led Becking to find her lump and seek medical care.
After Becking was diagnosed, the two began meeting up with two other young women with breast cancer for a monthly support group.
Their shared hardships inspired them to co-write a memoir.
“Young women were being dismissed by their doctors. ‘Come back in six months. Come back in a year.’ Our mortality rates were a lot higher,” Becking said. “I wanted to use my voice and had media contacts to help me become that voice.”
Their book, “Nordie’s at Noon,” was affectionately titled for their preferred meeting spot at Café Nordstrom in Kansas City.
They were all young and in different places in their lives. Becking was caring for a toddler; Jennifer Johnson was pregnant when she received her diagnosis; Jana Peters was planning her wedding during treatment.
Balwanz lost her battle to breast cancer while they were still writing the book, which became a bestseller.
It led to dozens of appearances on talk shows like “Good Morning America” and write-ups in media such as the New York Times and People magazine.
This inspired Becking to pursue motivational speaking, which would become another business venture for her.
She founded Momentum Motivation, a leadership development company that offers speaking, training and consulting to organizations ranging from Fortune 100 companies to nonprofits.
Its focus is on inspiring others to have the “motivation, mindset and tools to reframe change” so that they can adapt, evolve and thrive.
“Change and challenges are certain — but our growth is optional. Every challenge and each unknown fuels the next and better version of ourselves and the world around us.”
Inspiring others to let go of what they can’t control
Today, Becking has been cancer-free for more than 21 years.
She’s faced many challenges after cancer, including divorce, remarrying a widower with two small children and aging parents with health challenges.
“Cancer taught me to let go of what you cannot control. I call it ‘resigning as general manager of the universe,’” Becking said. “I want my clients to find the same peace with letting go, especially when facing change and uncertainty.”
That’s when they can build resilience, get rid of limiting beliefs and turn obstacles into opportunities.
Community and relationships are central to her ideology.
“It was a key for me during my cancer. Your true friends are going to come clean your toilets. That’s proven true all these years later. Some of my most important relationships are with friends I met at Missouri State.”