My mind is racing after my interview with entrepreneur, business coach and overall badass Cathy Heller (ig: cathy.heller) whose focus on passion and inspiring story from struggling songwriter to CEO of multiple businesses is definitely one for the books.
I sat down via video chat, ready for a quick interview all about Cathy’s background and upcoming debut book that’s already (fingers crossed), headed towards the best seller’s list.
We started out planning to discuss “how to overcome perfectionism”, but I left getting much more than I had bargained for.
By the end of the interview, I felt like I had just gone through a session of therapy.
Hopefully by the end of this article, you get much more than you bargained for too.
The Who: Badass Boss Cathy Heller
I’ve met lots of women entrepreneurs who are the best of the best in whatever they specialize in…
If I had to categorize Cathy as something, she’d be the Hustler of Hustlers.
Think of her as the Business Coach for people who don’t like business but want to find purpose.
Sounds pretty cool right?
She started her career as a songwriter in Los Angeles and went from working her “day job” to making hundreds of thousands of dollars licensing her music before deciding to share her tips and tricks with others.
“I was so frustrated and so desperate to get out of my day job and go back to who I really was… I didn’t feel like myself.”
Now, she’s still writing songs but also has her own agency geared towards helping other artists, plus a successful online course for musicians, a speaking career and of course her coaching.
Oh plus her hit podcast, Don’t Keep your Day Job, which she started when her youngest child was a baby. I’m talking 10 days old!
In her podcast, she interviews top names like Bobby Brown, Jimmy Choo, Jen Sincero and so many more.
So the question is…
The How: In the World Did She Get Here?
“I think the biggest piece of advice I could give is all about ‘radical empathy’… Business is not about selling, it’s not about proving yourself, and you don’t have to earn it. Everyone’s basic need is that they want to be seen. Everyone wants to be seen. And when you make radical empathy the cornerstone of what you do, you’ll be successful. Ask yourself, what would they want? And then give it them to.”
Cathy lived by this when she was first starting out and it’s what she teaches to her clients to this day.
The key to a successful cold call is to go in and think “don’t pitch, don’t sell anything. Just care. Make a connection.”
It’s just like nurturing a garden, when you care and put in the effort for it, it naturally grows.
What most people do in business is they walk in and they try to get you to understand them, and try to prove themselves to you. They tell you why you should work with them and it’s exhausting, you’re not listening…
So how are you the most impressive person in the room?
Make it about other people, listen to them.
“We live in a time where there is such an empathy deficit, that when you actually care, it’s shocking.”
That’s why radical empathy is the engine to business.
The When: The Lightbulbs Went Off
Cathy had three epiphanies when it was time to turn her creativity and passion into an actual career and hint hint.
They apply to anyone:
“The difference between a hobby and a business is that a hobby can just be that you’re inspired, but as soon as it becomes a business, someone else is paying you… It’s not just for you.”
So the questions you need to start asking is who is this for? What is the buyer looking for?
“It was much easier to write a record when I had an inspiration of stories to tell rather than just my own pain.”
Any business model needs to be about the consumer, not about you.
“How do I get through to my buyers? Now I have what I think they would want so how do I reach them?”
Time to start making connections.
“Nobody is creating a successful business for themselves in a vacuum. And what most people do is they sit by themselves in their office or their laboratory and they decide ‘I’m gonna come up with this or I’m going to create that’ and that’s backward. The first thing you should do is ask who are you creating for? What do they need? Then go back and solve the problem.”
Spoken like a true coach:
“What is the paint point of your audience?”
“What do they struggle with the most?”
The Why: Does This Apply To Me… Or You?
I find Cathy’s story of success fascinating. But most of it seemed out of my realm of comfort, so I asked…
What about people like me? I’m a #introvertforlife (check out my article A Love Letter From One Introvert To Another), so the thought of making cold calls or striking up conversations with strangers at an event makes me want to pee myself.
What do I do?
“First of all, there is no person who has achieved any sort of success or greatness, who was not terrified the whole time. So you have to flip it and think “that takes courage because of course they feel inadequate, of course they feel imposter syndrome, and they do it anyway.”
But then how do you overcome it?
#1. You do it scared, you CANNOT wait until you’re ready, it’s not coming. You have to do it while you’re uncomfortable.
#2. You give yourself permission to make something BADLY. Because it’s always beta, there is no “arrival to success”, it’s about failing and then trying again.
The only way you can make something brilliant is if you have the courage to make numerous things first that are messy.
“Done is better than perfect, and how do you get over that absolute need for perfectionism?”
And… Cue our therapy session.
“Think about yourself at 6 years old” she says, “call up that little girl and tell her ‘it’s so obvious how magical she is’ and now apologize to her for telling her for the last 10, 20, 30 years, that she’s not enough, that there is no room for her… Tell her it’s her time now, you’re not going to do that to her anymore. You’re gonna let her show up.”
Cathy asked Julia Cameron once, author of The Artist’s Way, “do you really think people are truly creative at heart? Do you think everyone has a creative side?”
And she replied, “have you ever been in a nursery school classroom and seen a 3-year-old who doesn’t like to paint?”
What do they all have in common?
They’re messy. They have paint on their face and on their clothes and they’re okay with that.
But most of us now are afraid of being messy, we’re afraid of not being perfect. Somewhere along the line we got our heartbroken and got rejected and we decided to stop trying to avoid that pain again.
Think about your limiting beliefs, think about yourself 5 years from now, holding on to that garbage and how has that affected your life? Your health? What experiences did you not get to have? Who did you not get to meet because you held onto that garbage?
Now turn it around, and be courageous, and think about yourself moving forward. How many cool experiences have you had because you did turn it around? How many great people have you met?
So see what I mean…? I left my interview with Cathy feeling like somehow lighter.
And the last bit of killer advice she wanted to leave me and all of you.
“The world needs you. You wouldn’t be here unless you’re needed. Even twins have different DNA, so there’s a reason you’re here. God doesn’t make extras, if you’re here you’re here for a reason. Maybe life is supposed to be easy, many it’s not supposed to be so hard, maybe you get the thing that you love to do and maybe the biggest gatekeeper has been you.”
Just trust the flow, go with the flow and it puts you in the current of your actual destiny. You can’t let the fear get in the way, you can’t overthink or overanalyze because it pulls you out of the current and away from where you’re supposed to be.
“We have a beautiful human condition and it’s time to feel more and learn more into our joy and let go of the shame and self-doubt. You don’t have to be perfect, you can be messy and the world will still come rally around you.”
Still want more? Preorder her debut book now!
Creative Copywriter | Content Creator for Women Entrepreneurs + Success Coaches