Having spearheaded three different companies around the world, Caitlin Margaret is an unstoppable powerhouse when it comes to conquering dreams – and she wants nothing more than to help her clients achieve their own goals. An Ivy League grad turned social entrepreneur, Caitlin has built up a compelling arsenal of self-empowerment tools spanning traditional disciplines such as therapy, yoga, nutrition, meditation and mindfulness, working as a holistic life coach to help others around her. Working with clients to meet and exceed their life goals, Caitlin brings a truly unique approach, fine-tuned to the needs and aspirations of high-achievers prone to exhaustion and burnout, and works with them to turn around every aspect of their lives. We sat down with Caitlin to hear more about her path to professional and personal growth, and walked away completely and utterly charmed.
What made you decide to become a life coach?
I decided to become a holistic life coach through a long and winding road. Since I was a kid, my mission in life has always been to make the world a more happier and more peaceful place. I had originally studied social work, and got my masters from Columbia University. I really enjoyed learning about therapy and specifically cognitive behavioral techniques, changing your brain and the way you think about things in order to improve your life. However, therapy as a discipline I found to be very problem-focused and past-focused, and I wanted to think about and imagine a new world, new possibilities and new ideas. The best ideas I had about that were centered more around business at that time, so I actually got a fellowship to move over to India along with two of my friends, and start a social business over there. The idea was to deliver information and services to people who lived in remote areas. That was in 2011, and we went over there and grew this amazing business – we were the 5th-fastest growing company in the country at that time. We began scaling this organization, and within three years we were seeing about 5 million users for our product. It was amazing to grow from that perspective, but I was also interested in how you develop happy employees, how you get people to stick around in your company, keep your customers happy, your employees loving their work and feeling engaged and supported in what they are doing.
As we grew so fast, I became unwell and overworked – I was working 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day. I developed black spots in my lungs, I was losing my hair. At the same time I had some family members who got really sick, so I put a major pause on my life, thinking okay, yes, career success and fulfillment matters, but not at the cost of my personal life. I began studying and taking advantage of the spiritual wealth of knowledge in India. I underwent training in yoga therapy and meditation, reiki, plant-based healing, oil-based healing, herb-based healing – I spent two years really deeply studying holistic wellness and health.
I felt like I had healed my own body and healed myself completely. I was wrapping up my time in India and I almost re-joined the social sector, but then decided that it was time for me to come back to NYC to take care of my family and friends here. I thought that I could do something unique, which was to put together the amazing practices of therapy and of all that we know about how our mind and our beliefs can affect us, with how we can build fulfilling careers and businesses, as well as how to take care of ourselves in a really proactive, healthy and loving way through interacting with our environment. I’ve seen a lot of that in fragmented places, but was convinced that people could really benefit from having all of those things together. So I built a set of tools, created multiple systems and frameworks for support and called myself a holistic life coach when working with people through those tools.
Can you explain your holistic approach to coaching?
I call myself a holistic life coach for two reasons – one is the approach I take in getting to know and understand each client I work with. My typical client will come to me with an idea about their life or themselves that they want to change – wanting to lose weight, find a life partner, find their passion, start a business. What most people miss out on is that there are a lot of patterns that exist in other areas of their life that are going to affect their ability to move that dream or goal forward. When I get to know you as a person, I’m not just going to ask about your goals for your career – I’m going to say, “Tell me about your family, your friends, your health, your wellbeing, the ways you talk to yourself, how much sleep you get at night… Based on this very holistic analysis of your life, your thought patterns and your relationship patterns, I’m going to have a much better understanding of you, what’s strengths you have available to you, what opportunities you have, what are the problematic patterns that show up in all different areas of your life – all of this is critical so that we’re able to come up with a much more systematic and sustainable way to create the change you want in your life.
The second angle in which I take a holistic approach is from a solutions perspective. When it comes to whatever goal you might have, I’m not going to simply tell you, “Oh, you want to start a business – here is the first step – market research. Step 2 is the business process,” etc. Instead, I’ll take you through that process, but I will also take you through the dietary changes, the mentality, the health you need to get over and through the difficulties of that experience, as well as the kind of relationships you’ll need in order to support that goal, and how to maintain them. I also speak to any additional help you can get from oils, nutrition, and personal habits – so my approach is holistic in both problems and solutions.
When you were just starting out, what was one of the toughest parts of getting yourself established in your career as a life coach?
I know a lot of coaches struggles to get their first clients when they are just starting out. Fortunately, I had the experience and tons of failures of starting businesses before, so I’d learned a lot about marketing through my previous experiences. This way, I was able to set up a website and marketing channels and get my first 15 clients in my first two months of business. It was less about getting my first customers, and more about trusting myself. I think that when I know that the tools that I have accessible to me and the studying that I’ve done have been so incredibly powerful in my life, and for me and my friends and family, that when I was starting out I really questioned whether this was something I could do at scale for people, for strangers – could I systematically do this for all kinds of people, and not just the kind of people I typically had in my circle?
When people come to you and say, “This is my life, these are my dreams” – what are you going to do with it? The faith in myself to know I could show up for people consistently and make their investment, hard work and hope mean something was something I was worried about doing in a sustainable way on a full-time level. I think it was only after a few months of real successes and results with a variety of clients, that I felt much more confident and really able to proceed in growing my business, to show up for my clients no matter who or where they were.
What’s been one of the proudest moments in your career so far?
I think the two proudest types of moments I’ve had can be separated into two “buckets” – these are my two favorite kinds of client success: On the one hand, helping women get out of overworked, corporate, passionless jobs, and move into jobs or careers where they’re either working for themselves or for an organization that is really supportive to their life goals while offering balance. I find so often that women who were chasing their dreams come in without any romantic partners, because they have no time for it, there’s no work-life balance, they don’t see their families and loved ones as much as they’d like, they don’t contribute to the causes they value, their health has deteriorated. That sadness is taking away from their ability to enjoy their jobs in the first place. Helping clients – specifically women – create the confidence and structure in their lives to make money for themselves in a way that is balanced with their other priorities is an incredible experience.
The second group of clients I feel really proud of is women who struggle with anxiety or depression, and want to try healing themselves in a more natural way. I have quite a lot of clients that come in after they’ve suddenly begun experiencing anxiety attacks, and they really don’t want to be on prescribed medication for the rest of their lives. In many cases, this makes them feel unempowered and even sadder than before about their lives and their ability to help themselves. I’ve worked with several women who felt like they were really on the edge, unable to get on any public transportation due to panic attacks, or suddenly can’t get out of bed for days at a time. Together. We implemented lifestyle changes and belief adjustments to profoundly empower them and enable them to get through whatever waves come into their lives, allowing them to overcome hardship in a better way.
Do you have a morning ritual that helps you get ready for your day?
I do! I always start my day by waking up early enough so that I have a little bit of quiet. I’ll meditate, which always starts with a gratitude practice, remembering all the blessings I have in my life, and then a revision of the goals and the things that I’m working towards on a daily basis, and then a meditation – that meditation will change regularly based on what I’m working on, so it could be forgiveness, health care, sometimes it’s just awareness of body and breath. I’ll sit in front of my shrine and meditate, and then I make what’s come to be known as “the concoction” by my clients. It’s a thing I blend together consisting of turmeric, red pepper, apple cider vinegar, basil, ginger, cayenne pepper – I spin it all together and takes it as a shot, and it really wakes me up. I’ll then make a nice breakfast for myself, like a green smoothie or something with a lot of fiber. I really feel like when I make these choices, I am taking care of myself, and that makes me feel better about and more able to take care of other people throughout my day.
What advice would you give yourself where you are currently in your career?
The advice I would give myself would be about doubling down on my niche. There are a lot of coaches out there – some extremely talented and others perhaps not as talented – who are promising you things, who want to be your life coach and help you achieve your dreams, overcome your challenges, all of that. I think those promises are great, but also very vague. I want to be more specific as I’ve done this work before and I’ve seen where I can make the greatest impact and what feels most fulfilling. I think that doubling down on that niche is not only good for my own fulfillment and growth, but also for my clients, to understand exactly why they would choose to come to me, over the millions of life coaches that are out there today.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a life coach?
If I weren’t a life coach, I think I’d be back in the world of social justice. I often asked myself that question when I was thinking about becoming a life coach, like, what would I be losing out on? Everyone has multiple skills and things they can do in the world. I realized I’d be leaving behind this area of my life that was focused for years on social justice, solving issues of poverty and inequality – that’s why in addition to my coaching work, I also sit on the board of two non-profits, I do botanic and healing tours at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and I try to do as much community work and social activism as possible. If I wasn’t a life coach, I would be doing that work full-time.
What is one tip you’d give someone who’s considering a career as a life/career coach?
One tip I would give someone starting out as a life coach or considering becoming one, is to ask themselves why this is a path for them. Most people would respond to that with the desire to help people, but helping people is serious business, and it takes a lot of work to be systematic about how you’re going to approach working with an individual. What happens a lot – both in therapy and life coaching – is that people burn out after a couple of years of hearing other people’s problems. So beyond wanting to help people, it really needs to contribute to your larger philosophy about what brings out the best in you in the world, and what you want to be doing and what fulfillment it can bring you. It’s a long road, and you only get better down the road, so you need to make sure that it’s the best not just for helping others, but to keep you connected to what is important to you, and to what matters.
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