Month: March 2018

Rae Barnes

Susan talks with Rae Barnes, owner of Rae Barnes Photography.  Rae is not only a professional photographer, but she is also a mother of four.  Rae shares that she wanted to be both a mom and a business owner and they discuss how she does her best to balance both.  

Transcript:

Susan Long:        Friends, today I’m talking with Rae Barnes, owner of Rae Barnes, photography. Rae and I met in college and for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been an incredibly talented artist. We talk about everything from owning your own business, being a mom, balance and boundaries. I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to talk with her and I hope our conversation gives you the same boost that it gave me. Here’s Rae.

Susan Long:        Good morning, Rae. How are you?

Rae Barnes:        I’m doing well. How are you, Susan?

Susan Long:        I am great and I am so excited to have you here with us today.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, I’m excited to be here too.

Susan Long:        Friends Rae and I met in college. I was very thankful and very lucky that she transferred schools and she transferred to my school. She is a photographer and I think in a little bit of an unusual way. She has been a photographer since the beginning of her career, meaning unlike a lot of us who have transferred our skills around and found other things. Rae started out here, so friends, I’m just going to let Rae kind of take it from here and I’m going to let you run with it Rae. Tell us how you got started, how you knew that’s what you wanted to do. If you knew that’s what you wanted to do. Just let’s start at the beginning.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah. So my journey is rather interesting. So when I was at Converse College with you, um, I really thought that I was going to either go into advertising or teach photography on the college level because both of those things were practical and I like to think of myself as a practical person. So I graduated and started pursuing advertising. Interning with the firm. And not long into it I got a call from the dean of the art department, at Converse College saying someone was looking for a student to photograph their wedding. And of course I always loved photography and I had studied it and pursued it, but wedding photography was always seen as the bottom of the barrel for artists at least at that time. But you know, being a recent graduate, I thought, what the heck, I’ll make a little extra money. So I photographed my first wedding straight out of college and I loved it. It took me about a year and a half to go full time. So I did have a couple different jobs in there. I also got engaged and married and moved to two different states in that year and a half before I went full time. But um, yeah, it was kind of wild road that has taken a lot of turns, but I can say that I have been a professional photographer since I graduated college.

Susan Long:        I did not realize that wedding photography was seen as the bottom of the barrel and we don’t have to go down that rabbit trail, but I find that fascinating considering how much wedding photographers charge.

Rae Barnes:        Well, so it’s not seen that way anymore. At all. In fact, I was talking with someone yesterday and they assume that if you are making your living as a photographer then you must be doing weddings and I do not do weddings anymore. Uh, I did that for eight years and I’ve been done for five. So.

Susan Long:        So talk a little bit about that. How did that transition happen and what took you down this same career? Kind of, but a little bit of a twist.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah.  So several things happened. So I was very passionate about wedding photography. I loved it when I first started my career when my husband and I had just gotten married. We were in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and it was a destination wedding market. The locals couldn’t necessarily afford photography, but all of the people coming in that were having their weddings there were spending a lot of money and they could afford photography. So that was my market and it was great. It was really great for that stage in my life, um, for being a newlywed. I was very passionate about it. And then in 2009 I had a baby.

Rae Barnes:        My last year before I became a mother was a crazy year. I probably worked 50 hours most weeks, sometimes closer to 60, I had someone on staff, I had a studio space, it was a six figure business it was crazy. It was really intense.

Susan Long:        You were living the dream

Rae Barnes:        Sort of. Accept I was exhausted. So then I had a baby and I was not prepared for how much that changed me and my life and my outlook on how I spent my time and working even 40 hours was no longer an option. So I cut back dramatically, and then my husband got a job in Philadelphia, so we moved in 2010 from that tiny little market where I was big fish in a little pond. Had the corner of the market was booking out a year and a half in advance to this huge city where there were tons of photographers. So, so, you know, to make a long story short, it took me about two years and two more pregnancies to decide that I could no longer do weddings  and part of it was just because of the market. It was very different client in the city than it was in the mountains, obviously and part of it was just our life.  I didn’t want to be on my feet for 10 to 12 hours so it was just a natural progression to move towards family photography and so that is a hundred percent of my income comes from family portraits. So you know, it was quite a rollercoaster making that adjustment. 2013 was a really slow year as I transitioned away from weddings into families but that was when our third child was born and I needed to be slow. So it worked out kind of a roller coaster and it worked out. I back up to a six figure business, but I only work 24 hours a week. So that’s amazing.

Susan Long:        Yes, it is. Holy Cow. And you’re not exhausted. Well, maybe you are now because you have four children.

Rae Barnes:        Now I have 4 children. No, but it’s a much healthier balance for me. It’s much healthier being balanced, having family time and it was time.

Susan Long:        and I love that you have found a way to do that and also have not only a successful business but I would imagine have something for yourself that’s outside, ya know, the “Momming”  thing.  Which I love “Momming” too, but I love having something outside myself outside of all of that just kind of for me. And it helps when you can make a little money doing it.

Rae Barnes:        Absolutely. Yeah, so even the years when I was pregnant and nursing and doing all of those Mom things, I never let my business go and part of that I think just is rooted from me being stubborn, but part of it is also because I have some very loyal clients and I just could not imagine letting them go and I also couldn’t imagine not having that outlet, not having that creative outlet. There are some amazing photographers out there that when they become moms seem to start focusing on photographing their own children and I just don’t find the same contentment there that I do in running a business. I want to run a business and I’ve always enjoyed that, so it’s always been a good thing for me even it was very part time.

Susan Long:        Well talk a little bit about that. Talk to us. Obviously you’re very passionate about your business and being a mother. How do you, I guess, how do you make that work?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, so I think it’s taken me a long time to figure it out. My oldest daughter is 9 now and I feel like I’m finally getting to the point where I have a really great balance, so it’s taken me quite a bit of time, but honestly it just comes down to boundaries. I have an office in my home and I close the door when I’m in here, and even if I have a nanny here that’s watching the kids in the summer, that door’s closed sometimes its locked if I’m on the phone. I have very clear boundaries of this is work time and then this is family time. Um, I don’t check my emails. I don’t usually make phone calls. I, I very rarely make exceptions for certain appointments outside of those hours. Now I do all of my sessions on the weekend typically, but I’m never away from my family for more than three hours. Um, and so I think that that has really been the key to keeping us all kind of happy is having those boundaries.

Susan Long:        Absolutely. And something, I’ll interject something here just a little bit because I know there’s a woman out there saying, well I have nowhere in my house. I don’t have a spare room for an office. Friends in launching this podcast. My family is also building a house, so we’ve got a lot going on and we’re currently in a rental home that has no extra bedrooms. We are using them all and so I have taken a very small closet. It’s actually a closet in our house and I have a very, very small desk and a little like wall shelf and a few things set up on those. So if you really want to find an office, you can make one in your home.

Rae Barnes:        So for 5 years I worked off of a laptop. I did not have an office because where my current office is used to be the nursery.  So I had a laptop and I would either hide in the basement, which is very dark and cold. Um, or I would go to Starbucks or the library or anywhere where I can find quiet. I, yeah, you just do what you have to do you. And I worked, you know, slower years. I worked during nap times, I worked after the kids went to bed. I didn’t have as clear cut bundaries as I do now because I was first and foremost mom during the daylight hours.

Susan Long:        Sure.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah. That was challenging. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world, but I also wouldn’t go back to that time for the world. It was hard.  Yeah. You just kind of, just make due with what you have, that’s for sure.

Susan Long:        So clearly you have set yourself up for success. You’ve done it over the years, but how do you define that for yourself?

Rae Barnes:        So, um, success for me is a really interesting thing to think about, because I don’t view success as a destination rather a journey. I really, I personally feel my success is a balance of contentment and discomfort. So the contentment is contentment with all the accomplishments I’ve had, all the wins that I’ve had, seeing how far I’ve come, but no comfort in staying there. I don’t find comfort in staying there. Um, success is something I hope that I never just sit here and think, OK, I’ve made it. I’m successful now. I can just coast because I think that’s really dangerous place to be. I think complacency is a very dangerous spot to be, especially as a business owner, a small business owner, entrepreneur, anything you’re in, especially creative fields. Things are constantly changing. So there’s no time to coast.

Susan Long:        Sure.

Rae Barnes:        So its just a delicate balance to me of being content with what I’ve done, but not content enough to stay there.

Susan Long:        Well, in that same vein then, how do you motivate yourself and how are you, I guess your best cheerleader? Like how do you, what is it that keeps you going?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, so I think it just comes down to my why, Why? If I’m ever feeling like I’m lacking motivation, I have to look at why that either the two levels of why, why am I lacking motivation? Um, is it because I’m doing a task that needs to be eliminated or delegated or renovated. Is it some task that would be better outsourced?

Susan Long:        Yeah.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, I’m really big on outsourcing. I couldn’t do it in 24 hours a week. Um, I couldn’t do it all, but I have a team of people that I outsource certain things to. But there are certain tasks that just don’t need to be done. And then there are certain tasks that you kind of have to power through it, you know, you do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do and you just kind of push through those things and you know, then the other level is the why is why am I doing this, you know, thinking about I only want to work a 24 hour week right now because my youngest is two and my next youngest is about to go to kindergarten and I want time with them.

Susan Long:        Absolutely.

Rae Barnes:        You know, even if it’s just two days a week I take off and I want to be there to take my kids to school and pick them up. Um, so, you know, it’s job that I love, I really love what I do. I love working with families. I love helping them create wonderful pieces for their home, but at the end of the day it is a job. It’s very fulfilling, but my family is the most important thing to me and so my time away from them needs to be spent wisely and I need to be efficient and you know, pursuing the things that are going to advance my business and make money so that I can provide for my family really, you know, those are the two things that keep me motivated,  keep me stepping forward.

Susan Long:        So you have these, do you have any fun tips or tricks or books you’ve read or blogs you’ve read or podcasts you’ve listened to that have helped develop that side of yourself to know?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah, so I think, that for me, there’s no one thing that I pursue a lot of things. So I read or listened to books. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I am part of a photographer’s mastermind group that is full of education. I’m full of different business organizations and so I pursue education constantly and I think that that helps keep me going. All of those pieces of never stop, never stop learning, never stop listening because even if I’m listening to a podcast with somebody who, you know, it’s in a completely different industry from me, I still can learn so much about how to better my business through other people. So I can’t say that there’s one thing. You know, one of my favorite books I’ve read recently was by, Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Susan Long:        Oh yeah.

Rae Barnes:        That was really, really a great read, especially as a creative entrepreneur because so often, you know, we have this concept of the starving artists. And he says, you need money to make art.  Which is very true. My latest camera cost me over $5,000. So if I weren’t charging appropriately for my work I wouldn’t be able to afford my equipment or my computer or I wouldn’t be able to run a business if I didn’t charge appropriately. So that was really a great great book for me. But like I said, there’s so many different sources that I just every day am being fed by somebody different usually

Susan Long:        That’s, that’s really fascinating. I love that and think, I mean, you’re not charging your clients, you know, $5,000 for one photo. So they saved a lot of money right there.

Rae Barnes:        Although I do often have clients that spend that much, but it’s not on one photo.

Susan Long:        Exactly. But they didn’t have to go out and buy the camera. Oh yes. We’ve done a few. We’ve done a few family photo sessions at this point. I am well aware of what they cost, but I’m also very excited when I get the results. So it’s worth it every time. And I know you’ve talked about doing traveling stuff in the past. I don’t know, you still, we still have not been able to get our families together for any kind of photography or just anything because I’m never on the east coast. Um, or if I am, I’m never out of the state of South Carolina, but one day, one day Rae you will photograph my family. I am bound and determined to make this happen. I love your work. I love your work. We’ve talked a lot about family, we’ve talked a lot about your work, but let’s pull back a little bit and talk about yourself because I hear you giving, giving, giving a lot to your clients, a lot to your business, a lot to your family. How do you take care of yourself? How do you put it down?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah. So, um, I can’t say that I’ve mastered this.

Susan Long:        No one has.

Rae Barnes:        But as Moms, it is something that all of us struggle with. It’s so interesting because I’m an introvert and I work alone most of the time. Every once in a while I have my assistant in the office with me that most of the time.  And often that recharges me being alone, you know, but I do have a job that can be intense and stressful. You know, running a business is not easy. And so I think for me it’s really making sure that I do get alone time. That is not stressful. Taking time to be unplugged, I really try to leave my phone at home, we go to church on Sundays, and it kinda annoys my husband, but I leave my phone at home so can’t text me an tell me where he is in the church somewhere in the church.

Rae Barnes:        But I just love to leave that behind and stop looking at whatever I was looking at,  you know, exercising, going to yoga is, is always really great for me. I love being outside, you know, every season it’s just a little bit different what I do to recharge.  It’s really easy as an introvert to live in a vaccum, but we can’t do that. Even just going out with my girlfriends or one girlfriend meeting up, going out with my husband. We try to do regular date night. Thats just so critical for us because our dinner table is so loud.

Susan Long:        I can imagine

Rae Barnes:        I mean date nights are sometimes the only time we get to talk to each other. Like, oh, what are you doing, what are you doing at work these days? But it really is so important to seek out ways to be recharged. Because you get burnt out easily, otherwise.

Susan Long:        Absolutely and I love that you brought up making time for your spouse because especially working and working late hours, getting this thing off the ground like I have been doing. We have seriously had to make an effort and having a toddler, a three and a half year old. We’ve had to make time for each other that we haven’t had to do in a long time and I don’t know that we ever had to do it like this and finding that, making that happen has been very, very, very important. So I’m glad you brought that up.

Rae Barnes:        It’s so important to be intentional with your time. I think that balancing a business with the mom life has really forced me to be intentional and efficient with my time and I don’t mean efficient when I’m with my children.  Sometimes you just need to sit there and be there.  Or playing Chutes and Ladders. Candyland. Monopoly.

Susan Long:        Yeah. We haven’t gotten to that Monopoly stage yet. I’m not looking forward to that part.

Rae Barnes:        Monopoly Junior is a good start.

Susan Long:        Oh, that’s right. There’s a junior that that would be easier. I know many of our listeners have heard you talk today. They’ve heard our conversation and they realize that they can do this. They’ve had this dream in the back of their head. Whatever that dream is, whatever that goal is and whatever about our conversation today made them think maybe. Maybe I can do that. So what action step, because we can talk all day long and talking is great, but until you take that leap, there’s no action. So what is that action step that maybe you would advise a friend to? What would be that next step that they would want, that you would suggest they take if they are looking to do something on their own outside the box? Just starting maybe from scratch?

Rae Barnes:        Yeah.  So there’s, um, I haven’t read this book yet, but I’ve heard people say this, the title of this book over and over again, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

Susan Long:        I know exactly what you’re talking about. I haven’t read it either.

Rae Barnes:        I need to read that.  It should be my next Audible. Sometimes I just have to listen,  but um, I love that thing.  Feel the fear and do it anyway because just about every step that I take in my business that makes my business better is scary. It’s scary,  but there’s always that fear that nobody’s going to come back to mewhen I make this change. Nobody’s gunna like this. You just have to kind of push through that and do it anyway. But like I was saying before, you can’t live in a vacuum, so I firmly believe in seeking out mentors, a mentor or an accountability group, or any  kind of source you can find that’s really going to help feed you the courage to do this, but do it thoughtfully and intentionally doing research and then just take that first step, you know, you will find that community that you need to help encourage you to do it. But then just do it. Feel that fear and let it fuel you and just take that first step and you know, it’s not, it’s not a cakewalk doing something that is challenging obviously, but it’s absolutely worth it to do that, to pursue these challenging things because when you do succeed, it’s just, there’s, the payoff is so great, you know, and I wouldn’t trade where I, am right now for the world, I am just so thankful for all challenges I’ve been through. The hards times that I’be been through. There have definitely been some really hard times. Running a business. Being a mom. You know, there’s always challenges, life isn’t easy, but anything worth pursuing isn’t going to be easy. Right?

Susan Long:        No, not at all right. Well Rae, do you have anything else you want to share with us before we close today? Is there anything that I missed?

Rae Barnes:        I was thinking about one thing. If I’m speaking to anyone who is in those beginning stages of building a business or you know, becoming something new sometimes we all struggle with that confidence to take that step. And I was thinking about this and I know we mentioned, we’ve talked about this before Susan, this quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I  think culture right now. We really struggle with comparison that it is just like this virus this disease and it’s just come over all of us because we have social media that is constantly showing us how great everybody else’s life is.

Susan Long:        Yes.

Rae Barnes:        Yeah.  It’s easy to get sucked into that. And uh, I would challenge anyone to just step away from it.  Social media is, is it necessary evil. But you are looking at everybody’s highlight reel and nobody has it put together. Nobody has it perfect. Nobody’s living the dream 100% of the time. Life is messy. I just wanted to throw that out there to just, to not be in a comparison game of comparing yourself to where other people are, you know, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. There’s no such thing as someone going from zero to 100 overnight. That’s my closing thought.

Susan Long:        That is a fantastic closing thought and I really appreciate you being here today.

Rae Barnes:        Thank you.

Susan Long:        That was fantastic. Yes, absolutely. We will have to have you back at some point, but thank you again and we will talk soon.

Susan Long:        Wasn’t that fun? I have so many takeaways from this conversation. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” What a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I’m tucking that one away. Friends, thanks again for joining us. If you liked this episode, I know you will be excited about our future guests, so go on over to itunes or our website and hit subscribe. I would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Also on our website, you’ll be able to find the links to the things we mentioned in the show as well as Rae’s website, raebarnes.com and social media info on Instagram at Rae Barnes photo and on Facebook at Rae Barnes Photography. Thanks again friends, I’ll see ya soon.

 

Anna Caudill

Susan interviews the founder and executive director of Post Adoption Learning Services (PALS), Anna Caudill.  Anna shares that forming PALS was not something she wanted to do, but felt had to be done in order to help other families dealing with international adoption.  Anna and Susan discuss the importance of surrounding yourself with a talented circle and team of support and that you don’t have to do it alone.  You are not going to want to miss this episode.  

Transcript:

Susan Long:                        Friends, I’m so excited to share the conversation I had with today’s guest.  Y’all are just going to love her, not only his aunt and my cousin, she is the founder and executive director of Post Adoption Learning Services or PALS. She is a true warrior for families with internationally adopted children and specifically for those with disabilities. We talk about everything from adoption to motherhood, to starting a non-profit. She has an incredibly amazing and empowering story. So without further ado, here’s.

Susan Long:                        Hey Anna. Good morning. How are you?

Anna Caudill:                      I’m good. How are you?

Susan Long:                        I’m doing well. I am so excited to have you on our podcast this morning. Friends, this is my cousin, Anna and she is the founder of Post Adoption Learning Services and I’m just going to let you take it from here and I want to know all about it. Um, tell us a little bit about the organization and how it came, how its mission came about.

Anna Caudill:                      OK, thanks. And thank you so much, Susan, for, for asking me to be a part of this. I’m really excited about this and I think what you’re doing is incredible.

Susan Long:                        Aw thanks!

Anna Caudill:                      Post Adoption Learning Services or PALS, I put it together to support the unique learning, and behavioral needs, um, that children who have been adopted internationally have. And so we do that by providing resources and training, and sometimes even direct advocacy services for families of children who have been adopted internationally and then for the professional community that supports them, whether that’s um, special education advocates and attorneys, social workers, adoption professionals, um, church-based ministry groups that support adoption and other peripheral adoption related groups. Um, PALS kind of grew out of my family’s experience, um, with my children and public education. And I know that as hard as it was when I was going through that and as lonely as that felt, I knew I couldn’t be the only parent who was facing the challenge of helping my child learn at school. And I figured if I was going to have to fight for education for him, um, as uncomfortable as that made me. And as much as that interfered with my ability to have a career or doing anything else, that I was going to help as many people as I could along the way.

Susan Long:                        I absolutely love that. That is a hard thing to do, to give up everything. I mean obviously you were going to do any mother would give up anything in the world for their child, but to take everybody else under your wing, Anna, that’s. That’s a lot.

Anna Caudill:                      Well, it kind of like when you get up from the table and you look around and you think, gosh, does anybody else needs something else to drink? Right, and maybe there’s an overdeveloped sense of motherhood there, but it was so much work and it was such an uphill battle to decide to take the next step at each step along the way from finding an advocate when my child needed one, to finding a special education attorney to any of those steps that I thought, Gosh, how many people don’t do this just because the mountain’s too hard to climb? If I’m going to have to climb up the mountain by cracky, we’re going to go to whoever’s office and bug whoever we can.  In addition. So that nobody else has to do this.

Susan Long:                        That is just phenomenal to have the foresight to do that. I just would not have even known where to start. How did you do that? Like you knew there was an issue, you saw a problem. How did you, how did you, how did you know what next steps to take? How did you, I mean, at the end of this you had a whole non-profit created, so take us back a little bit. Like what did that, what did that look like in the formulating of all of this? Had you ever done anything like this before?

Anna Caudill:                      The funny thing is I didn’t want to start a non-profit at all. To me that felt really presumptuous. It did. I thought, Gosh, who do I think I am?  I’m not starting a non-profit. And the funny thing was I, in working from home as, as we switched our plans, realizing that we were going to need to homeschool my older son, Fu for at least a season. I was trying to look at writing for magazines or writing for a publication and everything that you see or all the advice that you hear is write about what you know, your niche area and so as an artist I was working on identifying my niche areas in teaching. And then, um, then when this happened and I had to focus on this, I realized, you know, there’s, there’s this area and I have this expertise because I’ve had to learn about special education and I’ve had to really dig into law, which I didn’t anything about in order to learn how that whole conversation works when you’re trying to, um, defend your position and defend why you’re trying to ask for basic services that the paperwork that the school gives you says your child was supposed to have. So, um, you know, I started talking on social media. I post every now and then on Facebook without naming teachers without naming the school on what we were facing. And then my sister in law was reading it and she works for a human rights organization in Russia and she and my brother started saying you really need to start a non-profit and I would laugh at them every single time.  Yeah. And it got to where Craig was telling me every day just about if I got anything from him on Facebook, it was, hey, you need to start a non-profit. How’s that coming along? I have some people you could talk to. And so I just kinda shut him down, but then I started getting all of these messages by email and through social media from parents who were in the same boat. And it wasn’t just people in Tennessee, it wasn’t just people who go to church with me or who I see at um, my younger son, YoYo’s school it was people in Oklahoma and Minnesota and Massachusetts, California, South Carolina, Missouri. People that I had never met who found me because of a friend of a friend. And they would say, oh my gosh, this is exactly what we’re going through. What are you doing and what’s working. We thought we were the only ones.

Susan Long:                        So once you started sharing your story, you realized you weren’t alone.

Anna Caudill:                      I did. And um, it was really profound in that I drew actually a lot of energy from that in a way. In terms of moving forward and the point at which I thought, oh my gosh, I really am going to have to start an NGO was when I found a piece of obscure writing that was attached to the 2004 congressional reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. The IDEA. And that’s the structure that organizes special education in public schools and that’s what creates the IEP, the Individualized Education Plan that, um, lots of parents know about, um, and how meetings and things are set up. But this piece of writing talked about special considerations for kids adopted internationally and it was the kind of thing that showed legislative intent, like when Congress crafted these special education supports here’s, some of what was in their head while they were thinking about students adopted internationally and some of the things that people had brought before them. Um, they had that in mind in some of the changes. But that population didn’t make it into it, into the statutes. Right? So none of that actually became law. It was just, hey, here’s why we wrote the law this way.  And when you saw their explanation it kinda changed everything. And so I, you know, I thought, oh my gosh, this is a really important piece of information and this makes all the difference in the world. And, and by that time I was spending about twelve hours a week answering questions from parents, cause I couldn’t not answer an email from somebody who, you know, who might say, my kid is in 10th grade, and now he is reading on a 2nd grade level, and now he started to act out aggressively because he can’t communicate, his needs aren’t being met and we don’t know what to do.

Susan Long:                        And so at that point, no, no, go ahead, sorry.

Anna Caudill:                      Yeah. Oh No, you’re good. Or I have six children and I have no idea where to start. There’s no way I can homeschool all of them.

Susan Long:                        Yeah. So at that point, was it just your personal email that you were still replying from or had the, had you kind of started the non-profit wave yet?

Anna Caudill:                      At that point I was replying from my personal email and from my personal Facebook account, and this is where my husband gets all the credit because he’s such an incredible partner. He kept saying, you know, let me know what I can do, what I’m going to, what I can do. And I couldn’t identify what he could do cause I had no idea where to start.

Susan Long:                        Sure.

Anna Caudill:                      So he said you keep working on the thing that you’re doing well and I’ll find out what I can about this. And so, um, he started making calls and he learned how to start a nonprofit in Tennessee and the steps that needed to be taken for that. And so he’d come home from work and I would be buried on the computer or I would be at a class. And so he got dinner together for the kids so I could study and once they got into bed, we’d sort of wrangle the organizational pieces of putting a non-profit together and starting PALS. And we brainstormed a list of board members and he did the asking and the reaching out to them and just spent so much time on the administrative start up needs, so that I could focus on sort of the professional development that I needed to formalize what I was already doing, what I was already spending so much time doing and what I already knew about. And um, and that allowed me to to complete special education advocacy training  at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, and with the Council for Parent Attorneys and Advocates and the specialized seminars on the behavioral needs of children from trauma backgrounds, children who are adopted domestically or internationally or who had been in foster care. Um, and because it was that sort of partnership we were able to, a year ago, get our 501C3 approval from the IRS. And back in 2015 when I first thought, oh my gosh, this is what I’m going to have to do. I can’t fight this anymore. That idea of getting non-profit status seemed like such an impossible hill to climb. It seemed like this impossible mountain. And now that it’s been a year since we got that, I feel like, oh my gosh, we really are just starting. Sometimes its good when you can’t see around the bend in the road because you’d go there is just no way! I think I had to learn to be a little bit forgiving with myself and not have everything laid out in a five year plan when I first started. I mean, I know that, you know, banks or funders or grant makers, they’ll ask you to do those things. Where do you see yourself in five years and you know, you go ahead and you give your best stab at it, but really you don’t really know.  It’s all performance theater.

Susan Long:                        Sure.  Because you don’t know what you don’t know

Anna Caudill:                      You don’t. And because of that, I didn’t anticipate really. I didn’t know how to anticipate our momentum or how that would build or, or what success might look like. And we haven’t been an overnight success because the irony is, and I think this happens, you know, as I’ve seen this, I think this happens with other non-profits too or with other projects that people launch.  The irony is that once I decided to go for it, once I decided to do the thing that I thought needed to be done and to go forward with this vision, um, that was slowly taking place. The ironic thing was that the people that I had been responding to who had been asking me for help they stop emailing me and I was, it was because I kind of disappeared from social media there for a bit communication and from those communication places because I’m so immersed in training and so immersed in research and learning everything I could and even in some policy advocacy and learning how to do that. Learning how to approach legislators and having conversations, um, you know, on the political end of things to learn about policy and where barriers to policy can affect people. Um, and I didn’t expect that and there was a season where I thought that I had killed the thing that I had dreamed of doing, you know, by actually taking the steps to do it. But part of our momentum since then has come that didn’t expect has come from what my friend and writer David Dark calls messy coalitions. And I learned that I’m learning that pitching into a project that maybe seems peripheral to the larger goal of PALS ends up building alliances and relationships that you wouldn’t expect that can really inform your work later down the road or support your work. Because when you’re talking to say somebody in the legislature about paddling in public schools and you hear their position on it and they happen to tell you, oh yeah, we have, you know, my sister was adopted from Ghana, or you know, my, my wife has a disability, or you go into the legislator’s office and you realize oh my goodness, he’s a paraplegic. Then you have a different set of conversations and you know who you can go to, you know, to ask about issues and you can say, hey, how, how, how do you imagine we could more effectively support this community? And um, and along the way, the peer organization, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) I’ve learned so much because they do training sessions and breakout sessions. But then you have people who are attorneys who have argued before the supreme court saying, here’s why special education law is written this way and here’s how we explained this and here’s what worked. And so it helps you develop a cohesive structure to be able to support the families you want to support. And so now I’m finally coming back into the place where I’m actually getting three or four calls a week from folks and I have other organizations referring people to me because now at this point on this side of it, when you’re on, um, apparently the reputation of PALS is starting to spread to other organizations and I have to add that we wouldn’t have made it if it hadn’t been for board members being invested in adoption and civil rights and finding those people was really critical. And having my husband as a partner go, hey, I’m going to carry this part that is not your strong suit. And it really, yeah, people already knew because there were a lot of women in my community and you know, when you’re a teacher, you know, students who had gone through your school before, students who are going to your school now,  you know, their families. We all have wider circles of friends than we realize. And I looked to women who had done some things that I admired. And um, people who I just felt like I learned a lot from. And so I kind of looked at those folks with fresh eyes and thought, well, you know, Gosh, this woman did this and I wonder if she’d be interested in this. I wonder if that would feel like a good place for her to step into, to form and add her voice to, to this work. And one board member was adopted from Korea and originally when I approached her I was thinking about her experience in the non-profit world and with adoption related an adoption related agency that she had worked with and her incredible media skills because that I just a weak area for me and I thought if she could just explain some things to me that would be good. And then, um, as I thought about her, as I got ready to ask her, you know, cause she was a person that I asked everyone else Shane asked, as I got ready to ask her, I thought, gosh, that would be so helpful to have the voice of an adult who had been adopted as a child internationally inform this and bring me back from my mama mission perspective because it’s not wrong to have an agenda. It’s not wrong to have this thing that you need to do, but you’ve got to have some other people from perspectives along the way that might be adversely impacted if you just come barreling through without trying to understand multiple perspectives as you go. And um, another member had helped organize a symposium on AIDS in Africa back in 2003. Um, she worked for a publishing group in Nashville and uh, she and a friend had collected some assays and then that led to this symposium on AIDS in Africa. And then that became part of the back story of Bono’s ONE Campaign back then and AIDS in Africa and the Gates getting involved and international adoption is a part of her family’s path. Another board member  works for an adoption support organization now and another works in housing equity. So there’s, there’s all those people with all that experience who were in, in my circle and they’re not folks that I was necessarily talking to every day and they’re not folks that I am talking to every day now or even running into every day. But they are those people who I knew who had those skills and those visions, that really meant a lot to me personally.

Susan Long:                        Well yeah, and I mean you had, you knew the people to reach out to and you surrounded yourself with this amazing team and one of the things that I love about it is that you were one of those people too and you didn’t know it yet. So how did you. I mean even the strongest of us have moments where we lack self confidence, but you were going into something so new, so I’ve never done this before. So how did you deal with that? How did you deal with the balance of sometimes I’m sure it was fake it til you make it, but on the inside, how did you really set yourself up with self confidence?

Anna Caudill:                      One of the things that I’ve always bristled against, I guess to some extent when I read any kind of how to do this or how to do that explanations sort of thing or or guide is this idea that it’s all about your goals and it’s all about your vision and it’s all about your mission and then you battle down through that. And I know my limits. I’ve probably made some of those clear already, but by looking to what other people were doing that, I saw, that, that I found helpful to any larger community and by looking to the people that I admired, then there was more of a sense of I knowing that I couldn’t do this by myself and knowing that there needed to be a team that could approach this together. And that I had this idea and I saw this piece of it, and who can I find that fit the other pieces of this and help me get my head around this? And, and so there was much more of a sense of an us approach and I think taking myself out of the equation as much as possible has helped because then, there are the day that I still need the self confidence boost, but it doesn’t all depend on me and if I have some dark days it’s not going to drag the whole organization down. But, by in large, I try not to take myself too seriously I try to laugh at myself a lot. And um, and you know how it is in our family, you’ve seen it since growing up. If we can laugh at something we do, so I’ve tried to make use of that. But um, my husband has always my biggest cheerleader and my voice.  I carry two things with me that are very important because they ground me and remind me, you know, that I’m not alone. That I don’t need to be afraid and that others have walked this road, and will walk this road.  And one of the things, and this is going to sound really odd, but one of the things is my grandmothers obituary and the other thing is a UVO card that belonged to my oldest son, Fuxia when he lived in China and my dad’s mother was such a strong woman. And on some level I know, I feel like I carry her story with me internally, everywhere. And I feel like sometimes there’s internal conversation that goes on between me and her and I go you just wouldn’t believe but, I guess the obituary is just an outward token of that, because it’s not like I open up my wallet and look at it. I guess it’s part of that I have that little token in my wallet. I reminded. She is with me wherever I go because she’s spoken into my life so meaningfully that she’s part of that. And it’s part of who I am.  And the UVO card, of all things, that was a gift from Fu. And he and YoYo were living in this, um, a medical foster home in Beijing and we went in 2008 to adopt YoYo and YoYo was 3 at the time and Fuxia was 7. And we didn’t know Fuxia at the time, hadn’t met him, didn’t know him before we went to China. And then when we went there we went to this foster home to sort of learn how to care for YoYo from a, from a medical perspective, because he had some pretty severe needs and this little guy kept following us around everywhere and he wanted attention all the time and he was so sweet and he was so adorable and that was Fuxia, and he was so bright.  And as we got ready to go, um, on the last day we were there, at this medical foster home, we prepared to go and we’re packing some of our things and we’re packing YoYo’s things. And he pulls us aside and he wanted us to go up to his room. And at the time he used a wheelchair for mobility, but his bedroom was on the second floor. So he pulled himself up the stairs by his elbows and took us to his room, and he pulled a little plastic bag out of his pillowcase and inside this bag were these five UVO cards and he handed us one. At first he handed us each one, and we said, how about we share one? So he wanted to give us that. And those were five things that are so precious to him that he hid them in his pillowcase, so that none of his other friends or none of the other children in the foster home could get those.  Those were his treasures.  That is all that he had that belonged to him as a human being.  And he shared that with us and how remarkable is that? That this little boy, would have that largeness of spirit. And so as we took that and we looked at that, he said, I love you but you do not come from me.  and we were crushed? So crushed? Because we did not. I mean we assumed we would never see him again. Because it’s not often that you can find a path back to a child in another country and so we were heartbroken as we went away with YoYo and for the next two years, I just carried that in my wallet and I looked at it every chance I got and I wondered what, what is he doing today? And at the end of two years when, at the end of the year, we started the adoption process and at the end of two years when we finally returned to China and when went to get him so much had happened in his little life and he was nine and he didn’t recognize that card anymore and he found it in my purse. We were at this hotel, um, on the day that we went to the consulate to find our, finalize our adoption. And, um, he said, what is this? and I explained the story to him and I told him about how I thought about him every day and he said, and then you picked me. And his face was like sunshine and those two lives are a part of mine. And I can’t lack self confidence when I remember and carry with me those reminders that I’m part of the journey that started long before my grandmother and it’s going to continue long after my son and so this is not all about me and this little moment.

Susan Long:                        Oh, Anna. Tears are in my eyes. Like that is just the most precious story. And who knew that it would take you down this road? I mean, there’s no way you knew back then. This is where this would lead you. And I just, Oh, the whole story is just fascinating and I love every bit of it. Um, I want to, um I want to switch gears just a little bit as I dry my eyes and every listener who finds this dries their eyes.

Anna Caudill:                      Everybody take a moment. Take a sip of your tea.

Susan Long:                        Right? So tell us, um, as we come to the end of our time together and I, we are going to have to have you back because this is just, I want to know, you know, I want to know how this is going. I want to keep up with this, but tell us, tell us how you recharge your batteries, because I know you’re going, going, going with this all the time. How do you, especially when it’s your children, how do you put it down?

Anna Caudill:                      Well, you know, it’s really hard to draw some boundaries and Shane has been really supportive in that too. Going hey, make sure you get some sleep tonight. But you know, there’s so many moms, right? Who, who do the business of “momming”  whatever that looks like for them.

Susan Long:                        Well this is “momming” on steroids.

Anna Caudill:                      Right. And then, at night, there’s the chance to learn when things have quieted when you have space there’s that chance to learn. For my mom, night was when she said sewed. And so to bring extra income into the house was sewing projects at night. But um, you know, so because of that I, I’m, I sleep late when I can and I allow myself that indulgence that I think a lot of folks probably don’t because they think there’s always going to be more stuff to do. So if I find a day when I can sleep a couple hours late I do it. I putter with gardening, I like keeping chickens, like raising chickens, that sounded weird for a second.

Susan Long:                        No, all us Paw Patrol moms just presumed you had a purse chicken and you probably don’t get that joke.

Anna Caudill:                      That’s a hilarious concept actually. But we also have some friends in Charleston that we met through adoption and they’ve got kiddos the same age as our kiddos and we get together with them every June for a week or sometimes more. That is so grounding and so refreshing and it kind of reminds us of being human. Cause, sometimes you have to have those reminders like that, right? And I’ve also found a surprising source of restoration going with my mom on quilting retreats.

Susan Long:                        I love that.

Anna Caudill:                      I know that sounds so weird. And I would’ve thought, I would’ve laughed 10 years ago cause I would have thought oh my gosh that’s the fudydudiest thing. But, I go with her on these quilting retreats and we sew for like three or four days straight. All we do is sew and gossip and eat chocolate.

Susan Long:                        That sounds like heaven.

Anna Caudill:                      Fabulous. It’s great. And there’s all these women there, and sometimes, the more I listen, the more outrageous stuff I hear. And it’s great.

Susan Long:                        I love that. I love every little bit about that. OK. One last question before we end. And that’s, you know, I know there are women who are listening to this who have something in the back of their mind, either they’ve always wanted to do and they haven’t jumped out there and done it or they’re finally like whatever about this podcast or something else that happened to them today. They’re, and after listening to you, they’re like, OK, this is my time and I need to do this, whatever this is. Um, I like action, you know, we have all these great ideas, but we don’t, nothing happens unless we take that action step. So if you could nudge somebody, if you could give that woman out there today who heard you an action step, what would that be?

Anna Caudill:                      The biggest thing that I can tell you, and I know that I’m spoiled to have a husband who is so supportive and empowering, but I really believe, that if you get quiet and you look around and you, at least for a season, get quiet that so many of us have what we need around us and in us and we just haven’t woken up to it yet. And so if I, you know, when I got overwhelmed at the beginning, that seemed so presumptuous to start a non-profit, I would sometimes climb into the van in the driveway cause it was the only quiet space.  I would sit there with my hot tea, you know, sheltered from the world and I would go. OK, all right. We can do this? So if you know that getting quiet and that, looking within that space to find what was already there in my life, other things that I already knew that I might otherwise overlook, that was so invaluable because that’s how we found board members. That’s how we became open to the idea of, you know, stepping into some other projects that otherwise wouldn’t have fit with a three year plan. Look to the people in your life that you want to learn from or those who have done something you admire and purpose to sit down with them for lunch or for coffee and seek their wisdom. And if you can’t go back to school full time, because I couldn’t. I had to choose between financing motherhood and financing Grad School. And I financed motherhood. And so now I have neither the time or money to go back to grad school. But, I can find ways to finance a one day seminar or I can apply for a scholarship to this professional organizations conference. So those little places and those creative ways of tackling those give you the tools that you need in smaller bites. And there’s times when you’ve got to break it down like that. In fact, when, when I went to the one-day seminar, um, that seemed like the biggest, it seemed like a baby step. It seemed insignificant. It was this one day seminar. It was six hours. It was with a special education attorney named Pete Wright, who had defended or successfully represented a student with special needs before the Supreme Court about 10, 15 years ago. Um, I hung around afterwards, you know, the way that um, people hang around after concerts. I hung around afterwards like a  geek at this attorney thing. And I asked him about that little piece of obscure writing that I mentioned earlier from, The IDEA, that referred to international adoptees. And he said, where did you find this? And I said, Oh, it was in this document. And it was actually in a larger document that he used in his court case. And um, he said that’s a great piece of research and I’ve held onto that like it was Easter candy cause it was so affirming.. That’s really helped me through some hard things. So find your Easter candy look around, look within, and find your Easter candy. You know, look at your own life and find the things that in retrospect, even if it was just one thing that prepared you for this moment, what was, who was there and what was that moment and for me it was when we didn’t expect that somebody had spoken to somebody else about us, and we got this call from Washington saying that we had been honored as Angels in Adoption and would we come up to this week long celebration. And at first I thought it was a prank because I was in the hospital with YoYo he was recovering from surgery and I thought, oh my gosh, who is teasing me and trying to get me to laugh while I’m in the hospital. And it turned out no, it was a very legitimate thing and an incredible organization that has a tremendous impact on adoption. And so we went up and we took part in this in, in Washington DC and when it was all over later, as I took that piece of, you know, congressional writing and I decided, which, you know, I took a risk and I thought, I’m traveling to DC and I’m going to ask some policy makers about this little piece of obscure writing. I’m going to find out from the source what’s behind this. Then, I was able to call some, I thought, well, why don’t I call some friends that I made during that week, of Angels in Adoption and maybe they can help me get my head around this and they taught me so much and they hosted me in their homes and they were women who had walked this road before and when I at the risk of asking that question and saying, Hey, I think this needs to happen is that if I think this is important and they had been helped by other women and they were so ready to share their, their gifts and their knowledge and any support that they could, you know, to help me take the next step. And that helped me be a lot bolder than I would otherwise because otherwise I’m the kid who would rather stay home and spin wool and read books and hold up in my own little shell.

Susan Long:                        Yes, and times are a changing sister friend and I don’t think we can. We can do that to recharge, but we can’t do that anymore. Can we?

Anna Caudill:                      Right. Yeah. I think living that way, I don’t know that it’s. I think at one point in my life I would’ve bought that as a luxury, I don’t know that I think of it as a luxury anymore because we don’t realize how much we minimize ourselves and allow ourselves to sort of fade into the wallpaper when we do that. And there might be seasons when you’re need to do that. And there might be. It might not be that you are the person who needs to start a nonprofit, but you might be really, really helpful on a board. I’ve had one former student call up and say, you know, I’m really great at organizational stuff. Could I help you start up a filing system to manage your stuff?

Susan Long:                        Shut the front door.

Anna Caudill:                      And I hadn’t even expressed that as a need. Not Anywhere

Susan Long:                        They can come to my house. Any day.

Anna Caudill:                      Right?! OK. So I have this organizational filing need in my coat closet. But no, I mean that there, there’s opportunities that are there and there’s people who want to be involved and it’s important to find yourself, you know, where can you be involved and where can you help?.

Susan Long:                        Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure there is so much more we could cover and I’m not kidding. You’re going to have to come back. Um, but tell us where we can find you on social media, how can we get involved in PALS if that is something we feel led to do?

Anna Caudill:                      Right now, we are online at www.postadoptionlearning.org We’re on Facebook at Post Adoption Learning Services and on Twitter we’re at, @postadoptlearn and um, right now I have more work that shows up on Facebook because that’s really accessible for me. We’re building the website and trying to built content. You know, thats one of those things that always takes time to formally write down the research that I’m doing but um, those are the three places.

Susan Long:                        Excellent, and we’ll link all of that on our website, um, once we publish this puppy so that, so that we can link back to you. So friends if you’re listening to this and you didn’t have a chance to write that down. Don’t feel bad, don’t feel like you have to go back and relisten. It will be on our website. Anna, thank you so much. So, so much for all you are doing for our kids. Um, we didn’t even get into it, but this just doesn’t, this what you’re doing does not just affect, um, international adoption or children with disabilities or international adoption, children with disabilities. On some level, this affects all our children and at the end of the day as a mom, I think that’s what a lot of us out there going to be fighting for is our kids. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate it. Um, yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. All right, well thanks so much and we will talk to you next time.

Susan Long:                        All right. Thank you.

Susan Long:                        I wasn’t kidding, was I? Isn’t she just great? I find her story so inspiring and empowering. She continuously spurs me to action and I hope our conversation did just that for you. If you liked this episode, I know you will be excited about our future guests, so go on over to itunes or our website and hit subscribe. I would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Also on our website, you’ll be able to find the links to the things we mentioned in the show as well as PALS website and social media info. Thanks again friends. I’ll see ya soon.

 

Caytie Langford

In her first interview, Susan talks with executive coach, Caytie Langford.  Caytie shares her story of walking away from the executive role she always thought she wanted after realizing it wasn’t what she wanted at all.  They talk about defining yourself through your work and what that looks like when you do a complete 180.  They discuss everything from starting your own business and how scary that can be to the importance of self motivation, self care, and techniques to bolster self confidence.

https://www.shawnachor.com

https://www.ted.com/talks/luvvie_ajayi_get_comfortable_with_being_uncomfortable

https://luvvie.org/im-judging-you-book/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1tTZSuHJKM (Sara Blakely)

Transcript:

Susan Long:                        Hey everybody. Welcome to our second episode of how she got here. I am so excited about today’s show.  Today, I’m speaking with Caytie Langford. Caytie is an executive coach, although that is not where her career started and we will talk a little bit about that. We will touch on topics such as the importance of setting boundaries and self care. We will also talk about self confidence as well as inspiring and empowering other women and how in turn that inspires and empowers us. Welcome to the show.  I’m excited you’re here.

Susan Long:                        Good Morning Caytie. How are you?

Caytie Langford:               Good Morning Susan. I’m great. How are you?

Susan Long:                        I am doing well and I am so excited to have you here today and I cannot believe this is finally happening.

Caytie Langford:               I know. I’m so excited.

Susan Long:                        OK, so let’s just jump right in. Um, and tell us exactly what you do.

Caytie Langford:               Yes. I am an executive coach and I specialize in helping ambitious, savvy women who just aren’t satisfied in their career.

Susan Long:                        And full disclosure, I know you’re an executive coach because you’re, my executive coach.

Caytie Langford:               That is right.  Yeah. What I do is I help women figure out exactly what they want to get clarity on that and we’ve worked to move them from where they are to exactly where they want to go and so it has been such fun working with you on this big project that you are launching.

Susan Long:                        Yes, and I really, I could not do it without you, but I want to go back. I want to go back to maybe the beginning to where. How did you get here? What, what did that look like? Because this is not where you started. This isn’t even how we met.

Caytie Langford:               It’s not, it’s not. We met actually when I was in fundraising. I spent the first 13 years of my career out of college in major gifts fundraising in north Texas and I like so many women had a plan of where I wanted to go. I was on the ladder climbing it constantly and I knew that I wanted to be in an executive role and so I worked really hard to get there. Was chief development officer at an organization sitting in my corner office one day looking out the window and realized that what I had was absolutely not what I wanted, and so I took a huge leap of faith after coaching on my own, tears, thoughts, speaking with my husband, and so I actually walked away from that career entirely, and that was about three years ago will be three years in May, so I had a total journey change to be able to get where I am today.

Susan Long:                        And that was an easy change to make. Right?

Caytie Langford:               Oh Gosh. I would love for people to think that was an easy change to make, but it was absolutely the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life. I was completely wrapped up in my job, my career, my title. It was how I defined myself. It was how others define me in our community and it was everything to me. I, you know, I have I’m married but don’t have any kids, and my career was it.  It was the thing, but I realized that I couldn’t be miserable at what I was doing. I really wanted to love my work. I wanted to love my job and in the beginning I did love fundraising. It was phenomenal. It put me in places and I had the opportunity to meet with people and work with people that I never would have come across, but in the end I was just totally burnt out and I just knew it wasn’t the right thing for me anymore.

Susan Long:                        How did you find what that next right thing was? Did you just wake up one morning and go, I think I’m going to be an executive coach?

Caytie Langford:               No, I actually, my husband owns his own business.  I thought that we were going to work together. I actually convinced him to give me a title and I started working on some projects with him, but in the meantime I really wanted to figure out what I wanted to do and I will say when I left fundraising, I was very intentional about not going back to fundraising and the weird thing is is that my phone rang from recruiters and people that I knew for a year. People wanted to know if I was going to get back in fundraising and I knew that that was something I didn’t want to do. I knew that whatever it was I was going to work on my own and so I thought working with my husband on our own would be a good fit. It ended up not being a great fit just. yeah, we just, we. We work really well in life together, but perhaps not so great at every day working partners. So I spent six months. I was very fortunate enough to be able to take six months off and do a lot of soul searching and a lot of digging and I did this a lot through conversations with people, prayer, meditation. I napped a lot. I spent a lot of time with my girlfriends and actually it was one of my girlfriends who took me to dinner one evening and she said to me, she said, ever since I met you, we met a couple of years earlier on a girls trip. She said, ever since I met you, I felt that I was supposed to tell you this, but I never realized when was the good time, and she whips out these papers out of her purse and she says, I think you need to become a coach.  She herself was a weight loss coach and she said, I think that you’d be fantastic at this and I want you to look into this. And it’s funny because I had worked with multiple executive coaches up until that point and in fact my executive coach that I was working with at the time really ushered me through leaving my job and figuring out what to do next and so I’m sitting there with my friend Cynthia and I just went and bought the book that she suggested (Self Help Coaching 101 – Brooke Castillo). I started looking into things. I started being really intentional, thinking about it, meditating on it, praying about it, and it took a couple of months before I really figured out this is exactly what I wanted to do, but it didn’t happen overnight. It definitely wasn’t that quick, but it did happen and it happened with a lot of intentionality.

Susan Long:                        Tell me, and this is not something I asked you before, but tell me a little bit about getting that first client, the work that it took to get to that point.

Caytie Langford:               Sure. So when I first started, I actually did group coaching and it was pure faith on my part. It really was the opportunity for me to step out, be super scared try something and what I did is I put together a list of about eighty women that I knew and told them that I was going to be putting together this group coaching program.

Susan Long:                        And they all called you and wanted your business.

Caytie Langford:               Yes. Every single one of them called me.  No, I had about fourteen women who said yes and signed up and went through an eight week program with me and I learned a whole lot about myself, a whole lot about other people and I did it scared to death every single week. I kept showing up and thinking, these women are going to figure out that I have no idea what I’m doing. But what was awesome about it was there are people that went through that program with me two years ago who still talk about the impact that was made back then and how they look at life differently. So it gives me such excitement and I’m just, I’m just awe inspired by those folks. But I will tell you so that while also super scary getting a big group of people, really what I do as individual coaching. So getting my first individual client was even scarier. Um, luckily I have a really large network and I had proven myself in the past.  And so I say, Luckily Susan, you and I have talked about this so much. So many of us women, we don’t own our successes. We, we chalk it up to luck or someone else or some something outside of ourselves. And so I’ve really actually shouldn’t have used that word luck. What I had done was I had proven myself in the past, with this woman, she was going through a change. She was really wanting to ramp up her business. She, she owns her own book of business and so worked with her. But the only reason that she said yes, the only reason that she wanted to talk to me about it was because I had proven myself in the past and um, and she took a leap of faith with me and we had an amazing, um, eight month run together and helped her accomplish her goals. So that first one was super scary, but it’s always the first one that we do. The next one and the next one and the next one.

Susan Long:                        I’m sure you had total confidence in yourself that entire time. So tell me, tell me how did you, how did you, how are you your best cheerleader? Because I’m sure you even have these moments now, right? How do you motivate yourself?

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, absolutely. So the one thing that I have learned about owning my own business and stepping out, doing something for myself, I’m not working for someone else, is that it’s a roller coaster. And the best way to get ahold of it is to not ride the highs and lows of the roller coaster. But obviously we do. We, we totally do. We get sucked into. I can’t, it’s not possible for me. I’m not enough, I couldn’t possibly be the right person and so I have some techniques that I use with myself and I actually teach my clients the same thing because really no matter what kind of change you’re going through, it’s that competence piece that holds us back. And so I always liken it to driving a car. You know, think about this when you were 16, 15, 16. The first time you got in a car to drive it.  I know for me it was with my grandmother in the parking lot at a mall before the mall opened one morning and I was terrified. Ya know, here I am in charge of moving this 2000 pound vehicle. And when I think about that, I had to think, I really had to think about every single thing I did when I first started driving. Put Your seatbelt on, put it into gear drive. Actually, you know, and now you think about it, you get in your car every single day, you don’t think about it, right? There’s times when you get out of the car and you’re like, I don’t even remember where. What was I thinking about? Cause I sure wasn’t thinking about driving and so I think the same thing comes to self confidence is that we have to act even when we are scared, even when we are nervous. So one of the things that I do, I use my journal every single day.  I’m big on gratitude journaling. I think there’s a reason why Oprah suggested it to all of us because it works. I think there’s a reason why, you know, Shawn Achor is selling books about how to increase your happiness and why gratitude works because it works. And so I do that daily. I encourage my clients to do that, but then I take it a step further and I have in my office, you know, the giant sticky pad, sticky notes and I have a list of what I call badass stuff that I’ve done and I’ve written out thing that I’ve done that at one point in my life. I thought it was scary and it’s everything from, you know, buying my first house, getting married. The first time I fired someone, I remember that was terrifying for me.

Susan Long:                        wow.

Caytie Langford:               Yeah. I even have going snow skiing the first time I went snow skiing, I was almost 30 years old,  I’m not really a daredevil, but for me that list is something that I can look at every single day so that when I am having that self-doubt, when I am having that loss of confidence, I can look at that and it’s almost a litmus test to be able to say, OK, what is this in front of you that you’re scared of and how does it compare to all these other things that you’ve done? And nine times out of ten it’s not even as scary as any of the things that I’ve done in the past. And so I think a big part of confidence, a big part of self confidence is you have to take the first step. You actually have to move into action and when you move into action that’s, when you get more confidence, more competence, and it grows from there.

Susan Long:                        I’m beginning to understand this action part. You have been a huge, huge help with that even with myself and that is the number one jumping off, taking the leap. That is so the hardest part.

Caytie Langford:               It is. It is. My favorite quote is Martin Luther King Jr. When he says, “faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” And I think about it in terms of What you just said right this leap we think of, you know, the pictures that we see on Instagram or Facebook with, you know, the girl jumping off the cliff and it seems so big and so daunting. And yet I think when we look at what Martin Luther King Jr said it, when you say it’s just the first step, when you can’t see the whole staircase, it’s not as scary sometimes when you think, oh, ok, it’s just the baby step.  Action. Absolutely.

Susan Long:                        I’ve listened to a Ted Talk recently by an author who wrote a book and I, for the life of me, I can see the cover and I cannot see the title of the book right now, (I’m Judging You The Do Better Manual) but her name is Luvvie and her Ted Talk. She talks about the same thing. She calls it like she talks about the domino effect and I think Mother Teresa even relates it to a ripple effect, you know, and it’s like you throw the first stone or somebody has to be the first domino to fall and then everybody else starts coming with you. And I think we’re seeing that now. I think we’re seeing that now with women.

Caytie Langford:               Absolutely. I think it’s an interesting time to be a woman for sure. I think that, what our grandmothers and great grandmothers lived through, you know, a hundred years ago or even less, you know, 50, 60 years ago. We definitely are in different time and yet we still have challenges. We absolutely do. And what I love about women is that we can create these communities, these tribes, if you will, of women who support each other, who can lift each other up. And I know that that’s one of the things that you want to accomplish and you want to make sure happens through this podcast, is that I think that when we are our best is when we are all helping each other get to where we want to go. I find it also super fascinating that by me taking a step in faith by me taking this leap to leave my career, how the ripple effect has. I’ve seen it, I see it every single day. There are people who work with me because I took that step and they think, ok, maybe it’ll rub off on them. Maybe I can teach them something and the reality is maybe I can teach them something and maybe it will rub off on them, but I think we also get confidence by seeing other people succeed, by seeing other people be brave. It teaches us that we can dig deep and be brave amongst ourselves as well and within ourself.

Susan Long:                        And I just love that this is your thing.  That this is your career, this is what you are helping women do every day is you are helping them take whatever that next step is and I love that.

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, I do too, Susan. I mean I. I got off the phone about 45 minutes ago with a client and almost every single time I get off the phone with a client I say, oh my gosh, I love what I do and I love helping them figure out what’s next and how to uncover what the next action item is.  I also really like helping them face their fears head because we all have them.  You were talking about self confidence. I am in the middle of a huge project that I don’t feel qualified for that I don’t  think I’m the right person for, but it’s something that I feel called to do and so I’m doing it, but earlier this week, I mean I was just wallowing in self doubt and self confidence. I just, I just thought, oh goodness, why me? I can’t do this. And being with my clients and helping them actually helps me because I see how brave they are and I can sometimes I steal some of their braveness. Absolutely.

Susan Long:                        Yeah, for sure. I think the more we can feed off each other the better, but I know you’re not the only person on your solo person team. Tell me a little bit about who’s behind the scenes. Are you doing this all on your own?

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, I definitely don’t do it on my own. Well, I think first and foremost, I’m really blessed to have a partner who completely just is my biggest cheerleader. My husband has owned his own business for 16 years, so he’s seen some of the things that I’m going through. Um, and so he definitely helps me out and is always there. He’s always encouraging me and I actually have my own executive coach that I speak to two to three times a month and there’s no way I could do it without her because just like my clients, I face some of those challenges and so she helps me. And then I definitely have a small group of girlfriends who are sounding boards who give me ideas and I talk through. And then I have a ton of just strategy partners and these are people I mean everything from my marketing people who did my website and my copywriting. If somebody said, oh, I love your website, did you do it on your own? And I almost burst out laughing.  I said, no way, right. Because I know what I’m good at. I know where I know where I have strengths and talents. And so I partnered with a lot of people who have other strengths and talents that really do make me look good and helped me get where it is that I want to go so I can focus on what it is I do well. But yeah, it definitely takes a village to do this work. And I think for any of us there’s some kind of village that we need to be able to get where it is that we’re going.

Susan Long:                        I want to switch gears just a little bit and I want to talk about you as an individual outside all of this and how you kind of let this go at the end of the day or recharge your batteries and how you take care of yourself. How do you, how do you put it away? how do you put it down for the day? Because that’s hard to do.

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, it absolutely is. And what’s what I want to start with is just sharing a little bit about success. So one of the things that I have learned is that I had to define success for myself. So what I realized in my former career was that success was always about somebody else’s external definition and not about my internal definition. And so when I got what it is I thought I wanted I realized I didn’t want it because it wasn’t actually what I wanted. So for me success is really simple and clear. it is my desire is to inspire, motivate, and impact the lives of women, period. End of sentence. And that’s something that I look to do every single day in my life. But I also think that you’re absolutely right is that even though I know that’s my life’s purpose and it bleeds over into lots of different things, including my volunteering, me just spending time with my friends, that kind of thing. I have to turn it off of work, right? Because at the end of the day, my coaching and my speaking is still work. And so I set boundaries. I’m very clear on when I take calls, when I don’t take calls, when I answer email, when I don’t answer email and it’s something that my clients know and I think they appreciate as well. But I do believe that we have to take time for self care and you and I have had these conversations. Everyone is talking about it and yet it almost seems counter intuitive to so many of us, right? Because early on we’re taught, put your head down, work hard and you’ll get exactly what you want. So the idea that we would pause, take a step back, do something for ourself. Like that seems selfish, right? it just seems off. And so what I have realized and what, what mentors have taught me is this balance between being and doing. We’re such a doing society, right? It’s the checklist, it’s the, I’m busy, it’s the, you know, I’ve got 97 meetings on my calendar today and a hundred and four things on my to do lists versus the being part, which is slowing down. Who are you, who do you know yourself or are you taking time to really be your best friend? Um, that kind of thing. And so for me, I have some specific things that I do for self care. One is I love to walk around my neighborhood. It’s just nice to get outside to breathe fresh air. I always feel connected to that. And the other thing that I really love doing is cooking. For me, cooking is a creative outlet. It’s a way that I can relax and I just love it. So there are days where I’ll bake bread in the middle of the day. I work from home so I can do that in between calls. But you know, some people that seem so stressful and for me it’s relaxing. The other thing about cooking for me personally is that it actually builds my confidence because I take a lot of risks and challenges and so, you know, one of the things I did in 2016 was I wanted to learn how to make pasta. Well now I can make pasta, homemade pasta, you know, not even think about it. So I’d move on to bigger and bigger things, trying new things and I realized if it doesn’t work then that’s ok. Right? There’s, that’s where the learning comes in, but cooking, being outside. for me also spending time with my girlfriends really is about self care. It’s about recharging my batteries and so I do those things. Um, and a good journal is always fun.

Susan Long:                        That definitely helps me clear my head as well for sure. So I know that there’s somebody out there who heard our conversation today. I’d like to say they overheard our conversation at the coffee shop and said in their head they’re going, it’s time, it’s time for me to take the next step to take that leap. I overheard this conversation for a reason. So what advice would you give that woman? What would be an action step that she could take to help her move forward?

Caytie Langford:               Yeah, absolutely. I think that the key there is action. You actually have to do something. I Also think that if you can have some kind of accountability, whether It be a small group of people, a coach, a pastor. somebody outside of yourself. I will also say, and this is something I talk with clients a lot about, is that there’s a difference in making this broad announcement to everyone in your world and keeping things a little bit closer to the vest and I think you have to figure out what that looks like for you. Every case is a little different, but you know, one of my sheroes, one of my, you know, women that I look up to so much is Sara Blakely who founded Spanx love her, love her story and if you read her story, if you’ve heard her speak about it. She didn’t have a Lot of people that knew what she was doing and she kept it there, kept it small to small group of people because she didn’t want too much noise. She knew that if she had a lot of noise, she might not be able to take those actions. I think that when you’re thinKing about what it is that you’re going to do, taking the action, it might be that you need to tell everybody in the world so that you have/feel accountable, but it might be that you keep it to a close set of advisors and when you’re ready to let more people in, you let them in. You know a couple of people at a time, but it is key for you to do something.  The other thing that I tell my clients all the time and I tell myself this is we have to suspend the belief that we’re gonna know how it’s all going to work because we don’t. We don’t know how it’s all going to work. I had no idea two years ago that my business would look like what it is. I had no idea three years ago when I was sitting in my office miserable that my life would look like today had no idea. And so what I do know is that when the resources are needed, when we need to meet the people we need to meet, when we need to learn the next step, it’s almost as if those things appear by magic and I don’t think it’s coincidence. I don’t think it’s magic, but when the time is right, if you take that step and action, the next step will reveal itself the thing that you need most, the resources that you need most will come to you. But it’s not gonna come to you if you don’t first take the step. So many people Just wait, they wait for the sign, they wait for, you know, the gift that’s going to pay for something or, or that kind of thing. And that’s just, that’s not how it works. You have to move first and then what you’ll need next will come to you.

Susan Long:                        Oh my gosh, it is so true. That is uncanny the way you just said that. Cause I’ve heard, I’ve heard other people say that, but just saying that today to me and just some of the stuff that has happened over the last couple of weeks. I just cannot. Yes, it’s absolutely true. I just, I can’t, I’m, I’m over here. You can’t see me, but I’m over here like my head is just nodding. Yes, yes. So in closing, I just want to say thank you so much for doing this. I am one. I’ve been a big fan of you for a long time. You were always one of those people who seem to have it all together. I love to know in this conversation that you don’t, but you do at the same time. Um, and I just want, I think everybody in the world should just call you and, or listen to you speak or hire you as a coach. I mean, you’re just a phenomenal, phenomenal person and you’ve done it and you’re doing it every day and I just, I absolutely love that.

Caytie Langford:               Well, thank you.

Susan Long:                        Can you tell everybody where they can find you, where you’re speaking next maybe?

Caytie Langford:               Well my next speaking engagement is next month, and I’m going to be speaking at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, that’s a long name.  Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. I’m speaking at their Next Gen Conference for women under 40 who are entrepreneurs and own their own businesses. And I’m their keynote speaker for that and so I’m super excited about that.  That’s in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole and I know tickets are still available so I would love to have people join us there for anybody who owns their own business and is a woman. You can find me on, on Facebook at Coach Caytie. I’m also on Instagram at Caytie Langford and my website is caytielangford.com.  And so the only thing you’d need to know is that Caytie is not spelled the normal way thanks to my awesome mom who was super creative. Um, my name is spelled Caytie, so Caytie Langford.

Susan Long:                        Awesome. And we will have links to all of this up on our website. And so all you have to do is go and click and follow or friend or whatever. And then the name of her, the spelling of her name will be ingrained in your head because it just doesn’t go away after that. It’s the best spelling ever. It’s so unique and it’s so fun. And I absolutely love it. Well, Caytie, thank you so much for joining us today. I absolutely love that you were here and friends. Just have a great week and Caytie we’ll have to have you back soon.

Caytie Langford:               Sounds great. Susan, thanks so much and ladies that are listening, I just want you to know that whatever dream is in your heart, whatever it is you’ve been noodling on, that you’ve been thinking about that wakes you up in the middle of the night, whatever that looks like, you can absolutely have it. You can absolutely make it your reality, so thank you Susan for having me.

Susan Long:                        Thank you.

Susan Long:                        Wasn’t that the most fun? I just love Caytie and find her so inspiring. She’s taken such a leap with her career change and not only has it paid off for her, but it has paid off for her clients as well because of her change, she is truly empowering others. thanks so much for listening today. If you liked this episode, I know you’ll be excited about our future guests, so go on over to itunes or our website and hit subscribe. I Would love it if you would also leave a review as I’m excited to hear what you think. Also on our website, you will be able to find the links to the things we mentioned in this show as well as Caytie’s website and her social media accounts.

Susan Long:                        thanks again, friends. I’ll see ya soon.

 

Premier Episode

In the premier episode of How She Got Here, Conversations with Everyday Extraordinary Women, Susan, the creator and host of the podcast, shares the tipping point in her life that drove her to action.  She was tired of being made to feel inadequate by messages she had heard and internalized since she was a young girl.  She also discusses how sharing her story with other women lead to her hearing similar stories from others.  The result of all of this has lead to the creation of this podcast. The goal of which is to share the stories of Everyday Extraordinary Women! 

Transcript:

Susan:                  Hey friends, welcome to the first episode of How She Got Here, Conversations With Everyday Extraordinary Women. I’m Susan. Your host and creator of this podcast and I’m grateful to have you join me. Ladies, we are on the cusp. We are living in a time of great opportunity and possibility. Women are rising together all over our country, all over the world. This space highlights everyday women doing extraordinary things. Why? Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” These everyday women’s stories we hear are the stones, stones, to inspire us, to create the ripples, calling us to be ourselves, to push our dreams, to reach a little higher than we thought we could. My goal each week is to bring you a guest with her own awesome and inspiring story. So consider this my invitation to you to accompany me on this journey. Come with me and let’s explore the fascinating and inspiring stories of the women around us. I hope we will laugh together. I hope we will cry together. I hope together we will learn more about ourselves. I confess, I don’t know where this journey will take us, but as Tina fey once said, “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the water slide over thinking it. You have to go down the shoot.”

So to me, one of the greatest part of going on a long trip with someone is that you get to learn so much about them and your relationship with them is never the same. So today I’m going to share a little about me.

A few years ago there were some huge changes in my life. My husband and I overcame a struggle with infertility and we finally had the baby of our dreams. That will be a whole separate episode that I’ll save for later date because that’s a hard subject. One evening after a particularly hard day, I put the baby to bed and finally had a moment to myself. I was watching television and what I saw on the screen sent the message loud and clear that as a woman I wasn’t enough.

And whether it was the straw that broke the camel’s back that night or the huge lack of sleep, I burst into tears and yet no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake that feeling in the pit of my stomach and it’s that feeling we all have sometimes. It’s that voice in the back of the head, my head and your head, and the anxiety that no matter what I did, I was never gonna be enough. This feeling consumed me and the fear of failure paralyzed me. These are messages I had heard either directly or indirectly all my life. Most recently it was a message I heard when I was talking with someone who was very close to me, and this is not a political podcast. This is just my truth and this is just a part of the story. It was the night that the Access Hollywood tape was released and I was on the phone with this person and I said, what if this man had been talking about me? And all this person could say to me at that moment was “he represents my values” and I was shocked.

But you know, like I said, I’ve heard this directly or indirectly all my life. I heard them in the church I grew up in where to this day in 2018, women are still not allowed to preach. I heard them in school when I was told I couldn’t wear shorts to school because they weren’t fingertip length. And like many of you, I’m sure I heard them from strange men, adults who cat called me when I was around, you know, 14, 15, 16. And the adults that I trusted said, oh, just ignore them and take it as a compliment that you look cute.

That’s the message we want to send to our young girls. That’s the message that I was supposed to get from that. That not only that I’m cute, but I’m supposed to take a cat call as a compliment. No!  No more. But I realized that these are messages that have been internalized and ingrained in myself, and I’m guessing some of them are probably in you too. And what’s worse is I kind of believed them. We’ve all gotten these messages on some level, haven’t we? And it seemed this night, this night that this breakdown happened with me, it seemed like it was a night that was years in the making, but I wasn’t just devastated anymore. I was angry and I was mad and I was tired of the BS. I cried myself to sleep that night.

I woke up the following morning and I was exhausted. I knew I hadn’t slept well, but I also woke up determined with a new sense of purpose. I reached out to a few friends who I consider to be sisters and I was reminded that I was at my best when I was surrounded by these women. They’re friends from college and I was fortunate to have graduated from a small single gender liberal arts college. It was an amazing bubble. It was safe and it was empowering for me and it was like no other place on earth. And I have not had that same experience since. I also reached out to my former professor for women’s history, Dr Melissa Walker for a list of books on our foremothers. I felt like a refresher would help on our history, so I read about Ida B. Wells, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B, Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, the early days, how it was started, why it started. I read about the Seneca Falls Convention, who was and wasn’t included and the privilege associated with that. I re-read the story of how long it took us to get the vote and in case you didn’t know, it took us 70 years to get the vote. Susan B, Anthony did not live to see the nineteenth amendment ratified. She died in 1906 and the nineteenth didn’t happen until 1920.

Y’all change takes a long time and sometimes it won’t come in our lifetime. I read about Catherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, and they had a really cool movie come out about those women, but the book was 100 times better. I read about Grace Hopper, Coretta Scott King, Sally Ride, Sandra Day O’Connor, and these are just a few, a few of my favorites.  Y’all, there are so many incredible women. Women we didn’t learn about in standard history classes and these are women that changed history that for sure will be a future podcast episode

During this time I also found it helpful to talk things through with a therapist and I know therapy is still sometimes a taboo subject, but just being able to talk this stuff out is really helpful and if you’re going through something, I would seriously encouraged you to do that. I also journal during this time and I started some serious spiritual meditation. I tried being still and I tried centering myself and eventually started to pay off. I started to notice things that I had not noticed before and hear things that I would have otherwise missed. I began to truly value these authentic moments, not just with myself but with those around me. I found that it was these moments that renewed my spirit. As I worked through all of this and started sharing my story. Other women confirmed similar situations and similar feelings. Apparently a ton of us are walking around looking pretty darn amazing on the outside, but on the inside we constantly feel like we aren’t enough, and I have had enough of that.

Have you? Y’all I want this space to be a place of peace. I want to create a place where we can celebrate. I want this to be a place of inspiration. I want us to be able to share our hopes and our dreams, but more importantly, maybe most importantly, I want us to be able to speak our truths and I want us to grow together. So that’s just in a nutshell my story and we’ll learn more about each other as this goes along. The next time we meet, I want to begin our journey together in earnest. In the meantime, I would love for you to reach out and say hello. Tell me about yourself. What are your hopes and your dreams? What do you think of our first couple of episodes? I would appreciate your feedback after all. This journey and this space is not just mine, but I want it to be ours. And I’m ready and I’m so excited for it to begin.

I’ll see you soon.