Name:: Kate Swoboda
Instagram Handle:: @katecourageous
Location:: San Francisco, CA
Occupation:: Creator of YourCourageousLife.com, Author of "The Courage Habit," and Director of the Courageous Living Coach Certification.
Secretly Obsessed With:: training for half-Ironman distance triathlons
On My Nightstand:: A ton of books, all haphazardly organized--endurance athlete biopics, textbooks by Irvin Yalom, assorted library books on the Impressionists
Last Thing You Read:: "The Road to Sparta" by Dean Karnazes
How did you get started on your career path?: I became a life coach in 2006. I immediately loved coaching, and at first, I thought that it would just be a fun side hobby to my full-time, salaried job as a professor. As the years went by, I found that I wanted more and more opportunities to coach, facilitate, and design curriculum, and I was creating different group coaching courses and talking to life coaches about where they were getting stuck in their businesses. The seed was planted for me to start a life coach training program, and initially, I resisted it--who was I, to think I could train and certify coaches? But the ideas kept coming to me and so, after a year of researching ICF standards and interviewing coaches from all manner of training programs, I opened up the first cohort of the Courageous Living Coach Certification. I've never looked back.
What key elements played into your success?: Staying agile and fluid in terms of which direction I go in has been key, for me. My brand is all about developing the habit of courage and cultivating emotional resilience, but I've never limited myself in terms of how that can be applied--I apply it to my life coach training program, to how I teach people about facilitation and group coaching, to money, to relationships, to handling overwhelm. I'd also say that tenacity has been important. My book proposal was rejected the first time I submitted it. I've had courses that bombed, launches that were crickets. I've wanted to give up on any number of occasions, and in those moments that's always when I've tried to remember that this is work I'd want to do, regardless of any external measures of success, and that makes it worth doing, no matter what.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?:
- Thinking "If I build it, they will come."
- No initial start-up funding or special connections--starting from zero
- Legal shenanigans when another coach started trying to bully me
- Having an autoimmune disease and not being sure how to manage entrepreneurship alongside illness
- And, of course, facing my own fears of not being enough, comparing my insides to someone else's outsides
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?: Danielle LaPorte has been the biggest influence for me in terms of thinking about entrepreneurship from a place of permission. Watching how she evolved her brand, building in generosity, compassion, self-expression, and not suffering fools was huge for me. A mashup of influence from Pema Chodron, Carl Rogers, and Irvin Yalom have most influenced how I think about the craft of coaching.
When do you feel most successful?: In the moment when a client or trainee or someone I've supported arrives at their own place of seeing that they ARE capable, it IS possible, and NOW is their moment, with nothing else that they need to be or do in order to step into what they want for their lives--and that it's all to do with them and their smarts and heart and hustle, not me. I only provided the container for them to explore what they wanted and navigate fear.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?: Make your business a reflection of who you actually are and the world that you want to live in. Build generosity into what you do, even before you think you can afford it--generosity of time, money, sharing of contacts or resources. Practice integrity first, before you think people are paying attention.
What advice would you give to women looking to enter your industry/space?: Minimize stress and let yourself grow, organically. For instance, just keep the sell-out job for a bit longer and treat it like your own personal Venture Capital fund for your business, rather than quitting and adding the stress of making ends meet while you're trying to get up and running. Or notice if you feel stress about "getting your website just right," and just let "done" be better than "perfect." Growing organically is about noticing where you feel constricted and where you can throw simple solutions at problems.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? : Inking a book deal for "The Courage Habit." Publishing a book with a traditional publisher had been a dream since I was a little girl, and I really had to shore up my ego when the proposal was initially rejected, and keep believing in the work and trusting that it would pay off.