Today is a good day because I have Cathy Heller joining me on The Purpose Show! Cathy is an author and she’s also the host of the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast. This episode is about motherhood. It’s about marriage. It’s about therapy and business. It’s about dreams, goals, and going and getting what you want. This is a message of deep, deep empowerment. I’m so honored to have Cathy and this message as a part of my show. Let’s jump in!
In This Episode Allie and Cathy discuss:
Cathy’s backstory & her marriage story
Marriage after babies
Finding your passion and building a successful business
Taking action on your dreams
Mentioned in this Episode:
Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
The Purpose Show Facebook Community
Don’t Keep Your Day Job Podcast
Allie Casazza on Don’t Keep Your Day Job Podcast
Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages: We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard. It is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself. The idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hello, gorgeous babe. How are you doing today? Check-in.
Let’s just take a deep breath together. Breathe all the way in. Seriously do it. Do what I’m saying. Otherwise it’s just awkward and I’m telling you to breathe for no reason.
Breathe all the way in. Hold it for a moment and just let it all the way out. Let yourself breathe.
Feel yourself breathing. Check in. You’re probably doing a billion things today and it’s a lot and it’s important to check in.
Today is a good day because I have Cathy Heller here. Cathy and I have become good friends. She is one of the best people I have ever met and I love her so much. I’m emotional right now because this episode is so good.
She is this incredibly powerful encourager. You are going to leave this episode feeling like a different, better version of yourself because that’s what Cathy does. My goal is to just be more and more like Cathy. She’s just a light.
This episode is about motherhood. It’s about marriage. It’s about therapy and business. It’s about dreams, goals, and going and getting what you want.
It’s about not choosing. It’s about not apologizing for every freaking thing that you do and that you want. This is a message of deep, deep empowerment. I am so honored to have the sound in this episode on my show.
Cathy is an author. She’s the host of the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast, which has something like 15 million downloads in three years. It’s taking over the world because of Cathy’s energy, authenticity, voice, and her message.
Cathy’s really a unique and beautiful soul because she’s surrounded by these really influential people that would intimidate anyone else. And she says, “That’s great. I want to learn from them, but I don’t really want to be like them. I know who I am. I know who I want to be.”
And that’s something that you hope is contagious because it’s so beautiful, so authentic, and encouraging. This conversation is so good. I’m going to stop talking now and let you get into it.
But at the end, Cathy gives some instructions on where to find her and I want you to run and go connect with her on Instagram. Go order her book. Go listen to her podcast.
I actually was just on her podcast and we will link to that episode in show notes. If you just go to alliecasazza.com/podcast you can find the show notes for this episode, and go and listen to my conversation over on her show because I talked about how as a mom of four I built a fortune and an empire without formulas, sleazy strategy, and things that didn’t feel good to me. We both had really great conversations with each other on separate days.
All right guys, let’s hear from Cathy. Make sure you take a screenshot and share this episode. It’s going to encourage the crap out of everybody who hears it. Let’s hear from Cathy.
ALLIE: Cathy, thank you so much for coming on The Purpose Show and spending time with us. How are you doing?
CATHY: I mean you’re one of my new favorite humans ever. You were just on my podcast and it was literally fire from the first second you started to the last. You’re a gift Allie. You really are a gift to all women because you can be unabashedly yourself and you can be loved just being you. That is such a gift.
You give people really clear tools of how to live their life in a more effective, peaceful way. And I just think that’s amazing. So I’m really happy to hang with you today.
ALLIE: Thank you so much! You’re such an encourager.
Why don’t we start by you telling everybody about your life, your family, your business, and what your days look like?
CATHY: Sure. Well, I live in Los Angeles. I have three little girls—a 3-year-old, a 6-year-old, and an 8-eight-year-old. And it’s gotten crazier and crazier now that all three are homeschooled.
My husband was my next door neighbor and I never thought that I would date him until my sister said, “Why do you keep going out with other people? Just date him.”
In fact, one time I was straightening my hair and he popped in. I was on my way to a date and he goes, “Do you want me to call you 20 minutes in if it’s awful?”
He was the person who would call me if it was a horrible date. Anyway, we’ve been together 13 years.
The funny thing is when we got married, I was a struggling songwriter. My husband had a decent job, but nothing fancy. We lived in a little apartment.
Would you believe I started making more money and more money (it’s kind of a cool story) and now my husband doesn’t have a job? So you and I have that little bit of a story in common. Who would have thought?
It’s kind of awesome. It’s a little bit like the four-hour-work-week, although I think that’s not quite accurate. I would say it’s like a four-hour day for me. I work four hours a day.
But to be able to make a few million bucks a year working four hours a day and then hanging out with my kids is such a dream. And so far from how I grew up with a single mom living in an apartment in South Florida.
My husband slept on the floor. His dad died when he was a kid. And the two of us had really nothing monetary when we got married. It was the-two-of-us-against-the-world kind of thing.
We got married and bootstrapped the funds to figure that out. Our parents couldn’t really help us at all because they don’t have that financial anything. I remember when we had our first and second daughters we were living in an apartment and we had no air conditioning. I remember being so pregnant and so hot and thinking, “I don’t want to live this way forever.”
We had two little girls in this little apartment, heaps of laundry, the stairs that you’d have to walk up from the back of the duplex were sort of rickety and my daughter fell once. We would have our landlord try to come and fix the laundry machine all the time, but the clothes always smelled like mildew. And I thought, “I wish we had more. I wish we didn’t have to struggle.”
It seemed like that would always be our story. We live in LA and my husband’s mom’s a widow. As I said before, his dad died when he was a little boy, so he didn’t feel like he could leave LA.
I was a songwriter and it was really purposeful to me to have that dream and leaving LA would mean giving that up. And so, it really felt like we were going to be stuck there for a long time.
Then everything changed. My life is so different and yet so the same. It’s kind of a fascinating journey.
ALLIE: Yeah. I love that. I love your marriage story. What’s popping out to me is you and your business, and the similarity with you and your husband and me and Brian.
I look back on our marriage and, first of all, I’m not really sure how we made it because there was so much financial stress and that financial stress was strangling love and joy. It was so heavy for us.
But at the same time I look back on it and I’m so thankful that we didn’t have anything. We didn’t start out with solid jobs, degrees, and all these perfect things lined up. It was a mess. And because of that we had to figure it out.
CATHY: It’s really brave of you to share that you almost didn’t make it. I can say the exact same thing. I don’t know if I could even say that the financial stuff was the reason we didn’t almost make it.
To get really super personal, I think everybody is carrying around some stuff from their childhood, some kind of trauma. The way I see it is that pain is inevitable. Part of the human experience is painful, right? That’s just part of how it is.
I think pain is inevitable, but I think suffering is optional. I think we all suffer unnecessarily because we haven’t quite learned how to deal with some of the stuff we’re all carrying around. I think what happens in marriage is that you see your partner through a projection of stuff that your dad did or stuff that your mom did.
I know that as human beings, we’re always looking for evidence of what we believe is true. If you have a core belief that all men cheat, or no one really sees me, no one really gets me, or I’m always on my own, you’ll think, “See, that proves it.”
My husband is super loyal, super sweet, and yet I feel like it’s only recently that I really see him. I feel so lucky to be married to him because for so many years I was working through the feelings that I carried around that were from my parents’ violent marriage and their horrible divorce.
My mom struggled with depression and all of that landed and stayed as part of my programming. I would have all these ways of interpreting things he would do, or being mad, or being easily upset, so easily insulted or so easily like, “That’s it, it’s over. It’s hopeless.”
And he would say, “What happened? Where did you go?” And then he would carry around all these feelings of, “See, you’re so controlling. I have no autonomy.”
Because his dad died when he was a kid, he felt like all of a sudden he became the husband and he was very put upon, he was expected to do too much. He was expected to hold too much emotionally for her and to do too much of the physical stuff around the house. You know what I mean?
So I’d say, “I’m not controlling.” And he would say, “I just need space. I never had any.”
So, I think it took us a while to look for how we could heal our own stuff and then actually see, “Oh my God, you’re my friend. You’re my partner. You’re my advocate. You’re not that person doing that to me.”
It took many rounds of going back into the pit and then going, “Wait, why am I here again?”
ALLIE: That’s so well said. Everything you said, the picture you just painted makes me feel like I want to cry because it’s so like Brian and I used to be. We’ve been married for 12 years and I feel like more than the first half of our marriage was this time of figuring it out, plus the financial strain.
CATHY: It’s a lot. And then add to it having babies because no one talks about it. What people do is they say, “Let’s have your baby shower! Oh my God, we did a gingham theme! Oh my God, we’re doing an Island theme. This is the cutest stroller ever. Oh my God!”
But nobody talks about the fact that once you have that baby, you’re not having sex. After you have that baby you don’t want to be touched. You’re exhausted. You’re depleted. All the real stuff.
We have three kids. I remember we’d have a kid and it would be like, “Oh my God, we’re so happy she’s here.” And then I would hate my husband for 9-10 months.
We would reconnect and things would start to get better and then I would get pregnant and have another baby. We would go through this time of, “You don’t understand! My hormones are surging. I’m getting up in the night and you want me to do this?”
One thing I can say for women, because I’ve learned this as a woman myself, is that the way that women treat themselves and how we do not take care of ourselves on the whole, it’s literally abuse because it’s neglect. If you did what you do to yourself to your child, that’s called neglect. You’re going to jail.
Think about what we do with ourselves. I don’t give myself the time to meditate, to take a walk, to take a bubble bath, to have a glass of wine. I do nothing for myself. And It’s like a badge of honor like, “Oh my God, I never take care of myself. Never.”
Awesome. Great. You don’t have one 15-minute window in your entire day where you take a walk, you breathe, you go work out, or see a friend? Why are you proud of that? That was me for a decade.
How do I expect to have a good marriage when I’m basically saying I don’t matter. I don’t take care of myself. It’s your job to fill me up. Can’t you fill me up?
No, he can’t. Happiness is an inside job, right? It’s not fair.
ALLIE: And then on top of that is this other layer of when a woman is doing those things—she is taking care of herself, she is having a glass of wine, resting, just sitting in the backyard for an effing second in peace, the comments from others start coming in like, “Well, it must be nice.”
It’s so passive aggressive. It’s a war. We’re at war in our own selves so we’re at war with each other. It’s this destroyer of peace and total camaraderie.
CATHY: And you know what’s really the opposite of that? When both people have time for themselves and we support that in each other. When we say to our husbands, “I’m starting this side hustle and it’s really lighting me up. What’s your passion project? Go do that. I want you to have time in the week to do the things that you need. If you need to get on Zoom with your buddies and laugh for a while every week, make sure you do it because I’m going to grab a glass of wine and do a happy hour with my friends on Zoom.” That’s so good.
Over the years as I was growing my side hustle, I became married to my job because it felt so much better than being in my marriage. But then I wound up, thankfully, having a really big effect on my husband.
He realized that he could quit his job because we were financially really in a good place. And I said, “What would you do if you just went for it?”
So now he’s been working on his passion project that he’s wanted to do his whole life, which is writing comedy. It’s just fun for him. It’s not like he’s yet had any big success, but he’s doing it.
He loves it. He’s taking classes. He’s even taking a class right now on Zoom with a guy who writes for SNL.
He’s just loving it. He’s playing guitar. It’s great for the marriage because then he comes downstairs and he’s in a really good mood.
ALLIE: Yeah, I love that so much. I always think about in the old days when Brian was working like a dog and he worked 14-16 hour days/six days a week. It was crazy. It was hard, but he got us through.
And for me to now be able to come in and create this beautiful life for our family where there’s control and choices feels so good because there was no choice before. It was, “How many dollars do we have? Which thing do we buy? We can’t even do this.”
There are choices now. And to create that atmosphere for my family is so empowering. I know that we share that and it’s really beautiful to see.
CATHY: For our 10-year anniversary, we talked about whether we should go to Paris or if we should have another wedding and renew our vows. We talked about all these things that we could do but in the end we decided to go to Onsite.
Onsite is a week-long workshop outside of Nashville. Now they’re actually doing them online. But it’s a personal development week where you are basically in therapy.
They’re all therapists; they’re all clinical psychologists. You’re there for a week, you give up your phone, you sit in group therapy, and it’s beautiful. I was inspired by it because a lot of people I knew had gone there (a lot of podcasters actually), and I was curious about what it was like. And so, we went.
But when I say that we went, I mean we each did our own week separately. He went for a week and I went for a week. It’s all inner-child work. It was so powerful for our marriage.
I want to tell you one thing that I learned there, which was really one of the most powerful things I’ve ever learned in my life. I was sitting in this group, there’s 70 people there, but then they break you into groups of seven. You’re with your group the whole week and the therapist does different things with every person.
You think you’re coming in to work on your marriage or you think you’re coming in to work on this issue you’re having with your sister or with your business, but it’s all your own stuff, right? That’s how everything always is. It’s something inside of you.
I was sharing with her my thing and then she said, “Okay, stand up here.” And so I was standing there and there was a big stack of pillows in the corner and she said, “You see that stack of pillows? Bring the whole stack over here for a second.” So, I bring the whole stack and she said, “Now have somebody in the room play you as a kid.”
I’m like, okay. So I asked this sweet girl, “Okay, you sit there, you play a little Cathy. All you have to do is sit there.”
Then the therapist said, “Now, I want you to take a pillow and hand it to her and pretend you’re your mother telling her something that’s really intense that your mom would say to you as a kid.”
I walked over with this pillow and I said, “I don’t want to live.” Because my mom was suffering from depression.
The therapist handed me another pillow and said, “Now, tell her something that your dad would say.”
I said, “My dad would tell me that he is not in love with my mom and he’s having an affair.” (Which was my life as a kid).
She said, “Okay, give the pillow to her.” Then she said, “Now, have your mom say something else.”
By the end, this sweet girl was holding this stack of pillows and everyone in the room was crying. And the therapist asked, “Can you even see her behind those pillows?” And I said, “No.” Because you couldn’t physically see her.
And the therapist asked me, “What are you going to do about it?”
I said, “She’s got to get rid of those pillows.”
She said, “Yeah, so go over there and do what you need to do to get rid of them.”
I go over and I throw them off of her. The therapist whispered to me, “Tell her you don’t have to live there anymore.”
I said it. Then she said, “Now tell her, ‘I’m coming to get you.’ You just go tell her that.”
So I told her. And she said, “Cathy, you don’t have to live there anymore.”
And Allie, that literally changed my entire life. Let’s go back. All of us, anyone listening right now, go back and picture yourself at 8-years-old standing in the living room.
Think about that little girl and what she has survived since then. And give her some grace. When you do that, you remember, “Oh my God, I have forgotten myself. I left myself a long time ago.”
I think part of the problem in people’s marriages and people’s businesses is there is an 8-year-old little girl who’s gone through so much. She is so invisible and no one’s here for it. You know—because this is what you do—for the house to get clean, it’s got to get messy first.
Bring everything out of the closet and lay it all out. Now let’s hold each piece and think, “Do I need this anymore? Is this serving me? Can I let this go? You know what? I’m not ready to let it go. I need to hold onto it a little longer.”
When I talk to people about their business and they tell me that they have a problem with business or a problem with marketing, it is a courage problem. It goes back to that little girl inside of them.
It goes back to, “I’m not ready to let go of the thought that I’m not worthy. I’m not ready to let go of the thought that in order to be loved I have to do all of these things. And I don’t know for sure if I’ll be liked and I’ll probably get rejected so I can’t do it.”
It’s all inner-child work and this is in your marriage and this is in your business. When you get super raw and you bring the darkness into the light, you’re going to break through. And that’s what’s so exciting—the bigger the pain, the bigger the possibility for a breakthrough.
ALLIE: That’s so good. You’re basically a therapist now.
CATHY: That’s correct. Well, you know the thing is I’ve had so much of it since I was 15 that I feel like I do it in my own way.
ALLIE: I think that my favorite thing is that you guys chose to go to that place, that event for yourselves for your anniversary. I think it’s really beautiful because it’s like this marker of, “We have made it so far, a decade, and to celebrate that we want to become better versions of ourselves for each other and that looks like separate.”
I think that’s so mature and wise and I definitely am going to steal that idea and look up that site.
CATHY: Hallelujah. Hosanna. That is it. That is really it.
We looked at all the things that we could do and I said, “Or Onsite is about $6,000 or $7,000. We could each go do Onsite.” And we both said, “Oh, we are definitely doing that.”
ALLIE: I love it. You get to the root of things. You’re so deep.
You are such a powerful woman. You’re such a great leader. You’re such an amazing business owner.
You mentioned earlier, pivoting over to business, that you work a few hours a day. I don’t meet a lot of people that say that. I feel like most business owners are driving themselves into the ground. They’re connected all the time.
For me it needs to feel good, so I would say 3-4 hours a day. But what does that look like exactly for you? Do you Vox with your team or are you connected outside of that? What does your work week look like?
CATHY: First of all, yes to all of those things. And look, I was not an AP Bio student. I was a C+ student. Not that I’m proud of it, but guys, my family life at home was so violent and so insane.
It’s amazing I even got to school. If you just only knew the stuff, right? I barely graduated high school. I barely even showed up for class.
The point is I don’t expect myself to do it perfectly. I don’t walk into the world saying, “I was a straight A student. I had all this pressure on myself.”
I tell myself, “You know, what, Cathy? Just fricking do it! Do it messy.”
I think because I’ve been through so much, because I had so many family problems so early on, I knew that for every human, the most important thing is the essential stuff. So forget all the other stuff.
And because my mom was suicidal most of my life, I knew I was not going to choose to take on some life that was awful. I thought, “Wait, whoa. Who says it’s so? Who says that in order to work I have to be miserable? Who says that in order to be an adult, I have to sacrifice my joy? Who says it’s so?”
That’s what it was for my parents. I was told, “When you get married, you’re going to choose someone you don’t like. That’s just how it is. When you grow up, you’re going to have to put all your dreams aside till retirement.”
Who says it’s so? And so, because I didn’t want to become depressed and suicidal, I was constantly trying to figure out what would really delight me. What would delight me?
That’s why I was a songwriter at first because I was not going to go the conventional route. I had too much riding on it. I didn’t want to be a cautionary tale, so I did what delighted me.
As a songwriter, it takes a little while to figure out how to be sufficient in terms of income, but I actually did. Then as I was working on that, I kept saying, “But what would delight me?”
We can do anything, right Allie? I want to create the paradigm of what I want it to look like and build it.
There are people who work hard and there are people who work smart. And I would think to myself, “It feels like it’s harder to make $45,000 than it is to make a million because the people who make $45,000 are on their feet all day long, making $15 an hour.”
It just seems stupid. Let’s pull back. With the same hours in the day, how can I get more out of it? What do I want this to look like?
I didn’t want to have to choose between being a mother and having a career. My mom told me my whole life that the reason that she was depressed is because she had to give up her dreams to be a mother. And so I thought I’m not going to make that be a choice.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I was like, “Oh no, I wonder if when this baby is handed to me, all my dreams are going to melt away and I’m going to be depressed and brush her hair in the morning feeling like I’ve lost myself?”
I didn’t want that. So, with every baby I had, I intentionally built my thing. It was like a nap time empire, like my friend Nikki Elledge Brown calls it.
I would write music while my daughter was napping and then I would pitch the music to film and TV shows while my daughter was napping. I just kept saying, “I refuse to make it all or nothing so I’m going to have to be a problem solver.”
And by the way, I think when you have an abusive, crazy childhood, you become a good problem solver. There’s lots of things you can become, but I think I became a good problem solver.
I just kept making that be the question to answer, “How do I want this to look? And if I get really cool about it and clever, I’m going to keep solving that problem. How do I do that and still have my time? How do I now make the most money? How could I possibly make the most money in the least amount of time?” I kept asking those questions.
You know what happens when you ask those questions? You figure out answers.
ALLIE: Yes! That’s so good.
CATHY: I started my podcast when my third daughter was 10 days old. It’s three years later, we have 15 million downloads, but there wasn’t an expectation to be a perfect podcast. Do you understand why I said that at first? Because if it has to be perfect, there’s no way. But if you do it messy…
I want to say one more thing and I want people to hear this. When I actually look at my business and I look at the things that actually move my business forward, that probably takes 90 minutes a day. Everything else is you’re busy. You’re fluffing.
You don’t have to spend 20 hours a week noodling on your website. You don’t have to worry about the copy for 14 hours. You don’t have to sit over every photo and go, “That’s the problem.”
That’s why I started by saying I was a C student, because it doesn’t have to be perfect. But, here’s the other thing I said—it’s about what’s most essential. So, how I do my life is that every day I ask myself, “What is core to actually move my business forward?”
I’m going to do that a few hours a day and nothing else. I’m not available for anything else. Which means I barely check email. I know the essential things.
Here’s what the essential things are for me: A core piece of content. Engaging in 10 real conversations a day on Instagram, back and forth with people who DM me or people who comment. Going more forward with that, saying that I want to know you.
Because I do. I want 10 real conversations a day so I can know who I’m serving and what they need. I want to stay close to my humans so I can serve.
Content. True engagement. Deep engagement (which I don’t think anyone is talking about that enough). Then asking, “What is the sort of thing that I’m offering? What’s the offer?”
I think if people look at their life, the reason they’re busy is because the things that they’re really supposed to do to move their business forward, they don’t want to do them. We haven’t talked about it so much yet, but my business is that I was a songwriter and I was working hard, right? But I wasn’t working smart until I thought, “I’ve got to work smart.”
I was dropped from a record label. I worked a few day jobs and hated it. I got married and I thought, “How am I going to be a songwriter?”
I wound up licensing my music to shows like Pretty Little Liars, Switched At Birth, One Tree Hill, The Fosters. I wrote music for Coca-cola and McDonalds. On the wall behind me are magazines—Billboard, Variety—full-page stories, because I started making $300,000 a year licensing music. I realized, “God, that’s the smartest way.”
You have to choose your fishing hole, right? I could have stood on a subway platform singing my guts out, making $11 in a hat. Or I could say, “Wait, where’s my fishing hole?”
I don’t want to take a worm to the canal and try to get a Marlin. They’re not there. So instead of sitting there trying to get one person to give me $2 or going on a tour, right? You’re trying to get 15 people to show up at your show in Milwaukee? Good luck.
You go around the country, you come back, you’re broken, exhausted. That’s not smart. That’s working really hard and not working smart.
Instead I stepped back and said, “Cath, you’ve got a good voice. You’ve got beautiful songs. Who’s your fish? How are you going to do this?”
I stepped back and I started doing research. Where could I possibly make money with my music? And I realized Disney soundtracks, Paramount, NBC, ABC, they’re paying $10,000-$11,000 per song for the songs on their shows.
All right, they’re going to be my customer. What do you need? What songs do you need? What themes?
That was a huge lesson I learned about business. Business is not about, “Here’s what I made; I hope you like it.”
Business is literally radical empathy. Business is what do you need? Let me go make it.
I would make these calls, my phone shaking in my hand, and I’d say, “Hi ABC, who chooses music?” They would hang up on me and I’d have to call back. And I remember thinking, “I feel so stupid. I feel so scared.”
But I wasn’t going to let this fear stand in the way. I would finally get through to the woman who chooses music for this show or that show, and then I would do something no one did.
Instead of pitching her anything and saying I’m a songwriter, I would say, “I’m such a fan of your work. I’m really anxious right now and it’s really scary to call you, but I would love to know what stories you’re telling in these episodes. What are the characters going through? Could I possibly go write something and see if I could be helpful?”
And she would say, “No one does that. People send me records and ask, ‘Can you use this?’ as opposed to, ‘What do you need? Let me go write it.’”
And so, I started writing songs and I would license six songs a month. The ads paid $50,000- $80,000.
Here’s the thing, it’s a license. It’s the right to use it. They don’t own it.
So I would license the same song. One song would make $250,000 because I’d license it to Pepsi, Target, and a TV show. I’d write a theme song for a Netflix show.
I started doing that and $300,000 was starting to come in. My husband still had his job though because you didn’t know if it would be feast or famine, right? We were depending on whether I got a good month or a bad month.
I was so cute. I would get in an airplane and fly with my two kids at the time to Minnesota to go to General Mills and Target, walk in with a frappuccino and say, “Hi! I’m unannounced. These are my kids. What do you suggest that we do in town? Go apple picking? Okay, cool. Can I talk to the person who needs music for Target or for Kellogg’s?”
They’d say, “Sure. You can talk to so & so and marketing.”
I’d say, “Hi! I’m going to leave. I know I’m annoying. Yeah, I had to bring my kids with me because whatever, but I just happened to be in Minnesota. We didn’t want to not see you guys and what do you need?”
And she’d say, “Oh my God, we make relationships with people.”
The point is, after a while, what actually changed my life completely was that other songwriters heard that I was doing this and started asking me to teach them. And I was like, “No, I don’t even know what that means. I’m not here for it.”
Then, over a two-year period, I literally got hundreds of emails from people who said, “I heard that you do this. I have no idea how to do that.”
And my husband said, “Maybe you’re being a little precious with your ego. Why can’t you teach?”
And I said, “Because I’m an artist. I don’t teach. I play music. I sing.”
And he said, “Or maybe you can help people and God is calling on you to do that?”
And I thought, “You know what? Why am I being so stubborn? I’m just going to do it. I’ll do it once, messy.”
So in my living room, I invited 10 songwriters. Over they came.
And at the end of the workshop their mouths were agape. They were saying, “I need to come back. Please don’t leave me hanging. Can I get the next part?”
I wound up teaching three or four live workshops. Then this woman in Northern California heard about me through a friend and she said, “For those of us who live near you and can’t fit into your little tiny living room, can you teach this online?”
This is 2017, three years ago. I said, “I don’t know what that means. I’m a songwriter. I don’t have an email list. I don’t have an Instagram. I don’t know what webinars are. I’ve never heard of Amy Porterfield. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She said, “Just look into it and then if you wind up figuring that out, would you let me know? Because I would love it.”
I was pregnant with my third daughter and my husband said, “Look, you have a due date. It’s eight weeks from now. Try to throw up an online class and again, do it messy. Don’t overthink it.”
I created my first webinar, no slides, right to camera, pregnant, sweaty. I said, “Hi guys. I write music for film and TV. This is my story. Blah, blah, blah.”
At the end of it I said, “If you want to hang with me, this would be the class.”
And I made it up on the spot. $147,000 came into my bank account that night. And I thought, “What is happening now? What really is happening? What in the actual eff?”
Then my daughter came. I wound up launching that course again six months later and I made it even better. I sweetened the offer because I knew more about what that looked like. And that time we made $440,000 and I thought, “Wow!”
ALLIE: What price point felt good to you at this time? What did you charge?
CATHY: That’s a good question. So I heard that classes were $997, that there was something about that number. So my first one, I totally over-delivered because it was a year-long class for $997 where I showed up personally, live, every single week. Teaching people a different topic, listening to their songs, giving them feedback, but I learned a ton.
ALLIE: You started and then you figured out, “Oh, I don’t want to show up for money that’s been spent in two months. I want to scale a business.”
CATHY: It took me time to know what my time was worth. It took me time to understand how I wanted to set it up. But now that program, which is called Six Figure Songwriting, is $3,000 for six months and I only show up twice a month.
I have a Director of Music, who was one of my first students. He came into the class with $0 and got his first song in a Starbucks ad and made $54,000. Then he got another one, another one, another one of them.
Thank God we’ve had 25% of our students make tons and tons of money. It’s amazing that they’ve taken action. They literally make hundreds of thousands dollars. Now I pay him to teach the class for me and we have several prior students who are mentors in that class.
But here’s the cool thing. Halfway through that class, that very first round, one of my first students said, “You should start a podcast. This is not about music. You are teaching us how to cold call, be personable, figure out who your client is, know who your ideal client is, what they need, how to assess what they need, how to sell it, how to market. This is for anyone with a creative dream.”
I started Don’t Keep Your Day Job right around then. I thought, “I’m already busy. Let’s just throw it all in the kitchen sink.”
And now that podcast has 15 million downloads. I wrote a book. And now what I teach is how do people make a business? Now it’s not just about songwriters, right? It’s about what are the possibilities to leave my job I hate and be my own boss?
Now it’s crazy. We launch several programs a year and every launch makes over a million dollars. I have a great team.
We do three team meetings a week from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m that I have to show up for. We Voxer otherwise. We have our clear process goals and our progress goals.
We know we put out a certain amount of podcasts a week, which means I need to do this many recordings. We have things that have to get done by Friday and my team knows what those things are.
Sometimes I have a new launch and that will require maybe a little more time, but it’s pretty easy because once my class is launched, I show up when I show up and my team shows up the rest of the time. You get support around you.
The Up & Up Academy is officially open for enrollment for the first time in history!
I am so excited. I’m jiving all around in my seat because I can’t freaking wait to get everybody in there and start helping you grow your message, your mission, your business, your revenue, yourself!
Online business owners, this membership is for you!
The Up & Up Academy launched and it is open! It’s a monthly membership for the online business owner who wants to grow.
If you’ve already got a business and it’s going but you’re kind of stuck. It’s not where you want it to be. It feels like you’re not growing at all or you’re growing at a snail’s pace and you are ready for more.
You want to go higher, further, spread your message, and see real growth happen both when it comes to money and when it comes to your audience and building a tribe.
This is one all-encompassing course that does a really beautiful job of balancing strategy and spirit.
We’re going to focus on money blocks, mindset, emotional health, and also technical strategies that you can implement in your business.
The same things that I did to go from zero to seven figures in 18 months in my business.
I am going to teach you exactly what I did, but it’s a membership style, so the content is dripped out in monthly chunks so you have a chance to learn a little bit, implement, learn a little bit, implement, and not get overwhelmed. Because how overwhelming is all the teaching and all the business advice out there? It’s is so much.
This is a one-stop shop.
Come sign up! You’re going to learn from me. You’re going to learn from other experts. We’re going to give you what you need to launch your business to the next level and beyond.
There is a founding members price that will not be seen again. You’re going to want to get in now! It’s a monthly payment, super doable.
I can’t wait to see you in there! Let’s grow your frigging business!
ALLIE: I have a logical question for you. We talk about this a lot because I’m a podcaster, obviously. Where does your podcast fit into your business model?
Do you view it as just a lead magnet and you’re growing your list through it? And that’s the free content you put out? Or are you doing other free content? Does that make sense?
CATHY: My podcast, I feel, is the heart of my whole business. I feel like it is everything.
When I was writing my book, McMillan, my publisher, said to me, “What’s the most important part of the book? We want to be able to call it out when we are pitching it.”
And I said, “Audience.”
You need an audience. Whatever you want to do. If you want to sell t-shirts or cupcakes, you need an audience. But you need an engaged audience. You need an audience that feels seen by you.
We’ve looked in the data and we’ve seen that our podcast episodes that do the best, they’re not the most famous interviews I had. I’ve had famous people on the show like Mandy Moore, Bobby Brown, Howard Schultz, who created Starbucks. We’ve had fancy dancers.
People like those episodes. Jenna Fischer was on and people are big Office fans. How did she go from being a waitress to an actress? But they’re not the most downloaded.
The most downloaded episodes are the episodes where I talk about things that people really feel. Titles something like, How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome, or How to Stop Over Thinking it.
When I read their letters, when I do some coaching, when we talk about listeners who’ve had the courage to start their side hustle, people light up. I realize that the podcast is 20% about the podcast and 80% about how I interact with my audience around the podcast.
It’s not just an email list builder or a lead gen. We have hundreds of thousands of subscribers and this is my soul family. I look at it that way.
I look at it like, “Every one of you, it’s my honor to serve you. Please DM me. I’m here for it. Please talk to me in the Facebook group. Please email me. When I send emails, I don’t send a newsletter. There’s no sort of fourth wall of, “You’re over there, you’re part of this collective lead magnet.” No.
And it’s everything because people don’t feel seen. When people sell courses and memberships, people feel like, “Oh, I’m just going to be paying you to once again feel invisible.”
If, though, you’re the kind of person who’s like, “I see you. I’m here,” and part of your membership or part of your course involves you showing up and they get to see you there, that’s what they want. They want access to more of you and your heart.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with that.
I just did a presentation in a room full of big wigs or whatever you want to call them, and they were basically wanting to study, “How are you doing this?”
I answered, “I don’t know. But I know this. I know that she needs me. I’m there for her. I’m doing this for her because I was her and I’m not anymore. I wanna throw that rope to her and pull her out so that she doesn’t have to be that anymore either. And that looks like making what’s a total crapshoot fun for her in order to get her out of there. Come over here. There’s a party happening. There’s a movement happening. All these women are doing it too. You’re not alone.”
That’s not a strategy. That’s not a formula. Strategies and formulas don’t work. When you connect, when it’s a soul thing, that’s what works.
And I guess if you want to analyze it, that sells, but that’s not what my aim was. My aim was the rope to pull her up. And that’s why I won’t raise the prices of the other courses for moms that aren’t in control of their own money, are in abusive relationships, or depressed, or trying to work two jobs. I won’t because it’s a soul thing.
I’m so drawn to you and your business because you share that heart. It’s so inspiring. It’s sometimes hard to keep that line of sight when everyone else who is so successful is saying, “You’ve got to hit them with this and then come over here. This strategy. This formula. Do this to them and then they buy.”
What if you decided to just feel into what she needs from you and you just did that for her and that was the formula? I liked that so much better.
CATHY: 100%. It’s so gorgeous. And the truth is that when you look at these people who are big wigs, look at their feeds too. Because you’re gonna see very little engagement in proportion to their numbers.
Let’s say they have 465,000 followers and then they do a post and there’s 19 comments. Proportionally that seems really off. Whereas I have 42,000 followers and I’ll do a post and get 1600 likes and 111 comments. That feels really good.
I know these people. I’ve been DM’ing with them. Their names pops up and I’m like, “Oh, how’s this? What happened with this? Is it the same in the UK right now? Are you guys okay? What happened with your grandmother?”
I know them. I talk to them, which really helps me.
And also here’s the thing, what business do you want to build? Who do you admire? Do you want to build a big old business where you have a big old team of 60 people and you’re running basically a media company now?
Now it’s not really about you at all and how you serve. You became a character in a TV show that you made. You’re very far away from people but you have a spectacle. Do you want that?
Or do you want a small team and do you want to serve from your heart? I’ll tell you what, you might make more money that way too.
There’s four people on my team. We make $5 to $8 million a year depending on how many times we choose to launch because our launches are always the same. They’re literally the same.
We get this many people in the challenge. The same people will sign up. This is how many millions we’ll make. It’s literally the same. We’ve now been doing it for three years the same way.
$5 to $8 million with four people on my team. They all feel that I am their sister. I adore them. They love their work.
The people in the community love what they’re getting. And I’m with my kids. So, I don’t have a team of 60 people and it’s a fricking show with a guy doing makeup, a boom, and a sound guy.
I don’t want that. I just want to do good work. I want my family to be able to live abundantly.
That’s important because I’m so sick of people apologizing for having money or saying, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” That’s all money buys.
Money is not happiness, right? Your kids, your faith, your health—those are happiness. But all money does buy is happiness. So, let’s stop.
I grew up with no money. It was awful. My husband grew up with no money. It was awful.
ALLIE: You’ve seen that side of things. You already know what that looks like. Why are we going back there? To be virtuous or whatever when it has nothing to do with each other?
CATHY: And here’s the thing. I’ve now gotten to meet Barbara Corcoran and Howard Schultz. These are not millionaires. They’re not; they’re billionaires. The richer the people are that I’ve met, the nicer they are, the more humble they are.
We have this stupid idea that we get to choose between being nice or having money. No, you can be nice and have money. You can be a jerk and have money.
You could be poor and be a jerk or you could be poor and be nice. You’re telling me you don’t know anyone who is poor who is not nice? Are you joking? Come on!
We’re glorifying it. Does Oprah have to apologize for the fact that she makes money? No. Instead she sees it like, “I get to be the custodian of all this beautiful wealth and I get to bring it to the world.”
Do you know what it says in The Talmud? The first question God asks you when you get to heaven is to answer for all the pleasurable, beautiful gifts he put in the world that you didn’t allow yourself to take.
We don’t let ourselves have it. We shame ourselves for receiving so much. Our receivers are broken. There’s enough for people to say, “What would delight me?”
And then you know what happens? You and me, Allie, we give people permission slips. Take better care of yourself. Start a business. Make some money. Drink the wine. You can have it.
And what happens? You ripple out and people around you, they’re happier. Your self realization, your happiness becomes a gift to the people around you.
I hear people all the time say, “I want to change the world. I want to save it.”
What about just you? What about just you looking at why you are tolerating so little in your life? Why don’t you feel you deserve it? Why do you feel like you have to earn it, sacrifice?
People have to look at their beliefs around money. People believe that in order to have money you have to be greedy. In order to have money, you have to take on too much and you have to literally work till you’re going to break.
Well then, of course you’re not gonna want to have money, you know? Or can it be beautiful and easy?
Why would you want just enough of any resource? Would you want just enough oxygen? I just want just enough.
Would you want just enough water? Just enough to clean your clothes? You want to say, “Guys, we can’t bake banana bread; we have just enough water. We don’t have enough to add to the banana bread.”?
You want plenty of resources. It’s just a resource.
ALLIE: Yeah. You’re assigning too much meaning to it. It’s just a neutral tool that you get to choose if you’re doing good or bad with.
I love talking about money. And I love normalizing wealth for moms because there’s not a lot of moms making millions of dollars, self-made, doing it. I want there to be more.
I want them to stop feeling guilty and stop assigning all this BS meaning to a neutral piece of paper that is literally created to buy what you need, what you want. How are you going to help frigging orphans, stop sex trafficking, do anything worth doing without any frigging money?
CATHY: It’s like looking at people in a cage and the door to the cage is open, but they don’t fly out. We see it as though there’s just scarcity or I’m just not deserving of it. And that’s a lie.
There’s only abundance in the universe. How many trees are there? How many species of lady bugs are there? How much green grass is there? How much?
The world is literally abundant. There’s an abundance of sushi. There’s an abundance of trees. There’s an abundance of oxygen. But if you see it like there’s nothing, then okay, there’s nothing.
There’s an abundance of love. There’s an abundance of new people you can find on Instagram to follow. There’s an abundance of friends. There’s an abundance of possibilities, of ways that you can show up and shine your light. It doesn’t end.
But see, what we think is what fuels what we do. And then what we do dictates our results.
What people have is an action problem. They’re just not taking any action, so they’re not getting any results, which then makes them believe, “See. I told you there was nothing.”
But when you start taking action, when you start looking at examples, and you say, “This is where I want to go,” you can reverse engineer that. You can build that. Of course you can.
ALLIE: Yeah, of course you can. Why not? Why not just go and do it?
CATHY: You’ve got to think like a rocket scientist. When John F. Kennedy said that we would land on the moon, seven years later we put a man on the moon. At the time that he said that in his speech, we didn’t know the first thing about the surface of the moon.
We didn’t know even that we could create the metal that would be able to go out of the atmosphere and hold on to that pressure. But we built it. It’s one of those things where when somebody gives you 99 reasons why something can’t happen, an entrepreneur finds the one reason why it can.
It’s not to say that you don’t have to test things. I think the biggest problem here is a big fear of rejection. In order to become successful, what you do is you fail forward.
You try things. Instead of saying, “Oh, I’m a failure. It didn’t work.” You say, “Oh my God, yay! It didn’t work. Now I know it doesn’t work. Let me try this.”
It goes back to courage and giving yourself permission to be messy, do things, and try things. And when you do that, oh my God, do you know how much data you’re going to get? Do you know how much you’re going to figure out what works for your audience, what works for you?
People spend years overthinking taking the first step and then when something doesn’t go right, they say, “Oh forget it.”
I wasn’t Mozart. The first time I wrote a song, it didn’t work. The first podcast, nobody liked it. Only six people.
We have to stay with things. And the people who do that, they become successful.
ALLIE: Yeah. And then everyone looks at them and, because they just found them yesterday, they think they’ve always been this way.
I just love talking to you so much. You’re such a light. I love this so much.
Where do you want to send people to connect with you and to grab hold of all the amazing things that you’re creating to empower them?
CATHY: I love you.
I would love you to come to my Instagram because I’m there. I’m really there.
The podcast is called Don’t Keep Your Day Job and it’s free. And I would say listen to it. And Allie was just on so go listen to that episode because it’s literally one of my favorite, favorite, favorite episodes.
If you liked this episode right now that you’re hearing, take a screenshot of you listening to it, tag me and Allie, I’ll reshare it. Come say hi.
And if you go to my website, Cathyheller.com, I made a free quiz that will help you figure out what your passion project might be and it gives you tons of resources to start that business. It’s an amazing quiz that we loaded with tons of resources. It is fun. I love it.
ALLIE: Okay, we will link all that in show notes and thank you so much Cathy. You’re such a joy. I love you!
Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup.
Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.