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Power Player Katrina McGhee on Being a Hot Mess and Still Loving Yourself

The CEO, author & entrepreneur wants to help you rise, shine & slay every day!

Katrina McGhee wants you to live your best life

For more than two decades, Katrina McGhee has worked to improve the lives of women. As a former executive for two of the world’s largest non-profit organizations, the American Heart Association and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, she has traveled across continents to see first-hand how impacting the lives of women can change the world.

In 2012, she started lovingonme.com, which she affirms is not just a website, but a movement. Katrina also encourages everyone to sign up for her online academy for a free course that offers women specific tools and practices for achieving goals in every aspect of life.

As she says, “Loving on Me is not about being selfish. It’s about loving you, loving what you do, loving each other and building a life of all the things that you love.”

I got to walk and talk with Katrina on a gorgeous sunny afternoon in Santa Monica, California to find out what it takes to achieve your goals, create the right balance in your life and celebrate the process even when you feel like a hot mess.

You’ve been a high-powered executive in the C-suite–for those who might not know, that means working at the CEO, CIO, CFO, COO level. And you’ve worked with some major organizations including the Susan G. Komen Foundation and American Heart Association. Then about six years ago, you came up with this idea for Loving on Me.
I did, I did. I worked in women’s health and empowerment for over two decades, which on the one hand makes me feel really fulfilled about my life, and on the other hand makes me feel really old, like ‘Oh my God, I actually had a career before this!’ In 2012, I launched Loving on Me after I left Susan G. Komen. I was a hot mess when I left and I had to take some time out.

I love that you’re being so honest. A lot of us are afraid to say that, to admit that we go through tough times.
Oh yeah, I was a hot mess! Oh my gosh, we have to be real with ourselves. If we can’t be honest about what we’re going through and all the things that are happening in our lives, we can never be better. You can’t fix what you can’t face.

You can’t fix what you can’t face. I like that.
Yeah, yeah. So I left to try to figure out how I could do what I love to do, but do it differently so I can be both successful and sane. In the process of that, I learned to love myself because I spent time figuring out who I was and then I started the blog to say, ‘Hey this is what happened to me.’ And all these women from around the world said, ‘That’s my story, too!’ It was like, I’m really good at certain things but sometimes I’m just so hard on myself and I can’t figure out how to live life better. So it became a community and eventually a book and then this year, an online academy.

With the online academy at lovingonme.com the premise is to love yourself, focus on yourself and saying it’s okay to be selfish that way. Not selfish in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s about taking care of yourself. Because when you can take care of yourself, that’s when you can be a blessing to other people.
Absolutely! It’s not about being selfish. It’s about loving you, loving what you do, loving each other and building a life of all the things that you love. I tell women that our goal is to help you lead in every aspect of life, so it’s not just about your career or your family. It’s also about your finances, your fitness, about having fun and learning how to look at life as an adventure. So the blog and the book is really about inspiring people to say yes, I can have a life that’s different than the one I have now. I can do the things that I love and live in the manner that I want to live. And the academy equips you with the tools that you need to succeed, like to actually create that balanced life. Instead of running around looking for work-life balance, here are the tools to help you create it. That’s why I’m so excited–we don’t just inspire, we equip and ignite women!

Homegirl Talk with Katrina McGhee

What would you say is the number one challenge for women? What is that one struggle that’s keeping from us taking that risk or living our best life or being fulfilled? I know people who think, ‘Well, it will come when I find that man or when I get that job.’ But what about right now? How about just as you are right now, as is?
Yes, yes, yes! There are two big things in all the coaching and the teaching that I do for women. One is having a balanced life. We’re overwhelmed, we want it all. And we always ask ourselves, ‘Can I have it all?’ And the answer is yes, but you have to define your all. Most of us think that the list of things, you know that list from your 20s or 30s? I’m like, tear it up, just tear it up! Cut it out! We all have unique paths, so what are the things that are your priorities? Let’s put a plan in place to help you live according to those and then you’ll be a balanced person.

And then the second thing is confidence. There’s a lot being written about the confidence gap for women and how it holds us back in our careers and keeps us from taking strategic risks that could move us forward in life. So the academy is about giving you the skills and the tools to help build your confidence in key areas of your life, particularly in your business, in your career and in the things we spend so much time doing but often just get stuck.

Well, the reality is we have to pay our bills and we have to survive. And to think about a dream you have might seem like too much of a luxury or its’ unreachable or not realistic. But I guess it comes down to what you’re focusing on. You have to think about what you want rather than what you don’t have.
Yeah, because what you focus on bears fruit. The free course we offer online, which I encourage everybody to take, is 5 Steps to Get in the Driver’s Seat of Your Life and Stay There. It really helps you in a practical way figure out your priorities. So if I ask you, what are your priorities in life? Tell me.

My family.
Right! That’s what we say. We say one word. My priority is my family and it means this whole big thing, and it sets us up for an epic fail because there’s nothing specific about it. When I take people through the course, it’s like, OK, if your priority is your family, what is it about your family that’s your priority? For example, when my son was little, my priority was that I was going to pick him up on time every day. That meant I had to leave at 5:17 every day to get there by 6 o’clock with traffic. Because if I left at 5:20, I was late and then I’d get the ‘Why are you late?’ face! So when people say my family is my priority, what is it exactly? Do you want to have meals together? Do you want to be there for the baseball games on Saturday? Do you want to spend at least one date night a week with your spouse? Pick something specific because then you can put a plan in place to achieve it. But if our priorities are so broad and have no specificity, you will never achieve them.

Is that a technique you learned being a business bigwig?
It really was not necessarily my career, but it was trying to find the balance in my life between work and life, between taking care of my family and taking care of myself. It was getting in the driver’s seat to figure out what my priorities are and how I can actually show up for those priorities.

And it was really a turning point in your life.
Yes, it was my life interrupted moment.

You said you were a hot mess.
I was a hot mess! Some days I still am a hot mess, but I’m a better mess! I was suffering from anxiety attacks, I had severe anxiety and exhaustion. I was trying to control everything and eventually controlled nothing, not even me. So I had to take time out to really figure out how I can do what I love but do it differently. And you all can do that too. We don’t have to give up the things that we love, the things that we want in life to be sane and balanced and successful. There is a way to choose our priorities and then to live by them.

You’re speaking from experience and you’re speaking from the heart. Did you ever see yourself doing this?
I’ve worked in women’s health and empowerment for two decades. I’m a really big proponent of taking charge of your health, collaborating with your healthcare provider and doing things like that. But I started to feel, whether it was breast cancer or heart disease, that we were bifurcating our body parts. I was like, we need to talk to the whole woman.

A holistic approach. Because that’s who we are as people.
Yes.  I could’ve never imagined the life that I have now, but it is the life that I have been prepared for.

Because now you can connect the dots and look back and you see that it was all leading to this.
Yes, but you can’t see that in the process. That’s why we always have to stay present. There’s always opportunity and possibility and purpose in our present.

And maybe even more so through the painful and difficult times.
Our strength is in our struggle. That’s the truth. That is when we develop courage, our faith is strengthened and we develop more focus. This online course takes baby steps to that process. Picking your priorities, put your plan in place, helps you look at the people you surround yourself with. Developing your own affirmations that are actually rooted in truth and not just words you’re speaking. And then how to celebrate your slay. That’s why it’s called Rise. Shine. Slay. I believe in celebrating the process and progress. Some days I’m like, ‘Yay, I got up and walked a mile. I meant to walk three, but I walked a mile and I’m celebrating the mile.’ We have to learn how to appreciate all the steps in life.

You’re doing your part to make the world a better place. We can’t just grab for ourselves, we have to think about other people.
We do, we do. A lot of people might say Loving on Me is selfish, but this was a cry out in the darkness to save our self worth. This wasn’t about that selfish thing where you’re only thinking about yourself. It’s about learning to love the real you for who you are and not what you do. And then to share that love with other people. In really practical ways, we put love in action. We have ‘love in action’ days around the country where we go volunteer and stuff like that. So it’s a lot of fun. Go to the website, sign up, be a part of the course and join these rock star women who get stuff done!

Get Katrina’s book Loving on Me: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Mess to Message

Written by Mar Yvette

On-air host, lifestyle expert, writer and editor with 10+ years of experience working with some of the world’s most recognized media companies.