Today I am delighted to introduce…. The Introvert Spotlight.
This is a new weekly feature on my blog that will showcase successful introverted and ambivert entrepreneurs doing what they love best – building a business THEIR WAY and giving you the insights on how they do it. Not only that, these introverts embrace who they are, their introvertedness and prove that you can be QUIET and be equally determined, ambitious and successful.
Cat LeBlanc is a freedom seeker that wants to help other people build freedom into their lives. But she’s not only a freedom seeker, she’s living proof that you can indeed live a life of freedom away from a cubicle. Cat’s zone of genius is helping people figure out their business idea and then set their business right from the start.
I met Cat 12 months ago when she attended a blog meetup I was presenting. What I love about Cat is her conviction and passion for helping entrepreneurs figure out their biz and it’s so evident this woman LOVES what she does.
1. Can you give us a brief insight into your background. What you were doing before you became an entrepreneur and what led you to this path?
I was always in pursuit of freedom. I grew up wanting to travel and work abroad. I’m from England originally. When I was much younger it seemed to me that it would be hard to earn a good living and do what you love – at the time I wanted to be a graphic designer – so I ended up making a more logical choice of going into IT because it meant I could travel. I did that for over 10 years and it did allow me to travel and have a good lifestyle but I felt confined. After moving to Australia I realised I could get rid of this last freedom barrier of working for someone else and got into online business. That’s not to say it isn’t a lot of work but I get to choose how and when I go about it!
2. What does being an introvert mean to you?
To me being an introvert means you gain energy in your alone time. I am home most of the time and I feel good with that being how I live. I like to socialise and go out and people may think I am extroverted when I do, but I get tired quickly and am often the first to go home!
3. When did you realise or discover you were an introvert? Was there a particular experience that you made you realise you were or an a-ha moment? How did that happen? What were those a-ha moments?
It was when I found out that whether you are an introvert or extrovert comes down to how you get your energy. Before that I hadn’t considered myself an introvert – just someone who likes a fair amount of alone time. I did wonder why I would get exhausted hanging out with friends. I mean these are people I really love but then after four hours I often find myself saying ‘ok gotta go home now!’ And they were standing there thinking ‘What?’ So that definition explained a lot to me.
4. How has being an introvert affected or shaped your life?
I actually went into IT because, as well as the working abroad option, I was pretty sure I would be able to avoid things like presentations or having to talk a lot in meetings. I could just do my job and not have to put myself out there. I really enjoyed that kind of work for a while and it was an environment where people were very much accepted for who they are so thankfully I didn’t have to fit in to any particular social norms.
In business I do get offers for speaking gigs that I turn down so in some ways I wish I felt more comfortable putting myself out there but I just work at some things gradually. I just started doing video and there are other things I just accept that are not for me, at least right now. I think if I was an extrovert I would likely go insane being home all the time but as I am I just love it. I love to talk to my clients but then when the time is up and I hang up Skype I am home with my boyfriend and I can relax. For me it’s a perfect mix.
5. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the years about running a business as an introvert and life in general?
One of the biggest lessons I learned is it’s absolutely, utterly, completely, pointless to compare yourself negatively with anyone else in any way. It serves no purpose and you likely have no idea what other troubles that other person has to deal with that you don’t. This is especially true in the online world. It’s ok to get a lay of the land and you should certainly try and learn as much as you can but the energy that you use worrying about how you are stacking up is just energy sucked away from your business and your life. I believe a large part of the reason I am enjoying success now is because I don’t worry about what other people are doing and I’m more likely to think hmmm interesting, I wonder if that is something I’d like to do?
In IT you learn over and experience over and over again that you save time and create better work if you plan out what your program will do BEFORE you create it. If you do this process properly you find all the holes and mistakes that need fixing before you start. It’s the same in business. Of course you don’t need a 2 year plan or even a 1 year plan but you do need a very clear understanding and how it is going to work (i.e. how you will draw your clients into a sale) before you start building. Otherwise you take 2 steps forward, 1 back, second guess yourself, have to change your offerings, create a new optin, wonder if it will ever work etc etc. I see so much of this in the online world. People rush to start a website before they have a clear idea of what their business is yet. Setting things up right from the start, along with taking calculated risks have been big lessons for me.
With creativity I think there are two major factors which come into staying creative in your business. One is constantly learning and not just in your industry so you are getting good input. The other factor is having an environment conducive to creativity. Your mind comes up with the best ideas when you are relaxed so for me it’s walking the dog, having a bath, lying in bed in the morning just thinking about things. I like to build in time for those kinds of things because that is when I can solve problems in my business or work out my next move.
6. Can you talk a bit about how you approach your work? What are some of the ways you stay grounded and inspired?
Almost every day I wake up with no alarm. This is my one big ritual. I feel like what’s the point of being an entrepreneur if I can’t get up when I feel like it?! So that is sacred to me. I don’t do time management – instead I manage my energy. I try and listen to my body and arrange my day to suit my energy levels. I do have days where I sleep half the afternoon but if I don’t have client appointments that day and that’s what my body wants then I listen.
Also even in periods when I am really busy I make an effort to leave the house every day even if it is just walking the dog and I do something to unwind – like have a bath. I generally work in the mornings and evenings and go out and do something in the afternoon. I find I work best that way. I like to do non-work stuff in daylight hours.
7. What’s been key for you in building your audience online?
I think for me it has been being able to do it my way – i.e. staying at home and not doing the whole business card, networking event thing. I live in the country so going to the city for anything kills half a day at least. I connect with my audience through blogging and social media and many of my clients are introverts themselves so they feel comfortable in the online world. Plus, of course I do leverage SEO to expand my reach. I barely do any offline activities for finding clients. I have everything about my business set up to leverage the Internet so they come to me. This is also what I help my clients with.
8. How do you tackle fear, overwhelm, self-doubt, unexpected surprises etc?
I guess because I lived abroad a few times and had to learn new languages – meaning I had to sound like a 5 year old in adult conversation while I was learning – I just learned at some point that it’s ok to sound/look like an idiot. It really doesn’t matter. So within a controlled environment (think no speaking on stage or networking) I feel really comfortable to work hard and do my thing and I generally don’t suffer with crises of confidence. Of course every now and then it gets on top of me – I had a meltdown just before I did my launch last week – but in general I pay attention to keeping fear, negativity, etc in check. It’s like a muscle, the more you train it the less you get affected by external events. I see the difference mindset makes so I don’t allow myself to get into a negative space. If something does happen I accept it, feel it, maybe go to bed for the afternoon and then move on.
9. I know you’ve been busy working on the launch of your new coaching program. Can you tell us more about that and where people can go to find out more?
Ah yes, I am SOOO excited about this. So since starting my business I’ve been helping people that want to start a business find the right business and set themselves up properly from the get go. I used to do this in separate programs but now I have created a VIP package where I take my clients from the unsure on their business idea to business idea and model sorted. I support them through the implementation and launch stage and then really work at getting them out in the marketplace and getting clients. I am super excited to be able to support my clients through these beginning stages where it is incredibly important to get it right. I created a free training series about this and my new VIP program, which I am interviewing for this week is.
I feel aligned and energetic when… my clients have that ah ha moment and see how their dreams can be actually be achieved and we have a plan laid out to make it happen. Or when I am dancing. Or when it is summer time and I look out into my garden and think wow – I actually live here!
I’m inspired by… people who live a life true to themselves whole deeply caring about other people.
3 big myths about introverts are… that all introverts are shy; that being introverted is uncommon or different – I think it’s way more common than people think; and that being an introvert is not awesome. It is!
Thanks Cat. Very inspirational. Let’s give Cat some comment love below.
Cat LeBlanc is a Business Strategist & Venture Catalyst. Which means she has an uncanny talent for turning your brilliance into a profitable (& liberating) business. When Cat’s not generating business ideas & guiding entrepreneurs to their new business breakthrough, she’s in the spa with her partner, sipping cider, surrounded by ferns, soaking in the sweet freedom she’s created for herself (& wants for you). Her website can be found at www.catleblanc.com.