Don’t make it about you: This is admittedly the hardest advice to follow. As a coach, I always feel compelled to share my story and how I transformed my life to demonstrate credibility. However, my clients really only care about how coaching will benefit them and how they will be able to transform their own life. Whenever you can speak the customer’s language, you’ll have the maximum amount of success.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karin Freeland. Karin is a recovering corporate workaholic. After years in high-pressure leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies, she’s traded the boardroom for the bedroom. In her hilarious tell-all book, The Ins and Outs of My Vagina: A Penetrating Memoir, she recounts the mishaps and misadventures she’s had over the past 40 years with a special partner in crime: her vagina, named V.
Karin is also a speaker and certified Life & Reinvention Coach.
Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
For me, I was finally sick of the rat race. I had spent 15 years in corporate chasing better titles and bigger paychecks, only to wake up one day and realize I was completely miserable. I sparked my creativity in writing my book, The Ins and Outs of My Vagina: A Penetrating Memoir. As I started to reinvent my life, I realized I could help other women do the same thing. So, I left corporate in August of 2020 and started a life coaching business focused on helping women turn their dreams into reality. It’s amazing how much can change in just a couple years.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
I think most would say that being the breadwinner and walking away from a six-figure salary is pretty disruptive. However, when I tell people I’m married and a mother of two boys, they tend to be more caught off guard by the book title. There is a lot of judgement and questions that arise, because a lot of moms have lost their identity in their children (understandably so). It’s disruptive because I’m really showing women that you can be a mom and still have your own life and make time for your dreams.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Entrepreneurship and writing professionally was so attractive because I could live life on my terms — set my own hours and work with who I wanted to work with. Yet, I instantly brought all of my corporate habits into my business. I was working late hours, on the weekends and even on our vacation to Cape Cod. Turns out old habits die hard! My business coach encouraged me to build my business around my dream life and take Fridays off. (I’d always wanted to have a 3-day weekend!) I tried really hard but kept sticking calls in the only open slot on my calendar: Friday. Finally, my husband called me out at dinner one night for not sticking to Fridays off and both of my kids backed him up. We had a good laugh about it, but they were right. I needed to stick to my own boundaries and honor my no work on Friday rule. Since doing that I’d never go back to that hectic lifestyle again.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Absolutely! When I was first exploring the idea of publishing my book I knew I needed to talk to someone that had already published a few books. The only person I could think of was the former-President of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, who I had been Chief of Staff for in 2016. While I had come to consider him like a second Dad, I wasn’t that comfortable speaking with him given the topic of my book. I finally bit the bullet and he ended up introducing me to his agent, publicist and the person who ultimately became my editor, Gary Krebs. I’m so glad I was able to get out of my comfort zone and ask for his help and that he was willing to support me in return.
I also have a number of casual mentors from the women’s networks that I’ve joined. They are an amazing source of inspiration and motivation.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Just do it: A fellow female business owner and I were having lunch and she just kept stressing that I should just go for it and start my own business. She had started her own digital marketing agency about 8 months earlier and was having great success. Starting a business is like having kids, you’re never really ready. If we wait until we’re 100% ready, we’ll never get started, so I always remind myself when I’m hesitant about something to just do it!
- Take imperfect action: As a recovering perfectionist this was a challenge for me in the beginning. I hired a business coach to help me set up my practice and get my first batch of clients in an effective-as-possible manner. I was so nervous about offering a free masterclass but she just kept telling me to iterate my way to success. She knew that if I got one under my belt, I’d be able to perfect them overtime until I got it to the point it was second nature and she was right. Now I encourage my clients to do the same!
- Don’t make it about you: This is admittedly the hardest advice to follow. As a coach, I always feel compelled to share my story and how I transformed my life to demonstrate credibility. However, my clients really only care about how coaching will benefit them and how they will be able to transform their own life. Whenever you can speak the customer’s language, you’ll have the maximum amount of success.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I’m definitely NOT done with my mission. One of the things that has always been very important to me is helping other women, which is why a portion of the proceeds from my memoir The Ins and Outs will be going to support Alliance for Period Supplies. They help get period products to menstruators in need and strive to end period poverty. I’m focused on bringing more awareness to this issue so that women aren’t held back due to lack of period supplies because they have to stay home from school or work! Everyone woman deserves access to affordable or free period supplies so they can shine just the same as non-menstruators.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced personally is being taken seriously, and you might find it surprising, but it’s often other women that show the biggest bias. I think other women find it threatening when their sisters are disrupting, not because they don’t want them to succeed but, because they wish they had the courage to take the next step and do something bold. Through my Facebook Group, Successful Working Women Rocking Reinvention, we’re bringing together a supportive group of women who can band together to help each other really succeed in the market. There is nothing more powerful than women supporting women.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
Yes! The book In Her Power, by Helene Lerner, literally saved my life when I was going through my midlife crisis. I was given the book during an employee fair at my job from the women’s network table. The timing was uncanny since I was taking the following week off to do a staycation and see what it would be like if I quit and became a stay-at-home mom. Her chapter on fear changed everything for me. She taught me to change my relationship with fear — to embrace it and bring it closer. Doing this completely took away its false power and gave me the confidence to try new things (like finding a new job instead of just giving up on corporate altogether). The more I got comfortable with being uncomfortable, the easier it was to change my life one step at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience fear from time to time, but I no longer let it stop me or paralyze me. I push through it and preserve!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’d start a movement that no one “works” on Friday (or a day of their choice). It would be a free day to use for mental health and rejuvenation or to follow your dreams. Then time would no longer be an excuse and more people would live happy, fulfilled lives.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Everyday do one thing for your career. The original quote was “do one thing for your acting career,” but I’ve applied this to every step of my journey. Now I do one thing everyday to promote my book, grow my business or raise awareness for period poverty. It’s so simple to apply and it creates massive results!
How can our readers follow you online?