Surround yourself with people who aren’t like you. It’s human nature to be drawn to people just like us. I eventually learned through experience that when I surround myself with people who are different from me — in their strengths, career background, race, life experience, personality, etc. — my perspective widens, I learn new things and generally grow as a person. We’ve also made this a priority at Mettacool. Aside from having an aligned mission and core values, we try to hire employees who bring something different to the table, because we know that having a diverse team equates to innovation.
Natalie Eicher is President & Co-Founder of Mettacool, a company focused on enabling women to achieve higher levels of performance and well-being through coaching, education, and community. Natalie is a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, trained at Duke Integrative Medicine. Natalie’s passionate about helping women visualize and achieve their personal well-being goals, leading them to realize their purpose and potential and put it into action. She feels her own purpose is gathering, empowering, and equipping women in the community, because a strong community of women who support each other can radically impact our health and happiness, our communities and our culture. Prior to co-founding Mettacool, Natalie spent 10 years in the technology industry, where she was in various sales leadership roles for Dell EMC. Natalie also founded and led the Diversity & Inclusion office for a multi-billion dollar business unit within Dell EMC, where she was responsible for retaining, advancing, and attracting diverse talent. With a passion for gender empowerment, she served on the committee for Working Mothers Networking Group and led a program focused on advancing high-performing women. She also earned a BA degree at Ohio University in Marketing and Sales and is a Certified Personal Trainer with a specialization in pre and postnatal fitness. Natalie lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and son, Anderson, and enjoys being active outdoors, stand-up paddleboarding, cooking, traveling, and spending time with family.
Thank you so much for joining us. What is your “backstory”?
Igrew up in Canton, Ohio and went to college at Ohio University. After graduation, I pounced on the opportunity to experience life outside of the Midwest and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina for my first job in technology sales for a startup company. Shortly after joining the startup, they were acquired by one of the largest B2B technology companies. I was in love with the fast-paced world of tech, and I had a great decade-long career in various sales and leadership roles; however, I unfortunately fed into this narrative that I know a lot of women (especially in male-dominated industries) do — that I had to put all of my time and energy into work in order to be successful and “prove” myself. I spent years neglecting my well-being and the “important stuff,” and eventually had a wake-up call after my mother passed away. Critical life events bring perspective, and for me, that perspective was that I wanted a different legacy and wanted to dedicate my life’s work to something I was truly passionate about and that leveraged my greatest strengths. I looked for a common thread throughout my corporate career and recognized my love for coaching and mentoring women in their careers and personal lives. I made the jump and went back to school part-time at Duke University for Integrative Wellness Coaching while pregnant and continuing to work my full-time job in tech. That is where I met my co-founder, Molly Dewey. We had an instant connection but had no idea that a year later we would co-found Mettacool. Born out of a mutual mission and complementary strengths, Molly and I put our heads together after we graduated from the program and birthed the idea for Mettacool. We both saw the vision and a need for a more modern approach to female talent development in the workplace — one that integrated career development and well-being to develop the “whole-person” with programs designed to support the many career and life transitions that working women experience while helping their organizations foster a more inclusive workplace culture.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
There is one story that still makes me laugh. My work took me to Detroit, Michigan for a few
years for an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I was a fish out of water when I first got there, and I was completely naive about just how dangerous downtown Detroit and the surrounding area was. Many of my clients were downtown and I was on my way to a client meeting and had to pee so badly! The only places in sight were some of the sketchiest gas stations I had ever laid eyes on, but each one denied access to any public restroom (these were the gas stations where there were bars on all windows in the building and you had to communicate with the attendant through bulletproof glass). After being denied access to three different gas stations, I found one that I could enter and told the cashier that if I couldn’t use their restroom, I was going to pee my pants right there in his store. He was too paranoid to let me because he told me kept inventory in his bathroom behind the glass wall and was afraid I would steal it (I was in a business suit keep in mind!) Frustrated, I ran back to my car where I actually peed my pants a little and had to “squat” by my car to relieve myself. Thankfully no one saw and thankfully I had just picked up my dry cleaning and had an extra pair of pants in the car. I changed my clothes and rushed to my meeting, where I had to act like nothing happened. I always made sure I had an empty bladder before heading downtown after that! Is this too weird to share? LOL!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m excited about a program we are releasing in January called MettaMEN: Allies for Equity. We believe that in order to truly enact systemic change within organizations, that the solution requires work on behalf of women and men (their cultural assumptions and biases), and the organization (their structures, practices, and culture). This program’s mission is to invite men to be a part of the gender equality solution. Evidence shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress — compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged. Evidence-based findings like this are the backbone of this program, and we are excited to soon share how this will complement our other offerings and help organizations transform how they approach female talent development and workplace inclusion.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Oh my goodness, I’ve met and worked with some very interesting people in my career. In my tech career, I had to constantly switch from having strategic, visionary conversations with CIOs and other executives to conversations with some very technical people (self-professed geeks). It taught me so much about the power of adapting your communication style to your audience. In my current career in talent development as a CEO, I’ve met some amazing leaders who truly change agents within their organizations and I’ve had the pleasure of personally coaching some women who have inspired me in more ways than they know!
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
I mainly draw inspiration from other people — some of the incredible people I surround myself with, the Mastermind group I’m a part of, my mentors, and my son. I’ve never had a stronger sense of inspiration and motivation before having my son, Anderson. Also, I’m very inspired by research. All of Mettacool’s programs are evidence-based. I’m a research nerd — I really enjoy looking for trends in research, especially when it comes to talent development, well-being, and diversity and inclusion, and then using that research to strengthen the efficacy of our programs.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Since Mettacool’s inception, we’ve said we think of ourselves as a mission with a business. Advancing women and our workplaces to better support the next generation of women to come is imperative. Outside of our programs and consulting, we donate 5% of our clients’ investment in our coaching services to one of our partner organizations, giving our clients the opportunity to choose which mission they want to support. All of the organizations we support are mission-aligned in our efforts to advance women.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Have patience and enjoy (and celebrate) the process
I think it’s typical of our culture and our time to want instant gratification. As an entrepreneur, I have to constantly remind myself to be patient and that success does not happen overnight. As a big proponent of cultivating a growth mindset, I am continually reminding myself to also celebrate the small steps and wins that get me closer to my and the company’s goals.
2. Prioritize your well-being over work
This is #1 for me. For so many years, I didn’t give myself permission to tend to my well-being and put it before work. I wouldn’t dare take some of my lunch breaks to meditate, take a workout class, disconnect on vacation, etc. because I worried that doing so would take away from my performance or make others perceive me as not dedicated enough to my job. It wasn’t until it caught up with me years later that I realized the correlation between well-being and performance, meaning that the better I cared for my holistic well-being, the higher my performance. This is one of the reasons why holistic well-being is at the core of all of Mettacool’s programming.
3. Be present with others
I distinctly remember a moment early in my career when I was having a conversation at my desk with a co-worker of mine who I had a close personal relationship with. As he was talking to me I started replying to an email on my laptop. He said to me, “Natalie when you try to multitask during your conversation with me, it makes me feel like you don’t respect me or my time.” It was a wake-up call and he was right. Despite my type-A personality that is motivated by accomplishment, being fully present in that conversation or in that meeting demonstrates that you truly care about what the other person is saying and builds trust.
4. Surround yourself with people who aren’t like you
It’s human nature to be drawn to people just like us. I eventually learned through experience that when I surround myself with people who are different from me — in their strengths, career background, race, life experience, personality, etc. — my perspective widens, I learn new things and generally grow as a person. We’ve also made this a priority at Mettacool. Aside from having an aligned mission and core values, we try to hire employees who bring something different to the table, because we know that having a diverse team equates to innovation.
5. Focus on the “one thing”
This lesson is new to me. My world shifted after reading “The One Thing” by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan. I’ve had to work hard at the ability to dismiss distractions and concentrate on “ONE Thing” at a time. It sounds so simple, but it’s about knowing what one thing to focus on to get extraordinary results. As an entrepreneur, my team is constantly brainstorming new ideas and it’s easy to get sidetracked with email, other people’s priorities, etc. It takes a lot of work to focus on one thing at a time so that you can execute on that priority.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
That’s easy — Arianna Huffington. Her passion and commitment to ending the burnout epidemic and helping individuals and companies understand the connection between well-being and performance is so inspiring! Our missions are very aligned and I love to see her using her influence for good and using Thrive Global as a way to inspire action.
6. How can our readers follow you on social media?
@nataliee_wellness on Instagram