In today’s world of profit margins, big data, and automation, the businesses who preserve their humanity are those that stand out. I had the pleasure of interviewing Celinne Da Costa, a brand story and life design coach, author, and speaker who has built a business out of connecting people with others and themselves.
Since leaving corporate America to design life on her own terms, Da Costa has helped her 6 and 7 figure clients become confident leaders with powerful stories, influential brands, international media coverage, and thousands of raving followers. This is all with one vision in mind: to help businesses tell stories that ignite their humanity and authentically connects them with their audience.
Da Costa shares how human connection has helped her build her business (and how you can do the same):
Tyler: Briefly describe your background and what type of business you own.
Da Costa: My name is Celinne Da Costa. I am a brand story and life design coach for visionary entrepreneurs who want to master the art of storytelling so they can deeply connect with their audience, create a captivating brand that sells, and scale their business with impact.
I wasn’t always a business owner: just a few years ago, I was a miserable corporate employee leading the so-called “American Dream” — I went to a prestigious college, worked in one of the best advertising agencies in the country, lived in the heart of New York City, and was on track for a lucrative career.
Even though everything seemed great on the surface, there was something utterly mechanical about my life. I couldn’t vibe with the 10-hour days sitting behind a computer, with the constant pressure of trading my well-being to make a company more profit, and with being too busy to see my friends or do the things I loved.
At the time, I wasn’t aware of how much I need to pursue a meaningful career that allows me to change people’s lives for the better. I’ve now realized that it is possible to succeed in today’s society without sacrificing my humanity.
Tyler: Please tell us how you started your business.
Da Costa: My business started because of human connection. During the fall of 2015, I hit a breaking point: I realized I couldn’t be happy working for someone else and needed to see the results of my hard work on other people’s lives.
That spring, I quit my job, and bought a one-way ticket with a radical social experiment in mind: to circumnavigate the globe by couchsurfing without using the website — only human connection. I spent a year sleeping in the homes of strangers. Anywhere I wanted to travel, I’d have to find someone who was connected to me somehow (friend, friend of a friend, stranger I met on the road, etc) to host me.
I documented my journey, telling daily stories about the places I’d visit, the people I’d meet, and the lessons I’d learn. My big takeaway from having hundreds of vulnerable conversations with strangers around the world was that everyone in the world has a story to tell — and that story has the power to shape our reality.
My brand grew quickly and with ease. Before I knew it, I was getting featured in publications and had a social media following. More importantly, people who were following along on my journey started to reach out to me asking how to brand themselves, become more visible, and tell their story in a way that resonated with their audience.
That’s how my business was born: I carved out a niche in the market. Especially in the age of entrepreneurship, people desperately want to understand their story and how to leverage their brand to grow their business, get featured, and make the impact they want in the world. That’s where I come in.
Tyler: What is holding women back in business?
Da Costa: We are so afraid of fearless self-expression. Too many of us women in business still do not give ourselves permission to say what’s truly on our minds, and to stand up for what we believe in despite what our family, partners, and colleagues think.
Many of my female clients initially don’t realize how powerful, influential, and capable they are. We are talking successful entrepreneurs who are highly intelligent, have huge hearts, and even bigger visions for their business and the world… and yet, they hide behind their accolades, credentials, career, and titles (mom, wife, etc).
There’s this huge limiting block of not being good enough that is keeping them from taking the next step, and it’s phenomenal to witness how their business skyrockets when they get clear on their story and confidently share their full selves with the world.
When we step into the power of our story, own everything that we are (the good and the bad), and stop hiding from each other — that’s where the real magic happens. That’s when women become unafraid to share their truth, build businesses that they love, and help one another rise.
Tyler: Why is human connection so important to growing a business?
Da Costa: In today’s fast-paced, overly-automated, and digitally-driven society, humanity is becoming the new premium.
Building a business has many moving parts: structure, profit, generating leads, legal documentation, the list goes on. But, how much are you paying attention to people? How many conversations are you having a day? How much time are you spending nurturing relationships?
Your clients are people. Your team members are people. The press are people. Whatever opportunity you want to attract in your life is going to come from another human being.
There is so much truth behind the phrase, “your network is your net worth.” As you’re growing your business and expanding your brand, don’t forget about your people: expand your network, make meaningful connections, help others out and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The energy you invest in connecting with the right people will come back tenfold.
Tyler: Please give us 3 tips people can utilize to run a business while connecting to one other.
1. Always lead with value. Whatever you’re putting out into the world — whether it be a product/service, piece of content, or interaction — always offer your audience something to walk away with. This could be inspiration, an actionable tip, or a solution to a problem.
Ask yourself, what do you have to offer that you genuinely love giving to others, and how does that reflect in your content, offers, and conduct? The more you give and offer value to your audience, the more people will feel connected to you and look for ways to contribute to your vision (this is also how you create loyal fans and clients!).
2. Your story is the mirror, not the centerpiece. A big mistake that I see being made is people using their story as a way to impress, brag, and talk about how successful and amazing they are. That might get you known, but you’ll also risk alienating yourself from others.
Focus on why your story is helpful for other people — for example, did you overcome a big adversity (such as rising from rags to riches or struggling with depression) and what can we all learn from it?
Your story is not about you — rather, it is the mirror that you’re holding up to your audience that they can see themselves in. Focus your messaging on how you can serve your client and transform their lives through your work.
3. Human first, automation after. Automation is necessary when it comes to scaling your business, but do not forget to be HUMAN.
For example, I use automation to make the client onboarding process as smooth and seamless as possible so that it’s only a click of a button — for example, the contract, welcome packet, payment, and scheduling appointments. This allows me to have more time in the day to outreach to prospective clients, personally attend to my private clients, and have meaningful conversations with the people I meet (whether it be loved ones, potential leads, or strangers I meet on the street).
To create a deep emotional connection with your audience, start conversations, ask for engagement, and involve them in what you do as a business. Turn your brand into an experience your audience can consume.
Rather than just having customers who pay for your product and services just because they need to fix a problem, create a connected tribe that will support your success, follow along, be loyal, and keep coming back for more.