Episode #1058: Join Severin Sorensen and Cathy Fitzhenry in a powerful discussion on coaching with the heart and mind. Cathy Fitzhenry, otherwise known as “Fitz,” is an Executive Coach, Vistage Chair, Certified Business Analyst Professional, Board Member of H.E.R Weekend, and President of CSF Marketing Services. During the episode, Cathy shares insights from her HEARTBEAT book, her story series entitled “Rinky, Dinky, Stinky, and Thinky,” energizers that have proved effective in facilitating impactful peer group sessions, and the importance of embracing “life’s curriculum.”
About Cathy Fitzhenry
Cathy Fitzhenry, otherwise known as “Fitz,” is an Executive Coach, Vistage Chair, Certified Business Analyst Professional, Board Member of H.E.R Weekend, and President of CSF Marketing Services.
Cathy has been a Vistage Chair for nearly 13 years and helps leaders find the unbiased advice they need to make their most crucial decisions. She helps leaders collaborate, ideate, and support each other as they build their businesses and achieve their goals.
After starting her first company at the age of 21, she started CSF Marketing Services in 1991. In 2019, Cathy became an author with the publishing of her book, HEARTBEAT, which discusses the need for heart-based leadership and courage. Cathy uses her vast experiences as a serial entrepreneur, success as an author, and passion for executive coaching to help her clients be the best they can be by leading with courage and heart-based leadership.
Heart awareness and mind intelligence
When asked how Cathy came to be an executive coach, she shares that heart awareness and mind intelligence led her to where she is today. She states, “I’ve just designed my life around the heartbeat energy and … mind intelligence.” She believes in the importance of staying present and being mindful of what “the beat” is around her. In response, Severin asks her for her own comparison of the question “what is your body telling you,” and “what is your heart telling you?” Cathy explains that “the heart picks it up and sends it to our body… so it starts first with the heart and moves out towards the body.” Cathy explains that “when we know our feelings and know our stories then we can kind of go into the heart energy and say, ‘are we in integrity?’”
Cathy has vast experience as an entrepreneur. As a child, she did paper routes and by the time she was 21, she started her first business. Throughout Cathy’s life, she has used her creativity to create new businesses. She was first exposed to marketing during her early career as a professional clown. Severin asks her how her time as a professional clown has served her coaching today. In response, Cathy shares that her time as a professional clown has helped her learn how to watch people, observe, and practice emotional intelligence. She explains that “emotional intelligence is understanding your position and who you’re being and understanding their position, how they’re being, and then creating the bridge between you.” After her time as a professional clown, she entered the marketing industry with her father. From her experience in marketing, she states that her career “kept parlaying into business and into how to make a business grow…” which ultimately led her to Vistage.
Learning to feel heart energy
In Cathy’s Vistage practice, she offers a variety of programs to her clients. She uses Positive Intelligence, otherwise known as “PQ,” which is all about the stories we “tell ourselves.” Cathy also has other groups for Vistage Chairs and mentoring for coaches who are looking to learn “heart-based” leadership. In addition to coaching and mentoring, Cathy has a story series she created to further elaborate “heart-based” leadership called, “Rinky, Dinky, Stinky, and Thinky.” Each of these characters represents a different form of perspective. "Rinky" is the “religious sage” who applies his “spiritual wisdom” to challenges. “Dinky is the drama.” “Stinky is stinking strong.” “Thinky” is the character who faces his challenges with his intellect. Cathy uses these characters and stories to explain the “4 different stories and characters that we have in life.”
Peer group authenticity and energizers
When running Vistage groups, Cathy works intentionally to “interview” all prospective group members to make sure “they resonate with where [Cathy is] coming from, that they want to lift the hood on their heart and attach it to the intellectual mind.” She does not publish group agendas before the meeting with the goal of having her group members as present as possible in the moment. Cathy states “I want real people. I want real hearts to show up… when they do, there is a different energy that everyone experiences.” Another method Cathy uses to open the hearts of her coaches is the use of energizers in meetings. She shares that her peer groups have raced “chairs” at universities and have even “climbed on the swing sets in the playground.” She encourages these energizers because it helps her group members “wake up,” avoid being on “autopilot,” and be more vulnerable to help free the flow of ideas and solutions.
A unique activity that Cathy does with her peer groups is “fireside chats.” After having a Vistage speaker visit her peer groups, she hosts a “fireside chat” 2 weeks later via Zoom to allow the Vistage speaker to dive deeper into the “how” of their presentation. It also allows peer group members to share their main takeaways and learnings from the presentation.
When asked how she will measure her life, Cathy shares that she will measure her life “by the chapters of the curriculum” that she has completed. She believes that life is full of what she calls “life’s curriculum” or learning opportunities. As she walks through life’s curriculum, Cathy hopes to learn more about how to help CEOs understand “heart energy” and “consciousness.”
For those wanting to be an executive coach, she recommends experiencing life’s curriculum. Cathy states, “we all have our stories… we tell them… then we have our stories that we would never tell… But I’ve shared a lot of my stories and a lot of my pain, a lot of my angst. I think that is what makes it real. It’s hard to be coached by someone you think is perfect.” She shares that executive coaches have to be vulnerable with their experiences in order to “build rapport” and “trust.”
The future of executive coaching
Cathy believes that the future of executive coaching is in “understanding the level of consciousness and what that means.” She states that several forms of intelligence must be combined such as “intuitive intelligence,” “emotional intelligence,” and “intellect.” Cathy elaborates, “Being able to understand how our brain works and how our mind works and how our intuitiveness works… I think that’s where [executive coaching is] going.”
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