Please say hello to a woman who has made it her mission to live with purpose by encouraging other women to do the same.
Samantha helps people cancel out the excuses in their head and make life changes for the better. All of us, despite some of our greatest efforts, find ways to sabotage our goals and happiness. Sometimes we need an outside voice to spark our passions into action and that is exactly what she does.
She is an expert, speaker, and coach here to share what she does, why she does it, and what she’s learned through her journey.
Beyond Bossy: Where are you from?
Samantha McGraw: I currently live in Richmond, Virginia but I grew up in Vienna, VA just outside Washington DC. I moved to Richmond about 13 years ago when I needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of DC (where I was working). I met my husband the first day I came to Richmond and I’ve been here ever since.
What pushed you into becoming a coach, specifically a life coach?
Becoming a life coach was a journey for me. I spent 15 years in the hospitality industry as an event manager but went through three layoffs in a little under three years during the recession of 2009. After the 3rd layoff, I decided that I needed to create my own job security but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I knew that I didn’t want to do event planning and management anymore but I wasn’t sure what was next. I started helping a few friends with marketing their own businesses and realized that over my years in hospitality I had actually learned a lot about creative marketing. So I started working with women entrepreneurs to help them market and grow their own businesses but I found that most of my clients needed more mindset help than marketing help. What was holding them back was the story they were telling themselves about what they were capable of. I also found that many of my clients didn’t enjoy the work they were doing, they just did it because that’s what they knew how to do. We started talking about other ways they could put their skills to use and enjoy their work more. So my business started to transition into more life and mindset coaching to help my clients move forward and be successful in all areas of their life. I found that I truly enjoyed that part of my work so much more than the marketing aspect and I’ve really enjoyed the transition I’ve made in my own life.
Deep down, your spirit knows what you want, you’re just not listening.
What is the most common problem women face when approaching you for help and what is the most common piece of advice?
The most common problem I hear is that women know they want more from their lives but either don’t know what that “more” is or they lack the confidence to go after it. When trying to figure out what you feel is missing, it’s important to spend some quality time alone with your thoughts. Meditation and journaling are great tools to use during this time. Deep down, your spirit knows what you want, you’re just not listening. Think back to the times in your life when you were the happiest and most fulfilled, what were you doing? As a child, what did you dream of doing when you grew up? Ask yourself the questions you feel you need answers to, then pay attention to the thoughts that come after. These are the answers you’ve been searching for.
What is the best part of being a life coach?
The best part of what I do is connecting with women and helping them realize they can be so much more than they imagine for themselves. The only limitations they have are the ones they place on themselves. I love the “aha” moment when they finally get it and realize they can be truly happy in whatever they decide to do if they’re doing it in a way that means something to them. I also enjoy helping my clients build their self-esteem. As women, we tend to feel unworthy of great things in our lives and it’s because we don’t believe in ourselves. I love helping women realize the greatness within.
What about the worst part?
The worst part of my work is marketing! Funny coming from someone who used to do it for a living! But I honestly don’t enjoy having to stay on top of my marketing all the time. I love spending my time working with great women and don’t want to be bothered with social media.
Do you think you have followed society’s typical idea of the ‘normal’ path in life?
I’d say my path was very much the “normal” routine for many years. Too many years. I went to school, got a job that allowed me to earn a paycheck, I got married, paid a mortgage, got divorced, found another job that gave me a paycheck and continued on that path for many years. I was never happy, but I thought it was what I had to do because that’s what everybody did. It took me a long time to figure out that I didn’t fit that mold and I could be successful by creating my own path. Now I enjoy helping people find their own way and teaching them that they don’t have to be “normal” either.
The best part of what I do is connecting with women and helping them realize they can be so much more than they imagine for themselves. The only limitations they have are the ones they place on themselves.
What do you feel are your greatest accomplishments?
My greatest accomplishments include discovering what was important to me and following that path – hopefully encouraging and mentoring a few others to do the same. I broke the mold of what was expected of me and took a different path. That was a huge accomplishment for me. Something that, at the time, I never thought I’d be able to do. I taught myself a great lesson in that you can do and be anything that you truly desire. Since finding my own way, I’ve been invited to speak at conferences, write for national publications, and invited to participate in book projects. These are all things that I would not have thought possible just a few years ago.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own business?
The most difficult aspect of running my business is trying to wear so many different hats and doing it all. Trying to schedule my day so that I can be productive, get everything accomplished and still have time to work with clients is sometimes challenging.
What woman has inspired you and created a significant difference in your life?
I’d have to say there are three women who have inspired me. My mother and my grandmother always inspired and encouraged me to be true to myself and follow my dreams, whatever they may be. When I had moments of feeling down on myself, they picked me up and helped me carry on. Both of them overcame so many challenges in their lives and always remained happy, positive and encouraging. It inspired me to live my life the same. Every time one door has closed, another one opened and it was usually a better one! So I don’t worry anymore when doors close. I trust that something wonderful is about to happen and I just have faith in what the future holds. The other woman who has been a true inspiration to me is my best friend. When she decided that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom but still needed to earn an income to help support her family she found a way to do it. Through hard work, being open to learning new things and following her inspiration she has made a great living while living her dreams. She inspires me every day to be better than I was the day before.
What has been your greatest moment of strength?
I’d have to say it’s being completely terrified of how I would make a living, where the money would come from, but still trusting that something great was on the horizon and I just needed to take a leap of faith to stop working for someone else and just go live my life on my terms. It was a difficult time for me and I had to find more strength and courage than I had ever known before.
How about your biggest weakness?
I think my biggest weakness is procrastination, which comes from fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being judged by others. I put off projects that I really want to do because I’m afraid they won’t be great or other people won’t like my work, but I continue to remind myself that I’m only human and imperfection is normal. I’ll never be perfect, I can only strive to be better than I was yesterday and better myself each day. I take my projects on a little at a time and bit by bit they start to come into a formation and I realize that my fear was for nothing. Each time I overcome a fear it makes me jump with joy and feel an enormous sense of pride in myself so I see it as a challenge now and face it head on.
I finally found my voice and started speaking up for myself… I found that most of the time I was mistreated it was because the other person had a lack of confidence.
Have you ever been undermined or mistreated as a woman?
Yes, I’ve been verbally abused by male bosses, been required to work more hours than my male counterparts and put down in front of coworkers. It led to a very low self-esteem for a lot of years. But I finally found my voice and started speaking up for myself. What a great feeling that is! I found that most of the time I was mistreated it was because the other person had a lack of confidence and needed to build themselves up in a way that put others down. When I realized that, I stopped taking it personally.
Do you think women could have and do it all?
Absolutely! It’s important to find balance and prioritize the things that are most important to you, let everything else fall away and stay focused on your goals and what really matters. It can absolutely be done. Best of all, you can enjoy the life you create for yourself.
What, to you, does it mean to be a ‘girl boss’?
It’s empowering to be my own boss, be responsible for my own decisions and not have to answer to anyone else. I don’t usually disagree with my boss and I enjoy working for her!
What’s one piece of advice you would give to any girl going forward in life?
Be true to yourself and your own happiness. Don’t ever let anyone else define what your life should look like and what makes you happy. Take control of your own life. You’ll never regret it.
Samantha, thank you for inspiring girls everywhere with your passion, resilience, and optimism. Keep doing all that you do!
You could find Samantha here, on her website.