Caytie Langford is the Founder of Bold Women Society™, a personal and professional development company focused on helping women bust through the status quo. Bold Women Society’s vision is a world where every woman unapologetically pursues her dreams because she has the confidence to be bold, the courage to be authentic, and the power that comes from being supported. As a former nonprofit executive, she built a life and career she enjoyed, but she always knew there was much more. In 2015, Caytie walked away from it all to create a business that would inspire, motivate, and impact the lives of women. In her role, Caytie serves a public speaker and executive coach. The more she started coaching, the more she realized there were many women who need and want to connect with other rebellious, rule-breaking women who have their own plans for their life. She is obsessed with teaching women how to build and maintain their confidence because they have big, BOLD things to do in their life. She believes that when women get really clear on what they want and engage their confidence muscles, they can achieve any goal they set. Since 2016, Caytie has become a TEDx speaker, coached over 100 executive women, and trained over 1,000 women helping them achieve their personal and professional goals.
Prior to founding her firm, Caytie spent 13 years as a nonprofit fundraising executive. Leading teams at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas Women’s Foundation, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, and Muscular Dystrophy Association, she raised over $35M. During her fundraising tenure, Caytie worked with top executives and key philanthropists in Dallas to connect them to their philanthropic passions and legacy.
Today you can find Caytie featured at conferences, meetings and workshops. She has been honored to speak at Lumen, Brinker International, Fidelity, Fossil Corporation, Haynes and Boone, Junior League of Dallas, Mary Kay, Women’s Business Council Southwest, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and more.
Caytie holds a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University where she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Zeta Nu chapter. She is a graduate of the Junior League of Dallas’ T. Boone Pickens Leadership Institute. She is a past member of Ursuline Academy of Dallas’ Board of Trustees, Junior League of Dallas’ Leadership Council, and Community Partners of Dallas’ Auxiliary Board.
Caytie lives in Dallas with her husband and fellow entrepreneur, Shane. When she is not working with ambitious women or volunteering, Caytie enjoys spending time supporting Texas Aggie football, traveling, cooking homemade pasta, and eating all the sushi she can.
Catyie is sitting down with The Corporate Escapists and sharing what the word EMPOWER means to her.
Thank you for joining us here at The Corporate Escapists. Please introduce yourself to our reader. They love to know about you, your passion, and how you came to find and follow your passion.
Hi, I’m Caytie! I’m a public speaker, executive coach, and I’m obsessed with helping women step into their own badassness. What truly ignites me is speaking truth into the lives of women. So many women I encounter are full of doubt. But I believe we as women have big, BOLD things to do in the world. So if I can listen to a woman, truly hear her, and then speak into her to help teach her that she can do absolutely anything, it lights me up in a way that nothing else does. Whether it’s talking to a woman one on one, or speaking to a thousand women at a time, I want every single woman to know that they can do it. I have a list of ways I spend my time that bring me joy. The #1 thing on my list is spending time with women engaged in deep conversations about things that matter.
When I walked away from a successful nonprofit career in 2015, I took six months off to figure out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to impact the world. Figuring it out looked like praying, meditating, journaling, speaking with others who I admired, reading books, getting really, really quiet to listen to my gut and intuition, and answering really hard questions about who I am and who I want to be.
I also started looking backwards and that’s when the dots started connecting. I’ve been a natural cheerleader for others my entire life. I have always seen things in people they don’t see in themselves. I love sharing that with them, and giving them advice on how they can get what they want. And on top of that, I have always loved standing on a stage speaking. Give me a microphone and I am in heaven. I was in my twenties before I realized other people hated public speaking.
Putting all of this together, speaking on stages, and helping women get clarity, become more confident so they go after what they want, is my dream job. Half the time it doesn’t feel like a job. It is what I was born to use my gifts to do.
As an successful entrepreneur please share your view point if you believe that entrepreneurs are born or made?
It’s a combination of both. There’s got to be something inside of you that is comfortable with risk taking, but everything else you can learn. Some people are just born with an aversion to risk. Without risk, you can’t become an entrepreneur because there’s just too much that you can’t control.
If you can take the risk, you can become the entrepreneur you’re meant to be. I did not come from an entrepreneurial family. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, all employed by someone else. My friends’ parents, all employed. My goal was to get out of college, find a good job, and save my way to retirement. My husband, on the other hand, watched his father and grandfather start and run their own businesses. So when he quit his corporate job at the age of 25 to start a company with his dad, I thought he was nuts! For 20 years, I have watched him build his company. I was not “born” to be an entrepreneur, but 13 years into his business, I started seeing what was possible for myself. I started seeing that I could create and build a company. I could be successful as an entrepreneur.
Successful entrepreneurs know how to articulate their vision, know what they are great at, and surround themselves with people who are great at other things to make their vision a reality. The entrepreneurs I know, including myself, work hard at becoming who they are. Truly great entrepreneurs have failed so many times that without the failures they wouldn’t be who they are.
Nelson Mandela once quoted – ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ What has been one fear you have overcome?
Oh my goodness, only one! The biggest fear I have had to overcome was becoming who I am today. I graduated from college on Saturday, and went to work on Monday. I quickly climbed the ladder from entry level fundraiser to chief development officer in just 12 years. I had gotten to the point that I had everything I wanted, and I had it a year ahead of schedule. My career was everything. It was how I defined myself and how I let others define me. And yet, every day I would cry in my corner office. I was miserable and sad and mad and I kept thinking “is this what it’s supposed to feel like?”. When I turned 35 in March 2015, I kept having the thoughts it may feel awful, but this is the plan. Stick to the plan.
On May 3, 2015, I resigned. On June 1, 2015 I woke up with no c-suite title, no six figure salary, no corner office, no identity, and worst of all, I had done this to myself. I had to learn who I was, what was important to me, and most importantly what impact I wanted to make in the world. It was terrifying figuring this out. Terrifying to decide to go into business on my own. Terrifying to reinvent who I was. But the woman I am today in 2022, wouldn’t exist without overcoming these fears. Today the fear I face every single day is becoming who I am meant to be and making the impact I am on this earth to make.
Tell us what the word “empower” means to you?
Empowering to me means letting others in on the secret that they can do it too. It’s widening the table. It’s pulling up chairs for other people. It’s inviting them to sit. It’s about helping someone else discover and embrace the amazingness inside of them. No one needs permission, but unfortunately some people don’t go for it when they don’t have it. If permission is what they need, then I am more than happy to give it to them. Empowering is always about pouring into others so they can see back what they reflect out to you.
What has been one of the biggest business ideas you have had and how did you have the courage to implement it?
For the first four years of my entrepreneurial journey I was doing it all by myself. As a coach and a speaker, I was making an impact. But in 2019, I was burnt out. I was coaching 19 clients at one time…which is insane! I was speaking on stages to get clients, but I didn’t want more clients, so I didn’t want to speak. It was a vicious cycle. I knew I needed to make a change in 2020, but I had no clue what that looked like. I pulled back on coaching. In mid February, just a month before my 40th birthday, I declared to myself and to a handful of others that I was going to go into public speaking full time, no more coaching. Just a word of advice, don’t declare you want to speak at events one month before the entire US shuts down with a pandemic. There I was on my 40th birthday thinking, “what the hell am I going to do with my career?”
For the next three months I waffled back and forth between the idea of doing consulting work or launching the women’s empowerment brand that deep down I really wanted. The consulting work made my stomach hurt the same the end of my nonprofit career did. The women’s empowerment brand felt amazing, but there was a lot of thoughts in my head including, “Who am I to think I can do this? You are insane. Someone else could pull this off, but not you. This will never work.”
But hey, turning 40 and the world shutting down made me realize, I might as well try. So, I put a plan together and announced to the world I was starting a new company, Bold Women Society. I made a plan and brought on advisory board members, other women who saw the vision, to have a feedback loop and because I didn’t want to do this alone. Once I put everything out into the world, you just have to freaking go for it. And I’ve been doing that every day since.
Running your own business can be scary. Success requires moments of courage to push through to the next level, please tell us one of the moments you have had to push through to take your business to the next level?
When I started Bold Women Society I got really honest with myself and wrote a manifesto. This would be the guide that reminded me who I wanted to be, how I wanted to show up, what we would do as a company, and what was a nonnegotiable. One of the top things was that I would not allow my ego to get in the way of the work we needed to do.
When I announced what I was creating, I had lots of folks reach out. One former client, Amanda Cahill, sent me a message asking me if we could chat. I said yes because I was eager to start sharing my vision, and I really respected her. During that time, I had 5 women who I was recruiting to be advisory board members. I wasn’t telling anyone what I was doing, but for some reason on the call with Amanda, I mentioned this. Amanda’s motto is “the answer is always no until you ask”. She asked if I had a spot for one more. I enthusiastically said yes! She jumped on board, and within six weeks she sent another message wanting to schedule a call. On that call she asked if I had ever considered taking on a partner in this work. My jaw hit the floor. I had always wanted to find the right person to do this work with, but it hadn’t happened before I launched Bold Women Society, so I didn’t think it would after. I agreed that we should continue the conversation.
You know what takes courage, going back to your manifesto, remembering that you said you wouldn’t let your ego get in the way. The idea of having a partner was one thing. Now the opportunity was real. And it was scary! What would having a partner mean? Would I run the show? Would she share our vision? What if we’re too similar? Would I look weak if I took someone on? What would happen if I turned this down? All of the scary thoughts and questions were running through my head.
So, I went back to my journal. I went back to meditating. I went back to getting quiet. I came up with the questions I had, the information I needed, the due diligence we had to do before moving forward. It was scary. And it took a huge amount of courage that I’m not even sure I had. Once we went through our due diligence phase, we decided this was the right move. It’s 18 months later, and the best thing I ever did was partner with Amanda. She makes me better. We push each other. We serve our clients in greater ways. We are going faster together than I ever would have by myself.
Tell us what attributes you feel make a good leader in business today?
As an executive coach I have heard people complain thousands of times about their bosses. They feel unheard. The feel undervalued. They feel micromanaged. The best thing a leader can do is 1) learn what their individual team members are really talented at and what they want in their careers, 2) secure the resources they need to be effective, 3) create a feedback loop to keep lines of communication open, and 4) let them do what they were hired to do.
What is your favourite quote about empowerment?
“‘Why the fuck not me?’ should be your motto.
– Mindy Kaling
“It took me awhile to find my voice, and I’m certainly not going to shut up now.”
– Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
It’s all mindset, and you’ve got to put in the mindset work as much as the actual work in and on the business. Being an entrepreneur is full of ups and downs. You have to manage your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions.
People will think that you are crazy. They will tell you that you can’t. They will tell you it is impossible. They will try to stop you. You have to be bolder than all of the negativity. You have to belief beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can, and it will happen.
It might take longer than you expected. It will 1000% go differently than you planned. So enjoy the process. Fall in love with the day-to-day work. If you’re only focused on the outcome, the far-off goal of success, then you will be miserable. It’s fun creating your own thing. It’s fun when you fail because you learn that’s not going to be the answer. It’s fun deciding what impact you are going to make in the world. The process is fun, if you let yourself enjoy it!
What would be one (1) question you would you ask the person who most inspires you? Also share with us about this person and why they inspire you?
How do you push through the fear when you take risks now?
The woman who inspires me most is Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx. I’ve been following her career since my early 20’s. Everything Spanx makes is amazing, and I personally wear one of their bras every day. She’s helped women learn that we don’t have to be perfect, but we can always feel great about ourselves. But what I’m most inspired by is that she didn’t take outside investors until the Blackstone deal recently, and she just kept going. In a world where women receive less than 3% of VC funding, it can be an insane challenge to be a female entrepreneur. And yet, she has proven that you don’t always need outside investors. Sometimes it’s about grit, belief in yourself, putting yourself out there over and over and over, and embracing failure for what it is, the opportunity to learn. I had the chance to meet Sara at the Spanx store opening at North Park Center’s grand opening. I only talked to her for three minutes, but I have been pinching myself ever since. She’s the embodiment for me of what I can accomplish.
You can connect with Caytie here on Linkedin