Meet Catherine Aguilar. She’s a remarkable multi-careerist who has a full-time corporate job. At the same time, she’s an entrepreneur who founded her own consultancy. We met over LinkedIn, and it’s been a joy learning about her journey. I know you’ll also enjoy learning about her path below.
- My traditional corporate job is working for an environmental planning firm in SoCal, EPD Solutions. At this job, I lead the firm’s public outreach and community engagement efforts.
- Outside of my day job, I have my own consulting business and am currently in the midst of building my non-profit organization Norm Breakers. My company partners with leaders in business and society to set the new standard of success in their industries by norm breaking. My norm breaking strategies inspire complex change, trigger sustainable growth, build competitive advantage, and drive bottom-line impact.
On her motivations for having many careers
The honest answer is that I have multiple careers because I am frustrated with the fact that I hit a glass ceiling in corporate America. There is a common belief that women hit a glass ceiling later in their careers, where they face a combination of invisible barriers that prevent them from advancing to senior leadership roles. However, a recent study by Accenture revealed that women aged 30 and under will experience several barriers to their advancement within the first five years of working life – which is exactly what I am experiencing.
Having my own business that works to inspire innovation, enable growth, and build competitive advantage through norm breaking serves three main purposes: (1) It is a non-traditional strategy for career advancement (2) I am able to fill the pay gap and promotional challenges I face in corporate America and (3) It’s an outlet for me to take action in tackling our society’s culture of inequality.
On how long she’s had these careers
I started my career at EPD Solutions in late February 2020; founded my consulting business and in January 2021; and am currently building my non-profit.
Advice for others wanting to pursue multiple careers
If you’re someone who is looking to increase their competitive advantage, innovation output, and sustainable growth, it is time to start thinking beyond the traditional linear career path model. This model assumes that there is only one right fit career path that will lead to success – which is a very limiting perspective.
Consider norm breaking to trigger success in your career by reaching beyond this linear model. Pursuing multiple careers means you are expanding your own market. When you embrace different roles, you not only create different streams of revenue, but you also create your own unique career ladder to success.
I recognize that norm breaking is not easy, especially because it requires us to step outside our comfort zone and that is a scary thing to do! But somehow, the greatest things in life are placed on the other side of fear. So my advice is to embrace the untraditional and be brave enough to break norms in your career. Press on towards your bigger dreams and never forget about your WHY.
On overcoming obstacles
One of the challenges I’ve faced on this path is finding the right balance between work, family time, and personal time. I’ve frequently worked in fast paced high stress environments, where overworking was considered the norm and a strategy staff used to make themselves more competitive. I am very guilty of falling into this group. But quite frankly, this has led to burnouts and missing out on a lot of important family/friend milestone events (e.g. baby showers, weddings, birthdays). Nourishing the deep relationships I have and taking time for myself is important to me. I have grown more comfortable in saying no to prevent overbooking myself, which ultimately allows me to make myself and my loved ones the highest priority.
How multiple careers are mutually beneficial
I love the juggle of having multiple careers because each career teaches me skills that improve my performance at the other.
For example, working at EPD Solutions teaches me how to put together compelling business proposals and how to effectively engage with stakeholders. This is helpful for my consulting side business because it provides me a framework for effective business development.
My career as the Principal of my consulting business and Founder of Norm Breakers helps me with my day job because these two roles tap into my purpose and passions, which is fuel I bring back to EPD Solutions.
On managing personal time
I plan out my schedule way in advance so that I can see from a bird’s eye view what my focus needs to be for work and my business. If I see that the intensity level for one week is too much, I will intentionally put a break in my schedule for personal and family time. Color coding my time in Google Calendar for my day job, business, and personal/family time has been super helpful!
On something she wish she had learned earlier
Our society’s traditional model for building a successful career is linear. It has been a comfortable norm to first identify whether career A, B, C, or D is the right fit, and then focusing all efforts on excelling in that one career path. This linear career path norm has led many to overwork at one job to create a competitive edge to advance to senior leadership roles.
Of course this linear model and career path norm has worked for a lot of people, but look at how small your profits are when you operate within a norm that is familiar and comfortable.
I wish I knew early on that this linear model is not the best strategy for career advancement. Having multiple careers is a great career advancement strategy because it allows you to expand your own market. When you break norms to go outside this linear model, you expand your market and increase your competitive advantage, innovation output, and sustainable growth.
The top 3 podcasts I recommend are The Mindset Mentor by Rob Dial, The Brendan Show by Brendan Buchard, and On Purpose with Jay Shetty.
On the stigma of having many careers
Absolutely. I feel like there’s a stigma that people who have multiple careers are not as committed to giving their very best to their traditional corporate job and don’t get as much respect compared to folks who only have that one corporate job and make it their entire life. I’ve found that the latter group tends to embrace over-working, over-committing, and they consistently fight burn-out.
I have overcome this stigma by being secure in the fact that it is not true at all! It’s like if someone were to tell me, “Catherine, your pink hair is so ugly.” – I can’t get upset about that because I know for a fact I don’t have pink hair.
On what to share with corporate colleagues
I founded my consulting business and non-profit organization earlier this year. Since we are still recovering from a pandemic, most folks at my day job have been working remotely – so there hasn’t been much of an opportunity to share details on what my business is about and some of the big opportunities that are coming down the pipe.
On sublimating ego
I love this question because it is definitely not an easy thing to do. At my day job, my official classification is Assistant Project Manager (APM); and during work off-hours I am the Principal of my own consulting business and Founder/Executive Director of Norm Breakers.
As much as I appreciate my day job role, as a minority and a woman, I don’t feel like it serves as a title that empowers me or commands respect. The hard truth is that I have gotten comments like, “She’s too young to be doing XYZ.” even though I have proven that I am very much capable of handling larger scopes. I have also relentlessly advocated for myself and have fought for a more fitting title to help mitigate the challenges I face as a double minority in this industry. The corporate America response I repeatedly get is questioning me back on why title matters and the lack of action in empowering me further. It is frustrating that I hit a glass ceiling that I haven’t been able to break through in corporate America.
But this glass ceiling has truly been a blessing in disguise because it has allowed me to turn my attention to things that fuel my fire in making this world a better place. It has allowed me to manifest opportunities like speaking on the power of norm breaking as a TEDx Speaker for the City of Oxnard, creating my own consulting business, and founding a non-profit organization.
I owe it to my therapist in helping me understand this truth: everything in life happens the way it’s supposed to happen. Had it not been me being frustrated with hitting a glass ceiling in corporate America, I would have never uncovered my identity as an expert in norm breaking, Principal of my consulting business, and Founder/Executive Director of Norm Breakers.
A Day in the Life
- 5 am – Wake Up, pray/meditate, & review day’s agenda items
- 6 am – Workout at Equinox for an hour of weight lifting & cardio
- 7 am – Get ready for work
- 8 am – 5:30 pm – Work at traditional corporate job
- 5:30-6 pm – Breathe
- 6 – 9 pm – Meet with business partner and Board of Directors; work on side businesses
- 9:00 pm – Connect with family/friends; catch up on social media
What are the core services of Norm Breakers?
- Consulting, Coaching, & Advisory – Catherine Aguilar challenges her clients to set the new standard of success in their industries by norm breaking. Leaders in business and society partner with Catherine to tackle their most complex challenges and capture their greatest opportunities using Catherine’s original norm breaking methodology. Catherine’s norm breaking strategies inspire complex change, trigger sustainable growth, build competitive advantage, and drive bottom-line impact.
- Public Speaking – Catherine speaks on (1) The Power of Norm Breaking (2) Serial Innovation – How to Get it Right (3) Redefining Success with Multiple Career Paths. Read more about her talks here: https://www.catherine-aguilar.com/speaking
- Evolve Institute – Catherine’s original norm breaking Evolve Methodology is the specific technique used to embrace non-traditional methods and frameworks to trigger impactful norm breaking. By-products of the Evolve methodology include serial innovation output, sustainable growth, and competitive advantage. Catherine works directly with C-level executives, companies, government agencies, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations to offer industry-recognized norm breaking training and certification programs. All programs are 100% online, self-paced, and include certification exams.
Sign up here to get notified when Evolve Institute launches: https://www.catherine-aguilar.com/evolve-institute
Where to find Catherine
Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author.