After a few slow glimmerings that turned into a thick orange band around the horizon, the sun came up fast at Mt Sonder. That I was on top of a mountain in the heart of Australia to see it happen on a May weekday was a high point in my life. I wasn’t just on top of a big rocky pile. I was on top of the world.
Nailing the final climb of the really tough Larapinta Trail was even more breathtaking because of the lows which had led to me—a mum of three with a love of comfort and a nodding acquaintance with cardio—deciding without much notice to tackle my version of the Hawaiian Ironman.
2021 was awful for a lot of people. My own year was truly devastating. In quick succession, I was hit with the suicide of a family member, the ending of my 27-year relationship and managing the poor mental health of a child.
Since then, I’ve sold the family house, found somewhere new to live, had my eldest daughter leave home for uni, been mired in mediation where the memories and triumphs of a long marriage are commoditised and broken down. Hard.
So the Larapinta Trail represented an opportunity to process everything that had happened and find space to think. To get out of my everyday life, reset without phones and responsibility. Walking it was about walking into my next chapter.
And there was a lot of walking. 130kms of it over six days!
Along the way I did a lot of thinking. One endless day that will stay with me was day four. Somewhere around the five-hour mark I got the cranks and walked by myself to really reflect on where my life is at and whether I’m comfortable with decisions I’ve made.
That day, I kind of said goodbye to my husband. That night, I dreamed we became friends again and he got remarried, with me wishing him well on the morning of his vows. I felt great.
When I got home from the Larapinta, I bumped into him for real in the supermarket. It was like seeing an old friend: hi, how are you? No animosity. I feel I’ve done my letting go.
And that’s what the whole life changing trip was about. Letting go rather than dreaming of the new life. That’s the next stage. On the final morning, up Mt Sonder, someone said, “Katrina, you look so happy’. I was giggling (and singing a Muppet Show song!) Why wouldn’t I be happy? The sun was rising on a woman with a clean slate and desire for change.
Before I left, I had a conscious desire to uplevel my personal life because I know when you do, it flows into everything else—business, connections, health. It’s so powerful. Uplevelling gave me perspective devoid of distractions—I feel stronger, creative and completely energised with a zest for challenges.
Yes, I learned a lot about myself on the trail.
On a superficial level, I finally discovered those elusive glutes. And I’m not letting them out of my sight. To keep working them, I’ve signed up for a couple more hikes later this year. I’ve enjoyed the forced self-care that training gave me and the way it taught me to prioritise my own needs.
I found I can do hard things. 2021 and the decades before it proved I can handle stress but the Larapinta tested me in new ways. It’s created self-confidence. I’ve come home a foot taller, so deeply proud of how I stretched my capabilities physically, mentally and emotionally.
I learned the magic happens when we step out of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves. Actually, I’ve always believed this but stepping so far out of my comfort zone really reinforced it and has me intrigued by the idea that the further we leave behind our comfort zone, the greater the reward. Risk more for a bigger pay off.
I fell in love with simplicity—early nights, proper hydration, great healthy food, whole days of exercise. Getting the basics right made me feel incredible. I want more of it. I want to be able to maintain some of the great changes I made out in the desert. That starts with sticking to a baseline of 10K steps a day and drinking at least two litres of water. My hair is fabulous, my wrinkles and rosacea have disappeared! I feel stronger and rested. Slowing down feels good.
I’m aware of impact. Trek Tours made sure everything we brought to camp each night came out. And I mean everything. We recycled, composted and minimised use. It made me reflect on my own impact and I’m working through what I can do at home to contribute in a bigger way.
Overall, I feel like I’m back in the driver’s seat. I’m creating a great lifestyle with an awesome balance of working with great clients and having fun adventures.
I feel empowered to step into my second act knowing I’m capable of anything.
I feel more open and confident to do things I’ve never done before. Hell, if I can do the Larapinta I really think I can have a go at tackling most things.
The Larapinta taught me to be more in the moment. To be truly present and not distracted. I absolutely loved not being able to be contacted and to focus on enjoying this once in a lifetime experience.
Everyone thinks their mum is the best. There’s a good chance my mum Helen really is though—a single mum in the 1970s, she was always fun and resourceful and hell bent on raising independent kids prepared for the world.
She informed and inspired how I show up in the world and make and keep money. Here’s five things I learned about business and life from my mum.
One: Dream big
Helen encouraged me to set wildly ambitious goals. At 14, my first one was bankrolling a trip to New York. I got a job at KFC for $3.28 per hour and saved madly. At 16, I had enough saved for three weeks in that fabulous city. Making a dream come true as a teenager was a huge education. It encouraged me not to fear chasing big bold ideas. With a well-crafted plan, it can happen.
My question for you: Are you dreaming big enough?
Two: Do something you’re passionate about
Mum was huge on her kids doing things we were obsessed with and hated when my brother struggled to find his thing. She took him to tennis, cricket, football. Nothing stuck until he discovered the local surf club. He became a passionate surfer.
Helen said passion should be your main driver. When I started my own business and as my business has evolved I’ve held onto knowing I must be doing things I’m passionate about. It’s why you might be noticing some changes in my business to incorporate some new ones (stay tuned).
My questions: are you really passionate about what you’re doing? Is there something you’re deeply passionate about that you haven’t brought to life yet?
Three: Don’t listen to the naysayers
Back to Helen. She decided her dream was to live in an Italian villa. It didn’t matter that we actually lived in suburban Perth and she didn’t have the money. Heads shook whenever Helen brought up her plan: ‘There’s no way that can happen love, get real.’ Ha. One night she invited Perth’s leading architect over for a drink and they struck a deal—mum would get her house designed because the architect was intrigued by the novelty value. She subdivided our block and built her villa.
The lesson is there will always be people who tell you everything about your idea/strategy/decision is no good. It’s super important that you have trusted people who deeply understand you and your business to seek counsel from. Don’t go to the masses—you’re likely to be swamped by naysayers.
My question: are you protecting your energy and surrounding yourself with the right kind of supportive people in business?
Four: Be different
Mum always walks to her own beat. I could tell you a million stories about how my mum was different to all the other mums. Or just show you a photo of me at my first communion in a Helen-chosen maroon slack suit with pink and white bow tie, amid a sea of little white brides.
Mum taught me that to get noticed you need to do things differently.
My question: are you avoiding the same-same and looking for ways to amplify your key differences and get visible?
Five: At the end of the day, family is everything
Balance is important. Set clear work boundaries. This one took a while to learn but this year I’ve nailed the four-day work week and won’t ever work in January again. I work with many parents who are also business owners and this is a really difficult area to master. I hear you.
I’d encourage you to map out your holidays before you start your annual planning. Subtle shifts in prioritising family holiday time is a great first step. Another idea is getting rid of social media apps from your phone on holidays. I haven’t had email accessible from my phone for more than seven years.
Hels, on Mother’s Day I’ll be out on the Larapinta Trail dreaming big and getting right out of my comfort zone so we won’t be able to speak. I want you to know how vital your lessons have been on my thinking and how I run my businesses.
Thank you. Love you, Mum.
Being different in life takes courage. From wearing something that takes confidence (anyone back into mini-skirts yet this winter? Terrifying but fun) to saying publicly that you support a certain viewpoint to deciding you’d rather go to Adelaide than Tokyo.
Even as adults with big wardrobes, control of the household finances and a ton of life choices, we’re influenced by what other people do—because it’s safe. I see it time and again with businesses. They do what everyone else is doing then wonder why they don’t get different results.
Truth is, if you take a cookie cutter approach you won’t get noticed or get extraordinary results. Being different is key if you want to stand out with your marketing. So I’m inviting you all to dig deep and find bravery and courage.
One business which consistently has a willingness to tread their own path is Elvie, a health and lifestyle brand developing smarter technology for women. As their website says, they are “committed to building extraordinary products” to address intimate issues faced by women at all stages of life.
Founded in 2013, Elvie has just two products: the world’s first silent and wearable breast pump and an app-connected Kegel tracker that helps women strengthen their pelvic floor with real-time biofeedback. Both are beautifully designed, useful and have a global army of raving fans including Gwyneth Paltrow and Khloe Kardashian.
Take the breast pump. It slips inside your bra so you can work or commute while pumping. It’s wire-free and hands free, controlled through your phone: “You can confidently collect breastmilk where other motherpumpers dare not go,” Elvie promises.
I love that language and I love that the innovative design of the products is matched by the brand’s bold marketing. It lets Elvie cut through the clutter and engage its market in fun new ways. It gets noticed.
Famously, on Mother’s Day 2019, Elvie installed five gigantic inflatable breasts around London roofs as part of a campaign called #FreeTheFeed, created to fight stigma against breastfeeding in public.
“We know the giant boobs will raise a few eyebrows, but we want to make sure no one overlooks the way this stigma has been used to repress women,” said Elvie CEO Tania Boler, who collaborated on the campaign with creative agency Mother London.
So the visuals weren’t just unmissable and confident but the message was on brand and contemporary, meshing the hot button topic of women’s issues and rights with the mission of selling product.
(Elvie doubled down in another clever way, setting up breastfeeding and pumping benches in Belgium at the same time as the launch of a map of places to feed without judgement.)
Now Elvie has unveiled a London billboard that ‘pees’ on pedestrians below to highlight urinary incontinence, a problem that reportedly affects 84 per cent of women. The billboard features real-life incontinence sufferer Megan Burns, a 28-year-old mum of two, in a weightlifting position.
The campaign was born after Elvie posted to TikTok footage of Burns leaking urine during a gym workout. The social media platform banned it for being ‘graphic content’. In protest, Elvie partnered with agency Don’t Cry Wolf to put up the #LeaksHappen billboard.
Elvie CMO Aoife Nally said the TikTok censorship reinforced “taboos” around incontinence and the peeing billboard brought the issue out of the shadows: “We hope it will encourage women to start speaking out about the issue and seek the help they need.”
Again, the campaign was so smart because it dared to be really different and was linked to a global women’s health issue—weakened pelvic floors—that in turn is the point of Elvie’s kegel trainers (“your most personal trainer”) all without mentioning product at all!
Here’s why your business should do an Elvie and amplify its differences.
For starters, so you stand out to prospective clients and customers. So you’re perceived as delivering something different to rivals. So you can then charge more because of your differences. So you can ultimately position your business on it.
In business, customers choose us for our differences. It’s our job as business owners to uncover these, ensure they’re valued by our client base and then amplify them.
Not sure where to start with understanding and amplifying what sets you apart? My Marketing With No Money podcast episode on Being Different guides you through a quick challenge that will reveal how to identify your own special sauce and how to market it.
Jump on here and listen—it’s less than ten minutes of your time and could change your brand and how it’s seen in the world.
No giant inflatable breasts were used in the making of the podcast, but gee I wish they had been. Bravo, Elvie.
My first thought when Ash Barty suddenly retired wasn’t—as seemed to be the burning question—what’s next for this rockstar 25 year old. It was ‘huzzah, there is a serious professional who understands it’s all in the planning’.
The world No 1’s planning was exceptional. She knew when to go and did it on her terms. No being last on the dance floor at the end of the party, shoes in hand and six drinks in. She strategized her exit with as much care as her matches, treating it as a business and not a game.
I often see that normally realistic CEOs and leaders find it hard to let go when it’s their time because they haven’t planned. They procrastinate, they sabotage succession plans, performance dives until things slowly fizzle out.
Not Ash. She proved her planning is as world class as her backhand. Everyone should be following her lead. Whether it’s an exit, a change in direction or boosting what you already do well, if you want to level up in life and business you need a plan and you need to assemble the right support team around you.
When you want to change something, you need to change your behaviour and have the people and resources to do that within arm’s reach.
I’m used to doing it in business but I’ve learned it in a new way since agreeing to hike the Larapinta Trail, the casual walker’s equivalent of the Hawaiian Ironman. I knew planning and the right team would be the difference between nailing it or failing it.
First order of business was my fitness. I had to really step up my fitness regimen quickly for the demands of hiking 107kms in six days with steep rocky ridges and inclines.
So I signed up for Hustle & Thrive’s six week challenge, staggered around a local oval at early morning run club and showed up for circuits and strength training to discover my elusive glutes.
My trek partner Kate became my training buddy on fortnightly hikes in the You Yangs. Collaborating on our fitness meant we know we’re training enough and also gives us a chance to endlessly share our excitement and not bore anyone. The kids only let me mention Larapinta once a day.
I scheduled a weekly tennis hit with three girlfriends and a coach. It serves a dual purpose: increasing fitness and keeping me motivated because it’s fun learning a new sport.
My planning also stretched to injury prevention. I didn’t want to do all this training and have an injury or hurt myself during the trek so I’ve looked at reducing my risk and am educating myself about ways to avoid injuries.
Advice from other trekkers is I need to look after my feet so I’ve booked into the podiatrist next month to get tips and learn about blister care.
Kate and I also consulted Scott Brown, a remote and rural first aid specialist, about what we need to be prepared for. Wow. This was such an informative and eye-opening hour session. We learned about ‘waste management’ on the trip—there are no toilets, not even long drops!—and how to minimise being smelly when you don’t shower for nearly a week.
We also learned how to deal with flies. I can’t wait to show you my really cool coverall hat.
One major plank of my planning has been mindset and mentoring. If I’m going to level up and actually finish this thing, I need to challenge old thought patterns. Calling in experts was worth the investment because I know the work I do on myself will flow into my biz too.
First up: a therapist. There’s been a lot going on my personal life in the past year and right now I need a bit more emotional support. It’s helping me manage my biz, personal life and prioritising my training.
I also hired a business coach. Why would I need one for the Larapinta? I’m a big believer that if we up level in our personal life this will flow into our business. I’m seizing this great opportunity to make work changes as I change my personal habits.
And of course there’s my trek buddy Kate, aka my Wing Woman. She’ll keep me focused on the trek and I’ll do the same. Our shared big fear is being forced to do a day in the support car because we’re struggling and it’s impacting other trekkers. Our commitment is we’ll step in, support each other and act as accountability buddies when our mind wanders and it all feels too hard.
As the trip comes closer, there’ll be more things to plan. I’m ready for that. It’s made me realise more than ever that if you want to make a change in your business or life you need to change your current behaviour.
What are you planning? Whatever it is, you need the right people around you. You need to work with those who have up levelled. You need me as your wing woman!
I promise not to talk Larapinta too much … just use what I’ve learned to motivate you to greater heights and challenges.
Even though I was in my early thirties when I first fell pregnant—hardly a teenager—I had mixed emotions. I was ecstatic at the idea of being a mum, but I remember also thinking, ‘I am not ready for this’.
I had a house, security, a job, savings, had travelled, but I still worried I needed more of everything. That felt more intense as the pregnancy ticked along. Then of course when I had my daughter I realised you’re never really ready for parenthood and you just have to dive in and make it work.
I’m always reminded of that when I start working with clients who’ve waited and waited to engage me as their mentor to grow their biz. The question is then, have they waited too long and missed their moment?
Here’s what I hear: they got stuck thinking they needed more clients, traction, money. More of a profile, more website traffic, more business ideas before they reached out. The reality is that put off achieving desired objectives because they were so focused on getting ready for them.
On the flip side, I have plenty of brave clients who engaged me before they were ready but knew they needed me on their team. Watching them blossom gives me so much joy.
Maybe that’s because I’m blossoming myself and putting my own coaching into action.
My friend Kate Christie rang just after Christmas with an invitation. Would I walk the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory with her? She said it would be incredible, would require lots of training and would change my life. But she needed an immediate answer.
My first thought was, hell no. I hadn’t felt my glutes in forever, was lacking motivation after a hard personal year, and am a woman who camps with a king size mattress. An intense hike tailored for experts was light years outside my comfort zone.
Oddly, that’s what made me step out of it and into my power zone. All the things that were holding me back, all the excuses, became what propelled me to level up.
Even as I said a very tentative yes, I knew I wasn’t ready then and probably wouldn’t be when the time came. But truth is I’ll never be ready emotionally, physically or mentally to do the Larapinta. Until I get there and just do it.
It’s a real misnomer in life and business that you need to be ‘ready’ to do something. Like my clients who wait until they miss their window. If you jump in before your ducks are lined up, we work through everything together. This saves bucket loads of time and gets you where you want to be, faster.
The idea of realising you’re never ready then taking fast action has become an obsession, and it’s something many of my private coaching clients tell me they struggled with until I became their wingwoman (packages https://www.katrinamccarter.com/privatecoaching/).
Be honest with yourself: what are you wanting to get done and holding back from? Now is the time to say yes.
I’m not a runner. Yet this week I found myself at a local oval at 5.30am, puffing through laps with a running club. That same night I hit with some girlfriends and a coach at the tennis club. Now? I’m sore, I’m tired—and I’m excited.
My new fitness regimen is happening to get me in good enough shape to tackle an adventure that may be life changing.
My friend Kate and I are both mums of three, both business owners, both never do things by halves. I trust her in all things. So when she rang and asked if I’d do the Larapinta Trail Hike in the Northern Territory I said yes. A couple of last minute spots had opened up and Kate needed a fast decision.
Only later did I find out the spots are for the extreme hike. The website warns it’s “unrelentingly hard” and only for “experienced hikers seeking a spectacular challenge.” Walking up to 12 hours a day over rocky ridgelines and in unforgiving gorges. Kate will be fine—she’s a willowy ocean swimmer who looks like she could run for five hours without blowing out a candle—but I’ve always been more of a fan of your low impact exercise.
So, why am I doing it when it’s the opposite of everything I hold dear, including bathrooms and ambles down inner-city shopping strips? Good question, but I think that’s the exact reason. It’s going to not just take me out of my comfort zone—mental and physical—but perhaps redefine it.
At 50, with my eldest moving out for uni, I want to do something that proves to me what I’m made of. Stretching my capabilities and getting fitter in every way is forced self-care. My version of the Hawaiian Ironman.
Truth is, I’m feeling like one of the novices who gets pushed out of a helicopter in that SAS show. I’m not much of a camper. I’ve spent many years camping with old mates in Moama who know me for arriving with the king size mattress off the bed at home, armed with a white dressing gown with shoulder pads from Saks Fifth Avenue.
So you might say trekking is truly something new for me and has surprised many of my close friends and family.
I have expectations of what it will deliver: greater clarity about my life wants, more creativity I can deliver to clients (nature helps me dream up great ideas) and proving to myself I’m stronger and tougher in all ways than I think. Plus lots of additional magic I haven’t even considered. I know up-levelling myself will have incredible impacts on my work too.
For a few reasons I don’t need to talk about today, I’m in the process of creating a whole new life. I want to do that with vigour. I want to be brave. Bold. I want to swap that comfort zone for one of deep discomfort that lets me know I can do anything.
But first, I have to master running club. I was last over the line at my first outing. I may be again this week. But I’m turning up. I’m doing this.
FIND THE SECRET TO CREATING A PROFITABLE BUSINESS WITH ZERO MARKETING BUDGET
Answer 13 questions to discover your score and find out what opportunities you're missing.