I Gave More Attention To My Courage Than My Fear

Talia Gutin

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hey there! I’m Talia Gutin. I am a Leadership Coach for 20s women and the founder of LeadHER Project, whose mission is to help women build unshakable self-confidence so they can thrive as leaders of their own lives, relationships, and careers. I believe it is every single woman’s birthright to CHOOSE how they want to live in the world vs. that decision being made for them. While my work is my life’s purpose and passion, I am also a voracious learner and knowledge seeker (I inhale books) and am currently living/working abroad in South America with my husband, which has been a long standing dream of ours – working as digital nomads while traveling our beautiful planet. I am also a triathlete and completed my first Iron(wo)man race in May 2019. The journey of training and racing truly transformed my life, through my unwavering dedication, discipline, and persistence to get across the finish line (and I even did it with a broken arm! That’s another story though…)

Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
Yes and No. My work and career continues to evolve as I do. I’ve always been deeply curious about understanding the world, our place in it, and how to make the most out of this lifetime. I also never shied away from taking a non-traditional life path. When most of my friends were getting jobs after college, I understood that in order to figure out what I wanted to do, I needed to first understand who I wanted to be. So, at twenty two, I began my journey of traveling the world, studying Yoga, meditation, reading hundreds of books, and enrolled in every program and certification that called to me – Coaching, Leadership, Somatics, NLP, Tony Robbins Seminars, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Shadow Work, and many (many) more. Creating my business was one of the most natural processes of my life. At some point, it just became clear to me, that I had done enough of my inner work and growth, and all I wanted to do was externalize my work and share it with other women. The latest expansion to my career will be starting graduate school this fall, where I will study the impact of individualism as the foundation for female leadership. At my core, I’m most interested in applied philosophy – taking ideas and LIVING them in action.

Were you scared to start the process? 
Of course. But I gave more attention to my courage than my fear. I connected deeply to my WHY, and kept putting one foot in front of the other, with fear alongside me. I’m not afraid of my fear – it fuels me and signals that I’m headed in the right direction.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
As a middle schooler, I was obsessed with Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I knew the title of EVERY single episode (all 144 of them) and could recite them on command. Looking back, I was so inspired by the bad ass, independent, and brave character of Buffy. I think my obsession with that show helped ignite many of my beliefs about what it means to be a strong woman in the world.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was traveling in my early twenties through SE Asia, I found myself with a group of people who were into heavy drinking, and it was upsetting to me because my desire to travel was fueled by a longing to feel connected to myself and the world, not to spend my nights partying. I called my older brother on the phone one night, and vented to him about what I was feeling. I’ll never forget what he said to me: “T – do you. Whatever that looks like, whatever that means to you. This is your time right now, so do it your way.” This advice shifted the course of my travels, and inspired me, from that moment onwards, to speak up for my needs, and make decisions that honored my desires.

What would you say to 16 year old you?
Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. Try everything. Go everywhere. Meet everyone. Learn everything you can, read everything you can, try on different beliefs, date different types of people. Because it’s when we experiment with all of what life has to offer that we get to then carefully choose what feels the most true for us. Where we get to decide what it is we’re really called to, where to focus our attention. I believe that life, particularly in our twenties, is about trial and error. We can get closer to what we want by eliminating what we don’t want. AND, of course, above all else: listen to, trust, and act on your intuition.

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Hmm. Yes, I have. But not through any fault of their own, more because my actions couldn’t be understood (and didn’t need to) by anyone besides me. I think that doubt from others actually motivates me, not because I need to prove anything to anyone, but because it helps to reinforce my own self-trust and belief in my potential.

What message do you think every woman should hear?
How you respect yourself is how you teach others to respect you. I believe self-respect is the foundational pillar of the independent woman.

Have you always had confidence in yourself?
For the most part, yes. There have absolutely been periods of time in my life when my confidence was shot, and I had to work to rebuild it. And each time, it was only strengthened. My interest is in building deep intrinsic self-confidence. The type that can’t be touched by any external source, and requires nothing beyond my own self-approval. So while I always marched to my own beat, and showed up externally confident, I think my work over the last 10 years has been about developing deep, unshakable, untouchable, intrinsic confidence.

What do you love most about yourself?
I respect myself, unconditionally. I know how to take a stand for myself by setting healthy boundaries, expressing my needs, and taking consistent action towards my goals and dreams. I also love that I strive to live with integrity. I want to LIVE what I stand for, not just talk about it. I strive for alignment between my values, thoughts, words, and actions.

Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
Yes, I sure do. When I was 20, I had been modeling for a bit and was lured out to LA by a male agent who was much older than me, with promises that he would help my career. When I got out there, I quickly realized he wasn’t at all interested in helping me, but instead wanted to take advantage of my body and naïveté spirit. I was staying with him and never in my life had I felt more afraid to speak up, internally confused, and quite literally, felt so small. After a few days, I left his apartment, but the whole experience really traumatized me, and led to a period where I felt broken for the first time, I couldn’t recognize myself, and was forced to rebuild myself from the ground up. It was in this time that I was (painfully) being shaped into the woman I am today. A woman who would NEVER allow a man to take advantage of her, who will always speak up for herself, and is unapologetic about taking up space in the world. I believe that when we pivot towards the places where we feel pain, we actually pivot towards our purpose. Because we hurt where we care and we care where we hurt. If that experience had not happened, I’m not sure I would be called to the work I do today.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The importance of taking responsibility for every single moment of my life. That I can choose to be a victim of my circumstances or I can be the driver of them. That I can let life happen to me, or I can make life happen for me. The moment I chose to take responsibility, everything changed. I feel more empowered, courageous, and confident in my capacity to create my own reality.

What motivates you most?
Honestly, it’s my individual potential and therefore, the potential impact I can have on our world. How many more things can I experience? How many more iterations of myself can I be? How much more can I learn? What am I capable of? My potential and desire to have a massive impact on this planet motivate me above all else.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
Still learning this one! I’m constantly iterating on maintaining a work-life balance and some weeks are better than others. Since I’m so passionate about my work, it usually doesn’t feel like work. Which is a great thing! And, as an entrepreneur, I’ve definitely needed to learn how to put work boundaries in place, and learn effective time management skills. Also, If work ever starts to feel like a chore, I check in with myself and ask: “How can I bring more joy to this?” And then I take action on whatever the answer is.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
Some daily practices that help me grow include: meditation, reading, engaging in honest and courageous conversation with people I love, journaling, taking cold showers (a practice that has me face resistance every morning and move through the discomfort), visualize what I want to create in my life, affirmations/incantations, exercise, and writing (almost every day).

Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
Yes, in fact, I don’t know where I would be without my mentors. I have two mentors who have massively impacted my life. My mentor Coby Kozlowski, has taught me the foundations for how to navigate my life in a skillful way. She is my greatest teacher, and a dear friend who has guided me throughout my twenties in ways I am grateful beyond words. I also have another incredible mentor named Vienna Pharaon, who has taught me by her own example, what it means to be a powerful, independent, and abundant woman and leader. 

What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
As purpose driven, freedom seeking, and ambitious as I am, above all else, the thing I truly want in my life is to experience motherhood. I cannot imagine anything more meaningful, beautiful, and sacred, than holding a little baby knowing I created them, birthed them, and get to raise them for a lifetime.

If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
Mmm I love this question. I would be a novelist and spend all my days writing. OR, I would be a high school English Teacher and talk about books with students all day.

Who is your biggest role model? Why?
My mentor, teacher, and friend, Coby Kozlowski. She is a woman of the purest integrity and the best leader I’ve ever known. She navigates her way through the world with both strength and softness, courage and surrender, intensity and humor. It is a great privilege and honor of my life to know her and learn from her.

talia gutin

Talia Gutin is a Confidence and Leadership Coach for young women. She is the founder of LeadHER Project, whose mission is to help 20s women build unshakable self-confidence so they can thrive as leaders of their own lives, relationships, and careers. 

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