How to use your PhD to become a coach [Interview with Morgana McCabe Allan]

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Womans hand on a keyboard. Papers, glasses on the table. Using her PhD to be a coach

Interview with Morgana McCabe Allan

Founder/CEO of Morgana McCabe Allan Ltd. (Business mindset and manifesting coaching)

What does an average day in the life look like for you?

Most days, I coach my lovely clients for a few hours (morning and/or evening), and spend a couple more on building my own business. Right now, that means planning out the launch of my second group programme. I retired my husband from his 9-5pm last summer, so we have time together with our baby girl during the day, and with our boys after school until bedtime. During the summer we sail a lot, but we’re in Scotland so right now it is NOT sailing season!

What is your PhD about?

It’s an interdisciplinary study of how our emotions, beliefs and practices, in interaction with materials, places and other beings (people, animals, and belief system beings), shape our identity and our reality. It’s essentially mindset and manifesting – what we believe and feel to be real hugely impacts the reality we experience!

What advice would you give others looking at starting a side hustle?

There will never be a better time! I had two of my three kids in the middle of my PhD, then started my business during pregnancy of baby three. If you wait for the “perfect time” you can wait forever, and all that time you’re waiting, other people are getting better and better at what you wanted to create. Better early in and doing it, than perfect but too late to the party.  

What is your side hustle?

My business is now our full-time family income, but it started out as a side-hustle coaching women who were struggling to create and experience joyful and abundant feelings in their lives.

What would you do differently if you had your time over?

I would get the basics right first, instead of worrying about all the chatter. I did all these things you’re “supposed to do” but struggled to make money and wasn’t enjoying my business half as much as I knew was possible. Thankfully, I realised it was because I was throwing myself into the wrong things. My business didn’t take off until I focused on my zones of genius and how I could bring more of them to what I was doing, instead of trying to do what seemed like it was working for other people.

How does your PhD help you in your side hustle?

I essentially use my research, all the transferable skills, and teaching experience etc, plus all of the stories of mortifying stage appearances at conferences, alongside my past business experience, to help entrepreneurs create better results in their lives and businesses. I’ve found the more of my PhD experiences and research I used, the bigger the results clients get too: I couldn’t do this work without the PhD because I’m using my expertise directly – I’m just applying it in a different context.   

I couldn’t do this work without the PhD because I’m using my expertise directly – I’m just applying it in a different context.   

Why did you start your side hustle?

My second child was pretty ill for the first few years of his life, and my husband suffered postnatal depression. I was finishing my PhD up through all of that, and I just knew career-wise I was not a path that could ever lead to the amazing, happy life that I really wanted for us. All that got me through the PhD during that time of trauma, was knowing at the end it would allow me to create opportunities and adventures for us.   

How much did it cost you to get started?

I invested about £10,000 before I started making money, but in retrospect, if I had trusted myself more from the outset and not been so institutionalised into pursuing more and more education, I could have started out far more cost-effectively. That said, I have never regretted those choices – I trusted myself completely to be able to return the investment and have done so many, many times over. Of course, I have also continued to invest in coaching and trainings since then – I don’t see myself ever stopping and thinking “ok, I’ve learned enough now.”

How does your personal brand impact your side hustle?

My whole business is based on my personal brand, and my PhD is a very integrated part of it. Without the PhD, I have no idea what I would be doing right now, but it wouldn’t be this.

Do you suffer from impostor syndrome? How do you deal with it when it shows up?

Haha! That’s a trick question, right? YES. But I also have very effective ways of handling it, something I‘m very conscientious about bringing to my clients.

We all suffer from imposter syndrome when it comes to things we care about and what to be good at. So I remind myself THAT is why it’s showing up. I have zero imposter syndrome around rocket science or competitive baking, because I don’t care about them and have nothing to contribute there, and I know it! Imposter syndrome is the reminder that you actually DO have something to contribute. Once you admit that, it’s about mastering the conversations with yourself and how you show up around others. 

How can my readers connect with you/find out more?




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