Kathy Haan is a lifestyle blogger, world traveler, mom of 3, and business coach with an MBA from Purdue University Global. Kathy’s work has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, PARADE, and more. She has partnered with some of the biggest brands in the world like Samsung, Amazon, Best Buy, Tyson, and more. Kathy believes that the secret to telling a great story is living one and she currently helps women create and sell high-end coaching packages, retreats, intensives, and online signature programs. Additionally, Kathy is passionate about helping women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in business so that they may establish safe, happy, and healthy lives in the United States. You can learn more about Kathy on her blog at Idyllicpursuit.com or kathyhaan.com. Additionally, you can subscribe to her podcast called Turning Coaches into Millionaires Radio on iTunes.
Sometimes I am able to summarize someone’s background for a quick intro, but yours is a story that people need to read for themselves on Idyllic Pursuit or kathyhaan.com, but can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you developed your lifestyle blog and coaching tools?
Yeah, great question. So I actually started out as a health and fitness coach a little – like eight and a half years ago and at the time I was close to three hundred pounds and you’re like “wait a minute you were a health and fitness coach and almost three hundred pounds, you know, morbidly obese” and I was. It was like the one thing I could do to keep myself accountable was being accountable to other people.
So I was a health and fitness coach and ended up losing one hundred and twenty three pounds. That’s like a whole person. And then I got tired of answering the same questions every day like what workouts did you do, what did you eat, did you worry about loose skin like all those questions and so I started blogging about it. And then the blog really took off and then brands started sending me like little gadgets to review for free and I’m like “oh this is cool this is really cool” and then, you know, I’d have blog posts due like twenty of them due in a week for a little gadget. I’m like “oh this isn’t working out. This is feeling a lot like work” and so I started to be a little bit more selective about who I decided to work with and then brands started paying me. I had the opportunity to work with literally some of the biggest in the world and they’re actually brands I use every day and want to work with anyway so that’s been really really cool. And then people were like “oh you’re making money online. I want to do that too” and so it’s kind of morphed into not just a lifestyle blog but also a lifestyle brand. So I also coach women on with starting their own coaching businesses online so no more health and fitness. I don’t really like to workout which is funny because I have a full home gym and my husband is a competitive body builder and I like to watch him as I eat Häagen-Dazs.
At what point of your journey did you realize that you were an influencer and what early steps did you take to expand your reach?
Yeah it was kind of fun because I remember when I first started blogging and I remember bragging to people like “oh I get a thousand page views a month like I have influence” so it could be – like I live in the middle of nowhere in a tiny town in Iowa and so all of my friends have always lived in here and I’ve always worked online. I started in design when I was in middle school so I always had kind of like that influence factor. I always knew that I was going to be something someday and really make a difference and where I am at it’s hard to do that unless you are online.
Among your many ventures, you are hosting a five-month program called High Vibe Big Mentorship, which starts in three days from this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about the program?
Yeah! So I actually launched that program at my event I had in Chicago almost a month now and I knew I wanted to have some way to take the audience at my event like beyond what they learned there. When I host events I’m very like Type A. I want you to feel inspired and everything but I also want you to go home and implement it and so I launched this program that will not only implement but have all the tools they’ll need to launch their coaching businesses but I’m going to walk them through step by step so they’ve got not just one on one support, they’ve got group support of other women and they’re going to have the opportunity to have their stuff really looked at and fixed and pivoted.
You say that the secret to telling a great story is living one. Your story is one that so many people can relate to in one way or another. Do you have any advice or motivation for influencers who are struggling in their current state, not happy where in life, and do not know where to turn next?
Yeah I do. That’s probably the most terrible, pivotal part of my story. That people see all of the success. I got my passport in May of 2017 and I’ve been to 21 countries so far so they see all of this world travel, they see me working with all of these amazing brands, and buying properties, and not having to worry about money anymore and they see the highlights reel. And I don’t say any of this to impress people I say it to impress upon them that no matter your circumstance right now you have a choice. Eight years ago my life looked completely different than it does today. I was suicidal, I was in an abusive marriage, I had a history of human trafficking, and drug addiction, and all of these things and I could of used that as an excuse and I did for a really really long time but why I couldn’t do something. I missed work for three to six month at a time because I was so anxious and depressed. Just calling into work like I had to call a voicemail line I didn’t have to talk to anybody but I would have crippling panic attacks just doing that. And so to come out on the other side of this is huge and what a lot of people don’t realize is no matter what your story you have that choice but also it’s okay to get vulnerable as long as you do it from a place of power. And when I say that it means that nobody wants just to hear you complaining about your past they want you to explain like an action item that they can take if there in the same state. So like “oh I’m anxious here’s my story and here’s what you can do if you’re feeling anxious” so there’s no shame in sharing your story but from a powerful place.
Your list of brand partnerships on kathyhaan.com is impressive. Can you tell us about a few of your favorite brand collaborations to date?
Oh! I’ve worked with some really cool ones but probably the fan girl in me as a child born in the late eighties was getting to interview Kirk Cameron for his “Saving Christmas” movie and Kirk Cameron was incredible to interview. But probably one of my most favorite brand partnerships is TripAdvisor because I travel so much it’s like part of who I am, I’m super adventurous that’s been really cool.
I just got back from Iceland and did some TripAdvisor thing while I was out there. I was ATVing up mountains [and] I was snorkeling between tectonic plates so like – I don’t watch Game of Thrones but I guess a lot of Game of Thrones was filmed there like the big wall so below the wall I was snorkeling and it was unreal. Any travel brands want to reach out to me I’m happy to help.
What is the weirdest request from a brand that you have ever received?
Oh, great question! You know, I just had one reach out to me about diarrhea or something and I’m like “I don’t really have that problem, I eat pretty well, [and] I’m not sure what gave you the impression that I would have this problem but thanks but no thanks. I don’t think it’s brands either. I had somebody I consider an associate reach out to me about health and fitness stuff and like trying to pitch me and I’m like “thanks but no thanks”. And then she got really offended because I said “thanks but no thanks” and it was like that’s all I said. And I’m like if you knew anything about me my journey, my health issues you would you like what you’re pitching me is like the opposite of what you should pitch me and so I didn’t want to call you out on your crap but I said “thanks but no thanks” and she ended up blocking me and I’m like “okay”.
Have you been to Australia?
Everywhere is on the list. My brother in law is from Australia so my sister has dual citizenship so it’s like at the top of my list along with several other places.
Where do you see influencer marketing in five years or so?
Oh, great question! So I definitely think there’s going to be a lot more influencers because people are starting to look at this as an alternative to corporate, an alternative to the status quo of like going to college and getting a job, you know. I did that and I have like almost two hundred thousand dollars in student loans as a result. I do have an MBA and like half a term paper away from another masters but looking back on it I wish I would have taken this and ran with it, you know, before I had kids and before I got married and I think that now even now people will rather look at an opinion of an influencer versus the brand’s ad. The first thing I do when I Google something is I don’t Google it I go to Pinterest and I search and I look at their opinions and their pictures. So it’s going to be huge.
Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.