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Cultivating Success & Wellness w/ Elevated Coaching & Consulting Founder, Kylie Van Luyn




Krystal J:

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to EM/POWEREDbyWMN. Today we have the incredible Kylie van Luyn, who's the founder of Elevated Coaching and Consulting, and she is actually joining me at the Woman Thrive Summit in March of 2024. By the time this episode goes live, believe it'll be the end of February, potentially the beginning of March. So the Summit is right around the corner. But I'm so excited to have been able to connect with so many amazing women so far, including yourself, Kylie. So thank you so much for joining us today.


Kylie Van Luyn:

Thank you so much for having me. It's weird when you said it'll be March because I thought straight away that's when the nerves will be kicking in, right, about getting on stage.


Krystal J:

Yeah. But I'm so excited. It's been, like I said, such an incredible experience so far and being able to meet so many aspiring entrepreneurs and really established women and inspiring women, it's such a great place to be. And so I'm so excited to be able to dive into your story a little bit more. We're kind of, I guess, still a little bit early midway into the summit process. So I don't know that much about your story yet, but we're going to dive into all of it right now. So I will go ahead and pass the mic on to you. Just give us a little bit of background and how that led you to Elevated Coaching and Consulting and what that is.


Kylie Van Luyn:

Sure. So I guess it's a combination. As I look back on how a little over two years ago when I launched elevated when I was still in Australia, and then a year ago launched our company over here in the US, as I look back over that sort of 14 years of my professional experience, I've spent about 14 years as a senior leader and executive in the nonprofit space, working a lot with people who are from marginalized communities. So a lot of work with women, a lot of work with refugees and migrants and people living with disability, I look back at sort of some of those pivotal moments that at the time, I didn't think were pivotal moments in discovering my purpose and playing that role in me launching the company. So a lot of that is lived experience. It's either my own or observing the lived experience of others and their workplace experiences. When it comes to diversity, inclusion, psychological safety and things like that, people experiencing harassment and discrimination in the workplace. So that's a big part of the work that we do in the consulting arm of elevated is we work with companies to make a change and social impact when it comes to creating more inclusive, respectful and psychologically safe workplaces. And then we do a bunch of beautiful coaching programs to support individuals too.


Krystal J:

That's incredible work that you do, and I love that you've kind of carried that on and really expanded your mission when you decided to take that leap and leave corporate and jump into your business now. And I like that you mentioned, looking back, you saw all those pivotal moments that you didn't recognize as pivotal moments at the time. Isn't it so funny how that happens? Everything kind of lines up and you're like, oh, okay. That's why my life has always been kind of like leading me here without knowing it. But again, incredible work you do. So I was looking into your bio a little bit and you were talking about how you're passionate about working with organizations that develop sustainable business practices. Like you said, social impacts and then person centered programs. So what is it for you? That is really why the person centered programs, what is so important that you're so drawn to that? And how does that make you feel and why do you continue to pursue that?


Kylie Van Luyn:

Because everybody's different. Every single individual that I've worked with or my teams have worked with. As I moved sort of into leadership positions, you become disconnected from feeling that impact directly. You're not dealing directly with participants or clients needing support. And a lot of my work was in the employment space. So helping people secure, sustainable and meaningful employment and overcoming on that journey to employment, overcoming those vocational and non vocational barriers that a lot of people face. And a lot of those barriers are quite complex. They could be substance abuse, housing and food insecurity, domestic and family violence, sadly, a lot of the time.


Kylie Van Luyn:

But it could be things like english language proficiency. And so for me it was realizing that when I was still in Australia, that a lot of the funded employment programs and training programs, they were very much a one size fits all approach. And what I found as I moved through my career and then moved into launching Elevated, is that when we sat down and we co designed programs with people needing support, they were much more tailored and they met their needs more greatly, I guess you could say. But they were not only more aligned to the needs of the individuals we serve and support, but also it resulted in such greater outcomes. So we saw a lot more refugee and migrant women moving into employment and moving into jobs that are meaningful for them, not just any job. We found that a lot of our work with companies, that they actually started to really resonated with them, how they could make their workplaces more inclusive not just for those key priority cohorts, if you like. That sort of ticks those boxes when it comes to corporate social responsibility, but how they make them more inclusive and psychologically safe for all staff members. And so that's a part of how and what we do.


Krystal J:

I love the diversity piece in that you're really focusing on those tailored programs and how you can really hone in on that human management, human capital management, because that really is so important. As you said, everyone has different backgrounds, everyone has different struggles and different things that are very meaningful to them in different areas where they can excel. And it's about finding kind of where you can place them, what you can do for them. Talk to us about the sustainability piece of that, like, how are you creating these sustainable practices for such a wide variety of individuals?


Kylie Van Luyn:

So our sort of motto is we're doing well by doing good. So we know that corporate social responsibility, diversity, equity, inclusion, access and belonging when it comes to workplace, they've become more popular terms, more sort of buzwords in business and corporate in the last few years. But what we found is that when we went through Covid, the unemployment rates skyrocketed for obvious reasons. But in Australia, because I was still in Australia at the time, what we found was that the workforce and skill shortages were critical in a lot of areas. They were critical in things that are really necessary for the economy and for the country to function. So areas like construction, hospitality, even retail, we found that employers and companies just, they could not find people anymore. And having sort of my background in migration, immigration, refugee employment and also settlement, it was a really glaringly obvious solution to me that companies weren't looking at those diverse groups as a part of that solution. They weren't investing the time and the money and the energy in really looking outside of the mainstream, if you like, or groups in Australia that they would typically lean on for recruitment, they weren't looking at, well, how can we upskill and engage people from refugee backgrounds or humanitarian entrants? How can we invest our time building programs to support people living with a disability and hear their voice and include them in our workforce so that the skills and workforce shortages could be much lesser? It wasn't, unfortunately, that obvious to a lot of policymakers, but also a lot of companies.


Kylie Van Luyn:

And so part of the work that we do is we work a lot with nonprofits, but we work a lot with corporates. So we marry the two up and we sort of forge those relationships and facilitate and broker a lot of those opportunities. Bring people to the table.


Krystal J:

Yeah, I think, like what we were saying, it is a tendency to have that kind of limited vision of what your resources are and the way that these corporate businesses that you were previously working with when they first started, very traditional ways of doing things. Right. But I love the way that your company is very forward thinking, outside of the box. How are you building those sustainable practices for not the people that might be in the immediate forefront of your minds, but there really are some new resources out there. And you being able to develop those kinds of programs, put those people in the right places and build them and develop them, that is amazing. So kudos to you. I love what you're doing and I can only imagine the impact that you're creating. Do you have the number off the top of your head of how many people you've been able to assist or get employed and how long they've been able to stay employed? Do you have those numbers?


Kylie Van Luyn:

So with one of our programs that's still running in Australia that we designed and we actually facilitated or delivered it as a really beautiful partnership with one of our national nonprofit clients in Australia. Through that program, to date, we've supported over 500 women from migrant and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds on their journey to employment. So many of those women have taken advantage of the intensive six month mentoring component that's been built into that program, which we've seen has made such a significant difference in the lives of those women, not just on their journey to employment, but all the other things that come up as a woman and things that I've never experienced because I'm not from a refugee background, I'm now a migrant woman now that I've migrated and moved to the states. But a lot of those women have got things that they need to really sort through that are non vocational. A lot of them are not living in safe housing situations with their children. So they need to address a lot of those things before they can think about upskilling and moving into employment. And so that part of the program has been absolutely critical to the support that we've been able to offer, but also to the success of the program and each of those women.


Krystal J:

I am just in awe of everything that you're saying. And honestly, I'm going to put it on my to do list to somehow make it out to you and see what you're doing in person and just help you out, because like I said, that impact that you're making, I can only imagine what it feels like to be able to do that in person and not only develop them to being employed. But like you said, taking them out of maybe potentially unsafe situations, helping their children and really building them up. I think there are so many people out there that are kind of stuck in their situations and feel stuck in their circumstances and have that belief that that's where they're always going to be, which is not the case. Right. If they are giving the tools and the resources to develop their skills to find what solutions are out there, then the possibilities are endless. So I love that you are kind of that guiding light for them. So a lot of our audience are potentially newer businesses, smaller businesses.


Krystal J:

I want to talk about when you got started. First of all, you made the leap from your corporate career to launching your business in your 40s, right?


Kylie Van Luyn:

Yeah.


Krystal J:

Another thing that is so kind of scary is making that leap, but then also taking the age into account. And I've invested so much time into this current career. Would it just be a waste to just leave it and start something new? Am I too old for this? All of that, all those questions come up, right? So what were your thoughts and your feelings when you made that leap? And what advice can you give to other women that are kind of in that transitionary phase right now?


Kylie Van Luyn:

I was terrified. And anybody listening is probably nodding their head, going, yes, that's how I'm feeling. But wait, there's more to this story. So I don't regret it at all. It was the best thing I ever did with my career and my life. Not just for my own health and well-being, but also for me as a role model to my own daughter. She's been able to see mum do this globally now, which is just amazing that we can have impact across the world, not just in my home country in Australia, but I was terrified because I was earning a really lovely salary. It was very comfortable, but I was not well.


Kylie Van Luyn:

I was very close to burning out. A lot of my colleagues in the same organization were very close to burning out. When I talk about lived experience around psychological safety in the workplace, that was completely absent in that workplace. And I experienced some really toxic leadership and a really toxic workplace. And upon reflection now that once I removed myself from that environment, I only then realized how bad that was for me and also for my family. But we just kind of hang in there thinking and hoping things will get better. And there's always a catalyst for change, whether it's in our personal or professional lives. And there was definitely a catalyst for change.


Kylie Van Luyn:

And as horrible of an experience as that was at the time for me, and there was lots of tears and, oh, my goodness, why is this happening? I couldn't be more grateful for that happening now because it was the thing, it was the catalyst for that change for me to not force me to, but to make me have that, I guess, realization around what I wanted for myself, for my career, and what I wanted my work to look like to be much more aligned to my purpose and much more meaningful for me. If you'd asked me three years ago, even when I was still in that job, if in three years time, do you see yourself starting your own company, I would say, hell no, I'm going to be a CEO of a nonprofit. And that's where I'm heading. That's my trajectory. But the grass isn't always greener when you get there. And so for me, it was really looking at, what am I really passionate about? What am I really good at? What have I done to contribute to the lives, make a difference in the lives of those that I've worked alongside and worked with in the past? And that was how I created. Elevated.


Krystal J:

Yeah, it's definitely not an easy transition. And I was thinking of that quote, too, while you were talking, that it's not always green art on the other side, but when you are going to make that leap to the other side, it just takes that nurturing. It's not going to be that immediate impact or that immediate satisfaction, gratification. But if you continue to really take a step back and reflect on, as you said, what aligns with you, what are you good at? Where have you been able to make the most impact and really just what makes you happy, then all of those seeds you're sowing, you will reap the benefits in the future. And I think it's so important to not only believe in yourself, but you still have, of course you want to be realistic, right, about all the work that's going to go into it, because it is difficult. So what have been some of your biggest obstacles in growing your business and how have you overcome them?


Kylie Van Luyn:

The biggest one, and I was only talking to my husband about this the other night, is probably two things. Saying no as a woman, sometimes that's really hard for us, right? Is to establish, and I guess it comes into the second one, I was going to say, is establishing boundaries where we're respecting ourselves first, but we're also respecting our clients and the opportunities and abundance that come to us when we open up and say, okay, universe, or whatever, I'm ready. And then things start flowing in. So for me, it was, and I feel blessed to say it. Not lucky, but I had amazing clients flowing in that I'd worked with previously coming in as clients. But then it gets to a point where you need to really discern what opportunities are most aligned to your purpose, your values, your mission, and not stray from those. Because that's when things get a bit blurry and you don't feel fulfilled and aligned to your work. So for me, it was really figuring out what was truly aligned and truly important when it came to opportunities.


Kylie Van Luyn:

But the hardest thing has been saying no. And if any of my clients in Australia are listening to this, they'll say, she never says no. It's learning how to say no and feel comfortable with that as the other. Probably another big challenge for me, apart from sort of establishing those boundaries and learning to say no, is starting the company in a new country. So that's been a really massive learning curve. Australia and the US are totally different in so, so many ways. That could be a whole other podcast episode, but just staying true to the purpose of why I'm here and the mission behind it and building the business here, which has been amazing.


Krystal J:

Yeah, those were all such great points. And saying no, oh my gosh, that's a big one. That's a big one for a lot of people. And it's a hard one because especially when you're just starting out, you almost feel obligated to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Right? Because I said I was going to take the leap to do this. Now all these opportunities are presenting themselves. I have to do it. Absolutely not.


Krystal J:

And what you said is absolutely so true, it will blur your vision if you're kind of just willingly doing whatever comes your way, even though it's not really grounded with this mission that you set out for yourself to begin with, why you took the leap. And that's something that I've also been working on, too. Of course, you get more comfortable with it over time, saying no to people. But at the end of the day, you do need to realize that if you are saying just yes to everything all willy nilly, you're only doing a disservice to yourself, whoever you're saying yes to, and all the people affected by what both of you are doing together, because it's not as authentic. And if you're not showing up 100% authentically, then you're not able to provide your services as impactfully as you might have. If it was something that you could kind of give your whole heart to and you're so excited about, and you're a full body guest. So that is such a great one. Boundaries another one.


Krystal J:

I feel like that's been a topic that's been kind of recurring in these past few days. For me, it was kind of brought up in our call today. I've been talking about it with a few other women. So what are some of the boundaries that you've kind of set for yourself that maybe you haven't experienced in your prior corporate life?


Kylie Van Luyn:

Well, when you launch your own business and your own company, the thing that I found is I've never worked harder than I have in the last two or so years working in my company. The difference between that and the burnout I was very close to experiencing in my previous job is that I'm fully, 100% aligned to my purpose in what I'm doing now. So although I get tired and you get to the 14th hour of the day and you think I'm ready to log off, please, God, I still have so much more energy than I did previously because I'm so invested and believe so strongly about what we're doing and what we're creating here. But some boundaries for me. So for me, again, based on lived experience and some of the things that I went through previously, my health and self-care and wellness is a nonnegotiable. So I've always been really prioritized, my health and fitness and nutrition and things. But when you're working in a job, you're kind of at the mercy of your leaders or CEO or the board. But after that experience, I swore I'd never do that again.


Kylie Van Luyn:

And so for me, it's carving out that time every day. That's for me. I'm naturally an early riser. So quarter to five, sort of the alarm goes off. And although that sounds like a complete drone to most people, that's my time. That's how I get my day going. It's quiet, take the dog for a nice hour walk. And I know that that is contributing to then the energy levels that will contribute to the team and what we're doing as a team and our clients and outcomes for our clients.


Kylie Van Luyn:

So I know where that energy flows through to. Plus, I'm much more high energy in the morning than I am in the afternoon. And so for me, it's definitely carving out. And again, for women, especially those that are parents or have families, we tend to put everybody before ourselves, the kids, our husbands and partners, our work, even our team members if we're in leadership roles. But we have to flip that around, because the more time you give yourself and invest that into nurturing yourself and your own mind and your own health and well-being the more you can give to everybody else. So that would be the biggest one for me is it's a boundary, but it's actually a nonnegotiable for me now is making sure I get my hour at the gym every day. Whatever it is that I'm doing there, it doesn't matter. And then that hour in the morning to really sort of ease into my day.


Krystal J:

Yeah. Isn't that so funny how you definitely do work more as an entrepreneur, but like you said, your energy is higher because it's work that you enjoy doing and it's work that you're actually passionate about and that you care about and you want it to succeed because you know the impact that you're making. And I love that you're able to kind of trickle that energy down to your employees and everybody that you're working with. And it's a complete 180 from your past corporate life. Right? You're taking toxicity out of it. We're stopping that trend. It seems like maybe your past bosses might need to work on kind of nurturing themselves and prioritizing their self care a little bit to get rid of that toxicity. But yeah, I absolutely agree.


Krystal J:

Taking that time out for yourself is so important. And with us being women and always putting everyone else and everything else before ourselves, making that decision is another really important ripple effect. And it's such a simple decision to say, I'm just going to step away for an hour workout or whatever, meditate and come back 100% better so I can show up for everyone else around me, I can show up for my business. But making that decision is a hard thing to do. Right. We feel like we have to be in it always, right next to our children or spending time with our spouse or trying to tackle to do list of 1000 items. But then we would just be wearing ourselves out and we can't show up fully. And it just goes back to what I said earlier where you're not able to give your full self and it's kind of draining the mission a little bit because you're not all there.


Krystal J:

So I'm glad that you're setting those boundaries for yourself. I think those kind of continue to change right as life changes. I know with me and our coming little boy in March and things changing with my work schedule, I'm curious to see what those boundaries are going to look like. But it is so important to establish those boundaries for yourself. What other advice do you have for women that might still be early on in their business or kind of trying to figure out how they can grow, obviously you've grown globally already and you're making those decisions, those big decisions. So what advice do you have for other women that are hesitant to make decisions like that or don't know where to go now that they've started?


Kylie Van Luyn:

One thing that was a game changer for me, there's a few, but one was realizing when you're getting to the point where you need to delegate or outsource some things. So if you're like a solopreneur, if you've started your own business and it's just you for now, but you are working 12-14 hours days and understanding, you can't get to everything. For me, it was really looking at what am I best at? Where do my strengths lie? Where is the return on investment, on my time and energy in the business? And for me, what I've realized, and I knew this as a leader, but even more so since starting the company, is the return on investment for me. I'm very much a visionary. I can do the integrator stuff, but the visionary stuff is really what I'm good at. So for me, it was understanding where am I going to get the best return on investment for my time and energy, and what do those tasks and what do those outputs look like? And then what are the things where I'm not great at? If you show me a spreadsheet, I'll go to sleep. And so I knew very early on those are the things that are going to drain my energy and that's not where I'm best placed. So it's finding those people where you can outsource that work.


Kylie Van Luyn:

Or once you start to grow and the revenue and the client base and the pipeline is developed, you can start bringing on staff, but you will feel it in your body when you get to that tipping point, when you either have to bring somebody on, even if it's part time or a contractor, or outsource it. But for me, sort of the best advice was financial management. So I could not do what I do in Australia or the US without my amazing accounting team. And there's so many of those beautiful people that love spreadsheets and they keep the cogs turning in the background, the very important cogs with the IRS and the ATO in Australia, and all the taxation, compliance and stuff that I hate, but also know things like marketing and pr and brand awareness and the things that are going to lead you to the growth. If growth is what you're seeking. It's looking at what are those things that you can start to outsource and where can you spend your time better? For me, since moving to the US four months ago, I've worked a lot more on the business. When I was in Australia, I was working 60 40 in the business and on the business and I loved it. It was fine and the days were very long and I was working seven days a week.


Kylie Van Luyn:

But when we moved to the US back in July, I made the decision to and had to work very much on the business. Like what was the brand going to look and feel and sound like here in this market? And four months have gone by and it looks totally different. And it's been so fulfilling that now when I'm sort of forced to working in the business, it causes a little friction for me because I've really found that that's my place is working on the business. So it's identifying pretty early on, if you can. There's tons of really great books, if you're not familiar, as what the visionary and what the integrator roles are in a company. But that would be my advice is identify pretty early on which one are you? And usually people will say I'm a visionary or an integrator. They're both very different skill sets. And so that lends itself to a founder role and a CEO role.


Kylie Van Luyn:

I always get confused when people say I'm the founder and CEO of such and such. And I'm like, that's really interesting because they're two different roles and two different skill sets. And so for me, I'm very much the founder. I'm not the CEO, I'm not the integrator, I'm not the person that can go and look after the systems and the infrastructure and all that stuff. It's just, I do it, but I don't like it and I'm not good at it. So that's what I would say is be really honest with yourself about where do you get energy from your business. And once you figure that out, you'll find that alignment and that fulfillment and that's where you'll really come alive and do great things.


Krystal J:

I feel like as we've been talking, every time something pops into my head, you say it shortly after because I was going to bring up that working on your business versus in your business concept. And I think this is kind of almost going first full circle because with your work, you're providing these custom-tailored solutions to the people that you're helping to develop and you're almost having to do that for yourself, right? Where are your strengths? What is draining your energy in your business and tailoring that so that you can continue to provide the most impact on your growth, on your business, on your mission, and delegating everything else elsewhere? And that is going to be custom tailored to every single individual. Like you said, everyone has different skill sets. Everyone might kind of resonate with a different title within their business, and that's totally okay. It's about maximizing that. So what is the future looking like for everything that you are doing? I mean, I can only imagine that you have such big goals and you haven't even said it yet, but I'm here for all of it. So what are those goals looking like.


Kylie Van Luyn:

To continue our global footprint? So for us, it's all about always going back to that mission of helping others reach their full potential and thrive. And no matter if it's an individual, a leader, a team, an organization, and whatever that looks like for them, whatever thriving and succeeding looks like for them, for me, it's a couple of things. Just this week, we've launched our first collaboration or partnership on one of our training programs here in the US. And it's around diversity, equity, inclusion, and creating or fostering more psychologically safe workplaces. But our partner is a wonderful nonprofit based here in DC called Workplace Fairness. And they bring that legal viewpoint and skills around discrimination, harassment, worker rights and workplace fairness, and how all of those things we've combined and co designed into a wonderful and insightful training program for people across all different industries and companies that are either embarking on their diversity and inclusion journey. Maybe medium, medium or small sized businesses that don't really know a lot about worker rights and workplace fairness. And so that program is one that I'd love to definitely scale.


Kylie Van Luyn:

So that just launched this week and we're super excited about it because we know that it's actually such a need for a program like that. So I'd love to do something similar in Australia because I've got a human resources and industrial relations background back home. So I'd love to do something similar there with a nonprofit or a partner there. But for us, it's all about the impact. So, continuing on with our disability awareness and inclusion programs that we deliver in elementary schools here in the US. So building that awareness and adopting that early intervention model with young people. But yeah, sky is the limit. We're currently building our team here in the US.


Kylie Van Luyn:

So I would say that in the next two years, we'll have a team of ten, at least globally, and probably lots of travel around, facilitating and meeting beautiful women and people from refugee backgrounds, and just lots of people that we want to inspire, empower on their journey to employment and success.


Krystal J:

That's incredible. Well, congratulations on everything. On the continued growth, on taking that leap a few years ago. You're obviously meant to be doing all of these amazing big things, and like you said, sky's the limit and I can see you just launching all the way up there. So real quick, where can everyone find you and all this amazing work that you're doing?


Kylie Van Luyn:

Well, our website. So we've got our website elevatedconsulting.net. I'm really active on LinkedIn too. A lot of our conversations and updates come through LinkedIn and also on Instagram as well.


Krystal J:

That's amazing. I will definitely be staying connected with you, but thank you again, Kylie, so much for joining us today. You have such incredible insight to share and much value to offer not only our audience, but the world. So continue doing what you're doing. I'm so excited to see where you continue to grow and thank you again so much.


Kylie Van Luyn:

Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

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