J. Kelly Hoey

Innovator Insights: Creator of WORK BIGGER, Belma McCaffrey @BelmaMc

Name: Belma McCaffrey Title: Creator of WORK BIGGER // Redefining What We Call Work Twitter: @BelmaMc

Belma McCaffrey is an entrepreneur on a mission, a mission to redefine what we call work and inspire young professionals to think bigger about their work lives. Belma pursued the traditional career path — working hard, getting As and accolades, but was never fully satisfied. She’s worked at large, global companies (Associated Press, Conde Nast and GroupM), launched new businesses, negotiated multi-million dollar contracts and earned an MBA along the way. Seeking more creativity and fulfillment in her own career, she created WORK BIGGER, an immersive program that helps young professionals find and lead with their missions so that they’re empowered and focused during both the job search and their career paths. Belma is also a member of Dreamers // Doers, a highly curated community of high-achieving trailblazing women who come together to support each other on their entrepreneurial paths. The community encompasses a diverse mix of female founders, women working at startups, and other female creators, change-makers, and influencers.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Belma: I’m an entrepreneur for many reasons. First, I’ve always been very driven to make my work life meaningful. I feel strongly that work is supposed to be about accessing the most creative side of ourselves (when we can afford for it to be about that, of course).

However, most of us don’t use our careers as a vehicle to our art and creativity. We focus on climbing a ladder, obtaining a fancy title, checking off boxes, pleasing others, and all of this eventually leads to burnout and feeling unfulfilled. We go through our jobs without fully understanding our missions, so we’re less focused, less efficient in carving our paths, and more stressed. I don’t believe it has to be this way, which is why I launched the WORK BIGGER program.

Second, I have a great need to create, and I’ve had this need since I was a child. Entrepreneurship is so creative…I can’t get enough.

Third, I love a challenge. Launching and growing a business is not easy, and I welcome all the personal and professional challenges it brings.

And finally, I want to set an example for my son to follow his dreams. I want him to live life on his own terms and love everyday that he’s here on this earth, no matter how scary following his dreams may seem.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Belma: I want young professional to find fulfillment and purpose in their careers. I want them to find and lead with their missions so they’re not spinning their wheels in their twenties and feeling demoralized when they launch their careers and are applying for jobs. I want them to lead from an empowered place.

I think this can be done in a number of ways, starting with the education system. We need to teach self awareness and how self awareness can guide us to succeed. We also need to teach our students to be less tactical, more strategic, more authentic and to think bigger about how they approach their work lives.

The WORK BIGGER program does exactly this. It’s a six to twelve week coaching program that helps young professionals discover what drives them, and empowers them to lead with purpose. It guides them in building a connections strategy, a personal brand, a personal story, and more with authenticity and focus. For example, networking is a must, but not every connection is right for you, no matter how “well-recognized” and “accomplished” the contact may be. Negotiation is also a big part of the program. It teaches professionals not only to understand the value they’re bringing to work, but also to ask for more money with confidence, while building successful, long-term relationships.

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Belma: My mom is extremely wise, and she always gives me the same advice when I’m stressed. She tells me that success doesn’t come from stress, and worry is the road to nowhere. Only now, at the age of 33, am I finally starting to listen.

Me: What does success look like for you?

Belma: Success to me is reaching my full potential and going for it. I like to believe that anything is possible, and that we are all capable of accomplishing what we set out to achieve. I want to tap into my creativity and share it with others — no matter the form.

Success is also tied to my personal life. It means my husband and I continue to be a strong team and that our family is happy. We’re providing for our son, but even more importantly, we’re teaching him self awareness and encouraging him to tap into his potential, whatever that may be.

Me: Who are your heroes?

Belma: My parents. I was born in Albania, and my parents brought us to the U.S. when I was eight years old. They’re both incredibly intelligent, talented and compassionate people, and I’m in awe of how much difficulty they’ve overcome — from surviving communism (my family was highly persecuted), to providing many opportunities for their children in a new, foreign country. Just picturing them traveling from Albania to Italy and then to the U.S. with three little kids in tow, barely speaking English, is enough for me to be in awe of them, never mind thinking about all the sacrifices they made once we arrived here.

I’m also very much inspired by authentic leaders like Marie Forleo, Seth Godin, Cindy Gallop, Sheryl Sandberg, and Dr. Wayne Dyer. All of these leaders have changed my life and how I approach business.

Me: What is your best discovery?

Belma: You mean besides understanding the true meaning of work and career? I’m obsessed with this coffee place Scarpetta on 34th and 9th in NYC. The owner is Italian, and he serves Italian espresso. He serves his customers with love and enthusiasm. Not only is the coffee amazing, but watching him grow his business by leading with authenticity and passion is a great lesson for me as an entrepreneur.

Me: What would the title of your biography be?

Belma: Working Bigger

Me: What is your biggest regret?

Belma: I don’t have any regrets. I think having regrets is a waste of time. Learn from your mistakes, grow, move on.

Me: Anything else we should know about?

Belma: I just launched my new platform on Redefining What We Call Work at http://belmamccaffrey.com. My mission is to empower us to think bigger and deeper about our work lives, so that not only are we more focused and achieving greater success, but we improve our quality of life in the process. I’d love for you to take a look and subscribe to the platform. Funny, insightful content is included. You can also learn more about the WORK BIGGER program on the website.

This post originally appeared on Kelly Hoey’s website. Keep up to date with Kelly’s latest Insights by signing up for her Innovator Insights newsletter.


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