November 18, 2019

Cathy Heller on Not Keeping Your Day Job

Cathy Heller; Photo courtesy of Cathy Heller

Cathy Heller knows what it’s like to build a career from the ground up. She arrived in Los Angeles 16 years ago at the age of 24 with big aspirations and a little bit of money. Within a year, she had a six-figure income while working for a commercial real estate firm.

But she was miserable, so she quit her job and pursued her dream of being a musician. She wrote songs for commercials and TV series, and ended up selling them to McDonald’s, MTV, Walmart, “Pretty Little Liars” and “One Tree Hill.” 

Today, the Pico-Robertson resident is a business coach, host of the popular podcast “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” and author of a book by the same name being released on Nov. 12. 

Heller said she decided to start the podcast and write the book because, “I have always wanted to help people feel seen. I know what it’s like to feel invisible and I think everyone is seeking a deeper sense of purpose. I wanted to do my part to show people that there is room for them to share their gifts with the world.”

The twice-weekly podcast has featured interviews with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, fitness guru Jillian Michaels, YouTube personality Hannah Hart, author Martha Beck and musician Lisa Loeb. During each episode, Heller talks to the business pros about how they built their empires and offers encouraging words to listeners. 

“We reach for the highest branches we see, and I want to show people a model of what could happen if they build their own dreams.” 

— Cathy Heller

“I try to show examples of people who have made a living doing what they love,” she said. “From podcasting to baking to dancing, [from] pottery to calligraphy, there is proof everywhere you look that you can make a living doing what you love.”

The “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” book is part memoir and part motivational tome. It incorporates snippets from Heller’s podcasts and has writing prompts at the end of each chapter. There are also sections on finding your unique angle, the importance of imagination and creativity, and why you need to let go of your fears. 

In addition to the book and the podcast, Heller coaches hopeful entrepreneurs and holds classes on how to make it in the music business. She said she has helped close to 30,000 students with her courses over the years. 

Although Heller has a lot going on, she said she is able to center herself with Judaism. After college, she went to Jerusalem and intended to stay for three weeks. She ended up living in the Holy Land for three years and immersing herself in Jewish texts. While there, she said she “learned that we are each truly significant. God doesn’t create extras and everyone has different DNA, which means that we each make a different imprint. We are needed to make this world whole.”

On the podcast, she related to Schultz through their mutual love of Jewish study. He told Heller he used to learn with the late head of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, who wouldn’t touch the Western Wall because he said he didn’t feel worthy of it. “Instead, he asked Howard to pray for him on his behalf and to go touch the Kotel,” Heller said. “I was amazed that someone who makes $3.5 billion was talking to me about this holy rabbi and how he impacted him in such a significant way.”

Along with Judaism, Heller said she also stays grounded thanks to her family. She picks up her three young daughters from school every day and does bath time and bedtime with them. She doesn’t think too far into the future — she has no five- or 10-year goals — but instead focuses on how she can improve day to day. “I wake up every day in search of expanding more of my potential, helping more people, [and] being a better mom, wife and person,” she said. 

With “Don’t Keep Your Day Job,” Heller said she hopes her readers and listeners “come home to themselves. I hope they start to listen to that whisper within that has always wanted to paint more or write or open a bakery. I hope they see how doable it really is to get paid to give to others in the ways they feel most alive. We reach for the highest branches we see, and I want to show people a model of what could happen if they build their own dreams.”

“Don’t Keep Your Day Job” is available on Amazon.