We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Bytheway and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I used to think that being an entrepreneur was risky and that success was only for special types of people, and I defined myself as NOT that type of person. I remember thinking that my highest career aspiration was to hitch myself onto an established, multi-million dollar company and stay there until retirement when I would get a pension. But then I found coaching. Coaching changed my life so profoundly that I opened my mind up to the possibility that entrepreneurship could work for me. I craved being the boss of my own life and career, the freedom and flexibility of a self-run company, and especially the creativity of getting to decide and implement my own ideas. I realized that avoiding entrepreneurship was about staying safe. But safety isn’t created by other companies, it’s created in ourselves. WE create safety with our resourcefulness, our commitment, and our ability to learn from our mistakes. Once I decided to jump in, things have really taken off. I’ve created a business that I absolutely LOVE. One that is growing and making a big difference in the lives of those I help.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started out my college career at BYU thinking I would become a therapist. I enrolled in the Psychology program, earned my degree with a high GPA, research experience, and recommendations for graduate applications. I applied to multiple schools and eventually was accepted to a few. However, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first son and I decided I would always have time to pursue a career but my babies are only little once. So for those first few years I dedicated myself to motherhood. We welcomed another son three years later. We suffered a few miscarriages as well. Over the years I had odd jobs here and there, part-time banker, part-time baker, part-time legal assistant. My husband supported us as a teacher. Eventually we moved here to Houston for better job prospects, and suffered another miscarriage. This baby was much further along than the others. The grief we felt was pretty tremendous. I discovered life coaching during this time to help me process my grief and it changed my life. I knew after working with my first coach that THIS was what I was really supposed to be doing. Therapy was the closest thing I could think of that would allow me to help others in the way I wanted, but when I found life coaching I realized that my talents, interests, and desires more closely aligned with the coaching model than the therapy model. The difference is like deciding to become an Olympic coach vs. becoming an ER doctor. Therapy is about managing a diagnosis and getting the patient stable. Coaching is helping those who are struggling take their lives to the next level, and the next, and the next. I researched, sought out certification, and decided to open my business on a wing and a prayer. For a few months I practiced as a general coach, offering free coaching to anyone who would dare take a chance on me. I built my business through networking in this great city. Eventually, I realized that all my clients had an interesting similarity – they had all needed help recovering from narcissist relationships. It turns out I had tons of experience with narcissism and I found I was uniquely experienced enough to help in this specific need. I had spent years recovering from narcissists. I had read books, gone to therapy, been in narcissist relationships over and over, and done the work to heal myself, before and during my marriage (my husband, miraculously, is not a narcissist). Narcissism has been in my family for generations. It stretches back as far as I can see. Once I started seeing the patterns and doing the work on myself, my life began to change and my relationships got so much better. So I decided to lean in. I became The Anti-Narcissism Coach. I started a podcast – Get Your SELF Back, designed specifically for those recovering from narcissists. I brought in so many clients with similar struggles and I helped them heal, find better relationships, and manage their minds so that their businesses doubled, they could be better parents, they were happier, they found healthy relationships, etc. My message about healing from narcissism is different than what is out there. It’s about love. It’s about getting out of the victim story from a place of compassion, self-forgiveness, understanding, and empowerment. I don’t allow my clients to blame other people for their misery. There is no room for bitterness, rage, or shame in our work. I teach them boundaries, unconditional love, self-responsibility, all while using the tools of a coach – how to manage your thoughts and emotions WITHOUT needing the other person to change. I use all my experience and wisdom to create new concepts to help those who are struggling with narcissists understand themselves in a way they’ve never been shown before. I help them identify exactly what gets in their way and how to deal with it. We work on one thought at a time, one emotion at a time, one incident with the narcissist at a time. And slowly but surely they find healing and build strength in themselves they never knew they had. The truth is that narcissism is everywhere. It penetrates entire families and sometimes even entire cultures. The work we do is needed globally and my vision for my business intends to reach as far as possible. For now, I work with clients one on one for six months. But eventually, I will release courses, group coaching spots, live events and other programs that will be more accessible to more people. If we can heal and empower everyone against the tactics of the narcissist, the sky is the limit to how successful they can be. No more downtrodden single moms, no more addiction to escape the pain, no more repeated toxic relationships, no more cycles of abuse. This vision drives me every day, it gets me through the tough times and unpredictability of entrepreneurship. Plus, I’m a coach, so I know how to manage my mind to create what I want. And I want to give that gift to as many people as possible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d pick them up from the airport and take them directly to Cane’s for lunch. I can’t live without that place. Then, we would go shopping in the Galleria. For dinner, I’d take them to get sushi while in the Galleria. There are SO many good sushi spots it’s hard to decide which one, but we love Sozo Sushi Lounge on San Felipe. The next day for breakfast we would go to Sweet Paris crepes, I’d recommend ANY crepe, they’re HUGE and delicious, especially with the Nutella hot chocolate with whipped cream. Then we’d head down to Galveston. We’d stop at Buc-cee’s along the way, the absolute BEST gas station in the country. Cleanest bathrooms, best snacks, tons of toys to play with and random souvenirs. For lunch in Galveston we’d eat at a restaurant preferably on the water or open to the beach. There’s nothing like dining and great conversation in the salty, warm air of the Gulf. We’d walk on the pier, rent a bike and ride along the beach, check out the local shopping spots, and tour the magnificent homes that are reminiscent of New Orleans architecture but with a beach vibe. On another day we’d tour Hermann Park, maybe take pictures with the oak trees and of course do more shopping and dining at Rice Village. It’s my favorite place in Houston. There are so many cute and unique restaurants and shopping destinations. I love Hopdoddy’s for a fantastic burger or D’amico’s for fancy Italian where you can eat outdoors if you prefer, which is only tolerable in the Fall or Spring. If it’s during baseball season we would absolutely go to an Astro’s game. Before the game we’d find a place to park early and then check out downtown. We would hang out at Discovery Green park and eat lunch at Phoenicia, which is a lot like Trader Joe’s but way better, with a completely different flavor, quality and feel that I love. On another day we would head down to Brazo’s Bend to tour the swamps and wildlife there. It’s absolutely beautiful and full of interesting foliage and animals that you don’t see anywhere else. We would end the night at the Observatory, to get an amazing view of the stars away from the light pollution of Houston. They have fun things for kids to do and lots to learn if you’re into that kind of thing, which I and my family are. Finally, if it’s during the Fall, we’d take the kids up to Old MacDonald’s Farm in Humble to go on hay rides, pet the animals, pick out pumpkins, ride on the train, play in the hay and get cute pictures of the kids in the pumpkin patch. On the way home we’d stop by Q-Shi BBQ and Sushi featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. With just ONE week in Houston, there’s definitely not enough time to enjoy everything this amazing town has to offer, but these would be my favorite.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, Ryan, has been supporting me tremendously as I navigate entrepreneurship. He believes in me, counsels with me on big decisions, allows me the space to make my own decisions for my business, takes care of our two kids while I need to work, and provides for us while I am building and investing in the growth of the company. I cannot thank him enough for what he does for our family and for me, personally. This growth of my business would not have been possible without him. I also need to acknowledge my Mom. She made me who I am today and forged the path that allows me to create what I have created. She has always believed in me and set the example of someone who works hard, shows up every day, raises kids, teaches them the right way to go, and never gives up. I am so grateful for the innumerable gifts she has given me from the moment she gave me life to now. Thanks, Mom. I owe this business and all my success to you.