Here’s more from The Startup Magazine Female Founder Series. We interviewed Ms. Debra Sunderland, CEO and Founder of Sunderland Coaching, LLC. Her background in Psychology, competitive cycling, and a challenging upbringing provided Debra a unique set of tools and insights that she uses to teach others to strengthen their leadership skills. Debra coaches leaders from industries ranging from high-tech, wealth management, and engineering, to law, healthcare, marketing, and more.
Debra has grown Sunderland Coaching into an 9 professional team with offices in Chicago and Nashville. They specialize in working with C-suite executives, business owners, and leaders, helping them to get what they want most, both in business and in life. They expertly guide them through the process of shedding unproductive beliefs and behaviors, then adopting new ones.
Here Debra tells us more about her entrepreneurship journey and success story:
TSM: To get started, describe your product/service in 10 words or less:
Debra: Provide leadership coaching that transforms leadership and help people get the results they want.
TSM: With a bit more detail, what does your firm do?
Debra: We coach C-suite executives, business owners, and leaders to empower themselves and others. This creates an internal culture of trust and collaboration that is vibrant, responsible, and joy-filled. Instead of a do what I say business environment, leaders are coached to create impeccable agreements and win-for-all solutions.
TSM: What inspired you to start your Sunderland Coaching firm? (Share with us what problem you’re solving)
Debra: It was my near-death experience that occurred in a competitive cycling race in 2013 that inspired me to start my coaching business. It has surely given my life back and helped me to realize that I’m created for more than doing and achieving. And I realized that most leaders live just for that. My passion comes from helping people to live, enjoy and wake up excited by living and working the life that they most want. I help people to realize that they are enough and they have enough and that feeling comes from within, not from something outside of them.
TSM: What are the disruptive factors in your industry that make it so promising?
Debra: People are starting to learn about consciousness more. We are at the beginning of this. So, people are starting to realize that conscious thinking is the only way to change in the way they go about their lives and their relationships. People are starting to wake up to that.
TSM: As your firm grew, what were the primary challenges? Hiring? Quality control? Capital?
Debra: My primary challenge was raising capital. As an entrepreneur, you can only go so far with what you have. I was in debt from my medical bills incurred with my near-death experience. I had to jumpstart my company while I was in debt.
TSM: Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
Debra: I wanted to be an entrepreneur because I was concerned about the toxicity in most corporations. I’m talking about the negative culture that some corporations have; I didn’t want to be part of that culture.
TSM: How is your firm impacting the world/your clients?
Debra: My work with my clients is about bringing back more joys to their lives, having less stress and developing deeper connections with the people they work with and care about. I’m providing specific tools and these are things that they didn’t learn in school. What I’m showing them is how would they go about what they’re doing in everyday life. This concept changes everything, and they learn how to have different perspectives when they get triggered. They can see that there is more calm, more clarity and more connection with their teams.
It’s about empowering themselves, empowering others.