Belma McCaffrey is a champion of purposeful living. Her journey from a high-pressure media job to graduate school to an entrepreneurial lifestyle has given her unique insight into how to find work that is significant, both professionally and personally. By getting in touch with her own intuition and figuring out her unique set of strengths, she was able to discover her passion for coaching and community building.
Belma is the founder of Work Bigger, a coaching program and platform that helps participants avoid burnout and discover inspiration. Work Bigger’s ethos underlines the importance of work that is both personally fulfilling and socially impactful. With nationwide events, coaching, community, and career development resources, Belma’s program has grown from a personal career blog to a thriving company at the forefront of a major social movement.
Name: Belma McCaffrey
Company: Work Bigger
Title: CEO & Founder
Current home base: New York / New Jersey
Originally from: I was born in Albania and moved to New York when I was eight years old.
I have a lot of empathy and I’m a strong strategic thinker. These skills enable me to foster deep connections, and also tune in to the deeper issues that women are working through when it comes to work and life.
One thing on your bucket list:
I’d love to write a book in the near future.
A woman in history you admire & why:
There are a lot of women authors and activists that I admire, but one woman who has been especially top of mind lately is my late grandmother, Elsa. She passed away when I was 16, and although I didn’t spend as much time with her as I would have liked, she left a massive impact on me.
My mother recently shared a story with me on how my grandmother made ends meet during the communist regime in Albania, a time that left my family completely powerless as they were persecuted by the government.
When my mom was a child, my grandfather was imprisoned for almost 10 years. As a result, my grandmother was left to raise four young kids by herself. To make ends meet, she worked as a seamstress, often late in to the night. After work, she’d come home and take care of her kids from 9 am to 12 pm, take a nap, then start her work day all over again. Her experience, strength, and struggles give me a new perspective on my life and privilege.
A (current) woman you admire & why:
Linda Savage, the author of “Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality.” In this book, Linda talks about how female sexuality can be sacred rather than sinful. It brings to light all the trauma that women have experienced from a patriarchal society, and where our lack of self-confidence comes from.
Our sexuality is deeply connected to our well-being, confidence, and feeling whole, but it’s not talked about enough. This book needs to be at the forefront of #MeToo!
Quote/piece of advice that you live by:
There’s a solution for everything! I aspire to live every day from a place of possibility versus fear. This leads to new doors opening every day.
What inspired you to start your current venture?
My twenties were really difficult in terms of finding work that I felt connected to. After a few years of working in media, I decided to go to business school. While I was there, I saw that almost all of my classmates saw grad school as their “do-over.” It was then that I realized millennials are really lost in finding work they love. They lack the tools and education to find meaningful work, and often end up on autopilot going from job to job or investing significant amounts of money and time in graduate school even if it’s not the right fit.
This problem stems from our education at an early age. We’re not taught critical life skills like self-awareness, or taught how to work through big questions like “What’s my purpose?” or “What do I want to do with my life?”
Eventually, if we don’t do the work these questions catch up to us, and lead to the quarter-life crisis or other periods of stress and depression.
I think once individuals do the work, however, and are given the tools to do so, there’s a big shift that happens. They find their voices and understand how they can make an impact. In turn, they impact the world in a big way with how they show up.
What are you and your company doing to make history today?
Work Bigger is a career development platform, and our mission is to challenge the status quo and redefine work so that work is a vehicle for creativity, impact, and living an awesome life. We’re increasing the consciousness of individuals so that we can solve some of the biggest problems in the world.
We do this by partnering with organizations to improve employee engagement and retention and by offering community, coaching, and safe spaces for individuals to share resources and struggles.
What is one thing you and/or your company have accomplished that you are most proud of?
I’ve seen the impact our programming has had on participants. After undergoing Work Bigger, graduates are more connected to their work, more confident, and ready to bring their talents into the world. This is life changing not just for the individuals, but also for the companies for which they work.
I’ve been building Work Bigger and developed the program while I was working full time at the Associated Press, and I’m excited to see how the community has grown in such a short time.
What is one project you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
Right now we’re looking to partner with more companies who want to build a more engaged talent force. We are specifically focusing on companies who are progressive and understand the importance of being mission-driven.
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
Feeling connected to your work is a key need for millennials, and this isn’t going to change anytime soon.
What is a trend in your industry that you foresee becoming popular in the future?
I believe spirituality, life coaching, neuroscience, and wellness are going to be key aspects of leadership development. Right now, a lot of the leadership training that exists is tactical, which is great and important, but I think we need to dig deeper if we’re going to help individuals self actualize and evolve.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced at this job?
It’s not easy building a business from the ground up. You push through one challenge only to run into a whole new set of problems. It’s part of the process and it’s part of growing. It’s what makes this whole journey so fun!
What were you doing before your current role?
Prior to running Work Bigger full time, I spent five years at the Associated Press working in business development and strategy roles. At the AP, I helped launch new businesses and projects with the goal of building new revenue streams outside of our traditional business model. It was a great fit for me because I love business, negotiations, and building partnerships.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other female founders & change-makers?
Learn to tap into your intuition. It’s your greatest resource as a woman, and it’s the one thing that will help quiet the voice in your head that says “you’re not enough.”
Are there any great resources you have discovered (programs, websites/apps, groups, classes, etc.) that you would like to share?
I highly encourage checking out the Work Bigger Program, especially if you’re feeling stuck in your career and don’t know what you want to do next.
Fun fact about yourself:
I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I enjoy scary roller coasters, zip lining and hope to have the guts to go skydiving one day soon!
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