With over 20 years of leadership experience, Christy Rutherford is an international executive leadership coach and business advisor. She assists women in leadership with getting promoted through office politics and self-care. Her clients have received $10 million in promotions, raises, and small business revenue in 2021 and $1.2 million in January 2022. A Harvard Business School Alumna, Rutherford is also a certified Executive Leadership Coach from Georgetown University. She has been featured in Forbes three times and published five #1 best-selling books on Amazon in eight months.
Christy Rutherford grew up in a tight-knit family and attributes a large part of who she is today to them. Her parents taught her many values that have transformed her into the exuberant individual she is today; she recalls fondly, “My mom never took no for an answer and often called various people to get the best answer and value for what she wanted.” While she says, she inherited her father’s sense of entrepreneurship, the desire for more, and her immense love for music.
While growing up, Rutherford remembers a distinct memory that taught her the value of always telling the truth. She says, “I was doing a research project for my 3rd-grade class. I listened as the teacher told us that for a long time, people grew up without shoes and had to walk to school for miles barefoot. I interviewed my grandfather, who was 79 at the time, and asked him if he had shoes. I will never forget the look of astonishment and confusion on his face. He said, ‘YES.'”
This incident taught young Rutherford that as an African American woman, she should not allow others to shape her ancestors’ stories and look for the better truth because the truth is always better than what is portrayed.
Rutherford was determined to make a mark in the industry and worked alongside her studies to turn this into reality. She soon secured a position as a Congressional Fellow with the House of Representatives. While she was there, Rutherford made tremendous strides in her career and responded to the citizens’ needs in New Orleans merely two days after Hurricane Katrina and helped many.
While in college, she wanted to join the US Coast Guard, but her grades were not up to par. During the interview process, all African American officers compared her grades to the nearly 20 jobs she already had by the age of 22 and approved her waiver to be accepted into the program. She says, “I’m grateful that I wasn’t just judged on my grades because I didn’t excel in American aptitude tests. However, that was not a fair assessment of my capability to achieve high levels of success and my impact on others.”
She then worked at the US Coast guard for sixteen years and soon excelled in her career. Rutherford was the 13th African American woman to achieve the rank of Commander (Lieutenant Colonel equivalent) in the US Coast Guard’s 225+ year history, where her demographic was .1%.
However, after her long tenure with the organization, Rutherford was burnt out and left her highly successful career with only 3.5 years to retire with a full pension. She says, “I didn’t finish the race and know that I would have died within the year if I didn’t leave. It was the hardest decision that I made, but after taking time to reflect, I realized I wasn’t adequately prepared for all the challenges that come with being a woman in leadership in a male-dominated work environment.”
She continued, “Being a Black woman in leadership only exacerbated the gap in awareness of how to adequately protect my mental and physical health while continuing to pursue excellence in my career. I loved my career and many of the people I worked with, but it was a normalized toxic environment for a Black woman.”
A year after she left her career, Rutherford describes it as, “The bottom fell out, and I collapsed mentally.” She moved in with her brother near her small hometown, and it took her 3.5 long years to piece herself back together again. She says, “I feel like the term ‘burnout’ is overused and greatly misunderstood. Burnout is catastrophic and 100% preventable.”
The reason Rutherford is so passionate about what she does today is because she gives women in leadership an opportunity to hit the refresh button, a privilege she did not have at the time.
To fulfill this mission, she founded Vision Finder International in August 2012 and has since coached millions to success with a refreshed outlook. Since June 2020, the organization has assisted women in leadership by earning $13 million in salary raises and small business revenue. In January 2021, Vision Finder International helped them earn a whopping $1.2 million.
She adds, “In addition, we have also saved 20 marriages, gotten women off of health-related medication, and five of their husbands have been promoted shortly after their wifes completed the program.”
Rutherford wants to normalize women asking for double their current salary. Women have the power to close the gender pay gap that has existed for 20 years. She says, “We can’t just keep waiting for others to save us. We have the power to save ourselves.”
She has an impressive roster of clients, including Marvell Technology, Facebook, JLL, JPMorgan-Chase, Unilever, Fifth Third Bank, and Investment News.
Due to her remarkable progress in the industry, she has multiple professional accomplishments, including Harvard Business School’s 2018 Launch of New Ventures Pitch Contest Grand Master Champion. She says, “It felt like the most significant achievement, especially as I had recovered from a burnout, and I needed to remember how great I used to be…which equated to how great I was.”
In conclusion, her advice for budding leaders is, “In your pursuit of excellence, remember that no one is responsible for your mental and physical health. Everyone is going through something, so to relegate that responsibility to others is unwise. Take care of yourself. Protect your time. Normalize doubling your salary every few years. You deserve it and it’s absolutely possible.”