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Performance expert, Catherine McCarthy helps senior leaders bring out the best in their teams by breaking the paradigm of heavier workloads and longer hours. Over the course of 20 years, she’s designed courses and coached executives at Google, Ernst and Young, Mars, SunLife Financial, Pfizer, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Wachovia, the FBI, and Goldman Sachs.

McCarthy holds a PhD in clinical psychology. As the Senior Vice President and COO of the Energy Project, she collaborated with leaders from major corporations, nonprofits, and state institutions to create a work environment that meets employees’ needs, reduces burn-out, and allows them to maximize their potential. Currently she serves as the president of Peak Performance Professionals, an independent consultant at Korn Ferry, and a performance coach at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute.

Full Profile

Drawing on over fifteen years of professional focus on leaders and teams performing under adverse conditions, Ms. McCarthy brings substantial experience in the design, delivery, and implementation of leadership programs for high potentials, senior leaders, and C-level executives.

Ms. McCarthy, a highly skilled facilitator, has worked in many blue chip companies and in a wide range of industries including technology, professional services, pharmaceutical, healthcare, entertainment, law enforcement, financial services, and skin care and fragrance. She has developed global programs designed to improve personal, team, and organizational effectiveness by adopting a holistic approach to drive results.

Most recently, Ms. McCarthy served as the chief operating officer for The Energy Project, a boutique training and development firm that helps individuals and organizations better managing their personal energy to improve sustainability, innovation, and effective leadership.

While at The Energy Project, Ms. McCarthy designed and delivered train-the-trainer programs and served as an organizational consultant, executive coach, and lead account manager.

A dynamic keynote speaker and accomplished author, Ms. McCarthy has coauthored Leading at the edge: Leadership lessons from the extraordinary saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition (AMACOM, 2000). She also contributed to Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live (Free Press, May 2010) and Manage Energy Not Time: The Science of Stamina (Harvard Business Review, October 2007).

Ms. McCarthy earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Illinois Institute of Technology, completed doctoral fellowship from the Yale University Medical School, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University.


Catherine McCarthy Speaker Videos Back to top

Speech Excerpt


Catherine McCarthy explains why most companies’ attempts to get more out of employees backfire. Between decreasing budgets and increasing demands, many businesses spread their talent thin by jamming more and more responsibilities into a limited day, a practice that is causing most workers’ minds to wander the never-ending task list rather than stay engaged and fully present on whatever it is they need to do at that particular moment.

McCarthy calls on employers to change up their practices and expectations, pointing out that in the case of human nature, “acting out of survival doesn’t create sustainable high performance.” Rather, she argues, we are at our most productive when we work in a cycle of “fierce focus” followed by “renewal.”


Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


Catherine McCarthy helps you manage your energy so that you can get more tangible results from yourself and your teams. The former Energy Project leader and trainer demonstrates that today’s trends of longer hours and increased demands actually lower productivity and hinder success by exhausting top talent, who then take their skills elsewhere. McCarthy shares simple habits that will break the cycle of burnout and raise your bottom line. Her programs are packed with easy-to-make changes that will boost your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy along with tried-and-tested tactics for turning energy management into a defining part of your culture.

    Transforming the Way We Work: The New Rules of Engagement
    Demand in our lives is increasing relentlessly. Our capacity isn′t keeping pace. The way we′re working isn′t working. Far too many organizations expect their employees to operate in the same way that computers do: continuously, at high speeds, for long periods of time, running multiple programs at the same time. It′s a prescription for failure. Rather than trying to get more out of their employees, employers are better served by investing in meeting their multi-dimensional needs, so they are freed, fueled and motivated to bring the best of themselves to work every day.

    Other suggested topics:

    • Women, Risk, and Leadership: Lessons from Great Women of the Past and Present
    • Managing Energy to Maximize Performance
    • Cultivating Sustained Performance: Thriving in a World of Challenge and Change


Catherine McCarthy Speaker Testimonials Back to top

    "Many thanks for sharing your expertise at the 2005 Marriott International Golf Annual Meeting. Your presentation greatly contributed to this year′s meeting success as the feedback from the attendees has been outstanding!"
    Marriott International

    "Please accept my sincere praise for Catherine. She did an outstanding job of presenting. I was amazed that Catherine held the attention of 66 managers for four hours and I believe many wished like me that we had more time with her. Catherine led several dynamic discussions and provided us with much food for thought. In short, she exceeded my expectations and added great value to our Symposium."
    Karen M. Wall,
    Sr. VP of Corporate Infrastructure,
    Akibia, Inc.

    "Superb! Left me hungry for more, but gave me a number of immediately applicable ideas for improving my leadership skills. Catherine is a great presenter!"
    Chris Swanson,
    President,
    Flex Execs

    "I thought Catherine McCarthy′s presentation was very effective-her delivery was masterful and her story line and visual aids made her engaging and non-threatening. She could present her ideas to any composition of audience and not come across as preaching. She put her authority into her stories and pictures. Certainly impressive."
    Mary V. Whaley,
    President,
    MVW Enterprises, Ltd

    Partial Client List:

    Kraft
    Starbucks
    GenRe
    Microsoft
    UBS
    Ford Motor Company




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    "Many thanks for sharing your expertise at the 2005 Marriott International Golf Annual Meeting. Your presentation greatly contributed to this year′s meeting success as the feedback from the attendees has been outstanding!"
    Marriott International

    "Please accept my sincere praise for Catherine. She did an outstanding job of presenting. I was amazed that Catherine held the attention of 66 managers for four hours and I believe many wished like me that we had more time with her. Catherine led several dynamic discussions and provided us with much food for thought. In short, she exceeded my expectations and added great value to our Symposium."
    Karen M. Wall,
    Sr. VP of Corporate Infrastructure,
    Akibia, Inc.

    "Superb! Left me hungry for more, but gave me a number of immediately applicable ideas for improving my leadership skills. Catherine is a great presenter!"
    Chris Swanson,
    President,
    Flex Execs

    "I thought Catherine McCarthy′s presentation was very effective-her delivery was masterful and her story line and visual aids made her engaging and non-threatening. She could present her ideas to any composition of audience and not come across as preaching. She put her authority into her stories and pictures. Certainly impressive."
    Mary V. Whaley,
    President,
    MVW Enterprises, Ltd

    Partial Client List:

    Kraft
    Starbucks
    GenRe
    Microsoft
    UBS
    Ford Motor Company


    The Way We′re Working Isn′t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance
    The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working is one of those rare books with the power to profoundly transform the way we work and live.

    Demand is exceeding our capacity. The ethic of "more, bigger, faster" exacts a series of silent but pernicious costs at work, undermining our energy, focus, creativity, and passion. Nearly 75 percent of employees around the world feel disengaged at work every day. The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working offers a groundbreaking approach to reenergizing our lives so we’re both more satisfied and more productive—on the job and off.

    By integrating multidisciplinary findings from the science of high performance, Tony Schwartz, coauthor of the #1 bestselling The Power of Full Engagement, makes a persuasive case that we’re neglecting the four core needs that energize great performance: sustainability (physical); security (emotional); self-expression (mental); and significance (spiritual). Rather than running like computers at high speeds for long periods, we’re at our best when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing energy across each of our four needs.

    Organizations undermine sustainable high performance by forever seeking to get more out of their people. Instead they should seek systematically to meet their four core needs so they’re freed, fueled, and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day.

    Drawing on extensive work with an extra-ordinary range of organizations, among them Google, Ford, Sony, Ernst & Young, Shell, IBM, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Cleveland Clinic, Schwartz creates a road map for a new way of working. At the individual level, he explains how we can build specific rituals into our daily schedules to balance intense effort with regular renewal; offset emotionally draining experiences with practices that fuel resilience; move between a narrow focus on urgent demands and more strategic, creative thinking; and balance a short-term focus on immediate results with a values-driven commitment to serving the greater good. At the organizational level, he outlines new policies, practices, and cultural messages that Schwartz’s client companies have adopted.

    The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working offers individuals, leaders, and organizations a highly practical, proven set of strategies to better manage the relentlessly rising demands we all face in an increasingly complex world.
    Order Here




    Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton′s Antarctic Expedition
    Part adventure story, part leadership guide, this intriguing book examines Shackleton′s legendary Antarctic expedition through the lens of business — to reveal a set of powerful strategies for corporate leaders.

    In the chronicles of extraordinary adventures and against-the-odds survival, nothing compares to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of South Pole explorers. Stranded in the frozen sea for nearly two years, they endured extreme temperatures, hazardous ice, dwindling food, complete isolation, and perpetual blackness.

    Yet, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the group remained cohesive, congenial, and mercifully alive — a fact that speaks not just to luck but to an unparalleled feat in leadership.

    Now, for the first time ever, Leading at the Edge draws on this amazing story to reveal the power of effective organizational leadership under conditions of uncertainty, ambiguity, and rapid change. The book uncovers 10 lessons — complete with stirring examples from the Shackleton expedition, as well as contemporary business case studies of the strategies in action — on what it takes to be a great leader. Readers learn how to:

    • Set a personal example with vivid symbols and behaviors
    • Instill optimism while staying grounded in reality
    • Reinforce the team message constantly
    • Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about
    • Have the courage to take big risks, and more.

    For managers and executives who feel stressed out or stretched thin, these memorable strategies will help bring order to chaos--and success in the face of the most daunting adversity.
    Order Here





    Transforming the Way We Work: The New Rules of Engagement
    Demand in our lives is increasing relentlessly. Our capacity isn′t keeping pace. The way we′re working isn′t working. Far too many organizations expect their employees to operate in the same way that computers do: continuously, at high speeds, for long periods of time, running multiple programs at the same time. It′s a prescription for failure. Rather than trying to get more out of their employees, employers are better served by investing in meeting their multi-dimensional needs, so they are freed, fueled and motivated to bring the best of themselves to work every day.

    Other suggested topics:

    • Women, Risk, and Leadership: Lessons from Great Women of the Past and Present
    • Managing Energy to Maximize Performance
    • Cultivating Sustained Performance: Thriving in a World of Challenge and Change


Speech Excerpt


Catherine McCarthy explains why most companies’ attempts to get more out of employees backfire. Between decreasing budgets and increasing demands, many businesses spread their talent thin by jamming more and more responsibilities into a limited day, a practice that is causing most workers’ minds to wander the never-ending task list rather than stay engaged and fully present on whatever it is they need to do at that particular moment.

McCarthy calls on employers to change up their practices and expectations, pointing out that in the case of human nature, “acting out of survival doesn’t create sustainable high performance.” Rather, she argues, we are at our most productive when we work in a cycle of “fierce focus” followed by “renewal.”