We had the good fortune of connecting with Caitlyn Scaggs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Caitlyn, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
One of the most important books I have read is, “Be you. Do good.” by Jonathan Golden, CEO of Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee. In this book, Golden fuses his personal journey, from counselor to minister and ultimately to a successful social entrepreneur, with takeaways for all of us. I loved reading about how he saw a major problem, the need for restoration and healing in Rwanda, and figured out how to use business (and coffee!) as a key strategy in this important work.
I read this book over a decade ago, long before I knew I would start, scale and sell my own marketing agency. Also, long before I had any inkling I would end up working as a social entrepreneur for an international anti-trafficking organization.
For me, this book was freeing. I began my career as a police officer and aspired to have a life-long career in law enforcement. When we were expecting our first child I had a seismic heart-shift and knew this career would no longer make sense for me or our family. I was in a position of wondering if I would ever find a meaningful, electrifying, satisfying career. At times, I was even panicked that I had poured into a profession that was going to render me irrelevant in the broader career landscape. Golden helped me think differently about all of this!
I’ve forever held onto his point that genius is found when we take the skills and learnings from one discipline and apply them to a seemingly unrelated discipline. That truth helped me feel a fresh sense of confidence in my career. I no longer felt insecure about my career past. I didn’t feel like my options were limited by my degree in criminal justice and five years’ experience on patrol. I realized I could harness the power of the lessons I learned in law enforcement and do great things well into the future.
I still hold onto lessons I learned from reading his book and have admittedly read it more than once. Perhaps the best way to summarize the impact of his book is by applying the tagline, “having the guts to pursue what makes you come alive,” to my own life. This book helped me have the guts I needed to pursue what makes me come alive!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career adventure may seem all over the place to some people – I get it. However, to me it has been a beautiful progression of stepping into more, exploring all the corners of who I am, and figuring out how to make the biggest and most positive impact possible.
Here’s the reality, career growth doesn’t exist in a pristine vacuum. Rather, it swirls around and mixes with the challenges of everyday life. While going through my career progression I have navigated a cancer diagnosis (while pregnant), we welcomed two children into the world (and all those sleepless nights), we moved, we experienced loss, and like the rest of the world, we have navigated the global pandemic and associated turmoil.
Overcoming the challenges requires a strong support system of amazing people. Some of those people are practical resources – like an amazing CPA when you are starting your own business. Others are people to guide you through the ups and downs of life – like an amazing pastor who can provide perspective and guidance. Family is also a core group I have turned to when things are tough. I care deeply that my family is a strong unit and know that home will always be a safe place, in this world that often feels terribly out of control.
As I’ve journeyed, I often hear people reflect how they love my passion. Which is a kind and generous compliment. But I want other people to know that my passion is paired with perseverance and that is what sets my brand and story apart. There are a lot of people with really good ideas and really earnest passions but will they dig in, endure, and do the work to see the passion yield fruit? I may not always get “it” right but I do know how to stubbornly dig in my heels in pursuit of a passion that I know matters to me or to the greater good. I also am willing to put in the work today, even if I know there will not be a return for a year or two.
I also founded my own marketing agency with the internal mantra of, “People first and the rest will take care of itself.” I knew that if we operated the business and interacted with others in alignment with this idea we would be successful. I truly believe that when you honor others and do the right thing there is a boomerang blessing waiting for you. I don’t mean some sort of “karma” but rather I have a surety that it counts for something when you do the hard thing for the right reason.
When people think of me I want them to think of someone who is an encouragement and champion for others. I want the words I speak, actions I take, and decisions I make to be a light in this world that is often dark and discouraging. I am 35 years young and very excited about all the possibilities that still exist on the horizon. I hope that my future is full of unique opportunities to positively impact others and this world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a fun question! I love the community in which I live. It is quiet and small town in southwest Virginia, but because of two major universities we have access to events and opportunities. Coming for a visit would mean the opportunity to catch your breath, enjoy natural beauty, and take time to really enjoy the flavors and textures of our region.
I would say the first day would have to start with a cup of coffee on my back deck. We live in a rural area and our backyard overlooks a mountain range that is often paired with the most stunning sunrises. As you sip away, you can hear roosters crow and dogs barking in the distance. It is often surreal just how picturesque it is!
During the day I’d encourage a visit to one of the nearby lakes or rivers to go kayaking. or tubing. We’d also have the option of multiple breathtaking hikes – Cascades, Buffalo Mountain, or McAfee’s Knob.
The town of Floyd, VA is just down the road from where we live and is known for organic weekend performances that happen along sidewalks in this one-stoplight town. You can find banjos and guitars and often a vocalist accompanying the group. It is fun to wander and then pop into a local restaurant, like Dog Town Pizza, for great food.
Blacksburg is another great spot to visit! If you happen to be in town during football season you’d have to checkout the Hokies in Lane Stadium! There is nothing like when the Hokies take the field and Enter Sandman starts playing and the entire stadium begins to jump.
At least one night it would be fun to go into Roanoke, the nearby city, and enjoy the sights and flavors found there. The Taubman Museum of Art or the interactive Pinball Museum would be a great choice during the day and then at night we could eat at a favorite spot like Cabo Fish Taco or Billy’s.
Coming for a visit would also mean an opportunity to do fun family things. We have a 7 and 9 year old, so we’d likely have at least one night at home, enjoying a meal together, and playing games after (monopoly is our current favorite!). We may roast marshmallows at our fire pit or go through a walk in our neighborhood along the trail that borders the shared green space.
Family is really important to me so there’d be no way to escape some focused time with my favorite people, when visiting.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Without question I have been loved, supported, and encouraged by so many over the duration of my career adventure. My husband, Adam, gets a lot of credit for being such a rock and level-head during the many twists and turns of of my career. When we met I was an aspiring police officer and now I am a social entrepreneur with New Hope Girls. In between those two points, I started and grew a marketing agency to the point of strategic acquisition – with his help. I also served as an Associate Vice President and spokesperson for a mid-sized public university. I like meaning, purpose, and fun within my career and I appreciate that my husband is a true partner, in that he provides wisdom, guidance, and perspective as I consider my aspirations and next steps.
I was also blessed to be raised by two loving parents who were proud to have a daughter who was a police officer and are equally proud to have a daughter who is using social entrepreneurship to fight trafficking. They love me no matter what and are consistently proud of me. There is freedom in that kind of deeply-rooted love and acceptance. I know that their belief in me set me free to dream big dreams and feel like those big dreams were actually possible. They are also both brilliant and wildly successful, which set a great example for me in my own pursuits.
I have a lot of really great friends who have been pulling for me over the years but I want to mention one by name because I’m so struck by how she consistently has shown up for me. My friend Samantha has come to nearly every talk I have given, she reads my blogs, keeps up to date with my latest inkling, and is the most enthusiastic cheerleader I know. She is quick to post on social media in celebration of someone else and I can always count on her as a sounding board and source of perspective. I think everyone deserve the kind of friendship and support I’ve found in Samantha!
There is also a professional mentor and friend who has a bigger impact than he’ll ever realize. I’ve tried to tell him a few times just how significant he has been to me and he always humbly acknowledges the feedback but I can tell he really doesn’t get the depth of it. I met Professor Gary Schirr when I was hugely insecure about leaving law enforcement to work within the corporate world. I was a marketing professional and felt like a fraud because of my non-traditional background. He was so complimentary of my work within marketing that he invited me to guest lecture to his classes, which I proceeded to do for every semester over a seven-year period. Each class energized me, kept me sharp, and helped me maintain relevance. It was also such an honor to be given that platform to speak about work I really love. Gary also became a dear friend in that process – not just a work buddy. He just retired and a couple months ago I lectured for his class, for the last time. It has been a beautiful journey growing and learning alongside Gary and his students.
Success and impact do not occur in isolation – I’m flooded with gratitude for the numerous people who have stood behind and beside me over the years.