An investment banker turned CEO/Co-Founder of Native Shoes, Scott Hawthorn, ditched a 10-year career to pursue more creative ways to build a life. He successfully opened a wine bar, and a multi-national shoe brand with heart, soul, and sole.
Beyond his entrepreneurial success, what we respect so deeply about Scott isn’t just his business acumen - but his vulnerability and path to self-discovery.
His story of learning about himself defies most ‘executive’ trajectories into self-awareness. Mostly because it was about his growth as a person, first, and then as a business leader.
Scott’s story, told by him here:
I moved to Japan right after university. What was an openness to experiencing a new country turned into a 10-year stint immersed in a new culture, different architecture, design, food, and fashion. It was sensory overload; I was exposed to things I had never seen before, let alone had an appreciation for.
Coming back to Canada, I launched into a passionate discovery of the creative side of my brain. I was inspired and incensed by all I had seen and learned while living abroad - yet in a new territory.
And, growing up in a family with an engineer father and a math teaching mother, my creative confidence needed some exercising.
Entrepreneurship seemed to come naturally. I opened a restaurant and then later, a shoe company. Both experiences provided me rich opportunities to grow; some that I was very aware of and others that I could only see in hindsight.
But it wasn’t the lessons of entrepreneurship that sparked my curiosity to discovery self; it was a wakeup call that came from a relationship ending.
I found myself in a new group of friends that sparked my interest. They seemed to have a different level of consciousness: they spoke a different language, were incredibly open-minded and didn’t seem to judge others. I was fascinated by it all.
And so, when a friend sent around an email introducing a coach they knew and some insight into what kind of work they did, I was fast to respond with a yes.
Enter conflict...and discomfort.
Opening up to coaching was like turning on a fire hose; the understanding of myself came fast and hard. I found myself functioning from a new level of awareness and a fresh perspective.
I started seeing ways that I was the biggest thing that was holding back my progress or growth. I began to realize the power I used to look for on the outside exists on the inside - and that it exists for and inside everyone. I had completely new lenses to see the world—and myself—through. And the insights in my personal life kept on coming.
Seeing the way it could impact my professional life? That came through conflict - when Native Shoes became insolvent in 2012. Navigating challenging conversations with the other founder, I realized how uncomfortable conflict made me - and how I didn’t want to feel that way.
Making the choice to save the company also turned out to be an opportunity to use that experience as a classroom to deal with my relationship with conflict - and having a coach support me through that challenge made a massive difference.
I can’t count the lessons that came of that experience on both my hands and feet. Or quantify how valuable having a coach was in surviving and thriving, through that time.
But something that struck me was realizing how the things I pointed fingers at before as the ‘problems’ weren’t the problems at all. It was me. I was the one in my own way.
And it was incredibly empowering to find that in oneself are all the answers; that there’s empowerment in knowing yourself. And when you get out of everyone else’s business, you get to intimately know your own business. Which totally changed the way I lead, and how I encourage others to explore and lead themselves.
What was a personal exploration encouraged by friends has become a way of life...and business.
Coaching and self-awareness practices at Native Shoes empower each individual and the collective. And, they’re available to everyone, at every level of leadership.
Why? Well, ‘choosing’ who gets access to supported self-discovery doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a wonderful surprise to see who the navel-gazing lands with - and what change it creates in their lives.
Democratizing coaching and self-development means having an empowered team in every direction - and we’ve only seen it help the business grow and thrive through all life has to offer them.
Because the human experience is way more complex than I ever thought it would be. And having a partner in crime in navigating it—from the glaring opportunities to the subtle spots—has offered me tools to make life’s complexities more enjoyable.
A gift and experience I am proud to pass on to whoever I can.
PS - If you've read this piece and think coaching is something you'd like to try, sign up for an unlimited trial and book your initial sessions for free.