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Hailey Magee, Erickson Alumni and Author of ‘Stop People Pleasing and Find Your Power’

AUTHOR: Erickson Coaching International
DATE: 12 April 2024

Meet Hailey Magee

Hailey Magee is a certified coach who helps people around the world break the people-pleasing pattern and master the art of self-advocacy. Her debut book,Stop People Pleasing and Find Your Power, will be released by Simon & Schuster in May 2024.

Hailey’s refreshingly nuanced perspectives on boundary-setting and self-advocacy have captured the attention of millions on social media. Certified by Erickson International, she has worked one-on-one with hundreds of clients, and her public talks and workshops have welcomed tens of thousands of participants worldwide. She has written for Newsweek and The Gottman Institute, and has facilitated corporate workshops in partnership with WeWork, Women In Music, and a variety of other companies and organizations.

Hailey is dedicated to offering clear, research-supported strategies for change, helping recovering people-pleasers rediscover not only their power and agency, but their pleasure, joy, and sense of wonder. She received her BA from Brandeis University in Massachusetts and currently resides in Seattle, WA. 

Could you share with us your journey from being a people-pleaser to becoming a certified coach helping others break the people-pleasing pattern?

For most of my life, people-pleasing was the air I breathed. It came so naturally to me that I didn’t even have a word for it.

In romance, I hid my feelings and needs away, terrified of being “too much'“ by asking my partners for fairness, affection, and reciprocity. With family and friends, I was so worried about upsetting people that I tolerated all sorts of behaviors that trespassed my boundaries. At work, I was overwhelmed and burnt out from years of bypassing my body’s limits in order to be “good enough.” And I was a stranger to myself. Every time I said yes when I meant no, I felt the sting of self-betraya⁠l⁠—but had no idea how to stop.

Everything changed when I went through a really rough breakup. I was heartbroken and directionless, and I realized that I couldn’t keep going on like this: invisible, exhausted, and living on everyone’s terms but my own.

So I started uncovering my own needs, dreams, and values. I listened to my body, prioritized play, and only invested in the relationships that invested back into me. Most importantly, I diligently practiced speaking up, asserting myself, and refusing to settle for the bare minimum—even in the face of guilt and fear.

It was the most powerful work of my life. I finally felt reconnected to my agency, self-trust, and self-respect, and I knew I wanted to help others do the same. A friend’s mom had been a certified life coach, and I’d always been so inspired by the way coaching enabled her to create, help others, and maintain a comfortable work/life balance. So I enrolled at Erickson, and the rest is history!


What inspired you to write your debut book, “Stop People Pleasing and Find Your Power”?

I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a kid... It’s probably the most consistent life goal I’ve ever had! When I was healing my own people-pleasing, books like The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner and Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody were a salve for me; they wrapped language around my confusing experiences, offered me hope, and gave me a path forward. I wanted to write a book that would give other recovering people-pleasing that same sense of clarity and inspiration.

After six years of coaching on people-pleasing and self-advocacy, a book was the natural next step. I’d written hundreds of articles, hosted hundreds of workshops, and developed countless teaching frameworks to help people-pleasers live empowered, assertive, and free. STOP People Pleasing is my capstone; it captures all of my teachings in one place. I’m also really excited to be able to share my teachings with a wide audience in a financially accessible way. Many people who want to work with me privately can’t afford to, and a book is a more affordable way for me to help those in need.


How has your training with Erickson International influenced your coaching approach and the strategies you offer in your book?

Breaking the people-pleasing pattern can feel overwhelming. People are desperate to start standing up for themselves, but after a lifetime of being silent and passive, they have no idea where to begin. 

Thanks to my Erickson training, I’m able to ask my clients powerful, solution-focused questions that help them clarify their vision and break that vision down into concrete steps. My clients always tell me that this focus on tangible action steps is the thing they’d always wished for, but never gotten, from therapy. 

As you’ll see in the book, STOP People Pleasing is extremely action-oriented and solution-focused. It includes a bunch of values exercises, visioning prompts, and magic questions that help readers get in touch with, and stay committed to, the future they really want.


We've heard about your viral success on social media. How did you build such a massive following, and how has it impacted your coaching career?

Social media has been absolutely pivotal to my success as a coach, an author, and an event host. These days, it’s the single most powerful way to reach a broad audience unlimited by geography—and unlike email lists or paid marketing, it’s completely free. All it takes is one reel going viral on Instagram or TikTok to massively boost your audience. 

I built a large following through consistency. Starting in 2018, I began posting on Instagram and Facebook every single day. I alternated between practical posts and inspirational posts, and paid attention to which posts resonated most with my audience. When video content began getting more popular, I pivoted to posting more of that (even though I was resistant to it—I don’t like getting dolled up for the camera!), and my following really skyrocketed. 

For those hesitant to use social media for their coaching work: I get it. It’s a heavy lift. But it’s well worth your effort, because time spent on social media has hundreds of tangible returns. My Instagram and Facebook accounts drive almost all of my workshop and coaching sales. My book deal with Simon & Schuster was sizable for a debut author, and that was thanks to the fact that I had a large online following. I would argue that social media is the highest-impact investment of your time you can make as you build your coaching business.


In your book, you talk about the importance of setting empowered boundaries. Could you share a bit about why this is so crucial, and how readers can begin implementing this practice in their lives?

In the simplest sense, a boundary separates one thing from another. When we set a boundary with someone, we create some sort of separation between us. We might imagine our boundaries as shields that protect us from things that would threaten our well-being, such as others’ rudeness, others’ emotional dumping, unwanted touch, or commitments we don’t have the time and space for.

Without boundaries, we say yes when we mean no, over-give, and tolerate all sorts of behaviors that erode our wellbeing. These regular self-betrayals leave us feeling resentful, overwhelmed, and over-worked. With boundaries, we can honor our limits and design our lives and relationships around those limits. They’re crucial, even in the healthiest relationships. 

As I explain in STOP People Pleasing, boundaries protect our needs—and we can’t set boundaries protecting our needs if we don’t know what we need. A good place to begin is by working backwards and identifying situations in our lives where we feel resentful, overwhelmed, angry, or hurt. These feelings are what I call Need Signposts, and they tend to signal that we have unmet needs that require our attention. 

Once we identify the needs beneath the signposts, we’re able to make requests and set boundaries around them. I offer a deep-dive of how to do this in the book!


Do you have a favorite Solution-Focused Tool that you find yourself using often?

Definitely. My all-time favorite tool from Erickson is the Values Wheel. Values exercises are great for recovering people-pleasers because they help us excavate what we believe and what we value from beneath layers and layers of other-focus. You’ll spot it in the book!


What do you hope readers will take away from "Stop People Pleasing and Find Your Power"?

My biggest hope is that readers finish STOP People Pleasing feeling like they have a clear roadmap back to their agency, self-respect, and self-trust.

In the Epilogue of STOP People Pleasing, I explain how breaking the pattern has completely changed my life and my relationship with myself. I write:

“After years of feeling like a victim of other’s requests and actions, I finally recognize that I can choose what to give and what to tolerate. This doesn’t mean that choosing is always comfortable—in fact, it often hurts!—but it does mean that I do, in fact, have a choice. I can say no; I can set boundaries; I can remove myself from situations that don’t meet my needs. Before, I thought that power looked like getting others to change or getting others to prioritize me. Now I understand that taking responsibility for myself and owning my agency is the true gateway to my power. 

As a result of exercising my agency, I finally have an unwavering certainty that I’ll have my own back, even on my hardest days. With every need I’ve prioritized, request I’ve made, boundary I’ve set, and growing pain I’ve soothed through, I’ve shown myself that I’m not leaving me be- hind: I’m not going anywhere. Even in the face of others’ judgments, I trust myself to stand up for me. Others’ perceptions of me matter, but my own perceptions matter more. 

As a result of building this self-trust, I have found—after years of wishing—that I respect who I am. This doesn’t mean that I never feel anxious, self-judging, or self-critical—I do, and I don’t know a soul who doesn’t—but, on the whole, my actions align with my words, and my words align with my values. The person I am inside matches the person I am outside, and after years of being trapped behind the mask of people- pleasing, this is a degree of integrity I never dared to dream I’d experience.”


You've facilitated workshops for various organizations. What are some common challenges you've observed in individuals struggling with people-pleasing, and how do you address them?

By far, people-pleasers’ biggest challenges are the emotional growing pains of self-advocacy: namely, guilt, self-doubt, and fear of disappointing or losing others. 

Most people-pleasers learned that playing small was how to gain safety, affection, love, and care from other people. Speaking up is an enormous shift to the decades-old roles they’ve played in their relationships, workplaces, and communities. It takes a lot of courage to break these old habits of over-giving and dare to love yourself enough to embrace a new way.

That’s why Part 3 of STOP People Pleasing is a companion for the growing pains of breaking the people-pleasing pattern. Readers learn how to embrace bravery and become resilient toward guilt, fear, anger, loneliness, and grief; how to navigate the challenges of outgrowing relationships and facing difficult transitions; and how to reframe these challenges as powerful opportunities for growth and transformation. 


How do you integrate your personal experiences and insights into your coaching sessions and workshops?

I have learned that, as we heal, sometimes we’re not in the mood for someone to help us strategize, plan, or envision. Sometimes, we just want someone to say: “You know what? You’re not alone. I’ve been there, too.” 

That’s why I inject a ton of humor, compassion, and personal storytelling into my social media presence and live talks/workshops. Folks enjoy my content not just for what it teaches, but for what it normalizes: it helps people feel less alone in the difficult feelings, challenges, and experiences they have as they learn the art and craft of speaking up for themselves.

That said, in my coaching sessions, I maintain a strong coach position. I might normalize or affirm when a client asks “Is this normal?” or “Am I alone?” but other than that, I keep the focus squarely on the client’s desires, goals, and dreams. Most of my clients have attended at least one of my workshops and see my content online, so even if I’m not talking about my own story in the session, they know that I’ve been there, too.


What advice would you give to aspiring coaches who want to make a meaningful impact in the lives of their clients, just as you have?

More than anything, I would encourage aspiring coaches to coach on the topics they’re most passionate about. Give yourself permission to pick a niche that lights you up, even if it’s less mainstream or less traditionally lucrative niche. If it resonates with you, odds are, there are hundreds of future clients out there with whom it also resonates—who are waiting, eagerly, for someone to guide them. 

Let your passion drive and lead you—and if your passion pivots, pivot with it. The motivation, synergy, and energy that comes from coaching on what you love makes even the hardest efforts feel worthwhile. That energy will buoy you when the inevitable difficulties of business-building strike.

In my experience, clients can tell when you’re coaching from a place of understanding, empathy, and deep resonance. They feel exponentially safer when they can talk to someone who has been there; who really, truly gets it, and is passionate about it in their bones.


Lastly, what's next for you? Any upcoming projects or initiatives you're excited to share with us?

In May, I’ll be releasing my new membership program—UNAPOLOGETIC—as a hands-on complement to STOP People Pleasing. The program teaches recovering people-pleasers how to live empowered, assertive, and free, combining a 22-module self-paced course with a thriving online community and live events. It’s going to be epic.

Once STOP People Pleasing and UNAPOLOGETIC are out in the world, I’m really excited to explore new ways to support people in answering the question “How can I design my life to reflect my unique desires and values?” I’ve considered pivots into work/life balance—into recentering creativity and community—into empowered sexuality—and more. I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up, but if you want to follow along on the journey, you can sign up for my newsletter, here.

Find Hailey’s book ‘Stop People Pleasing and Find Your Power’ on Amazon.