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The People Teaching People Podcast - Episode 8: Learning Through Giving Back with Catherine McGuire

008: Learning Through Giving Back with Catherine McGuire

In this episode with Catherine McGuire, we talk about how and why she created WholeHearted and how she’s transforming the ways in which corporations and employees give back to the community – one experience at a time.

Catherine is a female entrepreneur; founder and creator at WholeHearted; an agency dedicated to enriching the employee experience through strategic programs that align with corporate values and community needs. She is best described as full of heart and action-obsessed. A true implementer, she fearlessly brings ideas to life with no detail left behind. With 10+ years experience in the events and hospitality industry, she is familiar with the logistics, nuances, and continuous evolution of in-person and virtual events.

What started as a non-profit initiative at the height of a global pandemic sparked a concept that now provides leaders a way to engage their teams and customers in unique ways that build meaningful connections, and in turn more productive workplaces. From strategic live event programming to thoughtful virtual experiences, WholeHearted partners with local businesses whenever possible and aims to make an impact both within the walls of the organizations they serve and throughout the communities they support.

Catherine is a new mom of a 7 month old who is juggling entrepreneurship with motherhood. You will love her story of seeing a need and an opportunity to make a difference in the world and just going for it without having all the details figured out, trusting her instincts, listening and learning along the way, and getting more clear on her boundaries. We talk about using events as a mechanism to make impact, perks and purpose when it comes to employee engagement and retention, how giving back can make an impact in the workplace, and so much more!

Listen in as we talk about:

  • Giving back in times of crisis. Early on in the pandemic, Catherine and her husband felt helpless about the state of the world. They raised funds to help those in need have fresh meals and inspired her organization, WholeHearted
  • Educating through experiences. Catherine shares how WholeHearted is driven by social impact initiatives and the ways in which it helps companies give back to organizations they may not be aware of.
  • Perks and purpose. We all want to work somewhere with perks and that gives back to a bigger purpose. Catherine shares how WholeHearted accomplishes both with its mission.
  • How giving back makes an impact in the workplace. Catherine shares how giving back in the workplace is more than just a feel-good activity and talks about the many benefits it brings. 
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Catherine shares how her organization, WholeHearted, came to life. Early on in the pandemic, it started with a non-profit initiative that Catherine and her husband had when they were stuck at home in quarantine and feeling helpless. They raised funds in their community to purchase healthy lunches from restaurants and event caterers who were struggling due to the different closures and limitations.

They then wrote handwritten notes on those healthy lunches and delivered them to frontline workers in their community to show appreciation and encouragement to them. The initiative was successful and a lot more than they expected it to be, and it really opened their eyes to the power of community.

At the end of that initiative, Catherine realized how much she didn’t want the initiative to end. They pilot tested the idea of WholeHearted.


On Episode 8 of The People Teaching People Podcast: Learning Through Giving Back, Catherine McGuire says "Stay curious, be open-minded, and learn from your experiences."


“Stay curious, be open-minded, and learn from your experiences.”

As Catherine shares in this episode, she always tells companies that her team are not philanthropic specialists or human resources specialists, but they are experience creators.

They have created an event-based culture shift that is driven by social impact initiatives and by creating awareness for causes that apply right in their backyard. 

There are so many organizations that have a budget to give back, but there’s not enough time or resources to find the best places to apply that money in a way where it can really make a difference and make an impact.

WholeHearted helps companies find those small, grassroots organizations in their neighborhood where the company’s funds can make an even bigger impact. 

A big part on the education side for WholeHearted is going into a workplace and opening their eyes to all of these issues that are happening around them, and helping them take that money and apply it differently than they may have originally.


Logo for WholeHearted founded by Catherine McGuire



We all want to work somewhere with perks, and that gives back to a bigger purpose. Catherine shares how WholeHearted accomplishes both with its mission.

While employees want a lot of vacation days, flexibility, experiences and gifts, at the same time, a lot of research is showing the interest and the impact that an organization with purpose can have.

When a person is looking to accept or change jobs, they want to be a part of something bigger. This is where companies have an opportunity to give people a platform to bring awareness to causes that are important to them personally or to give them an opportunity to make an impact to some communities or some groups that are in need that maybe alone they wouldn’t be able to.

Catherine’s idea is to answer how we take the perks people are looking for, but add that layer of meaning and purpose to them, and make that the differentiator between the two.


Catherine McGuire is the founder and creator at WholeHearted.


“At the end of the day, people just want to feel seen and heard.”

Catherine believes that the #1 thing that leaders can do to make an impact is just to listen. When questions are being asked, sometimes we are hearing the questions but we aren’t truly listening and taking action. It’s not just having the conversation but, rather, it’s what you do with what you take from those conversations that will really allow you to make a difference in someone else’s experience. 



Giving back makes an impact in the sense that it brings people together towards a common goal. 

Research shows that when you do good, you feel good. And when you get to give back with other people and share in that experience, you’ve just bonded over something significant.

In turn, it magnifies that “feel good” feeling and engagement. When you look at engaged employees and passionate employees, they drive results, become more creative, and more productive. They come up with new ideas and they’re invested in your organization in a different way.

Catherine McGuire is the founder and creator at WholeHearted
  • What is something that you would love to learn about or something that you would love to learn how to do? Play guitar
  • What is a place that is at the top of your travel bucket list? Greece
  • What is a book, podcast, or TV show that you have enjoyed recently? Love Is Blind
  • If you could sit down and have a conversation with someone that you would love to learn from, who would it be? Martha Stewart  

1:00 Meet Catherine

3:10 Catherine’s story

6:15 How education is part of the experiences that WholeHearted provides companies

9:00 Catherine’s favourite experiences designed and implemented by WholeHearted

14:00 The influence of perks and purpose on employee engagement, passion, and retention

18:20 Catherine talks about how giving back can make an impact in the workplace 

19:40 Catherine shares the number one thing you can do as a leader to make an impact

23:35 Catherine’s advice for leaders planning for the year ahead in this time of change

27:40 Catherine’s favorite teacher/mentor

33:05 What Catherine is most proud of looking back on her journey so far

35: 20 Catherine answers some rapid fire questions

39:00 Catherine’s words of wisdom



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