Interview with Vanessa Couto - Leaders in Conversation

I'm glad to introduce you to Vanessa Couto who joins me for this episode of our Leaders in Conversation series. Vanessa and I talk about tools you can use to navigate business decision making. [Transcript]

Vanessa Couto is an archetypal astrologer, teacher, and artist. Her focus is on helping clients gain clarity in the intersection of life and livelihood. Her clientele are purpose-driven entrepreneurs, creatives, and those who are on a quest for work that reflects their sense of meaning and aligned vocation.

Vanessa’s sessions are focused on helping entrepreneurs explore their business through archetypal lens, so they may create a more resonant and aligned brand. She works with clients from around the world from her office in Portland, Oregon.

You can reach Vanessa Couto online on her website (, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

What Are The Tools You rely on for decision making?

I'd love to hear from you — tell me what did this episode reveal to you? Did it shift how you will make decisions going forward?

Leaders in Conversation Featuring Karin Berardo

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[Beth Wonson] Hi everybody. It's Beth and today I'm here with Vanessa Couto. Vanessa is someone who I've met through my connection with Lindsey Pera, who you've heard me talk about. She's an archetypal astrologer and a teacher and an artist, and what really intrigued me about her work is that she spends time helping clients gain clarity in the intersection between life and livelihood. And she does this. Her work is with purpose driven entrepreneurs, creatives, and people who are on a quest for work that reflects their sense of meaning and their aligned vocations. What really intrigued me is how she brings the archetypal and the astrological into play in terms of helping business leaders with decision making, understanding direction, and all of those types of things. And I'm really excited just to learn more myself as well as to just share this other method of leadership and business with each of you. So welcome, Vanessa. Thanks for joining us.

[Vanessa Couto] Thank you, Beth. Thank you for the invitation and thank you for the awesome introduction.

[BW] You're welcome. You're welcome and what people can't see because you're all hearing an interview, you know, verbally, but where you can see is the unbelievable artwork that's behind Vanessa in what I'm seeing on my screen and just the colors and the paint and everything that's in her office. I just, everyone who knows me knows that. I really love that and it really speaks to me. Vanessa, what about your work makes it so you just cannot stand to get up out of bed in the morning and get going?

[VC] I think it's a sheer curiosity. You know, since I was a kid, I was just curious to see what makes people tick. What are they interested in? What's their story? Even when I go out and in public, you know, the grocery store, I'm always wondering, Oh, what's that happening over there? Why are they doing that? So for me it's just a basic curiosity to what are people doing? What are they wanting to do? And especially in relationship to business. I'm always curious too, why did people decide to do what they do? The same way that I like to know how people met each other. In a romantic sense. I like to know how did they get into that line of work. You know, what propelled them to go down that avenue. So curiosity really is the core ingredient of why I do what I do.

[BW] Oh, I love that. And so segwaying off that, tell us how did you get into doing like you do?

[VC] It has been a windy road. Indeed ever since I was a kid, I remember this in elementary school. I was interested in astrology. I don't know how it came to be, but I remember asking my friends, so when is your birthday? What's your sun sign? But much like my father, we were sort of Jack of All Trades. We could do anything because we are so curious and all the stuff I have done before this has involved communication one way or other. And the whole time growing up, especially as a teenager, early adulthood, I was very much driven by this idea that I needed to find my mission. But I knew that it had to be linked to the work I did. I was not satisfied with, you know, you could live your purpose in different parts of your life. I wanted it to be tied up with what I did for a living and I've tried many things. I've worked from an English teacher in Brazil where I'm originally from. I taught Portuguese in New York city for business people. I've worked as a legal secretary and international law firms. At one point I was the housekeeper for Donna Karan, you know, just anything that would come my way, I would do it the whole time. Really looking to bridge or put together all this stuff that I liked, the things that I enjoyed reading and learning. And so that led me to more teaching. A masters in teaching. A masters in counseling. Because I was always so interested in people's stories. I thought, Oh, therapy! Let's become a therapist. I did that. But in the background, what was always there, sort of my main tool of self discovery was astrology. And I just never thought I saw, Oh, I will always do astrology. I was always do astrology for friends and people who need it. But I never thought of transforming it into livelihood. And then, you know, I think midlife hit and as I jokingly used to say, I didn't buy a new car, but I decided to be like, no, I'm going to bring in all this books of my, we, all the things I enjoy. And that's when I thought, okay, I need to bridge it all together. What do I like? So I like teaching, I like speaking to people and learning what they're doing and helping them through these transitions, the thresholds, the liminal space. And all of a sudden there was this sort of very clear, my friends reflecting back to me, it's like, well, why not astrology? You already are doing it anyway. And I thought, okay, let's put it all together in this soup of things that I love. And so that's how I got there. But it was sort of a really long route. Like a labyrinth.

[BW] Yes.

[VC] Come back to the original position.

[BW] Yes. Yes. I love that picture. You know that you're painting. So in terms of business people and astrology, because a lot of my audience is trying to, you know, my listeners, I want to introduce you to, they're trying to navigate a bunch of different questions. One is what should I be doing, right? That's the big question. So many people ask. But also how do I navigate the business world? How do I navigate how I bring my gifts to the table? My strengths in terms of being successful in my career? How do I make a difference in the environment that I'm already in? So for you, how do you help people to do that with the tools that you use?

[VC] So astrology is a pretty ancient language. It's highly symbolic, it's very multifaceted. And there are many doorways into this realm of astrology. And one of the things I like to say is that even as an astrologer, you're forever learning it. It's a bit like learning another language that you're constantly like, Oh, I need to go and learn some more and read some more. So that's astrology and astrology to me is an art form to help you understand how symbols and cycles come together and how one thing leads into another. So, and it helps him in a few different ways. The main tool that I use in astrologists, what we use is the birth chart. Whatever is born at the time that it is born, it gets a chart. You know, if you know the exact time, the location, you have a chart. So each one of us has a chart and this is where we're getting to the details all what time is it at the time of birth, but that's for another conversation. But let's say you have that, we have a birth chart, so the birth chart, and they only listening when they can't see, but right behind me there is a chart.

[BW] You create beautiful birth charts for people and...

[VC] Yeah, I do those as commissioned pieces because the chart is a very unique document, if you will. It's your map, it's your roadmap to your life. I'd like to say that's your cosmic real estate. And so what's the chart? You get a sort of a very detailed picture of a person's sort of life's roadmap, the way they tend to approach life, the way they tend to interpret things, the way they show up. Also the way that they're developing. Um, you can follow the cycle. So now you combine that chart at that time of birth with what's happening now and you see are at this stage of your life, this is what's unfolding. But the chart is also something that is not necessarily written in stone. My approach to astrology is both archetype and deeply psychological because it's very union based psychology. And that was also my training, counseling psychologists, very union. So we're looking at the patterns. So I always tell my clients that you have the power to engage in the conversation.

[BW] Hmm.

[VC] But the more you know, the more you understand about yourself, where the growing edges, where the possibilities of expansion, the way you tend to see things and perhaps how you could course correct that is the more you know, the more you're able to engage in that conversation.

[BW] Yes.

[VC] And so you have the interesting thing, you have both the freedom of choice, but you also have the freedom of surrender to the situation and that will open up new avenues. So that's the main tool, the birth chart that also as a business you have the birth chart of the business because the business is an entity. It's a legal entity. Right? So the birth chart also has, I mean the business, sorry, has its birth chart. So now you get into it. I like to jokingly tell my clients I'm the marriage counselor between you and your business because sometimes you want one thing, your business needs another.

[BW] Yes.

[VC] And so that combination.

[BW] Yeah.

[VC] And then another sort of metaphor that I like to use as well. I think this came from CG Jung and I'm paraphrasing, is that much like a vine, you know, you're born in a, certain landscape, you grew in a certain landscape and you capture the elements of that environment. So those you, you know, your chart captures the essences of the time in which you were born. And that one of the things that the birth chart when you start really working with it is that when you were born, you are the answer to a collective question. And so in that case, for me, it leads into this idea that yes, you come, you have a purpose. I believe that the purpose is to be more fully yourself, to bring in all the spokes of the wheel, the wheel of the chart. So there are 12 slices of the chart, but also you're an answer to a question of our collective time. You know, that's why we see more and more people now really becoming much more aware of the leadership that they have to stand up to in their own way, in their own environment. You know, it doesn't have to be in a fortune 500 company. It could be in their shop down the coffee shop, but it's still a leadership position. So you can see how a person's life starts answering to the times. And then of course there is the astrology of the bigger picture of what's happening in the world in cycles. So this leads into understanding what's coming up culturally, economically, you know the government. So you have those big cycles as well that help us understand where we are in terms of our historical journey.

[BW] Yeah, it's so fascinating what comes up for me when you're talking. So I use, I mean in business, right? There's some very widely accepted tools that we use to provide information for us. And one of the that I depend on quite a bit with my clients is the DiSC profile. D I S C people may have heard that. And when you really begin to understand where the DiSC profile came from, where its origination is, where its roots are, it's in the four elements, right? Fire water earth and air, that's what it grew out of.

[VC] Yeah.

[BW] Ancient elemental components. And then over time people kept perfecting it. And so what I encourage my clients to do is to get a lot of information, a lot of data, right? Like get understand your DiSC profile, understand your strengths and talents, use different kinds of tools. Pay attention to your patterns of communication, how your emotions cyclically continue to show up for you and how they help you make decisions, how they help you get into trouble and drama and chaos. So interesting because although I would imagine that business hasn't yet embraced on a grand scale like astrology, because it's kind of a word and concept and people don't understand that it really, the things you're talking about are not that different than a lot of the tools that we incorporate into business currently.

[VC] Yeah. So one of the tools that I have seen being used a lot, and I remember having to do this in grad school, is that Myers Briggs, right? We use this, we talk about people all the time. Oh, I'm an introvert, I'm an extrovert. Well, that was inspired on the work of CG Jung. That's the original basis. And he was inspired by astrology. He did use astrology with his own clients, and one of his children, one of his daughters, became a pretty well known astrologer in Switzerland. So when I hear these sort of, let's say the breakdown of Myers-Briggs in just like DiSC, it's the elements. And when I look at a chart, I can see what's the breakdown of elements. Do you have a lot of water, do you have a lot of air? And what does it say about the way you interact and approach life? So astrology to me is just a really ancient tool to understand who are you, what do you here to do and what are the edges and growing edges and potentials that you have. I mean it gets down to the nitty gritty, you know, gets down to exploring your family. So it's a pretty potent tool. And throughout history it has lost its sort of, I would say maybe respect, but you know, in the last 50 60 years it has shifted quite a bit too. You know, especially being embraced a bit more by psychology and personal development. It has reclaimed a lot of its powers because people tend to think, Oh, it's just the sun sign or it's way more. That sun sign is just the entry point.

[BW] So for the folks that I work with and a lot of people that follow me, the orientation is really that in every conversation, in every interaction, in every decision you make, the only constant is yourself. Right? So self-leadership, self-awareness in my mind and then in the work that I've put forward is truly the place to delve into, to be able to move forward in a successful way, in a way that's going to bring you peace and less drama and chaos. So when you're working with folks, do you have any examples of anyone that you've worked with that you can share without divulging confidentiality on how the tools that you provide have helped them navigate tough places?

[VC] Most of my clients come there, they're solopreneurs, they're usually the face of the business. So this poses an interesting situation in which you're it. And also you have to keep a certain sense of boundary, right? And separation. And so what I love to work with them is to explore the idea, okay, what is it that your business that you're the face of? Stand for? What is it that you're trying to really shine? And so I like to call it the sun is your CEO as sort of the DNA of your business. This thing you're creating, this thing you're birthing. And then also the sun represents the sense of vitality. Where do you shine? And so this goes into I think the best places you should be going to see how you shine in you, where you bring forth something that's yours. So it has helped clients refine their key messaging and perhaps rethink some areas that they did not want to explore. And then they think, Oh okay I will try that. You know, and then they, so I have had clients who we look at anything should you be doing, let's say simple things. Should you be doing videos? Should we be doing podcasts? And then we talk about that podcast versus video. So go, go with a podcast, really share your message, speak about it. And then they post them, they go and have a slew of interviews all lined up. I'll do the writing focus. Another element that I've seen help clients is another area that I explore cause each of the planets means a certain aspect of business. So the moon represents your public and so refining who is your public? That's a the Holy grail of business, right? So we look at the moon to see, okay this is going to be what your public is needing. What could you change in your messaging? What kind of products would you be offering?

[BW] Yeah.

[VC] I have seen clients start writing books, doing podcasts. Finally, sort of losing their fear of a camera and jumping in and just really embracing that aspect that sometimes they may have been, Oh I don't know, I kind of feel and then they just, it's almost validating for them. And so, and it gives them permission to just go do it.

[BW] Yes.

[VC] Also helps with the branding. Sometimes we'll talk about the colors, the type of things they're showing on their website, how it could be sort of organized to fit more what they're trying to do and align with who they are in their message. So it kind of covers a bit of the gamut. And also the other one that's very important is we look at what we call in astrology, the transit. So as the plan is continuing to move, they interact with your birth chart so that things flourish or maybe it's a phase of waxing and another phase of waning right to speak moon language. And so some clients, if I had, I remember one client who had a spa and she was go, go, go, go all the time. And I said, look, you're actually in a phase that you need to rest because you're not going to have time. Stress to plant the new seeds, give yourself a couple of months to just slow down. And it was a permission she needed to, okay, I've been wanting to slow down, but I think I should go, go, go. She did stop. And then I remember two months later she contacts me. She's like, thank God I listened to you. I feel so revitalize. I have new ideas. So it covers the gamut.

[BW] Yes, yes. So it's so fascinating. I mean, the reason why it's so important for me to bring these different types of ideas forward is because so many folks I've worked with get in this rut of continually trying the same strategies harder, right? So whatever I'm doing is not working the information I have or they're reading online when everyone else is doing and they're like trying that really hard when it's not their genuine path or like you said, they need the validation to try a new thing. And so I feel like it's so important to just make sure that people are aware that there are such a variety of tools available and this is, this is one of the options that people, so people who are interested really in finding out how to work with you or learning more about you. Do you have to have your chart already done when you show up to work with you?

[VC] No, actually most of the clients I get that I work with, they have never had their chart done. They'd been interested or curious in astrology, but they hadn't had the chart done so. And some have and you know, each astrologer brings something different to the table as much was, you know, any coach or a healer you visit. And so no they don't. They just have to have their birth information on either birth time, the exact birth time is a big thing and the location of course and the date. But that's it. And then we go from there.

[BW] It's so amazing. So how can they find you?

[VC] Ah, I have my website and it's and Couto is C O U T O and I'm also on Facebook and Instagram as VanessaCuoto25. 25 is my birthday. So I figured.

[BW] If you haven't gone to Vanessa's Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or found her and seen just the art that she does, particularly in terms of the birth charts in her own art that she creates, I just encourage you to just take a look at that because it's amazing. And then if this is a topic that interests you in the same way that interests me because I'm always looking for more ways of understanding who I am, where does my brightness shine. And then a little bit too about what are the shadow sides that I may be afraid of or not working on or sometimes tend to over flex. If you are interested in that type of thing. I really encourage you to reach out to Vanessa based on the people who have recommended her to me and who I know that I've worked with there. I would say this is a really safe place to start for the curious and you'll be well taken care of and Vanessa is there anything in closing that you'd like to share with folks before we wrap it up?

[VC] Yeah, I think that if you're curious about astrology, you've heard of it and you think, I mean a lot of people would think it's very complex and it is. It's very complex. It's not something you learn in the afternoon, but it really is a potent compass for life in business because you get to understand not just yourself more fully understand where was your shadow, how is it manifesting? The things that you might be perhaps not exploring and you could be exploring to help you on your path. It helps you understand the cycles. It helps you understand what's happening in the world as well. And this, of course, as any business leader needs to know that you have to understand what's unfolding to even prepare yourself. Many astrologers say this, but I haven't really actually found the source of it, but they say they, JP Morgan Chase said anybody could be a millionaire, but to be a billionaire you have to have an astrologer. And so for people to really understand what's happening, it does help to understand astrology. It really goes beyond, you know, what's your sun sign? That's just the beginning. And also I think one of the things that it does help understand in your own birth chart, especially to have a session with an astrologer and not just read it online. That's a good start, but have a session. It helps you understand the phase in which you're in. Are you in a phase of expansion? Go out there and get them. Are you in a phase that perhaps, you know you've got to keep doing what you're doing, but you might need to come back and regroup. And so it does really teach you a lot about your own rhythm. And I think in our world, one of the things we have missing is a sense of rhythm because our culture is very much go, go, go. I mean we have a hard time even celebrating when we achieve, you know, the top of the mountain. And so I think astrology does give you an appreciation not just for your own cycle and rhythm, but also the way you are rhythm and cycle, get sort of dialogues with the cycle outside of you. So as, as within, so without, you know, there's a big saying in astrology as above, so below, but the second part of that is as within so without.

[BW] Yes.

[VC] So it's a potent compass.

[BW] Yeah, it sure is. And, and just so my listeners know, I've not worked with Vanessa, I have worked with another astrologer and everything she's saying is in my three visits that I've gone for have been really powerful for me. And I look forward to my opportunity to just some work with Vanessa. So thank you so much for today and I encourage folks to go ahead and take a look at our website, that's Vanessa, C O U T and she also has a business cosmology package that she's highlighting and you can find that on her website and just look for the business cosmology link and you'll get to download that and take a look at that.

[VC] Yeah, and that really covers you and your business. So we cover the whole gamut.

[BW] Yeah.

[VC] You're messaging and everything else about the business.

[BW] Cool. Well, thank you so much, Vanessa. I look forward to connecting with you soon.

[VC] Alrighty.