The Chief Emeritus

Caroline is founder and CEO of IDOLOGY, a movement dedicated to helping individuals and organisations be fully deployed, original versions of themselves. IDOLOGY is her word for putting your self to work, and it has gone from being a fanciful idea, to a bit of a lapel grabber, to qualification criteria for anyone determined to perform to their potential.

For more than two decades, Caroline has been inspiring captains of industry, politicians, global economists, and internationally renowned artists, all with the intention of helping them discharge their talents more fully. She and her small team of IDologists have swept through organisations from Mastercard to MTV, proving that when personal engagement rises, productivity and profits do too – turns out putting yourself to work is not just good for you – it’s good for business, because it’s the only place in your life you have no competition.

Speaker, teacher, coach and author of Never Not a Lovely Moon, Caroline delivers keynotes and masterclasses at dozens of Fortune 500 companies, on Leadership, Reputation Management and Women at Work. Experience has only redoubled her long obedience in the same direction – that people who are afraid to be themselves will work for people who aren’t. In a world that’s ever more competitive and precarious, her message has brought a whole new meaning to ROI – a Return on Individuality.

“Caroline’s wisdom and insights are as piercing as her warmth and wit. She’s one of the real sages of our time, and this book is the holy grail for personal fulfillment.”

— mIchael feIner, cOlUmbIa bUsIness schOOl

“Caroline is quite literally shocking. Working with her is highly uncomfortable, intoxicating, addictive and puts you on edge in all the right ways. She has been an incredible asset to the development of our talent, and the most differentiated thought leader in her profession.”

— beth ann daY, sanfOrd bernsteIn

“If Ellen Degeneres, Anita Roddick and the Buddha had a love child, it would be Caroline.”

— jOnathan mIldenhall, cmO, aIrbnb

“A powerball of inspiration and direction, insightful verging on prophetic, and just plain crazy intelligent.”

— traceY neUls, shOe artIst

Caroline McHugh
Chief Emeritus
From the Hip

It happens sometimes quite without warning. You’re riding in a cab, buried in your emails, then he brakes to avoid someone, and when you raise your head, you notice the laminated photo of two girls and a baby boy, swinging from his rear view mirror, with three little smurfs dangling on a string alongside. You look at the name posted behind his seat and feel a wave of empathy, picturing him snuggling with his kids, watching a smurfs movie on his day off.

Or you’re out in the world, like that one time in the Grunewald forest in Berlin. And you know the mirrored lake you sit by would die of sadness if you skimmed a stone. So you sit, and watch the clouds admire themselves.

The latest in a long line of Bodhi moments came to me in my garden, July 2015, when, all of a sudden, I knew it was time to pass the torch. By all of a sudden, I mean 25 years after watching this movement called IDOLOGY grow from a hypothesis into the tiny, world class consultancy it’s become, I’m handing it over, lock stock and potential, to my brilliant IDOLOGY family. They’re not the best, because that would suggest comparison, and there is none. What they are, each of them, is the authentic embodiment of everything we teach, and that’s as unspun as I can make it.

I may be being a little over scrupulous in describing this new shift in IDOLOGY’s maturity continuum, but then that’s me. And since there’s no such thing as an ex-idologist, whilst I’m changing the verbal designation, I’ll be getting on with the business of becoming.

I will not stop thinking or talking or teaching or writing about my work, so if you have something you would like me to think or talk about, find me here.

The Art of Being Yourself

How many times has someone offered you that careless but well meaning invocation to ‘just be yourself’? Like that was an easy thing to do? Being nobody but yourself is hard in a world where most people would rather you were everybody else. Being like everyone else? Well that’s a low fence.

The opening years of the 21st century left us battered by pervasive corporate scandal, broad distrust and a dangerously bruised workforce. Now, we’re looking for more honesty everywhere – never has integrity been a more sought after virtue, and integrity is what happens when what you think, what you say and what you do are in complete harmony with who you are.

The Art of Being Yourself keynote is designed with the mercurial business environment in mind, but is just as determined to address what will never go out of fashion – the drive to be the most authentic, integral version of yourself you can be.

Why is it important to organisations? Organisational culture is no more than the product of each person’s spirit, exercised. If you want improved engagement, create an environment where people can bring themselves to work. If you’re looking for sustainable competitive advantage, put authenticity to work – because being yourself is the only place in life you have no competition.

Inspired by curiosity and possibility, Caroline shows how we can get more out of our selves with every passing year using the Interiority complex, the model she’s developed to help people take the next evolutionary leap. It’s a framework with four facets that turns identity into integrity and integrity into purpose. She’ll cover, amongst other things:

  • The Authority of perception – plugging your self into the working landscape
  • Being better than your So-Far Self – how to jump start your maturity continuum
  • Developing equilibrium – the stability of living egologically
  • How to activate your superpower

This is the operating manual you should have been born with, one for those who take low fences in their stride.

Women on the Verge

How long do we have to wait until Angela Merkel’s neckline is unnewsworthy?

Till we’re unsurprised that half of the Spanish prime minister Zapatero’s government was made up of women?

Until Hillary’s colour is as noteworthy in surveys as Barack’s gender?

Till we choose intelligence, compassion, authenticity and substance regardless of whose form they come in?

Women have been on the verge of a breakthrough for decades, yet still struggle to find their voices in corporate life. Chief Idologist Caroline McHugh has developed an imaginative, contemporary, bold keynote designed to deliver an inspiring and pragmatic solution to helping women be successful – without being unwomanned – at work.

Bringing a whole new approach to the subjects of gender and authenticity, this is a session dedicated to cleaning up the personal pronoun and giving it back its original meaning, helping women decide for themselves which I they mean when they say I. The Interiority Complex is the model Caroline has created to help women take the next evolutionary leap with depth and speed. She’ll cover, amongst other things:

  • Showing Up – how to develop presence in the workplace
  • Being better than your So-Far Self – how to be your own role model
  • Swapping Approval Addiction for the Authority of Perception
  • Developing unshakeable self esteem and self confidence
  • How to activate your Superpower
  • Vertical and Horizontal reputation management

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises. Don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency.” — Patti Smith

The gender neutralizing force is to be who you are, and then some — don’t be a pretend-a-him — shout your own good name.

The TED Talk

The Philosophy

The Book