Cathy Norris

Leadership Wellbeing Coach at Sensational Leadership

Human Resources

Education: Manchester University - Indiana University
Reno, NV, USA


Cathy Norris, Founder of Sensational Leadership, is an emotional wellbeing expert who works with busy leaders and HR professionals to manage stress and prevent burnout for themselves and their teams. She speaks regularly for associations, conferences, and podcasts about burnout prevention, emotional wellbeing, communicating under stress, and building trust through conversations.

Cathy has over 30 years’ experience working with companies from AT&T to Walmart across four continents as a consultant, Learning & Development manager, and leadership wellbeing coach.

In addition to completing PhD studies in Instructional Systems Technology, Cathy earned an MA in Education, is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Trainer and Conversational Intelligence® Coach. Cathy served as President of the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).


Helping overloaded professionals prevent burnout and elevate their wellbeing at work through remembering to Connect First -- with themselves and others.

Featured Video

I am willing to travel

More than 100 miles

When it comes to payments

I sometimes get paid for speaking


burnout burnout prevention corporate burnout employee burnout emotional wellbeing emotional intelligence emotional intelligence in the workplace developing emotional intelligence leading with emotional intelligence conversations difficult conversations human resources society for human resource management hr shrm burnout symptom assessment workshops conferences associations podcasts keynotes indiana university

Best Story

In the whirlwind of an expat assignment in Singapore, I faced the peak of my professional and personal challenges as a Learning and Development Manager. Without support and amidst corporate restructuring, my responsibilities multiplied—managing training logistics across Asia Pacific, acting as an impromptu salesperson, and handling my impending departure which included a stressful unresolved tax situation.

Amidst this chaos, a pivotal moment came just one month before my scheduled return home. Overwhelmed and suffering from severe anxiety and insomnia, I found solace early one morning in a peaceful park. There, journal in hand and tears in my eyes, I experienced a profound shift. Writing "You don't have to do anything" transformed my perspective, suddenly infusing me with a sense of freedom and control over my situation.

This story, which I share with raw honesty, highlights how I learned to navigate through overwhelming stress by embracing my emotions and choosing my responses. It's about finding clarity in the midst of turmoil and coming out stronger on the other side. Let me bring this powerful message to your audience, illustrating through my experience how to turn overwhelming challenges into opportunities for personal growth and innovative problem-solving.

Origin Story

As a former PhD-trained Learning & Development Manager who ascended to a senior leadership role in a global software company in Asia Pacific, I quickly encountered the dark side of professional advancement: insomnia, foggy thinking, and depression. An emotional breakdown early in this role was a stark wake-up call, leading me to seek expertise in emotional intelligence. This journey not only shifted my wellbeing but also inspired me to found a leadership development company and earn two Emotional Intelligence certifications.

Despite these strides, I continued to grapple with the emotional ups and downs of entrepreneurship. These ongoing challenges prompted me to join an emotional awareness coaching community, where I developed robust skills to maintain wellbeing through any crisis—a capability I've since honed and shared with others.

When COVID-19 struck, I leveraged my role as President-Elect of the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association to initiate a wellbeing group coaching program, supporting members through pandemic-induced stress. Today, I lead wellbeing programs for teams, specialize in supporting HR professionals, and use a research-based burnout assessment to help organizations craft preventive self-care strategies.

Invite me to speak and empower your audience with the tools and insights to transform their emotional challenges into strengths, foster resilience and advance wellbeing in the workplace.

Example talks

Overworked or Burned Out? Spot the Warning Signs Early

Work burnout is a growing concern for overworked leaders, employees and organizations
alike. While feeling overwhelmed is common, many individuals fail to recognize the subtle
signs of burnout until it significantly impacts their wellbeing and performance.

In this eye-opening session, Cathy will highlight how burnout shows up by sharing four
research-based symptoms of burnout. Attendees will be given an opportunity to identify
the symptoms they’re most at risk for with a 2-minute Burnout Symptom Assessment.
Cathy will share strategies to address each of the four symptoms, highlighting approaches
that address core wellbeing needs.

Attendees will:
· Distinguish the differences between overwhelm and burnout
· Gain awareness of burnout symptoms to look for in themselves and team members
· Assess attendees’ risk of burnout in each of the four symptoms
· Identify personal prevention strategies for each of the four symptoms

“Cathy's workshop was just in time for our team to use new tools to manage work overload
and achieve more work-life balance. Her authentic presentation style put the team at ease
and allowed our group to open up and share their challenges and struggles with work
stress and burnout. I highly recommend Cathy's program!”
—Julie Regan, Executive Director of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

I've given this as a 60-minute talk for a SHRM meeting and a SHRM conference, for internal training in organizations, and podcast interviews (without giving my Burnout Symptom Assessment but providing the link).

Creating Trust in Challenging Conversations

When you use your conversations to elevate trust, even during difficult conversations, you will create positive energy in your people, increase their engagement and boost their creativity and innovation. This workshop or presentation focuses on elevating the level of trust within teams and increasing the quality of their interactions and conversations.

Cathy takes participants through powerful and engaging activities designed to help your team understand the impact their words have on the neurochemistry of others. They’ll learn the 3 Levels of Conversation for achieving three types of informational goals and how to use each in a healthy way, which results in positively influencing their team members’ engagement, creativity, and productivity.

Attendees will:
‣ Understand the power of conversations and your conversational patterns
‣ Tap into your executive intelligence by working with your brain (not against it)
‣ Turn conflict into co-creation with three Conversational Agility tools to master interaction

“Cathy’s message about building trust is critical to becoming more effective leaders and communicators. In addition to highlighting the ways we compromise that trust, Cathy provides clear tools and steps to maximize trust-building. As a meeting and conference planner, this is a message my clients and leaders need to hear as they seek to improve themselves and their organizations.”
- Elizabeth Shaw, Event Planner, CEO, Davine Events

I've given this as a presentation for SHRM and other professional associations, at a conference, and internally within organizations.