Read the transcript
[0:00:47.7] AS: Welcome everybody to season 3 episode 7 of the Insatiable podcast, The Transition to a Career in Wellness. This episode was created and developed because I get questions every week asking me what about this coaching program? How did you get started being an entrepreneur? For many people who want to transition to a career in wellness, and I think it’s so great that so many people want to dive into this field, because it’s so rewarding, so enriching. We need more healers.
Can’t tell, the world’s a little crazy right now, or maybe it’s always been and we just won’t tolerate it anymore. With our podcast season’s focus on renewal, I thought what could be more renewing than a career shift, or at least bringing more wellness into your life either on the side, or as a full-time gig?
How did I get started is the most common question I get. How I got started is not going to be as useful to you as the two questions that I share with you today in today’s episode. These questions could be really applied to anyone who’s thinking about a career shift or change, but particularly in the wellness industry. I can give you some context for these questions.
The truth is there are as many paths as there are people and fascinations and curiosities that we all have. I invited on four people with wildly different backgrounds and at different stages of where their healing gifts are being used to chime in with their backgrounds, how they got started, how they’re approaching this whole thing, especially from a self-employment lens. Then I chimed in and gave my two cents as well.
On today’s episode, you’re going to hear from Tashmica Torok, who is the founder of the Firecracker Foundation, a nonprofit which works to holistically heal childhood sexual trauma survivors; Jennifer Nathanson who was a nurse practitioner who comes from a traditional medical background but is transitioning into functional medicine and traversing the emotional train with clients as they change their food and lifestyle; Autumn Beam, who was a stay-at-home mom and is now going back and getting her master’s degree, and in the homestretch of becoming a clinical nutritionist; and then Eva Shaforth, who’s a yoga teacher and is working in the corporate world and has a growing interest in nutrition and supporting people to change their lifestyle.
You’re going to hear a lot of questions, discussion; we set it up almost as a panel. Enjoy it. One key thing that I want to emphasize, after the episode was done, I often get from people that they think the gold standard, especially if they’re interested in the behavior change side of things, is to go back and get a master’s degree like I did. I emphasize in the episode that of course, I support education. Anyone who knows me knows I’m the school junkie. I might go back to get my PhD eventually. I don’t know. I really prize the continuing pursuit of knowledge.
What I really wanted to emphasize in this episode, especially if you want to work for yourself, is that getting a master’s degree isn’t necessarily necessary, especially if you already have one.
I know a lot of my clients tend to be very conscientious and want to do the best as possible and they may already have a master’s degree or two and think that they have to go completely back and re-pivot.
Of course, having advanced training is always helpful. However, I see some severe lacking, even in academia, about how we’re approaching behavior change, and in the coaching field. That was my point that I wanted to just re-emphasize here. I always go back if it’s calling to you. However, it can be expensive.
What I found is it’s not always the most – some of the programs out there are completely biased in terms of they’re pushing a certain type of diet, or they’re pushing a certain type behavioral change like positive psychology or cognitive behavioral therapy, and both of which I basically found will get you started, but they’re not going to get you finished, which is why I will eventually be licensing Truce with Food. In terms of thinking about your own educational path, just wanted to emphasize that.
Then if you are interested in the transition to a career in wellness, I definitely recommend taking my quiz – What Is Your Comfort Eating Style? – on my website. Another way to say this quiz would be what do your eating habits say about you, and you can get some windows into why Truce with Food is so effective, and the approach that I take so you can start to think about behavior change from a different perspective than we’re often used to hearing about it in terms of habits and thoughts, etc.
Enjoy today’s episode. If you guys like this topic and want me to do more about this, send me an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s many topics on this that we can do, and if the community is interested in it, I could do more episodes on specific educational paths, etc., if this is interesting to you beyond the questions that I get. Enjoy today’s episode.
[0:05:39.9] AS: Welcome to Season 3 Episode 7: The Transition to a Career in Wellness. I am so excited about today’s episode. We have Tashmica Torok from the Firecracker Foundation; Autumn Beam, who’s transitioning into functional medicine; Jennifer Nathanson, who is a traditionally trained nurse practitioner, who’s transitioning into the wellness world and Eva Shaforth, I hope I pronounced your last name right Eva, who is a yoga teacher and is in the corporate world right now and is finding ways to integrate wellness and probably will eventually transition.
We’re doing this episode out of the generosity of their time, but also through the years I have gotten so many questions about the transition to a career in wellness. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for everybody. I brought all of these great people on today to talk about their own transition to a career in wellness, the questions they have, mainly the educational paths and decisions they’ve made, and then we’re also going to get into more the financial aspect/I guess it would be product fit of how do you create something that people will – that will provide value and whatnot, which is the education piece is part of that.
Thanks for joining us everybody today before we get started… Before we get into the educational component, I want you guys as listeners to start to think about these two questions as you hear everybody else talk, because one of the big questions that I get is well, the gold standard is to go back to school and get a master’s degree like you. I tell everyone that’s actually not true.
As much as I love education and it’s important to me, what I’ve also found out is our educational structures are structured by patriarchy. They have a lot of blind spots in how we approach healing. I really want you guys to realize that a master, it’s never going to hurt you to get more education and it teaches you to think etc., etc., but I really feel the degrees we have today are not built for the wellness and the healing we need for tomorrow.
I would love to hear everyone else’s perspective and past, but don’t think that necessarily because something has, you know, I know that Cornell has a nutrition program that someone asked me to look at the other day. Cornell is a great school and yet, their nutrition program was looking at things like fat in terms of heart disease and stuff. It’s not a functional approach, which we’ll get into that I think is really important. Don’t think that because something is traditional or has a lot of prestige, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be effective for tomorrow.
I want you to think of these two questions that have really guided me
really well as we start to ask everybody else their educational path. First of all, I want you to think what questions do you have that you aren’t satisfied with the answers? What keeps you up wondering and curious? Because that’s going to be the path that you really want to follow.
For me, I was really fascinated with why didn’t people know that they could reverse a lot of things with food. Then I was also fascinated about a year into my own practice that we stopped talking about food after the fourth session. That was really fascinating to me, and that guided my educational path.
The other thing I want you to think about is what you want to spend your days doing, okay, because this is good to really influence what educational path you have. What I mean by that is I had always said in my early days that if I could have done this under an academic structure, I would’ve, but I wanted to pursue the ideas that I felt weren’t being looked at.
If you want to spend your days coaching and everything, you may want to work in a traditional system, because you’ll spend most of your time coaching versus I spend half my time coaching, half my expense, my time building a business. I’ll be interested to hear what Tashmica says about running a foundation, if she spends most of her time being a practitioner. Probably not.
A lot of people who sell multi-level marketing things, like supplements, or Juice Plus, or Beachbody, they’re going to spend most of their days networking and trying to find more people to come in to that. Think about what you actually want to be doing in the short-term and the long-term. It’s always great to be mentored and we’ll get into that. Think of those two questions as you listen to everybody else answer.
Tashmica, …give us a little bit of intro and background, and then I’d love to hear the educational choices that you made.
[0:09:56.5] TT: Sure. I founded a nonprofit called the Firecracker Foundation. It provides free holistic healing services for children and families who experience sexual violence, It’s about five years old. We celebrate our fifth year in July, so I’m really excited about that. It’s what I like to call and what – I mean, what it is, it’s a survivor-led, survivor-driven and trauma-informed and trauma-aware. We really try to root our practice in what survivors need and what they’re asking for.
My educational choices, I actually tell people all the time that I dabbled in college.
[0:10:38.3] AS: True curious person.
[0:10:41.4] TT: I definitely went to college sometimes, but I never really found what was going to be my thing. I met my husband and we had our three boys, and I was – then I actually went back again and still just didn’t stick. I started this organization, like I said five years ago, but I actually don’t have a degree in anything really. That was my education plan.
What actually guided the creation of the organization is the fact that I am a survivor myself, I worked in nonprofit for about 10 – at this point I’ve worked in nonprofit for 10 years, almost, gosh, it’s maybe closer to 15. I don’t know, I’m not good with math. It feels like a really long time. My combination of being really curious about what it would look like to give child survivors the information that they need earlier and the family support earlier in terms of an intervention rather than all of the preventative work that we spend billions of dollars on in this country to treat addictions and to treat – or to prevent, or intervene with domestic violence and all of these other things, I thought maybe if we started a little bit earlier, we could avoid some of those problems. That’s how I took my nonprofit experience and built this organization to serve survivors.
[0:11:56.7] AS: I love that because people think that they’ll start from scratch if they have to transition to a career in wellness. It’s like, no, the skills that you’ve learned elsewhere. Your point brings up, what I was trying to say about traditional education, again I love it, however, oftentimes trusting someone’s real experience really gives you insights when you’ve been through it yourself, that often the theoretical stuff are the norms around this have been overlooked. I love that you share that.
[0:12:22.9] TT: When I joke all the time that someone better give me a damn PhD, because I fucking am reading – I mean, I read about trauma every day of my life. If you want to know about trauma and how it impacts body and the brain and ancestral trauma, like I’m reading about all of this stuff – epigenetics. I’m constantly learning and honing my knowledge of this topic, plus I’ve experienced it.
Then on top of that, having my nonprofit experience that was really just boots on the ground development work, like learning how to raise money and learning how to build connections and build programs and all of these things. It’s all part of what my life has been, what my life has been about. Community organizing and grassroots and all of this stuff has been my life.
Yeah, I have a complex relationship to university. I mean, I have three children who eventually are going to make that decision and I’m constantly navigating what I’m going to tell, because I’m like, “Well, I mean student debt,” now it’s bananas. It’s how are you going to work your way through college so you can afford to actually not be poor after you go through college?
[0:13:34.3] AS: Yeah, there’s a lot of questions.
[0:13:35.4] TT: It’s complex. It’s not simple. It’s not a simple answer.
[0:13:38.7] AS: Well, and what I love is, I think for all of us in wellness is that we’re all creating something that really doesn’t exist, right? There’s a lot of gaps in the healthcare system right now. There’s not going to be a right or wrong path, and I want everyone to get that based on what they’re interested in. Thanks, that’s great.
Jennifer, how about you? Because you’re coming from traditional medicine. You obviously have educational experience in that. Yet now, you’re bridging from that. Can you talk a little bit about where you are and how you’re bridging?
[0:14:09.1] JN: Currently, I’m just finishing a program for learning about functional nutrition, and I’m just starting to work with clients in that realm. This is where I want to start. I’m not sure exactly yet where I want to go, but this is where I want to be right now. I did start out in conventional medicine. I’m a nurse practitioner and made that choice after I decided, or figured out, I couldn’t do physics in college to do pre-med.
I also worked alongside ina pediatrician’s office both the physician and a nurse practitioner, and I really enjoyed her lifestyle a lot better than what I was seeing his lifestyle was, and it seemed a lot more reasonable to me. I went that path and practiced for 10 years, over 10 years in surgical specialty field and loved my job. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people that I was working with, and I enjoyed the patients, I enjoyed collaborating with the other providers. There was a lot of collaboration and talking to, and just managing the different aspects of patient care.
Then a couple years ago, 3 years ago now, I got really sick with pneumonia. After finally getting over being sick with pneumonia, I ended up having to take antibiotics for eight weeks, and it just wrecked my system. I don’t know. I can’t remember how I got turned on to things, but I initially got turned on to paleo, and Chris Kresser and started doing my own investigative work and did a lot of gut healing, because I was having digestive issues, and I was also having a lot of skin issues, which was really telling.
Once I got turned on to that realm of medicine, it really resonated with me. I really liked the aspect of figuring out the root cause and not putting a Band-Aid on things. I started questioning what I was doing in my role that I had loved for 10 years, then at the same time my son was struggling in school. I was getting a lot of calls at work that I needed to come pick him up, or what to do.
It just got to be too conflicting to be in this job that my heart wasn’t totally in anymore, knowing that my kids were needing me more at home, and I wanted to transition to a career in wellness. I stopped working and then started studying functional nutrition, which I got turned on to by a functional medicine doctor I worked with for a while.
[0:16:38.2] AS: I love that story, because I’ve noticed people in the traditional medical model, the ones who are whoa, this willing to bridge to the new place, it actually happens through their own personal experience, which again, I think this is a big important thing for everyone listening is our personal experience is such a rich opening into, “Oh, my god. What’s going on here?”
I know you’ve taken – I would love to – I know you took Andrea Nakayama’s course, which is someone who I highly recommend if anyone’s interested in the nutritional aspect of things. Andrea is a brilliant teacher and she’s masterful at knowing functional nutrition. I’m curious, how did you decide to take her course, versus all the other courses that were out there?
[0:17:19.2] JN: Yeah, I started studying and looking into all the different courses that were available. When I saw the functional doctor that I was working with, and I told her I wanted to transition to a career in wellness, into maybe functional medicine ultimately, but I wanted to start with nutrition. We talked about different programs and she turned me on to Andrea’s program.
Then I started researching under his work and it just really resonated with me what she does and how she looks at patients and clients and how she works with them and how she takes the whole perspective. It’s not just about the food, but it’s really looking at everything and really sticking with that person through their process, helping them become their own advocate and doing it all with a lot of empathy, but not getting taken away by the story, not getting sucked up into their process, but really being able to sit with their uncomfortability and still continue to be their guide. There’s so much that resonated, especially that she takes into account the piece of emotional, social, psychological, all those pieces that are playing into a person’s health and wellness.
[0:18:34.8] AS: I’m glad that you brought that up, because for everyone listening, I’m a big fan of the functional approach, which just basically means root cause resolution. You’re going to look at depression, anxiety, anything as a symptom, not a diagnosis is basically the easiest way to describe this.
Functional nutrition is the buzzword, but it’s what natural paths have been doing for decades, I would say. Or holistic, but it has to sound more masculine and official for it to catch on, right? Functional nutrition sound. No, but it’s great. We’re putting a little bit more western rigor in everything. We need both. It’s not either/or. What my big worry about in functional medicine is we’ve forgotten the person who has the digestive system and the blood sugar health inside of them, and that’s why I really like Andrea’s work.
What you said is if you really want to help people, you have to understand the whole context that they bring. I mean, food is a great entry point and it’s a powerful teacher, but it’s a teacher to teach these other things like empathy, compassion, complexity. I really think if people are interested in wellness, they have to understand how to look at someone in their totality. Thanks for sharing that.
Autumn, we’ll go to you, because you are – you had no background in medicine.
[0:19:51.7] AB: No.
[0:19:53.5] AS: Tell us, yeah, a little bit about you and you’re getting – you’re going to the University of Bridgeport, right, in Connecticut?
[0:19:59.4] AB: That’s right, to get my degree. They call it human nutrition, but what it really is is clinical nutrition with a focus in functional medicine. That was the key difference between their program and a lot of other masters and nutrition programs. Let me tell you, I completely just hemmed and hawed over the idea of going back to school, because like you said, I didn’t have a background in medicine. I didn’t have the prerequisites to even be able –
It was going to take me longer, almost a year longer to finish my master’s degree, than just jumping into a master’s degree program. It was, do I really want to go that deep into it? Like you were talking about earlier; is that something that you really – you don’t need to get a master’s degree in order to do this. To that point, the other thing that you said was what do you want your practice to look like? That was the driving force behind the decision to get my master’s degree, because I knew that I can get certifications and functional nutrition and get training in nutrition.
What I couldn’t do is order blood work for people, and read labs, and do all the really in-depth things that I really, really wanted to do. That all came from my experience. I’m not going to go into my whole health history. It’s long and drawn-out and it involves a lot of different things from adrenals and thyroid to stealth pathogens, but – it’s ridiculous, but that really was like, “Okay, what do this to look like?” My daughter’s in the entertainment industry. I homeschool and I don’t want to work for someone.
I loved working for myself, but in order for me to have a nutrition certification and do the lab side of it that I really wanted to do, I would probably have to work for somebody, right? I’d have to work for, or with a nurse practitioner, or a doctor and that was going to be in someone’s office, and I’m like, “I don’t have time for that mess. I need to make my own schedule.” That was the big driving force behind going in and deciding on the master’s degree.
Once you get a master’s degree, then you’re eligible with a thousand hours of supervision from an accredited person, or licensed professional to get your certified nutritional specialist license, which enables you to then be able to do those things, like order labs and have a professional account with a high-grade supplement company, and do all those things that I wanted to do.
For me and my journey, I did all the research on my own for probably 10 years before I started school. I learned, I can’t say everything there was to know about nutrition, because I’m still learning a lot, but I knew a lot and I became that token person that everybody came to me for advice, and I was like “I got to get paid for this you all.”
I went back to school, but for me changing my diet, and I mean, there was nothing else I could do to change my diet and I still wasn’t healthy. Food can only help you to an extent. I mean, yeah, there’s the lifestyle, there’s the stress, there’s the coaching side of it that you guys talked about earlier, but there’s also the medicine side of it. When you need high levels of iodine to help fix a thyroid problem, things like that, you can’t eat enough iodine in food to get you the therapeutic dose that you need in order to get you back on track, things like that’s one example.
I really wanted to be able to really dive in there and do more than just let me help you fix your diet. It was far deeper than that for me. I’m excited that my practice is officially launching in June, so we’ll be –
[0:23:22.2] AS: Congratulations.
[0:23:22.9] AB: Thank you. It will be hopewellnessla.com and that’ll be up. I select clients that I see right now, since I’m in the transition to a career in wellness, I only take on certain clients, but I’m really excited to be getting started and helping people with that deeper level.
[0:23:39.0] AS: Well, and I’m so glad that you brought up the technical piece of making it practical of what do you want your days to look like. That’s what I mean by this stuff, right? You have to really think about this. Granted it can shift and change, but it will guide your educational choices, because there’s a thousand out there. When you really get clear on what questions you want to answer, how you want to help and how you want to spend your days, the choice is narrow pretty quickly, which I think is –
[0:24:03.1] AB: Yeah, absolutely.
[0:24:04.0] AS: Yeah, and I think it also – I mean, knowing you, it matches your personality really well. To getting those details and precision and it’s – I’m so big picture and I’m like, “Oh, my God. How do these structures and the emotional stuff –” I’m so happy that there’s people like they’re out there like you that I can then refer to, right?
[0:24:21.7] AB: Yeah, exactly. I’m a crazy analytical and it’s super nerdy I didn’t even know until I went back to school almost two years ago, just how much of a science nerd I actually was. My husband starts making fun of me. He’s just like, “You’re such a nerd.” I’m like, “I didn’t know.”
[0:24:38.1] AS: Well, and I think this is – it piggybacks off of Tashmica’s point, but it’s like when we’re in undergrad, we’re forced to pick these subjects that we don’t even know if we’re going to be interested. I feel, I just figured out, our niece turned 26 and I – we wished her happy birthday and we’re like – I’m like, “If you’re really lost, you’re doing your twenties right.”
[0:24:59.6] AB: That’s exactly right. I know. I went back to school at 33-years-old, so it’s never too late. There are people in our program who are 10, 15 years older than me. I mean, it’s never too late.
[0:25:13.7] AS: Yeah, but once you can really know who you are and how you want to spend your days, you can pick a program that really targets that. I think that’s the most important thing, because we’re all going to be working until we’re 80 folks. [Inaudible 0:25:23.9].
All right, so thanks Autumn. Autumn, one more question, how did you decide, because there are other programs that will let you pick labs. I know that University of Connecticut, Bridgeport is virtual, correct?
[0:25:39.1] AB: Correct. Yup, that’s right. They have a both in-person and virtual program.
[0:25:43.4] AS: Okay, and was it mainly because that’s the – I know that’s one of the major programs that will allow you to order blood work and stuff. Was that your deciding factor?
[0:25:50.8] AB: That was a deciding factor. I mean, there’s less than a dozen, I think; distance learning, functional medicine related nutrition programs. What I did is I looked at the most reputable ones that I heard people chattering about. I compared their course list, and I just really liked the way that Bridgeport had laid out their coursework. Additionally, they had something called a virtual clinic at the very end of the program, which gives you hands-on experience and over 200 hours towards your CNS license. That just made so much sense for me.
That and the course list really interested me the way they laid out the program, and it answers some of the questions I needed answers to in order to practice the way I wanted to. That was just a really good fit for me.
[0:26:28.7] AS: Wonderful. Thank you. All right, and now we have Eva, who is in the yoga world and in corporate. Eva, how did you come to yoga and what are you thinking?
[0:26:40.4] ES: Well, I’m at a quite different point than everyone else’s. I’m quite fresh to this. I’ve only really gotten into the whole wellness world in the past, probably two years. I’m working in the corporate. I do digital marketing. I just couldn’t be further from what I want to do now. I did my yoga teacher training last year, which was funny that I never saw myself doing that, but I’ve been practicing yoga for probably 10 years before.
Yeah, one day my boyfriend just said, “Actually, why don’t you become a yoga teacher?” I was like, “Hmm. Well, I never actually considered that option.” Then I asked my – a yoga teacher at the time that I really liked practicing way, then she recommended a training. When I reached out to the teacher that taught that, she said, “Oh, yeah. Well, we’re starting in three days.” Yeah, so I had to make a decision on the spot and I did it.
It was a really great thing to do. Yeah, now it’s difficult working in corporate and being like, “Oh, my God. What do I do now? Do I quit my job and become a full-time yoga teacher?” I’m still at the point where, in the transition to a career in wellness, I’m trying to decide which path to actually go down, because I know that I want to teach yoga, but probably not full-time. I know that I’m really interested in functional medicine as well, but then there’s so many options to look at. Then there’s the whole psychological piece.
At the moment I almost feel I want to do a degree in nutrition and in physiotherapy and in psychology and that just doesn’t exist. Yes, I just started teaching yoga in my office, which took me a long time to get to as well. Yes, so now I’m at the point of where to from now and which educational path can I go from here and which one can I actually do financially without having to give up my job, because I can’t do that. Yeah, so that’s where I’m at, at the moment, in the transition to a career in wellness.
[0:28:41.3] AS: I mean, this is where I was 12 years ago. I started to heal myself and I was in the corporate world and I was like – I mean, I had to sell my car to go back to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. There wasn’t the programs and all the choices that there are now. I think most people are where you are. Do you have any questions for our panel?
I just want to say one thing though. What I love about your path is very similar to mine, is that I just kept following what interested me next. Then eventually I landed – I kept circling the same type of things. Even though you think marketing is so separate, like you’re into psychology, right? It’s like, “Okay, I clearly have that interest.” We’ll talk a little bit about the transition to a career in wellness, because I was like you. I couldn’t go to school full-time. I couldn’t just quit my job and stuff. You’re at a place where I think a lot of people are.
[0:29:34.0] ES: Yeah, and then the other thing is also that I actually do enjoy marketing and there’s also peace in helping people whose business I believe in, like you, for example.
[0:29:44.7] AS: Thanks.
[0:29:48.6] ES: There’s the whole thing that people in the wellness world shy away from marketing a lot, and I’d love to change that and just help bring a lot of things to light that don’t get the reach that it deserves at the moment. I guess the question is if I think about all those degrees, I guess how important do you think credentials really are? Because I guess it feels like you get a lot of trust from your clients when you have a bachelor in nutrition.
I don’t know if it’s good enough if I do that and I don’t have a bachelor in nutrition, but maybe only do the health coaching online course. Yeah, I guess, the question is
how important do you think it is to have the title?
[0:30:33.5] AS: I think that’s such a great question. I’ll answer and then Autumn’s raising her hand. This is what’s interesting about health care as it’s changing, right? Here in the states, I know you’re in Australia, I don’t know what it’s like, but people have gotten tired of paying just for testing and not getting results. Especially women; my doctor dismisses me, or I go in for blood work and they can’t find anything.
I found early on and again, when I first started I didn’t have a master’s degree. I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. We were called health counselors back then. A lot has changed. I found that people will pay for results. They don’t care as much about the credentials. Having said that, again it depends on what part of wellness you want to land in, right? If you’re like Autumn and people are – I mean, Autumn had a really intricate health history, right? She needed all that testing and whatnot.
I found that for the people that are like me, they need to learn to do the basics, like getting good sleep, eating whole foods, managing their stress and it was this emotional component that I was fascinated by. At the time, I was getting people results without the master’s degree, because this was such a new concept.
I mean, [inaudible 0:31:39.5] knew of a concept, but people were actually looking at this stuff. I do think though that having my master’s degree has made me get better results, and it is given me – and this is full-on confession. I was deciding between two programs in Philadelphia. One was actually at an osteopathic medicine school and one was at Penn.
I was like, I have a feeling I’m going to be finding some crazy shit, so I’m going to go to Penn because it has a more reputable name, people will trust you if you’re doing crazy stuff. That’s why I did that. That’s a full-on confession. It was a program that let me really pick and guide my own interests, so that – it was in the liberal arts school, which is really important because it taught me how to think and learn about identity, which ultimately proved to be a core issue that I work on with my programs.
It also gave me confidence to know what I was doing and take the risks in coaching. That’s my answer when it comes to…especially working with the delicate nuance of people’s emotional terrain. Autumn had her hand up, so I’ll let her answer that.
[0:32:41.4] AB: I have a marketing degree and that’s my undergraduate degree, so I will assure you that no matter what path you go and you will absolutely use that marketing degree, because already in starting a practice, I’m using my marketing degree a lot. You’ll never leave it behind, I’ll tell you that right now.
It really depends too on your legal structure in your local area. For instance, in the state of California, I’m not required to have a license in order to practice nutrition. I have a friend in, I believe, it’s either Connecticut or Delaware, who is required to have a license before she can do the nutritional counseling. It really depends on your local laws, so that’s something that you’re going to want to find out.
Secondarily, what is it that you want to focus on? If nutrition is the big piece, but you also want to be able to address the psychological component, then doing the training in nutrition first and learning some of those things you can start working with clients, then tacking on a health coaching program certification, or training or private training even with someone like Ali, would be –
[0:33:44.2] AS: I didn’t want this to be a big commercial for me.
[0:33:47.5] AB: No, but it’s something that you do and it’s something that you’re really good at and you have a great system. I say that with total genuineness. That learning from people who know how to do that can add to your core practice. Focusing on one core thing and then adding the coaching to it and the yoga piece to it and the whatever else to it is what you want to look at, in my opinion.
Start with the core. Then I think we have this habit of wanting to do everything at once. For me, I really want to do health coaching too, because I think I’ll be more effective as a functional medicine clinician if I understand the psychological side, but I physically can’t do it all at once. I can’t do my master’s degree and start a practice and do health coaching certification all at one time. I have to be okay with the path that I’m on and being like, “I will get to that. I will get to that. I will do the best that I can. I’ll read books.”
I e-mailed Ali not that long ago and said, “Hey, send me some books that I can read that will help me with the coaching piece before I can do a certification program, because I really need that.” I think looking at it from those angles, I don’t know if that’s helpful, but that’s how the analytical person I am, that’s how I would approach it.
[0:35:00.9] AS: That’s part of what kicked off this podcast episode on transition to a career in wellness, because we were laughing at what they were telling you about how behavior change worked in your book, remember? In your program, you’re like, “This is not how people change.”
[0:35:14.1] AB: It was ridiculous. I actually in the course evaluation, I actually said something about it and was like, “Either you need to spend more time really flushing this out with modern techniques to approach this, or you need to not have it in this course at all,” because it was like a week of the overall course. I was like, “No, this is not useful.”
[0:35:33.3] AS: Tashmica, you wanted to chime in?
[0:35:36.2] TT: Yeah, so another consideration, I think all of what you guys said is true. Sorry, I just had a coughing fit and now my voice feels all weird, because why not? When is the perfect time to have your voice go all wonky? The other thing that I did when I was starting the organization was I sat down and I had a long talk with myself about what I cannot do. I think that’s a really – it was really important to me, because it also helped me build my team. For a non-profit, of course you have your board, and you have volunteers.
I knew that I was qualified through my experience to do certain things, but I also knew that there was other stuff that, even if I wanted to, even if I was super passionate about some aspect of this organization. I love yoga. I actually joke that I’m a yoga evangelist, even though I’m – but I’m not a teacher. I don’t have the training.
That helped me understand that I needed someone who could do that piece. I could still be a part of that program and I very much am, and I can still go out and build community around awareness and education, that this is an important piece of healing our bodies, but I couldn’t be the one to teach it. Which actually is a blessing, because if I could do every piece of this organization, I’ll probably put myself in the grave trying to do it. I think it’s a really good –
there’s a moment where you just have to really sit yourself down and just say, “Okay, what is the thing, that if I cannot do it, I won’t be happy?”
There are pieces of it that you absolutely won’t be able to let go of and that’s the piece that you need to stay focused on, then the rest of it you can build up through contractors, or staff, or a partnership. That’s why it takes all kinds.
[0:37:14.6] AS: I love that. Yeah. Coming back to, as you were saying that, I was just thinking about, like when you go to these web pages of these programs, what feels like, “Oh, my God. I would love to learn that.” Versus an undergrad, you’re like, “Uh, I’ve got to take these prereqs. Nah.” Versus like, “What would I love to do?”
Just for everyone listening, I would highly recommend checking out Andrea Nakayama’s program, and also Chris Kresser has just opened up a new health coaching program. It’s brand-new, but like Jennifer said, he’s a very trusted source in the functional space. They are covering I would say functional medicine and they’re doing positive psychology and motivational interviewing. I’ll get to my thoughts on that. I think that’s great to get people started. I don’t necessarily – Yeah, so that’s also – Go to those web pages and see like, “Hey, this sounds exciting to learn. I would actually want to spend money and time learning this.” I think is a good –
[0:38:09.5] ES: Yeah, I was going to actually ask you specifically as well, Ali, because, yeah, so I’m doing Truce with Food with you at the moment and one of the deciding factors actually to get into that was also that you mentioned on your podcast that you are going to license it.
[0:38:24.7] AS: Yeah, yeah.
[0:38:25.2] ES: That was also I think why I’m doing that.
[0:38:27.2] AS: I’m waiting for it too. I’m waiting. Yeah, yeah, well part of that is and not to throw another variable in, but I was just listening to a head of Google’s learning and training. They do a lot of coaching and they were talking about the future of coaching. They were saying that this accountability model of coaching is going to be – it’s not just radiologists who are going to be outsourced through artificial intelligence, coaching is going to be outsourced through apps. They said even helping people grow their business, right?
A lot of health coaches end up becoming business coaches, or like – but this accountability model of looking for feedback and stuff is going away, because an app that’s going to be able to do. It’s going to be able to give you all the data and it’s going to be able to hold you accountable, it’s going to connect you to communities. What he was saying the future of coaching is what my process already is, hello, can women just take over already? Not just me. All of you guys.
[0:39:22.4] JN: Hold my beer.
[0:39:25.3] AS: Or your cider, right? Gluten free.
[0:39:27.1] TT: I want to hold my own beer, but –
[0:39:32.7] AS: Love it. Love it. He was like, future of coaching is really getting to these root cause resolutions and helping people deal with the complexity of their lives and the situation and making new meaning from things, which is what my work does. He was he mentioned Robert Kegan, there’s also Lisa Lahey who goes along with him, but their book and it’s what I sent to Autumn, Immunity to Change is really going to be the future of coaching, which is what Jennifer is learning, what Autumn will move on to.
I mean, we still need people to help us with the nutrition aspect but coaching, if you take the coaching aspect out of anything, a lot of that is going to be digitized and used through machine learning. That’s another thing to think about, like where’s the market going? Because healthcare is changing. I mean, for better or for worse, there’s going to be for-profit. I mean, who knows if we’ll get to a single-payer or whatever. Someone’s still going to have to be paid and reimbursed. That’s another thing to think about.
Yes, I’m definitely licensing my program. I’m just slower to the draw, because it’s a little bit more complex. That’s what a lot of health coaching will start with motivational interviewing and positive psychology is really hot right now. Those things I think are the gaps. They orient us, they get us motivated, they help us really get clear on our intentions, but then the Truce with Food work is really the break.
Okay, I’ve started. I’m excited and then the minute something goes off the rails, so we need both, but I think it’s going to be a lot harder to outsource the break stuff, because it deals with the complexity and the context of someone. Who knows? I could be wrong and have my own blind spots, because I want to still have a job. Take it for what it’s worth.
[0:41:00.1] AB: To caveat off that too, Chris Kresser has a book, I mean, obviously I’m a big fan too, Unconventional Medicine that just came out and I read it and he talks about his theory on the future of healthcare and how health coaches would be involved in that. If that’s something that people are interested in, I think that’s a great book to pick up and see a pretty educated and an intellectual view of what that might look like in the future.
[0:41:23.5] AS: Yeah, so look at that stuff. I’m a big fan of getting all the data, looking at it, let it settle and then the answers do come and see where you’re excited, because no matter what the transition to a career in wellness, you have to have stamina. You want the enthusiasm to regenerate itself.
[0:41:40.4] AB: I swear, you can do anything, seriously. I get up at 5 AM every day to do my graduate work and then I spend all day homeschooling. I can’t do it any other way. You will find a way. People will find a way.
[0:41:52.4] AS: Well, that’s what I think’s exciting about being in wellness or having a meaningful career, you may feel depleted and exhausted at the end of the day, but you still want to get back up and do it the next day, because it is very fortifying.
All right, so I want to move on to a couple more questions. One of the questions I get is how do you overcome feelings of not being ready enough, or healthy enough to really kickstart your business? If you want to go the more business route, or the nonprofit route, basically being on your own, which all – Eva’s still the question mark, but that’s good.
I love that you’re starting in corporate though, because that was a big thing for you as like, “Wait, I can start to do this now. I don’t have to wait.” I think getting practice is so important in the beginning. I would also recommend just to piggyback on terms of education, try to get mentored from someone. I was in someone’s office who was Philadelphia’s leading functional medicine practitioner. I mean, it was really hard to find functional medicine practitioners back then, this was 12 years ago. She mentored me.
I mean, I paid for office in her space, but she mentored me for four years. Then when I was in grad school, my professors were helping me with coaching. There was no formal person at the time, but now there is. Everyone you guys like, when I say this took me 12 years, it’s because there was really no infrastructure and there’s so many choices now, which is really exciting. I think part of the feeling not ready enough is because we really do – you always have to start before you’re ready, but you also actually do need real skills. That’s something that is very scary to me in the coaching industry in general.
People will say fake it until you make it, and you can’t do that when you’re dealing with people’s health. You’re never going to feel ready enough, and you want to have a supervisor, or a mentor, or something to help you when those things get critical, or when those things get messy. That’s one thing I think that the traditional educational system does really well. Okay, you’re going to do a practicum, you’re going to do a mentorship. That’s something before you just go out there.
In terms of healthy enough, I hear this a lot. When I first started, I was not talking about emotionally eating, I was still emotionally eating at night and when things got crazy, but I was just helping people with the food piece. I think it’s really important, two things; as long as we’re further along than our clients, I think that’s really important because there’s this idea that you will one time, at one point be healthy enough and health just isn’t static. It’s always shifting and changing.
I think the best healers actually have the best questions, not the best answers. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have acumen and skill sets, but I think this idea that we’re at one point going to be super healthy and have all the answers just isn’t true. I even think of my integrative physician, she’s one of – she sends me clients in Philly. I went to her when I was in Philly. I remember working with her and she had a horrible bike accident in the middle of it. She was doing everything and learning – she was on her own learning edge of trust in her body and stuff.
Her sharing that with me just made me like her even more, because I don’t – if someone tells me they have all the answers, I run. Because I’m like – the people who would feel they have impostor syndrome, if you think you have impostor syndrome, you don’t, because you can reflect and you’re discerning, versus the people who think they know everything. Never question, which is very scary, because life is really complex and mysterious.
Jennifer, I would love to start with you about how you started to feel, “Oh, my God. I’m going out on my own,” which is even though you have a traditional medical background, it’s so different when it’s you, your name, or as they would say in the biz, your brand. You said this is where I’m starting, which is what I love because you’re starting. If you want to talk about that a little?
[0:45:23.5] JN: Yeah, I mean, and I am literally just starting the transition to a career in wellness, but I think one of the great things about Andrea’s program is she really pushes – she pushes practicing and not practicing without having any knowledge, but practicing working with people. Generally, once you have gone through some type of nutrition program, you are going to know more than most of the people that are coming to you.
You’re going to know more about their body and one of the big pieces of our training is educating people about what’s going on in their bodies, which really can help with the motivation factor too and follow-through. I think getting that message over and over again, of just getting out there and start practicing, that’s what’s helped me get over the hump of, “Oh, no. I need to gather more information. Maybe I need to go to a coaching program, because I’ve never done any traditional coaching certification or whatnot.” I was actually thinking today about this podcast and reflecting on how much in my career as a nurse practitioner, I really did a lot of education with patients and collaborating with other practitioners.
I don’t know. I mean, my coaching would probably be super helpful for me, but I have some experience in that. I can bring that into working with new clients and patients. I think that’s one of the big things is just that message of you don’t necessarily need to keep gathering more and more and more and more information, but it’s working with people is what’s going to give you the experience.
I found that to be true even with nursing. I came out of nursing school and nurse practitioner school, and I had a foundation of knowledge, but it didn’t give me the experience of actually working one-on-one with patients and how to do that and how to talk to other providers. That just comes with experience.
[0:47:12.6] AS: I’m so glad you brought that out, because again, back to traditional academia, even when I was learning these coaching theories or change management theories and as tough as it was to go to grad school while building my business, it was like, “Okay, I learned this theory,” and then you try it on someone and it’s like, whoa, but they’re bringing all these other things. That real world experience develops intuition, empathy. I think one of the things that you said that was really important that I just want to draw out is as healers, as foundation founders, we are not fixing anyone. We’re really trying to create a space for them to tap into their own resources and resilience.
That takes a lot of pressure off. When you realize that, you realize your work is to do your own work, so you can be with them in that discomfort. Yes, have the acumen, that is for sure. It’s really about deep listening and empathy and helping guide on the side, versus rescuing and fixing. I’m glad you brought that out. You really get that as you start to practice and work with real people, right?
[0:48:11.9] JN: Oh, yeah. Because especially if you try to rush to do things and try to fix, it never work. I mean, just in general, in life in general. I definitely learned through your program too, Ali, how important questioning and inquiring and being curious, that gets you so much more information and it helps people feel they’re being heard and seen, which is at least half of it, if not three-quarters of the healing process is being with somebody and hearing what they are experiencing more than trying to fix it.
[0:48:41.2] AS: Yeah. No, it’s so true, because, I mean, being seen in our imperfection and in our struggle is so healing. I’m glad you brought that up. Tashmica, I’m curious you decide to start this foundation. I love it. You’re just like, “I’m going to do it.” Did imposter syndrome come up, or how did you start all that?
[0:49:01.5] TT: I didn’t just start it. I think that that’s another thing that we have to talk about. No one just wakes up and is like, “I’m going to start a nonprofit organization.” It was like I did the math after sitting here thinking about it, specifically just for this question, because it was 15 years between the first time I ever participated in a grassroots organizing movement, until I started this – until now.
There were 10 years where I was volunteering. Actually, one of the things that I tell people if they have the capacity before they would ever even consider starting any nonprofit is to find somewhere similar to do the work, because a lot of people assume there are gaps and there aren’t, or the gaps are just a lack of capacity. Like someone really wants to do what you’re thinking about, but the organization doesn’t actually have capacity to do that thing.
Sometimes you’ll discover a gap and then you can go and start a non-profit, but I think it wasn’t – definitely do have moments where I’m like, “What have I gotten myself into? This seemed like a good idea at the time.”
[0:50:05.9] AS: Hindsight is always 20/20.
[0:50:07.8] TT: Am I ever going to sleep again? Constantly hustling. I believe that what I am creating is useful, and I believe that because I know that it’s what I would have wanted. I know that it’s what a lot of other adult survivors would have wanted for themselves as a child. There’s this quote from Audre Lorde that’s when I follow my vision… I’m going to totally butcher it. Good luck Googling it later.
If you’re following your vision, then it becomes less and less important whether or not you’re afraid. I think that that is how – that was the quote that was on my wall when I started this organization, because it wasn’t about being afraid. It was about responding to a need that I felt was critical. I think that if you come from a place where you do feel this is a critical need, you can be open to the fact that you’re wrong, which shouldn’t be hard. If you already have impostor syndrome, you already think you’re wrong. [Inaudible 0:51:05.3].
You’re open to the fact that you could be wrong, then I mean, you just do it. Then when things show up that you’re not doing right, then you learn from it and you keep moving. I mean, I tell people all the time that I am constantly looking for my ride into the sunset moment. When the problem is solved and I can be like, “Well, everybody I did my best, but there’s no need for us anymore,” and then I can go find something else to do.
I think if we’re constantly attentive to our vision and that critical need, then also being attentive to the fact that you could be wrong about what you’re trying to offer, and be willing to shift in a different direction, I think that’s a recipe for staying grounded in your work and staying grounded in – the reality is that none of us really know what we’re doing.
When are we going to start admitting that nobody knows what they’re doing?
People with degrees don’t know what they’re doing; parents don’t know what they’re doing; people that don’t have children don’t know what they’re doing. None of us fucking have a clue.
I think as long as we’re all together, and the fact that we’re just all trying – I actually was joking with a friend that I want that on my tombstone. I’m just trying not to fuck it up, because every day of my life that’s what I’m trying to do. Put that on my tombstone and we’ll call it a day.
[0:52:21.4] AS: Again, this reiterates the point and it accentuates it more of you are – we all have skillsets that we’re bringing to this, the same way that Eva is in marketing and understand psychology and all this stuff, like that helps her with yoga. Then whatever her next steps are. Autumn, her individual experience; Jenifer like her, “Oh, my God. I was listening and being a healer as a nurse practitioner. I might not have called that, but it was the same capacity.”
For all of us, we’re not just beginning. I always tell people like, what have you kept returning to and it’s the same fashion. It may have been dressed up differently. I was in PR and I joked in the beginning. I’m like, “I’m just the PR person for fruits and vegetables now.” You know what I mean? Because they don’t have a marketing budget, which is why they’re not on TV.
[0:53:10.5] TT: I worked with youth. I mean, when I was growing up and I was going through therapy for my own – it wasn’t actually therapy. It was church counseling, or whatever. I remember thinking, “I could totally open a home for girls.” This is so random, but I’ll share and you can decide to cut it later if you want to.
I remember singing with the middle school choir and I was in high school. I actually don’t like kids that much, so I probably won’t do that. Then and then and then. There’s all these experiences with deciding that I wasn’t going to go into child development, because if I was going to raise kids, I wasn’t going to work with them during the day. I just didn’t want both.
I think there’s all of these spaces where we navigate closer and closer to what it is that we want to do. If we’re paying attention to how things feel and how things show up in our world, then if we’re paying attention to our insight, it does tend to guide us towards where we need to be, and actually I don’t work with kids every day. I am around kids all the time in my work, but I’m not a therapist. I didn’t go that route. I didn’t get a child development degree, but I do get the gift of watching them heal, which I think is amazing.
I do get to tell their stories and I do get to advocate for them, whether it’s government, or whether it’s within our community gets advocate for them. I get to do all of these things that’s very connected to lifting up youth and protecting youth and healing youth, but not – it’s not the way that all of these different paths and other people, or even myself might have thought it would have been all these years, I’ll go.
[0:54:44.8] AS: Yeah, I think that’s a really important point of basically see what gives you energy back. You’ll have the sights and sound. I forget how – you phrased it better, but if you’re awake and paying attention, you’ll start to notice where you gravitate. It’s almost like it starts out big, but then narrowing it and stuff, so I think that’s really great.
All right, one more question, because this is a big one before – because I don’t want to keep you guys too long, is the other question that I get all the time, and again, what prompted – a couple came in the week that I decided, like I e-mailed all you guys and I’m like, “Will you be willing to come?” Was can you give any advice about how to properly transition from juggling two jobs to fully supporting yourself as a fulltime healthcare practitioner? Any words of wisdom, or things to look out for, during the transition to a career in wellness.
I love this topic, because entrepreneurship has become a passionate topic about, because it’s helped heal me from uncertainty as much as chemo did to cure me from cancer. I love this topic. I want to give my two cents and then I want you guys to talk about what you’re thinking, or what your plans are.
A couple things, first of all, the healthcare field and health coaching are growing. The wellness field, we are in a time, hopefully we’re going to take this mess that we are in and all heal from it. There’s only going to be more demand, right? I think we’re finally starting to realize how sick our culture is and the demand is growing, the numbers are there everything. This is a great time to want to be in this field, to transition to a career in wellness.
Having said that, if you do go the entrepreneurship solo practice route, there’s a lot of – I have so many opinions, I’m not going to give them all today, but there’s a couple of things that I want everyone to know. The first thing is, I only learned this in 10 years into my business, but 80% of people who go into entrepreneurship, they were trying to study them, they said, “Oh, do they more tolerance for risk? Are they more creative, or whatever?”
No. It turned out 80% of people had family money, okay, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I didn’t have that and I was totally naive and I burnt myself out trying to make things work, because I didn’t have –I didn’t know that. I share that. You’re laughing, but I went from feeling like, “Why is this taking so long to – I’m amazing overnight, right?” I just share that, because we look at these entrepreneurship stories and they tend to not be in the health field.
If you look at all these women empowerment groups and stuff, a lot of these people, if you have family money, you also have family connections, right? I’m not saying that’s how everyone does their job, but I’m just saying we have to be realistic with actually transitioning, the transition to a career in wellness. That’s why I think if I had to do over now with the infrastructure that’s there, I would go work for someone else for a couple of years, so that I could really start to focus, learn the educational path I wanted to go.
That’s where I would start is working for someone else, because I would have needed the income. I mean, I was putting my grad school on credit cards, interest-free, and just carrying over balances and it was really stressful. You don’t want the stress of like, “I never followed any of the marketing people who had a formula for closing, people, or selling them, because that just –” and luckily I found out my clients don’t like that either, but a lot of people will try to sell you on, “Oh there’s a formula for closing people and whatnot,” and you’d never want to feel pressure to have to just get clients and get them in and when people aren’t really ready to work with you.
That’s my personal opinion. This is obviously biased, but I found that if people aren’t ready, it’s going to frustrate you, you’re going to start to doubt your skills, and then the person is going to be frustrated with themselves as well. My words of advice would be go work for someone else, get that stability, get better, you’re going to learn so much in your first couple years that will change your trajectory.
The second thing I want to offer is from a business building standpoint. I’m going to give you a couple resources, but you will find people out there that are going to try to sell you the same way that people try to sell you lose 30 pounds in 30 days. People are going to try to sell you $10,000 in 10 days, or whatever. It’s the same exact thing, magical thinking.
I really didn’t spend a lot of money on my business until investing in it as a business, really until three years ago. That was nine years in. Now granted I was creating something alongside. Times have changed, again there’s different infrastructure now. I see that a lot of people will invest in these programs. They’ll take all the little bit of money that they have, they spend it on marketing rather than mastery. Start with the mastery and then go with the marketing, but really get good, because once you get good at what you do, then you can figure out how to package things in a way that are really effective for clients and for yourself. Do that foundational work first and don’t follow those people.
I had to unfollow them, because for a while I doubted myself and then I just realized – people will tell you they’re bringing in all this money or whatever, but they don’t tell you how much they’re spending. If you don’t have a lot to spend, it’s not what people make, it’s what you bring home. For me, I was the sole provider. I mean, I lived with Carlos, but he was on fellowship and if you’ve ever been with someone on a fellowship, they basically make less than minimum wage. They don’t have to pay for grad school, but they basically make less than minimum wage.
It was really stressful for me. I wish having – if I would have to do it over, I would have done it that way. I’ll give you guys some great business resources that are efficient at the end, but I first want to hear everybody else’s thoughts on this. Autumn, we’ll start with you because I know that you’re starting to get clients right now as you end school.
[1:00:08.5] AB: Yeah, and I think that’s one of the things that people think. I talked to one of my classmates and she’s trepidatious about starting anything, because she’s like, “I need to know all the information first before I can get started.” That’s not necessarily accurate depending on the scope of your business.
I started with basic nutritional counseling, before I started moving into some of the deeper level stuff, because I’ve been doing it as I’ve learned it. That enables me to change my pricing structure and how many clients I’m bringing on and all that stuff. Additionally, my husband and I have sat down and made a long-term plan. The goal is for me to be fulltime by 2021, which sounds crazy stupid, because you’re like, it’s 2018. How are you even thinking about 2021?
That sounds so far away, but that’s how we’ve had to look at it in terms of goal planning. Here’s where I want to be by the end of year one, here’s where I want to be at the end of year two, here’s how much money I have to make per week, how can we realistically make that happen by gradually building my practice while I’m finishing up a graduate degree? It’s just that step by step mentality and being okay with it being a journey, and not being afraid to have a side hustle also.
[1:01:22.3] AS: I love that you talked about actually putting concrete stuff down. It doesn’t mean everything will go as planned, but in the field –
[1:01:28.7] AB: It certainly won’t. It won’t at all, but some somewhere in there at least you have a direction, right?
[1:01:33.1] AS: Yeah. Health straddles wellness and personal development, right? You get all these different messages. I find that there’s a lot of magical thinking of like, “Oh well, you’re not charging what you’re worth.” First of all, none of us are worth, or priceless. Don’t put a value on your paycheck as how you are as a human being.
Then I hear these people like, law of attraction, if you want it enough – I think one of the best memes I’ve ever seen on social media and I don’t know who created it, but it was like, maybe you manifested it, maybe it’s white privilege. I was like, “Yes, that is golden, because –” and I would even say white upper class privilege.
I mean, granted I have a ton of privilege being white. However, not all of us have the same economic means. I started to realize that a lot of people who were talking about this like, oh if you put it out there, they actually didn’t have to put any plans in place and they just had – you’re putting out cash, which it takes [inaudible 1:02:30.3].
[1:02:32.5] AB: That’s just not manifestation. I mean, I guess it is, but I doubt it.
[1:02:38.2] AS: I just share that, because we straddle this world. It’s a marketing technique to make people think that you have a secret that they haven’t figured out. If you learn from them – I mean, I’ve never purchased any of that, but it certainly made me doubt myself in those early days, because again, I was like, I didn’t know all of this backend of stuff. I just don’t want people to get burned out before they even get started, or for the longevity. Putting on those plans in place Autumn is really, really important so that you have a realistic expectation of what it’s going to take. Then that will help structure your business model.
[1:03:13.5] AB: Right, and I’m talking to professionals in my industry doing the things that I’m doing and getting advice from them, particularly in terms of what do people charge for this service. The numbers that they were throwing out at me like, this is what you need to charge, because this is at minimum what you’re worth with your education. I was like, “I don’t even know if I could afford me.” Like, “Are you serious?”
You have to have confidence in yourself. You have to have confidence in what you know you can do, even though that seems a scary thing. I mean, it’s really not as scary as it sounds. You just got to get out there and you just got to get your feet wet.
[1:03:51.4] TT: For consultations with me now, I actually charge quite a bit. I always say, if they say no, I get to stay home. I definitely of course want to make extra money. Sometimes you do charge – My husband is a tile installer, and so that’s what he does. If a client is really challenging, or difficult in a way that he knows he’s going to have to work a little extra harder, if the job is hard for whatever reason, he always adds a little bit. He’s like, “If they say no, then I don’t have to do the job. If they say yes, then I feel compensated for the hard work.”
That’s have been my frame of reference now for consultation. Now obviously the nonprofit is different. We write grants and I get paid a set amount for doing the work that I do. When I started the organization, I was getting – well, I wasn’t getting anything. Then my board started giving me $300 a month, which is funny. My treasurer wouldn’t even call it a salary. She was like, “Your stipend.”
[1:04:52.3] AB: Yeah, exactly.
[1:04:55.8] TT: That was just a little something. As we were able to build our budget through fundraising, I was able to actually get paid. That’s the other thing that I tell people too, because people will start nonprofits and entrepreneurs, because it’s one and the same. It’s just a different way of getting funded. We just get up in the morning and we eat our luxurious breakfast by the beach at 9:00 a.m., because we don’t have to drive anywhere and we open our inbox and it just – all of this work in there.
[1:05:24.1] AS: Opportunities is there.
[1:05:25.0] TT: Yeah, just [inaudible 1:05:25.3] and we just network and we’re going to have cocktails at 4:00 p.m., because it’s like mad men. People think about, and I know that I did the same thing. I remember starting like, “I can do whatever I want with my day,” which depending on who you are, that could be a significant problem if you can do whatever you want within the day.
I think that’s the other thing that people need to understand is I was really lucky, I had a partner who was working, who was supportive, who was a partner who parented. We weren’t in this patriarchal relationship, where I was the one who had to strap my kids on my back, to go and do all of my work. My husband is 100% a parent. I was able to do a lot of things that not everybody is equipped in their – not only in their financial life, but in their family life to be able to take a step away from their family and build a non-profit, or build a business. I think that that’s something we have to talk about specifically when we talk about women, specifically when we talk about women with children, that my kids have definitely been strapped to my back to go to things.
They have definitely been way too many workshops on consent and sexual assault at their age. I did have a lot of support, and I also had a lot of community support and a lot of people in my community that supported me. Not everybody starts from that space. I think that’s another – like I talked about earlier, where you have to do your audit of your skills. You also need to do an audit of who’s going to be in your corner. Are you going to have a side hustle? What time can you actually commit when you do have a fulltime job to build your business? I mean, those are all things that I feel that I was very privileged. Also Ali, my husband’s white, so I do call him my white privilege.
[1:07:08.7] AS: That is fantastic. I feel so naïve when I first started dating Carlos. I mean, even though he’s considered Latino and an immigrant, he presents as white. Well actually, people when they first meet they’re like, “He doesn’t look a Carlos.” I’m like, “Oh, my God.” I feel so naïve, like when we first started dating, I remember we were living in Philly and we went to City Sports and we both got tennis shoes. He had to wait for his to be called in from the back and they were like, “Oh, we’ll give you 20% off since you had to wait.”
I started noticing him getting all these things, and I was like, “Oh, it must be Carlos.” Then as I got savvier, I’m like, “It’s because he’s a dude. It’s not Carlos.” He gets all these discounts, like we would call on things. I would call and wouldn’t get the rate. He would call and get a better rate for things. It’s infuriating. I mean, I love Carlos and people love him, but it’s being a dude.
[1:08:01.9] TT: Calling the manager, I call it calling the manager. I think it’s so nice to be able to just call the manager in any situation and be like, “I will not stand for it.” If I even tried that, they would laugh me out of this place so fast.
[1:08:15.7] AS: Yeah, I’m like, you do all the negotiation.
[1:08:18.2] TT: He does. Yeah. Absolutely. I think it’s really important to recognize, not everybody – most people starting a nonprofit, or starting a business don’t do it from a place, like instead of having all ton of financial support, familial support and a ton of privilege. I think on the flipside of that too, I think it makes me more cognizant of where I’m spending my money too. When I think about all of the people of color in my community with their own businesses that are entrepreneurs and all the women and all the trans, queer, those are the people that I try to do my shopping with, because I am the same.
I am very much reliant on people deciding to support a grassroots, community-driven led by a black woman, who is a survivor to be able to do my work. When I’m doing the same thing, when I’m looking at my contractors and the people that I want to work with, I’m doing the exact same thing, because I do believe that we we’re starting from lower than everybody else. If I have the opportunity to offer a little bit of privilege to somebody else, I’m going to do it.
[1:09:19.9] AB: That’s awesome.
[1:09:20.8] AS: Yeah, and that’s why I think women need to be starting their own things, right? Because we tend to think like that. I mean, and again, I don’t want to categorize all women and men because that’s not always true. There’s a lot of patriarchy with lipstick in the online world.
[1:09:32.8] TT: For sure.
[1:09:35.4] AS: I’m also glad that you brought up the thing about kids, because I remember being in grad school I was like – even if I wanted to have a kid now, there’s no way that I could and I’m so glad that you brought that up. Jennifer, I know that’s something that really affected your own work environment, is you have three kids and one of them you said started getting called with challenges. How are you going to structure that based on the fact that you have other competing commitments?
[1:09:58.5] JN: Yeah, I mean, I think the one thing for me that I really had to come to terms with is that I have to start out small. My kids are still really young and I’m not going to be able to have 10 clients and work with 10 clients starting out. I might be able to manage two or three clients, and then see how it goes.
It’s taken a little while and I got to talk with a lot of the other folks in my program around this, is just getting comfortable with that fact that I’m starting out small and that’s okay. I can have big dreams and I’ll probably hopefully get there, but I have to start out small, because my kids are still really in need and I only have so much time in the day.
[1:10:34.9] AS: I would also reframe, because what you’re saying is starting out, starting out small is I’m thinking starting out profoundly. You’re really in it to learn and to see what’s working. Because sometimes people want to do entrepreneurship to like, go big or go home, or for the freedom or whatever. You’re actually doing it so that you can help people and support them.
In learning so much in those first couple of years, and by taking it slow you’re going to be able to pay attention to things, rather than trying to start whatever and scale it and all that stuff. I don’t really think there is starting out small. I think starting out is big, in general.
[1:11:10.2] JN: Yeah, thank you.
[1:11:12.0] AB: It’s a big step and it takes courage. I had to have a conversation with my husband when I went back, because we did have that – I guess, you would call it that typical patriarchal structure in our house where I stayed home and I took care of the cooking and cleaning and my daughter, and he went off to work. It would be a huge sacrifice for him if I went back to school and I’m like, “Look, now I need help. Now I need you to jump in here,” and he had to be okay with that. We had to get on the same page. Otherwise, we were going to fight every step of the way, that wasn’t going to work out and be cool.
We had to do that. The other thing I had to do, kind of a little off topic. but I had to be okay with charging my friends money to talk to me when it comes to this advice, because I mean – I have a thousand friends on Facebook, or something, I don’t know. I’ll make health comments and people are messaging me and asking me for advice. I’m like, “I don’t have time. I physically don’t have time.” If you really want me to evaluate you, I have to charge you money. I just have to. It’s being okay with that. I can count on one hand the amount of people that I will not charge, and my husband and my mother are two of them.
[1:12:17.5] AS: They probably won’t listen to you.
[1:12:20.5] AB: It’s like my parents.
[1:12:23.7] TT: I’m the same way. I’m like, “Hey, thanks for your questions. It costs about $75 an hour for a consultation. Let me know when you want to meet. Okay, bye. I love you.” Then we’ll see what happens from there. I’m not necessarily, for me in the position to even want to do one-on-one consultations. For me, that doesn’t make sense for what I do.
I want to be a part of culture change and culture shift, so I would rather spend my time and energy on doing conferences, or big trainings for people who are in this work, or working on obviously spending all of that energy on my own organization building that. I tend to be a lot more – I tend to push those opportunities off, because I prefer – those don’t build my vision. That’s not my vision. Talking to one person to build their nonprofit, or give them ideas on how to build their nonprofit is not really something that I feel really passionately about. If they want to come and talk about how to end rape culture on their campus, or something like that, that’s what I want to talk about. Those are the rooms that I want to be in.
[1:13:25.2] AS: That’s such a good discernment tool for when you start to think about what you’re offering, whatnot. Eva, what milestones – I mean, now that we’ve had this talk. I know it’s still fresh, but do you have any milestones in mind for yourself of like, “All right, I even though I don’t know if I even want to get fulltime into wellness, are you sucking away money on the side, or are you thinking –”
[1:13:46.1] ES: Well, for me in the past few months especially, it’s just been coming out of that black and white thinking of, I have to give up my job and do this fulltime. One of the main shifts for me was working with you, Ali. I had this whole idea in my head of, “Oh, my God. I found my purpose and I have to do this now.” Then you said, your purpose is not this one thing, but it’s actually living your values every day. Then that was a huge mindset shift of, “Oh, my God. Yes, I can actually do this every day.”
Also just taking it one step at a time and then all the little steps add up in the end. I constantly just have to remind myself to be patient and take it one small step at a time, because I know that it will take a lot of time, but eventually I will get to transition to a career in wellness, and I’ll just have to work with what I’ve got right now. Yeah, so that’s where I’m at right now.
[1:14:45.6] AS: Well, yeah. I mean, some of my first clients were the people that I used to work with in the corporate world. I mean, so it’s like we’ve talked about this. Sometimes there’s this judgement of people in the corporate world, but and they need help. They’re often very open and they have money to pay for it. It’s like, it could be a really good place to test out, where all of us who are talking we’re like, we’re ahead of our time.
We’re like, “Oh, this is the cutting edge.” The market, or the temperature of culture right now is still so far back there. That can often be amazing research and amazing starting points, because you’ll catch the people who are at the edge of the middle, and you may find you want to do it on a corporate level. It’s like, you never know, but if – what I like is that you’re integrating it day in and day out, just like Jennifer is going to do, just like Autumn has been doing. Even though Tashmica and I are doing this fulltime, it’s like, we’re still taking it day by day, step by step too.
[1:15:39.3] ES: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and I’ve also come to see – I’ve worked in a very small business in the past year, and there’s this thing that happens when you work for yourself is that you get really isolated from the real world. I’m only been working in a big office again in the past nine or 10 months and that’s a big shift as well, but it’s also – that’s what the real world is like. We’re like a minority, right? It’s good to have that connection and just see where other people are at and not to get caught up in my little bubble of what I’m doing.
[1:16:15.4] AS: I’m glad you said that too, because again coming back to how do we want to spend our days, Autumn talked about the lab aspect of this, but being self-employed is very isolating. People need to think about that and consider that. I mean, it doesn’t mean there isn’t workarounds, but that’s one of the times again, in the early days I was like, “Oh, I could collaborate with a team, I’d be so much happier.”
You may have to create that for yourself, so there’s a lot that goes around. As Tashmica was saying, we’re not waking up and having some tea as we push our hair back and let the wind blow and music in the background.
[1:16:49.2] TT: There’s not an entrepreneur Instagram filter that I found yet.
[1:16:53.5] AB: One of the reasons too why part of my business structure in the long-term plans to be a concierge level service, because I need to get out of the dang house.
[1:17:03.9] TT: Yeah, absolutely. I will add though to that I have staff, and it still can be really lonely, because at the end of the day when you are the owner, when you are the person, the executive director, the person who’s in charge of this ship that’s steering it all, you still have a lot of stuff that’s on you and not necessarily a weight than everybody is going to be lifting with you. I don’t want to be a bummer, but that’s the reality too is that it does often fall on you.
I think in addition to having a team that you will eventually have, or be able to do the workarounds where you work in co-working space, I think it’s just really important to have people in your corner that are your friends that can listen to you moan about whatever, because I mean, there’s always something that’s not quite going the way that you want it to, or someone was mean to you. There’s always something to kvetch about and to have people in your corner, I think it’s really important, because also I don’t want to hang out with people that work in trauma all the time.
You may not want to hang around Yogi’s all the time when you start – there’s a point where you want to you want to be able to complain to people who don’t necessarily understand, or going to be – or in that work, so they’re a little more objective about what you’re saying. I know for me that’s what I need sometimes, is to just have people be like, “Man, that does suck,” and just be on my side, and not have to worry about the intermingling of all of our professional lives mixing together.
[1:18:34.1] AS: Well, I’m laughing because try being in the coaching industry; everyone wants to coach you and you’re like, “No, I don’t want to be coached right now. I just want to fit. I’m learning things from this.” It’s like, there’s not a bigger meaning here. I just am tired.
Another thing I just want to say then we’re going to wrap-up here, but one of the things that I did that really helped grow my business and also, I didn’t do it on purpose. It was just, I was looking for office space in Philadelphia, but finding a place where there’s other healthcare practitioners, there was a therapist and there was a chiropractor and a Pilates teacher and an acupuncturist. I wanted to go in there, because I wanted to be around those type of people, but I got a lot of referrals and that really helped me really quickly.
It ended up not working out after four months, because the therapist referred people to me and they stopped seeing her and then she wanted to double my rent. That often, so ask about that stuff, that was huge for me, is to be around other wellness practitioners, not only because I can learn from them and learn how they looked at things, but I also wasn’t isolated, I’m clearly an extrovert, which is often a minority in the healing community. I find a lot of people are introverts.
It also helped grow my business relatively quickly, because they got to know me knew what I did and trusted me. That’s also another key option for bridging the transition to a career in wellness, if you’re in between stuff. I was still in the corporate world. I would get up in the morning, sometimes I would go to clients and then I would just see clients at night, and from 7:00 to 10:00. Yeah. I mean, when I say I work seven days a week for 10 years, I really did. Because there’s also school, but again this is a different time and space, there’s infrastructure now that there wasn’t there.
I had that passion I wanted people to know the truth of things, and so that kept me going. I think that for all of us coming full circle in the transition to a career in wellness, follow your curiosity, pay attention to what lights you up, what you need. Then I’m going to ask you guys for any parting thoughts, but I just want to give everyone some resources, some really low-cost resources, or I would say value-pack based on where you are.
Tara Gentile runs a community called CoCommercial, and Tara really honors that building a business is an unending process, and it’s a membership site where you learn from other people who are in the trenches with you, and actually have real businesses, because I’ve also learned a lot of people in online marketing world, online world don’t necessarily have legit businesses. Again, no judgment. It’s just they don’t have an actual business model. You want to learn from people who are actually doing that.
Then in the beginning when I started to actually work on fine-tuning my program pages and sales copy is a woman named Tami Smith of The Dawning Point. She has 30 years of, not only marketing, but training experience. She really helped me figure out what skills I had, how I could package those in a way that would give my clients skills and communicate that in a way that was persuasive, because I tend to lean with, “This is what I think,” and that’s not how you get people to buy from you. She’s a really great value and does not charge exorbitant fees.
Then I just worked with Jack McNeil, after a couple of years of trying little group – I’ve run Truce With Food for eight years, but I didn’t work with someone on the sales aspect of that until 2014, believe it or not. Then I just worked with Jack McNeil on positioning. Once I had worked for 10 to 11 years, I was like, I have something that I really want to say here and I want to invest money, so that the design and everything is aligned according to my stake in the ground.
It took me 11 years to see that and be able to communicate that. Those are all some resources for you guys at various price points and various places. Because when you’re starting out, you don’t want to invest in something if you’re not at the right stage. You don’t need to invest in a positioning person if you’re just starting out, but you might need to invest in CoCommercial, because you want to know website, what’s the best Squarespace or WordPress, all these questions. Just know that. It can help you pace yourself financially.
Okay, so any parting words? I know that I’ve kept you guys a little bit longer. Thank you so much for staying. Does anybody have any parting words or before we wrap-up? Yeah, Jennifer.
[1:22:32.2] JN: I just want to say instead of making a transition to a career in wellness feel – maybe feeling like a big huge decision of what road you’re going to take, or what education path you’re going to take, even just doing that research is making a step towards what you want to do. Really owning that you are making a change, or you’re moving towards what you want to do, even if you’re in the research phase of it, you don’t have to actually be in a program.
[1:22:57.9] AS: I love that. That reminds me of how Tashmica says, like when do we really start? It’s like, okay, we’ve already been having our curiosities, we’re not out of the womb, who are we? I love that point. Yeah, just researching and it’s not like you have to commit right away. You’re just gathering data and learning your preferences and maybe the curiosities that are still there. It’s like, keep coming back to that question, so great point. Thank you.
[1:23:18.7] JN: When I was in high school I had a choir teacher who told me the story that her husband, they had four kids at the time of the story. One day he went out for bread, eggs and milk and he never came back. She was like, “Okay, well I guess, I got to figure this out.” She went to music school, got her degree, became a teacher and she was just like, “There’s never a moment where you can’t start over. There will never be a time.”
Then I graduate high school and a few years later, I get an e-mail from her and now she has decided to go back to teaching art, or to – I don’t know what she did, but she was then an art teacher. Then after that, she was writing a book. She’s writing these young adult fiction books. Whenever I think about feeling bad about where I am, or if I’m never going to get to this phase, or this phase, I just always think about her, because I think about the amount of resilience that she had, but also just that there is never ever a period of time where you can’t take a left instead of a right, and just decide that you’re going to go in a different direction.
That could be a four or five-year period, but it’s always within your grasps to be able to make decisions to change course. It’s just always really inspiring to me to think of her whenever I’m in those moments of what like, “What am I going to do? I can do whatever I want. I’m a grown-up.”
[1:24:42.5] AS: Yeah, and I think it gets to what Eva was talking about black and white thinking like, “Oh, my God. Nothing is so extreme that I can’t recover from it, or that it’s so separate. I can just start where I am right now,” I think it’s so important whether it’s researching, or yeah, and we kicked off like, “I’m already doing it wrong. What’s not trying it a little bit more?”
[1:25:04.3] AB: It doesn’t change as you go along too. It’s like, I want to have 13 different elements on my website, but all I have right now is people need to contact me. They need to submit something via e-mail, and it’s like, I want to have recipes and blog posts. I want all these things, but it’s like a day at a time, just like Jennifer said, researching and just starting that process a day at a time.
Once you even start the process, it’s still a day at a time. Once you’re at Ali’s phase, where you have an established business and you’re trying to continue to develop it, it’s still a day at a time. Just be okay with that process.
[1:25:38.4] AS: Yeah, I’m glad you said that too about the submit thing, because here’s another thing, like yeah, we have to have a website and everything’s online, but most people are going to find you through referrals. Most people are still – I have integrated doctors, integrated psychiatrists, or people found me through Prevention, or my podcast. We think we have to have this big complicated website, but especially health in the beginning days, people are going to come via referrals, like other people who know you. Don’t over complicate it. Word of mouth is the best, then your clients will start telling people. Word of mouth is still the best thing there is out there.
The internet, it’s amazing. I mean, look at it, we’re all talking and all over the world here right now. Word of mouth is trust, right? I’m going to trust ourselves and lean with that. Thank you. Eva do you have any – my pronunciation, you can speak languages, and I’m like, I can’t pronounce English.
[1:26:34.6] ES: Any other takeaways. Well, you guys have given me a lot of stuff to look into, so I have a list of notes that I’ve taken down and I’m going to do research right now.
[1:26:44.7] AS: Yay. Yay, continue [inaudible 1:26:46.2]. Well, thank you everyone so much for being here and sharing your wisdom and your process.
[1:26:52.5] TT: Thank you.
[1:26:53.0] AB: Thank you. [Inaudible 1:26:52.9]
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[1:26:58.2] AS: Thank you health rebels for tuning in today. Have a reaction, question, or want the transcript from today’s episode? Find me at alishapiro.com. I’d love if you leave a review on Apple podcast and tell your friends and family about Insatiable. It helps us grow our community and share a new way of approaching health and our bodies. Thanks for engaging in a different kind of conversation, and remember always your body truths are unique, profound real and liberating.
I get asked several times a week about the best educational and entrepreneurial paths for those who want to transition to a career in wellness.
With this podcast season’s focus on renewal, what can be more renewing than a career shift or, at least, bringing more wellness into your life.
“How did you get started?” is the most common question. And how I got started is not going to be as useful to you as you asking yourself the two questions I share today.
The truth is, there’s as many paths as there are people. So, I invited four people with widely different backgrounds and different stages of where their healing gifts are being used. And then I chimed in and gave my two cents, too.
On today’s episode of Insatiable, we have:
Tashmica Torok, founder of The Firecracker Foundation, a non-profit which provides holistic healing services to child survivors of sexual trauma.
Jennifer Nathanson, a nurse-practitioner who is transitioning into functional medicine and traversing the emotional terrain with clients as they change their food and lifestyle.
Autumn Beam, who is in the home stretch of becoming a Clinical Nutritionist.
Eva Schafroth, a yoga teacher working in the corporate world, with a growing interest in nutrition and supporting people to change their lifestyle.