Ashley Stahl: Design Your Dream Career | E98
Looking to find your true passion and perfect career fit?
In this week’s episode, we are talking with Ashley Stahl, counter terrorism expert turned career coach, podcaster, author, and entrepreneur. She has amassed a large online following through her podcast, You Turn Podcast, and has had her Tedx talks go viral. Her new book, You Turn, comes out on January 26.
In this episode, we talk about Ashley’s childhood career goals, her work in the counter terrorism sector, and how she got to her life today as a speaker and entrepreneur. We’ll then dig deeper on her advice to people who are unsure with their career, the best ways to identify job misalignment, and how to set your mentality for major life changes.
Sponsored by Podcast Republic: https://www.podcastrepublic.net/podcast/1368888880
Recommended Episode To Listen To Next: #63: Find Your Dream Job with Kristin Sherry
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Reach out to Hala directly at [email protected]
Follow Hala on Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/htaha/
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Follow Hala on ClubHouse: @halataha
Check out our website to meet the team, view show notes and transcripts: www.youngandprofiting.com
00:33 – What Ashley Wanted to Be When She Was a Kid
02:42 – Ashley’s Day-to-Day in Counter Terrorism
09:31 – Advice to People Who Are Unsure
17:33 – Opposition to the Common 5-Year Plan
19:28 – Example of Job Misalignment
22:59 – Transitioning Side Hustles to Full Time
28:22 – Setting Your Mentality For Major Changes
37:44 – Ashley’s Failures and How She Rebounded
45:45 – The Process of Writing a Book
50:29 – Ashley’s New Book and the Key Takeaways
51:30 – Ashley’s Secret to Profiting in Life
Ashley’s Book, You Turn: https://ashleystahl.com/you-turn/
Ashley’s Website: https://ashleystahl.com/
Ashley’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleystahl/
Ashley’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleystahl/
Ashley’s Podcast: https://ashleystahl.com/podcast-page/
[00:00:00] Hala Taha: You're listening to YAP, young and profiting podcast, a place where you can listen, learn, and profit. Welcome to the show. I'm your host, Hala Taha. And on young and profiting podcast, we investigate a new topic each week and interview some of the brightest minds in the world. My goal is to turn their wisdom into actionable.
That you can use in your everyday life, no matter your age, profession, or industry, there's no fluff on this podcast and that's on purpose. I'm here to uncover value from my guests by doing the proper research and asking the right questions. If you're new to the show, we've chatted with the likes of ex FBI agents, real estate moguls.
Self-made billions. CEOs and best-selling authors our subject matter ranges from enhancing productivity, how to gain, influence the art of entrepreneurship and more, if you're smart and like to continually improve yourself, hit the subscribe button because you'll love it here at young [00:01:00] and profiting podcast this week on YAP, I'm chatting with Ashley Stahl, former counter-terrorism professional turned career expert Ashley's mission is to help others find clarity and success in their ideal career.
At age 23, Ashley landed a job at the Pentagon and worked on the front lines against the war on terror. She decided to leave counter-terrorism and did a complete 360. She became a career coach, keynote speaker podcast, host and author, her new book. You turn that's Y-O-U get unstuck. Discover your direction and design your dream career.
Comes out on January 26th. Ashley is also a Forbes columnist, founder of cake publishing and has been featured in the wall street journal time, the Washington post and Bloomberg her two Ted talks have been viewed over 3 million times. In this episode, we talk about Ashley's work in counter-terrorism and how she reinvented her career as [00:02:00] a speaker and entrepreneur.
Then get her advice for people who are unsure about their career, the best ways to identify job misalignment and how to take a career U-turn to do work that better aligns with who you are. Tune into this episode to learn Ashley's advice and finding a career that makes you profit and thrive. Hey Ashley, welcome to young and profiting podcasts.
Ashley Stahl: Thank you
so much for having me. I'm excited to be here with
Hala Taha: Yeah. I think that you have such a unique story. You started off your career as an administrative assistant, then you went into counter terrorism. Then you went into being a career coach, which is a total 360. So I thought it would be fun to kick off this interview to just hear a little bit about, what you wanted to be when you grew up.
Because I don't think many people. I think, oh, I want to work, as a spy or, with the government when I grow up. And so I want to know if that was something that you always dreamed of or did it just happen that way?
Ashley Stahl: I love your question. Like I can tell this [00:03:00] is already going to be such a good conversation because it's funny.
I don't know if any podcasters have asked me. What I wanted to be when I grew up, but I feel like that's such a relevant question for so many people. And if we look at our lives, it's like most of the time we were told about very limited career options, being a veterinarian and astronaut, I'm pretty sure I heard like teacher firefighter, like there weren't a lot of options, but actually in the book that I recently wrote, I opened up in my introduction saying that at my preschool graduation, the principal asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.
And I remember as a kid. Being whatever age in preschool, walking up to the microphone and staring at all the parents in the audience with the lights in my eyes and saying, I want to be a mom. And also a writer. And it's funny because I went on this whole journey in my career being many things.
And now in my thirties here I am back at the person I was truly meant to be. I finally wrote a book I'm working on a poetry collection and I'll be a mother in time. And so it's funny how we go on these crazy [00:04:00] journeys to come back to what we already probably know about ourselves.
Hala Taha: I know it's so strange because it's like, you are who you are when you were like three, four years old, like your personality has already developed and you already kinda know what you're good at.
I would tell all my listeners who are out there tuning in if you're having trouble finding your passion or thinking about what you want to do in life, think about what you liked when you were younger and what, your parents used to say. You were like as a kid and think about how that relates to.
your career. So speaking about careers, you were in counter terrorism and you actually landed a really cool job. You ended up taking up a position that was a senior official, like 65 year old Colonel. You ended up replacing his job. We'll get into that in a bit in terms of how you did that, but what was your day-to-day like.
In that job,
Ashley Stahl: man, I can see you. You have such a good question still. I would say first of all, you're right about being a kid. I feel like there's something very innocent about our childlike nature. We're drawn to what we're drawn to, or we're not ashamed or afraid [00:05:00] of our creativity. And there's such a natural flow to being a kid.
So I love that you talk about that with everybody listening. As far as the Pentagon goes, I made that career decision based on a misunderstanding. And I think a lot of people do make career decisions based on misunderstandings and on these high impact moments that really affect the way we see the world.
So in my case, I'll never forget this moment. I was living in France. I was studying abroad, which was such a privilege to be able to do that and get funding and a scholarship to be able to do that. And I'll never forget this rainy Sunday. I was in noon France, which was outside of Paris and the countryside. And I saw this woman getting hit by her husband.
And I never seen anything like that. I'd never seen domestic violence before, let alone, like in the street, nobody was there. And I remember looking around in this panic is there a police officer? What can I do? It was pouring rain. She had a baby in her arms. The baby started crying and we had this moment, this very human moment where she [00:06:00] looked at me and she locked eyes with me.
And it was just her and me in that moment. And in that time, I was studying world affairs. My family was very impacted by 9-11. I have family on the east coast and it was just this moment where I thought I want to be a protector. I want to be a helper. And for whatever reason, the fact that she was being beat up in that way, the closest path, my brain could go as somebody studying government was to work in national security, like to be, not just protecting people on a human level, but on a national level.
I don't know necessarily why that was the one option, but I do know that this happens for a lot of people is that we have these big formative moments and they meet us in a vulnerable time of our lives, where we need to make a decision about our life, about our career, about a marriage, about anything.
And my decision was I'm going to pursue this path. And so I put everything into national security. I learned the languages, I got the degree. And then I came home during the recession and couldn't get a [00:07:00] job to save my life, slept on my parents' couch for a few months, too many, and just decided I need to take what I could get.
So I ended up accepting a position as an admin assistant. And that was what kind of sent me into this desperation of I know I'm meant for counter-terrorism for now. It might've not have been my lifelong goal, but I knew something about it was meant for my life for now, which is a weird thought to have in your career.
Everybody's holding on to that feeling of wanting something that's there forever, but I wanted something that felt solid now and. I remember emailing my university and my admin assistant job, just operating on that belief. So many people do that. I had to take what I could get that I had to get my foot in the door.
There's so many limiting beliefs that we buy into his job seekers that I don't actually think as a career expert serve your career. So I contacted my college and said, look, I'm a government student that graduated. Do you have a list of alumni that have moved to DC that live in DC. And they sent me [00:08:00] 2000 names, emails, and phone numbers back of this is our alumni who have moved to the district.
And I worked my way through that list. I emailed every person I cold called every person. And of course I faced a ton of rejection. But in the end, I would say over a hundred people on that 2000 person list ended up helping me in such a big way. I got confidence. I moved to DC and I got tons of job offers.
And that landed me replacing the Colonel at the Pentagon. And what happened there was, a lot of people say that they don't have enough experience. And of course, for me, just having a master's degree in a couple of language skills didn't necessarily qualify me to run a massive program, $80 million contract, but.
I had a lot of energy. I was authentic and I was a hard worker. And I think that when people can like you, when they can trust you, when they believe in you, that trumps years of experience. So I went to college career fairs that I wasn't even at a student at when I moved to DC. I like to all [00:09:00] these college career fairs and ended up impressing this guy who was a government contractor.
And it's really interesting in government jobs, it's the chicken or the egg, like in order to get a top secret job, you usually need a top secret clearance, but you can't get a top secret clearance unless you have a top secret job. So you need that one job that gets you to break in and they give you a security clearance.
And government contractors are a little bit more generous with that than the government itself. So I ended up networking with the guy who founded a contractor and he said, you know what? I have so many executives that have taken this role, but they're all from the military. And they all delegate their way out of the job because that's what they were taught to do so well, is when you're a senior leader in the military, you delegate and he's I need somebody that can do the job themselves.
And that person became me. So what was cool about that was every day was different. Some weeks I was on military bases in the middle America, other weeks, I was at the Pentagon other weeks, I was in an [00:10:00] outside office location. But I learned so much about people. I learned about communication skills, what it takes to be a good communicator, because I was surrounded by different people who had different political agendas to be great, and they needed to be great at communicating.
And on the periphery of that, I really found my true purpose, which was helping people learn how to land job offers. I started helping friends outside of work, getting job offers. And they always said, you should be a career coach. And I was like, that sounds ridiculous. What does that even mean? And 10 years later here I am with a podcast and a book and all that stuff being a career coach.
Hala Taha: That's so cool. I can't wait. You just said so much and we do so much research here. So I knew about everything that you said, and we're gonna dig into it and really go deeper. So I want to take you back to when you were still in college, right? So that was a great overview for you. Thanks for giving it to our listeners.
Let's go back to when you were in college, you were sitting with your college counselor and she told you to follow your passion. And at that point that [00:11:00] actually made you more confused and felt more lost because she told you to follow your passion from my understanding. And then that's how you ended up getting that admin assistant job when he first got out, because you were just kinda like desperate to get anything out there.
So when your guidance counselor told you follow your passion, now that you're a career coach, you've had all this experience, helping people get jobs. What would your advice be to a college counselor or to anyone who is giving advice? When somebody doesn't know what they're supposed to be doing and what career path they're supposed to be going into what is your advice?
Like? What would you have wished that advisors said to you?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. There's a lot of three worded tirades that feel really good when people say them, but you don't really know what to do with them and follow your passion, do what you love and the money will follow. All of those things feel good in theory, but I think they leave us a little bit more lost than we even started with.
Because if we're being completely honest with ourselves, we can be passionate and even interested in a lot of different things. But there's a big difference between being a [00:12:00] consumer of something. And a creator or a producer of that thing. So in my case, I love fashion. I love cupcakes. I would be a horrible fashion designer.
I would be a horrible cupcake baker. They just, because I have an interest or passion in something. It doesn't equate to a skillset in it. And so my biggest advice, I would say for career advisors and anybody in their career right now is to upgrade the quality of questions that you're asking yourself to get clarity in your career.
And that starts with, instead of asking yourself, what industry do I want to be in? What am I passionate about? Those are good questions, but what a great question is to me is what is my best core skillset? When have people seen me at my best? Because according to research, we thrive. When we are doing well at something, we enjoy ourselves.
We have a better time. We like ourselves more. And I think a lot of the time people might pursue a passion, but it forces them to work in an area of their skillset that doesn't really align with who they are or where they're gifted. [00:13:00] So I would say any given person has probably. Three or so core skillsets.
And it's important to figure out what is that primary one? Like in my case words is my number one core skillset. And from there, once you figure out your core skillset asking yourself, how do I want to express this? Because your skill is like an umbrella that can fan out to many different job titles, many different responsibilities, but your skillset is really the what of your career.
And that matters first and foremost, how you're harnessing your energy throughout the
Hala Taha: Yeah. And can you give us some other examples of core skillsets? What are some common ones that people have?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I have a list of 10, if you want to jam through all of them for our note takers.
Hala Taha: Sure.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah.
Okay. So the first one is innovation and the innovation core skill set is all about. The creative self-starter who's the entrepreneur or it's somebody within a company who is an entrepreneur. It's a highly creative person. Maybe they run their own book of business under a [00:14:00] company, but they are a creative problem solver.
And then the second core skill set, I think about a lot is building. And these skillsets are kind of energy fields. So it's not just how you're using, you're how you're thinking. You're doing responsibilities. It's also how you're using your energies. Building can be quite literal, like a construction worker.
It can also be more of a metaphor, like a website designer or a web builder. And then the third skill set I would say is mine the words skillset I'm guessing you probably have.
Hala Taha: Yeah. I feel like I'm words and innovation
Ashley Stahl: but yeah, you probably are. Especially, having worked at Disney and stuff like that.
You've got some innovative mindset going on and number four is motion people don't necessarily realize that being in motion is a skillset, but these are the, for the people who are on their feet all day. And that's how they thrive. It could be a tour guide. It could be a hairdresser, it could be a, I'm a fitness influencer, physical [00:15:00] trainer type of person.
And it's important by the way, as you go through these to reflect on whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, because I know there's a lot of research on being an ambivert, for example, If you're an introvert, like I somewhat am in my career in contrary to how I probably sound. I sound very extroverted.
My words skillset is going to manifest internally. It's going to look like me writing. It's going to probably look like me having a podcast. Like I do more than me. Out there on a stage speaking. And it's funny because people who researched me, they're going to find a couple of big speaking engagements I've done, but they're going to find more podcast episodes and things that are not behind a video camera because I'm an introvert.
And so I think it's really important to know that about yourself. The fifth core skillset is service. This one brings up a whole different slew of questions. These are for our humanitarians, our supporters. And when I think about the service core skillset, there are people who are just natural born helpers, but sometimes it [00:16:00] comes from a wounded place where maybe it's a coping mechanism.
They learned how to be a people pleaser or an over giver. And that has really influenced how they show up in their career. So it's so important to be able to reflect on where your skillset comes from. Isn't really a skill you have, or is it more of a coping mechanism that you've had to learn so that you can stay authentic because you don't want your trauma to be what you lead with.
And yet it can be both. It can be that you had to learn how to be a people pleaser and you love helping. It's just important to ask those questions. And number six is coordination. These are, the people probably on your podcast, helping you get the logistics, done the event, coordinators, operations, project managers, the world moves because of these detail oriented people and then analysis.
And this is a funny one because at the Pentagon, in counter-terrorism I had to work in the analysis arena and that's not my skillset. And that's why I was. So exhausted in my job all the time. And if you look at analysis, it was really [00:17:00] me misunderstanding the words, core skillset. So I didn't realize I'm good at words, that's my skill.
And so I looked at intelligence analysis and thought, this is a way for me to use words, but really what I was doing was living in analysis, not in creative words, not in expressing myself with words. So you have to notice that there's different versions of how people can interpret their skills.
Or even if you look at a psychologist, you might have one psychologist who leads with words. And the way they express themselves is so healing for someone versus a psychologist who's really analytical and they leave with analysis. And the advice they give comes through that lens and that skillset, none are better than the other, but it's important to know where you lead.
And then we've got number eight, which is a number. Pretty straightforward, our number crunchers and number nine technology. So these are our, tech troubleshooters, our artificial intelligence creators. They probably also have some innovation in them. And then number 10, which is my favorite one, I feel like you have some [00:18:00] of that because you're so well put together is beauty.
So this is the core skillset that makeup artists, interior designers, jewelry designers will have. They make art of the world around them. And I absolutely love that skillset.
Hala Taha: Oh, those are so cool. I feel like everybody can take those 10 and decide, cause you don't have to just be one. For me, I felt like I resonated with innovation with writing and with the project management one that the event planning one.
And even a bit of technology and beauty, like you said. So I feel like I'm like a little bit of everything, but I guess you need to find which one you're like most strong at and what careers would be a good fit for that. So really good stuff. And that's in your book, you turn, which comes out January 26th,
is that correct?
Ashley Stahl: Yes. That's chapter two. I try to get into that early in the book. There's the book has an 11 step roadmap, but I think that the rubber really hits the road. When you see what your core skillset is because. Everything that I share with helping people get clarity starts with what is your skillset?
[00:19:00] Hala Taha: Yeah. So we just talked about how you're really not into the phrase, do what you love or follow your passion.
And another common piece of advice that you're against is having a five-year plan. So what is it about a five-year plan that you're opposed to? Why do you think that's the wrong way to think?
Ashley Stahl: I think honestly, who we are is a moving and growing and expanding organism. And I think when you make a five-year plan, you're buying into an identity for yourself that might not work.
That's like saying that your favorite pair of jeans that you love right now is going to be your favorite pair of jeans in 2026. It's just not realistic and it's not honoring who we truly are. And that's why I think also going back to the core skill. That's so important because your core skillset can be expressed.
And you said you have three that you resonate with. I think it's most important to get clear on what's the one you want to lead with most and then knowing you have these other two for anybody who's listening. And I think this plays into your five-year plan because it's instead of saying, this is the role I want.
Cause what [00:20:00] you're really saying is this is the way I'm going to use my skillset instead saying I'm going to be growing, harnessing, sharpening, expanding my impact with this core skillset and allowing your career to be an experiment that meets you where you are because one of the most damaging things you can do in your career is push the river.
Push yourself to be someone you're not override who you are right now that never works. The people who are thriving and the people who are making the most impact usually are not that linear in their career because they're honoring where their gifts have started to generate. And that's going to move over
Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally agree. I know one of the big, like ideas that you have is that you should do what you are, not what you love. And you're talking about this right now. So I figure it's a good time to talk about it. So help us understand what the real example, because I think when you were in counter terrorism, you were doing what you love and not what you are.
And it's hard to understand what you're talking about without a real example. So can you give a real example, maybe [00:21:00] take us through, even when you were working in counter-terror and how it was misaligned with who you really are.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah,
I would say, there's two dynamics in anyone's career.
There's the, what of what you're doing in your career that comes back to your core skillset. What we were talking about the second piece is the how of how your career looks that comes back down to, your boss, the corporate culture, the dynamics at work, your values. And according to research with half of people leaving their job, because they don't like their boss.
What we know is that how your job looks matters for your wellbeing, just as much as what you're doing from nine to five, your responsibilities, your core skillset. When it comes to doing what you are. I think the key is outside of knowing your skills, also understanding what are your core values, what are the non-negotiable principles by which you lead your life?
Because I know there's a lot of coaches out there saying know what you value, know what your core values are, but I think there's a lot of misinformation for [00:22:00] people around actually clarifying what those words are. For example, I have a list of core values, probably in one of my programs. And I had a client tell me that his core value was adventure.
And then another one told me her core value was adventure out of her top 5. And I asked the guy, I said what does adventure mean for you? And he said, skydiving, like adrenaline seeking. And then the other woman, I said, what does this mean for you? And she said, trying new restaurants in New York. So like totally different version of this.
And I actually think this is something we get confused also in our romantic relationships we say pick somebody that has the same values as you, but maybe if religion or spirituality is a core value back could look very different for how two people express. And show up in that value. So I would say on top of that, People are really thinking about words like family authenticity, spirituality.
There's so many words, balance, humor, [00:23:00] creativity, all of these different words represent values. And for somebody to take some time to reflect, not on words, they want more of, like I had a client who said peace was a core value. Definitely not a core value for her. She's not a naturally peaceful person. And we both laughed about that.
So I said, okay, great. You know what? You're aspiring for more of, but that's still not your core value. And then we found the words that represent who she actually is. And what you really want to do is pick five words that without that word, you don't exist anymore. I have a lot of humor. And it doesn't always show up in podcasts, but if a friend walks through the door, like I'm a joker and I'm really silly.
And if you take humor way, like people would think something's wrong with me. Cause it's just not me to not have it. So that's when you know, you've hit a core value is something that's so deep and clear in who you are, that you can't exist with it.
Hala Taha: Yeah, I love this. If you guys like this conversation, I had a conversation with Kristin Sherry.
We talked about finding your dream job and she talks a lot about this too. So I think it's really relatable. I'll [00:24:00] tease it at the end of this episode so that you guys can go tune into their, I forgot the episode number, but that's great. I love it. I love your I'm really excited for your book. I think it's going to be a great read.
I can't wait to read it when it comes out. So let's talk about side hustles. Cause I think we both have some experience with that. I guess my question to you is, was your career coaching, a side hustle when you were doing counter terrorism? Because I think you were dabbling in it. And at what point did you know Hey, I want to take this full time.
I think you got a coach and you invested $10,000. You sold your car, you risked it all. So that's a big move. So what was it that told you like, wow, this is really what I need to do.
Ashley Stahl: I feel like. There's never going to be this like billboard in the sky. That's this is it. You're on the right path.
And all we really have is our intuition. And I think a lot of people get confused on what is their instinct or their intuition versus what is their fear and all of the most inspiring business biography of leaders that I look up to Warren Buffet, they always say [00:25:00] intuition is their number one business asset.
And so I think the first thing is understanding when you're listening to your intuition versus when you're listening to fear. In my case, intuition is absolute. It sounds like. This is good for you. This isn't good for you. That's all it sounds like for me. And so when I was pursuing and job hunting to get my job offer in DC, I was noticing that I was having the best time networking.
I loved reworking my resume. It used my word's core skillset. Very well, like spinning words so that I wasn't lying on my resume. I was being honest, but I was positioning myself in the best light because your resume is a marketing document. It's not a place that you regurgitate everything you've never done.
And so learning how to do that for myself and on the periphery of job hunting, I realized, and I'm on the periphery of going into counter-terrorism. I realized I love helping people with this. So I started for free just telling friends I'll help them with their job hunt. I got so many job offers that leaked into my life for months after I accepted my position at the Pentagon.
[00:26:00] And so many friends would say, how did you do that? And I was just having nothing but a good time showing them. And I ended up getting kicked out of Starbucks because so many people would show up and say, can you help me friend, a friend, a friend. It just became out of control. And so for me, it's about following life.
Starting to notice when there's, don't hold your vision. So tightly that you don't notice when there's something in front of you or on the periphery of what you're doing that is pulling you. And so for me, it was like, yeah, made sense mentally to stay at the Pentagon. Made sense to keep earning and to keep thriving in my career and the way that I was, but my heart.
I was so inspired when I was around the people who needed help with job hunting. And eventually it was just a matter of courage. And I think, a lot of people make the word fear mean that they shouldn't do something, but there's this coach Dan Sullivan. And he once said, fear is wetting your pants and courage is doing what you're supposed to do with wet pants.
And so for me, it wasn't like I had this [00:27:00] golden moment where it felt safe and it didn't feel scary to do what I wanted to do. And there were no career coaches, especially not for millennials, because we were at that age spot where there were no millennials who had enough experience to the old enough.
Yeah. So I was like breaking ground and I looked on the internet and there were barely any career coach sites that I saw. And I knew I was creating something out of thin air. I had no idea if anybody would like it, but within weeks of I had this moment where. My job had come to me and said, Hey, Ashley, this contract is ending.
We can give you a huge promotion in New York, or you don't have a job. And I remember thinking like, I don't want to move to New York. And just weeks after that, I got my first Ted talk opportunity had never spoken on a stage before. And I just decided to burn the bridges behind me and completely step into this career coaching business.
And I think that energy of this will work. I'm not negotiating. It created a level of action taking in me that I can only access [00:28:00] when you, I think you can only access when you truly give yourself to something. It's not necessarily that. I recommend that to everybody at home, listening to just quit their job
by any means
Hala Taha: you know what? I feel like the decision was a little bit easier for you because they basically told you, you had to relocate. And so you had these like options to way. I feel like it's really hard. So I'm in a situation and I'll be selfish for a second. And my listeners love listening about my story.
So I think it's fine. I work at Disney, I'm running a podcast marketing agency and my podcast, I've got major clients for making multi-six figures. I've got a 30 person team people work full-time for me. And I still have my freaking job at Disney because I'm too scared to let it go. I just feel like COVID is going to make the world.
Crash and who knows what's going to happen. And then what if people can't afford marketing services and nobody's going to stop streaming Disney. I work on Disney streaming. And so I'm just like, should I just keep Disney? I was like, I'll fall back. And it just drives me [00:29:00] crazy. And so every week I'm like, oh, I'm going to do it.
I'm going to do it. And yeah. I never do. And now it's getting to the point where I'm just working like a dog 16, 18 hours a day, and it's unhealthy. So I need to make a decision and I know what the decision is, but why is it so hard to even for me, like it's so black and white that I need to leave my job, but I'm just fearful.
It's like this fear. And I know that your dad actually. Had a business and lost his business. And that was a lot of fear that was in your mind. So how did you like unlock the chains mentally in terms of becoming an entrepreneur and taking that risk? What's your advice there? How do I do that?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah I love that you're sharing that. I think there's so much value in you sharing with your audience where you're at, because I think we're all the same. We're all one, if any, if COVID has ever taught us anything, it's that we're all connected, and so I think for you having this fear that sounds like some scarcity, which I totally relate to.
It sounds like you've learned how to manifest. You've learned how to come up with a vision, put yourself in inspired action and bring the vision to [00:30:00] life, but you don't have, so you have beliefs that you can create. It sounds like you have positive beliefs about you creating things. It doesn't sound like you have positive beliefs yet about you being able to keep things.
So I would probably look at your upbringing. Where did you learn that good things go away? Where did you learn that things don't keep growing things get worse over time? Like where did you maybe that's about money? Where did you learn that money? Isn't always easy and that you have to be scared of it.
And I would start to just create a better relationship with the stories you're telling yourself about money. One exercise that I really love recommending to clients or people in my programs is every single morning, just freeform writing from a different aspect of yourself. So if the aspect of yourself right now is fear and it's fear that this won't work out or something like that.
And that you're like a one hit wonder that's a fear that like right now it's working, but it might not stay that way. I think that's super common. Then I would journal from that voice inside [00:31:00] of you every day for a week, I would just, and it doesn't have to be, I know you're working 16, 18 hour days, so this does not have to be a big task, but I would say before you even look at your phone in the morning, just grab a piece of paper.
It could be five minutes, three minutes. And just let your hand channel the voice of that. What is it saying? And know that you're not going to know what it's going to say, because you're going to give it so much agency and freedom to just write on the page. It will probably write things like I'm scared.
I can't do this. Everything's going to go away. Let it have at it, let it rip. And then I always recommend just starring the one thought that is the most painful for you. That feels the most true for you. And putting your hand over your heart and just forgiving yourself and updating it with something more true and that you can get behind.
So I forgive myself for buying into the belief that this is all going to go away and that success doesn't last. The truth is I'm a hard worker and I'm going to keep making it happen. I have what it takes. I'm smart, like whatever it is. I think there's also probably some more [00:32:00] tactical tools for people.
Like how much money do you actually need to be making to survive? And can you get a part-time job? So that you can just pay your bills while you're building your company. There's a weird stigma about part-time jobs. I don't know why it almost seems like people think that they're not as good as full-time jobs, but there's a lot of amazing part-time jobs.
Even for me as a company, some of the best jobs I've hired for are part-time because we don't have budget for this highly creative pursuit to be a full-time thing. But somebody part time is really going to get this bad-ass opportunity to play and be creative. So I think just really getting clear what's at the root, what are the experiences and forgiving yourself and rewriting the story and doing that free form writing to release the thoughts.
And I would say don't reread it. Just throw away the journal page after you're
Hala Taha: I love it. I feel like I'm in a therapy session. Thank you so much. That's really helpful. And I know deep down inside what I've got to do, I'm just being a chicken and I'll take your advice. Okay. So you said that right [00:33:00] after you left yourjob.
You had already a few months later you had a Ted talk. So how did that happen? How did you land a Ted talk so quickly? Were you looking for it or did it fall on your lap? What
Ashley Stahl: I think there's something really powerful at any given moment, especially if you're an entrepreneur, but even if you're a job seeker of just knowing what you want to happen in the world.
Like The world meets you when you have clarity and not having clarity is probably one of the most expensive things that happens, because then you're just turning your life sometimes into this graveyard of trial and error where you're trying this. You're trying that. So if you can just sit here for a moment, especially even after this podcast interview and think to yourself what do I want to happen in my life right now?
Do you want a new job? Do you want to get PR opportunities? If you're an entrepreneur, in my case, I wanted to get my first speaking engagement. I was really excited about it. And people would say you have such good career advice, and I was like, I don't know where I'm getting this from. This is just what worked for me and my job line.
And I remember just saying to myself, I'm just going to put it out there that I really. Like a big [00:34:00] speaking engagement. And I've met this girl who had a nonprofit at an award ceremony in DC. I got an award for my work in national security and she said, oh yeah, last week I just gave a Ted talk at the UN.
And I said to her, I would love to do that someday. That is so inspiring. And she said maybe you'll get that opportunity sooner than you think. And I actually write about this in my book. I was in DC for this ceremony and just the next day I went to Istanbul for a work assignment. And I remember being in a spice bizarre in the middle, there was a, it was in 2012 when there was a lot of protests in Texas where in Turkey, I had tear gas in my actual eye and I got a text message and my tote bag, I felt my phone buzz and I was squinting, trying to see.
And I look, and it's this girl who found my number through the directory of the people who got the award and said, Hey, I just want to let you know. I recommended you for a Ted talk at Berkeley. I hope that's okay. And here's the next step is remembering that you're [00:35:00] worthy because you're worthy. That's it, that's your birthright.
And so for me, it was like, oh my gosh, I've never spoken on a stage before. I'm like 24, 25 years. What is it like, what am I going to do? And I ended up getting an email from them and they said, can you send us your speaking rail, which is so not what I had, like I have a speaking reel, I'm like this working person.
So I remember I had a cup of Turkish coffee in my hotel room at the end of the day I got back. I propped my iPhone up against the coffee and I just thought I'm going to make my speaking reel right now. And I just made up a speech right there on my iPhone. I don't probably, it wasn't a great speech, but I think it's just a reminder of what's meant for you.
It was always going to come to you because they somehow trusted me with such a massive opportunity. It wasn't just a TEDx event. It was the second largest TEDx in the world. They had an audience of over 4,000 in their auditorium. I just knew that this was going to be such a huge opportunity for me, that I figured, you know what?
I can't have more [00:36:00] experience than anybody who's up there. They've already been seasoned speakers, but I can work harder and prepare harder than all of them. And so I hired a coach and I really worked on my speaking for the four months leading up to the event every single night, I would have a little nightmare of that big red ring card.
On the floor and me walking up to it
Hala Taha: like flipping or something
Ashley Stahl: Falling or forgetting
my words like, what those moments are defining moments. And if you keep putting it out there, what you want, you keep stating what you want to people who might be able to help you get it without asking them for it.
Just letting them know. You're so excited about that thing. If you're job hunting saying that you're looking to transition into X or Y job putting it out there is so powerful because there are helpful people who will meet you exactly there.
Hala Taha: I totally agree. And also like just saying it out loud, it makes it real to yourself and you start to believe it.
And when you believe that something is possible, it will end up happening in your life. I actually just got my first TEDx talk. I'm going to do it in June. So I'm so excited. It's [00:37:00] like TEDx youth. So I think it's not as big as a deal as what you did, but a TEDx youth, it's a New Jersey. So I think it's like some, but it's once it's one stepping stone towards that.
So I'm really excited.
Ashley Stahl: That's gonna be incredible. Good. I know you're not going to have any problem with this, but it's definitely, if I could give you one unsolicited piece of advice, it's just prepare even harder than you think, because. Those Ted talks are so powerful for your career when you can give them your best talk,
Hala Taha: Yeah I'm so excited. And I think you had like over a million views on yours or something that must have really helped you like just propel everything. I'm sure.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. And I just recently gave a second Ted talk and it's done better than the first one, because I think it's more representation of me as a speaker.
Like I went on for 10 years to have this business and become an author and all of these things. And so it feels good to have worked really hard for the first one. And the second one was me just being who I am, like all of that work influenced who I am and all I had to really do was [00:38:00] be myself in that talk versus work so hard to get to a certain level in the first one.
Hala Taha: Okay. So before we go a little bit into your book, I want to talk about some failures that you had as an entrepreneur because this 10 years that you were an entrepreneur, it wasn't just smooth sailing, Rosie peaches. There was some hard times, you lost $500,000. Your company went under, that's tough, and scary for an entrepreneur.
That's all you have. So how did, what happened? How did you turn it around? Tell us about that experience.
Ashley Stahl: Here's the problem with having one revenue stream is that it's too close to zero. And I learned in my explosive first here's what happened is. The early, like 2010, 2012, Facebook ads weren't really a trend yet.
They were just beginning. And you started to see the rise of online webinars, which now is so common. Everybody has a webinar, but back in the day, it wasn't. And I remember seeing that when I had my career coaching practice and [00:39:00] thinking I've got an eight step method to help people land, job offers.
And even in my book, you turn, it's an 11 step method. I have to get clarity and get job offers. And I remember thinking I really want to create a course. So I created a webinar. I gave it not one, not two but 91 times. I paid for Facebook ads for people to register for my webinar. And I was breaking even for a while and even going into debt because I was investing in things for my course and my membership site.
And even I spent so much money when I didn't have a mentor because. Was throwing money at things I thought would be their answer. And really, if I had a good mentor who had been there and done that they would have spared me, I think so many dollars spent, but I ended up going into debt. And then eventually after reading every book, there was about copywriting and webinars.
I became a master webinar writer. Not even to this day, have a company called cake publishing and it's a ghost writing house, a publicity house. I don't do any of the work at that company, except I write webinars. And I write speeches because for our [00:40:00] appliance, because those are the two areas that I don't know how to hand off.
But I really learned through that experience, how to write a webinar. And I went from a hundred thousand dollars in debt, just investing in that process of getting my course out there to $5 million in revenue in 2 months and I went through we'd got thousands of customers overnight. Cause that's how it works with advertising.
If you have something and you're putting it out there, it's really a numbers game. It's X amount of people see it, X amount of people buy it and then you can increase your advertising budget and get more buyers. When nobody tells you is that the algorithm can change. So if you take on a huge staff and a lot of overhead, the algorithm can change.
And so I ended up losing. All of my millions, really, because I ended up pausing my whole advertising process and asking a lawyer to go through everything. I'd never made that much money before. It felt so big to me. And I was like, we need to look at this. And I come from a Pentagon, like I love justice and integrity.
I was like, This feels like illegal making this much money. [00:41:00] And I ended up having lawyers look at it and they ended up saying there was no gray zone. There wasn't anything bad about what I had. And by the time I turned it back on a month later, they needed over a month to look at all of my assets. The algorithm had changed and it wasn't profitable anymore, just like that.
And I spent about six months doing like monkey dances of Facebook ads and recording new videos and trying to get my ads to convert like they did. And they. Wouldn't and then eventually after about a year after that, I had millions of dollars locked up in payment plans from customers who had bought my program.
I faced the really hard decision of either keeping my overhead afloat. I had a really large team of employees or closing the doors and I had my mom who's my bookkeeper. And she does a lot of bookkeeping for our clients. And so she was looking after my books and she said, look, Ashley, if you close the doors this week, you get to keep a couple of hundred thousand dollars and live your life and start over.
And if you do. You're going to go into debt. And I held on a little bit longer, cause I just felt [00:42:00] so much sadness letting go of my team. I was in a little bit of a delusion of I can figure this out. And I do think there's something to be sad about being visionary and aspirational, but I was just in denial and it was like facing that this wasn't working anymore.
So I let go of my team. I went back to my roots and private coaching. I don't have a huge email list. So I just went back to that. Loved doing that. That was the beginning of it all. Anyway, started my podcast because I didn't know how to engage this massive email list of a half million millennials who signed up for my job hunting training.
And just engage them with the Youturn podcast. That was literally what made me start the show was how do I create content that I have fun doing that engages these people who signed up and ever since then, I've been building my business now, not only as an author and a podcast with sponsorships and having a small high-end private practice, but I have agents, I have talent agent.
I have so many different things [00:43:00] and it really happened for me because I was forcing myself to create a business model that was highly profitable. But was for someone else. I don't think people realize in the e-course world that if you have an online course, your course is going to take you 5% of your time to make 95% of your time is marketing.
And really good marketing is about tweaking and being exact and looking at your email, subject lines and creating new ads. It's all ads. And that's just not who I am. I'm a highly creative, and I meant to be an author, just like I was that at five years old at my preschool graduation. And really remembering the truth of who I am has come from hitting this rock bottom.
And I think like you have, you're reflecting on do you believe you can keep this money that's coming in through your company? For me, I feel like I can keep the revenue that is coming in. I can keep paying my team because I'm so much more aligned. I'm getting paid to be me. I'm not overriding who I am to [00:44:00] create.
And when you do that, you'll burn out anyway. It's not sustainable who you are. Always is going to win. So I just came back to myself and wrote the book. I was always meant to write. And I think things have only gone up and my revenue isn't it used to be at almost a million dollars a month or something like that.
But we're an easy, multiple six figure seven figure company. And I'm having a really good time. I probably worked 15 hours a week and I absolutely love what I
Hala Taha: that's amazing. I think there was so much lessons that you talked about. I love the fact that you have multiple. Revenue streams. You have cake publishing, you have your coaching business.
I'm sure you get money off your show. So there's so many different avenues. So if one goes down, you're not totally, in the shitter as they say so. That's great. And I totally agree. And that's how. I'm working my life too, is to have all these different, multiple revenue streams so that it's never an issue.
And I encourage everyone to do that because in 2021 that's life now [00:45:00] the least secure thing you can do is just have one revenue stream and a nine to five job. That's the least secure thing you can do in my opinion
Ashley Stahl: It takes time. Yeah. Like great feedback. It takes time like any new entrepreneur has to remember.
that you're not going to have 10 quality revenue streams overnight. Like right now we probably have eight or nine revenue streams, but it's like master one thing. Cause you don't need 10 sales funnels that are all broken and not working. I spent two years creating that one webinar sales funnel to my course.
And that's why it worked for so long. It was excellent. And so I think it's like really master the one service. But be a few moves ahead, know that you need to rework and re offer another service and serve your customers at many different price points. Don't just
Hala Taha: Yeah. And I love that the Facebook ads story that you gave too, because it's so true, those things can just change in an instant.
You can't just bank on ads working really well, whether it's YouTube. Now there's a lot of success stories on YouTube ads. You never really [00:46:00] know what's going to pan out. So you can't bank on that. It's and you just ride it until it's gone, so let's talk about your book. It comes out January 26th.
It's really exciting. It's called Youturn I'm sure you're probably so psyched. You actually had publishers fighting over you. How did what's the book process? Because one of my 2021 goals is to at least know the concept of the book that I want to write. So that's one of my goals. What was that process like?
Like what can, what advice can you give to anybody who's thinking about writing a book?
Ashley Stahl: I love your
intention just to know the concept because, and not to force it because it takes time to really know what you have to say. And I think certain people, certain creators. When they create from such a clean, such a true place.
It's like the work that will come out of you is only going to succeed. No, my most recent Ted talk, that thing I knew was going to do well, because I put my soul into it. It came from such clean energy. I'm stuck with my book. I really allowed that concept to come to me and take the [00:47:00] time it needed to.
And I knew I wanted to write a narrative about my life, but infuse it with a prescriptive step-by-step guidance for people to get clarity on their next career move and who they truly are. And, it was interesting because there's actually not a genre for that. There's either a memoirs or there's, self-help, there's not that blend of I'm going to tell stories and there's going to be a ton of tips in these stories that people can implement today for their career.
And so even publishers had the ones that declined me, didn't know what to do because they couldn't fit the genre. And they were like, look, we need to know what shelf this sits on in Barnes and noble. We can't buy a book. We don't know what shelf it sits on. And so first I just had to learn how to talk about my book, how to talk about the concept, because it's funny it can use, we're all like little mad scientists, sometimes as entrepreneurs.
The whole thing is in our head, but we don't know how to express it. And so I took some time to really think about what I wanted to do. I wrote down the lessons of my life. I wrote down my step-by-step formula that I wanted to help people with. And I [00:48:00] pegged each lesson. To a story so that I could put the stories in cadence with the lessons I wanted people to learn.
And I wrote a book proposal. I Googled online what book proposals look like. I asked friends for their book proposals. And from there I got an agent, sent him my book proposal. It took me one year to make my book proposal. So it usually will include your marketing plan for your book and two chapters. A book is really a labor of love and people say it, but it's more and more crazy to me that people would write a book for money because it's.
Really a labor of love. So I spent a year just working on those two initial chapters on the table of contents and my marketing plan eventually got an agent to take a look at it. He took me on, he started shopping the book. It usually takes about three weeks from when you have a finalized proposal and agent takes it to get some offers from different publishing houses.
And again, the ones that turned me down, it was like, they just, they figured out where it sat on the shelf and then the ones that were fighting over it. A lot of them were more spiritual type publishers that didn't [00:49:00] have a book that was career focused and they could see that I had a lot of mindset and psychology in my book, but also those practical tools.
And I think that's something that is really missing in the personal development space. There's a lot of podcasts about purpose and it ends up being very spiritual, which is very powerful, very mindset focused, also very relevant, but not enough practical tools like the 10 core skillsets. And which one are you?
So, I think the publishers really appreciated that grounded approach to career advice. And from there, I ended up getting a couple of offers accepting one, and then that publisher had so many requests for me to delete a chapter, to change my title. And I knew I wanted to be called a Youturn. Y-O-U like returning to yourself?
And they didn't like the title, but I had woven it throughout the book. And so I ended up paying my publisher back six figure advance and hoping that another publisher would buy it. And they did I'm so grateful. I took that risk and that the book is still going to get out there
Hala Taha: you are. So [00:50:00] bossy wow, like you just go all in and take risks.
And what they say is, high risk, high reward, and you've been rewarded in life for jumping in and taking all these risks. It's amazing how many risks that you've taken? It's
Ashley Stahl: When I get into my thirties. I'm a little more risky. I'm going to have a family and, but I still am a risk taker.
And I have to remember, you have to remember I still lost millions of dollars. Like there it's just a muscle and you'll usually win if you are a risk taker anyway, but you have to be willing to face those losses as well.
Hala Taha: Amazing stuff. So I would definitely go check out her book when it comes out January 26th, it's called Youturn Y-O-U turn.
Definitely recommend it just by, reading the previews that I got to see. And you cover 11 steps to find your dream career. Do you want to just tell everybody what the main takeaway of the book is.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah, I would say, outside of your core skillset, I talk about your core nature and like the energy that you bring to the room and what that means for your career options.
I also help you with a large core values [00:51:00] list. I think that's in chapter three with how to figure out what your core values are. There's an exercise list of different things you can do in questions to ask yourself at the end of every chapter. So that I am just a vehicle for you to learn about yourself.
But the takeaway of the book is that who you are always wins. So whether you want to listen to who you truly are, that little nudge inside of you, that says what you're doing right now, isn't working. Whether you want to listen to that today or next year. You're going to have to face it at some point. And so my book is really about helping you own, who you are, know how to express it best in the workforce and take some steps to really make it happen.
Hala Taha: Yeah, that's awesome. And the last question we ask all our guests is what is your secret to profiting in life
Ashley Stahl: People, Conversations I would say your life is only as expensive as the conversations you're having. Whenever I feel like my business is plateauing or it needs more energy around it. I just [00:52:00] think who can I have a conversation with today?
Hala Taha: I love that. So being engaged, getting experiences, getting feedback, I think that's super important. Thank you so much, Ashley. I love this conversation. You are an amazing person and thank you so much for taking the time to come on
Ashley Stahl: Thank you for having me.
Hala Taha: Thanks for listening to young and profiting podcast.
I hope you enjoyed this episode with Ashley Stahl. My favorite part of this episode was when Ashley talked about identifying your core skill sets and finding a career that fits you best, we spend so much time of our life working. It's really a shame to feel unfulfilled in our jobs. The good news is that you have the power to stop living on autopilot and you can turn your career around
when people say, follow your passion, find your purpose and do what you love. It's really just empty advice and it doesn't directly help us figure out what we're meant to do in our careers. In fact, it may only cause more confusion. If all we had to do is follow our bliss, then why aren't we all blissful yet?
[00:53:00] The truth is like Ashley says the best career is not one where you only do what you love, but one where you honor who you are as well at YAP. We've had a lot of excellent episodes on careers like this one. And if this episode resonated with you and you're looking for more career advice, I recommend to go check out number 63, find your job with Kristin Sherry.
Next here's a clip from that episode.
I want to help my listeners understand the difference between skills and strengths. So we just went over strengths. Are they the same? Or are they different?
Kristin Sherry: They are different. So the way I explain the four pillars, your strengths are the how that's, how you prefer to work.
So you prefer to work hard. You prefer. To work with a visionary lens of legacy. And what am I trying to create and leave behind you prefer to work with focus. The way you want to work is that [00:54:00] prioritization. So that's how you work. Strengths are what you do. That's where the. It's the road. It's the actual work that you're doing, not how you're doing it.
So strengths are natural gifting. Everyone is born with their strengths and they're pretty stable over your lifetime skills are learned and there's a correlation. So Laila Smith, she's a close friend of mine. She has communication in her top five strengths. She's very good at writing because of that strength, because there's a correlation.
It influences her ability, but writing is a skill. And it can be learned. People who are not naturally gifted at writing can become strong writers with skill training. So that's the difference, a natural talent versus a learned skill. And it's interesting because a lot of times people don't recognize the difference between a good day and a bad day.
Is what they were doing that day. So why do you have days where you're so energized? That was a [00:55:00] great day. And the next day you're like, ah, is it five o'clock? Is it wine? O'clock you have to look at what were you doing those days? You were doing burnout skills. That's the reason why you're so exhausted.
Hala Taha: Like I said, if you want to learn more about finding your right career fit, go check out number 63. Find your dream job with Kristin Sherry next. And if you're a new listener, please take a few minutes to subscribe to YAP and drop us a review on apple podcasts. It's a free and effective way to support the show.
This week, I'm going to shout out a review from my mom and Jordan Mendoza. The first one is from my mom. So proud of you. I just figured out how to leave a review. You give me great company. Enjoy listening to your podcast. It's informative, but not overwhelming. It gives purpose guidance and encouragement. It can lay a path for listeners.
You work hard for each podcast and it comes naturally from your heart. I know because you love what you're doing. Keep it up the sky's the limit. Loved mom. Thanks, mom. Love you [00:56:00] too. I know you're not the most tech savvy person in the world, but I really appreciate you finally figuring this out because these reviews really make a difference for us.
The next review is from Jordan Mendoza. He's the host of blaze your own trail podcast. Hala is a true trail blazer. She does an amazing job as a host and treats each guest just as special as the last, make sure to subscribe if you like being inspired. Thank you both for your awesome reviews. And if you're out there listening and you found value in today's show with Ashley Stahl, please take a few minutes to write a search review on apple podcast or wherever you listen to your podcast.
And I love seeing posts about YAP on LinkedIn or Instagram. If you're listening on Spotify, you can just share the podcast, write your Instagram story, or take a screenshot of your podcast app and share it to your story. And tag me @yapwithhala. I'll always repost and support those whose word us. You can find me on Instagram @yapwithala or LinkedIn, just search for my name.
It's Hala Taha. [00:57:00] And now I'm on clubhouse. My username is Hala Taha, and we're hosting a weekly event from 4:00 to 6:00 PM every Tuesday night going forward. So check that out. We're going to be inviting past guests of young and profiting podcast, and it's going to be an amazing conversation. I've been spending a lot of time on clubhouse.
So I hope to see you guys there. Big shout out to the YAP team as always. This is Hala signing off.
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