Ashley Stahl is a counterterrorism professional turned career coach, speaker, and author on a mission to help you step into a career or business you’re excited about and aligned with. Through her two viral TEDx speeches, her email list of 500,000 and her podcast, You Turn, she’s been able to support clients in 31 countries in discovering their best career path, upgrading their confidence and landing more job offers.
Mindie Kniss: All right, my friends… Today, I am so excited for you to meet my new friend. This is a person who was introduced to me by our mutual friend, Jason Goldberg. And he told me a bit of her story. And I had tears in my eyes when he was telling me this story. And then, I more recently went on to watch one of her speeches online and I kid you not, I was bawling. So this woman has a fascinating story, fascinating experience, to share with you. Her name is Ashley Stahl. Ashley, thank you so much for being on The Lucrative Society.
Ashley Stahl: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here with you.
Mindie Kniss: I am too. I just love… There’s so many things that you and I have a connection point on. So I’m really excited to ask you about a lot of these things, but one of the ways that I like to start this conversation is I would love for you to give our listener a little bit of your wealth evolution. Growing up, what was money like for you? And then kind of take us into the future up into today and talk about what you’re up to now.
Ashley Stahl: That’s awesome. I’ve never even been asked that, which is so funny because it’s so key for people to understand their own wealth or lack thereof journey to be able to shift, you know, and I don’t think we often reflect enough about what wealth means for us and what our journey was. I grew up in a house where things are really abundant when I was super young and when I turned six or seven, my dad, he basically dropped out of UCLA and he started one of the biggest financial firms west of the Mississippi, out of his dorm room. And he ended up going from zero to 300 employees and having this huge office in Century City. And when I was younger, before I turned seven, it was just kind of like my mom tending to me and my little brother and we had this beautiful home and then everything changed.
In the late nineties, I was going into first grade and my dad lost everything. And I think it was like $30 million or something like that. And what I understand about his firm was that a competitive firm was just bonusing people to walk across the street and leave his firm. And he went under and it’s so interesting because to this day, he won’t say, “I lost my business.” He’ll say, “I chose to close the doors.” So he’s still processing this like two, three decades later or not processing it depending, I guess, on how you look at it. But my experience from seven onwards was, I didn’t really know what money was until probably I turned 13 and I got luggage for my birthday and I threw a total tantrum. Like, why am I getting luggage for my birthday? But looking back, I didn’t really feel any loss going from this huge mansion to this like regular house in suburbia.
I didn’t feel any difference. I think as kids, we just want to hang out with our parents, but what did leave a mark on me was my dad was very anxious about money and always wondering where it would come from. And I think a lot of people went through that. And the conversation in my house was always about like the next deal. It was always about becoming and not being. I grew up just needing some peace, you know? And it wasn’t until my teenage years that I started to become more of an achiever. Like at first I was like a B+, happy B+, don’t need to study student, but watching what my dad went through after my 13th birthday, and I had my tantrum about luggage. I remember he had a panic attack that day. When I threw the luggage, I was like, why’d you guys get me this?
And my mom said, “You need to apologize to your dad. You know, we don’t have money.” And I never heard those words before. I never understood that money had that impact of what you get and what you don’t. That was when I drew the connection. I remember opening the door and my dad was having a panic attack and he looked at me in the eye and he said, “This is going to kill me.” I remember as a kid, that was the moment that I thought like money, the pursuit of money is going to kill me. But the only thing worse is not having it. So I had this like competing belief system of like getting it’s going to kill me, but not having it’s going to kill me worse. So I ended up becoming an achiever cause I was like, the more I do the more I am.
And that was my belief. And I was a super achiever and it’s weird because I just, I have my own podcast and I did an interview on it with somebody around achievement. And they were like, well, you’re an overachiever. And I was like, that’s so weird. I never identified as an overachiever.
Mindie Kniss: Really?!
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I know. I just thought like I would work hard, but I don’t love her all the time. Like I guess I thought of an overachiever, like somebody who’s working all the time nonstop. I didn’t think of it like you just have some big high achievements that you consistently will produce. I don’t know. I’m not a workaholic. I just reach for the stars. You know, as I grew up, I kind of muffled my intuition because I just wanted to earn and succeed. And I learned that my survival was tied–or I believed it was tied–to like how flashy whatever I was doing was. So the flashier the better, the bigger name, the better. I wanted to work at a big name company or a big name place.
And when 9/11 happened, I remember being really affected by that. I had family members on the East Coast and it really rocked my parents. And I was always good at learning foreign languages. And I just decided I’m going to go into counterterrorism. And so being a resourceful person, I thought, okay, I’m not going to go into the government. I’m going to go into contracting because then I can make more money. Money, money, money. Do do, do. More, more, more. So ended up taking a defense contractor job, which the downside of that is that you don’t have the same job security as a government person because you know, you don’t get fired in the government. You usually just get reassigned is my experience to a different team. And so when you’re a contractor, you don’t have that same job security, but you get paid more because it’s private sector doing public jobs.
So I did everything I could to get that job. I got the degrees, I got the master’s, I learned the languages, all of the things. Got into the Pentagon and it felt like something was missing. But what happened along the way was when I was trying to get into the Pentagon, I couldn’t get a job offer. And so for a while, like 6 to 12 months, I was an admin assistant, barely making minimum wage. And this was like exacerbating all my money issues. Cause I was like, no way I cannot be making minimum wage. And it made me depressed. Like I ended up going to some therapist.
Mindie Kniss: I actually love this story. And specifically this part, cause I’m like what? You were doing what?
Ashley Stahl: I know. It’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of my little story. So I ended up being an admin assistant, doing a bunch of cold networking on the phone. I got a list of alumni who graduated my college and moved to DC. And I just worked my way through this list of like 2,000 people literally. And you can imagine, most of them were working in counterterrorism and intelligence. So a foreign phone call is even worse for that industry. Like cold networking is even more unwelcome. And so I just kind of braved through it. I found about 40 people out of that 2000 that picked up the phone, talk to me, offered to help me. And they were just awesome humans. And I ended up getting the confidence to move to DC. And that was when I hit the pavement, did everything and got my job at the Pentagon. I turned those 40 conversations into 200 cups of coffee with different people. And in six weeks I got three job offers, leveraged all of them, met this badass woman at the Pentagon named Jane Morris, who now has a company called To the Market and also became an entrepreneur. She just taught me how to weigh offers and negotiate my salary. And so I remember coming in with that scarce mindset of like, Oh my gosh, I’m lucky that I have something and I really want to make a lot, but I’m so lucky, you know, like this weird tug and pull. And she goes, Uh uh, you take all of these offers. You leverage them. You let them know you’re weighing one against the other. And so she coached me through these phone calls. I ended up tripling my salary from the admin job, which when you’re making nearly minimum wage, isn’t the most huge achievement, but I felt like a badass. And I felt like a rapper, you know, like just raining funds.
I went from an admin assistant to an executive at the Pentagon in this six-week job hunt. And it was when I really realized like learning how to talk to people, learning how to have conversations. That’s your golden ticket. Being the best candidate in the job market, being the best entrepreneur. That’s one thing. But being the best at acquiring. Being the best at communicating, that’s a whole other skill that I think a lot of people lack.
Mindie Kniss: Ash, if you could have just told me this 12 years ago… I was like, I’m a great coach. Where are all the people?
Ashley Stahl: I’m the best kept secret. Yeah, where’s the party at?
Mindie Kniss: I did not know that. I did not have that information back then.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah, totally. It’s interesting because I was going into interview rooms full of Harvard graduates and I went to a small college that was kind of mediocre at best, if I’m being candid about like how it rates in the rankings, you know?
And I almost felt like it gave me more grit and motivation cause I was like, well shit, I did not go to the best school. I need to outdo these Harvard resumes. And so I would go into the interview room and there’d be a bunch of people in there with very fancy resumes. And I think the mistake they were making was thinking that their name brand could get them by. I would walk in and the recruiter would be like, “Ashley, Hey, good to finally meet you in person.” You know, like I already done my conversations and I came from a real place like, which is a whole nother piece of, you know, like networking is a science as far as a numbers game. Like this many people, this many results. But communicating in a way that you are yourself, that’s an art. And I was myself.
And so I ended up getting all these opportunities, going to the Pentagon, feeling like something was missing even with the fancy job and the money. And that was what inspired me to eventually start a business online, helping people land job offers because on the weekends, friends would come to me and they’d be like, it’s the recession, which, you knew all too well, the recession. We can’t get a job. How are you making six figures just out of grad school? Like how is this happening? And I started offering them like come to Starbucks and I’ll meet you over the weekend and I’ll show you how to fix your resume and talk to people. And then one person became five became 40, became me getting kicked out of Starbucks.
Mindie Kniss: [Laughing] Really?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah, I used it as an event space. They didn’t like totally take me out. But they were like, Hey, you know, we really don’t have space for our customers. This is not an event space. So ended up people being like, you should be a career coach. I’m like, that’s ridiculous. I have no career to coach on, but I was really good at job hunting. So I started with what I knew. I started my business, I put everything I had into it. I created a webinar. I gave the same presentation 91 times. I went into extraordinary debt trying to get it. I think it was like 120, 140… I mean, that was so many debts ago, you know? 140 Grand. And I ended up tipping into profitability right in my darkest hour when I wasn’t sure how I was gonna pay rent, lied to my mom. Only lie I’ve ever told her. And I was like, I need to borrow money for rent.
But then I paid another coach. She’s like, you’re not going to hire somebody else to help you with this thing, right? I’m like, no, no, no. This is for rent. And then I hired the final person. Finally, everything worked and I went from 140, 150. I don’t know how much it was more than a hundred thousand dollars in debt. And I paid it off in a week. My webinar converted so well for this job hunting course. And it’s weird looking back because I remember I used a jog when I was working on this webinar. I spent a year and a half of my life just practicing the same script. And that’s what got me into Genius Network, and that’s where I met Sean. I spent so long working on this in the name of mastery and in the name of desperation too. It wasn’t just inspired, I was panicked. I was scared. I wanted to succeed. It was like my identity was on the line. My survival was on the line from all of these experiences I had as a kid. So it ended up going from zero to 50 customers a day on a thousand dollar product. Next thing I knew I had to hire a whole team of employees. And two months later, the Facebook algorithm changed and I made $5 million in revenue and had a whole team behind it. And then suddenly, we weren’t making profits anymore. And I had a whole team to carry over. I carried them, carried them, carried them, felt responsible for them. And then eventually my mom called. She does my bookkeeping. And she said, Ash, I just want you to know you have a million dollars in payment plans and if you close your doors now, you can keep half of it.
And I was like, I’m not closing my doors. No way. I didn’t want to trust myself. And I listened to Facebook ads managers. I listened to my business coach who was getting 10% of my ad spend. I listened to my OBM anybody but me. And ended up completely holding on for too long and going into this tidal wave of debt. And it ended with $500,000 of debt. And now, four years later, I’ve just paid all of it off.
Mindie Kniss: Congratulations! That is massive. And I want to ask you about this too, because you and I, like I said, have had similar experiences in the making and then losing of money, but we chose different ways of handling it. I got to a point, and you know, this, I was like, I don’t see any way out. I don’t know what to do. So I opted to file bankruptcy. You opted not to. And work your way out of that. So I want to ask you about that decision and the weight of that on you. What was that like for you?
Ashley Stahl: You know, it’s so interesting. My brain has always shut down with details. There is something so overwhelming and, by the way, that’s what got me into extraordinary debt, right? Like I think keeping my brain receptive to information when it wants to shut down has been such a growth for me because it will do everything to stop tuning in. Like even with my partner, we live together and he’s really analytical, mechanical, exact, strategic. So I mean, he’ll measure things down to the dot, whereas I’ll kind of look at a wall and just be like, let’s put a nail right there and the frame’s going to look amazing, you know? And so I’ve had to work super hard to start to care about these details and realize how much it’s hurt my life not to. But at that time it was the same pattern. Like I got on the phone with the lawyer and she started talking about all the things it would mean to go into debt. And in retrospect, and you could probably speak better to this, it didn’t seem so bad now. Now I look at it, I’m like, Oh, maybe that would have been the better decision. I don’t know, but my brain totally shut down. And I just, I think that a lot of people in Genius Network had said to me, like you did it once, you could do it again. And that actually like… That belief screwed me over as much as it elevated me, because like, yeah, you are the person who created your results in the best way possible. But sometimes like there really are forces, Mindie, like the market, and like ad spend, and like competition…
Mindie Kniss: Algorithms.
Ashley Stahl: Algorithms! Yeah. I have a lot of compassion and understanding for a lot of people who probably put in the same work that I did and didn’t get the result. And it was really humbling for me to realize, like when I was trying to fix everything and it wasn’t working, just because I’m the one who created the results does not mean I’m omnipotent. Does not mean that I can keep creating the same. Yes, there are people who, no matter what they touch, it seems like they turn it into gold, but they all have a story. They all have struggle. It’s interesting when I was, I’ve never said this on an interview before, but just cause you’re so much fun and who even really cares about me. But the week that the debt was like hitting my merchant processor was like withholding funds just because, you know, when your money is weird and they want to slow down your cash transfers.
And I was so cashflow choked. And even though there was like 10, 20, whatever thousand dollars due to my business through transactions, like it was the merchant processor was slower noticing the shift in cadence. I ended up having… I was dating at the time and I somehow ended up on a blind date with the founder of my merchant processor.
Mindie Kniss: What?!
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. Like the payment system I was using. And I couldn’t even say what it was because it’s so basic people could look him up and I feel weird, but it was so ironic to manage my experience of going into extraordinary debt and then to also manage my self-esteem of sitting there with the guy who created the damn platform, who probably, I think I looked at the math and he made like, his platform, like 60 or 70 grand that year off of their little percent of my merchant processor.
It was so ironic to be like, man, I was on the customer support line trying to get you guys to transact a little faster.
Mindie Kniss: Now here I am at dinner with you.
Ashley Stahl: Here I am, and you’re buying my lobster scramble or whatever it was at noon on a Friday. And we ended up seeing each other for a little while. But point being, there was so much humility that I had to step into and it really has changed me because now I see people who are earning. And I know there’s a story when there’s ads out there and people are like, I made a 100K in three weeks. I feel like more than ever, people are stopping with their resonance with that message of like get rich quick. I think that, you know, enlightenment is a process, you know, and wealth is a process and yes, you can have some quick wins, but you have to be able to sustain it.
And now I have a business model that for me, feels a lot more sustainable. I have really big contracts and signing for speaking engagements, spokesperson work. I have private clients in my practice for career coaching. I have my podcast, I have funnels going on. Like I have a much more healthy relationship to revenue. It’s a little bit less of a lottery where I just like hit the jackpot and crush it. You know?
Mindie Kniss: That’s totally how it used to be.
Ashley Stahl: Totally. Yeah. And I’ve actually found it to be really healing, like the stability and the peace and simplicity. I understand that. And I’m not, you know, a psychologist, although I did do training that they do, I didn’t go through with the hours to be a therapist. I know that on the spectrum of humans, there is normal, whatever the hell that means.
And then there’s like manic bipolar, whatever. There’s a little sweet spot in between that therapists talk about. And it’s like this level of instability that a lot of entrepreneurs have where we get ideas and we get dopamine hits as if it’s like an addictive drug. And for a lot of years, when I lost money, I was kind of in that little sweet spot where I was just like, this is going to be the thing that fixes it, you know? And I realized there really are no shortcuts. And I didn’t start talking about my debt until halfway through paying it off because it felt so big and shameful. I was so afraid I was going to lose my friends. I lost my apartment, American Express threatened to possess my home. I called off a wedding during that time. My sister died. I was just a walking shit-show.
So for me to be in this place now where I’m living with the love of my life, we have a little puppy who we love. I really like what I’m doing and I’ve paid off all my debt. Like zero never felt so good, you know?
Mindie Kniss: Yes!! Girl, I love there’s just so much resonance between our two stories. And it’s just so great to hear it from somebody else too. Cause half the things you’re saying, I’m like, yup, yup, yup. Did that. So tell me this, I ask all of our guests this, how do you personally define wealth?
Ashley Stahl: For me, it’s relating to freedom. So freedom with my time, freedom with who I spend my time with. So freedom with the people I choose, the time I choose, and not having to worry about my basic expenses. If I have a decent home and it’s paid for, and I get to choose my life, like that to me is incredibly successful and wealthy.
Mindie Kniss: Awesome. So how did you go from, and I want the inner workings of this, you went from really focusing on the flash and outward perception of what was going on and what you were achieving to everything that you just said about what you feel wealth is now, that freedom and an ability to just live the life that you want to live. What was the mindset shift between going from the flash to really understanding wealth in such a bigger, greater dimensional aspect?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. You know, I think one of the biggest blessings that happened for me in all of that, and sometimes I cringe when people talk about something that really sucked and they’re like one of the biggest blessings, but there always is. Right? And so for me the biggest blessing was getting everything I said I wanted and realizing that my body didn’t feel happy. You know, I totally get why Brittany Spears went and shaved her head and like Lindsay Lohan lost her mind.
You know, like these celebrities are chasing an identity or goal in the same way I was. And they’re really just chasing how they think it’s going to make them feel, that they want to feel a certain way. Then they don’t get there and, or they do get there and it doesn’t feel that way. And then it’s like this huge identity crisis of like, what was the point of the past three years I just spent if I don’t even like where I’m at now? And what’s the point of the next thing? And like, you go through this whole identity crisis of like, who am I and what do I actually want? What actually is going to make me happy? And it forced me to my knees to like really start to be like, what do I enjoy? What brings me happiness and connection. And then of course the practical and logistical, like paying off a ton of debt, like what’s going to be easy?
What’s going to help me pay off all this debt? What’s gonna give me… Not take, well, maybe it doesn’t give me energy, but what’s not going to take away energy if that’s possible? I don’t know if there’s such a thing as neutral, perhaps. I feel like there’s energy you’re getting or usually an energy leak of putting up with something. I don’t know, but I try to be calm and give myself grace during this time. And a lot of my friends who had a lot of wealth and success that they continued on, they would comment and be like, Ash, I don’t know if I could do it. What you just did. Like you are a Buddha, you are a calm in the storm. And that really meant a lot to me because I feel like that’s totally true. Looking back, I’m really proud of who I was during it.
I’m really proud of… And ironically, it launched my speaking career into such a new level because I would get up on stage and be like, all right, let’s talk about failure and I’m going to tell you how bad I failed. And so many people were resonating with it. And I don’t know. It’s so hard for me to like, identify as like an influencer because I feel like we live in an age where everybody’s really good at getting people to press a blue follow button and like post pictures of themselves at a coffee shop. And then I’m participating in it. And there I am in the coffee shop picture, and then I’m questioning it all. So I think the process of creating personal brand has been like an identity crisis and growth for me. But what I have come to is realizing like what, and somebody said this at the Academy Awards or something like this, they said “the most personal is the most creative.”
And that hit me because you can take my money. You can take my time, but you can never take my creativity. And I was like, okay, what feels so personal that I can share? And how can I use books, speaking, writing, as a way to give, but also as a way to heal? I know that so many people are writing books to further their business. And it’s weird. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and my book comes out in January 2021 about like clarity and figuring out your career path. And it’s so interesting, I had this like tortured artist syndrome for awhile where I was like, ugh, I’m a “real” writer. And all of these other people are just writing books to like further their business. And they don’t even care about the art. And the conclusion I came to with that was, what’s so amazing about it is that it’s an equal opportunity vehicle for healing.
Ever since that realization, I kind of got out of that victimized tortured artist syndrome and into like gratitude that everybody has something that is the most personal to them, whether they share it or not. I hope that they do. And that creativity, your ability to move somebody else. It changes them and inspiration is so underrated. So my speaking career took off. I gave that TED talk that you watched and you mentioned. I told myself this is going to get out there in a big way. I want to make sure it goes viral. And I knew it would. And it’s funny, nobody watched it for six months and I don’t have an ego like that where I’m like, I knew what I was going to do is going to crush it. I don’t really think like that, but I put everything I had in me into it.
And I was like, this is my best work. And I’m not going to stop practicing until I feel like it is. So anybody who watches my most recent TED talk has officially seen my best speaking work to date. You know, you can only get better, but ever since then, I’ve been getting a lot of bookings, not just from the TED talk, but across the board. Like when I give a speech, now it turns into more speeches and offers. So that’s been awesome.
Mindie Kniss: That is awesome. And I will link to that video. I want to ask you about academics. You and I have something that I feel is fairly unique in the entrepreneurial world. You and I, collectively, have a lot of degrees and we speak a lot of different languages and have a very different track than I would say most of the people that are our colleagues. What was it about academia or like, why did you continue pursuing different degrees, different experiences like that when most entrepreneurs don’t?
Ashley Stahl: You know, it’s funny that you ask that because you were asking me like what’s wealth. And like, I really do think if I had passive income forever covering all my expenses and I didn’t have to innovate…
Mindie Kniss: You would go to school.
Ashley Stahl: I would go to school.
Mindie Kniss: Me too.
Ashley Stahl: I’ll see you there. I’ll see you there. I really would. I would probably… I love France. I would probably, I mean, I want to have a family and you know, I’m taking on more responsibilities and roots than ever before. And I really relate to you who, you know, you said [on my podcast] you’ve moved a lot. I’ve moved a lot. I loved it. I’ve lived in LA obviously is where I grew up, but DC I’ve lived in, you know, working at the Pentagon.
I’ve lived in Paris and I’ve lived in London for extended, you know, a year or two each. And I learned so much, but what I found is that as a creative, I get like a dopamine rush of new ideas when I’m in new places. And so there’s an addiction to just wanting new ideas and new inspiration.
Mindie Kniss: I’m right there with you. I totally get that. So there’s another process that I like to take all of the guests through. And this one really gets into how you are, who you are like your daily habits and things like that. It’s an acronym called HERB. And I’ll walk you through each one. The H stands for habits. What are some of your habits that have created you into who you are and just allow you to achieve the success that you have?
Ashley Stahl: As far as my habits go, I think going through… I didn’t really have a lot of practices or habits, good habits, necessarily, great habits until I lost everything. I think that being broken down in that way by life, like not in a small way, but like in a life is just showing me what’s up and I need to face it. I have no choice. Cause if you’re not living life, it’s gonna live you. You know? I had to create practices that would give me grounding. And I went through so many different phases with them. Every morning, I wake up, I brew a cup of coffee and I light an incense, and I put on my favorite candle. I always have candles being shipped to my house. It’s ridiculous. I was actually asking my partner the other day, I’m like, whatever the candle is wafting, is that toxic for my health? Because it’s happening on a daily basis.
But I write, I sip my coffee and I just write free form what’s flying through my mind. And I’ve found the biggest way to get leverage on where I’m playing small, where I’m feeling blocked, is to just write down all of the things that I’m believing that aren’t working for me. Because a lot of the times we don’t notice what we’re believing, you know? And you would be the first person to know this, Mindie, with all of your coaching work. So I just try to get leverage on my stories, get leverage on my brain and write thoughts down. And then I circle the one that is killing me the most. And I forgive myself for believing it. And I update it with the truth. I forgive myself for buying into the belief that this thing can’t happen for me because I’m that or the other thing.
And I say the truth is that it can, because I’m just like anybody else that it happened for, you know? So I forgive myself every day for one belief that’s not working for me. And some days, it’s the same one, days and days in a row.
Mindie Kniss: I absolutely love that. And one of the things that I appreciate so much about you and the way that you think about things is that you have an awareness of yourself. That takes a higher level of consciousness, not to just be going through blindly and “Oh, this is what happened to me” and whatever, but having that awareness and being able to reflect upon it is huge. So that is awesome. So moving on to the E, the E in HERB stands for environment. You already mentioned some candles and incense, but what are the things that you allow in or don’t allow in to your environment? That could be your home, your office space, wherever you find yourself physically?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I think a lot of people aren’t being honest with themselves sometimes about what they really need in their environment and as a result, their work or their happiness or their purpose is suffering from it. I know deep down, I’m a poet, like I’m a school-going, writing nerdy poet. And I somehow created a personal brand along the way. I somehow have a business on the side. When I think about my environment, I need something aesthetically pleasing to spark my creativity. What I’ve found for me is I’m a minimalist. I cannot have a lot of stuff. My dad had a whole garage full of things and whenever he didn’t want a thing, it would end up in my bedroom as a kid. Like, Oh, this is a TV for your room. And I was like, Oh, I don’t want a TV in here. I was one of very few kids, I guess that didn’t want a TV. But my point being, I not only was wounded by growing up, and he wasn’t a hoarder or anything. My dad’s an amazing, hilarious character of a man, but he just had a lot of stuff. And so being minimal and allowing that for my mind is everything. The second superpower, I would say that I have probably the biggest one, is picking people. I am really good at picking people and I’m ruthless about it. Like I am unforgiving about it. I have like five really close girlfriends and we are all in, whatever you need, I’m here. You call me, shit hits your fan, I’ll get on a flight to come see you, kind of a thing. No problem, no stress. You’re not over asking. You’re not a burden. You’re family to me.
And so I have that with a handful of women that really mean so much. And our friend, Jason, we have such a like connected relationship and they always turn to me when they bring someone new into their life. And I try not to be like a, you know, unkind person, but they will say like, what do you think of this person? And I’m like, well, they’re just a no for me. And what I’ve found is that it comes down to my core values in my environment. So when it comes to my relationships, I value authenticity. I value being understood. And I value inspiration, which means like a really close person to me can provide me with insight or thoughts that open up new insight and thoughts. So there’s like an expansiveness to the mutual relationship. And another standard I have, especially cause a lot of my friends work in the same business as me or similar, is that business does not come first.
Ashley Stahl: And if I get a damn whiff of somebody wanting to be close to me for like an agenda..
Mindie Kniss: Ugh. Gross.
Ashley Stahl: It’s such a no. I’m like life’s too short and that feels boring. And as an outside piece of these close relationships I have, we end up supporting each other anyway, because we know where the friendship is at. And the funny thing is that there are some people who in their environment, they want more transactional relationships. They enjoy that. They enjoy the fact that, Hey, I get along with Sally and she has a really big email list and now we can connect and I have a big one and I’ll help her too. There’s a lot of that and that’s totally cool. It’s just doesn’t work for me. And so I think in my environment, I’m very aware of what I need, what I’m game for, and what I’m not.
And it’s funny, if you’re important to me in some way, it looks like I’m always available. My schedule looks so free to that person. But if it’s somebody that I just don’t see myself making that space for, I just don’t exist. You know?
Mindie Kniss: Yeah. I hear you and you are much nicer than me because I’m like, no, it’s not cool that you just have an agenda for this relationship. That’s not cool at all. So let’s move on to the R. That is resources. And I love geeking out on this. I’m sure you probably do too. So these would be books, courses, programs, whatever things have really helped you develop and that you would recommend to others.
Ashley Stahl: The book that influenced me the most as a coach would be The Prosperous Coach by Steve Chandler. Have you read that one?
Mindie Kniss: I have. Yeah, Rich Litvin [co-author of the book] is a friend.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I just thought when I started out that just rocked me and I think it does for a lot of people. So that’s a good, basic coaching and just mindset book for how to transform people’s lives I think. Another book that I absolutely love is A New Earth, obviously by Eckhart Tolle. That book woke me up. I don’t see it as a binge read. I see it as a put it on the table, read a chapter, and think the next chapter the next month. It’s like a slow burn in my life. And in addition to that, I love TED talks. You know, I watched a lot of those to wake up and I respect them. I question them. You know, not every talk is meant for you, but the ones that are, they really can rock you. So those are some of my favorite resources.
Mindie Kniss: Love it, love it. And the B then is beliefs. What are some of the core beliefs that you hold that allow you to shine, allow you to do everything that you are doing and become who you have become?
Ashley Stahl: Hmm. Okay. Well, before I even get into beliefs, I thought of one more resource and it’s the meditations by Sarah Blondin on the Insight Timer app. I love them.
Mindie Kniss: Awesome.
Ashley Stahl: Okay. So as far as beliefs goes, which belief has made me more of myself, you were saying?
Mindie Kniss: What are some of your core beliefs that have created the life that you have today and who you are today?
Ashley Stahl: Yeah, I would say the best one is, nothing has to be so long. I think the linchpin in people’s mindset often is the belief that, because it took me so long to create this mess now that I look at it all, it’s going to take me so long to clean it up. Or because I put so long into this career, I… It will never cease to amaze me how many years people will spend in the wrong path because of the small amount of years and perspective of their life that they put in to get there. Like, okay, you went to medical school for four years. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you and who you are always wins. It’s going to shine through. So you’re going to be stuck with yourself still, at the end of it so you might as well rip the bandaid and be who you are now. And I just question any belief that it’s going to take a long time to get there.
Mindie Kniss: I love that. I definitely was feeling like this would be a forever-long process because it just felt so heavy and so big and you’re right, it doesn’t have to be, so that’s awesome. Let’s talk a little bit about what we have coming up. I am so, so excited that you are going to be part of the Lucrative Speaker Summit in August. I wonder if you could just give a little hint about some of the things that you might talk about.
Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I know that it’s a game-changer for so many people to get a TED talk and really learn that process. And I was just telling you earlier, the first speaking engagement I ever had was a TED talk.
Mindie Kniss: Which is crazy! Let’s be clear. That is amazing.
Ashley Stahl: Thank you. It was crazy. What was so weird about it was I was working in counterterrorism on an assignment in Turkey during the protest. And so when I got the message that I got this, and I’d never spoken on a stage in my life, and it was a 4,000 person audience… So I’m like in an alleyway in Istanbul with like tear gas and I’m getting this text message. You’ve got this TED talk. So that was what started my speaking career, or at least my coaching business. So I’m going to talk to everybody about how accessible they actually are and what are some actionable steps you can do to get one. And I also want to talk about confidence and like structure on what it really looks like to give an incredible talk. Having worked in politics during Obama’s administration, I learned how to give a speech under the formula that Obama often uses and worked with a lot of his speech writers, not for my own speeches, but they’re just friends and colleagues and people who have given me some insights on how to write a good talk. And so I want to share that as well and look at my own TED talk as an example for everybody.
Mindie Kniss: That is one of the pieces that I’m so excited about. In the past at our event, $10K Speeches, one of the things that everybody loved the most was what Sean called an X-Ray and, Ash, having you be able to do that, we’ll show portions of your talk, and then you’ll be able to describe, why you said certain things or why you paused. I can’t wait personally for that. So I know that our listeners will be delighted by that as well. For those that are interested in that summit, that information will be at LucrativeSpeaker.com and you can learn everything about that and come hang out with Ashley and I. But for those of the listeners, Ash, that are like this girl is amazing. I want to learn more. I want to work with her. Where should they go to learn more about what you’re up to?
Ashley Stahl: You know, I’ve been hanging out on the ‘Gram lately. So you guys can just find me there at @AshleyStahl. I’m also in love with podcasting, just had you record with me for mine, on You Turn podcast. Not called Your Turn. I get so many weird pitches of like, I want to be on Your Turn. I’m like, actually, that’s an amazing idea of a name, but it’s YOU TURN. I would love for you guys to tune in. And just so honored to have been here with you, Mindie.
Mindie Kniss: The honor is mine. And as we talked about on your podcast, we talked about on this podcast, there’s so much resonance and I am just delighted to get to know you better. I’m delighted for my listeners to be introduced to who you are in the world. And I am so grateful. So thank you so much.
Ashley Stahl: Thank you, thank you.