TRANSCRIPT Ep 271: Who You Are Always Wins featuring Ashley Stahl


[00:00:00] Miriam Schulman: Your art can be trial and error. There’s no reason that you have to arrive at this evolved style from day one. Trial and error is okay. It’s okay to not know what genre you wanna be focusing on. It’s okay to not know what medium you wanna be focusing on. All these things are okay.

[00:00:15] Announcer: It’s The Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman.

Welcome to the Inspiration Place Podcast, an art world Insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the arts. And now your host, Miriam schulman.

[00:00:38] Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there artpreneur. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration, and you’re listening to episode number 271 of the Inspiration Place Podcast.

I am so grateful that you’re here today. Today’s guest is a counter-terrorism professional turned career coach. She’s the bestselling author of the book, You Turn. Please welcome to The Inspiration Place, Ashley Stahl.

Well hey there, Ashley. Welcome to the show. So how’s the weather down in Palm Beach?

[00:01:10] Ashley Stahl: It is hot and a little bit rainy and I kind of love the tropical storms honestly, like the creative in me finds it so inspiring to be in the rain. I don’t know why I feel more…

[00:01:22] Miriam Schulman: I like that, too. Like, when I used to do my meditation app. I always preferred the rain setting.

[00:01:28] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. There’s something so magical about it. And there was a storm the other night, so intense. I just thought to myself, like, we are ants. We are so small, we’re nothing. Because the storm was just so humbling and loud and big.

[00:01:40] Miriam Schulman: And you know, I just think it’s just the sound of running water. It’s like, kind of like, being in the shower and… yeah, but I like your metaphor.

Okay. So I wrote down a bunch of questions from your book that I wanna get to, and we’ll just like let that take us everywhere. First of all, that I wanna just tell our listeners or connect our two stories. I think it’s so interesting that – so my career, kind of, because of 911, I left corporate.

[00:02:08] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:02:08] Miriam Schulman: And you went to, like, a corporate job because of 911. Is that right?

[00:02:13] Ashley Stahl: That’s a good point, yeah.

[00:02:14] Miriam Schulman: Do you wanna say something about that?

[00:02:16] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. Well, I mean, when I got to college, I think like a lot of people, it’s like, it’s the weirdest thing. Our education system, even though it’s been changing quite rapidly from online learning, it’s so weird to me that we have to pick a major in a whole field of study when we’re barely 18 years old. We don’t even know who we are, what we want, or what the workplace feels like. Like at most. I worked at a preschool at the front desk when I was 16, so I no reference point of who I was enough to pick a degree. Not that it’s really relevant for what you do in your career anyway necessarily, but I remember going to college and going to career services and saying, like, I don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up.

And she gave me all the kind of three worded directives that got me more lost than I was when I came in. Like, follow your passion, do what you love. And I was like, I don’t know what I’m passionate about ’cause I haven’t even tried anything. I’m just like a kid socializing and doing homework. You know?

[00:03:10] Miriam Schulman: Right. Like get a job doing beer pong.

[00:03:13] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I was not that good at beer pong either, so that wouldn’t have, that would’ve been out. But I thought to myself, like okay, well what do I care about? And I just remember where I was standing on 911.

I feel like 911 impacted the millennial generation in a similar but different way that the pandemic uniquely affected Gen Z. It was during our college years. It was during our prime career years. Both of them disrupted the workplace and society as we knew it. You know? So for me, I just wanted to be helpful in my career, and I was interested in politics. I always had a knack for foreign languages. I speak some of them, and I just got to a place where I was like, I might as well just follow what I’m into because I have no idea what else to do.

And so I studied politics, I studied French, and I also studied history. So I did three majors. Which makes me sound like an overachiever, but honestly I was just confused and it was a hard thing for me to pick one because I just thought, well, I might as well keep my options open, not that I know what any of these options will take me to.

So I studied all of those and eventually I had this moment where I lived in France and I’ll never forget I was in this alleyway – I think I write about it in my book but – this woman was carrying a baby. It was a rainy Sunday. I was on the west coast of France and I saw this man, like, lob her across the face, like really hit her and she had blood on her face and this baby crying in her arms. And I just remember thinking like, I’m in France. Like, this isn’t supposed to happen here. This isn’t supposed to be something I ever see. And I looked around for a police officer, it was pouring rain. I couldn’t find anyone. And then I ran home and I was never the same.

And I remember I looked at her, I locked eyes with her for this moment after it happened and I wanted to save her. I wanted to help her. But instead I made a career decision about her. I decided I wanted to be a protector and I wanted to devote my life to being helpful.

And I think what happens in these high impact moments in our lives is that we have misunderstandings. So when I saw this woman get hit across the face, my

interpretation as somebody who was already studying politics was, I’m gonna keep people safe. And the highest level of how I know how to do that is in national security. So that was what got me into wanting to join the Central Intelligence Agency.

I also had not only great language skills, but really good people skills. You know, if I don’t say smartly self, I guess. Like toot my own horn, but I always was the type of person that people would confide a lot in. And so I thought, you know what? I’m gonna be a protector. I’m gonna use my natural gifts and I’m gonna join the CIA.

So, from there on out I kept learning languages. I studied Arabic at the Middle East Institute at UCLA and I went to graduate school in London and just completely committed to a career in counter-terrorism.

So yeah, you left corporate after and I went, I don’t know if saying I was at the Pentagon, was very corporate. It’s not very corporate. It’s very institutional, but it’s not very corporate.

[00:06:09] Miriam Schulman: But let me tell you, ’cause I’m, you know like I said, I didn’t get far in the book. But I’m reading about your experience in the Pentagon and it felt just like Wall Street.

[00:06:17] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:06:17] Miriam Schulman: ‘Cause I was one of very few women. So they would put the woman in the back room, but I learned very quickly that I wasn’t gonna get anywhere if I stayed there. So I had to, I mean that’s where my office was, but I had to go onto the trading floor and interact with the traders. And it literally felt like walking into a men’s locker room, like you, you had that crackling energy where I felt like someone was about to snap a towel and it’s not that anyone ever hit me on the ass or anything.

I mean, I definitely got harassed. Yeah, but it’s not that that actually happened in that way that you would imagine like a locker room. But it had that energy and that feeling around it and, you know, all eyes on you because you’re a woman walking

into this space. Like, why are you even here? That’s how I felt like walking into a men’s locker room. You don’t belong here. Yeah. So,

[00:07:09] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:07:09] Miriam Schulman: That’s visceral.

[00:07:09] Ashley Stahl: It’s an interesting reference. That is how I felt sometimes. You know, there’s a lot of men at the Pentagon that were, like, amazing to me and helpful. And I was working on Afghanistan and I was working at a very high level on a program that was an $80 million budget. It was handed to me. I went from being an admin assistant after grad school who couldn’t find a job in the recession around 2008, 2009 to networking my face off and landing an opportunity in a supervisory role for the Pentagon as a defense contractor. So I really leaped quickly in my career.

And I did that because I believed I could. I just remember thinking like, I don’t wanna like fetch coffee for people. I wanna do something. I wanna use these language skills, and I made it happen.

You know, I think what was interesting there was that I would have a lot of different political leaders around me that were tied to the president of Afghanistan at the time, generals in the Army in Afghanistan. And so there was some interesting gender dynamics there that I would say that I had to navigate and I still do to this day.

Like I had an agent for my speaking. I used to go on speaking tours, especially when my book came out. And I had agents where it was like, okay, you gotta suck it up and be pleasant to work with because this person can really impact your career and bring you opportunities. And do I have to work with people who I have to suck it up with and, you know, manage that weird energy with No, but I think that’s a very real phenomenon for so many women, and I have a lot of empathy for it and a lot of compassion for it. And I just say, fricking use it to your advantage if you can, because why not?

[00:08:40] Miriam Schulman: It was such a heartbreaking story when you say you show up and you’re following this guy to where your desk was gonna be, and it was this cold basement. You’re like thinking yourself. And by the way, the book is beautifully written. It’s like you could definitely write a novel. I mean, the way you write is so beautiful. And just describing how, okay, you’re thinking to yourself, I’m gonna make do with this desk. And he tells you, no, no, that’s my desk.

[00:09:06] Ashley Stahl: Mm-hmm.

[00:09:07] Miriam Schulman: You’re sitting over there.

[00:09:08] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. So I was not given a desk and my colleague said to me like, this is like Afghanistan and you’ve gotta prove that you deserve a desk. So I actually was typing Intel reports on my laptop for the first few weeks of my job and, you know, to be clear, I was a contractor, so there’s a lot of dynamics with the government workers and me. Although we were the same, we were doing the same stuff, just a different color scanner when we walked through the front door.

And you know, not one person represents an entire place, but he was very much particularly that stigma. Like head of the Republican team in college, head of the golf club, and just came from some outdated ways of thinking that were very painful for me.

And it wasn’t just that. I mean, I think that influenced me becoming a career coach because I remember being really good at job hunting during an era that nobody could get job offers in the recession. And it was just ’cause I was good at people. I was good at being me with people. I think I want to point that out because a lot of people, when you think about networking, it’s like, ah, I gotta be someone else. I gotta be pushy and I couldn’t be less interested in being anyone else.

So for me, the question that’s front of mind is like, how do I connect with this person? Not because I have an agenda, but because like, I just want this time that’s passing to be a good time. You know, like-

[00:10:22] Miriam Schulman: Right.

[00:10:23] Ashley Stahl: -wherever I am.

[00:10:24] Miriam Schulman: All right. So when we return, we’re gonna talk about why you shouldn’t follow your passion and instead do what you are. But first these words.

[00:10:38] Miriam – AD: Hey, so I have some really great news about my book Artpreneur. The initial printing was 8,000 copies, and my publisher just let me know that they are going to a second printing, which means that 8,000 copies have left the warehouses and are either sold or in the stores. But here’s something that’s really important that I didn’t know that I wanna make sure that you knew. And that is the first printing. And this second limited edition printing is full color. So those of you who have already gotten your paperback, you know it’s gorgeous. There’s navy blue and teal throughout the book, and I’m absolutely in love. With how beautiful the entire book is, which it’s not only fun to look at, but it does make it easier to read.

And those of you who have the Kindle version, you know that it’s in full color too. So the first printing and this limited edition run second printing are in full color. But this is what I didn’t know When those copies are gone. It may not be in color anymore, and they might go to print on demand, which is going to be black and white.

So if you wanna get your copy of Artpreneur in full color, do not wait whenever you’re listening to this. So I am recording this as of July, and my understanding is this episode is going live in August, so there’s copies now, but in a couple of months. Those color copies, they’re running out and maybe black and white after that.

So make sure you get your full color copy now to snag your copy and get your hands on all the bonuses, which make it so worth it. Head on over to art preneur That’s or go to your local bookstore, request it. And you can just bring your order receipt or your order number, or take a picture of you at the book and send it to That’s my email address, and we’ll make sure that you get your hands on every single one of those bonuses. Okay, so that’s it for my PSA and now back to the show.

[00:12:57] Miriam Schulman: There, there’s one thing that you say in the book, a very first chapter that’s very powerful. So you’ve already touched upon the fact that we are rejecting these catchphrases. Like, follow your passion, do what you love, and what you say instead is do what you are. And that’s what you were just saying just now is like when you would show up in these situations, you, you were doing a good job at being you. So explain what you mean by do what you are.

[00:13:23] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, I think that we grew up in an era where follow your passion was like very common advice. And if you look at this tool on Google, it’s called the Ngram, like the letter N. And it basically, if you type in a phrase, it shows you where that phrase, kind of, began. Like maybe not in a piece of work, but as far as, like, what year it started to track in Google. So interesting. So what you can kind of. What is Google, right? Google is a reflection of our culture. It’s a reflection of what conversations we’re having.

So, What’s interesting is if you put follow your passion in there, it tracks back to the eighties. It’s almost like somebody said it and it resonated and it went wild, and I think it’s very misdirected because there’s a big difference between being a consumer of something and being a producer of something.

I love art. Like I am not meant to be an artist like you are. I’m an artist in my own right. Right? Like I’m a writer. But I’m not meant to pick up a paintbrush, like it’s just not in my genetic codes. So I feel like when I say, don’t do what you love, don’t follow your passion, do what you are. What I’m really saying is what’s your zone of genius?

And I think a lot of people have a dialogue about purpose in the workplace. Like, what is my purpose? What is my purpose? And it makes sense because we spend 90,000 hours of our life at work. It makes sense that we want it to count, that we want it to mean something. It’s a lot of hours. It’s two thirds of our time awake on the planet.

So yeah, making it feel like it means something would be great. But I’ve come to learn for myself as a career expert who coaches people. And even though I help a lot of people with career pivots, I’ve been helping a lot of people with public speaking because your story is so rooted in your real self.

And what I found is that your career is not necessarily a place where your purpose goes. Because your purpose moves. Like, if you’re a new mother, you’re a new entrepreneur, your purpose is where you’re at. But I think your work is a place, and your career is a place of contribution. And I think the highest form of contribution is meeting the world where you’re talented.

And I think we’re all born into the world with natural skill sets, natural gifts. For me it’s words. And in my book I talk about 10 core skill sets I believe exist in the workplace. And obviously I can’t obscure humanity into 10 boxes, but what I can say is that largely I found that over the past ten years working with hundreds of people privately and thousands in my online career programs and in public speaking, I have found that people genuinely seem to fit in these 10 different categories. And people will resonate with multiple ones. Right?

So you actually, Miriam would probably fall in the beauty category because your career and art is very aesthetic.

[00:15:59] Miriam Schulman: Mm.

[00:15:59] Ashley Stahl: And the beauty people, they make art of the world around them, whether they’re a musician, an artist, you know, an interior designer, a jeweler. And so it can look very different. It’s not about saying, what is my skill and then what are the jobs that it associates with?

[00:16:14] Miriam Schulman: Yeah, yeah.

[00:16:14] Ashley Stahl: It’s about saying, what is my skill and what are all of the places that it could go. You know? So for example, my skillset is words. There’s another skillset I have in my list analysis. And if you go to a therapist, you know, you might think that your psychologist their skillset is words because they’re communicating, they’re helping you see the world differently. But I’ve seen some therapist whose core skillset is actually analysis. They’re really good at noticing patterns in you. But they might not be as good at words as I am. Right? So they’re sharing the pattern that they’re seeing. Other therapists are really magical because they’re good at words. They’re good at displaying the information in a way that really moves you and helps you see something.

So it’s not about saying, this is my skill and this is the job associated with it. It’s about saying, this is my zone of genius, and how do I wanna breathe that out into the world? How do I wanna make a contribution? If I’m flipping burgers at Burger King, I’m gonna find a way to use words to be the best burger flipper. Maybe I’m talking to the customers. My burgers taste bad, but they still wanna buy them from me ’cause of my words.

So it’s really about what is your default setting skillset. A lot of people, when they look at my list, you know, there’s service, innovation, analysis, words, numbers, technology. There’s so many different skillsets. They’re gonna resonate with a few of them, most likely. But it’s about which one do you lead with? Which one is you? And when you take that one away, you’re not you anymore.

[00:17:36] Miriam Schulman: I just wanna highlight a few things, because there’s so much to unpack. But I wanna make sure that people hear what you said about contribution, about how that is the most important thing. Like how are you using your talents to make a contribution? But the other thing I just wanna add to what you just said is that when we’re young, we have this thought, many of us, that there’s this one thing and one path, and one passion, and I gotta discover myself and I gotta discover who I’m gonna be. And the truth is, and you’ve already, I, I mean I’m older than you, but even so you’ve already experienced this. There’s gonna be many paths and many selves, and many of these are iterations of ourselves throughout our lives. Would you agree with that?

[00:18:20] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, exactly. And if there’s not, either you’re a rarity, if you’re really staying true to yourself or you’re just not in touch with yourself. Because the truth of the matter is that who you are moves. I mean, in fact, on a scientific level, we shed our skin cells every seven years, if I’m not mistaken.

[00:18:35] Miriam Schulman: Yes, that’s right. I was about to say that, too. Like you’re completely different on a cellular level. You’re completely different every seven years.

[00:18:42] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, exactly. So it’s like how does that not happen in our mind and think about our belief system. Like, have you ever learned something and it just changes everything. Like, whoa, that piece of information is earth shifting for me. So it’s like, as we learn something new about the world, that changes the way we think our old ways of being go down with it. So we are renewed in so many ways just based on how we see things.

You know, this sounds really ridiculous. I don’t know why this is the example coming to mind, but my friend gets hair extensions and every time she gets her hair extensions, it hurts her head. And then she’s found this new way of doing hair extensions and it doesn’t hurt her head anymore, and it’s like game changer. That sounds very simple. But, like ,being in pain occupies a lot of your capacity. Right? Like, if you have a headache all the time, that’s really interfering with how you can produce, how you can think. If your physical’s not good, your mental is stunted, you know, your mental capabilities. So it’s like her world has changed just by learning about a new way of doing something completely cosmetic. So, We are just constantly changing and evolving in the smallest and in the biggest ways.

[00:19:46] Miriam Schulman: Yeah. And at the end of the day, creativity is really a survival strategy. That was something like Darwin- it was not survival, the fittest, it was survival of who’s willing to adapt.

[00:20:00] Ashley Stahl: Right.

[00:20:01] Miriam Schulman: And that’s what you did in your life. And we, and people who are in business, you have to do, if you’re still doing the same thing you did prior to the pandemic, you’re probably not gonna be doing that much longer. So like we have to, whether you’re doing the same thing in a different way or you’re doing something completely different.

Ashley, what I wanna ask you is for so people who are looking to make a pivot, it’s very hard to change and get started down a new path. Why do you say getting started is the hardest part of any goal?

[00:20:30] Ashley Stahl: Well, I think first of all, there’s like analysis paralysis and people, kind of, get out of their power. And I think one of the things we have to remember is that if you wanna be powerful, you have to remember that clarity comes from engagement. It comes from taking action. It doesn’t come from sitting and thinking all the time, necessarily.

So I would say starting and picking an idea is one of the most disorienting things because I feel like sometimes, especially in digital marketing, there’s like a criminal element to our businesses. It’s kinda like fire festival. It’s like we’re gonna create a course and sell it out, and then you know, you have people creating the course after they sell it. Right?

[00:21:04] Miriam Schulman: Right.

[00:21:04] Ashley Stahl: It’s like they just charge money for something that doesn’t exist yet. So I feel like in a lot of ways there’s this disorientation to stepping into a new idea, disorienting ’cause it almost doesn’t exist and you feel groundless.

And the truth of the matter is, we are always groundless. I mean, think about the storm that I saw the other night. It was such an intense storm. I felt so small and insignificant. And Florida just watching the rain fall down so intensely like buckets coming from the sky. And so I think starting is the hardest because. Often we are swirling in possibilities, and I think people get stuck in like, which decision do I make. And they forget that there is no wrong decision. There’s just different universes and they’re all interesting. Maybe some aren’t gonna be right for you. You know? It’s almost like picking a life partner. You know, some people believe there’s one for you and other people believe you could be happy with a lot of people. Well, each person is a different universe. Each person is gonna be a different life for you.

[00:21:56] Miriam Schulman: Mm-hmm.

[00:21:56] Ashley Stahl: It’s hard to say which one’s right. So, I would say the best advice when you’re getting started is instead of saying, what should I do, saying, how do I connect to myself? Because if you’re cut off from yourself, it’s very hard to feel what feels right. And so to me, feeling good comes down to saying, okay, what places, what things make me feel like myself?

I have a lot of good friends, but there’s a few in particular that make me feel the most me. And those are the people that I turn to when I’m the most off kilter.

[00:22:30] Miriam Schulman: Mm.

[00:22:31] Ashley Stahl: There’s places I can go, like putting my feet in the sand and laying on the beach is huge for me. The ocean just makes me me again. Hip hop dance music. Like it’s just the most random stuff. So I think the question to ask yourself is what makes you feel like you? Where do you go? Where do you feel good?

And eventually it feels good to feel good, so how can you do more of that stuff so that when you’re making decisions, it’s easier to feel what’s a yes and what’s a no? And also to take note of the fact that there’s a science to your instincts, your intuition. I actually believe instinct and intuition are different.

Instinct to me is like your body just knows how to breathe without you having to think about it. Intuition for me is almost like the super conscious. It’s knowing what you know without knowing why you know it. So I think intuition is about realizing, hey, I mean your gut, your is called your second brain for a reason. You know? There’s millions of neurons in there that match the size of a cat or dog’s brain. So there’s an intelligence to when your stomach sinks, there is an intelligence to when you feel pulled towards something. So I would say when you’re getting started, what can you do to connect yourself? What can you do to feel inside of your body?

The amount of clients I’ve had that get a job offer, and I’m like, cool. How do you feel about it? And they’re like, great. It’s gonna be great for the next couple years for me to do something like this. ’cause it’s gonna get me here, there. And, and then

I’m like, okay, cool. But can we tune into, like, you’re starting on Monday, what are you gonna feel like on Monday? And they’re like, well, it’s terrifying and I don’t really wanna do it. And some of the tasks really suck. And it’s like, well then why are you doing that? And then the deeper question I ask is, does it allow you to harness your core skillset? Because if you’re growing your core skillset, great. But how something feels along the way, that is your human experience. And I think we miss that when we get lost in the sauce of how does this look on our resume and what do people think of us and da da da da.

[00:24:22] Miriam Schulman: Mm. Let me ask you a couple different questions. So first of all, when you’re talking about making choices in different universes, did you as a child, read the choose your own adventure books? Was that a thing when you were growing up?

[00:24:32] Ashley Stahl: I don’t think I did no.

[00:24:34] Miriam Schulman: You miss them! So I’m a Gen Xer, so I like have different cultural references. I will tell you what they are, though. So these were these books. And I think, you know, maybe I’ll just send you one from Amazon. So these books where you start reading the story and it’ll say like, what should Ashley do? Should she take the job at the Pentagon or go work for her cousin in LA? You know, whatever. It’s turn to page 23 if you decide she should go work for the Pentagon and turn to page 60. If she should go take the job in LA. Blah, blah, blah. Basically you have all these decisions that you make and then you read what happens if you take these decisions.

Now, the thing that I like to say is that those books were super fun because you could always flip back and find out what would’ve happened if you had made a different choice.

[00:25:22] Ashley Stahl: Right?

[00:25:22] Miriam Schulman: And the thing is, with life, we never know if we made the right decision because we really can’t find out what would’ve happened had you not taken the job at the Pentagon or whatever it was. We really don’t know.

You know, we can say, oh, I didn’t make the right choice ’cause X, Y, and Z happened. You don’t know that it would’ve worked out if you did it differently. Or would’ve been better or worse. You don’t know that because you didn’t do it. So it’s all for me. I always like to say to my kids, and it drives them crazy, but I’m like, well, of course you made the right choice because that’s the choice you made.

[00:25:51] Ashley Stahl: I actually love that. That’s cool. I’ve never heard it said that way.

[00:25:54] Miriam Schulman: I think that’s a Byron Katie thing. That it’s like, you know…

[00:25:57] Ashley Stahl: I love a good Byron Katie.

[00:25:58] Miriam Schulman: Yeah. It’s more like, you know, this is the way it’s supposed to be. How do we know that? Because we did it. ’cause it is. Exactly. All right, so how do you discover your core nature? Because you keep talking about, like, well use your core nature. But how do you discover that?

[00:26:12] Ashley Stahl: Yeah, that’s such a good question. So your core nature I define is the energy and essence that you bring to the room. It’s how the room changes when you walk in. And I think that your career is built on your core nature.

So I would say people who want to discover it, usually the information is best collected from people around you. So asking people that you trust, that you feel like have a good sense of you, hey, how does the room change when I walk in? And usually people will give you an answer of like, oh, well, you know, the room feels calmer. There’s a warmth to you, or anything of that nature is usually quite powerful for people to take in.

And I also think what’s super important is being able to tune into yourself as you’re collecting the feedback, because sometimes those words aren’t gonna resonate. Maybe ask people in different contexts, like your parents, your colleagues, your best friends. Usually you’ll be very surprised by some of the answers that you’ll say of, how does the room change when I walk in?

[00:27:11] Miriam Schulman: Hmm. That’s beautiful. I know you have exercises at the end of the chapter that will help people do that work and to really work through finding some of these things. There’s something else though I wanted to ask you. So this is, again circling back ’cause there was so much you had said earlier that I wanted to unpack.

[00:27:27] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:27:28] Miriam Schulman: So, alot of times when we talk about intuition, sometimes it’s easy to confuse when our fear-based mind comes up with all kinds of reasons why something’s a terrible idea, because that’s what our brains are designed to do. Our brains are designed to keep us safe. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse those doubts and fears with intuition. So what advice do you have for teasing those two things apart?

[00:27:55] Ashley Stahl: Such a cool question. And I would say the first thing is to remember that life is an experiment and you know, we’re taking it pretty seriously as a collective and we don’t have to. I think the amount of people who come to me and like again, even though I’ve been doing so much career coaching over the years, like it, this has been consistent for the past decade, is they come to me with like this seriousness, like they’re getting married. Like I feel like the, what we’re doing to ourselves as a society is the equivalent of your parents saying to you in preschool, like whoever have your first crush on, like, marry them. That’s what we’re doing with our career. Like whatever you take your first stab at, it better be right, and you better build off of it. And I don’t think people are spending enough time looking at trial and error. Like the cost of admission, the part of a natural process. There’s this like unwillingness – I don’t even know if that’s a word – I think there’s unwillingness to go through calibration and trial and error when it comes to choosing a career.

So my advice for people would be realize that this is a process. You’re not supposed to just get the answer on the first pass. It’s not very human, that’s not very normal, that’s not very natural. And be easy on yourself when you know that that’s the case.

So, Instead of overthinking, should I do this or shouldn’t I do this? I say, number one, the question is, is this using your core skillset at least 70% of the time, the skillset that you wanna sharpen and grow and carry with you in your career? The answer is yes. Great.

I think another thing to look at is not just the what, meaning what skill, but the how. How are you gonna be working? Is it remote? What are the hours? Where is it? Does it work for you? Does it match your core values? If you value integrity, but you’re selling something you don’t believe in, even if you love sales, it’s gonna suck because you’re violating a core value. So how you work matters just as much as what you’re doing.

So I think taking a look at the how, like what is the setup? Does it align with my values? What are your top five values? I have a pretty big list of values in my book. And if even if you don’t get the book, You can Google core values. I’m sure you could find a lot of them. But getting really clear on what those are and remembering you’re in an experiment and you can step back and change your mind any freaking time. It’s actually not a big deal to do that. And I get that we don’t want our resume to be like a graveyard of trial and error. You know?

[00:30:13] Miriam Schulman: Yeah, I just wanna like interject for a moment because Yeah, there’s a lot of people listening who are artists, and so much of what you’re saying though does apply to them, and I want them to understand why.

[00:30:25] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:30:25] Miriam Schulman: So even though you may know that you are an artist, you’re a painter, you’re a sculptor, you’re a whatever. I hear from so many people in my audience – so people who are listening, this might sound familiar, could relate to it – who they know they wanna create their art, but then they get caught up in, well, what style should it be and what subject should it be. Right? And all those same things that you’re talking about.

Actually, I would love for them to go through, rewind this part of the episode and listen to what she was saying again. And this time, substitute instead of job and career substitute like your art. Your art can be trial and error. There’s no reason that you have to arrive at this advanced style and this evolve style from day one. Trial and error is okay.

[00:31:11] Ashley Stahl: Yes.

[00:31:12] Miriam Schulman: It’s okay to not know what genre you wanna be focusing on. It’s okay to not know what medium you wanna be focusing on. All these things are okay. You have to commit for a little while, and we experiment. It’s not like each week you’re changing jobs. The same thing each week you’re not changing your style. Commit for enough period of time. To really give that experiment a chance.

[00:31:31] Ashley Stahl: Right, right. And the thing is that, I don’t know if it’s like a shame thing where it’s like it’s not safe to be in trial and error. But here’s the truth, we are always in transition in some way. Whether it’s just your freaking skin cells dying. We are always in transit.

[00:31:46] Miriam Schulman: That’s right.

[00:31:46] Ashley Stahl: And the resistance we have to, the truth of our experience is wild. So if you’re not gonna accept that there’s transitions, that there’s costs of admission to fulfillment. That happiness is not for the faint of heart, it’s for the person that knows how to say no. It’s for the person that knows how to get messy. We are being way too perfect in our career. We have way too much shame around the process of learning. It’s truly we haven’t made it safe for ourselves.

[00:32:13] Miriam Schulman: Because we’re t also taught in school that we have to get an A and failure is a bad thing.

[00:32:19] Ashley Stahl: Right.

[00:32:19] Miriam Schulman: And the thing is, is you do have to be willing to fail in life in order to succeed. That’s the paradox that we have to embrace, that we’re not, we’re really taught the opposite of that in school.

[00:32:31] Ashley Stahl: Yes. Yes. Correct. So true.

[00:32:33] Miriam Schulman: So Ashley, one more thing. How do you know when it’s time to, when your experiment is no good anymore and it’s time to turn away? Like how like…

[00:32:43] Ashley Stahl: Like how do we know when shit’s not working? [00:32:46] Miriam Schulman: That’s right.

[00:32:47] Ashley Stahl: I think the question is, are you sharpening your core skillset 70% of the time? Kind of going back to, are you growing. Are you growing it? Because skillset sets translate, right? Like I can be like a fashion designer at Prada in the same week. I can do it for Nike, or I can be a coder at Disney and then be a coder at Chanel. It all translates, right? So are you sharpening the skillset that you’re sharpening? And if the answer is no, then it’s pretty straightforward. Like you should not go there if you cannot grow your skillset.

I think the second question is, are any of your values being violated? Like is this commitment trespassing on the non-negotiable principles by which you live your life? If the answer’s yes, then you gotta go.

[00:33:21] Miriam Schulman: Mm. Okay. And now this one I’m asking as a mom who has a 25 year old and a 22 year old. So what I’ve noticed with the these young people in my life – and not so young people in my life. Some of my clients as well – is some people, they’re just not willing to eat the shit sandwich that goes along.

[00:33:40] Ashley Stahl: Yeah.

[00:33:41] Miriam Schulman: Can you say something about that? And by the way, that’s like an Elizabeth Gilbert term I stole.

[00:33:45] Ashley Stahl: Is it? It is a shit sandwich.

[00:33:47] Miriam Schulman: And the shit sandwich goes with everything. It’s like you have to be willing to eat the shit sandwich that goes with whatever. Okay. Why don’t you say what you wanna say about this?

[00:33:56] Ashley Stahl: Yeah. I would just say, first of all, it doesn’t always have to be that shitty of a shit sandwich. But a lot of the times it is. The question is. Like, do you wanna pay the cost of admission to get to the next level, and is it worth it to you? I think that the idea of loving your career has really messed a lot of people up because love is a very strong word.

I think you should really like your career and you should be growing in your career, and you should be contributing in your career. So the question is, are you growing? Are you contributing? Is it taking you somewhere interesting. Then I think you’re doing pretty great. I think putting the pressure on yourself to love what you do all the time. Like, I love my career and I hate technology glitches, but I probably spent 15% of my time dealing with technology going wrong because I have an email list and online programs and all this stuff. So, I think it’s about not being realistic, because that sounds jaded, but being honest about the parts of things that really do exist that we need to be willing to navigate.

[00:34:49] Miriam Schulman: This has been such a powerful conversation and there’s been so many takeaways. I wanna remind everybody listening to get You Turn with Ashley Stahl or listen to her podcast You Turn. It is wherever you’re listening to the Inspiration Place, but we will link to everything in the show notes.

I also want you to know that we actually have a book club page, so if you’re a reader as I am, we’ve linked up all the books, all our favorite books of guests we’ve had on the show and elsewhere is of course, as well as the book entrepreneur. So to see that complete list, head on over to club. And we’ve linked all my favorite books and they are linked to where you can find them on Amazon if you’re an Amazon shopper.

Alrighty. Ashley, do you have any last words for our listeners before we call this podcast complete?

[00:35:45] Ashley Stahl: I would say, if I could give any last thing, it’s that who you are always wins. So if you’re not being honest with yourself about who you are and what you need, eventually it’s gonna shine through and the paradigm that you’re operating in needs to come undone. So the question is, how soon do you want it to come undone so that you can be yourself again?

[00:36:04] Miriam Schulman: That’s fantastic. I don’t know, maybe I’ll make that the title of the show Who You Are Always Wins. All right, my friend. Thank you, Ashley, for being with me here today.

And thank you listener. I will see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.

[00:36:21] Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place Podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at on Instagram at SchulmanArt, and of course on

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