Focus on Commitment and Take Control with Dr Audrey Schnell PhD
Katerina: Hi Audrey.
Audrey: Thank you for the opportunity. Great to speak to you today.
Katerina: Yeah, okay, you are… you have a different background from the ladies I’ve interviewed so far, you actually have advanced degrees… actually two advanced degrees.
Audrey: That’s true. I have a master’s in Clinical Psychology so I started out as a psychotherapist and moved more into research and have a PhD in Epidemiology Biostatistics which actually kind of makes me very popular right now with the Covid virus… brings out a little different piece of my background, and I’m an emotional intelligence coach.
Katerina: Okay. So, are you still doing… are you still engaged with academia, you’re still teaching?
Audrey: Yes, I do… I still do teaching and research, and psychology. Yeah, so yeah I got several hats, which makes life very interesting never boring…
Katerina: But at the same time you are an entrepreneur.
Audrey: Yes. Yes, I’m a consultant, and I still have some ties to academia, but mostly as a solo entrepreneur and consultant.
Katerina: Yeah, how long you’ve been doing this online summit?
Audrey: Oh, gosh, at least five years, and possibly even longer but about five years.
Katerina: Where did you get their idea for doing these summits.
Audrey: Gosh, that’s a great question. I’m not even sure, I think from following other people and getting… I love interviewing and being interviewed I’m still a people person. And so it just seemed like a natural fit. So, yeah, I’m not even sure how I really launched into it, it was just one of those things. Luckily I fell into it.
Katerina: Yeah, because today with the COVID-19 situation everyone is moving towards using these virtual summits and pivoting their business models.
Audrey: Yeah. Luckily or unluckily I’ve always, I’ve worked remotely probably for the last… gosh 14 years, so this part of it, the day to day life has not changed very much for me. Thankfully, I’m used to it. And was set up for.
Katerina: Yeah. So when you just started it, where did you get information about how to organise one?
Audrey: Reaching out for support, watching other people do it, not being afraid to ask for help and advice, turning to experts who could guide me. So I think the big thing is you know, don’t be afraid to ask and don’t wait till you have it perfect or you’ll never do it.
Katerina: Right. Are you planning to have another summit in the future?
Audrey: Yes, in July. In July, I’ll be part of another master class, we’re just putting together now with some, some other coaches and my coaches.
Katerina: Yeah, so your audience for the summit?
Audrey: I would say people focused on self-growth and health. Both spiritually, physically and emotionally, and it’s going to be a big… I think adjustment for many many many people when the world open… opens up again. We will have to hopefully forge a new normal. And I think people will be experiencing some trauma, possibly grief. We’ve all lost. Sadly, we’ve lost family we’ve lost friends we’ve lost our old way of life. I think there’ll be disappointed that people will have to deal with I know… you know personally we cancelled vacations for the summer, we won’t be seeing people that we were scheduled to see. I was supposed to go see my brother in Florida, that’s not going to happen now. So I think people will be experiencing a lot of grief that we need to come together and learn how to navigate, deal with and navigate, come out on the other side.
Katerina: So how do you personally. How do you personally manage uncertainty and anxiety about uncertainty?
Audrey: I think I focus, and I help people focus on the things we can control — our schedule or goals, or vision. I think the thing I think people struggle with the most that I see and myself included, is focusing not getting letting fear freeze you because when it freezes you you get further away from your goals, and what you want to be and who you want to be and then you’re faced with regret, or … more disappointment. So I think the biggest thing is to be able to recognise when you need help when you need support. We’re all smart successful people so we have a tendency to just say, I’m okay. I can do this, especially now with the distancing not getting the support that we need. So I focus, and I help people focus on, you know, even if it’s just taking small steps towards your bigger goals so that you feel like you’re still growing and moving forward without pushing so hard that you feel exhausted and you’re not able to… You still want to be able to get comfort and support and use this time creatively and to pull back but not so much that you feel frozen in fear.
Katerina: Because I guess… Today, a lot of people I mean, if they’ve lost their jobs, they, they, in this state of not knowing what to do. We actually looked at some recent job roles with my husband, because he was, he his friend sent him the job description and said you could apply if you want to work a bit closer to home because at the moment he works quite far away, and he kind of… He looked at the website and he said “Look, 200 applications for each job role. So it’s, it’s incredible what’s happening right now so the job market is getting very saturated.
Katerina: While at the same people are losing their jobs, and many, just don’t know what to do. What can you advise to these people?
Audrey: Well, there’s a concrete piece of course, of, you know, the reality of needing financial support and so for many, it’s a wake-up call how to be prepared for something like this, we’re never prepared this is sort of a wake-up call. And there’s only you know there’s the reality of job hunting, but managing your emotions, while you’re doing this because we’ve got to deal with fear, we’ve got to deal with self-doubt and not catastrophizing. We will all survive this. And, and the anxiety is so… I know it sounds simplistic the anxiety is so counterproductive and keeps us from doing what we need to do so as much as we can control and see opportunities here, and we’re all having to pivot especially entrepreneurs who are just like everybody really and trying to see the good and it seems like we get glazed if you focus on the media. We hear two different messages. One says, hustle hustle hustle hustle hustle if you’re not taking five courses right now and making 600 sales calls a day, you’re not doing your job, and the other voice is saying no, you need to take care of yourself rest don’t push yourself. And we have to find our medium neither extreme .. is probably where we need to be so we have to find what works for us… personally.
Katerina: Yeah, do you think today is a good time to start a new business?
Audrey: I’m not a business coach and I’m certainly no expert on the economy but what I would say is that this is a time to be creative. And to think, you know, not just go I can’t do what I used to do. And, and that’s not a new concept I mean I know many for example, many women who went back into the workforce at 40, 50, 60. And they needed to pivot, you know and they needed to start something new, they needed to be creative, so this isn’t like oh we’ve never had to do this before we’re just having to do it on a much larger scale. So yeah I mean I don’t know you know from economics, I mean I’m not sure, you know exactly what I don’t think anybody knows what the economics will look like going forward but it’s certainly a time for creativity.
Katerina: Yeas, cos they’ve shown on the news some girl who’s been in employment all her life and she lost her job because she… she’s one of those coaches that train athletes and of course now… she kind of… she like “I literally had to go and sign on and get some, you know, benefits because I just have no money to support my family” and yet…. so, what is the option for these people who just find themselves in a situation where they just don’t know how what to do next?
Audrey: Yeah, and I think that it’s good or bad, it reminds us that life can change in an instant, and even more so than our parents or our grandfather’s, a sense of safety is an illusion because healthy people have, you know, passed away overnight. And people who would never have expected to lose their jobs or be unemployed or get stuck somewhere out of the country suddenly we’re back to realising that things can change literally overnight. And we can either be frozen in fear or we can be as creative and reach out, as we can. Those are the realities and it is scary. It is scary I feel very very fortunate. But still, you know the anxiety creeps in because you just don’t know you just have to keep moving forward, and focusing on what you can control.
Katerina: Yeah, so personally … How do you deal with anxiety? What is your sort of strategy… how do you relax?
Audrey: Well, we’re all coach what we need. That’s me that’s my philosophy so movement, you know, especially for me who sits in a chair and stares at a computer, most of the day. I make sure I move, not let the emotions get stuck in my body, and continuing to eat well and sleep. I see one of the biggest mistakes that I make and I see in a lot of my clients and friends is, you know, we’re searching for comfort. So what do we do we’re stuck at home, we eat, and it’s easy to say well it doesn’t matter if I eat these cupcakes because the world could end tomorrow. Meanwhile, not only are we going to adding to our problems because we’re going to have gained 20 pounds by the time this is over, but we’re not able to function at our best when we don’t eat, sleep, relax and move. So, taking up… we’re still our biggest asset. So we have to take care of that asset and be very careful about how we are potentially mismanaging ourselves… you know we’re… I look at it as we’re our boss so we need to take care of our, our asset our way our self employee.
Katerina: Yeah. I agree with you. So in your professional career and your, you know activity… your business life as an emotional intelligence coach. What was the most difficult time in the past? What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome?
Audrey: I would say, and I’d love to say I’m unique and probably not being unique is a good thing. I would say self-doubt is, is really one of the hardest things to overcome. And I know for me, one of the things that helped me the most was realising that I had it backwards. We think we have to feel confident and happy before we do things, and in truth, it’s the reverse. We have to do things and take action in order to build confidence and not give in to that self-doubt because we can make up all sorts of stories about I’m not good enough… I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m not going to succeed at this and all that does is keep us from taking the action that will provide the confidence that we need. You know, and confidence actually is pretty overrated in my book, you know. It’s just like, you know, people talk about my imposter syndrome. I think anytime you do something new that you haven’t done before and you’re learning and growing you’re going to feel like an imposter. So just because you feel like an imposter is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it’s because you’re doing something you’ve never done before. So, I think the hardest thing is… one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to take action when I don’t want to.
Katerina: Yeah, that’s great.
Audrey: We all need cheerleaders and champions… and for many of us the hardest thing is to say … no, especially for coaches and people in our… where we’re supposed to be helping other people…. and getting other people to say… me next. And don’t do it… we’re afraid to be vulnerable. And sometimes we just don’t even realise that we a) can ask for help. And another. Maybe like going off on a tangent here but I see this in myself and I see it in so many others we feel like we don’t know what to ask for. And we should ask if I don’t know what I need. I can’t ask for help, and in truth, if we knew what we needed we wouldn’t be asking for help. The problem is we don’t know what we need. And so you just have to raise your hand and go. Can you help me but then, because it’s if I’m hiring a coach it’s their job to tell me what I need. So, give, give that up, release that and just ask for help. It’s, it’s corny but true.
Katerina: Hmm. Yeah, listeners will probably think oh my god, Audrey is a clinical psychologist and she still has self-doubts… what about us?
Audrey: Yeah. Really, we all need support and actually, you know that self-doubt is good, it’s good. It’s a good reality check. But we can’t let it stop us because we’re always going to feel it, except for that small, maybe, you know, part of the population who doesn’t reveal it or doesn’t experience it. The majority of us go, go through it and need to, you know, be vulnerable, ask for help. And I see so many health coaches right now who are like, I just gained 10 pounds. You know, and so there’s no like magic person who doesn’t need help. Who doesn’t need to recognise… oops, I’m doing exactly what I tell other people not to and we have… we all need it. You know… we coach what we need and so we need other coaches, other support, other help.
Katerina: Yeah. Could you tell us a little bit about your programme The Emotionally Intelligent Entrepreneur?
Audrey: Yeah, so, … ok I’ll give you all the statistics, yeah. Eighty per cent of success is dependent on emotional intelligence, not IQ, and not personality, we see is fixed trait from age five or two to five. IQ is a fixed trait. But emotional intelligence is a skill. We recognise and deal with our own emotions. They should be barometers that give us our temperature or the temperature outside, but don’t determine our actions, they’re more like information — if it’s 20 below you put on a coat, if it’s 70 degrees outside you take the coat off. And we also need to be so aware of what we’re communicating to others, especially our clients, how are we showing up what are they hearing that we’re not aware of, you know, for example, you know we love to run around and say things like, oh, I’m so stressed or I’m so tired. And we don’t appreciate how our clients might interpret that oh she’s so tired, you know she’s, I don’t want to burden her. I don’t want to hire her she’s already you know too busy. And so emotional intelligence really centres on self-awareness and other-awareness, or what we call empathy. So I do one on one coaching, to help people see their blind spots, see where their self sabotaging, increase their emotional intelligence because as I said that’s really the key secret sauce to success. And I also do a group programme because one of the best ways to get insight and see yourself is to see it reflected back from others. So group programmes can often provide a really safe environment to almost like a microcosm to see how am I interacting with people, how do people see me, they see my blind spots, I don’t see them, how can I get that feedback. So it’s crucial to get that feedback so that we see our blind spots because by the very nature of the term, we’re blind to them we don’t see them, and they’re usually the thing that is keeping us from success, whether it’s making money or having better relationships or getting the clients we want and keeping the clients we want so many times I work with coaches who say, you know, like my clients aren’t renewing and I don’t know why, or my clients are really pissing me off and I don’t know why. And it’s because they just can’t see that blind spot because nobody’s going to tell you if you for example keep… people are going to quit and they’re not going to tell you why. They’re not going to come back to you. And they’re not going to give you honest feedback because it makes them uncomfortable about it. Think about it. How many times have you not gone back to that restaurant or that hairdresser? Or the bank or that whatever or…
Katerina: Yeah, and they’re asking you “Are you okay with the meal, are you happy with a meal?” But you kind of yeah but you never come back because you don’t want to upset them.
Audrey: Exactly. You don’t want to tell them the truth because it makes you uncomfortable. And that’s the problem you’re never going to hear what you need to hear in a positive, productive way, and even… I mean, I experienced it other people experience it. I was at a retreat. And the person who was leading the retreat, for example, told the caterer not to come back because we already had too much food, when in fact, she didn’t like the food, she didn’t tell the caterer that. She just told her not to come back. And so that’s the feedback we never get because people won’t tell us because it makes them uncomfortable.
Katerina: So, how do you get feedback? How do you improve? What are the strategies for businesses to improve if people are not really telling the truth?
Audrey: Well, there is a couple of ways. One is to look at yourself, you know, where are you not giving people feedback. And sometimes that can give you a clue to what you may be doing that you’re not seeing because we sometimes can, especially if they’re extreme situations, we can, like for example, have you ever been around somebody who’s complaining a lot and it’s really getting to you and you go “Oh my god, do I do that? That sounds like me.” So when you see things in the extreme sometimes, so you really want to watch what you’re reacting to. And again, I think that’s why we all need, in my opinion, why we need coaches, is because we have to pay people sometimes to give us that feedback because people aren’t going to do it. And unless we are really vulnerable with someone and open to hearing that feedback in a really safe environment like from a coach or a group programme that safe — we’re not going to get it, we just don’t see it. So, self-awareness is one piece of it you know to look at where are we not giving others feedback where we see, perhaps exaggerations of our own behaviour, and to reach out, hire coach, get be part of a group somewhere where you can get that feedback, you’ve got to invest in yourself because it’s the blind spots that are going to cost you your self-growth in your business. We… our business growth will never exceed our personal growth. That’s my belief.
Katerina: Yeah. So what advice would you give to female entrepreneurs who, who want to give up on their dreams?
Audrey: Don’t. We tell ourselves stories you know… still be very, very much aware of the facts… feelings aren’t facts. So be aware, very aware of the facts. And the story you’re telling yourself. Things like I’ll never succeed. This won’t work. Those are feelings. They’re not based on facts. They’re based on feelings and you’ve got to be very careful about how you generalise from facts. Can I give you an example?
Katerina: Yeah, sure. I had a client who is an older woman who had been married for a very long time, her husband passed away. And she really wanted to have another relationship but she said you know I don’t think I’m very good at marriage. Well, you only had one, how do you know? You really can’t base it just on one instance but we love to generalise from one thing. Oh I know I didn’t do that well the last time so that probably means I can’t do it, so recognise the facts but be careful how you’re interpreting them and generalising from them. And of course, you know as cliche as it sounds, if we give up on our dreams we’re not going to get there. So, we have to balance and one way to balance is to get feedback, you know, is this just, you know, am I being unrealistic I mean, I’m never going to be six foot. I’m only going to be five foot one versus, you know, a dream that is a stretch, but not, you know, impossible, and I don’t even know what you know constitutes impossible. I mean, making a million dollars tomorrow is probably not likely, but that doesn’t mean our dreams are possible… And ask people who’ve done it. One of the greatest things I ever read was, you know, if you if you want to own a Mercedes Benz, go talk to somebody who owns one… Possible… Don’t talk to people who want one and don’t have one, go talk to somebody who has one. I don’t know if that makes sense.
Katerina: Yeah, it makes perfect sense.
Audrey: But most of us will talk ourselves out of so much shit.
Katerina: Yeah, they say if you want to make it big… you have to surround yourself with people who try to make it big. Yeah, because you even earn on average… it’s like they have this calculation they, you can calculate how much you can earn in your life because… if you surround yourself with people who earn so much money …
Audrey: Yeah, as I said, we talk ourselves out of so much, and if you don’t know how to do something — ask for help. I think that’s it… we’ve gotten so far away from that… I live in a really rural community where it’s still very normal for people to say “I need help, can you help me hay in my barn for my horse or, you know, can you help me fix my roof,” or whatever, there’s still that interconnectedness. I sailed for a very long time with my husband, and the boating community when you’re out in the middle of nowhere… you make those connections, you don’t even hesitate to ask people you don’t know because there’s the sense of community that could be me tomorrow. So we ask for help. But the more modern way to live we’ve really gotten isolated from asking for help. We don’t want to reveal our vulnerability we don’t think we should need help. And there’s just like almost this rule against it. And I think that’s so so sad.
Katerina: Yeah. Yeah, no I agree with you.
Audrey: One of the simplest things to do if you’re experiencing a lot of self-doubts. I do this, I have my clients do it. Make an evidence list. Be very specific. These are the things I’ve accomplished I have evidence that I can do this. I have evidence that I can post it, you know look at it. Keep it visible. So that the next time you go on I don’t know if I can do this. I probably can’t you can look back at that evidence list and go. Yeah, I’ve done this, I’ve done this. It sounds so silly maybe…
Katerina: I think it’s great advice because when it’s visual, it’s actually registered in your, in your brain, right? In your subconscious brain… Because otherwise, you’re just the thoughts right but when it’s on paper, it’s registered in your mind.
Audrey: It does a couple of things, the writing actual writing of it… I mean seriously the physical writing we know implants in our brain and our subconscious, and it’s our subconscious… it isn’t news… you know drives 90% of our behaviour so we have to get to what’s driving us. And often it’s that you know one experience as a child where we didn’t succeed. And we base everything else on that, rather than look at adult evidence that we, we can accomplish things. You know, people talk about that, you know, the primitive brain… the reptilian brain. I call it the toddler brain because people don’t really… I don’t know a lot of crocodiles and reptiles, but I know a lot of toddlers, and I know how they respond and it’s that primitive, it’s still a primitive survival instinct, you know, anytime our survival is threatened, we go into toddler mode, we scream, or we have a tantrum, or we go hide in our bedroom because we’re afraid. And so we have to engage that adult brain again to take control of our primitive childlike reaction to fear and danger it’s, you know that survival instinct kicks in. And it’s not that first response… that toddler response is not always the best for us going forward. So we have to engage that adult brain again. So…
Katerina: When you run a business and you hit the wall of challenges, how do you know whether you should quit, or whether you should continue and try again or pivot? What clue can you get? How can you decide whether you should quit, maybe, and start something new… or should you persevere and carry on?
Audrey: I would say it’s not a simple question. So, I look at my resources, I look at them, sort of, I look at my dreams, you know, what do I want. I look at my finances, which are still, you know, a reality. And I have coaches because I can’t see what’s in front of me. We’re always in what I want, I didn’t make this up but we’re always in the cycle of quitting. You know we face a challenge… and up, get me out of here. And so I can’t, I know I can’t see it, I can’t see what’s ahead of me I don’t know if this is a normal challenge, or if it’s a challenge that means nope, stop danger ahead, quit. So I rely on people who are further ahead of me who can look back and say no I was where you were at… this only means that you know you have to pull up your big girl pants and keep moving forward because there is light at the end of the tunnel so I rely on my coaches often, my friends, my support and people who are further down the road, then I who can look back and say, now what you’re experiencing is normal, keep going… let me help you. This is what you need to do next. So I take a very practical approach to it… usually..
Katerina: That’s great and in your professional life and also your life as an entrepreneur what skill set… what traits, do you think are the most beneficial for you to be successful?
Audrey: Good question. Well, getting support, asking for help. Recognising what I’m good at what I’m not good at. Learning to take scary action and really realising that often it’s because I was being driven by fear. I mean, I’ll be completely vulnerable. Yesterday morning was just a tough morning and I’m like, oh god I just want to throw in the towel. And I went, Oh shit, just in the cycle of quitting. I took a walk and then sit back down and get to work, and I just and I’m not a Pollyanna… believe me, I’m not a Pollyanna. I always think the worst is gonna happen. And I just yesterday… something happened and I thought you know, I need to reframe this, I need to not look at this as an obstacle, but an opportunity. And my whole, my whole mindset shifted. I went from being irritable and discouraged to feeling energised, and creative and ready to sit back down and tackle it. And I laughed, you know, laughter is the best medicine they say that for a reason and I laughed at myself. I called a friend and said “You won’t believe the morning I had and what I had to do to get over it, and we laughed and I felt better. And I went about the rest of my day and didn’t scream at anybody.”
Katerina: Well that’s great… reframing yourself yeah and just yeah maybe have a cup of coffee or tea or walk or whatever.
Audrey: Some people think wine is the nectar of the gods I think it’s coffee. And I laugh… I love a lot of British tvs it’s like a good cup of tea can cure anything.
Katerina: Yeah, I mean I’m… I drink coffee. Yeah, I need about five cups in the morning, because I just tend to stay up till like 12, and all the things just racing through my head and then yeah… I’ll have to be up at six… well anyway I’ve got the little one at home so.
Audrey: I would have been a great farmer because I’m up at sunrise. And I can go to bed at you know usually the bed at nine o’clock, but I’m useless without a lot of sleep so I guard my sleep. I’ve learned that. So again we know what’s best for us. We know how we work best and I’m not saying don’t push yourself but because I’ve really learned to push myself more than I would by nature. So yeah, so self-awareness is such a huge, huge piece of how we succeed, we have to grow.
Katerina: Any, advice for starting entrepreneurs who decided that they want to start up and start a new venture… a new business today. And it’s a great opportunity we all at home and the whole world is on online and they want to do something new like creating a podcast… and what is the piece of advice you can give to these people?
Audrey: I would say map out the steps that you know and don’t be afraid again to ask experts, don’t be afraid to try things. You know, they call it trial and error for a reason. You’ve got to just use it as feedback. So be willing to be flexible, try things, but also balance that with, you know, getting expert advice. I’m not gonna go try to fix my car without, you know, asking a mechanic or taking it to a mechanic, so it’s the balance of, you know, get clarity to rely on your vision, and I think we talked about this in the beginning. We can’t rely on motivation. Motivation is an emotion that’s going to come and go. Athletes don’t rely on. Well, gee, I’m really motivated to go practice today. Now, it’s commitment. We’re not motivated to stay married we’re committed to staying married. So, use motivation when it’s there but don’t rely on it, it’s really more about commitment than it is about motivation… does it make sense.
Katerina: So what’s your commitment?
Audrey: Just to keep… to keep putting one foot in front of the other when I feel like it and even when I don’t, and I learn very slowly, in an ongoing way, when I need to rest and when I need to push. And it’s always that question that I have to ask myself is this going to be, how am I going to feel if I don’t do this? If I don’t run today, how am I going to feel tomorrow? Am I going to feel that it was a good decision? Was I tired and I needed this rest? Or am I going to look back and go … I just didn’t feel like it… so I didn’t do it. You have teenagers and you ask them to clean their room and they go “I just don’t feel like it mum”. Very different from I’m gonna hurt myself if I go run because I really need the rest versus I just don’t feel like it but I’m committed, which is why accountability is really good. I mean work with somebody. So, because we all know if we’re responsible adults which 99.9% of us are…. if we commit to something with someone if I say I’m going to show up for you tomorrow. We show up. So, accountability is, is huge for commitment.
Katerina: Right. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Audrey: Oh, you’re welcome.
Katerina: It was great to hear clinical psychologists telling these mind hacks, how to reprogram your brain.
Yeah, yeah, it’s, you know, excitement and fear almost feel like the same thing. So be careful how you… we want to label things as, as… gee, I’m excited, not necessarily that I’m afraid.. we have a lot of control, more so sometimes than we think we do.
Katerina: Okay, thank you.
Audrey: Oh, you are welcome.
Katerina: Good luck with your venture.